Christmas is Going to the Dogs with Barkbox!

December 5, 2018




This post is in collaboration with Barkbox, all opinions & thoughts are my own.

Hey Friends--

Almost all of my shopping is complete but there are two little pups I need to shop for, and what better gift than with Barkbox! Arya and Tucker have been fans of their subscription boxes in past but sadly when Mike and I got on our budget the boxes had to stop for a time being. Well, it's the holiday season and we both thought one month won't kill the budget. 


What is Barkbox?

If you're not familiar with the company it's a subscription box for you dog (self explanatory). However, what you might not know is every BarkBox order helps support Pet Shelters and Rescue Groups: 10% of all profits go to shelters and together with their BarkGood program, BarkBox works with over 3,000 shelters and rescues around the U.S. and Canada! Each monthly box contains a combo of treats, toys, and chews. Each month is inspired by a different theme, and each item is unique from anything ever sent in a later box. You can always expect fresh surprises and fresh experiences in every box!There are different levels of subscription, 12 month, 6 month & monthly and the prices vary on the certain plan you pick. What I love most about these boxes is all their treats are wheat, soy, and corn-free, and have a special allergy-friendly BarkBox for pups who are allergic to beef, chicken and turkey. The edible goodies in every BarkBox will contain none of the above ingredients. Arya has a VERY sensitive stomach but I don't have to worry about any of the treats that I give her from these boxes (insert happy dog mom here). And lastly another fun fact about this company is BarkBox Scout’s Honor Guarantee: If your pup doesn’t like at a treat or toy they’ve received, if it’s faulty or completely the wrong size for your dog, BarkBox will replace it for free. Just email happy@barkbox.com and they will help make sure your dog is 100% happy!


Limited Addition Grinch Box

The theme of Tucker & Aryas BarkBox was The Grinch for the holiday season. The box included two toys, Grinch & Cindy Lou Who (which oh my goodness trying to get a photo was really hard because they were so excited about the toys). Two bags of snacks, again great for Arya with tummy being sensitive, and a pair of antlers like the one Max wore in the story. With this box particular, if you post a picture of your pup wearing the antler on social media and use the hashtag #Maxforgood Bark will donate a $1 to working dog organizations nationwide. Tucker makes such a good Max don't you think?

Since it's the holiday season, I was able to get a coupon code so you can spoil your pup for Christmas! Use code: HAPPYKO8TD and receive a FREE month on them! 

Trust me tails will be wagging!


XO
Jo







Quick Trip: Ashville, NC - Booze, Bites & Everything in Between

November 6, 2018






Hey Ya'll!

Ashville, NC oh how I love you! This is my second time visiting and it get's more exciting each time we visit. If you're planning a quick trip for just a few days then I've got all the places you NEED to try! Some spots are local joints, some are touristy and others are pure inspiration. As far as places to stay I highly recommend an AirBnB, and staying downtown if you can, but we decided to try a places closer to the mountains which was worth the extra 20 minute drive.

BREWERIES & BITES

My husband and I are craft beer people! Ashville is the place to be when it comes to all things craft beer, there are TONS of local breweries, and trust me we've tried a good amount but still haven't hit them all. If you're a first timer then New Belgium & Sierra Nevada are two must see's, they're pretty popular breweries and absolutely stunning to adventure around in. New Belgium over looks the river and is few minutes outside of downtown. Sierra Nevada however is about 25-30 minutes and you could honestly spend an entire day there with all the different things to see and do (however I recommend going in the spring time when it's nice out).


As far as downtown breweries here is a list of MUST see:

Our first trip to Ashville we did the Pubcycle Tour, it was a lot of fun and it stops at 3 or 4 different breweries downtown, just enough time to try a beer before you hop back on the bike and continue drinking.

Wicked Weed Brewery
(this is our FAVORITE, gotta try the Milk & Cookie is my all time favorite holy heck!)

Twin Leaf Brewery

Funkatoriuum Brewery
(which is also owned by Wicked Weed)

Ashville  Brewing Company

Again there are so many more you should try but these at the top of my list.

Now let's get into BITES.

I'm a coffee lover (well it's more of an obsession ha). We stumbled upon this amazing coffee shop called Flora (& Forage). This was a plant store & coffee shop all wrapped in one. I was all at once excited and yet regretful; so excited because I wanted to buy everything in the store and regretful because I wanted to buy everything in the store. You know, that feeling you get when you go to the home decor section at Target? Like you just want it ALL? Amplify that by about ten.The menu was simple -- espresso based drinks, black coffee and a tea selection. I'm going to admit in full truth that I didn't even pay attention to what coffee they brewed. I got a chai latte and didn't look back. It wasn't the hands down best chai I've ever had, but it was good! The coffee shop has no big frills. But it was such a neat unexpected find that I had to share.

 

Other places you MUST try are:

I highly recommend hitting up Buxton Hall any day of the week, for lunch or dinner.  If you happen to go when you have more time on your hands, make a day of it and start here with some BBQ, then pop in next door to Catawba Brewery or two doors down to Vortex Doughnuts.

Anything with a name like that sounds dangerously good in our book. This place centers around homemade biscuits of all kinds: They even have a butter and jam bar with artisanal mixes you can try with whatever you ordered:It turns out these biscuits are referred to as "Cat Heads," meaning they are literally the size of a cat's head. This was one brunch for the history books and a place we'd definitely recommend trying out if you are near the area: there will always be a line outside, but it's well worth the wait!

Other then eating and drinking we did go exploring (figured we needed to walk off all the beer ha).

We were hoping to explore Mt. Mitchell (which is the highest point east of the Mississippi), the drive itself to the top takes about 45 minutes and has breath taking views, but sadly it was closed due to bad weather. But on our drive up the mountain were able to stop get a few photos.



Lastly, another MUST see and do are the waterfalls. There are many places to explore but we really enjoy DuPont State Forest. If you're looking for a whole day of adventure you can easily hike to nearby Triple Falls, High Falls or Bridal Veil Falls.



I hope this is helpful when if you're planning a trip! 

xo
Jo

Best (& EASY) Homemade Pumpkin Pie Recipe

October 30, 2018




It's officially November and that means my FAVORITE holiday is upon us,
THANKSGIVING!!

Growing up I loved everything about this holiday. Being little and watching my mom and dad cook, while singing songs in the kitchen drinking a glass (or two) of wine, and how happy they were. My mom always had the most STUNNING table, the tablecloth & napkins handmade by my grandmother, my grandmothers china polished and shined for dinner, greenery and pumpkins everywhere! But the best part of the evening was of course dessert!

Every year in October my dad and I have a Pumpkin Pie Day, where we spend and entire day making pies, and it literally takes all day! We don't use store bought pumpkin we slice, boil, mash and make the pumpkin filling ourselves. So after we make the pumpkin filling we freeze it and have at least enough to make 4-8 pies whenever we want.

This post is JUST the recipe for the pie, but if you're interested in seeing how we make the filling out of real pumpkin leave me a comment below (or you can Google, how to make real pie filling ha)! This recipe is very dear to my heart it's my grandmothers, and honestly I've tried a lot of pumpkin pies but nothing compares to hers! Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

Mom Mom Bea's Pumpkin Pie
We use the old fashion aluminum pie tins, they honestly work the best. They are extremely hard to find, but we got lucky this year a found them at The Dollar Store.

Preheat over 425

Pie Crust:
Pillsbury Pie Crust (seriously better then homemade!)

Ingredients:
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Clove
1 1/2 Cups of Pumpkin
1 2/3 Cups Evaporated Milk
2 eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
Sprinkle Pumpkin Pie Spice for extra flavor!

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.**
note you will bake the pie on this temperature for 15min, and then lower the temp to 350 for 35min.

Crust: Make sure the crust is thawed and roll it over your pie tin pressing it down the sides, and getting all the air bubbles out. To make the crust edges my dad has a little trick. Just starting pinching together the crust edges with your pointer fingers and thumbs (ha like your going to pop a pimple, I know awful example but that was the best way I could explain it), and continue all the way around.

Filling: Combine all the ingredients mentioned above in a bowl, (I like using a hand mixer personally).

Add filling to the pie crust.

Place pie crust on a baking sheet and place in the oven.

Bake 15min on 425

After 15min lower temp. to 350 and bake for 35min.

ENJOY!

Also, you can freeze these pies once they are done fully cooled. We make so many at a time we let them cool completely and freeze them, they last about a year! Just take it out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter and enjoy, no need to re heat it or anything!

xo
Jo

outfit details:




Affordable Skin Care with Advanced Clinicals

October 5, 2018


This post is NOT sponsored, opinions & thoughts are my own.

If you are new to the blog family, welcome! 



As many of you may know I turned 30 back in May (you can read all about my thoughts on turning the BIG 3.0. here). I knew it was time to start taking better care of my skin, since I'm getting older and I am starting to see those tiny tiny wrinkle's beginning to creep their way into my life. And as you also may know I'm not one to spend an arm and leg on eye cream, sorry but $100 for eye YOU'RE CRAZY. Through research and reading a ton of reviews, I'm delighted to tell you about my latest RAVE worthy discovery Advanced Clinicals.


Advanced Clinicals is an affordable anti-aging skin care line made with high performance results, driven ingredients and advanced delivery systems. What makes Advanced Clinicals a RAVE worthy brand in my opinion is all are priced at $30 or less!





The three items I've been using since May are as shown above, The Retinol Anti-Wrikle Serum, 5-in-1 Multi-Correction Eye Serum & Retinol Advanced Firming Cream. Let me break it down one product at a time for you!


This little beauty is a miracle in a bottle! Retinol is known to be a beneficial ingredient for your skin, it leaves a healthy glow and enhances your skin's elasticity and revitalizing your radiant glowing complexion. I use it nightly and wake up to a visibly smoother looking skin. The best part I found it on Wal Marts website, for $4.82!



Okay, if you ya'll have been following me for a while you'd know this bad boy was in my blog post last month in my monthly favorites post, (you can find it here). I can't say enough good things about this product! It instantly hydrates skin while diminishing the look of dark circles, bags, puffiness, fine lines & wrinkles. It also lifts and tightens the eye area for an age-defying appearance while locking in much need hydration to dry skin. I like to use it in the morning after my moisturizer & at night as my very last step to my night time routine. Again, found it on Wal Marts website, for $11.90! 



This product is a wrinkle's worst nightmare! This cream reduces the signs of again, while moisturizing. It's also great for getting rid of stretch marks! I love the size of container as well, it's a 16 oz "spa" size bottle (love that!). I use it again in the mornings as my moisturizer, and at night gently message it all over my clean face and neck! It also contains natural ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Chamomile & Green Tea. Found on Wal Marts website, for $5.83!


I hope ya'll enjoyed these affordable finds, and it goes to show you that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg for great products!

xo
JO

Fall Starbucks Drinks + How to Order

October 1, 2018



I’m not afraid to admit that when it comes to fall I am as basic as it gets. Give me all the cozy sweaters, pumpkins, flannel, and of course…STARBUCKS.

I love trying new drinks, but hate wasting money on not-so-good ones (ya feel?), so whenever I find a staple, I love to share it. You guys have been loving the recommendations I share on Instagram highlights, so I thought it would be fun to do a post with all the details on my 3 current favorite fall inspired drinks, with a little twist to each one.


Chai Latte with Pumpkin Spice
How to order :

 grande chai latte with coconut milk 
2 pumps of chai ONLY not extra
 2 pumps of pumpkin
.
 I love it iced or hot, totally depends on the weather and my mood.
If you order the “pumpkin spice chai” as it is on the menu, it comes  with 4 pumps of chai and 4 pumps of pumpkin. I cut that in half to make it less calories and sugar! I also always love a classic chai latte with coconut milk (all 4 pumps chai), but this is a fun little Fall switch up.

Salted Caramel Cold Foam Cold Brew
How to order:

 This drink is actually on the menu, but again, I like to make it a bit “skinnier”. Just ask for a salted caramel cold foam cold brew with 1 pump of caramel and 2 pumps of sugar free vanilla.
The menu version can have a lot of sugar, so I opted for less caramel and vanilla. This is a game changer if you like cold brew! I love the slightly sweet/salty coffee combo.


Skinny Vanilla Latte with Cinnamon

How to order:

skinny vanilla latte 
 two pumps of vanilla and coconut milk, topped with cinnamon

Again, I ask for less pumps of vanilla than it usually calls for. Lastly, topping this drink with cinnamon makes it smell amazing and gives it a very Fall feel!

What is your go to Fall Drink?

-JO

A Capsule Wardrobe: " Part 1: Purge Yo Closet"

September 25, 2018



Let me just tell you something, y’all.
As silly as it may sound, capsule wardrobes have changed my life.
I know, I know, it’s a tad dramatic, but let me explain!  Picture this scenario:
Waking up just looking at your closet and you are so overwhelmed and have tons of clothes but nothing comes to mind!  What to wear?  What still fits?  What do I even like myself in anymore? Where was that one pair of jeans I used to love?  How is it possible to have a closet filled to the brim and STILL never be able to pull together an outfit I love in a short amount of time?!
Been there....
If this reminds you in any way of your daily routine, I’m telling you…a capsule wardrobe will completely change how you get ready for your day.  It’s a little bit of work up front to save you a TON of effort and energy in the long run, leaving you feeling cute, comfortable and put together in no time flat…so if you are interested in curating your own capsule for fall, stick around!  We’ll be walking through the process of starting from scratch step by step together over the next few weeks!  I’ll share with you my own process of curating a capsule wardrobe, some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way, and I’ll link sources to some of my favorite items and shops!
So….ready to start?!
Let’s get going with the first and, honestly, the most satisfying step of all:
PURGE YO CLOSET!
So the first step is to get your hands dirty, dive into that bursting-at-the-seams closet and start THE PURGE!  It feels SO GOOD to clean out the closet! Now listen: it’ll take a little bit of time, so pour a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, turn on music, and start to sort!
What I did when I first began my capsule journey was sort things into three piles:
1. Love it
2. eh like it, maybe?
3. Donate/Sell/Trash
It’s for sure a balancing act; you don’t want to go nuts and donate all your clothes in one fell swoop, but you also need to resist the urge to do what I used to do…hold on to things because “maybe someday in five years it’ll possibly maybe be back in style and possibly fit me again…maybe.”  😉  A good rule of thumb as you purge and pile is to consider if you’ve actually reached for that item in the past year.  If not, it’s probably not one of your very favorites for some reason: fit, fabric, color, style, etc.  If you JUST CAN’T part with it right away, put it in the “kinda like it, I think” pile, and revisit later.
As your “Love love love it” pile starts to take shape, pay attention to which items you deem most lovable:
-What kind of fabric are they made from?
-Which type of lifestyle do they fit? Do you dress more professional for the office or more casual?
-How do these items make you feel?  You must feel good in them if you love them, so why?
-What colors or color groups seem to call to you the most? (my color pallet consists of black, whites, grays, and some blush pinks).
After you’ve finished purging and piling your items, bag up the donations, toss the worn out pieces, and hang up what’s left over by season…that will get you ready for the next step in curating your capsule wardrobe!
Stay tuned for step number two coming in the next week or so!  Be sure to follow along (links below!) on my @jos-notes account for a few more tips on capsule wardrobes, and check out my Pinterest feed for outfit inspo ideas!
                                                                              xo!
                                                                              JO



September (Budget Friendly) Favorites

September 13, 2018

This post is not sponsored, I purchased all these products myself. These are my own thoughts & opinions about these products!


Hey Ya'll welcome back! I've always loved watching monthly favorite videos and reading blog posts and thought why not do one myself? All these goods are of course budget friendly! So, without further ado....

BEAUTY


If you're new to following me, I'm a girl on a budget and I stumbled across this product about two months ago from a fellow influencer whom I follow (side not here's her instagram if you too would like to follow her, I'm obsessed!), and she always has these Advance Clinical products on her page. I've recently turned 30 and it's time I start taking good care of my skin, but I don't want to spend an arm and an leg on face creams and serums. Luckily, I don't have to thanks to Advance Clinicals! There are two products in particular I am loving!

First, Advance Clinical 5-in-1 Multi Correction Eye Serum, it's a mouth full yes but HOLY COW this product is fantastic! I've been using it for two months now and I've seen a huge change in my under eye wrinkles (yes, I have slight wrinkles at 30), as well as my dark circles. I use it in the evening after I'm done all my serums and us it as a moisturizer in the morning to prep my under eye makeup.

Second product from this brand is Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Serum. This serum is a miracle in a bottle (seriously). I use it nightly and again after two months my skin is smoother and it's help dry out my acne. 

Next up is a primer that is not only a dupe (in my opinion) for the Becca Priming Filter Face Primer, but also absolutely STUNNING alone or underneath your foundation. Drum roll please! The Spotlight Illuminating Primer by Physicians Formula . I can't say enough positive things about this primer. A little goes a long way (which I love)!

My last beauty product is something I think every girl NEEDS in their life, a good (but budget friendly) dry shampoo. I've tried so many different dry shampoos I've become very picky about what I like and don't like, and I've finally found on that I really enjoy. The OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Strength Dry Shampoo, has been a life changer. Some dry shampoos leave my hair feeling dirty when it's suppose to help prevent that, not this one, it revitalizes and brings life back into my greasy dirty hair, and smells incrediable, I get hints of tropical scents like coconut and pineapple.




Lifestyle

Next up, lifestyle items!

I wasn't planning on including this product in my favorites, but the truth is I literally have two, three sometimes four of these a day, even my husband is obsessed with this product to the point we buy six cases a month at Sam's Club. Can you guess what it is? It's something you drink? If you guessed La Croix Sparkling Water, then you get a virtual high five. These are zero calorie (winning) and taste amazing! I nor my husband drink soda, but every once in while I crave for something other then water, La Croix gives my fix. I love the cran-raspberry and my husband is a fan of the pamplemousse (fun fact in French it means grapefruit). 

Moving on to a home decor item that could pass for a high end product. I'm talking about my throw pillows from Walmart! I saw these on Walmart Finds website and had to have them! They are The Better Homes and Gardens Pop Stripe Decorative Pillows. I don't usually buy a tune of pillows because I have two dogs and well they think pillows are chew toys (we're working breaking that habit). But these pillows have lasted and I couldn't be happier! The colors are perfect and go with our color pallet in our home perfectly and the best part they were only $14.

And that my friends is everything I was loving in September!

Till next time!
XO Jo

Summertime Blue With INK Sunscreen

August 25, 2018


I've partnered with INK to feature their sunscreen in this post. While this post is sponsored, opinions & thoughts are my own.

Hey Ya'll! Fun fact, did you know I have three tattoos?!?! & that I drew all of them!

My first one was when I turned 18 (what can I say I was rebellious teenager), it's a bird on my lower back (it's NOT a tramp stamp ha it's off to the side so I don't consider that a tramp stamp). My first tattoo I wanted something that represented spreading my wings leaving the nest, heading to college, and I thought a bird best represented that.

Second tattoo is on my foot, I got it when I was in college, it's a crown which represents my sorority (try and guess the sorority), myself and two other of my sisters got them once we got initiated.

Third was my most painful tattoo, it's behind my ear. It's three little starts representing my mom, dad, and sister. 

I get asked all the time "do you ever regret getting them?". I don't regret ever getting a tattoo, I think tattoo's are great way to express yourself in a different way but you also need to take care of them so they stay vibrant and beautiful. 

ENTER INK tattoo Sunscreen! I LOVE this product and have nothing but nice things to say about it. I live by the beach and I'm constantly exposing my tattoos to UV rays which is terrible because it fades them and discolors them. But with INK it keeps my tattoos looking like new! It's cruelty free (winning!), and contains coconut oil, Aloe Vera & vitiman E, and is sent free!

I will defiantly be restocking on this product for next summer! 

Summer Straw Necessities Under $50

July 2, 2018


                   Purse | Wedges |Sandals| Hat

Straw is IN this summer for sure! I've gathered a few of my favorite pieces that are must haves for summer! I was even lucky and found a dupe for the it bag of summer, no offense to those who have purchased this bag full price, but it's one of those fads that will be done by next summer and honestly I don't feel it's necessary to spend $80 on a bag that will go out of style by next season. Hope you enjoy these affordable finds! Leave me a comment on this post on my Instagram if you're enjoying these blog posts and want to see more like this!

Enjoy!

-Jo 

Cute 4th of July Outfit Under $50

June 28, 2018




Who else is obsessed with a themed outfit? 

The Fourth of July is just about a week away and I wanted to put a cute outfit that's not just "American" tee shirt and jean shorts that I feel is WAYYY overdone.

The dress was truly the inspiration of this entire outfit, as soon as I saw it I had to get it! The rest of pieces just fell into place. Hope you like what I put together and let me know what other "Affordable Finds" you'd like to see!

xo- JO

Wedding Guest Dresses Under $50

June 9, 2018


It's that time of the year, WEDDING SEASON!
Mike and I have four weddings this year (holy heck), we're both in one and the other three I need to find dresses for (well I don't need to but it's a perfect excuse to get new dress am I right?), and figured why not put together a few of my favorite styles for you all to enjoy as well! All of these dresses are great for a wedding or even an upcoming trip, and the best part they're all under $50! 

Thoughts on Turning Thirty

May 26, 2018












Today I turn 30 years old!! That feels so incredibly strange to type out. “Hello, my name is Lauren and I’m 30 years old.” I am having a bit of a hard time with this realization that I’ve completed 1/3 of my life already, and find my first grey hair, because inside I still feel and act like I’m 25 (minus the hangovers, those don't feel like I'm 25). 
It’s a tough age for us women, and I just recently started realizing that. The fact that I am getting older and can’t go backwards kind of freaks me out, if I’m being honest. It feels as though I’m on a strict timeline now, and I don’t like that. But looking back I wouldn't change a thing, so many amazing things happened to!
It’s a huge milestone.
To say that I’ve lived for this many years and done everything I have done already makes me excited to see what the future holds. Ten years ago I would have never guessed that my life would be how it is now, falling in love, having a house with chickens ducks, two dogs and cat, find the true meaning of friendship, so to think what my life will be like in another ten years is like a surprise wrapped in bows and I can't wait to unwrap all the goodies! 
I’m wiser. 
My 20’s were like the stepping stones to get to where I needed to be by 30. I can proudly look back on my 20’s and remember all that I learned, all of the mistakes I made, ups and downs, and trying to find myself, and know that I’ll never have to experience those things again.
I am on the right path.
I can honestly say that at this moment in my life I know exactly what I want to do and what I need to do to get there.  It may take a few more years to get there, but knowing that I’ve lined up all my ducks in a row feels so good, and I have the best support system from my husband, family & friends.
Time to be a little selfish.
I will say, one thing I will never change even in my 30's is I always put others first before myself, and I did that A LOT in my 20's. But one thing I am going to change is my 30's and beyond is to STOP MAKING EXCUSES. I've put alot of my dreams on hold for varies reasons and that stops today. I will work for Disney (maybe not anytime soon but one day), I will focus on what makes me happy and that is this blog and FINALLY starting my youtube channel. Just going to focus a little on me this time around.
Regardless of how I feel today, I’m thankful for everything I have now more than ever. I’m sure everything will fall into place the way its supposed to and just because I’m one year older, doesn’t mean I have to live like I’m 60. I’m still that same girl, with stars in her eyes and wonder in her heart.
BRING IT ON 30!

Thank You to all the amazing shops, OhsoLively, LittleBlueOlive & DCrewDesigns who collaborated with me on this post you truly made all my birthday wishes come true & to Laura's Focus Photography for such a fun photo shoot!

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