Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Style Inspiration + Where I Shop

I get asked all the time where I like to shop and how I find well made classic pieces that I can wear for years to come. Well, today I thought I'd tell y'all all about it! 
For me, my favorite outfit to wear is one that is comfy but put together, with well cut basic pieces and a few trendy things thrown in here and there. As y'all well know by now, my style icon is Kate Middleton and man, do I wish I had her closet. She is classic, graceful, put together but never over the top, and always so timeless. From her hair, to her accessories, to her shoes she always shines but not in a "center of attention" kind of way. That is 100% my goal for my life and style.
When it comes to shopping, I am forever and always a J. Crew girl with a penchant for designer bags *lol*. I know some people hate it, but I love online shopping, especially at places like Nordstrom where you get free shipping and returns, because I do no have time to pay for things that may not work out...no thanks! My favorite brands are J. Crew, Madewell, Gap, Banana Republic, and Loft. The key to online shopping is reviews, reviews, reviews. I go through every one that I can and take all of their advice into consideration when I'm deciding what style or size I need. I rarely have issues after that!

Easy Style

The things I turn to time and time again are my nude flats, a well fitting pair of jeans, a nice watch, classic sunglasses, my pearl earrings, which are sentimental as well as cute, and a nude bag! I can make such a cute but casual outfit by putting all of them together, but each of those pieces can be mixed, matched, or added to anything in my closet, which makes me feel like I have tons of outfits in only a few pieces.
The best thing you can do is invest in pieces that are a more neutral color, have things tailored to fit you well, and never fill your closet with only trendy things. Once you have a few good "go with anything" pieces, then mix in a few trendier, more colorful ones until you have a good balance. I'll do a "staple wardrobe items" post soon, but I hope this helps! Always, always, always quality over quantity!
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Friday, May 5, 2017

My One Pot, Lowfat, Homeade Alfredo

Hey friends, happy FRI-YAY! I have had such a week, but am so happy to share this recipe with y'all today because I've finally gotten it to a place where I think it's ready to share, because I know I've really enjoyed it. Most alfredo sauces are made with heavy cream and cream cheese, but mind just calls for low fat cheese, skim milk, and a bit of flour to thicken it up. I promise you, when I first heard skim milk and low fat cheese I thought YUCK, but Y'ALL, it so good. It's light and creamy and a little spicy if you want it to be. I've made it with both chicken and shrimp and loved it both ways, so I recommend you make it with whatever you've got on hand.
image via easypeezymeals.com, which I love
 This one pot recipe is super easy to make, and comes together quickly, but does require a bit of prep beforehand to make sure everything goes smoothly. Especially with shrimp, things go quickly, so you'll want to have everything pre-measured and ready to go! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have - I love the fact that I can have comfort food without having to feel so guilty or bloated after!


Please let me know if you try it, or if you have any recipe recommendations, below! I'm looking forward to hopefully sharing more healthy(ish) recipes with y'all soon! Have a great weekend!
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mother's Day Gifts

When it comes to Mother's Day (May 14th), I always try to go for comfy, meaningful gifts that make my mom feel spoiled and pampered, because Lord knows being a mom is hard work! 
 I'll keep today's post short, because no one knows your mom better than you, but if you're short on ideas, there are a few gems below! And don't worry, you still have time to order! I tried to round up things I thought were trendy but thoughtful, cute and comfy, or extra meaningful. I think there's something for every mom in this bunch!
 
I totally think a lunch date and pedicure can never fail to make a girl feel special, but I also love this leather travel organizer that feels SO fancy, this Peter Thomas Roth facial set, and this engraved Maya Angelou "Mother" bracelet. If your mom is into cozy downtime, this PJ set is amazing, and these UGG slippers are perfect all year around. Last but not least, I love this monogrammed pendant necklace. You can get the initials of you or your siblings on them!
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Friday, April 28, 2017

3 Ways I'm Preparing for My First Year of Law School

So, I can't remember if I updated you guys or not, but I got in to law school! And because I'm Type A and can't function without a plan, it's been killing me to have so much down time since I graduated in December. I have been in school my entire life, so I miss the business and the schedule of it and I'm feeling that excitement that comes before a new chapter, almost like starting college all over again!
Every time I go to an event for accepted students, they tell me to relax and enjoy this break before law school starts, but that's just not gonna happen. So if you're like me, I think you'll enjoy hearing about the ways I'm preparing and getting ready for my 1L year!
 
1 // School Supplies
I know this sounds crazy, but I've been doing a lot of research on what supplies I should go into law school with. Not like pens and pencils, but like school bag/backpack, laptop, and planner wise. I know that to some people these may seem like small things, but for me those are 3 major parts of my productivity. 
As for laptop, I currently have a MacBook Pro from 2011, but everyone I've talked to has said to make sure that I get a newer one that has more memory and holds a longer charge, so that's my number one priority before school starts. 
My second one is the school bag I'm going to use, because I want something functional and light but a little more grown up than my current neon North Face backpack. I recently purchased a Longchamp Le Pliage tote in black and I love it. It's nylon, so it's super easy to clean and can handle light rain without getting soaked, plus it's magical and can fit everything without looking stuffed or getting too heavy. Because my textbooks can stay in my locker, and I plan to get a really light laptop, I'm not really worried about it being too heavy on my shoulder. All in all, I highly recommend it and it comes in TONS of colors. 
Lastly, I can't wait until May 17th to get another Simplified Planner. I love how simple and clean the SPs are, because they have all the room I need without all of those extra features that I don't. Plus, they're 12 month planners now, so no more wasting those 5 months every time 17 month planners overlap. Plus, the covers are precious and can now be monogrammed...it's the little things y'all.
 
2 // Leisure Reading 
Another tip that I've gotten from everyone is to do my leisure reading now, because once law school starts I won't have time to read anything but cases. I've been trying to read as much as possible, especially at night because my Law and Order SVU habit has been giving me nightmares! 
If you're starting law school in the fall and want to get some "fun" reading done over the summer, or just want a few book recommendations, start with my current reading list!
 
3 // Stocking Up 
  One tip I hadn't heard but think is really helpful was to stock up on clothes, skincare, expensive makeup, etc while I'm still working, because you can't work your first year in law school. I'm stocking up on cute flats, a nice pair of jeans, tops I can wear with jeans of nice skirts, athletic wear, running shoes, etc. Any big tickets items that I won't have money for in the fall basically! I tried to think of things I wear day to day and make sure I have really good quality pieces that will last until I have a real job again! As long as you have business casual pieces that you can mix in with jeans and casual outfits you'll be good to go! 

I hope this helped a little if you're preparing for law school too! I know these things seem trivial, but for me, having these little bits figured out will help me handle the bigger things in the long run - like being broke and having way more work than I have time for. YAY!

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What to Wear for Graduation + 3 Tips for a Perfect Graduation Day

Hi friends, happy Tuesday! I am so excited for today's post because this season of graduation and excitement for what is to come is so joyful to me! Whether it's high school, college, or grad school, graduation is such a time to celebrate because graduating is a huge accomplishment. 
 
Today I thought I'd share my favorite picks for a graduation dress. I kept everything under $150, but made sure there were plenty of color and fabric options so that no matter what, there's something perfect for your day! I wore white for both my high school and college graduation because it was light and went easily with my cap and gown, but I personally feel like any solid, classic shape will be perfect!

My 3 Tips for a stress free, fun-filled graduation day are:

 

1 // Prepare ahead of time.
Steam your gown and dress and lay everything out, from clothes, to jewelry, to shoes the night before. It's so much nicer to wake up and have everything ready to go then have to figure out what to wear and get it prepped. 
 
2 // Make a plan for the day and communicate it to family/friends. 
On my graduation day, I didn't graduate until 3 in the afternoon, so my family came in early and we had lunch before the ceremony. I had forgotten to make a reservation, but luckily I had factored in enough time that we were able to sit by the bar and enjoy a drink while we waited for the table. Obviously, not everyone will be as prompt or as prepared as you, so make sure when you schedule out whatever you're planning you add in time for traffic and little mishaps and you clearly communicate those plans. No one can read your mind, but most people are willing to do what you ask of them if you ask nicely!
 
3 // Relax and enjoy your day!
I know that everyone says this, and especially when you're Type A like me, it is very hard. But I tried to make a concerted effort to stop, take a couple of breaths, and just commit to memory the feeling of hearing my name and walking across the stage because it's something I want to remember and be proud of forever. I had a bit of trouble just letting go and not fretting about every single minute of the day and it was actually so much more fun that day. I told everyone what I wanted out of the day (lunch and my party that night) and thankfully everyone showed up when they were supposed to and helped to make it work, but really I just let things go! Graduation Day is all about celebrating with your family and friends, so as long as you can do that, try not to worry so much about the little details and a perfect timeline!
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Friday, April 21, 2017

My Everyday Makeup Routine

Good morning friends, happy Friday! I know I normally post on TTH, but I thought I'd give the Tuesday/Friday schedule a try so my schedule isn't so packed and I have more time to create quality content! Let me know what you think schedule (or content) wise below please, I am running low on post inspiration! WHEW, long winded side story aside, I thought I'd share my current everyday makeup routine with you guys because A. this is the week of routines since I shared my workout routine on Tuesday, and B. I haven't done one of these in a while, and I wanted to share lots of new things with you guys. 
I should clarify, I don't wear makeup everyday. Because I work with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, they don't really seem to care whether I look all put together or just roll out of bed, so I really tend to skip it during the week. But, when I go out on the weekends, I do like to feel my most confident, so that means at least a fresh complexion and some mascara. I tend to keep things pretty natural, but if you want some really excellent makeup inspo, head over to my sister's instagram. She does all the colorful, totally-out-of-my-comfort-zone but totally gorgeous stuff. With me, if I'm wearing eye shadow it's a big day! 

 My Everyday Makeup Routine

Base

I recently picked up this coconut smoothie moisturizing primer by First Aid Beauty and I am obsessed.  First off, it smells like the beach, or a really beachy drink. It's a very light pink cream that evens out and slightly brightens your skin tone while keeping you hydrated under your makeup. I will say that after about 8 hours my skin starts to dry out, but I'd say that 8 hours is still a good bit of time and it really helps my makeup to apply smoothly and not stick to any dry patches, so I'd recommend it if you have dry or sensitive skin like I do.

I blogged about my It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better foundation a little over a week ago, so I won't go into too much detail, but it's a winner in my book. Has SPF 50 which is huge for my pale, easily burnt skin, and it is natural without being too dewy or greasy. I usually stay away from full coverage because I don't want anything cakey, but this really does look natural, and you can make it even lighter if you apply it with a damp beauty blender. If you want to read my full review, you can here!

Last but not least, my tried and true Mac Studio Finish concealer in NC15. This stuff has people totally divided, because some people think it's too slippy and doesn't stay in place, but for someone with dry skin and under eyes, it's amazing. I have it in a lighter shade than my foundation, so it's very brightening, and it just gives the prettiest natural glowiness to my skin. It has to be powdered so it stays in place, and it does crease on my eyelids, but those are the only cons for me. I don't see myself ever using anything else, that's how much I love it.

I use Mac Mineralize Skin Finish in Light Plus to powder everything down and I love it. It's light, never cakey, and doesn't get darker once it's on my face. It takes away any shine my face might get during the day but still leaves my skin looking fresh and natural, never dried out or flat. 

Bronze/Blush/Highlight 

It should come as no surprise that I am still using my The Balm Desert bronzer. It's the perfect neutral shade for me - not too grey, not too red - and it gives me a very subtle sunkissed look. Because I don't tan easily, I like the added warmth to my face, but I never have to worry about it looking overdone or orange, which I love. I think this is perfect for people who are just learning about contouring and want to try it out or people like me who just want a natural, no fuss color!

I am SO excited to share this new blush color with y'all because it is amazing. It's from Too Faced and it's called "Baby Love". A Youtuber I follow recommended it and I tried it in store because of how good it looked on her. I normally go for brighter blushes, but I swear, something about this brings out my natural flush color and brightens my whole face without being overpowering. It has a slight shimmer running through it so it adds a bit of a glow, but in a very natural, rosy cheek way that I love. I think it would look great on pretty much everyone because it is very natural, plus I find it lasts all day on me, which many blushes I've tried don't.

Again, no surprise that I'm still using The Balm's Mary Lou-Manizer to highlight. It's light enough for my pale complexion, blends incredibly easily, and gives enough of a glow for me to feel "dressed up" without making me feel like a disco ball. I reviewed my favorite Balm products here if you want to see my other favs and read a more in depth review! All in all, love the brand because they make amazing products at really affordable prices. 

Eyes

I have very long, but also very straight eyelashes, and I promise, it's a blessing and a curse. When I was in high school I used any mascara I picked up and never really cared, but my eyelashes would just stick straight out. Now, I curl them about 3 times and only use Maybelline Lash Sensational waterproof, because that's the only thing that can even remotely help them hold a curl. I love this one because it adds tons of volume and length without clumping and doesn't flake off on my under eyes throughout the day. It is hard to get off, as any waterproof mascara is, but to me it's so worth it. I think it's about $6, and the wand is amazing, so you can't beat that!

 

Eyebrows

I have a love hate relationship with my brows, but ever since I've been using these two together I have really been enjoying filling in my brows and liking the way they look. I thankfully never really over plucked in middle/high school because I had no clue what I was doing, so my eyebrows are pretty thick, they just don't have much of a shape. I use the Ardell pencil, which has a slanted, wide tip, to add a bit of an arch and fill out the edges first, and then run the Maybelline brow gel over the top to darken them a bit and lock them into place. I know it sounds crazy, but if I don't gel them down I look a little like the Grinch at the end of the day, so I swear by this stuff. I have both in soft brown.
If I'm having a "no makeup" makeup day, I just throw on concealer, mascara, and the gel because it fills them out a bit but not too perfectly and just makes me feel more polished. I truly believe that eyebrows are the best way to frame your face and give it shape, so if you're looking to try out new things without spending tons of money or buying anything too complicated, these are for you!

 

Everyday Lip Color

I am not usually one for bright lipstick or sticky gloss, so I used to either throw on chapstick throughout the day or just skip lip color all together. That is all changing lately though as I'm trying out LipSense (more to come on that later) and I purchased this new lip balm, aptly named Bene-Balm. It's by Benefit, and they also make a liquid lip tint version in this same color. I originally tried the tint which I received as a sample, but when I saw this in store I had to pick it up. It's that perfect rosy color that's not too pink or too red, and it feels just like chapstick on your lips. I don't even use a mirror to apply it anymore because it's sheer enough to not look crazy if I overdo it a bit. I love the ease of it and I really like being able to add a bit of color without having to worry about it wearing off or getting on my teeth. 
 
I hope y'all enjoyed a peek into my makeup bag - please let me know if you have any recommendations for other products I should try out! I love reading your comments! Have a great weekend!
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Current Workout Routine

Good morning friends! I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter weekend and are going into this week feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever's coming at you this week! I thought it might be fun today to talk about my workout routine. I'm finally feeling like I'm comfortable at the gym and like I have a good routine down when it comes to fitness. Nothing crazy, but I actually look forward to working out and I'm so happy that I've found something that works for me!


MWF
 When I was training for the 5k, I ran all of the time. Now that I'm just trying to get fit in general, I run when I'm in the mood, but I normally either do a spin class or weights/machines on my own on these days. I basically go from head to toe, so I do shoulders, chest, back, arms, abs, glutes, thighs, and then calves! It seems like it would take forever, but because I know my routine and know which machines I like it actually goes quite quickly. I love doing squats and sit ups, but I try to watch Youtube videos and look up different workouts so that I'm changing it up every now and then. I love Clean Eating Alice's instagram because she posts recipes, but also easy to follow workout videos. Sometimes I just find a spot at the gym and just do one of those! 
 
TTH
 I am so excited to fill y'all in on my newest craze that I'm so behind on! I tried my first barre class a couple of weeks ago and now I'm obsessed. If you haven't heard of barre before, it's a class based on ballet stances and small, repetitive movements with a little weight or resistance. It's low impact but really helps me tone muscles and burn a few hundred calories. I can't dance at all, much less hold any kind of rhythm while I'm working out, so the fact that barre was based on ballet really scared me at first, but it's so not intimidating like I thought. I haven't been able to touch my toes since I was in ekementary school, but during stretching in my third class I could reach them! After class I feel very lean and toned and I can't recommend it more!
 
Weekends
I used to be such a bum on weekends - sleeping late, eating like poo, and not doing much of anything. These days, I like to be a little more active just to make the most of my time. Don't get me wrong, I love lazy days as much as anyone, but I also love being able to take a walk on the lake with my family or go for a run without having to be anywhere at any specific time. Plus, I find if I do something a little more active than I'll also eat better and be more productive when it comes to getting ready for the week ahead. 

All in all, I just try to get moving for at least 30 minutes a day and switch up my routine from cardio, to HIIT, to weights. As long as you're doing something, you're making progress. When I started going to the gym I was so hard on myself with seeing progress and constantly compared myself to others. Now I just try to enjoy it and realize that every little bit is doing something good for my body, which is strong and healthy and can only get better, so if you're feeling discouraged, try and look at it that way!I hope sharing my routine helps you make one of your own!
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

What to Wear for Easter

Hi guys! Since Easter is only a week and a bit away, I thought that today I'd share my favorite looks for one of my favorite holidays! I tried to keep everything around $100, but there are really good gems around the $50 mark too. As much as I love pastels and seersucker, I try to go for options that can be worn tons, not just once, so these are my pics.
If you're going for a more casual "jeans and a cute top" look, I LOVE this off the shoulder top from Loft. It runs a bit big, so order one size down. It fits really well, is so different from other tops I've seen, and is very easy to move around in, which is rare for an OTS top. Paired with cropped white jeans and my favorite wedges, I think it'd make such a comfy, but cute outfit!

Sorry for the bad iPhone quality shot, but I wanted to show off the shirt!
If you are planning to dress up a little fancier, I highly recommend this blush lace dress (currently $25 off!) from Loft or this white lace bell sleeved dress from Target! I love and own both and personally can't decide which to choose! I think they're both great to have in your closet, and with the code DRESSY the white one comes in UNDER $25! Such a steal!

Hope this helps if you're still looking for that perfect Easter outfit! Let me know your favorites below!
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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

3 Ways I'm Getting Glowing Summer Skin

Good morning guys! I had such a fun, whirlwind of a weekend and I hope you guys did too! Today, since it is April now, I thought I'd share how I'm prepping my skin for summer and getting a good, healthy glow. If you've been reading Sarah Smile for a while, you'll know I have dry, sensitive skin. (If you're new here, hello!) 
I am very happy with my moisturizer, but I've been wanting to add an oil to my night time skincare routine. I also had been on the lookout for a moisturizing primer to keep my foundation from sticking to any dry patches! I'm pretty happy with the products I chose, so if you're interested - keep reading below! 

1. Exfoliate 

I mentioned this is my current skincare routine, but I am obsessed with exfoliating with this Boscia peel gel. I think the first, most important step to getting glowing, smooth skin is exfoliating. It basically gets rid of any built up dry skin and makes a clean base for any other skincare products you use. Because my skin is sensitive, I can't exfoliate with any harsh scrubs. I found this in Sephora last year and there really is nothing else like it. It has a gel texture and it chemically exfoliates your skin without over scrubbing or irritating. I absolutely love it and get much better results with this than any other scrub I've ever used, plus my face doesn't feel like I have brush burn! Win win.

2. Moisturize 

It's so important to moisturize your skin regularly, but especially after you exfoliate. Exfoliating helps the products you follow up with really sink in, so it's important that what goes on your skin next won't clog or irritate it. I found this Korres rose oil after a random search of the new arrivals at Sephora's website and Y'ALL, I am so glad I did. Rose is known for being good for sensitive skin, and this oil actually has rose petals in it, so you're really getting a good bang for your buck. It is also packed with Vitamin C, which helps to repair skin and keep it looking fresh and young. The oil is dry enough to sink in quickly and not feel wet all night, but definitely packs a huge hydrating punch! I apply this right after washing and exfoliate and follow it up with my tried and true Clinique moisturizer. The combination makes my skin feel calmed and baby smooth, even in the morning!

3. Prime and Perfect

After taking good care of my skin, I don't want to damage it with products that will dry it out or clog my pores. It's super important for me to have a hydrating primer and a foundation with SPF, because the sun is not my friend! I love First Aid Beauty as a brand as it is and I was totally sucked in by the name "Coconut Skin Smoothie." I mean, that just sounds delicious and hydrating! It has a strong smell, so if you're not into that then I'd avoid it, but I personally think it smells just like the beach and it really does keep my skin hydrated all day. My foundation used to gather around my nose and under my eyes, but with this is stays dewy, but not oily, all day long! 

I've heard so many people rave about It Cosmetics, but I'd just never actually picked anything by them up until now. I finally scooped up their color correcting foundation last month and I love it! The fact that it has SPF 50 really intrigued me, because that's very high for foundation, but also the anti-aging aspect, which means it is made to be very hydrating, but also fuller coverage - totally up my street! It looks very natural on my skin, stays all day, and doesn't dry my skin out. I wore it to a Mardi Gras parade and had a burnt scalp but no sun burn on my face, so I'd say that SPF really works! I think it will be great for the summer, because when applied lightly it almost looks like I have nothing on, just even skin!


If you're looking for a few new products to add into your routine or want to get dewy, fresh skin just in time for summer, I highly recommend these products! I'm loving using them and find that they've made a big difference in the overall look and application/wear time of my makeup. 
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Break Packing List

I am SO overjoyed that Spring has finally sprung and it's almost time for Spring Break! I know some schools have already had theirs, but LSU always plans ours the week before Easter, so it's a week full of fun and sun that ends with really nice family time - my favorite! This year, Myles and I are going to Amelia Island again. I cannot wait to be riding my bike to the beach every morning and having lobster rolls for lunch! Today, I've included the things I'll be packing, as well as a few of my spring favorites. If you need cute tops to pair with jeans, high waisted shorts, or super cute dresses, you'll love these picks!

What I'm Packing: 

1. Sunblock!!
This is honestly the most important thing I ever pack. It's SO important to always protect your skin, especially in harsh summer sun, and I always go 35+. I also use this It Cosmetics foundation that has SPF 50 when I'm going out in the sun but want to look nice. It doesn't dry me out and stays on all day! I also bring tons of aloe vera because a sunburn is inevitable for me.

2. Straw Hat + Baseball Cap
I love a little straw fedora for shopping and bike riding, but a ball cap for beach time or an early morning workout. You get sun protection, but you also don't have to worry about salt water hair, two birds with one stone! 

3. Plenty of cute dresses, tops, and shorts 
Some of my favorites that are 100% coming with me are linked below, but I linked even more, all under $100 here. Loving the light fabrics and nautical colors I've been seeing in new arrivals, plus high waisted seersucker shorts? Yes please!
 
4. Easy snacks to throw in my bag
I am planning on packing dried cranberries, almonds, and some low fat cheese sticks. Easy to pack and you get a good mix of protein, fat, and a little sugar. If you want more healthy snack options, I just did a post on the ones I'm loving last week!

5. Headphones and a book for the beach (recommendations here)
I am always so tempted to either fall asleep or zone out on my phone when I have free time, but I'm planning on bringing only books to the beach this year, with the exception of a good playlist! I think vacation is such a good time to relax and refresh and getting lost in a good book is such a good way to do that. I linked a bunch above and can't wait to share which ones I pick up in April with y'all!

6.  A few swimsuits, cute towels, and an easy to throw on coverup!

I haven't bought any new suits this year, but I'm loving this scalloped one piece, this off the shoulder ruffle one, and this seersucker bikini! That bikini has been in my cart forever and I'm thinking I may have to scoop it up before we leave!

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What I Would Tell My Single Self

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into an old crush while I was with Myles at a restaurant. It was such a weird experience, and one I keep thinking on because it felt so strange - like two separate lives merging together. It was nice to catch up, but it was like I was looking at two very different paths I could've taken, and while I wish nothing bad on the path I didn't take, it made me so, SO glad about the path I did take.
When I was younger, I fell in "love" quite easily. Oftentimes without even talking to someone, because I liked the way they looked, who they were friends with, or even their last name. I would put so much effort into accidentally running into them, doing anything they needed, and going so far out of my way to be what I thought they wanted. That led to lots of "talking" but no real relationship and plenty of self-esteem issues that made me constantly second guess whether I was good enough/smart enough/pretty enough/etc.. 
 
I look back now and I can just imagine Jesus saying "Sarah, slow down, I know what I've got planned for you, and it's so much better than this." But there I was saying, "No, no, I've got this! We'd be perfect together because of XYZ."
 
I had 3 criteria for people I would never date, and this should partly clue you into why things weren't working out. 
 
1. I would never date anyone who wore cowboy boots. 
2. I would never date anyone with a Cajun last name. (ex: Boudreaux)
3. I would never marry someone with a last name from M-Z because I wanted to be at the beginning of the alphabet. 
Can we just all laugh together? HA HA. 

Y'all, obviously I had other criteria, like funny, handsome, kind, hardworking, etc, but those were my absolute no's.

When I was on study abroad, I sort of let those things go and became so much more confident in who I am and realized that I was absolutely not going to settle, even if that meant being single forever. I put so much effort into building my friendships, and when I came home I started branching out into all of the things I'd always wanted to do but never made time for. I joined Student Government, went  out more with my friends and put boys totally on the back burner. A few months before I met Myles, my mom and I were in a shop with bow-ties and I mentioned how I thought they'd be such a good gift for a boyfriend. My mom joked that I should get one and just save it for when I started dating someone and I literally laughed out loud like "yeah, when that happens!"

Fast forward a few months and Myles and I met in a Student Government meeting and then just happened to work at the State Capitol together. We were friends for months before we started dating but even from the beginning we were so compatible and had so much fun together. 
 
I didn't realize how different our relationship is from all of the ones before until I ran into my old crush, but I am so thankful I did. I realized that before I never felt like an equal, I always felt like my crushes were so much cooler, smarter, and better. Myles never treated me that way, in fact it was quite the opposite. I always felt special, funny, beautiful, and valued (and still do everyday). I never had to second guess and I certainly didn't have to convince him why he should like me.
 
I think it's important to note at this point that Myles wears cowboy boots (and Chacos which is even worse!), has an S last name, and it's 100% unmistakenly Cajun. All of the things I had said I never to and now we live together. If that isn't hilarious and goes to show that our best laid plans never work out, then I can't help ya. 
 
  All of this to say, we never know what's coming. And most of the time, even when we lay our best plans, they're nowhere near as good as what God has planned for us anyway. I always say that God teaches us so much about His love for us through our relationships here on Earth and when I look at Myles and I's relationship I think that could not be more true. 
 
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isa. 55:9

None of this is to say that Myles is perfect, nor is our relationship. We have silly arguments like everyone else, and we work very hard to constantly listen to each other, grow together, and be the person we'd want to be in a relationship with. My life did not become perfect because I was in a relationship, and it never will.
 
What I'm saying is that sometimes a relationship seems like it'll never happen. It feels like you're never going to meet someone who you can be yourself with or can talk about anything with. Now that I've been on both sides, I feel like I would never go back, but I can also say that if I knew what was coming, I'd be so much more confident in myself and my standards, knowing that someone who would meet and exceed them was coming, so there was no need to settle. I would have spent so much more time investing in myself and my friendships instead of hoping every time I went out that I would meet someone and feeling like it was a waste if I didn't. And I'd honestly rather wait a million years than settle for something that's just not right, just for the sake of not being single.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6
 
 If I could tell my single self one thing it would be, "God knows what he is doing, you don't have to. And you don't have to control all of it either." As good as it is to be in a relationship, I will never get that single time back, and I wish I would have enjoyed it more, rather than wishing it away. There is a season for everything in life, so enjoy whatever season you're in and trust that God knows everything about you, your life, and his plan for it. He knows what you want, but also what's best for you, all in due time! 

 
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Healthy Snacks I Always Have on Hand

When it comes to eating right and making sensible choices, snack time is the worst for me. I can eat healthy foods all day long and then come 3 o'clock on a long day or 9 o'clock on the weekend and man, all I want is cookie dough and an ice cold Coke. Because I know this about myself, I've been trying to only stock my fridge with things that are better calorie and macro wise than those sugary things, but still are a good, filling snack or a sweet treat! If you're overwhelmed with options and aren't sure what to keep on hand snack wise, this one's for you!

Savory Snacks: 

As you can see, I try to keep a good mix of savory and sweet snacks. When I need a little pick me up before the gym or want something small to supplement a protein shake for lunch, I grab one of these. 
I keep 2oz hummus singles, low fat cheese sticks, and Sargento balanced breaks with almonds, cranberries, and cheese on hand for just those occasions! The hummus is great for a snack right before or after a meal because it's light but filling, and the Sargento snack breaks are great for a but of sugar and healthy fat before the gym. I also have a huge bag of roasted almonds that I portion out into mini ziplocs because they're easy to throw in my purse and don't have to be refrigerated. I make sure to have them for long shopping trips, days at work, or when I am going straight out after the gym. If I'm prepared with a healthy snack, I won't reach for (or pay for) something unhealthy! 

 Sweet Snacks: 

For those times that I'm craving something sweet but don't want to blow all of my hard work on ice cream, I turn to this bunch! I love having a Chobani flip after dinner as a treat, but don't eat these everyday as they are quite sugary. However, the greek yogurt does fill me up and satisfy my cravings! During the day, I really enjoy having a bite of two from the Hail Merry bites collection. I found these at Whole Foods and they taste like cookie dough but are so much more filling. They're all organic, and while they have sugar, they also have other good ingredients that give you energy and make you feel more full. My favorite are the salted caramel and I highly recommend them if you can find them! I found a recipe on Pinterest for some very similar no-cook protein balls and I'll be making those very soon! Last but not least, the thing that has surprised me most, I LOVE flavored Hint water. I don't like carbonated water or any flavored waters usually as I find that flavor too strong and sweet. Hint is so subtle and had no added sugars or calories, which I love, but I haven't missed Coke at all since I started drinking it. To me, it's just as refreshing as plain water, with just a hint of sweetness to keep me from reaching for soda! 

If you're trying to eat healthier, lose weight, or just get in shape for your health, I hope this helps! Tuesday's post was on clean eating and how simple it is to eat clean, so check that out for more inspiration and information!




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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What is Clean Eating?

Hi friends! If you've been here before, you'll know that I've really been trying to work out and eat better in order to get healthier - that college frozen food diet doesn't really do much good for your organs! Monica reached out to me to do a guest post on clean eating and I know I enjoyed it, so I thought you guys would too. It can sometimes be really overwhelming to totally overhaul your diet and exercise routine, so easy to read and implement articles like these are my favorite because you can take it one step at a time! Whether you're wanting to get in better shape for the summer or just wanting to start better habits in general, I think you'll love today's guest post!
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Now, even if you’re not a big fan of trendy diets, you’ve probably heard about the concept of “Clean Eating” in the past couple of months.
Basically, it’s a concept that puts an emphasis on healthy, unprocessed foods and while the buzzword is relatively new, the principles of this diet are older than you probably think.
As you’ll see, Clean Eating is a relatively simple concept that doesn’t require any major lifestyle changes, like some other diets out there.
It doesn’t revolve around the idea that you should consume more or less of specific foods, the idea is more about being aware where your food comes from.
So now you’re probably wondering, what are its principles?

The Core Principles of Clean Eating

Well, they are quite similar to recommendations made by some more famous health organizations. In short, this is not exactly a diet; it’s actually a flexible lifestyle that can fit basically any routine.
The concept dates back to 1960s and the so called “Health Food Movement” that rejected processed and genetically modified foods, for the sake of societal values.
After a decade or so, the diet found its way to the gyms all across the world, where it became extremely popular among both fitness enthusiast and professional body builders.
A few years ago, the diet made the jump to the mainstream and started inspiring a new generation of people. Over the years, the concept slowly developed and today, it has five rules.

The Rules of Clean Eating

1.    Unrefined Foods over Refined Ones

Even though it probably won’t be possible all the time, you should try to increase your consumption of brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains as much as you can. Furthermore, legumes and beans are probably as important as whole grains. And if you’re wondering about clean sugars, you simply should increase your intake of honey and maple syrup.

2.    Minimize Processed Foods as Much as Possible

So what actually are processed foods? Well, just think of it this way – processed foods are essentially those that can be found in packages like boxes, bags and cans. Now, if you don’t know where to find fresh foods, or don’t have the time to go to your local market, don’t worry, because there are many meal delivery services that send fresh supplies to your door on a weekly basis. 

3.    You Need Carbs, Proteins and Fats in Every Meal

A lot of people include fats and carbs into most meals they eat every day, but our meals often lack protein – especially in the morning. It's important to understand that protein works as a muscle builder that curbs your appetite, and naturally, if you pack every meal with protein, you’ll feel more full throughout the day. Just make sure to find what foods are full of protein so you could space them out properly. 

4.    Don’t Consume Too Much Sugar or Salt

While most of us feel nervous without our daily dose of sugar, cutting it out from your diet is not as difficult as you might think. For instance, if you simply cut out the processed foods from your diet, you’ll also cut a lot of sugar and salt, because they are mostly responsible for your high sugar and salt intake. Clean and natural foods are of course, pretty low in these ingredients, and the more you eat clean foods the less you'll crave the bad stuff. 

5.    Eat at Least Five Meals throughout the Day

So how many meals do you typically eat? I bet it’s not more than three. But if you embrace Clean Eating, you need to start eating at least five meals per day (although there’s nothing wrong with seven meals. This includes three main meals and two to four snacks, which prevent you from overeating and help you keep your blood sugar level optimal so you can stay energized from the early morning hours to the time you go to bed late at night. 

Final Thoughts

Unlike many “trendy diets” this particular diet doesn’t include any strict guidelines about the amount of food you should consume, because the aim of Clean Eating is to help you learn to rely on your instincts and cues from your body to know when you’re full.
The bottom line is – you need to eat good foods when you’re hungry and stop eating when you start to feel full and satisfied and not over-stuffed. Simply pick healthy snacks, serve sensible portion sizes of well balanced meals and you’ll feel healthier than ever, plus, you’ll lose a couple of extra pounds in the process. 

By Monica Nichols
Being a writer and fashion designer is a dream come true for Monica Nichols and since she was a child, she knew her artistic tendencies will determine her life. She is a beloved writer of www.diet.st she is 32 and currently living in Omaha, Nebraska. Monica likes to spend her time doing yoga and going to live jazz gigs whenever the opportunity arises.
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That's all guys! I hope you enjoyed this and found it as helpful as I did! I'll be back on Thursday with a post on the healthy snacks I make sure to always have on hand. See y'all then!

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