Friday, September 22, 2017

MENTAL HEALTH DAY


There is no shame in a mental health day, time to rejuvenate - that's what I say. So sleep in, take a break, and drink some coffee, but make no mistake: this is your day off, no need to hustle! Relax with a bath, and don't move a muscle. PJ's all day is the best way to live. A mental health day is transformative!

eye mask | earrings | pajamas | slippers | coffee mug | pillow | blanket

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Christmas Planning: Tips + Free Printables!

The holiday season is upon us! I mean, Hobby Lobby has Christmas decor out, so it has to be close, right?! Oh wait, holiday decor is out in June... I guess that's not a good frame of reference. Regardless, for those of us organizational nuts out there, we have already started our holiday planning, gift lists, etc. So it's the perfect time to get yourself in the holiday mood, and I'm here to help you.



Today I'm sharing a Christmas planner, or to be more specific, Christmas inserts for your personal planner. To help you plan, scheme, and enjoy the rest of the year, these inserts will be your new best friend. I'm also going to share some of my favorite ways to beat the crowd yet also relax and absorb the season. First, let's go through the inserts. There are three different style to choose from to meet your decor style: Christmas Cheer, Merry Modern, and Glitzen.



The Activities sheet is for collecting a list of community events and outings that you want on a wish list. For example, my city has a luminary walk at our cultural center, so you can absorb some city history while everything is decorated for the holidays. There's a place to put the date, the cost, and the what the activity is. You could also add things like gingerbread making or gift wrapping, if you want to make an event out of those things.

Speaking of events, for those that typically host around the holidays, there is an Event Planner sheet for organizing the party. It includes a guest list, food list, shopping list and to-do list. I don't normally host anything this time of year, but my hubby's birthday is two weeks before Christmas, so this year I'm going to host something to really celebrate him.



For those that are invited to lots of things, the Social sheet can help you keep track of all of those parties. The most important part is remembering what gifts to take to what event. I somehow always end up with a small pile of gifts for the people I saw early on in the month, but didn't think about bringing their gift to the party. It's also fun to figure out your holiday outfits, so there's a place to jot those down, too. Be sure to check what out the food situation prior for day-of planning; nothing worse than thinking your going to a dinner party when it's actually a happy hour and feeling starved the entire time.

Food around the holidays is always a treat, but I can never remember what I'm taking where or what I need to pick up at the grocery that week. The Food sheets will help because you can include where the dish is going, all the ingredients and the grocery list in one spot. While it may be a little repetitive from the Event Planner and the Social sheets, it will be helpful to have all the food in one spot.


There's nothing better in December than Christmas movies. Make a list of your favs, when they come on TV (if you're watching via cable) or where you can find it when you're ready (Netflix? Amazon?). Then when you sit down to wrap presents, you can check your list to see what you still need to watch and you won't miss out on your favorites.

Possibly the most important page is the Gifting sheet. Use it to help you with ideas, budgeting, and tracking the status. That way, when you're preparing for a party, you can check to make sure you have the gifts you need and they are wrapped for delivery. I've used a gifting insert in my planner for the past couple of years, and it's wonderful for a peace of mind.


Lastly, but maybe the most important, is your Card Tracker. I realize that not everyone sends holiday cards, but they are so fun and everyone loves to get some happy mail. So make out a list and get started on them early. I especially love to sit down the weekend after Thanksgiving and work on addressing envelopes while watching my first holiday movie of the season.

In fact, watching a movie while doing other Christmas tasks is probably my favorite way to spend the season. The movie helps me to relax and puts me in a great mood. Then whatever task I'm working on seems a little less stressful and a lot more fun. Not a movie person? Turn on a holiday playlist on Spotify or Pandora. There are so many great holiday tunes you're bound to find something to lift your spirits.



For a lot of people, shopping is the most stressful part of the holidays. Even if you have great ideas, the daunting task of battling the crowds, parking, and cold weather can sometimes be overwhelming. I have two tips: if you are specifically looking for ideas, head to the store knowing you don't have to buy anything. Let yourself just window shop, sip on a warm drink, and just enjoy the energy. Gather your ideas, then head home - skipping the checkout lines, worrying about where you stuck receipts, etc. Then when you get home, jump online and order the gift you decided on. Most stores offer free shipping around the holidays, so search for a promo code if it's not already listed on the site. Set a deadline for ordering gifts a couple weeks before Christmas, so that there are no concerns about items getting to you in time. Then once your packages arrive, you can breathe easy and work on the most fun part in my opinion - wrapping! Also, keep a digital folder of all order confirmations/receipts so that you can print it out and include it in the box or bag when wrapping. That way it's convenient for the receiver to exchange sizes, etc. without having to ask you for it later.

I hope these tips help you to enjoy the holiday season. Honestly I've found that the more organized I am, the more I can relax. With built-in down time and fun activities, it makes it enjoyable and fun.

Download all three versions of the Personal Christmas Planner here. Please share how you use the inserts on Insta using #splendidactuallyxmas. I can't wait to see how you use them!

Friday, September 8, 2017

A PSL DIY


Fall has arrived! Well, I guess according to the calendar it's not official, but Starbucks has rolled out the fall flavors, so that's close enough for me! Unfortunately, these delicious drinks are full of sugar, which I've cut back on drastically since June. After playing around I came up with an at-home version without sugar! Plus you can make a batch for the week to keep in the fridge and brew your coffee each day to make things faster in the morning. Here's what you need:

1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (swap for coconut milk if you prefer)
1/2 tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tsp Stevia or your favorite sweetener (this amount you may always want to play with to get your desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice + a dash for garnish
1/2 c brewed coffee
1/2 c heavy whipping cream

Heat the milk, pumpkin puree, 1 tsp of sweetener, vanilla, and the pumpkin spice in a sauce pan over low-medium heat. Once the mixture is thoroughly heated and the pumpkin puree evenly mixed throughout the liquid, remove from heat. Use a frother to add some air into the milk. I don't like a lot of foam, so I skip this step.

For the topping, whisk the heavy whipping cream and the remainder of the sweetener until it peaks. This can take forever, so be prepared for an arm work out. My favorite tip for making whipped cream: stick your mixing bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes before starting. This makes the cream colder and form faster. This will get you a little extra whipped cream than you need for your drink, but there's no such thing as too much whipped cream. Top your drink and garnish with a dash of pumpkin spice.

Not a pumpkin spice fan? What's your fall drink of choice? I'm huge fan of chai tea lattes, so maybe that will be my next experiment!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

C U R R E N T L Y



Watching...
Hubby and I love to sit down and binge a couple different shows. We are both massive Survivor fans, so we decided to watch the consecutive seasons starting with the original. So we just finished that one and will be starting on the second one soon. Madam Secretary has become one of my all time favorites and we also just finished the third season of it. Right now we have about three episodes of Blue Bloods to finish. I would like to find a good sitcom to watch when working around the house, but I haven't had much luck finding something I like. Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and Friends I have worked my way through from top to bottom, so feel free to suggest your favorite.

Traveling...
The past couple of months have been pretty low-key in the travel area, but I did just pop up to Grand Rapids last week for work. I really adore it there, as it's very clean and safe feeling for a decent sized city. Stay at the Amway if you go and stop in to eat at Leo's if you want a date night dinner spot. We also did a fun camping trip over July 4th weekend to northern Indiana that was a blast.

Wearing...
My Jack Rogers flip flops have been my go to this summer. I have the black and white version so they go with everything and I can even pull them off at work if I want to be a bit more casual. They are super comfortable and super summery.

Eating...
Back in June I mentioned that KJB and I started a low-carb diet. We did that as a three month trial, so it just wrapped up last weekend. It was a very eye-opening experience to see how much sugar is in almost everything we eat. While we aren't being super strict on ourselves now, I am making much more conscience decisions than I used to. I also discovered that it's super easy to make my own low-carb biscuits and english muffins. They taste pretty good and there's no reason not to make the effort more often than not.

Reading...
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is my current read. I get so caught up in the story that it makes me feel a little eerie. I'm about halfway through and I'm super drawn in to the storyline at this point. I have a feeling a binge reading sesh will happen soon because I won't be able to put it down.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Resolution Update

2017 has been flying by, so today I thought it might be fun to catch up on some of the resolutions I shared back in January. Specifically, for today, I want to talk about the products I've tried when it comes to hair and body care. Let's get right to it.





Brazen Honey is a wonderful face mask. It was hydrating and left my skin feeling fresh. This was my first time trying a "fresh" face mask so I had never applied one that was wet. It felt strange at first but nice. It is a little difficult to apply because it is thick and it did stiffen over time in my fridge. This is definitely one to use well within the use-by date, but I've purchased it several times because I'm a major fan.

I cannot report on Herbalism because I have not yet tried it. I'm working on a face cleanser now and once that is used up, I'll give it a go.

The Avacado Co-wash is straight up not for me. I think my hair is just too thick for it because I cannot seem to get it to make a difference in my scalp. For now, I'll stick with liquid shampoos and conditioners. Speaking of, I've been using Kenra for the past several months (talked about it in this post) and I love it.

The Pumice Power is amazing. It's not super harsh like pumice stones can be, so it is no issue to use it in the shower every day. It also smells amazing.

Softy is neutral for me because I wasn't wowed by it. It was a nice moisturizer, but I've used others I like just as much. I prefer a thick body butter or something like that for my feet.

I've tried both of these deodorants and neither worked for me. They smelled nice, especially T'eo, but I could smell myself mid-morning and would need to reapply. While that seems like it's not an issue, I just don't have time during the work day to be worrying about it. I'll be looking for something stronger.

While I haven't necessarily found great products for some of these categories, I'm happy with my efforts and it's been fun (and interesting!) to try some new things!