What you didn’t know you needed

your basic toes in the sand picture 

I looked through some old blog posts recently (it’s hard to believe I’ve been at this thing seriously for two years now!), and what I notice the most when I’m gettin’ in my feels on a blog post is this theme of balance. Taking time for yourself. Saying NO to things so you can say YES to what you really need. I’ve said it a million times:  I overextend myself. I have a tendency to do too much. I need to slow down. I need to take care of myself. It’s there, in a hundred different phrases with a hundred different deliveries (all eloquent and witty, of course, I’m sure).

So this week at the beach with my family is a reminder to myself that this is exactly what I didn’t know I needed. Walking for miles on the beach, collecting sea shell after sea shell, running the dogs until we all can’t breathe and we’re panting and happy. I’m having some adult beverages and a lot of water, going to bed early to get up and meet the sun, and trying to stretch my brain playing Scattergories at night – and giggling when we come up with crazy words and fight for justification.

I know there are beach people and mountain people and indoor people and all kinds of other people, but the beach has always been my happy place. Every year as a kid, my family took a trip to the beach and as an adult, the beach just brings me back to that feeling. The feeling of having nothing you have to do, and being able to enjoy whatever you want with toes in the sand and wind in your hair. As an adult, I have to work a lot harder to be able to not have to do anything for a week…but it’s so worth it once you’re actually sitting in a chair, book in hand, waves rolling out in front of you.

360 degrees of beach watching

hey mom

living their best life, running from waves

We don’t realize how much the stresses of day-to-day life get to us. We walk around tense and tight, with knots in our necks and shoulders because we try to push everything down so we can make it to the next thing. We do need to slow down and take care of ourselves, and even if it isn’t for a week at the beach or any type of vacation at all, we have to intentionally set time aside to breathe and just be. It’s just what we didn’t know we really, really needed.

Now I’m going to finish this post so I can go enjoy the ocean and challenge the sun with SPF 70 applications every two hours. I’ll keep you posted on the winner.

P.S. For a little throwback action, here’s my first post ever!

Favorite shades for summer nails

I love nail polish. I always keep my nails painted, and when I’m getting regular paychecks during the school year, I love to get a nice gel manicure here and there. I have a huge basket in my bathroom for all of my shades of polish, and I’m also a tad obsessed with the names of nail polishes. I mean, someone has that job! I’ve always loved a good play on words, so in my mind I’d love to name a nail shade “Mauve-elous” or something, but I’m sure someone has already come up with that one.

I digress.

Anyway, if you love nail polish as much as I do, I’ve rounded up a bunch of my favorite summer shades to share! Some of these are long-time favorite staples, and some I’ve just picked up this season. I’m loving the Defy & Inspire brand of nail polishes (they’re available exclusively at Target). For a while I got into a big Sally Hansen gel polish phase, but I find that no matter what, my polish tends to last only a few days before starting to chip. So my favorite brands these days are Essie, OPI, and the Defy &  Inspire brand! I also love the Essie gel polish line (pictured above).

What shades are you loving this summer? I feel like there’s not enough time to use them all before it’s fall and I feel like I need to switch over…but I’m going to give it my best shot!

All photographs courtesy of my best friend at J Parker Photography

FriYAY feels!

Finally Friyay!

This week flew by. I was off Monday and Tuesday, and on Monday I worked for hours agonizing over my budget and how I can save and plan better next school year so I won’t need to have a summer job. Reality check. I also made a goal to really focus on being active this week, and I stuck to it! Small victories.

I mentioned my Fourth of July plans earlier this week, but it was such a great time! The food came out perfectly and it was so nice to just relax and kick back a little bit. We didn’t end up going to the baseball game, but it was nice just to stay home and be near the dogs and take it easy!

filet mignon, honey lime ginger grilled scallops (adapted from here), garlic rosemary sweet potatoes, and grilled balsamic brussel sprouts (andrew had brats and burgers like a true american)

I got my hair done last Saturday and I am loving it! It’s always nice to get a little refresher from Jamie at the Parlor. (I’ve been going to her for like 10 years, no joke).

My family is going on a beach vacation in August, which I am so excited about! I am looking at these and these. Also loving this coverup and this coverup that could also double as a cute summer dress!

Finally, I mentioned my best friend’s wedding in this post, and a couple of weeks ago we ordered our bridesmaid skirts and tops for the big day! I absolutely can’t wait to see how everything comes together. When I put on my outfit and imagined everything on the big day, it suddenly became really real to me that this is happening! I’ll be crying like a baby when Whitney walks down the aisle (what else is new?).

That’s all, folks! Happy Friyay!

 

Summer threads

Even though I’ll basically be living in my uniform for the pub this summer, I’ve been brainstorming new ways to wear some of my old favorites. I have always been intrigued by the idea of a capsule wardrobe – you know, picking x number of items from your closet that you are allowed to wear, mix, & match for however long of a time period. I’ve seen it done successfully and creatively so many times.

But then I got to thinking…and I realized I basically live my life in a capsule wardrobe. I am constantly cleaning out my closet because I hate clutter and it makes me feel good to donate items to people who might need them. I only feel comfortable and confident in so many things, so I basically live in the same handful of items year-round, adding a cardigan or jacket here, or swapping shorts for jeans there – and always accessorizing differently. And when I find something that works, buddy, I stick with it until it gets holes in it or doesn’t fit anymore. I will generally buy a few new things each season, but I’m very picky about how things fit, so shopping for clothes can often be more exciting in theory than in reality.

I love to keep things classic and simple, and then add something that makes the outfit pop or sets it apart somehow. I have called my style “classic with a twist” for years, and that has kind of become my mantra for anything – hair, nails, makeup, clothes, decorating…if you keep it classic, it never goes out of style, and then your “twist” element is never too over the top. A bold lip, a fancy pair of shoes, a statement piece of jewelry. You get my drift. I don’t really do prints, and I DO wear a lot of neutrals…black, gray, cognac, black, more black…

I recently bought two pairs of shorts 50% off at Old Navy, one that doubles as shorts I can work at the pub in, and one just to have mixed in my wardrobe. Along with some old favorites from last summer, I have plenty to work with.

the link to these shorts from last summer no longer works, but these are almost identical

Here are a few outfits I’m into for this summer!

similar shorts linked above, sandals, similar tank, similar necklace

This outfit is so comfortable but still looks put together. The shirt is swingy and soft, and I love a good pocket. I’ve mentioned my love for drawstring waist shorts several times, so these should be no surprise. I’m still working on breaking these sandals in – I wish I would have sized up a half size. Hindsight’s 20/20, folks.

jeans, similar Toms wedges, similar tank

I love the way this blue necklace looks against the gray top (it’s from Elisabeth Ashlie last summer but no longer on the site). The jeans were on sale half off when I bought them, but I have gotten so much use out of them. They’re so stretchy and comfortable, cute worn down to the ankle or cuffed. Tops like this are great because they are so versatile. Most of my clothes also need to be able to transfer to the classroom, so this is one of those for me.

shorts, similar top, similar cardigan, similar shoes

This outfit is loose and breezy – the tank top is old from last year or even the year before (Old Navy), and has an open back split up the middle. I love it because you can still wear a regular bra with it, and it doesn’t open up too wide. Just a nice sliver so the breeze can blow through!

shorts, shoes, top (i wear it tied in a knot on the side or with a front tuck)

For me, these shoes are a bold move, so I really want to keep my outfit simple. A fun pop of color in the necklace and earrings, boyfriend shorts, and a loose black top does the trick and doesn’t make me feel like I’m trying to be someone else. (Speaking of boyfriends, check out that handsome fella in the picture frame!)

Also, can we talk about how we should be looking at Amazon now for clothes?! Maybe I’m late to that party, but I am finding some real steals and love the amount of reviews and real-life images I can use to make my decisions. Plus, Amazon is so great with returns and customer service. Win-win! Let me know what your great summer finds are!

FriYAY feels!

It’s finally,   o f f i c i a l l y   summer! If you’re in the south like me, it has already felt like summer since April, but now we can finally be correct when we say it.

My sister and I planned on doing a free community event Wednesday morning for the summer solstice and international yoga day, but it got rained out and rescheduled. Since we were already up at the butt crack of dawn and dressed, I led us through a yoga class on our balcony while the sun came up. It felt so good; I have totally fallen out of a routine with my yoga and I always notice a difference when I get back into it.

pardon the poor quality selfie

yoga mat + blocks (blocks were a gift)

For summer, I’m focusing on some goals, like I said. Doing more yoga is one of them. Being more active in general, actually.

I’m also trying to make time to read for fun, which I love to do. I started summer off by devouring The Girl on the Train. I know I’m way late to that game, but I finally got around to it. I’m about to start reading All the Missing GirlsI know I’ll be done with that one in a few days, so any book recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I also just got set up for Audible with my Amazon Prime membership, so I can listen to books while I’m driving or at the pool, too.

Speaking of listening to books, I finally jumped on the bandwagon and listened to the S-Town podcasts. I went to see my dad for Father’s Day in Charlotte this past weekend, so I had time to do some listening. I tend to doze off at the wheel if no one is in the car with me, so I needed something to keep my attention. It was so good. It was one of those stories that really leaves you thinking about it for days. When it was finished, I just sat there for a minute, brain whirring and heart stirring (see what I did there? But really). I wish there were more chapters.

Finally, since I’m limiting alcohol due to 1. trying to be healthier and 2. not having money in the summer, I’m fixating on a couple of guilty pleasure libations right now. (As in, literally drank both of these while writing this blog post). I said I never would, but I find myself loving La Croix now. My sister and I found a new flavor that we can’t get enough of:  Blackberry cucumber. So refreshing. We have only been able to find that flavor at Target near us. My other summer must-have is iced coffee. I drink it year-round, but in the summer it’s a given. Of course I can make my own, and sometimes do, but Emily (my sister) and I have been loving the Starbucks Dark Roast Iced Coffee. When I’m not paying a reasonable amount way too much for pre-packaged coffee, I use my french press to brew strong coffee and stick it in the fridge overnight. Yes, I realize I also just wrote a blog post about our new coffee bar. It’s a drug, people, I’m telling you.

i have way too many pictures of food & drinks on my phone

That’s all that’s really new with me! I’m waiting for some sunshine so I can have a pool day and work on my golden tan getting more pink and freckly. It has been rainy and stormy on and off here for a few days now, so I haven’t had a chance.

Enjoy the weekend, and let me hear those book and podcast recommendations!

Summer goals

source

Like I mentioned in my last post, it’s almost summer break for me!!! The kids are on ANOTHER LEVEL and the teachers are beyond ready, too…but before you start saying, “Oh, those lucky teachers, they get a whole summer off!,” remember that a summer off means a summer of ZERO PAY…so I am always hustlin’ side jobs through the summer. Last summer I juggled 3 different jobs, but this year I’ll just have one – I’ll be serving at Salem Street Pub where I’ve worked on and off for years. Their food is delicious and it’s a great relaxed atmosphere, good for dates, friends, or the whole family – and trivia every Wednesday night! Lots of local brews, flights, and outdoor pup-friendly seating! That’s my shameless plug.

To gear up for the summer, I made a big Target run recently with my last paycheck of the school year. I needed black shorts and some comfy shoes for working at the pub, and I settled on these and these – the shoes are so comfortable and you know I love anything with an elastic waist. These shorts are nice because the elastic is in the back, so the front still has the zipper and button to look a little more professional – and you can’t beat the length! It’s just right.

Between shifts at the pub, I’m hoping to have some down time to relax and lay by the pool. I mentioned my favorite summer items last year in this post, but this year I needed a new bathing suit that I felt okay in since I’m working on my health and fitness! There’s always that fine line with a one piece that isn’t basically a connected bikini vs. a suit that seems too much like a “mom” suit (no offense to any mom suit wearers…I’m just not even a mom yet!). I saw a really cute young mom at the pool on Memorial Day and she was wearing this bathing suit – it looked so great on her. I looked it up online right then, stalked the reviews on fit and look, waited till pay day, and raced to Target to try it on. I was really pleased with how it fit, even at this fluffy stage in my life. The high neck keeps me covered, but the cutouts keep it trendy, and the subtle ruching over the belly hides a lot without looking like it’s trying to. I’m really happy with it! I got black, because black is the new black, but I love the other colors too! I’ll be using this sunscreen all summer – I discovered it last year and don’t know what I’d do without it now. It goes on like real lotion, smells great, and doesn’t feel as greasy as other brands. I am super fair so I buy the SPF 30 and 70 and use both in different areas to keep protected.

Finally, in trying to get moving more this summer, I’m so excited that I’m living right by a lake with a nice walking trail behind my new apartment complex. I plan to do lots of walking, renting canoes, and taking Bruno and Oliver for walks as long as their short, stubby little legs can carry them. I’m still loving my Cloud shoes, and believe it or not, Wal-Mart has these amazing running/fitness shorts for about $8 a pair! I bought two and plan on getting more since leggings aren’t going to cut it in the Raleigh heat.

Somewhere in there I’ll fit in reading for fun, cooking, dinner dates with my boo and girlfriends, wedding planning with my BFF, waking up early to enjoy coffee on the porch before it gets blisteringly hot…maybe even a few beach day trips on the weekend!

Summer 2017, I think we’re going to be great friends.

FriYAY feels!

Another week down! I can’t believe summer is close to an end and soon school will be starting up again. I’m so ready for this nasty humid NC weather to be out and for the sweet breeze of fall to start rolling in. This week went by incredibly fast (like the rest), but here’s a quick snapshot of what I’ve been up to!

-National Lipstick Day was actually last Friday, but if you don’t already know it about me, I love lipstick. So I’m squeezing it in on this week’s FriYAY feels.

national lipstick day

-On Tuesday, I went to my best friend Whitney’s house with our two other BFFs, Lauryn (my roomie!) and Kelly. We went to Italy together when we were young babes in college for a study abroad program, and we have remained thick as thieves over the last 8 years. Life is so busy, but when we get together, it’s always like we never missed a beat. Whitney’s boyfriend Romain is an   a m a z i n g   chef, and he cooked us the most delicious meal: pasta carbonara with seared scallops on top with homemade focaccia bread. Whitney re-created our favorite salad we had in Italy (we stayed in a deconsecrated convent with former nuns who made two of our meals every day!). It was just a really happy time, and the food (& company) could not be beat! Unfortunately, Whitney was off duty from J Parker Photography, so you get my iPhone pictures.

focaccia bread
italy salad
the best pasta

(We also re-created our favorite glamour shot with Lauryn and Whitney’s miniature weenie Daphne!)

lauryn daphne then now
2013 vs. 2016

-I got to pack for my trip to Aruba! Now that it’s finally here, I’m allowing myself to believe it is happening and now I have time to breathe and be really excited about it! But I will miss my doggies. Bruno & Oliver will stay with Andrew for the week, which puts my mind at ease, and I know they’ll love playing with his dog Nala! Bruno and Oliver loved helping me pack gave me a guilt trip while I packed.

-I got to see Andrew before leaving for Aruba! It is hard being an hour and a half away, but we do a good job of making time for each other. We tried to make breakfast for dinner (should be simple, right?), but we ended up with a mess on our hands, a waffle maker that stopped working, and a lot of burned bacon. Still, we were able to laugh about it and make “waffcakes” or “panffles” – we haven’t decided which we like better yet – and it ended up being a fun night even with the chaos! Sometimes life reminds you that everything doesn’t have to be perfect.

jules andrew

-This year at school, I’m going to be a mentor teacher to a beginning teacher! I attended a mentor teacher training this week, which wasn’t necessarily fun, but now I’ll get to help a new teacher! That is something I really have wanted to do even since I began teaching.

-Last, but not least, family stuff: 1) My cousin graduates today! He’s the baby of my cousins, thoughtful, funny, and I remember holding him on a pillow when he was just a tiny newborn baby with white blonde hair. Congratulations, Michael! 2) I am heading home to Asheville today with my sister to see our brother and mom, and we are all going to watch a movie like old times, but this time in my brother’s new home! My sister and I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m pretty excited and proud of my big brother! 3) Tomorrow, my siblings and I are having breakfast with my dad and nana (his mom). It has been a long time since I’ve seen either of them and I am glad we’ll get to squeeze it in! Then it’s a week in Aruba with my mom, sister, and aunt! There is a lot to be thankful for.

Everyone enjoy your weekend! 

Summer faves, from me to you

It’s another scorching week here in Raleigh! I don’t know why it’s always such a surprise to me when I step outside and my makeup immediately begins melting off my face. Why do we find it necessary to keep saying, “It’s HOT out there!” when we finally get inside the sweet, sweet relief of cool AC? But we do – maybe it’s a southern thing.

This summer, I’ve been saving every penny since teachers don’t get paid in the summer acting like I have an unlimited supply of money, and I’ve bought a few new products I want to share! They’ve helped me through these hot months, and hopefully they’ll carry me into the next few that are still coming!

Since I’m generally rushing from hot yoga to nannying or from nannying to hot yoga, and as I’ve mentioned, it’s hot hot hot out, I have kept my makeup and hair routine super simple this summer. I also mostly use items from Target. I don’t have a fat wallet, so when I can find awesome products that don’t deplete my money for food and rent, I latch on.

Summer Faves1) Dove dry shampoo and curl defining mousse: my hair is stick straight, fine, thin, and needs to be washed daily. I could have cried when I finally discovered dry shampoo. I love this Dove one and have used it for months and months without looking elsewhere. I use the mousse after shampooing to “squish” my hair, as Andrew calls it (the rest of you might refer to it as scrunching your hair). It’s my summer ‘do because I don’t have to use heat to dry my hair, and I just shampoo & squish – no conditioner (or combing) needed, because it makes my hair too soft and straight to squish. It also saves a ton of time!

2) Heat taming spray: When I DO blow dry my hair, I like to use a heat spray to help protect and volumize my fine, limp hair. I have been happy with this one from L’Oreal! An older spray I used to use before looking for one with a volumizing boost is this one from TRESemme.

3) Olay cleansing wipes and moisturizer: Both are gentle, have a nice subtle scent, don’t break me out, and my sensitive skin doesn’t burn or react to these products.

4) Tea Tree Oil mattifying toner: I have always loved The Body Shop, and this tea tree oil toner is so refreshing. It makes my skin look soft and velvety. I use it am and pm, after washing and before moisturizing. My sweet roomie Lauryn hooked me up with it because she got one free 🙂

5) Philosophy purity made simple face wash: this is my one splurge this summer. I know it’s more expensive than what you might normally buy, but my skin is sensitive and prone to breakouts, and I have noticed a HUGE difference in the few weeks I have been using this. So. Worth. It. I got the 8oz. one for $24 and it will last a long time.

6) This Sephora collection dry clean brush cleaning spray has been an amazing find! You can use it and keep on doing your makeup since it’s not a wet product. Just spray, wipe on a towel, and keep on keepin’ on!

7) Essie spa many many mani lotion: I always seem to have dry hands and feet, so I love putting this on both right before I get under the sheets at night! It smells great and is silky smooth, not greasy.

8) These linen shorts from Target:  I have them in green, red, and gray/black…they have literally saved me this summer. Elastic waist, light and airy, not too short…what more could a girl want?

9) Maybelline Dream Pure BB cream: I use this one to help keep my skin clear, moisturize and even out my skin tone, and as a layer that my powder can sit on top of.

10) My favorite sunscreen: I have been using this for a few years and always make sure to get the SPF 30 and reapply often. I love the hydration aspect of this sunscreen. I always buy the face one, as well!

My summer makeup routine:

After washing/toning/moisturizing, I’ve been using the NYX photo loving primer in green to fight redness and fill in any pores or smile lines. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll skip the primer and put on some Maybelline bb cream. I’ve been loving the Covergirl trublend fix stick concealer for under my eyes, redness, and blemishes. BB cream or not, I always use a powder brush to dust on my forever favorite powder, Lorac porefection baked pressed powder (I’m shade PF 3.5). Next, I hit the hollows of my cheeks and go in a “3” motion on the sides of my face with the tarte Park Ave Princess bronzer, and then I use my bronzer brush to hit my cheekbones and around the sides of my eyes with my new Urban Decay highlighter (shade is sin-champagne). After that, it’s an eyebrow pencil, mascara, and tinted Baby Lips balm from Maybelline (a long-time fave!), and I’m finished! Simple for busy days carting around kids and running errands, and easy to wipe off before teaching a hot yoga class at Hot Asana Durham.

Summer makeup 1

Summer makeup 2