Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Links I'm Loving

 Does anyone else have that feeling lately where you feel like the days are long  but the weeks are super short and by Friday you find yourself wondering where the week went and why you didn’t accomplish more things. In my opinion, ‘normal’ is a relative term, but I will be glad when my weeks resemble my old normal a little bit. 

Sorry, not sorry, but I refuse to accept the current circumstances as my ‘new normal’. I have been watching the news too much lately {I need to take a break from it} and I’m honestly tired of hearing the term “new normal”. I know the precautions we are taking are necessary and definitely support them and follow the guidelines, but wearing a mask, social distancing, and being apprehensive about going to a restaurant, grocery store, mall, gym, and other everyday activates is not ‘normal’. The pandemic of 1918 ended and the pandemic of 2020 will come to an end, sooner or later. We are living under temporary circumstances and have had to temporarily adjust our lives accordingly. There are silver linings to every situation and it has been nice to have a little extra time to spend with family, close friends, and indulging in a bit of self-care, and it is nice to see things starting to re-open again, but I’ll be glad to see the day when we are able to be a little bit more fluid in our everyday life. 


Onto something a little lighter… Another silver lining to the current situation is that I have a little more time to browse the internet and have just found the best videos and have done way too much online shopping since March… For the month of September I’m going to be vigilant and take a break from online shopping. For now, here are a few of my favorite links I have come across!


One// Jennifer Garner’s Pretend Cooking Show: Grandmom’s Cornbread

I am such a fan of Jennifer Garner – her movies, her personality, her Instagram, and her pretend cooking shows. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I am 100% convinced that if Jennifer Garner and I ever met we would be best friends, but than again, everyone probably feels this way about her! This pretend cooking show is by far my favorite. As a Southerner I love cornbread and her mom make a guest appearance via video chat. So cute!


Two// Dream Sister Jane Rags To Rags

I seem to wear dresses more than not just because it can get so hot in the summer, plus, I love a good dress! I stumble across this one the other day, and I’ve been able to resist so far, but it’s blue, the fabric is a dream, and I love the style, so I’ll probably cave soon. 


Three// Claire Makes Cast-Iron Skillet Pizza

Confession: I can was hours at a time going down the rabbit hole that is the Bon Appétit YouTube channel – I just love watching cooking shows. Claire makes a pizza in a cast-iron skillet and it looks absolutely fabulous complete with the most perfect crust and just the right amount of cheese. Definitely giving this recipe a try!


Four// 75 Minute Everyday Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class 

I am slightly obsessed with this yoga video; it’s become part of my nighttime routine. I’ve been trying to get back in shape and this video is such a great night workout and it’s super relaxing. I’ve started to do this video around 8:30/9 right before I take my nighttime shower. 


Five// 27 Favorite Chicken Casseroles

Southern Living has shared so many great recipe round-ups this summer and this one is no exception. Chicken is probably the thing I cook most just because sometimes I feel bad about eating beef… and sometimes depending on the type of fish and how you’re supposed to cook it, it can leave a certain aroma behind in the kitchen… so in my book, chicken is always 100% a win and these recipes look fantastic! 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Guest Post :: 5 Reasons Giving To Charity Is Good For Your Soul

The current circumstances that we are living under can at times start to feel heavy between the news, the change in lifestyle, staying in a little more than you usually would, and at times feeling like your are guest staring in Groundhog Day. For me personally, as I’m sure is the case with others, finding ways to be involved/volunteer with a charity/organization and having a chance to step outside myself and make a difference, as small as it might be, always gives me a pick-me-up. Today Peter Minkoff is guest posting and sharing a few reasons why giving to a charity is good for the soul! 

Even though it often seems very easy to accomplish, the truth is that feeling good is sometimes an impossible mission. This is particularly true today, when the entire world is in the middle of a huge health crisis. However, there still are ways to help yourself feel great and do something amazing for people in need. We’re talking about giving to charity, so keep on reading to find out why it is good for your soul. Just stay with us and enjoy!

It Allows You To Connect With Your Biggest Passion

Needless to say, being passionate in life is absolutely essential no matter what you do. Of course, this is true for both your personal and professional life. So, if helping people has always been one of your biggest passions, giving to charity is one of the best ways to pursue it. The first thing you need to do is to find a cause you care about. It should correspond to your passions – but in a non-professional sense. It means that the charity you want to give to should be close to you a personal way, so that you can do something great for a cause that’s close to your heart. Do it and you won’t regret it!

It Helps Those Who Are Less Fortunate

If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you were fortunate enough to grow up in the developed world and had numerous opportunities a lot of people in other countries could only dream of. If you’re conscious of that, remember that giving to charities that support people in underdeveloped countries is always a great choice. The same goes for donating to charities that work with people who suffer from different illnesses. You can donate to thousands of charities from all over the globe – including Hong Kong. There is a Hong Kong cancer fund which is just one of the charities you can take into consideration, so check it out and you’ll make the right decision!

It Gives You Purpose And Boosts Your Self-Esteem

It doesn’t really matter which charity you chose or how much money you’re able to donate – it’ll undoubtedly give you a sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem. Helping people or animals in need is a fantastic way to improve your self-image and think positively of yourself. This is why you should give it a try as soon as possible. If you can’t donate money, you can always donate clothes, food, books, or anything else people around you may need. There’s no wrong way to help as long as you’re passionate about it and eager to do so!

It Strengthens Your Social Connections

You’ve probably already figured out that interactions with other people are essential for us to survive on this planet. Well, giving to charities is a great way to stay in touch with people from all across the glove and strengthen your social connections. The same is true for volunteering or any other way of helping your community, which is exactly why you shouldn’t overlook it. Being involved in your community will also help you pinpoint the potential issues and allow you to make important changes. So, if that’s one of your top priorities at the moment, be sure to start with local charities and you’ll unquestionably enhance social bonds with people in your community!

It Truly Makes A Huge Difference

Last but not least, you must realize that giving to charity will always make a huge difference. It has nothing to do with the amount of money you’re able to donate. It’s actually about everything we mentioned above – connecting with your biggest passion, helping people in need, finding your purpose, boosting your self-confidence, and strengthening your social connections. The fact that you’re able to help someone in need is therefore much more than just donating money. It’s about making a difference as an individual and contributing to your community in any way you find suitable. Don’t forget that and you’ll certainly do the right thing!

As you can tell, there are so many reasons why giving to charity is good for your soul. Of course, these five are the best ones out there, so make sure to bear them in mind if you want to make a difference. Just find a charity that speaks to your heart the most and see what you can do for them. That’s the first step towards a huge yet necessary change!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Sunday Night Thought


July Reading List

 I can hardly believe that summer is almost over and that it is already August! Despite the change in weather and seasonal changes the years has just really seemed to clump together since March… Some times I seriously feel like we haven’t even left the month of March; it is has been a crazy year, without a doubt. 


I remember the summers when I was in middle and high school I would always put off doing the ‘dreaded’ summer reading, and now I honestly can’t read enough. What is it about “having” to do certain things, that honestly aren’t that bad, and some of which you would do in your free time anyways, that makes you feel like it is all the sudden a chore? Ironically, now in the summer if I have a lot of free time I could read three books in a couple months. However, when you’re in school 3 months to read 3 books seems like no time at all. It’s funny how a change in perspective can put a new spin on things. 

Feels Like Falling, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

I love Kristy Woodson Harvey’s books for the spring and summer season. She writes the most perfect books to read while sitting on your back porch or to tuck away in your beach tote to late pull out and read by the water. Her style of writing unfailingly transports you to a new town and a set of characters that you will undeniably love. 


Harvey intertwines the lives of two women whose lives are in turmoil and their future unknown. This book just goes to show you that you never know exactly what is around the corner and people seem to come into our lives at just the right moment in time. To read a more in-depth review click here! Feels Like Falling will have you laughing, crying, and cheering for each character with each turn of a page.


Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

This book has been on my ‘books to read’ list for at least a year and a half! I actually had the audio on loan from a friend {for 6 months} last year, but things were so crazy I couldn’t even find time to listen to them… fingers crossed that 2021 doesn’t get any crazier than 2020… Before I start I have to say I am amazed that this is Owens first book; she wove every aspect together so well to create such an enticing narrative.


As beautifully as it is written it is also somewhat of a painfully sad storyline at times. The story is set in a small, rural, 1950s North Carolina town and revolves around the childhood, and later adulthood of Kya Clark. As the youngest member of the Clark family she is slowly abandoned by every member of her family, starting with her mother, than her four older siblings, and lastly her father who is the reason why the others left and why they landed in the isolated marsh lands of North Carolina.


Kya is drawn to the land and at times views nature as the only thing that has not left her. She soon becomes known as the ‘Marsh Girl” by the towns people leading to a feeling of further isolation and not belonging. Despite everything she manages to survive on her own starting at a very young age, turns her love of the marshlands into being a central point of her life, is found at the center of a town crime, and even manages to find love in more ways than one. 


This murder-mystery, coming-of-age, southern fiction novel is just stunning. Although heart-wrenching at times, Where the Crawdads Sing is an amazing novel that will no doubt join the ranks of such book as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Sound and the Fury; an instant classic. 


The Southern Side of Paradise, by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Didn’t I tell you that Kristy Woodson Harvey writes the perfect books for the spring and summer season?! 


The Southern Side of Paradise is the third {and sadly, last book} in The Peachtree Bluff Series. Over the year I have absolutely fallen in love with the Murphy family with their family drama, the different personalities of the mother, Ansley, and that of her three daughters that are intermingled throughout the family, and their lifestyle in Peachtree, North Carolina. Each book in the series centers around a sister – the first book starting with the oldest sister and the last book ending with the youngest sister, Emerson. 


Emerson is recently engaged to her old high school boyfriend, has been casted in the role of a lifetime, has everything right at her feet, yet something seems off…


This book is full of southern charm, page-turning drama, and heart-felt emotions in every corner. {A more in-depth review is soon to come!}. A summer must read, especially for those who have sisters in their family!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Healthy Habits

For the few weeks I have been trying to practice better lifestyle habits, after all, there’s no time like the present for a little self-improvement! 


The other day I wrote a post where I talked a little about having an unusually high level off stress towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year and the physical effects it had on me. Lesson learned: stress, lack of sleep, not exercising, and consuming way too much Coca-Cola and M&Ms is not good for the waistline… I kind of took last month off to kind of concentrate on myself and reorganize a few things. 


This is the first time in my life where I’ve had to actively try and lose weight. And I have to say it’s not as bad or as hard as I thought it would be. The most important thing I have found to be true is you have to be consistent. I read somewhere once that it takes two weeks to form a new habit. Now is the perfect time to form a new habit{s} since we all have a little extra time on our hands, so I thought I would share a few new healthy habits I’ve incorporated into my life and some of the exercise I’ve been doing. 

One// Cut Sugar

I feel like sugar in itself can be a bit addicting once you become accustomed to consuming a meaningful quantity. I have been able to completely stop drinking coke, and I am still working on the M&Ms, but I’m eating far fewer of them than I was. Since I have cut some sugar out of my diet I’ve noticed my complexion has improved and I sleep better at night, and lets not forget to mention that cutting sugar helps you to lose weight!


Two// Drink Water

I usually am a big water drinker, but I became accustomed to having other beverages in my diet the last half of last year and one thing I have noticed right off the bat is that as long as I drink enough water throughout the day I don’t snack as much. 


Three// Go to Bed at a Reasonable Time

Towards the end of last year and the start of this year I would have so much on my mind at night that I would just toss and turn to three or four in the morning thinking about different things and trying to figure some things out. Speaking from first hand experience, functioning on 2-4 hours of sleep on a regular basis is awful. For me, a lack of sleep made it so hard to properly process and communicate things, I would get overly emotionally, turned to Coca-Cola to give me a ‘pick-me-up”, and I just didn’t want to be social at all. Then once your body becomes accustom to going to sleep at a ridiculously late hour it is so hard to cycle back around to a normal bedtime. Since I’ve been getting the proper amount of sleep I function so much better, I’m happier, I like being social, and it makes it easier to make healthy habits


Four// Unplug Before Bed

If I look at my phone before I go to bed I feel really keyed up after awhile and it is so easy to waste 30 minutes or an hour just looking through emails, social media, etc. Instead I usually read a book right before as a way to unwind



Usually I would go to a gym and do the elliptical or some other cardio exercise, but with Covid going around at the moment I personally don’t feel comfortable working out at a gym at the moment. I have found that going on a hour – hour and a half walk/run does the trick, especially if you have hilly streets around you. I usually walk/run about 5 ½ miles every other day and I can tell such a difference


Six// Yoga

I think some people underestimate the power yoga can have on helping you to get in and stay in shape. Yoga is one of my favorite workouts; if you haven’t given it a go yet, then you definitely should! Here are a few yoga videos I have been using on YouTube

1.      75 minute Everyday Vinyasa Flow Yoga Class – I have been doing this one every  night right before I take my night time shower. It’s very doable and a relaxing way to end the night

2.    45 Minute Power Yoga Class – This one is a little shorter than the first one I listed, but more intense. I do this yoga video every other day and then go on a short 30 minute walk right after

3.    20 Minute Morning Yoga Class – When I have time in the morning I do this quick flow and it really is a great way to start off your morning


Seven// Blogilates 30-Day Thigh Slimming Challenge

I gained some noticeable weight {at least to me} in my thighs towards the end of last year and I’ve been doing this 30 Day Thigh Slimming Challenge and I love it. It is so easy to work into any part of your day and I love how it builds on itself and that exercises are added with each passing day. I am currently on Day 14 and it literally only takes 5 – 15 minutes to do depending on where you are in the challenge. 


What Are Some Healthy Habits You Practice? 

Monday, August 3, 2020

How To Deal With Stress And Anxiety

I think it is safe to say that 2020 has been a pretty stressful year for more people than not. Along with dealing with the new lifestyle Covid-19 has presented us with, we still face the struggles of everyday life: work, school, family, finding a new balance, etc. 

Most of my stress and anxiety came with the last part of last year and the first bit of 2020. I was engaged for about half a year and ended up breaking things off. I eventually came to the realization that when all of a sudden someone is so willing to compromise your relationship with your family, friends, god, and yourself and is suddenly unsupportive of what you want to accomplish in life and unappreciative that is not the person who is supposed to be your life partner. It probably took me longer to come to that realization than it should have; at the time I was viewing a broken engagement as an embarrassment and a failure instead of viewing it as a smart decision. 


I can honestly say that was the most stressful time in my life thus far; my face was even swollen from the amount of stress. It seemed inescapable at the time, like it was lurking in every corner. It caused me inner turmoil, it caused turmoil within my family, the relationship just all the sudden became a murky lake I was no longer to navigate, and then the tasks of everyday life just seemed overwhelming at the time. I used to lay awake in bed till 3 in the morning trying to figure out why things changed so much, I was drinking an ungodly amount of coke, and just dealing with the stress of everything made me gain twenty pounds. 


Since then I’ve been able to reconnect with friends, concentrate on my well being a little more, and I met someone really nice. Every now and then though I do get overwhelmed with the thought of having a unknown future when I was on a path and knew what the future was going to look like. Then with Covide sometimes it just seems like life sometimes is at a standstill, which in itself can be a bit stressful.


Maybe not the most responsible thing to do, but I kind of took the month of July off and was a little selfish. I know for most people when something goes wrong in life they throw themselves into their work or a new hobby or passion. For me, as selfish as it sounds, I think I needed to throw myself into me for a little bit after spending so many months trying to appease everyone and play peacemaker and just trying to figure things out, I really neglected myself and my own wellbeing. I spent time exercising, catching up on sleep, and just doing things that I enjoy and in a sense found a path back to myself. 


So here are a few tips for dealing with stress that most definitely worked for me:


Sleep// I cannot stress the importance of sleep enough. The affect an appropriate amount of sleep versus an inappropriate amount of sleep has on your outlook and ability to process things is undeniably noticeable 


Exercise// Exercise has so many positives other than just a physical one. It helps me to process things faster, think more efficiently, and honestly just seems to put me in a better mood


Drinking Water// I have found that when I do not drink enough water or get enough sleep I snake on surgery things a lot more and just end up feeling kind of blah 


Accept Things and People for Who and What They Are// One of the biggest things I learned from last year is that sometimes the only real thing you have control over in certain situations is how you choose to react to them. On a level you are always going to accept that situations and people are who they are and sometimes that is all you can do


Unplug// Setting your phone, laptop, iPad, and other electronic devices off to the side 30-sih minutes before you go to bed makes such a difference in anxiety levels and allows you a better night’s rest


Spend Time with Family and Friends// Just being around friends, family and those who care about you honestly has a way of just naturally relieving stress 

Flowers// Flowers just have a way of brightening any room and any day. Aside from the ocean’s it’s one of the best gifts Mother Nature has to offer


Animals// if you’re like me and love animals you know how much a hug or silly pet moment can improve your mood and mindset 


Mindfulness// Make sure to stay in the moment and not get too ahead of yourself


Comfort food and movies// Just to make it clear, I do not think you should turn to food for comfort on a regular basis. Sometimes though you just need to have your favorite meal and sit down and watch your favorite movie and let whatever is causing you stress to fall away


Morning and Night Time Routine// Sometimes I have found that having a morning and night time routine can bring about a certain calmness depending on the day 


Let It Go// sometimes you can either hold on to a negative moment and become a prisoner of your own mind or find a way to let it go and move forward. More than not the past belongs in the past and that’s where it needs to stay


What are some things that help you decompress?