Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? As the temperatures creep into the 40s and 50s here in the Orlando area, I’m starting to feel it more than ever. My sleeves have been getting longer and longer over the past few weeks, and my morning caffeine fix has transitioned from iced to hot. When the cold fronts are here, that means the holidays are almost here, and that means it’s time to hit the stores.

Earlier this week, I shared a few of my favorite Central Florida stores and boutiques for holiday shopping. However, for those of you who prefer shopping online or don’t happen to live in the region, I wanted to pull together a quick guide for gifts you can purchase no matter where you live. (For a few of my popular guides from previous years, click here and here.) Get ready to start shopping!

Holiday Gift Guide | Wellness & Wanderlust

  • For your organized friend: Bloom Daily Planners Vintage Floral print.
    I’m a sucker for a beautiful planner, and I just invested in one of these for myself for 2019. These datebooks go by calendar year and are the perfect size — large enough to include everything you’d ever need to write down, but small enough to fit in a medium-sized handbag. The Vintage Floral is beautiful, but if your gift recipient is less flowery, check out Bloom’s other prints with marble, flamingos, inspirational quotes, or other cover designs.
  • For the fashionista: These fun cat eye sunglasses by Sunice.
    Sunice Glasses has a variety of men’s and women’s sunglasses to choose from — you can’t go wrong! My favorite styles are the Classy (pictured) and the Aero, but take a look for yourself to choose a unique style. Use my promo code WANDERLUST25 to get 25% off your purchase!
  • For the one who always knows when Mercury is in retrograde: The Mixology of Astrology: Cosmic Cocktails for Every Sign by Aliza Kelly.
    I recently listened to Aliza Kelly’s episode on the Almost Famous podcast (check out more on my favorite podcasts here), and was fascinated about the idea of cocktails designed for specific astrological signs! Whether your friend is really into astrology or just likes to entertain, this book would be a fun addition to any party, bar cart, or coffee table.
  • For the class clown: A personalized potato via Potato Parcel.
    No holiday season is complete without at least one gag gift, and Potato Parcel does not disappoint! Featured on Shark Tank, Potato Parcel allows you to send a personalized potato in the mail with a message or printed photo of your choosing. They are now even selling potato ornaments! Check out their offerings and bundles here (and yes, I have used their services before).
  • For the accessories junkie: The Moon necklace by Civion.
    Civion is a European accessories company with a fun array of necklaces, earrings, rings (I love The Feline!), and bracelets. My readers receive 25% off their Civion purchases with discount code VALERIE25, so be sure to check them out online!
  • For the pet lover: Pop Your Pup apparel and more.
    I’ve written about Pop Your Pup before, but they just keep getting better! Pop Your Pup creates custom clothing and accessories by designing pop art versions of your favorite pet. Since the last time I wrote about them, they have expanded to now sell blankets and throw pillows, phone covers, and even puzzles.
  • For your favorite introvert: Quiet by Susan Cain.
    As an introvert myself, I can appreciate a book that helps me cope with living in “a world that can’t stop talking.” This book is a fun and interesting read that your introvert friends may find helpful (or may be a great gift to give yourself). I am a huge fan of this book!
  • For the bubbly one: These champagne toppers from World Market.
    From mango bellinis to mandarin mimosas, you can spruce up your drinks with these yummy champagne toppers! I recently purchased a 5-pack for a friend’s bridal shower and the gift did not disappoint. These fruity mixers will sweeten your drink and have sassy names like “Trust Me, You Can Dance” that will make you smile.

What stocking stuffers are on your list this year? Sound off in the comments!

Things I’m Loving Lately: Your 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? The holidays are creeping up on us, and between classes and work projects, I’ve barely made a dent in my gift shopping list.

However, those who know me best know that I love buying gifts! Gift-giving is one of my favorite aspects of the holiday season, and I love sharing my favorite products and gift finds with friends and readers. For those who still have some shopping to do, check out my latest holiday gift guide for fun ideas (or pop over to my 2015 post for some oldies but goodies). Happy shopping! 🙂

  • IMG_1259.jpgFor your spirit junkie friend:  The Universe Has Your Back 52-card deck!
    I loved Gabby Bernstein’s book The Universe Has Your Back, so when she released this deck of 52 inspirational affirmations, I knew I’d have to order one for myself. These cards are beautifully illustrated and provide positive spiritual mantras that anyone can benefit from. My favorite card reads Joy is the ultimate creator, but you can choose from so many other uplifting messages to help guide your day.
  • For your favorite feminist: This GRL PWR coffee mug.
    Effie’s Paper sells some of the cutest stationery “and whatnot,” but I keep coming back to to this mug. Order yours — or check out their other gift items under $25. (Is anyone else obsessed with the marble Post-It notes, or is it just me?)
  • For the monogram enthusiast: This floral monogrammed wine set from ChicMonogram.
    I’ve written about ChicMonogram before and I will always come back to them! Their store features more than 1,000 customizable gift items, from business card cases to kitchen supplies and much more! Some designs even feature Lilly Pulitzer prints. Check out the entire store here!
  • For the friend who loves Cards Against Humanity: Joking Hazard.
    This game is perfect for your friend who has an inappropriate sense of humor (read: me), especially if that friend hosts a lot of parties. This game is like the comic version of Cards Against Humanity, featuring artwork from Cyanide and Happiness.
  • For the natural beauty: Primally Pure beauty products.
    Primally Pure carries skincare and other beauty products with all natural ingredients that you can actually pronounce. As someone with incredibly sensitive skin, I’m obsessed with their lavender dry shampoo for dark locks and pretty much all of their lip balms, but the beauty brand also carries cleansing oils, spa kits, and more.
  • For the crystal lover: This rose quartz heart necklace from Sinus Finnicus.
    Rose quartz is my favorite crystal, meant to attract unconditional love. The store offers a variety of beautiful crystal pendants with other metaphysical properties as well! These pendants are shipped from Finland, so order early.
  • For the tea enthusiasts: This amazing watermelon oolong from AntiquiTEAs.
    I hosted a tea party at AntiquiTEAs in Winter Garden for my birthday earlier this year, and absolutely loved their watermelon oolong! They sell a variety of delicious loose teas online and in their store at the Plant Street Market. Check out the various flavors on their website — I promise your friends will love you for it!

What are you buying this holiday season? Share your favorite finds in the comments section below!

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Things I’m Loving Lately: Hummustir

Hey there, readers! For all of my fellow Floridians, I hope you are getting yourselves prepared for Hurricane Irma over the next few days. It is certainly a scary time to live in the Sunshine State, and I can honestly say that I’m so ready for hurricane season to be over.

In honor of my blog’s relaunch as Wellness & Wanderlust, I’m excited to announce my newest feature: Things I’m Loving Lately. I may not be as influential as Oprah and her “favorite things,” but I can’t wait to share some of my own favorite things with all of you. I’m constantly trying out new products in the wellness sphere, so when I come across something great, I’ll be sure to share it with you right here. 🙂

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We’re kicking things off with something incredibly tasty and timely. Meet Hummustir, a new hummus brand with a truly fresh taste and all natural ingredients. An amateur party-planner and lover of Mediterranean food, I firmly believe that no appetizer spread is complete without a good hummus. What sets Hummustir apart — and makes it a must-have for your hurricane supply shopping list — is that it remains shelf-safe in your pantry for up to a year without refrigeration. It’s also completely preservative-free (really!).

How it works: Hummustir is split into three packages, all in one tub, which include pureed chickpeas, tahini, and spices. Empty the contents of each package into the tub and stir them up with the spoon provided (hence the name Hummustir!) for some straight up deliciousness.

Things I'm Loving Lately: HummustirI’ve tried the Mediterranean Style and Village Style flavors, which I absolutely loved. We served Hummustir at a family gathering, and I’ve brought a few containers to class. It was a hit among family members and grad students alike!

Hummustir is available in your local Walmart and select retailers (find your closest store here), but you can also order online through Amazon and choose from a variety of flavors. Each flavor is vegan, preservative-free, and non-GMO.

I constantly struggle to find healthy food that I can serve when I entertain, but Hummustir does not disappoint. It is the perfect addition to any party or get-together! Give it a try and check out some of their recipes online for inspiration in the kitchen. Can’t wait to hear about what you end up making!

Have you tried Hummustir? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All Friends

Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All FriendsNow that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday shopping season has officially begun. Hopefully all of you have survived Black Friday! Even I managed to brave the mall and come home with a few goodies this weekend. Of course, as Hanukkah and Christmas loom near, it’s important to start shopping for our friends and loved ones as well.

I absolutely love gift-giving. With so many cool and customizable products out there, I enjoy putting thought into the presents I buy rather than slapping a bow on something really generic and calling it a day.

This week, I’d like to share my holiday gift guide for all types of friends. Most of these products are ones that I either personally own, have sampled, or have purchased for someone else in the past. The best part? You can purchase any of these online in the comfort of your own home! No need to start any fist-fights at the mall this year. 🙂

  • Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All FriendsThe Animal Lover: A custom-made shirt from Pop Your Pup!
    Pop Your Pup creates graphic T-shirts featuring pop art designs of your pets. Choose a shirt style and background color, submit a photo of your/your friend’s pet, and the graphic artists at Pop Your Pup will work their magic to make a one-of-a-kind shirt that really does look like your pet. The turn-around time is awesome, and 10% of proceeds are donated to local Humane Societies. I’ve ordered two of these shirts for birthday presents already, and they were a huge hit!
  • The Friend with School Spirit: A bottle of his or her school’s Masik Collegiate Fragrance.
    Masik Collegiate Fragrances is the brainchild of Katie Masik, who wanted to create perfumes and colognes that evoked memories of certain colleges and universities. Last year, I reviewed their University of Florida perfume and their Florida State University cologne, and even though I’m not a Gator fan, I still sometimes wear the UF perfume! The scents are inspired by the buildings, traditions and local plant-life of each university. Click here for a list of all schools represented so far to see if your friend’s school is listed!
  • Unique Gift Guide for All FriendsThe Sweet Tooth: A box of Wondermade‘s handcrafted marshmallows.
    (Paleo readers: You may want to shield your eyes for this one!) I stumbled into Wondermade one afternoon on one of my walks through downtown Sanford. The café is a local one, where patrons can buy marshmallow skewers and s’mores of all flavors that they can pair with coffee or hot chocolate. Wondermade also has an online store, where consumers from near and far can buy boxes of marshmallows in Christmas and fall flavors, as well as other unique flavors. I love to support local businesses, especially ones with such delicious products!
  • The Healthy Chick: A piece of (totally inedible) Organic Fruit Jewelry.
    Okay, paleo friends, you can start reading again. 🙂 Organic Fruit Jewelry is exactly what it sounds like — real fruit dried and preserved into jewelry! This is an eclectic and fun gift, and no two necklaces/earring sets are exactly alike. I’m obsessed with the lemon slice necklace and will definitely be investing in mine soon!
  • The Single Friend: A copy of The Mathematics of Love by Hannah Fry.
    I’m a nerd at heart, so reading a book that relates mathematical concepts to dating and marriage was obviously right up my alley. This is a great read for anyone — single or not — who wants to see just how applicable these theories and formulas are to our lives. I was never a math lover in school, but I really enjoyed this book! (Check out the related TED Talk if you’re curious.)
  • il_570xN.436081413_kwxfThe Sports Fan: A personalized highway distance sign to your friend’s favorite team’s stadium/arena.
    I absolutely love these stadium signs as a way to support your favorite team! You choose your team’s venue from the Travelsigns Etsy shop, and plug in the number of miles between there and your home. This a great gift for that guy in your life who still hasn’t put anything up on his wall.
  • The Harry Potter Nerd: This Golden Snitch bracelet from Ashley Bridget.
    Seriously, have you seen anything prettier? The Ashley Bridget website features other Harry Potter jewelry as well, along with other gorgeous pieces from their NFL, collegiate, sorority, fairy tale and other collections. 🙂
  • The Career Guy or Girl: A customized business card case.
    You can find these anywhere, depending on your friend’s preferences, but I purchased mine from the ChicMonogram store on Etsy. This is a great gift for someone who recently graduated from college and is just starting a new job. For nearly my entire first year at my current job, I didn’t have a business card case, and instead found myself carrying the cards around at networking events like the unpolished peasant I was. With my personalized business card case (featuring my full name, not just my monogram), I have something to store my business cards and it makes for a great conversation piece!
  • The Fancy Friend: Anything from the Downton Abbey collection at World Market.
    I am in love with this collection’s 2-tiered serving stand and tea spoons, and I don’t even watch Downton Abbey! Buy a few items from this set for your tea-loving friends who like to entertain.

How are you shopping for the holidays? Share your favorite finds in the comments section below!

Masik Collegiate Fragrances: Fantastic U Giveaway

581777_10151777807567630_1870795621_nLast month, I wrote a review for the amazing Masik Collegiate Fragrances line after sampling two of their signature scents. Many of you approached me via social media to learn more about these perfumes and colognes, but today I am pleased to tell you that the company has rolled out its Fantastic U Photo Contest!

Here’s the deal: You can win up to $100 in products by entering the contest on the Masik Collegiate Fragrances Facebook page or (if you don’t have Facebook) through email, and following the directions below:

  • “Like” Masik Collegiate Fragrances on Facebook.
  • Post or send (info@masik.com) a photo that captures fanatical school spirit at your school.
  • Photos with the most likes and comments will win $100 worth of products.
  • Enter as many photos as you would like!
  • The contest ends April 23 – so what are you waiting for?

I encourage you to check out their website to learn about their different fragrances if you haven’t already. Best of luck! For those who enter, post a link to your fan photo as a comment here as well so we can see your school spirit! 🙂

Fabulous Finds: Masik Collegiate Fragrance Review

masik collegiate fragrancesThis week, I had the opportunity to test out the new Masik Collegiate Fragrance line, and readers, I think I’m in love! For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, Masik Collegiate Fragrances are the signature perfumes and colognes for several universities throughout the United States. Each scent is inspired by the traditions, buildings and local plant-life of the university it represents, so as a fan of all things college, I couldn’t wait to try a few!

Because my university is young and does not yet have its own fragrance, I decided to sample the fragrances from two other Florida universities that many of my readers have attended: University of Florida and Florida State University. With a few Gators in the family, I was especially excited to try the UF women’s perfume. Infused with crisp pear, juicy mandarin and cedarwood (among others), the perfume has a fresh, citrusy scent that is definitely reminiscent of the Sunshine State. I was surprised to discover that the UF scent actually reminded me a lot of my own alma mater, the University of Central Florida, because of our own citrus ties! Whether you’re a Gator or simply looking for a fun new perfume, you will love the UF scent.

Inspiration for the FSU scent, courtesy of Masik.com

Inspiration for the FSU scents, courtesy of Masik.com

For my male readers, Masik also offers a men’s cologne for UF fans, complete with yuzu mandarin, green coriander, mint, clary sage, violet leaf, white sambaca, amber, white musk and sandalwood.

In addition, I sampled the men’s cologne from Florida State University, another wonderful scent that I would recommend to all the male Seminoles out there. The cologne, with oakmoss, Fuji apple, Meyer lemon and more, is meant to capture “the pride and determination of the Seminoles.” The scent is strong but not overpowering, and definitely one that I encourage Florida State students to try out.

Ladies, if you’re a Seminole or simply a fan of the university, the FSU perfume is infused with pomegranate, pink peony, juicy nectarine and other scents.

Aside from their UF and FSU fragrances, Masik also offers perfumes and colognes inspired by the following universities:

  • Inspiration for the UF scents, courtesy of masik.com

    Inspiration for the UF scents, courtesy of Masik.com

    University of Alabama

  • University of Arkansas
  • Auburn University
  • Clemson University
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Kentucky
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of North Carolina
  • North Carolina State
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Penn State University
  • University of South Carolina
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Tennessee
  • Texas A&M
  • University of Texas
  • Virginia Tech

As a recent college grad who is still especially nostalgic for my days on campus, I love the idea of a collegiate fragrance line and can only hope to see my own university represented someday (nudge, nudge). 🙂 Go Knights!

Do I have you excited about these fragrances yet? Then pop on over to the Masik Collegiate Fragrances Facebook page for giveaways and other exciting information! 🙂

Book Review: All My Friends Are Engaged

allmyfriendsareengagedLet’s face it: We all have an embarrassing dating story or two.

Each of us, at one time or another, has said the wrong thing, missed the “signs,” gone out with someone who was a total mismatch, and declared that we’d be forever alone. And after these nights of poorly timed jokes and awkward half-hugs and unreturned text messages, some well-meaning friend will sit us down with the generic love advice passed down from romantic comedies and self-help books.

So when I downloaded the eBook All My Friends Are Engaged, by Jen Glantz, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was not a manual on how to land a quality guy or why you should always play hard-to-get. Jen’s book is a refreshing look at one twenty-something’s dating experiences, from saying “I love you” before the date even happened to navigating the online dating world. Her stories will make you laugh, because chances are, you’ve probably gone through similar situations yourself, but they will also make you think. Each chapter, while often funny and lighthearted, also allows Jen to reflect on her experiences and on dating conventions as a whole.

“I ended this group blind date in the same fashion that I’ve learned to medicate all awkward situations,” she writes, “by digging my spoon into the very bottom of a cup of soft serve. And with every bite, I realized even more that there is only one rule when it comes to love – when it comes to where, and when, and how to meet someone and then, once you’ve found them, how to fully recognize how you deserve to be treated. Open your eyes.

The book is a mix of introspective essays and lists, from a Valentine’s Day gone wrong to the eight reasons he didn’t ask for your number. If you’ve ever been on a less-than-perfect date – whether you’re single, in a relationship or married – you’ll be able to relate to this book and appreciate the humor that goes along with it. Jen is a skilled story-teller and her writing is accessible no matter what your perspective may be.

You can download and purchase All My Friends Are Engaged here on Amazon, or get a taste of Jen’s writing style at her wonderful blog, The Things I Learned From. Even if you’re like me and you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read from your SmartPhone or computer. Check out her book and support a fellow Knight!