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A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the grand opening of a new ULTA Beauty store at Aspen Square in Overland Park, KS.  The night was filled with makeup (duh!), a free braid bar, a personalized skin consultation by Dermalogica, yummy snacks and drinks, and great music!  One thing that I learned about my skin was that my face was a bit dehydrated and a good moisturizer would go a long way.  I was hesitant about getting my hair braided because I hadn’t washed it in a few days, but my friend’s persuaded me to do it and the stylist ended up saying that “dirty” hair was better for holding style and updos anyways!  For the grand opening, we were offered a 20% off discount so you can be sure I took advantage of it.  I stocked up on some more Bare Minerals foundation (been using this for years) and finally scored the Urban Decay Naked3 palette that I’d been eyeing for quite some time now.

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ULTA Beauty is the largest beauty retailer in the United States that provides a one-stop shop for cosmetics, fragrance, haircare, skincare, bath and body products and salon styling tools, as well as salon haircare products.  Their brands range from affordable brands that you can find in drugstores to prestigious brands that are only seen in higher-end beauty retailers.

In addition to selling products, ULTA Beauty also offers a full-service salon in all of its stores.  The menu consists of anything from hair cut, color and style to Dermalogica skin treatments to eyelash extensions.  All of their Salon Pros go through extensive training to make you feel fabulous!

For those frequent ULTA Beauty shoppers, having an ULTAmate Rewards card is the way to go.  For every dollar spent, you will earn 1 point.  These points can be redeemed online or in stores to receive dollars off future merchandise purchases.  And if you spend $400 or more a year at ULTA Beauty you’ll reach Platinum status and be able to earn points even faster.

I had so much fun playing with makeup, trying things on and getting my hair did.  Here’s a little video that Erin of Pretty, Polished, Perfect., Megan of Chasing Davies and myself put together of our visit to Ulta Beauty!

And now the best part, Erin, Megan and I are offering ONE lucky winner a $100 gift card to ULTA Beauty!
ulta gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post contains sponsored links and was made possible by ULTA Beauty.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.

And this is the fourth and final installment of “Dressing The Bump” for “is she pregnant or just fat beginning of second trimester” period of pregnancy.  :)  This is one of my absolute favorite ways to dress up a bump… and it’s with a maxi dress.  If I could wear a maxi dress every day for the rest of my pregnancy, I probably would.  Dresses are great because they are a whole outfit in themselves.  The way some of them (like this one) molds to the bump is just wonderful and not having to shave your legs is a real bonus.

Dressing The Bump Maxi Dress - Sandy a la Mode

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Outfit Details:

Dress c/o Riffraff (take 10% off your order with code “sandyalamode“)
Cardigan: Forever 21
Shoes: ShoeMint
Bag: Chloe
Earrings c/o Hello Cheeseburger

And if you missed the previous looks, here’s a little cheat sheet collage I put together for you to reference back to if you want to see them all at once!

Dressing The Bump First Trimester - Sandy a la Mode

I hope you guys are loving this “Dressing The Bump” series… and here is look #3!  This look actually uses a fitted maternity dress (but could still use a non-maternity jersey dress) paired with tights.  Technically since this is a dress, it could be worn without leggings, but we don’t quite have the weather to NOT wear leggings and I am not brave enough to bare it all yet.  ;)  When I was trying to figure out what shoes to wear with this outfit, I was thinking of sandals or wedges or flats, but my husband actually suggested I wear boots.  So I put on my Hunter’s and I actually really love how this look turned out.  And it’s perfect for those April showers.  Of course I had to throw in some florals to get that classic pattern mixing that I love oh-so-much in!

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Outfit Details:

Dress: ASOS
Boots: Hunter
Scarf c/o Boden
Purse: Rebecca Minkoff

P.S. The winner of the $25 credit to PinkBlush Maternity giveaway is Amanda Healey or Perfectly Beautiful Things!  Congrats girl, send me an email at sandyalamode(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize! :D

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This last Friday and Saturday I attended the second annual Go Blog Social Conference in Kansas City!  This year’s event was hosted at the Berg Event Space, which was an absolutely stunning and perfect venue for this type of event.  It was my first time there and I was just blown away by all the wood, the architecture and the light coming in through the ceilings.  The conference was full of amazing speakers in which I learned more about blogging, how to grow my blog, but the best part of all was getting to hang out with old friends and making a ton more blogging connections.  I’d say about half of the attendees were local to KC, while others came mostly from other Midwest states.

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For Friday’s schedule, there was a wonderful line up of speakers and I am just going to highlight a few.  Kelly of Kansas City Mamas talked was about “How to Create A Media Kit”.  This is something that I don’t really have for my blog and something that I really need to think about starting!  I have an Advertise page on my site, but the Media Kit would include much more than that.  It’s about putting a professional face forward when working with brands and letting them know you are serious.  The Media Kit can just be a one-pager, but it should include your elevator pitch, demographic information, site and social media stats and an about section.  Another thing that I may need to implement from this is a Reader Survey, so that I can get a better idea of what you like and don’t like on my blog, and it can just be much more relevant than Google Analytics stats.

Amanda of Amanda Marie had some awesome photography inspiration and tips to help bloggers up their photography!  She reassured us who don’t have the top of the line dSLR’s that you don’t need an amazing camera to get some amazing photos.  I loved that most of the photos in her presentation were taken from her camera (that’s where I do a lot of my photographing these days too)!  And the thing I learned is to use photo editing apps and NOT Instagram filters, because everyone has those!

Jessie of Style and Pepper was the Keynote Speaker of Friday and not only is she super stylish, but she is so bubbly, fun and super inspiring!  Her blog is just amazing and one to look up to.  She consults with others on how to grow and market blogs, she is full of ideas, and so confident in what she does.  She stressed the importance of building each other help and helping each other out in this big ole blog community of ours.

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On Saturday, I joined the conference a little later, but wanted to highlight the Keynote Speaker which was Kaelin of Better Homes & Gardens.  First of all, their online e-mag and paper magazine are some of my favorite reads.  I wish my home could look like any one of the pages on the magazine, but for now, it’s all just great inspiration to look at and aspire too.  Kaelin’s speech came from the perspective of working with a magazine (which can be much different than working with traditional sponsors who just want ads on sidebars or giveaways) and how about having a specific pitch is always the best way to start off.

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As you can see, the conference was sponsored by lots of great vendors such as Farm to Market Bread Co., Vita Coco, Skinny Girl bars and so much more.  The swag bags were full of beauty products and gift cards that I will surely be using!!

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Again, it was so great to hang out with old friends and meet so many new ones!  I only wish I could have gotten a picture with everyone I had met, but I do have a good stack of business cards to show for it!

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And I do want to give a special shoutout to Sarah and Kat, the co-founders of Go Blog Social, as well as the entire GBS Team for hosting such an awesome event.  I was so glad to be a part of it this year!

P.S. The “Dressing The Bump” series will be returning tomorrow!

The second look in my “Dressing The Bump” series this week is also great for hiding the bump.  It consists of wearing a flowy top that hangs down over your belly and track or harem pants.  I think this look reminds me of being in a beach city or just walking around and shopping near Manhattan Beach so I added a hat and some wedges (or you could totally wear sandals) to this look.  I kept the jewelry light and simplistic since this is also a casual-ish outfit as well.

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This outfit makes me want to go on a vacation right now.  I wish we had more family trips or vacations to warm places planned, but unfortunately we’re just failing to schedule them into our life right now.  A babymoon before baby #2 would be truly nice but again, not sure if we have time.  I do have a baby shower for a friend that we’re having in Las Vegas (girly time is the best time, yes!), a possible fun trip to California as an extension of a work trip, and then a couple of weddings this Summer which will be awesome, but that’s about all the vacation we have planned.  And some may think that 3 months off for maternity leave is “vacation”, but it’s surely no walk in the park waking up every 2 hours with a newborn.

Don’t forget to check out the first “Dressing The Bumppost from yesterday if you missed it!

Outfit Details:
Tank c/o Roe Boulevard (take 20% off code with SHOPROE)
Cardigan: J.Crew
Pants: H&M
Hat c/o Conversation Pieces (free shipping with code SANDY)
Shoes: ShoeMint
Necklace: Swell Caroline
Earrings c/o Roe Boulevard