Misc.

Finding your voice can be tricky. It’s complicated in real life and just as complicated in the blogging world. Talk about trial and error.

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Both spaces are tough to stand out in. After all, both are saturated and fear of disapproval is HIGH. Who wants to be rejected?

Since starting The Brunette Blend and this year especially has really taught me to work on letting go of insecurities and unapologetically be myself. There has been too many times where I’ve been a chameleon and haven’t been true to myself. I’ve been learning to do that through my writing as well.

It’s a struggle to find your voice through text and have it remain constant or try to have how you usually speak be present on a page. It is SO easy to follow others and how they write.

Like most things, when you start something for the first time, you mimic what you admire, not copy, mimic. The more you do it, the quickly you realize how truly BORING it is and not you. Bloggers get a rep for being picture perfect and shoving macaroons into this seasons “it” bag, perfect hair and the outfit that somehow is ALWAYS photo shoot ready.

After keeping up with my blog, I realized that wasn’t me, nor did I really want it to be me. I LOVE these types of bloggers, I’m just not that type. I’ve never had a macaroon and to be honest, I’d probably hate it. My hair more often times than not is not tamed and ask me about my outfit, I’ll proudly shout I got it from Kohls, Target, a clearance rack or Dress Barn. (More details on this outfit at the end of the post!)

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I’m dramatic, a mix between girlie and lazy, heavily caffeinated and can be funny from time to time. We’re not perfect, but you can’t hate on trying to be better and better (thats what this blog is all about). What I’m saying is explore yourself and your craft and most importantly, give it time to evolve. Give YOURSELF time to evolve and grow. FIERCELY be yourself at any stage. EMBRACE those quirks, because that really makes you unique.

Keep being you, you’ll find people like you better that way–

The Brunette Blend-Samantha-Signature

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The Brunette Blend-Currently Wearing-Summer Nail Shades

Lazy Chic.
Sweater (similar)
Jeans (similar + less destroyed)
Hat (exact, ‘borrowing’ your S.O.’s works, too — thanks, G!)

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Another birthday in the books. Once again I took the time reflect on what I’ve learned this year. It hit me. How do you let go of the best and worst year of your life?

The Brunette Blend-Another Birthday Reflection- Twenty-Four-woman with food in hand

24 was many things, both wonderful and tragic. At 24 I got married. It was a day of celebration, love and happiness. There are so many smiles in my memories and in photos.

At 24 I lost my dad. It shattered my heart, spread the pieces far between and took pieces away, forever leaving an uncompleted puzzle.

I’m pretty sure this is the definition of extreme high and low moments. I thought to myself, what a year, but not so secretly dreaded September 24th. A part of me so desperately doesn’t want time to move forward. As we all know, it does and all we can do is learn. Here is what I learned this year:

Strength: I’ve learned how much strength I have, how much my friends and family have. This year hasn’t been easy, but somehow I’m still standing. I have bruises, scrapes and soon to be scars. I’m still here. Strength isn’t holding back tears. Strength is managing and pushing through all odds.

Stay in your lane: this is a big one. Don’t focus your energy on what others are doing. Honestly, WHO CARES? Something great comes when you’re passionate, authentic and yourself. No matter the situation, focus on your tasks and goals and how YOU will reach them. Someone’s route isn’t your Cinderella fit.

Fearlessly be yourself: cliche, but there is only one you and no one better to be you than you. (Dr. Seuss, is that you?)

Don’t settle: whatever the circumstances are, don’t settle for less than what you want and deserve. I’m not saying diss every opportunity because it isn’t ideal. Will it get you to the next step? Will it help reach your goal later? If you checked the box “yes,” you aren’t settling. You’re a motivated and strategic person working with purpose.

Find that glimmer of happiness, hope and motivation and hold it close: It’s easy to get caught up in the negatives or let them consume you. Any positivity is good positivity that continues to fuel.

Be strong, fearless, positive and determined.

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Hello from Chicago, but we’ll quickly transport to New York shortly. Buckle up and prepare for take off.

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Airplane

After a delayed flight, we land in New York, hop in a cab and I began singing Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York in my head. Its only fitting, right? Right.

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Times Square

G and I scrambled to our hotel room to get ready for my long awaited birthday gift- Wicked at the Gershwin Theater. We had dinner at a cute Italian restaurant and walked to the Gershwin for me to cry at the beginning of show, at Defying Gravity and For Good. I’ve seen this show three times and I never fail to tear up at these exact moments. Mad love for Wicked.

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Wicked

A memorable part of the night was on our walk back to our hotel. Weaving and ducking through crowds in Times Square, stopping to see a dance battle and continuing to swim through a sea of people. We finally reach the stretch where its a little less crowded and in the far distance, I can see our hotel. We pass a very small man in a reflective orange vest. We hear footsteps hitting the ground rapidly and heavy breathing. Finally about 100 yards away we turn and this man had ran at FULL speed to catch up with us to extend his arm with a piece of paper and say, “Cheetahs?” Oh, no thank you. That was odd, what was Cheetah’s anyways? We continue to walk on until a few more feet and see the ever important “Cheetah’s.” You know what Cheetah’s was? A GENTLEMAN’S CLUB! I couldn’t keep it together.

The next morning we went to brunch at the Plaza (no, not Cheetah’s) and came across my version of paradise. A four floor Kate Spade store. You guys, I kid you not, I was embarrassingly giddy. I won’t bore you with written words about it, pictures tell much more:

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The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Kate Spade Jewelry

The Brunette Blend-Welcome to New York-Kate Spade Decor

Isn’t it the best?! She’s seriously living colorfully up in here, while I snapped over 50 photos on my phone. #SorryNotSorry.

The rest of our trip was quick, but the most undull thing in the world. A highlight being seeing Hilary Duff on the streets of New York. I never knew what I’d say/react to seeing someone famous. Now I know. I acknowledge their exisitace and status in my head and keep walking. What I really wanted to do was run up to her and tell her how I listened to Metamorphosis on my walkman in grade school and then again on the floor of my sorority house years later. Maybe next time.

A trip for the books for sure. Anyway, stay tuned for a birthday reflections post AND my latest makeup trick (I’m LOVING it).

Talk soon!

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If you couldn’t tell by my countless puppy pictures on Instagram + Facebook, I became a dog mom in April. I’m not like other dog moms, I’m a cool dog mom *wink emoji* so Mean Girls.

JK,in real life, I actually have no idea what I’m doing. We never had a dog growing up, so this is really new territory for me. Plus, I’ve always been obsessed with cats. (I’m not joking, if you remember the Libby Lu days, my secret club name was ‘kitten.’) After four years with our sweet kitty, Lu, we were all surprised to see me toting around a golden fluff ball.

The Brunette Blend-Dog Mom Status-Indy and Samantha

It was a natural transition #MamaBearMode, but there are still days where I can’t believe what I’m doing. Indy is the pickiest and diva-est eater. I’ve never seen a dog be so ‘meh’ about his food. We’ve tried mixing dry food with canned, adding bits of protein, fish oil and even created our own dog-friendly gravy. I MADE MY DOG GRAVY. To those who know me as a cat lady, I don’t know who I am either… So I’m running out of ideas to entice him. Have suggestions? Send them my way, PLEASE!

**Update! Found a new food he likes, but still send suggestions. We better keep them in our back pocket just in case!**


Dog motherhood has been an adventure and a sweet (and sometimes stinky) one at that. I mean just today my phone slipped out of my pocket into a pile of dog poo- stinky chic, right? If I wasn’t in the dog mom club yet, I sure as hell am now. I’ve decided the poo christening sealed the deal.

The Brunette Blend-Dog Mom Status-Indy Labor Day

A lot people ask me what I think about having a dog. Indy has been a great companion and a loving distraction for when the real world is a little hard to chew. He is a snuggle bug, loves stealing socks, lounging and splashing in a baby pool and bringing you washrags when you come home. So, how do I feel you ask? I feel like I’m a crazy dog lady on top of crazy cat lady. Seriously, I can’t scroll passed a dog video on Facebook without ‘awwing.’ More importantly, I’m happy he chose to follow us around instead of another couple. I don’t think we chose him, I think he chose us.

Dog licks + bacon treats,

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My goals for The Brunette Blend are to motivate, inspire and make you laugh. Basically girl talk all the way. Its been quiet over on the blog, because I’m not feeling those things. I don’t feel motivated and I don’t feel inspired. Unlike most social media platforms, I don’t want to just showcase the highlights on The Brunette Blend. Let’s face it, life isn’t all outfits of the day, flat lays of coffee and colorful scenes from your neighborhood. Life gets dark, it tests you and runs your mascara. We need to acknowledge those moments, too.

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2016 hasn’t been my favorite year. If I’m being honest, as of right now, its my most hated. Its taken important people away, left holes in hearts and made everything move in slow motion. Even when it feels like I am, I’m not the only one.

I’m not the first person to lose a parent, a friend or a family member. I read an article recently that mentioned its essentially a club, one no one wants to be a part of.

Grieving is weird. Some days you can really push through and make it to 5pm so no one asks you how you’re feeling at work. Other days you’re paralyzed. Everyday you wish there was someway for you to wake up from this nightmare. If there is a silver lining, its that you feel this way because someone meant so much to you. They made such an impact on your life that there isn’t a day or night where they aren’t on your mind. I’m grateful to have had someone so irreplaceable make that much of an impact on my life.

I find myself consumed with it some days and have been making an effort to do things that bring me comfort and happiness in such a mess of a time. Creating this blog has brought me so much joy to share just about everything with whoever is reading (thank you again for letting me do that), working out has brought much need endorphins (maybe a few baby muscles?), my friends and family have made me laugh and the two furbabes who are just there when no one else will do.

To anyone grieving, I don’t have much experience and every experience is SO different, but the best advice I got was to feel all your feelings, do things that make you happy and DON’T listen to the people who think you should be “over it” by now, because thats not how it goes. Know that you are loved and that life is tough, but you are tougher.

Hey supernova girls! Do you ever look back at photos and say, “WHAT WAS I THINKING? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME? WHY DID I IGNORE THEM?”

via GIPHY

Yep. We’re talking beauty experiments/trends. I’m pretty sure we’ve tried similar beauty trends that didn’t stick around for too long. Let’s talk and laugh at five of them:

1. Two chunks of hair in front of your face // YOU KNOW we all did this. Half up, half down, better pull two pieces of hair to frame your face. Ponytail? Better grab two pieces of hair to cover my eyes. Let me pull two strands of hair in front of my face while I rock this thick headband, completely defeating the purpose of a headband. I get it, it was cool, WE WERE COOL.

2. Raccoon eyeliner // how is it that when we receive our very first eyeliner pencils, we immediately line our entire eye? Are we programmed to start our eyeliner journey this way? I made my eyes SO small and closed off because I’d line my waterline in black. Please don’t get me started on winged liner. I would have a weirdo line and then curl the ends. #HighschoolProbs

3. Over tanning // remember when Jersey Shore came out and everyone had to be orange? GTL FOR LIFE. Seriously, I spray tanned level three with this ghost-like skin. It probably deserved a level 1/2.

4. Brows // eye brows are so important, but the only constant about them is THE “IN” STYLE IS ALWAYS CHANGING. One day it’s cool to have thin brows, then the next day they better be full. Now we have to fill them in, which can be a disaster (I found a photo from last year and my brows, I don’t want to talk about them). Honestly, live your eyebrow life, but if you’re filling them in- PLEASE DONT OVER EXAGGERATE YOUR BROW or you’ll look like caterpillars are putting up camp.

5. Curling your hair, but straightening your bangs // once you cut ties with your two chunks of hair stage (see number 1), you moved to half bangs. Not full on bangs, but longer bangs you could push to the side. We LOVED these half bangs. We seemed more mature as this was a more adult hairstyle. We LOVED THEM SO MUCH, we had to make sure they were prominent in any hairstyle. Could my half bangs take a break and be curly? Absolutely not. Could I wear an updo without my bangs making an appearance? Absolutely not. They needed to be ready at all times. So as we pulled out our curling iron, our straightener came with, because God forbid our bangs flow with a hairstyle.

What if we tried to bring these trends back but spice them up and make them more 2016? Should we try it? Share a beauty trend you tried and let’s see how we can spice it up. We’re making fetch happen…

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Podcasts. People have been ALL about them lately, like crazy into them.

I jumped on the bandwagon about a few months ago and I can’t say I’m mad about it. I have four that that each do something different that I wanted to share. Maybe you’re looking for a different form of entertainment or a different way to soak up information, here is what I’ve been loving:

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1. The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast // I really love Lauryn’s writing style as a blogger and when I heard about this podcast, I couldn’t wait to dive in. It’s funny and upbeat, but I really love the blogging + business tidbits they share. It’s really inspiring and motivating.

2. The Joy Junkie Show // one of my friends recommended this podcast and I can’t say enough about it. She’s spunky, positive and full of empowerment. This chick could be a motivational poster. I’m always working on embracing myself and my relationships and this podcast really assists in a deeper dive. Its actually made me LOL at my desk a few times.

3. Anna Faris is Unqualified // first of all, who doesn’t love Anna? While I don’t know her personally, I feel like I do lol. Sweet and funny. Her show is nothing short of that. She has celebrity guests come on and they call people with (poor) relationship advice. Laugh out loud funny and a whole new view on how your fav celebs got started. #Inspiring

4. Serial // you guys, my guilty pleasure is crime shows. Criminal Minds + Derek Morgan. Hey. Obviously, I was interested in Serial’s mystery plot and juicy investigation. Each season, they tell a story week by week. Currently, they have two completed seasons so you can just blow right through them without a seven day cliffhanger.

They’ve been a great way to soak up knowledge and empowerment while multitasking. Its also been a nice distraction for me as my music playlists have been getting too repetitive (anyone else have different Pandora stations that all sound the same?) With working a full day and trying to get our lives together at our place, there isn’t a whole lot of down time– cue the multitasking.

Are you following any podcasts regularly? I’m exploring new ones at the moment and would love some recommendations!

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Life lately hasn’t left much room for celebration, but today we’re celebrating a life and an EIGHT month wedding anniversary (TBH: when I started writing this, I thought we’ve been married only seven months…I guess we’ve been consumed with other life events.)

First, I want to acknowledge my baby brother’s 21ST BIRTHDAY! WAAAHOOOO! I can’t believe he’s been in our lives for 21 years. He’s unique, talented, funny and an overall good person. I look forward to seeing him accomplish more and more. Another year grateful to be his sister. After all, no one quite gets you like your siblings.

The Brunete Blend-Jack Birthday

Second, its mine and Grant’s eight month wedding anniversary! Wow, typical, but time really does fly. I have no idea where I would be without him. He’s been there on my happiest day and he’s been there on my saddest- both of those happened within four months of each other. I want to take a moment and thank him for being in my corner, being patient and kind when I can’t seem to pull myself together, and loving me to an extent I cannot comprehend. A dream man I painted in my head years ago walked into my life my junior year of college and after thinking he wouldn’t be interested in me, we got married three years later.

View More: http://cicipictures.pass.us/debondt-wedding

To my husband, I’m really happy I met you. My family is really happy they met you. You are loved and appreciated beyond measure.

Nothing like starting a Friday off on a happy/emotional note, because who doesn’t want to tear up in their avocado in the morning? HA! Now that all my cheesiness is out, wishing you all a happy and cool weekend { Chicago, its supposed to be like a million degrees– get to a pool ASAP, Indy is. Will report back with puppy pool photos 🙂 }

Cheers to the weekend!

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Happy Monday! May your coffee be strong and your Monday short.

After a weekend off, how many of us are itching to wake up at the crack of dawn to put a full face of makeup on? I’m not. In effort to promote healthy skin and save time, I’m always tweaking my makeup/getting ready routine. Always on the hunt for the best and quickest.

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With a new puppy and a new wake up time, I need a quick fix for sleepy eyes. Coffee can only do so much. I’m all for a fierce cat eye, but some days I don’t have the time or the energy. Anyone else with me? If so, a new fake up (fake wake up) routine to the rescue.

Scouts honor, with this quick little routine, none of this “omg, you look tired today….” Nope. I look great and completely alert (sipping extra coffees in the corner). Check out what’s in your toolbox:

The Brunette Blend-Eye Brightening Tool Box-Eye Brightening Fake Up-Beauty

-white eyeliner pencil or white eyeshadow crayon
-highlighter // I’m hooked on Watts Up by Benefit, but a super light shadow would work, too
-mascara
-eye lash curler
Exact product links can be found at the end of the post.*

The Brunette Blend-Eye Brightening Fakeup-Makeup-Step by Step

one | on your lower lash line, line with your white eye liner. This creates the illusion of bigger and brighter eyes

two | on the inner corners of your eyes, apply a little highlighter and blend. This continues to open up those eyes.

three | curl lashes

four | apply mascara

YOU’RE ON SUCH KATY PERRY WIDE AWAKE STATUS!

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This has been my latest go to eye look, because it’s natural looking and is just so incredibly quick. Do you have any quick go to looks to share?

The Brunette Blend-eye Brightening Fake up-beauty-finish

Products Used:
NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil (Milk)
Watts Up! Cream to Highlighter Powder
Maybelline Falsies Push Up Drama Mascara

The Brunette Blend has a very special guest writer this week! Meet Lulu, a four year old tabby cat that has the personality of a sweet + salty trail mix. We wanted to share Indy’s (our new golden retriever puppy) homecoming story. Who better to tell it than Queen Lu?

The Brunette Blend-LuLu-The Homecoming

About two weeks ago, things were getting weird. Saturday night my humans came home from getting pizza and as I did my usual welcome sniffs, I smelled something strange. Apprehensive and concerned, I let it go as I waited for any pizza remains to fall to the floor (if they didn’t, I’d just knock them off the counter anyway.) Normal night and Sunday morning was most relaxing as it always is. Wake the humans up, snuggle, have a little breakfast, and lounge in the sun. Later I’d play with my favorite peacock feather as an intense workout, then retreat to a spot filled with sunshine.

The humans seemed antsy and promptly left around 5pm. I hoped for another pizza run as they didn’t leave any on the counter for me to knock off. (It seems they’ve learned their lesson after I knocked calamari on the floor to stare at it. Maybe this time I’d get a crumb to fall.)

The door opens a few hours later and that strange smell is back….and it’s not pizza. There is a whiteish/yellow colored fluff ball in the humans arms. This isn’t a cat and I’ve seen one of these before. It’s a dog puppy. I welcome it with a hiss and a few more hisses. I sit in a corner and stare as the dog puppy sleeps on the floor.

Dog puppy is referred to as “Indy.” Over the next few days Indy keeps trying to introduce himself, I hiss because I’m hangry and I don’t know how to feel about him. He follows me around with a stuffed goose in his mouth, but I’m four so I don’t care for those baby toys. Again, I prefer my peacock feather.

I soon realize the dog puppy leaves my home seven times a day, yet he always returns. Assuming he isn’t leaving anytime soon, I hiss only in emergencies and to teach him boundaries, I raise my right paw and if he doesn’t move, I swat three times. No more, no less. I don’t have claws so I know I’m not hurting the dog puppy, but teaching him to get out of my face.

My training is still in session, but I’ve allowed the dog puppy to sniff my behind and sniff my face. Again, if he crowds me, I raise my paw to signal, “GET OUT DA WAY!” I make my observations as he sleeps or when he isn’t looking. He isn’t that bad. Most of the time, I plop down a few feet away from him and even have allowed him to sit underneath the couch with me. It is quite the honor– for him, not me.

Dog puppy is cute when he sleeps. Indy is my favorite when he’s asleep. (OMG, did I refer to dog puppy as Indy?! Catching feelings over here, but would rather be catching pizza.) He’s pretty ok, but I’m still getting used to him and watching him splash in the bath confuses me, yet makes me laugh. I’m sure he’ll learn my status and respect my space. Until then.

XOXOXOXOXOXO TUnA KISSES-
LuLu

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