I’ve seen a ton of gift guides the past few weeks so I think you’re covered. To be quite honest, you wouldn’t want one from me anyway; I’m a terrible gift giver.

Instead, I’m giving you three holiday must-haves that you should Amazon Prime ASAP. They’re essentials, BUT they’ll be great for the holiday traveler and the person who is looking to enjoy the holiday food, but not go over board.

The Brunette Blend-Not Another Gift Guide 3 Holiday Must-Haves from Amazon

Rose Hip Oil
Yes, I am still very much into my facial oils! This is perfect for those who traveling during the holidays. Instead of juggling a makeup remover, moisturizer and primers, you can take your oil. It can be used to remove makeup (especially under eyes) and can be used a moisturizer and makeup primer. The anti-aging properties don’t hurt either.

Facial Oil 101 – Your Burning Questions Answered

GG Crackers
OK, I could talk all day about these crackers. If you haven’t listened to The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast with F-Factor founder, Tanya Zuckerbrot (episode #90), GET ON IT NOW. Tanya talks all about the power and health benefits of having enough fiber in your diet. This brings me to the crackers. GG crackers are loaded with fiber and have approx. 2 grams of net carbs. When you pair fiber with protein, you’re left feeling fuller for a longer period of time (which will help you make better choices! I’ve lost 3lbs already with the F-Factor method.) I plan on incorporating these during the holidays so I’m not hanging by the cookie trays all night.

P.S. I made a killer chicken parm with these crackers. Should I share the recipe?

itCosmetics CC+ Illumination Cream
Its the holidays, we want to look our best BUT the reason for the season is family and friends. Since a lot of us have limited vacation time, we want to take advantage of being all together. Simplifying your makeup routine over the holiday break is a sure way to free up sometime (I know I’m not the only one that can take over an hour to get ready!) This CC cream provides great coverage AND has anti-aging (win) serums within. No need for extra foundation with this one. Two pumps, some bronzer, blush, and mascara and you’re done in under 10.

3 Must Have Beauty Products That Really Bring It

What are you putting in your Amazon cart lately? What are your holiday must-haves? I’m still in awe by what all lives on Amazon. Help me explore!

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-Kicked Coffee For A Week And Im Still Alive-French Press

I’ve been regularly drinking coffee since the summer going into my sophomore year of college (approx. 5 years). Started with white chocolate mochas and ended up drinking strong French press coffee. I told myself I didn’t have time for decaf (I actually tweeted that once)…

But was I becoming too dependent on the drink? I was getting to the point where it was difficult to function without it. I guess the answer is ‘yes,’ on that dependent point. My friend told me she cut back on coffee and felt so much better overall. I’m inspired, I begin a coffee detox immediately. My goal is one week.

Day 1: massive headache. MASSIVE. This sucks. Caffeine withdrawals are no joke. My eyes hurt, too…?

Day 2: mild headache, but I feel pretty good. This could be a placebo effect. I go to sleep with zero problems.

Day 3: I wake up easier and don’t have the intense need to make a cup of coffee. I feel like my teeth are whiter and notice I don’t feel the need to grab a midday breath mint.

Day 4: I miss the smell and taste. I try hot water with lemon. Obviously not the same, but the warmth in the morning is soothing. Plus, I feel healthier somehow. With my lemon water.

Day 5: a mild headache hangs on, but I’m offered coffee and I turn it down. Is this a new me…?

Day 6: I wake up energized and don’t feel sluggish. Hand me that hot lemon water.

Day 7: I made it! Seven whole days without a drop of coffee or caffeine and I’m still alive.

I know I said one week, BUT I think I’m going to keep it up and let you know how things progress. One week without coffee is a small step with some initial results, but now I’m itching to see if more times does, well, MORE. I can still feel some withdrawal, but overall I feel more energized with better sleep habits and oral hygiene. AND since I chugged water and tea, my skin feels insanely hydrated.

Will I cut coffee completely? No, but I think it could be treated more as a want than a need. As long as I’m not dependent on it EVERYDAY, I think I’m making moves.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

You may have picked up on the fact I’m all about orange this season. My latest interest, though? CORDUROY.

Not the childhood book (although it is a classic), the material.

The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend

Its a sure way to add some fall feels to your wardrobe and its totally versatile. Think button downs, chunky sweaters, or even a basic tee with some flair. I’m building so many outfits in my head with just ONE SKIRT.

If you’re looking to add some corduroy to your closet, check these out:

Loft’s Corduroy Button Down Skirt

My new love AND its 40% off…. just saying.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Corduroy Button Down Skirt-LOFT

ASOS Moto Cord Pocket Pinafore Dress

OK, SERIOUSLY?! The cord, the color. Is it a need or a want…?
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Corduroy Overall Dress-Top Shop

Rage Cord Zip Front Dress

This one is super versatile. Pair a long sleeve shirt underneath during the chilly months and lose it for a cute sleeveless dress.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Corduroy Zip Front-Asos

Lulu’s Overalls

Sort of loving these overalls for a more casual weekend look.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Cord overalls-Lulus

Nordstrom’s A-Line Skirt

A perfect camel color with a zip and a single button. Classic.
The Brunette Blend-Corduory This Fall's Stylish Best Friend-Cord a line skirt-Nordstrom

Soooo, how are you feeling about cords?

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Flowers crowns have been the one trend I have been drying to try. I’m seeing them EVERYWHERE. Weddings, photoshoots, on babies…I even tried making Indy wear one. STOP THE CUTENESS.

My wish finally came true thanks to Crown Yourself Designs. I received what I will be referring to as an autumnal goddess crown. Its so fun and different for me. It gave my loose waves some personality and flare. I can see why this has been such a hot hair piece. It totally elevated my style AND made a photoshoot 100% more fun + interesting.

The Brunette Blend-GIVEAWAY- Flower Crowns x Crown Yourself Designs

Lilly of Crown Yourself Designs HAND MAKES these beauties. She has such a unique and creative eye for gorgeous florals and arrangements. Her shop features a charming variety of flower crowns. From big and bold to simple and sweet, there is a crown for you (and your baby. SHE MAKES MATCHING SETS AND THERE IS NOTHING CUTER!)

Clearly, I’m Oprah level excited for Crown Yourself Designs

Since sharing is caring, The Brunette Blend and Crown Yourself Designs have partnered to give YOU your choice of flower crown. Here’s how to enter:

How to Win a Flower Crown by Crown Yourself Designs

-Like THIS PHOTO on Instagram
-Follow both @thebrunetteblend + @crownyouselfdesigns
-EXTRA ENTRIES: tag friends

Go, go,go, GO! Giveaway will be open until 11/2/17 to US only. Winner will be drawn on 11/3/17. Adult crowns only. This is no way sponsored by Instagram.

Find Crown Yourself Designs HERE + HERE.

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

We have officially entered SWEATER WEATHER. I KNOW I’m not the only one excited at the thought of cozy sweaters and becoming some type of sweater/blanket burrito.

The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion -Samantha Sweater

{Exact sweater HERE}

Its been an awaited season and the sweater temptation is the air. Last week, Target had a buy one, get one 50% off on all of their sweaters. I mean, I didn’t want to lose money, so I had to take advantage of the sale. You know what is difficult? Finding a sweater that doesn’t look exactly like the ones you already own.

Today we’re sharing some sweater inspiration that will create diversity in your closet, as well as find the perfect sweater for four common occasions, such as ‘Leave Me Alone’.
IMPORTANT NOTE: all of these come in different color options. Clearly, I have a problem: I chose to only display orange and pink tones *shrug* I’m working on it, OK? Focus on the styles…

The Work Appropriate Sweater

Opt for a more fitted sweater with a bold sleeve. Ruffled and bell sleeves are really on trend AND add some flare to any look. Elegant, somewhat understated and adds fun to your wardrobe.
The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion-Work Sweater
{Find it HERE}

The Casual Weekend Sweater

Add a pop of color for the weekend. I’m really in love with reds and burnt oranges for fall. Also have some fun with your sleeves. A puff or bishop sleeve adds an element of fun. A New Day at Target has a gorgeous sweater thats red with a puff sleeve (snagged it during the sweater sale) I’ll share a link once its up online, because its a beauty.
The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion-Weekend Sweater 3
{Find it HERE}

The ‘Leave Me Alone’ Sweater

Oversized/roomie with a big neck. This sweater is cozy and for your laziest of days (or after those long work days). Retreat into comfort and run away from bras.
The Brunette Blend-The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion -Leave Me Alone Sweater
{Find it HERE}

The ‘Its Too Hot, But I Still Want to Wear a Sweater’ Sweater

If it truly is too warm to wear a sweater, but you still want to, because FALL- go for a cardigan (pull overs WILL seal all the warmth in and you’ll be disappointed). A chunky cardigan will capture the fall essence we all know and love, while the openness will let your breathe. Sweater wearing technique for warm days: let the cardigan slide/hang off your shoulders for a more relaxed, still cute look (but really you’re just getting some much needed air flow).
The Brunette Blend-Sweater Weather- Inspiration for Nearly Every Occasion -Hot Sweater

{Find it HERE}

Key take aways: switch up colors, textures and patterns to avoid a closet full of the same sweater. Don’t forget about those fun sleeves!

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

I don’t know about your location, but Chicagoland is extremely temperature confused. Two days its 80+ degrees and the next its 60 and rainy. I desperately want to break out the cozy sweaters, but fear I may internally cook myself. Let’s face it. There is nothing fashionable about knit sweaters and over the knee boots while you’re drenched in sweat.

All of that brings me to TRANSITIONAL OUTFITS. With three items, you can mix and match to create weather appropriate outfits. Think a mix of fall and summer fashion, but less sweaty.

The Brunette Blend-Three Must-Have Pieces to Create Fall Transitional Outfits-Jean Jacket

Three Must-Have Pieces to Create Fall Transitional Outfits

1. Jean + Leather Jackets: You KNOW how much I LOVE my jean jacket. Denim is just as popular in the fall as it was in the summer. This round, though, its a little more functional. Pop it over a sundress with fall tones for a cool, autumnal look. A leather jacket can add an edgier splash of fall.

2. Cropped Sweaters: This is an easy way to pumpkin SPICE up your look. Take one of your favorites dresses and top it off with a cropped sweater. This will make your outfit look like a classic two piece.

3. Booties: We all know fall is the season to break out boots. Short ankle boots can give you that fall factor without over heating your legs.

While some new pieces are nice, new isn’t necessary for a fresh look. What are you rocking this hot and cold season?

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-Three Must-Have Pieces to Create Fall Transitional Outfits

Now that its feeling a little more like fall outside, I’ve brought the vibe inside. One of my favorite things to do is to flip a room to match a specific season. A few little swaps and adds can transform a room. No painting or new furniture required. Matching your outfit to the pillows is optional.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Samantha Boots

Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space

1. Change your accents. Pillows and throws are easy ways to set the tone of your room. They also are extremely easy to switch out! White, gold and grey accents are great bases to add more fall-like colors. We chose a plaid orange, white and grey throw to compliment the variety of pillows we have in the space.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Pillow Set Up

2. Revamp your mantel. Fall isn’t a lush season, so allow your mantel to reflect that. Let the outdoors inspire you! Add staw-like, budding faux plants to add height. While you want to pull in browns, add warm, jewel tones to add color + interest. Add picks to wreaths and vases for additional color to tie it all together. For more tips on creating your mantel, read previous post: 7 Tips for Creating a Pinterest Worthy Mantel HERE.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Mantel Set Up

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall mantel

3. Spice up the coffee table. Similar rules to the mantel apply. You want to add height, color and interest. For our set up, we took two brown books to prop up a golden lantern, we paired this next to a deep red fake plant and tiny white pumpkin to break up all the orange and browns we have in the room.

4. ADD AN AREA RUG. This will INSTANTLY make your space feel cozier. It also helps ties the room together. We found this rug at Kmart and its pet friendly, which means easy clean up and no chewing temptation.

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Area Rug2

Room shot and a few other inspiration photos below! Stay tuned for a room revamp. Oranges and purples coming at cha. What colors are you using this fall?

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Living Room

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall Living Room Trick or Treat

The Brunette Blend-Four Easy Ways to Create a Fall Inspired Space-Fall mantel 2

We are now entering fall wedding season. For me that meant bye baby pink dress and BYE SHAVING MY LEGS. I wanted something different, yet classic. So I opted for a jumpsuit. To be more specific, a $14.99 jumpsuit. A ruffled, off the shoulder, straight black jumpsuit. It was a blank canvas.

The Brunette Blend-GRWM Wedding-Samantha Boots

For this look, I wanted sleek with subtle pops.

First things first… the smile.

The Brunette Blend-GRWM Wedding-Smile Brillaint

You know I’m pretty psycho when it comes to my teeth. Before hair and makeup for an event, I pop in my custom teeth whitening trays from Smile Brilliant for a little touch up. If you remember an earlier blog post, you know Smile Brilliant helped cut through the coffee stains on my teeth. Today its a perfect tool to amp up the smile wattage while I do my hair and makeup. You can find more of my whitening tips HERE.


I don’t know about you, but anytime I need my hair to look good, it turns into a frizzed mess. Taking this into consideration, I opted to do straight hair with a little lift. This would bring in the sleek style element as well as look good behind my shoulders so you could see the jumpsuit in its entirety.

The Brunette Blend-GRWM Wedding-Aveda Hair Products

I only used three products on my hair: Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair (heat protectant), Phomollient Styling Foam (hold + volume) and Air Control Hairspray. I’ll do a separate post on these products, until then, our hair stylist made my a convert. LOVE!

I blew dry my hair with a round brush and went over with a straightener. Then finished with a few spitz of hairspray. Done.


Here is where the pops come in. Bright red lip and long lashes. I didn’t switch up my makeup routine here. The only difference was add a little more mascara. My only rule I implement: if I wear a bold lip color, I don’t wear eyeliner. Natural and effortless is what I wanted.

The final look with my husband accessory (don’t forget to take out your whitening trays!)…
The Brunette Blend-GRWM Wedding-S and G

This was hands down one of my favorite wedding looks. It was super minimal and easy to execute. Bonus, I felt like it blended in nicely, but still has some uniqueness. Once again, you know I love a classic with a twist. This twist had pants.

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature
This post was sponsored by friends at Smile Brilliant. As always, all opinions and love for products are those of The Brunette Blend.

I tried HGTV’s Flip or Flop star, Christina El Moussa’s favorite black bean brownies. After the first batch, here is how we felt about them…

The Brunette Blend-I Tried Christina El Moussa's Favorite Black Bean Brownies-View 2

If you’re an HGTV lover or someone that just pays attention to the media, you know of Christina El Moussa from Flip or Flop. Successful, worth $$$ and looks fabulous. Blah, blah. What really interested me was that this girl ate brownies. Sometimes she ate them for breakfast, sometimes she’d eat them everyday, she feeds her kids brownies. (I really like chocolate) and she looks healthy and strong and based on the brownies, she doesn’t deprive herself. I want to be healthy, strong and eat brownies. I click to learn more.

Plot twist, the brownies are BLACK BEAN brownies.

Make brownies + initial reactions:

The thought of black beans in something sweet may sound dangerous, exciting, odd or if you’re Grant, disgusting. I teetered on exciting and odd. I had everything to make them, so why not? PLUS, I could try to trick Grant into eating them. Christina doesn’t tell her kids about the secret ingredient. I don’t have kids to trick, so husband it is.

Black Bean Brownies

recipe found on

The Brunette Blend-The Brunette Blend-I Tried Christina El Moussa's Favorite Black Bean Brownies-Delish Recipe

The brownies took me about 20 minutes from start to finish and I was taking a bite a half hour in. As someone who loves chocolate and is an avid hater of foods pretending to being other foods, I WAS LOVING THESE BROWNIES! They were simple and great with minimal ingredients. 10/10 would make them again.

deceive your partner, children, roommate, WHOEVER:

While I was really proud of my decoy brownies, I offered brownies to Grant multiple times. “Don’t you want a brownie? I made them from scratch. I LOVE them. Here, take one.” These should have been clues. I never make brownies, nor do I avidly offer them at home. Four days post brownie bake, Grant tried ONE.

One brownie for him is like a fish on land taking a sip of water and being like, “I’m good.” It doesn’t happen. If there are brownies, there is more than one casualty. I knew he didn’t like them, but he was being supportive and said he did. After continuous pressing, he told me it had a taste. I shot back, “a beany taste? 😏” bottom line, Grant didn’t care for them, he prefers boxed brownies.

The Brunette Blend-The Brunette Blend-I Tried Christina El Moussa's Favorite Black Bean Brownies-Delish Recipe brownies

I shared with my mom and brother and got positive feedback.It’s chocolatey and doesn’t taste like beans. It was also said it would taste great in ice cream. The only thing? It is missing the flour texture. Makes sense. There is no flour in this recipe and most likely why G wasn’t a fan.

Just like everything in life, some people are going to like it and others may want to spit it out while you’re not looking. However, i highly encourage trying these brownies. Great taste, easy to make and fun to trick your husband with. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, right?

Chat soon,
The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

Thrift stores are great places to find budget-friendly clothing pieces, but can be overwhelming. We’re sharing tips + insights on what to look for before purchasing to make sure you go home with a great item.
On Instagram I shared a little snap of an amazing button down. As promised, I’m sharing the details of the under $20 outfit:

Tie Trousers: $15 at TJ Maxx
Lands’ End Button Down: $5 found at a thrift store

(this sounds like a credit card commercial…just go with it.)

Whoa, whoa, WhOA! $5 for a killer button down? Yes, you read that right. An amazing thrift find.

The Brunette Blend-Tips for Scoring the Best Pieces at Thrift Stores-Samantha Boots

However, I can’t take credit for the find. Some of you may or may not know The Mighty Jane. The Mighty Jane is my mom and she is truly mighty. She’s a costumer, choreographer, one of the best Jazzercise instructors and the creator of all things delicious. I find myself thinking, “Is there anything she CAN’T do?” She can’t install a printer, but other than that she pretty much owns everything she does.

“If you see something you like… Buy it! If you don’t, there’s a 95% chance it will not be there the next time you come in.”
– The Mighty Jane

One of her hidden talents is the ability to score great items at thrift stores. I’m not kidding, she is like a MAGNET. She was kind enough to share some of her tips with us today! Without further adieu, I present The Mighty Jane’s Guide to Thirfting (Clothing Edition). If you like thrifting furniture, don’t worry. MJ has you covered in a future episode.

The Mighty Jane’s Guide to Thirfting (Clothing Edition)

-When buying clothing look for wear at the neck, at the elbows and at the cuffs.

-Make sure all the buttons are there, that zippers & snaps work, and that there are no holes or stains on the item.

-Many times you will find clothing that has never been worn & has original sale tags on it. You should still check for stains.

-Bring a tape measurer (she stands by this one). Vintage clothing is sized differently than today’s sizes. A chest, waist and hip measurement will help you decide if a piece of clothing is likely to fit if there is no fitting room.

-Reinvent a piece. Don’t be afraid to cut jeans to make shorts. Get creative!

The Brunette Blend-Tips for Scoring the Best Pieces at Thrift Stores-Shoulder View

Want to hear more from The Mighty Jane? Let us know! From style to theater auditions, she has some serious insight. Good luck thrifting + please, please, PUHHHH-LEASE share your finds!

Chat soon,

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature