My Summer Reading List

Happy Hump Day!

I’ve recently grown an itch to start reading an array of different books. I will admit, I’ve never been much of a reader, but I have a sudden curiosity about a lot of books and I want to make a small list of the ones I want to read this Summer.

I know I will be doing a mild amount of travel in the coming months, so I also think a small list of books to read will help refresh my memory when I want to bring something along with me on the trip.

Maine

This is a story reflecting on the lives of four completely different women, and like it or not, they’re all family. As three generations of women descend on one property in Maine for the Summer, each brings her own hopes and fears along with them to the house.

Before Ever After

My mom recommended this one, so I’m definitely going to give it a shot!

This is a story about a widow that even three years after her husbands death, she finds each day as painful as the day he died. This is until she gets a knock on her door from a young man that she could swear is the spitting image of her late husband.

Could it be him? Could it be a long lost stranger? I guess I will have to read to find out!

All The Light We Cannot See

This read is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Um, YES! I have always been fascinated by WWII and The Holocaust. I can’t wait.

The Futures

In this dazzling debut novel about love and betrayal, a young couple moves to New York City in search of success-only to learn that the lives they dream of may come with dangerous strings attached.

The Perfume Collector

I understand this book to be a compelling story where you think you have the “mystery” all figured out just to receive the twist of the century at the end. I’m already hooked.

I’ve ordered the first two and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.

Do you have any recommendations on books or different stories you think I should read?

Let me know!

xx

My Current Skin Care Routine

I have always been really intrigued by skin care and all of the different products that can nourish, prevent, plump, reverse, moisturize, refine, blah blah blah your skin. I have fun trying different products and always hope to receive the maximum results that many promise. Sometimes I’m very impressed and other times I’m less than impressed.

With trial and error over the past few months, I think I’ve finally found a routine that is worth sticking to for it’s lasting results and noticeable difference it’s made on my skin. So, I’m happy to share my skin care routine and testimony for these products and hope you may find the same results for yourself if you are to ever give them a try.

My face wash.

When I graduated from college, I received a sample of this as a gift with purchase from Sephora. I remember absolutely loving this stuff and how it was gentle on my skin while still removing all of my makeup at night. Well, being as broke as I was, I remember being disappointed I couldn’t buy it on a regular basis and sort of forgot about it.

Well, I was in Ulta last month buying some bronzer and I came across this Philosophy Purity One-Step Cleanser and immediately put in it my little basket of items. I remember how much I loved it and was on the tail end of my current face wash at the time.

I have been using it for about 3 weeks now and I am obsessed with the effect it has had on my skin. I’m wasn’t aware of the harsh effects my previous cleanser had on my skin, because this face wash has completely cleared my skin up and it feels much more nourished throughout the day. I use a little dime sized amount to wash my face in the morning and at night and I will tell you now that I will be using this product from here on out. Love it!

To exfoliate my skin, I use my Clairisonic Mia 2 about 2-3 times a week for added benefit and have been loving it.

My moisturizer.

When I was in the section of Ulta that displays all of the Philosophy products, this little baby jar of Renewed Hope in a Jar caught my eye.

When I think back to the moisturizer I was using, I can’t help but remember how I was consistently unhappy with it. It felt like I was just wiping watered down lotion on my face and my face was EXTREMELY oily throughout the day. (Side note: the moisturizer I was using was oil-free. Hence my confusion and dissatisfaction.) I would wake up with oily skin and was able to wipe off oily residue from my skin by about dinner time. I blamed this newly found oily skin to hormones and side effects of aging. Now, I can’t help but think my moisturizer was the one to blame for this. Because since I’ve been using this Renewed Hope in a Jar regularly, my skin has a beautiful finish and the oil on my face is much more controlled.

The baby jar I bought was purposed for a trial period, but I will definitely be buying more of this.

My eye cream.

I am such a geek when it comes to researching the benefits of different eye creams and what each one has to offer. I am extremely picky in the sense that I don’t like an oily eye cream, it needs to have a somewhat thicker consistency, it needs to be hydrating, and I want to be able to wear it in the morning and at night.

Okay, now that you have an understanding of my perfect potion for an eye cream, I’d like to introduce you to the only eye cream you’ll ever need to use again. Well, the only eye cream I will ever need to use again. Ha!

I am OBSESSED WITH THIS STUFF. It comes highly recommended by top dermatologists and I see a noticeable difference in my eye area since using this cream. I will admit, I haven’t regularly used an eye cream for about two years. But I bought this Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado and I am never looking back.

The consistency, the finish, the hydration, ALL OF IT is remarkable. It has a steep price tag, but it’s well worth it. I pack it on at night right before bed time and wear a light layer under my makeup for all day wear. I will say that I’m in the market for an anti-aging night time eye cream that will prevent aging, but in the meantime this stuff will do just fine.

My finishing spray.

I’m new to the whole makeup setting sprays and hydrating sprays, so I thought a good place to start was a refreshing/hydrating spray. I found this Mario Badescu Facial Spray and I’m still on the fence about it. This spray is infused with rose water, aloe, and herbs and I’m still a little unsure if it’s necessary.

Reviews have mentioned that some people use it after their make up is done, some say it’s good to use around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon for a pick-me-up for their skin. Well, I have used it after my makeup is done and first thing in the morning on weekends when I know I might now be putting makeup on right away. Using it after my makeup is done isn’t completely necessary on my opinion, but I do love using it on the weekend after I wake up.

I will go in the bathroom and spray it on my face first thing just to give my skin a jolt of energy and I will say that it is really refreshing to use. The $7 price tag is a also a great benefits.

Well, that about wraps up my current skin care routine and I have a feeling these products are definitely going to be repurchased as soon as I am running low on any of them. What is your favorite product you use as a part of your current skin care routine?

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Challenging Myself in 2016

About this time last year, Kelly and I participated in the Advocare 24-Day Challenge and while I saw incredible results from the program and really enjoyed doing it, this year I decided to opt out on the program and take matters into my own hands.

The Advocare 24-day Challenge equips you with plenty of supplements and vitamins to assist you in the process. It includes fiber drinks, protein shakes, and a small booklet to guide you through the program and keep you on track. I lost about 10 pounds last year in the span of 24-days and felt like I was on top of the world. I was sleeping well, I was energized throughout the day, and I the pounds on the scale continued to go down.

But throughout my time doing the program, people would continually ask me, “Okay, so what’s after the 24 days?” I explained that you continue to program should you choose and purchase more vitamins, etc. But, this year I asked myself why limit this to a strict 24 days? What does happen next? I figured if I really did want to adopt this healthier lifestyle in 2016, it must go further than those 24 days.

So, I’ve challenged myself to a perspective of this entire year being my “24-day challenge”. I know the goals I have for myself are going to take much longer than a quick 24 days so I’m excited to get started. I am going to try my best to eat whole, clean foods and avoid processed foods when I can. Now, I believe that everything in life should happen in moderation and I don’t want to limit myself because I’m on a strict program. That’s just not reality. I know I’m going to go to happy hours with girl friends, I know I’m going to go on trips and want to try new restaurants, but I’m focusing on doing it all in moderation.

So, I went to the grocery store today and purchased a lot of fresh produce, lean meats, and a variety of things to get me through the week. I’m limiting my alcohol intake to about 1 day a week and I’m choosing for that to be Saturday. I’m excited to see what results I get in this new challenge and after my 12 days, I will enjoy myself for a fun weekend, and start fresh the following week.

I’m hoping that this new routine will result in not only a few shaved pounds, but also a better me throughout the week. I loved how well I was sleeping at this point last year and waking up really refreshed. I also was more energized throughout my day and felt accomplished when the day was done. Let me show you guys a few items I bought to eat this week so you can have a first hand look into what I have in mind.

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Plain instant oatmeal is an easy go-to for me. It’s low calories, high in fiber, and easy to throw in the microwave while I take Howdy outside first thing in the morning. I throw a K-cup in my Keurig and drink it black. I’ve never been a sweet coffee drinker except for the occasional Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks. Can I get an amen on that one? So good.

Anyway, this is an easy breakfast and holds me over easily until lunch time. I’m prepared to eat this every day for breakfast for as long as I can.

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As for lunch, I prepped a bunch of these babies so that I’m prepared for the week. Being in sales, I am in my car 60% of the day and I’m going ahead and preparing on eating this each day for lunch so I’m not tempted to grab something on the go, healthy or not. Is this the tastiest and most mouthwatering thing I’ve ever eaten? No. But it’s high in protein and a hefty serving of greens so it’ll do the trick.

Until I get more creative on low calorie and tasty lunch options on the go, this will have to do.

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I know this is just a picture of an apple, but I already know this will be one of my favorite times of day. I will cut this up and pack it in a plastic bag to enjoy for my 3:00 snack. My goal is to keep my metabolism going all day, so I need to be prepared for snack time. Granny Smith Apples are high in fiber and are tart in taste so it’s a sweet little treat that is filling and will have to hold me over until dinner.

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This is a mix of different salad ingredients that I bought to accompany each one of my dinners this week. A little side salad is an easy way to pack in as many veggies in to the day as I can because they are filling and, again, full of fiber. I’ll just be mixing this baby spring mix, cucumber slices, sliced sweet tomatoes, and a sprinkle of this lemon vinaigrette for taste.

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As for my main meal, I basically bought chicken breast in bulk and am planning on cooking that each night for dinner this week. The variance will be in the prepared vegetables. Kelly and I are going to try broccolini this week as well as parmesan roasted cauliflower. Look at us getting adventurous! We have our staples of yellow squash and asparagus, so we are going to whip those up and power through! I’m nervous that the chicken will get redundant, but I’ll mix some salmon and tilapia in there occasionally so we don’t get bored.

 Whelp, I’m excited for this week and next and will have a full report prepared soon! My good friend emailed me a link for a workout regimen that I’m excited to try. But, one step at a time and I’m really going to focus on getting my diet in line! All of the meals that I have planned this week and gluten free and dairy free.

Cheers to clean eating and new goals in 2016!

xx

Fall To-Do List

October

HAPPY OCTOBER!

Can you believe it’s already October? I can hardly believe it’s Fall let alone October! Fall is such a fun season to be outside, it’s Football season, and you can to layer so many pretty clothes! One of my favorite things to do in the Fall on the weekends is wake up extra early, open the backdoor to let in the crisp air, and sip on a hot cup of coffee while watching early morning TV. Ahh…can’t wait.

I have so many things that I want to this Fall and here are a few that I have in mind:

Carve a pumpkin for Halloween
Make an apple pie from scratch (intimidating!)
Find the perfect pair of tall riding boots
Try a new fitness class (I’m thinking Smart Barre?)
Organize my closet and rid of unused clothes
Go to College Station for an Aggie Football game
Cook my own dish for Thanksgiving dinner
Learn to make pumpkin doughnuts
Unplug from social media for 24 hours
Incorporate videos into my blog
Trick-or-treat with my niece on Halloween

I am so excited for a fun Fall and for all the fun parties! What are the different things you’re looking forward to this Fall?

xx

image via

 

5 Must Have Items In My Fridge

Fridge Must HavesI’ve been living on my own for going on 6 years now and I had a hard time in college learning that Hot Pockets and Kraft mac-and-cheese were not essential items to live off of long term. Through trial and error, I have pretty much sealed up a consistent grocery list that specifically has 5 items on the list each time. Each one is a go-to item for me in a pinch for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here are my must have items in my fridge/pantry at all times:

  1. Eggs: I’ve always loved eggs and also grew up in a household that had the occasional breakfast for dinner. My mom stressed the importance of protein at the beginning of the day so I ate eggs a lot. But I appreciate that now because I’ve learned to do so many things with eggs for all three meals. I usually have eggs for breakfast and you also never know when you’ll need to whip up an emergency batch of cookies. They’re great to always have on hand!
  2. Black beans: I can count on one hand how many meals I usually make for dinner during the week. And three of those meals involve black beans. I love Mexican food and making skinny versions of my fave meals. Black beans are so easy to make, are tasty, and enjoyed by Kelly as well, so that’s a win. I usually serve them with rice, zucchini, or just plain with a baked chicken breast, which brings me to my next staple…
  3. Chicken breast: I ate chicken every day. Every. Single. Day. In the rare instance we run out of chicken in the fridge, I either go get more or revert to a boring can of soup, which probably has chicken in it. Most of my favorite recipes have chicken in it and it’s great to whip up for a protein packed meal with low calories. I either bake it in the oven or sear it on the stove top while my vegetables are cooking. Love, love, love chicken!
  4. Peanut butter: I feel like peanut butter is a staple in every home in America. Who doesn’t like a peanut butter sandwich? It’s an easy item to store and revert to when you have nothing for lunch. Whip up a peanut butter sandwich and a handful of fruit and you’re good to go. Plus, my dog won’t take his heart worm pill unless it’s coated in PB.
  5. Frozen fruit and veggies: Don’t get this confused with me not eating any fresh fruit and veggies. I love to slice and dice fresh vegetables and cook them in a pan, but in the instance that my fresh produce goes bad, I always have a frozen alternative on hand to avoid the excuse that I didn’t have any other option. I love freezing fresh fruit as well for a good smoothie in the morning.

Those are my 5 must haves for my fridge. What are you staples that you can’t live without having on hand and in your fridge??

xx