Friday Favorites: Saving Sanity in Quarantine

 

Well, what did you choose? Online shopping or building that ark? Because last we spoke, I made a joke about the rain and now it seems as if those of you with the ark had at the right idea. I am barely hanging on, but that overwhelmed feeling inspired me to share some of my favorite things that keep my sanity mostly in check. (Mostly.) If you’ve been following along on Instagram for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve seriously stepped up my workout game recently. That doesn’t mean I want to spend a thousand extra hours on my hygiene and beauty routine from sweating in the gym or from the miserable NC humidity. Here’s how I save time, the health, and the style of my hair.

shower cap

Let’s get right to the star of the show. Many of my friends know that I am Team Dirty Hair and try to limit how much I wash and style my locks. Frequent showers were really taking the life out of my style until I found this amazing shower cap. It is not the first one I have tried, but even with my melon sized head and thick hair, this is definitely the best one. The style is cute, the cap is comfortable, and there is room inside for even more hair than I currently have. My hair stays nearly perfectly dry even with my double face cleansing routine, general showering, and shaving. It dries quickly and has held up so well even after months of abuse. Ten out of ten recommend to all my Team Dirty Hair girls!

dry shampoo

The next tool in my arsenal of sanity saving techniques is this dry shampoo. Look, I know we all have different hair and that there are a million other brands out there, but this has been my go to for YEARS. I’ve tried the more expensive options and the cheaper options and I always come back to this. Ten years ago when I first learned about dry shampoo you had to visit Ulta or another beauty supply shop to get your hands on pricey bottles of dry shampoo. Now they are in every drug store around the country. If you don’t like this one I really recommend trying out a few different kinds to see what works best for your hair. Also know there is a learning curve to using new products and just because the first use or two isn’t great, doesn’t mean the product can’t work for you.

To my husband’s amusement I spray dry shampoo around my ponytail before I hit the gym without really brushing it in. Of course I am working out at home with only him to notice, but this technique really helps absorb the oil and sweat straightaway and helps save my hairstyle. I can then easily let my hair down and brush it out after my shower and I’m ready to roll. A lot of people also recommend spraying it in before bed so it can work on absorption throughout the night. I don’t really find that helpful, but if you have especially oily hair, give it a try! Don’t forget my biggest tip for saving your hair at night found here. Oh, and when you finally do wash your hair, don’t forget the REPEAT part of the shampoo instructions. Double cleansing really does make a difference!

hair ties

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my love for the perfect hair ties to save your style. If my hair isn’t actually pulled back, you can always find me with one of these on my wrist. They are my go to when pulling back my hair for everything from daily chores to four mile runs (peppered with lots, and lots of walking). I love that they aren’t that noticeable on my wrist, and that I can take my hair down and it basically jumps right back to whatever style it was before with no creasing. My hair feels secure without being too tight, and it doesn’t tangle like traditional hair ties. I couple of times a year I pick up a new pack at Ulta, but they really do last. The best tip I can give you is that if they are looking stretched out, you can easily reshape them by hitting them with your blow dryer. I have held them down with tweezers so I don’t burn my fingers and they will shrink right back to their original shape and size.

I hope that some of these tips help you take better care of yourself mentally and physically. No one has extra time these days to waste on haircare if we can help it. Give yourself a little grace, a little break, and a little boost all at the same time. You deserve it!

Stay safe.  Stay well. Happy FriYAY!

Jill

 

 

 

Monday’s Menu: Chicken Taco Bowls

I am super excited for tonight’s edition of Monday’s Menu! It has been a while since I’ve shared anything with you all! And because of the social distancing lockdown, it doesn’t even matter that I’m calling this post Monday’s Menu on a Wednesday! Did you even know it was Wednesday? Be honest!

If like me you are missing all of your usual food haunts, dinners with friends and family, and just overall OVER IT with the kitchen, I’ve got a sure fire way to please *most* of your family in one easy meal that can provide leftovers so NO ONE can come back to Mama to ask “what’s for lunch?” My favorite thing about this meal is that it is what I call a pantry ready meal. All of these ingredients can be collected and stored in the pantry and freezer and pulled out just when you are about to lose your mind. Let’s get down to business!

Chicken Taco Bowls 

Ingredients:

  • 2+ pounds of precious, rare, hard to find chicken breasts
  • Salsa of your choice
  • Mexican / Spanish Rice – whatever you like! (tonight were just using brown rice!)
  • The fixins’
  •    – Diced jalapeños
  •    – Corn
  •    – Black beans
  •    – Queso
  • Optional: tortillas or tortilla chips

Directions:

Depending on the type of rice you choose, that may be the item that takes the most time. Read the box/bag instructions and get that going before anything else. Afterward, toss your frozen chicken breasts into the Instant Pot with at least 1 cup of salsa. This method works best when the breasts aren’t frozen together. Set IP on manual for ten minutes and then let it naturally release for 5 minutes before doing a quick release. (If you still have your sanity and mange to pre-plan meals, the slower cooker is also an option. I like low and slow for 6-8 hours for chicken). Once the chicken is cooked, use your hand mixer to shred the chicken right in the IP or crockpot. (Kitchen Aid stand mixers are also brilliant at shredding chicken!)

While the rice and chicken is going you can gather your other canned ingredients. It doesn’t matter that I prep the beans and corn before the main items are ready because I will be honest, I always microwave my bowl about 35/40 seconds so my queso gets hot and melty.

Once the rice and chicken are ready, you can load up your bowls or tortillas (I actually like to put crunched up tortilla chips in my bowl!). The bowl will pile up quickly if you have more than a few ingredients so make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach! The order I usually follow is rice, chicken, beans, corn, queso, and finally I top with jalapeños. The best part is that this meal is just as yummy the next day (or two!).

This meal has been a go-to of comfort the last few months and I hope it helps you break out of whatever kitchen funk you might be in due to being stuck at home 24/7. Please let me know if you try it or add it to your rotation!

Be safe and be well!

Jill

 

 

Books I’ve Loved

Recently I’ve been on a mission to start loving to read again. As a child, I could spend hours wrapped up in novels, once in a while even choosing to sit alone at lunch just to read a few more pages. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I REALLY hit the brakes on reading. My mom brain just could not focus on even one more thing. I would often order books with good intentions (I am not a library kind of girl. I love the smell of bookshops and fresh pages!) only to let them sit on a shelf for months, some totally forgotten.

Thankfully our trip to Europe changed that. For the 17 day trek I packed 3 books and several magazine that all came back home completely finished. It felt SO GOOD spending hours with my nose in a book rather than eyes glued to a screen. Instead of taking weeks to finish up a book, I was finally back to polishing them off with speed. My husband and I decided to make it more of a priority in our family to spend less time watching television and more time reading – and to be seen reading by our son who thankfully already has a healthy love of books.

Now our coffee tables are littered with books and magazines that aren’t just for decor, and my soul feels alive again from reading about new ideas and getting fresh motivation. While I still pepper in novels here and there, I’ve spent most of my time the last few years reading for personal development, anything to better myself as a child of God, wife, mom, and friend. Unfortunately, they weren’t all hits. The one I am reading now is dragging on, and with a little under 70 pages to go, I can’t wait to finish. I’ll spare you the details on that one – but it did inspire me to share with you the great ones. Ones that I felt changed me or pushed me in the right direction. The ones I just know I could read again.

Below you’ll find my picks divided into categories with links through to Amazon for ordering. If you’re local, feel free to borrow any of them but just know they may be marked up and highlighted to no end! I love each and every one of the ones on this list and I hope you find one that is helpful and inspiring to you. Feel free to leave me a comment of a book that you think I need in my life. I am always looking for the next best thing! ❤

 

HEALTHY EATING/LIFESTYLE

https://www.amazon.com/Made-Crave-Satisfying-Deepest-Desire/dp/031029326X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Made+to+crave&qid=1570560218&sr=8-1

 

HOMEMAKING

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0736963111/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

BECOMING YOUR BEST SELF/MOM

https://www.amazon.com/Uninvited-Living-Loved-When-Lonely/dp/1400205875/ref=asc_df_1400205875/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312132072158&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6883181581093699483&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010054&hvtargid=pla-433825286827&psc=1

 

 

3 Tips to Help Crush Your Goals

 

Happy October!

We’ve finally landed in the month of hayrides, bonfires, and pumpkin patches – the official kickoff of holiday season. This is my absolute favorite time of year. Everything just seems a little brighter and happier from now through New Year’s Day. It is also a hectic time of year for almost everyone I know. Weekends are packed with fun, sports are in full force, and there’s just less daylight to get everything done at work and home. It is easy to feel behind during this busy season which is why I wanted to talk to you about my personal plan to stay mindful of my goals and actually get things done.

Don’t get me wrong, September was a wash for me! Mrs. Procrastinator over here hasn’t changed that much since I was finishing my 8th grade math homework in the hallway right outside the door literally up until the bell rang to start class. That said, I am a tiny bit more driven now AND I’ve got a few awesome tools to make sure that I am set up for success.

First, let’s talk about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals

…because if you haven’t read any personal development books (that’s now what we cool kids call “self help” books!) or haven’t been to any staff development trainings lately, you may be a little rusty on the acronym. S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. An example would be no longer just wishing to “read more books” but rather setting the goal, “I will read 2 books a month.” It is specific (2 books) and measurable (within a month). It is also attainable as I already am the proud owner of 3 library cards. It is also relevant for me as a former bookworm. This goal is timely in that I know I basically have two weeks to read each book to be sure I am hitting the overall goal. I have what I need to be set up for success!  Even goals that may be specific and measurable will not necessarily be attainable, relevant, or timely. Skipping even one or two of the S.M.A.R.T. characteristics in goal setting can lead to failure and further frustrations for you.

Secondly, let’s go shopping!

I am a FIRM believer in having a paper planner and to do list. I love my Google Calendar app just like any other busy mom and bossy lady, but science has proven time and time again that humans retain information better when they write it down. Not only will you have a better memory, writing your goals down helps you truly visualize success and what it will take to get there.

Back in August I received the Living Well Planner for my birthday and I am so glad I did. It’s been years since I first read Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup but the planner has been just as life changing as the book. Each month it really helps you dive into what your goals are and guides you through breaking them down.  In fact, the first three pages of every month are dedicated to goal setting. The monthly view and weekly view pages also help keep you on track, including areas for daily must do items and meal planning. Each month ends with a very detailed monthly budget section to even help keep your finances on track. You don’t have to have this exact planner, but I highly suggest figuring out a written system that works for you. I like this approach of having it all-in-one because a planner should be often referred to (read: daily), and you can take time to look over your goals again and again keeping them fresh in your mind. Which brings me to my next point…

(Lastly,) Check in Often.

It isn’t just enough to say your goals out loud or even write them down in detail. You need to check in along the way to see what progress you are making and what is left to be done. If you have a goal you’d like to reach in a short time, such as a month, you may need to check in every day to see if your To Do List aligns with reaching that goal. What will get you one step closer to achieving your dream?

Though the procrastinator in me hates it, I like to start the day by “eating the frog,” which is to say, getting the one thing I want to do least done as my first task of the day. Return the call. Fold the laundry. Get your workout in. Do these big or hard things first and the rest of your day will flow more smoothly.

Sometimes these check ins even mean reevaluating your goals all together. The dreams  you had for yourself on NYE may not be the same by August. Half of your vision board may not have been realized ten months into the year. Don’t feel bad about re-prioritizing. You may need to change directions and start again, but not reaching a goal does not mean you failed! Life goes on and luckily, you get to help set the pace.

 

❤ Jill

 

Friday Favorites: Behind the Scenes Beauty

Hey, friends! Happy Friday! It has been a week. The sickies hit our house hard starting off as just allergies and ending up with me actually going to the doctor (something I never do!). A week I am majorly riding the struggle bus seems like the perfect time to share with you the beauty secrets that actually keep me going. These items are all big performers, but maybe not the headlining things you’d usually see on a must haves list. They’re all kind of background items that hold it all together so they’d be easy to add to whatever beauty routine you already have. Take a look!

 

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I will admit I was skeptical about this product at first. I had tried other items from the line only to be super disappointed, but now I swear by this Kristen Ess Beach Wave Spray from Target. I first picked it up last November on a road trip to Richmond, VA and now I never curl my hair without it! Once my curls are cooled I lightly spray all throughout my hair to give it shine and texture (Lightly! – a little goes a long way and the bottle lasts forever so it’s a deal even at a $14). I love how it breaks up the curls and makes brand new hair slightly messy. Plus, on day two or three, spraying a little more in gives your hair a healthy shine and revives those loosening waves. Pick it up and give it a shot on your next Mom-cation through everyone’s favorite big box store!

 

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This next product isn’t even something that I use all that regularly (though I don’t know why!) but the days I do, I can always tell a huge difference. A few years ago I decided to give MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Soft Ochre a go as my eye shadow primer as suggested by another beauty blogger and I am so glad I did. Not only is this product actually an eye shadow on its own, but it 100% works to keep even my cheapest drug store eye shadow on all day. I blend it in covering my entire eyelid and up to my brow, then go over it with whatever eye shadow colors I want for the day. It totally takes out any redness you may have around your eyes and holds on to the shadow for long wear without creasing. It is $22 but long lasting and with free shipping from Nordstrom, why not?

 

Now this last secret beauty product really isn’t all that secret, but it makes the biggest difference in my hair. Who would’ve thought that a silk pillowcase really lived up to all of the hype? My mom, that’s who. And Whitney. And Leigh. (Hi, friends!) Late last summer I decided to finally give it a try and buy one for myself nearly ten years after I gifted my mom a super expensive, luxury brand one for Christmas. After reading through Amazon reviews I settled on this one and I have been so happy! I love that it zips on and fits even my odd pillow well, and my hair has never looked better. I wake up with so much less frizz and get lots of extra wear out of my hairstyle. They say it is actually really good for your skin as well but I guess only time can tell with that. Why are all women not using these? Do yourself and your hair a favor and pull the trigger now!
I’d love to know if you plan to try any of these items or have them already in your routine. Feel free to send me any of your favorite must haves that you think would make my life a little easier! I’m all about those mom/life hacks to keep us feeling good on the go!
❤ Jill

5 for Fall: Walmart Edition

If you’ve been hanging around my Instagram for any time, you’ve seen my love for Walmart. Not only is this obsession out of necessity (There is no Target within 45 minutes), but Walmart has really stepped up their game in the last two years. The prices are very affordable, pieces well on trend, and the fits are usually pretty great/true to size. That said, I still am very much a “try it on first” kind of girl, so you can be sure anything listed here will be an item I’ve had in my own hands (and probably own! ie: I have everything but the plaid and it’s on my to do list).

Let’s get started!

This button front mustard top always gets compliments around town. For $15.88 and a variety of colors, I may have to go back and snag another. I wear a large and it is very roomy. You may want to size down one. Paired with skinny jeans, it creates a very flattering and forgiving silhouette.

 

Black and white prints seem to roll back around every fall and for some reason I STILL have none of it in my closet. This will finally be the year with this plaid top from Time and True for $15.44. Fits true to size and is light enough to wear even in the sweltering fall we have in the south.

 

I’m getting myself a little ahead of the game here with this pick, but I just could not pass up the perfect camel color of this turtleneck. It is lightweight and perfect for layering, but with a good pant and fun shoe, it is a stand out outfit all its own. It is less than $12 and available in several colors, but I do recommend thinking about sizing up one for a looser fit.

 

 

I have been having so much fun styling these jeans! (I hate myself for using the term “styling,” by the way.) While I am not quite ready to branch out into other cuts of denim that are hitting the shelves these days (looking at your flare leg, ankle length jeans!) I am totally into how different this wash is from what’s already in my closet. They feel so good on, and I’m really looking forward to wearing them with slouchy white sweaters when the weather is cooler. I’d say they fit true to size, but we all know jeans sizing is all over the place so slide on into your local store and try them on.

 

Last but not least we have these fun slip on faux leather “moccasins.” For $10 I am not sure how well they will hold up, but they’re super easy to slip on, look great with so many outfit choices, and they are super comfortable! They’re the perfect mom on the go shoe and if they don’t last more than one season, well I’ll still feel like I got my monies worth.

 

So what do you think? Did you ever think you’d be a Walmart girl? I’ve honestly never been above wearing any brand or store. If I like something, I just like it! It is crazy the pleasure I get out of scooping up a bargain and then getting to share where it is from. Of course, my best advice is try to get there in the morning to uh, you know, avoid the lines! 😉 Happy shopping!

 

❤ Jill

PS: click the photo or underlined word in each paragraph for a link to the item!

 

 

7 out of 7

The last few months have been a blur, but the best is just beginning. I hope you’ll join me on this journey to a new found freedom of healthy mind and spirit.

Can you even believe it? I have worked out 7 out of the last 7 days and have no plans to stop any time soon. I am not sure if that has ever happened! There was a long streak of activity (seriously, like sixty days or something) back in 2015 where I met the goals my FitBit set for me before I got pregnant with Hayes, but ever since then I haven’t been able to stick with anything. Nothing. Nada.

And trust me, I’ve tried it all. Cleanses, detoxes, group workouts, gyms, virtual coaching, nutrition challenges. In the last 3 years I’ve signed up for anything and everything I could throw time and money into just in case it would be the ONE thing that would stick. But nothing ever did. Sure, there were bouts of success where I hit small fitness goals or shed a few pounds, but nothing could ever outlast my worst enemy: myself.

I had to get over myself and out of my own way if I was ever going to see light at the end of this tunnel.  After months of wrestling with my emotions and looking for the root cause behind my constant “failures,” I finally I think I’ve figured it out. I certainly do not think I am going to go headstrong into 100 out of 100 days of this new workout without waivering, but there is one thing I am not going to let get in the way. No longer will I allow myself to give into the feeling of unworthiness.

For the longest time I have felt unworthy. I have felt less than, left out, and left behind in so many aspects of life. I’ve battled depression and anxiety, and raged an internal battle always feeling like I was letting everyone around me down. I’ve hated my body, belittled my accomplishments, and felt small about my contributions to the world. It seems silly to say out loud knowing how blessed our lives have been, and I have not taken the goodness of God for granted even one second the last several years. Yet I am addressing this because I am sure I am not the only one feeling as if somehow we don’t deserve the goodness that comes our way. I know first hand how hard it is hard to make positive change when you don’t even see yourself as deserving.

But let me tell you, friend, you are deserving. You are worthy. Your life is of value. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are as a child of God. No matter past short comings, mistakes, and regrets, there is always hope for a future that is good. If God can know everything about you and still love you, if he can call you his own and send his son to die for you, you can rest assured that you are loved and deserving of love. Sometimes that has to start within.

For me, learning to love myself means taking better care of my body and mind. I am picking up healthy habits like workout routines, better nutrition, reading and quiet time. I’m also stepping away from unhealthy habits like Instagram, guilt inducing eating, and negative self talk. It isn’t going to be easy. Change is not going to happen overnight in my mind or my body, but I think I am finally ready to put in the work that is needed. This part will look different for everyone but there is one thing that is for sure:

If you truly want to make a change within yourself, you can do it. And you certainly don’t have to do it alone.

❤ Jill