Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GIVEAWAY // Win a $1,000 Gemvara Gift Card (+ My Specially Designed Necklace)

GIVEAWAY // Win a $1,000 Gemvara Gift Card at Bubby and Bean!

As you guys are probably well aware by now, I have an almost 7 month old daughter who is my very favorite thing in the entire world.  Hands down.  She was born in December, and for my birthday, my sister had a lovely ring made for me with a Topaz (December's birthstone) stone, and my daughter's name engraved on this inside.  It's so special and personal, and I treasure it so much.  So when Gemvara contacted me about working with them to design a piece of jewelry, I knew that I wanted to create something along the same lines - something beautiful and unique, dedicated to my Essley.

For those of you who aren't familiar with them, offers customizable fine gemstone jewelry online - with 29 different gemstones, 9 precious metals, and hundreds of styles to choose from. What I love most about them is that they allow you to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece that captures a personal story or unique inspiration.  From rings to necklaces to earrings to bracelets and more, they have endless options for creating a piece of fine jewelry exactly to your liking.  And each piece is crafted by hand, by artisans in their Gemvara New York workshop.  How cool is that?

I had so much fun on their website, looking through all of the stunning options they offer and trying out different pairings until I was able to fully customize the exact piece that I wanted.  I ended up putting together a necklace: a round-cut solitaire pendant in 14k white gold, paired with an 8mm Blue Topaz gem, and 1.4mm 14k white gold cable chain.  I wanted a simple and timeless design, with a delicate chain that would really showcase the Blue Topaz, in honor of Essley.  The process of designing exactly what I wanted - from the type of accessory itself to the choice of metal and weight, to the size and color of the gemstone, to the style of the chain - was so easy and enjoyable from start to finish.  To be able to create such a meaningful piece of fine jewelry, with each detail precisely the way I wanted it, was a really incredible experience.  When it arrived and I saw it in person, I actually got a little teary.  It's absolutely flawless, and I've been wearing it everyday.  I plan to pass it down to Essley when she's older, so it's kind of a family heirloom in the making. Even the packaging was gorgeous.  It also came with a certificate of authenticity that lists the fine metals and stone, and states that it was designed by me.  So, so special.

And now that I've gushed about how much I love my necklace, I get to deliver the best news of all.  One of you is going to get to create your own special piece (or pieces!) of fine jewelry at Gemvara as well, because they are giving Bubby and Bean readers the chance to win a $1,000 gift card (yes, $1,000)!

Just use the entry form below.  There are several ways to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through July 30th, 2014 and is open to Bubby and Bean readers worldwide.  The winner will be randomly chosen and announced here shortly after.

Many, many thanks again to for giving me the chance to create such a lovely, meaningful necklace, and for giving Bubby and Bean's readers the chance to win a truly incredible prize!  Good Luck!

This post/giveaway is in partnership with Gemvara. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Bubby and Bean by allowing me to share occasional sponsored content.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My Style // Rock N' Roll Gypsy

My Style: Rock N' Roll Gypsy // Bubby and Bean
My Style: Rock N' Roll Gypsy // Bubby and Bean

I'm going to cut to the chase and admit that this outfit is kind of elaborate for me, at least in comparison to what I normally wear.  Although I love the whole rock n' roll revival/outlaw country/boho gypsy biker thing that's big right now, I'm lazy and simple and usually opt for a more uncomplicated approach when it comes to dressing.  Give me a short, gauzy embroidered dress, some moccasins, and a couple of bracelets, and I'm good to go.  This evening, however, we were going to a bonfire party and I decided to trade in my regularly scheduled minimalist-hippie style dress for something a little tougher (and, clearly, with more accessories and pattern mixing). Also, any excuse to wear one of my Guns N' Roses tees is a good one in my book.

This was also one of those evenings last week where it cooled down enough to bust out the jean jacket and maxi skirt, two pieces that I usually reserve for early fall.  And although I am in the blogger minority when it comes to being smitten with fall (I much prefer summer), it was fun to trade in mini dresses and shorts just for a day.

My Style: Rock N' Roll Gypsy // Bubby and Bean
My Style: Rock N' Roll Gypsy // Bubby and Bean

Let's talk about this insanely gorgeous scarf for a minute.  It's the 'Jubilance-Sunset Scarf' from Beau Monde Organics, a small company out of LA that makes some truly stunning, all-season scarves from organic cotton.  Each scarf is printed with original art by designer Stephanie Gale (you can read more about her here), and created here in the USA using eco-safe, ethical methods.  I chose this particular style for its boho-vibed print and earthy shade (which is even prettier in person), and have had so much fun mixing it up with different outfits and accessorizing it in different ways.  Using it as a head scarf is probably my favorite way to wear it, but it also looks really cute around the neck and as a belt. 

My Style: Rock N' Roll Gypsy // Bubby and Bean
My Style: Rock N' Roll Gypsy // Bubby and Bean
Scarf: c/o Beau Monde Organics  //  Skirt: Urban Outfitters (similar)  //  Tee: old
Jacket: thrifted  //   Earrings: c/o Jade Stone Jewelry  //  Sandals: c/o Blowfish
Sunglasses: H&M  //  Bracelet: gifts  //  Rings: gift + my grandmother's  //  Necklace: F21 

Sometimes it's fun to take your everyday style up a notch.  Despite the plethora of accessories and textures and patterns going on here, which was truthfully a lot in comparison to my usual 'uniform,' I still felt comfortable and like 'myself.'  Maybe I need to play around like this more often. 

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Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Tips for Beginning Runners (+ My New Favorite Running Shoes)

5 Tips for Beginning Runners (+ My New Favorite Running Shoes) // Bubby and Bean

For the most part, I've always done my best to live a healthy lifestyle.  I've been a vegetarian since I was 15, I have a green smoothie for breakfast every morning, I've done yoga for years, and I try to walk as much as possible.  But recently, in an effort to drop these few remaining pounds of baby weight and get stronger in general, I came to the conclusion that it was time to take it up a notch.  So I decided to start running.  Or at least try it out.

I should preface this by saying that I am not a "woohoo, let's hit the gym!" type of person.  At all. I loathe cardio. I was in track in middle school, and it ended up being one of the only activities in my life that I quit half way through. I am not a runner by nature.  But I am determined.

I am also not a running expert.  My husband, however, has been running on and off his entire life, and in the past year, has started running marathons and half-marathons.  He runs several times a week - sometimes everyday.  So I asked him to share some tips with me, which, as a beginning runner myself, I've found to be incredibly useful.  I thought I'd share them here as well, in case any of you have been thinking about starting a running routine of your own.

1. Get a pair of good running shoes.  This is probably the most important tip of all, and the one on which I'm going to go into the most detail.  My first run was earlier this summer and I ran with shoes that weren't designed for running, against the advice of my husband.  I ended up with shin splints and horrible pain in my knees that kept me from running (or even going for walks) for almost two weeks.  Thankfully, I wised up, did some research on women's running shoes, and ultimately chose a pair of Nike Women's Flyknit Lunar 2 trainers from JD Sports.  (And in a world of ultra bright running shoes, of course I chose black. I'm not predictable at all in my fashion color choices, am I?)  The difference with these shoes, both during and after running, is astounding.  They're probably the lightest weight shoes I've ever put on my feet, but they're also incredibly supportive.  My joints immediately felt the difference when my feet hit the pavement - rather than harsh shocks up through my legs, I felt cushioned and comfortable.  The fit is ideal as well - the upper hugs my feet without feeling constrained.  After a couple of wears they started to feel like they were custom molded to my feet, which was beyond cool.  Whereas my other shoes felt like they were taking away from my run because I was constantly aware of them (as were my joints - ow!), these feel like they're supplementing my run (and feel weightless on my joints).  Even if you're only planning on going for the occasional run, your body will thank you for investing in a great pair of shoes meant specifically for running.  (Note: Robbie also suggests going up a size in running shoes from your regular shoes, as your feet actually increase in size when you run. True story.)

2. Follow the 'slow and steady wins the race' mantra.  Don't push yourself to go fast or for too long at first.  Running at a gentle speed and slowly increasing distance will allow your body to develop the proper muscles and more easily convert oxygen to energy over time.  You can also run/walk/run/walk (this is what I do).  And don't forget to stretch afterward.

3. Change things up.  Running the same route every time will eventually become boring.  Try running in different places.  It makes for more interesting runs, which will ultimately motivate you to continue more than if you followed a repetitive routine.  It will also work out different parts of your body since you'll be running on different terrains.

4. Allow time for rest and recovery.  I tend to get really pumped about new things, and I want to go all out immediately.  Even after my first run and the intense pain that my bad shoes caused, I wanted to go again the next day.  Robbie encouraged me to be patient and allow myself to recover, so I did.  And he still has to remind me between runs to take time for rest.  This is important for building muscle and also to avoid injury, especially if you're just starting out like I am.

5. Stay hydrated.  This one might seem obvious, but it's something I tend to forget, and it's imperative.  If Robbie is going on a long run, he will drive to a half-way point in advance and hide a bottle of water so that he doesn't have to run with it, or he'll plan to run by a park with drinking fountains.  If he's running with our baby, he puts a water bottle in the jogging stroller.  We always remember to drink extra water throughout the day on run days too. (Note: Robbie says to freeze a water bottle the night before a run if you plan to stash it half way.  That way it will be nice and cold when you run by and pick it up!)

I hope that these tips are helpful to those of you who are beginning runners or thinking of starting a running routine!  Now that I finally have a pair of great running shoes, I'm planning on making it a regular part of my life as much as possible.  I'd love to hear any tips or suggestions you guys might have as well!
Shoes c/o JD Sports.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Our Favorite Nail Polishes, Summer 2014 Edition

By Beauty Contributor Morgan Rainwater

Our Favorite Nail Polishes, Summer 2014 Edition // Bubby and Bean
1. 'I'm Addicted' Nail Color, Essie  //  2. 'Snow Me White' Nail Color, Sinful Colors  //  3. 'Cocktail Bling' Nail Color, Essie  //  4. 'Electric Lane' Top Coat, Nails, Inc.  //  5. 'Penny Talk' Nail Color, Essie  //  6. 'Top Seal' Top Coat, Nail Bliss  

One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday evening in an an effort to clear out my mind for a new school week (I'm a high school teacher by day) is to paint my nails.  I find it extremely relaxing, and my students love to see what I've done each week.  I was introduced to my favorite brand of polish, Essie, years ago and I've been hooked ever since.  There are a few other brands I use as well, and I probably pick up a new bottle every other week.  My husband enjoys teasing me when I show him my new weekly score: "Don't you have that color already?" Clearly he just doesn't understand the subtle shade differences that I find so incredibly important. ;)

My current favorite is from Essie's 2014 neons collection.  It's called I'm Addicted, which seems rather fitting.  I also love shades of grey, and Essie's Cocktail Bling is awesome.  Although it tops my list for polish brands, Essie is on the high end of the price scale at around $8.50 a bottle, which can add up over time.  If you're on a budget, I've also had a lot of luck with a brand called Sinful Colors (I'm loving Snow Me White right now).  They make hundreds of colors and you can find them many places for $1.99. 

And don't forget the top coat.  Like some bling?  My favorite glitter polish is made by Nails Inc.,  called Electric Lane.  It is a holographic top coat that just looks like silver glitter in regular light, but the second the sun or bright light hits it, it looks like someone turned on the Christmas lights.  The best regular top coat ever is called Top Seal by Nail Bliss and can be found at Sally Beauty Supply.  It will make your polish shine and keeps it chip free for at least a week.

Who else is a nail polish fiend?  I'd love to hear your current favorite shades and brands! - Morgan

Thank you to Morgan for this great roundup of her current favorite nail polish picks!  In addition to sharing her regular favorites, tips, and tutorials as Bubby & Bean's Beauty Contributor, Morgan is a high school Psychology and Sociology teacher, who, in her free time, can be found gardening, cooking (you can see some of her recipes here), drinking wine, or moonlighting as an amateur makeup artist.  

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Do You Know Your Neighbors? (+ a Giveaway from Kettle Brand!)

Do You Know Your Neighbors? (+ a Giveaway from Kettle Brand!)

In a world where we spend a whole lot of time locked into our electronic devices, it seems like there is less and less time spent connecting with our real life neighbors.  I don't know about you guys, but I've only met a handful of people in my neighborhood, and I don't even know most of their names.  This feels like such a change from my childhood, where we knew everyone living in the houses that surrounded us!  I love sharing online, and I love the community that exists through social media, but I also think it's important to join together with the people who share a street with you - and it's something that I'm determined to work on as the summer continues.  It's such a simple (yet powerful!) act to bring a neighbor a small gift like a houseplant or some snacks, or even to just say hello.

Speaking of neighborhood connections, I'm sure you're familiar with Kettle Brand - I've personally been a huge fan of their fresh, delicious chips for years.  This summer, they're kicking off their "Hey, Neighbor" program, which is designed to inspire neighbors to connect, with the ultimate goal of establishing strong communities - something they have been committed to for more than 30 years.  They recently sent me a sharing kit that contained two super cute tote bags, each filled with snacks - one for me, and one to give to a neighbor.  The kit also came with a fun "Get to Know your Neighbor" card.  So I filled out the card and brought one of the totes over to a neighbor's house.  And they were stoked!  Their names are Nick and Alicia, they have two dogs, a baby only a few months older than Essley, and they're awesome!  (And they told us the next day that they were big fans of the Backyard Barbeque flavor.  We are too!)  I think it's really cool that Kettle put together such a positive program  - one that genuinely motivates us to build solid relationships in our neighborhoods.

And now for the best part... Two of you are going to get "Hey Neighbor" kits of your own - one for yourself, and one to share with a neighbor!

To enter, just use the Rafflecopter entry form below.  There are several ways to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through July 23rd, 2014 and is open to Bubby and Bean readers with a U.S. shipping address.  The winner will be randomly chosen and announced here shortly after.

If you want to join in on the fun right away (or if you're not one of the lucky winners), you can purchase a summer sharing kit at throughout the summer.  (They're only $9.99, which includes free shipping!  Woot!)  And if you want to really want to go big and organize a neighborhood party, Kettle Brand has developed all the tools to make it easy, including invites, name tags and "Get to Know Your Neighbor" cards, which are available for free download right here.

What about you?  Do you know your neighbors?  (Whether or not you do, say a quick hello to them today! You'll be glad you did.  Promise.)

This post/giveaway is in partnership with Kettle Brand. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Bubby and Bean by allowing me to share occasional sponsored content.

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