Posts in Lifestyle

My Budget Friendly Summer Skincare Routine

Back in January, I committed to taking more time for self care, which included developing a skincare routine for myself. I’ve never been a big makeup/skincare person, so building up the habit required time and patience on my part. Plus keeping it budget friendly skincare is tough! I was doing well with my winter skincare, as someone who is super dry 24/7 in the winter, it was practically mandatory! For summer skincare though, it’s high time to switch it up! So first, an update about my skin, then the products I’m using and last what I’m in the market for!

Before we go forward, I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or skin care expert. This routine is what works for my normal to dry skin. I recommend these products based on my experience, but if you are unsure on products, you should do your own research or contact a professional for assistance on your skin. 

Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links at no extra cost to you. 

About My Skin

As I mentioned in my winter skincare post, I’ve always been one of those people with decent skin. For the longest time my only skincare was some off-brand “morning hydration” face and body lotion and baby wash. And micellar water to take off makeup, when I remembered. And with that, I only ever had at most a couple pimples or a few light bumps. 

A couple years ago, the universe played an uno reverse card on me and took away my simple, easy skin. Replaced it with sweaty, oily skin summers and dry, cracking winters. I did the bare minimum to care for my skin, mostly just addressing things as they came up, instead of preventing the problems. Summer 2020, I started the process, washing my face more frequently, moisturizing regularly and wearing *le gasp* sunscreen! I aimed for moisture and glowy. Sweaty, but make it fashion, right? Then last winter, we shifted gears into a real skincare routine, adding more products to combat some serious dryness.

So here we are, Summer 2021, and what’s up next for my skin? Well the theme for the season is still simple, budget friendly, and moisture. And between allergies and sweat, glowy-on-purpose skin is important too. I use a lot of sunscreen every day too, especially because I abused my skin in the sun for so long. Not with tanning, but working outside for many summers with literally zero skin protection. It’s taken me a long time to rehab the damage I’ve done, and there’s still some pigmentation and weird texture spots from the sun damage. 

Morning Skincare Routine

Once again, mornings, not my strength. I’ve gotten better about waking up early and having plenty of time for whatever in the mornings. But the universe has blessed me with something new to keep my mornings busy, seasonal allergies! I don’t know what is going on with the pine trees this year, but I’m definitely feeling the pollen. So my mornings are mostly taken up by washing my face, eye drops, allergy pills, and sneezing into my tea. 

Most days, I’m not going far from my desk, my bed, or my kitchen, thank you Covid, 90° weather, and sweeping pollen clouds. On those days I keep my morning skincare simple, a quick rinse with water, pat dry and follow up with CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer SPF 30. The CeraVe isn’t my favorite, but it does the job. I’ll finish the bottle, but I doubt that I’ll end up rebuying.

On the rare occasion that I do venture out, I’m still keeping it minimal.. I’m a real sweaty betty, so adding a bunch of layers of anything is just going to be an annoyance to me later. I stick to a glowy-on-purpose simple routine and that’s all. I picked out my routine after watching this video from the skincare queen, Charlotte Palermino.

Three budget-friendly summer skincare products: Blue and white bottle of CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, orange and white bottle of CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen, and The Ordinary Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil.

Sometimes I’ll pop a fresh coat on with the CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 or Cetaphil first to refresh the moisturizer. I follow it up with The Ordinary Rosehip Oil on my face and neck, going real wild with 3 drops. I rub it out in my hands and then pat it on. After letting the oil sit for a moment, I’ll apply the CeraVe Hydrating Face Lotion SPF 50. I absolutely can’t recommend this sunscreen, it gives a terrible white cast, and I’m pretty pale to begin with. I’ve been on the hunt for a new one with no or less white cast to end my routine with. If I know I’ll be outside in the sun, I’ll just suck it up and deal with the white residue, but if I’ll be inside, I will occasionally use the CeraVe again or just plain sunscreen, neither of which really give you the glowy look.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

Four budget-friendly summer skincare products in my nighttime skincare routine: Clear bottle of Garnier Micellar Water, Green and white bottle of CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, short squat white and blue jar of Pond's Dry Skin Cream, and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid.

My nighttime summer skincare routine is pretty simple. I’ll use the Garnier’s Micellar Water with reusable bamboo cotton rounds to remove any remaining sunscreen or makeup.

Two budget-friendly summer skincare products in my nighttime skincare routine: short squat white and blue jar of Pond's Dry Skin Cream, and The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid.

Next I’ll rinse with cool water and pat dry after, or some days I’ll use the non-forming CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser. After, I’ll use The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% with B5. Hyaluronic acid helps replenish moisture in your skin and the B5 prevents moisture loss. This is really important in the winter, but moisture is still key year round. Lastly, closing it up with a nice thick moisturizer like Pond’s Dry Skin Cream or Cetaphil on the skin and Aquaphor on my lips. 

What I’m Looking to Buy

My summer skincare routine definitely still has room to grow!


I had a lot of recommendations for amazing sunscreens like Supergoop and Neutrogena Invisible Shield. I was definitely looking for a chemical sunscreen, the mineral leaves too much of a white cast. And finding a budget friendly option is key. Based on my research, I’ll likely have to sacrifice some budget to get a good product. For most people, the Neutrogena Invisible Shield would be a great, affordable find, but it doesn’t play well with my sensitive skin.

The product I’m considering adding to my summer skincare routine is the La Rochey Posay Clear Skin Dry Touch. It’s SPF 60, not a mineral sunscreen, and most reviews say no white cast. It’s $19.99 for 1.7oz, which is pretty pricey, but I have some Ulta points available and 3% cashback with Rakuten, so I can make the price a little more budget friendly!

Vitamin C Serum

I’m going to start here, finding a Vitamin C serum is hard! A lot of the top rated products are expensive. Like $40+ for 1 ounce of product. It is a lot of product, given that you’re using 1-2 drops per day and it’s a good quality product it’s a pretty fair price. But still, with some running upwards of $80, Woof.

I did some research and narrowed it down to three options, TruSkin Vitamin C Serum, Maelove Glow Maker, and L’Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives. All three options are less than $30 each. I’m leaning towards trying the L’Oreal first, mostly because that way I can pop it onto the same Ulta order with the sunscreen and a few other things I need.

Let me know if there are any other summer skincare essentials I’m missing in my routine or products I should try out. What’s are your summer skincare essentials? Do you keep it budget friendly, or do you splurge on skincare? Let’s chat below!

Keep up with what I’m doing on the daily on Instagram, @MoiraTheExplorer and stay in the know by jumping on my monthly email newsletter here, coming soon!

The Rabbit Care Guides: How to Keep a Pet Bunny

Jump to Rabbit Care Guides Table of Contents

Almost 3 years ago now, on an absolute whim, I pulled a tiny, cuddle bunny from a small pet shop and brought him home in a small cardboard box. Back then, I was excited to have my cuddly carrot-eating little GusGus in his cute little cage. 

And then I learned more about rabbits. I learned a lot more. 

Young Moira, girl with banks and glasses holding baby Black and white Dutch bunny rabbit who inspired the Rabbit Care Guide in her arms and petting his nose.

I never realized how much I didn’t know about rabbits until after I had already gotten one. And that’s the case for so many other rabbit owners I know, some of whom unfortunately learned these things too late. 

Learning all the info has been difficult. So much of it comes from groups or forums online and contradict common sources of information people usually trust like chain pet stores, friends and family, or even some veterinarians. 

What is difficult about learning in these groups is actually sharing knowledge. Often the same common questions are asked, and it’s difficult repeating the same answers. Or worse, looking for new information and being unable to find any reputable or reliable sources.

This Guide

All of that inspired this series of posts, The Rabbit Care Guides. This will be a series of informative blog posts, each covering different topics in rabbit care and keeping. This includes things like proper nutrition, spaying and neutering, cage sizes, and more, and will feature information from veterinarians and rabbit care experts.

Black and white Dutch bunny rabbit who inspired the Rabbit Care Guide standing on his back legs and looking up into the camera

This post will serve as a table of contents for this series, continually being updated as new information is published. It is also the best place to ask any other questions about rabbit care that you may have. We can point you to a post that could help or write a post to answer your question. 

Who is the Rabbit Care Guide for?

The rabbit care guide is for anyone. Do you just love rabbits? It’s for you. Looking to get a pet? It’s for you too! New bunny owner? You too! Owned rabbits for years? Yep, it’s also for you. It’s never too late or too early to learn more about rabbits. 

Black and white Dutch bunny rabbit who inspired the Rabbit Care Guide hiding and peeking out of a paper bag

Animal care and keeping is always updating and growing. There are elements of rabbit care that we are learning about now that 5 years ago would never have crossed our minds. It’s important to continue to stay in the know for our pets, making sure we’re providing them with the best care possible, especially for rabbits, who can be a lot more at risk than other pets. 

If you want to write for the Rabbit Care Guides, contact me here

If you have a topic you want to see covered in the guides, comment below and let me know!

Table of Contents

Crate, Cages, and Pens, Oh My! (coming soon!)
Diet for Bunnies: What Rabbits Can and Should Eat (coming soon!)
GI Stasis, Medications, and Recovery (coming soon!)
Emergency Preparedness for Rabbits (coming soon!)
Litter Training and Litter Boxes for Rabbits (coming soon!)
X Myths about Spaying and Neutering Rabbits (coming soon!)
Keeping Your Rabbit Outdoors (coming soon!)

Summer 2021 Swimsuit Picks

I wanna be upfront with y’all, I hate swimsuit season. Really just spring and summer altogether, not a big fan. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s sweaty. Then add on being in a swimsuit for potentially hours a day? Yeah not my definition of fun, wake me up when September ends and I can crack my sweaters out again.
Despite that, I really want to get out and enjoy the sun this year, self-esteem issues be damned (she says feeling confident now, but we’re working on it). I need a new swimsuit for this year, and I spent a lot of time shopping for the perfect one. It is literally the biggest pain in the you-know-what, but I wanted to share my work with you, and hopefully save you a little bit of time and frustration. Check out my favorite picks for summer swimsuits below!

About My Size

One thing that drives me crazy, is when bloggers share their outfits and picks without sharing their sizes. So in full clarity, these swimsuits and coverups are all ones that I feel would fit me and my body.

Swimsuit Picks

I shopped around to my favorite stores to find my new swimsuits and coverup including J. Crew, J. Crew Factory, Old Navy, Athleta, and Aerie.

J. Crew

Pro: I love J. Crew. They’re just my style and hit my goal wardrobe right on, every single time.
Con: I find that J. Crew doesn’t quite hit on two other major categories for me: price and model diversity. Price wise, it’s just a little out of range for me. When it comes to diversity, I find it’s a little lacking. A lot of thin and mostly white women. It would be nice to see some more diversity across the board.

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has four photos of swimsuits and coverups from J. Crew. First is a blue and white seersucker one-piece swimsuit. Second is a medium blue bikini with boy short bottoms and bow-like accent on shoulder straps. Third is a blue and white seersucker romper coverup paired with white sneakers. Fourth is a oversize white buttondown shirt coverup.

One Piece // Bikini Top // Bikini Bottom // Romper // Button Up

Why I Liked: The swimsuits are super cute and have decent coverage. The one-piece is not something I could wear strapless, out of fear of one (or both) of the girls escaping, but it’s a super cute seersucker and I love the look. The coverups are also right up my alley, cute, crisp, and easy to toss on as an outfit.

Why I Didn’t Buy: Primarily, the price. $100+ for a swimsuit? Not really in my budget. And while I would LOVE to have this romper, I am a long torso lady, and rompers just aren’t my jam, despite my best efforts.

J. Crew Factory

Pro: This is usually my primary J. Crew. The style, the goal wardrobe, and the prices are much closer to my budget, and I can hit the sales pretty well to the basics I need.
Con: I find that J. Crew Factory tends to have a lot of trendy pieces that stray a little farther from the modern preppy look I usually prefer. Which is fine, it just means that there are fewer pieces that are really up my alley, especially for coverups this year. And again, with diversity, it’s lacking here a well with again, a lot of thin and mostly white women.

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has three photos of swimsuits from J. Crew Factory. The first is a color-blocked one-piece swimsuit with a medium blue top over the shoulders and a navy blue lower half. The second is a green scalloped bikini with a small tie on the top. The third is a red bikini with a small white floral pattern throughout.

One Piece // Green Bikini Top // Green Bikini Bottom // Red Bikini Top // Red Bikini Bottom

Why I Liked: Cute designs, better prices, and better coverage. The bikini tops seemed pretty secure, and the red bikini and one-piece looked like they have really good booty coverage.

Why I Didn’t Buy: These suits are super cute, but they just didn’t quite do it for me! The price wasn’t quite right, and I feel that based on my sizing, the one-piece isn’t THE most supportive. It just. Eh? These are good picks for the right person, but just not for me!

Old Navy

Pro: More affordable styles, lots of stackable deals, and a much more diverse group of models!
Con: A lot of trendy pieces and colors, which isn’t my favorite thing in the world. And quality-wise, Old Navy isn’t setting any record here. But it’s a good quality for the price!

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has four photos of swimsuits and coverups from Old Navy. The first is a dip-dye bikini fading from pink to white to orange. The second is a white one-piece swimsuit with pink, blue, and green floral pattern throughout and a small tie at the waist. The third is a teal one-piece with a twist at the chest. The fourth is a black bikini with a high waist bottom and long line top.

Dip Dye Bikini Top // Dip Dye Bikini Bottom // Floral One Piece // Ribbed One Piece // Black Longline Bikini Top // Black Longline Bikini Bottom

Why I Liked: First and foremost, all of these swimsuits feel like they have great boob coverage. The black longline one might be a little more risky, but even then, it seems like full coverage tops. And again, the prices are super reasonable, especially when you stack sales!

Why I Didn’t Buy: These were almost the ones! My only issue is that I always need to try on clothes at Old Navy for size. And usually, that’s no problem. They have great returns and it processes really quickly. But if I didn’t have to likely do the exchanges, Old Navy might have been the one!


Pro: Price-wise, Aerie is right in the middle. Could it be a little cheaper? Yes, but it’s not breaking the bank. Diversity is also a big plus. A lot better size diversity and racial diversity, not that my picks apparently reflect that. I also really appreciate that Aerie models actually look like they enjoy wearing the swimsuits and are like, real people? Not just breathing mannequins, which is really a pet peeve.
Con: A lot of trendy pieces. Like, a lot. Which is tough, because I don’t love buying trendy items. I don’t often buy bathing suits, so I don’t want to get one that’s only good for one season. Lastly, cheeky swimsuits aren’t really topping my comfortable clothing list, and most of Aerie’s bottoms are more of a cheeky fit.

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has four photos of swimsuits and coverups from Aerie. The first is a kelly green, ribbed bikini. The second is a black one-piece swimsuit with a tie on the mid-back, and below it a keyhole cutout. The third is a light blue and white jacquard pattern bikini with a small decorative tie on the front of the top. The fourth is a solid blue bikini, with high rise bottoms.

Green Bikini Top // Green Bikini Bottom // Black One Piece // Blue Jacquard Bikini Top // Blue Jacquard Bikini Bottom // Solid Blue Bikini Top // Solid Blue Bikini Bottom

Why I Liked: So many color and pattern choices! It took me a long time to narrow down which swimsuits I put in my cart, and these colors and patterns were so cute. I love that all these suits have pretty good coverage on top and a lot of different fit and size choices for the bottoms, coming from someone who prefers a higher coverage suit.

What I Bought

LBI Region beach in the background. The foreground has two photos of swimsuits from Aerie. The first is a black one-piece swimsuit with a tie on the mid-back, and below it a keyhole cutout. The second is a solid blue bikini, with high-rise bottoms.

Black One Piece // Solid Blue Bikini Top // Solid Blue Bikini Bottom

After a very long search and many arduous hours of online shopping, I finally found the ones! Sarcasm aside, I’m super excited to get these Aerie swimsuits. I love the fuller coverage bottoms, the tops seem pretty supportive, and they have pretty reasonable prices.
The black one-piece was a real winner because it was the only one I found that had more pizzaz to it. Lots of the others were pretty simple, with little bows or nothing at all. This one, despite being plain black, has a cute tie and a little keyhole back.
The bikini was a tough choice, I really had a hard time picking which one to get, because I just couldn’t buy three bikinis, I just don’t go to the beach enough to warrant it, despite the fact that I live like 20 minutes away from the ocean. But I went with the blue bikini because it’s my favorite color, the model looks like she has good support up top, and the matching bottoms were my favorite style!

Keep an eye out on my Instagram in the coming weeks to see how these Aerie swimsuits fit and look, I’ll be posting about them soon! In the meantime, check out similar posts here.

First Three Months of Explorer Media: Thoughts, Goals, + 4 Tools I Love

Cheers folks, Explorer Media has made it through its first 90 days! That’s right, I made a real business, and it has survived the first quarter, pop the champagne folks, we raked in a bucket o cash too. Not really. But it’s been fun. I love my clients, I love my job, and I love working for myself (okay, like 98% of the time). But I made it my first three months and dang it, I am proud!

Hands typing on a Dell laptop in the background. In the foreground a white computer mouse with an American flag pattern sits on a white legal pad next to a tortoise shell phone case with Explorer Media printed on it.

First Thoughts

I’m pretty happy with how my work through Explorer Media is going these first three months. My website came out really well, my major client is pretty happy, and I’m starting to invest some money back into the business. Investing sounds so serious. I bought some really simple desk gear to up my workspace. Keep an eye out on to see more on those soon. 

On the whole, I think there are a lot of places where I can do better, but I’m not totally unhappy with it.  

Goals for Q2

Add more to my portfolio

I’ve been really slow to write up case studies for client work on the Explorer Media site. It doesn’t look so hot to new clients checking in on the website, and it just doens’t look great to have missing blocks on the portfolio. It’s something I’m trying to make a regular habit of. My goal is posting one new portfolio element every week. 

Attend More Networking Events

Now that I’m finally realizing where my strengths and passions are when it comes to clients, it’s time to hustle and go get a few more! Explorer Media launched a new program for businesses in the LBI Region, and it’s time to put in the legwork and go out to meet new clients. I’m working with my local chamber to boost my reach and find events, I’m ready to go with virtual business cards and cute masks, and I’m finally getting COVID-19 vaccine too!

Be More Active on my Social Media

You know the adage about the shoemaker’s kids? They’re the last ones to get new shoes? It’s the same for digital marketers. Explorer Media socials (and my personal socials!) are always the last one to get posts! I’ve been working on producing more reels, building up my personal following, and just plain being active on my social. It’s definitely a work in progress, but I would really like to get more consistent and have a better showing online!

4 Tools I Love

Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you. 

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe isn’t a must-have for social media, but for my communications work, it’s essential. It’s helped me client adjust logo colors, develop print media elements, build annual reports, and more. If digital or print communications are essential to your business like they are for Explorer Media, Adobe is a need.


While Adobe Creative Cloud is the best software for design, 80% of the time as a social media manager, I’m using Canva. Canva is great, it’s affordable, it has SO many amazing things available for free, easy to learn, and it’s where I can provide clients with elements so they can learn to grow their business independently too. Canva is an absolute must have for me. Canva Pro is also huge. The free plans are great, but with the pro plan there is access to so many more templates, fonts, images, graphics and more. 
Join Canva Pro today!

Constant Contact

I have been using Constant Contact for years and I love it. Most of the Explorer Media clients are small and medium-sized businesses, so Constant Contact is perfect for them. It’s easy to use, it scales to some really great automations, integrated with a ton of other programs, and I really do love it. I was really excited when I was accepted into the Constant Contact Partner Program too, and I’m working on getting my platform certification!
Get a free Constant Contact trial!

Creator Studio

I have tried and tried to find the best social media scheduling software. But I’ll let you in on a secret. Creator Studio is unfortunately the best. Other platforms are exceptionally pricey, have rumors or reduced engagement, or are just a PITA to learn. Creator Studio, is the best so far for scheduling IG and FB content. But I really do need Zuckerberg to figure out how I can schedule stories and reels there too!

I’m really proud of myself for launching Explorer Media. It wasn’t something I really saw myself doing for a few years, but with the difficulties finding a job during the lockdown, I took the leap. I’m nervous and excited and really really looking forward to what I can do!

Welcome Levi + 8 Puppy Essentials

Blog, meet Levi! If you follow me on Instagram you’ve already seen the news, we adopted a puppy! Levi is a pitbull mix puppy that we adopted from our local Humane Society. We were told he was 4 months old, but our vet thinks he’s closer to 6 months old. He’s an absolute sweetheart and we are so so so excited to have him here with us. The process of getting Levi was a long one, but we had 2 days warning that he was coming home, so er had to scramble to get all his puppy essentials in time!

Medium sized Pitbull puppy, Levi, with black body, white feet, and a white face with a large black spot over his left eye sitting in a hallway with oak LVP flooring while wearing some of his puppy essential gear, the  blue Kong collar.

How We Got Levi

We have been reaching out to rescues and shelters about dogs for adoption for a couple of months to no avail. Mostly rejections, a few ghosts, and one straight up asked for our marriage certificate (like, what??). Finally, I sent one email I swore would be the last application to the local Humane Society. We got an email back that the dog we applied for wouldn’t be a good fit for us with the rabbit, and we were disappointed, but not surprised. But then, the next day I got another email from them saying they recently got in a puppy named Cash who tested really well with cats and could be a good match for us.

The new puppy Levi the first time we met him, the day we took him home.
Medium sized Pitbull puppy with black body, white feet, and a white face with a large black spot over his left eye.
At the Humane Society when we met him for the first time

We applied right away and were accepted. We put our application in on Monday, completely sight unseen! We ran out to grab his supplies on Tuesday night after work and clean the house, puppy-proofing everything. On Wednesday, we arrived to meet him for the first time and take him home!

Real Talk: Levi’s First Week

Y’all I knew puppies were tough, but puppies are tough. The first three days, Cody and I got max 4 hours of sleep. Levi had accidents once a day. He developed a nipping issue. He hated the crate. It was and still is a pretty legit struggle. 

Then, after a week in, Levi got sick. Vomiting five times in two hours, refusing to eat, completely lethargic. I had spent the morning driving my parents dog out for a specialist surgery, and right after I turned around and had to bring Levi to our local vet. Luckily the vet wasn’t super worried about him, and we left with two weeks of medication to get us through until his next appointment for the rest of his vaccines. (Shoutout to Rancocas Vet for squeezing us in on short notice and taking amazing care of all my pets).

I’ll level with you all, there have been many many tears the last week, especially the past couple of days. It’s been really really difficult, but it finally feels like we’re making a few steps forward. We tried a new food, Levi ate, and he’s been playing again. And with the warm weather moving in, we have the windows open in the house and I’ve been sitting outside writing this post in the sun on our porch.

Puppy Plans: Going Forward with Levi

Going forward, we have big plans with this little dinosaur. He has another vet appointment this coming week for his last couple shots. We start training with a local trainer next Friday, which is for training us more than Levi!

Medium sized Pitbull puppy, Levi, with black body, white feet, and a white face with a large black spot over his left eye on the beach at Manahawkin Lake walking towards the camera in the sand while wearing some of his puppy essential gear, including blue Kong leash, pink Kong Harness, and blue Kong collar.

We’re working on practicing manners during car rides, we’re going to check out the local parks and work our way up to visiting the beach before they close to dogs. In November, Cody and I always take a trip out to the Poconos, and we want to get his car manners down so we can take him with us for the 3 hour drive. 

8 Puppy Essentials

I’m far from an expert, but a week in, we learned very quickly what we actually needed, used, and missed. These are the 8 puppy essentials that you definitely need for your pup!
Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you. 

Kong Comfort Collar 

We purchased the in Comfort Collar in Blue for Levi.We’ve been happy with it so far, it’s pretty soft on his neck, has a built in loop for tags, and Levi looks so handsome in the blue! 

KONG Reflective Pocket Dog Harness

This wasn’t our first choice of harness, but it’s been really good! Levi is working on his leash manners, so right now we use the harness for a little more control on our walks and car rides. We picked one that had a lot of reflective elements for night walks and could carry his own poops when we eventually take him on short hikes with us. Only downside, it wasn’t available in blue! Levi now wears a handsome pink harness, because he’s secure in his masculinity

KONG Weave Padded Handle Comfort Traffic Dog Leash

10/10 Love this leash! We got it in blue to match his collar and I’ve been super happy with it. This leash comes with two handles, one is a traffic strap lower down on the leash which we mostly use right now. The other is at the end of the leash (duh), but what’s notable about it is that the end loop can be expanded so that it could be a waist loop. It’s like everything you need in one leash!

MidWest Quiet Time Fleece Dog Crate Mat

We initially bought this as a crate mat, but that didn’t go over well, so it ended up being a regular dog bed for Levi. It’s great because it’s washable but it doesn’t go in the dryer, so it’s not super convenient. Levi likes the bed though, he occasionally sleeps in it, mostly loves to play with it or hide snacks in it!

Nutro Mini Bites Dog Training Treats

These are a lifesaver! We jokingly call them motivators, they’ve been really helpful in training Levi, keeping him focused on walks, and conning him to finally get into the house after playing outside. I have NO clue on the actual health value of these, but Levi loves these and they make training so easy!

Fab Dog Floppy Octopus Squeaky Plush Dog Toy

We got this after Levi straight up rejected all his other toys. I’ll be honest, I picked this bad boy because it was pretty cute and I thought it would look nice when I get my home actually put together again. This is one of Levi’s favorites with 9 squeakers and it’s been pretty indestructible so far!

Frisco Fold & Carry Single Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate

I bought this crate years ago for Gus and we ultimately phased it out for him. Luckily I saved it and we’re attempting to use it with Levi now. While it’s not going well, it’s definitely a must have for puppies. 

Frisco Wire Dog Exercise Pen with Step-Through Door

This is probably more helpful for smaller puppies, hard to contain a 40 lb baby! We’re going to give this a try next 

We’re so excited to have Levi here, and we’re looking forward to the next step in our lives with him. Or at least wrangling him! I hope anyone looking to add a puppy to their life finds this list helpful, we completely winged it when we found out we were getting Levi

For the Road | Books, Home Decor, Bites, and the LBI Region

February was a heck of a month, lots of highs and lows. I’ve really stepped up some at work and gotten better at sticking to a decent workday schedule, which is really just all I do nowadays! Looking forward to March though, increasing my business marketing to reach a few new potential clients, possibly some big changes coming for the house, and looking to take on a cooking challenge, we’ll be celebrating Nowruz! It wasn’t something we ever went too wild celebrating, mostly due to picky eaters (ahem, Dad). But keep an eye out for the planned menu soon!

For the Bookshelf // Vanishing Half

Colorful cover of the Vanishing Half

I’ve been really enjoying reading Brit Bennett’s Vanishing Half. I’m more than three-quarters of the way through as of writing this, and it’s just an enjoyable read sharing the story of sisters across time, economics, and race. I would absolutely recommend it. Plus Vanishing Half has the most beautiful cover are, so it can pull double duty as a gorgeous piece on the bookshelf too!

For the Home // H&M Cotton Twill Laundry Bag

Being in a new home and starting completely from scratch on everything has been high effing stress, especially keeping the design on a budget. H&M Home fits exactly that, and it’s my newest obsession. I’ve got my eye on a few pieces and for the past few weeks, I’ve had my eye on this super cute laundry hamper. I’ve been in need of a new hamper for a while, and it’s just one of those little things that would go a long way to start refreshing the look of the bedroom. 

For the Locals // Union Market Open Indoors

Photo of Moira, the blogger at Moira The Explorer, with breakfast at the Union Market, a women run cafe in the LBI Region

Almost every week, C and I are on our way down to Tuckerton to hit the Union Market. Some would argue, it’s not so local, but it definitely qualifies as the LBI Region still. The Union Market is a small women-owned cafe at the Tuckerton Seaport that specializes in healthy food with vegan and allergen safe options and supports local artisans and Makers with products available to purchase. It is my favorite place to get chai, get lunch, or just sit to work in the whole of the LBI Region. Absolutely would recommend, favorite place in town. 

For the Plate // Tate’s Bake Shop Oatmeal Raisin

Is this really a meal on the plate? Heck no. Is it sometimes a meal anyways? I’m invoking my right to remain silent. These are my favorite desserts lately and I cannot get enough. The chocolate chip cookies are amazing too, but oatmeal raisin is the superior cookie.

My New Budget Friendly Winter Skincare Routine

Earlier this week I walked about my 2021 goals which included more physical and mental self-care. One thing that included for me was developing a winter skincare routine. 

I was always one of those really annoying people who always had decent skin. For the longest time my only skincare was some off-brand “morning hydration” face and body lotion and baby wash. And micellar water to take off makeup, when I remembered. And with that, I only ever had at most a couple pimples or a few light bumps. 

A couple of years ago, the universe played a sneaky Uno reverse card on me and took away my simple, easy skin. Replaced it with oily skin summers and dry, cracking winters. I did the bare minimum to care for my skin, mostly just addressing things as they came up, instead of preventing the problems. The upside of all the spare time I had in 2020 meant I watched a lot of skincare Instagram posts. Like a lot. And I actually started to learn about caring for my skin.

So when winter came again this year, the incredible dryness came with it. Even though it hasn’t been too terribly cold this year, and I’m not going outside that often, I’m still getting cracks on my hands, my lips, and around my nose. And yes, they all hurt so, so badly. But this year I am prepared! I’ve been using these products to keep my skin as healthy as possible, and I use just 4 products almost every night and have amazing results. 

Before we go forward, I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or skin care expert. This routine is what works for my normal to dry skin. I recommend these products based on my experience, but if you are unsure on products, you should do your own research or contact a professional for assistance on your skin. 

Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you. 

Morning Skincare Routine

Organized mornings aren’t necessarily my strength lately. The morning “routine” isn’t really much of a routine at all, but rather things I do to my skin at miscellaneous points of the morning.

Once I’m up, I’ll take my Invisalign trays out, brush my teeth, and just splash some water on my face. I’ll pat with a washcloth until my skin is damp and then put on a thick moisturizing cream. Usually, I’ll use a pump of Cetaphil on my hands and face, followed by Aquaphor on my lips.

During the day I’ll add more Aquaphor if I need, or any other chapstick I have stashed around my house. Most days I won’t need to reapply any lotion to my face, but will for my hands. I keep a bottle of lotion on my desk to use whenever throughout the day. Lately it’s been the Unfiltered by Raw Sugar Blueberry & Thyme Hand Cream that I got as a gift from a friend.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

I’m definitely starting to enjoy having a real nighttime skincare routine. I thought it would be a chore at first, but very quickly it started to feel like a luxury! I stick with the routine probably 5 nights a week, which is pretty good for someone who had zero routine at all a month ago.

If I have makeup on, I start off with the Garnier’s Micellar Water and use it with reusable bamboo cotton rounds. If I don’t have any makeup on, I’ll jump into my winter skincare routine with a quick rinse with water and pat with a washcloth.

Cluster of winter skincare products: The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% with B5, and Pond's Dry Skin Cream

Then I’ll dampen a cotton round with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I like it because it’s a very gentle toner and it’s alcohol free. It helps remove dead skin cells from your face and a faster acting hit of hydration for your skin. After that, I squeeze a few drops of Hyaluronic Acid into my palms and press that in my face, neck, and the top of my chest if I can. I use The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% with B5. Hyaluronic acid helps replenish moisture in your skin and the B5 prevents moisture loss. Last on my face, I’ll use either Cetaphil or Pond’s Dry Skin Cream.

Stack of winter skincare products: Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment for lips and Burt's Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment.

For my lips, I’ll put on some Aquaphor right after brushing my teeth, and then the Burt’s Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment. I wanted to try the Laneige lip masks, but I just can’t justify a $22 fancy chapstick. My sister loved the Burt’s Bees one, and I’ve been really happy with it. 

Winter skincare product The Ordinary's Rose Hip Seed Oil

When it comes to keeping the rest of my skin healthy, I keep it pretty simple. I use The Ordinary’s Rose Hip Seed Oil on my legs, arms, and back, and then go use a shea butter lotion (whatever I can find on sale really) on my legs and arms. The rose hip seed oil is supposed to help with reducing scars, so I try to apply it every night. I have incredibly pale skin and I’m super sensitive to bug bites, so living not far from the bay has wreaked havoc on my skin in that aspect. I’ve been using it for a couple months now, so it’s probably too early to tell if it’s made much of a difference. I’m going to stick with it and update you all in a few more months.

Taking the time to care for my skin and using skincare products is a totally new thing for me. I really thought it would be a chore to have a skincare routine and a difficult time to find budget friendly skincare. Really though, developing the habit has been kind of a luxury. And most importantly, this winter skincare routine is saving my dry, cracking skin! Keep an eye out on future posts for a follow up on these products.

Setting Goals for 2021

2020 was a hell of a year, high highs and insanely low lows. I started this year having finished my Bachelor’s degree, having amazing interviews for jobs in DC, in the best shape of my life, and with some seriously high goals for the year. By June, I had spent 4 months away from my SO, had an amazing job of a lifetime offer rescinded, and was entirely unemployed. And then by the end of the year, I had moved into a house with my SO, I’ve launched a small business, really enjoying my blog, and am doing pretty okay financially.

I’m pretty sure I got annoyed earlier this year and deleted all my 2020 goals (which like, fair). So I can’t actually go over last year’s goals. But I can set some new ones for this year! I like to set a lot of goals, but I think I kept them all pretty reasonable. Most of them are a specific, measurable thing, and some are more vague, and vague on purpose. I keep some goals very general because I don’t want to commit to something too massive and regret it, and it lets me determine what “enough” was at the end of the year. 

Can sitting on my couch more be a goal?

This year I broke my goals into a couple of categories, Personal Finance, Health, Work, Home, and Personal. Finance is definitely the most important one to me. At the end of December, I established my own business and officially started working for myself after a year of job applications and a lot of unemployment during COVID. I’m really excited about the new branding and website to be launching before the end of this month. But I’m putting in a lot of work to make sure that I’m making enough money this year to build up my savings, plan for the long term, and start addressing my student loans. 

Personal Finance

  • Earn $5,000 per month
  • Earn $1,000 this year from Moira The Explorer
  • Pay off one Stafford Loan
  • Save $1,000 for a new car
  • Open a retirement account (this one is definitely a stretch goal!)


  • Incorporate more vegetarian/vegan meals
  • Workout 3 times a week
  • Get back into running


  • Launch my new website
  • Launch an influencer marketing newsletter
  • Launch a podcast
  • Write regularly (for Explorer Media, Moira The Explorer, and more!)


  • Paint the bedroom
  • Get home gym/workout corner set up
  • Finish Gus’s cage


  • Sew more
  • Read more books
  • Volunteer more often and do more in my community
  • Eat breakfast more
  • Cook more new recipes (and really just learn to cook better!)
  • Get back to the barn
  • Do more physical and mental self-care
  • Get up earlier, giving myself enough time to enjoy my mornings!

Like I said, a lot of goals this year, but I tried to keep them all pretty attainable. I want to keep on track with these, so part of my accountability will be checking in with myself and you every couple of months to update progress on my goals. Keep an eye out for those posts, and let me know your progress along the way too! What are your goals for this year? Do we have any similar ones? 

I Moved! Meet Hygge House

Big news folks, I moved! Readers, meet Hygge House. Hygge House, meet the blog

A while back, I mentioned that Beau and I would be moving into our own place soon, and we finally did! We’re in a cute little three bedroom, one bathroom home not too far from each of our parents’ homes and not terribly far from Beau’s office.

Fall exterior photo of Hygge House


It was a super stressful week leading up to it, the closing ended up being pushed two days, and the morning of, we weren’t even sure that we would be closing! So it was a very low stress time for me, obviously. But closing day itself went so smoothly, everything was signed, sealed, and delivered by 10 AM! Immediately we jumped into work mode. The hot water heater had to be replaced, we made the world’s largest Costco order of cleaning supplies, and everything started getting boxed up. It was a chaotic day that we ended with pizza, champagne, and our families over the house. 

That first weekend, we moved in so many boxes and made the first of many Ikea trips. It’s now been three weeks since we moved in, the place still looks a bit like a bomb went off (just a little!), and we’re so excited to be here. The house is a great starter home, and we couldn’t be more excited to make it our home. We’ve been slowly getting into projects, most of which so far have been fixing, cleaning, and prepping for winter! 

DIY Work

There hasn’t been too much work to do inside, nothing that can’t be proper DIY’d! We’ve replaced the hot water heater, a cabinet door, and I’m just about an expert on repairing toilets by now! Outside, our landlord had a company come in to do the heavy lifting work. Taking down a dead tree, repairing the old retaining wall, and upgrading the fencing. We still have to take down the old shed, seal the wood on the deck, mow everything, and the raking, my gosh, the raking we’ve had to do! It doesn’t help that the grass is super long and most of the leaves are wet from all this rain we’ve been having. It’s been a lot of work getting everything in shape again, but we couldn’t be happier to be doing it!
There are a lot more exciting DIY projects on the horizon too! Painting, furniture building, and maybe even a sneaky wallpaper, if I can get Beau on board with it! Keep an eye here and on my Instagram for more projects as they go!

Our Style

Finding our goal design was a tough one for us. Beau and I aren’t not boho or farmhouse or minimalist kind of people. It took a while for us (mostly me) to figure out what kind of style we wanted for our home. When we thought of our home, we thought about warmth, coziness, and feeling at home the second you stepped inside. After many hours on Pinterest (see the inspo board here!), we (mostly me) settled on a ~vibe,~ the aesthetic cabin core. We’re not going for Pinterest perfect right away, it’s definitely a work in progress to get there, but it helped us pick out our colors and first pieces of furniture!

Hygge House

Blame it on romanticism, blame it on the trend of naming cars, or blame it on the eight thousand times I’ve listened to Folklore, but the house needed a name. She just did. And it was so hard to come The house itself felt like she needed some TLC, emphasis on the L. There’s a bunch of small pieces of junk in the backyard, the shed’s seen better days, inside is a lot of hammer to fit/paint to finish. She needs some open arms, mom hug kind of house love and appreciation. That need, plus our ideal cozy cabin aesthetic lead us to one name pretty easily, Hygge House. If you don’t know what hygge means, it’s a Dutch word for the quality of cozy, charming, or comfortable that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. Then, finding this adorable doormat at Ikea, it sealed the deal for us, our house became Hygge House.

Hygge Ikea mat in front of Hygge home

We’re so excited to be in our own place, be more independent, and make Hygge House a comfy, cozy home! Keep an eye out for more home-related content on the blog, or see it as it happens on my Instagram.