My Dental Hygiene Routine (2014)

Although it’s a bit of an odd topic for me to post about, I’ve received so many requests over the years to share my dental hygiene routine I decided it was about time I did!  I actually have a quite thorough routine as I am particularly protective of my teeth and vigilant about my oral health.  I’ve always been a keen brusher and flosser, but sadly my teeth need extra TLC as I have issues with soft enamel which makes the protective coating of my teeth far less effective naturally.  I was a bit of an overly aggressive brusher as a child and this combined with my soft enamel led to some pretty severe gum receding.  Over the past decade I have honed my routine to properly address these specific issues based on advice from my dentist.  In addition to this, I have had bonding work done (which basically creates fake enamel) at my gum line on most of my molars to protect that sensitive area and I see my dentist every three to four months to keep a close eye on my gum line.   I am happy to report that my efforts have really paid off and I have been able to maintain a healthy set of chompers with two thumbs up from my dentist on each visit.

In this post I break down my dental hygiene routine into night and day.  This is what I do to maintain my oral health based on the advice of my dentist.  You should always talk to your dentist before changing up your routine to make sure you are doing what is best to suit your needs.

Night Routine

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I dedicate more time to my dental routine at night for a thorough cleaning process.  I know this may seem like an awful lot of steps, but it really only take about five minutes total.  To me, that is time well spent to keep my mouth healthy!

Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Dental Floss - I start off by flossing.  I prefer this floss because it is fine enough to fit between my teeth which sit very close together without hurting my gums.  I always rinse with water after flossing.

DenTek Easy Brush Interdental Cleaners Extra-Tight Spaces - I follow up regular flossing with these little brushes which I use just on my top and lower front five or six teeth as I have a tendency to form plaque there regardless of how much flossing I do.  These little brushes keep plaque at bay longer between dentist visits.

Plax - Next, I swish with this plaque loosening rinse to further aid in my battle against plaque build-up.

Oral-B Professional Care SmartSeries 4000 Rechargeable Toothbrush - I love my electric toothbrush!  I use mine with sensitive brush heads for a gentle yet effective cleaning.  I like how it times the two minute recommended cleaning time for you with 30-second allotments per quadrant of your mouth.

Nature’s Gate Natural Toothpaste - I prefer using this fluoride free toothpaste.  While this is the only part of my routine that is not recommended by my dentist, it definitely gets the job done as I receive great reports from each dentist visit.  I always rinse and gargle with water after brushing.

Waterpik Water Flosser - The last step of my nighttime routine is to use my Waterpik to flush out any remaining particles stuck in my teeth.  You’d be surprised at what still remains even after doing all of the previous steps!

Listerine Total Care Zero - I like to dilute about three parts water with one part of this alcohol free mouth rinse in my Waterpik.  The combination leaves my mouth feeling clean and fresh!

Morning Routine

OJ_TBBB_08-26-2014_02My morning routine is more condensed with only three steps:

✻ I floss with Glide and then rinse with water.

✻ I brush my teeth but this time for only one minute instead of two.

✻ I follow up with a quick swish of Listerine Whitening Vibrant mouthwash.  This is the only whitening product I use on my teeth as they are quite sensitive.  I find that using this daily keeps my smile looking white enough to meet my standards.

As you can see, I follow a fairly thorough routine to keep my teeth in tip top shape. To me, it is time well spent and I can definitely see results.  The way I see it, you only get one set of teeth so it’s important to take care of them! :D

If you’d like to hear more about my routine and my thoughts on each product used, check out my coordinating video:

I’d love to hear about your dental hygiene routine if you’d care to share!

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

Week In Review (August 18 – August 24, 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 Tuesday 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:

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What have we been up to at the Ross Family vacation home in Utah over the past week?  Mostly eating good food and watching baby TV.  If you’re not sure what that means, it’s basically another way of saying how entertained we are by little Gracie’s antics.  She toddles around like a pro now and is curious about everything!  It’s fascinating to watch her absorb the world around her.  One of Grace’s favorite things is music.  She’s a big fan of Mary Poppins and watches a song or two from the movie before naptime.  You should see how she waves her arms around to “Step In Time!”  :)

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The weather definitely cooled off especially with some big storms last week.  It’s so beautiful to watch weather like that roll in from the surrounding mountains out here.  You can see why they call it the “Big Sky!”  As much as the humans in this house love seeing the storms roll in, our canine friends are not quite as amused.  My dog, Winnie, is not a huge fan of rainy morning walks, even though she’s cute as a button in her RC Pets Poncho.  Poor Yoda, my sister-in-law’s dog, is terrified of storms and will shake, pant, and frantically pace between hiding spots until they pass.  Luckily, these pups are well cared for during stormy weather!

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A few other tidbits from the week:

✻ Winnie’s favorite toy, which we’ve dubbed “Turkey Friend,” underwent major surgery up in the Loftice.   Luckily, he made a full and swift recovery and was back to being tossed about in no time.

✻ Don bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers with colors that perfectly compliment this transitionary season as summer wanes and fall is on the horizon.

✻ I picked up a few little goodies at Bath & Body Works when I popped in the other day to make a list for a big fall candle haul I hope to place next time I have a good coupon and there’s also a two-for-one kind of sale (I like smelling the candles in person before ordering online).  I just couldn’t resist this sweet mini mason jar candles!  The scent combinations from the new Artisan Market line are so interesting.

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We celebrated my father-in-law, Keith’s birthday with a bang this past weekend with a fun and food packed BBQ!  Suzanne laid out the most glorious snack spread you’ve ever seen.  Don smoked a prime rib roast to perfection.  I baked a coconut cake from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook, as requested by the guest of honor.  We invited our local friends over and spent much of the evening outside enjoying the cooler weather on the porch by the fire.  I’m sorry I don’t have any photos of Don’s fabulous meat to share here, but you can see footage of it in this week’s vlog if you’re interested.  A good time was had by all!

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On Sunday we returned to Deer Valley for brunch at Stein Eriksen Lodge again this time with the whole Ross clan.  It never fails to impress us!  They’ve definitely picked up on the approach of autumn, which tends to come a bit earlier up in the mountains.  I couldn’t believe all of the changing leaves I noticed on our drive up!  Season transitions like this really showcase the amazing beauty of nature.  I am so happy I am here to see fall begin probably a good month or more before we’ll get any tell tale signs in the midwest.

If you’d like to see more from my weekend, check out my vlog:

I wonder if you are noticing any seasonal transitions cropping up wherever you are.  I’d love to hear about them if you care to share!  I hope you enjoy the remainder of summer while it is here with good fun and good food shared with loved ones.

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

Carry-On Spotlight: Case Logic SLR Camera & Laptop Backpack

OJ_OLJ_08-22-2014_01If you’ve watched my previous travel videos on OLJ, then you know how much I love a good carry-on bag.  I like to bring not only the majority of my electronics and photography gear on the plane with me for safekeeping, but also quite a few personal effects.  While I admire the people who can walk on a plane with just a book and a bottle of water, that is definitely not my style.  As much as I love to go places, the actual process of traveling is not my favorite part.  I like bringing a nice variety of things to do ranging from journals and books to knitting and computer work to act as distractions for me in transit.  Since I carry a good amount with me on any given flight, I require a roomy, well-designed, and easy to carry multi-functional bag to put everything in.

I rotate between a couple of different styles of carry-ons depending on my travel needs.  I bought this Case Logic backpack just over a year ago, because I was interested in a sturdy bag designed to carry photography equipment.  I travel out to the family vacation home in Utah about four times a year for extended stays ranging anywhere from two to four weeks, which means I need my dSLR camera and all of its accessories so I can continue filming and taking photographs for my posts while I am in Utah.  I was first introduced to this bag while watching Ingrid Nilsen’s vlogs on her YouTube channel, TheGridMonster, awhile ago.  After checking out reviews of it on Amazon I decided to take the plunge and am so very glad that I did as its proved to be one of my most favorite carry-on bags of all time!

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The Case Logic SLRC-206 SLR Camera and 15.4-Inch Laptop Backpack is an extremely well-designed bag.  Even though it is marketed as a camera bag, the repositionable and removable inserts make it so that it can suit a variety of purposes and needs.  The bag is built to last with a heavy-gauge nylon exterior and reinforced zippers with easy to grab pulls.  One of my favorite features of the bag is its water-resistant molded EVA base, which acts as a “helmet” of sorts for the bottom of the bag.  I never worry about storing delicate equipment in the bottom of this backpack!  Plus, it makes it so it can stand upright on its own, which is a nice feature.  The bag measures 17″ tall x 12.5″ wide by 8″ deep and weighs in at just 2.7 pounds, which is pretty lightweight considering just how rugged it is.

When you receive the bag, it comes set up with the removable shelves and walls just like you see in the above photo on the right.  The hammock system is designed so that you can suspend your camera for easy reach in, reach out access while out on a shoot.  The top interior flap is lined with memory foam to help protect the back of the camera when stored in this way.  There are a couple of velcro tabs that close over the main compartment’s zipper about a third of the way down from the top so that if you just want to remove your camera, all of your other equipment stored in the bottom stays secure.  I personally don’t use it in this function, because I take the bag for travel and not on shoots, but it is an excellent feature and easy to recreate if I want to in the future.  I store the majority of the removable parts separately from the bag and just keep one of the walls and one of the shelves for traveling with my Canon T4i and an extra lens.

Other great features of the bag include the “strap management system,” which keeps the excess straps (so that the shoulder straps are adjustable) that would otherwise hang down rolled up and out of the way.  The bright yellow interior makes it very easy to see the bag’s contents.  I also find the bag’s fit to be very comfortable with a good amount of cushioning and airflow design where the bag rests on your back.

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The exterior of the bag also features some great built-in organizational components.  One side of the bag has a long and narrow zip compartment with two small mesh pouches.  These are perfect for stowing my iPhone and vlogging camera, a Canon PowerShot S120, for easy access while on the go.  I like that they can be zipped in for extra security.  The other side of the bag features a couple of straps designed to hold a tripod.  I haven’t had an occasion to travel with a tripod as of yet since I already have one out at the Utah house, so I actually use these straps to hold either a tall water bottle (Smart Water fits perfectly!) or a sweatshirt.

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There is a shallow compartment in the back of the bag designed to hold a laptop computer.  This feature was a must for me when researching camera backpacks and is surprisingly hard to come by.  The laptop compartment is quite roomy and can comfortably hold my 15″ MacBook Pro with its case by Kuzy.  I can also fit my travel folder and a couple of magazines in there.

The smaller pocket on the front of the bag opens all the way flat and includes several built in slip pockets.  I keep a few pens, extra poopy bags for my dog, feminine supplies, and cough drops in there and not much else.  I don’t like to store too much in this part of the bag for security reasons.

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The main compartment’s flap features a few built in zip pockets, including a larger extra padded one that’s great for camera batteries or a small external hard drive.  I generally tuck my password file and checkbook in there.  A smaller water resistant pouch above it is the perfect place for memory cards.

The backpack flap actually opens fully just like a suitcase as opposed to a standard backpack design which you have to reach into.  This is a great feature especially if you’re a fan of vertical packing and organization like me.  As you can see, I have all of my In-Flight Essentials stacked vertically for easy identification and access.  My dSLR camera and extra lens are tucked safely to the side within the padded removable walls.  I store everything else from the top of the backpack to bottom by frequency of use, with my most used items up at the top for easy access when the bag is stowed under the seat on the plane.  This bag also fits in every overhead compartment I’ve ever tried ranging in size from regional jets to much larger ones.

If you’d like a closer look at the Case Logic backpack including how I pack it, please check out my coordinating video:

I am hosting a giveaway to coordinate with this post since I love this backpack so much and want to share the love. The Case Logic Backpack Giveaway will run until Friday, August 29, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. Two people will win a brand new Case Logic SLRC-206 SLR Camera and 15.4-Inch Laptop Backpack. 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 will contact the winners directly though 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.

I’d love to know what your favorite carry-on bag is.  Please share in the comments if you’d like!  I’m also interested in any requests for other travel and packing posts.
Happy Organizing & Safe Travels!

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

Target Haul (Summer 2014)

I love Target.  It’s my favorite one-stop shop for both household essentials such as cleaning products and small appliances as well as personal items including clothing and cosmetics.  It’s also a great place to pick up books, music, DVDs, toys, party goods, stationary supplies, holiday decorations, and even groceries.  What’s not to love?  I’ve started a tradition of posting Target hauls when I am out at the family vacation home in Utah and people seem to really enjoy those, so I thought I would once again share what I picked up on my latest shopping trip.

Personal Hygiene & Cosmetics

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✻ Yes To Grapefruit Daily Face Scrub - I mentioned how much I’ve been enjoying this scrub in my latest What’s In My Shower & Tub post.  I like it so much, in fact, that I bought one to keep in my shower at the Utah house.  It’s a wonderful middle-of-the-road kind of scrub (not too harsh, not too light) that I like to use about three times a week.

✻ Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss - I am a bit of a flossing fiend and cannot go without my all time favorite by Oral-B.

✻ Listerine Whitening Vibrant Mouthwash - Speaking of dental care, I’m also quite the mouthwash fiend and rotate through three (yes, you read that right, three!) different kinds in the course of each day.  I like to use this whitening variety in the morning.  It helps to keep my teeth looking white without the need for more concentrated treatments to which I am quite sensitive.

✻ Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon in Carolina Coast - I’ve been on a big Burt’s Bees kick lately, enjoying trying out their different lip product varieties.  This crayon-style product is quite long lasting.

✻ Burt’s Bees Lipgloss in Spring Splendor - While I love the beautiful deep pink color of this lipgloss flecked with gold shimmer, I’m not sure whether or not I’m a fan of the formula as of yet.  I’m considering a new series for TBBB where I do reviews on groups of products from one brand.  I am wondering if there would be any interest in this kind of post and video.  Let me know what you think in the comments!

✻ Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Hibiscus - I love tinted lip balms like this caramel-tinged pink one for easy no-fuss application on the go.  I find this balm to be quite moisturizing as well.

Schick Hydro Silk Razor Refills - I like to change out my razor head once a week.  I love the Schick Hydro Silk Razor for keeping my legs smooth and soft without running the risk of pesky nicks.

Clothing & Accessories

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✻ Champion Women’s Supersoft 1/4 Zip Pullover - I’ve been looking for a lightweight long sleeve pullover for warmer weather (but still chilly) morning runs and I was excited to find this one on the clearance rack.  I like to wear bright colors like this when I run out by our Utah house because I need to run in the street due to the lack of sidewalks and like to make sure I am visible to traffic.

✻ Merona Slub Tank - If you saw my last couple of Miscellaneous Monthlies posts (both June and July) then you’ll know I have been slightly obsessed with these easy breezy racer back tanks from Target this summer.  I bought a couple to have out here since I love them so much!

✻ Champion Women’s Athletic Socks - I needed some new socks and these no show, padded sole ones are right up my alley.

Household Goods & Accessories

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✻ West Bend Sir Crazy Hot Air Popcorn Popper -I recently purchased this air popper for our home in Illinois and was so impressed with it, I decided to get one for the Utah house, as well.  I love being able to pop up a bowl in mere minutes without the need for butter or oils.

✻ Chill Out Mini Tower Fan - We don’t have air conditioning in the Utah house, which isn’t a problem because it cools off so much at night that we can regulate the temperature of the house between leaving the windows open and fans.  I thought this tiny tower fan would be a perfect addition to my Loftice (office in a loft) to help me stay cool when I am up there working on videos and blog posts.

✻ Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap in Honeysuckle - I love Mrs. Meyer’s products for keeping my kitchen in tiptop shape!  I especially enjoy the dish soap and the honeysuckle is a wonderfully mild and sweet scent perfect for the summer months.

✻ Clorox Premium Choice Gloves - A quality set of kitchen gloves is a must for me to save my hands and nails when I am cleaning up.

✻ Room Essentials Bed Rest - This is my most favorite item of all in the entire lot!  I actually purchased this same bed rest in a lighter blue color to use in bed at home in Illinois.  It’s the perfect size for propping up with my lap desk before I go to sleep at night to write in my planners and journals.  At $15 I think it’s a steal!

Books & Movies

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✻ Children’s Books – I picked up a couple of books for my niece, Grace, as a little welcome back to Utah gift.  I chose Sleepy Bunny (Pat the Bunny Cloth Book) and Eight Silly Monkeys.  She really likes both of them!

✻ Movies – We’re constantly adding to our movie library at the house here as one of our favorite things to do as a family is relax and watch movies together.  I picked up three, including Star Trek Into Darkness, Chicago, and Spaceballs, which are all family favorites.

Fun Extras

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Over the past few years I’ve started doing my own foot treatments and pedicures at home.  While I do indulge in a pedicure at a salon sometimes when I am on vacation, most of the time I opt to do this myself at home.  I decided to buy a few things to put together a little spa foot sanctuary.  This pretty Threshold Melamine Floral Serving Bowl is the perfect size for my feet.  I got some Threshold River Rock Vase Filler to add to the bottom of the bowl to rest my tootsies on.  The Plastic Mason Jar Pitcher makes it easy to fill up the bowl wherever I choose to place it.  I also picked up a Room Essentials Plastic Serving Tray to keep everything together, which I lined with one of two Threshold Performance Hand Towels in case of water spills.  The other towel is to dry my feet once I am done soaking them.  I also bought two candles to complete my at home spa experience, a Mason Jar Pomelo Lime Candle and a Caldrea Candle in Orange Blossom.  Not only are these candles pretty and happen to color coordinate with the bowl and towels, but they smell lovely when burned together as well.  It makes for a wonderfully relaxing spa-like foot ritual and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and easy way to decompress.

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

What’s your favorite one-stop kind of shop?  Please feel free to leave a comment if you care to share!
Thanks for stopping by :)

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

Week In Review (August 11 – August 17, 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 Tuesday 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:

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I’ve so enjoyed the glorious summer weather out here in sunny Utah!  Lately, the days have been hot without being oppressive, and super clear.  Dusk has produced some pretty magnificent sunsets.  The evenings have been cool, comfortable, and perfect for star gazing or just cuddling with loved ones by the outdoor fireplace.  I couldn’t ask for more beautiful weather in one of my all time favorite places with some of my all time favorite people! :)

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That being said, there has been a summer storm or two every so often, which I personally enjoy.  There’s nothing quite like seeing a storm roll in from the mountains!  I’ve made good use out of the Eddie Bauer Rainfoil Jacket I hauled from the outlets when I was here this past spring.  It is the perfect three season rain jacket and I know I will get a lot of use out of it over the years.

We celebrated a very special birthday last week, as Winnie, our Shih Tzu pup, turned five on August 14.  I can’t believe she’s five already!  We celebrated the day together with some of her favorite things, including sleeping in and extra long morning snuggles in bed, greeting our friendly farm animal friends on our morning walk, a little taste of ice cream, an extra special treat, and a new toy.  Winnie ended the day happy and exhausted back in bed, her most favorite place to be.  I love my little angel and count my lucky stars that I am her human “Mommy.”

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I stopped into Cost Plus World Market for the first time in ages since I had a coupon.  I don’t know why I don’t pop in there more frequently as they have some great finds at reasonable prices.  My main purpose for going in was to acquire a new basket to house my knitting projects and accessories in our bedroom at the Utah house.  I found the perfect one!  The Large Madras Handle Basket is just the right size to fit all I need without taking up too much floor space in our room.  I also bought a smaller Natural Oval Jackie Basket for toting things up and down to my Loftice (office in a loft), some heavy duty rubber gloves for Don to use when he’s cooking (like for brining and soaking wood for the smoker), some cute and very inexpensive earrings ($5!), and a couple of the Hello Kitty Cupcake Candies Tins I like to empty and clean out to use as small containers for Winnie’s treats in my purses.  I also grabbed a bag of the Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie Squares to try.  I’ve always preferred milk chocolate but am trying to learn to love the dark variety since it generally is better for you (if you’re going to eat chocolate, that is, which I am ;) ).

Getting back to the topic of knitting, after a frustrating week of failing to grasp the popcorn/bobble cast on of my latest pattern attempt, the Lauren Cowl from my July KnitCrate subscription, I finally got it!  Huzzah!  I am now cruising along (which for me means knitting small portions at a rather slow pace).  I am very excited about how it is proceeding.  It’s nice to be working on a project that is actually doable for me!

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Once again, the house is full as of this last weekend, as Don’s sister Emily, her husband, Dave, their sweet baby, Grace, and their Shih Tzu, Yoda, all arrived on Saturday.  It’s so nice to be reunited!  Suzanne made her famous meatballs with homemade sauce for their welcome dinner.  Don actually posted a video on this last year if you’re interested in the recipe.  We also acquired this super cute mini couch for Gracie to watch her favorite movie, Mary Poppins, in the entertainment room in the basement.  How cute is that!

All of the excitement of travel and being in a full house threw Grace off her schedule a bit and after a rough first night and napless day after, the family decided on a very quiet and low key Sunday with leftovers for dinner.  Don and I decided it was a good time to go out on a date, so we headed to Park City for dinner at Riverhorse.  It was delicious!  We couldn’t believe we’d never been before!  I highly recommend the trout main course and blueberry cobbler for dessert.  Yum!

If you’d like to see more from my weekend, check out my vlog:

I’d love to know what you’ve been up to in your spare time this August and how the weather is treating you wherever you’re from.  Please share in the comments if you’d like!  I hope that wherever you are, that you are able to grab a little sunshine, some fresh air, and time spent with loved ones every day.  Take care!

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

Summer 2014 Empties

I am back with my seasonal “empties” post where I share what products I have used up in the past few months.  This includes mostly beauty items, but also some odds and ends (such as candles) from time to time.

Bath & Body

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✻ Aura Cacia Mineral Bath - I keep sharing these in my empties posts for a reason…because I love them!  The scents are wonderful for aromatherapy and the minerals make the bathwater so moisturizing.  I’ve been loving Comforting Geranium & Clearing Eucalyptus lately.

✻ Aura Cacia Milk & Oat Bath - I’ve tried this before and while it makes a very nice milk bath, I actually find the Mineral Bath to be much more moisturizing, oddly enough.  Still, the Milk & Oat Bath is lovely and I especially like the Restoring Helichrysum scent.

✻ Aura Cacia Foam Bath - Having a little bubble bath sachet like this is great for travel.  While the bubbles are not extraordinary, it does foam up nicely and the Relaxing Lavender scent is particularly nice for unwinding in the tub.

✻ Hugo Naturals Bath Bombs - I’ve been talking a lot about these lately, because they are hands down my favorite bath bombs ever!  I’ve been really into the Eucalyptus, Rosemary, & Mint variety this summer.

✻ Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub in Pomegranate Acai - This was my first ever tub of this wonderful scrub (hey, that rhymed! :) ) and I am hooked!  It is the best combination of a medium abrasiveness with wonderful moisturizing results.

✻ The Body Shop Shower Gel in Honeymania – I really enjoyed this light floral scent for spring.  The Body Shop shower gels lather up nicely.

✻ Bath & Body Works Triple Moisture Cream in Beautiful Day - I actually got this for free with a special coupon and used it over the course of two spring seasons.  It’s a wonderful light fruity scent.  I like the Triple Moisture formula for a thicker lotion.

✻ L’Occitane Pivoine Flora Beauty Milk - I just love this whole line from L’Occitane.  It’s definitely one of my favorite bath & body scents ever.  If you like the heady scent of peonies, you will love it, as well!  The beauty milk is a lightweight formula that sinks into the skin and leaves a faint scent.

✻ The Body Shop Body Butter - I stocked up at one of the post-holiday sales a couple of years ago on some of my favorite seasonal scents from The Body Shop and have been slowly making my way through the many tubs of body butter I acquired.  I really enjoy this formula when I’m looking for something very thick.  The Spiced Vanilla scent was lovely and I hope they bring it back again this winter.

✻ L’Occitane Lavender Relaxing Foot Cream - I just found out they’re discontinuing this lovely foot cream, which is a bummer.  It has a nice weight to it without being too thick and the lavender scent is a great alternative to the ever popular mint for foot creams.

✻ L’Occitane Almond Delicious Hands - Delicious hands, indeed!  This is a lovely, light hand cream with a nutty floral scent.  L’Occitane does not mess around with their moisturizers!

✻ L’Occitane Lighter Legs - I really enjoyed using this lightweight cream for my tootsies.  It feels very refreshing after application.

✻ Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter - A year round favorite of mine and something I share in almost every empties post, I love to use this thick butter on my heels and calluses to keep my feet in tip top shape.

Hair & Nails

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Organix Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Shampoo - I’ve really enjoyed using this shampoo over the past few months.  It doesn’t weigh down my super fine hair and leaves it feeling clean and healthy.

Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo - My husband has used this shampoo for a couple of years now.  While he could really care less about what products he uses, I really enjoy the way it makes his head smell like coconuts. ;)

✻ Hands Down Ultra Nail & Cosmetic Pads - Definitely more pricey than using normal cotton, but the best way to remove polish in my opinion.  Sometimes I find I can use just one for all 10 fingers!  I especially love how you don’t have to deal with the annoying fuzz that you do with regular cotton pads or balls.

✻ Julep Ta Da Quick Dry Drops - My new favorite drying drops to help speed up my manicure setting time.  I will definitely be stocking up on this again!

Skincare & Cosmetics

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✻ Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar - I have become such an advocate of using apple cider vinegar both internally (diluted in water) and externally as a toner for my face.  It is an amazing beauty product!  Bragg’s is the best for an organic, raw, and unfiltered variety which contains all of the beneficial properties.

✻ Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin -  I mix equal parts of this refreshing spray with apple cider vinegar to create my own toner.  I also use this spray on its own as a pick-me-up when traveling and before my morning runs as a light moisturizer.

✻ Origins Checks & Balances Frothy Face Wash - This is probably my favorite face wash of all time.  I like to call it “toothpaste for the face,” because it really works to clean your skin without being too harsh.  I have gone through more tubes of this than I can count!

✻ St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub - After a year of use, I finally made my way through this scrub.  It is a nice, more vigorous exfoliator.  While I do like it, I don’t think I will be repurchasing it for awhile so I can try out different brands.

✻ Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover - The only eye makeup remover for me, I use just one cotton square with this to remove makeup from both eyes, including waterproof mascara and liner, with no need to scrub, pull, or rub my skin.

✻ Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum - This is a wonderful, lightweight serum that quickly absorbs into the skin.  I have used it for years and might go back to it, but for now am trying new things.

✻ Origins Starting Over Age Erasing Oil-Free Moisturizer - Another oldie but goodie, this moisturizer has served me well over the years.  It is light but quite effective.

✻ Origins Eye Doctor - I really love this thicker eye cream for nighttime.  I am trying out new things at the moment but I see myself going back to this one!

✻ Origins Ginsing Refreshing Eye Cream - Yet another product I have used and loved for years, this lightweight formula is perfect for day as it has a bit of a sheen to it to help brighten the under eye area.

✻ Ole Henriksen Grease Relief Cleansing Cloths - I wanted to try something from this brand and thought these exfoliating wipes would be great for a quick cleanse before my morning run.  I am thinking of repurchasing them once I run out of what I am currently using.

✻ Up&Up Cleansing Towelettes - I’ve talked about these for a couple of years now.  They are definitely my favorite makeup wipes I’ve ever tried.  I’m not using wipes for this purpose at the moment, but if I start again I will certainly buy these.

✻ Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner - Hands down my favorite eye liner of all time.  It’s fine enough to get really close to the lash line and super easy to work with.  I always have one of these on hand.

✻ Shiseido Pureness Oil-Control Blotting Paper - I wasn’t sure about this blotting paper at first which is a bit thicker than other varieties I have tried but it ended up growing on me.  I might repurchase them in the future but am enjoying using a different brand at the moment.

✻ Up&Up Exfoliating Cotton Rounds - Exfoliating cotton rounds are great for removing any stubborn makeup.  I use these with Bioderma on days when I have a full face of makeup on.

✻ GlamGlow Super-Mud Clearing Treatment - I used this mask twice a week for six weeks (that’s how long the pot lasted) and can honestly say I did not see any noticeable difference in my skin.  It’s a nice mask, but I don’t think it’s worth the price.

Home Fragrance

OJ_TBBB_08-14-2014_01✻ Bath & Body Works 3-Wick Candles - I burned through a few of my all-time favorite candles in Market Peach & London Calling.  Sadly these scents are unavailable at the moment, but they seem to bring them back every spring so I imagine I will have an opportunity to repurchase them next year.

✻ Bath & Body World Mason Jar Candle - I love burning the Honeysuckle Bouquet scent in the spring and really enjoy the mason jar size candle.  It also is a perfect stocking stuffer that fits right in the toe!

✻ Bath & Body Works Wallflower Plugins - We went through a few spring scents in our powder room, including Honeysuckle & Lemon Mint.  These are both delightfully fresh scents for the warmer months.

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

I would love to know what products you have used up lately, if you’l repurchase them and why.  Leave a comment if you care to share!

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

On The Go Review: Erin Condren Suitcase

OJ_OLJ_08-15-2014_01I’m back for the second installment of my Summer Travel Series this year with a new kind of post for me.  I recently acquired one of the gorgeous hard shell suitcases from ErinCondren.com.  As you may have already been able to guess from previous posts, I have become quite the Erin Condren fan over the past 6+ months.  I love to share my favorites with you, and the nice folks at Erin Condren noticed!  As a thank you, they sent me a gift card in the spring to use on whatever I like, no strings attached.  The luggage just happened to be on sale at the time so I took the plunge!  Having never owned or tried out this style suitcase before, I was eager to give it a spin (Pun intended! It’s a spinner ;) ) on a long weekend trip we took earlier this summer for a family reunion.  I decided to film an “On The Go” style review of the bag while I was traveling with it for the first time (you can see this footage in the coordinating video below) and share my thoughts with you about this suitcase here as well.

Unfortunately, the stand alone photographs I took of the bag and all of its features did not make it with me out to our family vacation home in Utah where I am currently staying for an extended visit.  I did my best to pull images from my video footage, and while I do think they still give you a pretty good sense of the bag, I apologize that they are not higher quality.

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I have the large size Quote Party Pops Suitcase in grey.  It measures in at 28″ tall x 20.5″ wide x 12″ deep and weighs 10 pounds empty.  It is made out of a strong polycarbonate composite and comes embellished with a customizable (if you choose) cast vinyl image.  Like I mentioned, this bag is a “spinner” thanks to its four wheel system “allowing for 360 degree maneuverability.”  In other words, it spins!  The telescoping handle works well and stays secure with a push-button locking system.  The suitcase also features a TSA approved lock on the side for security.

The interior is left pretty bare, which I prefer for maximum efficient use of space and to reduce unnecessary added weight to the bag.  The reinforced zipper opens so that the bag lays completely flat for ease of packing.  There is a long, shallow zip pouch located on the side of the bottom half of the bag and a suspension strap that buckles to keep packed items in place.  The top half of the interior features a zip around divider with two shoe pockets and a large, shallow mesh pocket for storing smaller items.  This divider zips completely to secure the contents packed into the top half of the bag so that you can then easily close it.

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The entire design is simple, straightforward, and effective.  I was able to easily pack both my own and my husband’s clothing, accessories, and toiletries for our three day trip into the bag and came just under the weight allowance (50 pounds) even with all of my toiletries!  I chose to pack all of of our clothes and softer items in the top half so that I could easily close the bag once I zipped up the dividing partition.  Everything else including our toiletry cases, shoes, and beach gear fit nicely in the bottom half secured by the straps.  The open design makes packing the bag so easy and the hard shell exterior keeps your items from shifting or being squished in transit.  I never thought I would like a hard suitcase so much, but I am officially a convert!

OJ_OLJ_08-15-2014_04As I mentioned, I used this suitcase for the first time earlier this summer.  It was a dream to travel with!  I was worried that the hard shell exterior would make it cumbersome and hard to maneuver, and was pleasantly surprised to find it was just the opposite!  Not only was it a breeze to wheel around both the airport and our destination thanks to the spinner feature, it was also easy to lift in and out of cars and onto luggage racks thanks to the two handles.  Another perk of the bag is that it was super easy to spot at baggage claim.  I received many compliments on it at the airport.

OJ_OLJ_08-15-2014_05The large suitcase is truly the perfect size to pack both of us for three nights.  It’s a goldilocks bag; not too small, not too big, but just right.  Both Don and I felt comfortable rolling it around and he’s got eight inches on me!  I would recommend this bag to anyone in the market for a cute and functional structured suitcase that is a breeze to pack and travel with.  I see myself using this bag frequently for our future travel!

You can receive $10 off your first purchase when you sign up for the Erin Condren newsletter (which means you receive the occasional email on current promotions and new products from them) by clicking here.


Unfortunately, I was informed just yesterday by the company that they are not currently stocking the large size suitcase and are not certain if they will be again in the future.  If I had this information sooner I would not have posted this review as I do not like to share about a product that is no longer available.  I have decided to go ahead with the post still as the large size bag is identical to the currently available medium size option in both construction and utility.  The medium bag is available in black and red, measures 24″ tall x 18″ wide x 10.5″ deep and weighs 6.9 pounds empty.  

Please accept my most sincere apologies for this snafu.  I wish it could have been avoided and I will do my best in the future to ensure I only share products in this way that are easily accessible to you.  To be honest, I am quite embarrassed by this unfortunate disconnect.  While I chose to make this review independent of Erin Condren, they were aware that I was going to be posting about it and failed to communicate with me about the availability of the bag in a timely manner.  I will make every effort to avoid this kind of situation in the future.  Thank you for your understanding.


If you’d like a closer look at the Erin Condren large suitcase including how I packed it for our trip and my on the go review, please check out my coordinating video:

In an effort to share the ErinCondren.com love, I am giving away two $350 gift cards.  The Erin Condren Suitcase Giveaway will run until Friday, August 22, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open internationally (you can find information about Erin Condren international shipping costs here). All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. Two people will win a $350 electronic gift card good for use on any purchase from ErinCondren.com. 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 will contact the winners directly though email, as always. Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winners of the Erin Condren Suitcase Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *What is your favorite style luggage?* out of 1767 entries:

Soft Structured (706) 40%
Hardshell (658) 37%
Rolling Duffle (278) 16%
Hand Luggage (115) 7%
Other (10) 1%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

I’d love to know what your favorite luggage is.  Please share in the comments if you’d like!  I’m also interested in any requests for this year’s travel series. Check back next week for a closer look at one of my favorite carry-ons bags, the Case Logic SLRC-206 SLR Camera and 15.4-Inch Laptop Backpack.
Happy Organizing & Safe Travels!

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* Post contains affiliate and referral links. ErinCondren.com graciously provided me with a gift card as a thank you gift to use as I please and I chose to purchase this bag.  This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

What’s In My Shower & Tub: Summer 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 we’re well into summer 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?

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✻ LUSH Big Shampoo - I wash my hair with this salt-based shampoo once a week 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!

✻ Organix Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Shampoo and Conditioner - I’ve been using both of these products for several months now and continue to enjoy them.  I have come to realize recently, however, that my hair seems to do better when I switch up my regular shampoo and conditioner every few months.  I will probably tuck these big bottles which last me a very long time away for a bit and try something new for the fall.  I’d love any suggestions you might have for fine hair.

✻ Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque - This is another longtime favorite of mine, which I pair with my once a week clarifying wash.  I use the tiniest bit of this just in my ends and leave it in for two 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!

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✻ EcoTools EcoPouf Net Sponge - My new favorite loofah, this one from EcoTools is made from 100% recycled sponge.  It’s neither too flimsy nor too stiff.

✻ Epicuren Tropical Lave Body Cleanser - I received this delightful body wash in my PopSugar Must Have Special Edition Resort Box this spring and tucked it away with summer showers in mind.  I love using this luxuriously silky body wash with a wonderfully refreshing tropical scent.  It is delightful!

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub in Hawaiian Kukui - I tried out one of these scrubs for the first time this past spring and loved it so much I am using a different scent for summer.  It is the perfect combination of moderate exfoliation with a moisturizing effect.

✻ Origins Gloomaway Body Wash & Body Scrub - I love grapefruit scented products especially in the warmer months.  This delightfully refreshing scent from Origins is the perfect summer time shower pick-me-up.  The body wash suds up nicely.  I prefer stand alone scrubs, as opposed to this scrub/cleanser duo, which is ok but doesn’t pack quite the same exfoliating punch as other formulas.

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Schick Hydro Silk Razor - A girl needs a good razor and this one from Schick hasn’t let me down yet!  I like that it has five blades for a close shave with addition of the safety bars and moisture serum to avoid nicks.

✻ 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.

Yes To Grapefruit Daily Facial Scrub - I love this simple scrub that is neither to harsh nor too gentle for my oily, acne-prone skin.  I use it about three times a week.  The grapefruit scent is so refreshing for summer!

Origins Gloomaway Body Soufflé - I do love it when my moisturizers match my shower gels.  This body soufflé is light yet moisturizing and the scent is perfect for me right now.

SachaJuan Body Lotion in Shiny Citrus - Yet another PopSugar Must Have acquisition, this wonderful lotion came in my June Box (I really love this subscription, if you couldn’t tell!).  The lightweight formula sinks into the skin quickly and has a very nice citrus/herbal scent.  I like to use it on the days I use the Epicuren Tropical Lave.

What’s In My Tub?

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Aura Cacia Mineral Bath - I have become quite enamored with these mineral baths this year.  They absorb quickly into the water creating a wonderfully relaxing aromatherapy experience.  I also find that they add moisturizing properties to the water leaving my skin feeling smooth post bath.  I am really enjoying the Euphoric Ylang Ylang and Clearing Eucalyptus scents this summer.

Hugo Naturals Bath Bomb - Another favorite this year, these bath bombs are so moisturizing and last for at least two to three baths even in my extra large tub.  My current favorite is Eucalyptus, Rosemary, & Mint, which is such rejuvenating scent combination.

Erin Condren Island Fleur Body Butter - I received this as a gift with purchase from an ErinCondren.com order I placed this past spring.  It has such a delightful tropical floral scent.  It’s definitely on the thicker side which is why I prefer to use it after my nighttime bath.  I go to bed smelling like paradise!

✻ Henri Bendel Candles in Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate - These were a beautiful gift from a friend for my birthday this year.  I love burning them together for a fruit punch effect.  They are sweet but not overpoweringly so, with a nice throw.

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 summer if you care to share!

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

Week In Review (August 4 – August 10, 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 Tuesday 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:

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If you can’t tell from the pictures, we’re back in at the family vacation home in Utah for our summer visit.  Huzzah!  I absolutely love coming to Utah for extended stays, which we’ve been doing seasonally for a few years now.  Summer is a beautiful time in the mountains and I feel so blessed to be here!  Of course, I love going anywhere I can take my pup and Winnie feels right at home here, just like me.  We’re very much enjoying being back in our favorite place!

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We flew out Sunday evening with Don’s folks, Keith and Suzanne.  We spent most of the week getting settled and prepping for our house guests for the weekend.  My parents flew in on Thursday to spend the long weekend with us.  Friends of Keith and Suzanne’s from Tokyo drove in from California that same day.  We had a full house for a couple of days!  It was fun to co-host everyone.  We planned several excursions and, of course, lots of good food for our guests.

On Thursday night Don put together an awesome meal of flank steak, caesar salad, and garlic bread.  What a way to kick off the weekend!

On Friday, we went on the Timpanogos Cave National Monument hike.  In order to reach the caves, you have to hike up 1,092 feet of incline.  Luckily, this path is designed with switchbacks and is paved for easy footing.  It’s still quite the hike (pun intended!), but includes breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valley.  You buy tickets for a specific cave tour time, since access is limited due to the fragile nature of caves.  While the hike itself can be quite toasty (we lucked out with a cooler day), the caves temperature averages around 45 degrees.  The tour is guided by a park ranger who informs you on the history of the cave and geological facts pertaining to it.  It’s an awesome tour and I highly recommend it.

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We hosted a gathering at the house for our guests and our local friends on Friday night.  Don made delicious smoked pulled pork.  I baked the always popular cornbread pudding and Suzanne put together a fresh cucumber and tomato salad.  Yum!  There’s nothing like good food to bring people together.

On Saturday, our friends from Tokyo headed back to California for family gatherings of their own.  My Mom, Suzanne, and I drove up to Sundance for lunch and to walk around the beautiful grounds.  Unfortunately, a summer storm came through cutting our walk short, but we enjoyed watching the rain from the safety of the porch.  That night, the six of us went out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants located at The Blue Boar Inn.  The menu is a combination of Eurpoean and American influences, with a German/Swiss emphasis.  It was a delectable meal!

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We drove up to Deer Valley on Sunday to ride the chair lift, which gives great views of the surrounding mountains and valley.  You get a breathtaking 360 degree view at the top!  We had brunch at Stein Eriksen Lodge, which is one of my personal favorite things to do food-wise whenever we visit.  The bacon is divine!  It’s nice to sit out on the porch and enjoy the mountain air and views while you dine.  After brunch I took my Mom to Park City for a walk around and a little shopping.  She hadn’t been in over thirty years and was interested to see how it had changed.  That night, we made a feast out of all of the delectable leftovers from the previous nights and relaxed outside until the sun set.  It was the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend together.

If you’d like to see more from my weekend, check out my vlog:

I loved being able to spend time with loved ones, including both family and friends old and new this weekend.  Do you have any special family gatherings or trips with friends planned this summer?  I’d love to hear about them if you care to share.  It is always so special to spend quality time with the ones you love.  I hope that you have the opportunity to share good conversation, laughter, and memories with your loved ones this summer.

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This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Taking A Mini Break

OJ_ALL_08-08-2014Hello, friends!  After giving it some careful thought, I have decided to take a mini break from posting for the rest this week.  As you may already know, we are out at our family vacation home in Utah and are currently hosting some guests including my parents and some family friends.  I have come to realize that I cannot put up the two posts I was planning on posting today (for TBBB) and tomorrow (for OLJ) without sacrificing time spent with my family and friends.  I have decided to simply push back my TBBB and OLJ posting schedule a week.  I will be back to following my regular schedule next week.  I appreciate your understanding of my prioritizing this time with my loved ones and look forward to sharing again with you next week.  And, in case you are wondering, I will be vlogging this weekend and will have my next WIR post up on Tuesday as usual.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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