5 Minute + Dewy + Inexpensive Everyday Makeup Routine

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5 Minute + Dewy + Inexpensive Everyday Makeup Routine

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Picnic in the Tujunga Hills + Guide To Having Fun Without Spending Money

AKA How To Get Lit While Broke As A Joke. 

 

Hi, I'm Heather and I'm The Cheap Friend.

No matter what group I am in, I'm the one who is ordering an appetizer for dinner and refilling mini bottles to drink in the bathroom instead of ordering at the bar. And I'm proud of it. :)

This summer, I'm writing more about how I paid off my student loans in six months, decorated my apartment on a shoe string, and got a big, cheap engagement ring on the deal of the decade. 

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Recently I ran off into the mountains to have a picnic with my lovely girls Brenda and Jen (Check out their fashion blogs! Brenda's blog is here and Jen's blog is here .)

This outing got me thinking about all the quirky parties and hangouts that Chris and I have hosted over the years. Here's a great big list of ideas and tips for having fun with the gang from Friday-Sunday without emptying the piggy bank.

Guide to Having Fun Without Spending Money

1. Plan to meet at home and cook a lunch/snack basket together before heading out.

2. Compete to see how much food you can sneak into a movie theatre. Chris and I used to pack up entire mac and cheese casseroles, asparagus, and desserts in plastic bags and then once the lights went down, we'd pop out paper plates and pass the potluck around to our friends. Tacky, yes, but I doubt that it's the most tacky thing people have done in the dark of movie theaters. ;) 

3. Instead of going out to brunch, pop out the Pinterest and find a fun mimosa recipe. A $2 box of bisquick feeds the whole fam some waffles, and nobody will mind bringing a topping. Not only will you impress your friends but you'll save $$.

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4. Follow the Facebook pages for your city. They announce special events and have great discounts for locals.

5. If one of your friends has a pool in her apartment, have a weekend pool party with themed snacks and an upbeat playlist. Don't forget to play chicken!

6. Pre-game before the club. Always pre-game. Since you're already taking an uber (don't drink and drive babe), invite the squad to meet at your place first and have some shots. Don't forget to pack an extra mini bottle for your purse. Ten dollars a shot is NEVER worth it. :(

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7. Instead of going out to dinner, pack up some chips and guac and a little limeade and drive to the tallest view in your city. Watch the sunset and enjoy a real view with your dinner. 

8. Instead of spending money on pilates classes, take a hike with your gal pals. Extra points if someone brings a dog. 

9. DON'T GO TO THE MALL. EVER. I REPEAT. THE MALL IS DANGEROUS AF. NO PRETZEL IS WORTH $9 EVER. 

10. Create a pillow fort and watch Netflix in the living room. Who are we kidding, though. You're going to spend the whole time taking pics of the adorable little fort for the 'gram. 

11. Most libraries let you rent projectors for a very low price. Use a Pinterest recipe to pop some kernels on the stove (Popcorn that isn't sold in the microwaveable bag is actually wicked cheap and 100x yummier) and invite everyone over for some Broad City on the big screen, I mean, er,  the big wall. 

12. Instead of going shopping, take turns visiting each other's closets and picking out new outfits that you never might have thought of. And this is just me, but if I was in your closet, I would have the time of my life with the right music, the right drink, and three hours to organize it. 

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13. Game time! The app store has soooooo many free games to play with your group, and I don't just mean charades. Board games are so 2016. 

14. Spaghetti night! Spaghetti noodles are literally $1 and garlic bread is the same price. If more than three friends are coming, we're automatically having a spaghetti night with some new twist on my pasta sauce recipe. 

15. Budgets don't have to mean the end of fine dining. Chris and I like to cook a candle lit dinner together at home, then speed off to our ritzy dinner reservation for dessert. A $20 lava cake split between the two of us still makes a romantic night, and there's no morning after money guilt. 

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16. Pizza is the answer for eating out with friends! On my picnic with Jen and Brenda, we grabbed a vegan Blaze pizza and a bottle of Barefoot white wine. An $8 pizza split between three people ain't a thing! Make sure that if you do family-style eating out with your friends, you always get the Venmo hot and ready BEFORE the food arrives. Once the food disappears, the memories of agreeing to split the bill start to disappear. 

17. Get an underground dance party rolling! I went to college in a tiny town and we didn't have Salsa dancing bars and clubs. So we made our own dance parties! Chris has an outdoor bluetooth speaker that packs a punch as far as volume is concerned, so we sent out a mass text and drove to cool spots to dance the night away. Airstrips, gym parking lots, yoga studios after hours, my friend's basement, private beaches, and a random field with a blazing bonfire became the new dance floor. 

18. How to get an entire group buzzed on a few dollars: make sangria! For our engagement party, my best friend Molly made varieties of sangria with lemon juice, lemonade concentrate, orange juice, Costco's red wine, triple sec, and club soda. She floated slices of lemon, orange and lime, and maraschino cherries in the mixture. It cost about $50 to get 25 people buzzed for a night of toasts and dancing. 

20. For a classy double date, Chris and I love to host in our apartment with yummy appetizers and a cocktail. Instead of buying those Trader Joe's frozen appetizers, I buy a two pack of $3 pre-rolled pie crusts and make Galettes! It's sooooo cheap and easy: just unroll the crust and spread out pesto (don't forget to buy the cheap stuff at Costco), add tomatoes, and top with vegan, feta, or goat cheese (dribble a little balsamic vinegar for extra pizzaz). Bake it until the edges are brown and crispy. We always get ooo's and ahhh's and our guests never realize that we went with the cheap option. ;)

 

Got more cheap fun ideas? Leave a comment! xoxo

 


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How I Got A Big, CHEAP Engagement Ring

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How I Got A Big, CHEAP Engagement Ring

I got my bling bling without the financial sting. 

Watch my shopping adventure here!

 

My hunt begins

Storytime:

Last year, Chris asked me to be his forever best friend. 

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He gave me the perfect ring: thin band, sparkly, and handmade with a unique design.

I was happy as a bumble bee. 

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Six months later, someone watched me take it off for safekeeping before I went to the beach, and they stole it out of my car.

I was heart broken. 

On the bright side, Chris hadn't paid the average engagement ring ticket. In fact, he gave me the ring with a whisper that once we were more financially stable, there would be an upgrade. 

So when we both finished paying off a sizable amount of student loans, we started browsing for big rock rings.

And HOLY DOOZY.

I quickly learned that engagement rings are a gigantic toilet flush of money.

(I'm sorry to whoever that offends*)

*but not very much.

The moment someone walks out of a jewelry store with their Sparkly, the resell value drops to around 25%.

Also, while we're on the topic, I have to take the opportunity to get on my soapbox and talk about How Diamonds Are A Driving Force In Bloody Wars And Human Injustices and also how It's Very Hard To Actually Prove If A Big Diamond Is Conflict Free. (Source? Google it honey.)

The Cheaper Option

Lab grown diamonds have the exact same chemical makeup as regular diamonds. They are just are durable and sparkly. And they look identical: diamond detectors will not be able to detect a difference. The main difference? Lab grown diamonds are $500-$1,500 a carat. Mined diamonds are $3,000-$6,000 a carat. 

I was sold.

I checked out some online stores for the deals, and I discovered that similar to the 4 C's that determine the quality and value of diamonds, (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat), lab grown diamonds have variance in their brilliance and quality. It's tough to know if an online store is really selling the quality stuff. 

With prices up to $5,000 for a lab-grown diamond, I felt like I couldn't risk it. 

 

The Costco of Ring Shopping

Then we discovered the Downtown Los Angeles Jewelry District. There are 5,000 jewelry designers, wholesale sellers, retailers, and family-owned shops in a radius of just several blocks. 

It's not fancy. Nobody will offer you white wine. Most of the sellers are squeezed into an indoor market place with booths and paper signs announcing the sales. But for diamond lovers, this is a slice of heaven. 

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How To Navigate The Jewelry District

1. Know Your Shiz

In the jewelry district, the setting and the diamond are usually sold separately, so have your browsing stage completed before you arrive. Know the average prices and have a photo of the type of design you're looking for. Once you click with a seller, they will often create a custom replica or negotiate with other sellers to find the same ring. 

2. Be Firm

Finding the good deal means saying NO to many other offers from sellers who are hoping that you're just a little naive. Start by naming your budget and say exactly what you're looking for in quality. If they give you the old go-around, walk away and try one of the other 4,999 sellers. 

3. Negotiate 

Once you get a price quote, visit other sellers and tattle. "That seller over there offered me $2,500 for this ring. Can you make a better deal?"

4. Do A Little Sniffing

Read some reviews online and pick your stores. Make sure that before you purchase, you write down the return and warranty terms. Have a very clear agreement of expectations and ask to see the diamond tested along with the certification. If something goes south, there isn't a store manager to help, so be smart about it, babe. 

My Diamond Ring

And here it is! My diamond is being custom made right now, but this picture comes close. 

The ring will be a yellow gold thin band studded with mined diamonds (lab-grown diamonds are ridiculously hard to find in a setting so I went with tiny conflict-free diamonds from Canada). 

Including the 1.7 cushion cut lab-grown rock and studded halo, the total carat count is 1.83. (Just between you and me I'm telling my mother that it's 2 carat shhh.)

 

Let's compare prices here. 

Mined Diamond

At stores like Zales and Kay's, this cut and pure color without any inclusions would go for around $20,000.

Online sellers might price it for $13,000-$18,000.

In the Jewelry District, the mined diamond would be sold around $5,000-$10,000, depending on the negotiating. 

Lab Grown Diamond

Brilliant Earth and other online sellers sell the exact same ring for $3,500-$5,000.

In the Jewelry District, I bought my colorless, brilliant cut, 1.83 carat lab-grown diamond for $1,499. 

I feel like that last sentence made a boom so I'm just going to leave you with some pictures of my outfit during the Ring Shopping Spree. 

Don't forget to watch the video at the top and leave a comment!

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Three books that will get you off the dang couch

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Three books that will get you off the dang couch

THREE BOOKS THAT WILL GET YOU OFF THE DANG COUCH:

  1. GIRL BOSS

 

 

I was at my best friend Joelle’s house last summer and I was six days away from starting my starting my first full-time corporate job on top of my own business. It felt like that feeling when the rollercoaster bar has already locked but the ride hasn’t started yet. And then I found GIRLBOSS on her bookshelf, read it cover to cover while she was at work, and scared her brother from laughing myself into a bellyache in a completely empty room.

 

Chris and I watched the Netflix spin-off of the book and he immediately disliked the Sophia character. She comes from a messy background and starts her business as a messy woman. She’s hot headed, undisciplined, and unprofessional. She’s not a likeable heroine. But for all those reasons, I love her. Sophia does not pretend to have it all together. She isn’t The Perfect Woman.

But she still went on to become one of the most successful self-made women.

 

If Sophia can defeat the odds through soul-wearing hard work, I can, too.

 

2. Becoming the Boss

 

It took me a good two years to learn how to college. Nobody told me in freshman orientation that even though professors aren’t supposed to pick favorites, they do, so never ask questions that might doubt their expertise. Don’t walk barefoot in the dorm halls. Ever. And 90% of getting an A is just organizing your time and planning your week ahead.

When I started working a big corporate job, I was anxious to learn the rules. My coworker suggested that I read Becoming the Boss and even let me borrow her copy (note to self: give it back to her). I wouldn’t say that this book covers any new, ground breaking advice. It’s a collection of all the tried-and-true rules that you need to know whether you’re opening up your first Etsy shop or getting hired at an organization with 3,000 employees.


 

3. The Productivity Project

 

If you’ve ever wondered, “Hmmm, what would my day look like with 100% maximum efficiency,” Chris Bailey can tell you.

Quite frankly, Chris goes into such meticulous detail and painstaking analysis of all productivity methods that he manages to make productivity feel less sexy. His productivity methods make him a force of nature, but less of the Limitless Bradley Cooper and more of the Sheldon Cooper (Just break the rules once ya nerd).

However, if there’s any source that you can put absolute faith in, you can trust the unwavering stickler Chris Bailey. Buy his book and skim it until you find a gold gem, then write it down.

My personal gem: choose three things I day that I want to accomplish. Not a list. Three. Things. Say them like a mantra.

Also, choose three things that I’m working towards completing this week. Another three things this month. This year. The next five years. Three is easy to remember and not overwhelming. There’s some sort of sticky magic about the three things; they become a mission statement and an identity. Try it. It works!

 

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