Category Archives: Tips

How To Be A Good House Guest

Two weeks ago, my mother-in-law/BFF, Sheila, and I flew to Nashville, TN to attend my beautiful sister-in-law’s baby shower. After flying out of a blizzard and straight into a thunderstorm (a plane ride deemed “too bumpy” for us to be served our complimentary Chardonnay) a relaxing 38 hours in a new city was just what the doctor ordered. Since all the rooms at Laura’s house were filled with friends (and one perfect baby boy), Sheila and I had the pleasure of staying with Jeremy and Elsie Larson. I’ve been crushin’ on The Larson House via Instagram for a while now, so it was truly an honor to get the invite to actually sleep there. My main goal for the weekend (besides feeling Gummergal‘s baby bump as much as possible) was to be a good guest and not embarrass myself. I can’t speak for E or J, but I think I did a pretty GD good job… For the most part, anyway.








Although we’ve been Internet Gal Pals for a while now, I couldn’t help but think it might be, idk, a little weird not only meeting Elsie in person, but staying in her house. Would it be like sleeping in a museum? Would I be allowed to touch stuff? Would her dogs like me? Would my habit of waking up early annoy the shit out of everyone like it usually does?  I soon realized that this would be my first time being a real guest (staying with family or long-time friends doesn’t really count) in someone else’s home and I’d have to be on my best behavior.

Full disclaimer, it wasn’t even a little bit weird and the Larson Dogs, Dolly and Suki, totally love me. Elsie Larson, YOU REALLY ARE THE HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS.

The weekend went by so quickly, but I made the most of my short time in Nashville. Most importantly, I now have some good tips on how to be a good house guest…


I mean, how freaking cute are these Palm Springs themed shower treats?!




  • Don’t quote obscure movies or TV shows, no matter how funny you think you’re being. Example: Elsie gave Sheila and I a tour of her home and when it was over, I turned to her and said “your house has a real ass on it” (a quote from an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia). I got a polite smile from Elsie and an elbow to the ribs from Sheila.
  • Watch where you’re stepping, you clumsy fool. I kept walking into all the cactus and getting poked.
  • Do take advantage of all the cool mirrors. If they didn’t want you to take mirror selfies, they probably wouldn’t have bought them.
  • Make your bed! I never, ever make my bed at home, but it seems like a polite thing that people do, so I did it.
  • Make yourself at home! I definitely did wake up early to sit in the living room, kick my feet up, and read my book like I do at my own house every morning.
  • Don’t just slink out into the night when you leave like some kind of cheap hooker, say goodbye to your hosts.
  • Resist the temptation and don’t snoop (even if going through medicine cabinets is one of your favorite things to do).
  • This should go without saying, but don’t steal anything… we know that pink ukulele is calling your name, but buy your own on Amazon. GET OUT OF HERE, YOU CAN’T EVEN PLAY THE UKULELE.






A big thank you to Jeremy and Elsie for letting us stay with you and for not thinking it was weird that I took so many pictures inside your house…. Oh, you do think it was weird? We’ll work on it next time!


¡Viva Fiesta!

Fiesta originated 125 years ago when citizens of San Antonio wanted to celebrate the heroes of the Alamo with what they named The Battle of Flowers. It became a tradition and is now ingrained in San Antonio’s culture. And get this, it is the only parade in the country to be planned and directed completely by women! GO GIRLS! When I was a kid, I was in synchronized swimming and our team, The Cygnets (baby swans), got to participate in the parade and had our own float. Being super clumsy, I was never allowed to go on the float so I had to walk. We were told to just throw candy at kids whenever we walked by them, which could be a little dangerous. When you think about it, the parade is a ton of giant piñatas spewing candy all over the place. No baseball bats or blindfolds involved so all the hard work is done.

Photo: TOM REEL, Staff / San Antonio Express-Newsimg_1936

Being born and raised in San Antonio, I have a deep respect and appreciation for my city. When Fiesta comes around each year, I am again reminded of the history and culture of this beautiful city. N.I.O.S.A which stands for Night In Old San Antonio is where the party is at. Every year Sarah’s Dad, my uncle, volunteers and usually always asks for help. He works at the “Ranch Steak” tent. Ranch Steaks are a thin slice of chuck on a tortilla. Can’t get much simpler than that!

If a Ranch Steak doesn’t peak your interest, you could also try the infamous Chicken on a stick, or Steer on a stick, Elote (corn on the cob), or anything fried you can think of. Being a volunteer, you get all the sweet perks. Early entry, private bathrooms, air conditioned lobby, and free food. Whenever I had the chance to help out with my cousins, we would always be the ones taking tickets and banging the cow bell saying “RANCH STEAKS! GET YOUR RANCH STEAKS!” Then when 10pm came around (closing time) all the hungry drunks rush to your booth to get their greasy fill. Things can get a little crazy but overall, it’s a grand time.

source: Texas Public Radioimg_1889

The whole month of April has Fiesta-related events going on, but the main events are from April 20th – April 30th. If you plan on making a trip, I would suggest coming for N.I.O.S.A., you will experience everything “Fiesta” in a span of 4-5 hours from good food, drinks, music, and partying. If you plan on bringing kids, I would recommend the Fiesta Carnival or one of the many parades. All information about the events and details can be found here.


If you’re ever planning to visit San Antonio, come in mid-April and party like a local!


Turn And Face The Strange, Ch-Ch-Changes

Being a blonde hairstylist with ADHD, I can get bored with my hair really fast! I need change often and change can be expensive and damaging when it comes to your hair! I try as best as I can to take care of it and keep it healthy. Washing it only once a week, and doing deep conditioners every other week. When I was at a hair appointment last summer, my stylist told me about a brand of shampoo called Pure Blends by American Culture Hair, you can use the shampoo to help either maintain colors, enhance colors, or use it to temporarily stain your hair. This immediately got my attention. It’s hard to go back and forth with most fashion colors which are semi-permanent, you use a lot of bleach and it can take a lot of time. I decided to try it out and I loved the results! The color mixtures I used came out vibrant and the fade is always a new shade. I would get excited to shampoo my hair because that meant it would be a different color when I was done.

The first trial I did was with the red shampoo on dry hair for 20 minutes. It came out to a soft pink and stayed vibrant until my next shampoo, then it turned into a rose blonde with my next wash, and by the third wash, it was almost all gone. Since I only wash my hair once a week, this color was the perfect amount of time to try something out without getting bored.

Next, I wanted to try purple which I loved so much because it faded into a silver. I re-did this color probably 3-4 times because I loved it so much! With the balayage/root-look being in-style, I was about to go a few months without getting my roots touched up. The purple/silver hair off-set the fact that I had 4 months of grown out roots. Saved me money and I got to change my hair color all at home!

Throughout the process of using this shampoo, I had been posting a ton on Instagam and making sure to tag American Culture Hair in the process. A few months passed and a representative of American Culture Hair contacted me about a blogging opportunity.  She sent me a few products to test out and that’s where I am at today.

Today, I used the Pure Blends Temped Pink Conditioner. I applied it to my prelightened hair and let it sit for 20 minutes. Viola! My hot pink barbie dreams came to life!

This is an awesome product to try out if you want a fun change! It’s also amazing to help maintain your natural colors and enhance the vibrancy of your hair. All of the shampoos are sulfate and sodium chloride free. They also smell like candy so it gives your nose a nice little treat when washing. If interested in trying out the conditioners, you can use my discount code to save 25% XTINA25 at their website. (Conditioners only) the price is not bad at all and you’ll get free shipping over $46!

Shampoo Cocktail recipes:
Soft Pink: 2 parts Chestnut – 1 part Cherry
Lavender: 2 parts Cocoa – 1 part Violet
Ice Blue: 2 parts Orchid – 1 part Violet
Rose Gold: 2 parts Sun – 1 part Cherry
Silver: 2 parts Violet – 1 part Orchid

p.s. if you have any questions at all about the products, feel free to message me, comment, or email me and I’ll answer them to the best of my knowledge.

I Love You So Much

A blog about my love and a love-themed wall mural tour in Austin, TX.

It’s hard to believe Brandon and I will be approaching our 6 year anniversary this Sunday. I can’t imagine what those years would have looked like without him. His patience and humbleness continue to blow me away. His ability to stay calm through the phone calls about my speeding tickets, or how I again, didn’t manage to clean the house even though I was home all day with the kids… well there is your answer, with the kids. I mean it when I say we were made for each other, I don’t think there is anyone else out there in the world that would be able to put up with me and my crazy weird self.

A few weeks ago, we went up to Austin, TX and had a hunt for any “love” themed wall murals. We didn’t make it to all of them before the sun went down but the ones we were able to grab were perfect. This makes for a fun double date, by the end you have a full, satisfied belly (because Austin has amazing food at every corner), and pictures for days!

Tyson’s Tacos

4905 Airport Boulevard
Austin, TX 78751

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of the two of us in front of this wall. I was wearing a unicorn mask so I wasn’t in my right state of mind.

You’re My Butter Half

2000 E. MLK Blvd
Austin, TX 78756

Don’t you love a good pun?  This wall is fun, bright, and has great natural lighting.

Till Death Do Us Part

E. 7th St & Waller St
Austin, TX 78702


Brandon’s probably thinking “more like when my wife becomes overly obsessed with unicorns do us part”. TOO LATE.

Puppy Love

Mud Puppies
2015 E. Riverside Dr
Austin, TX 78741




One thing we didn’t know before visiting was how hard the photos would be to take! We are about 2-3 feet above the sidewalk on a narrow upper walkway. Also, this is directly in front of a parking lot which was completely full because the next-door neighbor was Emo’s (music venue) and there was a show about to happen that day so it was packed. My friend had to climb on some cars to take these, thankfully we didn’t tick off anyone. IT’S FOR THE BLOG.


Love Is The Question, Love Is The Answer

1115 W Lynn St
Austin, TX 78703


I wish I had the strength to fight off some gnarly looking monsters.


I Love You So Much

1300 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

Ask me about my melons. This photo wasn’t taken on the same day as the others. I was at this wall with Sarah and we got stopped to be in a collab video (watch it here, and a small clip here) interview with The American Heart Association and Subway, they just asked us about our favorite fruits and veggies and if we ate them on a regular basis. Of course we do! We love our fruits and veggies!

I really do.

That concludes my Love Tour of Austin. If you’re interested in planning a date hopefully this guide will help direct you. My husband tried to line up the order from the furthest north down to south since that’s how we would be coming home.

To Brandon:

Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t’aime davantage,
Aujourd’hui plus qu’hier et bien moins que demain.
-Rosemonde Gérard

(For, you see, each day I love you more,
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.)

Lazy Girl’s Guide To Party Decor

An alternate title to this post is: How To Decorate For A Party So Well That Nobody Notices When You Leave Said Party To Hide In Your Room To Read… Because The Decorations Look That Good.

With the exceptions of our annual 4th Of Juluau and Halloween parties, our hosted social functions mostly consist of spur of the moment shindigs involving a lot of running around and throwing stuff together at the last minute. Okay, wait, no… that’s how we throw all of our parties, even the ones we’ve been mentally planning for months. Maybe that’s how everyone throws a party? Procrastination is somewhat of an art in this house, and I’ve got my last minute party decoration set up down to a science. As you may or may not know, it’s pretty easy to break the bank when you’re setting up for a grand event, but I’ve come up with some surefire cheapskate ways to decorate that will save dough and wow your guests. Plus, they’re easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Exhibit A: the gender reveal party we threw for some of our best friends who are expecting their first baby. I was elated at the chance to get to put this soiree together because it combines so many things that I love: Babies! Booze! The colors blue and pink and yellow! Pregnant friends! Secrets! Guessing games! Secrets Revealed!

I set this all up in the span of 2 hours, then I had to stand back and applaud myself because everything looked so cute.






    • get creative with balloons and streamers! cover a wall with streamers or balloons and you have a great photo back drop to impress all of your friends on Instagram.
    • two words: Candy Tray. two more words: Make One
    • spray paint is your best friend! (I spray painted our recycled Topo Chico bottles and some old vases different shades of blues and pinks and can always repaint them for future events)
    • use paint samples from the hardware store to make triangular, colorful garland.
    • make a signature drink with whatever is in your liquor cabinet.
    • match La Croix boxes and cheap candles to the color scheme.
    • don’t tell spray paint, but food coloring is also your best friend (dye the shit out of some ice cubes)
    • HAVE. A. CAKE. GUY. (my sister is a culinary genius and my go-to Cake Guy)
    • keep whatever decorations you can salvage because you can reuse more than you realize.








Okay now that I’ve listed some of the ways I decorate for a party, I don’t sound like such a lazy gal after all. Effort or not, my favorite part of any party we throw is the part where I can sit back, drink a beer, and let everyone thank me for putting it together. YOU’RE SO WELCOME!


Always A Bridesmaid…

…just once a bride.

2016 was the year of weddings for my husband and I. With a total of 9 weddings attended, only 2 we were not in the bridal party. I will admit, it was crazy at times but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

The first rule as a bridesmaid is to set your pride aside. Your best friend is getting married and there is a slim chance she will have the  opportunity to do it again so make sure she feels like a star. It’s not your day, it’s hers. Secondly, try your best to say “yes”. She needs you with her as much as possible and wants your approval and support, not to mention a killer looking squad. Lastly, SET YOUR PRIDE ASIDE. Yeah, I know I already said it but that’s how important it is. Trust me, in the long run, you’ll be glad you did. Knowing I was a hairdresser, all of my friends asked me to first, be a bridesmaid. Then I was asked if I could do the hair. So of course, I had to say yes.

The Guthries

To kick off the 2016 madness, we flew to a beautiful destination wedding for our friends Dave And Cyntia. We stayed at the Paradisus resort in Punta Cana and had an all-inclusive week of luxury. Most of our time was spent on the beach, but we did have an excursion where we were taken to a “floating island”. A man-made spot where we could get a massage, swim with sharks, kayak, or just soak up the sun.

Throughout the resort were signs featuring information about the Mangroves and how there was a tour you could take. My Husband was begging to take this tour from the moment he stepped on the resort so once Sarah and Joel arrived, we got to it. It wasn’t much of a “tour” since we didn’t have a tour guide so we just walked through a pathway of mangroves. And saw a family of turtles. Destination weddings are a wicked vacation because you’re surrounded by an awesome group of friends, amazing food and drinks, and located in some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

The Blumers

Fast forward 3 weeks and a road trip to Pittsburgh and we are celebrating Sarah and Joel Blumer. I came up a week before to spend some quality time with Sarah and help her with anything, from cleaning her house to doing her hair for her big day. I remember my first bridesmaid task: within a few minutes of arriving, Sarah asked me “Hey, can you take this blanket upstairs for me?” Of course I said yes, this was my first official job as MOH! Being assigned MOH, my main task was to have pink hair, so the first day I was there, we colored my hair pink to have it prepped for the wedding. I got to help make the DIY gem wall and assist with the “May the Fourteenth Be With You” marque sign, although it was all Joel really.


The night before the wedding, Sarah and I stayed at Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh. All Sarah wanted to do was take a big bath and then go to sleep. Nothing too crazy happened except her other BFF Allie arrived at midnight, after Sarah passed out. Allie and I snuck out and walked to the nearest corner store for snacks and treated ourselves to the complimentary bottle of champagne the hotel provided.

My husband Brandon was also in the wedding and we got lucky enough to walk down the aisle together. The Blumer wedding wins for most creativeness, everything was thoroughly picked out by the bride and groom: completely unique, but perfectly Sarah and Joel. Hundreds of hours of DIY work and crafting went into it and it was worth it. I loved every single second spent at their wedding and I know for a fact they did too! I was honored to be Matron of Honor. The wedding was at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA.

The McIvers

Three weeks later, we are back to Texas and back to blonde to attend a classic, glamorous wedding between my baby brother, Andrew, and his gorgeous wife, Lauren. The bridal party spent a week in Las Vegas during the Super Bowl so we didn’t have to deal with any casualties the week of the wedding. I can’t say too much about that except “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

My parents hosted the rehearsal dinner at their home and did a super cute Italian theme and ended the night with fireworks. I saved about $40 by carefully removing the nails I wore to Sarah’s wedding and re-gluing them for Lauren’s wedding. Talk about a “McIver”. On the morning of the wedding, both the mother of the bride and I got to do all of the bridesmaids hair and each others.  The McIver wedding wins for most classic look. They were married at Boulder Springs in New Braunfels, TX.  The bridal party all matched in charcoal, chandeliers hanging throughout, drapery, and a full candlelit reception, it was breathtaking.

The Smiths

In October I had the honor of being a bridesmaid for my bestie Lauryn. The bridesmaids spent a few nights downtown San Antonio at the Menger Hotel, San Antonio’s most haunted hotel! Sadly there were no ghost encounters. We had a great party at a piano bar and then woke up the next morning to all have a relaxing spa treatment. The night before the wedding, we blew off some steam by going to Top Golf and hitting some balls for a few hours.

The day of the wedding, I got to do Lauryn’s hair as well as some of the other bridesmaids. Lauryn and Brad had a beautiful, rustic country wedding at Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne, TX. I put my dancing skills to the test with the Grand March. A good chunk of the wedding family was Czechoslovakian and it’s tradition to do the Grand March at your wedding. My husband and I made friends with the bartender, and every time we went for shots, which was about 8 times, she snuck one with us.

The Valencias

To seal 2016 was the woodland wedding at the La Escondida Celebration Center in Helotes, TX featuring the lovely Mikhala and Lorenzo Valencia. Talk about creative and unique. I loved being part of this wedding! We had a space themed bachelorette party and all the girls wore GLITTER ROOTS! We had an Alien named Billy who came with us and even managed to show up at the wedding.

I loved the color pallet they used; the bride is an artist if you can’t tell. She worked hard to make sure everything came out perfectly. The night before the wedding, she stayed up until 4AM working on personalized artwork to gift to the parents. The bridesmaids made our own floral arrangements, and again I got to do all of the hair. Love won between these two, and they conquered all obstacles to get there. Highlight of this wedding was the saxophone player playing Careless Whisper. Almost everyone was out on the dance floor shaking their booty!

And yes, I wore my unicorn mask to every single wedding. It was worth it.

Mambo Italiano

According to science, it takes 66 days to form a new habit (here’s a great, boring article about forming habits with zero pictures to distract you from the info). Now that the beginning of March is upon us, people who made New Year’s resolutions are either about to form habits out of said resolutions, or they gave up on their #goals back in January. As far as my Mother-In-Law, Sheila, and myself are concerned, we used January 1st as a jumping off point to… learn a new language! Italian, to be exact. It’s always good to have a partner to hold you accountable for your “homework”, no? It’s going well for both of us, and not to toot my own horn, but I’m actually 20% fluent in Italian as of today. *toot, toot*

So, why learn a new language? At your age, good luck! Why Italian? and, um, how?

Calm down! I’m here to answer all of your burning questions…

Manarola, you beautiful son of a bitch.

Why learn a new language?

Why not?!!? I grew up in south Texas, where being bilingual was about as common in the residents as the cactus growing in their backyards. I took 6 years of Spanish, 4 years of French, and a semester of Italian in college, but with the exception of a handful of words and phrases, nothing really stuck. All of the three languages I’ve studied have sort of blended together into my very own mash-up that I call SpaFrenchian. I’ve always envied anyone with the ability to speak multiple languages, but until now I never really wanted to work to get there myself. On our honeymoon, I loved getting to say a few things in French and a few things in Italian in France and Italy, respectively, and can’t wait to practice some more on our next trip to Europe. Plus, there’s no time like the present. And again, WHY NOT?!

They say that the best time to learn another language is at a very early age, but I am a prime example of why that’s not always the case. I can’t speak for Sheila, but I never wanted to put in the effort until now, at the not-so-tender age of 27.

Bella, Burano!

Why Italian?

Because Italian rolls off the tongue like sexy, sexy word vomit. More so than any other language in the world, in my “humble” opinion.

Grazie for the good hair day, Venezia.

How are you learning Italian?

This is the best part…

Did we hire private tutors? No. Did we shell out hundreds of dolla dolla bills for a downloadable computer program? NOPE.

WE ARE LEARNING ITALIAN FOR FREE… omg, did you just faint? Get up, I’m being serious!

Thanks to the brilliant minds behind Duolingo, learning a new language is not only more doable and easier than ever, but it’s fun.. and did I mention, completely free of charge? You can download the app on your phone and practice while you’re sitting with your cats and drinking your coffee in the morning, or go to the website and knock out some lessons while your husband watches the hockey game next to you!

If you have the bare minimum of storage on your smart phone and 5 minutes to spare everyday, you should definitely give Duo a go!

I am eat, pray, LOVING it. Arrivederci!