Your Friday Favorites

This week I wanted to do something different with my Friday Favorites and ask you all for your favorites! Give me all your best advice about these things.

Planner

I’ve come to the end of my planner and I need a new one at the beginning of the year. Here’s my issue–I really like my planner to run July-July rather than January-January. I just think it’s more convenient with the girls’ school schedules if I can sit down and write in all their days off and field trips at the beginning of the year in one planner. So I need a planner from January through the end of June right now, and then a July to July one. Do they make those? Should I just go super cheap now and then get a nice one in June? Are there cheap planners that are actually nice? I know there are planner people out there that are totally particular about their planners, so give me your favorites! Which planner do you love and why??

Concealer

I’ve been wearing CoverGirl Smoothers for years now, but it just feels kind of heavy and disappears too soon for my looooong days. What recommendations do you have for a really great under eye concealer that lasts all day. I also have pretty dark circles under my eyes (thanks nursing career and kiddos!), so I definitely need something to counteract that.

Fall Foods

I’m really in need of some recipes to add to my repertoire. I love cooking in the fall when warm comforting food just tastes so good, but I feel like I’ve had the same recipes on repeat for the last several years. What are some of your favorite dinner recipes for fall? Links to blogs or online magazines would be super helpful!

Comedy TV Series

My goal for this year was to really clean it and organize the house. But I need a good light-hearted show I can stream while I’m doing it. It just helps so much with the motivation, ya know?? 😉 Here are my musts: it has to be comedy–I’m just not in a place in life that I can handle anything too heavy (especially while I’m cleaning), it has to be funny but also clever and witty, and it has to be on either Amazon or Netflix. Is there anything out there that fits the bill?? I should probably mention I’ve watched (and rewatched) every season of 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, Friends (watched to DEATH), Parks and Rec, and The Office.

And last but not least…<<< e finally started writing about our adoption--how we started, what happened in the middle, and how we saw God show up in a BIG way in the end. I’ll post once or twice a week sharing our story and here’s what I want to know--if I did some of this on my blog in written form and some of it on YouTube videos would you be interested in following along both places? Sometimes I think it’s just a little hard to convey emotions and all the things we thought and felt here on the blog. And I thought it would be a fun way to sort of “interact.” Let me know what you think!

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Better Late Than Never Friday Favorites

We’ve had a week here! We hit up the state fair last night and we were all so worn out by the end that I didn’t have it in me to sit down and write a post. So here it is–better late than never, the things I’m thankful for this week!

 

One.

Date night! We traded off with our best friends for date nights and it was a blast! Several weeks ago we watched their little guy while they went out, and Wednesday night they watched the girls and we hit up a new restaurant in downtown Durham, The Lakewood!

(Corey looking like he’d rather not be there, but really just wishing I would stop with the selfies in public.)

It was soooo delicious and we both loved our meals so much that we ate every bite and didn’t have any room for dessert, which was disappointing because it’s supposed to be amazing there! I had steak, and you know I had to photograph it to show the evidence ;).

Besides the amazing food, it was so nice to have a quiet dinner together with no interruptions. And of course we spent most of the time talking about the girls ;). The atmosphere at The Lakewood is a little retro and definitely perfect for a date night. They actually have rooftop dining that we tried out, but the sun was so bright in Corey’s eyes that he couldn’t look directly at me. Not exactly ideal for your once-every-three-months date night. So we headed back inside and sat across from the huge front windows and open air bar.

After dinner we hit up the new Cocoa Cinnamon and I had a Harvest Latte. The décor in this location is soooo beautiful. I can’t wait to go back when we have more time to sit and enjoy a drink and some churros!

 

(Harvest Latte outside and the beautiful tile outside Cocoa Cinnamon. And date night shoes–similar here and here)

And as much as we love being out on the town together, there’s nothing quite like being home with our little family.

Two.

We hit up the NC zoo last Sunday for the first time ever! I was unsure what the girls would think after being on a safari and to the incredible zoo in Uganda, but they LOVED it! They were both so excited to see all the animals and really enjoyed the experience. They actually had so much fun that we barely heard any complaints about how much walking we did. The zoo is divided into two parts–North America and Africa. We, of course, started with the Africa side and after three and a half hours straight of walking, we were all kind of ready to call it a day and decided to come back another time to do North America. We saw so many cool animals and the park is just so pretty and spacious!

This chimp sat in front of the girls right up against the glass eating acorns for the longest time. The girls were totally enthralled. If we hadn’t lured them away with the promise of a snack, I think they would have sat there as long as he did!

This was by far my favorite part of the day. I fell in love with giraffes when we were on safari in Uganda. And these guys came right up close to us and stood for such a long time! I was almost jumping up and down I was so excited. They’re just so graceful and docile. I had so much fun watching them.

Three.

NC State Fair! This was the girls’ first time at the fair and we had a BLAST. We went with Auntie Sarah and hit alllll the high points–rides, food, games, and friend Reese’s cups! The girls played a fishing game and won little trumpets and OMG, that was something. I told Sarah that it was significantly harder to lose them after they had the trumpets than before because we listened to just one constant trumpet call the rest of the evening. My ears were so glad to get back to the car and the “no trumpet rule” went into effect ;).

Waiting for the ferris wheel. That nearly gave me a heart attack when we got to the top. Thrill seeker I am not.

View from the top. When I was finally comfortable enough to move.

Fried Reese’s cups. There really is nothing like these. It’s a melty, gooey, fried ball of deliciousness. The girls were in heaven scarfing theirs down.

Four.

And last but not least, this meme I found this week. I’ve really been trying to up my workout game, but I can’t help but feel like this every once in a while. Or most of the time. You know.

I hope you have a great weekend! I am once again working for the weekend 😉 and then I’m sure the first half of the week will feel super busy next week. I’m loving that Fall is finally in the air here in NC, though! It’s been really refreshing. I’ll see you all back here next week!

 

 

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Creating Good Sleep Habits

This post probably sounds like it’s for kids, doesn’t it? It’s actually about me and how I went from sleepless nights to getting the best sleep of my life. I told a friend recently that I was sleeping extraordinarily well and she was so excited to hear my secrets. I thought maybe you all would be too ;).

About 6 months ago I found myself in a really hard place. I was struggling big time with anxiety and depression and decided to make the switch from straight night shifts to all days to try to preserve at least some of my sanity. And to maybe have a hope of making it to the gym occasionally. In all, I was doing my best to make some healthy changes so I could actually feel better about…everything. I don’t know how many of you have tried to make a complete switch from shift work to a “normal” schedule, but it isn’t pretty. I thought my body would appreciate being up during daylight hours and asleep overnight, since that’s what God created it to do. And, truth be told, I’ve always been more of a morning person who loves to get in bed early. But my body just totally rebelled. I was awake at all hours and I only really wanted to sleep when it was inconvenient–you know, during the day when I had to actually take care of two kids.

Several months prior to this we had begun using essential oils to combat some bedtime anxiety one of our girls was dealing with. I had this bright idea…what if I started using some of them when I went to bed as well? We had seen a pretty big decrease in our little one’s bedtime struggles, I was pretty hopeful that I could find a combo that would help me sleep through the night. I ordered a couple oils rom Young Living that are supposed to help with relaxation and sleep. My favorites so far have been cedarwood with lavender, Peace and Calming with black pepper, and stress away by itself. Diffusing these at night helps me relax when I first get into bed and has also helped me sleep throughout the night.

 

The second thing I’ve been doing that really works is setting a bed time and a wake up time. I read Ruth Soukup’s book Unstuffed awhile ago and one of the things she recommends to simplify your life is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. She said if you’re consistent with this and make it a habit, your body will naturally get tired and wake up at the times you’ve set. Honestly, I wasn’t great about this until the girls were in school and we had to wake up at 6am every morning. Then, what do you know, I naturally got tired around 7pm! Ha, kidding…kind of. But it was much easier to call it a night at 10:30, and I feel like after a couple weeks of this we’re getting a lot better about saying no to “just one more episode!” and heading to bed around 10.

 

 

 

 

And then this little gem. I feel like this tip might actually work all on its own. I started taking melatonin when I was working night shift. I had such a hard time sleeping for more tan 4 hours on the days between my shifts. I started taking melatonin because it didn’t give me the same “hangover” feeling that Benadryl did. I was able to fully wake up when I wanted to instead of feeling dead tired until halfway through the next shift. I’ve tried several different brands of melatonin, these gummies but are hands down my absolute favorite. I don’t know if this is what makes the difference, but they’re a combo of melatonin, L-theanine and herbs like chamomile. And they WORK. I take two of these about 30 minutes before I go to sleep most nights. (Side note: they’re a bit pricier than some others I tried, but for me the benefit totally offsets the cost.) When I take two of these before bed and diffuse my oils, I sleep so well and I actually wake up feeling good. You know, after I’ve downed that first cup of coffee ;).

If you’re having trouble sleeping or if you’re just feeling like your sleep isn’t refreshing the way you want it to be, give this combo a try. Good sleep just makes such a difference in your day to day life and how you feel. I hope you can find a routine that works for you. If you’ve tried something that I didn’t mention, let me know in the comments!

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