There are so many products that claim to change your life, its hard to figure out which ones actually will without spending all your money. Don’t worry though- I’ve spent all my money on them so you don’t have to!

Here are my top gimmicky products that I have actually bought and loved, and I think are worth purchasing. Let me know your fave product like this!

Beachwaver Pro

Beachwaver Pro

I’m starting with the best, because I am hopelessly addicted to my Beachwaver. I actually got hooked when my mom bought one, but figured out pretty quickly her hair was too short to use it. Since then, I’ve basically turned into an infomercial for this product. (not sponsored, unfortunately. just obsessed)

If you’ve never heard of the Beachwaver, here’s the deal: You clip your hair in it like a normal curling iron and push a button, and it winds your hair around the wand for you. Leave it for a few seconds, release the clamp, and viola! Perfect curls that last for days. Theres a button for the left side of your head and one for the right, so the only real trick here is making sure you remember to switch the button for which side you’re on.

Seriously, this curling iron is life changing. I can curl my whole head in under 10 minutes. 10 minutes for all this hair! The heat is adjustable and even though I use it on the lowest setting, my curls last all day and turn into pretty waves for the next few days until I wash it. I know this guy is expensive, but its worth every penny.

Drain wig

This is a less sexy, I know, but hear me out. I have long hair, my husband has long hair… which means our drain is pretty much always clogged. And cleaning the drain out to me is the worst thing in the world. It’s disgusting. In order to avoid that, I have tried every single hair catcher on the market, and nothing has worked for us.

Until the drain wig. This little thing is awesome. You just suction part of it on your tub and thread the little metal chain into the drain. That’s it! Every week or so (honestly I just wait until the water begins pooling) you pull the chain out and wipe the hair off of it. I don’t know exactly how it works– I think its the little things that stick off the chain– but I don’t care. Its about $12 for a two pack so RUN to that Amazon link above.

Clarisonic

I recently had to buy a new Clarisonic brush because the one I had for the past 5 years or so finally bit the dust. But, when I realized my old one was ready for the trash can, I knew I had to get another! There really is no way to get your face as clean as you can with these brushes. I use it probably 3-5 times a week, because honestly I am just too lazy to use it twice a day… oh, the struggle.

I know there are other electric face cleansing brushes on the market, but I’ve only tried and and can vouch for the Clarisonic brand.

For reference, I had the Mia 2 or 3 brush before and this time I got the Mia Prima. The “deep pore” brush head is my favorite, and I am dying to try the sonic exfoliator attachment.

Benefit They’re Real Lipstick

This lipstick is one of those two-in-one things, where there is a liner portion attached to the main lipstick bullet. The liner area of the They’re Real lipstick is super small, so I find it pretty effective and I don’t think I’ll finish the tube with no lipstick and all liner. You have to learn how to position the product when you’re applying it, but once you do it is gold.

I love love love the color Bare Affair and every time I put it on, I wonder why I don’t wear it everyday. Isn’t that the best feeling?

Wet Brush

If you haven’t heard me talk about my Wet Brush, you don’t know me. I’ve gotten everyone in my life hooked on it! If you have long hair like me or hair that instantly tangles the second you get it wet, this product is for you. When you get out of the shower, or the pool, or wherever you are and your hair is wet, a normal brush can pull at your hair and cause breakage. But this brush is specifically designed for wet hair and doesn’t pull or break at all. Even for the most tender-headed people I know, they can use the Wet Brush totally pain-free! If you buy anything on this list, make it the Wet Brush.

This post is not sponsored; all opinions are my own.

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Being southern is something I have always associated with my identity, and not just where I live geographically.

And, that can surprise people.

I think it was something engrained in me when I was younger, especially by my mom and my grandmother. There was no sort of strict “rules” of how to act…  but my grandmother definitely thought I needed to know how to snap a green bean, and my mother made it clear there should be a set table and fresh flowers in a vase every time guests came over for dinner.

And no, none of us lost any of our teeth and we wore shoes (in public)…

Never show up to a party empty handed. Plant your bushes and trees in the winter for the best blooms. Grow your own herbs. Never touch up your lipstick at the table. There were basic lessons like that, but there was one TRULY non-negotiable rule.

And that is Southern women are strong.

I never forgot the stories my grandmother told me about growing up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the hard work it entailed, and the physical strength she earned from it. But what always made an impression on me– and still does– is when she told me about marrying my granddaddy and moving to Alabama, leaving everything she had ever known behind for this foreign place.

Now, that’s strength.

All of these seemingly small things, from the way Ma churned homemade ice cream on the fourth of July every year to my mom’s constant gardening, made such an impression on me and made me appreciate the place and the culture of where i grew up. There’s truly no place like the South, and like southern people. These ideals were so engrained in me throughout my life that I forget some people don’t quite realize how helpful the Farmer’s Almanac is, or that you can wear red lipstick to any event you want and yes, you can pull off overalls.

Some people have such an idea of what they think southern women are like, but I’ve found that just isn’t true. I have a career, I’m independent, and I am educated. But I also love to bake, I think cowboy boots go with everything, and some of the best food I have ever had was from a gas station in Selma.

You can be both. You can be all of these things. And to me, that’s what being a Southern woman is about– being strong enough to know that.

Writing this blog is a way for me to share these ideals I was so immersed in and share them with people who weren’t.  And more importantly, to show that southern ideals aren’t what many people think they are. It’s a modern take on those ways of life that I want to share.

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I have an online shopping problem, but I also have a returning problem. I am so picky about my clothes and how they fit me, and one of my favorite things about online shopping is that I can try everything on at home and take time to decide what I truly love and will be able to work with other items in my closet.

I’ve gotten very particular about only buying clothes I know I will wear and get a lot of use out of. My typical week consists of work, the gym, time at home and a date night or girls dinner… so, I buy clothes that work for that. There’s no use in me buying pants suits or ball gowns, because that’s just not the life I live (right now!)

I thought it would be fun to show y’all what I recently purchased from Forever 21 and what I kept— and why I sent back what I did.

Here we go!

Keep in mind some things that I sent back were solely because they didn’t look like I wanted them to on my body. I’m sure they would work for hundreds of people, so don’t totally rule something out because it didn’t work for me!

For reference, I am 5’7″ and a 4-6 in pants, and I prefer an oversize fit with tops and sweaters.

Here’s a screenshot of what was in my order. I will link each item below!

forever 21 sweater, earrings
This is the poncho I ordered, paired with Spanx leather leggings & black booties. I’m also wearing my new hoops, but they’re a little hidden!

Earrings: Kept. If you know me, you know hoop earrings are basically my lifeline, and these are perfect to add into my rotation. They’re super lightweight, even though they’re huge! I love the colors for spring and summer, but I have also been loving the pop it’s been giving my neutral sweater looks for the winter.

Cowl Twist Front Sweater: Kept. This sweater is a dupe for so many expensive Nordstrom ones I have seen, so I knew I had to have it. The material isn’t top notch, but I didn’t pay top notch so I’m alright with that. I love the off-white color, and it fits pretty well. They also have this in gray!

Foldover Off the Shoulder Poncho: Returned. As much as I wanted this to work, it just didn’t do it for me. It was way too big, but that’s probably on me for ordering the bigger size, and just wasn’t flattering whatsoever. I also love the idea of off the shoulder things, but I find that I never seem to love them on my body.

Open-Knit Chenille Sweater: Kept. My mom actually bought this sweater last year and adored it, so when I saw it came back I knew I had to order one. This sweater is so soft and comfortable, it feels like you’re wearing pajamas. I probably should have gotten the medium, but I still love it. Sizing can be so tricky with Forever 21!

Brushed Knit Poncho: Kept. I was on the fence about this one but wound up keeping it, and I’ve already worn it several times. Again, this top is so soft! I dressed it up with a pair of leather leggings and black booties for a nice dinner (see pic), and I loved the way it looked. I think this is a great top to dress up or down, and can also take you into spring if you don’t wear a long sleeve shirt underneath.

Open-Knit Chenille Sweater: Kept. My mom actually bought this sweater last year and adored it, so when I saw it came back I knew I had to order one. This sweater is so soft and comfortable, it feels like you’re wearing pajamas. I probably should have gotten the medium, but I still love it. Sizing can be so tricky with Forever 21!

Leopard Print Skirt: Returned. Again, I love the idea of this skirt but it didn’t work for me. The sizing was too big, but I was afraid getting a too small size would look gaudy in the print. It just didn’t work for me, but I think it’s a super cute skirt.

Do you like this kind of post? If so, I was thinking about making it a regular addition! Let me know!

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When we booked our honeymoon at Sandals, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen the commercials like everyone else, but I was pretty up in the air on what it was really like. And, the online reviews are only so much help.

After we booked and I would talk about the trip with various people, everyone who had visited a Sandals resort raved about it. They would tell me the most amazing, complimentary things to the point where it sounded like an advertisement. But, that made me feel more at ease.

We visited the Sandals Montego Bay resort in Jamaica in December. There are several Sandals in Jamaica, so you definitely need to do your research about which you want to stay at or what part of the island you wanted to be on. That being said, keep in mind this review is based off of that resort! 

Sandals Jamaica, review and was it worth the money

The arrival

Once we landed and made it through customs, we were pointed to the Sandals lounge where they had a drink machine, coffee, snacks, etc. Someone there took our bags and tagged them, so we didn’t have to lug them through the lounge. Within a minute of sitting down and sending Mit to get me a drink, our driver was coming to get me. I mean, we were in the lounge a total of 4 minutes, maybe. Keep in mind we had a private transport as part of our package.

The porter carried our bags to a luxury, clean BMW and the driver took us on the less than 10 minute drive to the resort. He was super friendly and knowledgable, and it was the perfect first impression. Once we got on resort property, it took about 15 minutes to get checked in and in our rooms and then a few more minutes for our bags to arrive. Within half an hour of arriving, I was in my bathing suit and on the beach! 

Sandals Jamaica, review and was it worth the money

The rooms

We had a beachfront walk out room with the tranquility soaking tub. We loved our room’s location— literally you could step on the sand off the porch area. The porch area could also be closed off with a curtain if you wanted privacy, especially because the tub was on the porch (which def seemed odd at first but was exactly super relaxing). It was also great to be able to walk into your room from the beach and not have to walk around all the buildings to get to your “front door.” 

The actual room wasn’t 5-star hotel ish, but it was still nice. The beds weren’t the most comfortable to me, but I was so exhausted at night it didn’t matter. There was also a safe, which we kept rings/phones/ passports while we were in the ocean. I would definitely recommend using it if you have a walkout room because (while I don’t think it would happen) it would be easy for someone to walk in and grab your diamond ring or anything valuable.

If you’re a privacy freak, one of those rooms probably isn’t for you.

The food/drinks

I heard the most mixed reviews on the food, but we had a great experience at all the restaurants we visited (except the Stewfish place, but that was just not an appealing menu in my opinion). While you needed reservations at a few places, you could call that morning to get in for dinner so I didn’t feel super inconvenienced. Also if you have a butler, they will handle that. 

I really liked that the servers didn’t judge you or look at you weird if you ordered two plates or four desserts or whatever. They literally encouraged you to order as much as you wanted! Me and my husband love food, so we definitely liked that.

Of course, the drinks were awesome. I didn’t have one bad drink and neither did my husband. Everything was awesome and they have actual known brands— not some $5 thing they picked up at a corner market. They will also bring full bottles to your room if you ask! 

In full disclosure, I drank liquor and he drank liquor/beer. Neither of us tried the wines.

The butler

In full disclosure, we loved having the butler. If you have extra cash to spend, go for it. But, I’m not positive it’s worth splurging on if you are trying to be as economical as possible. 

The best thing about the butler was by far having them reserve our chairs on the beach (they’ll also do this for the pool too, but we never even got in the pools!). Each night we told them what area we wanted to be in the next day, and they reserved us a great set of chairs with an umbrella. If you don’t get up early and go save your chairs by putting a towel or something else on them, it could be easy to not have a spot. That being said though, it’s not a huge deal to run out there early and throw a beach bag on the chairs you want to save.

Also, the butlers will make your dinner reservations/excursion plans. We had them make our reservations because, why not… but we definitely could have handled that ourselves.

The bottom line is service is so amazing at the resort, you don’t really need the butler to have an amazing experience! We never waited long for drinks or food when we were without our butler.

The excursions

We did one excursion at Montego Bay- the snorkeling trip that also stops by the Jamaican Margaritaville. It was a BLAST. If you like the whole “booze cruise” crazy vibe with music and dancing, its totally for you. Even if you don’t though, it’s still a blast. We did the snorkeling and the famous water slide at Margaritaville, and then relaxed on the boat ride back without getting into the dance party that was happening on the lower deck. 

That trip was $90 a person, and I think it was worth it, primarily for the snorkeling experience.

The final opinion

We’ve already booked our next Sandals trip for this summer! I had the most amazing time, and was both relaxed and energized with all the stuff we did. I don’t think you can beat the Sandals Montego Bay resort, and we’re excited to explore more Sandals locations. Don’t hesitate to join the rewards club while you’re there— its free and you get points for all your Sandals vacations. Just our honeymoon stay got us over $100 off our next trip in points.

Sandals Jamaica, review and was it worth the money

I hope this review was helpful, and let me know if you visit Sandals Montego Bay! 

This post is not sponsored; all opinions are my own.

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REVLON ROSE GLOW PRIMER

This primer ya’ll. I am not one who likes to put oil in her foundation or anything like that, so the idea of this product kind of scared me. But, I fell in love the first time I used it! The dropper only lets out a little at a time, so you don’t overload your hands in product. I rub it between my palms and then just press it into my skin. It sinks in almost instantly and leaves your skin looking so moisturized and glowy! There are little sparkles in it, but they aren’t chunky and don’t affect your foundation or any other makeup that goes on top. I love the way this primer makes my face makeup look, and I definitely think it improves the wear time in my T-zone, too. Absolutely give this guy a 10/10!

ESSENCE KAJAL EYELINER IN TEDDY

I am typically a liquid eyeliner kind of gal, but this Essence eyeliner is amazing. It is so soft and glides on easily, and its also really easy to smudge with your finger. Even though the formula is so light, it stays on all day and doesn’t fade! I love using this with my Stila shimmer and glow eyeshadow and smudging it into my lash line.

STILA SHIMMER AND GLOW EYESHADOW IN STARLIGHT

This is one of those products I thought was probably overhyped, but I bought it anyway just to check it out. It is so great and definitely worth the hype and the price tag! I use this on my lighter makeup days or when I don’t have time to do a full eyeshadow look. I take a little bit on my lid and then a little on my brow bone and just rub it in with my finger. It does crease a little toward the end of the day, but I think a primer would definitely help that if you wanted to add an extra step.

URBAN DECAY SIN AFTERGLOW HIGHLIGHTER PALETTE

After forever of searching for this palette, I finally found it online at Nordstrom Rack for $19. I am so glad I bought it! Originally I thought it would be a great palette for travel with bronzer, blush, and highlight colors. After a little while of using this though, I’m not sure the warm shade is going to work as a bronzer. But, that being said, the colors that don’t work for your skin tone as a blush or highlight can easily be used as eyeshadow. I’m planning to pack this on an upcoming trip and I will have to let ya’ll know if I missed my other blushes and highlights!

HABE MAKEUP BAG

My mom gave me this makeup bag for Christmas, and I am loving it. I’m really picky about makeup bags and the way the compartments are organized, but this Habe bag is laid out so well. There is a large compartment on one side, and the other side has a brush holder and a zipper compartment where I like to store Advil, q-tips, etc. I know it will be great for travel!

BUXOM MATTE BIG & SEXY GEL LIPSTICK IN WHITE RUSSIAN

I resisted buying this for a while because God knows I do not need another lipstick, but of course I eventually bought it. And I completely love it! This formula just glides on and is so smooth, but you definitely have to make sure you keep your lips exfoliated or it will cling to dry patches. The color is the perfect pink, peachy nude shades that is one of those “your lips but better” colors. I definitely have been grabbing this lipstick in the mornings where I am just going for a natural, clean makeup look or when I don’t know what other lip color to wear. It literally goes with everything! And, sometimes you can fin it for around 5 bucks at T.J. Maxx!Follow

The holidays are over and it’s a new year! I’m back at it here on SSD after a little holiday time off. We took our honeymoon to Montego Bay (pics coming soon, I swear) and then spent some quality time at home with friends and family. After two weeks of r&r, I went back to the real world this week.

Which is honestly, kind of nice. I thrive on a routine and it definitely threw me off having so little to do. I def missed the gym too!

I am not a really dedicated new year’s resolutions type of gal, but I do have some general things  I’d like to accomplish and incorporate into my life this year.

Home wise

Organizing is one of my favorite things (I know, I’ve completely lost it) but something I want to do this year is make it a priority to stay organized. Instead of having to totally redo my organizing system every three months, I want to continuously sort my stuff and make sure everything always goes back to its home.

Clothing wise

Lately I’ve really been trying to make sure pieces I purchase are things I will wear time and time again, and can pair with plenty of other things in my closet. I want to stop having to go through my clothes and donate things every few months so I can fit in more stuff and stop being stressed when it’s time to pick out an outfit— I want to only keep pieces I love and am excited to wear. It’s the “if it doesn’t bring you joy” method for sure, but it works for me. 

Life wise

It’s hard to make time, but it’s possible. While I definitely want to take time to center myself and regroup, I also want to make it a priority to use my time more wisely. My husband works full-time and is in law school, and that means he’s tied up a lot right now. When he’s holed up studying, I want to spend less time napping and being lazy and more time cleaning (see above!) and being productive. That means I will have more time this year to devote to my blog, too!

Blog wise

Obviously I want to grow my blog, but I really want to make sure my readers are happy and seeing content they really are interested in. If there’s something you want to know about, like what my favorite brand of makeup is or what in my closet is on repeat, please let me know! I would love to talk with any of ya’ll and write posts that you want to see on this blog. After all, that’s what its for!

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It’s Christmas week and it’s time for holiday parties galore! Looking for some last minute outfit ideas? I’ve got you covered. The more sequins and the more red, the better!

If you’re not into the sparkle, opt for cute details like bows or ruching- it’ll jazz up your outfit and make you feel party ready. Some of my favorite places to shop for holiday outfits, or party outfits in general, are ASOS, Francesca’s, Free People, Revolve, and Red Dress. Most of the outfits linked below are from those stores too.

I added this glitzy gold heel as an idea, but any neutral or sparkly pump would work with these outfits!

Happy holidays and enjoy your parties! 

1- Sequin Pencil Skirt

2- Free People Red Two Piece Outfit

3- Gold Sequin Mini Dress

4- Striped Sequin Dress

5- Perfect Glitzy Heels

6- Sequin Silver Top

7- Red Dress With BowFollow

Can ya’ll believe we’re just 12 days away from the most wonderful day of the year?! If you’re like me and you haven’t totally finished your shopping list yet, it’s okay. I don’t panic until we start getting in the single digits.

I’ve had so many people ask me what my top gift ideas for men are– whether its your boyfriend, husband, brother, or best friend, I think I’ve got some ideas that he will love.

Next to each item I’ve linked several options- one more affordable choice and a splurge item. I hope this list helps you shop till you drop and finish that Christmas list this weekend!

-Slippers: SplurgeThese UGG ones from Amazon SaveFleece Deer Stags

-Robe: Splurge Plush Ralph Lauren robe Save Target lightweight version

-Travel mug: Splurge Insulated stainless steel version Save- Colored version under $10

-Sports poster: Splurge- Personalized jersey print Save- Unframed Lebron poster

-Grill accessories: Splurge- William Sonoma tools set Save- Amazon version of tools

-Espresso machine: Splurge- This Breville is my husband’s dream Save- Nanopresso bundle

Golf shoes: Splurge- The Golf Warehouse version Save- More affordable Nike version 

-Gloves: Splurge- UGG shearling glove Save- Fleece North Face set

-Kindle: Splurge- New Oasis version Save- Original paperwhite

-Headphones: Splurge- Beats solo 3 Save- JBL in-ear headphones

-Tennis shoes: Splurge- UA Curry 5s  Save- A range of styles from New Balance

-Gaming keyboard: Splurge- ROCCAT Vulcan 120 Save- Backlit USB keyboardFollow

So you’re planning a wedding- congratulations! But, you’re slightly freaking out. I get it. There are so many things you have to do and think about when you plan your own wedding, without mentioning working full-time or juggling regular life.

I had over a year to plan my wedding, and while I needed every second of that time, I tried to stay as stress free as possible. It’s not really my personality to get worried over every little thing, but there were definitely were moments where I was completely overwhelmed. Over the course of that time, I learned a few things that guided me throughout the process and into wedding day to keep me calm! That being said, here are my top 5 tips to doing this whole thing as stress free as possible.

If you’re interested in more of my wedding details or planning advice, let me know and I will be happy to share. & don’t worry, I’ll be posting an overload of wedding photos asap!

Take your planning stuff with you.

On my wedding day I brought my binder that had all my receipts, invoices, menus, agreements, etc stuffed in it and I am SO glad I did. There was an issue with some of the rentals, with the vendors saying I had only rented 6 tables, but I was able to quickly whip out that invoice and show them that I paid for 17. They recognized their mistake and quickly fixed the problem, but it could have been a disaster if that situation wasn’t resolved quickly. While I know you don’t want to think about having an issue on wedding day, it’s probably inevitable so you might as well be prepared for it!

Southern Style Diaries, Ivana Hrynkiw, wedding, wedding planning

Don’t flip if your fiancé doesn’t want to be involved.

This one is going to be controversial I’m sure, but my husband didn’t want to be involved in the wedding-planning process… so he wasn’t. And that’s okay! I was able to pick everything I wanted and make all the decisions, and didn’t have to worry about him being unhappy with the color scheme or the flower types. Really, there’s zero point to having him involved in these decisions or meetings if he isn’t interested. It’s only going to cause a fight and a headache for you! If he says he doesn’t care, LADIES, he truly does not care. Pick what you want.

Choose your bridesmaids carefully.

I am so lucky to have the most amazing group of friends and every single one of my bridesmaids was a blessing to have stand beside me on my wedding day. But, I’ve heard horror stories about women choosing a sometimes-difficult friend to be a bridesmaid, and that maid makes everyone else miserable. You don’t need that on wedding day, or during any type of wedding festivity. If you have a girlfriend who doesn’t get along with your core group or who can be a little rough around the edges, give her another job in your big day to feel included, but leave her out of the bridesmaids group.Southern Style Diaries, Ivana Hrynkiw, wedding, wedding planning

Be nice, but stern.

Vendors can be pushy, and you come to expect that. Be nice and accommodating, but know there’s a time to put your foot down and say what you need done- without being a brideszilla. I think it’s helpful to, in the very beginning, talk to your vendors about your expectations and what they can provide. If they can’t provide something you consider vital, that needs to be known up front. Also don’t forget to get prices on everything! I fell into the “oh, of course we can do that!” trap… meaning, sure they can do it, for a cost. Make sure every single thing is listed with a price on your contract or agreement.

Calm down.

Things will go wrong— like my table incident, or when my dad photobombed our first look. But that’s okay! Laugh it off, and know that the most important things are your family, friends, and— of course— groom. Everything else is small potatoes.

Pictures by Arden Ward Upton

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It’s boot season ya’ll, and I love it so much!

While I typically opt for shorter, heeled booties, I went for something different recently and picked up these over the knee boots from Seven Dial. To be honest, the girl who did my makeup on my wedding day was wearing them, and I immediately asked her the brand and where she bought them because I knew I had to have them!

I only have one other pair of tall boots, and I knew I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in something I wasn’t sure how much I would wear, so I was so excited these boots were under $100.

 

I wanted to show ya’ll how I wore these shoes, since it seems like taller boots are so in season this year. I paired these studded OTK boots with my favorite leggings— the Spanx faux leather leggings. These are the BEST ya’ll and are worth every dime! My plaid surplice shirt is from beach lunch lounge. I love how loose it is, and how the shirt tail covers my back end. It’s easily one of my favorite tops for the cold weather, and I found mine at TJ Maxx!

Do you like tall boots better than booties? How are you styling yours this holiday season?

xoxo

ivana

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