Saturday, December 31, 2016

Most Liked Instagrams



Wow I was really surprised by this list, expected to see some others make the top 9 list. I've really worked on my aesthetic for photography an amped up my fashion style. This list includes some of my favorite looks.

1.  Halloween I love that my most liked photo is from my favorite holiday. Last summer my guy friends took me to a movie I hadn't even heard of - Suicide Squad so I sat down and had no expectations. Never would have guessed that would be my costume inspiration and the most popular costume this year - Harley Quinn, comic book villain.  I didn't like the pre-made costumes from popular stores so I bought everything individually off ebay from sellers in Asia. Even got the blue and pink hair tips to complete the costume.

2. Pumpkin Patch visit A group of local bloggers rented a bus and spent the day at a pumpkin patch and winery. Fun day!

3. Great Gatsby Party Another fun dress up event held on the grass of the National Cathedral was like stepping back in time returning to the era of flapper dresses and music of the 1920s with the Prosecco flowing. There was a live band, lawn games, prohibition cocktails, and people doing their best swing dancing.

4. New York City trip

5. Canoeing in Georgetown

6. Winery Visit and Apple Orchard

7. & 8. How to Wear Distressed Jeans

9. I've been to Starbucks exactly 4 times this year. I loved their summer refreshers and when I heard about the off the menu pink drink, had to try that too.

You can see my most popular blog posts of 2016 here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Most Popular Posts of 2016


I've rounded up my 12 most popular posts of the year. I went through my stats to see which posts had the most clicks and brought the most eyes to my blog. Here's what people came here to see most this year! I always think it's fun and interesting to see what makes this list. One of my blogging goals for myself this year was to increase my readership and I'm happy to report I have. If you enjoy reading my blog make sure you follow me (and all your other favorite blogs) on bloglovin where you get a daily email in your inbox with a round up of new posts.

My number one read post this year was 6 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home. This is a great post to read if you've set tidying up your home as a News Years Resolution for yourself. It's based on tips I learned from Marie Kondo's second book "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up"

Fashion Posts
I jumped on the Capsule Wardrobe challenge with my Fall Capsule Wardrobe which came in very handy for me and made getting dressed easier in the morning.

 How to Wear Distressed Jeans


Beauty Posts
Skincare and makeup are really important to me and I shared some of my favorites. The first post is one of top viewed post of all time! I was really amazed at the alarmingly high numbers of views! This was my favorite post that I wrote this year.
Do you want to transform your skin?


February Beauty Favorites



Bronze Summer Glow

Must Haves for Healthy Blonde Hair





Yellow Salad

Need some movies to watch over the holidays - check out - What's New on Netflix


Great Gatsby Party - This was a fun dress up party!


DIY tips for clearing a clogged drain







Christmas in Cancun

I'd love to know from you  what was your favorite post from The Blondissima this year?




Related posts:
2013 Year In Review
2014 Year in Review
2015 Year In Review




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

5 Things to Toss before 2017


As you're setting New Years Resolutions for yourself, make sure one of those is to declutter your home. It will help you destress having a clean environment to come home to.  Here's a list of some things you should consider tossing from your home.

1. Paper
I have stacks of paper sitting around, I'm sure you do too. I keep all my receipts to check against my credit card bill, old paperwork, junk mail. The magazines I subscribe to but don't have time to read. After I cut them up for my vision board, I will be tossing all the ones I've saved this year.



2. Old Electronics
I still have boxes of old CDs that I never listen to. Cell phone covers I'm over and old chargers. Do you save these unnecessarily like me? I have a closet full of every computer I've ever owned, yes it's true. They're out of sight but they are taking up precious space. I've started to take the hard drives out after watching multiple youtube videos on how to open the box. The front desktop is my new computer that I've had for a month but can't use due to my internet not working. These are all Dell computers and it's interesting how they get smaller every 8 years or so that I've upgraded. And every new monitor gets wider and lighter.



3. Clothing
If you have clothes you haven't worn this year, chances are you aren't going to wear them again and it's time to say goodbye. It's time to clean out your closet and get rid of the things you never wear like things you don't feel confident in. If it still has a tag on it, you know it's never going to work out. Still keep all your old sneakers and Uggs? I think your feet will thank you if you tossed them. Zappos will take your old sneakers and donate them. Are there items you've been meaning to donate? For me my old clubbing dresses and special occasion dresses. You can either donate in one of those charity boxes around town or sell them to a thrift store, I use an online one Tradesy.

I started using Tradesy in June and have had really good luck with it selling about one item a month.
It's super easy and way less stressful then selling on ebay. The way it works is you get an email when something sells and you confirm if you still want to sell it. Tradesy's commission rate is 14.9%. You can use your funds to buy stuff from their website or withdraw it from your paypal account for a 2.9% transfer fee. You have the option of using Tradesy's shipping kit for $10 which the seller pays for. After your sale is confirmed, Tradesy mails you a polybag and a pre-printed mailing label with tracking. Listing is free and your listing remains up indefinitely.

Seems like I change up my jewelry style every year. Now is a good time to get of your broken, piece missing, and costume pieces you have no plans to wear again. You can also sell them on Tradesy.

4. Drinking Mugs
I'm always buying cute mugs but don't have space for all of them in my cabinets. I keep them all because I think what if one day I might have a tea party or hot chocolate bar. lol I think it's time I admit that won't be happening and I should get rid of my collection and donate it to Goodwill. I can always buy more. lol Here's my latest acquisition - reindeer mugs. I realized I had a void in the holiday drinkware department. But these have a narrow opening so I can't get in as many marshmallows as I would like so I'll need to upgrade again next year. lol


5. Clean out your Bathroom Cabinets
Do you subscribe to various beauty boxes and have samples you've never used? Do you stockpile the samples that come with your Sephora orders? Do you have a bunch of facial masks you started but never emptied the container? Have you stocked up on every shampoo out there? Your bathroom shouldn’t be filled with a bunch of random half-used beauty products. Just imagine how much more space you'll have once you clear out the bottles you won't use?!



Related Posts:
Folding Clothes Vertically
6 Easy Ways to Declutter Your Home
Reorganizing My Kitchen and Taming Clutter
An Organized Entry
Nail Polish Organization


Monday, December 19, 2016

7 Charities to Give Back to This Season


The Christmas season brings about a lot of consumerism and I think it's important we also think about the spiritual meaning of the season and give to others in need as well. I think it will bring you a sense of fulfillment to do good for others. Charities say they get the majority of their donations towards the end of the year. This is the true spirit of Christmas, it's about more than gifts.

I recently read an article called Stop donating canned goods to the food bank which had some interesting arguments I hadn't thought of, but I think one size doesn't fit all for all food banks. It says that food banks get a lot of expired and random food items and that they would prefer cash so they can purchase food in bulk at discounted prices. Maybe food banks could be more specific in what types of food they need most, like things that can make an actual meal instead of pistachio pudding.

I've researched the charities I've donated to by looking them up at CharityNavigator.org which ensures that the bulk of individual donations goes to programming or meeting a specific need of the donor's choice. Check with your employer to see if they match your charitable donations, my previous employer did.  There's so many charities out there so I hope you give to a charity that supports a cause you feel strongly about.  For me I feel that the worst humanitarian emergency of our time is in Aleppo, Syria. The civil war has been waging for 4 years now and over 10 million refugees have fled the country. It's hard for me to watch the coverage on the news every night. Did you know Syria has winter? It's 40 degree there right now (30F at night) while they're fleeing their homes and living in tents. Last Wednesday the Eiffel Tower went dark in solidarity with the people of Aleppo. This article shows where all the Syrian refugees have gone in the USA. The first charity I gave to is a local one, but the rest all support Syrian refugees as well as other causes.

Wreaths Across America
Each December their mission is to remember and honor our veterans by laying wreaths on the graves of our country's fallen heroes. You can participate at Arlington National Cemetery by laying a wreath on graves as well as over 1000 other locations all over the US. If you can't participate, you can donate money for a wreath - $15. A couple weeks ago they said hadn't raised enough money to put wreaths on all the graves. From the article, "Three years ago, Hanson was placing a wreath for a special request in a section that had not been covered when he ran into a father visiting the cemetery who asked Hanson, "What about my son?" "I said to myself, 'How many other people come to Arlington and see these thousands and thousands of wreaths and there's not one on their loved one's marker?'"

This is not a government agency.  Last Saturday they had over 44,000 volunteers in the freezing rain and lay 245,000 wreaths. 30 trucks brought in wreaths from Maine. Volunteers had to walk up to 40 minutes to the back of the cemetery just to find an empty grave to lay a wreath on. You can also volunteer with the clean up in January, a date hasn't been set yet.


Save the Children
Save the Children invests in children around the world. On their website you can sponsor a child or shop their catalog to purchase for example a goat which provide protein-rich dairy to satisfy hungry children. The charity also provides emergency food for Syrian children, and supports education in Syrian refugee camps among other things.

Shelterbox
They provide emergency shelter and vital supplies to support communities around the world overwhelmed by disaster and humanitarian crisis including survivors of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the earthquake in Nepal, the typhoon in the Philippines, and tornadoes in Oklahoma.

"ShelterBox has been providing emergency shelter and supplies to families affected by the Syrian crisis in Iraq Kurdistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria When the water pumping station at Al-Khafsah in Aleppo failed, cutting off water supply to the city, panic and chaos ensued, with people resorting to drinking from puddles in the streets. Hospitals and schools were also attacked, with at least nine medical facilities bombed in Aleppo and Idlib during July 2016. ShelterKits contain a variety of essential items such as jerry cans, mattresses, tarps, solar lights, mosquito nets, kitchen sets, and water purification equipment"


American Refugee Committee
"In Syria, we remain committed to the most marginalized in society who have lost everything, but who are trying so valiantly to regain control of their lives. Since 2013, ARC has provided water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in collective shelters, protection support for women and girls facing violence, and distribution of much-needed emergency items for people who have fled their homes but are still inside Syria."

"The humanitarian response to the Syrian crisis has been operating half empty for years. There has simply not been enough funding. The aid community has called for increased food aid – their pleas went unanswered and Syrian families went hungry. What we’ve seen in the past year is Syrians reaching their tipping point. They’re giving up hope – they will no longer stand by as their children starve. We have simply not done enough to help the people who are looking to save their lives, who are trying to grasp the last shreds of hope for peace."


International Medical Corps
IMC has administered programs on Women and Children’s Health in over 70 countries including the health of pregnant women. They offer mental health programs in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Turkey, Libya, Yemen, Chad, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Japan, the Philippines, Liberia and Nepal.  IMC helps run a service center for Syrian refugees in the Turkish city of Gaziantep that provides medical care, classes and job training. The IMC said they hasn’t seen any increase in donations to their Syria response efforts, but their “work to help those affected by the conflict continues and is more critical than ever.”

"International Medical Corps began operating in Syria in 2007 to support Iraqi refugees who resettled in Damascus during the Iraq war. Since then, we have established ourselves as a key player in the health sector in Syria with strong technical capacity in primary health care, mental health and psychosocial support services, and related humanitarian assistance programs. We have continued to support Iraqi refugees and vulnerable host populations with a range of critical health services, including maternal and child health, mental health, psychosocial support, and gender-based violence prevention and response."

"Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria, International Medical Corps has expanded our services to address the critical needs of affected Syrians both inside Damascus and in bordering countries where refugees are seeking shelter and humanitarian resources. We operate mobile medical services and support health care facilities in and around Damascus, providing primary health care, mental health care and psychosocial support, and distributing critical supplies. In addition, International Medical Corps has scaled up our Syria refugee responses services in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq."


Medical Teams International
"Medical Teams International focuses on health and dental care for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Their volunteers monitor chronic disease patients in their homes and provide families and communities with vital information on chronic disease recognition, management and disease prevention. Violence has forced millions from their homes in Syria. In a war that's taken countless lives, traumatized refugees are in desperate need of medical care and support. Medical Teams International works in the Middle East, primarily providing care for Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon settlement camps or traveling through Greece. We are also sending volunteers to serve refugees in Serbia."


International Rescue Committee
"The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.  In the United States: The IRC has 29 offices across the country and has resettled 270 of the 1,541 Syrian refugees who have been accepted into the U.S. We provide immediate aid to refugees, including food and shelter, as well as access to the tools of self-reliance: housing, job placement and employment skills, clothing, medical attention, education, English-language classes and community orientation.

More than 3,000 IRC aid workers and local volunteers operating inside Syria and in four neighboring countries have reached over 3.3 million Syrians fleeing violence with emergency relief and long-term support. We're focusing on health care, protection of vulnerable women and children, education, and economic recovery."

Aleppo




Friday, December 16, 2016

Best Mystery Books of 2016


I'm addicted to Dateline, it's the real life version of crime shows on TV. It has some of the most intriguing real life stories about murder, that leave you guessing throughout the show "who did it?"  It comes on every Friday and Saturday night on NBC and is either one or two hours long. When there's an update to a story, they re-air it with the update and fans discuss it on their facebook page. If you have an appetite for real life investigation and intrigue, then you should watch it as I've enjoyed watching it for years. It's also very informative about dangerous liaisons as it shows how a non-criminal, hard-working person can just snap one day to everyone's surprise, and sometimes even get away with it. On that same note, I've gotten into reading mystery books, here are my favorite thrillers of the year. If you have a long car ride for Christmas, download the audio version of one of these books. These books are great escapes!

Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware; 340 pages, 2016
This is one of the best books I've read this year! I read this NY Times best seller in just 3 days. It was such an easy book to start as you are drawn in immediately.  The story follows Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only 10 cabins. On the ship Lo witnessed a woman being thrown overboard. The only problem is that when she brings this to the attention of the ship's security, all the passengers and staff remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened. The mystery kept me going thinking who done it? This thriller has lots of twists and turns with an unexpected ending, you won't be able to put it down.

Harlen Coben - Fool Me Once; 387 pages, 2016 
This NY Times bestselling author has written 30 books and is a master pageturner. Retired helicopter pilot Maya returns home after a tragic ending to her service in Iraq. Then sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. This twisty, multi-layered storyline will have you guessing who can it be on the camera, is it real, or who set this up? Lots of deep secrets and deceit will come out to play.
 He's working with Julia Roberts to possibly make a movie out of it.
Harlan Coben - Home; 400 pages, 2016
Coben published two books this year and since I loved "Fool Me Once" as soon as I heard he had a new book out I rushed to the library to get it. This book was a little harder to read as there were so many characters to keep up with and they all had weird spelled names. The story is about two boys kidnapped a decade ago from wealthy families. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For ten years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for ten years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken, is it really him? The book features repeat characters for the author (Myron and Win) but it's still a stand alone book. I learned something very interesting from the book, that food produce stickers are edible. lol




The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon, #16)
by Daniel Silva; 528 pages, 2016
I saw the author on the Today show and he said his book was written before the Paris terrorist attack last year yet had very eerily similarities.  He's written 15 books about the main character Gabriel Allon, but this is a stand alone story you can read without reading the others. I skipped over the parts where the author wrote veiled insults about our current President. This book reminds me of my love for the show Homeland.

Gabriel Allon, the art restorer, spy, and assassin, is poised to become the chief of Israel's secret intelligence service. But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again. 


They call him Saladin, a terrorist mastermind whose ambition is as grandiose as his nom de guerre, a man so elusive that even his nationality is not known. Shielded by sophisticated encryption software, his network communicates in total secrecy, leaving the West blind to his planning -- and leaving Gabriel no choice but to insert an agent into the most dangerous terror group the world has ever known. She is an extraordinary young doctor, as brave as she is beautiful. At Gabriel's behest, she will pose as an ISIS recruit in waiting, a ticking time bomb -- a black widow out for blood.



Related Posts: 
Mystery books you can't put down
A good mystery author

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Favorite Christmas Activities



Last weekend I did two of my favorite Christmas activities: Zoolights and Santarchy.

Zoolights - For the month of December the National Zoo transforms the zoo into a winter wonderland with a festive Christmas light show set to music. Seeing all those lights gives you a the sense of the Christmas season and just lights up your heart. It's free and was a great way to spend time with friends after going to happy hour at a local Lebanese restaurant. It's the perfect way to spend a winter evening in December.








Santarchy - This event is held in cities around the country and it's my 5th time going! Expect to see hundreds of people in Christmasy costumes walking the Mall, making merry, handing out candy and singing carols. Afterwards we end the day at a bar. Lots of people wear Santa suits but you don't have to! I've gone as Mrs Claus, elves, and an ugly Christmas sweater. This year I went as a reindeer in a DIY costume and did my own makeup.







  Per usual, the banana invasion runs into us! They are anti Christmas and sing that song from Family Guy "It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time". they're a lot of fun!


 White House Christmas Tree






 Santa's boombox over his shoulder played Christmas tunes as we walked around.




Monday, December 12, 2016

How to Wear Over the Knee Boots




The trend started a few years ago but it's still going strong. If you asked me last year if I ever thought I would try it the answer would have been a resounding no. Soft Suede is the fabric of the season and makes the colors on shoes look so lush. The great thing about over-the-knee boots is your legs will be warmer in the colder months. Let’s talk about cold weather fashion since it seems like we’re going to have a brutal winter this year. While the weather is no fun, on the bright side you get to wear different looks for each season so fashion gets to be fun!

I bought the Nine West Tiberia boots over the Thanksgiving weekend when they were only $100. It takes a bit to pull on, but I like how the back is elastic so the boots don't slouch much. I went with a heel height I could manage for daily wear, what look like flats are actually a hidden wedge inside. And with the tall length and suede fabric, it still looks very stylish.

I'm 5'6 and the boots hit right about the knee and created a lean leg line on my curvy shape. These boots can be worn to the office as well. I think over-the-knee boots will make a statement and make your winter look amazing in these chic shoes!

 US Magazine said, "The boot style has enjoyed a resurrection lately thanks to Stuart Weitzman's "Highland"and "Lowland" boots, which have become a celeb street style staple over the last two years. As it turns out, the inspiration came from an unexpected muse: Julia Roberts’ 1990 movie Pretty Woman. ” 

Those boots retail for $900, so I've  provided options under $200. My outfit also includes some of my favorites from the LOFT.





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