Friday Faves

April 19
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It has been a busy week around here, but I wanted to take a second and share a few things before the weekend.
Old Navy is having a great sale through Saturday in-store. Everything is 50% off. The is the perfect time to stock up on favorites like Pixie pants as they rarely go this low. I am loving these and these for spring.


They also have several cute dresses for Easter so grab one this weekend if needed.

I have tried jackfruit a few times now, but I am finally ready to cook it myself. I bought a can the other day and I am going to try and make these BBQ Jackfruit Sliders this weekend. Have you cooked with or ate jackfruit before? What did you think of it? I have been very happy with my experiences so far but this will be the real test.

I recently received some items from Clever Fox Planners. I am super exited to share more about them with you in the future. Until then, check them out here.

I planted some Loofah seeds this week. Will they grow? I don’t know. Do Loofahs even grow on plants? Apparently. If this works it will be kinda cool, right?

Well I’m off to work. Have a great Good Friday and Easter if you celebrate. I am super excited to relax this weekend at home and enjoy a good book.

Friday Faves

April 5
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It has been a bit since I’ve done a Friday Faves post, but I have a bunch of random little things I’d love to share.

I talked about this a little back when I got it, but I just started using this Gel Nail Light again and I wondering why I ever stopped. It is perfect for easy gel nails at home. They last a solid two weeks and are hassle free. No appointment or small talk needed! (Thank goodness.)

Do you love some good Japanese steakhouse veggies? Yum-yum sauce? Me too, but I hate the price tag and honestly, does anyone need that much food? I ran across this recipe last week and it perfect. I just make the veggies and yum-yum sauce and serve it with cauliflower rice to cut down on the carbs. PERFECTION. Like, I could eat this every day for ever and be happy.

I am not a big fan of heels, but I grabbed this pair from Target for a wedding and they are great. I love the chunky heel and strap for extra support. Also, the tan color is perfect for all seasons. If you need one classic pair of dress shoes this is the pair. Bonus: They are only $24.99!

Today Charlie and I are headed to St. Augustine for a few days to relax. I’ll post some photos of our favorite spots over on Instagram. Have a spot we need to check out? Let me know. It’s super rainy here in Central Florida this morning, but at least it’s not hot.

What I’ve been reading

April 2
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I have been out of the habit of sharing books here, but I want to start getting back into it, so without further ado, here are a few things I have been reading/listening to.

I have been a Jasper Fforde fan since reading Shades of Grey a few years ago. Fforde writes fantasy in a way that it both hilarious and quirky. All the things you love about a British comedy with some sci-fi tossed in. His newest book, Early Riser hits all of this and does not miss a beat. This book is set in a world, not to different from ours where humans hibernate over the winter but some must stay awake to take care of the sleeping masses. Now to get Fforde to finally write the sequel to Shades of Grey…

I just started reading Brene Brown this year, but I am loving her stuff. She writes about getting to the nitty gritty of shame, vulnerability, and leadership in a way that really connects. Reading her books have helped me better understand myself and others as well as helped me learn how to lean into the discomfort associated with tough conversations. I highly recommend this book for all leaders. Also I love her book Daring Greatly.

This year I am trying to spend less time on the “endless scroll” of social media/the internet. I want to spend my time on things that bring me joy and less just looking at Instagram. (Even though I do LOVE Instagram.) Cal’s book is a great guide to how and why to detach from our phones, even if just for a little while. Although I have not disconnected completely. (I mean, I am a blogger, right?) I have used his tips to cut back my time as well as focus my energy on the things I really want to do.

Looking for some tips and inspiration regarding your houseplants? Check out this beautiful book by by Jen Stearns. Filled with great photos, this guide is perfect for both newbies to houseplants as well as those that have cohabited with them for years.

Well, there you have it, just a few of the books I’ve been reading lately. What have you been reading?

Taking a break- tips

March 26
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So I have been a little MIA around here and on Instagram lately and I have to tell you, it has been great. I love creating content connecting with my community, but sometimes you just need a break. I was feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and uninterested in my blogging duties so I gave myself the gift of a break.

Over the last couple of weeks I have enjoyed long evenings on the patio now that it is daylight longer, deep conversations with my husband, and quality time with family and friends. (Oh, and wine) I took a break from waking up early and made myself and my happiness a priority. As an introvert I crave quality time alone or with a few loved ones and this little blogging break gave me that. I feel like my soul has been refilled and now I am at a place where I am ready to share again.

I wanted to take this time to talk about the positive aspects of stepping away from certain responsibilities now and then. Obviously you can’t just quit your job or get rid of your kids, but there are ways to take a step back from obligations that can allow you time to reenergize and really be the best person you can be.

Here are a few ways that may or may not work for you:

Take a staycation Take a few days off of work and just relax. Use this time to turn your phone off and read, or catch up on all the projects around the house. Both will help you refuel and be ready for the days ahead. Just need alone time? Take a mini solo vacation and relax!

Take a break from a activity or volunteer position Take a season off of your sports team or your volunteer position at the shelter. These groups need you at your best and will understand if you need to take a break. Set up a date to return so they know when they can rely on you again.

Say no to additional work responsibilities This is a hard one. It seems we are programed to always ask for and say yes to additional projects and responsibilities at work. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, say no. Explain that you have a lot on your plate and that taking on an additional task would mean that nothing would be done to them quality level you would want. Work stress has a sneaky way of making its way into our homes and cutting back on stress in the office can really make a positive affect at home. Work an hourly job? Decline opportunities for additional hours and overtime. Your time is valuable to you both to use and for downtime.

Take a social media fast In his new book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport talks about taking a month long fast from social media. This is a great chance to reevaluate goals, find your purpose, and get back some of the hours that have been lost to the scroll.

So those are a few ways you could add a break into your life. If you too a break would be spend time relaxing or would you use time to get things done?

DIY Painted Tray

March 3
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A few weeks ago I purchased a new coffee table for my living room. After setting it all up I realized that it needed a little something to brighten it up. After looking at images on Pinterest and Instagram I decided what I needed was a nice tray to hold the little things and kind of break up the space. Now my coffee table is a nice medium wood tone. Because of this I knew I wanted to go with a tray that was not a wood color. I wanted something light-colored but not metal or glass. What I wanted was a white tray.
I did some hunting for the perfect tray but found nothing until, one day while wondering Target I came across a light wooden tray in their craft section. The thing was only $6.99 and perfect to paint.
I grabbed the tray and brought it home. I knew I was going to want to paint this white and distress it to give it a slight shabby-chic farmhouse look.
To achieve this look I started by staining the tray with a wood stain. Although this worked for me, if I were to do this again I would have purchased a gel stain which would have produced a darker result. After the stain tried I covered the tray with a few coats of chalk paint. I make my chalk paint by combining regular interior house paint with plaster of paris. Find out more here. After a few coats I then grabbed some medium grit sandpaper and sanded a few areas of the tray to give the piece some definition and let the stained wood show through. I distressed with the sandpaper along seams as well as throughout keeping a light hand. When this was all done I went back over the tray with an furniture wax to seal the piece and protect it. I then added felt pads to the bottom corners so that it would not scratch the table.
I am using this tray to hold remotes, a book, a plant and a candle. Just a nice little collection of things that are nice and relaxing. My favorite part of this is that if I need to remove the things from the table I just need to pick up the tray and move it to a side table and my coffee table is free for games or whatever. Nice and simple. How do you store remotes and books? Do you use a coffee table or tray?
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Day Designer Flagship Planner – review

February 25
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I’ve been a fan of Day Designer products for years, but I had never owned one of their flagship products, just their Blue Sky for Target line. (Love those.)

This year I finally got around to purchasing one of their flagship daily planners and I love it. These planners come in both regular and mini size and I went ahead and got the mini. Although smaller, it is not too small and is big enough to work well both at home and in the workplace.

One of my favorite things about this planner is the cover. It is a simple yet elegant marble. Other options include classy stripes and florals.

This is a daily planner with a schedule and a to-do list. This is great for busy people who want both to list as well as mark out their day. I am thinking about trying out Time Blocking, so this planner would work great for that.

Each weekday also includes a place to write down your top three tasks for the day, what is due, money, dinner and a reminder. There is also a space on the bottom for notes and a daily reminder. Important holidays are also marked to help you remember.

The weekend is shown on one page with just a daily schedule for each day. This works well to schedule your busy weekend, but not to plan it as much.

I love the gold tabs on this planner, perfect for finding what you want, when you want it. It also comes with a clear plastic bookmark that you can use to mark the day to make flipping directly there nice and easy.

My favorite thing about this weekly view is that weekends are lightly shaded so that when making plans you don’t accidentally schedule a work meeting on a Saturday. The shading helps me keep track of where in the week we are.

This planner also comes with some planning sheets to help you realize your goals and focus for the year. This is always helpful when starting out. One thing I particularly liked was where you could kind of rate yourself in different areas of your like to find both where you are doing great, as well as where you might want to focus some time for improvement.

One of my favorite things about Day Designer is that they have a blank copy of their planner page online for free so you can test out their style and see if it works for you. Find their entire free printable library here.

This planner is the 2019 daily option. Right now they are on a pretty good sale as the year has already started, but if you wanted to wait, new 2019-2020 academic year planners will be out soon.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Day Designer. I paid for this planner with my own money, but if you choose to purchase one via a link on this page I will receive a small commission.

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My favorite budget hair styling products

February 14
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I’ve been sharing less style/beauty stuff here on the blog, but I wanted to jump in and share some budget beauty faves for #ThriftyThursday. Please note all links are affiliate links. I receive a small commission from sales from these links.
First up is my Holy Grail straight hair product. This L’Oreal Sleek It Iron Straight Spray is amazing. I use this before blow drying whenever I plan to wear straight hair. My hair turns out silky smooth and I only have to touch it up with a flat iron.
Next up, also by L’Oreal is their Blow Dry it Quick Dry Primer Spray. When I had long hair this was a godsend to cut dry time and add heat protectant. I still use it with short hair, but my dry time has cut down significantly.
As any good woman does, I love me some dry shampoo. I have tried tons of brands and my favorite budget option is Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo. I love the one with the Warm Sugar scent. It does the job without leaving residue or the heavy “I’m wearing dry shampoo” feeling other brands tend to leave in your hair.
Last on the list is the Not Your Mother’s Double Take Dry Finish Texture Spray. I love this spray for clean hair days before I curl or braid to give my hair a little extra grab. It is also a great light hairspray when regular hairspray would be too heavy a hold. So those are my current budget favorites. I am looking for a budget option dupe for Kenra Volume 25 hairspray and Aquage Uplifting Foam. Have a suggestion? Let me know!
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Cleaning out your phone

February 11
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I am going to be honest with you, if my phone was a bedroom it would be that room that nobody dare go in. It would have clothes strewn around the floor, the bed would be unmade, and you would wonder how long those three glasses of water had bed on the nightstand. I think you get the picture.

So last month I decided to get a “new phone.” Ok, so it is not new, but I cleaned up the inside and the outside so it is like new.

On the inside I reviewed all the apps on my phone and deleted anything that was not needed. I keep apps I use at least once a month as well as apps that you need to have just in case. (I always want to know that an Uber is at my fingertips.)

I deleted apps for stores and restaurants I don’t go to, as well as airlines I don’t plan on flying. Be ruthless. You can always download an app that you have removed again for free, so it is safe. I then sat down to organize my apps. I keep the front screen for essential apps only. These are apps I use daily and want at my fingertips. (Yes, I use Amazon daily, don’t judge.)

Once your most used apps are on your first screen, consider using folders for other apps. Pick categories that work for you. My folders are named Blog, Read, Travel, Finance, Photo, Utilities, Shop, Eat, Listen, Health, Games, Watch and Work.  I know some people like to organize by color, but that really does not work for me. I am more of a location muscle memory person. These new locations will take a few days to get used to, but that is it.

Next I went into my settings and turned of notifications for everything except calls, messages, calendar alerts, and alarms. Every time your phone beeps or buzzes is a distraction that can cause stress and steal time. You don’t need to know that Suzy commented on your post this very second. You will open the app again sometime and see it. So many apps ask up to turn on notifications when we download them that our phones are constantly buzzing. Give yourself and your family a break and turn them off. You will thank me.

Lastly, take the case off your phone and look at it. Like really look at it. Is it gross? There is a good chance it is time to spend the $10 and grab a new case. Amazon has tons of great budget options. If you use a screen protector replace that as well if needed. now take a rag and wipe down the front and back of your phone before putting the case on. Icing on the cake? Update your lock screen and background image. I like a darker photo for the lock screen that way it does not create as much light when the screen turns on. For the background I like a very simple color or pattern. The apps themselves are busy enough as they are, a nice soothing background will keep things relaxing and make finding apps easier.

Training with Couch to 5K + three tips for new runners

February 6
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Last year I decided to challenge myself to do somethingI had never done before. Run a 5K. I know A 5K isn’t very far, but I was out of shape and for sure not a runner. I challenged myself to this because although I knew it was an obtainable goal, it was something that I could not just get up and do. I had to train, practice, and take my time to get there.

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Now that I have run the full 3.1 miles of a 5k a few times, I wanted to fill you all in on the process, the app, and how I felt going from nothing to being a runner.

First off, I tried a few apps before I found one that really worked for me. Most people start their running training running intervals, the first apps I tried had me jumping into 2+ minute run intervals right from the start. I was out of shape, remember? This was so not for me.

After doing some research I downloaded the 5K Runner app by Fitness22. Is this the only app that will work? No way. It is just the one that worked for me. I ended up paying around $10 for access to the entire program. Inexpensive price to pay for the tools to turn myself into a runner.

With the app you run three times a week for eight weeks. By the end of the program you should be able to run 35 minutes straight which is a good 5k time. (My time is slower.) In week one you just start out by running for one minute and taking a minute and a half off. Each time the longest run distance got longer I was worried I would not be able to do it, but I did. It was just enough push.

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I posted this on Facebook on Christmas day when I successfully ran 23 minutes straight.

The first few runs I did with my phone in my hand. That quickly got old and I grabbed this running belt which is now a necessity for me. I use the belt to hold my keys, phone, and anything else I might carry.

For shoes I wore the shoes I already had. I did end up going to the Nike Outlet and grabbing a new pair last month, but I have not felt the need to be fitted for running shoes yet. If I ever start having foot-related problems I’ll go to the local running shop and have them help me pick a better shoe.

So, how was it?  To be completely honest the process was not fun. I did not like running when I started and I still do not like running. Do I still do it? Yes. Why? Because I love continually showing myself that I can do it. But it was doable. It was never too hard.  I am still running and I am running in a “real” 5k later this month. My goal is to continue running for all of 2019 and run a 10k before the end of the year. Will I keep up with the sport after that? I am not sure. We will let time decide.

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The best part of running? Experiencing great sunsets.

I do have three tips for those of you considering this program.

  1. Go slow: I wish someone had told me this before I started. Run slower than you think you even can. This is a mind game and as long as you are running and not walking you’re winning. Worry about going fast later, or never.
  2. Watch your breath: Remember those deep breaths we took in yoga? Bring them out. Ok, maybe not that deep, but be aware of your breath and take longer rather than shorter breaths. Your lungs will thank me.
  3. Just do it: Sorry to rip of Nike here, but this is really what it comes down to. Get dress, lace up, and run. Once you are dressed and ready just go and do it. It is easier to go run than complain and stall going.

I hope this helped those of you curious of the program as well as those wondering about my experience.

Have you run a 5k before? Would you do one now?

Using a digital calendar

January 28
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If you read my post about my 2019 planner plans, you would have learned that for the first time I am adding a digital calendar to the mix. I have always been a pen and paper kind of girl, but lately I’ve been looking for an easy way to have all the details at my fingertips all the time. To achieve this I have started using Google Calendar to create a calendar that I have access to at home, work, and on the go. With it, I can leave my work planner at work, my home planner at home, and still know what I am doing and when. Will this replace my planners? No. I love my planners for to-dos, notes, and more; the Google Calendar is just a place to save information and dates so my schedule is always easy to find when making plans.

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So how do I use it?

I love that Google Calendar is available in both the web and on my phone. I keep a tab open on both my home and work computers with the calendar so I can quickly add work and personal events as they come up. This is linked to my phone, so when I am out and about I can quickly check my phone and see if I am available for an event or get-together.

I am changing the way I record events and appointments a little bit. Before, I would wait until I was next to my planner and then add events there. Now, as soon as I receive an invitation in the mail or schedule a meeting, I add it to my digital calendar. Then when I sit down with my planner on Sunday I add all events for the week there. This had led to me skipping using the monthly layout in my personal planner which is working for me. (Now I use it for blog planning.)

The other upside of this is the sharing options; with Google Calendar you can share calendars with others. Right now I am not using this feature, but in the future I’d love to set this up to share with my husband. This feature would also be great for parents of teenagers.

 

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I started this venture using the iCal app on my phone with the google calendar synced, but I have started using the actual Google Calendar App to access my calendar on my phone and I love it. This app gives a full view of the month and the events whereas the iCal App just shows dots on days you have calendar items. I am also considering trying out Fantastical which is a paid app ($5) that is said to be a much better calendar interface along with an great watch app.  I will report back once I have tried that one out.

I know many people have been using phone and digital calendars for years, but I wanted to take a few moments to share how I have integrated this style of “planning” with my planner. I know this sounds super simple, but it is new for me and really working well.

 

Do you use a digital calendar?  Which one? How to you integrate that with your planner?

using a digital calendar

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