Category: Life Lessons

Creative Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it’s one of my favorite holidays. Flowers, chocolates, and kisses…how can you not adore this romantic holiday! Most guys think of Valentine’s Day as they would a chore, but I like to think of it as a way to really think outside the box and show the one you love how much you care. Here are some of my favorite creative Valentine’s Day gifts and date ideas to help you do something unique this year for your significant other.

Custom Photo Gifts

There is nothing more unique than a custom photo gift from Shutterfly, like a coffee mug or photo frame with a touch of personalization. These gifts are easy, inexpensive, and they show thought and effort went into Valentine’s Day this year.
Use code SHIP39 for free shipping over $39 per order.

Shutterfly I Love You Mug

Handwritten Love Letters or Poems

Some of my most cherished gifts are love letters or poems my husband has written for me. I keep every single hand written note he has ever left me and I have an entire file on my computer of encouraging emails, notes, etc. that I love to look back at and read. If you consider yourself a talented writer, devote some time to your love and write down your feelings on paper that can be kept forever. The poem below is one of the most amazing gifts I have ever received that my husband sent me from his study abroad in Italy, when we first started dating.

Lucky Go Lucky

So Love… Like letters held on four giant pedestals? No…. love like a million moments of pure completeness.
She is to me the loveliest of things. She is to me living flowing art. She is to me an exquisite lullaby.
Adoration like rain soaks me to the bone. Admiration like creation steals my breath.
No modern day romance cliches
No bloated self indulgences
No expectations, No speculations
She is the setting sun set to a faint and glorious hymn
She is perfectly imperfect, and horribly wrong in the most sincere ways
She is the fire, she is…. simply is
There is no shame in presentation, There are no lies in wandering eyes, There is no BOLD print for the world to read…no headlines… no proclamation of something fake
And the song plays on and you never expect it to end for each note is followed by a sweeter one, and each verse more profound, and each chorus sung a little louder
And of this im sure… There are more brilliant men, more graceful poets, and more passionate persons. But no man living or dead will ever strive harder to budge a smile
For what is man without woman?
Only a wandering shadow, only a shifting phantom
Nessuna materia la distanza lo amerò sempre…
And so the muses will tell of a man who gave his soul to complete another.
-Kyle Johnson 2009

Candlelit Quiet Time

Candlelit Quiet Time

Women love to share quality time with their significant others. This Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be showy or expensive. Instead set up a romantic candlelit or fireside area with a cozy blanket, and some of their favorite snacks like chocolates, strawberries, and popcorn. Skip the movie and actually spend time in conversation. Write down things you love about your significant other and read them aloud. So often we forget to go back to the things we enjoyed while we were just getting to know each other.

Make a Meal Together

Pasta 2If your significant other is the one that usually does all of the cooking, an easy way to spoil them is to make a homemade recipe or even better, plan a fun recipe to make together! Try things like cheese fondue, homemade pizzas, or even my easy homemade pasta recipe for a fun dinner you can cook together. Quality time is the most precious thing you can give your significant other.

No matter what the gift, if you put time, energy, and thought into the making of the gift it shows you genuinely care and didn’t just run out to Walgreens to buy whatever they had on the shelf. Sometimes the simplest things can be the most meaningful when they are hand crafted and well thought out.

Share your favorite Valentine’s Day gifts you’ve ever received in a comment below! I would love to hear what makes you feel special and things you enjoy giving.

Note: This post contains affiliate links but as always I only support products I truly love and buy myself.

Savor Life’s Little Moments

Recently, I have been reminded how short our lives really our. Sometimes it takes a loss or a sickness to bring us to our knees to recall how fragile life truly is. My grandpa, who has won the battle against cancer twice is now in his third fight, just found out that it is now made it’s way into the bone. When I think about my grandpa, I think about the special memories we have had together: from the laughs we’ve shared, to planting my first flower garden, to the time he helped me paint my entire room like a blue sky (even the ceiling). I cherish each and every memory we have together and today I immediately booked a trip to Iowa to make another before the time is gone.

One of my goals this year is to make my interactions with people more meaningful and to savor life’s little moments.

Savoring moments with grandparents.

I want to be a person who is thoughtful and purposeful in relationships, someone who spends more time with people than on the couch watching TV. It is so very important to wake up each day and be mindful of how you can impact those around you versus how you can get the most out of life for yourself.

Savoring the beauty of a rose. I encourage you to reach out to a family member you don’t get to see often or call a friend just to tell them you are thinking about them. We create our lives and our memories. We cannot control what happens in life, but we can control how we react. So savor the moments you spend with your loved ones. Say I love you more often then not. Book that trip you’ve been on the fence about. Make time for meaningful interactions instead of saying, “Oh I am just too busy right now” because I guarantee you will always be too busy. Savor life’s little moments and make a conscious effort to live like each day is a blessing.

How to Truly Enjoy The Holidays

We are already deep into holiday shopping, party going, and full fledged family get-togethers. The holidays can be really stressful in many ways: financially, emotionally, and even physically. For most people money is tight, family tension is high, and Christmas can leave you feeling spent. Over the years I have found a few tips to help you enjoy the holidays more just by changing the few things you do have control of.Enjoy The Holidays

Here’s my advice on how to truly enjoy the holidays:

1. Loose Your Expectations

It is easy to build Christmas up in your mind about how it’s gonna be, what your significant other is going to get you, or even how your family is going to act. Leave your expectations behind and go into the season expecting nothing at all. If you have high expectations that are unlikely to be met, the holidays can leave you feeling empty, disappointed, and depressed.

2. Ditch the DIY

Yes, it is so nice of you to try to spend hours and hours knitting a scarf that no one is every going to wear but honestly it probably takes more time and money to knit it than it would to buy something cool on Amazon. Homemade gifts are so thoughtful but they can be really time consuming and stressful. Skip the crafting and go for something simple.

3. Give Back

Make an effort this year to give back to your community, church, or family by volunteering. I guarantee you this will give you more happiness than any material gift could ever bring you.

4. Be Extra Nice to Family

Make an effort to be twice as nice to your relatives this season. Go the extra mile and really make a conscious effort to be patient, kind, and forgiving during this stressful season.

5. Don’t Feel Pressured to Buy

I have lots of friends that I don’t buy gifts for and I still love them just as much as the friends I do buy gifts for. If money is tight, don’t feel like you have to ring up your credit card to buy them a cashmere sweater. Talk to your friends and see if you can do an activity together instead, or just buy them a cup of coffee and enjoy a good chat.

6. Put Down the Cookies

The holidays can make you pack on the pounds quick with all the parties and Christmas Cookies. Enjoy a treat or two but be mindful that overeating will make you feel lethargic and unsatisfied in the end.

7. Pay it Forward

Do something generous you wouldn’t normally do for others like doing the dishes for your parents, cleaning your significant other’s car, or even offering to cook dinner for a friend. Think of ways you can make this season extra special without spending a ton of money.

If you are an expert at yule tide greetings, I’d love to hear how you celebrate the holidays! Leave me a comment with how you make the most of the season.

Tips for Women in The Workplace

Women In The WorkplaceEveryone knows that the business world has been and still is mostly male dominated and driven. Unfortunately, women make on average 79 cents for ever dollar a man makes. At all of my previous places of work, there were more male employees in positions of power and more men on staff all together. Heck, even in the dance world men are paid more and treated better than their female counter parts.

As a young professional, I find that my age and gender can be a huge hinderance in career opportunities….if I choose to let them be a hinderance. I have found that as a female in a male dominated workplace I have to learn to adapt, be observant, and always stay on my toes. I have also found a few tips along the way that have helped me earn more respect in the workplace from my male coworkers.

Here are my best tips for women in the workplace.

Always Look Professional

Although men can be considered professional in an ugly collared shirt, cheap dark wash jeans, and sneakers, women do not have this luxury. I have found that the way you dress greatly effects first impressions and can alter how the foundation of any relationship. Take the extra time to always look presentable and you will set an expectation for garnering respect from men and women in the workplace.

Never Tell Your Age

So you have a uterus and your in your early twenties….the first is a given but the latter can be kept a secret. Don’t discuss your age with coworkers, bosses, and clients because honestly it’s none of their business. Neither your sex or your age has anything to do with your ability to perform in the workplace.

Don’t Be Affected By Rude Remarks

Many women lose out on opportunities, raises, and respect in the workplace because they do not want to be seen as a b*tch. Unfortunately if a man is outspoken, passionate, and headstrong they are seen as an excellent employee but a woman is seen as a terror. Don’t let small-mindedness ruin your career. If you are called names because you are excellent at your job and don’t take no for an answer, you can laugh yourself to the bank and let those comments roll right off of you.

Be Graceful

Natural born leaders who happen to be born women are bound to ruffle feathers at some point. As long as you do so with grace and kindness no one will have a bad word to say about you. Don’t gossip, don’t put others down, and don’t bring up gender inequalities to justify any actions.

Don’t Get Emotional

If you are an emotional woman like myself, it is easy to get hysterical when you put a lot of time and energy into a project and it doesn’t go as planned. Don’t let your emotions lead you to actions you will regret and words you can never take back. Take a deep breath and get out of the office for a quick coffee break. Crying or yelling is never a good idea in the workplace and can make you seem irrational even if you are the most level headed woman on the planet.
I hope women in the workplace can be seen as equals one day. I am thankful to the women in my life who have helped me in my career path and shown what it is like to be a fearless business woman. Be the change you wish to see in the workplace.

If Bloggers Wrote About Giving Not Buying

Tonight I made dinner for three homeless boys under the age of five, an eleven year old girl named Ariella, and their fathers.I wrote each of their names on a pumpkin to do something unique for them at the table. I sat across from Ariella and talked to her until she felt comfortable enough to ask for seconds of the baked penne I had made. I could tell she was hungry and that this wasn’t her first time eating with strangers. After talking about school and how she plays violin in orchestra, she told me that she had been in foster care for four years until her dad was able to get her out. She also mentioned that her old foster care parents were in prison for suffocating her two year old sister and other foster children. As she said it I immediately felt my heart break for this little girl. All I could think about was taking her home with me to protect her from anything that could ever cause her harm.

IMG_4278

I am writing this blog not to make myself look good or raise myself up, but to bring awareness to the lack of giving in our culture. What if bloggers wrote about how much they GAVE instead of what they BOUGHT for themselves. What if fashion bloggers told you about outfits they gave to the homeless instead of outfits they bought for their Instagram photos. Or if food bloggers wrote about recipes that fed the hungry instead of just the camera. Tonight I was reminded how sweet it is to be able to provide someone a warm meal or even just an ear to listen. Hearing Ariella’s story reinvigorated my desire to serve others and to spread the word.

If you’ve gotten to the last paragraph of this post, I challenge you to give and to share it on social media. What if we could inspire others to give by giving, just like we inspire others to shop when we show off a new outfit. Please share this post and if you are a blogger like me, I urge your to write a post about giving, not buying at least once and see how it turns out. If you aren’t a blogger, you still have a Facebook or Twitter account that can reach all of your friends and make a difference. Let’s see what we can do.