Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

I love a good deal. Having a chronic illness is expensive — especially since it doesn’t give me enough time (Or energy. Or strength.) to have a real job. My catch 22 to this is that I absolutely love buying people presents.

I’ve found a few great money saving hacks for my fellow college and grad students, high schoolers, and whoever likes to save a little money. I figure even if I was rich I would try to save money here and there, as that leaves more to donate or have to spend on little treats that I don’t need!

First, let’s talk cashback. Cashback websites are all about paying you to shop. Yes, that sounds too good to be true, but no, it’s not sketchy. Here’s the lowdown: stores pay these companies to advertise. These companies keep part of that money, and pay you the other part. This kind of advertising actually works really well because even I’ve found myself going to sites that are offering a special cashback deal to see if there’s anything worth spending money on. Here are my favorite sites (And if you decide to sign up, use my links, as we each get bonus sign-ups for the referral!):

Top Cashback: This website is almost always the best one for cashback percentages. They’ll give you money into a Paypal account, Amazon gift card, or American Express rewards card. I usually use the Paypal option, as I just use it again for other online purchases.

Ebates: This website offers great referral bonuses, and they send you a check in the mail instead of the options Top Cashback uses, and often offers bonus offers along with the cashback (Such as a $5 or $15 incentive to shop at a specific store).

Who Should Use These Sites?
Just about anyone who does a decent amount of shopping online or if you’re purchasing something big like a computer, an iPhone, or a television! The purchases really add up, and the way I see it, these checks I get back can go into the “TREAT YO SELF” shopping fund.

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This picture kind of cracked me up because of how hard they tried to hide the numbers on this terrible looking credit card, haha!

Moving on.

Rewards and Subscriptions and Shipping — Oh my!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love giving presents… But I also love getting them, too! There are a few places I really love being a rewards member of, but I would encourage you to ask about any of your frequented shops having a program you could join.

Let’s talk Sephora. Ahh, how I love makeup. I have very high expectations for Sephora’s cyber Monday sale, despite them hardly doing anything for Black Friday (Online at least!). If you plan on shopping at Sephora more than twice this year, you have to join their Flash 2 day shipping. This is such a great secret on their website, and I don’t know how it isn’t really the talk of the town. Basically you pay $10 for free 2 day shipping for a year. A YEAR!!! Like, how could I not sign up?! I have purchased things as little as an eyeliner and gotten it shipped to my house quickly with the free samples they let you choose with any purchase. It’s seriously so amazing. This is the main reason I choose Sephora over Ulta now.

I’m not done with our Sephora conversation, though. Join their beauty rewards program ASAP! Not only do you earn free products, but you also get a gift on your birthday… And they’re usually really nice! This year I believe I will get a Marc Jacobs lipstick and eyeliner. I’m excited to try them out since his makeup is cruelty-free! My birthday is December 3rd, so I’ll definitely be back to talk about that if I love it.

Ulta does have a great rewards program too, as I feel like I’m always getting coupons in the mail. Sign up with the link above or in stores, and they will also give you a birthday gift during the month of your special day. This year I’ll be getting an Urban Decay eyeshadow, which is also a cruelty-free brand… Hooray!

FabFitFun is a new favorite subscription box of mine. I have some exciting news regarding this, but I’ll be sharing that a little bit down the road. Use this referral link to get $10 off your first box (so it is only $39.99), which is going to be kind of amazing. The thing I am most excited about is the Modcloth blanket scarf, which is going to be great to have all winter long. Robert’s family lives up in Massachusetts where it is absolutely freezing (though he assures me it’s “only a few degrees” colder than DC. A few degrees in the winter make all the difference!), so I’m definitely stocking up on some warm clothes for my visit this winter.

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Everyone will get a blanket scarf, necklace, and mug, along with a bunch of other full-sized products!

Not so into makeup or girly subscription boxes? A billion other places have reward programs, but I figured I would just touch on another favorite of mine — Starbucks! I love their mobile app, and get rewarded for all of my purchases. Not only do you get free coffee just for drinking coffee (Or peppermint hot chocolate if you’re a kid at heart like me), but you also get a free birthday drink and random deals Starbucks decides to send your way.

Lastly, my friend Robin has a company that works to help animals in need. She’s offering $5 off your purchase of $30 or more today only, so check out her website here! My favorite item is definitely the anchor toy for pups.

That’s all I’ll touch on today, as I feel like I kind of rambled, but these are some of my very favorite sites I use all the time. Feel free to let me know about others in the comments, or ask any specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer! ­čÖé

A Very Sleepy Friday

I’ve been really tired the past week or so. I think part of it is because I haven’t gotten my B12 shot in two weeks and I’m supposed to get them every single Friday. Whoops!

Having a chronic illness is exhausting in itself, but remembering to do everything to keep myself up and running is also a full-time job. I try to keep writing for my blog on a regular basis too, but life sometimes gets in the way.

I have, however, kept up with my Instagram account! I’ve been doing the “30 days of thankfulness” challenge, which has been pretty entertaining. It’s sometimes hard to come up with an idea and a picture. Today I decided to be a little silly but share a message that’s close to my heart. Being a teenager is one of the hardest things we do in life. You really could not pay me enough to be that age again.

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I think it’s important to share some of the things we’ve learned with people who maybe are still trying to figure things out. Whether that’s sharing your story of a struggle you’ve gone through or talking about how you became successful about something, we can all learn something new from one another. I think that’s one of the coolest things about life; everyone has their own neat little story and you can always find something new to take away from a conversation.

Anyway, this is my little ramble of the day because I wasn’t really feeling any of the drafts I have saved and I’m not in the mood to write about anything super-feelingsy today. Can this just be an acceptable post since this is, after all, a lifestyle blog?

TBT: The Trial Of Twilight Vampires

It’s about time for another embarrassing story, right?

Since I haven’t been on an awkward first date in months I haven’t collected as many new funny Krista stories. This is good for the little pride I have left, but bad for my blog. “Luckily,” life just loves to tease me, and my newest story comes from one of my grad school classes.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I am getting my Master’s in English right now. I never planned to go back to school, but since I got POTS and couldn’t work I decided I might as well do something productive while I recover.

My undergraduate degree was in Communication and Journalism, so although I loved my English requirements as well, I never took extensive English classes — just the three everyone else took. I am honestly not a huge fan of classic literature and do not remember most of what I learned studying lit in high school.

Everyone else in my grad classes has a background in English. They all studied some sort of English for their Bachelor’s; I made the mistake of referring to Frankenstein as the monster instead of the scientist once and immediately regretted it, as the entire class angrily corrected me in unison. I’m pretty sure they wished that they had a dunce cap they could bestow upon me for the rest of the semester.

Anyway, needless to say I was less than thrilled when my professor told us to all think of some books we could write about for an in-class exercise. I quietly offered┬áThe Grapes of Wrath┬áas a suggestion, as that was a novel I enjoyed reading in high school — though I did not remember the majority of the book.

Other books the class mentioned included Wuthering Heights, Fahrenheit 451, Great Expectations, 1984, and Twilight, which got a tremendous amount of laughter as it was written on the board.

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We then had to mention different events in history. I might sound a bit like a moron, but memorizing dates is not my strong suit. I was afraid of being wrong about events in history as our professor called out different dates and we matched several events during that time period. Some of the events listed included: The Peloponnesian War, The Battle of The Bulge, The JFK Assassination, and several other things I vaguely remembered learning about, but couldn’t seem to think of many specific details from. At the last minute someone added the OJ Simpson trial to the list.

Our task was to connect a novel from the list on the board with one of those events in history, as well as add a personal experience into the mix.

Great, I thought. The only book I truly remembered the gruesome details from was Twilight, and sadly I couldn’t remember enough details fast enough in the “real” historical events to write about them, so by default had to choose the OJ trial.

Twilight and the OJ trial. I was writing a paper about vampires and a real-life monster. Got it.

I ended up forcing that as my main connection, and adding a story of a close friend who was in a difficult relationship as the personal context. Needless to say everyone died laughing when I mumbled that I had picked Twilight as my novel, and the laughter continued as they heard I connected Edward Cullen to OJ Simpson. This was easily the least favorite class assignment I have ever done.

Today’s lesson: You do learn useful information in high school. I think they are preparing you to not be embarrassed when you fail to know simple facts in graduate school.

Letters To My Seventeen-Year-Old Self: Be Confident With Your Crush!

As I mentioned before, I am doing a segment for teens now by writing letters to my seventeen-year-old self. This week I wanted to focus on one of my favorite subjects — dating! This definitely would not have been a favorite of mine in high school, though, as it was actually very nonexistent.


Dear Krista,

I know all about the crush you have on that guy on the swim team. Yes, you were spot-on that he is a kind and good person, but he isn’t too good for you. Always remember that we all have our own strengths. You don’t believe that you are better than anyone, but no one is better than you either. We can’t compare apples to oranges and everyone has their own beautifully unique gifts and talents to offer the world. Stop being shy and pretending to text your friends when you would rather talk to talk to him instead. You’ll both be gone from this town one day and moving on with your lives. He’ll find someone great, but so will you.

Maybe you just aren’t meant to have a high school sweetheart, but just making a new friend shouldn’t be such a frightening thought. You will date plenty of guys when you’re ready (Trust me; you’d laugh if you knew one day you’d have a dating blog and are actually exceptionally good at navigating through the dating world). Stop trying to push yourself to grow up. Keep enjoying the free time you get to have fun with your friends and be silly; life comes at you fast, and one day you’ll have fond memories of being young and carefree.

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You’ll have your heart broken by your first love one day, and you’ll break plenty of hearts too. Just because you are a late bloomer doesn’t mean you’ll never find love. You’ll find it a few times and in different ways. Some people will love you for superficial things, others will love you for your personality, and you’ll get lucky and meet a few people who love you for your soul. Each love is great and special in its own way, but you only need one to stick. Who you choose to love last is the most important, and one day he’ll be the only one of the string of boys who really matters. Love deeply, love fearlessly, and most of all, learn to love yourself. No matter what happens with the guys you date you are the one person who will be there for the rest of your life.

Love,
25-year-old Krista

Letters To My Seventeen-Year-Old Self: Being Different Is Cool

Before I got sick I was hoping to move to New York City to turn my internship at Seventeen magazine into a full time job. Working at Seventeen was a dream job for me, as I absolutely love to write and feel like it is my calling to somehow share my experiences with teen girls in particular.

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This was my favorite cover we worked on during my time at Seventeen.

I think a big influence for this was my own high school experience. Looking back I realize how wildly insecure everyone was, and I remember struggling with my own image in so many different ways when I was that young. I have noticed my following with teenagers really growing lately, so I decided to start a new throwback segment dedicated to teens all about the advice I would give to seventeen-year-old me if I could go back in time.


Dear Krista,

I know you don’t particularly love high school and that you don’t feel like you fit in. You often feel invisible and like your presence doesn’t add anything to your school. Hang in there. High school hardly lasts forever; in fact, the 4 years you’ll spend there will seem so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. Despite what your best friend says, you’ll never regret not going to prom or missing a football game because you’d rather stay in and watch Netflix by yourself — and no, that doesn’t make you lame.

Now that I’m 25 and ten years (!!!) removed from my first year of high school, here are a few things I’ve learned.

The popular crowd doesn’t have it all figured out. I know they all seem like they’re having the time of their lives — some of them might be — but high school parties won’t play a role in the rest of your life. Most people don’t peak in high school, and that’s a good thing. You’ll have so much more to look forward to in life and won’t feel stuck wishing you could come back to this moment. Furthermore, high school popularity doesn’t translate to anything in the real world. Some of the popular kids will do amazing things with their lives, but others will feel lost and unsure of what their purpose in life is long after graduating. Stay true to yourself whether or not your peers love you for it. In the grand scheme of things, different is cool. Being different is what will help you get some kickass internships in college, and it is how you will learn to be content with your life even through the curve balls it throws at you.

You are young and innocent. No, not everyone has your best interest at heart, and there are plenty of people making decisions you never would have even known existed at your school. It’s okay that everyone tells you you’re “cute” instead of “hot,” and don’t feel bad when people whisper about things around you to preserve your innocence. Lots of people lose this far too early and can’t go back. You’ll make a few in your lifetime, but the most important thing is that you will learn from your mistakes. One day you might just write about them too, in order to save others from the heartache that you have been through.

In the meantime, have fun. Don’t worry about fitting in; keep prank calling Toys R’ Us asking for goofy violent Care Bear movies that don’t exist, dancing through the aisles in Walmart and laughing at people’s reactions, and TPing your best friends little sister at sleepovers. These are memories that you will cherish for years to come. Being cool is overrated, instead just be you.

Love,
Your 25-year-old self (Who, by the way, is still figuring out the way this thing called life works… I’m beginning to think adults don’t always know what the “right” thing to do is either)