Weekend Recap: Weekend 2 at Home

This past weekend was one of pure relaxation.  I had a few house things I thought I would do, but instead, I plopped myself on the couch for pretty much the entire weekend and enjoyed it to the fullest.

Friday night, about 6:30, I settled in on the couch for the night and proceeded to watch a few episodes Chicago Fire.  I am still absolutely loving that show!

Saturday was much of the same, although I did take a break from Chicago Fire to watch the Indycar iRacing Challenge with my brother, nephews and dad via Zoom.  Indycar is a family favorite.  I have attended the Indy 500 the last three years with my dad and brother, who have been attending it for a lot longer than that.  It's always been a neat thing, but what has really gotten us all to be big fans is my nephew.  He is so into it, and in turn, so are we.  I initially started watching the races because it was so fun to talk to my nephew about them afterwards, but as I did that, I found I enjoyed them a lot, too!  So I went from having them on in the background to actually watching them for myself, haha!  Since the start of the season has been postponed, Indycar is doing a few iRacing Challenges, where the drivers are in simulators, doing a race.  I had no idea what the expect, but it was pretty darn neat to see.  The graphics were amazing - at just a glance you would think you were watching the real deal.  I think we will be watching a few more of the challenges together via Zoom, and I have to say I am pretty excited about that.  

Sunday was a beautiful day, albeit a bit windy.  I went for a long walk in the morning, soaking in the fresh air and sunshine.  The skies were just so darn blue!  I opened the windows at home, did a bit of laundry, and just enjoyed the end of the weekend.

It truly was the laziest of weekends.  Sometimes when I have weekends like that, by the time Sunday evening rolls around I start cursing myself for not doing enough or not being product.  Not this time, though!  Thank goodness for that.  Guess it was just what I needed!

Friday Favorites: Candles, Rakuten / Leggings, Face Masks & Wine Glasses

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TGIF!  Yesterday was a longggggg day, and I am so happy that the weekend is just about here.

Today's post is going to be short and sweet - a few favorites from this week.

1.  Fall Candles.  Monday I was feeling pretty sad.  I miss my family.  Text, phone calls and FaceTime are all good, but it isn't the same as seeing them in person.  I was trying to turn my mood around, and lit one of my favorite fall candles.  I have a few spring/summer candles, but honestly, fall was calling me.  And goodness, it made all the difference.  Instant mood booster!

2.  Rakuten.  I was super skeptical of lululemon's align leggings, but I tried a pair for myself last year, and goodness gracious, do they live up to the hype.  With working from home, my attire has been pretty low key, and I decided that it was time to grab another pair to throw in my weekly rotation.  It just so happened that Rakuten was (and is as of Thursday evening) offering 11% cash back on lululemon.  Their leggings are a bit expensive, so getting that amount of cash back made the purchase a little less painful. 

3.  Face Mask.  One of my favorite ways to unwind is to do a face mask.  And my favorite face mask, is the Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque.  I have been using this mask for years, and love it just as much as I first did.  If you are looking to do a little self care, now is the time to buy.  Macy's is offering 15% off beauty, with the code VIP.  They rarely have sales on beauty, so this is a great deal!

4.  Wine Glasses.  I fell in love with these wine glasses last fall, when my mom and I were doing some Christmas shopping.  Right now, Crate and Barrel is having a 20% off sale on wine and dine, so I took advantage and ordered some wine glasses - both stemmed and stemless.  Super excited to get them in and drink a bit of wine from them!

5.  On the blog this week...

Have a great weekend!  

Linking up with Andrea.

What's Up Wednesday: March 2020

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This month has flown on by - it's hard to believe that it's time for this post.  From starting the month with a work trip to Florida to turning 33 to sheltering in place, it's been quite a month!

What I'm eating this week... 
Sunday - Chipotle
Monday - White Chicken Chili & Cornbread Muffins
Tuesday - Leftovers

The rest of the week is pretty open.  I have a few things in the freezer, plus a mish mash of ingredients to use between the freezer, refrigerator and pantry.  It's going to be like an episode of Chopped, albeit on a less extreme level!

What I'm reminiscing about...
My grandpa.  His birthday was yesterday.  He's been gone about 7 and a half years now, and I miss him so much.

What I'm loving...
One of the silver linings I am finding in this COVID-19 world, is all the extra effort being put into connecting with each other.  Because we cannot be around each other, it seems like we are all reaching out more in someway.  I hope that is one thing we continue once we get on the other side of this - continuing to make the extra effort. 

What I've been up to...

In terms of blogging, I started off the month sharing some new recipes I tried.  I was on a bit of a soup kick, and discovered a delicious stew recipe, which is made in the crockpot! (post here)

I shared my March goals and habits, and recapped how February went. (post here)

I had gone to Florida for work at the beginning of March, and while I didn't get much down time, I did snap a few pictures which I shared in a Friday Favorites post, along with a few other faves. (post here)

I took the first Friday of the month off and renewed my license.  It really wasn't bad at all - I got there first thing, and was 5th in line, so I was in and out all together in 40 minutes.  I feel like it always seems like such an ordeal in my mind, that I dread it and put it off.  Hopefully next time I need to go in for something I can remember this painless experience and just get it done!  That weekend I did some organizing and decorating for spring.  (post here)

The following Friday was my birthday.  To celebrate, I did 'A Day in the Life' post, documenting a day from earlier in the week.  Looking back now, I am glad I did that, given how much things have changed since! (post here)

After taking a few days to wrap my head around all that is going on, I shared a life update last week that shared a bit about my birthday weekend, and just rambled a bit about what was going on. (post here)

Friday was back to regular scheduling, with some favorites, including free at home workout options.  If you are like me, working out isn't just a physical thing, it really helps with my mental state, too! (post here)

Last weekend was a nice mix of productivity, and relaxing.  Really hoping all the weekends to come look a little something like that! (post here)

I was hoping to finish up my home tour this month, but my loft area is in a bit of a disarray.  Instead, I shared a wall decor idea! (post here)  

What I'm dreading...
All the unknown surrounding COVID-19.  And running out of toilet paper (I mean that jokingly, but also not, haha)!  

What I'm working on...
Like most, getting through this all.

What I'm excited about...
Getting things done at home.  Time to tackle all those projects I have been wanting to do, but for whatever reason, have not!

What I'm watching...
All the usuals, plus all the build up on my DVR.  Not sure how long those will last, so any Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime recommendations, please send my way!

What I'm reading...
I finally got out of my rut, and read a few non-Nora Roberts books! (post here)

Right now, I am reading The Hideaway, which I am enjoying thus far.

What I'm listening to...
Same as last month - The Standards, Chicago and Jazz for Studying stations on Pandora.  

What I'm wearing...
Well, my daily attire has changed quite a bit!  You can find me in a sweatshirt or a t-shirt and cardigan, leggings or joggers, and slippers

What I'm looking forward to next month...
Focusing on the positive, I am looking forward to what will hopefully be a productive month in terms of home projects.  But, honestly, it's kind of hard to look forward to things when everything is so unknown.  What I am really looking forward to, or rather really hoping for this next month is more clarity and understanding around COVID-19.      

Linking up with Shay and Lindsay.

Home Decor: Initial Wall

The last space I have to share in my home tour is my little loft area.  However, it's not exactly picture ready.  I had it decorated a bit, but then the addition of my Peloton, and now with working from home, it pretty much back to being bare bones.  Minus the pile of things that used to be there, that need to find a new home, haha!  And while I do want to share a realistic home tour on how things look at this time, as I continue to make my house a home, it's just a little too blah for that.  I do hope to put one of these weekends at home to good use to, sprucing things up a bit, but for now, it is what it is.

However, I do still have a home post to share with you today!

As many of you know, my mom and I love to decorate together.  While we don't have exactly the same taste, I get a ton of ideas from her and am always turning to her to talk out design and decor ideas.

At home, my mom is constantly tweaking her decor, and one of those tweaks she has made is creating an initial wall.  

Over the last few years, my parents have been collecting different letter D's for this wall.  The letters come from all about the place - markets, antique malls, Hobby Lobby - you name it.  My mom always keeps an eye out when shopping, and if something catches her eye, she grabs it up to add to the wall.  Personally, I find decor projects like this fun.  You start out with a few items to get going, then you continually have something to look for when you are out and about.  It's like a treasure hunt!

And I think it has come together so very nicely!  I love the collected feel it has.  It personalizes the space, and adds color and texture.  I might just have to find a place to make one for myself in home!

Linking up with Erika.        

Weekend Recap: Weekend 1 at Home

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Happy Monday!  Hope everyone had a good weekend.  Mine was super productive, which was really nice.  While our (St. Louis area) shelter in place didn't technically start until today, I have pretty much been doing that all week.  With absolutely no plans and no places to go, it was the perfect time to get things done.   

I was ready to sign off for the weekend when 4:00 came around Friday afternoon.  I settled on the couch for an evening of pizza, Bon & Viv Black Cherry and Rosemary seltzers and Chicago Fire.  I recently discovered a good frozen deep dish pizza.  It not quite as good as Lou Malnati's, but it's the best I have found in St. Louis. 

I was up crazy late (for me) on Friday - I think it was my mid afternoon cup of coffee - and ended up sleeping in Saturday.  My big plans for the weekend were to do a thorough house cleaning, and I started on that shortly after I got up.  I also did some dry cleaning at home, too.  I discovered Dryel awhile ago, and love it.  It's great for my nicer clothes, but I also use it for my dry clean only coats at the end of the season.  Even though we are still getting a little bit of winter weather, I knew I wouldn't be needing my nicer coats for the foreseeable future, so it was the perfect time to get them cleaned, and hung up until next season.  My black coat is looking a little worn, and I am thinking it might be time for a new one come winter.  Like most people, I am still trying to support some of the local restaurants by utilizing curbside pick up, and did just that for lunch.  Pi Pizza has the most delicious hummus app, with yummy pizza crust points for dipping, and a really good BLT salad.  Later in the evening I start to work on reorganizing my pantry.  A chore like that definitely is helped by a glass of wine and the Chicago station on Pandora!

Sunday morning was nice and slow.  I had a cup of coffee while watching a recorded episode of The Pioneer Woman, which is pretty much one of my favorite ways to spend a slow morning.  Afterwards I got to it and finished up what I hadn't done cleaning wise the day before.  Our weather reverted back to winter, snowing in the morning.  It was really pretty coming down, but then by mid afternoon it was all gone.  I did a little baking, making a batch the my favorite 'one banana' banana bread muffin tops.  And now I am here, typing up this post.

Not an exciting weekend in the least bit, but it was really nice to get everything clean and to do a few other little projects, like the pantry.  I have a feeling most weekends are going to look like this one!

Linking up with Lindsay.

Friday Favorites: Free At Home Workouts, Scholastic Freebie, Cookies, Chili & Coffee + Creamer

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Happy Friday!  This week has been another interesting one, and I am sure they will continue that way for the foreseeable future.

Working from home is going well, although I have been way more tired in the evenings.  It feels silly because I haven't really left home much at all, but I guess the stress of everything going on, plus adjusting to all the changes has taken its toll and plum wore me out!

We were treated to the prettiest skies Thursday night, and with everything going on, it served as a great reminder to me of the beauty that can come out of a storm.  Hoping I can continue to keep that in mind as the days go on!

Now, onto some favorites from the week!

1.  At Home Workout Trials.  Personally, I need to workout on a regular basis for my overall health - not just physical, but mental, too.  I have been a big fan of at home workouts for a long time now, and it seems like it is easier than ever to workout at home!  Which thank goodness for that, especially during these times.

If you are on the hunt for some at home workouts, below are a few options!

  • Peloton App - 90 Day Free Trial.  If you have read here for a bit, you know that in January I got a Peloton bike.  I did a full review on it in this post where I share a more in depth opinion about it, but long story short, I love it.  And with the bike, you need an app membership, which gives you access to all the workouts available from Peloton.  This includes (in addition to the cycling) strength, stretching, cardio, yoga, and meditation.  So far I have done a few yoga classes and one cardio class.  I have enjoyed all of them, and look forward to checking out all the other options, too.
  • obé fitness.  For this streaming service, the workouts are 28 minutes long, and it looks like from the website they even have an 'express' option, where the workouts are 10 minutes long. One of my favorite bloggers, Caitlin at Southern Curls & Pearls, has a code for a free month (CAITLINMONTH).  I believe their normal free trial option is 7 days, so a whole month would be great.  
  • Youtube.  Youtube is a great source for free workouts.  I used to do Walk at Home, which was great for those times when you just want to move, but don't want to have to think too hard about it.  Really, the options are endless on Youtube.  The only thing I would suggest if using this option, though, is to plan your workouts in advance.  I feel like I would waste so much time finding a good workout prior to actually working out.  Since I like to workout in the morning, it would waste some of that time, and I would end up having to do a shorter workout.

2.  Scholastic Freebies.  I feel like everyone on instagram has been sharing free resources to help keep kids learning while at home.  I don't have kids myself, but I have been paying attention to see if there is anything I could pass along to my brother for my nephews.  I came across this free Scholastic resource via Brittany, and shared it with my brother, just in case they would want to give it a try.  They ended up trying it, and seems like it's been good thus far!

3.  Magnolia Table Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I have made the chocolate chip cookies from the Magnolia Table cookbook a few times, and each time people have just raved about them.  As in saying they are the best chocolate chip cookies they have ever had.  Personally, I prefer my Aunt Becky's recipe, but these are still good, super easy, and really, people love them!  A friend asked for the recipe today, and then as I was on instagram, I saw that Joanna Gaines was actually making them with her kids today, too.  I thought the timing of that was too funny!  Plus, Joanna posted that she will be sharing a new activity / challenge each day for the next few days that everyone can get on and then share.  Just another place to look for inspiration during these days, and connect with each other via social media.

4.  White Chicken Chili.  Speaking of recipes, I made one of my favorites last night, White Chicken Chili.  And goodness, was it so darn good!  I served it with cornbread muffins and cucumbers.  And thoroughly enjoyed every last bit.  I kept some to eat on now, and then put that rest in the freezer for a later date.  It's a great recipe, because most of the ingredients are pantry items, and it also makes a good amount so you do have leftovers to eat on.  I am already looking forward to tonight's dinner!

5.  Coffee & Creamer.  The other day I was watching instagram stories, and came across one Lauren Bown posted.  She shared that when she makes her coffee, she puts the cream in first, then brews the coffee in the cup.  For some reason, this particular story had me really craving coffee.  I haven't been drinking it much, because I would feel really terrible after it, but thought I would give it another go to see if once again it could be a nice little treat.  And, I wanted to see if her tip of adding the creamer first made a difference.  I gave it a go yesterday afternoon as a pick me up, and sure enough, it tasted fabulous.  Now, I don't know if this was because I tried a new creamer (Vanilla Oat Milk Creamer), if it was because I hadn't had coffee in awhile, so it tasted even better than normal, or if it was truly because putting in the creamer first makes a difference, but whatever it was, it was great!  I have a feeling that an afternoon coffee break is going to become part of my daily routine, now that I am working from home.

Before I go, here's what's been on the blog lately (including last week since I didn't round up those posts last Friday):
Linking up with Andrea.

Life Lately 3.18.2020

Hey all!  Hope everyone is hanging in there!   

First off, I want to say thanks so much for all the birthday wishes.  It was an interesting birthday, that is for sure.  I feel like it was the day when the bottom really fell out with COVID-19.  The whole day felt off, but once I got home, all that angst started to dissipate (I mean, how could I stay cranky with a birthday call from my parents and then a FT with my brother and nephews?!), and I was able to really enjoy the evening.  And even with all that was going on (and still is going on), I had a truly great birthday weekend.  I was able to get in some wonderful celebrations with some of the best people.  That, plus the birthday wishes via email, text, and mail, really just added up and made the start of thirty-three so very special.

And, I treated myself to a new bag!  I had been wanting a new crossbody for some time now, and put a portion of my tax return to use on it.  Granted, I won't be getting to break it out anytime soon, but I will sure be ready when this all passes.

All in all, a great birthday and a great weekend!

The last few days have been all about getting used to the new normal, which right now for me is working from home.  Working from home isn't necessarily new to me - I have done so for a few days here and there when I haven't been feeling 100%, or the weather is nasty.  What is new, though, is working from home for a more extended period.  So far it's been (mostly) good, and I am keeping a positive attitude settling into this new routine, because really, what else can you do?!

That's pretty much where I am at now.  These are unprecedented times, and it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds over the next few weeks, and even the next few months.  

Linking up with Lindsay.

My Annual Birthday Post: A Day in the Life

This week has been interesting to say the least.  The markets, the coronavirus, the impacts of the coronavirus...if feels like it's a whole new world we are living in!

But, today I am attempting to ignore all that, because today is my 33rd birthday!  I've done various birthday posts over the years...

Twenty-Nine where I share 29 facts about me.  Not much has changed, except I do like coffee now!

My Birth Story which is actually a post my mom wrote!  I will forever cherish having this story recorded.

31 Things For My 31st Birthday is another 'facts about me' post.  Looking back at that one, it seems all pretty current, although I give myself 5 extra minutes to sleep in the morning, haha.  And while I still enjoy pinot noir, my current red wine favorite is the Shiraz from Trader Joe's!

32...These are a few of my favorite things...covers a range of my favorite things, from cookbooks to shoes, to mascara, and of course, my family!

...and today I thought I would do one of my very favorite posts - a day in the life.  

I absolutely love reading these posts, and enjoy looking back on them myself.  My days aren't all that crazy and exciting (especially this past Wednesday, which is what I documented), but those low key days are some of my favorites.

I woke up around 4:00, and had a tough time going back to sleep, knowing I would be up again in a half hour.  I always wonder if it would be better just to get up in those cases, Wednesday was not the day I was going to try that, though, haha.  My alarm went off at 4:30, and I struggled for about 10 minutes to actually get out of bed.  It was so warm and comfy!  But, alas, it was time to get up, so I put in my contacts and threw on my workout clothes before heading downstairs.  I filled up a glass of water and plopped in my chair to read my devotional and write in my gratitude journal.  It's been really a great way to start the day.  And since I started doing my gratitude journal in the mornings (fill in things from the previous day), I have been so consistent with it, and I really feel like it's had a favorable effect on me overall.  I scroll through instagram for a minute, then make my way to my Peloton.

I shoot to get on my Peloton around 5 or shortly thereafter.  Since I knew I would be having a really hard workout the following day in my training session, I opted for a low impact ride with Robin - she is my very favorite instructor.  Even though the ride was low impact, I still feel like I got in a nice workout to start the day. 

I grabbed my computer, fixed up a few things on my blog, read another blog, and then made my way to the kitchen.

For some reason, I was really beat the night before and did pretty much nothing to prepare for the following day, so I had to get my lunch together that morning, as well as tidy the kitchen up a bit.  Luckily that didn't take very long, but I still was kicking myself for not getting to it the night before.

The rest of the morning before work was spent getting ready, and as always, making my bed.  I have always been pretty consistent about making my bed, but my mom told me once that making your bed in the morning makes you happier.  I think she saw it on one of the morning shows.  I totally buy into that, because even if the rest of my room is a mess, it still feels somewhat put together as long as the bed is made.  And you get that sense of accomplishment, too, to help start the day.

I grabbed my things, and headed off to work.  I swear, sometimes the amount of stuff I take with me to work, or my car for later makes me feel like a pack mule!  Today was a lighter load, but sometimes there is a gym bag added in there, a bag of library books to go back, and occasionally a return or two.  Or some baked goods to go to work.

My work schedule is pretty nice.  I get in a bit earlier, so I don't have to work until the traditional 5:00.  I usually get done 4:00, or shortly thereafter.  I know it's pretty common these days for companies to have more flexible start/stop times, but it still feels like a really nice perk.  And even though it's just an hour, I feel like it makes a huge difference.

As with most, my company has been continuing to increase precautions to ensure that employees stay healthy, and things can run business as usual.  We got some news this day about additional precautions that are expected to be implemented the following week.  While expected, it still was a lot to think about, especially with quarter end busyness just a few weeks away.  I know everything will be fine and it will all work out, but these really are just interesting times!

I had a return to make after work at Michaels.  I grabbed a garland from there over the weekend that I contemplated using on my mantle, but ended up going a different route.

On my way home, I gave my parents a call to catch them up on what's been going on around here with the virus.  I email my mom almost every week day, but sometimes it's nice to talk on the phone.  Especially when my dad is there, too.

I had no evening plans, so my pjs went on right after I got home.  I opened the curtains/shades to let the light in, fixed myself a snack, lit a candle, and sat down for a bit.

When I was putting away my plate, I went through the mail quickly and had a birthday card from my aunt and uncle.  Definitely made for a happy mail day!  

I have really enjoyed how it's staying lighter later these days, but it does kind of throw me for a loop.  I tend to lose track of time without the marker of it getting darker out, and ended up starting on dinner a little later than normal.  I made the sour cream chicken enchiladas from the Magnolia Table cookbook.  These are so darn good, and I always split a recipe into two pans, one to eat now and one to freeze for later.

While they were baking and I was cleaning things up from the prep, I also got my lunch together for the next day.  I find it easiest to do either right when I get home, or while I am making dinner.  Others have said they do it when they clean up after dinner, which I think is another great idea, too, because not all meals have hands off time.

I have been intermittent fasting so I usually try to eat between 11:00 and 7:00 each day, but since I got a later start on dinner, I sat down to eat just a bit after that.  It was soooo darn good.

I had a few things I had planned on getting done, but after dinner I wasn't necessarily feeling all that productive, so I settled on the couch and watched a few shows.  I feel like I am so used to fast forwarding through shows, but letting the commercials actually play has been helpful in making sure I get the kitchen cleaned up earlier, etc.

Before I headed to bed for the evening, I put the pillows back on the couch.  Kind of like with having a clean kitchen, it's always nice to do that before the end of the night, so when I go downstairs in the morning, I am not greeted with a little mess.

I washed up and read a little bit more of my current book, Undercover by Danielle Steel.  I think this is my first book of hers, at least that I can remember, and while it took me a bit to get used to her writing style, I have really started to enjoy it!

I thought I grabbed a screenshot when I called it a night, but it's not in my camera roll, so apparently I didn't, but I was out and most likely asleep right before 10.

And that was one of my last days as a 32 year old!

All in all, I feel like 32 was pretty good to me.  While life looks quite a bit different than I would have expected years ago, it's had some pretty high highs.  So cheers to that - hopefully 33 will bring even more of those!  

Linking up with Erika and Andrea.