Mean Muggin’

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Mean Muggin’

Hi everyone and happy weekend! One present that always sits well with me are coffee mugs. Lil Red loves her caffeine, and I love novelty mugs just as much as the next person. My thing, though – is that I never use them! I guess I never really noticed the coffee mug collection that has accumulated on my desk at home until my sister pointed it out. But I can’t help myself. Mugs break, there can be dishwasher disasters, paint and pieces can chip – these are all chances that I’m not willing to take! So, I leave my precious mugs to be admired on my desk and will usually put my knick knacks in them, instead.

Here are just a few of my mugs in my collection – travel ones not included, because that’s an entirely different story!

mugmug2mug3mug4mug5

Obviously, my sister and best friends know exactly what to gift me with and all of these mugs are special to me. But, I have to admit, that I am most partial to my minion mug from my sister a la my birthday last year! I am completely Despicable Me obsessed, so Kristen really hit the nail on the head with that one. It’s the cutest! :*)

Will I ever get around to using my mug collection? Maybe. Am I mad about it? No way! Whoever said that you have to use items that you collect is a liar! What are some of the things that you collect? Do you get any use out of your collections? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Perfect Gifts For Your Photographer Friend

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Perfect Gifts For Your Photographer Friend

Due to how Christmas has developed over the years, the holiday has become more about giving presents than anything else. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – you can easily show how much someone means to you with a thoughtful and meaningful gift. You don’t have to spend millions; a smaller budget can actually make you think more about the meaning behind the gift that you’re giving.

It’s also a great opportunity to slyly slip forward your wish list for gifts that you hope will turn into reality. And for people with slightly more expensive hobbies, like photography, it can be a rare chance to get something you really really really want. Like some of the following:

Lens:

A lens can cost anywhere between fifty and five hundred dollars easily. And it really depends on the camera you have, the quality of the lens you want, and the type of lens you’re after. If you ask for a lens, maybe ask for a case for one, too. You wouldn’t want any breaks to happen immediately after you get your gift!

Cases:

Speaking of cases, a new case could really change the game for you. You might need a waterproof one, and that might just be for the camera while in use or for storage. You can get a branded case, which is designed to fit your particular camera or a generic one which is designed to house a range of sizes.

Tripods:

Ranging from large and traditional to small and versatile, a tripod is a great way to take your photography to the next level. Plus, they aren’t that expensive. Most tripods can fit a bunch of different cameras, so you don’t have to get the branded one. If you’re going to be shooting off in the wild, you might want to look a bit deeper into the specs before choosing.

Camera:

And then, there’s an actual camera. We all know how costly a good camera can be, and it’s likely that you’ve been saving for a while so you can get one yourself. Rather than asking one person to get you one this Christmas, why not ask it of multiple people? It will spread the cost, and it’ll be more likely that you can get the one you’d really like. Or you can always offer to go halfsies.

When looking for the camera you’d like, don’t just go for the flashiest model. Think about what you actually want the camera to do. Are you shooting outside or in? Will you be using a tripod more than going free hand? Do you need the best low light camera or the best portrait camera? Or even one that’s decent at doing both? There are many things to consider, and if you’re just starting out, it’s worth getting one that covers a lot of different options. As your skills develop, you’ll know exactly what kind you need when you get around to upgrading. Maybe next Christmas?

Featured Image By: Pexels

Winter Wonderland Guest Bloggers Series

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Winter Wonderland Guest Bloggers Series

Hi everyone and TGIF! I know it’s kind of early to start talking about a winter guest bloggers series BUT Lil Red loves to plan in advance so we’ll consider it perfect timing, instead. As the weather changes from cold to colder, lifewithlilred will become a toasty, warm safe haven for some holiday fun. I want all of your gift buying guides, DIY ornaments, and how many Christmas cookies you can eat in one sitting. Your favorite White Elephant present will also do just as well, if you don’t feel like playing Chubby Bunny “holiday style”!

I am hoping to get this holiday party started around the second week of December. If you are interested in being a guest blogger for my Winter Wonderland series, then shoot me an email with your post ideas at: sarah.mush6794@gmail.com !

THANKS!! ❤

Featured Image By: FunnyBeing

Why It’s Never Too Late To Learn How To Play An Instrument

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Why It’s Never Too Late To Learn How To Play An Instrument

“I should have learned to play the guitar, should’ve learned to play them drums”, so sang Dire Straits in 1985. While a total lack of musical knowledge or awareness hasn’t been an impediment to many people working in the music industry today, many of us regret either not having learned or abandoning the learning of a musical instrument. Today, we’ll look at why it’s never too late to pick up an instrument, the pedagogic and psychological benefits, as well as looking over some great instruments for neophyte musicians. Learning a musical instrument is more than just a fun hobby, it’s a valuable skill that has numerous cerebral benefits as well as being a cool trick to bust out a parties!

It’s literally never too late:

Virtually everyone benefits from some sort of creative outlet and while we’re all just sort of expected to find the right one in our teens or early twenties, many of us don’t find the right mode of self-expression until they get into middle or even old age. There are few subsets of people for whom the dexterity and mental faculties to play an instrument are prohibitive. If, for example, your arthritic hands make playing the guitar or piano problematic you may benefit just as much from learning the harmonica or the panpipes.

Getting over the learning curve:

The landfills are littered with guitars that were discarded because their owners deemed it “too hard”. Most of them were impatient children or teenagers (We all knew someone at school who quit their guitar lessons because they didn’t become a virtuoso within a month.). As an adult, you may surprise yourself with how well you navigate the learning curve. While your older mind may be set in its ways, you will have learned the value in persistence elsewhere in life.

For most instruments, unlocking the fundamentals is a huge step in smoothing out the steep learning curve. In guitar playing, for example, much of your musical vocabulary is formed by mastering the ‘barre chords’ – moveable chords. When one has the measure of these, they can play any minor or major chord from a good root position. It takes time to master, but it unlocks so much of the instrument’s potential when you do. When this obstacle is hurdled, a player has the inside scoop in learning to cover their favorite music and even learning to write their own.

Cerebral and psychological benefits:

When playing (or even listening) to music, multiple areas of the brain become active. Musicians may look calm and composed but there are firework displays in their neurons. Processing music is actually an incredibly complex mental process, giving our brains a great workout that most of the time we’re not even aware of. It keeps our brains young and aids cognitive dexterity.

Finding the right instrument:

Hopefully, you’ve been moved to consider taking up a musical instrument, but you may wonder which are the best or most accessible ‘starter instruments’. String instruments such as guitar, violin, piano, cello, and bass are fairly accessible for new learners, as are the flute and clarinet. The saxophone presents a slightly steeper learning curve but it’s so ubiquitous in so many forms of music, that learning to master it opens up a lot of doors.

There’s no such thing as the wrong instrument. Even learning an instrument that you don’t stick with tends to be a gateway to learning more. And isn’t it always fun to try new things?!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

Lil Red’s Holiday Shopping Pro Tips

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Lil Red’s Holiday Shopping Pro Tips

Howdy! I have been asked a lot recently for advice on holiday shopping, since I finished my present purchasing way ahead of the game last week. I take holiday shopping and birthday present buying very seriously, because I love to spoil my family and friends. Of course, random prezzies throughout the year are nice, but it’s fun to go hard on the major gift giving occasions. Now, I’m going to walk you through a step by step guide on my holiday shopping process to help you finish your purchasing with December to spare:

Make a list: I know that I say this all of the time, but it’s true. Type or write out all of the people that you need to shop for and then start narrowing down the best gift for him or her. What are their hobbies? What is their favorite food or type of music? What is something that they would like to have but would never buy for themselves? These are all excellent places to start.

More on gift selecting: Still stuck? Let’s talk about some of my go to present selections:

  • Alcohol is always a good choice if you’re buying for one of your girlfriends or brothers. Who wouldn’t want a six pack of Christmas ale or a bottle of vino?
  • If you’re buying for a couple, how about treating them to a date night? Gift cards for restaurants and movie theaters are a great place to start.
  • Groupon vouchers can also be a nice surprise. I received two vouchers for a Paint Nite event at a bar one year and my guest and I had an absolute ball.
  • Lotions, candles, and other bath and body care treats are also a fool proof selection if you are buying for a sister, your mom, or a girlfriend. Customize a gift set for them filled with smell goods, fuzzy socks, and a sleeping mask for the ultimate pampering party.
  • Buying a subscription is another really good option. Popping for a few months of a Netflix, Hulu, Ipsy, or Birch Box subscription is the gift that keeps on giving and they are not overly expensive.

Purchasing time: After you’ve made your list and checked it twice, it is time to move on to the actual purchasing of the presents. I prefer to do every possible bit of my shopping online, and then buy the rest of my presents in store as needed. I am a faithful member of Amazon and a majority of my shopping was done on there this year. I then went to the shops on a week day afternoon to do the rest of my buying and eliminated all of my holiday purchasing in one huge swoop.

Online shopping tips: If, like me, you prefer to shop online, then there are some steps that you can take to ensure that you are always getting the best deal. Such as:

  1. Signing up for emails or rewards programs. Most websites will give you an extra incentive to sign up for their email updates, like ten percent off a purchase or free shipping. Every little bit helps!
  2. Using websites like Retail Me Not or Honey to find coupon codes for different websites. Note that some websites rarely have promotion codes like Amazon, TJMaxx, and Zara.
  3. Do your research. Read reviews of the products that you are going to buy and Google them, as well. You can’t physically touch and look at what you’re thinking of purchasing so this is the online equivalent.
  4. Check out multiple different websites to ensure that you are getting the best deal.

In store shopping tips: I avoid shopping in store during the holidays like the plague. However, it has to be done sometimes and this is how I avoid the hustle and bustle of hitting the shops:

  1. Go shopping during non peak traffic times. A week day afternoon is ideal, but if your schedule doesn’t allow for that, then try going late in the evening or early in the morning. The less people around while you’re shopping, the better.
  2. It’s also important to make a game plan while shopping in store. Know exactly who you’re shopping for and where each item that you need is located in the store. Wandering aimlessly can be stressful and ain’t nobody got time for that.
  3. Use coupons, in store sales, and apps. Plenty of stores now use apps and rewards programs to give their customers great deals. Find them, use them, and love them. Every little bit helps!

And finally, make sure that you double check all of your items that you purchased in store or online for any defects in the products. The sooner you find a problem and correct it, the less you have to stress about it – especially if you have to ship back the item and rebuy it.

So there you have it, Lil Red’s Holiday Shopping Pro Tips! Was this guide helpful to you? What are some of your tips to holiday shopping that I didn’t cover? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Enjoying An At Home Spa Day

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Enjoying An At Home Spa Day

Many of us love the idea of heading to the spa for a day of total relaxation. Slipping on that white fluffy robe and slippers, indulging in a massage, a facial, a manicure, or pedicure. Lounging around on those beds reading a magazine and maybe enjoying a glass of champagne. It can be a girls’ dream day, but it can also be an expensive one. However, there is no reason why you can’t get the same level of relaxation at home from your very own bathroom.

There are simple things that you can change in your bathroom to make it feel more spa-like, and there are certainly bigger investments that you can make to improve how your bathroom looks. But every girl deserves a place to chill, and the throne room can be that little piece of heaven that you crave at the end of the day. Creating an at home spa experience isn’t all that difficult, so let’s discuss how to do just that:

Major Changes (If You Want!):

One of the biggest transformations that you can make to your bathroom, and also the most expensive way to achieve a new look, is to replace the bathroom entirely and fit a new suite. You could use this opportunity to change the layout and even consider something a little different like a free-standing bathtub – companies like Kardiel have a great selection! Whichever way you want to go, replacing your bathroom can be the ideal way to create an at home spa experience. While it can cost you a fair bit to remodel, it can also increase the value of your home, meaning the investment is never truly lost. Talk about a win/win!

Making Simple Updates:

If you don’t want to replace the whole bathroom, you could choose to update it in other ways. Changing the tiling you have on the floor, swapping the basin for a vanity unit, or painting the walls in a more neutral tone could really brighten up the bathroom area and change the way that it looks and feels. You don’t even have to be as extreme as getting the paint brush out, sometimes just investing in some new towels and colorful accessories or prints for the wall can give your bathroom the update that it needs.

Light All The Candles:

One of the great ways a spa can help you relax is because they have a clever use of low lighting, and one way to achieve that is through candle light. You could consider oil burners, which takes advantage of the light as well as an essential oil scent to help you relax even further. Lavender or eucalyptus are always good ones to consider. Candles also help to relax the mind, so having a nice warm bath by candle light could be the perfect remedy for a stressful day.

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 What’s your favorite candle scent?

Smartphone Savvy:

While you may be thinking that the last thing you want to be doing while relaxing in your bathroom is to be messing around on your phone, please reconsider! There are some great apps that you can download to recreate the sounds of a spa. Mood music or even listening to some guided meditation can be a great way for you to channel your thoughts and enjoy your R&R time.

DIY Treats:

Part of the spa experience is to enjoy a treatment or two, and while a massage might not be in the cards unless you have a willing partner, there are other treatments that you can easily do at home. You could consider putting on a face mask, which is a great way to deep clean your skin and pores, and adding a few slices of cucumber over your eyes might help you feel like you are actually at the spa. You could also give yourself a pedicure or manicure by filing and shaping your nails and adding a splash of color with some vanish. There are some great DIY beauty methods you could also try like coconut oil added to your hair for a conditioning treatment or creating a body scrub from coffee. You can find a ton of articles online full of ideas and recipes!

Pop Some Bottles:

Finally, whether you enjoy a glass of bubbles, your favorite wine or beer, or even just a hot chocolate or a good cup of tea, arm yourself with your favorite drink, put on your best robe, and get ready for a soothing evening in. Enjoy!

Featured Image By: Pixabay

The Model Body

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The Model Body

Hey everyone and happy Hump Day! Okay, so I came to a shocking revelation over the weekend when I saw my fourteen year old cousin at a family get together. This young woman is tall (5’7 or 5’8, easily), thin as a rail, and probably one hundred and five pounds soaking wet. She has what I would call a “model” body. Literally. She is the most modelesque person I know and she could send pictures to Teen Vogue and they would call her for a photo shoot immediately. So imagine my surprise when she told me that the skirt that she had on was

A SIZE 6!!

She told me that the size two was too tight and the store didn’t have a four, so she went with the six. My mouth probably hung open for an uncomfortable amount of time, because I wear a four. Me. Sarah. The 5’1 1/4 (Because the quarter counts!), muscular thighs and booty from figure skating, never going to be a model twenty-something. And my baby cousin who looks like she could be in a double zero was wearing a size bigger than me? It just didn’t make sense.

Now, I get that all stores have slightly different sizing. I wear a two at Express, but am generally a solid four. But I was so baffled by what my cousin told me, because she looks like a model. And if this young lady wears a four usually, like me, then what in the hell are the models on the runway and in Vogue wearing?

I can’t wrap my mind around it. If my cousin who could be on a runway right now wears a four, then could the models be wearing sizes other than the double zero, zero, and size two, which seems standard in the fashion industry? Obviously these sizes exist and they’re beautiful. But how can those sizes be so different from my equally model sized cousin?

I don’t really know where I’m going with this but I just thought it was interesting, albeit a little mind blowing. Have you ever met someone whose body type doesn’t match their clothing size? What are your thoughts on the infamous fashion industry size standards? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Featured Image By: Biz Journal