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Hallmark Christmas Movie Reviews 1-3

Every year I look forward to watching Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas movies, especially the new ones. The other day I had the idea to watch them AND share my personal reviews for this blog. I hope you’ll share your reviews with me, too!

COYOTE CREEK CHRISTMAS:

This movie is about a woman who decides on a “Christmas Around the World” for her family-owned inn’s Christmas party. In the midst of planning, she meets a father-son duo who help her with the party while lifting her holiday spirit.

I wanted to like this movie. I TRULY did. I remember watching the preview and thinking the concept was creative and I couldn’t wait to see the end result of the party. The lovey dovey endings are a given with these films, so it’s always fun to see how other plot points turn out. While I like Janel Parrish and Ryan Paevy on their own, I just didn’t feel any chemistry between them and found it to be a distraction. I absolutely loved Parrish’s 2020 Christmas movie Holly & Ivy so I had high hopes of loving this one. This movie is filled with different cultures and beautiful singing by one of the characters. Overall, I don’t think I would watch it a second time. Out of 5 stars, I give it 3.

THE CHRISTMAS PROMISE:

I’m going to jump right into it: I LOVED this movie! It is about a woman who is grieving the unexpected loss of her fiancé at Christmas time. Before he passed, he made her a promise that the home they purchased would be ready for Christmas by next year. One year later, she meets a handsome carpenter who helps her go forward with fixing up the house in order to sell it. This movie reminds me of when my good friend and I would watch the Christmas movies together and gush over the romance and be jealous of the leading lady. Ironically, this movie was still uplifting while having a sad main plot. I thought Torrey DeVitto and Dylan Bruce had great chemistry, as did DeVitto and Patrick Duffy. You can always expect a happy ending with these movies, but this one was very heartwarming. Is it a surprise I give this 5 out of 5 stars??

CHRISTMAS SAIL:

This movie is about a woman who returns home for Christmas to care for her estranged father with her daughter. After learning her childhood home is in danger of foreclosure, she decides to try and help her father keep the home by entering a boat parade competition where the prize is $25,000.

While a major plot point is loss and grief, this movie does throw in lighthearted fun and {of course} romance. I also appreciate that Hallmark was creative in using boat life as a topic. I’ve seen countless Hallmark Christmas movies and had never seen one about boats before.

The leading lady, Katee Sackhoff, was not a familiar face to me as far as Hallmark movies go. She and Patrick Sabongui played the childhood-friends-turned-love-interests. Honestly, I wasn’t overly impressed with Sackhoff. If I can be petty, I didn’t buy her constant smile as genuine and didn’t feel any romantic chemistry between her and Sabongui. Friends? Sure. Love interests? No. My favorite character was Hannah, Sackhoff’s daughter played by Emma Oliver. Her newfound relationship with her grandfather, played by Terry O’Quinn, was my favorite part of the movie. {I remember becoming a fan of O’Quinn from watching Lost back in the day so I was excited to catch him on the Hallmark scene.}

This movie reminded me that, while Christmas is a happy a cheerful time of year, it can be a hard time for many. Many are reminded of painful loss and struggle to find that Christmas joy. I greatly empathized with O’Quinn character and loved that he was able to enjoy Christmas again with the help of his family and community.

After reading a couple reviews, I was not expecting to enjoy this movie and almost didn’t watch. I would not consider it a favorite but I actually DID enjoy it. I am giving it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, only because of casting issues with the two leading characters.

I will continue to review more of the new Hallmark Christmas movies as I watch every weekend. Are you a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies as much as I am? I’d love to hear your reviews! Please don’t hesitate to share them with me or recommend any of the movies I’ve missed.

-Carly

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Why I Stopped Joining “Mom” Facebook Groups

I need to start by pointing out that I’ve missed writing and expressing my thoughts, big and small. I clicked on my blog and was shocked to see I haven’t written since February 2020! I started thinking about topics I could write about and “Mom Facebook Groups” kept coming back to me.

First, I want to make it known that I am not putting these Facebook groups under one umbrella and don’t want anyone to feel attacked. This post is simply me sharing my experiences within that community and why I chose to leave.

Back in early 2015 {before my son was born}, I left my job to be a stay-at-home-mom. While the role is a blessing, it doesn’t come without struggles. The biggest one I faced was loneliness. Putting my child first meant my social life took a backseat. I still kept in touch with friends, but regular “girls nights” slowly faded away. I didn’t miss working but I did miss having adult conversations and having a reason to put on makeup everyday.

The funny thing about motherhood is, there are too many things that nobody warns you about. You expect that you’ll be exhausted, dirty, stressed, etc. Nobody, not even my lactation consultant, told me how hard breastfeeding would be. I always assumed it was natural for every mother to do it without fail. In the hospital, my son didn’t want to latch. If and when he did, it wasn’t for long. Not only was I stressed about him not eating enough, I was in terrible pain. My breasts were so engorged that the slightest touch had me in tears. My husband had to run out and get me a pump just so I could give myself relief. That pump was my savior because not only did it help with the obvious, it got my son to latch! I say that with a celebratory voice even though it eventually became my biggest struggle. My baby learning to latch meant he wanted to eat CONSTANTLY. The problem with that was I could not keep up with his appetite, meaning my supply was nowhere near what he wanted. There were nights I spent Googling ways on how to increase my supply while trying to calm my crying newborn. I felt like I tried everything. I still remember the maple smell of my fenugreek pills and homemade oatmeal cookies I ate hoping to make a difference. My husband and I still talk about all the late night car rides {always to McDonald’s for smoothies and french fries} trying to calm our son down. Savior #2 ended up being the recipe for a homemade formula a friend shared that I could supplement with. I could cry just thinking back on how much that saved both of us.

In case you’re wondering what the heck my breastfeeding struggles have to do with mom groups, I will get into that shortly.

I remained friends with a girl from work who had her first baby two months before I had mine. She invited me to join a local mom group on Facebook she was in and knew one of the moderators. At first, it felt like such a relief to have a group of other moms I could relate to and, hopefully, vice versa. I remember a mom sharing her current breastfeeding struggles, which were almost identical to mine. I gave her the cliff’s notes version of my story and offered to share the formula recipe. Next thing I knew, other moms chimed in advising her to NOT use formula to supplement. They told her her baby crying would alert her body to produce more milk and using formula would decrease her supply. One thing I will say that I’ve learned since breastfeeding is it is not “one size fits all.” Every baby and mother are different. Some moms produce enough milk that they can even donate while others don’t produce much, if at all. I didn’t like the idea of supplementing, but what mattered most was my baby being fed and my body needed time to produce more in between. I tried everything possible but I just couldn’t keep up with his demand. Not to mention, my nipples were so raw I sat there sobbing while he tried as hard as he could to get his non-existent milk. Hearing these moms say “Do NOT supplement” was very disheartening. Maybe it was the “new mom hormones” but I couldn’t help but feel like I did something wrong by choosing to supplement when needed. One common thread I would see was “Breast is Best!” How could a mother read that and not feel judged or ashamed for supplementing formula or simply choosing not to breastfeed at all? I reached out to the mom privately and told her there was nothing wrong with her decision and would gladly share the recipe with her if she ever wanted it.

After that, I started looking for additional mom groups until I found the right fit. When we moved out of state and had no family or friends nearby, I must have joined 10 new groups. Partially because I recently joined an MLM and thought I could connect with other women in that regard, as well. Unfortunately, most groups did not allow the promotion of small business of ANY kind. That’s another downfall to many mom groups. Before joining, majority will just ask that everyone be kind and accepting. Others will have a laundry list of “rules” that make you feel like you are back in elementary school. Things you read and are allowed to say are dictated. Within 3 days, I was removed from every new group without warning. I had an idea of a “rule” I possibly broke, but I was just astounded by how “high school elite” it felt.

Another thing I noticed about mom groups was they can seem fun and welcoming at first…until they’re not. When you’re in a group of 50 or 500+ women, there’s bound to be conflict. There’s bound to be judgment. It can be anything from politics to a disagreement on vaccines. While I have that in mind, the topic of vaccines on the internet is the ugliest discussion I have ever seen. That topic would leave me feeling so dirty and without hope for a world of peace. As dramatic as that may sound, it describes exactly how I felt. I chose not to chime in on those discussions but still ended up feeling judged and hated. I avoided that topic like the plague after that. It made the topic of politics and religion feel like an online tea party.

To this day, I am still a part of that very first mom group I joined. It’s not very active, but there are a select few OG’s that I still like to check up on every now and then. I know I have only addressed the negatives I experienced, but I have witnessed mom groups help a lot of women. Sometimes we choose to talk about the tantrums our children threw that day while others are struggling with things like co-parenting and postpartum depression. The point of this post was not to direct you away from mom groups in their entirety. If anything, I’d like to offer unsolicited advice before you consider joining.

  1. Don’t let the other moms make your decisions for you. While we might feel lost and want a simple answer to “What do I do?” when your child is biting at daycare or what brand of sunscreen to use, don’t forget about your own instincts and judgement. Some moms have the habit of “telling” rather than “suggesting.” At the end of the day, do what YOU feel is right.
  2. Don’t replace your pediatrician with mom groups. I can’t stress this enough. I know it can be scary when your child is sick and you might feel more comfortable reaching out to other moms instead of the doctor. However, you’ll run into multiple differing opinions and find yourself at a crossroads. Some moms will say “take them to the ER!” Some will say “give them Tylenol and they’ll be fine” while others will offer an organic home remedy that’s been used for hundreds of years. You’ll feel overwhelmed and confused by the responses on top of the worry you’re feeling for your child.
  3. Don’t share too many personal details. Nobody needs to know EVERYTHING about you, especially online.
  4. Be prepared to endure criticism and judgment. No matter how simple your question or if you’re just wanting to vent, you open the door for different opinions. Sometimes trolls will come through that door, too. I once saw a photo an upset mom shared of her child’s finger that was bloody from accidentally clipping their skin while clipping their fingernail. The mother was clearly feeling guilty and another mom decided to degrade her. She told her “You clearly did that on purpose and I’ll be giving CPS a call!” No, she was not joking. While there will be moms that lift you up, there will be others that make you feel like a horrible parent, unfortunately.
  5. Don’t forget about the people in your real life. It might feel easier to reach out to another mom instead of your friend who doesn’t have kids, but don’t forget about them. You might not be able to talk about parenting, but that can be a good thing! Use those friends as your escape.
  6. Don’t compare your life to others. Looking at photos of a spotless living room a mom shared might make you feel inferior, but you’re not. You’re amazing and doing the best you can.

If you’ve made it this far into my post, I genuinely appreciate you. If you didn’t relate to it, I can only hope it at least provided you with some entertainment or interest in the topic. I feel like I need to add that keeping my distance from online mom groups left me feeling inner peace I desperately needed. The internet and social media can be very draining and effect our mental health, despite the good sides of it. One thing I GAINED was getting to meet some really awesome women I still talk to today. If you are thinking about joining a mom group, I hope reading this will provide you with some insight. If you are currently a part of one or more mom groups, I hope your experience is great and benefitting you in the best ways possible.

Thanks again for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts with me!

The Bachelor: What Is Peter Thinking??

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve blogged about anything related to The Bachelor. However, after watching last night’s episode, I felt obligated to. I just have one too many opinions and I couldn’t keep them to myself.

The Season In General:

I’ll be totally honest. When I first found out Peter was going to be the Bachelor, I didn’t want to watch. Then again, I thought the same thing when Hannah Brown was named The Bachelorette and she actually grew on me! I typically base my decisions on whether or not I will watch based on 1. who they cast and 2. the previews. Even with previews, I wasn’t 100% sold on watching Peter’s season. I went ahead and went online and read spoilers, lol! I usually HATE reading spoilers but something told me I should this time. From night one, I realized I had made the right decision and week after week that didn’t change. I feel like this season has been one giant dumpster fire. Has it not!? Without reading the spoilers, I wouldn’t have been able to get through it every week. The end has not been spoiled yet so I have no idea how it will go down. Now let’s jump into last night’s episode. {I should note that this is not meant to be a recap but just my thoughts on what stuck out to me}.

Hannah Ann:

I am not trying to sound mean when I say this, but I can’t get over how young Hannah Ann looks! Even being 23, she’s the same age as Madison and there’s such a difference in how they appear age-wise. Seeing her with Peter, all I can think about is how young she looks with him. Even though she’s been a clear front-runner since the beginning, I never felt that she was the one for him. Obviously, I’m not Peter so I can’t speak for him. But as a viewer, I don’t feel it. The sad thing is, I don’t think her family felt it either. As a mother myself, I TOTALLY understand the parents’ point of view now. Before I had kids and would watch this show, I would think the parents were so rude if they didn’t welcome the guy/girl with open arms and interrogated them instead of being happy for their son/daughter. Now I scratch my head when I watch the parents/siblings that DON’T question the relationships. I mean, think about it. If you have a daughter and she brings home a guy that she hasn’t known very long and is dating 3 other women, wouldn’t you have a hard time being supportive? An engagement is very serious and should be treated as such. So is using the word “love.” I couldn’t give my blessing to a man that may NOT propose to my daughter. No way. I didn’t like the fact that Hannah Ann’s dad said to not use the word “love” to her if he didn’t mean it. I think Peter misconstrued that. I think her dad meant “don’t say you love her unless she’s the one you’re choosing” but Peter probably figured saying he’s “falling” in love is not the same thing. {Face palm}

When Hannah kept making it a point to say that it wouldn’t bother her if Peter had to sleep with the other two women, I didn’t believe her. I think she was trying to say what she thought Peter wanted to hear. I don’t care who you are. If you say that that wouldn’t matter to you, you’re either lying or you don’t really care about being chosen as much as you might think. She says she loves him and if that were true, how could it not matter if he sleeps with two other women right after her? {Side note: I think it was pretty disgusting of the producers to have the girls room together this week}. It is one thing to not let it effect your decision to stay but another to act like it’s not a big deal and be so understanding about it. I would feel icky knowing the guy I am in love with had sex with two other women just days before proposing to me. It’s kind of sad to watch these women tolerate this kind of behavior from the person they say they love and want to get engaged to. It’s like the show becomes a whole other world to them.

Victoria: 

Oh, Victoria. Where do I even begin!? Haha. I’m honestly surprised she’s still here. I am convinced Peter is one of those guys that likes women that are a little crazy. Every season, there seems to be one or two “villains” and other women/men that have questionable behavior. While we think they will be sent home for it, they end up staying. Usually, that is producers wanting them to stick around for the drama and drama = viewers. However, Victoria still being there is 100% Peter’s choice. The ONLY thing that makes sense to me is he finds it attractive when a woman acts that way. To each their own but COME ON. He says he wants to find his wife and I just don’t understand how he doesn’t find their relationship to be problematic. He says their relationship “would never be boring” and that she “challenges” him. Well, someone should tell Peter a relationship can be exciting and challenging without always fighting and miscommunication every day. If that’s the way it is now, how does he expect MARRIAGE with her to go? How does he not find being with her exhausting because I am exhausted just watching her every week. Now, I won’t spoil anything but I can say with 100% certainty choosing her would be a mistake and she has not been honest with him. We shall see what happens next week!

Madison:

I’ve read so many comments about what Madison said to Peter and the popular opinion seems to be that she shouldn’t have even signed up for the show. I see both sides on this. While it’s admirable that Madison has chosen to save herself for marriage, I’m wondering why she signed up for the show as well. Hear me out. I don’t believe she has never watched the show, which means she would be well aware that the final weeks contain a Fantasy Suite. Not that every couple HAS to have sex during that date, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I think in the history of the show, only one lead did NOT have sex with any of their final 3 in the Fantasy Suite. I also think she was aware that the chosen guy was Peter and would know his stance on premarital sex. I mean, hello, he’s known as the Windmill Guy and not because he thinks windmills are cool. Only thing I can think of is she never expected to make it as far as she did or she hoped her relationship with Peter would be strong enough that he’d respect her wishes. I’m not someone who believes in pushing your beliefs on another person whether it’s religion or something else. While I don’t see Madison shoving her beliefs down Peter’s throat, I think she has the expectation that he will change for her. She told him she wants her husband to be the “spiritual leader” in the home and Peter has already said that he doesn’t share the same faith. I thought that would’ve been a deal-breaker for her more than anything. Did she think Peter, within a matter of a few short weeks, would just suddenly become a man of God for her? Based on her reaction last night {after learning Peter had sex with the other women}, I think she thought he WAS going to change for her. I think she hoped he’d go into the Fantasy Suite with the other two and have what she said on his mind. While I don’t fault Peter for exploring that area with the other two, I fault him for the way he went about it. Again, here me out, lol! This is just my opinion but I’ve felt for awhile now that Madison is the one he wants in the end. The way they edit this show, they want us to think the lead doesn’t have a clue what they want to do and that the decision is harder than it looks. From what I’ve heard from other leads on the show, they have said that very early on in the show, they already know who their final two are. I believe it to be no different in Peter’s case. When Peter gave her the framed photo of her with him and his parents, my gut told me that she was the one he wanted in the end. My first thought was “Whoa…” because that kind of gift is not something you give out unless there’s feelings and meaning behind it. Especially so early on!! That is actually where I fault Peter for not honoring Madison’s wishes. Now I could be totally wrong but with my assumption she’s the one he chooses, why would he even WANT to sleep with the other two girls?? Obviously, Peter is a very sexual guy and he had every right to explore consensual sex with them. I just don’t know why he would if deep down he knew it would risk losing Madison, his #1. I’ll be blunt and say I think he’s just a horndog and figured Madison wouldn’t give up over something like that. That being said, I’m still confused as to why he’d do that knowing Madison would be hurt and possibly end things with him. Even if she does stay, it will change the dynamic of their relationship completely. She trusted he would not have sex with the other girls and he did. Moving forward, I believe she’ll struggle with that. Not to mention, her father wouldn’t be too happy, either. Also, did anyone else notice Peter didn’t ask ANY of the parents for their blessing during Hometown Week?? Not cool, Peter.

NEXT WEEK:

Will Madison stay or go?? I bet Peter is kicking himself, at this point, for hurting Madison. Their conversation kind of reminded me of Colton and Cassie’s before he jumped the fence. What I mean is, I think what Peter said to her before she walked off is very telling and, in a less blunt “Colton-style”, was trying to say he wants her and only her and doesn’t want her to walk away. My gut tells me it will go down like this: Madison will show up and get a rose but ultimately decide she can’t forgive him and leaves for good. Since Madison is the only one that has met Peter’s family, I think that’s who his mom is referring to when she says “Don’t let her go.” I’m still trying to figure out what Chris H. is referring to when he tells Peter “There’s something you should know.” What are YOUR thoughts?? I’d love to discuss with you.

Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to hear from you!!

 

Meal Planning is BACK!

I feel like such a slacker for not keeping up with my meal planning chart! I’m not sure if it was the holidays or my mom brain but it’s been so long since I’ve done it. I’ve recently felt inspired to get back into that routine and eliminate that unneeded stress of not knowing what to make for dinner. It’s so much easier to wake up, see what’s on the chart for the day, and it’s taken care of. No more scrambling for ideas online while trying to enjoy my coffee or having to browse the pantry/fridge for something easy when I forget to plan.

I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions because I feel like I set myself up for failure. It sounds exciting and motivating to say “I’m going to do THIS!” and then becomes a disappointment when I give up two weeks into the new year. Instead, I think of something I’d like to improve about myself rather than change about myself. “Change” sounds too drastic. What I wanted to improve was the way I eat and how I prepare our meals. I also wanted to improve my health, both physical and mental. Since becoming a mother of two, I’ve struggled with sticking to a health plan. I do great in the beginning….. and then I fall off the health wagon. Then I wonder why I feel so miserable and don’t like my body. This year I decided to make little improvements so I can change the way I feel {and LOOK}.

One of my guilty pleasures is BAD CARBS. Bread, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, donuts, etc. I could eat breadsticks with a good sauce and I was in my happy place. For as long as I can remember, my core area has been where I’ve struggled as far as fitness. I felt like no matter how much I exercised or how healthy I ate, i could never fix this stubborn area. If I wasn’t noticing changes in my stomach/abs, I gave up. I made the crazy decision to cut out these bad carbs from my diet. Since January 1st, I have not had any of these bad carbs. I didn’t realize how often I was eating them until I stopped. It seemed so easy to just eat a pb&j as a quick lunch or throw together a pasta dish for an easy dinner. It hasn’t been super easy, but it’s had its perks. It’s forced me to pay more attention to what I’m eating and find better alternatives. While my family still loves and eats pasta, I find alternative options for me. The other night I made spaghetti for everyone but I made myself a couple pieces of parmesan crusted chicken and a salad. If I was still eating pasta, I wouldn’t have found a great new chicken recipe. Another option I make on spaghetti nights is meatballs and a salad. I am also anemic and it can cause shortness of breath. Not long ago, every night when I’d lay down or just a random time of day, I’d struggle to breathe. It scared me and had me thinking I should see a doctor. Ever since I’ve given up these foods, I don’t have those breathing problems. I’m not certain that’s the cause, but elimination of bad carbs and increase in greens & berries has me thinking it might be.

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This is our dinner plan for this week. As I stated above, I use other options for myself in place of breads and pastas. When I made chicken soft tacos on Sunday night, instead of a tortilla, I put my chicken on top of sliced avocado. It was HEAVENLY and I didn’t miss the tortilla. For the sloppy joes, I made a sauce from scratch in the crockpot and added cooked ground beef 30 minutes prior to dinner time. I did not use a bun and ate my portion with some salad. Delicious! Didn’t miss the bun, either! Last week my husband threw together a chicken dish and earlier that day at Costco found out I had never tried asparagus {always learning something new in marriage, ha!}. He made a garlic buttery chicken with asparagus in the cast iron skillet. If you know me,  you know vegetables are NOT my thing. I was shocked that I tried the asparagus AND liked it! We also ate a salad and mixed berries. A hearty meal without heavy, bad carbs and it was equally satisfying and filling. Now I find myself browsing Pinterest for ideas on how to use asparagus with other meals!

It’s always nice to incorporate a leftovers night when meal planning. It helps clean out the fridge, eliminate waste, and give me a night off from cooking. SCORE!!

Another tip I have is to base your grocery shopping on meals you can make during the week. Check your pantry/fridge/freezer and write down what you need to restock. Browse for what’s on sale in advance. Look up recipes that sound new and easy. Write down the ingredients. In my house, we try to make a trip to Costco once a month to buy things in bulk like meats, produce, and healthy snacks. It’s so much easier to plan meals when you have the star of the dish covered.

I hope this helps you!! Let’s make 2020 a great year!!

July Ipsy Bag Reviews

HEMPZ HERBAL BODY MOISTURIZER IN SWEET PINEAPPLE & HONEY MELON:

HEMPZ

When I saw the teaser for what items that would be in July bags, I told my sister right away that I hope I get this lotion. The original Hempz lotion has been my favorite for years. It’s just not the most budget-friendly. I didn’t even realize they sold other scents until last year when my husband bought me a big bottle of the pumpkin spice kind for my birthday. This tropical scent screams “summer” and I, of course, love it. What’s even better is it’s small enough that I can carry it in my purse. I just hope I don’t use it all up too fast! 5 stars.

 

EYESHADOW IN “OOH LA LA” BY THEBALM COSMETICS:

EYESHADOW

I think the design of this eyeshadow is the cutest thing! I thought the shade might be too light but it wasn’t and it’s perfect for daytime looks. This brand is also cruelty-free, which makes me like it even more. 5 stars.

TRUST FUND BEAUTY NAIL POLISH IN “WHERE’S MY MONEY?”

NAIL POLISH

I was initially hoping to get this dark pink polish I saw in the teaser, but I am actually glad I got this shade instead. I love the shade for spring/summer and to wear as a transition into fall. The polish goes on smoothly and I didn’t need to put on multiple coats {I used two}. It didn’t take long to dry, either. They call this “10-free” because it’s free of 10 harmful chemicals. It’s also cruelty-free. 5 stars.

 

12 BENEFITS INSTANT HEALTHY HAIR TREATMENT:

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This was also an item I was hoping to receive from the teaser, so you can guess how happy I was to see it in my “item reveal.” This is a product I’ve been seeing and hearing about for awhile but haven’t been able to try {not very budget-friendly}. I used this after washing my hair. The smell is pretty much identical to old school Herbal Essences, which I loved. After blow-drying my hair, I noticed my hair wasn’t frizzy or weighed down. I’m happy to continue using this. I would have given this 5 stars but since it didn’t arrive to me in great condition, I docked a star {but against Ipsy, not 12 Benefits}. Still a great product!

 

PACIFICA BEAUTY BRONZER BLUSH DUO:

DUO

I RARELY wear blush and I don’t wear bronzer all that often. However, I did like this brand. Just a couple of strokes did the trick. There is a mirror attached on the back, which is handy for when you’re out and about. As you can see on the label, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.

Thank you for reading my reviews and I apologize for being late! I’ll do better for August 🤣

Friday Favorites Are Back!!

Last Friday I took a much-needed break from social media to devote my time to my family {and cleaning, ha!} So I didn’t do a Friday Favorites post. So sorry!!

FAVORITE DINNER RECIPE:

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If you’re looking for an easy recipe to make tonight {or any night of the week}, look no further. I made this last night and I’m eating some of the leftovers as we speak, lol! When I usually make teriyaki chicken and rice, I have a separate pan for the chicken, rice, and veggies. This recipe only requires one pan, which makes for easy cleanup and not having to babysit multiple ones. I did change a few things, though. I used yellow onion instead of green and I did not use broccoli or peas. RECIPE HERE

FAVORITE BRONZING LOTION:

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If you know me well, you know I CAN’T tan. The only time in my life I’ve been tan is when I used to use the tanning beds at the salon. So bad, I know! So for the last decade I’ve become pasty white. I feel more confident when I’ve got a little bit of a “glow.” Whenever I use this stuff, it really makes a difference! Now I’m no Miss Hawaiian Tropic by ANY means, but I have noticed color on my shoulders and even a subtle tan line. I have them on my feet, too! I don’t spend too long in the sun but even a little bit has helped. And it smells like COFFEE!!

FAVORITE PODCAST: REALITY STEVE

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I only started following Reality Steve recently to keep up with my guilty pleasure The Bachelorette. Yesterday he had a former contestant from the show on his podcast to discuss her time on the show, her {short} engagement and relationship with The Bachelor, and what she’s up to now. She ended up sharing her miscarriage story, which led me to tears because I’m part of that club nobody wants to be a part of. She lost her twin daughters five months into her pregnancy and after she had done her big gender reveal party. Losing my baby at 6 weeks was devastating and I cannot imagine going through what she went through and DOUBLE. I know we typically listen to podcasts for entertainment purposes so I was surprised that I would listen to this and become as emotional as I did. She said as hard as it is, it’s something we need to TALK ABOUT in order to heal. It’s not something you ever fully heal from or even forget, but it’s so true that it’s important to not keep it inside. I’m thankful for her courage to speak out and share her story.

FAVORITE BOOK: DARING GREATLY – BRENE BROWN

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If you haven’t read anything by Brene Brown, you must. She has a few books and this is my first one of hers I’m reading. I love that she’s so relatable and genuine. After watching her Netflix special I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one of her books. My dad is a fan of hers, too and quotes her every time we talk, lol!

Thanks for reading! HAPPY FRIDAY!!

Also, if you haven’t yet you should check out my Instagram Live I shared today. Rather than a regular post, I did a short live video to share what I received in my Ipsy bag. I’m thinking about going live to do my reviews, also. What do you think??

Friday Favorites

Is it just me or did this week go by really fast??

I hope y’all had a fun 4th of July! Even though my kids were excited about going to see fireworks, they wanted to go home after 10 minutes. Lame!! The neat thing is people all over my neighborhood set off fireworks so you see a show even just driving around. Next year we might do some of our own, too. We’ll see!

FAVORITE NETFLIX FIND:

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My dad recommended this to me a few weeks ago but I watched it for a second time last night. This is a little over an hour long and worth every minute. Her message really stuck with me. Plus she had me laughing AND crying. I liked it so much that I’m currently reading one of her books. If you can spare an hour of your day, definitely catch this one!

FAVORITE BLOG/VLOG:

SHARTS AND GIGGLES BLOG

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I can’t stress enough how funny this girl is. I heard about her a few months ago and I’m so glad I did. She shares hilarious videos about her toddler son, her on-going feud with her nextdoor neighbor “Karen”, and anything else interesting that happens to her. She is also known as “The Baby Shark Mom.” I’ve seen all of her videos and sometimes I rewatch the long ones while I cook, fold laundry, or just need a good laugh after a rough day.

FAVORITE COOKIE RECIPE:

PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL COOKIES

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While oatmeal cookies are not my all-time favorite, lately I can’t get enough of these ones. I prefer making desserts that everyone in my house likes, otherwise I end up eating it all and this mama don’t need that! Sometimes I have to tell my husband “You need to help me eat this/these!” Oatmeal cookies are HIS favorite and awhile ago he didn’t even touch the ones I made using a different recipe. When I made these the first time, he LOVED them. He even said “I think these are my new favorite cookie.” Sweet!! He said I should make them again and added “oatmeal” to the grocery list. He didn’t buy just ANY oatmeal. He bought the 10 pound bag from Costco! So, the other day I made more and he ate half the plate of them. I might make more this weekend, too. Lol! You can find the recipe HERE.

FAVORITE NEW TV SHOW:

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During the summer since most of my favorite TV shows are on break, I don’t have much to watch during the week {not sure if that’s good or bad ha!} I remember seeing a preview for this and thought it looked interesting. It’s about a young woman who can see spirits of those stuck in “the inbetween” and has visions that help solve murder cases. One of her dads is a detective so her visions assist his cases. My husband and I decided to give the first episode a try and decide if we will continue watching. We both really like it! If you have an interest in shows about ghosts, crime, mysteries, etc. then you ought to give this one a try. It’s on Wednesday nights at 9 pm on NBC.

Thanks again for reading and wishing you a good weekend and good week ahead!

4th of July Dessert Ideas

It’s crazy to me that we’re 2 days away from 4th of July. That means this year is already halfway over! With that being said, 4th of July is my favorite holiday. I love all things Americana, for one, and it’s probably the most stress-free holiday to me. No fuss about needing to get gifts, grilling out is the BEST, and FIREWORKS!! I like to start my 4th of July, typically, with a themed breakfast. I’ve done what I call “Patriotic Parfaits” which is just sliced strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream layered in a glass. {You could also make these for dessert or substitute the whipped cream for vanilla yogurt}. I’ve also done “Patriotic Pancakes” where I add strawberries and/or blueberries to pancake mix then use my star cookie cutter after they’re cooled.

I know the main centrepoint of 4th of July is whatever ends up on the grill. However, I always feel like the day isn’t complete without a festive dessert. You can find ideas for DAYS so there’s always a lot of options.

FLAG CAKE:

20190702_132923.jpgI made this cake 2 years ago when we hosted an early 4th of July lunch with family. It’s so easy to make and so cute!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 box white cake mix

1 small box of Jell-o mix {strawberry, blue raspberry, or both!}

1 carton of strawberries

1 carton of blueberries

1 tub of Cool Whip

DIRECTIONS:

Bake the cake as directed on the box in a 9×13 pan. Once it’s completely cooled, poke holes all over the cake. Using your liquified jell-o mix, pour it over the cake. {I used both flavors and did strawberry one side and blue raspberry on the other.} Chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Spread the whipped cream over the cake. Wash and slice strawberries in half. Now the fun part is making the flag design!

Last year I made apple pie cookies and s’mores. I’m considering doing s’mores again this year, especially after watching The Pioneer Woman this past Saturday. She made Grilled Sheet Pan S’mores and they looked irresistible! If you’re hosting 4th of July for a small crowd or bringing a dish to a party, this one is perfect!

If you’re looking for a healthier dessert option, I didn’t forget you!

FLAG SKEWERS:

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Healthy AND easy! You could also substitute the strawberries for raspberries or watermelon cubes.

I hope this helped you decide what to put on your menu this Thursday.

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!! 🇺🇸

Friday Favorites!

I was given the suggestion to do blog posts listing some of my current favorite things once a week. What better day than Friday, right? They will range from movies, recipes, products, and anything in between!

 

FAVORITE MOVIE: 

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I watched this movie last night and LOVED it! If you liked Bridesmaids, this is right up your alley. It’s about a group of friends who go to Napa to celebrate one of them turning 50. If you haven’t seen it, get yourself a glass of wine and watch it tonight!

 

FAVORITE WORKOUT VIDEO:

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Turbo Jam has been around for over a decade and it always seems to be my go-to workout. Even when I try new videos, I find myself going back to Turbo. Chalene Johnson has the best energy and makes it feel more like having fun than exercising. She covers cardio, sculpting, and abs! There is also a modified version for beginners. I use this workout at least 5 days a week.

 

FAVORITE DINNER RECIPE: 

878fdfc1c120fecbe8eed60973ac6d10I use Pinterest A LOT when looking for new recipes to try. I’m so glad I found this one because it’s DELICIOUS! My favorite recipes are ones that, not only taste good but, are easy to make and don’t require a bunch of ingredients or ingredients you likely don’t already have. The only ingredient I needed to buy for this one was a packet of ranch seasoning. To make this recipe even easier, you can use a rotisserie chicken or canned chicken. RECIPE HERE

 

I hope you enjoyed reading this week’s favorites of mine and come back every Friday! 

What are some of YOUR favorite things??