May 2015 archive

On Doing It All


During my last few semesters of law school, I worked as a part-time nanny for a family of six: two parents, two girls, and two boys. When I started, the kids were all under the age of five. Right now, some of you are thinking “Whoa…those people are crazy! No wonder they needed a nanny!” but let me assure you, they didn’t really need me. They have an absolute rock-star mom. She’s that mom who bakes homemade bread for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she feeds her children. Her kids know what foods like lamb and asparagus are and they actually eat them. She homeschools her two oldest. She makes time for at least one date night with her husband each week, every week. She does all of this and still has time to take care of herself. And above all, she is one of the best people I have ever met in my life. She is warm and fun and gives so much and loves God with all of her heart. It is no coincidence that I met her just a few months before I got engaged. God wanted me to have a real-life example of the wife and mother I hoped to become. I could not be more thankful for the time I spent with that family.

After a year and a half of observing and practicing, I got married and was unpleasantly surprised to find that doing it “all” didn’t come naturally to me. I love to cook, but I have trouble motivating myself to do it more than twice a week. I love a clean house, but after I’ve finished the laundry and the dishes I have serious trouble talking myself into cleaning the bathrooms. It seems like I never have enough hours in a day to finish everything I want to accomplish while still making time for my husband. And when I have to admit to him that things didn’t get done, I feel like I’m failing as a wife. I start wondering (panicking about) how I’m going to manage when we expand our family. But it’s not Sam who is making me feel that way. It’s me. I’m mad at myself for not trying hard enough. For getting complacent. For resigning myself to the fact that I can’t do it all. But isn’t “all” relative?

I’ve lost count of the amount of women I’ve spoken to who have discouraged me from even trying. They give me tips on how to accomplish some things, but they remind me (rightfully so) not to compare myself to women like the one described above. She’s just a special case. “Real” women can’t be expected to do all of that (what does this even mean?). It’s 2015! Today’s women are too busy working to cook or clean. They’re too busy running the world. But what about our moms and aunts and grandmothers? They did everything. They raised more kids than most of us will. Some of them worked multiple jobs. They sang in their church choirs and sat on committees. And they fed what must have seemed like an army every single night. Of course, times have changed. But what would happen if we tried to emulate them just a little bit?

What would happen if we gave ourselves a healthy dose of grace and jumped right in? What if we made it our mission to only serve home-cooked meals during the week? What if we promised to deep clean at least one room in our homes each day? What if we scheduled a date night with our husbands and a game night with our families each week? What if we took up a new hobby that would benefit our families while also giving us some quiet time (like sewing or baking)? What if we hired a babysitter for a few hours each week so we could get our hair and nails done? I’m willing to bet that we would wake up at the end of the week feeling fulfilled, refreshed, more beautiful and maybe even a little proud of ourselves. Every week won’t be perfect, and some things will inevitably fall through the cracks, but we’ll sleep better at night knowing that we did everything we could do to make it all happen.

So instead of rolling our eyes when we see a woman who seems to have figured out how to balance 15 things at a time and make it look easy, we should seek her out. Ask questions, exchange recipes, share babysitters, hold each other accountable and, most importantly, celebrate each other. Because we’re all amazing and we really can do it all.

Just maybe not all at once.



Five Faves // Cleansers


I’m a bit of a beauty fanatic. I love trying new makeup and skincare products and have two bathrooms full of products to show for it. I love sharing my favorite products with other women because I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to choose from the thousands of products on the market. I always read product reviews before purchasing any beauty product, and that is especially true when it comes to skincare. Skincare products are expensive so you want to get it right. Over the next few weeks/months, I will be sharing my top 5 favorite products in a variety of categories. I’ll begin with skincare before moving onto makeup and hair care. If you have a specific product category you would like to see (or a specific product you would like for me to review), leave me a comment and I will try to make it happen!

I’m beginning this series with cleansers because if you add just one thing to your skincare routine, it must be that you actually wash your face every single day. And I don’t mean with a cleansing wipe, with an actual cleanser. This is crucial if you wear makeup but it’s still important for those who don’t. I prefer creamy or oil-based cleansers because I find that gel and foaming cleansers dry my face out too much. When using a creamy or oil-based cleanser, always begin by massaging the product into dry skin. Next, using a muslin cloth (or regular wash cloth) soaked in warm water, gently massage the product off of your skin.

I typically have combination skin (oily t-zone, normal everywhere else), but when the seasons change, I often find that my skin gets pretty dehydrated. These five cleansers (plus one honorable mention) are on constant rotation in my skincare routine and I switch them in and out depending on the state of my skin at the time.

Just a few notes…

1:: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish — if you’re interested in trying this cleanser, I would suggest this starter kit. It includes a somewhat smaller bottle, but it also includes a full-sized muslin cloth. I started with this kit before graduating to the full size.

2:: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm — As I stated above, this cleanser is EXCELLENT at removing makeup. I have personally found that it leaves my skin feeling a little dry so I usually follow it with a second cleanse using a creamy cleanser (if I have time) and a rich moisturizer.

3:: Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser — This 3 in 1 cleanser starts as a gel, turns into an oil as you massage it into your skin and finally takes on a milky consistency as you rinse your face. It removes makeup really well, but I find that I personally use a lot more of it when I have makeup on. So I usually save it for a second cleanse or days when I’m not wearing any makeup just so I can stretch the product out.

4:: Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser — If you have sensitive skin and are nervous about trying a new cleanser, I would definitely recommend giving this one a try. It is extremely gentle and is packed with essential oils including chamomile and eucalyptus.

5:: Tatcha Pure Step Camellia Cleansing Oil — Do not be afraid of this cleanser if you have oily skin. Oil cleansers are actually great for oily skin, as well as dry skin. I am dying to try the rest of the products in this skincare line because this cleanser is seriously good.

6:: Eve Lom Cleanser — Before I tried this cleanser, I thought it was just another over-hyped, overpriced beauty product. And while I still think it’s overpriced, I cannot deny that it is worth the hype. I would never use this everyday because of the price tag, but I definitely think it’s worth it if you’re someone who likes to treat your skin to an at-home facial a few times a month. Warning: it has a distinct scent that I wouldn’t describe as good. It’s not horrible, but it’s definitely not great.

What are your favorite cleansers?


Wise Words // Believe The Impossible

f57897992ed401d3cb03f2653fb448c5I love love love this quote and thought it was the perfect quote to share going into a brand new week. Although this quote is actually from Carroll’s book Through The Looking-Glass, I think it applies perfectly today. Whether it’s believing that you will finally launch your small business this year or something as simple as believing that you will finally be able to conquer your sugar addiction (I’m clearly talking to myself with that one), the first step is allowing yourself to believe that the things that seem impossible are possible. Release yourself to dream, to plan and to believe this week!




Disconnect to Reconnect

JerrellSamEng-0097I have a slight problem when it comes to my iPhone and iPad. You can usually find at least one of them in my hand. I’m either checking Instagram, pinning yet another dessert, or reading a blog or a book on my iPad. When I lived alone, I never noticed (ignored?) this problem, but lately, I’ve found that my husband has to literally stand in front of my face and/or remove the mobile device from my hands to get my full attention. I love my husband dearly and I never want him to feel like he comes second to anyone or anything. I know that we can’t just sit and cuddle twenty-four hours a day, but when he’s home, and we’re both free, I can make an effort to give him my full attention – even if it’s only for an hour. This week, we set some new house rules. The first one, and the one I’ll be focusing on this weekend, is to go phone-free in the evenings. We’ve also instituted a weekly “date night in”: one night a week where we ignore our phones and the television, pour some wine, and cook a new recipe together. I got the idea from Ashley at Not Without Salt and I am so excited!

For this week’s Highlights, I’m not posting any links or talking about any online sales. Today, I want to encourage you to disconnect from the virtual world and reconnect with your families and friends. Whether that means going on a date with your significant other, planning a family game night with your kids, or hosting a phones-free brunch with your girlfriends, do whatever it takes to reconnect.

Happy Weekend!

photo taken by Katie Lopez during our engagement session


Adventures in Meal Planning

tumblr_mz96fvlgMs1rqj2w5o1_500When I was engaged, I spent hours dreaming about all of the dinner parties and brunches (like the fabulous one pictured above) we would host in our new home together. I knew what our dining table would look like, how I would style our bar cart, and I registered for every kitchen gadget you can think of. Unfortunately, I forgot about one major marriage detail: I am now in charge of feeding another human every single day. I went from being a single law student who started cooking (or ordering) dinner no earlier than 7pm to a wife who has to make sure her husband eats something other than a burger and fries or pizza for dinner every night. I’m also lucky enough to be married to a man who has a BIG appetite. He also loves to workout, so he needs big meals to replenish all of those calories burned.

For the last two months I’ve tried to get by with my old “plan dinner at dinnertime” routine and it has not been working at all. Not only do we end up eating dinner far too late, but I’m still left with the rest of the week to figure out. I have a bunch of friends who plan their meals out at the beginning of the week (or even month) and I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon. We’re also trying hard to clean up our diets since we’ve been eating like college students ever since we got married (pizza, kraft mac and cheese, wayyyy too many desserts). So I’m especially focused on adding more real, unprocessed foods into our meals and getting rid of the junk.

I’m currently surrounded by all of my cookbooks, a notebook, and a planner, but I need your help: Do you plan out your family’s meals? How do you stay on budget while still eating whole, unprocessed (and preferably organic) foods? Do you prep your meals at the beginning of the week or cook everyday? What are your favorite food/recipe blogs? I need all of the tips I can get!



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