Category Archives: Tips

Pittsburgh Street Art

There is a hefty handful of really cool gals in Blog World/Instagram Land who have perfected the art of Wall Crawling. Although it may sound silly to some people, I believe that street art makes our world a better (i.e. more colorful) place, and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my way of thinking. Imagine you’re walking down the street and after seeing nothing but bland buildings one after the other, you look up and see a mural that sticks out like a sore, beautiful thumb. You can’t help but smile and appreciate the fact that there is art running wild in the real world, not stuck in a museum with a partition and no flash photography.

As far as cataloging murals around the country goes.. Jen has San Antonio, Bianca has Austin, Rosemary has Philly, Baltimore, LA, Vegas, and D.C. totally covered, but what about Pittsburgh?! Yinz guyz know we got cool murals n’at?! Technically, someone already made an extremely detailed website with the addresses of literally every single mural in town, but I thought I’d add to it by making an Instagram account (@PittsburghMurals) for the same thing… just because it didn’t exist.

Actual murals aside, finding a wall to have my picture taken in front of that is a solid color and coordinates with my outfit is not only my specialty, but what I get asked most about via email or direct messaging on IG. So Anyway, these are a few of my favorite walls:

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Best Mural In Town, 5482 Penn Ave
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Lavender Wall, Highland and Penn intersection
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YELLOW AF WALL, Gas Station where Butler and Penn Ave intersect
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Pink Wall, Hamilton Ave
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Chartreuse + Gray color block wall, Liberty Ave and Main St
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Swoops There It Is Wall, Smallman St and 29th
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Green Stuff Wall, Butler and 57th
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RIP Skull Mural (it has since been painted over)
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Cool Wall On The Way To Kish House, Address Forgotten

 

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Rainbow Crosswalk, Ellsworth Ave

Even if you’re not a blogger who favors ridiculously colorful photos to accompany your posts, murals could still be part of your life. My DIY/Travel Blogging friends, Sarah and Nick, took their engagement photos in front of Pittsburgh’s Pink Wall and how cute would it be to find the best blue wall for a photo shoot with your newborn baby boy?! Whatever the occasion, there’s probably a wall for you!

I think I said “wall” too many times and now it doesn’t sound like a real word anymore.  GOTTA GO. BYEEE.

Cheap Dates: Paris Edition

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty big fans of frugality around here. Is it just me, or do I keep talking about how we’re trying to pinch pennies while simultaneous livin’ it up? Okay maybe it was just this post where I mentioned saving money while visiting one of the most luxurious cities in the world, but that’s how Joel and I are most of the time. Well, that’s how Joel is and how I’m learning to be (adulting is hard sometimes). We have a weekly budget that we stick to as well as a travel budget where we dump any extra cash we get from babysitting (me) or leftover per diem (Joel).

Even though 95% of the time you’ll find the two of us being a boring old married couple at home, on our couch, with our cats, binge watching something (rn it’s Rick and Morty), we still like to do fun stuff with the remaining 5%. I think that it is important in a marriage to date your spouse. Dates are great, right?! Especially when you’re already married to the guy and you don’t have to worry about shaving your legs or whether or not he’s going to murder you when you go home with him! See? Great!

I started this new “Cheap Date” category on here because dates are fun and, according to my husband, so is saving money. For the first installment, I thought I’d talk about how we went on super cheap Parisian date while we were in Paris last month.

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Did you know you can eat a fancy dinner on a boat on the Seine? Did you also know that a lot of people say it’s overpriced and overrated? We opted for the cheap-o version. We dressed up hella fancy on our last night in town, took the metro down to Pont D’Alma where we hopped on a 1 hour river cruise via Bateaux Mouches. When all of the tourists wearing cargo shorts pushed and shoved to get a good seat at the top of the boat, Joel and I high tailed it to the side where we could be all alone. We bought champagne. We snuggled and whispered sweet nothings to each other the whole time. It was perfect. We didn’t need a fancy, expensive dinner because we knew we’d get crepes on our way back to the hotel.

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Side note: since 2009, I haven’t been able to get on a boat without this song getting stuck in my head. Not complaining, it’s awesome.

“We drinking Santana champ, cause it’s so crisp…”

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12 Euros for boat tickets, 20 for champagne + plastic flutes, a few more for late night crepes compared to 99 per person for shitty cruise food? Yes, please! Cheap dates for the win! BOO YA.

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On the next installment of Cheap Dates, we see if our marriage can withstand All You Can Eat Appetizers… See ya then!

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Dress/Storets, Earrings/Amazon

Top French Sayings To Know In Paris

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Fact: a little bit of an effort to speak the local language will go a long way in a foreign country. I mean, that makes total sense, right? To give you some perspective, imagine you’re in your hometown and a stranger comes up to you and starts speaking a language you only kind of understand. You’d be like “yo, I took Mandarin in high school, but I don’t understand this specific dialect… English? Maybe?”

I’ve heard stories of Americans going abroad and just assuming everyone speaks English, but you know what they say about people who assume, right? Don’t make an ass of yourself, learn the bare minimum of a new language to at least skate by without annoying everyone you meet! The effort goes a long way, especially in France. Hence why this post you’re reading has come to fruition: it’s not just me blabbing, it’s actually useful (I even included links to youtube pronunciation videos)!

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French Phrases You Should Know In Paris:

  1. Bonjour/Bonsoir“- GREET. EVERYONE. OR YOU’RE BEING RUDE. Okay, greet everyone you encounter in businesses (the hotel concierge, taxi/uber drivers, the coffee shop barista, the boutique employee, the checkout guy at the grocery store, etc). Don’t greet strangers on the street or you’re being a creepy American weirdo (the beautiful French person doesn’t give a shit if you like her scarf). Bonjour means “good day,” so when evening rolls along, be sure to change your greeting to bonsoir (apparently 6 p.m. is a safe time to make the switch).
  2. S’il Vous Plait/Merci“- Please and thank you. Because manners are important, duh.
  3. Pardon“- Manners, remember? If you’re thinking “excuse moi” is the acceptable version of “excuse me,” well you’re wrong.. It’s not your fault, “excuse moi” just translates closer to “sorry” than “pardon me”.
  4. Apres vous“- We’ve all done that awkward hold-the-door tango, right? Gesturing and saying “after you” in French will get you into the building much faster.
  5. L’addition, s’il vous plait“- This is probably the most useful thing you’ll learn to say en Francais because once you’ve been given your food at a restaurant, your waiter will probably leave you alone until you’re ready to pay. When you do grab his or her attention, asking for the bill in French is sure to get you a smile of appreciation.
  6. D’accord“- Okay! Look at you being all agreeable!
  7. Au revoir“- Much like greeting, it’s important to say your goodbyes as well. Too bad I can’t say “au revoir” without wanting to yell “SHOSHANNNAAAAA” after… you know, because of Inglorious Basterds? Oh, just me then…
  8. Parlez vous Anglais?“- Sometimes the answer is “no,” so it’s much more polite to ask people if they speak English than to assume that they do.

I was going to include “puis-je épater votre chien?” but the answer to “may I pet your dog” is always “non” anyway ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

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Yes I took French in high school, but that doesn’t mean I don’t butcher this beautiful language when it comes out of my mouth. I’d say that in Paris it’s okay if your pronunciation isn’t perfection, and that a little effort goes a long way. Even my husband (who has never spoken a lick of French and actually kept accidentally saying “hola” the first time we were in Paris) had these few phrases on lock down and used them everyday!

It’s also a good idea to have the Google Translate App downloaded and ready to use. You know, just in case the one person who doesn’t speak English at all happens to be the pharmacist you’re trying to buy laxatives from. That’s not something you want to mime out. Trust me.

Paris: Stay There, Eat That

I don’t think anyone realizes how much input my husband puts into this blog. He’s not just the photographer/videographer, he’s an idea man as well. When we had our weekly content meeting last week, he suggested one of the topics for this very post. The conversation went like this:

JOEL (sitting on couch after work): “You should write a post about Paris next week.”

ME (walking up the stairs en route to bathroom): “What about Paris specifically? I have a lot of posts in mind.”

JOEL: “The food. Talk about the food in Paris…. I’m hungry. What should we make for dinner?”

FINE, JOEL. I GUESS I’LL TALK ABOUT ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS EVER: FOOD. But first…

The Paris of Joel and Sarah Blumer’s future is centered around the Four Seasons, Michelin Starred restaurants, and shopping at Christian Louboutin. It’ll be just like in that Bruno Mars song: “shopping sprees in Paris, everyday 24 karats”. The Paris of our present, however, is more along the lines of a pleasant hotel or Airbnb, cheap eats, and window shopping at the Christian Louboutin store (because shopping sprees in Paris would equal everyday 24 carrots because that’s all we’d be able to afford to eat). Although the future version sounds great, I wholeheartedly LOOOOOVE how we see Paris now!

This was, technically, the third time Joel and I have been to Paris (remember the first and second time?) and I make sure to casually bring that fact up in conversation as much as possible (yet somehow I’m not the most pretentious person I know). It’s a city that outdoes itself every time we see it. Paris really is the epitome of everything charming and beautiful.

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Normally, we’d pick Airbnb for accommodations in any city for more than 3 nights, but Hotel Panache was not only too cute, but way too much of a steal to pass up! At just over $100 per night, we got a room on the top floor with the best views of the 9th Arrondissement.

Boutique hotels combine the unique and charismatic elements that you’d get with an Airbnb with the simplicity and ease you’d get with a hotel. Win/win.

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With a sweet and knowledgable staff ready to drop recommendations about whatever tickles your Parisian fancy, Hotel Panache really has it all! Instead of pillow mints, you can expect fortune cookies with something funny written inside; Joel’s said “never make eye contact with another person while eating a banana”.

One thing you should know is that one of the toiletries provided by the hotel is body lotion NOT hair conditioner…. the label was in French and I made the mistake of assuming it was the latter, which will explain why my hair might start to look funky in a lot of our vacation photos.

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Fine. I guess we can talk about food now…

At home, we try to stick to a diet of mostly “plant-based” meals. When we do eat meat, it’s usually turkey, chicken, and fish and almost never beef or pork. In France though, that way of munching goes out the window. Not that it’s hard to find amazing vegetarian options in Paris, we just didn’t want to. We’re on vacation, damn it!

Before we went to Paris the first time around, I did a ton of research and asked people we knew who had been where the best cafés were, only to find out that when you’re on the streets of Paris, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a cute café. The hypothetical rock you’re throwing will probably bounce off of one cafe and hit two more before it slows down.

To save some dough whilst in Paris, we only ate at cafés, brasseries, pâtisseries, and my personal favorite: crêperies. These are all especially great options if you feel awkward making dinner reservations in a foreign country (we rarely go to places where reservations are needed stateside anyway). Just go in, find a seat, eat and enjoy! 

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A lot of cafés in Paris are not only charming, but come with so much cool history too! Le Consulat in Montmarte happens to be where Picasso, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec used to all go to have a drink and shoot the shit, artist style. And Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole (located right by Notre Dame) was established in 1512, making it one of the oldest buildings still remaining in Paris! Just look at that wisteria growing, hiding it from the prying eyes of most tourists! C’est vraiment magnifique!

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Can we give a shout out to “mixte” plates, real quick?! It doesn’t get much better than a big plate of various meats and cheeses (sometimes with a side of pickles!) served with warm bread and washed down with cold beer. We ordered them a couple of times not really knowing what kind of meat or cheese we’d get specifically, but they never disappointed.

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For burgers in Paris, Mamie Burger is THE BEST (also conveniently located right outside of our hotel)! If you don’t want to be an asshole or an “américain stupide,” be sure to order your burger medium. Yes, there will be blood, but it’ll be worth it. Trust me.

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I can’t look at the pictures below without drooling. The street food in Paris is so. freaking. good. My last meal in France was a gyro with spicy cheese sauce that I ate at 10 p.m. and had the worst heartburn from, but couldn’t get enough of! The pizza and garlic knots were also so very tasty.

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We Blumers are all very big fans of Belgian beers. Belgium is France’s adorable northern neighbor, so drinking a good Belgian beer in France is as easy to do as going anywhere in the U.S. and drinking a Bud Light or any other trash beer. Hooray! We also had a few cocktails and a few bottles of wine because, like I said before, vacation.

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Ah, crêpes. The quintessential king of all street food in Paris. Try one with butter and sugar or Nutella and strawberries! Whatever you get on them and wherever you get them from, you’ll be satisfied by crêpes. I have so many photos on my phone of just crêpes. I love crêpes. crêpes. crêpes. crêpes.

Say crêpes one more time…

Crêpes.

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Pastries in Paris are an art form. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s a fact. Macarons (NOT Macaroons, there’s a difference, okay?!), croissants, croissants aux amandes, pain au chocolat, eclairs, etc… each one is better than the next. It might literally be impossible to eat a bad pastry in France. Just sayin’.

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Ugh, crap. Now I’m drooling again…

Oh, WOW! (an honest review of WOW airlines)

If you’ve been asking yourself “WTF IS WOW AIRLINES?!” ever since reading either the title of this post OR the first of my recent travel posts (it’s right here, dummy), don’t worry… First of all, you’re not alone, WOW Airlines is relatively new (founded in 2011), so not many people know about it. Secondly, I’m about to tell you, so read on.

Have you heard of discounted, cheap-o domestic airlines, such as Spirit or Allegiant? Well, WOW is like those, but, to Europe and Asia. According to their website, “WOW air is a happy low-fare, long-haul airline based in Iceland. The airline serves 38 destinations across Europe, North America, and Asia. WOW air is committed to providing the cheapest flights to and from Iceland and across the Atlantic while providing a memorable service all the way.”

YOU HAD US AT CHEAP FLIGHTS TO EUROPE, WOW!

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When WOW announced that it was adding Pittsburgh to its list of airports it flies out of, Joel and I got pretty excited. So $99 flights to Iceland? YEP. $189 to Copenhagen? FOR SURE. I can fly to Tel Aviv for $139?! YOU BET YOUR ASS YOU CAN! We can go back to Paris for $149?! YAAAAS.

Woah woah woah, pump the brakes. This all started sounding too good to be true. When I typed “wow airlines reviews” into a google search, I wasn’t really shocked to see that they were rated pretty low (a lot of “one star” ratings). But as I read on, the reasons they were being given such low ratings, were pretty dumb. If people had done their research on why they were able to fly at such a low rate beforehand, they wouldn’t have much to complain about.

We booked WOW Airlines despite their reviews because the deal was too sweet to pass up. Here’s the thing: If you like to be spoiled on transatlantic flights with pillows, blankets, meals, and entertainment provided by the airline, DO NOT BOOK WOW. If you don’t care about any of that and just want to get to your destination, THEN THIS IS THE AIRLINE FOR YOU! Wouldn’t you rather save money on transportation and spend it when you get there (wherever “there” may be)?

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Since we have now successfully used WOW, we can fully endorse and recommend this airline, but there are some things you should know…

BOOKING

  • $99 is the base price. At the very, least you’ll end up spending $10 per flight to reserve your seat. Example: we flew to Iceland, then to Paris, then back to Iceland, then home and had to reserve seats on each flight costing $40 per person.
  • Flight costs will vary by date. Duh. It was significantly cheaper for us to fly home on Friday than it was on Sunday, so that’s what we did.
  • You get one free personal item (purse or backpack) all other items will cost you per flight. This factor made me nervous at first because we really crammed our backpacks full and I was afraid they wouldn’t fit the allotted “free” size, but it turns out I could have squeezed stuff into all of the other pockets and it would have definitely fit the bill.
  • We did end up sharing one paid carry on bag which is the way to do it! It’s such a breeze to get through customs when you don’t have checked luggage because it’s one less step to take (plus, with WOW, you pay more for checked luggage than for a carry on). Read their baggage FAQs here.
  • The grand total for both Joel and I to fly to both Paris and Iceland, with one paid for carry on bag, was around $1400. THAT’S INSANE. A roundtrip ticket to/from Europe for about $700 per person!!! Please tell me you realize what a steal that is! And you could definitely get flights for less than that.

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So you’ve booked your flight on WOW and you’re off on your next adventure, but keep in mind, from here on out, nothing else is included in the price you already paid for your flight, seat reservation, and luggage (if you brought any).  Here’s how we got by on our first WOW flight and what we’ll do differently next time.

FLYING

  • Food/water isn’t ridiculously overpriced like I assumed it would be on WOW flights (I was expecting $11 for water because an airport employee said it would be that much, but it was $3 per bottle). We ate dinner in the terminal beforehand and brought snacks from home and big water bottle to share anyway.
  • You can pay extra for more leg room, but it won’t make the seats comfortable.
  • You can pay extra for comfier seats, but only on certain planes.
  • Holy shit, the seats are so uncomfortable. Bring an inflatable butt pillow and a neck pillow. Wear a jacket and use that as a blanket. Better yet, pay the little extra cost for a carry on bag and fill it with pillows & blankets.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT sit in the seats in front of the exit row. Not only do they not have a lot of leg room, but they don’t recline. Chances are you’ll throw your back out trying to get a little bit cozy…. trust me.
  • Bring books. Download movies and podcasts. Make playlists of your favorite jams. Pack a travel journal and pen. You like adult coloring books? bring one. You have at least 5 hours ahead of you, plus connecting flights, and nobody can twiddle their thumbs for that long. And good luck sleeping without that butt pillow we talked about!

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Although none of our four flights actually boarded when they said they were going to, the most we were ever delayed getting to a city was 15 minutes. The only other slightly annoying thing about WOW is the seats, which as I said above, are not cozy. Still, the prices can’t be beat and the customer service is great! And I didn’t even mention that the planes are magenta and the flight attendants are beautiful Icelandic babes who wear old school stewardess outfits THAT ARE ALSO PINK.

WOW Air gets a solid 4.8 out of 5 in my book.

Since we know some people who have also flown WOW, I asked them to give me quotes about their experiences.

“First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The WOW flight attendants and pilots won the genetic lottery. I’ve never flown on such an attractive vessel before. I found the service to be hospitable and relaxed. I had ordered a special vegan meal ahead of time (falafel salad – highly recommend) and they got it to me no problem, which isn’t always the case. When we flew direct from Pittsburgh to Reykjavik, we upgraded to the extra legroom seats in the front row because my husband is tall; having a bit of space to spread out was nice on a longer flight, but I’m not sure it was worth the cost. Lastly, I loved the throwback vibe of stepping onto the tarmac and taking a bus to the terminal when arriving at the airport in Iceland. It felt very Hollywood glam, except I was sleep-deprived and wearing a windbreaker.” –@EndlessWeekend

“They’re good.” –@NMalburg

“I would use WOW again for their flights, yes. It beats $1200 round trip [on any other airline]… But I wish we didn’t get in trouble for drinking the alcohol we bought at the duty free store…” –@Uncle_Bam467

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My cozy travel outfit. Do I not look a bit like Spinelli from the cartoon Recess? Any other 90s kids out there?
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Beanie/Amazon, Glasses/Amazon, Leather Jacket/Zara, Gingham Top/Old 

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Believe it or not, this is NOT a sponsored post, I just really like traveling for cheap. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about our experience with WOW.

With new cities being added to the ever growing list of WOW routes, European and Asian travel is no longer for just the mega rich or those who have been scrounging and saving airline miles. Soooo where to next?!

Ohio Is For Lovers*

*Ohio is for cheap wine loving residents of Pennsylvania.

I used to feel like Joel duped me into moving up to PA from Texas for the lone reason that Pennsylvania has some whack AF laws regarding alcohol. “What do you mean you can’t buy beer or wine with the rest of your groceries and have to go to a separate part of the store? TRADER JOE’S DOESN’T HAVE WINE AT ALL? HOW WILL I LIVE WITHOUT MY OTHER BOYFRIEND, TWO BUCK CHUCK?!”

But, being a serial optimist, I can always find that silver lining….

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THEY TOTALLY SELL WINE EVERYWHERE IN OHIO (fun fact- most of the people who willingly visit Ohio are just thirsty Pennsylvanians)! Last weekend, Joel and I embarked on the fifty minute journey out of PA, through WV, and into OH for the sole purpose of buying cheap wine. We’ve both been feeling the itch to travel again, plus there’s totally a chick-fil-a on the way. Three birds, one stone, dead.

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We took a break from being Plant Based to share 30 nuggets #becauseweareworthit

Joel heard on the streets that Aldi sells an “award winning” rosé, which everyone knows is the drink of the summer as well as a key ingredient to frozé (frozen rosé). So with bellies full of chicken and NPR on blast, we embarked on an epic…. “oh, we’re already there? cool…”

And whatdya know, they were sold out! Instead, we got:

  • a white zinfandel (it’s pink too, so close enough)
  • cheap Aldi champagne
  • a box of Chardonnay (it’s not good)
  • a 6 pack of Amber Ale (also pretty bad)
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oh, don’t mind me, just getting photographed behind an abandoned building in Ohio.

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When we got home, Joel made some champagne ice cubes, which we later mixed with the White Zinfandel and some frozen raspberries, and you know what, it was one of the most refreshing alcoholic beverage I’ve ever had (suck it, frozé).

It’s funny, when I lived/worked in Ohio for the 9 months leading up to our wedding, I felt myself harboring this childish resentment toward the whole state, but it really isn’t that bad. I swear, people from Ohio are the nicest, so I’m hoping they don’t get too offended by my lighthearted teasing (lookin’ at you Leann and Rachel)!

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Can I Get A Hand?

Being a mother, you learn quickly that there are not enough hours in the day. You have kids that you actually have to keep alive! That means, feed them, make sure they use the bathroom (hopefully in the toilet), sleep, stay clean, and learn something in day. That is a whole day in itself. So how in the world are you suppose to get everything else done? You just figure it out.

 

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Kids had one too many macarons!

 

I won’t lie to you; most days, I have one or multiple piles of clean laundry laying around waiting to be folded and put away. I go to start, and then a kid starts screaming and I get distracted and have to make lunch then find out we are late for a doctor appointment… and the laundry gets forgotten about. “Maybe Tomorrow” is spoken way too often out of my mouth.

In the midst of all the madness, you have to remember to take care of yourself too. Recently, I’ve taken up BUTI Yoga. I got a subscription so I can workout at home, anytime I want and my kids can join me if they want to. It’s been a good way to focus my physical energy to better myself and know that it’s helping me focus on one thing for a restricted time.

I’ve been trying to go “hands-free” as much as possible. I recently finished up a whitening session with Smile Brilliant. I first sent in my personal compressions and had custom teeth whitening trays sent back to me. It turned out to be way easier than I thought. Sometimes I would pop them in before leaving the house since they can stay in anywhere from 45min-3hours. Pop them in, go grocery shopping, come home, work out, and during all of that, I’ve whitened my teeth. Being an avid coffee and wine drinker, my teeth were desperate for some attention.

My teeth before starting my whitening trial

After being approached by Smile Brilliant, I started my whitening sessions. Most of them were done in the evening before bed but I also whitened on the way to the beach, and once while at my grandmother’s house for a few hours. Simple, comfortable, and efficient. Perfect for a mom on-the-go!

Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit!

 

Before starting my sessions, I looked through some teeth whitening testimonials and a little research on what to expect before whitening. My teeth do tend to be a little sensitive so I made sure to get approval from my dentist. Other than some slight tingling on my gums, I never had any issues or side-effects. My smile is my favorite feature, It’s not perfect but it gives everyone else a spark of positivity and joy! If there’s a way to make it shine brighter, I’m all for it.

My pearly whites after completing my Smile Brilliant Whitening Kit

Aside from being able to whiten my teeth hands-free, I’m always trying to do some sort-of social gathering through the week. As much as I love staying home in my yoga pants, being around others gives me energy and lifts my spirit! It can be a lot to juggle but I always try to remember there are only so many hours in the day and to make sure to spend those good hours focusing on what’s worth living. My family, my friends, and myself! If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of everyone else.

 

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Multitasking while watching the eclipse, not watching my children…
For a chance to win you’re own Whitening Kit, enter into our giveaway we are offering from today: August 30, 2017 until  September 6, 2017
For a coupon when you order for $20 off, use the code: thatswhatsarahsaid20