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Winter beauty faves

January 31
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Winter Beauty Favorites


Hey friends, I wanted to take a few minutes today to share a few of my favorite products for winter.  Now yes, I know it does not feel like winter AT ALL in Florida this year, but I did spend some time in Chicago this year and have fell in love with a few new things that were perfect for dry damaged skin and hair.



Ponds Dry Skin Cream– I actually bought this accidentally thinking that it was cold cream but was pleasently surpirsed by what it was.  Although not what I was shopping for, this lotion is like an intensive night cream that is so rich and luxurious feeling you’d think you’d spent ten times as much.  Because there is no SPF in this product I only use it in the evenings.  Looking for my favorite daytime moisturizer? Check out CeraVe AM lotion with SPF 30. Perfect for year round use.


Carmex– This is of course the best lip product for dry lips. Try one with SPF to combat that winter sun.


Nivea hand cream tins– I have several of these little tins. One at my desk, one in my bag, and one in my nightstand. The cream is a thick hand cream, not a lotion and really moisturizes my hands on the spot.  Bonus: The tins are super cute and yes, the lids do stay on tight.

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NARS Hilighting Blush- When my skin is super dry and lacking color I like to grab a nice hi lighter to bring it back to life. This one from NARS is perfect.  I always prefer a power to a liquid product in this department.


Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick– When I’m dealing with dry winter lips I switch from my holy grail Kat Von D Liquid Lip to a product that is more moisturizing and covers the problem more. This Tarte Lip butter totally does the job.


Nexxus Humectress Moisture Restoring Masque– Hair a dry mess? Try this mask from Nexxus.

What I keep in my work bag

January 13


What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

Although I sometimes wish I was a full time blogger, I do in fact have a “read job.” I am a the head of the reference department at a decent sized public library. I love my job, and I enjoy going to work every day, but it always seems like I forget to bring something.

Because of this, I put together a little work essentials kit.  This kit stays at work and contains all those little things you just might need during the course of a day or would just make the day go that much better.

What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

My kit contains
Face palette
Hair ties
Bobby pins (These are my favorite brand)
Tampons (or pads)
Panty liners
Hand cream
OTC pain medication

You may also want-
Rubbing alchohol
First aid supplies

I also try to keep a few snacks in my desk to munch on when my blood sugar gets low or in case I forgot to bring something.

What is great about these little kits is that fit nicely into a desk drawer or a locker so you can leave it at work and have a little more peace of mind knowing it is there. Of course none of the items mentioned are required and your kit should only contain items that you would need within your work day. Don’t waste your time, money, and space, filling it with anything you might need, its not worth it. Just stick with the essentials that you’ve found yourself needing in the past.

As far as bags are concerned, check around your home and see what you have. I used  a freebie from an Victoria’s Secret order but anything will work as long as it fits in your locker or desk.  No locker or desk? This could also be kept in the car as an all around emergency kit, just make sure the lipstick doesn’t melt.



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

What I keep in my work bag- all the essentials I keep in my desk at work to handle all the little things that come up during the day.

New blog design

January 8
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Hey everyone, I wanted to post a little update about the changes around here.  I’ve been doing some work behind the scenes and have finally published the changes.  It is not anything too major, just the formatting and look of the blog. I have made some changes to the sidebar as well.  If you notice anything that seems off or did not transfer correctly please let me know.  My hope is that this new design will be a little more pleasing on the eyes and easier to use.  If you have any questions please let me know!



Have a great week!

2017 word for the year: THRIVE

January 1
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In 2016 my word of the year was Leap. Last year I challenged myself to “Take chances, make mistakes and get messy.”  (Thanks Ms. Frizzle) In 2016 I did make leaps in several area of my life; I started a new job, we purchased a new home, met great people, and I furthered this little blog into something pretty cool.

This year I am focusing on taking what I have done, my relationships, and myself and growing them to be the best they can. I want these, and all, areas of my life to thrive.

From Marian-Webster’s Dictionary


  1. (of a child, animal, or plant) grow or develop well or vigorously.
    “the new baby thrived”
prosper; flourish.
“education groups thrive on organization”

These are the areas I am focusing on:

What I have done:
My blog is going well, my (new) job is going well, and my new home is finally in some type of order. This year I want to take the time to make these the best that they can be, instead of just getting by,. I want to make great blog posts and provide awesome content. I want to be a great supervisor and librarian in my job. I want to make changes to my home that make it the best it can be. I want these areas in my life to flourish.

My relationships:
My husband and I have been married two years as of December. I of course love him to death but I know that if we do not take the time to focus on and nurture our relationship that we could lose it. The same goes for relationships with family and friends. It is so easy to just ignore these people when life gets rough, but instead I want to nurture these relationships as well and take the time to meet new people and grow my circle of friends.

Self-care is important. As I get older I do feel that I am getting better and better at it, but there is still so  much room to improve. I will be turning 30 in July and it is time I really start taking my physical and mental health seriously. I eat fairly well and am good about drinking water, but I need to start getting to bed at a decent hour. This year I want to focus on getting into bed early  so that I am not dead tired when I get home from work. When I get home from work tired the whole evening snowballs: I am too sleepy to cook so we eat junk, I don’t complete the tasks I have planned, and I don’t get to spend quality time with my spouse because I am half asleep on the sofa all night.

I know that these are harder to measure goals and I am ok with that.  Instead of changing habits I want to shift my lifestyle into one that really produces the best in these areas.


Do  you do a word of the year? Share it with us or post it on instagram and tag me! I’m @_amberdowns.

2017 reading goals

December 30
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For the last two years I have participated in the Goodreads reading challenge. In this challenge you give yourself a goal of how many books you’d like to read over the year and then you add them to the site when you’ve read them. I love that it keeps track of how you are doing and lets you know if you are ahead or behind in your reading.

For 2016 I challenged myself to read 50 books. FYI: I count YA and adult books, not kids books. I do not count picture books or small children’s books. I actually met my goal by the beginning of December and as of writing this (December 30th) I have read 58 books!

When I select my books i try to read across a variety of genres as well as both fiction and non-fiction. This year I want to make a better focus of adding in classics as well. I have been saying this for some time, but haven’t really acted on it. This year I am going to be writing down the titles in my planner and making a chart to count how many of each I read; fiction, non-fiction, and classics.


This sheet was made from a simple sheet of Mambi classic size planner graph paper.  You can use whatever paper fits in your planner, or use an extra notes page. Also, several months ago I made a reading log insert for the Happy Planner so that could be used as well.


My reading goals for 2017 will be to red 60 books, 12 of which are classics and at least 12 non-fiction titles as well.  I plan to continue to focus on adult fiction titles as they are popular with my patrons at the library and give me titles to refer them too. I also want to continue to explore books that may not be fun but will help with gaining a better understanding of the world around us and our community. Although I have, and will continue, to enjoy fiction, I think its important to also read for information and social education, now more than ever.


I hope this post has inspired you to set a reading goal for 2017. A goal can be anything, even five or ten books, we all start somewhere! If you do set a goal let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my emails and follow on Instagram to get updates on what I am reading.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

Hot Cocoa Station

December 19
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Over the last couple of years it has become a trend to have a cute little coffee station in your home. A little more than just the pot and a sugar bowl. I created one of these cute little stations in our new home and then  when the holidays hit this year I noticed everyone was converting these to hot cocoa stations.  Well, you guessed it, I joined the band wagon.  Living in Florida we don’t consume tons of cocoa, but we were holding a party so I figured it would be a fun addition and a great alcoholic choice for our guests. Because we have a Keurig I decided the easiest thing to do would be to get the cocoa K-cups that way guests to make cups as they please.  They are more expensive, buy we’re paying for convince here. We also set the station up with a jar of mini marshmallows and candy canes for stirring. As you can see from the photo I keep my coffee K-cups in a drawer under the brewer so  I added a vintage strainer for the cocoa k-cups as a way to highlight them.  . On my coffee/cocoa cart I keep a stack of all-season mugs and a tray of additional mugs below.  If you were expecting a large group you could also purchase disposable cups.


I did not do another other decorating of this space as I plan to keep it up after Christmas and therefore want it to be just a seasonal station but a cute print or framed art would look great about this area or even a little banner.



My cart is a vintage Cosco cart which is in dire need of refinishing. The mustache mugs (similar) were a gift from my sister a few years ago. Because this is also a coffee station I have sugar and my homemade coffee creamer available as well.  The mugs on the tray are part of a dish ware set by Oneida which is no longer available. A similar set is available at Kohls.


Do you have a coffee or cocoa station in your home? How do you set it up for the holidays?


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

Holiday Home Tour

December 10
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One of the things I love about the blogging world is the way we get to peek into the lives and homes of others. I love how during the holidays bloggers open up their homes online and share how they have decorated or prepared for the holidays. I know it sounds simple, but this little glimpse into the lives of others always feels special to me and a great way to feel closer to the blogger.

Today I want to share my home with you via some photos of our holiday decor.  I had planned on sharing more of our new home after we moved in, but I really hadn’t felt that it was anywhere near done until this past weekend when we finished decorating and held our holiday party. It really does not feel like our home which really does fill my heart with joy.  <3

How about we get on to the photos?


I’ll start with the front porch. I don’t do the big beautiful front decor that some do. Lets be honest, I am lazy and cheap, but I do like to add seasonal flowers and a wreath. As you can see my door is in need of a new coat of paint, but that is a project for 2017.  The wreath is from Wal-Mart of all places!


Our home has a fun little foyer that I am still getting the hang of decorating. When you open the front door you are greeted by a large mirror. I currently have a love-hate relationship with the room and the mirror; I feel like it might be weird and dated and yet I also feel like it is a cool aspect of our home that is fun. So I leave it there. When we viewed the home the prior owner had a cute glass table which my husband loved, but I haven’t gotten around to looking for one of those, and this one was $10 at a thrift store. I plan to refinish it, but haven’t yet, that is why we have two place mats as a little tablecloth on it.  Sneaky, I know.  The marque is the Heidi Swapp Lightbox (which we LOVE) with the holiday wreath pack.  We keep this light box on the table and decorate it with images or text based on the time of year. It ads a great personal touch. I also filled our decorative bird cage with extra tree ornaments as a way to add some color and pop. I think it worked. Of course we also added a fall candle to add some welcoming scents to the entryway.


Our living room is done in tan and red so it already has a “Christmas-y” feel to it. I love how warm and cozy these colors are, especially in the winter.  After the recent addition of the rug this room was really coming together…(yes, the rug really tied the room together 😉 .)  Last week, right before our party the coffee table, that I had been planning on replacing, broke when we tried to move it with too much weight on it. It was perfect timing really, as it opened up the room for the party and got me moving on getting it replaced. So the room is a little more open that usual, but it works for now.

When we purchased the home I immediately pegged that front corner as our tree location. I love trees that are visible from the street; it reminds me of driving around and seeing the lights on homes as a child and seeing the tree inside and how happy the family must be.  This led me to always wanting my tree in the front of our home.  We do our tree as a traditional family tree. We do not pick a color scheme each year and generally only add the few ornaments we have purchased or been gifted. Many of our ornaments hold special meaning to us we enjoy putting them up together each year. Maybe next year I will share a few of them. 😉


When we purchased the home, one of the selling points was this beautiful stone fireplace in the living room. I know it doesn’t make a ton of sense in Florida, but it really makes the house a home. As you can see the fireplace does not have a mantle so we used 3m command strips and hooks to hang the stockings.  Worked perfectly.  I also decorated the fireplace with a cute little banner from the Target dollar spot, a lantern from Kohls and some crackers a friend brought for our party. (More on that later)

Because of the design and color of the room this is just about all we do for this room.  We put out a few little holiday knick·knacks on the tables and call it a day. This year we did not decorate the top of the TV cabinet as it was already in holiday colors.   I usually put out something on the coffee table, but like I mentioned, we don’t have one right now so that solves that problem.


Because of the party I did a little more decorating than usual in our dining room. The dining room is a very central part of our home and I knew our guests would be spending quite a lot of time in this room. Because of this I wanted to a few little things and of course not go out and spend a lot of money.

Our old home had white pillars out front and I had this lighted garland that I wrapped around them. We did not use this in the outdoor decorating of the new home so I doubled it up, added a ribbon, and draped it onto the curtain rod for the patio.  Perfect, and all I had to do was purchase the ribbon.


I generally add something to the buffet mantle and this year this is where i added some new items. I picked up the candles at Michael’s as a fall clearance item knowing that gold is a year round color and that I could use them for whatever I wanted. I purchased the “Cheer” sign from Jo-Ann Fabrics and the table runner is from the Target Dollar Spot. (I think it was a fall item as well.) I purchased the poinsettias seen around the home at Lowe’s on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Pro tip: The $.99 flowers sell out fast on Black Friday but the sale lasts for several more days. Check back in a few days and your store may have another batch in. I purchased these on Monday after Thanksgiving.  These are great to add color to the home or for gifts.

The bar table is actually an outdoor table that we brought in to use for the party. I added an old tablecloth and it worked great.  We decided to leave the table up until after the holidays as I am sure having a beverage station and extra table will be helpful throughout the holiday season.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek into my holiday home.  My hope is that this brings you a little insight into my life as well as some holiday cheer and inspiration.

-Amber D.


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. Enjoy!- Amber D.

E.L.F. Cosmetics

November 29
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Some of the items mentioned in this post were provided free of charge for the purpose of reviewing. All opinions are my own. Links are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission from all clicks. This does not affect your price. 


Have you tried E.L.F. cosmetics?  If you’ve been in target you may have seen them on a back wall in  the beauty section or more recently at CVS. For a long time I lumped them in with other budget cosmetics brands; something too cheaply made for anyone over the age of 13 to use. Then, about three years ago a friend turned me onto their eyebrow wax and I was hooked.  At this point I have tried a number of their cosmetics and have been impressed with the quality of the items for the price.  Yes, they are not high end products, but they really do get the job done for what you’re paying.  Today I am going to share a few of my favorites that I feel work almost as good as, or as good as their expensive counterparts

Lip Exfoliator: This is great for winter or lovers of long wear lip products.  It has a great texture and leaves my lips super soft.  Use it once a week for best results. This product is only $3.  CRAZY

Primer: Some people love primer and others could care less. I am one of those that love it and can’t live without it. If you’ve never used a primer this is a great one to to try out. It really makes my foundation application smooth and “flawless.”  I had been using Smashbox, but with the E.L.F. product for only $6 why not?

Setting Spray: I have a problem with my foundation lasting the entire day so I use a setting spray to extend my wear. I use this spray to set my makeup to give me a full day.

Eyebrow wax: If you haven’t tried eyebrow wax yet, you need to do it.  The best budget pick is this $3 e.l.f. palette. It is not as intense as   but for most users it is just fine a a fraction of the price.


I hope you check out these suggestions, I really do believe that e.l.f. puts out quality products for the price. You may have never heard of them as they don’t spend a ton on advertising or celebrity spokespersons but they do make every penny count.


Have you tried e.l.f.?  What is your favorite product? Share below or tag me on insta and twitter.  I’m @_amberdowns







Black Friday deals

November 25
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I wanted to jump on the blog this morning and share a few cute things I found on sale online. Each year I do more and more of my shopping online and I am always looking for new stores or sites to shop.  Here are a few adorable options for yourself or a loved one.



This Kate Spade “Go Bananas” bag is perfect and a great deal.
I love this Epicurious 11 piece copper colored cookware set.  Its the kind of thing I’d want to keep out and display my kitchen.  Perfect for a friend in a new home or family member who needs a replacement set.
I am LOVING this trench coat from Banana Republic. It is over 50% off!

These Star Wars flannel sheets come in Twin and Full and two prints.
This Faux mohair throw from Pottery Barn is half off.
I love this little tent for toddlers and kids. It is the perfect place for imagination as well as somewhere to hide the toys when guests come over.
This razor comes with a bluetooth speaker. Perfect for the bathroom!
These Kate Spade mixing bowls are too hip to skip.
I feel like every home needs one cast iron skillet. Grab this one for a friend.
Anyways, these are just a few of my favorites that I am seeing today.  Keep an eye out for other great gifts. Next week I will be sharing guy gifts. They are always the worst to buy for in my world.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy! gift guide: Gifts for the Happy Planner lover

November 22
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Holiday gift idea for the Happy Planner lover in your home.  Great Christmas gifts for planner lovers

Do you have a loved one who is Happy Planner obsessed? Chances are, if you’re here you do.  Today I am sharing a list of items that your planner girl might enjoy.  I know I’d love to receive any of these. *hint hint* to the hubs if you’re reading this. 😛 

Now, on to the gifts! I have shared items that are available  on Amazon to expedite the process as most of us already have an Amazon account.


Punch– If she is new to the Happy Planner system she might not yet have a punch. These are AWESOME and great for adding extra pages to her planner. It is my #1 accessory.


Is her planner getting tight on those rings? grab these expander rings.

Does she love embellishments and stickers? This two pack sticker set will last her a long time.

Do you think she might want to cut her own stickers? Consider a Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. This machine is perfect for making stickers, vinyl decals, cards, and about 1,00 other uses. ( I use mine all the time.)


This Home Planner expansion pack is full of goodies.

Does she have fitness goals for the new year? If so get her a Fitness planner expansion pack to make those goals a reality. Or go big time and get her a complete fitness planner.


Lastly, ever great planner girl needs washi tape! Grab some here!


I hope these gift suggestions give you a place to start. Have a question? Contact me on Facebook or leave a comment below.

Don’t forget to remind her to stop by to grab free printables and planner ideas!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you purchase an item via a link from the page I will receive a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay for the item. In fact, I research the best prices for my site. All printables are free. Enjoy!