Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Setting Fitness Goals with HomeDNA

Thank you Lipton Publicity for providing the HomeDNA kit. All opinions and thoughts expressed below are completely my own.

Fitness Goals with HomeDNA

Ah the joys of weight loss.
HA - who am I kidding? I don't find too much joy in weight loss at all. Now that I am older, I'm realizing how much harder it is for me to get the scale to move in the direction I want. And of course, the scale did finally start to move over the summer with me losing 7 pounds to only find out a few days later that I was pregnant! So of course my weight loss came to a halt.

With the arrival of our second baby upon us (6 weeks or less!), I am starting to think about weight loss again. I've said on here numerous times that I have struggled with my weight and my body image for a large portion of my life. I certainly do not want my children (especially my daughter) to struggle with a bad body image; I want to teach them that exercise and eating healthy is a normal part of life. It has been important to me to keep my pregnancy weight gain within a healthy/normal range and luckily I'm tracking exactly where I want to be. I'm hopeful that I can lose the baby weight plus some more once I'm cleared to workout again.

Which brings me to this really neat tool I discovered call HomeDNA Healthy Weight Analysis and Report. There is no secret to weight loss; you need to eat well and exercise. That is it! Trust me, I've tried a few fad diets in my time and I know the results don't last. Exercise and proper nutrition are what you need. The HomeDNA Healthy Weight Analysis provides me with tools and information that I need to truly maximize my fitness and nutrition.

Healthy Weight Kit HomeDNA

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kind People Are My Kinda People

Today is a happy yet sad day for me personally. Today would have been the 38th birthday of my dear, dear friend Ricardo. We tragically lost him over the summer in a swimming accident and life has never been the same. I don't expect life to ever be the same again, because how can it be when the world loses such an INCREDIBLE, REMARKABLE and AMAZING human being?

I'll tell you more about Ricardo below, but first I need your help.
Will you help me keep his memory alive by honoring him on his birthday? 

Ricardo was truly a genuine and kind person who had more love to give people than I've ever seen in anyone else. When I think of someone who was always kind, Ricardo will always be the first person I think about. So today, for his 38th birthday, I would love it if you joined me in spreading kindness around. Do something kind for someone in your can be anyone: someone you live with, a stranger, a friend, someone you work with, anyone, just do something kind for them! The world needs more kindness and love and I'm sad that so many people never got to experience the love that Ricardo had to pour out. Please join me, no matter where you live, and let's spread kindness around like it is as precious to us as the air we breathe.

To honor his memory, my family filled balloons with encouraging words and sent them off into the world. It is my prayer that many people will find the notes inside the balloons and immediately smile and feel noticed and loved. Our hope is that we are filling the world with kind words and spreading cheer. We will never know who received our notes or even how many people, but that is ok. We are content knowing that we are spreading kindness in the name of Ricardo.
I created a video about my tribute to my very special friend. You can watch it below.

To those who didn't have the extreme pleasure of knowing Ricardo, allow me to fill you in a bit:

My dear friend Ricardo is so much more to me than just a friend. We first met in 2008 while both working for the Shakespeare Theatre Company. He was one of my favorite parts about working there. Our friendship blossomed to be more than just a work relationship because I realized, just like everyone else who has had the pleasure of meeting him, that I needed this joy-filled, lover of life to be by my side always. We were inseparable and had so many adventures together.

He was my confidant, my secret keeper, my cheerleader, my extreme partner in crime. When either of us had a bad day, or a stressful day, or a troubling day, or an exciting day or really just any day, we would quickly send the other person an email and would both escape to the 3rd floor back stairwell of 516 8th Street SE (our office) for a secret stairwell hug. In fact, he knew I needed a hug the Thursday before he went missing and he sent me a text about our secret stairwell hugs. When the 3 o'clock slump would hit us during the workdays, we would walk to Starbucks or CVS for a drink and sometimes would find ourselves not returning until 4 p.m. (I promise we both really did work...and A LOT!).

He always took care of me, declaring that I was "his lady." He was the person who grabbed my hand during the "epic DC earthquake" and ushered me outside of the building before either of us even knew what was happening. He would hold the door for me and would put his arm around me to protect me from shady characters we encountered on the streets (haha). He always told me he couldn't let anything happen to his lady. He was the Bruiser to my Elle as he often called me. He even told me one time that he would love to declare us married but he didn't want to scare away my many suitors (his words...ha!).

The Ricardo that I miss daily was dynamic and dazzling and caring and thoughtful and fun and charming and energetic and loving and he made you feel like you were the most amazing person whenever you were in his presence. He truly cared about everyone; he was the type of person who wanted to get to know YOU. He would ask tons of questions about you because he genuinely cared. He never listened just to get his turn to speak, he listened to you because he wanted to know you.

If you've read this far, I truly thank you! And I certainly hope you will join me in spreading kindness around. #KindPeopleAreMyKindaPeople

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tips To Detangle Your Child's Hair (or Yours)

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on those links.

Tips To Detangle Your Child's Hair

If you or your child have long hair, you've likely had your share of fights with tangled hair after a bath. My daughter has gorgeous red hair and I absolutely refuse to cut it short. When hair is the rich red color of her hair, you keep it long for the world to enjoy no matter the cost, am I right?!?! After many battles and a few tears over tangled hair, I searched to find the best solution and I believe I have found it!!!!

Here are my top 3 tips on How To Detangle Your Child's Hair

Hair Detangle Before and After

1.) Start combing/brushing at the bottom of the hair.
I've done this my entire life with my own hair and always brush my daughter's hair this way. In an attempt to not jerk her head with each stroke of the hair brush, I start by making small downward brushing movements from the bottom of her hair and work my way up. This method does take a bit of patience to work through all of the tangles, but it is a much more gentle way to comb or brush through all of the tangles. It also makes it easier on those sensitive heads.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

DIY Christmas Card Coffee Table Book

Stop right there! Don’t throw away those beautiful Christmas cards that you received from your family and friends. I’m here to share a method I’ve been using to preserve the beautiful memories instead of having them end up in the trash.

DIY Christmas Card Coffee Table Book

There are more times than I’d like to admit when I simply didn’t know what to do with the Christmas cards I received and I just trashed them. The horror!!! I absolutely hated throwing away the precious cards, knowing how much time and money went into sending them out. However, I simply didn’t know what to do with them.
And then it hit me…create a coffee table type of book with the gorgeous pictures and I can enjoy everyone’s smiling faces all year long.

Creating the book is simple!
All you need are the following supplies:
-Christmas cards from family and friends
-a single hole punch
-a binder ring (you can buy a big pack from Staples or any office supply store)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

House Update!

If you haven't heard, we are building a house!!! When we first moved out of the Northern Va area, I never dreamed that I would be building a house, much less building a house in small town SW Virginia. But here we are...God has some pretty mysterious ways and I am choosing to be perfectly content with where He calls our family. He's never lead us astray and our complete trust is in Him.

The house building process took a little while to get started, but we are now finally underway. I've had several friends ask me for updates, so I thought it would be fun to document the whole process for me to refer back to later.

Contract Signed

In August 2017, Tolar and I signed a contract with Schumacher Homes for them to build our house. But I'll back up with our story first...just deciding on a builder and a floor plan took longer than I expected. Sure, I found PLENTY of floor plans I loved, but with most of them at 4500+ square feet that was just out of our price range (but wouldn't a house that size have been nice?!!). We contacted several builders locally and never found anything that screamed this is your home. Then one day I remembered how I had seen a Schumacher model home off the interstate while I was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in Lake Norman, NC while traveling to visit my sister. I remembered LOVING the model home and thought it was simply gorgeous. So I emailed them, told them our budget, how many bedrooms we were looking for, that we wanted a two car garage and asked if they had any floor plans that would fit our needs. They sent back a few floor plans and luckily Tolar and I both decided that the Sheridan was the one for us.

In July, I took a solo trip down to the showroom in Greensboro, NC and tentatively selected different types of features and finishes we wanted in our house. Then at the end of August, Tolar and I met with the team and picked out EVERYTHING. We picked out flooring and siding and faucets and paint colors and shingles (that was the hardest part!) and cabinets and light fixtures and everything. It was a super fun, but overwhelming day. Luckily we both knew what we wanted going into the meeting and are very happy with our choices. We are most pleased with our flooring for the main level; the floors will be a grey wood stain all throughout. The color is gorgeous and we cannot wait to see everything installed!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Tips to Long Lasting Makeup

Beauty Products for Long Lasting Makeup

As a beauty lover with oily skin, I've struggled with makeup meltdown A LOT. Summer, winter, whenever, my makeup used to be nonexistent by the end of the day. I am somewhat of a beauty junkie as I'm always willing to try new beauty products and see what the latest and greatest is (except for my skincare...that is constantly Rodan + Fields). Today I'm going to share four products that are tried and true and have helped me FINALLY discover the secret to long lasting makeup. And the great news, any skin type can use the first three of them (the last one is really just for people with oily skin)!

First let me say, I learned when I was in my mid-twenties that if you want good makeup, you really do need to have a good skincare routine. So take a good look at what you are using under your makeup before you try to cover up so many problems with makeup. I've also learned that sometimes drug store products do the trick and are exactly what you need. But there are other times where you do have to pay a bit more for quality products with quality ingredients if you want flawless skin and makeup.

My Favorite Beauty Products to Prevent Makeup Meltdown

Beauty Products to Stop Makeup Meltdown

1.) Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray
This is my ride or die beauty product, I use this setting spray every single day because it works so well. I always apply this immediately after my makeup is complete and my makeup lasts all day. The spray is a fine, weightless mist that coats your face and helps your makeup stay where it should. Sephora's website claims it will keep your makeup looking freshly applied for up to 16 hours! I use probably 6 quick sprays and I'm done. You don't want to overspray your face and dampen your makeup. You will likely feel the spray on your face for about 10 seconds, but then it is dry and good to go!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Reasons I Love Airbnb

Reasons I Love Airbnb

Starting in July and continuing right into the New Year, Tolar and I took several trips and booked an Airbnb for our accommodations. I realize I'm somewhat late to the Airbnb game (as Tolar and his buddies have used Airbnb for their gaming weekend since 2015), but I want to shout from the rooftops how awesome it is!!!! We've stayed in some pretty neat and swanky houses and gotten some really awesome deals, which is why I've decided to share the goods with all of you. Airbnb is an excellent way to book accommodations while traveling.

If you've never heard of or used Airbnb, I highly recommend you check out their website. They offer accommodations in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries, at any price point! (Bonus: there are even castles listed that you can rent!!!)

Reasons I love Airbnb

1.) Multiple families can stay together and gather in common areas
During our trip to Nashville (GARTH!) and our New Year's trip to Knoxville, we rented 3 bedroom houses through Airbnb with other people. Everyone had their own bedroom and en suite bathroom for when they needed an escape, but the houses offered terrific kitchens and living rooms/common areas for us to gather together.
I really appreciated that the entire house was ours, giving us tons of privacy and also allowing us plenty of space to hang out, without having to resort to hallways or public lounges if we stayed elsewhere.
And in most places where we have stayed, the kitchens are fully stocked with small appliances and items you need to cook. In fact, on New Year's Eve we cooked a big dinner spread and stayed in for the night.