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Love and Life

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3 Ways to Celebrate Without Breaking the Bank

I am in love with celebrating. I literally celebrate everything and anything and I think it’s just the best way to keep the spice in life. Money’s been a little tight over the last couple of months, but we still wanted to celebrate our three year dating anniversary on July 8th (crazy to think that this time next year we’ll be celebrating two months of being married on that date!).  We searched and searched the internet to see what we could come up with and my friends, I think we did a pretty good job! We had a blast during this weekend without breaking the bank and I figured it was only fair to share how I did it with you.

Groupon/Living Social

Two of the best sites ever. I am a little more partial to Groupon just because I really like the selection but I like the Living Social app and layout a little more. If you don’t know about them, these are websites/apps that you can browse to find local restaurants, things to do, services (great for lawn care and mosquitoes!) and goods as well. It’s a fun way to do things with your girlfriends or significant other when you want to try something out of the norm. Recently we had been trying new sushi restaurants we found on there to find the ones that we like in town, so we scoured it to see what cool restaurants they had on it. We ended up settling on one we had seen just around the corner from the house and had fantastic reviews. It’s a farm-to-table restaurant called Heirloom in Charlotte. The food was great and they even printed our names on the top of the menu when we made reservations for an extra flare! We also saved some $$ by bringing one of our favorite bottles of wine with us and paid the corkage fee. What a great experience and it was so fun trying something new! This is also great for those paint and sip girls nights you have been seeing all over social media that you and your friends have wanted to try!

Staycation

This is a great way to get to know your city and to not have to travel anywhere if you want to get away. I have done this in the past with my mom when I was living in Atlanta. She came to visit but my job was so crazy I couldn’t take time off so instead of booking plane tickets for two, we decided to use our money to rent a nicer hotel for a night. We got in room massages, went out to dinner, and watched movies all night. It was a blast and we still got to “do it up” because we didn’t have to factor in extra costs like plane tickets into our budget.

DIY Gifts

This is a really cute way to show someone you love them! John’s made a collage for me in the past with pictures of us from the first year we were together and it is still one of my favorite things in the house. I looked up some cute ideas on Pinterest and saw that you could get a mason jar, some markers, and construction paper and write things you love about the person or things to motivate them on a rough day and fill it to the brim. It’s a unique way of showing someone you care without having to go above and beyond and empty that piggy bank.

It’s a challenge to go through financial tough times, but it’s important to keep your relationships with friends, family, and significant others in check because they will always be there for you. Nurture those relationships and make sure that you reach out and show them you are thinking about them every once in a while.

What are some of your favorite ways to show a loved one you care or spend time with them without breaking the bank? Have you tried any of these ways?

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DIY All Natural Hand Soap

Never in my life did I think that  I would be a DIY person. I used to love buying stuff already made because it was easy and I was lazy. Well, maybe not lazy but “efficient”. But then one day…

…I found Young Living oils. They actually found me, but I fell in love about four years ago. I would use them to help with my wellness and I am happy to say that anyone in my home really doesn’t experience any chemicals (even my pups!) and I have not gotten sick (knock on wood) in quite some time. I love how they support my various systems and make me really good about the choices I make. You’ll read many other future posts on how I love living chemical free with Young Living products.

Ok, I’ll get off my soap box (ha. Ha.). You’re here for my DIY hand soap recipe yes? I love using this because I get to be in control of what goes on my body. This soap literally costs about $1 to make (minus the foaming hand pump which is about $4 for each) and you have enough ingredients to make a bunch of these for your house or for refills. You can choose to use whatever oils you like depending on the scents you like and whatever carrier oil you choose (I found jojoba oil easily at Target or Amazon and fractionated coconut oil on Amazon). Vegetable glycerin can be found on Amazon as well (are you a Prime member yet? LIFE CHANGING.) I choose to use Young Living Oils because of their quality and versatility. I can literally make ANYTHING I normally use at home (face wash, face lotion, hand soap, dish soap, cleaning spray, etc.)

Hope you enjoy!

 

DIY All Natural Hand Soap

½ cup castile soap

1 tsp fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil

5 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (click here to get 24% off of a starter pack to get all of the oils I used in this recipe and so many more!)

5 drops of Lemon Essential Oil

5 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil

5 drops of Purification Essential Oil

1 foaming hand soap bottle

1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin

Water

  • Pour castile soap into foaming hand soap bottle
  • Put essential oils into hand soap bottle. I recommend at least getting a total of 11 drops of oils so you can smell them and enjoy the benefits
  • Add the carrier oil (the jojoba oil or the fractionated coconut oil) to the hand soap bottle. This keeps your skin extra moist. Don’t you hate having to put lotion on right after you wash your hands because they’re so dry? This eliminates that need.
  • Add 1/2 tsp of vegetable glycerin.
  • Fill remainder of the hand soap bottle with water and voila! You’ll be smelling your hands all day after washing them with this!

See? Easier than you thought right? And because these bottles have so much in them, you are able to make so many of these and refill them in your house whenever you need to.

What are your favorite DIY recipes to save money at home and live chemical free? Share them below, I’d love to see them!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this should not be considered to be any healthy advice. You should seek appropriate counsel for your own situation. And please note, this post is directed toward readers in the United States. I may also receive compensation for some of the affiliate links in this post.

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3 Ways to Support a Loved One From a Distance

Growing up your parents always told you that your sibling was your first friend.  In my case my first friend came out about 4 years after I did, so was pretty excited and apprehensive.  Fast forward to today, we have weathered our parents’ divorce, lived thousands of miles away from each other, talked and laughed until we cried, and hugged it out or punched it out depending on the day.  Today things are a little different because he and I are both adulting but I had tried to take the role of a third parent to try to guide him.  I have shed many tears, carried lots of stress internally, and even popped a few pimples because of my worries.

This doesn’t just happen with family, but can also happen with our closest friends. It’s a fine line that we walk on between wanting to be helpful and being a complete enabler.  I made many excuses for him to my parents, justified what he did, and even insisted that they were not being considerate enough when talking to him.  It took me a long time to realize that I was not helping him, I was enabling him to continue on the path he was on.  Now mind you, my brother is not addicted to hardcore drugs or anything like that, but addiction comes in many forms and so do enablers. I put my foot down not too long ago with great difficulty, but it has changed my life for the best.  I love him and will always be there for him, but I cannot continue letting him steal my happiness if he is not willing to help himself.

He may be mad about me posting this, but this is a way for me to cope and hopefully the light I shed on the ways our relationship has changed will help someone who’s struggling with supporting their loved one from a distance.

 

Be a Supporter, not an Enabler

Ever seen the show Intervention? It was one of my favorites when I was in college.  I had to close my eyes with all the needle parts, but it was fascinating.  The show highlighted addicts but it also showed the enablers that fed into the addict’s lies and helped them ultimately get what they wanted.  Now, I am not throwing shade at these people because when you love someone, you’ll do anything to help them and see them happy.  But at what cost? Stop and ask yourself every time you think of sending/lending money to that person if you are sending it to them because you know they will be using it for what’s right? If it’s groceries they need, get them a grocery store gift card.  If they need some things for school, send them an office supply store gift card or an Amazon.com one.  Don’t be fooled by elaborate stories they tell you otherwise you’re only hurting them, not helping.

Set Boundaries

Think of this as your “terms and conditions.” When I finally decided enough was enough, I had to create some boundaries.  I wanted to make sure he knew that I was serious and that he had to meet my terms and conditions before I will speak to him again.  I told him to please only contact me if he has made the right steps needed to better himself and his life.  This put the ball in his court because he knows clearly what I want, and what I will ask him about if he does decided to contact me. I was always running around alongside my mom trying to pick up the pieces for him, offering to help him get a job where he was, but all it did was stretch me thin and cause stress.  You have to remember that you can’t help those who are not ready to help themselves, but you can help jump start their recovery by setting some clear boundaries.

Open Up, Don’t Bottle Up

Ever seen a volcano explode? Me either, but when I see it on TV or online I realize the amount of damage that it causes to surrounding areas.  That’s what happens when you bottle things up.  We all, especially women, like to think we are so strong and can handle anything without having to talk about it.  And then one day a lady cuts in front of you at the pharmacy and YOU LOSE YOUR SHIT.  Normal? I think not, but I’m sure it’s happened to every one of us.  Talk it out.  It doesn’t matter who you choose to talk to about it but it’s important that you share how you are feeling for YOUR sanity and also bounce ideas off of a somewhat objective party.  As fantastic as my fiancé has been with supporting me through this, my boss has been a great blessing as well.  He’s gone through similar stuff so that helps to talk to him. Can’t tell you the times that he’s made me feel like I was not going crazy.

Remember the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If what you’ve been doing to cope with your sibling or friend’s issues has not been working, STOP AND REEVALUATE! Talk it out, find a new way to support them, or just step back from the situation all together.  Though these choices may be hard, they are necessary and could possibly save your loved one in the end.

Have you dealt with a friend or family member that it has been difficult to support because of their choices? Share your story below or leave some suggestions!

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Summer Resolutions: 4 Ways to Get Back to Achieving Your Goals

Every year I dread going to the gym and/or grocery store the first Monday in January.  Why you ask? Well I get really ticked that everyone decides that it’s their time to get in shape and they happen to be crowding MY area that I happen to use YEAR ROUND.  *sigh* I digress.  But after I unbunch my panties, I realize that these people are here for the same reason I’m here: to better themselves.  I just happened to have a head start.

Did you make a bunch of resolutions for 2017 that you’ve honestly failed to keep up since, oh let’s see, January 2nd? Most people spend time every year picking several things they want to do.

“I want to lose 20 pounds!”

“I want to quit smoking!”

“I want to save $1,000!”

“I’m finally going to pay off my (student/credit card) loans!”

Though these and many other New Year’s resolutions are good attempts at moving in the right direction, it seems that we start hard and fast, only to fizzle out by the end of week one.  Why is this? Is this because we set our sights too high? Is it because we aren’t good enough to achieve these goals? Maybe we’re meant to be fat, smoking bad parents, but I beg to differ.

I really think it’s because we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best right out the gate. To all my marathon runners—were you able to run 21.2 miles your first day on the track? To all my fitness competitor friends—were you able to do cardio on the stair master for an hour straight on your first day? We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be the best right out the gate, which is unfair and, quite frankly, insane.  Often times people have either tried their resolutions in the past and failed, but rarely learned from their mistakes.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while hoping for different results.  Why not take a different approach to your resolutions and give yourself a break?

Here are four tips to help you get back on track and be successful in your 2017 endeavors whether that’s getting your summer body or save up for a dream vacation:

Make a Vision Board

Wouldn’t it be helpful to be reminded what your goals are every day? Vision boards are a great way to make sure that your goals are at the forefront of your mind and every choice and decision you make will help you get closer to this goal.  Vision Board parties are all the rage these days. But what is this you ask? Vision boards are pictures, words, and phrases that one has either printed out or taken from a magazine that represent the goals you have.  Studies have shown that seeing these goals visually represented increases the likelihood of accomplishing the goal.

Happy Dance Time!–Congratulate Yourself on How Far You’ve Come

Trying to lose 50 pounds? Celebrate the first five! Trying to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt? Celebrate your first $500! Everything is worth celebrating because YOU WORKED HARD TO ACHIEVE IT.  You were disciplined enough to find a way to hack away at your goal and make it more of a reality than it was five pounds and $500 ago.  The more you celebrate, the more likely you are to stay motivated and look forward to achieving more in the future.  Positive vibes only, please!

Houston, we have a Problem!—Why are you continuing to fail? Create some SMART goals

If you are trying to quit smoking, are you still going outside with your smoker friend at the bar even though you’ve told him or her that you’re trying to quit? Stop putting yourself in situations where you may fall back into old habits.  Everyone’s got that friend that never gains weight and is CONSTANTLY eating (jealous, much?), so when you’re trying to lose weight, ask that friend to try to support your decision and either pick healthier dining options you both can enjoy or maybe you limit how much you go out with that friend.  Haters are gonna hate, but they’ll hate whether you reach your goal or not, so make sure your priorities are in check!

Also creating SMART goals is important.  SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.  Give yourself mini deadlines and make sure you hold yourself accountable. I originally start my Instagram to remain accountable for doing my workouts every day with the hopes of inspiring others to do the same.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!—How partnering up will help make you more accountable

I love getting the love of my life John to be a victim—I mean participant in whatever meal plan or workout plan I’m doing.  He’s such a trooper and really tries to motivate me and remind me why I am doing what I do.  Teamwork does not have to come in the form of a spouse! If you’re trying to lose weight, start a Facebook group to help keep everyone accountable for a set period of time (a week, thirty days, etc.).  If you’re trying to save money, download the app Digit, to start saving without pinching pennies.  I love apps like Digit because it monitors my spending and assesses where it can take some dolla dolla bills here and there to help me reach my savings goal (Disney trip, wedding, etc.).

Remember, no goal is too big! Just remember that it’s ok to work towards it rather than wishing for it all to happen overnight or all at once.  Just stop, check yourself, and keep moving, no matter how much you’ve already stumbled.

As my girl Aaliyah once said “When at first you don’t succeed, brush yourself of and try again.” Get up, Buttercup, and take charge of that life you have always wanted!

How are you working on achieving your goals throughout the year? Did you fall of the bandwagon with those resolutions? 

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Online Dating 101: Which Site is Right for You?

I’m an outgoing girl if you can’t tell from my posts and page.  I find it easy to meet people and some may call me even a bit of a charmer in a room full of people. Over the years I focused on my studies but when I started grad school I was finally really ready to meet someone. But where was I going to find this tall, dark and handsome fella? People tried to introduce me to friends and family but nothing ever felt quite right.  Everything felt so passive and I am a woman who is goes after what she wants.

So I tried a new approach: I created an online dating profile.

“But you’re so pretty! You just haven’t been introduced to the right guy!

“You aren’t old you don’t need to resort to that!”

Sorry to break it to you but it’s the 21st century and I don’t know about you guys but it seems that a) it’s harder and harder to meet people even if you have a very active social life and b) if you’re anything like how I was, you’re frankly just too busy to be bothered.  Why go creep around a bar looking for fresh meat when you can Netflix and chill without someone trying to grope you?

Insert–Online Dating.  It’s a whole new world where you can meet people from EVERYWHERE, but most importantly you could meet people that live in your city that you wouldn’t normally cross paths with but could be the perfect match for you.   I was like a kid in in a candy store because I had all these eligible (and some not so eligible) bachelors to choose from! I could use an app, I could use my computer, I could be sitting on my couch looking vile and STILL find someone who might just like me for me.  I figured if they signed up they were kind of like me: interested in finding someone who shared common interests and goals, attractive, fun, and everything in between. Right?

Well, I was right and I was wrong.

I was right because there are a lot of people (I am going to go ahead and say the majority) who are interested in finding a significant other and are ready to venture into the dating world to find that special person.  I was wrong because there are definitely some of those guys (and gals) who are eh…how do you say…in it for the “cookie”.  Don’t let this deter you because most people sign up and answer the MILLIONS (total exaggeration, maybe like 50 max) of questions to try to find a person that they can share their life with.  If you pick the right site based on what you’re looking for, I guarantee that online dating can be a beautiful beautiful thing.  I had to try out a few sites but I finally found one that brought me to my fiancé.

I want to share my experiences with you so you don’t have to be afraid and you can look at online dating as an opportunity to broaden your horizons and find your special someone. So if the inevitable question “So, how did you guys meet?” is what is holding you back from online dating, let me put your mind at ease and hopefully by the end of this you’ll see that maybe that question wouldn’t be the worst one to answer if you meet your soulmate… (everything posted is a personal opinion so check out other sites if you are interested!)

 

Tinder—Jesus, take the wheel.  This site can be a hot mess or a gift from God, depending on what you’re looking for.  My mentee has met a few guys she’s had some longer relationships with here, but she was also about 20-24 when she was using it.  If swiping is your thing, have at it! I wasn’t a fan because the bios that you’re allowed to create came from Facebook (not sure if they still do now) and were too short for you to really get to know someone. I also got realllyyyyy butt hurt when I swiped and picked a guy and he didn’t swipe me back.  A lot of the folks on here are also in it for the cookie so be mindful of that.  It’s an app to help people get their feet wet in the online dating world in my opinion, but can also be a huge turnoff for some if they are not ready to hear mixed responses from other users.

Cost: Free

Usage: Mobile

eHarmony—great site…if you’re a bit older (I’m talking late twenties at the earliest up to maybe 50?).  I noticed someone of the guys and gals on here are a little more settled and hoping to find someone maybe even a little more on the conservative side.  I did go on some great dates with some nice people, but like I said I was a bit younger when I was using this one so this is definitely something that I would suggest for people in the late twenties and up.  It also cost $$$ so make sure that you’re aware of the auto-subscription renewal.

Cost: $$-$$$

Usage: Mobile and Web

Match.com—basically eharmony 2.0.  HOWEVER I met cooler guys here that were a little more laidback and the age range really was college graduate and up.  They often have Groupons available for these (especially around Valentine’s Day-subtle hint?) making this a relatively affordable means to find that special someone.

Cost: $-$$

Usage: Mobile and Web

Ok Cupid—this one was the jackpot for me.  I was on and off this site from when I was 22-25 and I loved it for a very specific reason: the questions they asked.  The questions are BIZARRE but they really let you see a person’s true character and a little more about them before you even have to send a message.  I have turned a lot of people on to this one but I think it works best in larger cities and it’s nice because if you travel for work you can try out different cities if you want a dinner date while you’re out of town. It’s also where I met my future husband!

Cost: Free

Usage: Mobile and Web

These are the apps I have personally tried but there are a BUNCH out there.  I’m not going to pretend I’ve been on all of them or think one is better than the other (well, I may be a little biased because I met my fiance on OK Cupid). Remember that it’s OK to take baby steps.  Maybe start with a free one and then move onto the paid ones once you’ve met a couple of guys/gals. I really think you should try your hand at one free on and one paid one if you’re pretty serious about finding a significant other (you’ll see a lot of people doing this, so don’t be turned off if you’re guy or gal has both! They’re just trying to increase their odds of finding the right person).

Have you tried online dating? How did you like it? Be sure to subscribe to get the update on when I post Online Dating 201: First Dates with your Potential Internet Boo!