Steph Branner

"Somewhere Steph"

Lifestyle. Beauty. Wedding. Miniatures & Misc.

Hello, Summertime

Do you ever complete a difficult task and afterward get a surge of motivation? I just had that spectacular feeling so I thought I'd use that boost of motivation to pay attention to my blog. I did not abandoned it. I got caught up with life. Finals, getting engaged, family matters and summer school have kept me pretty busy.

But, even with summer school and um, planning my wedding (!!) I am not as busy as I am during the school year. I am basking in all my extra free time and it's been so good to me so far. Here's what I've been up to:


If you know me personally, then you know I'm recently engaged! My boyfriend of 3.5 years, Sam, proposed on March 30th. He took me out to get drinks at Tarrant's Cafe on Broad Street which is where we went on our first date. After our drinks, we walked past my old apartment at The Renaissance building also on Broad. That is also the spot Sam dropped me off on our first date. Right then and there in front of the Renaissance building, Sam proposed and I happily say yes. 


Top Left - My engagement ring is everything I could ever want in a ring. It's unique, non-traditional and classy. I chose a morganite gem stone for the center stone with diamonds surrounding it in rose gold. I am so in love with my ring and can't stop staring at it. 

Top Right - After Sam proposed, he surprised me with a night stay at The Jefferson Hotel. If you're not from Richmond, you may not be aware of it's history. It was built in 1892 and opened in 1895 by Lewis Ginter, a famed Virginian. It's a stunning hotel with Edwardian and rococo touches throughout.

Bottom Left - Myself in the hallway to our room. I never dreamed of being able to stay at the Jefferson hotel. It really made our engagement that much more special. Sam went to above and beyond for the whole evening and morning after. 

Bottom Right - The stained glass skylight is my favorite part of The Jefferson Hotel. I could stand underneath and stare for hours. It is such a stunning hotel. 

I am so incredibly lucky to have Sam in my life and am overjoyed to be marrying my best friend.  I'm excited about planning our wedding over the next few months too. Ah, let the wedding planning and stressing out begin!

Beauty Haul:

I have been more obsessed with skincare products than makeup recently. It has been a lot fun trying different masks and moisturizers. I'm trying to nail down a consistent routine but am loving the testing out products phase. 


1. Kiehl's Deep Pore Cleansing Masque - This has become - hands down - my favorite mud mask. The mask has a cooling effect to it and really does deeply clean pores. I could instantly tell a difference after one use. My face was smoother and my pores were smaller. 

2. Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish - I had been looking for a new exfoliator forever. I had read positive reviews online and from beauty bloggers about the Coco Rose Body Polish. It does not disappoint in the slightest. I'm sad to say I've already used half of the jar - I'm almost out!

3. Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting - I got this sample a while ago and finally tried it. It has a very earthy but lovely scent and was really pleased with the results. My skin was definitely smoother and softer right after using it. I'm going to continue to use up the sample before I decide throwing down $35.00 for a 1 oz bottle.

4. OPI Nail Polish Breakfast at Tiffany's White - I found this shade at Kroger not knowing it was from a limited edition collection from 2016. I couldn't find a reliable link to buy online. BUT, I love this shade and I hardly wear light colored nail polish because of my fair skin tone. I'm wearing the shade in my engagement ring picture. Pretty, right?

Nashville Ahead:

Sam and I are heading to Nashville at the end of the month for a wedding. I've never been but am so excited to be going. I haven't traveled to a new place for a year and Nashville has been on my list for awhile. This trip also marks the first time Sam and I will be traveling on an airplane together. I love "firsts" and even though this isn't a major one, I love adventures with Sam. 

Most of our time there will be spent doing wedding things especially since Sam is a groomsmen. I still want to find some kind of touristy thing for us to do and need suggestions! Leave some in the comments or email me in my contact section on my website. 


Stephanie Branner
NYC Trip

I Heart New York 

My best friend in the entire world lives in Manhattan with his husband and cute little kitty, Alien. I'm lucky to have such generous friends that are great hosts. I try to go to New York at least once a year ever since Vanja moved there back in 2012. I love New York and there really is no other city like it. 


I stayed in Midtown at my friends' apartment. They live only a couple of blocks from Times Square so it was a really bustling place to be milling about. They live on the 15th floor of a high rise right beside a Starbucks a cute little convenience store called Merci Mart. 

Top Left: The view from the apartment. So cool to be that close to Times Square. The glow of neon lights was constant at night. 

Top Right: I was also within walking distance to so many tourist-y places, it was fun just to wander around and look at my surroundings. The lights and action of the city are so distracting but only in the best way.

Bottom Left: Alien! My friend's kitty is so sweet with a dog-like spirit. He likes to chase and fetch bottle caps. He reminds me a lot of my own dog, Roo. 

Bottom Right: The view down from the apartment. It was crazy to be up this high. I'm not necessarily afraid of heights but looking down still made me a little nervous at times. 

The Garment District

I've gone to New York many times and have seen quite a lot. By no means have I seen/done everything I want to do, but I've gotten the chance to go to most of the tourist spots. When I travel to New York, most of the time, I am going to visit my best friend and the city is just an added bonus to hanging out with him. So, I'm not going there to try to pack in as many things as I can. I go. I hang. We shop. And always eat amazing food. 

My favorite activity from this trip was going to the Garment District and wandering from store to store. I don't know how to sew really minus a simple stitch but could seriously spend hours just looking at all the different fabrics and trimmings. 

All the colors, textures, sparkle and lace were so much fun to look at. This almost inspires me to learn how to make clothes but I'll quickly snap out of it. I'm too busy to barely do anything. Such a fascinating adventure we went on.

The Nor'Easter 


On Wednesday, a winter storm hit Manhattan. It was pretty intense with the wind and walking around in Times Square in the middle of it probably wasn't the brightest idea. It wasn't so much cold as it was windy. It also wasn't snowing as much as it was sleeting so with the rain combining with the wind, it hurt. The ice hitting my face at high speed winds - ow. I survived though and am very surprised my flight Thursday morning wasn't delayed. 


I go back to reality on Monday since spring break ends this week. It was an awesome trip and so glad I was able to get away and not think about life for awhile. I am so happy to be home. I love traveling and am so thankful I get to do a decent amount of it this year. However, I'm a homebody at the end of the day and really love the comforts of my own apartment in my own city. 

Our next trip is a quick overnight stay at Dewey Beach in Delaware for a work event in two weeks. I've never been to the Delaware coast so I'm excited to discover a new place. Ever been? What are some good places to check out in the off season?



5 Makeup Tips for Beginners
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Here's My Makeup Tips For Beginners

From one novice to another, here's a list of some tips that have elevated my makeup game. I am still a beginner with makeup and honestly haven't mastered much but I love to learn. I really feel as if in late 2017, I focused on improving my makeup skills and have loved it. I'm continuing to do so in 2018 and while on this journey, I've picked up a few tricks of the trade. 

1. Primer is your best friend.

- I had always heard of face primer but never took the time to understand why people use it. Now, I wouldn't NOT use primer before applying foundation. It allows makeup to stay put during the day and some primers can reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines. My favorite primers are Benefit Cosmetic's The POREfessional Face Primer and Too Faced's Hangover 3-in-1 Replenishing Primer & Setting Spray.

2. But first...your eyes

-This is more of a preference than a trick but really works for me at my skill level. I do my eye makeup first before applying foundation. My typical routine is primer all over the face and then dabbing concealer on my eyelids and then applying eyeshadow, liner and mascara. I like to apply makeup this way to refrain from having to touch up foundation after doing the eyes. Eyes first = no need for touching up foundation.

3. Not enough pigment?

-Sometimes eyeshadows or highlights might have a beautiful color but terrible pigment. This could be because of the quality of the product, skin tone, or what have you. An awesome tip I learned is if you wet your makeup brush before dipping it into the eyeshadow pan, it'll create a deeper pigment. Also a good tip if you want to dare a more bold look.

4. Beauty Blender

- Ditch the brush and try the Beauty BlenderThis is by no means anything new in the makeup world, but I love the Beauty Blender or really ANY makeup sponge. I had used a foundation brush for years before trying a makeup sponge and really feel sponges apply makeup better. I did switch to a specific foundation brush from Pur for awhile but went back to the makeup sponge because I just loved the application more. The instructions will tell you to wet the sponge and absolutely follow suit. The wet application gives the face a dewy look without streaks.

5. Wash Your Brushes

-This a gross confession, but up until this year, I rarely washed my brushes. I was just naive! Thinking back though - ew, the bacteria! I don't know if it has something to do with getting older but I'm way more mindful of bacteria than I used to be. I wash my brushes once a month. I use this cleaner from SephoraIt's the only brush cleaner I've tried and works well. While you're at it, be sure to wipe down your cellphone every night with disenfecting wipes. ;)

And there you have it!

Again, there are plenty more tricks and tips to be found. These are my personal ones I've gathered from the past year that has really stepped up my makeup. What tips can you share?


T-Shirts & Succulents

Metamorphic Week

I had an interesting week with exciting news to share, but I'm going to wait awhile to reveal it. It's life-changing and I am just over the moon about it. It's moments like these that reminds me how quickly things can change in just a week, even a day! 

Currently Obsessed With:

Top Left - My amazing boyfriend treated me to a burrito at Best Friends Forever in Carytown on Monday. It was a rough day for me and he knows how to cheer me up: FOOD. Also, he got a haircut recently and I just swoon (sorry, that was gross and mushy). 

Top Right - I wanted to upgrade my "beautification station" from a plastic tub of drawers from Target to something more stylish. I wanted something with open shelving and stumbled upon with this white, metal drinks cart at Home Goods. I love seeing my makeup and skincare on display and it saves me so much space. 

Bottom Left - I'm not the only who goes to Target every week am I? These are some awesome finds from my last shopping trip. The Nature's Wick "Weathered Wood" candle might be my new favorite scent of all time. The cute little faux succulent was too adorable for me not to buy. I love succulents and have a lot of them through out my apartment. And lastly, I can't resist a pretty notebook. 

Bottom Right - RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3 started at the end of January and I've been living ever since. I've been obsessed with RuPaul since watching his talk show on Vh1 as a child and fell in love with Drag Race during season 4. Life seems brighter when there's new episodes of Drag Race each week.

T-Shirt Time:

I skipped the beauty haul this to show off new t-shirts I bought from Cotton On that I love.

  1.  A gray "This Succs" shirt with embroidered succulents. Told you I love succulents. ;)
  2. "Bellissimo" navy and white striped shirt is a little baggier than typical shirts I wear but I wanted to switch up styles.
  3. "Friends" on a simple, white crop top tee. I grew up watching Friends. I distinctly remember tearing up watching the series finale. Rachel Green is one of my style icons. Needless to say, when I saw this, I knew I had to have it.


I'm ending my week watching Bondi Ink (if you like Miami Ink and Australian accents, this is the show for you) and eating too many fries from Five Guys and there is nothing else I'd rather be doing right now. Commence my weekend of laziness.


Herbal Tea & Bumblebees

Simple Week

I'm overwhelmed with the start of the spring semester so I didn't spend as much time on my blog this week as I usually do. I'll get into a good rhythm soon after I figure out the semester and will be able to devote more time at that point. Now, let's just get right to it.

Here's What I'm Into This Week:

Top Left - I'm not usually a polka dot person, but I've been obsessed with this top from Lulu's. I'm very tempted to buy one in every color offered (not kidding).

Top Right - I'm an intern for European Apothecary Teas, a tea retailer here in Richmond. I constantly tasting different types of teas but my favorite is still Ginger Tea with Lemon and Peppermint. 100% organic and it tastes amazing. 

Bottom Left - A polaroid circa 1985/1986 of Papa, Granny & Angus. I keep this polaroid on my vanity so I see if every morning as I get ready for my day. No one in this picture is around anymore, so it's very dear to me. In addition to the sentimental value, I honestly just adore old photos. And not specifically my family. Any old, retro photos of anything I love. 

Bottom Right - The weather today in Richmond has been a real gem for January. After the morning rain, I took my sweet pup, Roo for a walk around the 'hood. I truly love this city and don't always take the time the appreciate my surroundings. 

Beauty Haul:

Target Beauty Products

No Sephora this week! I decided to switch it up and see what inexpensive makeup I could find during a Target run.

  • Stripped Off Micellar Water - NYXI had been using makeup wipes from Neutrogena for years and didn't realize I was unhappy with it until I tried the Micellar Water from NYX. I spilled some of the water on a cotton pad and simply wiped off my makeup. It took about 2.5 cotton pads to clean my face completely which isn't so bad. BUT, unlike the makeup wipes, this doesn't leave my face feeling greasy or oily. 
  • I think NYX has won me over based off the Butter Gloss alone. I usually only wear lip balm on my lips on the daily. For special events, I'll wear something colorful. I never enjoy the feeling of anything on my lips. Lip gloss? Too sticky. Mattes? Makes my lips feel dry. However, this Butter Gloss is life changing. It doesn't feel sticky or makes my lips feel dry. Obsessed with color I bought too - Angel Food Cake.
  • I use concealer as eyeshadow primer but wanted to try an actual eyeshadow primer. Again, I gravitated towards NYX and ended up with the HD Eye Shadow Base. I've used it three times now and...meh. I couldn't notice a difference between my process and their specific product for the issue.
  • Since I had been so obsessed with the Too Faced and Urban Decay brands' primers, I wanted to try a drugstore brand and chose Magic Lumi Light Infusing Primer by L'Oreal. I used it once and it was okay. It doesn't compare to the Too Faced or Urban Decay and even though the L'Oreal primer costs less, I feel as if I'll get more out of the sprays that Too Faced and Urban Decay offer.
  • Is there a more iconic mascara than Maybelline's Great Last Mascara? This was my mom's trusted mascara choice and I remember seeing it constantly featured in magazines growing up. The packaging is just as iconic too. I love a good throw back so I bought myself one. It doesn't disappoint. There is most certainly a reason it's a continuous award winning mascara. 
  • Excuse me, how cute is the little OPI Nail Lacquer mini?! I saw a fishbowl full of them at Kroger the other day and couldn't resist. I believe the color is Polly Want a Lacquer?

The Amelia House

I made three crucial wallpaper decisions.

Black on white polka dots for the kitchen, Classic Victoria's Secret inspired pink stripes for the nursery and gold lame bumblebees on white for the bathroom. Scrapbooking printed paper makes for great dollhouse wallpaper and its very cost effective. 

I'm afraid I'm in for a busy a semester and I'm not sure when I'll finish the Amelia House. I just don't have the time to spare for it right now. BUT, it will get finished!


As always, thanks for checking back this week to my blog. You're the best, truly. 

I've got a few good themed blog posts coming up over the next few weeks - be on the look out for those. 

Also, I'm heading to New York City in March for a couple of days - anyone have restaurant suggestions? I always eat well in NYC, but I'd love to hear suggestions from others. 




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