2017 Favorite Things

My favorite post every year! Enjoy the spectacular items mentioned below for yourself, sister, mother, girlfriend, wife or BFF! As always I only recommend things I absolutely love and have purchased with my own coins! Prices range from $12 to $400+. (See also 2016, 2015, 20142013)

Bath & Body: All things L’Occitane! I am IN LOVE with this company and on my next international trip I will be making a serious extra effort to visit one their SPA’s. I personally use two of their scents: Shea Butter Body and Hand Cream – I keep one in my car, at work, in my handbag and on my nightstand. I also use the Almond line: Shower oil, Supple skin oil and Milk Concentrate. LOVE!!! LOVE!!! LOVE!!! 😍

Accessories: I found a couple of wonderful scarves (Gucci, Banana Republic), a black card holder (Saint Laurent), a black Apple watch band (Casetify) and a gold sparkly pen (Swarovoski).

Skincare and Makeup: These two categories deserve a post all by themselves (stay tuned…) because I WENT IT! For the purpose of this post – gift ideas- I will just mention a fancy compact mirror (Chanel), lipstick (Saint Laurent) and Lila Eyeshadow Palette (Natasha Denona).

Are you still with me? Good! Because this is year FIVE (5) of Bri’s favorite things I am going to do a giveaway!!! The gift will be a Shea Butter hand cream – my absolute favorite!!! To enter, send me an email and tell me your favorite item from this year’s FAVORITE THINGS. The winner will be notified via email on Christmas Day! Good luck!!!!

Meaningful Holidays


stopToday’s post is really a #repost from one of my favorite Podcasts, The Minimalists. I’ve talked about minimalism before, the theme being, “To Live a Meaningful Life of Less“. Or the intentional use of your resources (time, talent, attention), being deliberate with it. You decide what “less” means, for you. Your less looks different from my less. In this particular episode, Joshua & Ryan (the authors) talk about creating a meaningful holiday season. What does a meaningful holiday season look like for you??! I encourage you think about, then CREATE that!

12/15 update: Minimalism documentary is now available on Netflix!

As I listened, I answered the questions discussed in the podcast (in gray).

  • How do you get into the holiday spirit with all the everyday challenges of life, as well as the constant bombardment of holiday advertising? Getting into the holidays has never been a challenge for me. This is my FAVORITE time of year, mostly because I like the sparkle of the season. I’m that girl that wants to put her tree up super early. When it comes to advertising, I usually ignore it – that’s a skill. Not just during the holidays but in everyday life. Learn to ignore things that are a waste of your time or provide no value to you. Now, typically, if I see something I think I like/want, I always watch reviews on YouTube or read a blog post – it’s free advice! Or you can buy from Nordstrom and feel confident that you can return it if you change your mind.
  • How do you avoid succumbing to the overconsumption of alcohol amid all the pressures of the holiday season? Again, never really an issue; but, find something you can do to avoid putting yourself in this situation. Don’t hang around people who  you tend to drink around or worry around or think bad thoughts around. For the most part, you control your environment. Pick a new one. Looked at in another way, what do you overconsume? Lately my nmesis has been shopping for beauty products. I live it, breathe it, watch videos about it, read more reviews, etc. all day. Unless I find an alternative “thing to do.” I got out of this expensive rut by starting a new series on Netflix, Narcos. It’s sssooo very good and takes my mind off of my current short-term obsession with beauty products and skin care. So, the answer  for me was to find something else to do that’s just as fun!


  • How do you discuss with your family that you want to replace holiday traditions that no longer add value to your family’s holiday season? This one is golden because this year my family is doing just that! I/We have been talking about taking a trip during the holidays instead of giving gifts for YEARS (so there was a very LONG warming up period). This year I decided to reduce one of the barriers for my family and also suggested we only buy gifts for kids (no adults). We discussed, they semi-bought in and then I began to build excitement around the alternative. Once your family buys in, then YOU can do the work to CREATE the experience that provides more value.

I encourage you to listen to the episode and answer these questions for yourself as well. Really think about what a #meaningfulholiday looks like for you and what adds value to your life. Own it and go after it.  #HappyHoildays


Amazon Go

The future of shopping, according to Amazon, includes no lines, no waiting and no cashiers. For the past 4 years, the company has been working on technology that will allow customers to walk into a store, grab what they want and simply walk out – no checkout required. Amazon’s version of this tech-enabled brick-and-morter store, Amazon Go.

How does Amazon Go work?

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.

All you need to shop at an Amazon Go store is an Amazon account and the free Amazon Go app on your smartphone. Employee’s at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters are testing out the first store as we speak. It will open publicly to consumers in early 2017.

Take a look below.


Friends & Family Purchasing Strategy

I’m going to make this short and sweet. Let’s start with a couple of facts:

The strategy I will explain below only works if Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s have the exact same product available at time of purchase (includes sizes, colors, etc.).

Here’s how it works:

  1. Find an item you want to purchase (DUH!).
  2. Add the item to your cart on Bloomingdale’s website and apply the promotion code to be sure it’s applicable.
  3. Purchase the item from Nordstrom online and note your order #.
  4. Call Nordstrom customer service, give them your order # and ask for a price match. Tell them the competitor and promotion code you used.
  5. The customer service rep will confirm the promotion on the competitor’s website.
  6. Your order total will be adjusted/reduced.
  7. Wait for your credit to appear on your statement (usually 2-3 business days).

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-11-13-51-amSo what does this mean? When it’s Friends & Family at Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s or Lord & Taylor or Dillard’s, it’s also Friends & Family at Nordstrom! Use this approach with ALL competitors, large and small! #shoppingqueen #winning #thatisall

Tech-assisted Black Friday Makeup Haul

I spent a couple of hours on Black Friday in a single store, Sephora. If you’re a girly girl this place really can feel like heaven on earth and it is EASY to spend HOURS mulling over the thousands of beauty products at your fingertips. My goal here is to not talk so much about what I purchased (although I will share that); rather, I want to explain the PROCESS I use to identify and select my items BEFORE I even step a  foot into the store. So, let’s get started!

top-cosmetics-brands-in-pakistan-their-product-rate-price-imagesThere are so many makeup lines and products out there. Some great, some not so great. My theory is that every brand is not good at everything. So when shopping for makeup, my strategy is ALWAYS the same: identify the brand with the best concealer, the brand with the best foundation, the brand with the best lipsticks, and so forth. At the end of all this identifying, the result is a diverse makeup portfolio from many different lines. I never go all in with one makeup line, it just simply is not always the best choice.

My first step is RESEARCH. I will go to (mainly) saks.com AND sephora.com, search for a keyword and then sort the results by Best Sellers. You can search for “concealer” or “lipstick” or “face wash” or “foundation” or “blush” or “lip liner” or “eye liner” or “eye shadow (palette)” or whatever you need. This method is tried and true and you can VERY EASILY find out what most people are buying. Take note of each brand. I mean like literally, write it down in your planner or start a note on your phone and call it Beauty. Also read the reviews (from multiple sites) to gain maximum insight. If you REALLY want to be thorough add in searches on additional sites like beauty.com and amazon.com <== comments are most valuable!!!!!

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-7-25-03-amNow you have a list of brands to investigate. Step two is YouTube. If you determine that lip gloss by Anastasia Beverly Hills is something you want to try, search for “Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss swatches” or “review of Anastasia Beverly Hills lip gloss”. There are TONS of videos with people demo’ing each and every shade 😳 for every company and talking about the product itself. I’m not joking here – Urban Decay has 100 shades of lipstick and Youtuber sonjdradeluxe has a 7 minute review of them all, watch here. Urban Decay also has an awesome app to try on all 100 shades (iOS). This is NOT uncommon! You can find swatch videos for Nars, Kylie, Urban Decay, Kate Von D, MAC, Bite and many more brands. This an important step as it will allow you to get a quick preview of all the shades in a collection to identify ones that tickle your fancy.

By this time you will have a narrowed down list of list of potentials (brands, products, shades/colors). Head on over to the Virtual Artist on Sephora’s app (iOS only). Snap a pic of yourself and try on the shade(s) you picked. This is the fun part! and time can get away from you while you’re at play. (check out the app in action below).


screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-7-44-37-amNow it’s time to hit the store and you, my friend, will be on a mission to try out, in person, the brands and shades you selected. There will be no wondering around the store aimlessly because you have done your homework and will have a better chance coming out feeling like a #winner. Why? Because it’s in the store that you will (in) validate what you think you like. While you’re there, get one of the workers to find your ColorIQ – it will recommend foundation, concealer, lipstick and more all based on your skin tone! You can even view recommendations on the Sephora app! #trulywinningnow


Few additional tips (sorry so many, I got excited 😩):

  1. If your budget does not support a particular brand, there’s an easy fix for that. Simply Google the Brand and color followed by the word dupe. You’ll find lost of suggestions for a color that will give you a close match at a fraction of the cost. Here is one of the results that came up when I searched for “MAC lipstick dupes”
  2. I mostly stay away from product placements in magazines, like this one in InStyle. (I believe) They are almost always paid advertisements and thus, may not be your best bet. If you take a suggestion be sure to also do your homework.
  3. You can and should use this approach for any product: shoes, refrigerators, clothes, makeup, handbags, cars, you name it! Go into a purchase, especially an expensive one, as an informed shopper.
  4. If you go into a department store (i.e. Macy’s, Dillards), find the the makeup artists who DO NOT work for a particular brand, like MAC, and ask for their opinion/suggestions. They have no allegiance to a particular brand and all they need to do is sell (anything). From personal experience, they are the most objective. I know Macy’s and Dillards have these type of in-store pop-up like shops.
  5. Instagram, like YouTube, is your friend. Do watch other people trying on and talking about the thing you want to buy. You may save yourself time and money by finding out (in advance) that a lipstick is super sticky or the opening on that handbag is super small.
  6. If, after doing all your homework, you’re still unsure, ask for a sample. ESPECIALLY WITH PERFUME at Department stores.
  7. Know the store’s return policy for beauty products. In many cases, if you’re unhappy with your purchase (just like with most other items), you can return/exchange it for something else. This is why I almost always prefer to shop at Nordstrom. I know their return policy like the back of my hand!
  8. Finally, even if you have not done your homework, don’t be afraid to still hit the store anyway! Find people who look like you and ask“what brand has the best foundation?” Or whatever other question is on your mind. It’s their job to know these things!

img_0198So now on to what I bought during my Tech-assisted Black Friday Makeup haul at SephoraA grand total of 4 items: 2 lip glosses from Anastasia Beverly Hills, 1 lipstick from Urban Decay and 1 concealer from Nars – all after doing my research and all of which showed up on my ColorIQ #proudmoment. Earlier in the day I also purchased Philosphy’s Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser to be used with my Clairsonic. Philosophy was 40% off! and Clairsonics are still 20% off, including free engraving.) #thatisall Happy researching and trying on and testing and shopping and #winning. 💁🏽💄