Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Inspirational Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone! Can you believe that it's the last day of March already? Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the blog hop today, I want to leave you with some inspiration that I've been aspiring to recently.

This week I am one of the four co-hosts joining us for the "Meet & Greet Blog Hop". 

Rules of the Blog Hop:

1. Follow your host(s) and cohost(s)
2. Submit your link
3. Stop by other blogs, say Hi and mingle!!!
5. Tweet about the blog hop

Classy Sassy & a Bit Smartassy

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Monday, March 30, 2015

How I'm Trying to Save Money Part II

Alanna & Company: Saving Money Tips and Tricks

Alright so here's my recap of what happened with my spending goals. I decided mid-February that I'll write out some goals for myself to help me save money. 

  1. Only buying Starbucks/Dunkin' Donuts if I have a gift certificate or my company is paying for it. Good but not 100%, there are just those days you really need a latte in your life. But, if anyone is having a Starbucks giveaway any time soon LET ME KNOW!

  2. I will be taking out my credit cards from my wallet after work trips. Hahaha. Nope. So I rethought this, and I get some really good points from my credit cards. I get cash back on my Bank of America credit card for groceries and gas and I get 2x points on dining and entertainment on my Citi credit card. I even had enough points to purchase my entire trip to Nashville through my citi card points system when the flight was going to be a little over $300. So this one is a no-go

  3. I will pack my lunch! Repeat, after me, I will pack my lunch and not go out to eat if I have lunch already. I know I'll cheat, so I've told myself I'll only go out to lunch once a week. So I find myself not going "out" to lunch and walking downstairs to the crappy deli and buying a $6 wrap a lot more. Ugh. Still need to work on this more. 

  4. Stop partying and drinking (& brunching) so goddamn much! I've been good! 

  5. Using Mint.com. See above screenshot! I've been tracking really well! I've been following my budgets and keeping track of all my expenses. 
So I've been decently good. I still have a bit of work to do. I'm really thinking of investing in a DSLR so maybe all my savings can go to that....someday. 

Do you track your expenses and what are your tricks to saving money?

Lastly, I'm hosting the Meet & Greet tomorrow so grab a button below and link up with us on Tuesday. If you don't want to link up, we have an amazing facebook group that promotes our blogs and ALL of our social media accounts. I really like the group (it's not spammy like other facebook blog groups I've been in in the past) and we have a really great group of girls there for you to meet. If you want to join the facebook group just comment or shoot me an email and we'll get you added in ASAP!

Rules of the Blog Hop:

1. Follow your host(s) and cohost(s)
2. Submit your link
3. Stop by other blogs, say Hi and mingle!!!
5. Tweet about the blog hop by clicking the below link.

Classy Sassy & a Bit Smartassy

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blogging Tips: How to Use PicMonkey for Drop Shadow Texts and Watermarks

So if you haven't heard of PicMonkey you are really missing out. I, like many others, don't want to splurge on photoshop. I primarily don't want to because I'm not that tech savvy or want to spend the money on it at this time. So I frequently use PicMonkey which is the best free alternative. There is also iPiccy and others but this is my favorite. Today I'll show you a couple tricks that I have up my sleeve with PicMonkey.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

Drop Shadow Text 

Drop shadow are nice on text because it really gets them to "pop". I use this drop shadow and overlay trick for my watermark I put on my pictures. 

1. Click on create and type in any number. I used 800x800. You are always able to crop and resize later.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

2. Here's where you can choose your canvas color. You can choose transparent which is really convenient for things like favicons, but I also used it to edit my header text so my pink background shows through behind my header image which is only text with a transparent background. Anyways, for this I will choose a bright pink background so it will be easier to see the drop shadow.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

3. Go to text on the left hand side and choose your text. I will choose a nice big bold text for this. The bolder the better. Go ahead and type what you want to type. For this I typed "Drop Shadow Overlay" but I will show you later how you can use this for a watermark. 

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

4. Now you will right click on your text that you just created. A drop down will appear and you will click on duplicate text. 

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

5. Now change the color of the duplicated text to something that strongly contrasts. I typically do black and then white. Then you can drag the duplicated text so that it overlays nicely. You can also use the "up", "down", "left" and "right" arrow keys on your keyboard to make minute changes. Another option is you can always make the duplicated text slightly larger so the drop shadow is bigger than the top layer of text. and viola! You have your dropshadowed text. 

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

Making Your Own Watermark

1. All right, let's go back a couple steps. Go back to the first tab, and change your canvas color to transparent. When it's transparent it should look like this.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

2. Now let's crop so we just get the text. Just drag and drop the box to outline your text. After it's cropped, go ahead and save in a place where you can remember.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

3. Now find a picture where you want to put your watermark on. Click open on the top navigation bar and select that photo. Now navigate to the overlay tab on the left navigation. It looks like a butterfly.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

4. Click on "Your Own" at the top and select your saved overlay image. Now you can put that overlay on every picture to keep your branding the same. If you're feeling fancy you can try the different blend modes to make sure your overlay really pops but as long as you're using the drop shadow text you created there usually isn't any need.

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

Here's my final product. I have the drop shadow overlay sample, I have my own watermark, and just some regular text describing what my post will be about!

Alanna & Company: How to Make Drop Shadow Text and Watermarks in PicMonkey

Hope this is helpful! If you have any questions or want more tutorials about PicMonkey let me know! Hopefully I can help out.

Linking up with: Friday Favorites | Oh, Hey Friday! | TGIF Blog Hop | Little Friday

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hair Challenges: Dry Shampoo

Alanna & Company: The Best Dry Shampoos

So, here's a little bit of information about my own hair, I have fine stick-straight black hair. I used to have highlights that I'm now growing out. Here's a pic of my right after the hair stylist with a blow dry and a round brush.

Alanna & Company: The Best Dry Shampoos

Currently, I have to wash my hair every day and it makes me cry on the inside a little bit. I think I've conditioned it since high school when I worked out on a daily basis and had to wash it. It is so used to being washed daily that it just gets oily really fast to replenish the oils I wash out with regular shampoo on a daily basis. Now, I'm trying to be better to my hair and only wash it every other day but it drives me nuts when my hair gets oily because it just sticks straight and flat to my head and looks awful! I'm really trying to start using dry shampoos on my off days and have used a couple different brands. Here's my review. 

Alanna & Company: The Best Dry Shampoos

1. Tresemme Fresh Start. There are actually 4 different types of dry shampoo's in this line one for damaged hair, one for fine oily hair, one for straight hair, and one for curly hair. I tried the fine oily hair one and it really didn't seem to work. If anything, it made my hair more weighed down and didn't affect the greasy-ness at all.

2. Herbal Essences Naked Dry Shampoo. I got this one as a freebie with my shampoo and conditioner. It's all natural (which kind of made me worry that it wouldn't be so good...) It actually worked decently, all though I had to use a lot of it before it made a difference. It also didn't spray on white which is a big plus for girls with dark hair like me! I keep it around for work trips because it's nice and small.

3. Not Your Mother's Dry Shampoo. My favorite so far. It's cheap and available at target. It dries really fast, so work it in with your fingers right away and then brush it out, instead of letting it sit. It doesn't leave any white residue on my dark hair so that's a huge plus. So far, my best technique is spraying it on before I go to bed and just working it in with my fingers and then brushing it out the next morning (and maybe applying a little more to my bangs or the crown of my hair.)

4. Umberto Dry Shampoo. I think this was the first dry shampoo I bought and I thought, "Screw this, dry shampoos don't work," It was one of the higher rated dry shampoos on Cosmopolitan (should have known better). It's more expensive and smaller than Not Your Mother's. Unfortunately, it leaves a crazy residue. It works well for my bangs, but if I want to use it for my whole head I would look like I'm greying. When I was able to finally brush out the extra residue, it does give you some pretty good volume.

I'm sure different dry shampoos work for different people but this is how it works for me. I've also heard great things about Batiste, so that is definitely my next product to try after I'm done with Not Your Mother's. 

How often do you wash your hair? What's your favorite dry shampoo?

I'll be making a series of my hair challenges so keep around for some posts like Dry Shampoo Tips, How to Curl Stick-Straight Hair (and make it stay!), easy up-dos for the average lady, and more. If you want me to post about anything specific, of course, let me know!

P.S. A huge thank you to Christine for telling me about Canva! Can you tell I used it on the top image? Love it.

Classy Sassy & a Bit Smartassy

The Blonder Side of Life

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekending I

Happy Monday everyone! I am so happy it's finally Spring. We actually had snow on Friday which I was pretty much in denial about but it's warmed up a bit.

Even though it was super windy out we were able to get some good playtime at the dog park. Starla finally picked on someone her own size and she made buddies with a cute bulldog. We made some tasty white chicken chili in the crock pot, which is super easy. Recipe here. I

I'm also starting a new hair experiment. I'm stopping daily hair washing. I'm going to really work on not washing every day and dry shampooing on day two. I started on Friday and so far so good. Check back later this week for my review of the dry shampoos I've tried. 

Saturday, it was my best friend Shelly's birthday. So we went to Ozzie's for brunch. It is a bit over priced with most brunch entrees between $10-19 and mimosas at $7 a pop, but the food was really good! And you get the amazing Ozzie rolls that are coated in cinnamon sugar for brunch. I could almost have just that for an entire brunch. 

We got rid of our small rug underneath our couch earlier this week too and I didn't realize how much Starla liked sleeping on it. I keep catching her on our front door mat. So I laid down a blanket for her and about five minutes later this happened. She loves it.  So this will be our temporary rug for now. 

Sunday we went for an early morning hike right on the Potomac. Unfortunately the water was too high to cross so we just walked & jogged around the park area instead of hiking into D.C. We followed it up with some brunch of our own when I made my famous pancakes and Carlos pitched in with eggs scrambled and bacon. Sometimes I wonder why I ever go out to eat brunch when we make such a good brunch team. 

Last but not least, I went to go see my first opera, La Traviata, with my parents. Sorry no pictures of this one. It was a really beautiful opera and I really enjoyed it. My parents and I were joking that we they were at the bottom part of the age bell curve and I was a complete outlier. The average age of people going was at least 70. It was really adorable though because most people came in big groups or couples. What an adorable outing to go to. Most of the audience also had the opera glasses which totally tickle my fancy. Next time I'll need to get some. 

How was your weekend? Do anything fun?

Linking up with Biana.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Best Bands You've Never Heard Of

So each month I do a "What's on my Playlist Now" post, but I thought I could spice things up by sharing some of my favorite bands that you've probably never heard, although you should!

Number one// All time favorite is MuteMath. I first started listening to them in 2006, and the first song I ever heard from them is Typical. They are an alternative rock band that started in New Orleans. Probably one of my favorite songs from them is The Nerve off their 2009 album Armistice. But this is Spotlight, which you might recognize if you watched the Twilight movies.

Number two// Lindsey Stirling. Okay, she technically isn't a band, but she's a violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She has been named by Forbes, was in America's Got Talent and nominated on Billboard. So I'm always shocked when people say they've never heard of her. 

Number three// Phantogram. It's a duo self-described as electric rock. I think I heard of them just this past summer when I spontaneously heard one of their songs on the radio, but my favorite is Howl at the Moon.

Number four// Punch Brothers. So I mentioned them previously; they are a bluegrass band, but wikipedia says that they are described as "bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the strictures of modern classical" whatever the hell that means...I don't like all of their songs because some of them get a bit too twangy for me, but my favorite is Movement and Location and I'm obsessed with it. 

Number five// Animal Collective. Beware! They are a bit trippy. I guess I would describle them as psychedelic electronica? If you watch the music video you'll totally understand. They have some really neat music and are always a go-to for my roadtrips.

Have you heard of any of these bands? Or do you have a favorite band that no one has heard of?

Linking up with: Friday Favorites | Five on Friday | Oh, Hey Friday! | TGIF Blog Hop

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Putting Yourself Out There

Starting a blog is an interesting journey. Frankly, I started blogging because I had lots downtime and was feeling under-challenged. So I started just as a quick creativity outlet and something to do whenever I had the chance. I never realized that I would enjoy it so much. Something about the design elements, the creativity it takes, and the amazing blogger community that keeps me coming back daily. I'll never know when creativity hits. Seriously, as I writing this, I was mid-laundry folding and I thought it and I literally had to stop and get it off my chest. 

My friend Brittany was in the blog scene and it was her that showed me the ropes and encouraged me to start the blog. It was really weird sharing my blog at first with my family, and then my boyfriend, and then a couple friends. If you're a blogger, you know how it is to try and explain blogging to someone who doesn't understand it. Kind of difficult, right?

Overall my family and friends have been extremely supportive and my boyfriend, even though he doesn't understand blogging no matter how hard he tries, helpfully listens when I try to explain how excited I am about something new that happens. But every time I about my blog IRL it always makes me nervous. "What will they think?" "Will they understand?" "Do they think I'm just narcissistic?" and days like today make me shake my head at myself. Who cares? Overall, I do this because I enjoy this. Even if I had no readers (jk, my mom will always read this) I would still go ahead and post exactly the same content as I post. But I'm really glad that everyone who reads this is enjoying my content as much as I enjoy producing it! 

I launched my facebook fan page last week (#shamlessplug) which is where this all stemmed from. I was really nervous about launching it and sharing it with other friends who don't understand the "blogging world", but overall it's been a really positive reaction. Seriously, what was I expecting? People to comment and say "Screw you, I'm not going to like this page because you're a dweeb,"?

Anyways thank you all for supporting me! I know this isn't a typical "humpday confessions" post but this is my confession for today. Lastly, have you guys seen these commercials? They crack me up every time!

Love you guys! What are you confessing this week?

Linking up with #Hastag Humpday, Humpday Confessions, and Secret Blogger Club.

Last note! If you're commenting, I always like to respond to your comment and then go check out what you're posting recently, so please make sure you put your blog URL in your disqus profile! It makes me so sad when I can't find out who you are or where you're blogging from.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tips for Running with your Dog

One of my biggest dilemmas of working out is that I can't just go to the gym right after work because I have a furry little companion waiting for me at home. So I have to go home, take her out, and then motivate myself to get to the gym. Can I tell you the amount of times that I get done walking her and think, "Ehhh....I can workout tomorrow," or "I don't want to have to drive to the gym now..." or "There's just now way I'm changing into a sports bra now," occurs? Nope, because it's happens all the time and I can't keep track anymore. Whoops. Now that it's Spring, I'm glad that I can get out, walk with her and actually enjoy the time outside. And what's a better way than to get your workout and your dog walk in all at once? Nothing. It's the best. 

Alanna & Company: Tips for Running with your Dog

1. Warm up. Seriously, this is necessary for both you and your dog. Walk at a brisk pace for a bit and then slowly speed up before launching into a full-out run. This leads into the next one...

2. Let your dog relieve him/herself before you really get into the run. They should know that they are running with you and shouldn't wander off or go sniff around. BUT if they have to go, they have to go. So I usually take Starla around for about five minutes (which can be part of your "warm-up" time) to let her do her business and so then there will be no distractions during our run. 

3. Make sure you have the right equipment. I keep her on a short 4' leash because she should always be beside me while I'm running. She's pretty good about staying on one side, but she doesn't have a chance to try and cross over to the other side of the trail with her shorter leash. Some people also only run their dogs on harnesses or with hands-free belts. I'm not that fancy yet, but maybe some day. If you're going for a long run, get a portable bowl or those attachments for your water bottle. 

4. I use cue words. I say "Let's go!" if we really need to move it, for example, we need to speed up to make sure we cross the street in time. and I use "Whoa" to slow her down, that way I don't just stop running and then she gets yanked back from her neck. 

Alanna & Company: Tips for Running with your Dog

5. Keep in mind the temperature. Remember dogs don't sweat! Usually I'll only go running in the summer and luckily there are lots of streams around where I run. She often jumps right into the steams and plops down in them to cool down. Also, if the pavement is hot to the touch, it's too hot for their paws! Plan on running on the grass or running by yourself if the pavement is too hot.  

Alanna & Company: Tips for Running with your Dog

Then reward her for doing so well with some healthy treats provided by Chewy!

A photo posted by Alanna (@alannaandco) on

I can't wait to go running with her more. It'll do wonders for both of our waist-lines! Maybe one day we can even do some 5k runs together!

Do you go running with your dog? Do you have any tips to help running with your dog easier?

Please consult a veterinarian before engaging your dog in any type of activity. Not all dogs are suited for every activity. All opinions shared here are our own and may differ from yours. Treats were provided for free by Chewy.com.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Best Long-Wear Lipstick

Two months in a row with Friday the 13th! Last month's wasn't so bad, so I hope today isn't bad either!

(This is not a sponsored post! I just love the product. Yay for free advertising. You're welcome, Maybelline.)

As I've said before I'm mainly a drugstore make-up type of girl. So when my friend Shelly suggested this Maybelline lipstick, I jumped at the opportunity to try it. It's called Maybelline Super Stay 14 hour lipstick and it's quickly become my favorite and go-to product.

Alanna & Company: The Best Long-Wear Lipstick

I got mine at target and they were $6.99. They're available at Ulta for $8.99. 

Alanna & Company: The Best Long-Wear Lipstick

I got two colors: Forever Fuchsia and Continuous Cranberry (the bright red color on the bottom). They seriously aren't joking when they say they are 14 hour! It lasts through eating, drinking, and kissing (wink). And my favorite part is that it is light-weight. You can't even feel that you have lipstick on. Both pictures below I'm wearing Continuous Cranberry. I absolutely love these lip colors! I definitely need to go back for more. They have 16 or so different hues to choose from!

If you're looking for a new lip color or brand of lipstick definitely try this one out! It's my new favorite! What are your favorite lip products?

Oh and lastly, I'm on facebook now. Like my page! #shamelessplug