Archive for the category “Just the Tip”

I Bought it. You should too.


Since beginning my “Just the tip” series, I have had quite a few people tell me they really like it.  Apparently, homes have much better lighting (See this post) tangles are manageable (Click for tangles) and people are faking the hell out of entertaining (Click for hosting tips).

To be honest, I would love to sit around and dole out tips but between my job, kiddos and furry faces I don’t have much free time.  It’s not that I don’t want to blog… it’s just that no one has begun paying me to advise on avoiding bad lighting.

Allow me to introduce my newest series,  “I bought it. You Should too.”

I am constantly finding products that WOW me and I want to share my fab findings! Luckily these awesome products do most of the work for me so it takes a lot less verbiage.  You never know… maybe one of the brands will love me so much they will pay me crazy amounts of money to talk about them 😉  Until then, my “I bought it” series is purely my non sponsored opinion. Which brings me to my first blog about products.

Product: Pledge Multi Surface Everyday Cleaner – antibacterial Citrus Scent


Cost: About 5 Dollars

Who should buy it:

1. People who don’t like having 5 different types of cleaning products

2. College and 20 somethings who don’t have extra money for non essentials

3. Germaphobes

4. People who have a kitchen and a bathroom

Why it is fabulous:

Today Mike and Bailey (our toddler) spent the afternoon at the park.  Our 6 month old fell asleep before they left and I had the next few hours to myself.  As boring as it sounds I was thrilled to have time to catch up on cleaning while listening to music not deemed G rated. Before you roll your eyes I drank wine throughout my cleaning session.  My biggest goal was to clean our guest bathroom.  Last week our bathroom had flooded necessitating a full demolition of the counters.  I am not exaggerating.  I had a crew of people in the bathroom for two full days ripping out every tile to find the leak then laying concrete and tiling a new countertop.  Everything has been put back together but the bathroom mirror and floors had a layer of dirt.  I started with bleaching the sinks, toilet and counter.  After everything had been thoroughly disinfected I moved on to the mirrors.  UGH. No window cleaner in the house.  Frustrated, I began looking through everything I had and decided on a whim to try the Pledge multi surface.  I was VERY dubious it would work even if it boasted windows on the front.  Holy awesomeness it worked AMAZING and there is not one streak on the mirror. I am so impressed.  When I think of Pledge I think of wood surfaces. In fact, I purchased this product and have only been using it on wood areas.  I am super excited to have a spray that is not only antibacterial but truly works on all surfaces. I tried it on my stainless steel stove top and POOF – no streaks!  This is a must have 🙂 AND, its antibacterial!

Happy Pledging!!

xo Mari


I would win the argument if you knew I was fighting


Eavesdropping on people arguing is a fun way to think about what I would say.  I am SO much smarter when I can stand back and watch other people duke it out.  I like to refer to it as my “Jeopardy theory”. At home I pay attention to the areas of my expertise and busy myself with anything else when they move to the subjects in which I am not proficient. According to this Jeopardy graph (I found on slate.com), I have Literature, Before and After, potpourri (WEIRD that this is a category-update:OMG, I was just telling Mike how awesome it is that potpourri is a category and he just explained the meaning, and that it isn’t the fabulous scents I keep in a sachet in my underwear drawer. OOPS), animals, stupid answers and most definitely Islands in my wheelhouse.


What are your areas?

The reason I bring this up is because I have noticed a great deal of people trying to argue about areas they know nothing about.  Social media tends to make an ass out of our best intentions.  Trust me, I would love to tout opera, politics, and business as my areas of expertise but they just aren’t.  When people discuss them I eavesdrop and try to learn as much as I can by both sides of the conversation.  This is one of the few times I think snooping is a great idea and could be beneficial!  Actually, can I just be so blunt as to encourage it?

My blog idea comes from the non-eavesdropping, I know everything, internet banterers.  I can’t figure out if these gem-people are just trolling or if they actually think their uneducated opinion will be well received.

When I was younger I planned to be an attorney.  I loved to debate and have always been strong-willed. After working at a law firm I realized I couldn’t Elle Woods it and decided my talents lied elsewhere.  During my time as a student pursuing the law I picked up a few tools but being a friend and decent person has equipped me with the most useful tools.

The most important tool I have learned is common sense.  If it is impossible for you to walk in someone’s shoes, you should never tell them how to feel. Unless your advice is positive and, well, awesome. If you are a man do not tell a woman how she should think.  If you are not disabled, do not give advice on how to live as a disabled person.  Do not tell a person of another race your enlightened opinion on their race.  If you are not homosexual your thoughts on gay marriage is irrelevant.

The only acceptable opinion to give to an individual whose identity you are unable to replicate is praise or empathy.  That’s it.

The next time you feel compelled to jump in and tell everyone your opinion on areas you don’t have experience, try eavesdropping.  See if you learn anything.  More important, see if your thought process changes by listening to others rather than telling everyone else yours.

Just my thought 🙂

xo Mari

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Hosting the Holidays

Beach Christmas

It’s that time of year…

Christmas lights happily blinking from tress, Menorahs gleaming in windows and Kinara Candle Holders filled with 7 candles!

Fireplaces are warmly blazing across the country (except for my house… I am strictly forbidden to play with fire in my home. Ask Mike), alcohol is an accepted nightly ritual, and delicious treats are invading the kitchen.  The time of year to snuggle up with loved ones, and when friends and family come to stay- WAIT…. come to STAY?? Already?? EECK!!

Ahhh the holidays, everyone’s favorite and most dreaded time of year.  As we get older, have kids, or just move out of our one bedroom apartment our homes inevitably become the destination.  As local readers know, our San Diego location definitely encourages family and friends as a winter retreat.  Or, if you are like me your parents downsized their home in hopes you wouldn’t move back in for the 9th time. Regardless of why, this year may be the year you are hosting holidays.  And you may be worried. Or perhaps just running behind. I have been hosting holidays for the past 5 years, and people tell me I do a pretty decent job.  This month’s tip is to fake a fabulous home for hosting. My only warning is it may grant longer or more frequent visits. Remember, part of being an amazing hostess is setting boundaries with your guests. Perhaps my next tip series entry should be on how to be a great guest-?? 😉

Smell.  90% of success is smell.  I swear.  You have no idea how much you can fake just by having a home that smells nice.  We have two children and 3 dogs, so keeping a home smelling nice is HARD.  People say my house always smells great. If my house smells good, pretty much any house can smell fab.  I rely on three different smell devices to eradicate the stench of pee stains, diapers and overall nastiness.  Scentsy, plugins and carpet powder.  Scentsy (or the generic they sell at BBBeyond) is pretty cool and they seem to have enough fragrances to please any taste.  Be careful though, some of them are overwhelming.  I order online and then when the pellets of scent come in I cut them into threes. I think 1/3rd of one little pellet is perfect for the day.  You can find carpet powder for about $2.00 in the fragrance section. It is so easy and the smell lasts for a few days. If you don’t know what plugins are, you need to seriously reconsider the rock you are living under.  Plugins are saviors for bathrooms, but they have to be changed well before the oil is actually gone. I recommend every 2 weeks.

Floors. If you have carpet, then vacuum. There is nothing like vacuum lines to make a person think your home is spotless.  It takes 5 minutes and is so rewarding since the carpet lines boast cleanliness. If you have hard wood/laminate/granite floors, buy a swiffer.  In a perfect world, your floor is meticulously clean.  In a pinch, use a swiffer in the corners to give the illusion of clean floors.

Sleeping.  Do you have a guest room? A futon? A couch? It doesn’t matter what you have, but how you prepare it.  Take the time to buy bedding for your guests.  I have noticed people get too excited about aesthetics rather than quality. I promise, your guests don’t care if your sheets are the perfect taupe, but will notice if they are soft.  Places like Home Goods, Ross, and Marshalls offer high thread count sheets at discount prices. Typically the color is a bit off, but who cares? In addition, any discount store has great deals on mattress toppers.  It does not matter what type of mattress or futon you have, if you put a memory foam topper on it, your guests will be elated.  One other little gem? A sound machine. You can get them really cheap, and almost everyone who has stayed has used it and commented on it. We have a loud home with the dogs and the kids, but I think it is a great idea in most homes. Last, and I am sorry if I sound like Gwyneth Paltrow, but if you are blessed enough to have a guest room that isn’t near the kitchen, consider putting bottles of water in a basket.  I swear, I am not a pretentious snob peering down from my glass house. I am just an avid wine drinker and wake up in the middle of the night really thirsty. It is awkward, and a bit unsettling, to creep around someone’s house to find a glass of/bottle of water.  You aren’t together, a bit dizzy.. maybe embarrassed by the quantity of wine you ingested hours prior.. but I digress.  Water close to the sleeping domain is much appreciated.

Bathroom. All guests hopefully take showers. Take the time to make their bathroom experience enjoyable.  First, buy a set of matching guest towels. This is not the time to put out your holey, stained towels that should only be used for washing a car (who does that anymore except for my dad?) Again, the discount stores above have great deals – Don’t get hung up on color!! No one will ever remember the color, but will be so appreciative of the towels!! If you have a guest bathroom, stock it! The essentials will make your guests feel appreciated and at ease.  Go to Costco and buy the bulk toothbrushes/toothpaste and hand soap.  In addition, put basic medication in the drawers.  I put Pepto, Advil, and GasX in the cabinet.  I cannot tell you how many times the bathroom essentials are quietly absent after a visit!

Considerations.  I was a Vegetarian for almost 15 years. I was always anxious about going to other’s homes mainly because I was scared about food options and just wanted to fit in. My last houseguest didn’t drink alcohol.  My dad only likes vanilla creamer. My Mother in law likes to have instant iced tea around.  It is just a downer for everyone when your welcome spread is beer and chicken wings, when your guests are vegetarian recovering alcoholics. While we are discussing food let’s discuss your kitchen.  Food and cleanliness are the only tips you need to remember.  Your kitchen should not be the place to put a bunch of clutter.  People will think your house is clean just by having clean countertops. Most of this can be accomplished by eradicating stacks of mail, the pile of “pending” items to deal with, etc.  Put the dishes in the dishwasher.   Clean counters make you look like you have a clean house.

On to food. Keep in mind, your eating schedule may not coincide with your houseguests. Before anyone visits, I make a snack run, if I don’t already have the basics on hand.  Basics are (unless the aforementioned considerations are involved) cheese, crackers, some type of fruit, some type of meat and bread.  You can survive just about any time of day or night with these items.  I like the assorted cheese platters offered at any store, and light salami.  They look great on a plate, are filling, and sandwich ready.  Plus, your guests will be grateful for the reassurance of easy snacking at any hour.

Lastly, ASK.  Last month I found a great answer to something and told Mike about it.  He said something so simple, but it has stuck with me.  He said,”Sometimes, you just have to ask questions, and then genuinely listen”. DEEP Man, Deep.  It was just so easy.  Since then, I have been trying to listen more and have had some pretty awesome results.

Best! xo Mari

The Good, The Orange, and the Skunky


Bronzed skin.

I have spent the better portion of my life chasing the perfect tan.  In my teens it bordered on obsession.  Not tanorexia but an almost scientific study to create the hue of health.  I wish I could have been a tanorexic. But to be a tanorexic you have to actually be able to obtain a tan.

One look at my strawberry blonde daughter should explain any questions regarding my heritage.  A mutt of sorts, I am predominantly Irish and German with natural red in my salon doctored blonde hair and more freckles than any one could count.  My natural skin color is clear.  White seems to be a bit generous.  As a child I used to dream all of my freckles would one day connect, leaving me with a perfect brown skin color.  I was mortified of my plentiful angel kisses and hated anyone making mention of them.  I longed for sun kissed, freckle free skin and developed skin envy of those lucky enough to be afforded naturally tan skin.

The first glimpse of hope came in a blue and white Biotherm bottle at the approximate age of 11.  My mom brought home a tube of self tanning lotion and I immediately retreated to the bathroom to slather myself with the magic potion.  I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I kept waking up, checking the progress, knowing that in the morning I was going to be a bronzed goddess.  In the morning I was not white.  I was bright orange and had tiger-like white stripes up and down my legs.  My feet looked like I had trudged through dark mud and my fingers were stained in a putrid pumpkin color.  I should have been aghast.  But I wasn’t.  I was thrilled to be any color but white and felt beautiful. I remember I wore a miniskirt to the roller rink and strutted my stuff with a new found confidence.  I am sure people were laughing, probably wondering what type of skin rash I had, and if it was contagious.

Fast forward 20 plus years and I am relieved to say my tanning obsession has become a bit more manageable,  thanks in large part to advancements in the self tanning industry.  I still LOVE being tan but my lifestyle just doesn’t allot for the amount of time a devoted tanaholic needs.

I am not a licensed cosmetologist, but I do consider myself highly educated in the art of self tanning.  Be it creams, oils, sprays or foams, I have tried about all of them.  The past few years I have slowed trying new brands, mainly because I am happy with the products I use, but also due to sheer lack of time.

When I met Mike he couldn’t help but notice I had a spendy airbrush tanning habit (my preferred method).  Around this time an opportunity came to purchase a Sunfx tanning machine, and after promising Mike it would be financially advantageous he agreed to buy it for me.  After a few months, people started asking me where I tanned and what products I used.  I decided to start a small side business, Starstruck tanning, and quickly gained a great group of regulars. Over time these regulars helped to pay off my machine and the solution for my weekly tanning ritual!

Over the years I haven’t had time to keep up the side business, but I still tan regularly and swear by the Sunfx products I use. This brings me to my latest, “just the tip” series: obtaining a stellar sunless tan.  Some of the pointers are just common sense, but I have found a lot of wrong information in self tanning forums.  Most misunderstood is the amount of product each brand suggests you use before and after to mark up their per tan cost. Below is a breakdown of how to get a fantastic tan, without the hype and add ons!

Before any type of tanning solution touches your skin try a few of my lesser known tips to obtain a better tan:

1. Exfoliate and Shave– Yes, I know, you already know this. But did you know doing it the day of is a no no? Exfoliation is important; however, if you scrub too much your skin is a bit rough and uneven, producing an uneven tan.  Also, when shaving, your skin becomes porous.   Shaving right before a tan results in solution filled pores. This creates tiny dots all over the skin.  It also clogs the pores, causes breakouts, and increases patchiness when the tan fades.  Do not shave or exfoliate the day of sunless tanning.  I have found the optimum time frame is the night before, no sooner.

2.  Correctly Moisturizing- As any veteran self tanner will tell you, dry spots are a nightmare for tanning solution and barrier creams are recommended.  “Barrier Cream” is really just any lotion you have. You do not need to purchase a special, branded lotion to get a barrier.  However, using lotion right before tanning can cause too much of a barrier making areas too white, or worse, an actual line of white versus tan. Instead, skip barrier creams and moisturize correctly the night before.  After exfoliating and shaving put lotion on all of your dry areas, and a light layer on your lower legs, below the knee.  For some reason, the lower leg is a problem area in self tanning–probably due to the dryer nature of the skin.  When it comes to lotion the only ingredient to avoid is oil.  Oil breaks down self tanning lotion .  Simply purchase lotion that is oil free and you won’t have a problem. Read more…

Don’t EVER stumble into bad lighting!


Any girl knows stumbling into bad lighting can be a disaster.  Lighting can dramatically increase one’s overall attractiveness, or gruesomely point out nasty flaws.

There is a reason bars and restaurants have dim lighting, and utilize the warm light bulbs that bump up the natural complexion.  “Beer goggles” are not the only culprit of overestimating a person’s appearance, it is the perfect illusion of cleverly angled light bulbs.  For those of us who have made the mistake of staying until the bar turns on the fluorescent lights, we know what awaits.  The God/Goddess in front of you transforms with the click of one horrific light switch, and hopefully saves you from making a one night stand blunder.  Now that I think about it, everyone should have to stop and stand in fluorescent lighting before making the decision to pursue their new bar friend.

However, I am getting off topic.  My latest, “just the tip” pointer is how to have fabulous lighting in your home with minimal effort!

Recently, I had some friends over, and a few commented on how great the ambiance in my house was, and asked how I keep up with the candles.  My reply? Flameless, AUTOMATIC, candles!

I know, flameless candles have been around for a long time, but did you know there is a fabulous subset of flameless candles that turn on every 24 hours for a duration of 4-5 hours?  About a year ago, I stumbled upon these faux flame gems and am thrilled.  Flameless candles as a whole are pretty cool.  Most obvious, is the safety of not worrying about the wax or burning down the house.  But, they are also great because you can put them anywhere, and weather or children are not determining factors! Wind? no problem! Tiny hands? Not an issue!

The PROBLEM with flameless candles is the annoyance of turning them all on, individually, and remembering to turn them off to avoid replacing the batteries.  Or, the super cheesy remote control type, which might as well coincide with Marvin Gay and a clap on style fireplace.

This brings us to the genius of timer flameless candles.  I have about 25 of them, throughout my house, and they turn on automatically at dusk, and magically turn off four hours later.  It is absolutely brilliant.  The best part? You can put candles in places you can’t normally reach; the spot usually collecting dust bunnies and holds old books- This is a picture of the top shelf of our bookshelf in our family room…. what would you do with this spot, so as not to mess with the air vent? Not to mention, it is up too high for me to reach without a ladder. Voila, Flameless candles!!


In addition, I found a site that sells tea lights on timer.. let me tell you, tea lights on a timer is NOT an easy find… I am not sure why, but I have yet to find a store that sells them.

Virtually every home I have walked into is guilty of at least ONE decorative tea light candle holder, gathering dust, because who actually uses them?  ME!! teehee! Every night, this little candle holder blazes with soft lighting in a shelf.


I have the tealights in various candle holders throughout my house, and even in our bedroom.  We may be watching Shark Week right now, but candles are illuminating the mantle 🙂

Candles are the perfect way give the illusion of exceptional attention to detail.   With automatic timers, it can be an easy, relatively inexpensive way to warm up any room.

If this is something you think would be a great addition to your apartment/home/boat/trailer, here are a few tips to make it happen:

1. If the candles come with a timer, it will be clearly advertised on the box.  If it doesn’t specifically boast, “timer”, they won’t have it. Promise. I have returned many flameless beauties after realizing the timer option wasn’t on the bottom.

2. The timer candles tend to run a bit more expensive, and aren’t usually on sale.  It’s ok, its worth it.  Think of the batteries and time you will save!

3. With mention of batteries, I have found they need to be replaced about every 2 months- watch your local stores for sales on batteries, and buy the large container, since they all run out of batteries at the exact same time.

4. Tea lights are the most fun flameless timer candles, because you can put them virtually anywhere. Since they are smaller, they tend to run out quicker, and require a different type of battery.  You can find them on Amazon cheap, or just about anywhere, just make sure you take it with you. The disk batteries come in a bunch of different serial numbers, and I have purchased the wrong one.  Turns out, the hearing aid disks do not work for tea lights.

I bought my tea light candles here, about a year ago…


Notice how they boast the timer?

Happy illuminating!!

xo Mari

Tangles? No problem!

I have an amazing hairdresser.  Her name is April, and she is the greatest.  Not only does she turn my hair into a head of perfect blonde locks, she is an overall awesome human being.

April is tiny and always wears the cutest outfits, with high heels, to work.  She is adorable and a spitfire. She makes me laugh and tells the greatest stories.  She also rescues birds and has the most inspiring tales of her feather face bird friends.   Mike has been going to her for a few years now, and agrees she is one cool lady.  She does such a great job, many of my beautiful friends wanted my hair secret–which of course I shared (Craigslist BFF Lane found her first, and shared). Molly, Keri, Megan, Holly, and Nicole all have fabulous locks compliments of April as well.

Back to the point.  Since having my daughter I switched my showers to nights.  It is much easier to take my time, wash my hair etc. when Bailey is in bed rather than running around the house in the morning.  I found myself struggling with wet hair at night and the tangles were almost impossible to get out.  When I mentioned it to April, she told me about the Wet Brush.

The first night I used it I was in awe.  The Wet Brush is so awesome it must be magic.  I still don’t understand how it works, but it flawlessly combs through my long, tangle-ridden hair as if it were smooth and dry.  This brush has literally shaved 10 minutes a night off my beauty regimen.  Bonus? It doesn’t rip out my hair like other brushes! WOW, I love this damn brush.

As if this wasn’t enough, I use it on Bailey.  Bailey has natural thick large roller style curls down to her waist.  At almost 3, she is not patient and hates it when I pull her hair.  The Wet Brush detangles and smooths her hair in about 3 minutes.  I am not exaggerating.  She is so much happier and doesn’t get upset when I sit down to brush her hair at night.  I can’t help think she is so lucky.  She will never know the trauma of sitting for 30 minutes every night screaming because mommy pulled her hair.  My mom would have loved this brush when I was a child!

If you don’t have this brush and have long hair, buy it.  At my hairdressers boutique it was less than $20.00. I just googled it and they have a website and sell them for $14.00.  What a deal! :


Happy Brushing!!



Can you keep a secret?

No Secrets

Can you keep a secret? I can’t, and why should I? Wait.  Allow me to preface my statement.  I am not talking about the BFF secrets we take to the grave.  I can keep those….. and boy do I know some good ones!

I am speaking of the awesome tips one learns by stumbling upon the best taco shop in town.  The beauty trick your hairdresser shares to make tangles a breeze! Or the fragrance you accidentally purchase that makes your house smell amazing! You get the picture.

People are always saying, “Don’t tell anyone about this awesome spot”, or “shhh, it’s my [insert beauty/apparel/cooking/intellect] secret! I don’t want anyone to know!”

People who know me will vouch I am an open book.  I will tell my girlfriends just about anything, and some of my closest friends I met during a phone interview, the beach, the bar.. heck, even Craigslist (Yes, Lane, I’m talking about you).

Since I don’t believe in keeping secrets to make your life easier, prettier,and  less complicated, I have decided to start a series on fun tips and tricks I find.  I am hoping my little tidbits will encourage my readers to come forward and share their “secrets”. I love learning about ways to save time, while eating fabulous, looking great and feeling pretty phenomenal.  I am really excited about this segment, and hope my friends and readers will find them useful, or at the very least, entertaining!   🙂 Mari

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