Fancy Pants

Being a girl from Texas, I really struggle in the winter when I have to dress up for a night out. I'm used to being able to wear pretty much anything year-round, but this becomes a challenge sometimes with the colder weather in Charlotte.
 
I'm loving the "leather" leggings trend right now because they're the perfect item to dress up in the winter. These "fancy pants" work great for a night out with your girlfriends, and you won't be bare-legged and shivering because you tried to wear a dress or skirt in 30 degree weather.
 
Add an embellished top and some killer heels and you're ready to go. I love the versatility of them too, pair them with some flats and a statement tee for mimosas the next day!
Top: Express Pants: Express Shoes: Similar Here Polish: Essie

Charlotte Blogger Holiday Party

On Wednesday night we had the annual Charlotte blogger holiday party and ornament exchange. Beth has hosted this event the past two years, and I asked her if this year she wanted to make it the December Charlotte Social meet-up. I was surprised at the great turnout we had, and Beth was so sweet to host us all at her house!
We sipped holiday drinks, ate some delicious desserts, chatted all things blogging, and played an ornament exchange game.
What happens I've noticed, when you get a group of bloggers together, is that there is very little "awkward silence". There's a good chance that you've come across their blog, or exchanged tweets with them before, and in many cases it feels like you've known each other forever!
I've made some great friendships through the blogging community in Charlotte. There are so many awesome ladies, and at each meet-up I connect with someone new. I'm really excited about the plans for The Charlotte Social in 2014, and if you're a blogger in the Charlotte-area I hope you can make it out to a future meet-up!

Primers - The Best & Worst

Let's face it (pun intended), any look you want to pull off this holiday season will need a good foundation to start with. The perfect primer will give you just that, a smooth base on which to apply all of your favorite holiday looks, and that little extra "stick" needed to make sure it lasts throughout your entire holiday party.
Primer is important, not just during the holiday season but throughout the year. It's an easy step to add to your makeup routine that will make you look just a little more polished. I've spent the past year trying out A LOT of different primers, and wanted to share my thoughts on the following five with y'all.
1. Smashbox Photo Finish - To me this product is a classic. If you're just experimenting with primers and don't know where to begin, Smashbox Photo Finish is a great start. I love the consistency, it goes on smooth and leaves your skin feeling silky and looking fresh.  
 
2. Tarte Clean Slate Poreless - This product was a HUGE DISSAPOINTMENT. I was really excited to try it, especially because it's marketed as an all natural product, but as much as I wanted to love it I just couldn't. The consistency was really thick, making it hard to distribute evenly on my skin, and it didn't make my makeup last any longer than normal.
 
3. Lorac POREfection - This product reminds me a lot of the Smashbox Photo Finish primer. It has a similar consistency and effect. The only downside is that my face did seem a bit more oily when I used this compared to Smashbox.
 
4. Cargo High Definition Mattifier - I absolutely love this primer. It has a nude tint to it, which some people might not like, but I love it because you can wear it by itself on those days you might be in a hurry. Also, if you have oily skin this is by far the best mattifier I've used.
 
5. Benefit Stay Flawless - Another slight disappointment with this primer. Out of all the ones I tried, this one really did help my makeup last the longest. The consistency however is really thick hard to blend in, making it more of a hassle than a benefit (pun intended again, ha!)
 
A couple of disclaimers: My skin tends to be on the oily side, so depending on your skin type you might have different opinions of the primers I've mentioned.
 
Also, the best trick I've learned is to apply your moisturizer, wait 5 minutes, apply your primer, wait another 5 minutes, and then apply your makeup. Although it adds some extra time to your makeup routine, applying it this way really does help it last all day.

Gifts for Everyone, Under $15

With the holidays quickly approaching, we're bound to run into situations where we'll need a gift for someone but can't afford to be spending a fortune on every single person we know. Maybe it's for that co-worker who's always so thoughtful, that friend you try to catch up with at-least once a year, or that neighbor who's helped you with a favor from time to time.
 
I've come up with a list of gift ideas for every personality on your list, and better yet, they're all under $15. Something thoughtful to let them know you care, but that won't break the bank in the process.
 
Do you want a chance to win the gold heart mug featured below? I'm giving one away on Mason's blog so head on over and find out how it can be yours!
For the Dreamer: The Big Ideas Notepad. This cute notepad is filled with motivational quotes and plenty of blank pages for any go-getter on your list to fill with plans, dreams, and ideas.
 
For the Girly Girl: Sephora Eye shadow Palette. Any girl who loves beauty products would love to receive this palette. Eight beautiful shades come bundled in a fantastic glittery case.
 
For the Book Worm: Bookends. How contemporary chic are these bookends from Target? They're the perfect addition to dress up any book lovers library.
 
For the Barista: West Elm Heart Mug. You'll make their morning coffee taste a little sweeter with this adorable gold foil heart mug from West Elm.
 
For the Fashionista: Dainty Stone Bracelet. This gold stone bracelet is the perfect addition to any outfit, and can be stacked or worn alone.
 
For the Tech Nerd: Emoji Stickers. Help your friends take their Emoji's from text to paper with these cute emoticon stickers from Urban Outfitters.

My Favorite Holiday Movies

One of my favorite things about the holidays (aside from all the time spent with family and the delicious food) are the holiday movies! It doesn't feel like Christmas to me until I've watched each of these, maybe even more than once.
Last year while I was visiting my grandma for Thanksgiving, I discovered a holiday movie hidden gem, The Hallmark Channel. Maybe some of you have heard of their great holiday movies, but I certainly hadn't. My grandma and I spent two days laying around watching their movies, and I'm pretty sure that between this season and last I've seen them all.
 
We all know I'm a hopeless romantic, the cheesier the love story the better in my opinion, so if you're anything like me then Hallmark Channel movies will not disappoint. From now until Christmas they're playing holiday movies all day, every day, win.
Have y'all seen any of these? Which are your favorites?

Help Change A Life

I wanted to share a story with y'all today. A story about a young man who has inspired my family and touched our hearts. It's so easy to take for granted how much we're blessed with, and Hiram has definitely served as a great reminder of all I have to be thankful for. Read his story below, written by my mama...
 
          "My family and I were given the opportunity by our church (Grace Presbyterian Church Houston) to receive $20 given to us by them and use these funds any way we saw fit that might make a difference in someone’s life. When our Pastor handed out the envelopes, God nudged me and I knew immediately who our recipient should be. My next task was trying to discern the best way possible that we could multiply these funds and truly make an impact.

          For starters, my immediate family of 8 each added $20 to the church’s $20 which gave us $180 to begin building. With this initial $180 we started a fund for our recipient through Amazing Ministry’s, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, with the faith and hope we could get others as excited to donate as we are.

          That gets us to our recipient and why we are reaching out to you on behalf of this worthy young man. Hiram Benitez is 23 years old and resides in Abilene, TX. Hiram never had the privilege of knowing his father and was raised by a single mother along with 6 other siblings.  She found herself on the “other side of the law” on multiple occasions and when she was going to be absent from Hiram’s life for an extended amount of time he was taken in by a wonderful foster family in Abilene. This family has provided him with much love, support and direction.


          Hiram graduated from Abilene High School and has worked most of his life to support himself.  One of his jobs was at the Abilene Country Club where he learned to swing a golf club pretty darn well. One of the country club members asked the Hardin-Simmons University golf coach to take a look at Hiram and see if he might be a candidate to play for the school and that is where our family crossed paths with him.

          Our youngest son is also a freshman at Hardin-Simmons University and plays on the golf team. We met Hiram the day we moved our youngest in to his dorm room. Hiram had been recruited by the coach to help and the thing I remember most was his contagious smile. Our son, David, has gotten to know Hiram over the last couple of months and has developed a tremendous amount of respect for him and his story. At 23, Hiram took a leap of faith and decided to go to college and is funding this solely on his own. He works full time, receives a small amount of money from FAFSA and is depending on his savings and tax refund to pay for school next semester. This is a kid who in our opinion is a winner, against all odds. Hiram loves the Lord and he lives to help others when in actuality, he needs some help himself.

          It will be such a blessing to see Hiram succeed and set an example for others and hopefully we can help him “bridge the gap” financially and stay in school. No gift is too small and most of all the act of others doing something for Hiram no matter what that may be will show Hiram the goodness of the human spirit and what God can do in your life when you truly believe in Him.
 

We Believe,
Kistal and Dave Key, Brooke and Derek Key, Michele and Ryan Key, Briana Buzali and David Buzali"

As you can see, Hiram has been an inspiration to my family. If you're able, please consider donating, and help us change this young man's life. If you can't donate money, please pray for Hiram, and our efforts. I will keep everyone updated!

Additional donations accepted and appreciated:
Checks payable to: Amazing Ministry, Inc. (write Hiram Benitez in the memo line)
Mailing address: P O Box 421566 Houston, Texas 77242-1566
 

Sometimes We Regress

By the time we reach our 20s we've learned plenty of lessons the hard way. We've made choices and we have a pretty good understanding of the things that will hurt us, bring us heartache, or just make life plain difficult.

Even though these lessons have helped us grow, sometimes we regress. You know those times when you're really feeling like an adult? Life is going well. Maybe you're getting a little bored with the mundane adult world, and you get distracted.

We start making choices, consciously deciding to do things that we KNOW, oh we know, will bring us heartache and make our life a little more difficult. We know because we've done it, we learned our lesson (or so we thought) the last time we made that decision, but we still go down that road.

We chose to see that guy who may or may not have a girlfriend, the one who wants us to believe that we're the exception and not the rule. We chose that glamorous job, the one that is more exciting, despite the instability and the smaller paychecks. We surround ourselves with the toxic friends, commit to more responsibility than we can take on, stay out a few hours too late and have one too many drinks. Knowing that it's harder to go back than it was to get here.
So what do we do?
We hold it in all in. We carry the guilt of our choices around until the weight of it all is about to break us, and then we call the person who knows us best, the one we can be honest with. The person we let see the worst side of ourselves, because we know that even through their disappointment, they won't judge us. They listen. The comfort and cry with us, and tell us the truth even though it stings.
We start to think about the decisions we're making, and begin to be smarter about them. We apply the knowledge we have and the lessons we've learned.
We begin again.
Little by little we add up our "good decision karma". We keep making the right choices until we're back to breaking even. Until the weight of the bad decisions no longer pulls us down. Until we're back on track again.
and we thank God. We thank him for new days and for grace, for forgiveness and for new beginnings.
For sunsets to take away the bad days and our bad decisions with it, and for sunrises to welcome in the fresh starts and a clean slate.
and we breathe.
So friends, here's to not carrying the weight of your bad decisions. Here's to grace, and forgiveness, and new beginnings. Here's to another sunset, another sunrise, and a love that knows no end.

Brunch, My Favorite Meal.

I headed down to Texas this past weekend to take my little brother to his first NASCAR race, and made a quick stop in Houston before making my way to Dallas. I wanted to take full advantage of the time I had with my parents, so I knew brunch was a must do. It's my favorite meal of the day, and in my opinion it's the best way to spend quality time together. At what other meal is it acceptable to order three drinks (coffee, water, and mimosas!)?! My point exactly.
We decided on Backstreet Café, a restaurant set in a 30s era house in the River Oaks area. It's charming, and quaint, and nestled between trees, right up my alley. They have two great outdoor seating areas, with an amazing backyard patio, the perfect place to enjoy the sunny Texas weather.
 
My mom and I opted for breakfast food, she had the gingerbread waffles which were to die for, and I had the migas, while my dad went with the lobster rolls. It was the perfect combination of sweet and salty to share.
(gingerbread waffles with fruit and powdered sugar)
(lobster rolls)
(migas)
 
We sat there all morning drinking lattes, sipping on mimosas, and solving all the issues of the world. I'm blessed with some pretty awesome parents. They are so great about always making sure I know that they love and support me, but also letting me grow and learn as I make my own decisions.

Rodan + Fields Review

My fast approaching quarter of a century birthday has me freaking out, it's like I want to make sure I'm not missing out on something I'm supposed to do before I turn 25. My latest freak-out came after reading this Glamour.com article where the author talks about things she wishes she would have done for her skin in her 20s. She mentions the importance of vitamin packed serums, retinol for anti-aging, and SPF, all of which I don't use. "Great" I though, "I've already wasted five of those years, I better catch-up during the last five".
 
Ironically, the day after I read that article I received a message from Sara, an independent Rodan+Fields consultant. She said she had been reading my blog for a while and noticed I posted a lot about beauty products, but never spoke about my skin care routine. The truth is, I've never given my skin care routine much thought. I'm one of those girls who buys whatever looks interesting and uses it until it runs out before purchasing the next random find. I've learned however, that the secret to all those beauty products working their best, is having a great foundation to put them on and that starts with great skin, and a good skin care routine.
She sent me samples of the following three products...
ENHANCEMENTS Micro-Dermabrasion Paste - Polishes skin with a sugar-and-salt scrub featuring vitamins C and E.
REDEFINE Lip Renewing Serum - Each peptide and antioxidant-rich capsule helps lips retain natural moisturizing factors, visibly smoothes lip texture and reduces the appearance of lip wrinkles.
REDEFINE Night Renewing Serum - Visibly reduces the appearance of aging with a potent blend of peptides and retinol.
 
It's like Sara came to the rescue after my freak-out, and showed me where I could find some amazing products to start good skin care habits. I loved how soft the micro-dermabrasion paste left my face, and both the serums went on smooth and left my skin feeling renewed the next morning.
 
I'm anxious to try more R+F products. I have oily skin and have been looking for a good oil-free moisturizer, so I'm going to order the UNBLEMISH Oil Control Lotion which also has SPF 20, so important in preventing wrinkles! Since it's part of the UNBLEMISH line it should help with the occasional stress related acne I get too. I'm also ordering the Night Renewing Serum which I love love loved!
 
If you've heard about R+F but want to learn more, definitely contact Sara. She's such a sweetheart, and can help you understand the different products and which ones might work best for your skin. Plus Sara is a girl after my own heart, her hubby drives race cars, so she's got that perfect mix of "girly, but can hang with the guys" thing going on!

I Can Hang With The Guys

On Sunday I spent the morning at the new blow dry bar in town, Blo. While I loved all the pampering I received, I walked out of there needing to balance out all that estrogen. It's what happens when you grow up surrounded by boys.
 
I don't know about you, but nothing makes me feel more like a bada** than throwing on my signature aviators and converse. I paired them with this flowy camo top and black skinnies for the perfect "I can hang with the guys" look.
Hair: Blo Charlotte. Shirt: Express. Pants: Delias. Shoes: Converse. Glasses: Ray-Ban. Watch: Michael Kors. Necklace: Dogeared.

Blo - Charlotte

A few months ago I found out that blo was going to be opening in Charlotte. I was so excited because I've been wanting to visit a blow dry bar, and couldn't wait to have one nearby. They're finally open and I decided to visit today. They have a great online system that let's you book appointments online, and they'll send you a text message reminder the day of so you won't forget.
Everything about blo screams "girl". The pink, white, and silver décor reminds me of the Barbie mansions I had when I was little, it's perfect. They offered me a glass of champagne while I waited, and had the cutest candy bar set up, win and win.
I scrolled through the hair menu which features all the different blow dry options available, and decided on "pillow talk", sultry, tousled, bed head.
Their $35 signature "blo out" includes a good shampoo, conditioning, and the styling of your choice.
Ladies, the next time you have an event to attend, or just need a little girl time, head to blo. I felt pampered and relaxed when I left, exactly what I needed.
The end result? You can see it here below. Bre and I had a blog date to take some outfit pictures right after, so it was the perfect excuse to get my hair done.
Have you ever been to a blow dry bar? What do you think?

Crock-pot Chicken Noodle Soup

Few things are as comforting to me as a big bowl of chicken noodle soup, and few things are as easy to cook as crock-pot recipes. I finally had a night at home yesterday after about two weeks on the road, and I knew that this chicken noodle soup recipe was exactly what I needed.

Ingredients:
  • 2-3 pieces of chicken on the bone
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I used low sodium)
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste, depending on saltiness of broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups egg noodles
*Tip: my favorite store, Trader Joes, sells pre-packages celery, carrots, and onions already chopped up. I highly recommend using something like this to save you some time.
 
Instructions:
Place all ingredients except noodles in the Crock-Pot. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Remove chicken and bay leaf from pot; take meat from bones, dice, and return to broth, and add the noodles. Cook another hour or until noodles are done (about 1/2 hour on high).
 
The next time you wake up to a chilly day, throw these ingredients in the crock-pot and you'll have a delicious bowl of comfort food by dinnertime.

My Favorite Blogs & A New Facebook Page

I'm looking for some new blogs to follow. I've been reading the same ones since I first discovered the blog world, and while I still love them, I figured it's time to add a few more to my Bloglovin feed. This is where I could use y'alls help. I would love it if each of you would leave me a comment with the following...
 
1. The first blog you started reading, the one that got you interested in blogging.
2. The blog you aspire to be like one day (in terms of content, creativity, photographs, design etc.).
3. Your blog crush.
My answers to those questions would be...
1. Kelle Hampton from Enjoying The Small Things.
2. Jenni from Story of My Life.
3. Julia from Gal Meets Glam.
 
If you don't already follow these ladies, and are looking for some new blogs to read, I'd highly suggest these three!
 
In other news, I started a Facebook page for Just Bri. I've been hesitant about doing it but finally took the plunge. So, if you enjoy following blogs through Facebook, I'd love it if you gave me a "like"!
 

Leopard Print & Tortoise Shell

I love neutral colors, beige, black, white, they're the perfect tones to make an outfit look polished and chic. Every now and then though, you need to mix it up and play with prints. Two of my favorites are leopard print and tortoise shell. These prints still keep with the neutral tones I love so much, but add a touch of girly and glam, which I'm all about!
 
Below are some items I'm lusting over. You could add each of these pieces to a neutral colored outfit to give it a little pop. In my opinion these are two prints that will never go out of style.
Necklace (Southern Charm Apparel), Flats (Target), iPhone Case (Tickled Seahorse), Purse (Michael Kors), Scarf (Amazon), Tennis Shoes (Nike)

Pumpkin Pickin'

Fall to me isn't complete without a trip to the pumpkin patch, and a good ole fashion pumpkin carving contest, so when my parents were in town last weekend I knew that was something we had to do.
Before we could head to the pumpkin patch I had a huge list of "to do's" for my dad. Things like hanging pictures, moving furniture, changing light bulbs, you know, all that "guy" stuff. It took a lot longer than expected but when we were done we headed to Carrigan Farms in Mooresville.
Unfortunately, we spent all day doing things around the house and by the time we got to Carrigan it was too late to do the hay ride (which was what my mom was most excited about), whoops, sorry mama!
Anyway, we picked out some pumpkins and spent some time talking to the farmer, who just thought it was the craziest thing that some folks from Texas were at his farm. We dragged the heavy a** pumpkins all the way home and by the end of the day everyone was too tired to carve them. What the heck?!
So now I have two super huge, un-carved, pumpkins sitting in my kitchen. What's a girl to do! If you're in the mood to carve a pumpkin before Halloween, come on over!
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