Looking for some ideas for the lady in your life or your gal pals? Justin and I met on Valentine’s Day which makes it pretty special for us! This will be our first year celebrating as husband and wife! Hopefully these idea help give you some inspiration. Want a challenge? See if you can find similar items at your local thrift shop or second hand store! AND – don’t forget to treat yourself!
I loved every vendor we worked with for our wedding that I decided I needed a post dedicated to them! If you are are local and recently engaged this post is for you!
Planning a wedding is not something I would recommend to a friend, however if you surround yourself with all-star people, then you’re going to be just fine!
My goal of todays post is to share some amazing CT/NY based wedding vendors that are reliable and awesome to work with. My goal is to make wedding planning easy for you.
Rob Zajac, he was our photographer for both our engagement photos and wedding photos. All of the photos in this post are his!
St. Clements Castle – Portland, Connecticut
The Wedding Embassy – Watertown, Connecticut
Julie Allen Bridal – Newtown, Connecticut
Hair by Alicia Russo – Middletown, Connecticut
LA Page Makeup – Connecticut
Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
Onyx Fine Jewelers – Watertown, Connecticut
TS Calligraphy – Middlebury, Connecticut
Chimirri Italian Bakery – Wethersfield, Connecticut
Shout out to Goodwill, Facebook market place, Estate Sales, etc. This will be a whole separate post, but in the mean time here are some photos of items I bought secondhand.
And lest we not forget that this happened…
I look forward to seeing you next Wednesday for another installment of me reliving the best day of my life and making it content. Let me know what type of wedding content you would like to see! Or Do you have any Connecticut wedding vendors you love? Share them below!
Related wedding posts:
It is truly hard to believe that I have been teaching online with VIPKid for 2 years! This crazy journey has given me so much and I find myself being so thankful each time I long on to teach. Yes… the early mornings can be difficult, but who else gets to work in the their PJs and make a difference?
What is VIPKID?
If you are new around here and have never heard of VIPKID here is a little introduction. VIPKID is an online platform that provides English lessons to children in China. The teaching platform operates similar to Skype, there is a video screen for both teacher and student and lesson slides. Currently the company has roughly 70,000 teachers (I was number 21,334!) and over 100,000 students. If you are interested in learning a bit more about the company here is an article that goes into more detail! In 2019 VIPKID was ranked in the top 10 jobs to work from home by Forbes!
How did I get started with VIPKID?
When Justin (now husband) and I got engaged I started to look for a second job; at the time I did not know teaching online was even a possible job seeing as I do not have a degree in education. One day while scrolling on Facebook I saw an ad for VIPKID and the advertisement claimed you could “make $16-$22 an hour teaching from the comfort of your own home”.
Although I thought there was no way it could be true, or I would not be qualified for the job I did my own research. I came across a few legitimate accounts on Instagram, Youtube and Facebook. At the end of December 2017 I applied and interviewed. I was hired January 2018 and have been teaching ever since!
If you want to read more about my experience (or what my income looks like!!) here are some other posts about teaching english online with VIPKID.
Job Pros & Cons
- Job flexibility (I choose the days, times, and how much I teach!)
- I can teach from anywhere.
- Real consistent money.
- Make a difference in kids lives.
- Learn about a different culture.
- Online teacher friends!
- Being your own boss!
- The ability to make this a full time job!
- No sick days. If you wake up sick or there is an emergency and you can’t teach you may be penalized for that.
- Classes with students who are note prepared or are too young.
- Tough parents that leave poor feedback on your class or are involved too much during the class.
- Students with bad attitudes or are just mean.
Want to Become a VIPKID Teacher?
Great news – it’s super easy! All you need to apply is a bachelors degree and some experience working with kids (does not need to be formal teaching experience). You will also need to acquire a TESOL certification which you can either do on your own or through VIPKID. Personally, I did mine online with the International Open Academy and found super easy!
Let me know! Are you a VIPKID Teacher? Have you ever thought of teaching english online with VIPKID? I have helped a handful of teachers get started with VIPKID 🙂
Do you set intentions for yourself? I am a goal setter which also automatically makes me a goal fail-er. Last year I tried something new where I set goals for myself that were broad. Which is so un analytical of me and most of coworkers would poke fun at – because DATA IS OUR LIFE . But, hey it worked. The broad goal I set for myself was to run more. Although I do not have paper proof data that I ran X amount more miles in 2019 than I did in 2018, I can tell you with extreme confidence that I did indeed run more. How do I know that? Well, I joined a running club, where we ran 3 miles every Tuesday night and in 2018 I was for not running a 5k a week ya’ll so BOOM – goal accomplished.
Moving into this new year I wanted to do the same but bigger. The new decade got me feeling some type of way! Unlike most I love the start of a new year. I love the idea of starting fresh! Heck I started January 1 by cutting 8 inches of my hair – whats more new new decade then that? I saw that last week Krista over on Covering the Bases set intentions for herself and LOVED the idea. Read Krista’s intentions for 2020 here! I loved the thought of being more intentional about new habits rather than setting cut and dry goals.
Joining a running club in 2019 was one way I was intentional about running more. If I missed a week it was not a big deal, but it was there for me to do each week. I made sure I showed up not only for the group by for myself… and that what I’m really getting at for 2020. I am going to start showing up for myself and this it how I am going to intentionally do it!
A disclaimer… When I started to write this I did not think it would turn immediately into some topics that I would consider not “dinner etiquette” and something you would not bring up with your drunk uncle at the family party. So, if you are not interested in reading what some might consider “controversial” topics, then don’t and if you do keep your comments kind 🙂
- Self Care in the form of praying, journaling, and reading. I’ve already started 2020 pretty strong with this one. 2019 was all about growing in my faith and I did that by spending time in prayer, reading the bible, and journaling. I want to continue to make these things parts of daily routines. Currently I am reading from The One Year Bible for Women, The Confident Women Daily Devotional, and my sweet sister in law gifted me a 5 year memory journal and I have been really loving writing in that every day. Something I’d like to be more intentional about adding into this routine is actually journaling or writing my prayer down. So that will be something I will be trying to work on in 2020!
- Church. I’ve already kicked these intentions off with some religious talk and if that makes you uncomfortable I apologize and this is the last section that will touch on this topic so please skip to the next item if you wish 🙂 I have not been to church in an embarrassing longtime. I didn’t feel connected to my faith and did not agree with some Church teachings. At the end of 2019 I found a Church that I felt comfortable with and feeling connected with their message that ALL were welcome. I have been officially attending this new church in November 2019 and I look forward to continuing with that.
- Eat less meat! 2020 is the year that I am not only going to be intentional about the actions I do that effect myself but also that effect others. I have tried to eat less meat in past years, but have failed due to the social pressures around me. I started 2020 strong by pledging to participate in Veganuary so far I am # days strong! My mom was a little pleased at family dinner this past weekend when I brought my own dish to eat and no the food she cooked. In the past I would have crumbled to the pressure, but this time I stood strong and am here to say I’ve leaving meat in 2019.
- Drink more water. Easy! I have been more intentional about making sure my reusable water bottle is full and with me at all times! I have made sure I have it for work, out running errands, next to my bed at night, and next to me when teaching. Also, by having my water bottle so easily accessible I not only drinking more, but reducing my need to buy a bottle of water when I am out. Saving money and using less plastic – check! Want to use less plastic this year too? Julia (Lemon Stripes) started a water bottle challenge in 2019 and this year added a plastic challenge too! Read here how you can also join in on reducing your use of plastic!
- Invest in my blog. Another item here on the blog that I have been “all talk” about for the past couple of years that I am going to invest more into my blog. This is not just a money investment, but also a time investment. I often find myself being busy working on my blog, but never productive. In this new year I am going to start a power hour session each day and choose one day on the weekend to spend a little more time. I hope by making this small effort I (and you!) will see some changes around here on AMB. ALSO! I did take one major leap with my blogging a sought out help from a fellow blogger. I contacted Caitlin from Caitlin Houston Blog to get some guidance on how to be a better blogger this year and she gave me some major tips! And if you want some of those major tips I’d reach out to her too!
- Spend time offline! As stated above I spend a lot of time being busy and not be productive. This leads to wasted time online and time not spent with my husband, pups, and family! My goal… or intention will be to do my power hour, then shut all my electronic down for the evening.
There it is! Those are just a few things that I am going to be more intentional about in 2020! What are your 2020 intentions? Let me know below!! I love learning about how people are hoping to grow in the new year!
Here is my post from last year where I share the things I “did not have time for in 2019″
I have always had excellent dental hygiene per my dental hygienist. We were an extremely lucky family and my mom had great dental insurance, which meant cleanings every 6 months! I did not have my first cavity until I got to college, and I blame that on the unlimited soda fountain in the cafe… and maybe those sugary drinks I would mix my cheap vodka with… neither here nor there, my teeth have always been in good health.
A few years ago while at one of my not so annual cleanings the dental hygienist said that I was starting to show signs of gum recession… and if you want to lose some sleep tonight, just google: receding gum lines. Had my run of good dental heath run out at age 25? Would I be toothless by 30?
So many (not overactive) thoughts raced through my head. First, and most important how? Well… gum recession has many causes some which include bacteria and/or teeth grinding (me!). Second, can it be fixed? Well yes and no… you can have skin grafts done to place over effected areas, however some cases are much more extreme. Thankfully, I am not there yet. I am currently in the step of not letting it progress any further, which is where my new CariPRO comes in. Some tips from my dentist were to floss daily, use a good mouth wash, and get an electric toothbrush… hm… an electric toothbrush…
When Smile Brilliant reached out asking me to try their new toothbrush I was thrilled! I loved their teeth whitening (and lots of you did too!) so this was an easy “Yes”.
First things first, the look! The CariPRO is a sleek, slim grey brush with 2 brush heads and a charging dock. The dock is small and takes up minimal space on your countertop. It comes with a manual that extensively explains the brush and tips for good oral hygiene.
Now about the brush, the coolest feature… is that it actually has 5 different brushing modes.
- Clean – Standard mode for daily cleaning.
- White – Most powerful for removing surface stains and deep cleaning.
- Massage – Gentle gum pulsation for gum stimulation.
- Gum Care – Gum mode for gentle cleaning along the gumline (Hey – thats for me!)
- Sensitive – Ideal for users who find the default clean mode to be slightly too aggressive.
My review… drum roll… I love it!! In the past I have used different electric tooth brushes, but non of them had different modes to address different needs. With receding gums there are times when my teeth are extremely sensitive, so having the option to use a mode that is less aggressive works for me! Secondly, I love that I can make a point at addressing my gum health everyday with the gum care mode.
Now how and where can you get yours? You can use my code: 20amymarieblog to save 20% … or you can get one for free!! Yes, thats right! I am teaming up with Smile Brilliant to give one away to you! You can enter the giveaway here!electric toothbrush
Hello friends! Thank you for stopping on over to my blog today to find out just how I made my life just a little more bubbly. I’m happy to share that I’ve partnered with FizzBenefitz today to give you an inside look at their amazing products.
And as always all opinions are my own and I would never share or partner with a brand if I didn’t believe in their product or their message.
A little about FizzBenefitz, they are a local company here in Connecticut that currently offers a line of products that ranges from jewelry cleaner to dietary supplements. Sounds kinds crazy, but I promise you it is not! These products were created by a team of scientists (yay science!!) with you in mind! Cool stuff , right?
So lets jump right in on what FizzBenefitz can do for you!
First – there jewelry cleaner, which was a huge hit on my Instagram recently. I’ve tried a lot of different ways of cleaning my jewelry and this is hands down the easiest! Warm water and a shine better tablet. Thats it! Place your jewelry in the glass for 15 – 30 minutes, let the tablet work its magic, and your jewelry is clean. I alway suggest using a hair dryer on low heat to dry your jewelry after cleaning for a spotless finish. This is the perfect gift for newly engaged or married friends.
Check out my results!
Struggling with getting your Vitamin C and Calcium, like me? Fizzbenefitz has you covered!
We all know you need calcium for your bone heath and Vitamin C does amazing things for your immune system, but are you getting enough of it? Fizzbenefitz makes that easy for you, all you need to do is drop a tablet in a 4 – 6 oz glass of water, let it dissolve and enjoy!
Next, we have there Hydratebetter. These hydration packets have been extremely useful after my workouts and long runs. It is very easy to bring along with me to the gym and work. I actually have a few in different places… my car, my desk at work, and purse. This is better tasting and more effective way then water to hydrate your body!
Last but not least, Showerbetter aromatherapy. Ever heard of this? I hadn’t until now! Looking for a way to add something special, more relaxing to your shower… a Showerbetter tablet is the way to go. Currently Fizzbenefitz offers Uplift and Unwind, which is the perfect way to either start or end your day. Get your shower to your ideal temperature, place a tablet on the floor, and take a deep breath. Your shower will immediately fill with these amazing aromatherapy scents!
Wow – I cannot believe that it is already September and I also cannot believe that my bachelorette party is a month away and that Justin and I are getting married in 3 months! If you’re wondering… yes I am freaking out.
Ok – so lets get into why you clicked on this post… I’ll address the elephant in the room… “Amy, how much money did you make teaching last month?” … no worries at all, I love elephants and I actually don’t mind sharing my earnings. This is an absolute no bragging zone, its just when I first started teaching I wanted to know how realistic it would be… me teaching English online as a second job. Most people are shocked when I tell them, and most I don’t tell… and believe me, it has nothing to do with not liking my job. I love this job… and honestly I’m not sure I would be able to pay for a wedding, book a honeymoon, save for a house, or eat… without it!
Not my best month and not my worst month… this is what I like to call my burn out month (haha!) Last month I went a little overboard… I was working early mornings and late nights which resulted in a $600 payout… but feeling that burn this month I opened less slots in August and here we are… Also I accidentally opened classes during a time I was not available and had to cancel 2, which is the worst!! It not only lets the student down, but you lose some money if they are in a certain time frame of that class… I’ll be more cautious this time.
I taught a total of 43 classes… 2 classes short for the 45 class bonus… bummer!
Moving on to September goals… I am going to aim to teach 50 classes… which will roughly put me at $500, which does not not include short notice bonus, trial class sign up, teacher referral, etc. There are a lot of opportunities to make a little bonus cash!
- Teach 50 classes
- Refer 1 new teacher
Get my TESOL certification(Check!! Finished that prior to writing this post!)
- Update my teaching background (In progress, I bough some rainbow wrapping paper – I’m so excited!!)
So there we are, ready for a brand new month! As always if you are interested in learning more about VIPKid I’d be happy to chat with you! I’ve helped a few teachers get started on their journey!
Thanks for reading & happy teaching!
Hello everyone! Today I am partnering with Smile Brilliant to share with you their amazing teeth whitening system!
As always anytime I share a brand with you it is because I have tried the brand myself, believe it works and want to get that good news out there! I talk a lot on my Instagram about how I would never share a brand with you that did not align with my beliefs or values. When I first began chatting with Smile Brilliant I asked all my questions up front! I worked with Emma who was happy to answer them all! Smile Brilliant is a vegan and cruelty free teeth whitening brand! Cool right? They also specialize in kits for sensitive teeth! Which is perfect for me! Alright, now lets get this party started and learn more about Smile Brilliant.
Have you heard I’m getting married in November? I might have mentioned it a few times… A major thing on my “get ready for the wedding list” was to whiten my teeth. I’m a coffee drink, and years of one…. maybe two cups a day have began to show on my teeth. The process of teeth whitening has always scared me bit because my teeth are sensitive. Thankfully Smile Brilliants process is made for sensitive teeth and is super easy to follow!
The process is extremely easy. On their website you start with a simple question: Sensitive teeth or Non sensitive teeth? From there they provide you with 3 different whitening systems based on how you classify your own teeth (light, average, or heavy stained)
In a few short days (mine literally came so fast) you will get your kit in the mail. You’ll get to play dentist for a bit and do a fun hands on activity where you will make your own teeth molds to send back to Smile Brilliant where they will then send you your custom whitening trays. Again – this process was super fast! Smile Brilliant provides you with everything you need to be successful on this step. An easy to follow instruction guide, and a stamped and padded envelope to send your molds back to them!
When your custom molds arrive its time to get to work! In your box you will have two different syringes one with whitening gel and one with desensitizing gel. First you whiten your teeth, then you can brush your teeth with toothpaste and use the desensitizing gel. Smile Brilliant suggests 45 minutes every other day (which I did!), however you can whiten up to 3 hours! How long you spend whitening is up to you and how sensitive your teeth are.
The best time to use the system is at night after dinner and before bed. You do not want to drink after whitening so get that bedtime tea in before!
The first day I started out with our 30 minutes… cause I’m a scaredy cat and thought my teeth might be too sensitive, after when I experienced no issue I bumped it up to 45 minutes every other day. I did not feel much sensitivity during the process but was cautious when consuming extremely hot or cold drinks.
Also do not be freaked if immediately after the whitening your teeth look blotchy. This look fades over night and when you wake up in the morning your teeth are even and on their wearing to pearly perfection!
Another note: a little goes a long way! On my second night of whitening I overfilled one of my trays, which then got into my mouth… that taste… WAS NOT GOOD. I know no one is surprised by that… just being honest.
Soooo because I had such a great time using this system I want to share one with all of you! You can enter to WIN this awesome system by clicking the link below!
CLICK THIS LINK TO ENTER: www.smilebrilliant.com/g/amymarieblog
All you need to do is enter your email address! The giveaway is for a $149 Smile Brilliant credit. It is open for at least 1-2 weeks and open to USA, UK, Australia and Canadian residents. If you would like to purchase your own kit you can use my code: amymarieblog15 to save 15%
Please let me know if you have any questions about my experience!!
Looking for beginner photography tips? You are in the right place!
If you’ve seen the movie “How To Train Your Dragon” then you’ve already got a head start.
Instagram husbands/wives, fiances’, boyfriends/girlfriends, dragons, whatever they may be, we all have them! And we all must use them to get the BEST INSTAGRAM SHOT. Ever argue with your significant other because they couldn’t read you mind? Yah, same…
So lets fix it! Before we get started here are a few things I learned…
First, Justin is not a professional photographer.
Second, he cannot read my mind/ know what look I’m going for.
Third, he doesn’t get what angles are or see anything wrong with my hair being out of place, my bra sticking out, or my makeup being smudged.
So, knowing all that I know now, here are some things Justin and I have worked on over the past months together and some photography tips to create photo content we are both proud of!
6 Helpful Photography Tips:
Tip 1: Communication is key.
Seriously, it is. Before we go out shooting I tell him the plan and we work it out together. We discuss the location, outfits I’ll be wearing or brining, and purpose of the shoot (what item of clothing I’m trying to display, or a product).
Tip 2: Frame the shot yourself.
I cannot see what Justin sees behind the camera and a lot of times I find that he is too far away or the shot isn’t framed as I envisioned it. So I will start behind the camera myself, frame my own shot and even have Justin stand in. I also will take some practice shots to check for lighting (another thing Justin does not care about). I then will stand in the exact spot hand Justin the camera and tell him “not to move!”
Tip 3: Communicate during the photos.
Ask questions – How’s my hair? Is my dress laying ok? How is it looking?” I found by keeping the communication open the entire time helps Justin know what I am looking out for.
Tip 4: Use Sport/Action Mode.
This was a game-changer for us. I found by having Justin shoot in a quick shot mode (where photos are being taken continuously) we able to get the “shot” quicker. I like to move and I like photos with life! This allowed me to move, Justin to have the shutter constantly going, and us getting the get result easier!
Tip 5: Check your photos before moving on the next location.
If you are shooting at a spot, check your photos before moving to the next location or going home. Nothing is worse than getting home and hating every photo you took for the past hour… So check them and if you need to reshoot any of them explain why!
Tip 6: THANK AND APPRECIATE YOUR BOO THANG.
No matter if it is your Momma or your dragon take time to appreciate them and thank them for helping you. Legit every photo you see on my page is taken by Justin (and rarely my Mom). I would have zero content without them and I am so thankful!
As the saying goes, “It takes a village to grow an Instagram.”
Want to read more?
Hello everyone! Thank you for stopping by my blog! Today we are going to be talking about faith. If that makes you uncomfortable, thats ok, it used to make me uncomfortable too…and still does a little. The topic of faith often falls into the category of “things not to talk about a dinner parties”. So following that rule I never did, and when I found myself not talking about it, I started to lose it.
A little background before we get started… I’m a young woman raised Catholic by my family. I attended a Catholic high school and really only attended church occasionally. Attending mass was something I did mostly with my school and I stopped going all together when I went away to college.
The why and all that stuff is a post for another day. This would be a really long post if I got into it all, but if you like me writing about this kinda stuff, I can definitely do it more 🙂
Read & Journal
Alright – lets gets into good stuff (hopefully the reason you clicked on this post) .. How I strengthened my faith! It all started with a new years resolution… no seriously!! I made only 2 this year: run more and strengthen my faith. I left them very broad so that no matter how I ended 2019 I would feel proud of the steps I made towards my goals… no matter how small!
First things first … I bought a dang bible! Yes… I did not own one, nor did any of my family members. So I looked on amazon for something cute and found the Beautiful Word Bible. I was looking for something I could use for both reading and bible journaling. This is such a beautiful book inside and out – it has amazing illustrations on each page and plenty of room in the margins for writing!
At the beginning of the year I used first5.org and shereadstruth.com which are both websites and apps that offer free bible studies and daily readings. This makes reading the bible much less daunting. You can study one book at a time and have guided questions to follow. I paired my reading with journaling. I would copy a passage that I really liked, or write how I connected to the daily reading.
Others items that I have found helpful for beginners like myself are devotional books. One of my favorites is 100 days to Brave by Annie F. Downs.
I recently purchased the One Year Bible for Woman and have really, really liked this! This is something I use now daily instead of the Beautiful Word Bible I mentioned above. I was getting overwhelmed and needed something I could spend 15 minutes reading daily. This book literally helps you read the entire bible in one year. Each day is a 15 minute reading with a passage from the old testament and the new testament.
Find a Community
Don’t limit yourself to only thinking you can find a community in a church, He doesn’t live there either 😉 The first community I found online was actually through a podcast I listen to.
Heres the back story … Have you heard of The Morning Toast? It’s lit podcast/online morning show for millennials. They talk all things pop culture with some world events… They have a private facebook group that has now spread to multiple sub groups. This community has changed my life. I listen to Jackie and Claudia daily and am so thankful for the community they have created (all of us Toasters are!).
Ok so toast group sub groups – I am part of two a Christian group and a Catholic focused group. Why this group was so helpful, was because it was a place I could ask questions and not be judged. It was so important to me to find other women like myself I could connect with. The moderators of the group run bible studies and keep the conversations tame when controversial topics come up 😉
I would love to find a group in my area that I could connect with, but for right now, I’ll stick to my online friends.
When I say “pray” I mean conversation with God. I realized when I started doing this, how long I had not been doing it and when I had been doing it, I wasn’t doing it meaningfully… I was just asking for things. I’ve adjusted the way I’ve prayed over the last couple of months and this has really strengthened my relationship with Him.
I am not doing the traditional on my knees next to my bed routine type prayer. I’m more so just including Him in my day, every day. When I wake up in the morning or when I’m driving to work or when something has stressed me out or whatever! I just talk to Him as I would a friend. I always make sure to include thanks and gratefulness in my conversations and ask guidance on things I struggle with. I’ve found through this that things are not just given for free (duh), but all the tools and pieces are given to the solution. It’s our job to put the pieces together.
And thats it! Simple right? Everyones path and journey is different, what is listed above is just a few things I’ve started doing this year to help strengthen my faith. Remember there is no right or wrong way. It is YOUR way and what works for you!
If you have any other tips please or ways you’ve strengthened your faith let me know below! I can’t wait to read them!