G.N.O. + Double Dates

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G.N.O. + Double Dates

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My Top 5 Fav Birthday Freebies

For those of you who know me, my birthday has always been a big deal. It's the one day of the year it's okay to be self-centered. (there- I said it.) So what else is almost as good as turning another year older? Well, birthday freebies for one. I'm all about flashing my ID to get a good birthday deal, so here are my top 5 favorites!


1. Landry's Select Club

As much as Tilman Fertitta has gotten right in life, the Landry's Select Club is one of my favorites. You pay $25.00 to activate your account, which turns into your "Welcome Reward", so the $25.00 you pay automatically goes onto your card for you to use at any of the participating Landry restaurants. In addition, once you are a member, you receive $25.00 in your account for you to use during your birthday month. Per usual, can't use on alcohol, but still very worth it.




2. Sephora Beauty Insider

Free make up anyone? The Sephora Beauty Insider is one of the many programs Sephora offers where you can earn points and free deluxe samples through out the year, including a birthday gift during your birthday month. Seriously. It's totally free.




3. Benihana Chef's Table

If you're anything like me, the only times I've been to Benihana is either for my birthday or graduation. I'm personally obsessed with hibachi grills, but don't go often due to the usual expense. Thankfully for your birthday you can score a $30.00 gift certificate to use once you are a part of the Chef's Table program. Heads up, pretty much everyone does this so don't be surprised if everyone at your table has a birthday coupon. Hey, at least you get one of those framed photos at the end. #worthit




4. Urban Decay Beauty Junkies

Free make up is just a really cool thing, okay? Especially GOOD make up. So here's my second pick for beauty - the Urban Decay Beauty Junkies program where you get free shipping on all orders, special access to limited-edition products, extended returns and of course, the free birthday gift. Points add up over the year for additional freebies and surprises, so this is a must have when it comes to making the most of your special day.


Keep it together all day (and all night). ๐Ÿ˜‰ // ๐Ÿ“ท: @takashimayasc #UrbanDecay

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5. Sprinkles Perks

What's a birthday without a little cake? At Sprinkles Cupcakes, you can sign up for the Sprinkles Perks where you get a free cupcake on your birthday! In addition to the free cupcake, you get double points and chances to earn free cupcakes through out the year. Not that I need more cupcakes, but I'd like to be offered.




Each of these birthday freebies come with time stipulations, so make sure to check ahead of time when the freebies expire. What are your favorite birthday freebies?

Treat Yo Self Day



I'm such a sucker for holidays, especially when there is candy involved. Which means you know I'm hitting up those discount candy sales tomorrow. But before I buy way more candy than any one person should be allowed, I wanted to treat myself to a little make over.

I had been dying to try out local Make Up Artist Jentry Kelley's line of make up, but was unable to make any of the demos she offered around town, until today! (And what better day than Valentine's Day!)




I was amazed at how much a few small make up application tricks really changed the over all look of my face. I had been struggling with finding a good day to day routine, which Kelley coins as her "Carpool Make Up" look - and it was exactly what I was looking for.



I was pleasantly surprised at how little time it took to create that every day look, without putting on too much. I tend to dread putting make up on because of the time it takes, because yes, I am that lazy, but her routine was perfect. She had me hold a mirror throughout the application to show me how she was applying, and that really helped. She even filled me in on some tips to make the most of her make up.




To top it all off, she sent me home with information on all of the make up she used and even had a face to show where she applied each of her products. I bought the Tinted Primer, which has SPF20 (hello sunscreen), but can't wait to buy the rest.




Below are the products she used on me:

SKINCARE

Exfoliate

Quench

Revive

Hydrate


FACE

Step 1

Step 2
No foundation used

Step 3

Step 4


CHEEKS

Step 1

Step 2


LIPS



EYES

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3
Eye Shadows 
Pressed
Loose

Step 4

Step 5


48 Hours in Arizona



This past weekend I took advantage of a friend of mine living in Phoenix, and explored the Sedona Desert, Scottsdale and surrounding areas. I hope my post brings you ideas on how to not only make the best of each trip you take, but how to plan, implement and learn to make your next trip even better!

CHOOSING MY DATE


I chose to visit in February mainly because flights tend to sky rocket to this area between March and September because of the warm weather - but even though February is still considered "winter", the weather was almost perfect. When picking the best time to visit any city, look into going either right before, or right after, the tourist season. Odds are, you'll still get all the highlights of the busy season, but without the crowds and high price.


CHOOSING MY FLIGHT


Like normal 9-5 jobs, I don't have a ton of time I can take off through out the year, so I tend to plan my trips on the weekend. Sometimes it's hard to find the right price and time, but I found a flight that fit with my work schedule to where I only had to take a half day on Friday. So technically didn't have to "take off" work at all! The flight left at 2:55 pm on Friday and came back at 11:30 pm Sunday. There is a one hour time difference (they are one hour behind) and even though I didn't get home until almost 1:00 am Sunday night, it was still worth it.


PLANNING 


To me, half the fun of any trip is the planning. Finding the local spots, hidden bars, off the beaten road activities, you name it. My friend was relatively new to the area so he was more than happy to let me look into a few things for us to do. Of course I used my trusty Travefy website to put all the information in one place. I sent him the link prior to the trip to look it over and we were good to go.


THE FUN PART


FRIDAY


My flight arrived around 5:00 pm Arizona time on Friday and we decided to keep it low key and head to Chandler, which is southeast of Phoenix. Chandler is a small town that was busy enough with locals, but thankfully didn't seem to be a touristy area. For dinner we ate at San Tan Brewing Company where I throughly enjoyed seeing multiple Texas items on the menu - but I settled for shrimp tacos and their Grapefruit Shandy. (which you can get in Texas!)

After, we headed to Modern Margarita, a small cocktail bar that seemed to be the place to be on a Friday night. I decided to keep it simple and ordered the signature Modern Margarita, complete with my favorite - lucas salt on the rim.



I had originally planned on going out in Phoenix that night but between waking up at 4:30 am that morning, mainly because I hadn't packed yet, and working half a day, I knew I needed to wave my white flag. So we called it a night, knowing we'd have to be up at 5:30 am the next morning. And no, I'm not sure why I do that to myself.

SATURDAY


Up early, we headed into Sedona to hike to the Devil's Bridge. We got there at the perfect time, before it got too hot and too crowded. The hike wasn't bad at all, and the views were simply breathtaking. I felt like I was in a movie. Did I mention this was free? We got there around 8:30 am and by the time we came back down, around 10:00 am, there were waves of people coming up. It was tight sometimes with just the few people we did encounter, so I can only imagine how tight it got with everyone else.







Trip Tip: Go as early as possible and bring water. There are multiple places to sit down and take a break, so energy bars and light snacks are also encouraged, depending on how long you want the hike to take. There were multiple routes to take, so this could easily be an all day adventure.


After our hike, we were pretty hungry and had time to kill before our jeep rental at 1:00 pm, so we headed further into Sedona and found a local restaurant, Olde Sedona Bar and Grill with a small art and craft show going on in the parking lot. The views weren't too bad either. And you bet the second I saw fried Cactus on the menu, I had to have it. Verdict? It was delicious. I opted for the chicken tortilla soup as my lunch, knowing we still had a long and active day ahead of us.



After lunch, we headed across the street to Whole Foods and bought a few drinks and snacks for our afternoon excursion. Even though our rental at Barlow Adventures didn't start until 1:00 pm, we arrived around 12:30 pm to start the paper work process. Again, being early paid off because about 10 minutes after we started our paperwork, two other big groups came in. Thankfully we were almost done and on our way.




The jeep rental was for 5 hours so we decided on two trails, the easier one, Solider Pass and then the most popular one, the Broken Arrow trail. The first one took about an hour and half, going all the way down and stopping at different places on the way back.




The second trail took about 2 hours, going through some pretty rough areas, with a breathtaking payout. Both were amazing, but Broken Arrow takes the cake as one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. Renting a jeep vs. going on a guided tour makes a world of difference. We were able to take our time and stop and go as we please.







After finishing early with the trails, we ventured further into downtown Sedona to see what we could find. In addition to breathtaking views, there was an abundance of shops, restaurants and more. Refueling with pizza at Sedona Pizza Company, was the cherry on top of the ice cream of a perfect day.

Sedona is about 2 1/2 hours from Phoenix, so we decided to head back and take it easy by staying in, but at least we got to watch the sun set behind the mountains on the way back.




Trip Tip: My FOMO is real, and when I travel I tend to over plan and tire myself out before the end of the trip. But I knew that we had been gone for over 14 hours and my body needed to chill so I was more than happy to stay in.



SUNDAY



Now it was time for my part of the trip that I planned, and man had I planned it. I found Rainbow Ryders, a hot air balloon company (hello bucket list) and booked a flight for that Sunday morning, which ended with a brunch in the desert. But because Saturday was just too perfect, and life happens, the weather was not in our favor, and unfortunately, the flight was canceled. Yes, I had my moment of silence (planners, you know what I mean.) But I wasn't going to let that ruin my last day.

Before we even made it back to the office, I had found and booked a lunch food tour in downtown Scottsdale with Arizona Food Tours. Since it was still relatively early, we headed to Lux Central which is crowned as one of the most Instagrammed restaurants in Phoenix. Super cute and local, it reminded me a lot of a place you would find in Austin, TX. I ordered the biscuits and gravy and a cup of their house blend coffee.




Next we headed to Scottsdale and walked around until the food tour started. I have done a food tour before in Chicago, as well as a pub crawl in Denver, both I highly recommend wherever you go. It's a great way to not only sample multiple local favorites, but to learn local history and meet new people.





The food tour was 3 hours long and consisted of 5 stops, one of which included a drink - but we were more than welcome to buy additional drinks on the side. (which you know I did)





Around 2:00 pm, the tour ended, but thanks to suggestions from a few of the people we met, we made our way to Pedego Electric Bikes and for only $15.00 an hour, you can rent an electric bike and take it basically wherever you want. (There are other bike options for $25.00 per hour)

They had a few suggested routes, which lead us to the neighborhood down the street where some of the most amazing houses were. I know that sounds weird, just looking at houses on bikes, but it was really something! Plus, Camelback Mountain in the background wasn't too bad either. It was just fun to be on a bike and experience a side of Scottsdale not many get to.



Around 5:00 pm, after we were done with the bikes, and since the day was kind of a "play by ear day" - we headed to the airport to drop me off. I couldn't believe my wonderful weekend was finally coming to an end. It really seemed like it was longer than usual, and for that I am grateful.


RECAP



It was a great trip and even though the hot air balloon didn't work out, I had the time of my life and definitely plan on making my way back to that area someday.

And of course, shout out to my great host, Aron, for putting up with me for the weekend.




Overall Trip Tip: I highly recommend finding friends that live in cities you want to visit and see if they wouldn't mind hosting you (or you and a few friends) for the weekend. You'd be surprised at how they are more than happy to have visitors and show off their area, so don't be afraid to ask that friend you went to college with 7 years ago.

My "Do Something" Year

Here we go again, another New Year, another list of things we want to improve on. Save money? Of course. Lose a few pounds? Sounds like a plan.

But what about those goals that will not only improve your life, but other lives as well?

I am using this question as my jumping off point for my "Do Something" year. For too long I've just read the articles on my newsfeed that highlights local issues, thinking some day I would help in some way. But "some day" never came, and here we are, a new year with new possibilities. So why not now? I have made it a goal of mine to do a few things each month to help improve the lives of others, in addition to improving mine.

Below I have divided up my goals with resources on how you can join me and help make Houston a better city!


Volunteer More

This has always been something I've wanted to do more of, but I always thought I would need at least one or more people to volunteer with me. But in an attempt to grow more individually, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and volunteering on my own. I have found a few websites that help connect you to volunteering opportunities locally. (listed below) My goal is to try and do at least one event a month, if not more. My first event will be on Saturday, January 21 with the BBP Community Clean-Up, which takes place at Buffalo Bayou Park from 8:30 - 11:30 am. (and you can still catch brunch after)

Houston Volunteer Websites:
VolunteerHouston.com
VolunteerMatch.com
AllForGood.org


Run More

Back in the day when I had time, and money, I used to run a lot. I ran a few half marathons and some 5K's in between. Not only was it a fun way to stay in shape, but it kept me motivated and usually came with a free t-shirt and medal. (who can say no to a free shirt?) Sure, they can get expensive, costing about $25.00 - $45.00 for each event - But if I plan ahead, that's basically one night of not going out. There are so many small 5K's and fun runs in Houston, so I knew I wouldn't have an issue with trying to do one a month. My first one will be on Saturday, January 14th for the ABB 5K. Until the Expo day, it is only $35.00.

Houston Running Event Websites:
HoustonRunningCalendar.com
RunningInTheUSA.com
Active.com



Learn More

I feel ashamed when I think back on the past two years post college and think about how little I've continued my education. Yes, I've been to a few workshops here and there, read a few books when I had the time, and watched my fair share of Netflix documentaries, but I didn't do any of this with a goal or end game in mind. So with that said, this is the year to really learn more and continue my education, and not just in the marketing field. I recently came across the series Brain Games on Netflix and - just wow. Re-learned a few things I forgot but also learned a few new tricks that I am pretty proud of - felt good to actually learn something new other than a short cut in Illustrator.


So when it comes to learning more, I plan on going about it three different ways:

Daily: I recently found this App called Peak - Brain Training, and you can set alarms to remind you to train each day. I set mine for 6:00 am, which is when I wake up, and I play a few brain games first thing in the morning. It keeps track of the games you play and shows you where you need improvement, and where you are excelling. Takes me maybe 10 minutes max, and I love getting my brain working that early.

Monthly: Watch at least one new documentary. As much as I am on Netflix, you would think I could spare more time to watch a new documentary, but sometimes I just have to catch up on Scandal. Even though I wish Ancient Aliens counted, I reserve these documentaries to have some kind of historical or scientific basis.

Bi-Monthly: Find a luncheon or workshop that is related to my career field and see if my job will sponsor me, if not, the events are usually only $25.00 - $35.00, worth the lunch and networking. Since I am in the marketing field, I use AMAHouston.Org for their event and luncheon information. Which ever career field you are in, there should be an organization in Houston that will help point you in the right direction for continued education.


Save More

This may not be that unusual, who doesn't want to save more? But just as it seems that simple, the not simple part is laying out a plan and sticking to it. Over the years I have found only one method that has worked for me, and although I've been slacking, I am ready to get back on and (hopefully) never fall off. Now, I could talk forever about the Dave Ramsey Envelope System, but I'll save that for a different post. For now, I give you the website as a starting tool. Perfect time to do it because the system allows you to save up for Christmas all year so by the end of the year you don't have to worry about relying on your bonus or making funds tight.


Exercise More

For the first time - probably ever - I got a jump start on this one. In the beginning of November I joined Planet Fitness with the intention of taking my time to figure out a good workout routine, time of day to go, etc. And that I did! I found that the perfect time for me to go is in the morning before work, and I have started to dedicate days to arms, abs and legs, in addition to my daily cardio. I don't go every single day but I do have a time set aside each day for just working out. Once you find time and space in your schedule, you have no excuse left and let me tell you, after doing it for more than 21 days, you build a habit, and you won't want to stop! But don't think that since it's January, you HAVE to start now. Start slowly, do your research and decide what options are the best for you and find what fits best with your schedule. If I can motivate just one person to start a new workout routine and a healthier lifestyle - I've done my job.


Communicate More


This one might just be the most important. I almost want to rename it "Communicate Better" because that is something I've wanted to work on personally for a while. Not just with friends and co-workers, but with family and new people. Sending small thank you notes, mailing post cards to long distance friends to let them know I am thinking of them and calling my grandparents more than once every 6 months. But it's more than just the increase of communication, it's learning to communicate better. Learning to listen - just to listen, instead of listening to respond. And saying no, that's been a hard one for many years, but sometimes the best thing you can do is put yourself first and say "no."


If you take away anything from this post, I hope you take away the inspiration and motivation to "Do Something" this year - wether it be volunteer, run, learn or communicate - I wish for you a wonderful year full of life, love and happiness. May this be the best year...yet!


Fall Colors & Inspiration

When I get the chance to channel my inner model, I'll take it. I usually leave the fashion choices to the pros, but sometimes I think I can put together a pretty good outfit.

I have worked with the wonderful ladies at The Cultivate Project before, and I am happy to share with you their most recent event - Wild & Free at Adair Park, just south of Houston.




Photo Cred: C Wright Photography


Photo Cred: C Wright Photography















 Maroon and neutral colors are my go to this season with pops of color. I was at Ulta the day before the photoshoot and they just so happen to be having a special for Breast Cancer Awareness month and I was able to score two pink hair extensions for only $10.00! In love with these photos and excited for their next project early next year!




5 Must Have Products For Your Next Detox

When I used to think Detox, I would think of some liquid drink I consumed for a week in hopes I can drop that extra five pounds for whatever event or reason that is coming up. Over the years though, I have learned that being constantly hungry is not good for me, or anyone around me. So now when I detox I don't just detox my body, I detox my skin, body and mind. Not only that, but I have come to terms to always being happy with the way I look because there's nothing I can do to change my body drastically in any short amount of time.

So whether I still wanted to tone up or lose any weight, when it comes time for the detox, I know that no matter how my body changes, I am still happy just the way I am.

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in not only one, but two photoshoots within the same week and after my "detox", I decided to put together a few of my favorite items in hopes that you might find something new to add to your next detox, or basic every day beauty regimen.



1. Will & Grace: This may not be the most obvious choice but when I'm sitting there waiting for my nails or face mask to dry, I like to have something to watch and what better choice than my favorite show of all time? Always gets me in a good mood and makes me laugh. Even if you aren't a die hard fan, choosing something to watch or listen to that puts you in a good mood will automatically boost your happiness.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar: This product alone is magic in a bottle, but when I am bloating or just need to feel refreshed, I make my favorite detox drink with ACV. This isn't something you should drink every day because of the high acidic content. It will detox your body at first, but then your body will get used to the elevated levels of acid and will not produce the same effects. I suggest drinking this before you eat in the morning 2-3 days before your event (or just during the week if you are trying a general detox). Side note: I always buy the Bragg brand product, the only one you should be buying in my opinion. I have found it on ThriveMarket.com - you can thank me later.

Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drink
1 Glass of Water
2 Tbsp. Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Freshly Squeezed Lemon
1 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Raw Honey

Directions: Blend all ingredients together. If I'm on the go, I use a shaker tumbler to consistently shake up the cinnamon, but if I'm at home, I'll blend in my blender and then drink fairly quickly.

3. Teami Detox Combo: I first came across this tea a few years ago and I don't know how I lived without it. Say what you will about detox teas, but I think different things work for different people, and well, this just works for me. Both the Skinny and Colon Detox teas are meant to work hand in hand for a 30 day detox but I will sometimes span it out to last longer and only use when I really want to detox. The Skinny tea is meant to be drank in the morning before your first meal, and when coupling with the ACV Detox, Do the ACV Detox first, and then this. Then you can go on with your day and then right before bed, drink the Colon Detox Tea. Warning: 1-2 hours after waking up, make sure you have access to a bathroom for a while. (Sorry if TMI, just trying to help a sista out.)

BONUS: If you are interested in trying any of the detox teas from TEAMI, use my code Mallory10 and receive 10% off your first order!

4. Que Bella Face Masks: I found this line at Target and went with the Pomegranate Refreshing mask and I was not disappointed. My skin felt smoother and looked brighter. Will probably add this to my weekly routine!

5. White Crest Whitening Strips: I bought a package a while back for a wedding I was in, and still had tons left over so I whipped those babies out and threw them on for 30 minutes. It was hard not to talk, but I made it through and the results were great.

I hope you enjoyed my detox secrets! What is your go to for detoxing? Anything I should add?

Houston Tidbits 9th Anniversary


I have been a big fan of Tidbits Houston for a while now and I have been eyeing their Front Row program like crazy. (I mean come on, there's still room on the list, right?) Tidbits is such a great resource for small and usually unknown events going on in Houston, especially the events that are exclusive to Tidbits.


Some of them are ticketed events but their 9th anniversary party - A Midsummer Night's Drink - was a free event to anyone who RSVP'd. Finally I was able to make an event after work and I couldn't believe the kind of event they pulled off.




Held at Alice & Olivia in the River Oaks Shopping District, I grabbed a drink and appetizer at Taverna before. (a must try as well.)




When I entered the boutique, I was greeted with a small swag bag, as well as a few samples of vegan ice cream and macaroons, with drinks being passed around as well.





The boutique itself was a little out of my price range, but not to say they didn't have absolutely gorgeous dresses and this one jacket that I would have bought if rent wasn't due in a few days. This may have been my first event, but it won't be my last.