The Pretty Little Secret Blog
My secret little bubble.


How I Asked My Girls

Friday, February 19, 2016

I got ENGAGED! :)  It finally happened ladies and gentlemen, in about a year and a half I will be Mrs. Caroline L Rawlings. (I'm still trying to get used to the whole changing my last name thing...) Now we all know that no one likes to have their Facebook newsfeed filled with gushy wedding details, and for that reason I have been trying to spare my friends and family. However, I feel like I am about to burst with excitement. So instead, I am going to use this blog as my blissful wedding detail escape. Also, if you happen to read this and feel like you have some excellent wedding planning advice, feel free to share in the comments. I will eventually write a post explaining the whole "Proposal Story" (Let's just say he knocked it out of the park...not to brag, but it was pretty perfect), but for now, I am sharing what I decided on for my "Will you be my bridesmaid?" gifts.

Step 1: My Bevy 

Choosing my girls was actually a little difficult. John and I decided on having 5 members each, which meant that I had to narrow down my list .. a lot. Choosing your girls can be such a potentially awkward situation. I definitely didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or offend family members. After a couple of days and multiple lists,  I was finally able to decide on my girls and I feel pretty good about my choices. 
My advice to anyone trying to choose their bridesmaids is to put feelings aside and choose the people who you can't imagine not having by your side on your special day.  :)

2. The Gift

Before I even started to look for ideas, I knew that whatever I did had to follow certain criteria. 

I wanted it to be something that I made. 
Being in a bridal party is a pretty big commitment both financially and time wise. I wanted it to feel like I put a lot of time into asking each girl. 

It had to be something that had multiple parts.
 Since all of my girls live in different cities, I knew that whatever I did was going do have to be sent in the mail. Since obviously I could't be there with each girl,  I wanted the gift itself to have layers so that opening it was a fun and special experience. 

I wanted something personalized for each girl.
This was very important to me! I wanted my girls to feel special, so whatever I chose had to be something that could be personalized for each girl. 

With my important criteria in mind, I went to the internet's hub of creativity, Pinterest for inspiration. There are SO many great ideas on there, but the one that really stuck out to me was the Bridesmaid Box. There are a ton of different boxes and examples for inspiration and I will link all of the blogs that I specifically used. This is something that you can totally make you own, which I loved! 

3. Putting Together The Boxes

First, I went to my local craft store and found the perfect box. (Oh so exciting ;) ) 
I loved the wooden box with a frame, because what better way to personalize something than with a picture?  

I panted the outside of the box with the aqua blue and the inside with a light pink. *Make sure that if you paint your box, that you remove all hardware first!* I also hand painted each girl's name on the front of their box. Once the boxes were painted, I used my phone and a photo app to put a black and white filter on the photos that I chose, and then printed them at my local CVS. I really like how they turned out! 

I lined the inside of each box with white tissue paper and filled it with the goodies that I chose. Then, I wrapped the tissue paper and topped it off with a hand written letter. This letter will be the first thing that my girls will see when they open their box. Here is my advice for writing these letters, write a draft first, and have a box of tissues sitting next to you while you write them. I don't know maybe it was just because I am an overly emotional person who feels too much, but I literally cried...hysterically when I wrote each letter. It was ridiculous. 

Picking out the goodies inside was a lot of fun! Since our wedding is going to be on the beach, I knew that I wanted to have a tropical theme.  

Sunglasses were a must, and I found this great Etsy page, JcDezigns where I was able to completely personalize each pair. The glasses were extremely affordable and they turned out better than I imagined! In fact, I love them so much, that now John and I want to get them for the entire wedding party. She has a lot of colors and fonts to choose from, so I highly recommend checking out her page!

For a little treat I put a handful of Lindor Chocolates and a mini Malibu Rum. :) 

Since I wasn't going to be there to explain anything, I wanted to include images to give a feel for our wedding inspiration. I used the collage app on my phone, POTO, to put together two collages of Pinterest images from my wedding inspiration board. I then printed them out at Walgreens (because they have a square option) and tied them together with a neat little bow. 

The final thing that my girls will find is the little packet of information. This seems to be pretty common with the whole box idea. You can write your own cards, but I also found a few blogs that offer free printables. ( The Wedding Scoop and Wedding Chicks were my favorite) I used the free cards from The Wedding Scoop because I really liked the look of them. I tweaked them a little to say what I wanted them to say and I added a "Dress Swatch Card". She has a "Your Role Card" that was REALLY cute. If you don't want to write your own,  I would definitely check out her free printable cards. 

My flower girl is only two, but I still wanted to get her something special so I found a cute flower necklace at Target and I panted a little heart box from the craft store to match the other boxes. 

When It came to wrapping the boxes, I simply used brown craft paper, pink tags from the Target dollar bin, and pink ribbon.  

Check out Pinterest for some more ideas (there are a ton!). You can really do whatever you want with the boxes, and overall they were pretty inexpensive. 
I am so proud of how they turned out, and I can't wait for my girls to receive them! 


August Favorites

Saturday, September 5, 2015

It's September... oh my goodness we are so close to fall. To say that I am excited is a bit of an understatement... I FREAKING LOVE FALL. Though growing up in Florida had it's obvious perks, it did deprive me of really experiencing the four seasons. Now, after living in the Midwest for three years I have come to realize how much I love fall. I am SO excited for Halloween and Thanksgiving (my two favorite holidays), the leaves changing colors, crisp cool weather, tall boots, cable knit sweaters, scarves... I mean I could go on and on. 

Anyways, back to the favorites. 

1. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Facial Toner
I have been using this toner for the past six or seven months and this is my second or third bottle. I love what this product does to my skin. After I cleanse, I put a bit of this on a cotton pad and wipe down my entire face. It doesn't burn, instead it leaves a very cooling and refreshing sensation on the skin. I have a bit of hyper-pigmentation, so I love a good hibiscus toner. Hibiscus is a natural skin brightener, and this toner does a good job at really balancing the skin without stripping it of moisture. I wouldn't say that this is a miracle toner, but I definitely notice a difference if I skip this step in my regimen.
2. Neutrogena Visibly Even Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30
This product should also be known as my-holy-grail-go-to-daily-moisturizer. I have been using this moisturizer for two years now. It is everything that I want and need in a daily moisturizer. First of all, it is extremely light-weight and it has SPF 30. Bravo Neutrogena. Before I discovered this moisturizer, I had the most difficult time finding a light weight non greasy moisturizer with SPF. I don't remember how many low and high end brands that I tried, but it was a lot and everything would break me out. Not this guy. Second, it helps clear dark spots. I didn't get this moisturizer for that purpose, so when I noticed the difference in my skin it was a lovely little bonus. Clearing dark spots does take time (I noticed a huge difference after 2 months), but be patient and I promise you too will notice a difference. 
3. Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter
I discovered this little gem back in April, when I was in my friends wedding. We were getting ready and I noticed that my legs were dry. (Can't have that!) My friend let me borrow this, and the rest is history. This stuff is SO moisturizing! I like it better than ...dare I say it... my Body Shop Butters. I know, I know, but this stuff really is fantastic. It's thick, creamy, absorbs quickly into the skin, and it's not greasy. Plus it's only $4.99 at Trader Joe's. The only potential negative quality is the scent. Personally I don't mind the scent at all, but I know how sensitive people can be when it comes to scents. It smells like vanilla and coconut (more vanilla than coconut) and it doesn't linger on the skin so you can definitely wear other things over it without them clashing.
4. Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Concealer and Correcter
This has been a really good everyday under eye concealer. Maybelline claims this product will "Visibly reduce the appearance of dark circles, spots, and imperfections in just 3 weeks."... Mmmmmm I don't know about all of that, but I will say that it does do a really good job at covering up dark circles. It has a very creamy consistency and feels light weight on the skin which is what I look for in an under eye concealer. 
5. Milani Baked Powder Blush, Luminoso
This blush is no secret and has been all over the internet for a while now. I'm sure you have read or seen reviews, and really I have nothing new to add. I love this blush, it is the perfect spring/summer shade.  I picked it up at the beginning of last summer after seeing all of the positive reviews, used it all summer, and did the same thing this year.

6. Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
(Please excuse my well loved and scratched bottle)
This mascara is also no secret to the beauty world. It is truly one of the best drugstore mascaras that I have ever used. It might be a little too bold for an everyday look for some people, but I love it! This makes my lashes look so full and beautiful. For everyday wear, I will use only this on my eyes and it looks great. 

What are you loving at the moment?


The New Do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

There is something SO freaking therapeutic about a new haircut. It's empowering.   
The whole process a like a beautiful Pintrest-quotey metaphor.  You go in with all of the dead ends, the unhealthy locks, and you walk out with a fresh new healthy feeling do! Out with the old, in with the new. Am I right?? Ahh if only life were that simple. 
And what is it about hairdressers?! Do they teach some sort psychology course in Beauty School? It's the best type of therapy session. My stylist (Jenny...bless her) and I  had a long discussion about life. She patiently listened to me as I explained to her my quarter-life-crises situation, to which she responded with a lot of intelligent advice. It's oddly comforting to know that there are other people who struggle of have struggled with the same problems as you. 
Basically what I got out of my haircut/therapy session with the wise Jenny was that sometimes you just have to take risks and put yourself out there. It's Ok to feel lost. No one knows what they are doing half the time anyways. Just find something that interests you and dive in.
Not bad advice huh?


Our River Adventure

Monday, August 24, 2015

Happy Monday! 

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. 
Saturday we spent the day running errands, which was pretty unexciting until we passed a new thrift store. Obviously we had to check out! 
I found these two beautiful vintage vases for a whopping $1.99 a piece...boy do I love a good thrift store! The textures are fantastic, and I really like the scalloped edges. I haven't decided how I'm going to use them yet, but I am sure I will figure out something!  


The day ended with an adventure to the river with the pups. We had such a lovely time exploring, splashing, and getting muddy. The combination of the gorgeous weather and the beautiful scenery made me really miss camping. 

I love my little family with my whole heart.

How was your weekend?


Take A Walk

Monday, August 10, 2015

One of the things that I have been trying to work on this week is getting outside. The weather has been perfection, which can be a rare phenomenon for North East Ohio. 
When I was younger my siblings and I basically lived outside. From the moment we woke up to well past when the sun went down we were outside-especially in the summer. We would let our imaginations run wild playing anything from pretend zoo to pretend house. I remember during one summer we created our own Hawaiian themed summer camp called Camp Hula Hula. (the shows Bug Juice and Johnny Tsunami were big then) We set up our tents in the backyard and camped out for a few days with our cousins and neighborhood friends. It was legit, we even had a bonfire and leis. :) 

As I have gotten older, I've lacked on my outside time. (This is where that whole making excuses bit come into play) However, I made a conscious effort to get outside for at least 30 min every day last week, and I have to say that the results have been fantastic. There is nothing like fresh air. I feel so calm and at peace when I am outside, so anytime that I have felt stressed of anxious I go for a walk with the dogs. It really helps to clear my mind and put things back into perspective, plus the dogs love it! 

It has also made me realize that Cleveland has some pretty fantastic Metro Parks. I have lived here for three years, and have never really taken advantage of the beautiful trails. It makes me really excited for fall, when all of the leaves start to change. 


My Journey Towards A Happier and Healthier Me

Friday, August 7, 2015

Have you ever been in an unhealthy relationship? Though the situations vary, the signs are always the same. We find ourselves making excuses even when we know it is wrong. Denial becomes the norm and you have to convince yourself that you are happy so often that you eventually start to believe it. However, there is always this feeling of reality in the pit of your stomach that you can never completely get rid of, so you try your best to suppress and bury it down.

There is always that moment when we reach our breaking point. All of the sudden we become sick of all the bullshit. The excuses don't work anymore and the reality that you buried for so long bursts out and smacks you right in the face. You start to see things from a different perspective. It's almost like a veil has been lifted from your eyes. Enough becomes enough, you are only human and you can only take so much. 

What do you do when you have the humbling realization that the unhealthy relationship in your life is the one that you have with yourself? You step back to see all of the excuses and the denial. Then, just when you've had enough, out bursts that slap of reality right in the face. The reason that you have been so unhappy isn't where you live or what you are doing, it's you. You are your own biggest obstacle.  

For the past three years I suffered with a serious case of quarter life crisis. I graduated and moved across the country to a new city. I won't go into detail, but long story short I started to feel lost and extremely unhappy. I fell into a depression, and things got pretty bad. However, I reached my breaking point. I don't remember what prompted it, but I do remember the moment where I thought to myself, "I don't want to live like this anymore."  The first step to fixing every problem is to first acknowledge that there is a problem. It sounds so simple, but I had to take responsibility for how I was feeling. Up until that moment I had blamed my unhappiness on everything else that was or wasn't happening in my life. 

We are responsible for our own happiness. Accepting that responsibility is both humbling and empowering.  I can definitely tell you that it's not easy, but once you do it changes everything. 

So, now I am ready to get out of my own way and start living my life.
 I have decided to use my little blog as a diary to keep track of my progress.

Step 1: Take responsibility for my own happiness...check. 


March Favorites!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's been a little while, but I am back with a blog face lift! My old theme was really starting to get on my last nerve. For whatever reason it continued to have technical glitches, so I alas, I decided to invest in a new template. Thank goodness, because I am very happy with the new look! Looking for a new blog theme can be maddening. After a while they all start to look the same and it becomes a big blur.  Amanda has some beautiful templates, so if you are in the market I highly recommend checking out her Etsy Page

March Favorites

1. NXY Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator
2. Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain "Honey"
3. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Boosters Facial Cleanser
3. Dove Nutrium Moisture Body Wash "Almond Cream with Hibiscus"
4. Vaseline Intensive Care Healing Serum "Deep Repair"
5. Revlon Colorstay Longwear Nail Enamel "Rich Raspberry"
6. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri "Set Sail"

The theme for March was hydration, radiance, and pops of color. A.K.A I am SICK of the cold and I'm ready for a warm spring. Seriously though, to say that I was in an all out war with the depressing Cleveland winter is an understatement. I am a Florida girl at heart, so I have learned quickly that I don't do well with long periods of grey, dry, and cold.  However, the past two days have actually been quite nice. Hopefully the worst is over... I mean it's April now so spring has to show up sometime right?! 

1. I have been mixing this beautiful pinkish illuminator with my everyday foundation to help with my dull skin problem. When I apply this it really helps give my skin a natural and pretty glow. It reminds me of NARS Copacabana, only not as thick and not as pricey. I am all about drugstore dupes, and I have to say that for the price, it is definitely worth giving a try!

2. I know everyone raves about this lip product, and there is definitely a reason! I feel like I wore this pretty much every day in March. It really is the PERFECT everyday lip color. The formula is hydrating and the staying power is amazing. Plus it smells like mint. :) 

3. I am a big fan of the Neutrogena Gel Cleansers. This little guy grabbed my attention for two reasons. The first reason was the White Tea and Vitamin E just because it sounded appealing. Second it claimed to boost radiance without over drying. Well obviously I had to give this a try, and I am glad that I did! Snaps for you Neutrogena.  My skin has been loving this cleanser, and I have definitely noticed a difference. I might even go as far to say that this may be my favorite of their gel cleansers. 

3&4. Alright time for my dry skin annihilating duo! Like I have said over and over, this winter has been hell on my skin. Everything has been SO dry. For a while there things were cracking and flaky...ugghh ain't nobody got time for that! Well finally enough was enough and I went out on a mission to find some solutions. Ohhh let me tell you, I found them! 
Lets start with the body wash. It is SO thick and creamy. My skin just drinks it in every time I use this wash. Plus can we just take a minute to appreciate the smell of this product?......Ahhh. It is one of the most amazing smelling body washes that I have ever used. I am a huge fan of almond scents, but Dove just decided to take it to a whole new level with the hibiscus. It is absolutely delicious. 
Next is the lotion. I have been applying this every time I get out of the shower and also to my hands and feet before bed. It has done wonders to my skin. It absorbs pretty fast and it isn't greasy, which is always nice. This also smells really good. (Not as good as the body wash ;) )

5&6. These little babies were my pops of color for the month of March.  Due to the lack of spring here, I haven't felt like busting out the pastels yet. These colors have been nice transition shades. The formulas for both are pretty great. I only needed two coats and they didn't take long to dry. 

I hope that it is warmer where you are and that you are enjoying every last bit of it! Let me know what you are loving this month.