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Jul 31, 2014 Beauty // Clarisonic Mia Review


as with my nike+ fuelband review, clarisonic has not asked me to review their product.  it's just a product that i love and i want to share why i love it with all of you!

my skin has always been acne-prone.  less so now that i'm in my twenties, but it's still pretty oily and it still likes to surprise me from time to time with a lovely blemish here and there.  i'm the kind of girl who loves the feeling of tingly, clean skin...you know, the kind that makes you go "ahhhh" because your skin can actually breathe?  yeah, there's nothing like it.

i'm also the kind of girl who is always down for trying new products, and was really intrigued by the clarisonic cleansing brush system for a while.  i did my research (and talked to a friend who owned a clarisonic), and finally decided to go with the clarisonic mia 1.  the mia 1 prices around $100-$120, which is a bit of an investment, but in my opinion, it was totally worth it.

the mia 1 has only one timed setting, which gives you a minute-long cleansing cycle for your face.  other models have two different speeds and settings, but honestly, only having one has never bothered me in the nearly two years that i've been using my mia.

the mia is made up of a handle and a removable brush head, and the brush head oscillates at a speed of 300 movements per second, which helps to open up your pores and cleanse deep-down.  according to clarisonic, using a mia will cleanse your skin 6x better than just using your hands.

i've been using my clarisonic for nearly two years now and i have definitely seen improvement in my skin.  my skin is softer, feels cleaner after washing, and while i do still have blemishes from time to time, they clear up so much faster.



here's a run down of what i love about the mia:
- you can use it daily
- you can use any cleanser you want with it
- safe to keep in the shower all the time
- a charge lasts upwards of 2 weeks
- the brush head pops off easily for cleaning and changing
- gives you a deeper clean than just using your hands

do you have a clarisonic?  love it?  hate it?  do you have something comparable that you love?

Jul 30, 2014 Blogging // Ten Go-To Blog Post Ideas



let's face it, bloggers...no matter how hard we try to make it look like our blogging lives are so well thought-out (you know, posts planned months ahead of time and perfect photos taken every day), there are always those days when the inspiration just doesn't strike.  here are some post ideas that will hopefully help you knock down that ugly wall called writer's block!

1.  make a list // every monday, i post a list of things i'm thankful for that day.  these posts are super quick and super easy to read (which makes readers happy!)  can't think of something you can list?  try making a list of what makes you happy, what sorts of things you like to do in a particular season (like a summer bucket list!), your favorite workout songs, tips for making a quick meal, great date ideas, etc.  the possibilities are endless!

2.  how to // what do you know how to do really well?  maybe you're an expert at yo-yoing (ok, or maybe you're not in middle school anymore...), or you just have some great recipes or diy ideas!.  there's something that you know how to do and you can share your expertise with your readers!  these posts can take a little time to put together, but they can be some of your best posts if they have great photos and instructions.

3.  instagram updates // these are quick, easy, and fun!  if you're on instagram, chances are your feed is a great representative of what you've been up to.  create a post of recent instagram photos and either let them stand alone, or embellish with short captions to explain to your readers what you were doing when you took the photo. (this is also a great time to tell your readers where to find and follow you on instagram!)

4.  review a product // you don't have to be asked by a company to review their product in order to share what you love about something!  i recently reviewed my nike fuelband and clarisonic cleansing brush just because they're products that i believe in and want my readers to know about!  is there something you use regularly that you think your readers would benefit from hearing your opinion on?  then share it!  (it's good practice to include a disclaimer saying that you weren't approached by the company to review the product)

5.  have coffee with your readers // you know that feeling of sitting down with an old friend and just spilling a list of random thoughts that you've been wanting to tell someone?  like how you don't really like butter pecan ice cream or how you bought yourself flowers the other day or how you really would like to try out a new foundation but don't know what to choose?  why not write a post like that?  pretend you're sitting down for coffee with your readers and tell them all of the stuff that's going through your head, and ask some questions!  you'll be amazed at what sorts of comments you'll get back, and maybe you'll even make some new friends!

6.  from the archives // maybe you've been blogging for a few years, and if that's the case, chances are you've written some pretty great posts early on in your blogging journey that your newer readers haven't seen.  friend, let me tell you a secret...it's ok to reuse!  pull out that post that you're super proud of but never got any attention, dust it off, update it if necessary and post it again!  there's no shame in that at all, and it's not cheating!

7.  behind the blog // similar to a "from the archives" post, but is more of a round-up of posts from your archives.  answer some questions like:  what post became unexpectedly popular?  what weird google search terms have led people to your blog?  what is your favorite type of post to write?  and link up some past blog posts as answers and examples for each question.  it will give your readers a look into your process and mindset when blogging, and also point them in the direction of some archived posts! (see this post on straight up z for more inspiration!)

8.  become a fashion or beauty blogger for a day // don't tell me you haven't ever put an outfit together that you're proud of, or have a beauty trick that you wouldn't mind sharing!  you don't have to be a fashion or beauty expert to share your style, and you don't need a professional photographer to take your photos!  grab a friend or family member and ask them to snap some photos in the backyard or download a self-timer app and take your own.  show off that great dress you thrifted or your five-minute face makeup routine.  stepping out of your element to take on a fashion or beauty post can be fun!

9.  get personal // ok, you don't have to share too much personal info on your blog, but your readers like to know that you're a real person!  get a little vulnerable once in a while; share something close to your heart; tell a story that will make your readers connect with you!  they can be funny or sentimental, or encouraging or just plain 'ol honest.  tell your readers how you met your boyfriend or spouse, the funny conversation you had with your grandma the other day, or about your most embarrassing moment.

10.  goals // some bloggers share goals on a weekly or monthly basis, some share their yearly goals at the beginning of each year. personally, i like thinking about goals on a seasonal basis, broken down into community, personal, and wellness categories.  whatever your goal-setting schedule, share some of your goals with your readers and maybe even check in later to tell them how you're doing!

what are some of your favorite go-to blog post ideas?  what do you do when you get writer's block?

Jul 29, 2014 Local Eats // Roburritos



i'm a sucker for a good burrito.  of course, i love chipotle and moe's, but i really, really love finding good local spots to eat, and in the realm of burritos, i'm not sure there's much that can top roburritos!

let me take a moment to own up to the fact that i'm using the term "local" fairly loosely in these posts.  my first "local eats" location, the fractured prune, has locations all over the country, and both the prune and roburritos are at least a 30 minute drive from home for me.  also, i fully intend to include some of my favorite boston spots in this series.  think of it this way....these places are local to someone....right?

anyway, back to roburritos.



roburritos has a few locations in lancaster and york, pa.  aj and i have only been to the one on prince street in downtown lancaster, and friends, i'm not kidding when i say we've driving forty-five minutes for this burrito.

it's a fun little spot...a little grungy, but with a lot of character.  i always feel a little too preppy when i walk through the door, but i'm sure i'm not the only one.  one of my favorite things about roburritos is that they've replace all of the brand-name soda labels on their soda machine with hand-drawn images that suggest the name of the soda.  for example, the one labeling fruit punch is an apple and a fist; ginger ale is a red-headed kid.  that's the type of character you'll find at roburritos.



rob's isn't the type of burrito place where you go down an assembly line and tell them what you want as you watch them put it together...there's a menu, you order from it.

we've never gotten anything but burritos because, frankly, they're just so darn good that i never even think about getting anything else.  i always make sure i get the side of chips and salsa, because they have the most wonderful chips (always consistently crunchy and salty, unlike those sorta rubbery ones you sometimes stumble upon at larger chains...anyone get what i'm saying?!), and their salsa is fresh and there's really no guessing what's in it...it's pretty straightforward.

aj likes that they have an option to make the burrito barbecue, so he always gets that.  by choosing that option, he forgoes their guacamole (which in my opinion, is a crime, but he doesn't like avocado, so it works for him).  rob's also has an entire line of their own barbecue sauces called Old Grumpy Marks...there's probably about ten different flavors in a range of spices, and we've tried a lot of them. they're all pretty yummy, and make for a fun twist on your burrito.



you have the option of chicken, steak, or potato in your burrito.  i've had the chicken (and aj always gets it), and it's good, but my favorite is the potato.  it's so yummy, and i don't know of another burrito place around us that offers potatoes as an option.  the chunks of potato are a little crispy and are filling!  my burrito had rice, black beans, potatoes, cheese, pico, guacamole, and sour cream.  so good.

the roburritos menu actually doesn't even tell you what's in the burrito...it just says "with everything; the way a burrito should be".  and you know when they say that, you should just trust.  because they know what they're doing.



my recommendation // the mini potato burrito with a side of chips and salsa and a drink

(linking up with the local adventurer link up on esther & jacob this week!)

Jul 28, 2014 Another Monday...



if you haven't linked up with emily at ember grey for her grateful heart mondays yet, then you're missing out!  let's be real...mondays can be rough.  i spend most of my mondays in meetings all day and after a while, my brain just hurts.

but starting the week off by being intentionally grateful is a practice that i love.

here's what i'm grateful for today:
working right near a grocery store with a kick butt salad bar (can you tell i'm eating lunch right now?)
new jeans
iced caramel macchiatos
exciting projects at work
mason jars
fun weekend adventures

as usual, i'm linking up with ember grey for grateful heart monday! emily runs the grateful heart link-up every monday, and it's open all week…i encourage you to go check it out, read some of the other posts, and consider participating!

and if i can ask, i have a prayer request for today!  you may or may not know that my dad is currently battling cancer...he has been on a new medicine since june and is getting scans today (and results tomorrow) to see if this drug is effective.  please pray that it is indeed working and that he experiences a total and miraculous healing!  thanks friends.

what are you grateful for today?

Jul 25, 2014 Managing Blog Sponsorships with Passionfruit



if you're a seasoned blogger who offers ad spaces on their blog, chances are you've either heard of, or are already using, passionfruit ads.  but if you're just dipping your toes into the waters of blog sponsorships, then passionfruit is about to become your best friend.

when i first started offering ad spaces on my blog, i just threw my email address out there and bloggers would email me, we'd send each other jpg buttons and a link, and i'd have a million little photo widgets on my sidebar.  there was no real method to the madness...every once in a while, i'd look around to see who still had my button up.  if someone didn't, then i probably took theirs off of my blog, because, well, we agreed to swap and they weren't holding up their end of the bargain anymore.

then, a blogger wrote a post about why she switched to passionfruit.  at first, i just thought "i don't have time to learn another blogging thing and this whole swapping thing isn't really a big deal to me anyway," so it took a while for me to check it out.  but once i did, i was totally sold.

passionfruit takes the work out of running sponsorships on your blog.

its as simple as setting up what size banner you want people to submit and then dropping some code into your advertising page and a different code where you want the banner to show up.  passionfruit automatically posts and takes down ads as they go live and expire; you can set it to rotate ads with each page reload; you can create free sponsorships or price them to whatever you want; and you can offer promo codes to your readers!

at one time, passionfruit took a fee for every ad you sold, but now you pay a monthly or yearly membership and the only fees you pay per ad are paypal's.

if you're thinking "i really don't want to pay to sell ads on my blog!" i get it.  once passionfruit went to a paid subscription last fall, i debated long and hard about whether to keep using their service.  (because i was using them before they went to a paid subscription, i was able to lock-into a rate of $50/year, but the monthly and yearly plans that are currently offered on their website start as low as $3/month!) finally, i decided to invest for a year and if it didn't pay itself off, then i'd find something else to use.
but friends, it's paid off.  it's paid off and then also allowed me to invest in advertising on blogs that are bigger than me, sponsor giveaways, and even take a few trips to visit that boy i love in boston.

passionfruit has made running ad spaces on my blog a total breeze and has allowed me to better focus on this space, rather than worrying about what ads i should have on my sidebar and for how long.

a few more things i love about passionfruit:
// it's not just for sidebar ads...you can sell guest posts, blog services, even memberships
// there's a marketplace that lists blogs that sell ads with passionfruit...great for discovering new blogs!
// the user interface is easy to navigate, and has a great look
// you can see stats on every ad, like views and clicks
// you get an email when someone purchases an ad and when an ad you've purchased is approved
// jason, the founder, works hard, responds quickly, and is always ready to help when you need him!

did you know?  if you're running a promo on ad spaces, you can tweet a link to your ad shop and the promo code at @passionfruitluv and they'll retweet it to you!  be sure to follow this account to get tips on who is having sales.

*if you're looking to advertise on heavens to betsy, book any ad by the end of july and get 50% off with the code "fiveyears"!
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