Not that kind of girl.

Today I’m having a particularly “Lena” type struggle, so I figured it would be a good day to share my favorite quotes from Lena Dunham’s FANTASTIC book, Not That Kind of Girl.


I know there is a lot here and I don’t expect you to read through them all, but each quote has a significance to me that’s worth keeping and cataloging for future reference when I need some eloquent words to describe my momentary disposition or I need reassurance on a particularly dark day.

On being an ‘adult’ and growing up:

  • “I always reminded myself this wasn’t exactly where I was meant to be, but pit stops are ok on the road of life; aren’t they?”
  • “The end never comes when you think it will. It’s always ten steps past the worst moment, then a weird turn to the left.”
  • “I didn’t drink in the essence of the classroom. I didn’t take legible notes or dance all night. I thought I would marry my boyfriend and grow old and sick of him. I thought I would keep my friends, and we’d make different, new memories. None of that happened. Better things happened. Then why am I so sad?”

On self respect

  • “When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.”
  • “There is a common superstition that “self-respect” is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general. It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation. —JOAN DIDION, “On Self-Respect”

On past relationships:

  • “I’ve always been attracted to jerks. They range from sassy weirdos who are ultimately pretty good guys to sociopathic sex addicts, but the common denominator is a bad attitude upon first meeting and a desire to teach me a lesson.”
  • “I always run in to strong women who are looking for weak men to dominate them”- Andy Warhol
  • “What had initially seemed like a deep well of pain caused by unattainable women was actually a Philip Rothian disdain for the fairer sex. It’s become horribly and offensively popular to say that someone is on the autism spectrum, so all I’ll say is his inability to notice when I was crying had to be some kind of pathology.”
  • “You will find,” she says, “that there’s a certain grace to having your heart broken.”
  • “After what felt like months, he sat across from me, one foot still on the floor, and looked at me a long moment, like he was preparing to eat something he wasn’t sure he would like. I wasn’t offended. I wasn’t even sure I was real.”
  • “But I also think when we embark on intimate relationships, we make a basic human promise to be decent, to hold a flattering mirror up to each other, to be respectful as we explore each other.”
  • “It made me feel silenced, lonely, and far away from myself, a feeling that I believe, next to extreme nausea sans vomiting, is the depth of human misery.”
  • “The way I saw it, I was fully capable of being treated with indifference that bordered on disdain while maintaining a strong sense of self-respect. I obeyed his commands, sure that I could fulfill this role while still protecting the sacred place inside of me that I knew deserved more. Different. Better. But that isn’t how it works.”
  • “This is what it could have been like. This is what it had never been like. And so I was angry.”
  • “We spent torturous weekends attempting to share brunches and movie dates like people who knew each other. But he wasn’t impressed enough by how funny my dad is, and I didn’t understand what was so cool about his friend Leo the puppeteer. I attempted to break up with him on no fewer than seven occasions, and each time he would cry, beg, and show more emotion than he ever had during our silent sexual encounters or our mornings drinking tea in bed. “You care about me,” he’d tell me. “You’ve never felt like this before.” And who was I to object?”
  • “I did love Ben, in a sense. Because he cooked for me. Because he told me that my body was beautiful, like a Renaissance painting, something I badly needed to hear.”

On body image:

  • Barbie’s disfigured. it’s OK to play with her just as long as you keep that in mind.”
  • “Weak eyebrows = weak presentation. It’s like having a bad handshake, but worse because it’s right on your face.”
  • “A friend once told me that when you’ve been in AA, drinking is never fun again. And that’s how I feel about having seen a nutritionist—I will never again approach food in an unbridled, guilt-free way.”

On anxiety and learning to how to heal:

  • “I’ve started translating poems from languages I don’t speak, some kind of Surrealist exercise meant to inspire me but also prevent me from thinking the perverse, looping thoughts that come unbidden: I am hideous. I am going to be living in a mental hospital by the time I am twenty-nine. I will never amount to anything. You wouldn’t know it to see me at a party. In a crowd I am recklessly cheerful, dressed to the nines in thrift-shop gowns and press-on fingernails, fighting the sleepiness that comes from the 350 milligrams of medication I take every night. I dance the hardest, laugh the hardest at my own jokes, and make casual reference to my vagina, like it’s a car or a chest of drawers.”
  • “The anxiety that has followed me through my life like a bad friend had reappeared with a vengeance and taken a brand-new form… I didn’t know why this was happening. The cruel reality of anxiety is that you never quite do. At the moments it should logically strike, I am fit as a fiddle. On a lazy afternoon, I am seized by a cold dread.”
  • “The most terrifying aspect of human health is our refusal to take steps to help ourselves and the fact that we are so often responsible for our own demise through lack of positive action. It makes me want to take a nap.”
  • “I have only the vaguest memory of a life before fear. Every morning when I wake up there is one blissful second before I took around the room and remember my daily terrors.”
  • “And then I made myself sick to my stomach waiting for an apology that never came.”
  • “And when I emerged, fifteen pounds lighter but too shaken to enjoy it, I thought, I could spend the next eight years just getting to know myself and that would be fine. The idea of sex right now sounds about as appealing as putting a live lobster up there.”
  • “Sometimes that old feeling slips back in. Of being invaded and misunderstood. Of being outside your body but still in the room, like what you imagine a spirit does immediately after death. You used to own the night and put it to good use, during that sweet spot after your father could no longer tell you when to go to sleep and before you shared an apartment with someone else. Is togetherness killing your productivity? When’s the last time you stayed up until 4:00 A.M. testing the boundaries of your consciousness and Googling serial killers?”

On career and passion

  • “But ambition is a funny thing: it creeps in when you least expect it and keeps you moving, even when you think you want to stay put.”

On the struggles of being a female:

  • “the gynecologist prescribed birth control, which has helped with regularity, but nothing can help the mood that still descends a few days before my period begins, like a black cloud rolling in. I am uncharacteristically dark and nihilistic. Everyone is out to get me, to hurt me, to uninvite me from their tea parties, to judge my body and destroy my family. I am like a character on Dallas, obsessed with subterfuge and revenge, convinced I have discovered unlikely yet real-seeming plots against me.”
  • “As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter.”
  • “My friend, a woman whom I admire for her independent spirit, told me she had a similar experience. “I made my first movie and all these men crawled out of the woodwork, looking for … something.” She was once a punk. The real kind, not the kind who buys her clothes at the mall. “But they didn’t get it: I’m not here to make friends with you. I’m here to destroy you.””

Words you desperately need your best friends and family to tell you:

  • “What a goon. He’s lucky to know you, but too stupid to ever realize it.”
  • “If you have a bad feeling about someone, don’t worry about offending them. Just run. Being polite is how you get your purse stolen or your ‘purse stolen’.”

On falling in love:

  • “Then he appeared. Gap toothed, Sculpey faced, glasses like a cartoon, so earnest I was suspicious, and so witty I was scared. I saw him standing there, yellow cardigan and hunched shoulders, and thought: Look, there is my friend. The next months were a lesson in opening up, letting go, being kind and brave. I have written all sorts of paragraphs recounting those months together: first kiss, first Mister Softee, first time I noticed that he won’t touch a doorknob without covering his hand with his sweatshirt. I have written sentences about how the first time we made love it felt like dropping my keys on the table after a long trip, and about wearing his sneakers as we ran across the park toward my house, which would someday be our house. About the way he gathered me up after a long terrible day and put me to bed. About the fact that he is my family now. I wrote it down, found the words that evoked the exact feeling of the edge of the park at 11:00 P.M. on a hot Tuesday with the man I was starting to love. But surveying those words I realized they are mine. He is mine to protect. There is so much I’ve shared, and so much that’s been crushed by the sharing. I never mourned it, because it never mattered.”

On hope for the future

  • “Deep in her soul, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she would gaze out over the solitude of her life with desperate eyes, seeking some white sail in the mists of the far-off horizon. She did not know what this chance event would be, what wind would drive it to her, what shore it would carry her to, whether it was a longboat or a three-decked vessel, loaded with anguish or filled with happiness up to the portholes. But each morning, when she awoke, she hoped it would arrive that day.… —GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, Madame Bovary”
  • Life is long, people change, I would never be foolish enough to think otherwise. But no matter what, nothing can ever be as it was. Everything has changed in a way that sounds trite and borderline offensive when recounted over coffee. I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. There she goes, backpack on, headed for the subway or the airport. She did her best with her eyeliner. She learned a new word she wants to try out on you. She is ambling along. She is looking for it.
  • “You’ve learned a new rule and it’s simple: don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from. But when you run, run back to yourself, like that bunny in ‘Runaway Bunny’ runs to its mother, but you are the mother, and you’ll see that later and be very, very proud.”

as always,

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

can’t I just spend all day at home?

When I was young, before I knew what was up, I dreamed about adulthood and how I wasn’t ever going to stop and I was going to run free and wild and party as much as I wanted and stay up late and go forbidden places and do spontaneous things…

{and that people would understand that run-on sentences are how my brain thinks, and how I choose to write my thoughts, because…. this is MY story and grammar is subjective anyway and… yeah mind yo own businass}

… and while many of the manifestations of my former years come true for me daily, I find that I most often crave the thing that would have horrified my 16 year old self: quietness and stillness.

At the moment, I’m dreaming of nothing more than spending some much needed time at home painting, organizing, cleaning, meditating, purging, storing and creating my soulful and happy place to thrive in the quietness of sanctuary.

I guess until you know and process chaos (and I have years of experience in chaos), you never fully appreciate the stillness in peace.

I had a long weekend ahead and one that I anxiously awaited and will long be grateful for. I have no business complaining about the opportunity to:

1) work alongside one of my best friends doing something I’m truly passionate about
2) meet one of my longtime idols and learn from and assist her in the largest event for our brand on the West Coast
3) the ability to travel, meet new friends and practice my craft, passion and art form outside a traditional 9-5 existence
4) ALL THREE of these fabulous things less than a week from returning from a world renowned music and art festival many people can only dream of attending.


Am I tired? Hell yes. Am I complaining? Not on my life.

I have the unique experience to be living a life I have taken years co-creating and though it isn’t always how my former self would have predicted it, I am grateful and blessed to say that the joy and contentment I have in this moment is better than I could have come up with on my own.

I guess this post is pandering to a bit of a #humblebrag, but I’m really in awe of the way the Universe times things out for me sometimes and I’m so effing grateful I couldn’t think of any better way to express myself than with my pen…. err, keyboard.

If you made it this far, you get a virtual gold star and know that I love you and I’m grateful for you and I promise all my writing won’t always be this self indulgent but yeah… some of these posts are going to end up like this.

And now, we stop abruptly.

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Instanatural Retinol Serum and Mositurizer Review

I was recently offered an opportunity to start working with BrandBacker to try out some new products from different companies. Two of the samples I was sent for review were from InstaNatural– Retinol Moisturizer with Vitamin C & Age-Defying Retinol Serum.


I’m a big fan of Retinol treatments, ever since my days with philosophy cosmetics using their Miracle Worker line and Help Me treatment. I have also been looking in to ‘clean’ beauty products and attempting to learn more about the chemicals in products I use, so trying these products from Instanatural was a great first step.

InstaNatural Retinol Moisturizer


Here’s what the brand says about the product:

“InstaNatural’s Retinol Moisturizer contains a robust formula of handpicked ingredients designed to transform older, damaged skin into a healthier and youthful appearance. Retinol is a powerful antioxidant derived from Vitamin A, one of the strongest and most trusted ingredients for anti-aging skin care. Once absorbed, Retinol is converted into Retinoic Acid, which starts working to help restore skin and diminish the appearance of sun damage and signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, hyperpigmentation, rough texture, and more. Vitamin C – another powerful antioxidant – works synergistically to aid in this process of battling early signs of aging, as well as repairing existing damage to promote healthier skin. Simultaneously, Hyaluronic Acid, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter and Green Tea deliver premium nourishment and hydration to keep your skin moisturized. This intensive moisturizing cream is the perfect addition to your regimen to restore and renew firmness, elasticity and thickness of the skin for a flawless and radiant complexion.

Key Ingredients:
+ 2.5% Retinol
+ Vitamin C
+ Hyaluronic Acid
+ Jojoba Oil
+ Shea Butter
+ Green Tea”

The short list of ingredients was a plus for me. The overall consistency of the cream was not too thick and felt nice on the skin. Unfortunately after using the cream and serum, my mom (who I passed these along to after testing them out) reported that they were too harsh on her skin and resulted in a dry and itchy patch. I will be testing these myself again to check for similar results.


InstaNatural Age-Defying Retinol Serum


InstaNatural’s Age-Defying Retinol Serum contains a proprietary blend of antioxidants and nutrients that nourishes your skin while helping it to look younger and healthier. The serum contains Retinol (Vitamin A), which is an antioxidant that protects against free-radical damage that causes your skin to look and feel older. It is highly effective in reversing the appearance of sun damage and signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation and rough texture. Vitamin C works synergistically to aid in this process of repairing and restoring damaged skin, while also stimulating new healthy skin to appear. Meanwhile, Hyaluronic Acid traps moisture in the skin to prevent further loss so you can enjoy a younger looking appearance with firmer, plumper skin.

Key Ingredients:
+ 2.5% Retinol
+ 20% Vitamin C
+ 10% Hyaluronic Acid
+ Plant & Fruit Acids


Once again, I liked the natural ingredient list from this serum. The consistency of the product was a very thin fluid, it doesn’t feel oily or sticky to the touch which is something I look for in a serum. I didn’t notice any adverse reaction of the product on my skin, but my mom experienced discomfort and a bit of a flaky dry patch on her skin after use.

All things considered, the InstaNatural Retinol Moisturizer and InstaNatural Age-Defying Retinol Serum are a bit of a wash. I didn’t have any bad reactions, but mom had a really hard time with the product- despite us both loving the smell, texture and ingredient list.

I love to give credit to budding organic brands, so please go check out InstaNatural for yourself. I have a few other products from the line I was sent to try, and I will be posting those reviews shortly too.

Have you tried out retinol products? Any suggestions for others (maybe less active) I should look in to? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, thank you all for reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

‘starting over, yet again’

So it has been a little quiet around here lately; hasn’t it? Days turned in to weeks, weeks to months, and over a half a year has gone by in darkness on my blog.

You may wonder, ‘Did she call it quits? Was this a phase? Did she burn out?’ All of these, and none of these, are the truth; le sigh.


The truth is, since we last connected, a lot has transposed. New job, new living situation, failures and successes, new friends in, old friends rediscovered and old relationships put to rest, medication, healing, therapy, car accidents, spiritual awakening, weddings and births, meditation, prayer and the greatest trauma I have ever experienced… but that’s a story I’m not yet ready to tell.


For right now, I can tell you I’m living each day with a clear intention:

“There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet.”-ACIM

Doesn’t that sound amazing? I find myself in uncharted water. I have spent the last 25 years of my life in fear, repeating the same chaotic patterns and always wishing I could find a better way. I blocked myself from experiencing miracles, ignored divine guidance and clung to my limiting beliefs of a fearful world I projected as my experience. This was my ‘real world.’


Totally effed up. Totally meaningless. Flailing about in my daily life playing the ‘what-if’ game, succumbing to romantic illusions, and living each day as a puppet to anxiety and fear. I’m so incredibly done with that crap.


(done with that CRAP)

Today, each day I’m doing my best. Happiness is my only function and I believe in my heart there is a way through every block and only love is real. I’m happily engaged in co-creating my life. I’m armed with new ideas, amazingly supportive healers and teachers, a redefined purpose and a thirst for knowledge, happiness and peace. I’m not in a cult, I’m not in a phase. My intention is not to preach, I just feel called to share my story.


Eventually, I will get around to shining some light on the hard stuff. But for now, let’s just focus on the miracles… and let me tell you, there have been A LOT of them. The compounded chaos in my last 25 years has been a great blessing to crack me open and let me see a much easier way of being; my intention is to live in the flow.


Thank you all for spending some time reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Always, Always, Always The Bridesmaid #1

I have had the pleasure of being asked to participate in the bridal party of FOUR weddings in the last few years. One of these nuptial events already took place last year, but I have three coming up to look forward to! I am blessed with some truely awesome friends, and each wedding experience I get to be a part of is a new and exciting learning experience for me about friendship, event planning and of course: love.

I thought it would be fun to write a little series about the upcoming and past wedding celebrations I have been a part of as a bit of a ‘Bridesmaid Diary’ I can look back on, since these are such special and fleeting memories I never want to lose.

That being said, here are some photos from the first wedding I had the pleasure of being a part of: The wedding of Becky Sue Means & Matthew Means! These two tied the knot on May 26, 2013 and have since expanded their brood (which already includes 2 adorable fur babies) and are expecting a bundle of joy arriving in August 2014. 🙂

Here is a photo compilation of my experience in The Means Wedding festivities from start to finish, I can’t believe it has already been almost a year!

Flashback to Becky’s Birthday, right after she got engaged! She’s sporting her new bling and we’re all excited to celebrate. From left to right: Lisa, Myself, Becky & Stephanie

Becky's Bday

Becky's Bday 2

Next item, Engagement Party!

engagement party 2  engagement party

Becky, Lisa and I at the Engagement Party. Lisa and I accidentally matched and inadvertently accidentally both wore the wedding colors… funny how things work out. 🙂

Next up, Bridal Shower! We went with a CANDYLAND theme!

Shower Cake

Candyland 1

Panty Line

Shower Bridesmaids

shower silly

The bridal shower was a huge success and everyone had a great time. A few months later, it was time to get crazy in Vegas for the Bachelorette Party!

bachelorette 2

bachelorette 3


We had a lovely suite at The Venitian and spent time by the pool during the day and went out for dancing and drinks at night. Vegas did Becky right that weekend LOL.

A few short weeks later it was time to get Becky down the aisle and in to wedded bliss. Here are some of the moments from that day…

Hotel 2

Hotel room bridesmaid fun!

Hotel 3

Dressing Becky

Getting Becky dressed…

Hotel Pose

More poses in the room.

Candid Hair

Candid Pose, Great Hair Shot

Check out my cool hair!

Bridesmaids Pre Ceremony

Posing before the processional.

Maid of Honor Walk

Walking in with the Best Man.

Candid Ceremony

Ceremony candid.

Walking In

Walking in the reception hall with the Best Man.

New Mr & Mrs

Greeting the new Mr. & Mrs. to the reception.


My Maid of Honor Speech!


Bouquet Toss: I wanted Lisa to get it!

Boogie 1

Getting our boogie on on the dance floor.

Boogie 2

Boogie 3 

Boogie 4

Bridesmaids Formal

Formal photos with the bridal party.

Formal Pose

MOH Pose MOH Stare

Becky and I having a moment, I love these shots!


Wedding favors


They had Ruby’s cater the food, yum!


The flowers.


Centerpieces and wedding theme.


Becky with the gorgeous cake maker (and my neighbor) Shelly!

Car Pose

Getting the Mr. & Mrs. ready to ride off in to the sunset.

PUG Feature

So much fun! We did the ‘Bridesmaids’ pose and got featured on Pinup Girl Clothing’s Instagram as their PUG Pinup of the Day!

For all those interested, the entire bridal party’s hair was done by Lissette Castaneda, the dress is here from Pinup Girl Clothing and my makeup was done by me. Becky’s makeup was done by the lovely and talented Christina Cofran!

I hope you all enjoyed these photos from the  Means’ Wedding! Like I mentioned before, I have two weddings coming up this summer I have the pleasure to serve in the bridal party of and another wedding next fall I will also be a bridesmaid in, so this is the first post of MANY wedding related blogs. 🙂

Always, always, ALWAYS the bridesmaid (never the bride) but that’s A OK in my book!

Thank you all for spending some time reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

The Wet Brush, the brush that changed my life!

The Wet Brush. It’s here, and it’s going to save your hair!

I have to start out by saying I was a skeptic. I had seen some YouTube beauty gurus talk about this brush, but I don’t trust many of those gals because I KNOW they are usually being sent product for free or are being paid to talk about stuff on their channels.

I was a skeptic because I have a long history of disappointment with hair products claiming the world and not living up to my expectations. I have LONG, blonde, thick, dry, color treated, tangled hair and it is always an ordeal to brush it out after a good washing. That being said, I finally tried out The Wet Brush and it CHANGED MY LIFE!

2014-03-10 15.04.57

I received The Wet Brush in my October PopSugar Must Have Box and didn’t pay much attention to it. Truthfully, the brush had stayed nestled in its original plastic packaging until my boyfriend and I happened upon it while cleaning out my spare bedroom a while back.

He said, “Hey, isn’t that the brush you got in your box?” and picked it up off the dresser. I told him it was and that I hadn’t tried it yet, but my hair was wet at the time so he suggested we try it out.  Let’s be honest here, when I say ‘suggested,’ that’s more of a loose interpretation of what really happened which was more like him grabbing the brush, ripping it out of the packaging and savagely attacking my wet head. LOL!

2014-02-18 23.13.11

(Yup, that’s my head. Long, damaged, bleached hair. My hair is extremely thick, coarse and brittle, making it a nightmare to brush while wet.)

I never let anyone brush my hair for me, but I figured since The Wet Brush makes such hefty claims, I figured I would try it out to its full potential and let him attempt to brush out my wet, tangled locks. At the first pass through, I was astounded. There was no pulling, no ripping and no pain! He continued to run the brush through my hair and the tangles were no match for the magical bristles of The Wet Brush.

2014-02-18 23.24.26

(This is with a few strokes of The Wet Brush, my tangled mane was tamed!)

Needless to say, I was floored. This seemingly innocent little brush packed enough gentle strength to coax out the most stubborn snags painlessly. The Wet Brush is AWESOME and I suggest it enough!

Here’s the specs for The Wet Brush according to their website:

“The Wet Brush, The Best Detangling Brush EVER!”

“• Super soft IntelliFlex™ bristles.
• Detangle hair with ease.
• Works great on wet or dry hair.
• Perfect for men, women & kids.
• For thick, curly or straight hair.
• Great for hair extensions & wigs.”

This product is available online at their website and also in store at some salons, though I have yet to find this product in a shop around me. On their website a standard Wet Brush will set you back $14 and the Pro Paddle Brush I’m after costs $16. The site boasts a variety of styling tools and additional brushes to try including The Squirts (for little hands), The Hot Brush (for heat styling) and they even have specialty brushes for your pooch called The Love Brush! So cute! 🙂

2014-02-18 23.27.27

I think you all knew from the title, but The Wet Brush is a huge STRUT in my book. I love my standard brush and even plan to purchase the larger Pro Paddle Brush in the future.

As always, thank you all for spending some time reading my rambles and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

FTC: I was not paid to write this post. None of these links are affiliate links. I received The Wet Brush in my Popsugar Must Have Box, which I paid for with my own money. When I reached out to compliment the company, The Wet Brush sent me one additional brush for review. All opinions are my own.

Emily & Tony Aromatherapy Massage Candle – Coco

Sometimes I find myself in a bit of a rut with finding new things to write about, so when I was offered the opportunity to try out this  Emily & Tony Aromatherapy Massage Candle in Coco this past month, I jumped at the chance. I mean who doesn’t love scented candles in their life? (Or the chance to coerce their boyfriend in to a back massage!?!)

Emily & Tony’s website describes this candle as such:

“This luxurious soft glowing massage candle sets the mood for an exhilarating sensual experience. Scented in a tantalizing Coco fragrance, which opens with top notes of coconut, with a sexy hint of cedar in the heart of the fragrance. The base is warmed by a delicious vanilla note. This formula is designed to moisturize and nourish the skin for the ultimate sensory experience. Burns up to 50 hours.”

Once again, who wouldn’t LOVE all of the above? I was so excited to receive mine to try!

2014-02-18 23.11.34

When the candle arrived at my doorstep I was floored by the packaging. Honestly, photos don’t give this gorgeous bauble the justice it deserves. If you didn’t already know, I LOVE the color grey. I just always have. The opaque grey hue of the glass on this candle is so pretty, I know I will keep it around long after the candle is all burned out.

2014-02-18 23.11.41

The next thing I immediately noticed by first impression was the scent. The moment I opened the box, I was greeted with the most rich and aromatic coconut fragrance that immediately filled the room with a lovely freshness and warmth. It doesn’t smell too sweet or overpowering, the perfect balance of softness and richness I usually go for in a home fragrance.

Lucky for me, this candle arrived right around Valentine’s Day, so convincing the boyfriend I absolutely needed a back massage to try it out wasn’t too difficult 🙂

2014-02-18 23.21.31

Once burning, the candle’s scent was amplified and filled the room with the gorgeous Coco scent. After just a short few minutes, there was enough melted wax in the candle to test out and I was pleasantly surprised by the texture.

Emily & Tony’s site describe the melted wax’s benefits:

“Beeswax, an intense moisturizer, helps heal damaged skin. Soybean Oil smooths and moisturizes while helping to brighten and even skin tone. Coconut Oil, and excellent hydrator, helps to preserve the skin’s natural moisture.”

I would definitely agree with the claims on this one, the texture of the melted wax is velvety soft and hydrating, without unpleasant stickiness. The infused oils allow the product to glide on skin easily, but the beeswax keeps it from being messy and runny like other, less complex, novelty massage oil candles available.

Once massaged in to the skin, the melted wax made my skin feel supple and moisturized, a feeling that lasted well in to the next day of wear. I only wish I would have done a heavy exfoliation prior to to trying out the product, I think the oils would have given my skin even more hydration benefits if I would have had that foresight. Regardless, this product feels like an absolute dream on the skin.

I have thoroughly enjoyed testing out the product and can honestly say I will be repurchasing this item when the candle has completely burned out. If you’re interested in checking out one of Emily & Tony Aromatherapy Massage Candle’s for yourself, they are available in three scents Coco, Creme de Vanille & Fougere. All three fragrances sound divine and I’m looking forward to checking out the additional scents in the future.


All things considered, the Emily & Tony Aromatherapy Massage Candle in Coco is an absolute STRUT. The scent is heavenly, the texture left my skin hydrated and glowing and the packaging is a lovely addition to my bedside nightstand.

Have you tried out a massage oil candle before? Any suggestions for additional home fragrances I should look in to? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, thank you all for reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips Starter Kit Review

As may of you may know, I’m a bit of a “crazy coupon lady.” So when I come across a GREAT deal, especially on beauty products, I am all over it.

A while back I scored this Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips Starter Kit on one of my coupon runs for an absolute steal. The starter kit normally retails around $30-$40 at drug stores, but my braggable price was under $10. Scorrrrreee.

2014-01-26 18.55.34

(the box for “Shell We Dance,” looks MUCH more pink than actual strips)

Now I need to premise this post with the understanding that I am not a nail geek. Yes, I love it when my nails look feminine and polished, but I tend to spend more of my time on skincare and cosmetics and tend to ignore my claws until I find a moment of serious boredom or I have a special occasion I feel the need to be especially pampered for.

I used to be an acrylic nail FIEND, but my habit was tearing up my poor nails and the process was painful, time-consuming and expensive so I gave up my gorgeous acrylic manicures a few months back in hopes of finding a more affordable and less damaging option.

2014-01-26 18.58.05

(the contents of the package: Gel Strips, Nail Cleansing Pads, Nail Buffer, Gel Top Coat, LED Lamp & Instructions)

So when I was going through some old things the other day I came across these Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Starter Kits and figured I would give them a try. Maybe they would be the easy, lovely and affordable option I had been waiting for!

When I originally purchased the kits, I selected two colors: “Shell We Dance” and “Red My Lips.” The “Shell We Dance” color on the box looked to be a light, shell colored pink for those demure, conservative days while the “Red My Lips” showed a traditional vampy fire-engine red stunner shade.

2014-01-26 19.08.21 (Step 2, before buffing)   2014-01-26 19.09.46 (after Step 3)

I was feeling girly so I reached for “Shell We Dance” to try out the kit  and unfortunately, was disappointed by the misleading color depiction on the box. The color is more of a transparent, skin-colored nude with none of the creamy pink tones I was looking for. I tried out one of the strips, saw how colorless and lackluster it was and decided to abandon the remainder of the strips in the shade and go straight for the big guns with “Red My Lips.”

2014-01-26 19.16.35 (Step 2, right before Step 3)

The instructions to the kit are pretty simple to follow, here’s a paraphrased version of what they say in the package:

#1. Prep: Start with clean, dry nails. Use the provided wooden stick to press back cuticles. Use the provided nail file to buff the nails to a desired shape. Use the provided nail cleanser pad to remove any excess dirt and oil. (This step is extremely important as it helps your manicure last longer.)

#2. Select & Apply Strip: Select best fitting strip for each nail. Remove clear plastic cover and peel strip from backing paper. Place strip against cuticle line and press strip to nail. Use warm hands for maximum flexibility and to help mold the strip to the nail. Gently stretch strip for a perfect fit and firmly smooth over entire nail. Run flat side of cuticle stick along edge of strip to firmly bond strip to nail.

#3. Shape: Smooth excess polish strip over nail edge, forming a crease around the edge of each nail. Gently file away excess from nail edge using provided file. This was the most difficult for me! I have short, broken nails so it was a little difficult to get the strip bent around the edge of all of my nails.

#4. Apply Gel Top Coat: Shake bottle of gel top coat vigorously and apply a thin coat to one nail (completely polish free edge of nail and remove any product from the skin prior to curing) and cure for 30 seconds with Mini LED Lamp. Complete this process before moving on to next nail.

#5. Cleanse & Finish: Once all nails are cured with the gel top coat, wipe all nails with nail cleanser pad to remove tacky residue; manicure is complete.

#6. Removal: Saturate a small piece of cotton the size of your nail with Sally Hansen Nail Polish Remover (do not use an acetone free remover.) Place cotton over gel and wrap tightly with a small square of aluminum foil. Check first nail after 5 minutes; the gel should be lifted up off the nail and easy to push off with the cuticle stick. If necessary re-saturate cotton, re-wrap nail and check every 5 minutes. Gently push off gel with cuticle stick. Do not pull gel away from natural nail plate.

Pretty darn easy sounding RIGHT? Well the start to finish process took me about an hour and a half (including the color change fiasco) so it didn’t exactly save me the time it would take to hit up a nail salon. The color payoff was good with the red and the gel made my nails quite shiny, so I did approve of the final product.

2014-01-26 19.29.31 (freshly painted with gel top coat)

I don’t really know how I would say I 100% feel about this product. I did love that I could do this at home and get virtually the same effect of a gel manicure, but the strips were slightly too narrow for some of my apparently large nail beds so there were places that the red strip wouldn’t reach on application. The flip side of that argument is that the gel strips were EASY clean up and no mess was involved. No sloppy clean up on the skin and cuticles and no need for the anxiety of combating my shaky hands for nail perfection.

I wore these red nails for about a week with minimal chipping, so the resiliency of the product was good, but didn’t live up to the two week wear time boasted on the box. Yes, I am a bit hard on my nails and have been told many a time that my nail beds are a bit oilier than the norm, so that might have had something to do with it and I can’t fault Ms. Sally Hansen for those discrepancies.

2014-02-03 21.35.33 (my nails after 1 full week of wear)

All in all, I think the Sally Hansen Insta-Gel Strips have a place in my regimen, but definitely not as an every day option. They are a bit time consuming to put on, the start up package retail price without a large discount is high, the replacement gel strips without coupons or discounts are a bit steep, but the finished product is lovely for a special event or weekend getaway if you are looking for something as a quick solution.

The good news is, Sally Hansen comes out with great deals and coupons on this product all the time, not to mention they update their selection frequently and phase out older colors so next time I will be STOCKING UP on extra gel strips in fun colors and patterns for the special events coming up all year. With 4 weddings, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, baby showers and MY 25TH BIRTHDAY coming up, I’m sure to make good use out of these babies and save some dough on salon costs in the process.

I was a little so/so on this one, but I’ll give it a STRUT (under the right circumstances!) If you can find this Starter Kit on sale (don’t pay more than 15-20 bucks!) and can find the Gel Strips around 7 bucks, I say these are nice to have on hand for special events when you want a fool-proof, flawless manicure. Just remember, don’t expect more than a week of wear per mani.

Have you tried any at-home gel manicure supplies? Should I try another brand? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, thank you all for reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara Review

IMG_1358Voxbox Badge

This month, I graciously received the #RoseVoxBox from Influenster to try out and review! The box was packed to the brim with samples and goodies, one of which was a very generous FULL SIZED Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara. I love me some big, Bambi lashes, so I took gave it a shot and was flabbergasted by the amazing length this awesome formula packed on to my lashes.


A picture is worth 1,000 words, right?

The beginning, with my stick-straight naked lashes!


Curled my lashes and applied one coat of the Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara:


It’s a start! 🙂 I noticed a bit of length and a nice separation of the lashes. Time for a second curling and coat!


The photo above is my second curl and coat. The lashes stuck together a bit more, but you can notice a LOT more length from the first coat. One more should be perfection


Hello, bright eyes! Three rounds of curling and coating the lashes made a HUGE difference! I look like my usual falsie-wearing self!


A side by side comparison, from now to wow! My lashes look HUGE and FULL, no complaints here!


I also like the wavy curve to the brush. It makes it really easy to reach the inside and outer corners of the lashes so nothing gets missed. I’ve never used a brush like this before, so it was fun to try something new!

Pictures tell no lies! The Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara pumps up the length and fans out the lashes to give a definite retro feel. I usually opt for a voluminous mascara but this one might just have me singing a different tune.

Overall, I would say this mascara experience was a STRUT. The product hit shelves November 2013, so go out and get you some!

Until next time, thank you all for reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole

Sargento Voxbox from Influenster!

I signed up for Influenster a while back and finally qualified for a VoxBox program from Sargento Cheese.

Voxbox Badge

When my Voxbox arrived, I was really excited to tear in to it, as Influenster was teasing the box contents for weeks and mentioned that we would all be receiving some cool goodies from Sargento, along with a ‘mystery cheese accessory.’

sargento box

That was my box, all ready to be opened! I like that they put the Colby-Jack on the front. I always forget there are other kinds of cheese snacks other than the traditional Mozzerella String Cheese.

sargento box contents

Once opened, I saw my coupons, one for a FREE bag of Sargento Cheese Snacks, another for $1 off a bag of Sargento Cheese Snacks, some literature from Sargent and Influenster and finally my surprise cheese accessory: an insulated cheese case for my cheese snacks!

Cheese accessory

It’s so cute and handy! I am going to use it with my Bento Box when I pack lunches and snacks for work 🙂

sargento coupon

I took my free cheese snack coupon to my local Ralphs and picked up some Pepper Jack Cheese Snacks for the fridge in my office. They were so delicious, took the edge off when I had snack cravings over the last week and they only were 90 calories!

pepper jack

Needless to say, they didn’t last long. 🙂

This Sargento VoxBox was so fun to receive from Influenster! I really enjoyed the chance to try out these cheese snacks from Sargento, and I will be using the $1 off coupon to pick up another bag very soon. This VoxBox opportunity was definitely a STRUT.

Are you signed up for Influenster? I still have 3 invitations left, so please feel free to leave your information in the comments and I will invite you to be in Influenster too!

Until next time, thank you all for reading and I hope you’re having an amazing day!

struts, stumbles, hugs & kisses- Nicole