Starbucks vs. McCafe

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Hey guys, Happy Wednesday!

Today I am going to be discussing Coffee. Why? Because without it, I would undoubtedly spend 24 hours of each day sleeping. So I figure it (more than) deserves it’s own post.

I’ll start by saying that I have always esteemed Starbucks Coffee as my default go-to, for a few reasons.

  1. I like the variety of drinks available
  2. I like the ability to customize your drink any which way (yay for kids temp!).
  3. I love that they recognize the holidays and alter their products accordingly.

But, although the coffee/sweet drinks are choice, there are a few things about Starbucks that aren’t. For one, the price isn’t always right. I used to be able to justify spending $4-7 on a Starbucks drink once or twice per week, but now that I’m in grad school I basically visit a coffee shop 5-6 days per week. So if I spent $5, 6x per week, then I would be spending $120 per month on coffee drinks. While I do love coffee, $120 is a little steep. That’s more than half the price of my monthly car payment, and over 2x more than my gym membership. If guilt didn’t exist, then I would continue to pay the price without giving it a second thought. But, as the careful spender that I am, I cringe with guilt every time I purchase a drink for $5, which I always finish in 5 minutes.

For this reason alone, I found it necessary to explore my options. Although I almost NEVER choose to visit a McDonald’s for anything else, I had heard that their coffee was tasty and affordable. I decide to give it a (expresso) shot. 🙂

Much to my surprise, they too offered holiday drinks! On the menu, I noticed flavors like toffee latte, peppermint mocha, peppermint hot chocolate, vanilla latte, etc. McCafe is steppin’ it up!

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I chose just a simple hot mocha, and was pleasantly surprised by how smooth, rich, and perfect it tasted. In fact, I gave it a 10/10, as opposed to Starbucks mocha drink which I rate a 7/10. Starbucks makes their mochas SUPER sweet and chocolatey (even for a major chocoholic)–I always have to ask for them half sweetened. *The only thing that I didn’t like about the McCafe Mocha was how HOT it was. OH MY GOSH. I definitely burned my tongue [a few times]. If possible, ask for it much less hot than it comes.

The major perk though? The price! Each size was over $1 less than its Starbucks counterpart. So let’s do the math again with this new price. If I were to spend $3.50 on a McCafe drink, 6x per week, my total for the month would be: $84. So much more reasonable than Starbucks!

Let’s be real though, McDonalds is really only an option for coffee on-the-go. I’m simply not going to bring my laptop, books, and assignments to a booth at McDonalds. It’s obviously not the best hangout place, and doesn’t account of students looking for comfortable seating and plenty of outlets. So when I’m looking for a location to do work, it’s worth the extra price for me to choose Starbucks over McDonalds.

BUT–if you’re ever on the go, needing coffee, but aren’t trying to spend top dollar for your fix….then try out a McCafe. You might even find you prefer it…

Have a beautiful rest of your day ❤

xx allie

 

 

 

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Origins Skincare Review

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What’s up guys! Happy Tuesday. Hope your week is going rather swimmingly thus far. My week has been a little hectic. I’ve been inundated with projects, papers, and quizzes-oh my! Therefore, I am sorry that I’ve been slacking on my blog posts lately…I can assure you that once Winter Break starts mid-December…I’ll be more present.

Today I wanted to discuss Origins skincare products. I discovered Origins a little over a year ago, when I was perusing through a Macy’s department store and happened upon the designated Origins skincare section. Immediately I was captivated by the branding on the bottles and the scents of the products. I purchased a few smaller products and began to try them out. I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad experience from using their stuff.

Here’s what you should know:

I have combination skin—certain parts dry, certain parts oily. I’ve always struggled to find skincare products that cater to both skin types at the same time…until I found Origins. Here are my fave products:

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Ginzing Energy-Boosting Treatment Lotion Mist: (Retails for $22.50). This product is for dry, normal, and oily skin. After I wash my face, I spritz this moisturizing spray all over my face. It invigorates my skin, wakes me up, opens up my pores, moisturizes, and makes my face smell like fresh oranges!

 

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Checks & Balances Frothy Face Wash: (Retails for $23.00). This face wash is extremely gentle and never stings. It smells fresh and lathers better than any other product I’ve ever used before. No matter how small of an amount that I use, it STILL always seems like way too much…making this product last forever! My face feels so fresh and clean after using this wash. It feels like it cleans very thoroughly, yet never leaves my skin feeling dried out. My breakouts have truly diminished from this product alone. If I had to choose one product to suggest from Origins, it would have to be this one.

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Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask to Quench Skin’s Thirst: (Retails for $27). This “lotion” is the bees knees. Although it’s an overnight mask, I treat it more like a lotion, since you aren’t supposed to wash it off. I use it every night before bed, after I’ve washed my face with the Checks & Balances Face Wash. It moisturizes SO WELL, soaks into the skin perfectly, and doesn’t make my skin feel oily AT ALL. It also spells like a tropical paradise. Best face lotion I’ve ever used…and I’m not just saying that.

I’ve also tried a number of Origins face masks, including the rose clay, charcoal, 10-minute mask, and more. They are all amazing. However, for the purposes of this post, I wanted to center the focus on the top 3 every-day products that I’d highly recommend for clearer, happier skin. These products last a long time, and are relatively inexpensive. Give them a try and I doubt you’ll regret it. If you’ve used Origins, and have an opinion of your own, please leave a comment!

Well that’s all for today. Have a wonderful rest of your week!

xx allie

Revel in Your Small Victories

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Happy Tuesday Everyone! Hope yours is off to a good start.

Today I’d like to discuss the importance of reveling in your small victories.

In this busy world we live in, with only 24 hours in a day, it’s difficult to function efficiently without a giant “to-do” list that governs your day-to-day schedule. And one thing that I notice rather often is our tendency to quickly scramble onto the next order of business as we are still in the process of crossing off the last. We rarely take the time to breathe between tasks and celebrate the small victories that we’ve already accomplished!

This should never be taken lightly. It is SO important not to fixate on the things that we have not yet finished, and instead praise ourselves for the things that we have. Take the time to pat yourself on the back for your progress…as ANY progress is better than none. Don’t allow yourself to be frustrated by the outstanding items. See them as a healthy challenge that you will gradually conquer over the course of time…it’s not a race!

Now do not take this message the wrong way: I am not trying to encourage laziness or procrastination. However, I think that it is critical to take the time to feel proud of the things we have accomplished, rather than frazzled by the things we have not yet attended to. If we do not take the time to acknowledge our victories, then we’ll continue to feel that we just cannot keep up.  Now I don’t know about you, but if I felt like I was working hard and tediously, yet getting nowhere…I’d likely end up quitting. Encourage yourself by encouraging yourself. Self-praise and admiration are key.

IN FACT!!! I like to celebrate my own small victories by rewarding myself along the way. The positive reinforcement is healthy and fun. I’ve finished my reading for the day? GREAT! Time to relax and catch up on the last episode of “This is Us”. I just finished with my midterms? FANTASTIC! I’ll finally schedule the nail appointment that I’ve been putting off for so long. Made it into both of my doctor’s appointments in one day! AMAZING! Time for a scoop of Baskin Robbins ice-cream. Personally, I find that rewarding myself for the things I’ve completed rather than scurrying to get crackin’ on the unfinished business, truly motivates me to take on the new tasks with a positive attitude and a refreshed enthusiasm. My efforts and work ethic are enhanced after taking a small breather and reveling in my accomplishments.

SERIOUSLY guys, you will be amazed by the strikingly obvious benefits you’ll experience by simply taking on this ideology. Staying positive, refreshed, and ambitious has never been so easy. Positive self-talk + Personal Rewarding (as a mechanism of positive reinforcement) truly make the biggest difference.

Stay lovely, lovelies.

xx allie

Always Listen to Your Body

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What’s up guys?! Happy Wednesday!

Lately, I have been itching to discuss an ideology that I’ve been adopting a LOT these days. ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

What does it look like to listen to your body? Sometimes, it means not being able to give your 100%, 100% of the time. This is something that I still continue to struggle with, but I’ve been progressively learning to take my personal limits in stride.

As I’ve discussed in my blog posts before, exercising is extremely important to me. Although it’s nice to see physical developments as a result of working out, I appreciate exercising more for the mental benefits it provides. Exercise combats stress and depression, two things that I have been known to struggle with in my life. Devoting 2-3 days to working out per week is essential to my mental wellbeing, and for that reason I refuse to give it up. I regard it as my due diligence to see to it that I get the exercise I need to ensure that I am operating at my most pristine mental capacity. Sometimes however, I am a little too ambitious. I book myself for a workout class at 8am, the morning after being up until 12:30am doing my grad school reading/assignments. On these mornings, it is particularly difficult to wake up and work out. So what do I do? I listen to my body. If my body is saying that sleep is more important than exercise for that day, I turn off my “snooze” button and fall back asleep for another hour. I almost never regret missing my workout for extra zzzz’s. In my personal opinion, it’s a good tradeoff.

If you know me personally, then you probably know that I’m a little bit neurotic when it comes to my school work, which I see as a general reflection of my ambition, perseverance, and motivation. It irks me when I don’t complete the assigned reading before class, or I feel that I have underperformed on a paper or assignment. In the past, I’ve been relatively successful at devoting 110% effort into my school life–even going above and beyond when possible. However lately, I am realizing that this is next to near impossible in grad school. If I were to give 100% in everything I do, then there would never be enough time in a day. It’s about learning to recognize my limits, accept them, and then not beating myself up in the end. In grad school you learn about prioritizing, and you also learn about “scraping by” or just “doing what you need to do”. Point is, I’ve been listening to my body lately and ignoring my guilt. If I’m falling asleep while reading, then I choose sleeping. I’m not going to die if I don’t finish…in fact, it probably won’t matter at all. If I need quality time with friends for the sheer sake of sanity, then you best believe I’m going to make myself get what I need…even at the expense of other tasks. Balance is truly everything….and mental health and sanity is always #1. In fact, I even give myself ‘break days’ during the week, where I promise myself not to even open a book or take out my laptop. It’s important to be present in life, and to continue to enjoy living.…which can often be sacrificed for the sake of education or getting ahead.

Getting sick? Make that your focus. Listen to your body and give it what it needs to get well. If you ignore the signs or symptoms your body is presenting, then you will only suffer for longer. Make time to visit a doctor, allocate 20 minutes to pick up the meds you need from a local CVS, go get that “Cold Buster” from Jamba Juice, or crank out that Chicken Noodle Soup recipe you’ve been pocketing. You might not think you have time for any of this, but the fact is, you don’t have time to NOT do this. Your health is important, and if you are not operating at your best, then nothing you do will be a reflection of your best efforts. Take care of your body, then take care of your other responsibilities.

Your body is smart. You will always know what you need if you are perceptive to its language. Be mindful and aware of what it tells you. Take it into consideration. After all, it is the vessel in which you live. I can think of nothing more important than that.

Stay beautiful, stay in tune.

xx allie

Friday the 13th: October Faves

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 Happy Friday the 13th fellas! Of all the days in October (aside from Halloween, of course), this has to be my favorite. Why?

  1. It’s October (my absolute favorite month)
  2. It’s Friday (tgif, duh)
  3. It’s payday (shopping anyone?)
  4. It’s an inherently spooky day (because it’s Friday, the 13th)

When you think about it, entire movies were created based around this particular day. So if you’re trying to tell me it’s not a big deal…then think again. So now that we’re officially (almost) halfway through the month, the countdown to Halloween officially begins! I thought it might be fitting to discuss a few noteworthy Halloween/October/Fall activities that are always fun around this time of year. Adulting sucks—but planning your month out with fun events surely always makes it better.

If you can commit to at least a few of these fun favorites, I can PROMISE your month will instantly be better:

  • Pumpkin Patch it Up: Guys…not kidding, if you don’t attend a pumpkin patch in the fall, then did you really even live through it? Pumpkin patches are so much fun because you get to walk through hay to select the perfect pumpkin (based on your own personal preferences), watch adorable kids/babies get excited over the games/’rides’, make your way through a corn maze, eat traditional fall foods (pumpkin pie, corn on the cob, etc.), and my personal fave…play with all of the animals in the petting-zoo! It’s never too expensive to attend…and yet you can often be entertained for hours. Plus—you can carve your pumpkin afterwards!
  • See Scary Movies: If you’re not a wimp (shout-out to all of my best friends), then definitely take advantage of the scary movies that come out in theaters around this time of year. Buy popcorn and chocolate (especially if it’s October), and take on a scary thriller. There’s no better way to get in the mood for Halloween than to immerse yourself in the throws of an intense film. I’ve got my eye out for “Jigsaw” this year….
  • Bake Halloween Treats: So I’m definitely not the best at baking….but there’s something special about fall baking in particular—especially if you can make adorable little ghosts, goblins, ghouls, skeletons, mummies, and witches out of sugar. Click here for a number of fantastic recipes. Better Crocker knows where it’s at.
  • Halloween Horror Nights [HHN]: As an adult, it just doesn’t feel as acceptable to go trick-or-treating anymore. When I first realized this a few years back, I was immediately saddened that Halloween was going to lose its pizzaz. Then, I discovered HHN. Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate way to celebrate Halloween. Not only do you get to embark on your favorite rides, but you also get to explore a number of themed haunted houses, and continue to be spooked by crazed costumed individuals with real-working chainsaws. Sounds like my kind of night. Basically, you’re guaranteed a lot of laughs, and a lot of fun. These tickets can be expensive, so be sure to check the calendar for discount days!
  • Haunted Houses: If you’re lucky, then chances are you’ll be able to find haunted houses in your area. Take advantage of these. They usually aren’t very expensive, and are always pretty fun when you don’t know what to expect. Plus, it’s pretty impressive to see all of the work that goes into creating the perfect haunted house. The makeup, the decorations, the acting….so cool!
  • Starbucks Drinks: Calories don’t count in October, I promise. I take every opportunity during the month to visit my local Starbucks and indulge on pumpkin spiced lattes, salted caramel mochas, and the like. It’s basically like Halloween in a cup, and like Halloween on your tastebuds. You just can’t lose.
  • October Nails: If you can swing it, go get themed nails. It’s so much fun to have little ghosts and skeletons on your fingers or toes. It’s a constant reminder of the fun time of year, and a cute little distraction to all who notice it.

 Alright guys, so that’s it for my Friday the 13th blog post. Be careful not to run into any black cats today, or break any mirrors…

HAPPY OCTOBER!

Xx allie

Shaken

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All day today I have felt shaken. I simply cannot get the vision of Sunday night’s catastrophe out of my head…and yet I was not even there. Thankfully, I did not attend that concert. Thankfully, no one that I personally know was hurt. But tonight I lay in my bed thinking about the many thousands of people who lost someone dear to them unexpectedly on that night. I wonder how many people will cry themselves to sleep, grieving over the loss of their son or daughter, their husband or wife, their cousin or best friend. Nobody could have foreseen the events of that night that left us all in disbelief. Nobody can undo it. My heart breaks to know this.

As I studied today in a public place, I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety as I imagined how it would feel if suddenly I were challenged with the daunting task of running for my life amidst an avalanche of bullets. A feeling of panic overcame my entire body as I stewed in fear at the thought of its possibility. To think that at any moment one could be caught off guard and introduced to the stark contrast of life and death.

There is nothing in this world that will remedy the tragedy that occurred on Sunday in Las Vegas. But when tragedies of this sort happen, it is important that we do the only thing that we know how–look for the light.

There were many heroes that rose to the occasion when those bullets were fired. Incredible people jumped in front of bullets to save others they did not know. On that night, we saw the sinister act of one highly disturbed person. But in contrast, we also bore witness to the truly compassionate nature that resides within the very same species. We were reminded, albeit traumatically, of the extremely divergent conditions of the human mind. The devastation that can result from that of a deeply troubled mind, versus the heroic altruism that comes from the same network of neuronal connections.

We wonder what caused such a psychotic break. What compelled this man to follow-through with the deadliest recorded mass shooting in US history? The sickly part is that we may never know. We may never determine what caused him to snap. This shakes us even more.

But if we can learn anything from this tragedy, let it be this: spread kindness. 

We cannot know what people are going through behind the scenes. We cannot know how our interaction with a stranger might affect their decisions–and how those decisions might affect others. We cannot truly know even the people that we think we know. The best defense against this act of violence is just simply to spread kindness. It doesn’t take much, but it makes all the difference. Do something to make someone’s day. Start a chain reaction. Show the world what us humans are really made of.

#prayforvegas

xx allie

FabFitFun Fall Box Spoiler!

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HAPPY FALL, OFFICIALLY!!

Hope your season started off beautifully.

There’s no blog post that can truly do the first day of Fall justice, but I figured what better way to kick off the season than with a FabFitFun Fall Box spoiler?!

So without further ado, let’s get started:

MerSea Scarf: Absolutely love this item. I expected it to be soft, but I had no idea it would be THIS soft! It’s a big scarf, with plenty of material to go around (and around and around and around). You can definitely tell it’s high-quality. I also love the color options. Depending on chance, you might receive the grey, pale pink, or teal color in your box. I received the teal and I couldn’t be happier, since my wardrobe could definitely use a bit of a color pop! Not a fan of scarfs? No worries, you can also use it as a bed runner! Retail Value: $98

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Private Party Gym Bag: I think this is my favorite item in the box. I was in need of a gym bag (so that I could carry my car keys, towel, change of shoes, workout clothes, water bottle, etc.), and this box answered my prayers! It’s a sizeable bag that will easily fit all of your gym items. It’s also very light-weight and flexible. All bags come with a super cute line on the front. So far I’ve seen “Gym & Juice”, “Will Work out for Cupcakes”, and “Meet me at the Barre”. Retail Value: $59

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TreStiQue Matte Color & Shiny Balm Lip Crayon: I’m always a fan of lip colors, so this item did not go unnoticed. The crayon is soft and hydrating to the lips, but also leaves a lasting shade. The lid is also magnetic, which is a nice touch. I received the lighter of the two colors, and I’m really happy with it. It is a color that I would typically use for an everyday work or school day. Retail Value: $28

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The JetSet Diaries Beanie: Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of hats…but if you like beanies this one is really cute! I received the black one, but I believe it also comes in a pale pink color. It’s light-weight and has a cute subtle fabric pattern. Retails for $49

 Heart Shaped Jewelry Holder: I would probably love this if I hadn’t just purchased one of my own. It’s really cute, and adds some cute deco to your bedroom. Minimalist design, with a place to put your rings on the bottom as well. Retails for $33—which is actually somewhat hard to believe.  

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My TagAlongs Hot & Cold Gel Pack: I am really happy with this product. It’s rare to find a gel pack that serves as both a hot and cold compress. I’ve already tried it out in my microwave, and it works like magic and holds its heat. Not to mention, it has really cute sayings on it. It’s small and slim and can easily be fit inside the gym bag! Retail Value: $15

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Whish Renewing Mud Mask: I LOVEEEEEE skincare products, so whenever they include these I’m psyched! This one only needs to be left on your skin for 2 minutes—so it’s super quick! It left my skin feeling soft and supple. Also is a decently sized bottle…so it will last for many a mask. Retails for $48

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Deco Miami Lavender Cuticle Oil: Not quite sure how well this oil works (as I’ve used it for 3 days in a row now and my cuticles seem about the same [as far as redness and dryness goes]). BUT (and this is a big but) I absolutely love the scent…and putting the oil on my nails before bed helps me relax and fall asleep to the lavender smell. Retail Value: $12.50

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Cottonelle Wipes Sample: This wipe sample is great because who doesn’t love to have wipes on hand! Throw them in your purse or put them in your glove compartment. 10 wipes come in the sample!

Molr Dental Club Organic Carbon + Coconut Teeth Whitening Powder and Toothbrush: A natural way to whiten your pearlys. It comes in a decent size container and will be good for SEVERAL uses. I like that they include a toothbrush, so that you don’t have to get your primary one dirty and charcoaly. The taste is almost non-existent and it’s an enjoyable enough teeth whitening experience. Only needs to stay on your teeth for literally 2 minutes! Retails for $43.95

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All in all, I really loved the fall box. It came with a lot of useful items, and was nicely themed for the season. Every time I get a new box, I always tell myself it’s the last one….but then I simply just cannot stop! FabFitFun is SO affordable and SO fun! I really feel like I’m getting a value. You can get all of this for $10 off using my code…so only $39.99!

CLICK HERE TO GET MY SPECIAL DISCOUNT: http://xo.fff.me/gv5Ap

xx allie

A Grateful Wednesday Morning…

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As I sip my regular hazelnut latte in a local Coffee Bean at nearly 10am on a Wednesday September morning, I couldn’t feel more in my element. It’s calm and quiet in here, aside from the background music that’s playing, and to my right is a fall-themed poster hanging on the wall, advertising their new pumpkin cold brew almond milk latte. This morning is calm and peaceful. There’s something magical about it, in fact. Today I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

For today, I’m not in a hospital. I’m not at a funeral. Today I’m not amidst a natural disaster. Today, I made it to the coffee shop without being pulled over or getting into an accident. I looked in the mirror this morning and saw nothing that was cause for concern. I woke up today in my bed, calmly and without being startled by a major earthquake. I used my credit card to purchase my coffee, and it didn’t get declined. Everybody that I know and care for, to my knowledge, is well and happy. Today is a beautiful day.

This morning I am living the life that I’ve been envisioning for a while. I am enrolled in grad school, working to become a professional mental health clinician. Week days can now be spent focused on the subjects that interest me, and capture my heart. Effort can now be expended in activities that will catapult me into the career that will complete me and fulfill my soul.

Sitting here in this coffee shop, about to endeavor on my readings for the week, is exactly where I want to be in this very moment. I could think of nowhere else that would empower me more. I am in my element, doing the very things that I’ve been wanting. I am where I need to be, to get to where I want to go. There is absolutely nothing more comforting than that feeling.

If you aren’t living your life in your element, I highly encourage working towards it. Absolutely nothing compares. Follow your dreams, and more importantly follow your heart. A waiter once told me, “if you follow your heart in life, then you’ll never be disappointed“. I remember when he said these words, I screenshotted them in my mind. I knew that there was validity to this statement. I knew that this guy was speaking from experience.

I think his statement was true for anything. For love, for education, for careers…for life. If you do nothing else worthy of noting, then do this one thing–follow your heart.

Happy Wednesday, blogees. Stay beautiful.

xx allie