.april favorites.

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 The end of the school year always just roars by.  I’m looking forward to my summer holiday, but I’m also trying to soak up the last few weeks with my class before it’s time to say goodbye!  Today I’m detailing our favorites in food, clothing, product, media, and Annabeth.


  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers ($5):  I love the way I feel when I avoid grains and sugar, but I miss crackers.  These have been such a perfect snack and they come in several different types of flavors.  I love them with chicken salad, pimento cheese spread, or spinach dip!
  • Collagen Peptides ($27):  I slip a scoop of collagen into my coffee each morning and anytime I cook soup or bake something, I also add collagen in for an added boost.  I’ve noticed such a difference in my hair, skin, and nails since starting this practice.  I really struggled with hair loss after Annabeth was born and then again when I weaned her last fall–this has helped tremendously and it’s also been really great for my gut health.
  • “>Hair, Skin, & Nails Vitamins ($7):  I take these religiously and I’ve noticed a huge boost in how quickly my hair grows and also in the quality of my nails.  Plus, they taste delicious!


  • Twill Shorts from Old Navy ($18-$22):  It’s almost time to breakout my Summer Mom uniform which includes a combination of these Old Navy shorts and a coordinating slub knit tee.  I have long legs and a super short torso, so the 3.5 inch inseam is just right.  I love that these shorts are so comfortable and come in so many colors!
  • PSP Hat ($18):  I love a good baseball cap and I especially love it when it matches my Old Navy mom shorts and my slub knit tees 🙂  I don’t wear hats as often as I should when I’m outdoors, but I’m trying to be more conscious of the skin on my face and guarding it from the sun’s harmful rays.


  • “>Strivectin Retinol ($115):  This stuff is the bomb.  It’s definitely an investment, but I’ve had the same tube since September and I still have plenty left.  This stuff is a powerhouse and I’ve seen a major reduction in the fine lines on my face and neck.  I usually apply this each evening after I’ve washed my face and used my glycolic acid toner and I concentrate heavily on my forehead and around my eyes.
  • Colour Riche Shine Lipstick in “Gentle Fawn” ($8):  This is such a great neutral lip.  I suffer from corpse lips, so if I don’t have a little color on, I look like I should be laid up in a casket!  This is a really moisturizing formula and it’s been the lipstick I’ve reached for over and over again this spring.


  • Avengers Endgame:  Still sobbing about it, honestly.  We’re both MCU junkies (believe it or not) and Coach managed to snag 6:30 p.m. premiere tickets so we could avoid the spoilers and finally know.
  • Poldark:  I love it.  Coach tolerates it.  The music is beautiful, the setting is a character itself, and the actors are pretty.  The story line is pretty compelling and I think there are books that go along with it that I’m going to check out this summer!


  • Sugar Dumplin’ Clothing (varies):  This is a newer-to-me brand of classic children’s clothing and I’ve been so impressed by the quality, the customer service, and the price point.  It is a pre-sale style company but they always feature extras on their website.
  • Wet Brush ($8):  The time has finally come to retire Annabeth’s soft-bristled baby hairbrush in exchange for a big girl brush.  I use a Wet Brush religiously so it was a natural choice for my girl.

What have been your favorites for April?  Do you also feel like this month has just flown?



.weekend recap.

We had a slow, quiet weekend and it was pure bliss.  On Friday, I completed my Friday Reset while Josh and Annabeth picked up dinner.  The night before we’d been out waaaay past our bedtime seeing the new Avengers flick, so it was so nice to just be at home in our pajamas.  I worked on one of two research proposals that were due and turned in late.

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed our usual breakfast at The Roystonian and then spent some time outdoors so Annabeth could play with her chalk.  Shortly after lunch, we got all gussied up for our sweet Mary Kristin’s wedding!


The wedding was a Britt Angus Farm and the weather was perfection.  I wore an old Lilly Pulitzer shift and Annabeth wore this sweet dress from The Smockingbug.

Mary Kristin is my cousin and she’s our go-to babysitter for Annabeth.  We’ve only taken Annabeth to two other weddings and this is the first one where she was engaged in everything going on.  Josh and Mary Kristin kept the ceremony super short, so Annabeth managed to make it.  She loved seeing the cows at the venue and she also loved seeing our beautiful MK as a bride!


Annabeth loves wearing Pop’s hat!

After the wedding, Coach picked up some sushi for a cheat meal and we all enjoyed curling up.  Annabeth always astounds me with her adventurous palate and was game to try our rolls.  Everything was delicious and fresh without being too heavy.


Japanese Bagel Rolls are our favorite!

On Sunday, Coach gave me the gift of a morning off and generously took Annabeth to church so I could finish up my second (5,000+ word) research project and submit my IRB narrative.  Before they left, I let Annabeth press the submit button because all of my adventures in graduate school are all for her.  Yes, the pay bump is fabulous, but I want her to know how important it is to never stop learning…still, I can’t wait for December when I’ll finally have my Ed S and will shut the book on the grad school chapters of my life!

On Sunday afternoon, I worked at our church some on our upcoming children’s musical while Coach handled bedtime.  Then, we splurged on some cookies and milk while we watched the most stressful episode of Game of Thrones of all time.  It was far worse than Battle of the Bastards or the Battle of Blackwater Bay.  Honestly, I spent 80% of my time scrolling through Pinterest and 20% of my time stressing about who was about to bite the dust.

Overall, it was a really restful, fun weekend.  I hope yours was, too!



.my new planner.

Each year, I look forward to buying myself a new planner.  It makes everything feel fresh, like a world of possibilities awaits me.  We’re religious users of our shared Google calendar, but I’m an old-fashioned gal who likes a paper//pencil planner that I can drop in my tote.

For years and years, I used a Lilly Pulitzer jumbo-sized academic planner.  It was fantastic in college and in the early years of my career, but it also felt like it didn’t leave enough margin.  Last year I swapped out my standard LP planner for an Emily Ley Simplified Planner and I fell in love.

I’ve been a long time lover of Emily Ley and her Simplified message.  I own and have read all of her books many times over and we both look forward to our bi-annual ruthless declutter challenge.  We’ve adopted her mantra of best, favorite, necessary and it has changed so much about our home and its functionality.  It felt natural to try out one of her Simplified Planners last year and I eagerly re-ordered a new Simplified Planner for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Simplified Planners come in several versions (weekly vs. daily and academic year vs. calendar year).  Last year I decided on the Academic Weekly planner and this year I made the upgrade to the Academic Daily planner.

Here’s a look at how I used my Weekly Planner:

Prior to a new month beginning, I’d check our family’s Google Calendar and import all of the information into the monthly spread in my planner.  Our Google Calendar houses our meal plans, our daily comings and goings, and (of course), the all-important football schedule.  We also keep track of our social obligations, civic obligations, and church events in our online calendar.

Once all of those things are recorded in my monthly spread, I take each Sunday evening to transpose everything into the upcoming week’s spread.  Coach and I usually do this together with our calendars so we’re on the same page, especially if one of us is working late or Annabeth has a playdate that interferes with football practice.

Having this little meeting on Sunday evenings seems funny, but it’s something we got into the habit of quite some time ago.  We love Sally & Clay Clarkson and in The Life-Giving Parent, they talk about the Biblical importance of numbering our days by taking advantage of having a regular planning date with our spouse (and even our children).  We feel grounded and ready to tackle the week after we’ve had our Sunday meeting.

My new daily academic edition doesn’t actually begin until August, but I foresee myself filling in each “week” from my monthly spread each Sunday evening because it refreshes all the things I have to do in my brain.

I don’t ever want to wish away my life, but I am looking forward to August when my new planner begins.  In the meantime, I’ll stick like glue to my current planner!

Do you still use a paper calendar?



PS:  Emily Ley has tons of free printables!


.favorite toddler toys.

If you’re a longtime reader, you know that we value quality over quantity.  We’d rather have a few really nice things versus lots and lots of cheaper items.  We hope Annabeth will feel the same way one day and we’re trying to instill this value in her by supplying her with only a few toys of nice quality instead of lots of cheap toys.

Too many choices are overwhelming for adults, so I imagine that it can be even more overwhelming for kids (and especially toddlers).  We have Annabeth’s toys on a rotation:  every week or so we swap out the box of toys for a new one.  It keeps things fresh and makes old toys feel new again.  It also keeps her from being overwhelmed.  We do our best to choose toys that foster imaginative play because that skill seems to be so lacking in so many children these days.

With all of that being said, here are our five favorite toys that Annabeth seems to reach for time and time again:

  1.  Melissa & Doug Fold-and-Go Wooden Dollhouse ($30):  My mom is the queen of gift-giving and she knew that Annabeth would be obsessed with this little dollhouse.  Annabeth loves all of the little furniture and being able to carry it around.  We love that it keeps a low-profile and is easily stored away in a basket when it’s not in use.
  2. Melissa & Doug Examine-and-Treat Pet Vet Play Set ($27):  Annabeth received this from her friend Sahana for her birthday and she LOVES it.  She adores Atlas and our cats, so she has fun pretending to care for the kitty and puppy that come with the set.  She also loves all of the lotion/potion and ointment bottles that she can open and close to her heart’s content.  On the website, Melissa and Doug talk about the importance of building empathy in our children and this play set is designed to do just that.
  3. Disney Figure Play Sets ($12-$30):  Annabeth is a tiny little thing.  At two years old, she clocks in at 21.4 pounds.  She has the sweetest, most petite little hands and gets frustrated when toys are too big or bulky for her to grasp.  We discovered these little sets at Disney World and they have tons of options.  Annabeth calls them her “buddies” and she just loves them to death.  I think it’s because they fit in her little hands so nicely.  We like that they can easily be thrown into our diaper bag or Josh’s pockets and I think they’ll be super convenient when football seasons rolls back around.
  4. Bitty Baby ($60):  I realize it’s a little extreme that our two-year old has an American Girl doll, however, we are talking quality over quantity here!  She has a less expensive baby doll that goes in the camper, but Bitty Baby (named Josie) is our main gal.  We picked her up in Manhattan at the American Girl flagship store, but there’s really nothing better than getting an AG catalog in the mail and ordering something fun.  We like Bitty Baby because she makes gift-giving easy for family members–just order an outfit or accessory and you’re good to go!  Annabeth loves Baby Josie and it is the sweetest to watch her play mommy.
  5. Books, Books, Books (varies):  We began reading to Annabeth before she was bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.  In fact, we bought her first books at Barnes & Noble as a pick-me-up after taking a third very disappointing pregnancy test that told us not yet.  On maternity leave, I read Little Women and A Little Princess aloud to her and during her first summer, Josh read Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone to her cover to cover.  She LOVES books and will happily read and be read to over any other activity or toy out there.  Screen time scares us both, so we gladly buy our girl as many books as we can cram into our cozy home and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

Do you have any toddler toy favorites?  I didn’t put this on the list, but sidewalk chalk is actually her ultimate favorite toy because our girl loves being outside in the sunshine.



PS:  We’re thinking about a toddle bike for Christmas–shoot me an email or DM if you have a good suggestion!

PSS:  We really liked Color Wonder products until Annabeth left some artwork on our dining room wall–I thought they were supposed to be invisible?!?

.weeknight meal idea: polish sheetpan bake.

I love roasting vegetables.  When I meet people who say that don’t like to eat their veggies, I assume that they are boiling them (or worse–buying canned vegetables and microwaving them–yuck!).  I don’t know why anyone would boil any vegetable when roasting them in the oven produces such yummy results.

This meal comes together in about thirty minutes and can feed a crowd.  I feel a little guilty calling this a recipe since I usually just toss whatever is about to go out of date into the oven and call it dinner.  I do this one pretty often for our lunch prep, too, and it’s especially good with a little coarse-ground mustard on top.

You’ll need:

  • 1-2 packs of Polish Sausage (I try to find it nitrate-free when I can), sliced
  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (I usually use a red, yellow, and orange)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered

Preheat the oven to 425 and put your sheetpans in the oven to heat.  Chop all of the veggies and sausage.  Toss with olive, salt, and pepper.  Sometimes I chop some fresh rosemary and throw it into the mix if I have it on hand.  Throw it all on two sheet pans (so everything roasts instead of steaming) and roast for 20-25 minutes.  This can be served as a stand-alone meal if you’re keto like us or over brown rice or quinoa.

Are you on the keto bus or still eating grains?  We cheat with grains occasionally and always regret it, but they are just so darn convenient!



PS:  Cleaning up the sheetpans after cooking this recipe is kind of a drag.  I like Mrs. Meyer’s detergent because it scrubs up well.  Right now I’m obsessed with the radish scent–it makes me ready for spring!  Get your free five-piece Mrs. Meyer’s set today by following this link!

PSS:  This glasslock storage set we love is on sale!

.drugstore spa favorites.


Josh thinks I’m gross for doing this, but I love a hot bath.  He calls it stewing in your own filth, but I call it completely and totally relaxing.  I only wash my hair once a week, so I turn that ritual into my Saturday evening spa routine.  Here are my favorite drugstore//TJ Maxx finds that make this night go from stewing in my own filth to utterly decadent 😉

  1. Epsom Salts.  I go hard with my HIIT workouts all week long.  I do all the burpees.  I squat until I want to cry.  I get sweaty and gross because excuses don’t look cute on the beach.  As a result, I’m usually pretty sore by the end of the week.  Sunday is my rest day, so I like using epsom salts in my bath to take some of the ache out of my muscles.  Sometimes I use unscented ones and add in some essential oils, but I usually just use bath salts that are already scented.  My favorite is the Dr. Teal’s brand that you can find at any drugstore.
  2. Sugar Scrub.  My skin is super sensitive.  I have eczema that can get pretty bad, especially during the winter.  I also have issues shedding dead skin cells and I find it really beneficial to exfoliate once a week.  It’s easiest to do this in the bath.  A lot of sugar scrubs you find at the drugstore are heavily scented and have dyes or oils in them that irritate my skin.  Instead of spending money on such scrubs, I just use plain old white sugar!  I use it everywhere except my face and my skin feels so smooth when I get out of the bath.  Sometimes I’ll mix in olive oil with the sugar, but that can get a little messy so I usually just use the sugar.  I scrub it into my skin using circular motions and especially concentrate on rough areas like my elbows.
  3. Sheet Mask.  I love a good sheet mask.  Nothing can take the place of staying hydrated, using good sunscreen, and utilizing a quality skincare, however, I feel like a sheet mask can hydrate, plump, and depuff my skin.  I usually pick mine up at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s and I also like to use the collagen eye masks once or twice a week.  As a special treat, I keep my masks in the vegetable crisper so they’re super cold when I apply them.  I’ve used this one before (from Ulta) and the lavender scent is so relaxing.
  4. Deep Conditioner.  I’m pretty boujee when it comes to my haircare and skincare, but nothing beats Aussie’s Three Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner.  Because I only wash my hair once a week, I need a really moisturizing conditioner.  After using a clarifying shampoo and then my favorite purple shampoo, I comb a quarter-sized dollop of this deep conditioner through the ends of my hair (avoiding my roots!) and let it sit for three to five minutes.
  5. Tension Tamer Tea.  When I do my Saturday bath night, I always take a big glass of ice water and a large cup of Tension Tamer Tea with me.  I like the ice water because I want my water temperature in the tub to be as close to boiling as possible.  My friend Braden once said that you know it’s a good bath if you have to get out and sit on the edge of the tub for a minute to take a break (ha!).  I like the Tension Tamer Tea because it has chamomile, peppermint, and ginger in it.  A cup of this goes a long way in helping me fully relax and enjoy my tub time.

Are you a bath person or do you think it’s gross?  Do you have any drugstore products that you really like that help you relax?  I’ve heard good things about magnesium and magnesium tea, but have yet to try them.



PS:  I love using my jade roller after face masking–I keep mine in the freezer and it feels so good.

PSS:  We’re sugar-free in our home and these are my favorite little treat to take into the bath.

.simplified mornings.


Are you a morning person?  I am.  Early mornings don’t bother me and the thought of laying in the bed until 9:00 or even 8:00 sounds kind of miserable.  Even on Saturdays and Sundays, the latest I can sleep is maybe 7:00.  Even though I don’t mind mornings, they’re still hard, especially with football, Josh’s running schedule, getting all the things done, and getting out the door.  Over the past year, we’ve worked hard to simplify our morning routines because when you take away the trouble of making spur of the moment decisions, life becomes a little smoother.

Before coming up with our morning routine, we identified our pain points.  These ranged from big issues (like being perpetually late) to small issues (like forgetting our gym clothes).  Once we recognized the hiccups in our morning, we came up with easy ways to counteract them.  Spoiler alert:  it all boils down to discipline over regret and if that’s not what you want to hear, you might want to scroll somewhere else.

  1. Pick out your clothes ahead of time.  For us, this varies from week to week.  Sometimes we’re really on top of it and pick out everything we need for the week on Sunday.  Other times, we just handle it each night before we go to bed.  I like a little spontaneity in my wardrobe, so I prefer the latter, but if anything needs to be ironed, it has to happen on Sunday or it won’t happen at all.  It takes literally thirty seconds to pull together an outfit the night before and thirty minutes to try and decide what to wear during the rush of the morning–I don’t know why, it’s just physics or something.  Eliminating a decision in the morning by completing it at night simplifies your day significantly.
  2. Pack your bags at night.  Pack your lunch and stick it in the fridge.  Pack your tote and stick it in your car.  Pack your gym bag and throw it by the door.  Again, the physics that cause these things to take seconds the night before and ages during the morning aren’t to be understood by us mere mortals–it is what it is.  Discipline over regret means you can hit your snooze and rest easy for those glorious extra nine minutes because you know all the things are already packed and taken care of.
  3. Drink some water.  The first thing I do when I wake up is drink a giant glass of water with a capful of Bragg’s ACV in it.  It wakes me up and helps me focus.  I use it to wash down my vitamins and then start in with the coffee or tea.  Americans don’t drink enough water as it is, so give your dehydrated morning brain the gift of a little hydration.
  4. Make your bed.  I talked about this a little in an earlier blog post, but we wholeheartedly believe in the power of having a made bed.  There is no greater treat than crawling into a freshly made bed at the end of a long day.  It takes us less than a minute–give it a shot for a week and see how you feel!
  5. Invest in yourself.  If you aren’t rushing around trying to make all the things happen while fighting against the physics that seem to work against the human race in the morning, you will probably find yourself with a little extra time on your hands.  I’m serious!  Use this time to invest in yourself and fill your cup.  It’s a great time to do your devotional and prayer time while enjoying a cup of coffee.  You can jot some things down in your gratitude journal.  You can have an actual conversation with your spouse.  How you invest in yourself is totally up to you.

What is your morning routine like?  Could you see yourself applying any of these disciplines to make life a little easier?



PS:  The second I wake up, I slap on my Apple Watch.  I can’t stand not closing all three rings and the sooner I put it on each day, the sooner I get them closed.

PSS:  I just started using this coffee creamer and it’s SO good.  No carbs, no sugar, and it’s dairy free!

.january favorites.

Now that January’s 850 days are finally over (why is January so long?), I thought I’d review my favorites for the month.  As always, the categories include food, clothing, product, media, and Annabeth.


  • Breakfast Bowls.  This is our super simple go-to meal on busy weeknights and it’s a crowd pleaser.  We scramble up eggs, fry some thick-cut bacon, and build a mountain with the breakfast goodies + avocado, cheese, sour cream, and fresh salsa.  Annabeth goes nuts for breakfast bowls and we’ve added this into our weekly rotation (usually on Tuesday nights since those are especially busy).
  • Siete Grain-Free Chips.  We’re about 98% grain-free in our household.  I say 98% because the occasional cheat happens (yesterday we had Bojangles biscuits for breakfast and it was glorious).  This means no chips and salsa which is just kind of sad.  These grain-free chips are so good.  I sneak them in my bag when we go out for Mexican food and we eat them as a guilt-free snack with Daddy’s homemade salsa in the afternoons.  Grain-free life is not easy…in fact, it can be downright inconvenient.  Regardless, I feel and look my best when I don’t have grains in my system (and the patches of eczema that have cropped up thanks to yesterday’s cheat are proof that cheats need to be few and far between!).  These chips are great and make life easier.


  • UA Recovery Gear.  Just before Christmas, Josh did a leg workout that was so above and beyond what he normally does that he was complaining about it for days.  I love him, but the man can stub his toe and be incapacitated for a week.  I was annoyed at him hobbling around our home for days on end because of a choice he made, so in a majorly passive aggressive move, I researched recovery sleepwear to put in his stocking.  It’s pricey, but I found some on Amazon on a Deal of the Day and you can also find it at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s pretty readily.  My passive aggressiveness paid off because those doggone things actually work.  I don’t understand the science behind it, but if it keeps man flu symptoms from entering my home, I’ll pay any price.
  • Nalgene Bottles.  Not really clothing, but I always have a Nalgene in my hand, so I’d consider it an accessory.  I try to drink at least two Nalgene bottles of water during my work day and one in the afternoon/evening.  We both have Nalgene bottles that we picked up at our favorite store in the mountains, but you can find them pretty much anywhere.  They have a lifetime warranty–last summer my brother’s lid shattered and Nalgene immediately replaced it (the bottle was at least five or six years old).


  • Kristin Ess for Target.  The woman behind Lauren Conrad’s amazing hair has a whole line of haircare products at Target and they smell divine.  I’ve been using her purple shampoo for about a month now and I’m truly obsessed with it–I only wash my hair once a week so I need whatever product I use to be with me for the long haul and it does the trick.  I’m hoping to pick up some more of her stuff to try especially since Josh is so in love with the scent.
  • Jade Roller.  I turned thirty last year and have since become a slave to my skin.  I’m all for aging gracefully, but the Lord invented products to make that a little easier.  I drink tons of water, avoid sugar and grains, and use a quality line of skincare products, but this jade roller is so great for working my lotions, potions, and serums into my skin and it feels so good.  I keep mine in the freezer and roll it up my neck towards my hairline and it instantly takes care of any puffiness.  I feel like it would also be great to use for headaches.


  • Mary Poppins Returns.  I loved it so much I saw it twice in theaters.  I love Emily Blunt and I feel like she did the role justice.  It was super touching and the music was fantastic.
  • Make Something Good Today.  This book was so good.  I cried and laughed and read parts aloud to Josh and then cried some more.  I love watching Hometown because Erin and Ben Napier seem so genuine and this book only solidified that.  If you live in a small town (like me) and want your little corner of the world to be a better place, definitely pick this up.


  • Castles & Crowns.  If you have known me for more than five seconds, you know I’m 100% traditional and also 100% extra.  Shopping for smocked outfits for Annabeth is one of my favorite things to do.  I discovered Castles & Crowns late last year and I have been so happy with the quality and with the prices of their products.  Seriously, y’all, they have SUCH good sales!  Josh was pretty resistant to smocked clothing until he saw a toddler who was dressed like a teenager, so now he’s all on board.  If you’re in the market for something sweet, give this brand some love!
  • Buddies.  Shocker:  our kid is obsessed with Disney.  Most toddlers are, but Annabeth didn’t really stand a chance.  There will be no Dreamworks or other off brand stuff in our home–it’s Disney or bust.  My mom discovered these Disney play sets at Disney World last fall and they’ve become some of Annabeth’s favorite toys.  I think she likes them because they fit in her little hands and she can hide them all over the place.  She calls them her “buddies” and it’s super sweet.  We pick up a set each time we head down to Disney World, but you can also find them online.

What are your favorites this month?  Did you also feel like January was 1,000 days long?



PS:  I’m still so happy with all of our Grove products.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to use this code for FIVE free products (including lots of Mrs. Meyer’s stuff)!

PSS:  Did you have pretty weather last week where you live?  It was amazing to have 80 degree weather in February!

.five secrets to my tidy home.


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I wasn’t always tidy.  For most of my life I was the opposite.  Even early on in our marriage, I still had trouble getting dirty clothes into the hamper and I wanted to die every time I had to wash dishes.  Our Tupperware cabinet used to make my head pound when I tried to find a lid to match a specific bowl and instead ended in an avalanche of plastic.  Laundry was overwhelming. I could never develop a consistent routine. I also lived in fear of guests just popping in because everything was in such a disarray.  If you’re reading this and you’re shocked that people would just pop over for a spell, you’re obviously not from the South!

When we moved out of the farmhouse and into our current home, I took it as an opportunity to force myself to be tidy and it actually stuck.  I learned to embrace that outer order brings inner calm. These are the five ways I “tricked” myself into tidiness and became far happier than I’d ever been before:

  1.  Let it go.  Often, it’s hard for us to find a tidy balance in life because we have too much stuff.  I’m far from a minimalist, but nobody needs to hang onto old college textbooks, grungy towels that you’ve been meaning to cut into dust rags, and clothing that no longer fits.  Each year during July and December, we go through our entire home (closets, drawers, cabinets, the garage, linen closets, bookshelves, and toy bins) and ask ourselves what is actually worth keeping.  We use Emily Ley’s mantra of best, favorite, necessary to aid us in making good choices.  When we get ready for a purge, we take it room by room and make it a goal to have one empty drawer, cabinet, or bin in each room.  By only keeping the things that are the most important, most functional, and most sentimental, we eliminate tons and tons of clutter and free up some space to breath.  It usually takes us four to five days to complete the big purge and then we donate everything to a local ministry in town. Now when I need a lid to a Tupperware container, I open the cabinet and find exactly what I need instead of fishing through things that may or may not have a mate.  If it isn’t the best, your absolutely favorite, or 100% necessary, toss it.
  2. Create a routine.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to thrive on routine.  Our current lifestyle of football, football, football means we can either sink with a lack routine or swim by embracing it.  We’re highly scheduled people because we have to be. Our time at home is extra precious because Josh is away so often, so we don’t do a whole lot of spur of the moment scheduling (my favorite excuse is, “I’m sorry.  We can’t. It’s football season.”). We have a morning and evening routine that we follow to simplify our home:
    • Evening:  after Annabeth has gone to sleep (usually around 7:30), we set a timer for 30 minutes and do a whole-house tidy up.  We load the dishwasher, wipe down counters, sweep, straighten couch cushions, put stuff back where it goes, setup the coffee, lay out clothes, pack our gym bags, put away our load of laundry, and handle any lunch needs.  When the timer goes off, we’re done. We light a candle, turn on Netflix, and get comfy. Right before we go to bed, we gather clothing and start a load of laundry.
    • Morning:  each morning before Annabeth wakes up, we do our best to empty the dishwasher, transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer, make our bed, and pack the car.

These routines are not fancy or complicated, but they make the mad rush of morning so much easier.  Taking the decision making out of the morning makes everyone in my household much happier–we’re ready to focus on the day at hand when the morning is smooth!

  1.  Laundry everyday (yes, every single day).  We produce a significant amount of laundry, especially during football season.  For Josh, there’s a set of running clothes, a set of work clothes, a set of practice clothes, and his “relax” clothes (and y’all, that’s three pairs of underwear for him PER DAY).  I have my work clothes and gym clothes. Annabeth usually just has one outfit of play clothes unless we have something nicer to do. If I let all that laundry pile up throughout the week, it would be the size of Mt. Everest by Saturday.  Saturday is the only day Josh has off during the season, so spending the day washing clothes isn’t how I roll.  Each evening I collect everything we wore and throw it in the wash right before we go to bed.  It’s almost always enough for a full load. The next morning I throw it in the dryer when I wake up and then fold and put it away during our evening routine.  Is it fun? No. But it works. I’d much rather spend ten to fifteen minutes each day doing a load of laundry than hours on a Saturday or Sunday trying to play catch up.
  2.  Make your bed.  It takes us exactly 57 seconds to make our bed.  And yes, I actually timed it. Why do people often avoid doing such a small task each day?  We have made it a habit to make our bed each morning and I’ve actually come to love the 57 seconds it takes–we talk and work together and (most importantly), we know that no matter how awful a day gets or how tired we are once we get home, we get to crawl into a freshly made bed.  It makes our bedroom feel put together and if our bedroom feels tidy, we’re less likely to drop our clothes next to the hamper instead of in it. If I’m feeling fancy, I use some of our favorite linen spray on the sheets.
  3.  Friday reset.  Each Friday afternoon, I take 45 minutes to an hour for a Friday reset.  I sweep, wipe down surfaces, briefly scrub the bathrooms, throw out expired food in the fridge, plump up pillows and cushions, rotate Annabeth’s toy bins, and put away anything that needs to be tucked away.  I wash a load of towels, light some candles, and then take a deep breath and relax. We usually go out or order in on Friday evenings (and during football season Annabeth and I either eat with Mama and Daddy or she eats at team dinner with Coach and I grab a hotdog), so I don’t have to worry about making a mess in the kitchen cooking supper.  Taking this very short amount of time to tidy up means my weekend is free to enjoy with my family and even though I’m usually super burned out on Fridays, I embrace the knowledge that if there is outer order in my home, I will experience an inner calm in my heart.

*Bonus:  hire good help*  Full disclosure, we have a wonderful lady who helps us around the house every other Monday.  She’s our favorite person and if we could adopt her or convince her to move into our spare bedroom, we totally would.  She is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful ladies I’ve ever met and she does an excellent deep clean two to three times a month.  We’re not fancy people–just ordinary teachers–but we determined a long time ago that we’re okay with budgeting money for such a service each month, even if that means we have one less date each month in order to pay for it.  If you can find the room in your budget, definitely consider hiring someone to do the deep cleaning so you can enter maintenance mode during the in-between times.

*Additional bonus:  if your kids live there, they should clean up, too*  Annabeth doesn’t have many toys.  This is by design. We focus heavily on quality over quantity and as a result, she has a few things that are really nice that she really loves.  I could get on my soapbox about how too many choices is overwhelming, but we’ll save that for another day. We bought a chore chart for Annabeth and at 23 months old, she can clean up her toys, tidy her room, put away her books, and put her shoes in the appropriate basket.  No, we don’t beat her. No, we don’t coerce her with candy. She is just highly motivated by the chore chart and about how excited Mommy and Daddy get when she earns her stars. Even when we’re somewhere else like my parent’s house or church, we can mention her stars and she begins cleaning up.  Later, we’ll offer her a small allowance for handling her chores, but for now the stars are all she needs. If your kids live in your house, they have a share in keeping the space functional and neat.  Good habits take a lifetime to build, so it’s best to begin as you mean to continue!

So those are my secrets.  The core of a tidy home revolves around taking the guesswork out of day to day living–I know things will be neat because my routine causes them to be that way.  I’m sure that sounds incredibly boring, but our homes should be our oasis from the outside world and nobody’s idea of paradise includes mountains of laundry or lunch boxes that sat overnight in a hot car because you neglected to take care of them.  By investing a small amount of time each day into creating a tidy space, I reap major rewards by feeling at peace.



PS–we have this little robot vacuum that we have scheduled to run each day about an hour before we get home.  It isn’t perfect, but it picks up pet hair, dirt, and debris pretty well. I clean the filter every other day and usually put a few drops of essential oil on the filter once a week.  Bonus: this thing is an Amazon Deal of the Day at least once every two months and you can find it as low as $132!

PSS–we use Grove Collaborative to order all of our favorite natural cleaners.  We love this counter spray, this dusting formula, and this is my favorite dish soap.  Cleaning up isn’t quite as much of a chore when you’re using things that make you happy. Use this link to get a free Mrs. Meyer’s gift set and caddy!

.what I love: September 2018.

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that I literally had to request a new password login for WordPress.  It’s a little depressing because writing is so life-giving and I genuinely enjoy planning content and writing, but graduate school is a demanding mistress.  One day when I’m totally finished, I hope to blog at least once or twice a week–we’ve even thrown around the idea of starting our own YouTube channel just for the heck of it, but until I’m done with research, data, research, data, APA, and more data, I’ll have to settle for little pockets of time when my coursework is turned in, my husband is busy, and my toddler is sleeping.

Here are my favorites from September (PS, can y’all believe it’s October already?  And that it’s still 95 degrees everyday?):


  • Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips.  These are perfect when I throw them into grain-free pancake mix.  Josh and I are both dark chocolate lovers, but the milk chocolate chips are great, too.  I like that these don’t have that sugar alcohol aftertaste that you run into so often with sugar-free products.  And seriously, nothing is cuter than Annabeth Shealy when her face is covered in butter, melted dark chocolate, and bits of pancake.
  • Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers.  I’ll be honest, I miss the convenience of grains.  My favorite lunch is a tapas-style snack plate (cheese, a little fruit, some olives, cured meats, and some crispy, delicious crackers).  Sometimes you just need some crunch that doesn’t come from a pork rind!  These crackers are SO good–we love all the flavors.  I usually pack a handful of these to have with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.


  • THML Tops.  I’m a boutique kind of gal.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll totally shop at J. Crew and Old Navy and Belk, but I love finding unique pieces at boutiques.  My recent favorite transitional pieces (because it’s still miserably hot here in Georgia) include lots of THML tops paired with white jeans and boots.  I love the intricate embroidery, rich colors, and the fact that most of them don’t require any ironing.  They also look great paired with a cardigan or green army jacket.
  • Tieks.  It’s usually around this time a year that I start wearing my Tieks on a daily basis.  In February we spent a week in New York City and I wore my Tieks nearly everyday and felt totally comfortable (walking 25,000 plus steps a day while pushing a stroller).  I sized up when I bought mine and have been super pleased with them.  They’re pricey–like, made my stomach hurt when I clicked “Purchase” pricey, but I have literally lived in them.  When you try to run a Google search for negative Tieks reviews, you won’t find many.  They’re a high quality product and the company has great customer service.


  • Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation.  Seriously the best foundation I’ve ever used.  It’s definitely a heavier foundation…if you’re looking for something lighter, the Water Fresh Double Wear is great, too.  I’ve been using Double Wear since May and I don’t foresee myself swapping out for anything else.  Bonus:  Estee Lauder counters will color match you and whip up a 10-day sample to try for free!
  • Clinique Moister Surge Intense Moisturizer.  My friend Cassie brought me a jar of this moisturizer when I was hospital after delivering Annabeth.  I hadn’t used Clinique in years, but this stuff is the best.  It’s so moisturizing that it makes my skin feel full, but it isn’t greasy.  I have super dry skin so I like the “intense” version of this moisturizer.  I also love that a little bit goes a long way–last year I only went through three jars.


  • Jack Ryan.  We’re huge fans of The Office and this show (featuring Jim Halpert 2.0) was fantastic.  Josh has started reading the Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy novels in order because this show was so intense and amazing.  It felt like they literally ripped the plot from the headlines.  Bonus:  it’s only eight episodes, so you can totally binge it in one weekend.
  • Audible.  Audible is an audiobook subscription available through Amazon.  For $15 a month, you get one credit to use towards any audiobook in the Audible library (there are thousands). We’ve actually had it a long time and forgot about it, so we had a ton of credits built up that we’ve been putting to good use!  We each have about a 20 minute commute, so we listen as we drive and we also listen while we run.  Sometimes I listen to whatever I’m “reading” while I get ready in the morning or while I’m cooking dinner.  So far I’ve “read” The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society (FIVE STARS), The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (FOUR STARS), America’s First Daughter (FOUR STARS), and I’m currently listening to Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  Josh has been listening to Patriot Games and I noticed just yesterday that he’s already downloaded the next Tom Clancy book in the lineup.
  • The Greatest Showman Soundtrack.  Amazing.  I literally cry every time This is Me comes on.  We haven’t even finished the movie yet (I KNOW), but we listen to the soundtrack almost every day.  We especially love listening and dancing around before bathtime and Annabeth’s bedtime routine.


  • Squeaker Shoes.  They’re super obnoxious, but they make Annabeth so happy (and it’s easy to keep up with her in a crowd).  I tend to stick to the classics when it comes to dressing Annabeth, so we’re not really into Converse or super trendy items.  These little Mary Jane shoes are cute and she loves wearing them.  When Josh took them off of her last night, she cried and demanded, “Shoes ON, Daddy!”
  • Dohm White Noise Machine.  Annabeth is a fantastic sleeper, but she’s pretty particular about her sleeping arrangements.  She’s a creature of consistency so she likes her blackout curtains, her Owlet (she can now request it by name), her Halo Sleep Sack, and most importantly, her Dohm.  I’m not quite sure how it works, but it sounds like a really loud fan, but it doesn’t blow any air out of it.  I actually don’t mind when we stay in a hotel room with her because I like sleeping with it, too.  It’s adjustable and has an on/off switch (most white noise machines that have timed options only run for ten hours and she sleeps for twelve hours each night).

Is it still super hot where you live, or do you actually get to enjoy some autumn weather this time of year?  We’re heading to the mountains next week and it’s supposed to be much cooler–I can’t wait!



PS-Football season has been both wonderful and exhausting.  I’m dreading the end of it, but I’m also really looking forward to it.