Spa Thyme Bath & Body Products

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

Hey friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Hopefully you spent the day making some wonderful memories with loved ones, eating some delicious food, watching Christmas movies, and hopefully you got at least a few things from Santa as well. ;) My family likes to watch the 24 hour loop of A Christmas Story all day and see how long we can stand it, haha. We made it through about 7 cycles of the movie this year! We opened some presents, visited a few relatives, and spent the whole day cooking; such a great way to spend the holiday!

No matter how fun the holidays are though, they're always pretty hectic and draining as well. As a pretty introverted person, all the social interaction gets me a little frazzled. Add in the extra stress of last minute gift shopping and tons of food prep and I'm tuckered out. What I love to do to relax after all the holiday activities is take a day to really pamper myself. 

I mentioned Spa Thyme's products in last week's Along Came A Box post, and was excited to work with Nancy, the owner, on a post all about her products! She was nice enough to send me some of her fun spa products, that are all gourmet-food themed!

As you all know, I'm a sucker for homemade bath and body products, especially at such a great price as Spa Thyme's! Most items in her store are $15 or less, which is such a great deal for the quality of these products. I think we all have staples in our beauty and skincare routines, and products like these are always in rotation for me! Everyone needs some nice spa items tucked away for when you're in need of some "me time," and these ones are perfect for the budget gal like me. If you watched my Instagram story (stories? I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to call it!) a little while ago you saw me share what I got in my package from Spa Thyme, but here's all the deets just in case you didn't catch it! 

I'm just a little bit obsessed with how cute these all are. I mean look at those Frosted Cranberry Sugar Scrubs! They look like little pink truffles, and they smell like a dream.

This is the first thing I saw when opening my Spa Thyme package, and I was so excited to try these out! They're my favorite color and they're just plain adorable, so naturally it was love at first sight. These are made with a few different natural oils including olive oil and coconut oil, as well as shea butter so you know these work amazingly well. One is the perfect size for a single wash, and you end up smelling like sweet cranberries in the end! Plus it gives my skin a nice exfoliating scrub while moisturizing at the same time, and who the heck doesn't like that feeling?!

Once again, my obsession with lip balm continues! Peppermint is such a classic flavor, and it's always a favorite of mine. It literally makes my lips feel minty fresh, and it always feels so nourishing when I put it on. I put this on after using a lip scrub to really buff out my lips and renew their moisture. I have extremely dry lips in the winter, to the point where they start cracking over night, so this stuff is great for healing them. I used this a lot during finals week, and it transformed my lips! Although I still suffer from dry lips (even the best products can't fix them!) these have definitely helped the situation. 

This. Smells. Amazing. I love body scrubs that have a strong scent from inside the packaging, because you know that means it's long lasting. Isn't it the absolute worst when you spend 20 minutes at the store trying to find the best smelling scrub, body wash, what have you, and then you go home and realize that once you're done using it the smell is gone? I smelled this basically when I opened the box, and knew it was going to be long lasting. (Spoiler alert: I was right) I've heard amazing things about what coffee grounds can do for your skin, so when I saw that they were an ingredient in this scrub I was so excited to try it out. This is a great scrub to keep around if you want to feel luxurious after a long day and smell amazing!

If this isn't the cutest soap you've seen for the holidays, then, well, you're wrong end of story. I'm joking, but seriously this little snowflake is adorable! I believe it's made in a normal bar shape for the rest of the year, but it really put a smile on my face when I pulled this out of the box. Plus, I saw that there was real oatmeal in the soap and I was excited for another exfoliating product! (Seriously y'all dry skin is an issue and this is what gets me excited) This soap is so calming, and it's also great for getting rid of redness on your skin, which is something I also deal with occasionally. It's a great mild soap that smells delicious, and is perfect for everyday use. 

Spa Thyme has a variety of products that will suit all your pampering needs, and make you smell and feel delightful in the process. A few other things that will definitely be future purchases are her Himalayan Rose Bath Salts and the Cooling Cucumber Face Mask. Nancy is also one of the kindest women I've worked with, and works so hard to make such quality products! If you're all about supporting small businesses and feeling good, you definitely need to check out her Etsy store!

What product would you like to try most from Spa Thyme?

Money Saving Tips For College Students

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

Sometimes it's rough being a college student when you're trying to save money. There's always people going out to dinner, friends inviting you to go out shopping, and the temptation to spend money on anything cute, fun, or delicious without a second thought. I'll be the first one to admit that I'm a cheap person who likes to spend money. You may be thinking "Huh? That doesn't make sense, Sami." But it does, I promise! I love buying new things, I love going out to dinner, and I love to buy pumpkins and flowers from the grocery store just as a little pick me up. But, I also am very frugal about my spending and always look for discounts, deals, and any possible way I can save money on anything. I don't like to deny myself what makes me happy (like a bouquet of flowers on a not so great Monday) but I also don't want to be running out of money, because, well, I need that to pay for college! So I thought today would be the perfect time to share a few of my money saving tips that are perfect for all you other college students! Fun fact, most of these tips work for everyone else too! :)

Ask For Student Discounts

This is my favorite tip, because there are so many places that offer student discounts. My favorite places to use my student discount is at the movies, when I'm out shopping at the mall, and if I go out to dinner. You never really know if a place has a student discount unless you ask since most places don't advertise it. I only figured out that my movie theatre offers a discount when one of the ticket salesmen asked if I was a student. And since going to the movies is one of my favorite ways to reward myself for a good week (or to help me unwind after a stressful one) I've saved so much money with the discount I get. Even if you're only saving 10% on your purchase, you're still spending less money! 

Survey Websites and Apps

If you have a lot of free time, this tip will be great for you! Last year I realized that there are websites/apps where you can take surveys, earn points, and eventually exchange those points for cash. Whenever I have a moment of free time I check out the websites to see if there's anything I can fill out for a little spare change. I only like to use places that give cash instead of gift cards (my personal preference) so the site I use is Opinion Outpost and the app I use is Surveys On The Go. Opinion Outpost gives you a designated amount of points for each survey depending on how long it is and what it's about. When you reach 100 points you can exchange it for $100 through Paypal. I believe you can exchange a smaller amount of points for a gift card, but I just prefer cash! For the app there is a dollar amount assigned to each survey, and most of them are pretty short! Some options may require you to do something like go try a meal at a local restaurant, but you'll be compensated a lot more for those ones. Even if you don't qualify for a survey you'll still be paid .10¢! All you have to do is make it to $10 for payout.

Meal Prep

I like to meal prep a week's worth of meals in advance so I don't run into the "I don't want to cook, so I might as well go out" scenario. My roommate and I normally spend Saturday morning/afternoon prepping our meals together (buddy system!) listening to music and cooking away! A few things I really like to prep ahead of time are soups, stews, taco meat, breakfast potatoes, marinated meat, and vegetable sides. It's so easy and it saves me time so I don't have to do much actual cooking during the week and money because I won't feel like I have to eat out. Plus it's a good way of making sure you don't waste the food you buy at the grocery store. I have the problem where I'll buy a good amount of meat and end up throwing half of it away since it goes bad before I get the chance to cook it!

Write A Grocery List and Buy Wholesale

I'm probably not the only one who gets a little distracted when I get into the grocery store. If I'm hungry I'll go on a rampage buying everything and anything that looks appetizing. This is an issue because 1) I'll be wasting money on food I really don't need and 2) I'll most likely forget what I came to the store to buy in the first place. I like to go through my fridge and pantry before heading to the grocery store and check what things I'm out of, what I think I want to eat for the week, and write it all down on a note in my phone. That way I can keep that open while I shop and not spend all my money on things I don't need! Obviously I'll buy something if it really looks good, but I want to make sure my budget is getting spent on the necessities first! I also like to buy as much as I can wholesale, mostly at Costco, and split items with roommates when possible. The easiest things to buy wholesale are meats, bread, frozen meals, and fruits/veggies!

Pay With Cash When Possible

There are obviously times when paying with credit card is a must (like when you're online shopping...) but I like to pay with cash as much as possible. I always know how much money I've put into my wallet, and can easily tell how quickly I'm spending when I look into my wallet and see that there isn't anything there, haha! It's a simple trick, but when I actually have a visual of how much money I have, I'm less likely to spend it!

Save Your Change 

Once a week I like to take 90% of my change and put it in a vase in my room. It's amazing how much change you can amass over a week's time (especially when you're paying in cash). You can even go one step further and start putting every $5 bill you get in your change jar/vase as well. I don't recommend putting $1 bills in because they're pretty common and also really necessary for doing cash transactions! $5 bills are harder to come by, so if you stick all (or even a few) of the ones you come across in your little savings jar you'll have a small fortune in no time!

What are your favorite money saving tips?

You might want to check out my post on setting a budget as well if you're really interested in making a savings plan for yourself!

How To Grow Your Instagram With Engaged Followers

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM
I've had some great luck with Instagram these past few weeks. After being asked to share my secrets, I thought I would do a follow up to my How To Use Instagram Like A Pro post with a few more tips and a few of those secrets that I've been keeping. ;) 

Use The Right Hashtags

Not only do you have to find the best hashtags for your niche, but you have to make sure your photos aren't going to drown in the thousands of photos that get posted there each day. If you're serious about finding the right hashtags for you I recommend taking at least an hour to sit down and research. Look at the hashtags your favorite Instagrammers are using, your followers are using, and other bloggers in the same niche (and same size!) as you are using. I also try to use hashtags that aren't overused. I don't want my photo to get lost, so I attempt to use smaller, but active hashtags to reach the most amount of users. I ideally only use hashtags with under 100,000 posts, but I do have a few larger hashtags as fillers until I can find 30 (Instagram's max) that really fit my posts. When you get more followers you can use bigger hashtags, but I'm a fan of using the same ones 85% of the time, but change a few depending on what the image is about. 

Using the right hashtags will earn you more engagement and followers, but it will also let you connect to your ideal audience. The more someone sees you in a hashtag, the more likely they are to check out your account and possibly give it a follow! I shared a few of my favorite hashtags to use in my other Instagram tips post, so check those out to get started! Also, be sure to use all 30 of Instagram's allowed hashtags!! I always put mine in the first comment so as not to crowd my image, but if you don't use all 30 you're just wasting potential. Think of it this way, if you were given 30 lottery tickets, would you only look at 20 of them when the winning numbers popped up just to not look like you're trying too hard to win the jackpot?

Engage In Your Hashtags

You don't just buy an outfit and never wear it, right? If you're using hashtags, you should also be engaging in those hashtags. Like and comment on the top photos at least once a day, then go like a few of the recent photos in the hashtag. I try to do this a few times a day for 5-10 of my hashtags just to have my name pop up on some people's feeds who may be interested in what I'm posting. If I really like someone's post I'll go onto their profile and like/comment on a few more of their images or follow them! This can seem like a lot of work already, but if you're interested in really growing your page it's necessary to put in the work!

Use a DSLR When Possible

I want to say that about 70% of the photos I post on Instagram now are from my DSLR. It's insane how much of a difference in growth my account has seen since I started posting these higher quality images. Of course I still put up iPhone photos since I don't take my actual camera everywhere, but if I do I still try to make those photos as high quality as I can. If you aren't sure how to move your camera photos over without removing the quality here's what I do. I upload them to my computer, put them in an email, and send them to the email that I get on my phone. Boom, high quality photos! I used to upload them through Facebook, but realized that degrades the photo! Also, if you don't have a DSLR, don't worry, iPhone pictures are still amazing quality!

Respond To Comments

This really goes for any social media (and your blog!) but replying to comments is just a nice way to say "Hey, I noticed you, thanks for checking out my post!" even if all you do is say thank you. On Instagram, if you reply to others they get a notification, and will most likely want to check what they said on your post to help refresh their memory. When they come back to look at the photo they commented on, they might look at your most recent photos as well and engage with you more! Plus, Instagram's new algorithm doesn't differentiate between your comments and other's comments, so it only adds to your post's "score" and helps get your more reach in the long run!

Engage With Others Who Engage

This sounds weird, but I couldn't think of a shorter title for this tip. Basically, engage with those who are engaging with you and who are engaging with other profiles like yours. If you notice the same people are commenting/liking your posts, comment and like on a few of theirs! They'll be more likely to keep up with you, and you might make a new Instagram friend! :) Then after you engage with your own followers, engage with those who are commenting/liking accounts similar to yours. When you engage with those accounts you're increasing eyes on your own account, and again those users are likely to check out and engage with you!

Create A Theme

I talked about this in my last post, but I'm bringing it up again because it's seriously so important! I've realized that you have to edit each photo almost identically otherwise it doesn't seem cohesive enough. Eventually I'll try to incorporate some more color into my theme, but for now it's mostly white with pops of color. It's difficult to keep a theme when you want to photograph a lot of different things, so I always try to keep something consistent. For me it's normally the white background, but to keep it from being boring I'll change up the backgrounds with different mostly white patterns. 

Join An Engagement Group

This has been a game changer for me. A few of the blog Facebook groups I'm in created engagement groups where everyone in the group likes/comments on a photo when you post. The point is to help speed up the natural engagement process and help your post's overall reach on Instagram. With the new algorithm, comments and likes within the first few hours is crucial, so having a group of pals to help is awesome! I feel like there's some weird thing about being the first one to comment on someone's post, so this takes away that initial hesitation. The more comments people see, the more someone is inclined to join in on the conversation! Like I said, being in one (or more) of these groups is also good because it makes it easier to make it into the Top 9 photos in your hashtags, which means even more exposure. At first it may seem "fake", but if all the users in there are friends it's really just a quicker way to let them know you posted and you want to know what they think. If the people in the group are only commenting things like "Nice!" "Great post!" etc, then that isn't the best group for you. If you engage with their posts genuinely, they should also be engaging with yours genuinely!

Have any other specific Instagram questions you want answered? If there's enough I'll make a third post, but if you email them to me I can answer them a lot quicker!

I'll also be doing a post soon all about how I edit my photos and my favorite editing apps, so keep an eye out for that soon!

Favorite Fall Nail Polish Colors + Pairings

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM
I'm just a little bit obsessed with doing my nails. If I'm not getting them professionally done with gel I'll normally change my manicure every few days since I never want to stop trying fun colors! I especially love the Summer to Fall change of seasons, because it's always a great time to break out the darker, warmer colors from your beauty drawer. Since I've been trying out some new looks I thought I would share a few of my favorite colors that I love for Fall nails, as well as how to pair them with other nail polishes if you want to do an accent or some nail art.

I love the color red for Fall. Mostly I stick with the darker maroons, burgundys and wines. I think the brighter reds are great if you want to make a statement, but I tend to leave those for Winter, especially around Christmas. My favorite Fall mani though is doing a burgundy and gold ombre. I also love mixing in some navys and dark hunter or olive green in my nails. I think they are great warm colors that blend well with the color trends that normally show up in the cooler months. As far as accent colors go I love pairing all my warmer tones with gold (but maybe that's just because I have an obsession with the color...) I hope these colors and pairings inspire you to paint your nails in pretty Fall colors! I would love to see your Fall manis, so tag me @samimast on Instagram so I can check out your gorgeous looks!

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How To Be Productive While Studying In The Library

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

Although I don't want to admit it, it's almost the start of midterm season. I've already had my first quiz, and can already start scratching some major assignments off of my calendar. I know that every college is on a different schedule, but whether you're in the middle of your exams, heading into them within the next few weeks, or are not even close to thinking about exams, I want this post to be here for you when you're ready to buckle down and study. 

Now I have to admit, I wasn't always a fan of studying in the library. It wasn't until last semester when I had my junior thesis class that I realized I was going to have to get familiar with the place I had only walked through to save me time while walking through campus. (Seriously I probably could count on one hand the number of times I had been in the library for over 10 minutes before then) But after spending numerous study halls and group power study sessions with my thesis friends, I grew to kind of enjoy studying in the library. I still don't do it as often as I probably should, but I try to make an effort to study there at least once every two weeks, which is something that I definitely couldn't say before. 

After staying in the library for many, many hours last semester, I kind of got into a routine of how to be productive. Of course everyone has their own way of studying that works for them, but I thought I would share a few tips and all the essentials I keep with me just in case someone is looking for a new study routine!

Tip #1 Book A Study Room

I can't study in silence. It drives me insane when there isn't at least a little background noise going on. I always like to book a study room so that I can invite some friends in to study with me, can talk to myself a little, ask some questions, or grab something from my backpack without feeling the judgement and angry stares of the other 25 people in the room. Even if you study alone, having a study room is nice because you can get up and take a stretch, eat a snack, or play music out loud if that's your thing. 

Tip #2 Listen To Music Without Lyrics

I don't know about you, but I can't help but sing along if I know a song when it comes on. This is my downfall when studying, since I love listening to music at the same time. I've found that instrumentals are great for giving me the necessary noise that I need, but don't distract me from my work. I love the Disney Instrumental and the Pop Hits Instrumental stations on Pandora!

Tip #3 Take Breaks Ever 30 Minutes

I've found that it helps me to break up my studying into 30 minute intervals. It doesn't matter how long my breaks are, just as long as I get my mind to wander a bit. I never take longer than a 10 minute break though, because then you won't be as committed to your assignment. Usually I take a lap around the room (whether it be the study room or the library room I'm in), browse social media for a few minutes, or head to the bathroom. This helps you to stay alert, get your blood flowing, and keep you from being too bogged down by work.


Earphones/Headphones for when you don't have a study room to listen to your tunes out loud.

A snack to keep your energy up and to keep you from starving! It's always best to keep something in your bag, since sometimes you're at the library longer than you thought you would be. If you don't opt for the study room, I recommend something without loud packaging.

A beverage, I recommend some form of caffeine or water to keep you hydrated and happy. Ever since Starbucks moved onto Chapman's campus I've been a well-caffeinated gal that doesn't mind a cold library room if I have my nice hot white mocha. :)

Fuzzy socks that will keep your toes warm and will make you feel more cozy. Heck, why not bring a blanket as well and make yourself comfortable.

Similar to the socks, dress in comfortable clothes. Yes, looking cute is great, but when you'll be sitting in the same spot for 4 hours, just put on those leggings and that spirit jersey and get that work done. Sometimes you just have to let the extremely comfortable side of your closet take over.

Always bring your phone/computer charger if you know you'll be in the library for the long haul! I always know that I'll be using up my computer battery within a few hours, so having it with me is a necessity.

Optional, but I like to have a study buddy to chit chat with on my breaks, or discuss homework if we're in the same class. I think it's nice to have someone else in the room with you so you don't go a little insane being alone for a few hours!

What are your library study essentials?

I love using Pinterest to find new recipes that I may or may not get to, outfit inspiration, cute puppies, and of course blogging tips. Pinterest is one of my favorite social media outlets, and it's where more than half of my blog traffic comes from. If you're not utilizing it for your blog, you should go right now and start! Over the past few months I've been testing different things on the site to see what works, and what doesn't. I've recently had a few posts go viral as well, so I thought now would be a great time to share some tips.

Join Pinterest Group Boards

Unfortunately there isn't a way to search specifically for group boards on Pinterest. However, if you search for your niche and then select search specifically under "Boards" and scroll through, you'll see some with a little gray symbol at the top corner. If you click through to the board, there should be instructions on how to join if  it's accepting new pinners. If you join specific groups that are relevant to your blog and reciprocate by pinning other posts in their niche, it can help make others aware of what you're writing.

Use BoardBooster

I cannot stress how crucial BoardBooster was to my Pinterest growth. It's a pin scheduler that allows you to pin things to secret boards and spread them out over a few hours. This can save you a lot of time during the week if you're available for an hour to pin a solid amount of content which can last through rest of the week. I normally have my scheduling set to 3 or 4 pins per board starting early in the morning and going until mid-day until I can pin things myself if I have free time. This is helpful because it also prevents your followers from getting annoyed if you have multiple pins in a row and you're the only person they're seeing on their feed. Also, if you're scheduling pins evenly throughout the day it will open up that content and your profile to new viewers, thus leading to more pageviews on your profile and blog.

Have a Board For Your Blog

This is such a simple thing that many bloggers don't think about. Even if you put your blog's url in your profile description it's important that you have a board dedicated to your blog posts. It's also important to consistently pin blog posts directly from your blog into that board. I typically use that original pin as the starting point of pinning that same content to other relevant boards. By pinning the content from your blog board to other boards, it will eventually lead all those re-pins back to the board that has your blog name and url. This means that people who trace the origins of your pin will run into your other posts as well and hopefully will either repin or visit your site! 

Apply For A Business Account And Rich Pins

If you look on my "The Classic Brunette" board on Pinterest, you'll see that each pin has a bolded title, a url source, as well as a description on what the image/post is about. These type of pins are called rich pins, and can provide extra information, and make them look more appealing to click on. These pins easily stand out amongst the "regular" pins, and are a great extra tool  when you verify your website. I'm not 100% sure if you need a business account to apply for rich pins, but either way applying for this type of account is one of the best things I did for my Pinterest! Business accounts get you access to analytics for how many views your account and pins are getting, as well as how many of those viewers are interacting with you and your website. If you take one piece of advice from this post I would hope it's this, because having access to these analytics is crucial for understanding which pins are doing well, and how to improve the pins that aren't performing as best as they can.

Vertical Pins Are King

My pins are always vertical. My go to pixel size is 650 x 1000, however evidence shows that the best pins are closer to 700 x 1100. It all depends on your preference, because my dimensions work best for me and my blog, but yours may work with something else. No matter the dimensions though, they should be on the larger side and always vertical. Vertical pins statistically do better and stand out more (aka take up more room on your homepage) than other pins, and will get your content noticed. Once I made the move to have all my pins vertical my analytics skyrocketed! 

How To Get A Pin To Go Viral

Promote, promote promote. My most successful pin has over 45k repins. I never expected to have something go over 100 repins, let alone thousands! I credit the success of this pin (and a few others that have gone "viral") to both the tips above, but also to the amount of promotion that I did with them. I repinned these few pins to as many relevant boards as possible, promoted on other social media, told bigger bloggers who I got inspiration from about it, and continued to promote the pin every few weeks so that it didn't fall out of circulation. I think it is 100% okay to re-pin your own pins every so often, because there could be a number of your followers who didn't get a chance to interact with that specific pin the first time around. If you actively promote the pins you're proud of, and do it in a strategic way that takes your analytics into account, you can bring success to a pin. However, there definitely is a point of over-promotion, so don't re-pin things constantly because it will annoy your followers!

Do you have any pinterest tips that you swear by? Also, apologies for how long this post is!

What To Do When You Lose A Pet

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

Last Tuesday my family had to put down my little sweetheart Baby due to kidney disease. This isn't my first time losing one of my cats though. In middle school and high school I lost the two cats I had had since birth, two other tough losses. Baby's passing, however feels different somehow. I think it's because I was here from the start of him and his brother Tux's introduction into our family, whereas with my old cats they were already older than I was, and my parents had raised them from kittens to 20+ years old. Obviously I loved them dearly, but I feel I've taken Baby's death much harder than theirs. Baby was one of my best friends, and will forever be a part of me.  

I was having a rough time these past few days, and decided to google what others have said about the loss of a pet, but didn't really find anything. So I decided to write a post of my own to maybe help someone out there if they unfortunately have to go what I'm going through now. This is just what has personally worked for me in helping, at least a little in Baby's passing. Hopefully this advice will help someone else as well.

1. Don't Be Selfish

We had known for a few years that Baby had kidney disease. He was getting by and was happy as can be, but the weekend before his passing he was suddenly not himself. He wasn't eating or drinking, and spent all of his time on the floor and trying to hide from us. It was clear that something was wrong, but we all, myself especially, wanted to pretend that it wasn't as bad as it was. If your pet isn't acting like themselves, especially if they aren't eating or drinking, take them to the vet to see what's happening. Hopefully it's just a cold, but if it is something more serious, I urge you to think about how your pet wants to spend his/her last days. If they will be suffering in any way and aren't going to be able to live "their best life" then consider putting them out of their suffering. For Baby, he had gone into liver failure, and there's nothing we could have done, unless we wanted to give him fluids to keep him for another few days, which would have been completely unfair to do to him. I made this my first piece of advice because it was so hard for me to see that it was my cat's time to go, since I didn't want my time with him to end. Please please please don't be selfish with your pet's time.

2. Allow Yourself To Grieve

I've been crying all week. I cried when I thought he was just sick and might get better, I cried when my mom said we should make an appointment with the vet, and I cried when he took his final breath in my arms. I cried and cried and cried, and I'm still crying. If you're like me, your pets are your best friends. They've been with you for years, you can talk with them about anything, and they are your family. Losing a pet is a huge loss, and it will take a lot of time, so let yourself grieve as long as you need to.

3. Let Your Other Pets Grieve

Baby's brother Tux is still with us and we were worried how he was going to take Baby's passing. We normally have a vet come to our home, but unfortunately she was booked that day, so we took Baby to a pet hospital, but then brought him home for our regular vet to pick him up that night. Our vet said it was important to let Tux see Baby's body, so we let him come up to him, smell him, and notice that he wasn't reacting to him anymore. It's an important step in your other pet's grieving process so they have some understanding that he/she is gone and that they weren't taken somewhere and never came back. Tux still searches for Baby in the house, which is 100% normal. It's very sad to watch, but eventually they will come to understand. Pets can grieve just like humans, especially if your pets knew each other for many many years. Try your best to give them some extra love during this time, it's hard for them too.

4. Always Remember The Good Times

Try your best not to remember your pet as sick or in pain, they wouldn't want you to have that as your last memories of them. It helps me to remember all the cute little things that were just so "Baby." Things like how he liked to sharpen his claws on walls, even though he didn't have any. If you focus on the happy times, it will hopefully bring you happiness instead of sadness. Do I still think of all the cute things he used to do and cry about it because I miss him? Of course I do. But I want to remind myself of these happy memories of him so that I will always have them in my mind when I think of him in the future.

Sorry this post was a little different and more personal than normal, but I really felt like I needed to write this, even if it was just to help myself in this process. Hopefully this will reach someone who needs it.

Dedicated to Baby, AKA: My sweet little prince, Buhbee, Babel, Signature prime Baby, Mr.Baby, Pretty boy. I hope you gained your claws over the Rainbow Bridge.

I'll start off this post by saying that this topic has been on my mind for a while now and it may end up as a bit of a jumble of thoughts. As many of you know, I'm a history major at Chapman University. Now let me also add that I was never the person who questioned what I would major in while I was deciding what school I would attend. I had always loved history, and in fact, I essentially had a 10 year plan that would end with me getting a PhD in American History and working at a Smithsonian museum. Anyone that knows me can tell you what a huge history nerd I am, and that I love spewing all of my favorite weird and hysterical facts and stories from history. However, last year I realized that there might be something that wasn't clicking anymore with my future ambitious plans. I realized there was a difference between a passion for learning, and a passion for doing. 

I have a huge passion for history. I love to learn all the interesting facts that other people might find boring, and I love knowing whats happened in the past to make us all who we are. But, I didn't love what I could do with history. I don't love research papers, I don't love giving historical presentations, and I just can't see myself entering that field anymore. I love going to museums, but I now know that I would much rather be wandering through one looking at the artifacts than trying to run the museum itself. 

Of course, in recognizing this I hit a bit of a wall. My first thought was that it's way too late to change my major, and I don't want to go back to school to learn something completely new. I thought I had wasted the last three years of college in something that I didn't want to pursue anymore and I was very lost and confused. I did however understand what direction I wanted to go in. 
I've been blogging for two years now and I'm obsessed with it. I love taking e-courses in my spare time to help grow my blog, and I love understanding social media and marketing strategies. I have a passion for writing, blogging, and everything that comes with it. I don't mind taking the time to learn more about this potential field in my spare time because it doesn't feel like a chore. I get excited when I realize there are new ways to grow my business or expand my reach. I have the passion for it and the passion to do it. Although I'm a few years late on figuring out that I want to work somewhere in this industry, I know that all hope isn't lost for me.

Yes I've spent my years in college studying something that won't exactly guide me on my way to professional writing, blogging, PR, social media, etc. But, I'm still able to take control now and steer myself in the direction I'd like to go. History has given me the advantage of learning how to become a better writer (via the huge amount of papers I've had to write and my upcoming thesis...) as well as giving me a great deal of info on how to do better research on any topic. So I know I'm not completely starting from scratch. In my years of blogging I've self-taught myself a number of important things that I'm sure I would have learned if I had been taking classes in this field. So not only am I not starting from scratch, I actually have a pretty defined foothold in this career path. 

In an attempt to lead myself into this new direction I'm also trying to put more emphasis on my blog and make it as good as possible. I also applied to be an intern with an online blogging network (woohoo catch me in the fall as a Style Guru with College Fashionista!), and will be taking as many classes in public relations and social media marketing as I'm allowed. I'll also be searching for more ebooks, ecourses, and other information so I can stay afloat with the other soon to be college grads who actually studied this information for four years. 

I wanted to write this post because I know there are so many others like me who feel like they're stuck in a major and that they now are forced into a certain career path. I'm here to tell you that it's never too late to change your path and strive for what you really want. All you have to do is put forth some effort and work your way up to where you want to be.

As long as you are actively trying to figure out where you want to end up and are trying to take the steps to get there whether this be through experience, internships, jobs, more school, or something else, you'll be okay.

Anyone else feeling/felt this way?

Second Blog Anniversary Q&A

by The Classic Brunette, 5:00:00 AM

It's my second Blogiversary!! Well, it was on August 2nd, haha. I actually thought that my anniversary was on the 8th, but when I went to check it was on the 2nd. So this is why this post is a week late, but either way I'm still very excited about celebrating my two years with this blog that has become such a huge part of my life. Also, did you know these cool fun number balloons cost $10?!?! Something I didn't know when I went to get one, but they're a little worth it, right? 

I decided to do another Q&A post for the anniversary because I have a much larger audience than I had last year, and I wanted to open up the floor to you all to get to know me and my blog a little better. So without further ado...

How Has Your Blog Changed Your Life?

I want to start this answer out by saying that creating this blog has changed my life in practically every way possible. I now think in the mindset of "a blogger" pretty much constantly. If I'm eating I'll be like "that would make a nice photo for instagram" or if I'm walking around and see someone with a cute outfit I'll take that as inspiration to write a new outfit post. This can be a bit weird at times, but it doesn't mean everything I do in my life has to be about my blog. I'm still a regular person, haha! 

Blogging has also made me a stronger person with some of the negative comments and people out there (though thankfully there haven't been many!), and it's surprisingly made me a better business woman. I really had no idea about the business side of blogging when I started The Classic Brunette, but there's so much that goes into it, most of it being about marketing. It's also changed some of the dynamics with my friends and family since they've most likely had some part in the blogging process whether it be through taking photos or helping me brainstorm post ideas. Honestly blogging has changed so much and has become such a huge part of my life that I don't really remember what I was doing before blogging...

What Has Been The Biggest Challenge With Starting Your Blog?

I think I would have to say trying to design my blog and do everything myself. You may have seen me freaking out the other day when I accidentally changed a little thing in my coding and essentially ruined my whole blog's layout. I no joke started having a panic attack because I didn't know what to do and thought I had ruined everything that I had worked on these past two years in a millisecond. I had a lovely woman from one of my blogging Facebook groups help me out, but doing things yourself can get messy. So trying to figure things out is a real challenge when you basically have no idea what you're doing half the time! 

Another issue that I struggle with is budgeting my time between blogging and school. Since I'm in college and running this blog, I have a lot on my plate. I have photoshoots, location scouting, social media, writing posts, editing, etc for the blog along with all my school work. I have to take the time to make sure I'm organized enough to get everything done on time, which sometimes gets out of control. There were a few weeks last year that I just couldn't get my posts up on time because of finals or stress. It's a challenge to make everything work, but I enjoy it so much that I'm not too bothered by it. This coming year I'll have an internship and probably a job that will be added to the mix, so we'll see how that plays out!

Which Platform Do You Recommend New Bloggers Start Out?

There are so many choices you can make when choosing your blog platform: blogger, wordpress, squarespace, weebly, etc. I personally love Blogger. I've been on blogger for my entire blogging career and I honestly don't think I'll ever leave it. I toyed with the idea of switching over to Wordpress in the future since most "big" bloggers end up going there, however there are a few who remain on Blogger and are completely fine. It's so easy and simple to use, and I honestly just don't want to deal with learning a whole new platform just yet. I think Blogger is great for this reason as well. It's very user friendly and extremely simple! 

What Is Your Favorite Movie?

This is such a hard question for me. Seriously I'm probably the biggest movie buff and I have so many favorites that I love. I'm a huge fan of anything comedy, so I would say my two favorites are Bride Wars (yes, that horribly cheesy wedding movie with Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson), and This is the End. I also am obsessed with The Blind Side even though I don't really like football, haha!

How Do You Get Your Eyelashes So Thick/Long?

I was seriously gifted with the best eyelashes in the genetic lottery. I have naturally dark and long lashes, but I normally layer a few different mascaras to really intensify them. I use Doucce's Punk Volumizing mascara, Covergirl Lash Bloom, and I recently got a sample of Urban Decay's Perversion mascara which is seriously AMAZING.

What Is Your Favorite Form Of Social Media?

Another tough one, but I would have to say it's a tie between Instagram and Pinterest. I love Instagram because I feel like I can connect to you all a lot better and you can't really beat seeing all the highlights of your day to day life in one place. I also love Pinterest because I get so much inspiration on there! I essentially use Pinterest like Google most of the time when I'm looking for something to eat, do, or make. So I would say Instagram is my favorite for both blogging and personal reasons, but Pinterest is mostly personal since it's difficult to connect with readers there!

What Are Your Blogging Goals For Your Next Blog Anniversary?

I always make my number one goal to remain consistent with my blogging. I want to commit to my two posts a week without skipping! I also hope to at least double my readership, but I also want to connect with my readers more. I love responding to all of the wonderful comments I get here and on social media, and it's so incredible to see how far my blog has come in these two years, I can't wait to see what will happen in year three. 

A huge thank you to everyone who has read my blog, helped me out here, left a kind comment or sent me an email. You all mean so much to me and I'm glad I can provide happiness and inspiration to you. This blog has grown into a job that I love doing, and I really have you all to thank! 

The Best Face Masks To Fit Your Budget

by The Classic Brunette, 5:00:00 AM

When I was younger I always thought of face masks as something that only existed in a spa-type environment. I pictured ladies getting manicures in white fluffy robes with some type of mask on their face, cucumber slices on their eyes, and soothing music playing in the background. I don't think I realized they could be done at home until my freshman year of high school, when I was at a sleepover and my friend had a few different face masks in her vanity cabinet. I'm not sure how I was in the dark for so long about these magical little beauties, but I'm so glad I've been using them ever since!

I've had my go-to face masks through the years, but none have ever truly done anything than just make me feel like I'm pampering myself. I decided that I was going to do a little research, with the help of some wonderful companies, and see which masks really work like they say they will. I was given the chance to try a number of masks, all at different budgets, and thought I would create this handy guide for you all! So without further ado, here's what's been in my face mask arsenal lately.

Masks From Kollection K

All these masks are from the Korean beauty website Kollection K, and are all in the sheet mask style. I don't know if y'all have ever seen what sheet masks look like, but they're a little terrifying. I'll spare you the pictures of me in one of them, but here's me holding one up. 

My mom said I looked like a ghost in it, although I kind of thought I looked like a feature-less person. Either way, they're a little funky! But, I have to say, they work wonders. Here's what I tried from Kollection K...

These two masks are very similar. Like the packaging says, the Strawberry mask is for brightening and revitalizing and the Lemon one is for moisturizing and brightening. I have to say, the lemon one really did smell like lemons! It was fresh, and gave me that spa-like feeling when using it. The strawberry one however didn't really smell like strawberries, it did smell delicious and fruity, but I couldn't exactly figure out what the scent was. Both masks were extremely moisturizing and I felt like I didn't need to put on any lotion for days after!

Y'all I loved these masks. I've seen these before and I knew I had to try them if I had the chance. The Red Wine mask makes me feel like I woke up with perfect skin. It shrinks and de-clutters your pores, seriously my face felt so clean! With the Makgeolli mask it was the same way, my skin felt refreshed and clear. It's the perfect thing to use if you feel like your face just isn't getting clean with your everyday cleanser!

Glam Rock Mask (c/o) - 1 for $3.80

First things first, this peach mask smelled AMAZING. Seriously if I didn't think I would die from the chemicals I would have eaten it since it smelled so good. I didn't see too much change with my skin with this one, although the scent lasted for a while, so if you just want to smell delicious it's a keeper!

I was really excited to try the Aloe mask since I have particularly dry skin and have heard wonderful things about the Beauty in a Food mask line. It's supposed to be for deep moisture, and it works wonderfully! My skin didn't need lotion for 2 whole days, and in my book that's a win.

Okay, let's be honest, I really liked this last Glam Rock face mask because it looked like I was headed for some type of spa masquerade ball. It's supposed to prevent wrinkles and lift the skin under the eyes. I did notice that the bags under my eyes were a little less...baggy, but other than that I didn't see too much else with this one!

Masks From Peach and Lily 

Although Peach and Lily is well known for the great Korean skincare they sell, (seriously they sent me this power toner and this cream and I'm obsessed!!) the sheet masks they carry are also incredible! Both of these masks claim to have calming effects, and I think they really live up to that. My face sometimes has red patches, especially during the hot summer, and after using these masks it neutralized my skin and got rid of the red! Plus, they both smell amazing, very herbal and, well, calming! I think these masks are perfect for the days when you're feeling stressed out and need to unwind. They put you in a relaxing mood and will make all your problems melt away.

Face Masks From Farmacy

I loved these masks. Each one was different, but blended so well with the other two that I completely understand why they're paired together in this medley. Together they make your face feel smoother, less irritated, calmer, and more energized. If you're feeling like your skin isn't getting the love it deserves lately, you definitely need to treat yourself to these masks. It will make you feel like you're getting a fresh face! Who knew I would end up loving a mask made from kale, broccoli, and cucumber!

Masks From Manuka Doctor

I was a little bit nervous trying this mask since it contains bee venom, (YES, you read that right!) but it ended up being my favorite of the bunch! It honestly makes me feel like I refreshed my whole face and gained a new, tighter layer of skin. I swear I looked in the mirror after using this mask and thought I had lost a little weight in my face just from using it, maybe it was just my optimistic thoughts kicking in, but whatever it was, my skin looked 10x better after this! It feels very calming and cooling on the skin, exactly the opposite of what I thought it would be, and I will most definitely be ordering another one of these after this one runs out!

Have you tried any of these masks? Do you have a favorite face mask you swear by? I would love to know in the comments!

Products were provided by Kollection K, Peach and Lily, Farmacy, and Manuka Doctor for review purposes, however all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Classic Brunette possible!

12 Pros and Cons Of Living Off Campus

by The Classic Brunette, 5:00:00 AM
I'll be living off campus for my second year this upcoming Fall, and I know better than anyone that the decision to make the move from the dorms to a house or apartment away from campus is a big one. There are a lot of factors that go into making this move, the biggest being how your school functions. (ex: if everyone lives in the dorms at your school and moving off campus means living in the middle of nowhere, I think you already know what you're doing) I've been meaning to write this post for a while as I've been asked a few times if moving off campus was the right choice, or how it compares to being in the dorms. So today I'm sharing my 12 pros and cons for moving off campus!


Better, Healthier Food And You Can Cook For Yourself

Okay, so I realize this can be a con if you absolutely hate cooking or all you know how to make is a nice bowl of cereal. (No judgement, that was me until freshman year) However, I think this is definitely a pro considering you can make whatever meals you wish to, and it tends to be cheaper than getting a meal plan at school. You can also knock out that freshman fifteen by creating healthier meals with fruits and veggies instead of gorging on the dozens of cookies and chicken nuggets the dining hall has just sitting around. And you know what's even better? It kind of makes it feel like you're living in an actual home by having a few home cooked meals throughout the week. 

You Can (Possibly) Have Pets

This might not be a possibility everywhere, but many off campus houses and apartments are meant for just regular folk who like to own pets! My landlords are the nicest people, and even though our rental agreement for our house said no pets, we asked if we could get a small dog, and that's how we got Mowgli! P.S. It was Mowgli's 2nd birthday yesterday! Anyway, if you're the type of person who loves having a furry friend around to keep you company you might want to consider that when considering dorming or moving out.

Less Time Spent Moving and More Permanent Decoration

I say less moving time because I'm assuming that if you do move off campus you'll likely stay there for the remainder of your time at school. I feel like this is common, so you really would only have to move into your new place once instead of picking up and moving in and out every year. This also means that you can say goodbye to those ugly (yet very useful) command strips that the dorms urged you to use, and put up some real, lasting decorations. You can make your house or apartment look lived in and more comfortable knowing that you won't be leaving for a while. Need some inspiration? Check out my post on things to pack for college!

More Living Space

More likely than not your dorm was an itty bitty shoebox that could barely squeeze two twin xl beds and whatever else your school provides. After moving into my house now I wonder how I ever lived in that small of a space! I'm getting to live in a four bedroom home for a little more than half of what I paid to live in my dorm. I'd say that's a huge pro!

No Pesky Dorm Rules

I know I wasn't the only one who was bummed when I learned that candles and christmas lights weren't allowed in on campus housing. Obviously I didn't follow the rules with candles for the most part (don't tell my old RAs!), but it was still annoying to have to hide my contraband items when they would do their random dorm checks. Another thing I wasn't a huge fan of was quiet hours being at odd times during the week. Yes, I knew that there were people studying in the dorms, but sometimes you just can't contain those juicy gossip sessions or loud movie nights and don't want to worry about getting yelled at. You don't really have that issue living off campus, well, unless you have a crazy neighbor!

You Get To Pick Your Own Roommates

Freshman year dorming can be a little risky since most schools pair roommates randomly. I've said it time and time again that I was extremely lucky with my roommate situation, but there are many others who aren't! Some schools have the option to dorm with people you know after freshman year, but from my understanding it isn't that common. By choosing to live off campus you get to pick who you live with, letting you live (hopefully!) peacefully with your friends instead of the crazy girl who sleeps odd hours and steals your stuff! 

Better Health

We all know that the dorms are a huge pool of germs and colds being spread around. Last year my campus was hit was the norovirus, and before that we had mono, strep throat, and bronchitis going around. When you move off campus, you suddenly become a lot less susceptible to those diseases and flus! And even if you do get sick off campus, your campus health center is still open to you!


More Difficult To Be Social

When you live a short walk away from half the school, it's kind of difficult not to be social. There are always people headed out to parties, going to free events on campus, or going to a friend's room to just hang out in the dorms. People are literally everywhere, so you're more likely to spend time with other students. When you're off campus it does make it a little harder since your friends are no longer right outside your door. Depending on how far you are it could be a bit of a longer walk, but it could also be a fifteen minute drive like it is for me!

Lack Of Convenience

Similar to the lack of social activities that happen outside of campus, there's a lack of convenience for a few other things as well. When living in the dorms you are a short walk from main campus, which is probably not the case if you've moved out. You also give up the convenience of using your meal plan at the dining hall, but this could also be a good thing! (See Pros) Overall things that were once very close or easy to access will be farther from your home. 

More Maintenance

When you live in the dorms, practically everything is taken care of for you. If the internet goes out, someone is already working on fixing it. If your toilet is impossibly plugged, you can call campus maintenance and they'll deal with it for you. When you're living off campus, you have to deal with everything yourself (or at least get in touch with your landlord). The house/apartment is your home, and you have to deal with the cleaning, the plumbing, the internet, etc. If something goes wrong, no one is automatically working on it for you. 


Transportation Needed

Where I go to school, it's basically a given that you will be bringing a car by sophomore year. If not, you're kind of stuck on campus. So I'm putting this in the neutral category because for some people, they already have some mode of transportation they use to move around town, but for others this means figuring out how you will be getting to and from school everyday. Many schools are in neighborhoods that have some form of public transportation, however the quality of it can differ drastically depending on the area. 

Bills and Finances

Again, depending on where you are, you could be paying more or less by living off campus. In many cases you're going to be spending less, but you'll also be paying your own bills. Keeping track of the bills is a little bit of an inconvenience, but if it's keeping you from spending extra money, it's worth it.

So as you can tell I'm a little biased about living off campus, but that's because I've had such a positive experience with it! What are your thoughts on dorm vs. off campus housing?