DIY pumpkin face mask for fall

DIY pumpkin face mask for fall. Make this autumn inspired diy beauty treatment today!

One of the things I love to do on my days off is an at home face mask. I often purchase these at Ulta or I make them myself. This year I had heard others in the blogosphere talking about pumpkin face masks and I wanted to try one myself. I came across this recipe for a mask and I tried it on a day off recently and really enjoyed it. It left with a smooth clean face but not overly dried out as can happen. Perfect for fall. I have noticed that as I get closer and closer to 30 my face is getting a bit drier and benefits from products geared toward dry and sensitive skin as opposed to the anti acne products of my youth. (Thank God that is over.) If you don’t know your skin type consider learning more HERE. Armed with this information you can make wise beauty purchases and get the most out of your products.


Anyways, I prepared the mask and applied to clean skin. Because of my dry skin I mentioned before, I chose to do this in the morning. I washed my face the night before so it was clean. You could get away with washing and applying directly after, it just depends on what works for your skin. :Let the mask sit for about 20 minutes and it will begin to harden.  This is fine.  I then removed it during my shower. You could also remove it with warm water and a washcloth.


The recipe:
¼ cup pumpkin
1 tsp honey
1 egg

This makes enough for two or three masks so consider getting together with a few friends or sisters. Because this is made with raw egg I suggest using soon after making it and discarding leftovers immediately.



Did you try this mask? What did you think?  If you have any other fall beauty suggestions share them below!

Getting back on track



So it has been a rough couple of weeks. (When hasn’t it?) But I am ready to really get back on track with my life in regards to productivity and getting things done..  Although I have been productive in some aspects, I feel like social media has taken another strong grip on my time.  It seems that on evenings and days off I start with an abundance of time and then end up at the end of the day with nothing.  I started going back over my day and taking into account where my time went and I began to realize it was spend in five to 30 minute intervals checking Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I realized I was getting nothing from that time, and didn’t really even enjoy that time spent on social media.  I had been so proud of myself for not wasting time watching mindless TV all day but in all reality I was just reading mindless social media posts all day.  This is difficult because as an influencer, I do need a social media presence, but I also need to know when to stop.  Yes, I still want to post and interact, but the time spent mindlessly scrolling through posts that mean nothing needs to stop.
How I plan to do this:

  1. Phone will be left in its home at home. I have a charging station in the library in my home. It is in a nice centralized location so if the phone rings I can answer it.
  2. I will inform friends and family that calling may be best and that my text messages replies may be delayed.
  3. Schedule “office hours” at home so that I know when I need to be “at work” for blog tasks. I can set my phone to “do not disturb” and go head with my time. Generally I pick up these hours when my husband is not home or when it is convenient, but I am going to go ahead and schedule them for a little while until I get back into the groove.
  4. Have a plan. When I sit down for m y office hours I should already have an idea of what I will be doing. What posts need to be finished, what social media tasks are left to do, ect. Without a plan I am just sitting there wondering what I am forgetting. Ideally before the end of the previous office hours I should have written down tasks for the next session.
  5. Move my alarm clock. I have been totally slacking at getting up in the morning. I am a firm believer that a successful morning leads to successful day and a rushed morning leads to a rushed day. However, I have been hitting that dreaded snooze button way to much and have been rushing every morning. To fix this I like to move my phone to the other end of the room so that I have to physically get up to turn it off.  I also wear a Jawbone UP to wake me up with a vibration so that my husband isn’t disturbed

Ideally I enjoy having thirty minutes in the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee, set up my social media posts for the day, and hit any critical blog tasks.  I also use the time to review my personal planner and ensure I am ready for the day ahead. This “me time” sets me up for success the rest of the day.

What do you do when you need to get back on track with productivity? Share your tips!




Hurricane Matthew

I know this isn’t really the type of thing I talk about here on the blog but I wanted to take a minute and talk about Hurricane Matthew which has recently affected so many lives. I live in Central Florida and still own a home on the coast (mainland, not barrier island, thank goodness) as well as our new home in Orlando.  I have been living in Florida for my entire life, so except for that nice 12 year lull since 2004, I’ve been pretty accustomed to prepping for a hurricane once a year.


Anyways, what I want to say is that my home, my family, and my community were spared. We are extremely grateful and thankful that we received as little damage as we did.  We have been very lucky for so many years and it seems that this streak will continue.  My only hope is that the community remembers that just because we have been lucky does not mean we are invincible.  This storm, the first storm to hit our area sine I became a homeowner is a great reminder to myself as to the fact that we must be prepared before the storm is even named. If we wait until the warnings out out, its too late.


What could have been a time of devastation was instead a great time to reconnect with family for so many. My mother stayed with us during the storm and we had a great time cooking, baking, and catching up. I even had her color my hair! I am very thankful that we had time time together even if it was under less than idea. circumstances.  We are so lucky to be able to say this. Our friends to the south in Haiti and our friends in states to the north were not so lucky.  So hold your loved ones close and be thankful for every day that you have with them.


If you would like to make a charitable donation to help the victims of this storm you can do so via the American Red Cross.

Book Review- Grace, not Perfection


Grace, not Perfection by Emily Ley- book review. How to have a happy organized home without all the pressure.

As a blogger and a librarian one of the few perks I receive is access to early review copies of books. Thomas Nelson Speciality Division was awesome and let me review an ebook copy of Grace, Not Perfection, a new book by Emily Ley.

I have been following Emily Ley on social media for a few years now. She is an adorable designer and mother and the owner of the company named after her which makes the Simplified Planner. I have been using this planner at for work about 8 months now and love it. Emily is a great lady who really cares about women and how they make the most out of their days. In her new book she talks about her struggle trying to obtain perfection and how that is in fact not the end goal. She also shares tips on how to make the most of our days while still enjoying the small joys of life.

I am one of the millions of women who try to lead a perfect life. I am you type A first born. I want everything correct and how I think it should be. Often times this leads to overextending myself trying to be everything for everyone and keeping a perfect home at the same time. You can only go 110% full steam ahead for so long before you fall apart. I try to help everyone and do all the things, but in doing so ignore myself both physically and emotionally.

One of the quotes that really hit me was this one:

Have you ever wondered why flight attendants tell travelers that if oxygen masks deploy, you should secure yours before helping your kids or anyone else? They give this instruction because if you can’t breathe there is no way you can help anyone else. 

Grace, not Perfection by Emily Ley 

Emily shares her own personal story of trying to do it all and how it took a serious health scare to make her realize she can’t aim for perfection and must instead look for grace.  She shares both the reasoning for the suggestions she makes as well as real steps you can take to make these changes in your life and home.

Emily is a great christian woman and this book is from a christian perspective.  It is not preachy, however if mention of God is not something you are comfortable with then this book might not be for you.  As a christian this was not an issue for me, but I want my readers to be aware before they purchase.

This book is mostly geared at parents however I feel that I got just as much out of it as a non-parent.  In all reality anyone who feels over-extended like they are doing too much will enjoy this book. It is a quick read and is full of discussion questions so that you can really think about what you’ve read and write down what you can do in your own life to make these changes.


Grace, not Perfection comes out October 11th. You can preorder it on Amazon.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

What I read- September 2016




As in the prior months, I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently.  They just work for me and I can listen to them during my commute or at home while doing stuff around the house.  Want to try audiobooks? Click here for a free trial to

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
This book came out two years ago and I actually checked it out back then for my husband but of course neither of us got around to reading it. I saw it available on Overdrive through my library and I figured now was a good time to listen to it.  I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting when I got the book, but I was pleasantly surprised that this actually had some meat to it. Yes, of course the book had numerous stories of encounters with other clebs and SNL legends and the obligatory story of working hard and the dark parts of life.  It was awesome to finish the the book and have some great nuggets of advice afterwards. Here are a few.

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This book has been popular in bookish circles and was an Oprah’s book club selection.  When I saw it at the library I figured it would be an interesting and worth-while read. I was right.  This is a novel that follows the life of a southern plantation slave and her journey via the underground railroad to freedom. What is awesome bout this book is in it the “railroad” is a real functioning railroad.  The book does a great job conveying the true horrors of slavery and the south as well as life as a fugitive slave.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
If you liked The Girl on the Train or The Passenger then you will also enjoy The Woman in Cabin 10. This is another suspense novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat wondering who did it and how. What I liked about this is that it wasn’t as depressing at The Girl on the Train, but still entertaining.  A great fall read and perfect for snuggling next to a fire. Avoid if you’re going on a cruise. 😉

First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
By suggestion of a friend I read The Eyre Affair in July and really enjoyed it. I went to see what was next in they series and for some reason I came up with this one. Of course it is actually the last in the series so several of the references were lost on me due to lack of back story, but I did enjoy it. I will go back and read the books in the middle, so you may want to try the series, especially if you like literary references in a more modern setting.


So thats it for September. As always I wish I would have read more, but hey, you can only do what you can do.  Check out these titles and always feel free to suggest something to me! I am always looking for new titles. (Want to know how to contact me? Check the social media buttons on the top right of the site.)

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

September Faves



September was another crazy month for me. (It will die down soon, right?) The home we are selling was supposed to close at the end of August and we spent all of September extending and worrying about it. The sale ended up falling through but luckily we have already found another buyer.  With that and the stress of a new home I’ve been a little busy, but thats ok. Here are a few things I have been loving and some I’ve been crushing on.
Apple Cinnamon Pork Loin
I don’t do very  many slow cooker recipes as I am gone for too long during the day. (Most recopies are for 8 hours, I am gone 11 hours.) But once in a while, particularly on weekends, I like to try them out. I was excited to find both apples and pork loin on sale at my local grocer so I did some internet searching and came up with the recipe. I loved that it was simple and contained regular ingredients that I already have. It took minutes to make and looks like something I spent all day on.  It tasted great! Flavorful, but not overpowering.  We served it with potatoes and carrots. Don’t forget to garnish with the cooked apples, these were delish.

Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino
Every year as fall comes around basic girls flock to Starbucks for the famed PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Latte, for those of you living under a rock.) Sadly, I am not obsessed with pumpkin.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy pumpkin, I am just not in love with it.  Anyways, it appears Starbucks re-introduced this beverage this fall wit their other fall beverages and I have been enjoying it. I love a good mocha frap, but the salted caramel really makes this something fun and unique. Best part? It’s offered year-round.  Keep an eye out though, these are high in calories, even if you get it light.

Heidi Swapp Lightbox
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few photos if my Heidi Swapp Lightbox.  We purchased this at Michael’s a few months ago and it is just the coolest. Its like having your own personal marquee in your living room. In our new home we placed it in the foyer and change the message from time to time. It is a great way to keep things new and fun while also highlighting special events and holidays.  Get yours here.

Ok, on to a few things I am crushing on.
7327d8b4d701929a81e39d90b574225f_bestRay-Ban Clubmaster
This summer I have been in love with the Ray-Ban Clubmaster. I’ve always been a Ray-Ban girl and I currently have a wayfarer style as well as aviators. So really, I have no need for another pair, but they are just so cute!  Anyways, I live in Florida and wear sunglasses ALL THE TIME so I will eventually have to pick up a pair of these.

a76de74ed879ca491d940533c6baf77e_bestLiving Proof Full Dry Volume Blast
I’ve also been very intrigued by the new Full Dry Volume Blast by Living Proof.  I’ve seen mixed reviews on the product so I haven’t tried it yet, but soon. I often feel like I am lacking in the volume department, especially on day two.  If this works like it says it would really go a long way in making my hair look awesome, but I will have to try it and see. Have you tried it? Please let me know what you thought!


Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

Happy Planner home hack


So we’ve purchased our new home and are beginning to get settled in and are at the point where we are starting to actually start the projects we have talked about. One of the first projects we want to tackle this fall is landscaping. Because we live in Florida this is actually a great time to get some plants into the ground.  When I brought up to my husband that I wanted to start looking at plants he suggested I make a map of the property so that we’d know what we want and where. I figured this was a good idea so I went ahead and started sketching out the property. As I was almost done I realized that I had a real sketch of the property with measurements in the survey we got with the home! I quick;y went to my email and pulled up the PDF file.  I then converted it to JPEG with and cropped out the extra stuff and printed it out on cardstock.  After that all I had to do was add a few stickers and washi, hilighted where I had planters, and punch the page with my Happy Planner Punch and add it to my planner.  Now I have he measurements of the home and where I want to plant with me at all times. I am sure this will end up coming in handy for more than just this gardening project and only took me minutes to make.



TIP: Remove the address and any other important information from the survey before printing. I opened the JPEG file in Paintbrush on my Mac to erase this data. Feel free to keep or erase as much as you’d like. (I erased the utility easement line as that wasn’t needed for this project.



Need a punch?  I have this one and love it!
The new Happy Planners are out!  Grab one here!.
Looking for sticker paper?  I buy this one from  Amazon.
I cut my stickers with a Silhouette Cameo electric cutting machine.
On a budget?  Try the Gyro-cut to cut your stickers.
Looking for more?  Check out my archive of free printables.


Like this insert?  If you use it tag me in a photo on Instagram! @_amberdowns.

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are free.

How to freeze fruit to use in infused water


Have you tried infused water? Over the summer I became OBSESSED with it. It all started when my husband put some strawberries in some water he prepared for me and I fell in love with the beverage immediately. As someone who drinks large quantities of water I loved how this made my go to drink just a little more fun but still super healthy.  I know there are many of health claims about infused water, but to be honest, I drink it for the taste.


Of course once I started making these delicious drinks I realized that cutting an entire piece of fruit for just one drink was a little bit of overkill so I started looking into ways to freeze my favorite infused water fruits to add to my drinks as needed.


We already froze strawberries regularly for our smoothies so that was already a given but I was curious as to what else would (or would not) work so I started cutting things up and freezing them.


These items all froze great:


I sliced lemon,  lime, oranges, and a cucumber and spread them out on a cookie sheet to freeze.  By freezing this way they have a better chance of not sticking together when in the freezer. If you were to just toss them in a bag without flash freezing on a cookie sheet first they would freeze into one big glob. Not what we are looking for.

img_4712Freeze the tray for a few hours. The longer you leave it it, the more dried out the fruit will get, so keep it short. Then just toss them in a zip top back and stick them in the freezer and you’re good to go.


When it comes time to make your water simple take out the items you want and toss them in.  Keep in mine that because these fruits are frozen they will take a little water to flavor the water.  Id suggest making the water a few hours ahead or overnight for the fullest flavor.  Be  sure to serve over ice for a nice crisp taste.


Thirsty yet? 😉

My favorite way to enjoy infused water is out of this pitcher,  or in a mason jar with a lid from The Mason Bar Company.

What is your favorite infused water combo?  Share it with me!

How I BuJo in my HP


How I bullet journal in my planner. I just bullet journal (bujo) techniques in my planner to keep organized.

As you my know, I am a planner fan. I love writing things down and I love having a plan for my days. Using my planner really does help me get the most out of every single day which is super important for a person like myself.

Anyways, as you may have noticed if you follow me here or on Instagram, but I did not jump on the Bullet Journal bandwagon.  Do I like Bullet Journals? Yes, but they just are not for me.  However, when I started researching the trend I did find a few aspects of the BuJo world that mirrored techniques I use in my Happy Planner.


The first thing I noticed was the notation used by BuJo users. I was taught the notation system used by Franklin Covey, but I like the BuJo one too. I’ve been using this for a little while now and enjoy it.


The second aspect that seems to mirror my system is the indexed pages. One thing I love about my Happy Planner is that I have the option to add and remove pages. I can add anything into my planner with a punch or purchase special paper made for the planner.  I always have a few sheets of paper in the front of my planner for projects. I then have a place to write down everything related to what it is i’m working on. Although my pages are not indexed, they are in the front of my planner and very accessible.

Are you a Bullet Journal user?  Do use any of the BuJo techniques yourself?
Need a planner?  Try this Get one here!

Note: this post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link on this page I will receive a small commission from the store.  This does not change the cost to you, in fact, I search for the best prices to share with you.  Any income earned via these links is used to support upkeep on this page. My printables are always free.

Painted craft pumpkins

Painting craft pumpkins. How to paint foam pumpkins from MIchael's and other craft stores to look beautiful and realistic.

As a resident of Florida I always get jealous when I start to hear about friend up north placing pumpkins on their doorsteps in late September and early October. I’d love to start decorating with pumpkins, but it is just so hot here that they would fall apart in a few days and never last until Halloween or Thanksgiving.

I have for years seen the fake pumpkins available at craft stores however they just felt so fake. Last year I had the idea to buy these pumpkins (on sale of course) and paint them to look more realistic. I painted them up and loved the result. I am sharing them again this fall in case anyone is interested in this type of decoration. I just used cheap acrylic paints.

Read how I did it here.