Organization Motivation: How I Get Back On Track

Every once in awhile I fall into an organizational slump where I lack the motivation to keep up with things in my house.  Does this ever happen to you?  I feel like many of us share this experience, especially when we’re working through things in our personal lives.  How you feel emotionally most definitely affects how well you function.  Usually I am easily motivated to stay on top of things, but lately I’ve been letting things slide in my house as I haven’t felt the usual spark that ignites my desire to organize.  In fact, you might have noticed I haven’t posted on OLJ in a few weeks even though in my last video I talked about all of my spring projects on the horizon.  Those projects are still there, just uncompleted.  This week I decided enough is enough.  I really want to get back on track so I turned to my usual strategy when I need a little (or a lot!) of help in the motivation department.  I start with one or two very small, short projects and see how they make me feel.  I set a timer for about 20 minutes or so and tackle something I am pretty certain I can complete in that amount of time.

I decided to dive into my pile of bills and filing that I’ve let accumulate on my desk for far too long now.  I set the timer on my phone for 25 minutes.  Before I knew it the timer was buzzing and I was 90% through the stack!  I spent another 5 minutes finishing up and the result was paid bills, filed paperwork, and a clean desktop.  It felt so good to have that done!  What felt stressful before only took a short amount of time and it was literally a breeze to get through.  Now I am feeling recharged and ready to tackle the rest of my office, which unfortunately has borne the brunt of my lack of motivation lately with piles accumulating here and there.  If I take it in small sections I can have my office spick and span in no time at all!  I am also concurrently finishing up my springtime closet clean-out which I put on hold for a few weeks.  I find going through my clothes in 15 to 20 minute increments is an effective way to weed through my entire wardrobe, which I am currently doing for a major overhaul (and yes, I will be filming this process and sharing it soon!).

If you, too, find yourself in a rut, perhaps you might consider trying this technique out.  Pick a small, manageable project that you are pretty sure you can easily complete in a short about of time (anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes is a good place to start).  Some of my favorites include my kitchen junk drawer, my car, and my desktop.  Set a timer and hop to it!  It’s easier to jump into something if you know it’s only going to last a short while.  When the timer buzzes, take note of how much you accomplished and how it’s made you feel.  Chances are it might be just the spark you need to ignite your organization motivation.  I find that the biggest motivation for me to organize and keep on top of things is seeing a completed project.  I don’t recommend rushing into a large-scale time-consuming project until you feel really ready and inspired to take it on.  I personally like to break large projects up into smaller bits anyway so that I can experience that sense of accomplishment that comes with completing something before moving onto the next task.  This helps me to continually feel motivated by my successes rather than getting overwhelmed by trying to grapple with too much at once.

I share more about my process in this video if you’re interested:

Let me know if you decide to try this out.  I’d love to hear about what project you chose, how it went, and how it made you feel if you don’t mind sharing.  Here’s to a productive and organized spring!

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Clothing & Accessories Haul (Spring 2014)

My last haul of the season is for clothing and accessories.  I have been on a sorting frenzy lately, paring down my wardrobe quite a bit as I replace the younger style of my twenties with my new tastes.  I picked up a few new pieces that I am very excited about and thought I would share my finds with you.

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Sundance – I’ve admired the clothes in their catalogues for years and finally decided to take the plunge!

Love At First Sight Dress - I fell in love with this beauty the moment I spotted it in the spring catalogue.  It is gorgeous on, hitting just above the knee in a classic cut.  I love that it is not too constricting around the bodice, making it comfortable but still classy.  I’m thinking of pairing it with a cream-colored cardigan and flats for Easter this year.

Island Rhythms Dress - I parted ways with much of my summer and beach getaway dress collection from my twenties that no longer suited my style.  I love this breezy beauty that falls to the knee as a great warm weather dress.  Plus, it folds nicely for easy travel.

Carlie Braided Platform Wedges - I had no idea Frye made anything other than boots before stumbling across these wedges.  It was love at first sight!  Brown sandals like these are so versatile in the warmer months.  I love the braided detail along the base.

Studded Starlight Boots - I’ve been on the hunt for a light brown pair of boots suitable for warmer weather for quite some time now and these beauties are perfect!  They’re wide enough to fit my athletic calves and super comfortable even with a hidden wedge which gives you a bit more height.  I love the laser cut design and scalloped edging along the top of the boots, giving them a beautiful flar that’s perfect to pair with dresses and skirts for spring and fall.

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Sundance is well known for their artisan jewelry collections.  I actually have a few pieces I bought up at the Sundance shop in Utah from over the years and decided to treat myself to some new additions that I’ve been drooling over in the catalogues for quite some time.  I’m including the stock photos from Sundance as well (image sources provided with the links below) since I had trouble properly photographing them.

Light Rain Necklace - Moonstones are one of my favorite gems.  I love this dainty sterling silver piece!

Blue Moonlight Earrings - I love the combination of moonstone with blue topaz in this beautiful pair.  I have a topaz necklace my Mom gave me that matches these perfectly, not to mention my new moonstone necklace!

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Prana – Yet another catalogue I’ve often admired and never before made a purchase from, the laid back outdoorsy clothes appeal to me right now.

Sarafina Dress - As I mentioned before, I am donating much of my warm weather dress collection of my twenties to charity and am in need of a few new lightweight casual pieces that would work well for travel.  This dress definitely fits the bill!  It is extremely light and airy, hitting just above the knee, and folds virtually flat for travel.  I love the purple ombre!

Julz Burnout Wrap - Another great piece for warm weather travel, this lightweight flyaway is perfect for layering over both casual and dressy items.  

Kendall Tank - A nice, lightweight top like this is a warm weather essential. I love the eyelet!  I mentioned in my coordinating video (below) that I thought I might have to wear a camisole underneath this for proper coverage but I’ve discovered I don’t need to after all, which is nice!

Kaley Tunic Top - I wanted a looser fitting top to wear to my weekly yin yoga class.  This tunic style one is long enough to cover most of my bottom, as well.

Misty Knicker - I’ve been on the hunt for knee length yoga pants for a couple of years and finally found the perfect pair for me.  These are comfortable, do not ride up or pinch at the waist, and the jacquard print is lovely!

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BijouxByMeg on Etsy  – I love Etsy for unique crafts and handmade items, particularly jewelry.  BijouxByMeg is one of my favorite shops for delicate and dainty customizable pieces.

Personalized Bar Necklace - I’ve been admiring bar necklaces for awhile now and found the perfect one for me at Meg’s shop.  I love how you can customize it not only with the stamped writing, but also with a stone accent of your choice.  I’ve been wearing this beautiful piece quite a bit since it arrived in the mail.  I know it will be a constant in my jewelry rotation from now on.

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Zappos - My website of choice for shoe shopping!  I pick out new walking and running shoes every year to keep my feet and legs healthy.

Nike Flex 2013 Run - This is my second pair of Nike Flex Runs, which I use as a walking shoe.  I find that it’s generally safe for my feet to wear these as walking shoes, although it is not advised to wear running shoes for other kinds of fitness that include lateral motion.  These are lightweight, flexible, and airy, and I can easily replace the insoles with my custom orthotics.  

Asics Gel-Kayano 20 - I switched over to the Gel-Kayano line last year with my last pair which were the 19s.  The 20 is this year’s updated model.  I’ve been running in them for a month now and I love them!  They offer me the support I need to help correct my overpronation, especially with my Sof Sole Airr Orthics inserts inside.  I paid an extra $10 for this special “Lite-Show” version of the line not for the glow-in-the-dark gel feature, but for the beautiful mint blue color!  

Amazon - The best one-stop shop on the web in my opinion.  I purchase a lot of my electronics here for the great prices and available warranties.

Garmin Forerunner 220 - After the sudden and unfortunate death of my previous GPS running watch (my Garmin 610 was the sad victim of being accidentally stepped on), I decided to try out the 220, which offers all of the bells and whistles I could ask for at a much lower price than the new 620.  I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and I love it!  The new design is so much lighter.  I find that it also locates satellites much faster than my 610 did.   Plus, it comes in purple!  I purchased the bundle so I could get the heart rate strap to go with it.

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Madewell - I only started shopping at this store in the past year, but so far I’ve found great, high quality pieces to add to my wardrobe.

Afternoon Dress in Saltwater Stripe - A classic cut paired with black and white?  Hard to go wrong with this one!  This piece is super versatile.  Dress it down with sandals or up with slingbacks, it works in a variety of situations and is a great staple for my new thirties wardrobe.

Draft Tank - The light heather color is what first drew me to this top.  It is light and flowy and works perfectly under long cardigans or on its own as a more casual top.

Kabash Top - Another light as air top that is perfect dressed down with jeans or dressed up with black pants.  I love the embroidery along the neckline!

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Target - My favorite place for inexpensive basics like tees and tanks.

 ✻ Women’s Vintage V-Neck Tee - Perfect basic white tee staple, I went up a size to a medium for a looser fit.  

 Junior’s Lace Trim Long & Lean Tank - I don’t see any problem with shopping the juniors section if you can find pieces that suit your style and fit you.  I picked up two lace trim tanks, which I wear as camis underneath other layers.

I share a closer look as well as my thoughts about each product in the coordinating video below:

Have you picked up any new clothes and/or accessories this spring?  I’d love to know if you care to share!  Happy Spring!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

What I Ate Wednesday (Spring 2014)

Hello, friends!  I’ve recieved many requests to share my daily nutrition since posting my fitness routine late this winter, so here it is!  Today I am sharing a look at what I typically eat during the week right now.  I am definitely a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast and lunch and tend to stick to the same things for months at a time, generally changing things up seasonally.  My husband Don prepares dinner for us and while we do not eat the same thing each night, we do rotate within a regular series of meals on a weekly basis.  What I am sharing today is a typical weekday menu for me.

Breakfast

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I don’t like to eat right after I wake up.  Lately I’ve been getting up around 6:30 (I tend to wake up within 20-30 minutes of sun rise, so my waking time gets earlier as the days get longer into summer).  I then get in my workout and shower before making breakfast.  I try to eat by 9:00 AM.  I like to eat a hot breakfast in the colder months and it really hasn’t warmed up a lot here yet, so I am still enjoying eggs every morning.  I simple sauté a large helping of baby spinach in a little olive oil, then scramble in two eggs, a bit of water, a healthy amount of Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.  I enjoy this with a slice of my favorite bread called Seeduction from Whole foods toasted with a bit of butter.  I also take Chinese herbs every morning as given to me by my acupuncturist who I see on a regular basis for general health.  They don’t taste very good, but they do make a noticeable difference in my general wellbeing!  The herbs I take change weekly so I’m afraid I cannot tell you exactly what I am taking at any given time.  I like to read a magazine and my daily entry from the Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort & Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  This is also when I update my Food & Fitness journal with an entry from the previous day.  You can see more about what I keep in this journal in this video if you’re interested.

Morning Tea

OJ_MHWL_04-16-2014_02 I’m usually pretty well sated after breakfast and feel full until lunch.  In lieu of a midmorning snack I have a cup of tea with a bit of honey around 10:00 AM after I have returned from my morning walk with my dog, Winnie.  Lately I’ve been enjoying the Republic of Tea Decaf Vanilla Almond Black Tea.  I don’t drink teas or other beverages with large amounts of caffeine anymore, because I’ve found I function better on less caffeine.  This decaf blend still gives me the taste of black tea without the caffeine.  I like to add a splash of milk to black tea for an extra creamy flavor.

I really love this special edition Emma Bridgewater mug sold exclusively at Fortnum & Mason in England.  A very lovely lady sent me this along with some mint tea and handmade chocolates.  I get the loveliest things in the mail!

Lunch

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We’ve been eating a lot more fish this spring and have salmon about once a week.  My favorite preparation of Don’s is his dill yogurt salmon.  We’ve gotten lots of requests to share the recipe for Don’s dill yogurt sauce, which also doubles as a dip.  Don shares how he makes this in the coordinating video (posted below).  Here is the written recipe for the sauce:

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We generally eat this about once a week and Don always makes a lot since he knows I like to use the leftovers for my lunch.  I’ve been really enjoying a simple salmon salad made with leftover dill yogurt sauce on my favorite Back To Nature MultiSeed Rice Crackers for lunch lately.  I add a small amount of provolone cheese to cut the tartness of the yogurt sauce.  It’s delicious!

Afternoon Snack

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One of the things I’ve noticed is that I tend to fare better both physically and mentally on days that I eat an afternoon snack.  I spend most of my weekday afternoons in front of the computer and usually get pretty absorbed in what I am doing.  Without a snack I end up feeling quite ravenous and a little bit cranky come 5 o’clock!  Also, my digestion is generally better when I eat every few hours.  Don has been helping me out lately by making me a snack around 3:30 each day.  I realize this sounds a bit childish, but it was his idea and I am very grateful for it since it has made a big difference in just a couple of weeks!   My snack of choice right now is celery and carrots with hummus, a pickle, and some Veggie Puffs (purchased from Whole Foods).  It feels very well rounded and fills me up perfectly in the long wait between lunch and dinner.

Dinner

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We generally eat dinner between 6:00 and 6:30 PM.  As I mentioned before, Don cooks for us most weeknights (I know, I am a lucky girl!).  Lately we’ve been incorporating more fish and seafood into our diets.  Don’s added a lovely garlic and dill sautéed shrimp to our menu rotation.  We usually have either a couple of veggies on the side of our dinner or a vegetable and a starch of some type (such as sweet potato or brown rice pilaf).  Steamed brocoli is a favorite of ours.  We probably have it three times a week.  Don prepared balsamic roasted portobello mushrooms to go along with the shrimp, which was a nice compliment.

Dessert

OJ_MHWL_04-16-2014_06 My dessert of choice during the week is herbal tea with honey.  While I am not opposed to having a little sweet here and there during the week, I generally prefer to have treats in the afternoon when I am better able to digest and process sugar.  We’re trying to be super good for the next couple of months to lose our winter weight and I am doing my best to save treats for the weekend when I’ll usually have one or two bigger desserts.  I find that a lightly sweetened cup of tea is a nice alternative and does satisfy my sweet tooth sufficiently.  My favorite nighttime cuppa right now is the Numi Organic Moroccan Mint Tea.  It is lovely!

Isn’t my new Cath Kidston mug darling?  It was a special surprise gift from Don last week.  I love my mug collection! :)

Beverages

Aside from a few cups of tea each day, I don’t really drink any beverages aside from water.  I’ve never been a big beverage lover, to be honest.  I try to drink anywhere from 80 to 100 ounces of water each day, and sometimes more if I am traveling by air or put in an especially butt-kicking workout.  I use my LifeFactory 22 ounce water bottles so I can easily keep track of my water consumption on a daily basis.  Staying hydrated is key to my general health and particularly good digestion.

I share What I Ate in the vlog-style video below, if you’re interested:

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I eat on any given weekday at the moment.  I’d love to know what some of your go-to meals are this spring if you care to share.

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Bath & Body Haul (Spring 2014)

I had so much fun shopping at my favorite stores for spring bath & body products in the last couple of weeks.  I thought I’d share my finds with you!

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L’Occitane - One of my favorite shops for luxury body creams and lotions.

Pivoine Flora Beauty Cream - I was first introduced to this amazing body cream last winter when I received a jar of it in a birthday gift set.  It is divine!  I love the light scent of peonies combined with the super moisturizing formula that is somehow still light as a cloud.  I was happy to have a gift credit from the holidays to stock up on a couple of jars of this favorite of mine.

Almond Hand & Foot Duo - I decided to try out this hand and foot duo as my before bed lotions.  I moisturize my hands and feet every night before bed and thought the formulas of these two seemed a bit lighter and more fitting for the warmer season.  I look forward to trying them out!

✻ Almond Gift Set – I had a coupon to receive this special gift for free with my purchase.  It includes travel-size versions of the Almond Delicious Soap, Almond Delicious Hands, and Almond Shower Oil.

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Lush - My go-to shop for excellent bath products.

✻ Bunny Bubble Bar (sold out online) – Too cute to pass up!  Described as a having a “sweet candy smell,” this little bunny will soon hop right into my tub.

Honey Bee Bath Bomb - One of my year-round favorites, this bath bomb smells so delicious thanks to a combination of honey, toffee, and sweet orange oil.

Brightside Bubble Bar - Yay! I was so happy to see this back in stock this year with the spring line.  Same great Lush bubbles (no other bubble bath product I’ve tried has ever come close!) with a citrus blend of Sicilian mandarin, tangerine and bergamot oils that is uplifting and perfect for spring.

Twilight Bath Bomb - Another Lush staple favorite of mine, this lavender and tonka scented beauty creates such a relaxing bath-time vibe.

Golden Egg – This honey-toffee scented two-in-one product is new this year.  It’s a bath bomb combined with a bath melt.  I can’t wait to see how this goes!  I’m hoping the glitter rinses easily from the tub.

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Bath & Body Works - I love shopping here for candles, hand soaps, and home fragrance products.  They always have great sales and promotions running!

Gentle Foaming Hand Soap - I took advantage of a special sale and stocked up on five spring and summer scented hand soaps for the house.  BBW recently reformulated their hand soap line and I am excited to try them out!  I picked out Aloha Orchid, Honolulu Sun, Island White Pineapple. and Mango Hibiscus to use in the various bathrooms around the house as well as Market Peach for my office bathroom.  I also bought a cute half sleeve soap holder for our main floor powder room.

Wallflower Fragrance Plugs - I love the seasonal lines of plugs that BBW carries to work with their scented plugins.  I picked up three for a few of the bathrooms in our house to last through spring and summer.

Wallflower Fragrance Refills - There was a special in-store sale on plugin refills the day I was shopping, so I picked up five that should last us until quite awhile, including Honeysuckle, Market Peach, Lavender & Vanilla, Pomelo Grapefruit, and Lemon Mint Leaf.

Scentportable Holder & Refill - I like to keep a scentportable in my car and picked up a cute sea turtle for summer as well as refills in Tiki Beach, Pink Bellini, and Watermelon Lemonade.

Mason Jar Candles - While I still had a few spring candles on hand in my stash at home leftover from last year, I wanted to pick up just a couple additional scents and the mason jar candles were on sale that day.  I settled on Honeysuckle for my office and Lemon Mint Leaf for the kitchen.

PocketBac Holders - While I do prefer the formula of Fortune Cookie Soap’s OCD Hand Sanitizers, I just love the convenience of BBW’s PocketBac holders.  Plus, they are too cute!  I picked up a little lamb for my summer dog-walking bag and a turtle for my beach/pool bag.

PocketBac Sanitizing Hand Gel - I decided on Island White Pineapple and Honolulu Sun to fill my new PocketBac holders.

Market Peach Hardworking Hand & Body Cream - I wanted to try out this lotion since it is in my favorite BBW scent.  I hope it smells as good as the candle!

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Fortune Cookie Soap - I love FCS for unique bath & body products, especially their whipped cream, hand sanitizers, and air fresheners.  Not to mention their amazingly awesome quarterly subscription service, the Fortune Cookie Soap Box!

Marshmallow Dreams Cuticle Butter - This amazing cuticle butter was included in the spring soap box this year and I absolutely fell in love with it.  I have just a bit left and wanted to be sure I ordered another before this limited edition scent was gone!  It is described as “lavender sprigs draped over sage and basil, livened with a splash of vodka, and a swirl of sticky sweet marshmallow fluff.”  It smells far less complicated than it sounds, but oh so delicious!  It’s a bit of a more greasy formula, but I find it sinks into the cuticles nicely.  I use this on my toenails and fingernails every night before bed.

Native Nectar Personal Space Air-Freshener - I really love the FCS air fresheners, which I have been fortunate to try in past soap boxes.  I decided to get Native Nectar for our main floor powder room to use this spring and summer.  It has a delightful mild coconut scent.

The following three products were included in my order as gifts from FCS:

Gone Bananas Whipped Cream - The new Mother’s Day Collection features their amazing whipped cream moisturizer in a delightful banana scent: “This delicious fragrance will make you think you’re lying on the beach with a fruity drink full of fresh coconuts and bananas!” It’s not overly fruity, but nice and light which is perfect for the warmer seasons.  I love the rich and creamy formula of the FCS whipped cream year round.

Peace & Quiet Solid Bath Bar - This solid bubble bath has a soothing, fresh scent with a combination of “Fresh Lemongrass, zests of Key Lime, Verbena Leaf, Green Tea, White Ginger, warmed by Vanilla Bean & Golden Amber.”

Domestic Goddess Personal Space Air-Freshener – A  delightfully feminine scent described as “Fluffy white towels, sparkling lime, orange blossom, sweet jasmine, muguet, rose petals & exotic musk.”

** Save $5 off $30 on your first FCS purchase by clicking here **

I share a closer look as well as my thoughts about each product in the coordinating video below:

I wanted to share some of the spring bath & body product joy with you so I decided to host a little giveaway featuring a few of my favorite products.  The Spring Bath & Body Haul Giveaway will run until Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  There will be TWO winners!  Each winner will receive the Market Peach mason jar candle, a lamb PocketBac holder with Honolulu Sun hand sanitizer gel, and the Mr. Bumble Lush gift set pictured below:

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You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the  winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Have you picked up any new bath & body goodies this spring?  I’d love to know if you care to share!  Happy Spring!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All items were purchased by me with the exception of the three products from FCS that were noted as gifts.  The FCS discount link I provide is a referral link, which means if you make a purchase using that link, I get credit towards future FCS purchases.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Week In Review (April 7 – April 13, 2014)

My Week In Review (otherwise known as WIR) posts are just that: a review of my past week.  I post an update here every Monday sharing some tidbits of my previous week as well as an accompanying photo recap with selections from my Instagram.  Here’s the buzz from my week:

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_01Huzzah! Spring has sprung, at last, quite literally.  What a gorgeous week we were so lucky to enjoy!  The rising temperatures coupled with lots of sunshine and a little rain encouraged Mother Nature to finally start movin’!  I couldn’t believe it wasn’t until early last week that I spotted the first crocuses in our neighborhood.  They are blooming about a month later than usual, but better late than never, right?  I love the dainty, colorful blossoms popping up everywhere.  Our daffodils are about to pop open at any minute!  I’m still enjoying lots of fresh blooms inside, including flowers from my sweetheart.  I love keep fresh flowers on my desk in addition to the usual spot on the kitchen counter so I can enjoy them while I’m working on my computer.  I came across these two duckie paper clips and had a little fun doodling with them, something I don’t often do since I clearly lack any artistic talent.  I forget how much fun it is to just draw for the heck of it every once in awhile.

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_02It wouldn’t be a proper WIR post without showing you some of the amazing food my husband made for us last week.  We’ve been enjoying switching up our weekly dinner rotation to include some more springtime fare.  The meal with the garlic shrimp and steamed artichokes really felt springy to me!  It was also warm enough to grill a bit.  We recently discovered how much we like grilled pineapple and decided to try it at home.  It’s so easy!  Don just threw some slices on the grill as is and they turned out delicious!  Of course, in addition to our generally healthy fare, I love to squeeze in a little not-so-healthy treat here and there.  It just isn’t spring to me without the special yellow-tinted Oreos.  I know they just use the same filling dyed for effect, but to me they taste better in yellow!  A couple of these enjoyed with a nice springtime blend of tea is the perfect treat for me.

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_03Last Wednesday turned out to be a very special “just because” kind of day.  I was feeling a bit blue earlier in the week.  After reading the daily passage in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort & Joy (particularly the quote in the photo above), I felt my spirits lift as I decided to treat that day as a special occasion.  I enjoyed my morning walk with Winnie even more so than usual, taking the time to notice the sun in the sky, the buds on the trees, my girl prancing about, and the birds chirping happily.  I realize this sounds hugely corny, but I really did feel uplifted thinking about the day as a special “just because” gift.  It’s funny how the universe works, isn’t it?  As soon as I decided the day would be a special one, things started happening that made it feel like an actual holiday!  I came home from my walk to a surprise gift of a Cath Kidston mug from my husband along with a sweet note to cheer me up.  I have never actually mentioned this brand to him, only recently learning about it myself from a reader.  When I asked him what inspired him to purchase the gift, he directed me to a comment that same reader made on my blog!  It was such a thoughtful gesture and further brightened up my day.  Then, later that evening I returned home from an appointment to see an even larger package waiting for me.  Talk about surprises!  I was not prepared for the gorgeous and generous gift that was neatly tucked inside the beautifully wrapped package (and yes, Don is an excellent gift wrapper).  I immediately fell head over heels in love with my new bag, which I’ve dubbed Beauty, because that so accurately describes it.  My favorite part of the gift, however, was the beautifully written note that accompanied it.  While my day would still have been extremely special without these gifts, the loving gestures turned a very good day into an especially special kind of day.

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_04The rest of my week was quite a happy one between the gorgeous weather and my much improved mood.  I’m having fun playing with my new spring beauty products which I hauled last week.  I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz in the online beauty community about It Cosmetics products lately and am happy to report that they are just as great as everyone says they are (at least in my opinion)!  I love the It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream.  It offers medium coverage with a lightweight finish.  As you can see, I am dealing with adult acne flareups right now, which is annoying, but not the end of the world, really.  So far my skin likes the new CC Cream.  I’m also in love with the It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol 1 Matte Luxe eye shadow palette.  The colors are gorgeous, extremely pigmented, and super blendable!  I’m usually pretty out of the loop with beauty trends aside from what I pick up from watching my favorite YouTube beauty gurus.  I’m so happy I jumped on the It Cosmetics bandwagon!  I’m pretty sure I am fashion-challenged, but I definitely do have a style all my own that I love to wear.  Date nites out with Don give me a chance to break out my favorite spring dresses, including this lace beauty from Free People.  Getting dressed up to go out without having to worry about winter boots, tights, and cumbersome coats for a change is so refreshing!

OJ_MHWL_04-14-2014_05I had a very lovely, relaxing weekend.  I don’t usually take baths during the day, but decided on a long soak Saturday morning while I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  What an amazing book!  Warning, it is sad and will probably make you cry (I basically sobbed through half of it), but it is such a beautiful story and so worth any tears shed.  Plus, a good cry can be really therapeutic sometimes, you know?  Saturday night Don and I went downtown to one of our favorite Chicago restaurants called Allium.  We enjoyed sharing a bunch of small plates for a romantic and fun dining experience.  On Sunday we were invited to a Palm Sunday supper at my in-laws house and I offered to bake dessert for the occasion.  I reached for the Martha Stewart’s Cakes cookbook, which I only recently purchased, and settled on the Tender Lemon Cake with lemon curd filling and buttercream frosting.  It’s not a challenging recipe, just a bit time consuming with many steps.  The cake turned out beautifully!  I’m always afraid my desserts won’t taste as good as they look, but this one definitely was scrumptious!  We enjoyed a lovely afternoon and evening with the family eating good food and having fun dyeing Easter eggs.

Although my week had a rocky start, it ended up being truly wonderful.  I hope you all had a wonderful week, as well.  While getting surprise presents is nice, it doesn’t take a literal gift to turn a moment into a special one.  The gift of being able to choose happiness in this life is more precious to me than all of the Louis Vuitton bags in the world.  I choose happiness today.  I hope you do, too.  Take care! :)

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

What’s In My Shower & Tub (Spring 2014)

I am such a seasonal kind of gal, changing up not only my wardrobe, accessories, and even what I eat with the seasons, but also what kinds of products I like to use for my personal hygiene and enjoyment.  Now that it’s really feeling like spring outside I thought I would share the bath and body products I’m currently using and loving in both my shower & tub.

What’s In My Shower?

OJ_TBBB_04-11-2014_01 ✻ Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo & Conditioner – These are what my husband has used and loved for the past couple of years.  He doesn’t change up his hair care unless I buy him something different, to be honest.  He just really doesn’t care!  I love how his hair smells after he washes it, so that’s why I am still buying this line for him.

Organix Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Shampoo - I bought this after reading your recommendations of the brand (and since Don likes it so much), thinking it might be right for my baby fine hair.  I really like this shampoo!  It gives a nice lather without being too frothy and rinses out clean.  My hair feels nice and fluffy at the roots after using it.  I wash my hair with this every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Organix Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Conditioner - Sadly, I really dislike this product.  Not only do I find the scent pretty repulsive, but it is just too oily for my hair.  I have found I can use heavier conditioners like this if I am careful to only apply them to the bottom inch or two of my hair, which is all I really need since it’s never that tangly in the first place.  This one is just too oily for my tastes, however.  My hands even feel oily after rinsing it off! While it doesn’t make my hair seem oily after using it, I really dislike the scent so much that I will probably replace it with something else soon.  I might try the Organix Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Conditioner instead.

LUSH Big Shampoo – I have used and loved this one for years now!  I took a bit of a hiatus from it since I didn’t do any shopping at LUSH since last fall and I actually missed it!  I wash my hair with this salt-based shampoo once a week (usually on Saturday or Sunday) as a clarifying treatment.  I love how clean it makes my hair feel without stripping it.  I wouldn’t personally use this more than once a week, though, because it might be too drying.  It leaves my hair feeling light as air and so fluffy!

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque - This is another longtime favorite of mine, which I pair with my once a week clarifying wash using Big.  I use the tiniest bit of this just in my ends and leave it in for 2 minutes tops.  Not only does it smell amazing, it helps keeps my ends moisturized and healthy without being too heavy.  Again, I wouldn’t use this product more than once a week with my hair texture.  One pot of this lasts me well over a year!

L’Occitane Pivoine Flora Shower Gel - This has been my springtime scent obsession ever since Don gave me a gift set last year for my birthday.  I love peonies and this is the nicest peony-scented line I’ve ever smelled!  The shower gel is lovely, with a nice lather that rinses clean.  The scent lingers ever so slightly.

MOR Cosmetics Salt & Sugar Body Scrub in Neroli Clementine - I bought this on clearance from Ulta last fall and tucked it away for spring knowing how much I would enjoy the sweet citrus scent this time of year.  It turns out the MOR line was on clearance because they no longer carry it.  How sad!  I love this scrub.  It is such a nice combination of a bit of a coarser grit in a very luxurious oil base.  I also really love the MOR hand creams I’ve tried.  It’s an Australian brand and particularly hard to find now in the states.  I hope they bring it back to Ulta someday!

The Body Shop Honeymania Shower Gel - The title of this shower gel is a bit misleading, because you’d think it would smell like honey.  It actually is more of a floral scent, which I love for spring.  I’ve always been a fan of The Body Shop shower gel formula which gives a great lather and rinses clean.

The Body Shop Honeymania Body Scrub - I love having coordinating scrubs to go along with my shower gels when available.  The Honeymania scrub is very unique with a texture that seems more like a body butter than that of a scrub.  It does have a very fine grit in it, but I find it’s more moisturizing than exfoliating.  I rather like it, though!

St. Ives Fresh Skin Invigorating Apricot Scrub - I like using a scrub on my face post-workout.  Even though this one can be very course, I find with gentle pressure it is safe for my skin on a regular basis.  One tube of this stuff sure lasts awhile!  I am determined to finish it before I try something else.  As much as I like it, I enjoy experimenting with different cleansers/exfoliators that I keep in my shower every few months.

Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Smooth Shave Gel - Another oldie but goodie for me; I’ve used this shave gel for my entire adult life!  It doesn’t aggravate my skin, which is all I ask for from a shave gel, to be honest!  Plus the scent is mild, pleasant, and doesn’t linger.

✻ EcoTools EcoPouf Net Sponge - I like to switch out my loofahs seasonally since they can harbor bacteria.  I found these ones made from recycled sponges at my local Whole Foods for about $3 each.  You can also buy them on Amazon in a pack of 6 for just under $12 (making each loofah cost around $2), which is a great deal if you have the room to store extras or have a big family.

How About Lotions?

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L’Occitane Pivoine Flora Beauty Cream - This body cream is pure heaven!  Not only is it the same beautiful peony scent that I love, but the texture is unlike any other cream I’ve tried (and I’ve tried quite a few!).  It is both light and airy but also extremely moisturizing.  It feels like a luxurious treat every time I apply it.  The scent lingers ever so lightly, which is perfect.  It is a beautiful product.

The Body Shop Honeymania Body Butter - The same beautiful light floral scent paired with The Body Shop’s signature body butter.  While it is definitely thicker than the other two lotions I’m using, I find this body butter sinks nicely into the skin after applying.  Again, the scent lingers, but only lightly, which I prefer.

Origins Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream - While I do personally prefer ginger-scented products during the winter months, after receiving this tub of body cream as a free gift with purchase, I decided to continue using it into spring.  The scent is light enough to carry over.  The texture comes closest to the perfection of the L’Occitane Body Cream than any other lotion I’ve tried.  It is light yet extremely moisturizing and settles quickly into the skin.

What’s In My Tub?

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Epsom Salt - I’ve been really into epsom salt baths lately while dealing with some minor aches as my body adjusts to amping up my workout regimen for spring and summer.  I put 2 cups in my bath and usually combine with one of the two following products:

✻ Aura Cacia Mineral Bath – I’ve used and loved these mineral pouches for at least a year now, which I buy at my local Whole Foods.  They are not only lovely aromatherapy experiences, but they make the water so moisturizing that I rarely use lotion afterwards.  My favorite scents for spring include Comforting Geranium, Euphoric Ylang Ylang, and Tranquil Chamomile.

Valentina’s Home-Brewed Magickal Mineral Bath Salts - I noticed these mineral bath salt packets only recently at my local Whole Foods and decided to pick up a few to try.  They offer a nice variety of aromatherapy.  It’s always fun to try new bath things!

Bath & Body Works Market Peach 3-Wick Candle - I love burning candles when I am in the tub and my scent of choice this spring just like last year is Market Peach.  It smells so divine!

I go into more detail about each product in my coordinating video below:

I would love to know what bath and body products you’re using and loving this spring if you care to share!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

The Bag Buzz: Coach Willis

I pulled out my Coach Willis crossbody bag to enjoy for March (and am still wearing into early April now).  This has become my official “March Bag” seeing as it’s the third March I’ve worn it!

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I remember pinning this bag in early 2012, remarking how I really wanted to try out a crossbody style purse for a change.  Just look at me now with my lovely collection of crossbody’s!  This bag is where it all started.  I fell in love with the soft yet highly polished dove grey leather and fun blue and orange accent pops.  It’s kind of a funny shape with the dowel-like top and slouchy pouch style body.  When I look at this bag it screams March to me, which is a transitional month from winter to spring.  This is a transitional bag both in terms of its style and functionality.

OJ_TBBB_04-10-2014_02The bag wears beautifully.  Sometimes I find crossbody bags are either too long or too short even with adjustable straps.  This one is just right.  I was still in my North Face puffy jacket for most of the month and have found that I prefer crossbody styles in the winter months for the most comfortable and secure fit.  Shoulder bags slip right off my puffy coat!  I love how the Willis has both the long strap (which is adjustable) as well as the short handle, making it super versatile and easy to grab in a pinch.

OJ_TBBB_04-10-2014_03It offers pretty standard built-in organizational features for the size of the bag, which is medium at best.  As a blogger and vlogger I always appreciate a slip pocket on the exterior backside of the bag.  This one fits both my phone and vlogging camera comfortably.  The inside is lined in a gorgeous satiny fabric, which I believe is Coach’s legacy pattern (correct me if I’m wrong on this, though, I’m really just guessing!).  It offers a small slip pocket on the inside front as well as a more roomy zip pocket on the back interior, where I keep my house keys and poopie bags (don’t leave home without them!).  I can comfortably fit my current day-to-day on-the-go essentials in this bag.  And yes, these are the same contents I’ve shown Bag Buzz after Bag Buzz, because I do not tend to switch these up as often, but here they are again, nonetheless:

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1. Orla Kiely Sweet Pea Beauty Organizer - My current Walking Pharmacy, this Target exclusive has great organizational elements built right in. Available in a new print!
2. Vinyl Zip Pouch with Coupons – Exact one shown is no longer available but I also like this alternative from The Container Store.
3. Poopy bag and my house keys on  a keychain sent from a viewer in Malaysia.  Thanks, again, I love it!
4. A small tin filled with treats for my pup, Winnie.
5. iPhone with Case Mate Barely There Fully Customizable Case - Don’t leave home without my phone! Love this fully customizable case option from Zazzle.  You can have any image printed on it that you like!
6. Car keys with my favorite Henri Bendel Bow Stripe Key Fob and Swiss Army Knife (this has come in so handy over the years!).
7. Two Pocket Card Holder from ATime4Everything on Etsy – A great way to cut down on bulky card cases!  I stow gift cards & business cards in mine.
8. Henri Bendel Mind Your Business Case - I keep my special store cards in this beauty.
9. Mulberry Bow ID Purse - My current favorite wallet!  Perfectly sized to carry in smaller bags.

OJ|TBBB_04-10-2014_05Coach has changed the design of the Willis since I purchased mine in 2012.  It’s more square in shape now and seems a bit structured to me.  The bag still offers both a crossbody strap and a handle with a turn-lock front closure and a back exterior slip pocket.  The interior is an unfinished type of leather now instead of the lining.  It also appears to be just slightly bigger than the old design, but still offers the same basic features.  The new style is offered in basic handbag neutrals of black, brown, and tan.  I hope they come back with some fun color combinations again!

Check out my coordinating video you’d like a closer look at my Coach Willis:

I hope you enjoyed this look at my early spring handbag of choice.  I would love to know what bag you’re currently loving and carrying or just lusting after, if you care to share!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Trip Recap: Miraval, Arizona

I had such a great time on the weekend getaway I took with my husband Don to The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier last month that I decided to head back again just last week for a little more desert R&R.  I booked three nights at Miraval, a spa resort located just outside of Tucson, Arizona for a solo retreat.  I’ve enjoyed traveling solo since I officially became an “adult” in my late teens, even taking myself on day trips and overnighters along the east coast when I was in college.  As much as I love traveling with my husband and family, there is something uniquely special about solo travel.  It allows me an opportunity to explore, learn, and grow in a way that only venturing outside the comforts and routines of home can do.  When I choose to go on a solo trip, it’s usually due to the need to reconnect with myself.   Whether I know it in the planning stages or not, this always becomes apparent at some point in my travels.

I’ve been to Miraval twice before, although my last trip was six years ago now.  It is such a beautiful place, both literally and figuratively.  The resort is set in an isolated (and super quiet) location, surrounded by gorgeous desert scenery, flora and fauna.  I saw deer, rabbits, coyotes, and even a roadrunner during my stay!  The grounds are stunning, with each building styled in subtle ways and widely spaced so as not to interfere too much with the natural landscape.  The design of both the grounds and interiors are beautiful yet simple, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy without feeling overstimulated or overwhelmed by too much fussiness.  The food is outstanding, made with the freshest ingredients.  It’s the most indulgent “health food” I’ve ever had anywhere!  The portions are appropriately sized to allow you to savor the flavors without overdoing it.  The spa and pool area, both of which have been completely renovated since my last visit, are sanctuaries of tranquility.  I have yet to have a less than stellar treatment there!

There is a lot of flexibility in how you can treat your stay at Miraval between all of the many physical and emotional well-being activities offered on a daily basis.  There are exercise and yoga classes, guided meditations, hikes of all levels and intensities, seminars, and one on one consultations, just to name a few.  Just look at one day’s offerings and you can see how much one can experience when at Miraval!  Of course, everything is elective, meaning you can plan your own schedule to reflect your unique needs.  Some people like to have jam-packed days filled with classes and experiences to learn from, while others prefer to spend their days quietly, resting by the pool, at the spa, or in the stunningly appointed rooms.  I fall somewhere in the middle, opting for a few activities peppered with plenty of quiet time and spa treatments during my stay.  One of my favorite parts about the Miraval experience is that I can have the best of both worlds there between outward and inward exploration.  That is why I keep going back and will continue to do so whenever I am able.

While it is certainly on the more expensive side, staying at Miraval does include all meals and snacks with buffet offerings for breakfast and lunch and a new menu each night for dinner.  There’s a great smoothie bar that puts out the most delightful cookies everyday after lunch, as well.  Cookies at a spa resort?  Yes, please!  They are tiny, but delicious, and fall perfectly in line with Miraval’s approach to healthy nutrition: eat well and enjoy, just don’t overdo it.  Most of the activities are also included in the price, with some additional charges for special offerings.  For instance, I participated in the Equine Experience, which cost an extra $45.  I would have gladly paid thrice that amount or more for that experience!  Spa services are not included in the price, but most packages offer a nightly resort credit that can be applied to treatments.   So, while it is pricey, you can really get a lot of bang for your buck if you make good use of your resort credits and activity selections.  Plus, the experience is such a unique and amazing one that if I can swing it, I will book it, no question!

I share a bit from each day in this slideshow of pics I snapped with my iPhone (so handy for travel!) during my trip:

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Sunday, March 30, 2014 - Leaving sunny (but chilly) Chicago and arriving in slightly sunny (but warm!) Arizona. I always choose to sit by a window when I can when flying somewhere as it not only helps me with any motion sickness and anxiety issues, but allows me to view the world from a new perspective.

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My gorgeous room at Miraval. I stayed in one of the Catalina rooms, which the resort added to the property about 6 or 7 years ago. The room had a more modern feel, but still retained that desert vibe. Plus, it was just so roomy!

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I had to share photos of the magnificent bathroom. While I tend to go for a more traditional style in my own home, this bathroom wowed me. That bath tub was enormous! I took a bath each night, enjoying long, indulgent soaks. There's even an outdoor and an indoor shower as well.

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I flew into Miraval around midday. They pick you up at the airport and it takes about an hour to drive to the resort. I immediately went to lunch and then checked in. After unpacking, I headed over the the spa to unwind before my first two treatments. The renovated spa is stunning!

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I enjoyed a soothing Signature Relax Massage followed by the Italian Blood Orange Pedicure. What a way to unwind after traveling! Despite the resort being fully booked, I found most areas to be very quiet without a lot of people all in one place at any given time. Part of the magic of Miraval is how well organized the grounds and schedules are to allow for this kind of quiet experience even when fully committed.

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I've lumped all of my meals from the each day into collages. For my first day: the upper left plate includes my selections from the lunch buffet. To the right of that are the two appetizers I had with dinner, and below is the tasty steak and amazing dessert I also enjoyed. All portions are delicate, but the flavors are huge!

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After dinner I decided to head to the pool to soak in the hot tub before retiring to my room for the night. I was lucky to catch the most glorious sunset during my soak. What a way to end my first day!

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Monday, March 31, 2014 - I woke up bright and early to grab breakfast before heading out on the 7:00 AM Outback Hike. I ran into a furry friend on my way to the restaurant. In this photo collage you can see the beautiful main building which houses the front desk, wine room, smoothie bar, and restaurant that serves all meals.

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The hike was a 2-hour 6-mile trek straight out the back of the Miraval property into the surrounding desert and up the mountain a bit. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! I love the sweet smell of the desert.

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After the hike, I had a little time to hang out by the pool where I swam and knit (although not at the same time. That would be a feat!). I grabbed lunch before heading to the spa for a midday Deep River Hot Stone Massage, which was heavenly! I enjoyed walking the beautiful grounds on my way back to my room to shower before a Floating Meditation class. This involved being walked through a meditation while suspended from "silk" (actually polyester as it turns out) hammocks. Sheer bliss!

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My meals for Monday included a tasty breakfast burrito, selections from the buffet for lunch accompanied by frozen mint lemonade (MUST recreate this at home this summer), and two appetizers, a juicy duck breast, and the best peanut butter chocolate molten cake ever for dessert.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - I decided to go for a run on the treadmill at the gym since I did not trust my legs on the uneven outdoor trails. I didn't want to come home with a sprained ankle! I still felt like I got the outdoor experience a bit by watching all of the critters foraging for breakfast through the big picture window while I ran. I even saw a roadrunner! After breakfast I headed back to the spa (yes, again) for the Restorative Deep Tissue massage, which really got into my muscles. After lunch I headed out to the Miraval Equine Experience activity, which was an amazing and emotional experience. I talk about it more in the accompanying video if you're curious. Ending my day in the deep soaking tub was the icing on the cake!

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My meals from Tuesday included a breakfast quesadilla, selections from the buffet for lunch, a snack at the pool of the frozen mint lemonade and a fruit and yogurt cup. Two appetizers for dinner again (because why not?) followed by the juiciest chicken I've ever had and a chocolate taco filled with white chocolate mousse. Yum!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - I had just enough time for a leisurely paced breakfast and a quick sit by the pool before packing up to head home. Although I was a bit sad to go, I left feeling utterly refreshed and rejuvenated and thoroughly enjoyed every second of my stay.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 - Leaving sunny (but chilly) Chicago and arriving in slightly sunny (but warm!) Arizona.  I always choose to sit by a window when I can when flying somewhere as it not only helps me with any motion sickness and anxiety issues, but allows me to view the world from a new perspective.My gorgeous room at Miraval.  I stayed in one of the Catalina rooms, which the resort added to the property about 6 or 7 years ago.  The room had a more modern feel, but still retained that desert vibe.  Plus, it was just so roomy!I had to share photos of the magnificent bathroom.  While I tend to go for a more traditional style in my own home, this bathroom wowed me.  That bath tub was enormous!  I took a bath each night, enjoying long, indulgent soaks.  There's even an outdoor and an indoor shower as well.I flew into Miraval around midday.  They pick you up at the airport and it takes about an hour to drive to the resort.  I immediately went to lunch and then checked in.  After unpacking, I headed over the the spa to unwind before my first two treatments.  The renovated spa is stunning!I enjoyed a soothing Signature Relax Massage followed by the Italian Blood Orange Pedicure.  What a way to unwind after traveling!  Despite the resort being fully booked, I found most areas to be very quiet without a lot of people all in one place at any given time.  Part of the magic of Miraval is how well organized the grounds and schedules are to allow for this kind of quiet experience even when fully committed.I've lumped all of my meals from the each day into collages.  For my first day: the upper left plate includes my selections from the lunch buffet.  To the right of that are the two appetizers I had with dinner, and below is the tasty steak and amazing dessert I also enjoyed.  All portions are delicate, but the flavors are huge!After dinner I decided to head to the pool to soak in the hot tub before retiring to my room for the night.  I was lucky to catch the most glorious sunset during my soak.  What a way to end my first day!Monday, March 31, 2014 - I woke up bright and early to grab breakfast before heading out on the 7:00 AM Outback Hike.  I ran into a furry friend on my way to the restaurant.  In this photo collage you can see the beautiful main building which houses the front desk, wine room, smoothie bar, and restaurant that serves all meals.The hike was a 2-hour 6-mile trek straight out the back of the Miraval property into the surrounding desert and up the mountain a bit.  This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip!  I love the sweet smell of the desert.After the hike, I had a little time to hang out by the pool where I swam and knit (although not at the same time.  That would be a feat!).  I grabbed lunch before heading to the spa for a midday Deep River Hot Stone Massage, which was heavenly!  I enjoyed walking the beautiful grounds on my way back to my room to shower before a Floating Meditation class.  This involved being walked through a meditation while suspended from "silk" (actually polyester as it turns out) hammocks.  Sheer bliss!My meals for Monday included a tasty breakfast burrito, selections from the buffet for lunch accompanied by frozen mint lemonade (MUST recreate this at home this summer), and two appetizers, a juicy duck breast, and the best peanut butter chocolate molten cake ever for dessert.Tuesday, April 1, 2014 - I decided to go for a run on the treadmill at the gym since I did not trust my legs on the uneven outdoor trails.  I didn't want to come home with a sprained ankle!  I still felt like I got the outdoor experience a bit by watching all of the critters foraging for breakfast through the big picture window while I ran.  I even saw a roadrunner!  After breakfast I headed back to the spa (yes, again) for the Restorative Deep Tissue massage, which really got into my muscles.  After lunch I headed out to the Miraval Equine Experience activity, which was an amazing and emotional experience.  I talk about it more in the accompanying video if you're curious.  Ending my day in the deep soaking tub was the icing on the cake!My meals from Tuesday included a breakfast quesadilla, selections from the buffet for lunch, a snack at the pool of the frozen mint lemonade and a fruit and yogurt cup.  Two appetizers for dinner again (because why not?) followed by the juiciest chicken I've ever had and a chocolate taco filled with white chocolate mousse.  Yum!Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - I had just enough time for a leisurely paced breakfast and a quick sit by the pool before packing up to head home.  Although I was a bit sad to go, I left feeling utterly refreshed and rejuvenated and thoroughly enjoyed every second of my stay.

I did vlog a bit throughout my stay and go into more detail about my trip in the video below:

I hope you enjoyed this look at my solo retreat to Miraval last week.  I feel so blessed to have been able to experience the beauty of the desert twice this year already.  Arizona holds a special place in my heart and I know I will return again and again to experience the healing power of the desert.

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* This is not a sponsored post.  I am not affiliated with Miraval.  I paid for all of my travel expenses. *

Beauty Haul (Spring 2014)

Hi beauties!  I’m sharing a massive beauty haul today of the goodies I picked up during the current 15% off your entire purchase at Sephora sale, a 20% off my entire purchase coupon at Ulta, as well as some new spring polish.  Spring is such a fun time to shop for new beauty items with all of the pretty, soft shades available after the dark months of winter.  I share my new finds in the video below:

 

 

The Sephora sale is still on and all Beauty Insiders can get 15% off all purchases between now and the end of the week.  Here is the coupon codes and sale dates, which vary depending on which level of Beauty Insider you are:

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The Ulta discount was sent out in the mail and is only applicable to people who received it, unfortunately.

I wanted to share some of the spring beauty haul love, so I picked up a couple of the Naked 3 Palettes for two of you!  The Spring Beauty Haul Giveaway will run until Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  Each winner will receive one of the Naked 3 Eye Shadow Palettes pictured below:

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You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the  winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always.  Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to Keira G. and Andrea A. L. on being selected as the winners of the Spring Beauty Haul Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *Do you change up your beauty look for spring?* out of 2399 entries:

Yes (1888) 79%
No (511) 21%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Have you picked up any new beauty goodies for spring?  I’d love to know if you care to share!  Here’s to pastel nails, light pink lips, and rosy cheeks.  Happy Spring!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Week In Review (March 31 – April 6, 2014)

I’ve got a quickie edition of my WIR post for you this week since I spent half of the week in Arizona (yes, again) and will be posting a proper Trip Recap on Wednesday.  Here’s the second half of my week:

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I was away from Sunday until Wednesday which coincided with a business trip Don took out east so we weren’t away at different times.  We spent the rest of the week glued at the hip.  We usually spend quite a bit of time together, especially since we both work from home, but we spent every waking minute together this past weekend.  I guess distance really does make the heart grow fonder!  Don’s been whipping up some more seasonal items for dinner (and yes, I do realize how lucky I am to have a man that cooks for me.  Trust me, I know and appreciate it greatly!).  We’ve been big on his dill salmon lately, adding it into our weekly dinner rotation.  He also made some delicious garlic shrimp which were amazing!  It’s almost grilling season here, which means shrimp fajitas should be on the menu again soon.  Yum!

Last week we seemed to *officially* transition from winter-like temperatures to more mild spring ones.  Let’s hope this sticks!  On Thursday I was in my winter coat and scarf, but by Saturday I was able to wear peep-toe shoes out to dinner since things have warmed up.  I can’t wait to start wearing some of my lighter clothing!  I added a couple of springtime Emma Bridgewater mugs to my collection in celebration.  They are my absolute favorite kind of mug!  Don’s been super sweet and attentive lately, upping his usual romantic self with full-on breakfast and lunch services this weekend.  He even printed out a sweet menu for me!  We enjoyed a very lovely night out downtown at Henri, A “French-influenced” restaurant on Saturday Date Nite and took a delightful walk into town as a family (with Winnie our pack totals three) on Sunday morning where we chatted and grabbed Starbucks.

So, as you see, life is good as the Ross Family transitions from winter to spring.  Sometimes life throws you curveballs, but it’s all part of the learning and growing process.  I am grateful that this spring is bringing along positive changes for me and my loved ones.  I wish the same to be true for you.  Take care, friends!

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