Friday, January 9, 2015

Top 14 of 2014 // Beauty Favorites

2014 was a year filled with new products for me, so narrowing my list of must-have beauty products down to just 14 was challenging. But, I did it: here are 14 products that I loved wholeheartedly and fully recommend.


1. Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub: This body scrub will be good for your skin and even better for your wallet.

2. Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes: An absolute life-saver! See my post about how I save $86 a year here.

3. Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask: This mask is $17 for just 1.7 oz, however it has lasted me for over 15 uses! It instantly smooths my skin and rescues it when it is under siege. I love it so much, I even gifted this mask to both of my sisters for Christmas! 

4. Tarte Maracuja Lip Exfoliant: If you love peppermint, this lip scrub is for you! It does the job and shows no signs of drying up anytime soon.

5. First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser: Let me tell you, First Aid Beauty (or FAB) has saved my skin. This year I realized a lot of my skin, digestive, and overall health problems were due to allergies that I was previously unaware of. FAB is allergy-tested, fragrance free, and dermatologist recommended. All of their products are gentle yet effective and the face cleanser is a staple in my skincare routine.

6. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: Like the cleanser, this moisturizer is great for my sensitive skin and a cult favorite in the blog community. I am planning a review post solely on FAB products I have tried...

7. Dove Dry Shampoo: Inexpensive, effective, and doesn't leave a white residue, need I ask for more?

8. Elizabeth and James Nirvana Perfume Rollerball: I am horrible at describing scents, so please do yourself a favor and stop by Sephora to check it out. I love the using rollerball perfumes because I get tired of scents easily and passing on the full bottle saves me money.


9. Benefit They're Real Mascara: Another cult favorite, this mascara gives me volume without clumping. I like buying the travel size for $10 instead of the full size for $20 because mascaras always dry up before I can use all of the product.

10. Urban Decay Basics Palette: With the exception of the next product, these are the only eyeshadows I use on a daily basis because these matte shades are the only ones I need to do a neutral look. The shadows are creamy, easy to apply, and last all day.

11.  Maybelline Color Tattoo in 'Bad to the Bronze'': This cream shadow is absolutely beautiful. Most of the time, I apply it on it's own to my eyelid and blend it out, that's all I need! I have gotten countless compliments on my eye look when I wear this shadow. Plus, it's from the drugstore!

12. Maybelline BB Cream: On a day-to-day basis, I love a minimal and natural makeup look and this BB cream is perfect for light coverage. It doesn't dry out my skin and is great on its own or with a full makeup look.

13. Tarte Eyelash Curler: I can't believe I waited until 2014 to use an eyelash curler! I have long eyelashes, so I never thought I needed a curler, but adding an eyelash curler into my routine has changed my look. My eyelashes look so much better and I look more awake! This Tarte curler is great, but I have nothing to compare it to, so there might be a better or cheaper option out there.

14. Beauty Blender: If you have never tried the Beauty Blender, DO IT. Whether you are applying a BB Cream, full coverage foundation, concealer, or cream highlight, the Beauty Blender makes your makeup look airbrushed. Mine is well-loved and discolored, despite cleaning it every 2 uses (may be time for a new one). It is well worth the money and is my absolute favorite beauty tool.

What were you loving this year? Did you find a beauty product that completely changed your look?

xoxo Ava

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top 5 Study Abroad Packing Tips

This time two years ago, I was getting ready to leave for a semester abroad at The University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. I could ramble for hours about how amazing my experience was there, but I will summarize it with one thought: If you get the opportunity to study abroad, DO IT! You will learn so much about not only the host country, but also about yourself. I grew so much as an individual living 10,000 miles from home.

study abroad australia melbourne

Packing was a huge struggle for me because I could only bring one suitcase under 50 pounds and one carry-on. 
My entire wardrobe, makeup, skincare, etc. was packed in these two suitcases...

packing light for study abroad

I learned a lot about what you should pack from this experience, so I have compiled a list of my top 5 tips about how to pack for study abroad...

Do your research.

Before you put anything in that suitcase, do your research. has a feature where they break down the average temperatures of a city by each month. Also, research if there are any social norms that you should be aware of in regards to how you dress. If you will be of drinking age and want to go out to bars or clubs, look up some of the popular places in that city and look through their pictures to determine what people usually wear. However, you still want to make sure you are true to your style.

Be honest with yourself.

If you never wear skirts, why would you wear them when you are abroad? If you haven't worn it in the past year, do not bring it. Save the limited space in your suitcase for pieces you will actually wear. Be brutally honest with yourself. I knew that I always reach for shorts in the summer, so I made sure to pack my favorite pair of jean shorts, and I never missed my cute skirts I left at home.

how to pack for study abroad

Comfort is key.

As a study abroad student in a new place, you will probably be doing a lot of walking. Pack comfortable walking shoes! (I opted for B.O.C. riding boots and Sperry's) I did not bring a single pair of heels and did not miss them at all. Also, you need some clothing that you feel comfortable just hanging out. Don’t just focus on the cute outfits you will wear on the weekend. Also pack functional clothing for everyday use.

fashion advice for study abroad
At the Rip Curl Pro, a surf competition for surfers from all over the world!

Prioritize Layering Pieces.

When I arrived in Melbourne, Australia, it was over 90 degrees, but when I left, it was around 40 degrees. So, I had to prepare for a lot of different weather conditions. I covered the bases by packing basic pieces that can be layered on top of each other. I brought one black and one brown cardigan that can be thrown on top of tanks and tees as well as dresses and skirts that can be paired with tights when the weather gets cold. 

Towards the end of my stay, when the weather was cooler, I LIVED in these boots, leggings, and jacket. (The B.O.C. boots were my go-to walking shoes!)

what to pack for study abroad

Plan for your return.

As a tourist, you will probably be buying souvenirs for yourself and your friends and family, which means you need space in your suitcase on your way home. It was easy for me to decide on a pile of clothing to donate before I returned home because I had worn my versatile items to the ground. This left me with more room in my suitcase for souvenirs!

Are you studying abroad soon? If so, where? Leave a comment below and make sure to follow me by email or on Bloglovin' to know when I post! 

xoxo Ava

Friday, December 5, 2014

Are Bean Boots Worth The Money? // Review

L.L. Bean “Bean Boots” have exploded in popularity over the past few years. This year, I finally caved and purchased a pair of the L.L. Bean Bean Boots 8” Thinsulate in Tan/Brown.  This particular pair was $139, but the simple Bean Boot 8”, which looks very similar, retails for $109.

(There are a variety of style options, including heights and colors, which are all clearly outlined on the L.L Bean website.)

Spending over $100 for a pair of boots is a big decision for most people, especially a college student like me, so I have compiled a list of pros and cons for you to consider when making your decision.

L.L. Bean Bean Boot Review


Lifetime Warranty & Quality

As with all L.L. Bean products, these boots come with a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee”, which means that if at any point the product is not to your standards (rips, holes, etc.), you can exchange the product for a new one. Additionally, the salesperson told me that if the tread of your boots wear down (which they eventually will because they are rubber), you can bring them into the store and they will replace the sole them for you. This free service is ideal because they keep the leather, which you have broken in to fit your body. L.L. Bean is known for its fabulous customer service, which, along with its quality products, is a strong reason to purchase boots from L.L. Bean. 

2 in 1

For me, the biggest reason I was willing to spend $139 on a pair of boots is the fact that they double as both rain boots and snow boots. Therefore, you can actually save money and space in your closet by purchasing Bean Boots. However, I would recommend not purchasing the $109 Bean Boots because they are not waterproof above the rubber, unlike the Thinsulate style. (Side-note: The popular Hunter rain boots retail for around $150, so Bean Boots are priced competitively.)

Versatile Style

Bean Boots can be seamlessly incorporated into almost any outfit. They look great with skinny jeans, leggings, tights, and even sweatpants! Also, as seen in the picture above, I love adding cute socks that peak out from above the boot. Adding your own flair to these boots can easily incorporate them into you own personal style.



I originally ordered these boots online in a size 8. I normally wear a size 9 or 9 ½, but the sizing chart online suggested wearing a size 8. When I received them in the mail, they were so small I couldn’t even fit my heel in the boot!  Therefore, I would highly recommend that you do not order the boots online, but rather go into your nearest store to try them on.


Trends come and go. Will Bean Boots still be stylish in 5 years? Or will there be another popular boot coming around the corner?

Not everyone’s cup of tea…

Many people, like my mom, do not think these boots are cute at all. If these opinions matter to you, that might be a major factor in your decision.


YES, they are worth the splurge! I have absolutely no regrets about purchasing my Bean Boots. Dreary days are made just a little better when I get to slip them on with a cute pair of socks. I would recommend these boots for anyone who lives in a climate with a lot of rain and/or snow.

Do you have Bean Boots or have considered buying them? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, follow me on Bloglovin', Pinterest, and Instagram! Links to the right.

Happy Friday!
Xoxo Ava

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cozy Plaid

I saw The Nutcracker with my family last night, the perfect start to the Christmas season!
As my first fashion post, here is what I wore! I wanted to dress up a bit, but still be comfortable during the show. (Details below.)

Shirt: American Eagle
Skirt: Cotton On
Booties: DSW
Scarf: H&M
Clutch: Old Navy
Watch: Kate Spade

xoxo Ava

Friday, November 28, 2014

How I Save $86 on Makeup Wipes Alone

Over the past year, I have become somewhat of a skincare junkie. I might be a little too obsessed with making my skin look and feel better, which has led me to try a variety of skincare products (finally settling on one brand in particular, post to come!) 

I am willing to spend more money on skincare, because I have very sensitive skin, including allergies to some ingredients in skincare and makeup. However, I always thought the Neutrogena makeup removing wipes were an absolute rip off. Spending about $7 A MONTH on just removing your makeup seems excessive. 

I heard someone mention the fact that Pamper's Sensitive Baby Wipes can be used as a face wipe for adults too. When I did a quick Google search and discovered that they were under $2, I ran out to Target right away and bought a pack. 

These wipes are now my #1 beauty trick I love to tell everyone. As a person with sensitive skin, these wipes make total sense. If they are sensitive yet durable enough for a baby's bottom, they should be great for my face!

For this post, I decided to calculated exactly how much I save a year and was shocked with the results (see image above for calculations).

I would most definitely recommend that you try out this affordable alternative to the Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes! Even if you don't love them, hey, you only lose $1.97.

xoxo Ava

Friday, November 21, 2014

Products I've Used Up // Love 'em or Leave 'em?

For some reason, I have always been fascinated by these posts on other blogs. Using a product completely allows you to formulate a well-informed opinion about the product. Here is the trash I have accumulated over the past 8 weeks, which I have kept in this Bloomingdale's bag underneath my bed. I'm anxious to finally to throw it out (or recycle!) 


First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: YAY!

This was approximately the third tube of this soothing face moisturizer I have gone through. I plan on writing an entire post about First Aid Beauty, but the short of it is that FAB is finally the heaven-sent skincare line that my dry and combination skin loves. Just purchased the massive tub of it!

First Aid Beauty Blemish Patrol Pads: YAY!
Like the Ultra Repair Cream, this product is a must-have for me. It tones, exfoliates, and fights breakouts. I attribute it to clearing up the under-skin blemishes on my forehead.

Almay Oil Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads: NAY
Underwhelming. These tiny, flimsy pads do remove makeup, but not any more than a makeup remover wipe. Will not be repurchasing this disappointing product.

Dove Clinical Strength Dedeodorant: YAY!
I have already repurchased this deodorant in a larger size! It does the job without leaving an overwhelming scent.


Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream: YAY!
This is a great BB cream because it provides light coverage and blurs my imperfections. I used this particularly during the summer on days where I did not want to have a full face of makeup. I have not repurchased it yet, however, because I have been attached to my new Bobbi Brown foundation!

Benefit They're Real Mascara: YAY!
This is by far my favorite mascara of all time. I love using the travel size because I have never used up a mascara completely. Mascaras always dry up before I actually use all the product. So the travel size is perfect for me because I can save some money! I have already repurchased a new one!

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer: NAY
Although I was not disappointed with this primer, it definitely did not blow me away. I am still unsure if I am convinced of the effectiveness of primers in general, so I am currently trying some different brands.


Dove Dry Shampoo: YAY!
Apparently I'm on a Dove kick! This dry shampoo is by far my favorite one I've tried. It doesn't leave a residue, which is my main complaint with other dry shampoos (like Batiste, which I am currently trying to finish up before buying another Dove can!)

Tresemme Tres Two Spray Ultra Fine Mist Hairspray (level 3): YAY!
I've had this can for what seems like forever! "Superior hold with a touchable feel" is its claim, which it certainly lives up to. I haven't repurchased another can because I plan on trying a new hairspray. Any recommendations?


VitaFusion MultiVites COmplete Multivitamin Gummy: YAY!
These are very yummy and don't have that medicine taste that a lot of other brands have. I have already purchased another bottle, but a smaller one because by the time I got to the bottom of this bottle, the gummies were dry.

NatureMade Biotin: YAY!
Biotin has completely changed my hair and nails! Both are so much stronger! However, I don't think the brand matters much when it comes to supplements, so I have since purchased another brand.

What products have you used up recently? Any new ones I should try?

xoxo Ava

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mighty Balls, NYC // Broadway Bites

On a recent weekend trip to the Big Apple with my boyfriend, I had an entire day to explore the city by myself. Just last week, I accepted a post-grad job in Connecticut, with just a 30 minute train ride to Grand Central Station, so I was anxious to explore the city more and see what my options are when I visit on the weekends next year. I was wandering the Garment District when I stumbled upon this food festival just as I was becoming hungry for lunch. Broadway Bites is run by UrbanSpace, which runs a variety of food festivals in NYC.

After becoming overwhelmed with all the options, I decided to try "Mighty Balls", for its clever name and endless options to spice up a meatball sub, which are a favorite to me. After about five minutes of an arduous internal debate, I settled on veggie balls on a roll with "tempting tomato" sauce (listed as tomato sauce with a kick). I passed on the normal mozzarella as a topping and went with gorgonzola. Total cost came to $10, an appropriate price for New York City.

After battling the crowds for a small cafe table, I dug in. It was one of the messiest meals I could have chosen, but it was SO worth it. The veggie balls were not mushy as I was expecting and the sauce was perfect. Gorgonzola was the cherry on top. Although this particular food festival is no longer running, UrbanSpace runs other festivals, and Mighty Balls has other locations you can visit!

Through the craziness of the city, I momentarily looked up to see the buildings poking up behind the trees. In that moment, I realized my love and appreciation for New York City. I am thrilled that this will all be at my fingertips next year...

 xoxo Ava