Bright on a Budget | Kentucky Affordable Fashion + Beauty Blogger: December 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Beauty Dupes

You all know I'm always about a good deal:)  Confession: I went through a 3-year period where I was a total make-up snob.  If it wasn't a beauty counter product, it wasn't touching my face!  Thankfully, Pinterest and blog-reading wised me up.  I starting taking chances on some drugstore products and you know what? I liked some of them (not all) as much, if not more, than the beauty counter brands!!!

Tabitha from A Hundred Tiny Wishes and I have teamed up to bring your some of our favorite beauty dupes to help you stretch your beauty budget further.

I say:

The L'Oreal mascara is around $7 (compared to Tarte at $23), and you can usually combing a BOGO promotion with coupons to get this mascara even cheaper!  I think that it makes just as much of an impact as the Tarte mascara, especially if you're seeking thicker lashes.  Approximate savings: $16.

Again, the price difference is similar to the mascara. The Tarte crayon is $24, and the L'Oreal one is only around $7.  I found the' L'Oreal version to have great pigment and to be hydrating to my lips. Approximate savings: $17.

The Naked2 Basics palette will run you $29 (unless you snag it with a special member coupon or points at Ulta), while the Maybelline version will run you no more than $10 (but often less--currently BOGO 50% off, plus can use the $3.50 off $10 Ulta coupon).  Now, these aren't exact dupes, although I'm seen the Maybelline palette compared to the regular Naked2 palette.  The Naked2 Basics is a matte palette, while the Maybelline version is not.  I think, however, that you can achieve very similar looks with both palettes.  I will caution you to use a good eye primer/base with the Maybelline palette, but it works great so long as you do!  Approximate savings: at least $19, but can be as much as $22.50 or more!

EyelinerANY fancy gel eyeliner pencil vs. Ulta Gel Eyeliner Pencil
This eyeliner is where it is at.  I was paying $20 for a gel eyeliner pencil before I found this.  My old pencil was discontinued, and I hate the gel eyeliner in a pot, so I was on the search for something similar but new. I found this, and it's been true love ever since.  You can get this as cheap as $1 (watch Ulta's sales papers)!  Right now, it's priced at $8 and BOGO Free!  And you can always use the Ulta coupon mentioned above to score it even cheaper.  This eyeliner gives a bold, defined look that stays around all day!  Approximate savings: at least $12, but as much as $19 or more!!!

Tabitha says: 

I love using high end products, but sometimes my wallet doesn't allow me to finance my favorite products from Sephora and Ulta. And that used to be a problem! After getting some recommendations from friends, and the wonderful world of bloggers, I have compiled a list of my tried and loved, favorite beauty dupes (products that are almost the same). 

I'm a primer gal, and I fell for Smashbox's primer with the first sample I used, but I was not a fan of the price... so when I picked up a bottle of  E.L.F's primer, I was pleasantly surprised with the almost duplicate, at a sixth of the price. E.L.F. matches Smashbox in almost every way: texture, consistency, and types (regular, tone adjusting, brightening, and radiant glow). Total savings: $30

Garnier Moisture Rescue (dry skin) // $6.97
Occasionally my face dries out. And it sucks. The only thing I had found to combat my dryness was Clinique's Moisture Surge, a gel moisturizer. Unfortunately, my wallet didn't like the price and I knew I had to find something different. So I took to Pinterest. It told me to try the Garnier Moisture Rescue for Dry Skin, because it was a duplicate. I did. AND loved it! It's super moisturizing, and makes my skin feel pretty! Total savings: Approx $31.53-52.03
I have always had sensitive skin and in the winter, my face tends to stay red. So a couple years ago, I decided to grab the Clinique powder (at the time it was a loose powder). It worked like a charm, but I hated that I still had to use foundation and the powder itself was over $30. I was reading a magazine (don't ask- I don't remember which one), and they recommended the E.L.F. for facial redness. I used it, and LOVED it. It is very comparable to the Clinique, and good for spot usage. Total savings: $31.50

To be honest- ain't no one wants to spend more than twenty bucks on a facial cleanser- but since I have a love of Benefit products, I decided to grab a bottle (and it was 20% off with my Ulta coupon). I loved it. When I used it in the shower, I realized that it took off ALL my makeup and didn't leave me with raccoon eyes. Unfortunately all good thing must come to an end, and I ran out of my beloved face wash. I didn't want to spend that type of money, so upon the recommendation of a friend, I grabbed the Neutrogena wash. To my amazement- it was nearly the same and was cost friendly. Total savings: $17.01

The lesson of today is that there are some really great drugstore products out there, so don't be fooled by their cheaper price tag:)

Have you ever tried any of our favorite beauty duplicates?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Red Sheath Dress contacted me a few months ago to work on a collaboration with them, and I'm super pleased with the results.  eShakti is an online women's clothing store that gives you the option to customize your clothing!  How awesome is that?!  There are several ways you can customize.  First, you can take all of your specific measurements and have the clothing tailor made to fit your body.  As someone with a tiny waist and big hips, I loved being able to get something that actual follows my curves.  Second, you can choose the length of the sleeves and the length of the hem.  My hem was a little too long, but my mother-in-law was able to hem it.

The first try, I ordered a coat and it was completely not what I was looking for.  eShakti worked with me to return the coat (super easy process) and I then picked out this dress.  It's a ponte knit, which is very comfortable.  I especially liked that it has pockets!!!

If you would like to make a purchase from eShakti, there's 2 ways you can save.  Use promo code BRIGHTONABUDGET for 10% off your order*, or if you're new to their website, sign up on their homepage (look up at the red bar at the top of the page) for a $35 gift coupon!
* Please note: This discount code is not applicable on clearance / sale, gift cards & overstock categories, or on previous purchases.

Dress: Eshakti, on sale for $31.95 (org. $79.94)
Coat: Old (similar, $19.99)
Necklace: Similar, $5.58 w/ promo code EXTRA20
Clutch: SewSarahR's Etsy shop, $35 (with added strap- $40).  I purchased this as a Black Friday special with a pair of earrings for $32.50 ($37.50 with strap)
Tights: Kushyfoot, c/o 
Shoes: Old (similar, $8.38 w/ promo code EXTRA20)

These pictures were taken by my wonderful friend, April Brooks, in downtown Lexington.  April does photography on the side, and she's a hoot to work with!

I was provided with this dress by eShakti in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  I hope that everyone who celebrates has a wonderful time!  My family does their get-togethers on Christmas Eve, so today has been a whirlwind. I just wanted to stop in to wish you all a Merry Christmas and share the Ornament I received from an ornament exchange I participated in hosted by Della Devoted.

I was paired up with Heather from My Little Happily Ever After.  Heather and I are about the same age, and like many of the same things, such as beaches, reading, and subscription boxes (you all know my weakness for subscription boxes). She blogs about a little bit of everything, and her posts are always interesting and fun, like this recent Travel Tuesday post about London and Ireland.

Here's my ornament from Heather:

Heather truly picked out the perfect ornament for me!  The beach is one of my favorite places to be, and these are my favorite seashells to find--I'm an avid seashell hunter:)  Plus, to top it off, this is my favorite color!   Thank you sooo much, Heather, for my beautiful ornament!  

You can also hop on over to Heather's blog to check out her cute pink tree and her ornament from me. 

I'll leave you with a pic from today. Kan refused to look at the camer, but I love this picture!  If you'd like a look at my entire holiday outfit, check out my Instagram.  And if you missed yesterday's post, you can check out my Christmas card to everyone here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Sequin Card Swap

Christmas is a fun time to be a blogger:)  I have really enjoyed participating in several holiday link-ups, including the 2014 Sequin Card Swap hosted by the girls over at the Sequin Notebook.  If you're not following M &B, you need to be.  Their blog is a little bit of everything, and fun to read!
For this link-up, I was paired with up with Elizabeth form Always a Jersey Girl at Heart.  Elizabeth is an attorney too, but is looking at other career options.  She talks about recipes (like this one for Easy Peasy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge), books, and life in general.  The card she sent was so adorable--what's not to love about cute penguins and pom-poms?!  

The girls hosting the link-up sent a card as well.  It looks like they had a lot of fun with their photoshoot for the card.  I really need to step up my Christmas card game next year!!!
I love the DIY Christmas Card Holder I just did.  You can find the details/instructions here.
Also, I wanted to share my Christmas card with all of you.  I have enjoyed getting to know many new friends over the past 9 months, and look forward to meeting many more!  Happy holidays, everyone!!!!  

Monday, December 22, 2014

DIY Christmas Card Holders

Caitlin, from Coffee with Caitlin, and I decided to team up to do DIY Christmas Card Holders.  Be sure to head over to her blog to check out her creation:)  Christmas cards are always so pretty, but they inevitably end up in a pile at the end of my counter.  I didn't want that to happen this year, hence the DIY Christmas Card Holders.

I often pick up cute items that are cheap, even if I have no idea of exactly how I will use them.  I was shopping at Michaels back in October, and saw the "Merry" sign and the two cute little decorated clothespins for $1 each.  That purchase was a no-brainer.  Then, once I started receiving cards in the mail, I had an aha moment, and this project was born.


- Wooden sign
- Clothespins--you could totally print cute graphics on cardstock and glue them to your own clothespins
- Command sticks or pushpins
- Yarn (what I used), twine, or other string
- Scissors (not pictured)

Total cost: around $10 or less, depending on what you already have at home!

Step 1: Attach your the command sticks to your sign.  If your sign is too thick to actually hook on the command sticks/pushpins, attach them to the wall and prop your sign on them.

Step 2: Cut your yarn and slide it in between the back of the sign and the command sticks. Here, I tripled the yarn to give it more substance and to make sure you could see it against the wall.

Step 3: Hang your sign on the wall.  The nice thing about the command sticks is that they shouldn't rip the paint off of your wall when you take them down.

Step 4: Attach 2 more command sticks, one on each side of the sign, to hold your yarn.  Loop the yarn around the command stick so that it will stay in place and give support to the string. Now you can hang your cards using your clothespins.

Step 5: Add some bows to the hook of the command strip to cover it up.  Once again, I tripled the yard to give it more substance.

Step 6:  Add as many command strips and as much yarn as you need to hang all of your cards. I would do 1 command strip per every 3 cards you hang.  

Thank you to everyone who has sent me such beautiful cards.  I don't have them all displayed, because many have pictures, and I didn't want to share those on the blog.  Also, I participated in a Holiday Card Exchange, and I'll be recapping that on the blog tomorrow!!!  

Don't forget to head over to Caitlin's blog and check out her DIY Christmas Card Holder!

How do you display your Christmas/holiday cards?  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, December 19, 2014

High Five for Friday

TGIF!  Okay, guys--where did December go?  I can't believe that Christmas is NEXT WEEK.  I promise I'm getting my tree up tonight (I'm terrible at the holiday thing this year).  Let's recap my favorite things about this week:

1. I GRADUATED for the very last time.  On Saturday morning, I walked through the graduation line for my MBA:)  We didn't get any great pics, because Kane was throwing a fit, but it was nice to have my little family there.

2. Saturday night, I went to my company's Christmas party.  Jimmy Rose, from America's Got Talent, was the entertainment for the night and he did awesome!  I've worked for the company for something like 8 years total now, so I had tons of fun seeing a lot of the people I used to work with but don't get to see anymore.

3. I recapped Kane's Santa pics on the blog, and gave my advice for pictures with Santa.  Please check out my child's fist.haha

4. My favorite outfit from the week:

I had to lighten this pic some so that you could see the color of the shoes:)
5. Also, for those who don't follow on Instagram, I had to share this story.  I was standing in line at the post office, mailing out my various blog/IG Christmas exchange stuff, and the line was lllooonnggg.  So I decided to take a picture holding my packages and post it to Instagram.  The older lady in line behind me became very concerned.  She started peering at my camera, asking what I was taking a picture of, etc.  I tried to explain to her that it was for Instagram, but she didn't get the concept.  She said, "So you're just going to post a picture of you standing in line??!"  Why yes, ma'am, I am.  She was very suspicious.  I had to hold back the laughter.

Speaking of exchanges, I received my mug from Cup of Tea and Coffee with Caitlin's Mug Swap. Savannah from Sincerely, Savannah xo!  I've always thought these camera lens mugs were neat, so I was super excited to received one.  It's perfect to carry to work, as it has a lid:)  Thanks, Savannah!!!

How's YOUR week been?  Find any good deals?  Have something totally awesome happen? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Pictures with Santa

Last year, we started the tradition of Christmas pictures with Santa.  Now, not all Santa picture experiences are created equal, and we were going for the experience (yes, I realize Kane was only 6 months old at Christmas last year, but you're missing the point).  After reading some posts on Facebook, we decided to take Kane to visit Santa at Lexington Green.  We had a wonderful time--the photographer was patient, the atmosphere was fun, Santa looked real, and it was an all-around great experience.  So of course we went back this year (and Easter in-between)!

Before we went, I helped Kane write his letter to Santa.  I was really excited to take it with us because they post the letters up on the wall, and you can read them as you wait in line. 

Lexington Green actually offers you the opportunity to make an appointment with Santa, so we chose that option this year and skipped the line.  I was trying to make the experience as easily as possible. There was a lady taking a pic with her dogs when we got there, and Kane seemed to not only like the dogs but be interested in Santa as well. . .

. . . Until it was time to sit with Santa.  Kane walked by him and waved, and didn't seem to be afraid of him from 3 feet away, but Kane was not sitting with Santa.  We even let someone else take a pic with Santa and then tried again, but the closet Kane was getting (under protest) was with me holding him in my arms.  So we ended up like this:

Once we looked at the pics the photographer managed to snap, this was about the best one, so we had them crop it down to just show Kane and Santa.  Which is when I noticed Kane's fist.  Only my child.

"Santa, I'm going to need you to bring me what's on the list. . ." 
So, as the mother of an 18 month old who survived pictures with Santa, here's some advice.  I hope it makes your experience less stressful.

Advice for Santa Pictures

1. Don't go in with expectations.  Yes, we all have that Pinterest-perfect imagine in our mind of the perfect picture with Santa, but be aware that it's probably not going to happen.  

2. Dress to match because you just might end up in the picture yourself.  The only way we were getting a picture with Santa this year was for me to be in it as well.  Thankfully, our plaids matched close-enough.  They offered to let us take a family picture in lieu of a picture with Santa, but we were not dressed for that either.  I wish I would have thought of that in advance.

3. Timing is everything.  This means get in nap time and meal time before you go, and take bribe snacks with you as well.  Try to make an appointment or go when the crowds aren't so bad, which will reduce the stress-level overall.  

4. Make it fun.  We started the sunglasses with Kane's Easter Bunny pics earlier this year, and they just made the photo hilarious.  So we decided to pop them on him again for Santa.  Try something a little bit different to set your photo apart, but just don't force it on the kids.  If they don't want to do it, then you'll only make the situation worse by forcing it.

5. Embrace whatever happens and just go with it.  At the end of the day, kids are going to be kids. Realize that the outbursts, meltdowns, and funny moments just make the picture perfect in its own way:)  

Any other advice for Santa pictures?  Or funny stories about your Santa pictures?  Be sure to share in the comments below!!!

Santa at Lexington Green was nice enough to send me the digital version of this photo to use on the blog for free, but all opinions are my own.  Be sure to check them out if you're in the Lexington area!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

High Five for Friday

TGIF!  This has been such a busy, hectic week for me. . .but it's Friday!!!  I'm really happy to say that with this post, normal blog posting has resumed after the last two crazy weeks:)  Let's recap the highlights:

1. I took my very FINAL final--as in no more finals EVER--on Wednesday night.  Hello, MBA:)  I cannot believe that after 9.5 years of post-secondary education, I am finally done with school.  While I really enjoyed my MBA classes, I'm excited to have time to focus on my family.  Chauncey has gotten Kane to sleep most nights lately, and it was really nice to be able to do that myself last night.

2. Speaking of Kane, we took him to see Santa at Lexington Green on Sunday.  I'm doing a post next week on our experience, but I just want to say that it was hilarious!  Here's a peek at his list for Santa.

He loves to go "MOOO" like a cow--it's his favorite animal:)
3. As I mentioned on Instagram, I recently received my $15 Beauty Insider Reward Card from Sephora.  I look forward to this every year, and took some time on Sunday to go redeem it.  I ended up with some new foundation and some blender sponge things.  I always use this card as an opportunity to try new things.

4. I have had three good nights of sleep in a roll!  Kane has been waking up in the middle of the night for a while now, but he hasn't the past three nights.  Now, I've probably just jinxed it, but it had to be on my #H54F list.

5. Last Friday, I wore one of my favorite new shirts.  I'm loving the embroidered exclamation point, because I feel like it fits my personality to a tee.  I'm really looking forward to getting back into doing my #ootd posts on Instagram now that I'll have time, so be sure to follow along.

Earrings: Target, $1.24
Necklace: Ebay, $9.39 shipped.
Sweater: J. Crew, $22.
Chambray Shirt: J. Crew Factory, $20
Bracelet: H. M. Willow (will update with link later)

How's YOUR week been?  Find any good deals?  Have something totally awesome happen? Let me know in the comments below! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Quick Update

As I write this, I am less than 48 hours ways from finishing my MBA!!!  This will be my 3rd and final degree.  Needless to say, after 9.5 years of post-secondary education, I'm glad to be so close to the finish line.

I've been very busy [frantically] finishing up my coursework.  I don't have time for a regular post tonight, but I will resume posting on my regular schedule later this week.  There's a new Wardrobe Re-Wear and a DIY Christmas project coming soon.  Oh, and some fun collaborations are coming your way!

Now, I'm heading to bed.  Thanks for all of your support this year!

Friday, December 5, 2014

High Five for Friday

TGIF!  I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend, and continued getting some awesome shopping deals!!!  I hit the ground running on Monday morning and feel like I haven't stopped.  Let's recap my favorite things from this week:

1. Kane and I were back home for the holiday weekend, and really enjoyed spending time with everyone.  I especially enjoyed having homemade breakfast on Friday, followed by another Thanksgiving dinner that night (yum!).

2. My Black W/T/F purchases started arriving on Monday.  I had packages piled at the front door and the back door.  Repeat on Tuesday, and then a few trickled in after that.  It's always fun to go through everything and check out what you ordered, but most of it is going back for Christmas:)  I was especially excited to get in my Rock Salt Plaid shirt from J. Crew Factory (not pictured, because it was one of my tricklers)!!!

Some of Delivery Round #1.
3. I had a ton of homework to turn in on Monday--a quiz, a paper, and several discussion board postings.  Why is this on my favorites list?  Because I am so close to the finish line.  I am 5 days from turning in my FINAL final EVER!!!  So if this are a little sparse next week, you know why:)

4. I'm loving the pictures from our photo session with Whitney Scheibel Photography!!!  If you want to check them out, and get my tips on how to style your family portrait session, you can do so here. I've known Whitney since my days at Pikeville, so it was fun to catch up as she was snapping shots. Whitney was absolutely fabulous to work with, and I highly recommend her if you live in the Lexington area.

5. Sleep.  I've missed it most of this week, but I caught up on it last night.  I almost forgot what it was like to wake up feeling rested--it's an extremely nice feeling!

How's YOUR week been?  Find any good deals for Black Friday?  Have something totally awesome happen? Let me know in the comments below! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How to Style Your Family Portrait Sessions

Family portraits are such a special memory.  They preserve moments in time that you will never get back.  They also preserve fashion disasters, cheesy props, and hideous hairdos.  You know it's true! So how do you avoid ending up on Awkward Family Photos (besides skipping all-demin jumpsuits) and look like someone just pinned you on Pinterest? 

My friend Whitney, who owns Whitney Scheibel Photography, recently snapped a couples/family photo session for us.  I'm absolutely in love with her work, and especially loved the way our shoot turned out.  I thought this was a perfect opportunity to answer a question I get asked alot--how do you style a family portrait?

How to Style Your Family Portraits

The secret to the perfect family photo is not to be too matchy-matchy.  Matching is okay.  It's when you go for that perfect color match that you've crossed the line--unless it's UK blue, and then you're doing just fine!

Start with an anchor piece.  An anchor piece is that one piece of clothing that you just have to have in the photos.  In my experience, this usually ends up being a shirt.  You will create your entire family's wardrobe around this anchor piece, and it ties the whole "look" together.

Base your color palette off of the anchor piece.  For example, if you choose a shirt for your child that has navy and maroon stripes, then navy and maroon are going to be your main color palette. If you are taking a 3+ people photograph, then mix the colors however.  This means that you can have mom wear a maroon dress and dad wear a navy gingham button-down.  If you have a 2 person photoshoot, such as with some of the pictures of just Chauncey and I, make sure the other person's shirt picks up the accent color in the anchor piece.  Here, our anchor piece is an ivory shirt with black polka dots, so Chauncey dressed in a black shirt to pick up on the polka dots.

Make use of accent colors.  If your anchor piece is bright, then make sure to use neutral accents.  If your anchor piece is neutral in tone, then use bright accents.  Since our anchor piece was neutral, I accented with a moss green vest above, and then Kane and I accented with orange shirts below.  You can also throw in accent colors by using scarves, bowties, bows, jewelry, etc.

Same color tones, not exact same shades.  When you're building your look around your anchor piece, please don't try to match every shade exactly.  Here, Kane and I are both in orange shirts, but mine was brighter and more vivid, while his was more of a pumpkin orange.

Use props that are everyday items and that look natural in the setting.  Here, we pulled out my blanket scarf to add some extra pop to the shoot.

Make sure your clothing is comfortable.  If you put someone in itchy material or something too tight, they will be pulling at their clothes the entire time and the poses will look forced. 

These photos were taken at Jacobson Park in Lexington, Kentucky.  Whitney was such an amazing photographer!  She had great ideas and was very patient with Kane.  I was so pleased with these photos because they perfectly capture life with a toddler--always on the move!  You can check out the rest of our session on Whitney's blog, and be sure to visit Whitney's photography website as well!