My Top 5 Summer Fragrances: 2021 Edition

A good smelling perfume definitely sparks joy for me. Along with jewelry, choosing a perfume to wear each day was something I looked forward to greatly during my time at home the last year. Simple pleasures helped get me through! Over the years, I have acquired quite the perfume collection, and I find myself reaching for different scents based on the season, weather, and how I’m feeling, or how I want to feel. These five fragrances are the ones I find myself reaching for most frequently this summer. I would highly recommend them all! With that being said, fragrance is very personal, so I would always suggest getting a sample and trying them on your body before making the commitment to purchase one. My favorite places to purchase perfumes are, Ulta (when I have a 20% off coupon), and Sephora (during their annual sale). I also enjoy reading perfume reviews on and watching fragrance reviews on Youtube.

First up, is Dolce & Gabbana light blue eau intense. I have known about the original Dolce & Gabbana light blue for years, and honestly, it was never really the type of scent I prefer to wear on my body. To my surprise, I recently tested out the light blue intense version and fell head over heels in love. I sprayed it on a testing strip and could not stop smelling it. At that point, I went back to the counter and sprayed some on my body. I knew immediately this was one I wanted to add to my collection, and I was thrilled to discover after hours of wearing it the lasting power and performance were both great as well. This one is described as a floral fruity fragrance. I am very picky about fruity fragrances, and for me to be drawn to them, there has to be a depth and richness to them that helps ground the fragrance. This one has just that! Top notes include lemon and apples, middle notes are jasmine & marigold, and base notes are musk and amberwood. This is one where the descriptions just don’t do it justice. You simply need to give it a try and be prepared to be whisked away via smell to a sexy, summer vacation paradise.

Once the world slowly started opening up again after the pandemic, I found myself at Sephora with a friend smelling perfumes. (Oh, how I had missed the joy of testing out new scents!) I smelled a lot of them that day, but none were jumping out at me…that is until I tried Chloe Nomade. I had told the Sephora sales associate (who was recommending perfumes to me that day) that I tended to like rich, deep, unique and original smelling perfumes. At that point, she walked straight over to Chloe Nomade and told me to try it. I sprayed it on and there was definitely something unique about it. I put some on my arm, and then left the store with my friend. I continued to smell my arm and fell more and more in love with the scent as the day went on. Chloe Nomade is considered a Chypre Floral. Once again, chypre fragrences are not the ones I usually gravitate towards; however, I have no doubt that the basenotes of oakmoss, amberwood, white musk, and patchouli are what helped sell me on it. Something about it reminds me of two of my other perfumes I enjoy: Miss Dior Cherie and Chanel Coco Mademoiselle–it’s as if these two perfumes had a baby in the woods. Just try it. It’s good.

I love Mugler scents. If you know, you know. I have way too many fragrance loves to choose a “signature” scent, but if I absolutely had to choose, Mugler Alien would be way up on that list with Mugler Angel in a close second. Mugler makes a lot of flankers of both of these scents. Some I enjoy. Some, not so much. Although Angel Nova is a flanker of Angel, I don’t believe it should have been a flanker for that scent as it really doesn’t smell anything like it. Angel Nova is a scent that stands all on its own. When I first smelled this, I got a very strong whiff of berries. It was different than the other perfumes I have in my collection. Then, I smelled roses. But once again, the magic started happening during the dry down. This is when the warm, woody, oudy smells jumped out at me and the berries and roses became a beautiful, faint background. It is sweet and fruity, yet mature. This one is also strong and sexy. Just smell it.

I am generally not a fan of celebrity scents. In fact, I believe Ariana Grande Cloud is the only celebrity scent I own. I also am not a fan of this bottle (perfume bottles are often a work of art in and of themselves). This bottle I find a bit juvenile. However, the juice inside the bottle is like a sweet, creamy dose of cotton candy and marshmallows. Think whipped cream, vanilla, and pralines. It’s a bit musky as well. (For those familiar with Baccarat Rouge 540 Extrait, I definitely understand the comparisons. Is Cloud an exact dupe? No, but it has a similar vibe for a much more reasonable price.) If you like a good gourmand, this one is definitely worth a try.

Bobbi Brown Beach is one that has been in my collection the longest of these five, and I still reach for it regularly during the hot summer months. It smells like it’s name..think sea, salt, sand, orange blossoms, and coppertone sunscreen. In some ways it’s a simple frangrance, yet it’s an absolutely beautiful summer scent.

Do you have any of these perfumes? Which fragrances have you been reaching for this summer? Let me know your fragrance loves, and if you try out any of these, I would also enjoy hearing about your experience with them. As I mentioned, perfumes are such a personal preference, but their potential to evoke memories and wisk one away is universal.

***I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned above, but I wish I was!***

Our Florida 30A Vacay

Feb. in Missouri during a snow storm is when I booked our Florida vacation. Typically when we go to the beach, we go the all inclusive route; however, this year with Covid and an aging dog, we decided we wanted to stay stateside and take our pups. When I asked friends on social media what beach to go to within a days driving distance, overwhelmingly the answer was to go to any of the beaches on 30A.

I used VRBO to book, and even months in advance, I couldn’t find a dog friendly place to stay with 6 nights available in that area. So, we ended up staying 3 nights in a condo in Seagrove with an ocean view and 3 nights in a house in Panama City Beach about 5 blocks from the ocean and 5 miles from 30A. The condo view was beautiful. It was newly renovated and included a pool and hot tub~which we enjoyed every day after coming back from the beach. While we loved the condo, the house in Panama City Beach was a nice change because we had a fenced back yard for the pups to enjoy. They were located about 20 minutes away from each other.

The Beach: We arrived at the beach after a tropical storm, so the first few days, the ocean was stirred up and rough–red flags were flying. By day three, the water started to settle, and I then understood why people had said it was so beautiful. The white sand and tropical blue combination is gorgeous. However, the beach on 30A was very crowded. Our typical beach routine is waking up and going to the beach early, and then enjoying the pool and hot tub in the afternoon. At this beach, you need to get there early if you want to get a good spot. There were way more people on the beach than I am used to (once again, we usually go to all inclusive vacation beaches). To be honest, we actually enjoyed the Panama City beach more than the one on 30A. It was less crowded and just had a more laid back and relaxing vibe.

My husband lived in Miami as a kid, and he had told me multiple times he prefers Florida’s Atlantic Coast to the gulf because the Atlantic is the ocean, and the gulf is “like a big lake.” However, because of the tropical storm a few days earlier, the ocean had some nice waves for us to have fun enjoying. By our final day there, it was much calmer, and I better understood his lake analogy. We spent 2 to 3 hours at the beach each day. Having beach chairs, a cooler, and beach blankets were a must. (The condo where we stayed supplied chairs and a cooler, and the house supplied a wagon to haul things to the beach.) Some people had elabortate tents and umbrellas. If we weren’t the sun lovers that we are or if we had wanted to stay longer at the beach, some shade would have been necessary. The Florida sun is hot!

The Eats: When I am on vacation, I don’t like having to make reservations for restaurants because I don’t want to have to be anywhere at a certain time. I want to be able to simply go with the flow and do things when we feel like it. Most restaurants required reservations (way in advance), so we ended up choosing where we ate by recommendations combined with where we could just show up. When we first arrived, we went to Publix and stocked up on some breakfast foods and snacks. We made coffee and brunch in the condo and house each morning, and then went out for dinner each night.

The first night we ate at Havana Beach Bar & Grill in The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach. The Rosemary Beach area has a very European vibe with multiple restaurants and shops, and is definitely worth checking out! At the restaurant, we had a short 20 minute wait at the bar before being seated. We had hushpuppies for an appetizer, and Jonathan ordered the burger (which was huge and delicious–according to him), and I had a salad and some of the best french onion soup ever.

Multiple people recommended Goatfeathers, so that is where we ended up going night two. There are a few different locations including a market in Seagrove beach; however, we decided to go to the actual restaurant in Santa Rosa. We got there early (5:00 p.m.) and were immediately seated. It was happy hour, so we both enjoyed a delicious Bloody Mary and Boiled shrimp appetizers on special. I had surf-n-turf (the grilled shrimp were delicious and the steak was very good) and J had Fish-n-chips. This is a very casual, laid back, family friendly restaurant.

We love sushi, so night three we ended up at Shaka Sushi & Noodle Bar. It is located right off 30A and has indoor and outdoor seating. It was hot and humid when we arrived, so we decided to enjoy our meal at the sushi bar. To say the sushi was good is an understatement. It was some of the best sushi we’ve had in a very long time. J ordered The Chef’s Choice & I had the Jaws Roll (very unique, rice-less roll) and Endless Summer. I’d highly recommend both of these rolls! Seriously, we liked this place so much, we decided to return the next night for dinner again. This time we sat in the outdoor area, and besides the amazing food once again, it almost felt like we were at a different restaurant.

While at Shaka, we asked our server what restaurants in the area she recommended as I always appreciate local recommendations, and she said Le Crema in Rosemary Beach and Chanticleer in Grayton. We had already eaten at the Rose Mary Beach area, and we just aren’t huge Tapas fans, so we ended up going to Chanticleer. It didn’t disappoint. All the food there is made fresh, and it was delicious. We both had Bloody Mary’s again this night. They were unique, almost creamy, and we liked them, but they were definitely different than a typical Bloody Mary. We both also split the house salad and had burgers. I opted for brussel sprouts as my side, and J got grits. So good!

The Activites: Going to the beach, pool, and restaurants were our main activities. We did spend some time driving around and simply exploring the area. There are some beautiful houses and flowers and architecture to look at, but watch out for pedestrians and folks on bikes: they are everywhere and will walk out right in front of you! We always buy the Starbucks “Been There Series” mugs when on vacation, so one day we went for an afternoon coffee at the Starbucks in Seacrest. We also had a coffee one afternoon while exploring Rosemary Beach at a local coffee shop called Amavida Coffee Roasters. There was live music at The Hub 30a one night, so we hung out there for a while. When we went to Panama City Beach, we also explored the Pier Park area. I’m sure there are plenty of other activites to enjoy, but we were only there 5 days and truly, when we are on vacation, we like to go slow and rest rather than have a schedule packed full of activities.

All in all, it was a great vacation and definitely an area of the U.S. I’d recommend exploring, if you have the chance!

Adorn Yourself: Copper Robin

I resisted buying an apple watch for years.  I had my iphone, so I thought: why do I need the watch?  However, a few years ago, I finally decided to take the apple watch plunge, primarily because I wanted to be able to go on long walks or workout and listen to music or podcasts without having to take my phone with me, and now I can’t imagine life without it!

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I love jewelry.  By adding cool watch bands, my apple watch has become an additional piece of jewelry to style!  Recently I discovered another woman owned business that makes amazing watch bands, and I wanted to share with you.  Copper Robin, created and owned by Brynn Nicholle, makes beautiful smart watch bands that help turn the functional watch into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Customer service is outstanding, and they often have sales. (I bought two of my three for 30% off.) If you check out the website, you’ll see a wide variety of beautiful watch band options in a variety of colors for many types of smart watches!  Here are the ones I currently own and love:

Aluminum Apple Watch Cover

My apple watch face has silver on it, so when I dove into the world of wearing gold jewelry as well, I wanted to get a face I could easily attach and take off that was gold. This one is perfect. It is light weight, looks great, yet inexpensive, and comes on and off easily,

The posh is one of my favorite apple watch bands I own. I love the stylish, casual, yet edgy vibe to it! Eventually, I’d love to own this one in silver, too!

The Designer is a beautiful band I wear when I’m more dressed up. I love black and gold together as well as the metal and leather look!

The Lotus Goddess

The Lotus Goddess, I believe, is currently sold out. I’m not sure if she will end up making more, but if so, you should definitely check it out. This is light weight and has a bracelet like feel. I also, of course, love the little lotus flower.

There are many other very creative styles of watch bands on the Copper Robin website, so even if you are looking for something other than gold or the styles I’ve shown here, definitely pop on over to their website and take a look!

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with Copper Robin, but I wish I was!***

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

There is not much better than slow Sunday mornings with my pups, husband, and a good cup of coffee in hand. My love of coffee started in college. I found it easier to study in coffee shops than at home or libraries, so when I wasn’t in classes or working at Gold’s Gym, I was at a local coffee shop, Lakota Coffee Co., studying. It was here that my love of dark, rich, and smooth coffee began. About 10 years ago, I did a week long cleanse and got off caffeine. After going through the withdraws and two day lack of caffeine headache, when I was finished with the cleanse, I decided not to go back to drinking caffeine. I was not, however, willing to give up my daily cup of coffee–so decaf it was! For me, coffee drinking is a whole experience that sparks joy–the smell, the sound of making it, the taste, the feel of the cup in my hand, the warmth as it travels through my body. Today, I’m going to share some of my favorites for making the perfect cup of coffee~both hot and cold brew!

My husband and I haven’t owned a coffee maker in over a decade. If you want a smooth cup of rich coffee a french press is the way to go. Seriously. So much better than drip coffee. I prefer stainless steel french presses to glass ones, as they are less likely to break. I also like the sleek look of them. J drinks caffeinated coffee, so we have two small single serving french presses and two large double serving ones, as well. I found the majority of ours for discounted prices at Marshall’s; however, the one linked above looks great, and is a good price because it comes with a stirring spoon and small frother as well. I scoop 3 heaping scoops of coffee (I tend to buy decaf french roast or decaf espresso roast) into my single serving french press while the water is heating on the stove. Once the water comes to a boil, I pour it in the french press, and then stir for a few seconds.

Some kind of cream or milk in my coffee is a must. I usually add whole whipping cream, half-n-half, Ripple Pea Milk, or sometimes even butter (otherwise known as bullet proof coffee). If I add butter, I blend my hot coffee, butter and collagen powder in my Vitamix. Most days, however, I go for the cream and/or Ripple pea milk instead. Having hot, frothed milk to pour in my cup of coffee is a game changer. Prior to owning a frother, I used to heat my milk in the microwave because I didn’t want cold milk to make my coffee cooler. Getting a milk frother was one of my best purchases. I have the Breville one listed above. It’s an investment, and I’ve had to replace it a few times over the years, but I use it once, sometimes twice each day, so the cost per use is actually fairly low (and it’s way cheaper over the years than going to a coffee shop regularly!) It also froths cold milk, which is perfect for a cup of cold brew.

When I wake up in the morning, I always want hot coffee; however, when the weather starts to get warmer, I often find I want a cup of cold brew in the afternoon. Cold brew is better than iced coffee, because once again, it is so rich and so smooth, and if you don’t want to add ice to it, you don’t have to, so it doesn’t end up tasting as watered down. For my cold brew coffee, I also purchase decaf french roast. I put 10-12 scoops in the cold brew container shown and linked above, fill it with water, and leave it in my refrigerator over night. The next day, it’s ready to go. (And it actually usually lasts a few days, as it makes 3-4 cups). I pour myself a glass (at home I actually like to use stemless wine glasses for my cup of cold brew), and I use my frother to cold froth milk which I then pour over the top. This makes the perfect cup of cold brew coffee. It is delish! Seriously, who needs Starbucks?

Are you a coffee drinker? If so, how do you like yours? Let me know in the comments below.

***I am not affiliated or sponsored by any of the brands mentioned above, but I wish I was.***

Spring Mani Inspiration

Spring is in the air, and that means I am now reaching for my favorite spring manicure polishes. During the spring months, I find myself wanting to paint my nails mostly soft, pastel colors. The following polishes are all ones I’ve owned for many years, and I come back to over and over again. I would highly recommend them all!

OPI Mod About You

OPI Mod About You is one of my longest owned colors, and I have actually used it all up and repurchased another bottle. This says a lot about how much I love this polish since I’ve collected so many different colors over the years, yet I reach for this one over and over and over again. Mod About You is the most perfect opaque, white, pink. It is spring in a bottle!

OPI Funny Bunny

Really, what says spring more than bunnies? OPI Funny Bunny is sheer, white perfection. This color is another one I’ve had for many years, and I’ve repurchased. It is the classic, sheer, spring version of OPI Alpine Snow. A must-have, IMO.

OPI You’re Such A BudaPest

OPI You’re Such A BudaPest is the perfect periwinkle color. The photo makes it look mostly purple, but this polish has just the right amount of blue to make it a little extra interesting. It’s a unique and beautiful nail color I wear often during the springtime on both my fingernails and toes!

Essie Go Ginza

Essie Go Ginza is another polish in the purple color family; however, this one has no blue tint at all. It is a light lilac shade. It has a slight whitish tint to the hue. It’s the perfect springy, pastel purple.

Essie Van D’ Go

Peach is another color that reminds me of spring, and Essie’s Van D’ Go is a beautiful light, white, peachy color. It is opaque, yet soft and easy to wear. It almost feels like a neutral on the nails.

These are my go-to spring nail polish colors. Which one is your favorite?

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the brands included in this post, but I wish I was!***

Meal Prep Sunday: Tips, Recipes, & Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Cooking is not an activity I enjoy or look forward to doing, but I do love to eat. This past year my husband and I have not eaten out at a restaurant.  We have ordered take-out a few times, but mostly, we have been eating at home. That makes for a lot of cooking.  After working all day, I do not want to come home and spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so meal prep Sunday has become a must.  Today I will share some of my favorite meal prepping recipes and tips, as well as three of my must-have kitchen gadgets!

Many years ago, I purchased a Vitamix.  This purchase was one I put off making for months because I couldn’t wrap my brain around spending that much money on a kitchen appliance.  Then, after breaking three blenders trying to make recipes such as homemade hummus and finding out that the Vitamix had a 7 year warranty, I took the plunge, and I have never looked back. (I bought ours with a 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. It is so old Vitamix doesn’t even make the exact model we have anymore-see photo above, so I linked a similar one under the photo. QVC often has sales on their Vitamix options, so I’d recommend checking the website regularly for a discounted price. ) I will never be without a Vitamix. This was hands down the best kitchen appliance purchase I have ever made.  I LOVE my Vitamix and use it daily.  It makes the absolute best and smoothest smoothies.  It can make nut butters.  It can make hummus.  It can make hot soups. The Vitamix can do All. The. Things.  It also is incredibly easy to clean with very few parts, which was another huge selling point for me. 

While I haven’t utilized my air fryer as much as I know I could (the air fryer recipes are endless), we still use it on the regular. I’ve found it is far superior for reheating foods (which we do a lot because we meal prep), than the microwave. It keeps those things I am reheating crisp (when they are supposed to be crispy), and soft (when they are supposed to be soft).  I also love the air fryer for quickly cooking veggies. I know I have many more air fryer recipes to explore, and I look forward to doing so!

Another kitchen gadget I love to use is a slow cooker. Recipes that entail simply adding all the ingredients to the slow cooker, turning it on, and leaving it to do its thing bring me joy.  A lot of the time on meal prep Sundays a slow cooker recipe is involved!

At least once a month, I meal prep taco meat—usually hamburger, although last time I chose to cook chorizo, and it was delicious and a nice change in flavor!  I also saute’ some onions and peppers separate from the meat, so we can have fajita taco salads at least once or twice that following week.  Once the meat and onions and peppers are prepared, it’s just a matter of getting out all the toppings you enjoy: lettuce, sour cream, salsa, olives, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, & cheese are our favorites.

Along with taco salads, salsa chicken in the slow cooker is another regular meal on rotation in our home.  I just throw some frozen chicken breasts, sliced onions, sliced bell pepper, and a jar of salsa in the slow cooker, and let it cook for the day.  This makes for a great fajita chicken salad, quesadilla filling, or chicken tacos.

Another slow cooker recipe we love is this Mississippi Mud Pot Roast:  We usually add mushrooms in ours, as well. It is so delicious!

Throughout the colder months, we almost always make some kind of soup on the weekend.  We usually double recipes to ensure we have enough for plenty of leftovers.  Left-over soups are often even better than the day you make them. If it ends up being too much, we freeze the rest to enjoy in the future.  I’ve written about some of my favorite soup recipes here:

I am blessed to have a husband who is a great cook. He often meal preps by grilling and/or smoking different kinds of meat:  Smoked BBQ pork, grilled chicken, hamburgers, and brats are some of our favorites.  When we are ready to eat them in the evening during the work week, I can easily make a salad or throw some veggies in the air fryer to complete the meal.

Meal prep Sunday also usually includes a full meal casserole or skillet dish. These are all relatively simple and some of our favorites: 

This low carb zucchini lasagna recipe is one I come back to over and over. (I usually substitute Italian sausage for the hamburger):  

I also enjoy this Bacon Cheeseburger Cauliflower Casserole: Sometimes I “rice” my own cauliflower in the Vitamix, but I often buy organic cauliflower already riced from the freezer section of the grocery store, as this cuts down on time in the kitchen as well. I also sometimes buy real bacon pieces and use that if I want to take less time. These are also great for salad toppings.

Southern Fried Cabbage & Sausage is another one that is on regular rotation in our house:

This One Skillet Egg Roll in a bowl recipe always hits the spot:  (We usually substitute Bragg Liquid Aminos for soy sauce for my body’s dietary preferences.)

These are some of my favorite meal prepping recipes, tips, and kitchen gadgets.  Sunday meal prep makes the work week feel so much better to me.  I already have a menu for the meals we will be eating each night and very little time is spent to get them ready to eat after work. Do you meal prep?  Any recipes you love?  Please share!

***I am not sponsored or affiliated with any of the brands linked, but I wish I was!***

A Message of Hope

Years ago, I listened to a podcast with author and researcher, Brene’ Brown, and she described the importance of experiencing disappointments in life in order to learn and know hope.  She was specifically talking about parents who swoop in to guard their children from every disappointment in life, and how those same kids are missing out on the important life skill of learning about hope. She describes hope as a cognitive process more than a feeling. This idea and the relationship between disappointment and hope has stuck with me.

Most of us would probably agree that the year 2020 was filled with disappointment. For some, much more disappointment than others. And, with that, 2020 became a year for kids and adults alike to learn more about hope.

I was recently able to get the first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, and this most definitely has me very hopeful: Hopeful for a life moving forward that allows for eating with friends at restaurants, large family gatherings, concerts, hugs, handshakes, smiles eventually not covered by masks, large and crowded yoga classes with our mats only a few inches apart…I could go on and on and on.

I also hope we never forget. I hope we are a little closer to truly understanding how precious and fragile this life is. I hope we remember human connection is a necessity like the air we breathe, and we should treat all humans kindly, justly, and respectfully. I hope we never forget how truly allowing ourselves to experience the highs and the lows is an important part of being human and healing. I hope we learned how to be more compassionate with ourselves and how to extend that compassion to others. I hope we learned the importance of relaxation and true rest. Along with that, I hope we do not go back to busy but instead place high value on experiencing the simple pleasures of life rather than rushing through it to try and fill it up.

As a recovering Type A personality who can lean towards being a bit controlling (thank goodness for Yoga!), this quote always makes me smile. It could easily be the 2020 motto. Relax. Nothing is under control.  And yet, as we continue to journey through this life, we can remember that we can always choose to invite hope to stay. 

What are you hopeful for? 

Self-Care Sunday

I have been preaching and teaching about the importance of self-care since around 2010.  And while today self-care is a word that has become frequently used—almost to the point of feeling cliché’—I absolutely still believe it is imperative, now more than ever, for all people to practice.

First, it is worth the reminder that self-care is not simply pampering (although pampering can be a tool for self-care).  Self-care is not overindulgence.  Self-care is not being selfish.  Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.

I fully believe when we feel better everything we do and every interaction we have is better. Self-care in some ways is the far opposite of selfishness. Practicing self-care allows our best and highest self to show up for others regularly in the world.

The importance of knowing yourself and knowing how to manage your energy are integral pieces of the self-care puzzle.  Where do you get your energy?  What (and who) fill you up?  What (and who) leave you feeling run down and depleted? What boundaries do you need to create or maintain? What do you need to let go of in your life?  What might you need to add? What is your relationship with play? What is your relationship with rest?  I believe these are all important questions to answer to in order to figure out how to best practice self-care. Self-care can look very different for each person.

I have always known I need a large amount of time alone to refuel my energy level, and the pandemic has solidified that knowing for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I greatly miss people and in person human connection. I yearn for the days I will be able to safely go out to dinner with friends, interact with students more in person, eat lunch with my co-workers, and have large family gatherings again. However, I have enjoyed my time at home alone much of the time during the pandemic. I discovered through the pandemic that in the future I need to make a conscious effort to spend more time at home to replenish my energy. 

What have you learned about yourself and your needs during this time? 

I believe everyone should have some self-care tools in their health & wellness toolbox.  Today, I will be sharing three of my most recent favorite self-care practices with you.

Acupressure mat: essential oil:

Cultivating true rest & relaxation.  Over the years, I have realized sitting down does not necessarily equate to rest.  If the mind is racing or the finger is scrolling, perhaps this is not actually restorative rest. Prior to the pandemic, one of my biggest sources or rest was getting a monthly massage.  I have not gotten one now for a very long time. One of the new ways I’ve started integrating deeper rest and relaxation during this time is by spending time on my acupressure mat.  This somehow leaves me feeling similarly to how I felt after a massage: deeply relaxed and at ease. In preparation, I ritualistically set the ambiance (which I feel is a very important and necessary step in creating a sense of ease, rest, & relaxation) in my little yoga room by turning on the electric fire place, turning off the lights, lighting a few candles, diffusing lavender essential oil, turning on meditative music, grabbing a bolster for under my knees, a blanket to cover up with, an eye pillow, and I lie down and rest on my acupressure mat anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes.  While the initial jolt of lying down on the prickly mat is intense, that feeling subsides quickly, and it really does leave me feeling heavenly.

Working with food and my body. I realize this might not be a popular one, but in the past year, I started experimenting with my sugar, gluten, and wine intake, and I noticed that these three things consistently seemed to be the culprits behind waking up feeling tired, bloated and puffy (to the point I often couldn’t put my rings on my fingers in the mornings), and with achy joints.  While I have experimented with many ways of eating over the years (thank you very much, Diet Culture), I now believe fully there is no one right way for everyone to eat. Each person needs to figure out how to eat in order to feel healthy, energized, and well~while still enjoying food. For me, at this point in my life, I need to leave white sugar and gluten behind and limit my alcohol intake in order to feel my best. Since I’ve made these changes, I definitely feel better!

Walking outside in nature. Now that the weather is warming up, I am making myself get outside to walk regularly.  I’ve also begun focusing on walking to relax rather than to “get a workout.”  It has started to feel like meditation in motion. The fresh air and movement is healing.  It is amazing how a short walk can clear my head and energize my body.

Once again, Self-care is consciously choosing behaviors that help cultivate a sense of wellbeing in your life and release stress from your mind, body, and soul.

Do you need to revamp or amp up your self-care practices? If so, commit. You can do it! And, if you need to hear this: You are worth it.

***I am not currently affiliated with any of the brands linked or mentioned, but I wish I were.***

Peace Out, Winter: Spring Fever Favorites

While I appreciate all four seasons, I wish winter lasted only one month–let’s have some snow over Christmas, and then call it good, can we? By the end of January, I am yearning for the feeling of LIFE: color, flowers blooming, the return of leaves, and green grass to walk barefoot on. February always feels like the longest month. Then, finally March arrives and feels so hopeful to me, as spring is right around the corner. I also appreciate the longer hours of daylight that comes along with spring. There is just a different energy during springtime, and I love it! I also look forward to moving my winter clothes, and shoes, and coats, and scarves, and hats (and all. the. winter. things.) to the back of my closet, and pulling out my springtime favorites. Here are a few of of my spring favorites I am looking forward reuniting with!

adidas Adilette Comfort Slide

I have no doubt one of the reasons winter feels so constricting to me is that my feet like to be FREE. I prefer being barefoot most of the time, but a good comfortable sandal is second best. I remember wearing slides as a teenager, and I was thrilled to see the style come back around a few years ago. These adidas slides are dreamy. I highly recommend the adilette comfort slides over the regular ones as the extra padding feels so good. I also love everything silver, so there’s that. (There are many other colors available if your silver love doesn’t run as deep as mine.) I cannot wait to slip these on with a pair of shorts and sweatshirt this spring!

Lou & Grey Signaturesoft Plush Drawstring Shorts

The shorts I will be wearing this spring are the Lou & Grey Signaturesoft Plush Drawstring shorts from The Loft. Lou & Grey signature soft anything (shorts, joggers, sweatshirts, etc.) feel heavenly. The only downside is that once your body and skin get used to the feel of Lou & Grey Signaturesoft, anything else you wear feels rough and scratchy. But, they are still worth it! I have this pair in grey and black, and they will be on rotation all spring and summer.

EllandEmm Bisou Bisou

Prior to the pandemic I owned one sweatshirt and two hoodies. I just wasn’t into them. Well, that has changed, and EllandEmm sweatshirts are now some of my favorite. They are playful and stylish and incredibly soft. I can’t think of a more appropriate spring sweatshirt than one that says, “Bisou Bisou,” can you?

Some of my favorite sunnies

Because there are more hours of daylight in spring, and I am outside frequently, I find I reach for my sunnies more often. Sunglasses are some of my favorite accessories, and I tend to like ones that make a statement. I’ve acquired quite the collection over the years. I always keep them in their cases when they aren’t on my face, so they last a very long time. Cites like nordstromrack and saksoff5th are my favorite for finding sunglass deals!

Nordstrom Moonlight Short Pajamas

I usually wear different pajamas in the spring and summer than I do in the fall and winter months. These pajamas cannot be beat. They are so soft and comfortable and cute. I am definitely looking forward to pulling them back out for spring.

it cosmetics Hyrdrating Serum Lip gloss stain in Je Ne Sais Quoi

Lastly, nothing says spring like a fresh, glossy, pink lip. This lipgloss serum from itcosmetics conditions the lips with shea butter, jojoba, and avocado oils. It is smooth and glossy without feeling sticky (I do not like sticky glosses), and the color Je Ne Sais Quoi is supposed to turn the perfect shade of pink based on your unique body chemistry. This color is also available in lipstick and a lip balm if you prefer those to glosses.

These are all some of my springtime tried and true favorites. Peace out, Winter. Spring, I’m ready for ya!

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with any of these brands, although I wish I was!***

Adorn Yourself: Nickel & Suede

Nickel & Suede Hammered Gold Aster Hoop Leather Earrings

I blame my mother for my love of jewelry. At 18 months old she took me to have my ears pieced. She said I cried for about 10 seconds and then looked in the mirror, saw the shiny studs in my ears, and I was “all smiles.” I’ve loved jewelry ever since. Choosing what jewelry I will adorn myself with has become a sort of morning ritual. At home, throughout the pandemic, I have looked forward to deciding what jewelry I will wear for the day~with my lounge wear. There is just something about putting on jewelry that instantly lifts my mood.

A few years ago, I thought I was going to have to give up my love of large, statement earrings because my little baby earring holes had been so stretched over the many years of big earring wearing. However, a Missouri, woman-owned business I discovered, and now LOVE, brought my large earring groove back. The following is a little about the owner directly from the Nickel & Suede website:

Everything I have received from Nickel & Suede, down to the detail of packaging, has been perfection. The earrings are truly feather weight and beautiful! I follow Kilee on instragram and have learned that beyond her being a highly successful business woman who now owns three store fronts (K.C. Plaza, Liberty, MO, & Dallas, TX) in addition to her online business, she is also a mother of 5 boys. This is the type of woman and business I want to support! I have always ordered Nickel & Suede earrings online, but I plan to visit the KC Plaza store with a friend or two as soon as this darn pandemic is under control! Let me know if you’d like to join.

Today, I wanted to share about this woman-owned business and some of my favorite Nickel & Suede earrings:

Nickel & Suede Silver Leaf Leather Earrings

The Silver Leaf Leather Earrings were the first pair of Nickel & Suede earrings I purchased years ago. I remember being SO excited to be able to wear big earrings again. And, while I love a big earring, I went for a size Medium in these, as they are quite the statement.

Nickel & Suede Cork Leather Earrings

When I saw the same shape earrings in cork, I couldn’t resist those either. Size Medium, and oh so unique!

Nickel & Suede Silver Leaf Nova Leather Earrings

The Silver Leaf Nova Leather Earrings are some of my favorite to wear during the warmer months with a simple, summery, black dress. If you throw on these babies with some cute sandals and a bag, you are ready to go!

Nickel & Suede Superstar Hoop Silver Leaf Leather Earrings

The Superstar Hoop Silver Leaf Leather earrings are probably one of my favorites, and they will always be remembered as my pandemic earrings. At the start of the stay at home order, I purchased these online and wore them almost daily. The sparked a little bit of joy each time I put them on!

Nickel & Suede Hammered Gold Aster Crescent Hoop Leather Earrings

These are the beauties I received in the mail last night, and they are what sparked my inspiration for this blog post. (I love to share what I love.) Are they not absolutely divine? For many years, I was a solely silver jewelry wearing girl; however, during the pandemic I found myself reaching for some old, gold jewelry, and I decided I now liked wearing it again, too. These are the perfect gold, statement earrings. You can bet I’ll be will be wearing them all weekend at home!

***I am not sponsored by or affiliated with Nickel & Suede, but I wish I was! You can find all these earrings and so many more on the website: Adorn yourself.