Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall Fun Series: Favorite Fall Scents

I would have to say warm, rich bakery blends with apple or pumpkin are my favorite home fragrance scents for fall. I especially love apple cider blends; that tangy apple and rich mulling spice aroma is heavenly!
I like my pumpkins creamy and warm and a little sweet, which is probably why I rave like a broker record over Pumpkin Coconut. I also love Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, Pumpkin Soufflé and Pumpkin Creme Brûlée type. Pumpkin wax blends are some of my most favorites; so much so that I occasionally melt them out of season.

In contrast, one of my least favorite fall aromas is an overdone pumpkin spice. When pumpkin is heavy on the cinnamon and other spices it can end up smelling burnt to me and it bothers my nose. There is such thing as too much of a good thing; yuck.

It is a little difficult for me to focus on the aromas of fall right now as I am writing this post from a balmy tropical paradise. I am having a mind blowingly FANTASTIC time in the Philippines and I can't wait to share all my photos and stories with you, but most of that will have to wait until I get home because I need several uninterrupted hours to pour through my hundreds and hundreds of photos and get down all of my thoughts on this amazing experience.

I will leave with a few aroma descriptions of some unique things I have smelled in the Philippines during "fall" here.
We have had a hired driver for a few days here in Manila and he does an excellent job. His SUV is immaculately clean and when you first get in, a super sweet bubblegum aroma tickles your nose. It then settles down to a pleasant Pina colada type scent.

On the streets of Manila and surrounding provinces you will smell many things, most delectable and some not. Many scents are unique and unfamiliar and scintillate my senses.
You may get occasional whiffs of exhaust or unsavory sanitation, but for the most part the warm, heavy air smells a mix of smoke and roasting meats, exotic curry-like spices and tropical vegetation. One of my favorite food aromas is the cooking of pork and beef skewers and also the frying of lumpia, traditional pork egg rolls.

In more open areas away from the food vendors you can smell the delightful freshness of the greenery and tropical flowers.

These are definitely not fall aromas in the sense of other parts of the world, but it is a wonderful new experience!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Philippines Packing List

Some people enjoy packing; some people don't. I personally don't care for all the effort packing takes, but I do like the organizing, making list, choosing clothes and figuring out how to pack efficiently.
Efficiency is the key word; I used to be a MAJOR overpacker.
Now I have remedied that problem by choosing exact outfits for each day of the trip and having a list of all the miscellaneous items.

After all, this is the most complex and longest trip I've ever packed for. Since we are flying we will have to adhere to strict weight limits so that means no throwing in a bunch of extra stuff.

Fortunately since it's a warm climate we are able to bring lightweight clothing and don't have to worry about heavy space consuming items like jackets, jeans and boots. It will likely be raining intermittently, but since rain gear is so abundant and inexpensive in the Philippines I opted to just buy it there if needed. I am bringing a compact umbrella just in case of sudden downpour.

Some people even pack less clothes than they will need and choose to do laundry to save space. But really, who wants to do laundry on vacation? Not this girl!

A few packing tips to keep in mind:
Roll your clothes instead of folding to save space and reduce wrinkles.

Pack your shoes at the bottom of your suitcase, soles together and in a plastic bag so they won't dirty your clothes. You can also stuff your socks in them to save space.

Consider bringing a nylon or plastic laundry bag to keep dirty clothes and damp bathing suits away from your clean clothes.

Make sure all of you toiletries are in sealed plastic bags so they don't leak in your suitcase. Clear quart bags and toiletries under 3.4 oz make for an easy security screening experience.

Philippines Packing List:

In backpack: 
fuzzy socks, wallet, change purse, passport, tickets, hand sanitizer, toiletries, lip balm, hand cream, neck pillow, eye mask, empty water bottle, headphones, portable battery, phone cord, mints, phone/waterproof case, snacks, plug adapter, medications, tissues, sunglasses case/sunglasses, notebook, pen, small book, umbrella, yarn/crochet hook

Day 1 Plane Outfit:
black maxi, travel scarf, gray cardigan, black head wrap, mermaid earrings, black flats

Day 2 Exploring Manila 
black dress, blue floral kimono, yoga shorts, sandals 

Day 3 Exploring Manila 
Pink tank, denim shorts, bright kimono, straw fedora, sandals 

Day 4 Exploring Manila 
Anchor tank, lace shorts, anchor necklace, sandals 

Day 5 Wedding: turquoise dress, statement necklace, bronze clutch, sandals

Day 6 Cebu
Black paisley maxi dress, tassel necklace, sandals 

Day 7 Cebu
Blue Maxi dress, anchor necklace, sandals 

Day 8 Cebu
Black tee, black capri leggings, straw fedora, purple pashmina, sandals 

Day 9 Manila 
Turquoise Tank, mermaid leggings, white lace kimono, anchor necklace, sandals 

Day 10 Plane Outfit: purple top, elephant leggings, gray cardi, travel scarf, headwrap, fuzzy socks, flats

Extra outfit: in case of rain, stains, etc.:
Elephant tee, printed jogger pants 

Black maxi
Blue & white print maxi
Little black dress 
Turquoise dress
Pink tank
Anchor tank
Turquoise tank
Purple top
Camis x4
Denim shorts
Lace shorts 
Blue floral kimono jacket 
Bright floral kimono jacket
White lace kimono
Gray cardi
Black tee
Elephant tee 
Printed pants
Yoga shorts 
Mermaid leggings 
Elephant leggings 
Black leggings 
PJ's x3
Swimsuits x6
Cover up x2
Bras x5 3 reg 2 sport
Undies x11
Fuzzy Socks x2
Scarves x2 (travel, purple pashmina)
Head wraps x2 (black, gray)
straw fedora
Sunglasses x2 (black, mirrored)
Tassel necklace
Statement necklace
Anchor necklace
Mermaid earrings 
Black sandals, flip flops, water shoes, black flats

ELF Eyelid Primer
ELF Makeup Setting Spray
Maybelline Tinted moisturizer SPF
Avon Neutral eye shadow quad
Waterproof mascara
Eyeliner x4 black, liquid black, purple, bronze
Milani Blush
Covergirl outlast lip stain x2
Blotting paper 
Remover wipes
Face lotion 
Face wash
Nail polish minis x 3
Base & top coat 
Mini polish remover 
Cotton balls
Shaving cream 
Body wash
Body cream
Perfume x3
Hair gel
Coconut spray 
Heat protectant 
Dry shampoo 
Curling iron
Hair ties
Aloe gel
Bug spray 
Medications x4
Waterproof bandaids 
Pepto Bismol
Hydrocortisone cream
Aquaphor ointment

11 t shirts 
1 pant
2-3 shorts
2 swim shorts 
1 pj pant
11 undies 
1 undershirt 
5 socks
Compression socks 
Flip flops 
Slip on shoes 
Water sandals
Beard oil/balms
Beard combs/brushes
Hair ties
Foot powder
Q tips
Nail clippers 
Phone/waterproof case
Charger, plug, cord, adapter, battery pack
Ear buds
Selfie stick 
Refillable Water bottles
CPAP machine 
Bunjee for CPAP
Eye drops

Passport x2
Plane ticket x2
Life straw
Dry bag
luggage scale
Luggage Locks
Microfiber town
Knee brace 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this comprehensive packing list custom tailored for the Philippines! If you think I've missed anything, please let me know in the comments!

I may post a few more photos and tidbits before I leave, but I can't wait until I'm sharing actual Philippines photos with you guys! T minus 48 hours; ahhh!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall Fun Series: Fall Fashion

Obviously my blog is no stranger to a good fashion post. All summer long it's difficult to be comfortable wearing much other than tees/tanks and shorts or lightweight dresses and skirts. But as the first official day of fall is finally upon us and the mornings grow crisp and cool, I am enjoying the coziness of layers, knits and all the fall trappings.
Recently I have been very into leggings but I actually wasn't always. Before a few months ago I only had a few pairs of black and gray leggings to wear with dresses in the winter. Now I've clearly lost my mind and am the proud owner of 20+ pairs of fun printed leggings and several more pairs in solid colors. Seriously, if a whole truckload of leggings was suddenly dropped at my house I would dive into their buttery softness with reckless abandon. Beats an old dead leaf pile any day!

But I do like to add personal touches to any outfit and I try to avoid getting stuck in a leggings and a top rut. My favorite things to wear with leggings are long drapey tunic tops or fit and flare dresses that fall just above the knee.
For super casual wear I like to wear tshirt dresses and tunics with leggings, boots and flats and accessories would be a scarf or a long necklace and a headband or knit hat. If it was extra cold I would also add a cardigan.
I wore this super casual outfit out to pick up a quick meal earlier this week.
Owl leggings, headband, boots: Walmart 
Scarf: handmade by a friend 

Since the weather is still currently fluctuating between warm and cool I've
found it important to dress in layers that are easy to take on and off. Here's a gorgeously patterned Lularoe Madison skirt that I paired with a top from Walmart. I just add a cozy cardi and this vibrant scarf that I made when there's a chill in the air.

Finally I wore my ultimate fall outfit with this incredibly soft pair of fox print leggings from Fabulegs, a mustard tunic tee and a lovely thrifted cardigan. I really love this look; it was supremely comfortable and kept me at just the right temperature.

My favorite fall must have pieces generally include:

Cardigans (waterfall or button up styles)
Fit & flare knee length dresses or flowy shift dresses
Drapey tees and tunic tops
Fitted skirts with loose blouses or flared skirts with fitted tops
Skinny jeans in dark blue or black
Leggings (printed and solid)
Printed tapered fit jogger pants
Tights (for dressier outfits)
Boot socks
Ankle boots
Tall riding boots
Ballet style flats 
Scarves (both fabric and knit)
Slouchy Beanies and pom pom hats
Wide brim felt hats
Long necklaces 

I enjoy all colors but in fall I particularly find myself drawn to jewel tones such as burgundy, plum, russet orange, mustard yellow, sapphire blue, olive green and neutrals like black, gray and cognac brown or tan.

Being cute, comfy and cozy are my main fall fashion priorities. Since I don't attend a school or job with a dress code, I get to wear whatever I like whenever I feel like it and I really enjoy that freedom. I look at getting dressed as a creative process and it brings me joy.

What are your fall fashion staples? Do you find yourself drawn to certain colors and styles this time of year? 

Please share your favorite outfit ideas in the comments and don't forget to hop on over to the other Fall Fun Series bloggers' pages! Happy Fall Y'all!

Amanda at Thrifty Polished (

Angela at Angela Kay (

Jay at The Candle Enthusiast (

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid (

Michelle at Melting With Michelle (

Sandra at Finger Candy ( or

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Product Review: Influenster's Origins Original Skin Vox Box

A couple months ago I signed up at Influenster's website for the possibility of receiving free products to test and review. I was excited when I was chosen to receive Origins Original Skin BoxBox.
The box contained a 1.7 oz matte moisturizer, .5 oz Renewal Serum and a 1 oz retexturizing mask with rose clay. 
I first tried the mask. I was a bit concerned that it may cause irritation to my face as I have had irritation from several different types of masks including one that contained rose oil.
Fortunately this mask did not give me any problems. It had a light fresh rose scent and was pleasantly cooling when applied but not uncomfortably tingly.
When I washed it off and dried my face my skin felt clean but not overly tight or dry. It was a very nice mask experience.

Then I tried the moisturizer which also had a light rose scent. It also had a fun, squishy jelly texture as opposed to a creamy one like most lotions. I found it to be very soothing and hydrating but it absorbed quickly and left my face with a soft matte finish which I had never experienced before. It reminds me of the texture of a makeup primer which makes me believe it's claims that it enhances the wear of makeup. I can't wait to try it under a full face of makeup and see how it performs.

I have not tried the serum yet but it plan to use it as a PM moisturizer after removing makeup. 

Overall I am really pleased with the feel and performance of these products. This line is available exclusively at Sephora and although I like these products I probably would not purchase them do to their higher end price point.
I was really glad to have the opportunity to test out these products and the sample sizes are quite generous and should last for a good little while. I will probably take them on my upcoming vacation.

Have you ever heard of Influenster? Do you like to use websites to receive free product samples? What are your favorite sites?
Have you ever tried Origins skincare?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lounging and Leggings and Lacquer

Sundays are for lounging, amirite?
I'm so glad it's cardigan and leggings weather again! I just love cozy layers. Here are a few such outfits from last week.
Leggings: Fabulegs 
Striped Tunic Dress: thrifted
Cardigan: Target 

Leggings, Cardigan: Ross
Tunic: DKNY, thrifted
Flats: Walmart 

Also enjoying some fall nail art.
Two coats Essie Leggy Legend with a holo maple leaf accents.

Two coats each of Revlon Autumn Spice and Cupcake Apple-y Ever After with gold leaf stickers.

What little luxuries are you enjoying as summer transitions into fall?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fall Fun Series: All About Apples

Some of my readers may remember my epic apple themed posts from last year's Fall Fun Series: my apple creations and visit to Cover's Apple Ranch. Those were such fun experiences and would be hard to top, but I was excited to see apples included in this year's schedule as well.

I'm going in a slightly more simplistic direction with this year's apple post. I was interested in trying to make a savory apple dish this time around and so I searched my Pinterest boards and settled upon this decadent looking stuffed pork loin roast wrapped in crispy prosciutto with roasted apples.

This was my first time trying a new recipe in several months because it had been way too hot for elaborate cooking, especially with the oven, during the summer. The roast and dessert I made took me about an hour and a half of prep time total, and about two hours of cook time for each dish, cooking simultaneously. I really did enjoy the creative cooking process again and I love that these FFS posts challenge me to try new things. Plus there's nothing more satisfying than digging into a homemade meal.

I have to admit I cut a few corners and didn't take step by step preparation photos as I did last year, mainly because I was tired and hungry and just wanted to get this bad boy in the oven.
Here it is going in:

And coming out:

Most of my family was away from home for various reasons, but my father in law was at home alone so I shared a plate of roast with him that he really enjoyed.

My presentation is probably not restaurant worthy; visually I'd give it a solid C but the flavor is A+! The flavors all really came together to sing in a symphony of which apples were the star. I'm glad I liked it since I will be eating it for the next few days, and I would recommend anyone try this recipe if it sounds good to you.

Of course it wouldn't be apple day without an apple dessert, so since my oven was already occupied, I decided to make a super simple confection in the crock pot. I refuse to call this recipe "Apple Dump Cake" as that sounds supremely unappetizing, so from now on I will refer to it as Caramel Apple Cobbler.

This recipe couldn't be easier: just spray your crock pot with cooking spray, pour in a can of apple pie filling, mix your yellow cake mix with melted butter and pour it in on top of the apples. Set your crock pot to high for two hours and voilà! A scrumptious apple dessert that looks a lot more ambitious than it is. I have to say that this was as delicious as any made from scratch apple dessert I've ever had. I won't tell it was "dumped" if you don't...

Looks rather ho hum in the pot:

But magic in the bowl garnished with whipped cream and caramel sauce!
After I looked at the mountain of dishes on my kitchen counter I wondered for a split second if cooking was worth all the effort, but as my tiny home was filled with the aromas of baking apples, fresh rosemary and caramelizing meat, I was reminded of why it was.

Since this post is "All About Apples," I figured I'd better include a few quick apple scented body care and wax items too.

I was recently sent an "Applelicious" hair mist fragrance from bath, body and wax maker Cleanse Your Soul via a sweet friend. This hair mist is almost like a perfumes leave in conditioner of sorts and although the fragrance only lingers about 15-20 minutes it is a delightfully fresh and tart green apple aroma with just the right amount of sweetness. Not artificial at all to my nose. 

I've also really been enjoying the "Seasonal Madness" body butter from The Bathing Garden that I won in a giveaway last year. " smells of sweet cotton candy glazed apples, creamed corn, vanilla frosting and pumpkin pudding." 
This may sound like an unusual blend and it is unique, but not in a bad way. It's very apple bakery centric to my nose but not overly cloying. With a great light yet moisturizing texture, this butter is perfect for transitioning to fall!

Walmart's apple wax offerings have been so so for me this year. I've really enjoyed this 719 Walnut Ave Apple Delights candle with it's moderate throw and steady performance. BHG's unique cider blends were also a win for me although I have to say I feel like their wax isn't throwing *quite* as strong as it has in the past.
Their Apple Butter scent was a sad miss to me; it didn't really smell at all as I thought apple butter should.

Other recently melted and beloved apple scents include Epic Wax Pumpkin Apple Butter, Beezy DKNY Be Delicious, Candy Panda Spiced Apples & Peaches, and Glitterati Mac Apple Cotton Candy Frosting.

Do you start craving all apple everything this time of year? What are some of your favorite apple recipes and products?

Don't forget to check out all the other apple awesomeness going on with the other Fall Fun Series bloggers!

Amanda at Thrifty Polished (

Angela at Angela Kay (

Jay at The Candle Enthusiast (

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid (

Michelle at Melting With Michelle (

Sandra at Finger Candy ( or

Friday, September 15, 2017

Philippines Friday: Sample Itinerary & Helpful Apps

The I just looove planning trips! Some people might find it to be an organizational nightmare, but I savor everything from the research phase to making lists to packing in as many fun activities into the time allotted as possible. I think I have just the right blend of planning prowess and flexibility to adjust when things don't go exactly as planned to pull off amazing trips. My husband, bless his heart, is so laid back that he is willing to go along with whatever I come up with and we always have a wonderful time.

This is by far the longest and most logistically complicated trip I've planned and I can't tell you how helpful I have found several different online resources.
I used Pinterest a lot to research different travel blogs and what people who had been there recommended to do, see, eat pack and budget. Feel free to look at my "To Go And Be" Pinterest board for great travel ideas, and you can search "Philippines" for links to the info I read about specifically for this trip.

Of course Google is also super helpful for things such as looking up airport and airline websites so you know important info such as what you can bring in your carry on, baggage limits, and the security process. 

Other than those, I wanted to share a few helpful apps with you that I have found invaluable to the trip planning process.

My number one favorite app for planning destination itineraries is called Sygic Travel. It is free in the Apple App Store and very user friendly. I first used it to plan trips to Las Vegas and San Francisco and I don't think I would have had such amazing trips without it. It allows you to keep all important details in one place that you may otherwise forget. Rather than planning a specific itinerary for the Philippines I just put together a list of things I would like to see, but the majority of the plans will be up to the lovely couple that invited us on this trip, with a few suggestions from us here and there. I will show you all the sights I would love to see if I was fully in charge of the planning and I will be excited to tell you all about what we actually get to do in an epic Philippines wrap up post after I return.

The Sygic Travel app gives you info about the most popular destinations in the area you are visiting and you can add the sights, hotels and airports that you will be going to into a down to the minute, in order by location and day itinerary! Nothing could be more helpful for knowing where you're going, what time you need to be there, and what's next on the agenda. You can keep notes containing the locations addresses, phone numbers, addresses and prices as well. It's fabulous.

Our first few days after arriving will be spent in the Manila area, finalizing wedding details and exploring the city. Here are the sights I would love to see.

After the wedding we will be spending some time on a gorgeous tropical island called Cebu. Popular attraction we hope to do include watching and swimming with whale sharks, seeing and hiking to stunning waterfalls and natural hot springs, and lounging on incredible white sand beaches.

Some personal fantasy destinations of mine include being a mermaid, witnessing the phenomenon of a pink sand beach, and dining at this super cool waterfall restaurant! Of course we cannot forget the naturally occurring wonders and the unique wildlife, especially the adorable tarsiers!

Once we arrive in the Philippines, I imagine there will be a few practical apps that will be very important.

We will be purchasing an international data plan through our phone provider before we leave in an attempt to avoid a high phone bill on our return. Another alternative or supplement to this is a free app that allows you to send texts and make video or phone calls for free over wifi. Since many hotels, restaurants and public spaces do have wifi, I imagine this will be helpful for staying in touch. Make sure you have your family and friends with smartphones tablets download this app too before you leave so you can stay in touch. I downloaded Viber as it was highly recommend by many travel bloggers.

Another important tool for understanding the prices of goods at a glance while shopping in a foreign country is a currency converter. XE Currency doesn't use any data and has many positive reviews for being easy to use.

One of my worst travel nightmares is needing to pee and not knowing where a restroom is. Your problem is solved with Toilocator, an app that uses your GPS location to map out all the public restrooms near you!

When you are out of range or wifi or cell phone service you can still find your way around with Maps.Me, a great app where you can download city and county maps in advance and use them to navigate without internet connection!

GlobeTipping: easily calculate a tip specifically taylored to the country you're in, as well as the specific situation and bill total. Avoid cultural tipping faux pas with this free app!

Next week will be my final Phillipines Friday post before we depart on our epic adventure! Check back for my sample packing list and much more!

How do you like to plan trips? Any favorite resources or must have travel apps? Have you ever been to the Philippines before? Please leave your travel tips in the comments below!