The French Braided Bun Tutorial

I'm SO excited about today's post! It's been a long time coming! I've been wanting to do some hair tutorials for you all lately, as I get compliments on my hairstyles a lot. This is one of my favorites, and I can't wait to share! It's the French Braided Bun. Basically, you French braid one side of your head, and meet it on the opposite side with hair you've teased and smoothed back. Together the two parts create the bun of your choice! I love how this style frames your face, yet is an updo that can be for day or night! It works best on day 2/day 3 hair, and I hope you'll give it a try!

If you have any questions, let me know! Also, if you decide to give this style a try, please post a picture to Instagram or Twitter and tag me: @allieelliott! This style would be perfect for Valentine's Day, as it's romantic and easy-going, yet sophisticated! I hope you love it as much as I do!
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Allie Elliott

Planners Unite!

Okay, how many of you LOVE to plan? Calendars, planners, phone apps, oh my! I always relish at the thought of searching through the racks to find that perfect planner or calendar for my year! So I was very excited when asked me to review a couple of items for them!

Shoplet is the internet king of office supplies! They have all kinds of goodies to explore, including calendars and planners! The first item I received was the 2014 Calendar.
(Highlighters not included.)
This 2014 calendar is in a two-toned blue color, and it is desk-sized. This brand, House of Doolittle, uses 100% recycled paper in all of their products, so that is the paper of this calendar. It's perfect to set on your desk! You have plenty of space to write in each day, and it has lines in each box to guide you. At the bottom of each month it has your whole year in small form, for easy review or to check on a specific date! Also, I love the notes section!
This notes section is a blogger's dream! It has plenty of space to write any notes that you need! The only downside is that I have large handwriting, and the lines don't have a ton of space between them, so I really have to make an effort to write small. But besides that, it is PERFECT!

As you can probably tell, I've decided to use this calendar as my blogging calendar. It works great because I can write the posts I'm planning in the boxes of each day, and any thing I need to get done by certain days. Then, I can brainstorm, and write to-dos in the note section! I'm a SUCKER for highlighting, so I made myself a little code in the first picture above. It keeps me organized!
 There are the corner flaps on the bottom corners of the desk pad calendar to keep the paper in place. Something else I noticed and liked was that even though I highlighted all over the January page, nothing bled over into February. That's really important to me in a calendar.
 Each page is easily disposable at the end of the month with a perforated edge, yet, just flipping through the calender won't tear anything out. Love that!

I'm loving this 2014 Calendar, and I definitely think that it's in the higher quality end of other desk pad calendars. The only downside I see is that the pad itself is made kind of flimsy. It's not the highest quality, but that's okay, because it's only $6.90 and you will only need it for a year! All in all, this is a great, clean-lined, desk pad calendar, and one that you should consider if you're in the market! It also makes a great blog calendar, with all of the extra note space!

The other item Shoplet sent was a Business Planner, also from House of Doolittle.
(Pen not included)
 This business planner is very well made. The cover is sturdy, and the binding is very easy to maneuver. I definitely think it will last me through the year! Each week has sections for each day, and the hours of the day (8a-5p) clearly marked for easy scheduling.
 At the bottom of each week there is an Expense Record to mark any expenses you have over the week. This would be particularly helpful if you did work more in the business side of things to track your spending. But I like it to keep me on budget!
The planner is compact, yet still has enough room to write in each day. I like using the times to schedule my day, although I wish they extended into the evening. There are also helpful pages in the planner, like calendars for each month for 3 years in advance!
The only things I would say aren't my favorite about this planner is that because the paper is 100% recycled, it's kind of flimsy,and I fear it will tear easily. And, as I said above, I wish the times on each day extended into the evening, because I would get more use out of it then. But for a professional in the business world, I think this is a great planner! It's sleek, easy to travel with, and the Expense Record is appreciated! This probably won't be something I would need, though, since I'm not in that job position currently.

All in all, House of Doolittle, supplies great office stationary! It's definitely worth taking a look at, especially if you're in the market for 2014 calendars and planners! I would say they go above and beyond their competitors in sleekness and space to write in, and I like how they are eco-friendly!

Finding the right products is hard sometimes, but Shoplet supplies all of your office supply needs! They also have great promotional products to check out, including promotional shirts! I love using their office supplies!

(I received both of these products complimentary for my honest review. All opinions and thoughts on these products are my own.)
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Allie Elliott

Travel Tuesday: Togo Ministry

Hey everyone! I hope you're having a wonderful week! I have another Travel Tuesday post for you today, digging in deeper with my trip to Togo. Today I'm talking more about the ministry we did while we were there.
Click for more info about this linkup!
Before you start, head over to last week's post, where I shared some travel tips through my experience of traveling to Togo!

We were in the country of Togo for about four weeks. In that time, we had some changes of plans, that were definitely drastic! I'm not going to go into the whole thing, but basically, our contact who lived in Lome (the capital city) was deathly ill when we arrived, so we spent the first week holed up in his home, as it was not safe for us to leave his home by ourselves. He made us feel like kings, though, as we got air-conditioned rooms, his wife cooked more delicious food than we could ever eat, and we were able to really connect with God and bond as a team.

Once our contact was feeling better (God really worked in his body through us being there to support and pray for him), we started ministering to the people of Togo! We started by going to a school in Lome, where we got to love on some kids and do a mini-service. We had some of the BEST training before the trip, where we were prepared with all kinds of skits, songs, games, and stories! One of our skits was The Chair skit, shown below!
We played all kinds of games with the kids, and we were just so happy to be with them!
We also were part of a couple of church services in Lome. One of us would preach, others would help, maybe lead worship, and then have an altar call.
Our team was really blessed to have Rufus, one of our members, who was native to Benin, which neighbors Togo! He was an awesome help with translating!

This prayer service was SO powerful...

A few days later we headed up-country into "The Bush," a more indigenous place in the country. We were able to go and hang out with some BEAUTIFUL children who were at school. They had never seen Americans, or anyone with white skin, so it was a precious moment! We took silly pictures, and had so much fun with them.
And this was their school...just a little bit different than what we have here, huh?!

One of the main ministries we had were to hold mini-conferences for the Sunday School teachers at the different churches, to help them learn how to teach the children in the church. It was right up my alley, and I was able to put together several programs so we could all teach the teachers. The first day, we would spend time with the teachers, giving them ideas, insights, and ways to teach the kids in a meaningful way. Then, the second day, we'd come back and show them how to do what we taught with a group of kids! It was so great, and I loved being a part of helping nurture those precious children!

As we traveled up north, we stopped at a village, called Soto, that had never heard about Christ before. They dealt with witchdoctors, and had no idea of Jesus. We were able to gather the members of this village together for a message, and it was POWERFUL. Rozy, a member of the team, preached a Spirit-filled message, and many of the people were saved!
Here we are with all of the new believers!!
We then split up and went around to the homes of the villagers to pray for them. It was another time of ministry that I will never forget. We prayed for anyone who would accept it. Again, witchcraft is huge there, so praying against that as well as strengthening the new believers were are focus.

Our team did several other church meetings and teachers seminars throughout the country, and it was awesome to be a part of what God is doing in Togo!

Looking back through all these pictures brings back SO many memories! I can't wait to share more with you next week! Love you all!

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Allie Elliott

Bath and Body Works Spring Launch Review

Hello! As many of you know, I work at Bath and Body Works, and have for a year and a half. I love being an associate there, recommending lovely products, selling, and trying everything out! We just brought out a bunch of new products for spring, and I love most of it! We will continue to do different themes and floor sets, but this is my first thoughts about our new Spring collection!

New Diamond Shimmer Mist
We reformulated the Signature Collection Shimmer Mists! The old ones had more chunky glitter, and the sprayer would get stopped up because of it! These shimmer mists look like the original Fine Fragrance Mists, but, of course, with shimmer! And, as you see is the photo above, it's infused with real diamond dust. The glitter in these sprays is a lot finer, and it's a bit more classy too.
I'm not crazy about shimmer mists in general, but these ones are pretty darn good! They still fragrance your body, and the shimmer is a little more glam, if you know what I mean. So if you like shimmer mists, this is a great choice for you! They cost $16, but are part of the deals in the signature collection. 

New Spring Signature Body Care: Sun, Sky, and Air
There are three fragrances in this new spring collection. Air is a pear blossom fragrance that reminds me of Beautiful Day, and is the freshest of the three. It's soft, yet fruity. Sky is a violet lily fragrance that is, what I believe, the most unique out of everything in our lasting Signature Collection. It's very floral, but in a light way. It's my personal favorite out of the three. And then the Sun is a golden magnolia, a very cozy floral. This one is most similar to Pink Chiffon. 
Overall, I wasn't majorly impressed by this collection, but I really do like the Sky fragrance. These scents come in: shower gel, scrub, lotion, body cream, fragrance mist, and diamond shimmer mist. If you're looking for something refreshing and new this season, definitely check out these fragrances!

Destination Candles
Photo via Cia Pink Pumpkin
Last Christmas, BBW came out with a destinations collection, and then they built upon it, changed some out, and created this spring destinations collection! They kept London Calling (Black Tea and Lemon), Rio Glow (Mango, Papaya, and Guava), Aloha Waikiki (Plumeria, Tiare, and Sugarcane), and Paris Daydream (Soft Florals and Mandarin) MY FAVORITE! New to this collection are Tokyo Petals (Iced Sake and Cherry Blossoms), Cheers to Capri (Limoncello), Sydney Harbor (Salt Waters, Eucalyptus, and Bamboo Wood), American Boardwalk (Caramel Corn), and Mahalo Maui (Passion Fruit, White Flowers, and Soft Musk).
All of these candles are so different, so there's something for everyone! As I mentioned above, Paris Daydream is my absolute favorite of the bunch! It's something I want to fragrance my house with all year long. I also like the Cheers to Capri and Rio Glow! And, not only do the candles smell amazing, and they have been reworked to be safer, the lids of this collection are decorative! They are so beautiful! I definitely love this collection, and I know you will too!

Sweet Shop Candles
Oh me, Oh my! These candles hit the spot! I love this sweet shop theme that carries over into Antibac too! These are the six 3-wick candle scents, and there are a couple more in smaller sizes. They smell exactly like they look! ABSOLUTELY MOUTH-WATERINGLY DELISH!
If I have to pick a favorite (or two), I love the Raspberry Peach Macaron (because, as you know, I'm obsessed with macarons), and the Cinnamon Sugared Doughnut smells EXACTLY like a doughnut! It's amazing! I can't wait to make these a part of my home!

Tropical Candles
This is a collection of candles that comes out every spring and has all the fun tropical fragrances, such as Caribbean Escape, Pinapple Mango, Coconut Leaves, Island Margarita, Oceanside, Beach Cabana, and Peach Bellini. They are fruity, fun, and perfect to transport you from the gray, cold polar vortex to sunny skies and beachy sands!
They are classics, and my favorites are Island Margarita and Caribbean Escape!

Sweet Shop Soaps and Hand Sanitizers
This Antibac collection of Sweet Shop soaps is one of my favorites for spring! I love all of these fragrances: Lemon Chiffon Tart, Plum Berry Sorbet, Pink Vanilla Macaron, Orange Creamsicle Swirl, Sugar Berry Shortcake, and Fresh Honeydew Lemonade. I want one of these in every room of my house! They all smell spectacular, and I love the cute design on the bottles.
But my top pick in this collection is, of course, the Pink Vanilla Macaron: I mean, pink and macarons in one?! I'd be crazy not to pick ten a couple of these up! But you would have a safe bet with any and all of these fragrances! And you can find all of these and more in the small Pocketbacs for waterless sanitizer too! Now to just wait until they go on sale...

So come on in to your local BBW to try and test out all of these new goodies!! And keep your eyes peeled for more of these coming out during the spring months! For the recap, here are my top picks of our spring 2014 launch:
Body: Violet Lily Sky
Hands: Pink Vanilla Macaron
Home: Paris Daydream, Raspberry Peach Macaron, and Island Margarita
  1. All information is from the Bath and Body Works website!

Have you tried any of these out yet? What are your faves?
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Allie Elliott

Coffee Date + More!

Happy 300th post! Can you believe I've written 300 of these things we call blog posts?! I cannot- but I'm so happy to have started this journey with you all!
Today I'm recapping this awesome link with a coffee date vlog! So, without further ado...

What are the highlights of your week?! Let me know in the comments below!
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Winners and Countdown to V-Day!

Happy Friday! I hope you had a great week! Today is the day...I'm announcing the THREE winners of my recent giveaway! First, let me give a GIANT thank you to each and  every one of you who gave me feedback! It was awesome to hear from you, and get ideas and feedback, and I am so grateful for you all! Also, this was my best giveaway yet as far as numbers go! You guys rocked the Twitter world with sharing my giveaway! Anyways, now the moment you've all been waiting for! My three winners are:
Congratulations Callie, Jasanna, and Kelly! Your $15 Target Gift Cards are on their way to you via email! I had SO much fun with this giveaway, and I thank you all again! I'm brainstorming for my next one, and am thinking it will be one for my 2nd Blogiversary! So if you want to help out with that giveaway, let me know!

Can you believe Valentine's Day is only four weeks away!?! It's such a fun holiday, with the red and the pink and all the hearts and love blooming!! This year, I've decided to make Valentine's Day even more fun with decorating for it, sharing the love, and blogging about what I'm doing! So for the next four Fridays, I'll be sharing my Valentines fun with you! DIYs, recipes, and ways to spread some love! So tune in each Friday! Today, I'm kicking it off with a couple really easy and cute decorations to brighten up your space!

For my two DIYs you will need:
Heart Ornaments: you can make these yourself by punching a hole through heart-shaped felt, or I bought mine at target in the dollar section after last Christmas.
Twine, Ribbon, or Yarn
Tulle, for decoration (optional)

DIY #1: Hanging Hearts

This DIY is SO easy, especially having ornaments, with the built in loop in the top! So start with one heart:
Punch another hole (if there isn't already one) in the bottom of that heart, and loop the string of another heart up through the hole like so:
And then pull the second heart (the purple one above) through the loop to connect it to the first one.
Pull tight!
And repeat! 
Then, hang on your wall using the string attached to the top heart. I stick a Command hook on the wall to make for easy removal after the holiday!
I hung mine in a small narrow area in my bedroom, which added the perfect touch! But you can hang it ANYWHERE, and add some V-Day fun!

DIY #2: Heart-"Felt" Garland
I'm a giant sucker for garlands! I love them and think they make the cutest decor, seasonal and all year round! Plus, this one is SO easy, which is always awesome!

Start by cutting your yarn. I did three strands that were 2 full arms lengths, but you can do any length that will fit the area you're wanting to decorate.
Tie a knot at each end to secure. You can also braid the yarn if you want that kind of look.

Then add your hearts! If your heart isn't already an ornament, make sure you have a loop of string at the top, and then do just like you did above to sort of tie the heart to the yarn, by looping it around and through.

 And repeat until you're happy with the amount of hearts!

And then hang where you desire!

Thanks for reading this first Countdown to V-Day post! Let me know if you liked these tutorials! If you make any of the DIYs in my series, share on Twitter and Instagram tagging @allieelliott and using the hashtag #GypsyTeacherValentine! Thanks guys!
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