Organization Hack: Packing

I know that I have already done a couple of packing posts (Disney Packing List and Top 3 Packing Tips), but I wanted to do another one to show you my entire packing process in depth. Packing is what is on my brain right now anyway as I am leaving in the morning for our annual Trades of Hope Inspire Retreat in Orlando.  I am beyond excited about this trip. I have actually been prepping for packing for this trip for about a month.  If you remember from my 3 Tip post, my number one tip is to create a list.  I actually have a generic pack list that stays in the note section on my phone.  It includes all of the essentials that I pack with me on every trip I take.  It includes things like make-up, deodorant, phone chargers, pajamas, and other essentials that I always need.  When I am planning a new trip, I copy that list and then begin to add to the bottom all the things that I need that are specific to that particular trip.  I will continue to add to this list up until the day of a trip as I think of things. Then I begin to plan out my outfits for each day of the trip.  For this particular trip, I need at least 2 outfits per day.  We have sessions and training during the day and then big events in the evenings that require me to dress differently.  At the bottom of my list, I will begin to list the day of the week and everything I plan to wear that day.  Then as the day of departure gets closer, I will begin to lay those outfits out on the floor in my closet.  This includes all articles of clothing that I will wear on that particular day down to the under garments, shoes, and jewelry.  This helps me to visualize everything and insures that I don’t forget something important like a strapless bra for a strapless dress.  I don’t immediately put everything into the suitcase, though.  I will leave it there for a day or two as I continue to look over it and make changes as needed.  I actually laid out everything for this trip yesterday and am using today to make sure I don’t want to change anything up as I thinking about it more.  Here is an example of what my closet floor looks like right now with everything laid out waiting to be placed in the suitcase.  

Once I am satisfied with every outfit, I will take a picture of each pile.  This will help me to remember what jewelry/shoes I planned to wear with each outfit.  When that is done, I begin to bag things up using Tip #2 from my top 3 tips post.  I like to use gallon zip lock storage bags for this. For example, I will put all pairs of socks into a gallon zip lock bag in order to keep them all together.  I will do the same for underwear, bras, and camisoles.  Next I take all pieces of jewelry and place it in my Thirty-One Jewelry case (retired) (alternate option).  From there, I begin to add the clothes in neat piles to my suitcase keeping all parts of the outfit together (pants and top).  At this point everything that I am going to wear is in the suitcase.

Tonight I will begin packing all of the other things that I need to take with me.  This evening I will place a large Thirty-One cosmetic bag (retired) (alternate option) on the counter in my bathroom.  As I wash my face and prepare for bed tonight, I will place my soap and other parts of my R+F nightly regimen into that bag as I finish using them. Then in the morning, as I complete each step of my morning regimen; I will place those items in the bag too. Packing it after using it helps me to not forget an important step in my skincare routine.  I will also hang my Thirty-One travel bag on the knob to one of the drawers to my vanity tonight.  Then as I put my makeup on in the morning, I will place the pieces I use into the bag as soon as I am done with them.  Packing as you use it really helps to ensure you don’t forget any essential items.  The same goes for hair tools.  As soon as I am done drying my hair, my hair dryer will go into the suitcase.  Then I pack my flat iron and curling wand after placing them in a heat resistant pouch.  I use a circular pill case to sort out all of my prescription medications that I take daily.  Then I will add it to a small medicine bag (similar) that also has things like ibuprofen, eye drops, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, etc. that I may need (these go in my carry on bag). I use a Thirty-One Mini Zipper Pouch to hold hair ties, bobby pins (in case I pull my hair up), clips, and a headband for washing my face.  Once all of that is in my suitcase, it is ready to be closed up.  

It may sound like a lot of work, but it will keep you organized and make things so easy when you get to your destination.  Being prepared allowed me to spend today writing and getting my hair and nails done, instead of running around crazy trying to pack.  It is totally worth the time it takes to prep ahead.  

Anchored and Organized,

Kindness Matters

All of us go through hard things.  We all have trials and tribulations.  We all weather storms.  Sometimes those storms are colossal hurricanes or a powerful earthquake that shatters your world, and sometime they are just small rain showers.  No matter the severity, we all face them at different times in our lives. That cashier at the grocery store may have just found out her mom has cancer.  The boy crossing the street alone may have recently lost his dog. The mom with the crying baby in the restaurant may have a deployed husband who she hasn’t spoken to in months.  The man sitting alone in the park may have lost his job.  The teen in line in front of you may have failed an important test.  The woman in the car next to you at the light with tears slowly rolling down her face may have just gotten terrible news.  The girl who seems to have it all together all the time could be crumbling inside.  The point is that you may never know what someone is going through. Every single person you encounter in a day has his or her own baggage just like you have your own. 

Many people are good at hiding what is going on inside.  They put on a brave face and carry on with life while their heart is being ripped open from the inside out. I know women who suffer in silence because they can’t get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy and no one else knows what they have gone through.  I’ve heard stories of so many young children who commit suicide and no one, including their parents, knew they were struggling.  I know of men who have served our country that are struggling to figure out who they are now that they have seen such horrible things.  We come across these people all the time without knowing.  They could even smile at us, and we don’t see the pain in their eyes. Some could be our own friends or family. Some are strangers. Of course we don’t go looking for these people, and they don’t seek us out.  Maybe we should.

I urge you to choose kindness.  Choose to smile at strangers you pass. Say a kind word to someone you encounter.  A simple please and thank you goes a long way. Give a compliment to someone new.  Do small acts of kindness. Lend your shoulder to someone to cry on. Ask how someone is doing and really mean it.   Let that person know that you want an answer other than “fine” because you truly care about their wellbeing. Take the high road.  Your kindness could be the thing that puts a real smile on someone’s face or fills a void in his or her heart.  Your kind words could mean the difference in someone choosing to take their own life.  Your smile could turn someone else’s day around completely. Your shoulder could bring healing.

What do you have to loose by being kind? Yes, it may take time away from your day, but there is so much you could get from it. Maybe it saves someone’s life. Maybe it will save your own.  Maybe it is the one thing that will heal your own broken heart.   Maybe it is what you were called to do.  Maybe it is God’s purpose for your life.  You have nothing to loose and everything to gain just by choosing kindness.  Choosing to live a life of joy by spreading kindness IS what we are called to do.    It IS the right choice. Kindness matters.  

Anchored,

A Look in My Closet: OOTD

Summer hit full force near the end of last week.  At one point on Saturday when I got it my car, the thermostat said 100 degrees.  I don’t even know what the heat index was, but it was HOT! I really thought that I was escaping 100 degree or more temps when I left South Georgia! I guess I was wrong.  Hopefully it won’t last long and the cooler days will come back.  I was out Saturday in the heat doing a little formal gown shopping for a Gala I have coming up this weekend.  I will show you what dress I picked next week along with all of my outfit choices for our Trades of Hope Inspire Retreat.  I am so excited and cannot wait for Thursday to get here. Anyway, it has been a while since I have let you have a peek into my closet so I figured that it was about time to show you what I have been wearing this past week.  

Tank-Old Navy (similar-Loft Outlet)

Shorts-Target

Shoes-Old (similar-Sanuk)

Necklace-Trades of Hope

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Dress-TJ Maxx (alternative option-Loft Outlet) (alternative option-Loft Outlet)

Shoes-Walmart

Necklace-Trades of Hope(retired)

Bracelet-Trades of Hope

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Top-Old (similar-Target)

Shorts-Loft Outlet

Shoes-Walmart

Necklace-Plunder (retired) (similar-Etsy)

Top-Lularoe(similar-Target)

Shorts-Kohl’s

Shoes-Converse

Necklace-Trades of Hope (hostess reward)

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Top-Lularoe (similar-Loft Outlet)

Shorts-Loft Outlet

Shoes-Converse

Earrings-Trades of Hope

Top-Loft Outlet

Shorts-Loft Outlet

Shoes-Target (similar-Amazon)

Necklace-Papillon Marketplace

Dress-Amazon

Shoes-Target

Necklace-Trades of Hope

Bracelet-Trades of Hope

There is currently an extra 15% off savings at Loft Outlet online with code SAVEBIG. Plus, FREE shipping today only. Happy Shopping!

Anchored,

Friday Favorites: 90’s Movies

I heard a conversation on the radio the other day about the best movies of the 90’s.  That got me thinking about my favorite movies from that decade.  Well, when I went looking to refresh my memory about all of the movies from the 90’s, I found it was harder than I thought to pick my top 10 favorites. There really were some good movies made back then.  If you are a guy reading this, you probably won’t agree with many of my choices as most of these are what I would consider “chick flicks.” It took me a while to narrow it down to these 10, so I had to add a few extras to the list as well.  Now, I will mention that Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite actors so you may see more than one of his movies on the list.  I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t help it.  I probably could have made the whole list Tom Hanks movies, but I didn’t. Maybe I will do another post one day just about that.  I was a big Julia Roberts fan back in the day as well. You may see more than one with her in it too. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite movies that came out in the 90’s followed by a few honorable mentions.

10. My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

As I mentioned, I like Julia Roberts movies.  This one was a cute romantic comedy that I could watch a 100 times and still love it. It stars Julia Roberts, Dermont Mulroney, Rupert Everett, and Cameron Diaz.

9. The Hunt for Red October (1990)

You may be surprised by this one as it’s not nearly as popular as some of the others on my list, and it certainly isn’t a “chick flick”. I actually never watched this movie in the 90’s and probably had never heard of it until I married a submariner.  This is one of those Jack Ryan movies staring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.  

8. Braveheart (1995)

This movie staring Mel Gibson is full of drama, romance, tragedy, historical fiction, and more. It is a long movie, but worth every second of it. 

7. A League of Their Own (1992)

This movie with an all-star cast is the first of the Tom Hanks movies on the list.  Along with him, Geena Davis, Modonna, and Rosie O’Donnell portray a heartfelt story of women stepping up to the plate when the men are off fighting in a war.  

6. Toy Story (1995)

I couldn’t leave this movie off the list with the release of the new Toy Story 4 movie recently. This is the movie that started it all and is one that many love the most, including me.  It is the only animated film that made it into my top 10.  This story staring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen is certainly a beloved classic.  

5. Father of the Bride (1991)

This movie staring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Martin Short is one of my favorites for sure.  It makes you laugh and cry all in one story.  It is such a great movie. 

4. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

This is another one of those long movies that is worth every second.  I love this storyline and the meaning behind it all with the horrors that war brings.  It stars Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, and Vin Diesel. 

3. Pretty Woman (1990)

How could I not put this movie staring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere up near the top of my list? Most women will tell you that this is one of the best movies of all time.  

2. Titanic (1997)

The great, tragic love story staring Leodardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet is certainly at the top.  I mean, who doesn’t love this movie?

1. Forrest Gump (1994)

Not only is this my favorite Tom Hanks movie and my favorite 90’s movie, it is also my favorite movie of all time.  I love this movie so much that I have watched it a million times and can just about recite the entire movie from memory.  If you have never been to a Bubba Gump’s restaurant, you don’t want to go with me. They always throw out trivia questions from the movie and I dominate! I love, love, love this movie so much! 

Honorable Mention:

*Silence of the Lambs (1991)

*Hope Floats (1998)

*Outbreak (1995)

*Jerry Maguire (1996)

*Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

*Twister (1996)

*Step Mom (1998)

*You’ve Got Mail (1998)

*Legends of the Fall (1994)

*The Lion King (1994)

I really do love a good movie. To me, if it is one that I can watch over and over again, it is considered one of the best. I could be flipping through the channels and come across any one of these movies and stop and watch it, even it the movie is already half over. That’s what makes it a good movie. What do you think of my list? What movie from the 90’s would you add? Now I think I may go try to find Forrest Gump or any of these others and watch it this afternoon.

Anchored,

Pet Peeves

Do you have a pet peeve? I think I have a million of them.  There are so many things that drive me nuts.  Maybe it is a personality flaw, but there really are a lot of things that just send me over the edge or make me very uncomfortable.  I started thinking about pet peeves after some random post I saw on Facebook last night.  It was this whole video about things that are common pet peeves for people. There were things like loud phone talkers, people who constantly interrupt, gum smacking, loud chewers, pen or pencil tapping, slow walkers, people who talk with food in their mouths, and more.  Just about everything that they were showing was something I could say was one of my pet peeves.  Then I started thinking about other things that drive me nuts and realized that maybe I have a problem.  Why do so many things irritate me? Am I impatient, overly sensitive, too type A, too obsessive-compulsive, or what? I don’t know if it is normal or not.  I’m thinking not. 

Here are some of the things that really annoy me and that I guess you could consider pet peeves.  

4-Way Stops

There are several 4-way stops around where I live that I have to drive through all the time.  They are all at major intersections too.  I hate them.  People don’t know the rules for 4 way stops and just go whenever they feel like it even if it isn’t their turn.  They are very aggressive drivers. There are so many accidents at those intersections because of it.  Come on people! If it is a heavy traffic area where all four lanes are several cars deep all the time, why don’t we just put in a red light? It would be much safer for everyone!

Cup Holders

Yes, this is a strange but huge pet peeve that I didn’t know existed until we purchased my current car a couple of years ago.  I drink a lot of water in a day, and I prefer the large Yeti Tumblers.  I carry one with me everywhere.  My cups will not fit in the cup holders in my car, and it makes me crazy.  They would fit in my old car, which is the same car but an older version, and they fit in my husband’s little car. They just won’t fit in my car.  I gripe about it just about every time I get in the car and attempt to wedge my cup in there.  This is one pet peeve that really pushes me over the edge!  Who knew I needed to check the cup holders before purchasing the car? You better believe I will next time around. 

Headlights When Raining

The law in most states requires that you turn your headlights on in your car when it is raining. Many people do not follow this law at all.  Some think that because their car has daytime running lights that they don’t need to turn their lights on when it is raining.  This is WRONG! You still need to turn your lights on.  When you have just your daytime running lights on, there are no lights on in the back of your car.  You have to turn on the headlights so that the back lights come on.  Those are just as important, if not more important than the headlights.  When it is raining heavily, you need to be able to see the car in front of you and the back lights help with that.  Turn your lights on people!

Door to Door Salesmen

This happened just this week. Someone was walking through the neighborhood going door to door trying to sell pest control services.  I swear we get at least one of these a week…pest control, home security, driveway repair, roofing, and the list can go on and on. If I need your services, I will look you up and call you. Don’t come knocking on my door and then try to talk me out of it when I say “no thank you.” Don’t tell me my neighbor so and so is doing it as a way to convince me I should do it.  I don’t care who is using your services. If I need you, I will call you.  Don’t just show up at my house. Oh, and for goodness sakes, don’t ask me for a bottle of water because you are too hot from walking door to door all day.  Get back into you car and go back to your air-conditioned office and wait for me to call you when I need you!  

Loud Chewers

I wrote a whole post on just this not too long ago. You can check it out here.  I do think this is more a disorder than a pet peeve because more than just chewing noises bother me, but I guess it could be considered as one.  It really makes my skin crawl. 

I could keep going, but I will spare you.  These are just some of the recent things that annoy me.  What are your pet peeves? 

Anchored and Rambling,

Organization Hack: Email

Are you one of the people that has like 1000 unopened emails? Can you open your phone and see that red dot next to your email icon and not freak out? I am one of the people who can’t stand to see the red dot.  In fact, it bothers me so much that I turned that feature off on my phone for emails.  I get so many a day that I don’t always have enough time to go through them all in a timely manner, and the red dot makes me crazy.  Now, if you ask me how I turned it off, I have no clue.  I probably couldn’t do it again, but somehow I figured it out.  I am very particular about email. Yes, I know I am very particular about a lot of things. You all know that I have an obsession with organization, neatness, and structure.  I am no different with email.  I am one of those people that will delete the email once it has been read unless it contains important information.  If it is an email that I need to return to later for some action, I will flag the email as important so I can easily find it later. In fact, I will go through my flagged emails daily to make sure things are completed on time. Once the action has been completed, I will delete it.  This is how I stay accountable.  The flagged emails are only those emails that require some kind of action from me.  It could be a form that needs completing, a payment that needs to be made, or something that needs to be turned in.  

All other emails that contain important information that I may need to refer to later or that I need to keep that don’t require an action are kept in folders within my email.  I do love some folders! Virtual folders or real folders, it doesn’t matter! They all make me happy. LOL! I have a Yahoo account (Yes, I know that shows that I am old!)  as my personal email account, and it is easy to create and sort folders in it.  I have a Gmail account for this blog, and it is also easy to create folders there.   I am certain that any email service provider will have the option to easily create folders. I like things neat and organized, and creating folders is what helps me to do that.  For example, each year I create a separate folder for each of my daughters for all school related information.  The title of those folders is my daughter’s name and the grade she is in that year. Then all important school information that I need to keep goes in that designated folder.  I also create a folder each year for my daughter’s sports. It will be titled with the team name and year or level.  At the end of each season or school year, I will go through those files and delete anything that I no longer need.  This again makes it easier to locate information when I need it. It keeps me from scrolling through a million emails to find the right one.  

Below is a description of some of the other folders I have for sorting my emails. 

  • Receipts: 

In this folder, I keep any receipts from things I have purchased throughout the year. For example, if I order something from a store online, I will get an emailed receipt.  Those emails automatically get put into this folder in the event that I need the receipt for a return.  Any PayPal receipts also go in here unless they are specific to one of my businesses. 

  • Taxes: 

I have a tax folder for each of my small businesses.  This is where I put invoices for things purchased for my businesses and other information needed for taxes.  When tax season rolls around, I can go to this folder and easily print out everything that I need to take to our accountant. 

  • Addresses: 

This folder contains emails where people have either sent me a roster for the girls’ sports or activities I am in or emails with address changes.  This is how I keep up with contact information for people. Now, once I have updated the contact information in my phone, I will delete these emails. 

  • Recipes:  

Sometimes friends will email me recipes or I find one online, and email it to myself. All of those go in this folder. 

  • Businesses: 

I have separate folders for each of my businesses as well. Anything relating to the business that isn’t tax information goes straight to one of these folders. 

  • Clubs:

I am the Vice President for the parents’ club for my daughter’s gym so I keep any email correspondence for it in a separate folder with the club’s name. 

Pretty much any email I receive that needs to be kept goes into some type of folder.  If I don’t need to keep the information, it is deleted right away.  In case you haven’t noticed the act of deleting something is satisfying to me! The only things that I keep just in the inbox are maybe something I wanted to read through but didn’t have time like a blog from another blogger I follow.  I will go back to it later and read it and then either sort it into the appropriate folder or delete it. I honestly don’t know how people can go without folders. It would drive me nuts to search through hundreds of emails at a time to find the thing I needed.  The same goes for unopened emails.  If you aren’t going to open them, you might as well delete them. What is the point in holding on to them and clogging up your inbox?  That is certainly a way to miss something important! To keep from having thousands of unopened emails in your inbox and having that red dot on your phone, commit to checking your email at least twice a day.  Check it once in the morning and once at night.  Then, if you have the time, check it at other times throughout the day. Whenever I open my email, I immediately go through and delete anything that is not important like all those emails from stores I shop at so that I don’t get distracted. Once that is done I go back and open all the ones that are left. This helps me stay on top of them all and ensures that I don’t miss anything.

Another tip that I have for keeping your emails organized it to unsubscribe from any email that you don’t care about.  I get tons of emails a day from stores and other junk that I never open because I don’t care. I many have had to enter my email at some point to purchase something or to get a discount, but I really don’t care to get their daily emails.  I try to go through those every now before deleting them and click “unsubscribe” at the bottom of the email.  You don’t really need all that junk in your inbox. 

Declutter your email! Get rid of unwanted mail by unsubscribing, Sort your important emails into folders. Flag those emails that require an action. Delete anything that isn’t important, and check your email at least 2 times a day. These steps will make life easier and that red dot will go away. I promise!

Anchored and Organized,

Finding Motivation

Motivation is the reason behind our actions and behaviors.  We do certain things because we are motivated to do them.  Motivation comes from the reward we get out of it. That reward can be tangible or internal. Let’s use a job as an example. Some people may be motivated to get up and go to work every day because at the end of the day, they receive payment for their work.  People are motivated by money either out of necessity or want.  It is about what that money can do for them whether it is to pay bills, to live an extravagant lifestyle, or to give back to others.  The tangible money in your pocket is what motivates you to keep going. Someone else may get up and go to work each day because of the intrinsic way it makes them feel.  Their motivation is based on a feeling.  It could be that their work makes them feel good about themselves, it makes them feel like they are making a difference, or it is just something they are passionate about.  The reason behind your motivation doesn’t necessarily matter as much as the fact that there is motivation there at all.  It is really hard to accomplish a task without some form of motivation, big or small. 

What happens when there is no motivation? Sometimes we get in a funk and there just isn’t any motivation. A lack of motivation can be caused by a number of things.  Some people will loose motivation really quickly if the task at hand is something that they are being told to do.  When someone else dictates your actions, it is often hard to find the motivation needed.  No one likes being told what to do.  Sometimes people have a lack of motivation because they are overwhelmed. The task is too daunting and they are unable to see how to break it down into manageable parts or where to even start. Sometimes a lack of motivation is due to depression.  A serious lack of motivation is one of the indicators that you might be suffering from depression and is something that we should all look out for.  Other people loose motivation because they don’t believe in themselves.  They don’t believe that they are capable, and they lack confidence.  Pure exhaustion is even another reason that people loose motivation.  There is so much going on in your life that you are both mentally and physically exhausted.  You just can’t gather the energy to keep moving forward with whatever the task is.  The list of reasons could go on and on.  The point is that whatever the reason is behind your lack of motivation matters. Knowing why you are unmotivated is important because it is the key to regaining your motivation.  Without motivation, things will be difficult.  Tasks won’t get completed. Life will become miserable, and you can begin to feel useless.  

A lack of motivation is something I am struggling with right now.  I suddenly have no motivation to do anything at all.  I think most of my lack of motivation is due to pure exhaustion. When you are utterly exhausted, it is hard to find the motivation to keep pushing.  I just don’t have the energy.  The last few months have been completely draining on me.  I have been drained emotionally, physically, and mentally for various reasons lately.  Physical exhaustion is one thing.  You can easily get over that by taking the time to rest and get good sleep. It is the emotional and mental exhaustion that is harder to overcome.  How do you rest your heart and mind?  I wish there was some magical potion. It takes a conscious effort and hard work.  It takes motivation to overcome emotional and mental exhaustion.  I know you are asking how you can have motivation to overcome exhaustion when you already have no motivation at all. The motivation to overcome has to come from within.  You have to want it, and you have to work for it.  I am pretty sure that my heart will heal over time, but I am not sure my brain will ever get the rest it needs.  There is always something else to add, more things to do, more worries that will take up space in there, and more stress that will take over.  I don’t know how to stop it.  I do know that feeding my heart and mind with positivity will help.  I know that I need to take time to myself to work on fueling my body, heart, and mind. It is so hard to do that, though.  It is hard to take time for yourself when so many others are relying on you.  It has to be something that you focus on daily.  You have to build it into your daily routine.   It could be as simple as reading a good book for 20 minutes a day that you can loose yourself in, or sitting on the porch in the early morning hours before the rest of your house wakes with a cup of coffee, or spending time in a daily devotional and praying.  Whatever it is that gives your whole body a break and allows you to clear your mind, is what you need to do.  The key is doing it every single day, though.  Every now and then isn’t enough to recharge you to 100%.  Doing it sporadically is enough to give you a short burst of energy like eating a piece of chocolate, but it won’t sustain you. You will crash.  You have to build it into your daily routine.  This is what has gotten away from me.  I let other things get in the way of the “me time” that I had built into my routine.  I let other things push it to the side and take priority.  I was not practicing what I preach.  I admit it. It took me writing this post to figure it out.  I need to fuel myself with good, positive things and take the time to refuel daily.  That will give me the energy to increase my motivation.  I have to commit.  I will commit. 

I encourage all of you that are feeling a lack of motivation to figure out the reason behind it.  That is the only way that you are going to fix it. Ask yourself the tough questions. Once you have figured out why you are feeling this way, actively work to fix it.  Make it part of your daily routine.  Whether it is because you are depressed, overwhelmed, too stressed, exhausted, bored, or whatever other reason, you can fix it.  You have to believe in yourself and figure out a strategy.  I have faith in you! 

Anchored,

Fashion Finds: Cupshe

This past weekend my family and I went to a water park.  As I was walking around, I was doing a lot of people watching.  I was checking out other women’s swimsuits. There were some that I thought were super cute and others not so much.  I actually got several comments on the swimsuit that I was wearing. One time I was in the bathroom washing my hands and a lady told me how cute it was and asked where I got it from. She then proceeded to tell me how difficult it had been for her to find a suit that she thought was cute, that fit her body type, and that didn’t break the bank.  I could sympathize with her because I have spent many days myself, trying on suit after suit trying to find one that made me comfortable.  Throughout most of my life I wore two-piece swimsuits, specifically bikinis.  Then after I had my second daughter, I no longer felt comfortable in a bikini so I moved to tankinis.  I am have a very long torso and have never thought that I looked good in a one piece swimsuit.  They just don’t fit me right.  The problem for me was finding a tankini that I actually liked and that didn’t make me feel like an old lady or that had a top that wasn’t so flowy that I felt like I looked like I was still pregnant.  Anyway, that is what I have worn for the past several years and I needed something new and fresh that made me feel good.   

Over the past year and a half or so, I have lost weight and started feeling better about my body.  I started seeing these ads for these super cute swimsuits throughout my Facebook and Instagram feeds from a company called Cupshe.  Many of them were the high-waisted bikinis. It is so funny to me that this trend from the 70’s is back.  Anyway, I was very intrigued by this style of suit and thought maybe it was the solution to my swimsuit woes.  While I was super hesitant to purchase a swimsuit from an ad on social media without even seeing it in person and trying it on, I decided to go for it.  The price was good and there were really good reviews, so what did I really have to loose?  Plus, I had seen a few other bloggers post about swimsuits from this same company. The problem then became which one to choose.  There are tons of them and they are all adorable.  I finally decided on one and then started to get cold feet again. Who really buys a swimsuit they haven’t tried on? Am I too old to wear a suit like that? What size do I even get? These were the thoughts running through my head trying to talk me out of the purchase.  This was all just before my annual girls’ trip to the beach so I had to make a decision because I needed a new swimsuit.  I finally decided to pull the trigger and go for it.  I actually ended up purchasing it from Amazon instead of the Cupshe website directly because I needed the prime shipping.  I needed it fast.  I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived.  It fit perfectly, and it is definitely a good quality suit.  To top it all off, it is so cute! I am in love with it and will definitely purchase swimsuits from them again.  I will spare you the picture of me in the suit, but you can see the one that I chose below. Unfortunately it is no longer available on the Cupshe site, but you can still snag it on Amazon.

I have gone through the numerous suits that they have in stock right now and have chosen some of my favorites in different styles.  It was really hard to narrow it down to just a few! I highly recommend their suits. They are so adorable and they are super affordable.  I recommend that you use the size chart that is on the Cupshe website for each suit to determine the best size for you. If you are between sizes, I would size up.  That is what I did, and it is a perfect fit. I have also included the links to the Cupshe site as well as Amazon (if available) in case you are in a hurry like me. They are having a sale on the Cupshe site right now with some suits up to 70% off. You could also get 15% off an order of $75+ by entering your email to subscribe.

Standard Bikini:

  1. Blue Crush Tie Dye (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  2. Out of the Ordinary Stripes (Cupshe)
  3. Cherry Blossom Double Knot (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  4. Essential Striped Triangle (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  5. Del Mar (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  6. Honey Girl Striped (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  7. Miss the Past One Shoulder (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  8. Matcha Ice Cream Halter (Cupshe) (Amazon)

High-Waisted Bikini:

  1. Lingering Charm Halter (Amazon)
  2. Pink Floral and Green Striped (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  3. Plum and Floral Reversible Bottoms (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  4. Teal and Palm Print (Cupshe)
  5. Teal Floral Scalloped (Cupshe)
  6. Summer Dream Blue Wrap Floral (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  7. Bloom in the Dream Halter (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  8. Simple Truth Lace Up (Cupshe)

Tankini:

  1. Lemon Print Peplum (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  2. Blue and Floral (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  3. Pink and Striped Peplum (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  4. Exquisite Taste Embroidery (Cupshe)
  5. Music City Print (Cupshe)
  6. Wherever I Go Solid (Cupshe)

One Piece:

  1. Blue Polka Dots and Stripes (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  2. Lovely Girl Cross (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  3. Keeping You Accompanied (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  4. Pink Floral Belted (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  5. Enjoy It One Shoulder (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  6. Yellow V-Neck Striped (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  7. Royal Elegance (Cupshe) (Amazon)
  8. Simple Living Stripe (Cupshe) (Amazon)

How cute are all of these? You can see why it was hard for me to choose just one to buy or just a few as favorites.  Did you notice a trend in my picks? I like stripes, polka dots, all shades of blue, and halter tops! Sorry! That’s just what I am drawn too. I did try to pick a few different styles, too, though. Happy Shopping!

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I Need a Vacation!

Earrings-Trades of Hope, Dress-Lularoe

The month of June was so crazy that I feel like we really haven’t had our summer break yet.  Most people that I know have these grand vacations planned for at least a week (sometimes 2) this summer.  For us, it has been a trip to Disney for the past few years because we love it so much.  We, however, do not have a real vacation planned for this summer. We had originally planned to go to Europe this summer. Because we ended up buying a new house and spent money doing renovations, we decided to put it on hold. It is definitely on the agenda for next summer, though.  We are also having difficulty getting a day scheduled where all 4 of us can go and get passports for the girls. Since both parents have to be present, we can’t find a time when my husband can get off work, the girls don’t have practice, and there is an available appointment.  We have to figure out the passport thing before December, though, because my daughter has a  gymnastics meet in the Bahamas.  Who knew it would be so difficult to find a place and schedule an appointment that also works with our crazy schedules??? It should not be this difficult! 

Anyway, we decided to just do a few small little weekend trips this summer instead of one big vacation trip. Our first excursion we planned was a trip to Gettysburg and Hersey Park in Pennsylvania.  My youngest has been dying to go Hershey Park after hearing friends talk about it, and my husband is all about battlefields and history.   Unfortunately, that trip got canceled due to the passing of my grandmother.  I don’t know if we will have the time to reschedule it this summer or not.  Our next excursion is a weekend in Williamsburg, Virginia for Bush Gardens, Water Country USA, and the historic colonial tours.  Even though we have done all of that a few times before, it is something that the girls enjoy, and it is a place that we can easily get to for a long weekend.  The other little trip we want to make this summer is a trip to New York City.  Our oldest went on a trip with us there when she was really little but doesn’t remember it.  Then just both girls and I went again a couple of winters ago for a gymnastics meet and had a blast.  They loved it so much.  We did not get to go to the Statue of Liberty or 9/11 Memorial on that trip, and my youngest made me promise that I would take her back to see them.  This trip hasn’t been scheduled yet so it may or may not happen this summer, but I will fulfill my promise sometime soon.  We will just have to see if we can fit it in sometime in the coming weeks.  Other than a trip for me to Orlando in a couple of weeks for our annual Trades of Hope conference, we have no other big summer plans.  

I have to say that I am very jealous of all of my friends posting pictures of all these amazing places they are visiting, but it is what it is, I guess.  I do think family vacations are very important.  I also realize that not everyone can take an extravagant trip, which is totally ok.  Even if you just have a stay-cation and explore your town, I think that it is important to take that time to step away from the stresses of everyday life and spend quality time together as a family.  It is a time when you unplug and just enjoy each other’s company.  Making those memories together is priceless.  Whether you choose to go to Disney World, go on a cruise, head to the beach, take mini trips like us, or stay home, quality family time is so important.  You could always pitch a tent in your backyard and go “camping.”   You could make s’mores and tell tons of stories.  You could have a pajama-cation.  Take a weekend and stay in your pajamas all day watching movies, playing board games, and eating junk food. The point is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a vacation.  That is not what is important.  Where you go really isn’t important either. Time together is what is the key to a great vacation.  Making the commitment to unplug from the rest of the world and just be together enjoying each other’s company is something that you and your kids will remember for years to come.  Even if it is just for two days, that time together is special.  We all need a break every now and then.  If you don’t stop and take one, you will burn out.  Your health will decline and you will be miserable and make everyone miserable around you.  Trust me, it has happened to me.  Commit to taking time for your family. If you don’t have anything planned, please consider rethinking that and make a plan.  You won’t regret it! 

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Book Club: My Sister, the Serial Killer

I missed Book Club Friday last week and this week is a bit off schedule, so I figured I would get it in today.  Our book for June was My Sister, the Serial Killer (Amazon) by Oyinkan Braithwaite.  This book came recommended by a few of my friends as well as by actress, Kimberly Williams Paisley.  This book is a quick, easy read.  I read it in a couple of hours.  It is a really short story with super short chapters.  Most chapters were only one to two pages long.  I will say that I have mixed feelings about this book, and I can’t quite say that I liked it or that I didn’t like it.  I felt like it jumped around a lot and that there wasn’t enough character or story development for me. I like stories that let you really get to know the characters.  I found myself wanting more. However, it did keep my interest for the most part. Again, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. If you are looking for a quick beach read this summer, this one would fit the bill.  

This is a story of two sisters. Korede is the oldest and is a hardworking, practical nurse.  She considers herself the ugly sister. Ayoola, the youngest, is a wild, carefree beauty that seems to have a knack for having men swoon over her.  The two were brought up in a wealthy family in Nigeria. However, unbeknownst to everyone around them, their family had a dark secret. Their father was a very violent man who attempted to sell his daughters to his important friends, beat his wife (and sometimes daugthers), and participated in shady business deals. Their mother resorted to sleeping pills to hide away from the horrors of their life behind closed doors. Following their father’s death (the author even makes you question the nature of his death), Ayoola’s boyfriends seem to keep ending up dead.  Although Ayoola gives excuses as to why she kills them, the true reason behind her killings never seems to be revealed.  Korede, was her protector, even from their father at a young age. She cleaned up the messes made by Ayoola every single time.  Despite her feelings about what was happening with her sister, Korede would do anything to help her, no matter the cost to her own happiness. This story seems to focus more on the strength of the family bond, specifically the bond between two siblings, than the actual murders. It demonstrates the old saying that blood is thicker than water. 

This story is surrounded by dark humor and mystery.  If you are looking for a quick read, this is the book for you.  While I am unsure of my love for this book, I can certainly see why it has become so popular. It has mystery, intrigue, family dynamics, and more. Let me know your thoughts if you read along with me.  I am interested to hear what others think about it since my feelings on it are so mixed.  

Let’s move on to my pick for July.  I hope you will come along and read with me. My pick for July is Summer of ’69 (Amazon) by Elin Hilderbrand. This #1 New York Times bestseller quickly rose to the top after its release last month. It has also made it on USA Today’s bestseller list.  I generally like historical fiction, and I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.  Here is what Apple Books has to say about this novel…

“Elin Hilderbrand’s first historical novel is a fun twist on the classic Nantucket beachside read she’s so well known for. A first love, an illicit affair, and Woodstock are all woven into this engrossing family drama, which follows four siblings over the tumultuous summer of 1969. While the era’s big social movements—like civil rights and gender equality—are front and center, Hilderbrand also has a lot of fun with the small period details, whether it’s serving relish trays or drinking to “settle the nerves” during pregnancy. Make sure there’s room for this nostalgic, summer pageturner in your beach bag.”

Come along and read with me!

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