WIDE LEG PANTS

I was so excited to see this trend make its way back into our lives! I am all about COMFORT when it comes to outfits. Wide leg pants, maxi dresses, sports bras, and of course yoga pants … those are my go-tos! Not sure how some people can rock jeans every single day … more power to them! Anyway, back to my excitement about this wide leg comfy pants trend! They totally remind me of those gaucho pants we used to wear in like middle school. Super wide, flowy and soft. I was unsure if I would find any that would fit me right, now that I am a grown woman and all (HA), but I did find TWO pairs that I love! I am pretty short (5’2 on a good day) so I definitely have to wear them with wedges but that’s okay!

The first pair I bought are from Target, I mean would you expect anything less?! #targetforlife (here is the link) I got an XS and they fit perfect. I am usually not a “navy” girl but the thought of wearing these with a burnt orange top sold me. SUPER CUTE.

I was randomly browsing TJMAXX the other week and found a second pair, which I obviously snatched up! These are black and white striped and look great with a black tee for work or a black tank. It may be harder to track these down since they are from TJ’s but still may be worth a look there to see if they have any in your size. The brand of these is “JOLT” and they are a size S.

So to say I am excited is an understatement! These are not only cute and comfy but also super functional and work appropriate. My eyes will be peeled for any more cute ones that I stumble into this summer!

BINGE WORTHY SHOWS

So fun fact about me … I went like 3 years with no cable or internet a few years ago! I was focused on reading and other hobbies. Somehow, I survived that. I don’t think I could do that these days, I am an avid show watcher/binger now! I am not even sure how this post is going to go because there are just TOO MANY good shows to list. HA. I am sure I will forget some, so maybe this will be an ongoing list that I will add to. I LOVE documentaries but this list will just be shows with multiple seasons that you can binge and I will sort them by streaming channel.

NETFLIX:

  • Shameless
  • Breaking Bad
  • Dead to Me
  • On My Block
  • Stranger Things
  • Easy
  • Ozark
  • American Crime
  • Maniac
  • Black Mirror
  • Seven Seconds
  • The Sinner
  • 13 Reasons Why
  • She’s Gotta Have It
  • Russian Doll
  • You

HBO:

  • The Wire
  • Divorce
  • Westworld
  • Game of Thrones
  • Girls
  • High Mainteenance
  • The Shop
  • Big Little Lies
  • The Duece
  • Camping
  • Insecure
  • Mosiac
  • Sharp Objects
  • True Detective

HULU:

  • Handmaid’s Tale
  • Revenge
  • The Act
  • Atlanta
  • Homeland
  • Shrill

SHOWTIME:

  • The Chi
  • Black Monday
  • The Affair
  • Kidding
  • Escape at Dannemora
  • Patrick Melrose
  • SMILF

HEALTHY SNACKS

I am an avid snacker and am always looking for new options. I eat pretty healthy most of the time and try to pay attention to labels/ingredients. I’m human though, sometimes I throw down a bag of Blaze Doritos guilt free! Everything in moderation, right?! Here are my go-to snacks:

↠ Fruit (blueberries, banana, peach, mango, kiwi)

↠ Almonds (more recently the Skinny Dipped chocolate peanut butter ones)

↠ Protein Bites (I make a cookie dough version weekly … Pinterest has tons)

↠ Hummus (with veggies, peppers, crackers)

↠ Kashi Bars (lately I have been obsessed with the Chewy Nut Butter Bars “Salted Chocolate Chunk”)

↠ Roasted Chickpeas (favorite brand is Biena “Habanero” flavored)

↠ Guacamole (I have a bomb homemade recipe if you need one)

↠ Olives (stuffed garlic are where it’s at)

↠ Cheese (Kerrygold “Dubliner” is my fave)

↠ Apples & PB (either sliced or I make into “nachos” and drizzle with melted PB and add mini chocolate chips)

↠ Cashew Queso (Siete makes some BOMB chashew queso to dip tortilla chips in)

↠ RX Bars (I have had a few flavors and liked them … good for on the go)

↠ Kale Chips (Pinterest)

↠ Parmesean Crisps (basically just bake shredded parmesean cheese and add any seasonings … I usually add italian seasoning)

↠ Kodiak Cake Cups (another good on the go one … microwave for one minute and boom you have a little mini muffin or pancake in a cup)

↠ Mini Dark Chocolate Chips (I always keep a bag of these in my pantry so when I have chocolate cravings … a few of these and I am good)

My snack rotation is forever changing, so please drop me some new ideas to try!

FAVORITE FINDS – ROUND 2

I am back with round 2 of “Favorite Finds”! These eight items have been my latest purchases that I love! I will link the websites for each “find” so that all you have to do is click the title and you’ll be taken directly to where I ordered the product.

#1 – Universal Thread Sweater: $24.99 at Target. Majority of my wardrobe comes from Target. I am seriously obsessed. Even though the weather is warming up, these sweaters are perfect because they are super light and airy. I got in olive and mustard because when I find something I love, I MUST get it in multiple colors. HA. Don’t forget to use your RED CARD!

#2 – Skinny Dipped Almonds: $4 at Target. So I randomly heard about these on the “Almost 30” podcast and went directly to Target to grab a bag. They have a few different flavors but I went with the dark chocolate peanut butter ones. They are lightly coated with chocolate and a peanut butter powder. I liked how they were not super thick … there was just the right amount of chocolate covering the almond. If you order from the “Skinny Dipped” website you can use the code “Almost30” for 20% off.

#3 – Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish: $7.99 at Target. As part of my latest plan to save money, I decided to cut out pedicures. I couldn’t cut out mani’s …. I just can’t. But anyway, I did some research on gel polishes. I have a UV drying lamp but didn’t want to deal with all of that right now. So I found this stuff and have loved it. I got the “GET MOD” white color. It is a two-step process, with the color being step 1. You also need to purchase Step 2, which is the top coat. I use two coats of the color and then one top coat. It dries pretty quickly and went on super smooth. It has lasted a couple of weeks without any chips. I will definitely use this throughout the summer.

#4 – Patrizia by Spring Step Larissa Espadrille Platform Sandal: $49.99 at DSW. I am loving this current trend! I have lots of tall wedges but I wanted a pair that were more platform style with less heel. I was hesitant because the sizing is a bit weird but I read the reviews and went .5 size down and they fit perfectly. DSW always has a sale or coupon code so be sure to check!

#5: Blenders Rose Theater Sunglasses: $48 at Blenderseyewear.com. I think I honestly like these better than my expensive Ray Bans! They don’t have the metal prongs on the nose part which I like. They are super light weight and stylish … can’t go wrong! They always have 15% or 20% off coupons on their website.

#6: Siete Cashew Queso: $5.99 at Whole Foods. I was like beyond PUMPED to try this. I LOVE queso. I first tried the spicy blanco flavor and I wasn’t a fan of the texture for some reason. It wasn’t spicy at all either. Then I went back and got this mild nacho flavor and fell in love. It almost has a smoky nacho flavor. It is so good warmed up with tortilla chips. It’s literally completely dairy free and made from cashews. Its texture is very similar to traditional cheese based queso.

#7: Chooka Fremont Rain Boot: $49.99 at DSW. I was on the hunt this spring for a new pair of rain boots. What I liked about these, was the height. I am pretty short (5’2) so a lot of boots go all the way up to my knee. These, however, go mid-calf and I like that a lot. My previous rain boots were patterned so I was looking for a solid color this time around. These fit great and have kept my feet dry this spring!

#8: Knockout by Victora Sport High-rise 7/8 Tight: $69.50 at Victoria’s Secret. Don’t mind my face in this picture, HA. I was not planning on ever using this photo but as I am typing this post, I realized I have no picture of these except this one. Anyway, I was stoked about these because as a shorty I can never find leggings that I don’t have to roll. The 7/8 length is so perfect … fits me as normal leggings should. I absolutely love the VS sport leggings line. I have some I purchased 5 years ago that are in perfect condition. They never get little fuzz balls on them. I workout hard in them and they stay in place and have never ripped. They have POCKETS on both sides in addition to the typical waistband one. I went back and ordered the capris length too!

Well, that’s all folks! I am sure next month I will have more FAVORITE FINDS to share with you. Until then, let me know if you try any of these out!

TOP TEN FAVORITE RECIPES

You’ve probably caught on by now, to the fact that I love food! In addition to checking out local gems, I really enjoy cooking! I make most of my meals at home during the week and faithfully meal prep every Saturday or Sunday. I am always down for trying new recipes and have some favorites that I go back to again and again.

When recipe hunting I usually start with Pinterest. That is also where I keep my recipes organized. I have tried printing them out and three-hole punching them to store in a binder, but it’s just so much easier to just pull it up on my phone when I am in the kitchen. I always scan over the recipes to make sure most ingredients are clean and usually end up modifying most recipes to make some clean additions.

As I mentioned in my TOP EATS post, I have only eaten meat a handful of times in the last six months. I have felt this clean and lean feeling inside since removing meat from my diet. I love it! So most of my recipes are vegetarian-friendly. If I find a recipe that calls for meat but it sounds super yummy, I usually just substitute for a meat-free option. I love using beans, mushrooms, tofu, quinoa, and cauliflower to make meatless meals.

I am going to post below ten of my all time favorite recipes. The link to the actual recipe is linked in the heading … so just click on the name of the recipe and it will take you to a new website/blog to read the entire recipe. I will add any notes to indicate if I modified anything. In no particular order … my top ten favorite recipes:

1. MUSHROOM LASAGNA: This is an easy go to mushroom lasagna that tastes so cheesy and amazing! I usually get 4 large servings out of this recipe. Modifications: coconut or almond flour for the all purpose flour and almond milk for the heavy cream.

2. WILD RICE SOUP: I was obsessed with this soup this winter. It was a weekly staple in my life. It has a thicker consistency that regular soup and is just packed full of healthiness! You can be as creative as you’d like with this soup. Modifications: coconut or almond flour for the all purpose flour and almond milk for the regular milk.

3. SPICY VEGAN JAMAICAN JERK CAULIFLOWER TACOS WOTH MANGO SALSA:Who doesn’t love tacos?! There are so many variations that you’ll never get tired of them. These were my first cauliflower tacos I made and I quickly became obsessed. The jerk seasoning is awesome and you can make with the mango salsa mentioned in this particular recipe or just add your own toppings! Modifications: NONE!

4. QUINOA TACOS: I told you I love tacos! HA! These literally taste like regular ground beef tacos. They have that same cumin flavor going on. The texture is also really similar to beef. Modifications: NONE!

5. POTATO SOUP: This was also a winter staple for me. I had never really tried potato soup and then after making this one I was hooked! It literally tastes like mashed potatoes! It is a little thicker than a regular soup I would say. I liked that there was no heavy cream involved – just some cream cheese instead. I also loved how this was a crock pot recipe … score! Perfect for simmering on a Sunday. I used an immersion blender for the first time when making this and I was in love with that thing too! HA! Modifications: NONE!

6. SPICY THAI NOODLES: This has been one of my go to recipes for several years now. I never get sick of it. I also make homemade wontons (upper right photo) to go along with this dish. I did try making this once with chickpea linguine noodles and it didn’t go too well. It was so thick and it just didn’t taste right. I would stick to regular pasta noodles for this one. Modifications: liquid aminos for the soy sauce.

7. ROASTED RED PEPPER RIGATONI: I came across this recipe more recently and have already made it four times. You could easily add in a protein but I have enjoyed it as is so far. It’s so cheesy and has a unique sauce taste. Modifications: almond milk for the half and half.

8: VEGETARIAN CAULIFLOWER WINGS: I have tried to make cauliflower wings a few times in the past and I just wasn’t sold, until I found these babies! These are also made weekly in my kitchen! They are so easy and SO good. Modifications: coconut or almond flour for the all purpose flour, almond milk for the regular milk and I split the sauce 1/4 cup buffalo and 1/4 cup bbq.

9. SPCIY SHRIMP TACOS: Wow, tacos made the list three times! Not surprised. They are just so easy to make during the week and meal prep for work week lunches. These are awesome because of the creamy sriracha sauce and cilantro lime slaw! It claims it will serve four people but I would say more like two in reality! Modifications: NONE!

10. TOASTED GNOCCHI: This is another more recent find that I can’t get enough of. It’s super easy and quick to throw together on a week night. I personally can’t get enough when it comes to gnocchi and mushrooms … so this is a match made in heaven! Modifications: NONE!

I will update you all in a couple months with some new finds but for now, enjoy these! Let me know if you try any of them!

LASHES

Most of the time you can catch me rocking a casual and natural style but there are times I do enjoy being EXTRA. My makeup style is also usually pretty simple and natural. A couple of years ago though I tried some fake lashes and I really liked how they made my eyes pop. Even if I didn’t have a lot of other makeup on there was something I liked about having lashes that were full and dark. I have just been purchasing single-use lashes from Sally’s or Target but I recently saw an Instagram post about these new lashes from “Made For More Collection” and I had to try them!  

When I looked on their site I was pleasantly surprised at the cost. I have seen girls who go in to have lash extensions and spend hundreds of dollars each month. So when I saw that these were only $15 and could be used multiple times (15-20 times with proper care) I was like HELL YEAH!!! I ended up getting the starter kit, which came with the tools, glue and one set of lashes. With the IG code I had, it came to $28. That’s a very good deal if you ask me. I got the “Girl Next Door” lashes and they look pretty natural and subtle in my opinion. They were suggested if you wanted a “simple yet full volume look” without adding too much length. The lashes are faux mink.

I was so excited when they arrived! The packaging was super cute & classy. I always pay attention to those little details. The colors of the tools and container are also adorable. Sort of a rose gold color. They seemed like good quality at first glance. What was super nice was that there are two awesome videos on the Made For More Collection website that explain care guidelines and also show the application and removal process. I watched both of those and felt pretty confident I could do this. A trick mentioned in the video is to use liquid eyeliner on the clear band of the lashes to fill in the clear color. I would recommend doing that if you don’t want the band to be noticeable. The “Girl Next Door” style has the clear band but some of the more expensive ones already have a black band.

Keep in mind, I haven’t put on fake lashes since Halloween so I was a bit rusty. HA. I also would NOT recommend doing this when you are going somewhere and have a time limit. That was mistake one for me. I managed but I did have to rush a bit and it would have been nicer to take my time. So here’s what went down:

  • As I mentioned earlier, I first coated black liquid eyeliner on the clear band to attempt to color in that area. While that was drying, I did my eye makeup as usual and applied mascara to my regular lashes. You are not supposed to put mascara on the fake lashes at all.
  • I got the lashes out of the box carefully with the tweezers, making sure to be gentle. Definetly keep the box to store your lashes in.
  • I applied glue to the inside of the clear band. I especially liked that the glue came with a brush so I could see exactly where I was applying glue and I could control how much I put on. It is very important to wait at least 35 seconds to let the glue start to get tacky.
  • You are supposed to adhere to the center of your eye first and then work on the inner and outer edges. I was lucky and didn’t have to trim them at all to fit on my eyes. I did, however, make another mistake, I put one set on and noticed it was much more full on the INSIDE of my eye instead of the outside … I had it on the wrong eye. LOL. So I quickly moved that over to the correct eye.
  • I applied both sets … I had to sort of play with them to get them in the correct spot, but it was not too hard. I used a combination of my fingers and the tweezer to press my real lashes against the fake lashes. I was able to get them to blend really well.

TA-DA! I was done! They were a little more glam than I was picturing but I did like how they looked. It did take some getting used to … those of you who have had fake lashes know what I’m talking about! It just feels different to have these long heavy things on your eyes. My biggest thing I need to work on is my eyeliner application. I think if I get that perfected then I will be happy with how they look on my eyelid. They never once lifted up or came out of place which was nice because I wore them bowling! HA!

When you want to take them off it’s suggested to dip a Q-tip into oil-free makeup remover and gently run that along the glue line. When the glue dissolves you can gently remove the lashes and store them in your cute little box until next time. I also cleaned the glue line some more with the Q-tip once I had them removed.

Overall, I was really happy with these lashes! I am especially excited that you can use them multiple times. I don’t wear lashes every day but these are awesome for those special occasions when I want to add a little extra glam and be fancy. I think the more I practice the easier it will all get. I even did them the following day and it took me half the amount of time and they looked even better! The lashes are beautiful, soft, full, and high quality. The tools and glue/brush were easy to use and also high quality. If you are interested in trying them out, check out madeformorecollection.com and look at the different styles available.

ANXIETY

This seven letter word has affected my life for about twelve years now. I wasn’t able to put a label on it and begin to fully understand it until more recently though.

Anxiety presents itself differently in everyone, so I am just sharing my own personal experiences.

Anxiety to some degree is normal and even healthy. It’s our body’s natural response to stress. Maybe you get a little nervous in new stressful situations or you replay something in your head but then you are typically able to let it go and move on. The issue is when it escalates to disproportionate levels where you literally cannot let it go and feel yourself losing control.

As I mentioned before, anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways. It’s not something where people fit cleanly into categories or boxes … it’s messy and ever-changing. Some people may not even realize that anxiety is the culprit of some of their behaviors. The following are some different ways anxiety could present itself:

  • The desire to control people and events
  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Feeling agitated or angry
  • Avoiding usual activities
  • Having very high expectations of yourself
  • Stomachaches/headaches/racing heart/panic attacks (and many other physical symptoms)
  • Struggling to pay attention and focus
  • Intolerance of uncertainty
  • Feeling extremely worried
  • Over planning for situations and events
  • Crying and difficulty managing emotions
  • Replaying events and not being able to let go

I have had experience with all of those things on the list. I have literally been so physically uncomfortable that I felt like crawling out of my skin. I have experienced deep sadness and extreme emotions. I tend to become paranoid and read way into things which then creates situations that aren’t even real. Uncertainty really bothers me and is hard for me to cope with. I will get to the strategies I use to defeat anxiety later on, but I do want to share a recent example from own life.

One of my worst anxiety battles was this last year. I had some really tough medical news that started in early July, which caused my anxiety to really spiral out of control (I will write about my medical news in the near future). My usual home remedies were not cutting it. I was so stressed and anxious that my body felt like it wasn’t even mine. I wasn’t sleeping because of nightmares and constantly obsessing over this medical news, having panic attacks, my chest was tight and I was getting heart palpitations, my appetite was off and I just felt this constant racing feeling in my head and body. It got to a very low point this November after some more difficult health follow-up news. One Monday morning I was teaching and my vision completely went out. I could see bright white light and it was worse in my right eye. I thought I was going to pass out. I tried to take deep breaths and tell myself to just calm down. I thought maybe I looked directly into a light or the window and now I was just seeing some spots. But after ten minutes with no improvement, I started to panic. I had a surgery a few weeks prior and now I was worried that this had something to do with that. I called my principal for help because I had students in front of me. She called 911. As we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive my vision came back in both eyes. I recalled that in college a couple of times I had “ocular migraines” and this sort of seemed like that too. Back then they did a CT scan of my head and ended up finding nothing out of the ordinary just those ocular migraines. You basically get the visual symptoms and see auras but never get the full-blown migraine. Turns out this episode was an ocular migraine as well. I was told by the doctor that STRESS & ANXIETY are the number one causes. That hit home.

When this happened I knew I had to do something because my body was literally screaming at me to get this under control. Our bodies are powerful and mine was telling me something wasn’t right. Now, it was up to me to listen. I wanted to rid my body of stress and anxiety because I knew that those environments only let diseases thrive and I needed to get over my other health issue. If I kept this up, my other issue was sure to progress.

I have always been against medication. Like strongly against. But at this moment when everything else was failing and my principal was calling 911 for me, I decided I needed to give it a try. It was interfering with my life and job. It had been 4 months and I still wasn’t able to cope with this health news in a positive manner on my own. I was prescribed Wellbutrin and I was okay with the idea of at least trying it because life felt so out of control. The first week I had some mild side effects but my anxiety drastically decreased. I had hope that this was my cure. But fast forward into week 2 and the horrible side effects arrived. Dry mouth, massive headaches, acne, my perioral dermatitis flared up, my hair was falling out left and right, my heart rate was through the roof (like downright scary) and I had such a huge internal conflict going on because to me this drug was poisoning me … but was it helping my anxiety? What was worse? What could I tolerate more? One month into this and I woke up one day and quit cold turkey. I read mixed reviews about doing that but I needed this out of my body NOW.

I had some withdrawal symptoms for about a week or so but I am beyond happy that I got that out of my body. I researched more natural & holistic remedies that I could do for my medical issue and anxiety instead. I think the entire experience did get me over the hump that I was stuck on though. During that month I was able to ACCEPT my diagnosis and ACCEPT that I wouldn’t know anything else until next summer. All I could do was take care of my mind and body right now. What is meant to be, will be. So I don’t regret trying the medication because maybe that is what I needed to see the facts clearly. I would never know if I didn’t try it. I also want to be very clear that if medication works for you and helps you, then more power to you! I have nothing against people who use medication. It just didn’t feel right for me and that’s okay too.

So moving on to some more positive stuff. Ways to deal and cope with this monster. I think the first step in battling it is to begin to recognize your triggers. This is extremely hard though because at least for me my triggers have changed throughout my life and will most likely continue to change as I go through new things. As I am getting older though, I am able to predict things that could disrupt my norm and cause a flare up. That was huge for me. Once I was able to know situations that would bother me I could try to avoid them. But as we all know you can’t avoid things forever. I was able to pinpoint some toxic areas in my life though. If people, jobs, etc are not fulfilling to you then you need to let them go. Also, if you know how you’re going to feel about something you can work on your reaction to the situation. If you can get your reactions controlled that helps to not create more stress and anxiety. In addition, I have gone to therapy and gotten some amazing strategies to deal with my anxiety. Ultimately, I had to first figure out what the root cause was. I am still working through some of that but it’s certainly progress.

Some of the things that help me include:

  • journaling
  • using CBD oil
  • deep breathing
  • hot showers
  • calling or texting a close friend
  • music
  • meditation
  • snuggling my dog
  • going on a walk
  • working out

It’s really hard to describe and talk about this stuff with someone who doesn’t struggle as you do. You sort of feel crazy sometimes. If the other person doesn’t know the right things to say it can make matters even worse and come off as really insensitive. One suggestion I have is if you are the friend or loved one of someone with anxiety, don’t brush it off. Don’t tell them it will be “okay” or that “it’s not that big of a deal”. I can tell you from experience that will only make them feel more anxious. The best thing you can do is to just listen and comfort them. Even though you may not personally know the exact feeling they are going through, you can be respectful, empathetic and caring towards them. I know for me I appreciate affirmations and reassurance tremendously when I am in the going through a bad anxiety period. I also think it’s important to ask the person what they need from you. I know whenever someone has asked me that in the midst of an anxiety attack, even if I don’t know the answer, it still felt really good to know they would do whatever I needed. It also gave me a moment to step back and think, what do I actually need right now?

I will leave you with some positive affirmations that may also help you get through a rough patch …

I’ve survived this before

I have the ability to cope

I’m stronger than I think

This a moment in time; it will pass

I grow stronger each time I overcome anxiety

I forgive myself for feeling anxious

I can do this and I will do this

My will to be calm is more powerful than my anxiety

I am not alone in my struggles

I am safe and loved

MY ANXIETY DOES NOT DEFINE ME OR CONTROL ME