Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year in Rewind: 2013, The Year to Beat!



I don't normally do year rewinds, but this year of my life deserves a look back at. From everything that has changed to everything good that has come into my life, 2013 is definitely the year to beat! I was recently telling friends of mine at a girl's night we had that I can't ever remember being happier than I am, and have been, this year.

Of course all good things start out a little rocky; the beginning of the year was by no means all butterflies, sunshine, and rainbows. I was very depressed, my health was more off than on, and my ex had broken up with me all in the first 3 months.

Then all of a sudden, things changed. Drastically. My health took a turn for the better and I was able to get out and do some new things.

Like karaoke.


BIGGEST fear. Overcome!

And I discovered my love of all things exercise, when my health would cooperate of course. Yoga, hiking, taking long walks around the neighborhood...I also re-discovered my passion for pole fitness.





The beginning of May marked one of my first bloggy events (aside from BlogHer 10 and a movie premier back in 2012) sponsored by the SITS Girls-SITS Mini Bloggy Boot Camp, Chicago edition! I learned quite a lot from these lovely ladies about everything from sponsored posts all the way to SEO. 





While I was feeling good, I also got out to more parties, bars, and double dates and was able to reconnect with some old friends and meet some new ones! I'm very happy and proud to call these people my friends. They're a big part of what made 2013 so special.





The end of May brought Joe. 2013 was also the mark of being out of high school for 5 years so I took it upon myself to throw together somewhat of a quick 'high school reunion' at a local bar.

That's where Joe and I reconnected and a bond was instantly formed.





The beginning of June brought yet another blogging event-Workout in the Park 2013! I thankfully was able to attend with two good friends of mine and it's true what they say; friends make everything better.

I can't wait to go back this year!



I never thought I was going to be able to do it because I pitched until I was blue in the face from the beginning of the year up until the event, but I was able to pull it off and head to BlogHer 2013 in Chicago this year at the end of July!

To say it was an amazing experience would be a true understatement.




November brought my 24th birthday and the best birthday I've had in quite awhile! I was able to celebrate with my mom throughout the morning and afternoon and meet up with all my friends in the evening for some bowling fun and then to the bar afterword.




The best part of the day: I got to see one of my best friends after nearly a year of being stationed away from Illinois and deployed in Afghanistan. My boyfriend and he were in cahoots for nearly 2 months cooking up this big surprise for me and I got it ON my birthday!




After my birthday comes the holiday season-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, all of which I was actually able to enjoy this year! In years prior, I would be sick for one or all of the above, but for the most part I was able to participate and enjoy this year.




All in all, 2013 was my year. I'm definitely sad to see it go but I'm quite excited to see what 2014 has in store for me. If it's anything like this past year, I can't wait!


What was one of your 2013 highlights?





Monday, December 30, 2013

Mailbox Monday(12/30)






Mailbox Monday divulges into the inner workings of my mailbox throughout the week. From books to jewelry to free samples to random magazines and letters-You never know what will be in the mail this week...



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Thanks to my friend Lu of Crocheted Little Things, I apparently won her recent giveaway for a copy of L. Ron Hubbard's book, The Carnival of Death.

I had no idea I won until it came in the mail Christmas Eve!

What a great early present to get :)













This almost freebie was courtesy Freetail Therapy. She put the deal on Facebook and I was lucky enough to snatch it up!

I got $35 worth of credit towards The Sportsman's Guide for a mere $1.58.

This is going towards the boyfriend's birthday gift!











 That Sears Shop Your Way rewards program is pretty darn awesome! Remember that movie I got through points awhile back?

I was able to get another one! Not free this time, but I only paid $1.05.

Can't beat that!










What did YOU receive in the mail this week? 










Friday, December 20, 2013

Heartbreak & Beyond: A Lesson in Life, Love, & True Happiness


Heartbreak is just what it implies. Heart. Breaking. Due to my illness and falling ill at the young age of 14, I never really got to experience what regular teenagers experience; going to school, hanging out with friends, dating, falling in love for the first time. Which is why (aside from one prior very short "learning experience" at the age of 18) I'm a little behind by today's standards.

I experienced my first love when I was 21 years old. We dated for 2 1/2 years and then all of a sudden, just like that, it was done.

All in the blink of an eye, my heart was broken.

I've known friends and heard of people that don't ever get over a heartbreak; it completely shatters them for months to even years at a time. I guess I was different because within a week of knowing it was officially done, I was thriving.

Everything did a complete 180 in regards to my life; I started feeling better, I made new friends and was getting out more, I was exercising everyday and feeling fantastic, I was experiencing new things and finding out what I enjoyed to do. I would wake up in the mornings and instead of dreading another day and not wanting to get up, I would be, dare I say, excited at the possibility of another day and what it might bring.

Two months since the break up happened and I was happier than I had been in a very long time. Then, into my life, walks Joe.




I had known Joe through a mutual friend back in high school, but we only hung out once or twice back then. We weren't really friends; more like mutual friends of the same middle guy, a best friend to both of us. Throughout high school and after I never really thought much about Joe or where he ended up until one night when he showed up to a bar for an impromptu 5 year "class reunion" I was throwing.

Unbeknownst to me at the time I apparently caught his attention because the next thing I knew, we were texting daily and were planning on hanging out within the next week.

Fast forward quite a ways through all the messy, scary bits. Even though I denied him several times through my own fear and longing to keep the sense of freedom the single life brought, Joe set chase.

And man, did Joe chase!

He romanced. He was patient. He was sweet. He was understanding. He wooed.

Until one day 3 months later I realized he Jeti mind tricked me into falling in love with him! Just like that I went from being completely fearful of having my heart broken again to falling in love with someone when I swore I was never going to love again.

The heart wants what the heart wants.




I honestly and truly can say I've never been happier. Not only being with Joe (yes, I finally consented to a committed relationship a mere 3 months and a lot of fear later), but being where I'm at in life. My previous heartbreak and breakup were two of the biggest wake up calls I've had in my life yet; they were life's way of telling me to get out there, take responsibility of my own life, and LIVE!

For those of you, young or old, first time broken-hearted or twelfth time broken-hearted, hopeful or hopeless, fearful or ready to jump into love again, these are my words of advice for you: before you commit yourself to another person, make sure you love and value who YOU are first and foremost.

Regardless of whether you're single, already with someone, or plan on being in a relationship in the future, without knowing who YOU are, what YOUR likes and dislikes are, where YOU want to be in life, or what YOUR goals are, you'll never be able to be your true self with someone else.

Get to know and value YOU first and everything will fall into place.





Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Win It Wednesday(10/18)





Win It Wednesday is a day for showcasing, browsing, entering, and linking up contests-Have a contest that needs a little extra exposure? Feel free to link it up!

NOTE:: Linking up your contests on my Win It Wednesday linky below automatically puts them on my Ongoing Contest Linky.

DOUBLE NOTE:: You only have to submit your contest link ONCE because I manage the ongoing list myself, deleting contests as they expire.


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Win 1 of 20 Cases of 6 Boxes of Various Tolerant Gluten-free Pasta!! 


Ends December 22, 2013


Enter Here









 Win a 1 night stay at a Hampton Inn!!


Ends December 25, 2013


Enter Here







 
Win 1 of 3 Nourishing Organic Season's Greening Prize Packages!!

Ends December 31, 2013

 
Enter Here






















Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Need a Boost? Airborne Immune Support Review


Disclaimer: I was provided a product from Airborne through Smiley360.com in order to facilitate this review on The Eclectic Element. All opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated. Please do your own research before committing to buy a product or service as your opinions may vary.





Christmas is a week and a day away as of today, which means we are well into the thick of Winter and everything Winter brings with it; snow and ice, cold temperatures (especially this year it seems), and of course colds, flus, and everything else that works to make a person feel miserable!

Unfortunately I've fallen victim to something that cannot be identified. I don't feel sick in the traditional achy sense, but I'm definitely fighting off something! Sore throat, congestion, a nasty cough that doesn't want to let up...

Thankfully there are certain things we bring out to help combat the icky: drinking lots of liquids (water, water, orange juice, water), getting plenty of sleep, eating clean, and of course Airborne!


About Airborne:

"There may be no job more challenging to the immune system than teaching. Imagine a room full of unhappy kids. But one inventive teacher took it upon herself to find a solution that would support her immune system. She worked in collaboration with nutrition experts and herbalists to formulate a remarkable immune support supplement. Her ingenuity eventually led to Airborne® products and what started as a one-off solution is now the go-to brand for immune support across the country."


Packed with a unique blend of 13 vitamins, minerals, herbs and a lot of vitamin C, Airborne is a perfect way to support your immune system! While my family and I are use to their Airborne effervescence tablets, I didn't realize you can also purchase Airborne in many other different forms, including gummies for both adult and children, chewable tablets, lozenges, plus energy (mix with water), hot soothing (tea form), and on-the-go (also mix with water).




Not only does Airborne produce several different forms of products for every type of person, each product comes with different refreshing flavors! It just depends on what product you prefer; for example the effervescence tablets come in 4 flavors-Zesty Orange, Very Berry, Lemon Lime, and Pink Grapefruit-whereas the lozenges only come in Berry.

For this particular review I was sent a 10 count tube of their Zesty Orange citrus flavored effervescence tablets. My family and I are very familiar with this product and swear by it to help aid our immune systems whenever we feel a cold or flu coming on!

Ironically I had just started feeling a little off with whatever I caught when this arrived through the mail. Can you say perfect timing or what!?




I was never really the biggest fan of the effervescence tablets from Airborne but over the years I've grown to like and enjoy the taste of them whenever I need that little extra boost. The only thing that I still have issues with is their texture; when mixed with water, the tablet has a little bit of a gritty texture. 

Other then the texture, these tablets are perfectly easy to take, have a refreshing flavor, and are actually good for you unlike some of the "immune boosters" on the market these days that advertise being healthy but have too many additives that ultimately work to defeat their intended purpose!

Now that I know Airborne comes in other forms, I'm eager to try them ALL out! Especially those gummies :)


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Whether you've tried Airborne before or are new to the immune support supplement, everyone can use a coupon to try it out! 

Click Here to enjoy $1.00 Airborne products while supplies last.




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Monday, December 16, 2013

Music Moves Me Monday(12/16)


Welcome to Music Moves Me Monday 171st week!

This meme is hosted by a group of seriously fantastic people-Dolly of XmasDolly, Stacie of Stacie Uncorked, Callie of JAmericanSpice, and of course we can't forget Cathy of Cathy Kennedy's Blog!

Also, a BIG thank you to this month's co-conductor....Naila Moon!

 
Here are the rules if you wanted to participate::

First step: Run over to Youtube, (or wherever), and lock and load! Get your pick for the theme of the week.

Second Step: Grab our "Monday's Music Moves Me" button::


Photobucket


Third step: SIGN THE LINKY - Dance (follow) your host/hostesses, and grab their buttons.

Final step: Start lookin' for a partner and boogie on down to her blog, and say hello, and tag (follow) her/him, and leave a nice comment. If you've been tagged (followed) be hip, and get on over there, and tag (follow) her back and leave a comment.

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Another Christmas choice for this week's 4Ms and it's not Christmas without a little diddly from Mr. Buble and his dreamy voice!

Enjoy :)




 Michael Buble--Cold December Night

If you're viewing this post through email, you can view the video Here.







Don't forget to link up your musical 
choices for this week!







Have a musical week everyone! 











Mailbox Monday(12/16)






Mailbox Monday divulges into the inner workings of my mailbox throughout the week. From books to jewelry to free samples to random magazines and letters-You never know what will be in the mail this week...



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You gotta love Black Friday!

Thanks to their Black Friday deal, I got a whole Nature Box box of goodies for less than $2.00.

Now to just enjoy the healthy all-natural goodness!







 






 I wasn't going to order Christmas cards this year but when my mom brought home a $20 gift voucher from Target, I had to use it!

Now to just sit down to send these babies out...












What did YOU receive in the mail this week? 










Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gourmet Almondina Cookie Review & Giveaway



Disclaimer: I received a product from Almondina.com in order to facilitate this honest review on The Eclectic Element. All thoughts and opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated. Please do your own research before committing to buy a product or service as your opinions may vary.
 



When it comes to food, we have a love-hate relationship. I big-puffy-heart IT, but sometimes it does not big-puffy-heart me, especially when it comes to some of the nasty reactions I have to some foods in particular.

This is exactly why I've tried changing my diet to include more natural and organic items and I really hate to admit it, but I've fallen WAY off the bandwagon and have been eating not so healthy things lately.

So you can imagine when introduced to foods that are all natural and healthier for you, I jump at the opportunity. Especially when they're of the sweeter variety *winkwink*

Which leads me to introduce to you Almondina, the all natural indulgently tasty gourmet cookie!

A little about the Almondina Brand:

"Yuval Zaliouk was a world renown musical conductor and for the past two decades has been the owner of Almondina. Almondina are unique-a gourmet cookie, health food, and snack, all in one! These extraordinary gourmet treats are created from Yuval Zaliouk's secret family recipe which has been passed down from generation to generation and was first introduced to the market in 1989."

Pair with anything from coffee and tea to soft cheeses and fine, light wines, these delicious and healthy crispy and crunchy cookies can be found in stores such as Fairway, Giant Eagle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and many others around the country!




Almondina cookies are known as 'The Delicious Cookie Without the Guilt'; all natural, no cholesterol, and no added fat, salt, or preservatives, kosher and Pareve (non-dairy), and each serving of these cookies consists of 30 grams (4 cookies equals one serving).

You can find these cookies in many different flavors; 10 flavors to be exact-Original, Chocolate Cherry, Coconut, Cinnaroma, Gingerspice, AlmonDuo, AnniversaryT, BranTreats, Sesame, Seasonal Pumpkin Spice, with 3 new products in the mix-Chocolate Dipped, Delights-The Original, and Yogurt Dipped!

For this particular review I was sent their whole line of gourmet cookies from the Original flavor right down to the Seasonal Pumpkin Spice! It was quite a feat taste testing them all and figuring out which one my favorite was; while the original was a little too plain for me and there was one or two flavors I could live without, I did discover two that I found to leave my taste buds wanting more, one of which was a complete surprise to me.

The Gingerspice and the Chocolate Cherry of all things! If you know me, you'll know that I hate anything cherry flavored, so go figure their Chocolate Cherry gourmet cookies would be one of my favorites.

What I loved most about these cookies (aside from their all natural healthiness) is the fact they're so versatile! I enjoyed mine with a warm cup of camomile tea, but like the Almondina website boasts, you can enjoy these with wine, cheese, jams and jellies...The sky's the limit!


Connect:






{The Giveaway} 


1 lucky winner will get the same package of 
Almondina Cookies that I received!




{The Rules}


1. You MUST use the name and email you want to be contacted with in the Rafflecopter.

 2. NEW RULE--You MUST leave a 1 to 3 sentence comment on my post in order to be eligible for the giveaway. Short, one to two word answers will be deleted from the post and entries associated will be deleted from the giveaway.

3. Contest will run from Saturday, December 14th, 2013 to Saturday, December 28th, 2013.

4. Open to individuals 18 years or older.

5. Open to US residents only--Sorry everyone else!





a Rafflecopter giveaway






That's 2 mandatory entries + 40 possible extra entries which = 42 entries total!

 
 
Good Luck!







Thursday, December 12, 2013

Health Update Thursday(12/12)


It's been pretty crazy here lately with all the running around, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, etc etc etc. On top of that, I'm still doing pretty decent so I'm trying to take advantage of the "healthy" while I can; in between the non-healthy bouts of course!

Currently in the continuing health saga of moi, I've been fighting some sort of....something that just does not want to go away! It came with a nasty cough, sore throat, and a pressure in the head (not quite a headache) and has been here for going on a week and a half. The good news is I'm still up and moving-the bad news is, aside from the fact it doesn't want to subside, it's bringing all sorts of interesting and unwelcome side effects.

Last night while watching a movie with the bf, all of a sudden I turned to him and let him know I wanted to puke. Not. Fun. I was sick all night and I'm still a little queasy which can be due to the drainage I've been experiencing, the doughnuts I ate yesterday, or a bunch of other things. 

That's the part about being sick I hate the most: you never know what causes something. It can be one thing, two things, or multiple things and there's never any way of truly knowing.

I'm also trying to keep up with everything (blogging, email, business, etc), so the stress of that may or may not be contributing to things. I know it's caused me a few sleepless nights which isn't good for my body in its current state.

Ah, that tricky, elusive life balance I'm still trying to master....

Anyway, to sum things up: I'm still hanging in there and doing my best to keep hanging in there!










Monday, December 9, 2013

CorsetChick.com Black Burlesque Corset Review



Disclaimer: I received a product from CorsetChick.com in order to facilitate this honest review on The Eclectic Element. All thoughts and opinions expressed below are 100% mine and mine alone unless otherwise stated. Please do your own research before committing to buy a product or service as your opinions may vary.




Ever since meeting my friend Treacle, a.k.a. Cora of The Lingerie Addict back at the 2010 BlogHer in New York, I've been a wee bit obsessed with lingerie. I never really considered myself a lingerie person until I started reading her blog which is all about helping woman become empowered through embracing their feminine and sexual nature and just dressing for YOU.

Since then I've come to own a few pieces of lingerie and I'm proud to say the newest edition to the collection is a gorgeous black and pink corset from CorsetChick.com!

A little about CorsetChick.com:

"CorsetChick headquarters is located in sunny south Florida and they are proud to be the largest retailer of corsets. From leather corsets, steel boned corsets, bridal corsets, all the way to under-bust corsets and plus size corsets, they are obsessed with corsets! Complete with a side of other lingerie and related items, CorsetChick is the place to go to fit all your corset needs!"


For this particular review I was sent the Black Burlesque with Pink Stripes Corset which retails for $29.99 but can be found on the CorsetChick's website for $18.00.




Thanks again to my friend Ashley of A Woman and a Camera Photography, I was able to get this beautiful corset the exposure it needs with a fun and sexy photo shoot!



The Corset:

My breath was definitely taken away when I opened the package and took out this gorgeous piece of lingerie! When a corset can both be extremely feminine with bows, ruffles, and lacy detail while still providing a sexy air about it with its black satin base, that's when you know you've got a winner.

I will admit usually when you come across a corset that's this inexpensive, 'cheaply made' immediately pops into your head but that's most definitely NOT the case with this beauty! I thoroughly tested this corset out a few times and had absolutely no mishaps with anything. I was especially worried about the zipper after I've heard horror stories but the zipper held up wonderfully the several times I got in and out of the piece.

The only downside that I could find with the corset itself was it didn't really give the sisters the 'push up' they  needed to not look sunk in when it came to the bust, which I've gathered is common with some corsets. In the end I wound up using balled up socks to get myself a little lift which worked pretty well!




Comfort

Firstly, I will say for a costume piece, this corset was unbelievably quite comfortable! You wouldn't think the words 'comfort' and 'corset' would go hand-in-hand but in this instance, they do. I was super nervous when I initially went to try this piece out because it looked small and the zipper got stuck, but worry not, after a little maneuvering it zipped all the way up and Fit. Like. A. Glove!

Seriously, it's like this corset was made for me.

The photo shoot lasted for at least an hour to an hour and a half and I was in the corset for a good 2 hours. Sitting, standing, laying down, walking--I was comfortable the whole time! Of course there was a little stiffness as is common with such a tight fitting garment but that didn't bother me.

Again, the one downside: I was worried about a full on wardrobe malfunction the whole time. While this is a beautiful costume corset, I would be worried about wearing it out and about just for the fact I would always be planning my moves ahead of time for fear of a potential E.D.O.B (Embarrassing Display Of Boob) indecent.




Overall Thoughts

Considering everything, overall I would most definitely recommend this corset to anyone who is looking, lingerie novice all the way up to lingerie expert alike. For the inexpensive price tag, you're not only getting a quality garment, you're getting an extremely comfortable feminine-yet-sexy piece that you can wear to spice up the boudoir or out for a night on the town if you're not worried about an E.D.O.B incident.

As for CorsetChick.com, I'm extremely impressed with the selection they offer as well as the price they offer and, if going by the corset I received, the quality you get for what you pay. Let's just say this lingerie newbie will definitely be scoping out their vast selection in the future again when I have some extra money to spend! 


Connect:





If you would like to see more of my photo shoot with the Black Burlesque with Pink Ribbon Corset, you can check out A Woman and a Camera's Facebook album, Oh La La!







I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



Music Moves Me Monday(12/9)


Welcome to Music Moves Me Monday 170th week!

This meme is hosted by a group of seriously fantastic people-Dolly of XmasDolly, Stacie of Stacie Uncorked, Callie of JAmericanSpice, and of course we can't forget Cathy of Cathy Kennedy's Blog!

Also, a BIG thank you to this month's co-conductor....Naila Moon!

 
Here are the rules if you wanted to participate::

First step: Run over to Youtube, (or wherever), and lock and load! Get your pick for the theme of the week.

Second Step: Grab our "Monday's Music Moves Me" button::


Photobucket


Third step: SIGN THE LINKY - Dance (follow) your host/hostesses, and grab their buttons.

Final step: Start lookin' for a partner and boogie on down to her blog, and say hello, and tag (follow) her/him, and leave a nice comment. If you've been tagged (followed) be hip, and get on over there, and tag (follow) her back and leave a comment.

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Now through Christmas the theme for Music Moves Me Mondays are, of course, Christmas and holiday songs! 

We'll start you off today with my all time favorite Christmas song.

Enjoy!




 Gayla Peevey--I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas


If you're viewing this post through email, you can view the video Here.







Don't forget to link up your musical 
choices for this week!







Have a musical week everyone! 











Mailbox Monday(12/9)






Mailbox Monday divulges into the inner workings of my mailbox throughout the week. From books to jewelry to free samples to random magazines and letters-You never know what will be in the mail this week...



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Since I'm an early gifter, I can show you what I got boyfriend this year for Christmas! 
 
I figured he could use his presents now, so I might as well gift them early for maximum usage. Part 1: An American Rag Thermal shirt from Macy's. 
 
He really liked this when a friend of ours bought one so I was sneaky and ordered it on Cyber Monday ;)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
My boyfriend is a hopeless nerd, which meshes quite well with my hopeless geeky self, and which also brings us to part 2 of his present: Pokemon X, the newest Pokemon game on the market. 
 
I got quite the excited 'thankyouthankyouthankyou!' on this one!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Of course there were quite a few other presents that arrived in the mail this week but because certain people read my blog, I cannot divulge just yet what they were. 

Ahhhh, Christmas time, the time of secret keeping. LOL
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Thanks again to Smiley360.com, I was gifted some Airborne for their newest mission. 
 
Let me tell you...could not have come at a better time since I've been hacking up a lung for the past week! 
 
Make sure to look for that review later this week. 















What did YOU receive in the mail this week?