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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! I *think* I am finally going to poke my head up for some air today. Work has been insane for so long. We keep saying it is going to calm down, and it just doesn’t. Luckily I have a coworker who is going to be out for a week, so I have some breathing room and we slowed down our intake of jobs until he is back. I have sat on more meetings this week than anything else. And the emails. Who knew we would pay for four year degrees to remain fearful of our inbox, am I right?! Every time I hear it ding, I feel my shoulders tense up.

I have been trying to get inspired to try some new recipes to get me excited about meal planning. I feel like we get in ruts where we eat the same few things over and over because it is easy. Of course, it is very challenging when I go to do our grocery shopping and the stores are out of just about everything. This week I went to three grocery stores and could not get a single chicken breast, no cream cheese, no taco sauce, the bread brand I usually purchase was out, no cucumbers, no asparagus. The list goes on.

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of this shit. And when you do find things, the prices are insanely inflated from just a year ago. Our grocery bill used to hover around $150 for the week, and now it is between $250-300. We eat the same type of foods and haven’t gained any family members. And gas prices?! I am so lucky to not be going to the office every day, or I would spend $75+ a week in gas.

I have changed a few things around in my kitchen and pantry, and it has made the whole cooking experience more enjoyable. Our pantry was such a disaster, I feel like I have a better system in place now. I will have to share some progress pictures soon.

Favorite Finds: My skin has been a lot dryer than it has ever been. I wanted to grab a face scrub to see if it would help with turnover and dullness. This Kopari scrub is amazing!!! The smell is incredible, it has clean ingredients and I actually feel so soft and moisturized after using this, as opposed to that “squeaky clean” and dry feeling I get from a lot of products. Highly recommend adding this into your routine.

Kopari Beauty California Glow Enzyme Face Scrub | Ulta Beauty

These pillows have been on my radar for a long time, but I never pulled the trigger on them because I couldn’t justify paying that for a pillow. Well they went on sale, with an additional 50% off, so you better believe I checked out so fast! I got the black and white one for my office and I LOVE it. It is so big! It feels and looks so high end, definitely worth it.

I grabbed this craft for Zoe. She had so much fun painting them, and it is now proudly displayed on our coffee bar. I like to write her name and the year on the bottom of things like this, so when we pull them out in the future, we know how old she was when she made them. Such great keepsakes to enjoy for the holidays each year.

She made that LOVE sign a few years ago when Laura came over one weekend and we crafted with the kids. It is so fun to bring it out and have that memory!

I also grabbed this heart garland that looks so cute in our living room! I love that it is festive without bringing in colors that don’t really belong in that space.

Favorite Recipe: I saw this sheet pan recipe, and it looks so good. I do love a good sheet pan night. Makes clean up so much easier.

Favorite Workout: I love to mix in a fun dance/step workout after an upper body day. I love Madfit and Grow with Jo, but Rick always has fun, upbeat steps that go by so quickly you don’t even realize you were moving for 10, 15, 20 minutes…however many you chose. I am sharing this one today because this last week I have been guilty of sitting at my computer far too long for work and having a lot of tension in my shoulders and upper back. Normally I take a quick walk outside once or twice a day, but I only went once this whole week. Weather was cold or rainy…and I just didn’t have time. This is the perfect 8 minute get up and move that you can add to your workday if you are WFH. Easy enough to follow to do with your kids too!

Inhale Good Exhale Bull Funny Sarcastic Favor Tags Size: Square. Color: Standard Matte. Gender: unisex. Age Group: adult.

Favorite Mantra: Wooooooo there is some bullshit out there. One of the best things I did so far this year is clean up what I see on social media. If I want to scroll Instagram to take a break from life, I don’t want to be yelled at, told what to do with my health and wellness by people who have a degree in marketing…not health or wellness, see people who are constantly raging about everything….the list goes on. I want to see your kid, dog, food, something funny, your pretty kitchen, a sweatshirt I just have to have, the sunset. My blood pressure shouldn’t rise and I shouldn’t feel the need to screenshot the bullshit, send it to my rational friend and rant about it for 20 minutes. I had that moment hit where I was like….wait a minute….I don’t have to see this shit! I can control some of this!

Favorite Funnies:

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Linking up for Friday Favorites. I hope you have a great weekend.

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Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! It has been a week over here. I am so ready for the weekend, it’s not even funny. We gotta get through this work day though.

Laura and I finally celebrated our birthdays and Christmas together with the kiddos. Yes, my birthday is in August. Yes, that is how long it had been. FAR TOO LONG. Stealing the only picture we got of our time, one of the kids of course. Because we never think to take one of ourselves.

Last weekend, Zoe and I spent most of the time cleaning up her playroom and bedroom. I was trying to find a way to get all her Christmas presents in there, and find a better way for her to play. I feel like she always had a mess in the middle of the floor because we didn’t have a good set up for her. I think that we are on our way to a better all around experience in there! I took her cube shelf out of her closet and turned it into Barbie land.

This was taken before we were done, still had stuff in the middle of the floor to put up, and some more stuff to arrange in the shelves. She has a pet/vet clinic, a store, garage, nursery and bedroom in those shelves….with a rooftop area for pool, playground and grilling area. We even found a tree that came with her Lalaloopsy doll that we stuck up there and looks so cute.

The issue before the cube shelf, was that all those little Barbie kits….the pool, grill, vet table, etc….wound up all over the place. It always looked like a mess, even if most everything else was picked up. Now it is intentional and everything has a place. It looks and feels so much better in there!

The American Girl sized items and her kitchen line the hallway into the room. Having that wardrobe has helped coral the clothes and accessories for those dolls! We have a small bin on top for the little stuff, and all their matching jammies to Zoe’s jammies are in the pink cloth basket.
I had several conversations regarding small Barbie and LOL stuff with several of you. This is the best organization method I have found. A little tower of bins to separate out the shoes, brushes, hats, crowns, purses, etc. Plus the LOL clothes, Polly Pockets, etc.

I got the drawer organizer from JoAnn’s over a year ago, but I found the same one on Amazon for JoAnn’s sale price that I paid. A few asked me if I had issues with Zoe keeping it organized. I will be honest, when we first got it….I had to re-do it a few times. I think it was a little too overwhelming for her, but she had also just turned 4 at the time. Now, she has no problem putting things back where they go and she says it is so much easier to play when she knows where everything is. She is 5 now, so maybe it’s an age thing.

I have also been busy cleaning out our pantry, getting rid of expired things, and trying to reorganize it so that every time I open the door, I don’t get pissed off. I don’t know what it is about the pantry area, I think because it is small and deep, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I will share before and afters and what has been working for us as I finish it up. I am not one of those people who can make all the clear plastic containers work. That just isn’t my style. I think the reason why they don’t work for us, is they take up too much space, and it is no better than the packaging it all comes in when it comes to space. It is actually harder. Has anyone else realized that? Unless you have a walk in pantry, there just isn’t room for all that jazz.

Favorite Purchases: I love to keep a reed diffuser in our guest bathroom. The room is small enough that a little fills the entire space, and it is located right next to the front door. The scent from the reed diffuser always feels our entry way. I found the best smelling one at Target! This is the Clarity scent, and it has the prettiest little glass vessel container that it comes in. It is so good, I am thinking about getting the room spray for my office. There is something about the scent that is really invigorating. Would be perfect to perk up my work day.

I also grabbed this little ceramic house for our coffee bar. I loved the pink roof and tiny heart. I don’t go all out for Valentine’s decor…but I did spruce up a few little areas.

I like to be on top of the holiday parties between school and dance. Zoe wanted to give some sort of pop-its for Valentine’s Day this year…and we found some bracelets on Amazon! I am going to do these in a bag with a few sweet treats and a card that says “You make my heart pop.” Just throwing that out there for anyone who needs an idea. We got them in this week and they are really cute, Zoe was so excited she has already claimed a few out of the bag for herself.

Color::Matte Snake

I am in major need of some new workout clothes. Spanx has a clearance sale going on, and I grabbed these bike shorts. I hate wearing anything below the knees on leg day, as I am constantly pulling the bottoms back up between moves. And how fun is the print?

Makeup Revolution Disney Princess Collection

Have you seen the Disney Princess makeup collection??? I grabbed myself the Aerial lip topper, and it is sooooo pretty!!!! I also grabbed a different princess for a friend for Galentines. There are so many pretty options in the collection with all the best princesses.

Favorite Recipe: I am trying to stick to low carb dinners, and we needed to replace the rice with something fun for Mexican night. Enter this zucchini recipe. It is so good and full of flavor!!!

Sambazon: Acai Bites, 7.6 Oz - Walmart.com

Favorite Grocery Store Find: I insist you must grab these chocolate acai bites immediately! They are so so so so good. Only 50 calories and 4 grams of sugar. The perfect sweet treat if you are craving it.

I forgot to take a picture of my Aldi find this week. It was a pack of two tights for Zoe for $2.99. We go through them like crazy for dance, and she wears dresses almost all the time. You can’t beat that price! I got her a black and white set, but they had some prints as well.

Favorite Funnies:

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Linking up for Friday Favorites. I hope you all have a great weekend!

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Friday Favorites – The Best of 2021

Hey there everyone! Happy 2022! I wanted to come on here and recap Christmas and our trip to Gatlinburg, but it was a bit of a whirlwind between the holidays and coming back to work. So, I will just say that we had a wonderful Christmas getting to celebrate with my family the weeks leading up to it, and Chris’s family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We baked cookies, built gingerbread houses, watched lots of movies, played endless Christmas music for two months straight, and tried to soak up all that we could. Zoe was beyond blessed with presents and I am still trying to find a place for them all. And Chris spoiled me with something I have wanted for so so long.

After Christmas, we headed up to Gatlinburg after debating back and forth if we were going to go. It gets so crowded up there this time of year. We decided to go with caution, and had a very different trip planned than our usual. We actually got to explore a lot of the area we had never seen before, and took a much more relaxed approach. We had a great time. We had a lake day, took Zoe to the Disney Store and let her get whatever she wanted, got fudge from Chocolate Monkey, the best coffee from Black Rifle, ordered food from Bennett’s BBQ, Alamo and Cheddars, drove through the main strip, saw lots of the mountains, went to a petting Zoo and played many rounds of put-put and visited the arcade in the resort we stayed at.

While we were in the mountains, the temperatures were very mild, in the 70s most days. That part I hated, as I want it to be cold when we are there!!! But we came home Sunday, and that night it snowed here in Alabama!!! We got about 2 inches at our house, and we got to play in it Monday morning!

Favorite Products: I have been meaning to get around to sharing my favorite purchases of 2021, and well here we are. I thought I would include them on my Friday Favorites since we are now day 7 past the new year.

bareMinerals Ageless Phyto-Retinol Lip Mask – In full disclosure, I received this from BzzAgent 8-10 months ago. The campaign is long over, and they never asked me to talk about it on my blog or social media, I was simply writing a review for it. However, after using it for this long….I have got to tell you that it works! I have seen great improvements with my lips this year in general. I combine this with the Milk Lip Mask every night after my skincare routine and they have never looked better. A little goes a long way, and this little tub still has lots of love to give.

Colleen Rothschild Hair Mask – I used up the entire container of this stuff over the last year and it is amazing. Do you know how I know how amazing it is? Because I ran out and they sold out and I haven’t been able to get it and my hair looks like shit again. You can get the smaller size of it in her travel pack. I am about to order it because I seriously cannot be without for much longer. Her hand cream is also the best I have ever used and I always have at least one bottle on hand.

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic – Once you spend money on a product and it works, you are pretty much hooked…you know? I put off buying this one for so long because I couldn’t stomach paying the price for it. Dermstore runs 15% off sales a few times a year on Skinceutical products, and my derm has specials with free travel size items from time to time as well, and those are the only times you are going to find a deal on this stuff. But let me tell you, I will never not have it now. It has been at least 6 months since I purchased my current bottle, and I still have some left in it. So that is a bit more palatable to know.

The Happiness Project One Sentence Journal – I never keep up with anything, but I have kept up with this every single day over the last year. You simply write a sentence a day and keep it for your kids. It holds 5 years worth! I wish I would have done this from the day Zoe was born, but at least I have it now.

The Best Blanket Ever- You all can keep your barefoot dreams expensive ass blankets. Chris got me this for mother’s day and I have used it every day since. I LOVE IT. It is so soft and beautiful and perfect for any kind of weather. Plus, it is big enough to cover my entire body, and snuggle with Zoe.

Sweatshirt – This is a favorite from 2020 that was still going strong in 2021 and now 2022, as I purchased more and wear them just about every day. Seriously. If you haven’t gotten one yet, they are on sale for even cheaper than the cheap full price. Less than $10 right now! I wear them around the house, I sleep in them, I wear them with leggings to run errands or school pick up. I have a few friends hooked, even my mom has several!

Tory Burch Miller Cloud – These sandals were an investment, but the best one I made for summer. They can be dressed up or down and do no kill the arches of my feet. Which honestly, almost anything these days does. I cannot wear regular flat flip flops/sandals anymore. I so much appreciate these and will be grabbing another color this summer.

Favorite Funnies:

Linking up for Friday Favorites. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Amazon

Can’t believe its time for another Amazon post. Linking up with Tanya. We had some lingering Christmas things on here. Chris ordered a lot of computer things that I left off. I don’t even know what half of it does LOL.

Wooly Dryer Balls

I have been using the same two dryer balls forever. It was truly time to get some new ones. And if you are going to get them, then they should be cute!!! It makes doing laundry a little more bearable.

Iowa Pine Dish Soap

Iowa Pine and Snowdrop are two of my all time favorite scents, so I wanted to stock up before you cant find them anymore. As of this morning, these are still available!

Star Galaxy Projector

We ordered these as Christmas presents for a few people. We have a much fancier one downstairs in our basement, and this one is just as cool for a fraction of the cost. In fact, these are on sale for about $15 less than we paid for them just a few weeks ago!

Firefighter Costume

Chris ordered this for Zoe. They love playing “firehouse” together where he “dispatches” her for various emergencies around the house. It is so cute to watch them. It is good quality and the accessories make it extra fun.

Vitamins

These are the vitamins I have been taking the last year or so.

Nutcrackers

I grabbed these as a craft to do this winter. Zoe loves painting things and she has been obsessed with nutcrackers and all things The Nutcracker.

Wooden Ornaments

I also grabbed these wooden ornaments to do on rainy weekends. I love that they come with string to turn them into actual ornaments and you don’t need to purchase that separately. This kit is currently $2 off! It would be perfect to break apart and hand out at class parties next year if you like thinking ahead.

Probiotic

I grabbed these for Zoe last month. We have been cycling needing to go to the doctor every 4 weeks or so since she has started back to school. I asked her doctor if there was anything he recommended for boosting the immune system. He said that besides getting enough sleep and eating healthy, probiotics is all he ever suggests. Probiotics help your gut, and a healthy gut is the basis of a healthy immune system. Makes sense. I just grabbed this brand for now. I will see how we do with these and adjust as needed. They make powders for drinks which I would like more, but I don’t know that Zoe would finish the entire drink with this in it. At least with a chewable, I know she took it.

Women’s Probiotic

I have also started taking a probiotic. I chose the same brand as my vitamins. They haven’t had any adverse effects or adjustment periods for me. Some I have taken in the past have given me stomach cramps.

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Books – December 2021

I am still on a Christmas kick this month. I can’t get enough. I decided to post this a little early, in case you want to jump on any of these holiday reads! I got the Kindle version of Window Shopping on Amazon for super cheap this past week, I think it is still on sale. There are a few non-Christmas reads on here too if that isn’t your thing. I want to get up a top reads of 2021 post, but I am not sure if I can make it happen in the next week. We shall see. Might be an Instagram post instead.

A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

A Season for Second Chances

I really loved The Twelve Dates of Christmas last year, so I was excited to hop into this one. I thought this one was so cute!! I loved all the characters, the entire town of Willow Bay and the whole storyline. I really loved that our leading lady was in her 40’s. Most of the romance I read is 20s to young thirty somethings, and I like to see someone closer to my age with more life experience. I thought that Annie’s book club was perfection and I want to join! What a fabulous group of ladies. Jenny Bayliss is going to be known as the queen of Christmas reads. I just know it!

Bottom Line: Read it!!! Such a good Christmas read.

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

Eight Perfect Hours

Such a great read. I absolutely adored all the characters in this book. It sort of reminded me of Always, in December but less heavy. When I say less heavy, Always, in December was VERY heavy. This book still deals with loss, grief and anxiety….but there is a lot of fun and lighter moments in the book as well. I pulled for Sam and Noelle from the very beginning, and there were times I wasn’t quite sure if they were going to end up together or not. I loved the way the book flowed, it felt so natural and real. I think there was nothing more than a kiss, so those of you that aren’t big fans of romance should appreciate that. I usually tend to like a little more than that in my romcom books, but didn’t mind it at all in this one.

Bottom Line: Overall, a delightful read. I really enjoyed this and it was done so right. Read it!

Window Shopping by Tessa Bailey

Window Shopping

Wooooeeee if you like steamy romance, Tessa Bailey is your girl. If you aren’t used to steam in your books, Tessa’s can be a little shocking. Just throwing that out there. I really enjoyed Window Shopping. Our main girl just got out of prison and is trying to readjust to normal life. It really sheds a light on how hard it is for people who get out to start fresh. I did like that aspect of the book. Aiden is totally swoon worthy, from his Christmas cheer down to his adorable bow ties and Aunt Edna stories. I read this book in about a day, couldn’t put it down.

Bottom Line: If you like steamy romance and Tessa Bailey’s style of writing, this one was cute.

Studmuffin Santa by Tawna Fenske

Studmuffin Santa (Ponderosa Resort Romantic Comedies, #1)

This was such a cute Christmas read. I loved the reindeer rescue farm setting. Both Jade and Brandon have things that haunt them from the past. Plus, the mystery of the strange things happening around the reindeer farm was interesting. I read this in a day and loved all the characters. I definitely want to pick up the next in the series.

Bottom line: Read it.

Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

Blue Christmas (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries, #3)

Bottom Line: I only got a little into the book and decided I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t realize it was in a series, so I may come back to it after I read Savannah Breeze. Time will tell.

When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

When Sparks Fly (Spark House #1)

This is a friends to lovers book. There are some heavier topics covered in the book, with Avery’s car accident, Declan’s past with his family, and the fact that Avery lost her parents in a car accident when she was younger. I like that we get both  Avery’s and Declan’s point of view. The event that takes these two from friends to more was a little ridiculous to me. But you could definitely feel the connection between them. The scene that causes a rift (because you know there is always going to be one), I felt was a situation blown entirely out of proportion. But isn’t that how it always happens? I had received an audio copy of the book with two narrators and they did a great job at keeping me engaged in the story.

Bottom Line: If you like romance, this one was a decent read.

**I received a copy of When Sparks Fly from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are of my own.**

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine

I absolutely loved The Hating Game, and I was slightly disappointed in Second Impressions (the book Sally Thorne wrote after this one.) So I tried to go into this book with no expectations. I have to say I am delighted. This is a friends to lovers romance with some home improvement thrown in. I adored all the characters. Darcy was extra sassy, Tom was so perfect, and I loved the relationship between Darcy and her brother Jamie. It seemed so realistic. Did I mention they are twins? Even better! I just loved everything, was hooked quickly, and flew right through this book. Reminds me why I love Sally Thorne.

Bottom Line: Read it!

Currently Reading

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

Golden Girl