Friday, July 19, 2019

Christmas in July with Basic Invite

Happy Friday everyone!

If you have followed me for awhile you know we do a Christmas card every single year and about my never ending love for fabulous stationary. Basic Invite reached out to me a few weeks ago to collaborate on a post with them and after doing a bit of my own research and hearing their ideas for this post I knew they were a company I would feel comfortable introducing y'all to.

From an early age my Momma ingrained in me the now {almost} lost art of a handwritten note. She would buy me stationary during her travels or we would pick some up at different stores we visited in our area. To this day we both "collect" so to speak beautiful, unique stationary and I love that we share this. She sends me cards every few weeks and I keep them tucked away for the day when those cards won't come anymore and I can look back on her words of wisdom.

I wanted to make sure I was able to see for myself the quality of their stationary before recommending them to my readers so I placed a small sample order. As you can see in the photos above I selected two styles of "Thank You" notes and one custom "Note Pad". The quality is superb and I love the customization I was able to do on their website. Most companies only allow you to view a digital rendering of your custom card but for a small fee you are able to actually order any amount you want, check them out in person and if they are to your liking, order more directly. Obviously that is best if you have ample time to order but you can choose to look at a digital sample if time is an issue.

While creating my custom samples I was shocked at the virtually, unlimited {over 180} color options with instant preview online. I was able to quickly select the exact color I wanted and preview how it would look. I have used many companies for Christmas cards, baby shower and birthday party invites over the last 5 years and I have never seen a company that offers so many different color options. A huge plus for me!

My other favorite "service" they offer is Address Capturing. They create a link you can share to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other social media platforms to request friends and family's addresses which will be stored in your customer account and then the addresses can be selected during the design process. They also offer printing of recipient address at no cost on ALL card orders.

If you have an event coming up or want to purchase some high quality stationary Basic Invite is offering 15% off your order with code 15FF51 until the end of July. I have checked out their options for Christmas cards and Holiday Party Invitations and saved a few templates I really love for when we do our Christmas cards later year.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

xo, Alina

Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Summer Happenings: Sip & Mingle at Ocean Prime Naples

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Sip and Mingle event hosted by two of my favorite local bloggers {Mandy and Tara} held at Ocean Prime Restaurant in Naples. We mingled and tasted delicious appetizers and sushi from Ocean Prime's Happy Hour Menu. If you live in or around Naples I would highly recommend checking out Ocean Prime for Happy Hour. Great deals on glasses of champagne and tons of appetizers. 

I also got to meet a bunch of other local bloggers and it was so nice getting to connect with these ladies. Thanks so much to Mandy and Tara for organizing such a great event and thanks to Ocean Prime Naples for hosting us!

Thanks for stopping by!

xo, Alina

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

My All Time Favorite Books

Hello hello! 
I was on Instagram stories earlier this week talking about my love for historical fiction books and I received a lot of messages from women following me that were interested in hearing some of my favorite books of that genre. Ask... and you shall receive!  
I mentioned briefly that my love of historical fiction books began while I was in undergrad at UF. My Momma gave me The Other Boleyn Girl to read and after that I was hooked. While on breaks from school and during the summer I would spend hours at our local library reading the backs of books and selecting the ones I wanted to check out. This is before I had a kindle so I would haul the books with me on vacation and devour them very quickly. I have always loved to read. It is a form of escape for me and I love learning about history and people's lives from long ago. 

1. Phillipa Gregory- Plantagenet and Tudor Series

Phillipa Gregory is one of my favorite authors. I have read all the above books from the Plantagenet and Tudor series. I didn't read them in order because some of the earlier books came out later. I will say that many details from these books are not completely historically accurate but I love them nonetheless. I particularly love the War of the Roses time period. Game of Thrones is said to partly be inspired by the War of the Roses and if you start reading about this war between cousins you will realize why. 

2. Margaret George 

The Autobiography of King Henry VIII by Margaret George is one of my ALL TIME favorite books in general but definitely on King Henry VIII. All her books are amazing. They usually encompass the subject's entire life and from what I have found she keeps the story historically accurate. I also particularly enjoyed her novel Helen of Troy. I haven't read much about that time period and I learned a lot from that book. 

This is my favorite book of ALL time. Hands down. I have read it at least 5 times. This is the most epic and tragic love story I have ever encounter and Heloise and Abelard are forever my favorite characters. If you haven't read this book DO IT! 
Funny story: I was re-reading this book in college and I was near the end so I was BALLING my eyes out. Shane came back to his apartment where I was reading and finds me hysterically crying on the couch. He was a bit freaked out and very confused to say the least. Now if I am ever reading a book and crying he asks "Are you reading about Heloise again?!". I haven't read it again in the past few years but I may get through it this summer sometime. 

4. Sharon Kay Penman- Plantagenet Series

I literally could not love this series more. I HIGHLY recommend Sharon Kay Penman she is a fabulous author. This series starts with the story of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a truly, incredible historical figure and the life she led and the children she had with Henry changed England forever. If you haven't read a ton of historical fiction about the Kings and Queens of England and you are looking to I would start here. This series was captivating and I learned so much!

5. Maurice Druon- The Accursed Kings Series

This series is my second favorite behind the Plantagenet Series by Sharon Kay Penman. George R.R. Martin from Game of Thrones wrote the forwards for these books and claims that he also based GOT off this time period and the French Royal Family. I learned so much about french history from these books and I couldn't put them down. If you are looking for new historical fiction books to read I would suggest this series and the one from Sharon Kay Penman. 

6. Sally Christie- The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy

LOVEEEEEE this triolgy! If you watched the TV Show Versailles you will love these books. Cannot recommend them enough and they are very easy to read. 

7. Allison Pataki

When I started The Accidental Empress I didn't even know who Empress Sisi was but boy was I obsessed with her after reading the first book. I anxiously waited for the second book in the series read it at warp speed. Her life was so tragic and my heart broke for her in both books. 

8. Daisy Goodwin

If you love Downton Abbey you will love Daisy Goodwin's books. The only one in the list above I haven't read is My Last Duchess. I believe that is the follow up book to American Heiress. Also the show Victoria on PBS is based off of Daisy's books. 

9. Diana Gabaldon- Outlander Series

I am caught up on the current season of Outlander the show on Starz but I am only on the second book by Diana Gabaldon, A Dragonfly in Amber. I am totally emotionally invested in Claire and Jamie and I got sad when I found out she was pregnant in the book and stopped reading because I knew her and Jamie would be parted forever. Good thing I continued to watch the show and I know they are reunited {sorry for the spoiler}. I haven't had a lot of extra time to read and I've been really into my Bravo TV lately but now that summer is almost here and with a few vacations planned I should be able to get through a few more of this series. I do prefer historical fictions based on people who actually existed in the period over fictional character like in GOT or Outlander but both series are so good I still love them. I've learned a lot about Scottish history from this series and the TV show. 

10. George R.R. Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire
  • Game of Thrones
  • A Clash of Kings
  • A Storm of Swords
  • A Feast for Crows
  • A Dance with Dragons

If you have watched GOT and have not read the books I would highly recommend you do. I have read all five books and like many others I am obsessed. George R.R. Martin is an incredible author and he truly brings the characters to life. He is very truly talented and character development and making you invested in those characters. Like I have said above George has admitted that the English and French royal families have inspired this series and if you know anything about the history of those families you can absolutely see why. I'm unsure if George will finish this series or if the ending will be the same as the show. I assume since he works with the show that he is using his ideas for the ending and the books will be similar but with much more detail. I really hope he does because there are many people that have followed these books for years and I think he owes us the final books. 

11. Marci Jefferson- Girl on then Golden Coin

This the story of Frances Stuart who was a very interesting historical figure. She knew both King Louis XIV of France {The Sun King} and was the main mistress of King Charles II after he reclaimed the English throne. It is a really good book that explores both the English and French royal families. 

12. Ken Follett- The Century Trilogy 
  • Fall of Giants
  • Winter of the World
  • Edge of Eternity

This trilogy is incredible! I have only read the first two books but Shane has read them all. These books follow 5 families through the 20th century. The first book covers WWI, the second WWII, and the third covers the Cold War. I cannot tell you how much I learned about both World Wars by reading these books. I have always been very interested in history and I was shocked at all the details I had never learned in high school or college. It's actually kind of pathetic that these wars aren't covered in more detail these days. 

Okay I know that was long! I hope you're still with me. To all my readers out there I hope you love these books just as much as I have and you learn from them. 

I plan to start a new series by Conn Iggulden when I go on my work cruise later this month. There are three books in the series Wars of the Roses: Stormbird, Margaret of Anjou, and Bloodline. Although I have read about this time period extensively I always learn something new from different authors. 

Thanks for reading! 

xo, Alina

Monday, May 6, 2019

Derby Dash with Naples Junior Woman's Club 2019

My Outfit:

Dress  {wearing a size 2} // Fascinator  {$13}// Bag  {$24 at Forever 21} // Shoes // Pearl Earrings // David Yurman Ring // David Yurman Bracelets here and here 

Shane's Outfit:

Hi there! 

I wanted to share the details of our outfits from the Kentucky Derby party we attended over the weekend. 

Derby Dash is one of, if not the best Derby party in Naples. It is put on by the Naples Junior Woman's Club an amazing organization I had the pleasure of being a member of before I had Lawson. The funds raised at Derby Dash go directly to scholarships for young adults in Collier County who are attending college in the near future. 

This year Derby Dash was held at The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club and actually took place in the same area we had our rehearsal dinner over 5 years ago. It was fun making new memories in that special place. I should have taken more photos at the event but we were enjoying the party too much. We loved the photo booth they had set up and definitely took a bunch of fun photos with it. Our best friends went with us this year and we were so happy to be able to have them come with us to this fun Naples event. 

Now for outfit details! I always like to go a bit over the top for Derby. It is the perfect occasion to do so and why the heck not! I found my dress on ASOS and I received so many compliments. One party-goer even suggested I should win best dressed, which was so sweet of her. The material of the dress was breathable and didn't wrinkle. I am already trying to think of different way to style it to wear it again soon. Maybe a jean jacket for a more casual vibe?! Another item I got comments on all night long was this very affordable Forever 21 vinyl purse. When I showed my best friend she couldn't believe it wasn't the STAUB bag that cost over $200! Vinyl bags are very trendy right now and I love to participate in trends but I do not like to spend a lot of money to do so. I save my big purchases for classic pieces that will be wearable for years and years. This bag will definitely be coming with me on my work cruise coming up and for our trip to Mexico at the end of June. 

I wanted Shane to coordinated with my outfit but not be matchy matchy. He wore his Vineyard Vines pants that he actually wore to the last Derby Dash we attended together a few years ago. I love mixing contrasting colors and I absolutely adore coral and turquoise together. 

Well I hope everyone has a great week and thanks for stopping by!

xo, Alina

Friday, March 29, 2019

Current Skincare Routine for Oily Acne Prone Skin



Hello and TGIF! 
Tax season has been so grueling and I am thoroughly exhausted. Only a few more weeks and it will be over and I can enjoy some much needed time with my family. 

I wanted to do a post to share with you all what my current skincare routine is because I have changed a lot of products since the last time I did a skincare routine. While I was pregnant and after I gave birth my skin broke out so bad. I had my acne under control up until midway through my pregnancy and then it all went down hill. The products I was using weren't clearing it up like they did before. To be honest I have had this problem before. Sometimes when I use products for a long time they just stop working with my skin. That includes skincare products but also makeup products like foundation. I know most of it was because my hormones went crazy and I'll talk about something I've incorporated into my diet that I believe has also really helped clear up my skin. 

I started using Tula products after seeing so many other bloggers I follow raving about it. Come to find out you can purchase many of their products at Ulta. They don't carry everything I use but it is nice if I run out of those products they do carry I can run over there quickly instead of ordering online and waiting for it to arrive. 

Tula's products are formulated with probiotics that help fight the bad bacteria on your skin and help to proliferate the good bacteria. Similar to the probiotics you take for gut health. I take a very good probiotic everyday and so does Lawson. Probiotics are so important to gut and immune health. The use of probiotics in this skincare line is also another reason I was drawn to it. 

I am going to discuss the products in the collage above right to left which is also the order in which I use these products. 

Tula Purifying Cleanser - I love this cleanser. After using it my face feels so fresh and clean. I don't really know any other way to explain it. It's great at taking stubborn makeup off and I just love the way it makes my face feel after using it. Side note: I don't believe this product is safe to use while pregnant or nursing but please make sure to ask your Midwife or OBGYN what is safe for you as everyone is different. 

Kefir Replenishing Cleansing Oil - I will admit I am a bit extra because I use two cleansers from Tula. I use this one to take my makeup off when I get home and then before bed when I do my skincare routine I cleanse again with the Purifying Cleanser. This is a similar product to Mac's Cleansing Oil, which I also love. I love this for taking off my waterproof eye makeup. 

Ance Clearing Tone Correcting Gel - I loveeeee this product! My skin responds best to salicylic acid for treating my acne issues. I use this twice a day morning and night after I have washed my face with the Purifying Cleanser.  It helps kill acne bacteria but also helps correct the tone of your skin and reduce the look of old acne marks and scars left behind after breakouts. 

Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum - I have used this products for years! It is a holy grail product for me and something I cannot live without. I use this after the acne gel toner and before my moisturizer. I only use it once a day in the mornings. I highly recommend if you have acne scarring or leftover red marks. Just like it's name it rapidly reduces the appearance of acne marks. I recommend this product to my friends and family all the time. 

Aqua Infusion Oil-Free Gel Cream - I am so obsessed with this moisturizer! It is not a heavy moisturizer and it is perfect for acne prone skin. A lot of people who have oily skin don't realize they NEED to make sure their skin is staying hydrated. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but you're skin will produce more oil naturally when you aren't keeping it hydrated. 

Peptide and Collagen Serum - I was sent this product by Derma E and I love it! I mix one pump of it in the morning with the Aqua Infusion Oil-Free Gel Cream and I mix two pumps of it with that moisturizer before I got to bed along with one drop of Frankincense essential oil. Again I totally understand that is a lot of steps and products but honestly do you even have a good skincare routine if it isn't extra af? The answer is no.. LOL! 

Advanced Peptides and Collagen Eye Cream - Derma E also sent this product to me to try and I like it so far. I have never really been an eye cream user. I don't have bags or puffiness. I normally have issues with darkness underneath by eyes but that is easy to hide with concealer. The cost of this eye cream is very reasonable so I would suggest trying it if you are looking for a good eye cream that won't break the bank. After I use this I have started using the Tula Glow and Brightening Eye Balm {not pictured above} and I loveeeee it. Unfortunately, it sells out frequently because it's amazing and only $28.00. You can sign up to have them notify you when it is back in stock if you are interested. Highly recommend this product. Everyone wants a brighter more radiant under I right??

Peach Slices Shrink Pores Sheet Mask - I have raved about this mask on Instagram stories recently and if you haven't tried them run and go get some. I found mine at CVS but they are also available at Target. I notice a significant reduction in pore size after using this mask. I'm actually going to use one tonight but I am going to use my at-home micro-needling tool first and then put the mask on to help it penetrate deeper into my skin.

Peach Slices Hydrate Sheet Mask - I used this mask the day before I went on a bachelorette party earlier this month because I knew I would be drinking a lot which would dehydrate my skin leading to breaks that I do not want. I have read that J.Lo does not drink {at least not a lot and not often} and she attributes her beautiful skin and youthful glow to that. My skin looked so amazing after using it and these masks have definitely become a part of my skincare routine even after only using them a few times.

{Other products I use not pictured above}

Rodan and Field Microdermabrasion Paste - I try to use this product twice a week. It is very important if you have acne prone skin to exfoliate regularly. A jar of this paste lasts me over a year so it absolutely worth the price. Cost per use is very low, which is always a factor I consider before I buy anything.

Frankincense Essential Oil -  I add one drop of this essential oil to my moisturizer that I apply before bed. Frankincense has many amazing properties for your entire body but its a powerful astringent that helps with blemishes, pore size and helps to tighten the skin. The skin tightening I definitely have noticed. In the morning when I wake up my skin isn't oily and it's tight and just feels fresh. It is an expensive oil but worth it because it has so many uses. I purchase mine through Young Living. If you are interested in purchasing shoot me an email {} and I can get it ordered for you.

Redefine Intense Renewing Serum - if you don't have a retinol product in your skincare routine you need to add one especially if you are 30 and above. This R&F retinol serum has one of the highest levels of retinol on the market that can be purchased without a prescription. I use this once to twice a week and I make sure to intensely moisturizer my skin afterwards because it can be very drying. If you don't know much about retinol do some research but it is used to help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol is NOT safe for use when pregnant or nursing.

Celery Juice - I saved the best for last! This isn't technically a product but something that I have to mention. I heard about the celery juice craze and started looking into it. I found that a lot of people have had great results with it helping their hormonal acne. I decided to try it out for myself. It took about three weeks before I started to notice a difference in my skin. I started noticing even less pimples popping up, my pores were not as clogged and my skin was so smooth like I had just exfoliated. You are suppose to drink it on an empty stomach and wait to eat for about 20-30 minutes after consuming the juice. I do Intermittent Fasting and I break my fast with celery juice around 11:30am. I juice it at home and bring it in a glass bottle to work with me. Celery juice is also great for gut health. Gut health does play a big part in the health of your skin and taking a daily probiotic is a great way to help promote good bacteria in your gut.

These next two products aren't  what I consider consider "skincare" but I need to mention them because I believe since using these two products my skin has had a less blemishes and clogged pores.

Radiant Defense - I have stopped using foundation and replaced it with this magical product. It works like a CC Cream to provide you great coverage but it is actually skincare. It's ingredients help to protect your skin with SPF and antioxidants to prevent damage from environmental stress. The coverage is amazing and very build-able. I used a foundation that I used to love one day a few weeks ago and the next morning and throughout the next week I saw 5-6 pimples pop up. I have done this a few more times and every time I break out after using foundation. I love a full-coverage foundation but I just haven't found one that won't make me break out. I think a lot of my recent skin issues have been less hormones and more the makeup I was putting on my skin.

Mineral Peptides - I use this powder to set my makeup after applying Radiant Defense. It has great coverage and these two products together look better on my skin than foundation and other powders I have used in the past. I have never used a powder like this that looks so incredibly beautiful on the skin. Once my makeup is done it just looks like beautiful skin.  I have received so many compliments on my makeup since starting to use these two products. I plan to do a Current Makeup Routine post soon and I will discuss these products and how I apply them in more detail but as always if you have questions now don't hesitate to send me an email {}.

I know this was a very long post so if you are still here thank you! I hope you got some helpful information from this post. I have struggled with acne for so long. Getting rid of it then it coming back during pregnancy it really affects your self-esteem. I love that I can run out of my house without any makeup on and not feel embarrassed of that people are looking at my pimples. Try Tula, try celery juice, take a good probiotic and stay away from makeup products that will clog your pores is the best advice I can give.

I also have a link for 20% off Tula {click this link} products if you are interested in trying them out.

Thanks so much for reading!

xo, Alina