Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What to do with your travel photos

Do you have tons of travel photos sitting on your computer or external hard drive? I know I do. And with the help of Pinterest, my favorite web-place, I decided to actually do something with the 15,000+ photos I have from the past two, yes two, years. If you have followed my blog and seen my travel posts, you know I spent time studying abroad in Rome, and then working in London and Rome too. Now I have made it my mission to display my photos in my grad school apartment. This post will take you through my current project, and also share other Pinterest ideas to help display your precious travel photos. 

Before you print your photos, the best thing to do is back them up. After I move my photos to my computer, I create a folder for each city or country I visited, then folders for the date the photos were taken. Its fairly simple, but it helps me find photos easily and remember what days I was in a city. I also move all my photos onto an external hard drive to clear space on my laptop. Again, this is just a very simple way to store and organize your digital collection, and you can go nuts with the organization and backing up if you'd like. Whatever works for you.

Now to the physical collection of your photos!

This pin inspired my current project to take 108 travel photos, printed into 4" x 4" squares (including a small white border), onto two 27" x 40" frames. I went about this project by going through ALL of my photos, picking out my favorites, and then using photoshop to crop the photos into a square. I then went to Walgreens in order to print the photos and add the white border. My next step is to double-side tape these photos onto museum board before placing them into the largest photo frame sold at Michaels. Once this project is finished, I will post the final photos and some a more detailed step-by-step tutorial. 

Like my current project, this gallery wall project may take a little more time and photo editing skills. After reading several pins about Gallery Walls, the best tip is to create 8" x 8" square photos and putting them into a square frame with large matting. 

I really like gallery walls, they look very sleek and chic in any space, though they could be a chore to actually put up on the wall. Additionally, it is a nice way to display favorite buildings and cities you visited in your travels, without becoming overwhelming like the last project and or a scrapbook.

Down the lines of single photo frames, this idea combines your lovely travel photos with a map matting to remember exactly where you were! Again, this probably takes some time to cut out the map just right, but its another cute and fun way to display some of your favorite travel photos. Maybe you can combine this with the gallery wall tutorial too!

Maybe you are in the map mood. For those of you who love to display photos of you and your significant other or family on your travel adventures, this is a great idea to showcase exactly where you have been in the USA, or any other country, continent, etc. Just buy the map of the place you want to highlight, and then cut your photos accordingly. This is also a great way to keep up with your bucket list idea to visit all 50 states.

If you are feeling ambitious and like to cut photos precisely, try this pin. It involves printing out many of the same photo and layering them for a 3D effect. I think it looks awesome for family photos like the one pictures above!

This is probably the easiest travel photo project on Pinterest. Instead of buying frames, cutting out scenery, and leveling photos on the wall, buy a basic wooden box at a craft store, paint it and label the country, state, or city, of the contents in the box. It's a great idea for people who also collect museum brochures and ticket stubs, allowing you to "display" them alongside your photos. If I was doing this method, I would probably label my photos with a ball point pen with the exact city and date too. 

So here is my round-up of things to do with your travel photos besides wasting away on your external hard drive. Obviously these are not my own ideas, but things I have pinned on Pinterest, but they are all things I would love to try in order to make my apartment feel more like home. I will also keep you up to date with my travel collage project too! 

Have a fun day and happy travels!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I have never owned a pair of Birkenstocks in my life. As a '90s kid, I am pretty sure they were required, but I was never one to follow the trends and hand-me-downs were my middle name. So this summer, in anticipation of hot weather and upping my style game (well, maybe trying to just post more), I decided to invest in a pair of sandals that are long-lasting, well-made, had arch support, and looked cute. I was on the hunt for black sandals, and after failed trips to the mall of finding super flat and non-supportive shoes, or, very supportive grandma-esque shoes, I decided to finally buy a pair of Birkenstocks. I splurged for these sandals online and they have been my go-to pair ever since. The only thing I would say about Birkenstocks is that you should be prepared to work your way into the shoe. They are solidly molded for good support, but if you are not used to this, it may take a day or two to get used to. 

So that is my very quick post of just one new addition to my wardrobe this summer. As you can tell, I am still rocking the skinny jeans, even when it hits the 80s since my super pale sunburn prone legs dislike any sunshine. 

P.S. If you want to know the toe nail color, it is Essie's Wicked

~ Kelly

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tips for keeping your face acne free

Since I am trying to get more posts on my blog this summer, instead of avoiding this commitment as per usual, I wanted to extended my skin care routine post by talking about simple and easy steps that everyone can do to help reduce and get rid of acne. As I said before, I am not a dermatologist or specialized in skincare, though I have a nurse as a mother, I am not formally trained and all my tips are pretty straightforward, given to me by my mom, or based on things I have done that have helped my skin. So if you are looking for some tested and true tips to get rid of acne, then you found the right place!

1. Wash everything that touches your face: It is simple, keep dirty things away from your face and your face will stay clean. Germs and bacteria linger everywhere, and these germs are spread every time you touch something, including your face. I recently learned that staff bacteria rests on your skin too, which is normal so don't get worried, but led my mother to making a house rule to wash your hands every time you entered the house, eat, or do anything really. So this same simple idea should be carried to what is touching your face. Not only should your face be clean (seen in the next tip), but what is going to touch your face should be as well. Wash your sheets, towels and pillowcases, which are filled with dry skin cells and natural oils; wash your hands before putting ton makeup; and clean those makeup brushes! I try to clean my sheets every week, my towels after several uses, and my brushes every three weeks -- which is probably 2 1/2 weeks too long! By keeping these things clean, your face will also stay clean.

2. Use more water than cleanser: When you wash your face -- in the morning, before/after a workout (no makeup during a workout! tip six), before bed -- use more luke warm water than cleanser. Whenever it comes to applying something to your hair or body, err on the side of less is more. I am not saying put the tiniest amount of cleanser in your hands, but be reasonable with the amount of product you use! For a facial cleanser, you should only be putting a dime amount in your hands. I also add that you should be rinsing with more water in order to ensure you have thoroughly cleansed your face and made sure to rinse off any product residue which could linger on your skin and clog your pores.

3. Use an acne spot treatment: This may be a no brainer when it comes to fighting acne, but if you are someone who swears by acne treatments, maybe it's how your are applying the treatment. Instead of spreading a spot treatment across your entire face, target the areas that actually have acne or black heads. By doing so, you are wasting less product and only targeting and clearing up existing acne. If you continue to spread the treatment over other parts of your face, you end up drying up those areas, causing your skin to produce more oils that will potentially clog your pores and produce more acne.

4. Exfoliate -- but be gentle: Exfoliation does not mean you have to use a harsh product that will irritate your skin. It does mean that you can gently rid your skin of dry skin patches and clear out your clogged pores. Instead of buying an expensive exfoliator with a bunch of unneeded anti-acne chemicals that will be washed straight down the drain, use baking soda. Simply put a nickel sized amount in your hands and mix with some water and go about washing your face as you would normally. I tend to focus on my t-zone where most my acne and dry skin resides, then follow with lots of water to cleanse my face thoroughly. You also don't need to exfoliate often, too much and you can actually break open your skin. I exfoliate about two to three times a week, normally in the evenings.

5. Simplify your skin care routine: Do you really need the new 3-step skin care kit that costs an arm and a leg? Just like I said in my post about my skin care routine, you don't really need a bunch of products on your face to get your desired result. If you really think about it, a lot of anti-acne products offer many cleansers and exfoliators with acne-fighting ingredients, just to be washed off your face within seconds of applying. Does that really help fight acne? (No). Instead of wasting my time and money by buying different 3-step systems and products with a ridiculous amount of ingredients in them, I try to simplify my routine. I tend to stick to cheaper drug store options, without parabens, fragrances, or other harsh irritants, when it comes to products that will only remain on my face for a short period of time (think cleansers, body washes, etc.). I use the same cleanser day and night to gently clean dirt and makeup off my face, skip the over-drying toners, and head straight to the spot treatment. When it comes to moisturizing, I skip the anti-acne moisturizers because I have already got the acne-fighting ingredients in the spot treatment, and these moisturizers will end up drying out your face instead of doing its moisturizing job.

6. Wash your face: Ideally this would be number one, but since it is a no-brainer, I decided to put it as the last step. After seeing the other tips, however, I think you understand the importance of keeping your face and anything near it clean. But, I think I should reiterate this point! Wash. Your. Face. Plain and simple. Wash it when you wake up, wash it before bed, and wash it (please) before and after a workout. Before -- only if you are wearing makeup, but definitely after, to get the sweat out of those pores!

So there you have it. My super simple tips to keep your face clean. Now I know the title picture seems odd, I had an idea and went with it, though it is probably going to change to something more simple and pretty. Anyway, I hope that these tips really help you all!! I have been struggling with acne for many years, but by following these tips, my face has really cleared up. Remember that what you eat will also affect your skin too, so avoid sugar and processed foods, your skin will thank you!

If you have any questions about my routine, or want to start a discussion about your healthy skin tips, please feel free to comment below!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Skin Care Routine

My Skin Care Routine

My Skin Care Routine by labelmechic featuring Paula's Choice

Since I haven't posted much in a long time, I decided to start off by posting my skin care routine before heading into more posts about makeup, fashion and travel. Tomorrow (or shortly after) I will be making a post about keeping your skin acne free too, so hopefully this post and the next will be helpful if you have acne prone skin, or are looking for an easy skin care routine for healthier looking skin! Obviously I am not a dermatologist or trained at all to take care of skin, but this is what works for me based on trial and error, so maybe this will help you too!

Before talking about what I use I will tell you about my skin. It. Is. Complicated. I used to have very oily skin, but after starting prescription acne treatments and anti-acne moisturizers, my skin became so dry, red and flaky that it was uncomfortable and hard to manage. It is also very sensitive, something that has never changed. Now, after having a new routine and trying out tons of drug store and high end products, my skin is a little more "normal," slightly oiler t-zone and a little dry everywhere else, putting me in the combination/normal category. So here is what I use (and why)...

1. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser: I start off by using a light, foaming cleanser made without "extra" ingredients, i.e. parabens and fragrances. This works very well to wash off your makeup and any oil or dirt in your pores, without irritating your skin. When I need some exfoliation, I use baking soda, or use the Olay facial brush, and focus on my t-zone or wherever there is dry skin.

2. Up & Up Maximum Strength Acne Medication, Benzoyl Peroxide: After washing and drying my face, I use this spot treatment on existing acne in order reduce redness and get rid of stubborn pimples. It is the same formula as the Clear & Clear version, but a little cheaper. I honestly wouldn't splurge on spot treatments (salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide) because the Up & Up or any drug store version works just as well as the Clinique or Murad ones.

3. Burt's Bees Brightening Eye Treatment: (not pictured) I have dark, purple under eyes. No, I didn't get punched in the eye, and yes I have been sleeping and drinking plenty of water. They are hereditary and annoying. After using various eye treatments, like the Clinique Even Better Eyes formula, I decided to go for something a little bit cleaner and with more natural ingredients. This works very well to hydrate the eye area and reduce darkness, I have definitely seen results, which helps me save on concealer too!

4. Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Now I know I am in my very early 20s, but it is the time to start thinking about wrinkles. I have noticed some wrinkles around my eyes, and when I don't get enough sleep or the area is drier, weird wrinkles appear. So while I make sure the area is well moisturized, I also use a retinol serum to help produce collagen and keep my under eyes smooth. This serum also focuses on enlarged pores and blackheads, so it is more "age appropriate."

5. Clinique Moisture Surge: I love this moisturizer! I have tried many other types, ones with acne medication in them, drug store brands and Sephora brands, but never found anything better than this! Even the Clinique Even Better Moisturizer didn't work for me, it ended up clogging my pores and felt heavy. This one, however, is very light feeling, moisturizes well, and doesn't cause any irritation or clog pores. I can barely formulate the words to say how amazing this moisturizer is, but if Clinique ever stops making this product, I will have to stock up on every jar I can find. I also know that this is expensive (about $52 per jar), but one jar lasts me 10-12 months, plus it is worth the money!

6. Clinique Superprimer Colour Corrects Redness: When I wear makeup, this is a must-have step. Though I hate adding more products on my face just to do so, this actually helps reduce redness and creates a smooth surface for makeup. Though I don't know if it really helps my makeup stay on longer, it does control any redness on your face, even from acne.

7. Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream: I had always used actual foundations, liquids and powders, until this CC cream came out. While it is marketed as a tinted moisturizer, I wouldn't use it as a moisturizer, but solely as sheer foundation that has some moisturizing benefits. It is very light weight and sheer, but I like to use it as my foundation since heavier liquids cover up too much (my freckles) and can be too cakey as well. While pinterest may tell you to switch to a BB or CC cream for the summer, consider making a permanent switch since it is moisturizing and more natural looking too.

Hopefully this super simple and budget friendly skin care routine didn't bore you too much, and maybe it helped as well! If you have any questions about these products (that I can answer) or want to share your routine or opinion, please leave a comment!! Have a great day!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Essential Shoes

Essential Shoes

Essential Shoes by labelmechic featuring black leather shoes

It has been a long time since I have posted anything! But don't worry, more is yet to come. I decided to start my postings for the summer with some essentials that I believe everyone should have in their closet. The capsule wardrobe has become a very big phenomena, especially on Pinterest, and as someone who likes order and simplicity, the capsule wardrobe just makes sense. Though I am not inclined to own 37 items of clothing, building a closet based on basics and layerable pieces is right down my alley! So here are some of my essentials for shoes...

1. Nude or Tan Ankle Boots: 
     I have become obsessed with ankle boots ever since I bought a pair of black Sam    
     Edelman leather boots last fall. Ankle boots are an essential for fall and spring and look 
     mazing with skinny jeans, and since I tend to wear skinny jeans year round, they are 
     perfect for my wardrobe. I recommend getting nude or light tan boots, either leather or 
     suede (make sure you spray on some protectant!) which you can wear in the spring 
     time to start your winter to summer transition. 

2. Black Ankle Boots:
     As I mentioned in no. 1, I love ankle boots, but I also love the color black in fashion. I  
     tend to buy lots of black tees and shoes, as well as any other accessory I can find--  
     scarves, socks, hats, you name it-- so obviously I need black ankle boots. I wore my  
     Sam Edelman ankle boots September to March this year because they looked amazing 
     and were very comfortable. Again, I recommend ankle boots because I think they are 
     much more stylish than taller boots (my old staple) and the whole looking awesome with 
     skinny jeans. Brand wise, I recommend Sam Edelman because they 
     are very well made and will last you awhile. 

3. Oxfords:

     While many people may wear flats daily, I wear oxfords. I have several pairs, including 
     the pair I bought for studying abroad two years ago, as well as some others. You can 
     find oxfords at any store and at varying prices, but I recommend buying a more 
     expensive pair, like at Clarks or a department store, because they will last much longer   
     than cheaper pairs and will also be more supportive for your feet. You may think that 
     oxfords are for men or for the office, but they can be also worn daily with a pair of jeans. 
     So if you are looking for something better looking than a pair of sneakers or whatever 
     you just throw on at the door, oxfords can instantly add a bit more class to your outfits. 

4. Sandals:

     Its finally summer! And while I love wearing my ankle boots and oxfords (if you haven't 
     noticed), you also need a lighter pair of shoes for the heat. To continue my whole 
     supportive shoe rant, I  tend to get sandals that have a thicker sole and even some with 
     arch supports in them. I would recommend getting a pair like the Madewell ones 
     pictured above since they are both casual and versatile. 

5. Keds:

     Sneakers are a necessary, no matter what. You need them to work out, to run errands, 
     to play sports, et cetera et cetera. While Keds aren't the ideal pair of sneakers for 
     working out or sports. they are great for running errands and going to class, which is 
     what I use mine for. They are definitely more stylish than your work out sneakers too. I 
     really like wearing Keds on days where putting more effort into my outfits is not in the 

So there you have it, my essential shoes that I wear every day. As long as you have these shoes in your closet arsenal, your wardrobe will always be on point!