Friday, September 28, 2018

September Favorites

I’m going to start by saying that for a month filled with so much change, September has been a really great month. Between moving, starting a new job, and trying to find my way around a new there are lots of new favorites to have. 

For starters, I’d say change would need to be a favorite. I’ve been so happy in Birmingham so far and am really excited about this new “chapter” of life. I am loving my house, roommate, and job and am excited to start making more friends and explore different parts of Birmingham. While I definitely like routine, I’d like to think that change in some capacity isn’t something I am super resistant to. I am definitely feeling at peace with my decision to move away from teaching and take a risk moving some place new especially since I have been so happy here. 

I know I mentioned these on Monday, but honestly, I could write a whole post on my love of Perfect Bars. I love that they are refrigerated, have tons of protein but don’t taste like protein if you’re familiar with that distinct taste, and come in a variety of flavors. Since I work longish hours Monday-Thursday, it’s nice to have a filling snack in the afternoon that isn’t unhealthy as I’ve been trying to go and workout after I leave. I love these bars so much that I’ve gotten to the point where I buy an entire display box of 8 bars off of Trader Joe’s shelf. 

At work, I am on the computer a lot and have found my eyes feeling a little bit strained. This was the perfect reminder for me to bring the blue light glasses I have to work to make the light from the computer a little less intense on my eyes during the day. I’m thinking about ordering another pair to keep at home since I’ve found how much this help.

Another work related favorite, legal pads have become my go-to for writing things down. I use them to brainstorm blog posts, work instagrams, as well as write to-do list, and any messages from customer calls. I like that they have lines to keep things nice and neat but are also easy to tear pages off of once I’m finished with a previous page. Nell used these a lot in college for studying, and I can definitely see their appeal for that as well.

Because I am sent stuff try out on occasion, I realized during my move just how much stuff I have. Although I donated a lot of it, I tried to come up with ways that I could use some of the things I had been gifted while still simplifying my life. One of the items I had 2 of was a hair dryer. I had been sent this Panasonic hair dryer for a campaign in the spring and decided that between the 2 I had, it was my favorite. I decided to take the other one to my parent's house so that when I packed to come home, I wouldn't have to pack a hair dryer. Since I went home before moving to Birmingham where this new hair dryer was, I kind of forgot about how great it is. Something about how powerful it is combined with the fact that it's relatively quiet and shoots cold hair at the same time as hot air to smooth your hair makes it magical. 

Sticking to the topic of hair, I have been using the Amica Straightening Brush this summer and am truly impressed. This brush is meant to replace a straightener since it has the same sort of hot plate but also has bristles so that as you brush, it straightens. I love that I don't feel like I'm suffocating my hair between two hot plates when using this and that it helps to keep some natural volume. I've found that using this instead of a straightener in the morning saves some time which is a major win.

My skin has been all over the place this month with breakouts and then feeling super dry. I've had my eyes on this mask for the longest time but never wanted to bite the bullet due to price. When I was especially fed up with my skin this month, I decided it was time to give it a try. Although I really wouldn't consider it a mask (it's much more of a heavy lotion), it's amazing how hydrating this has been for my skin. Lately, I've been using it once a day because of how dry my skin felt, but once that's under control using it a couple times a week will continue to help hydrate my skin without using so much of the product at once. 

I know, I know, I am so late on the podcast game. Everyone has been obsessed with podcasts for so long and I'm only just beginning that fascination. I listen to them some at work and have gotten through a couple really great true crime podcasts that friends had suggested. So far I've listened to Serial (Season 1), S-Town, Dirty John, and Up and Vanished (Season 1). Y'all gave me so many more great recommendations on instagram (that I'll also share in a blog post too) that I'm looking forward to listening to as well. 

One thing I've really missed since being in such a consistent routine from last school year was my morning quiet time. I try to allow myself 15-25 minutes in the morning to get back in bed while still in pajamas to drink my coffee, eat my oatmeal, and use my 5 Minute Journal and do some reading. I recently started New Morning Mercies after hearing so many good things about it and am glad I did. I have been through Jesus Calling a few times, and while I love it, I wanted something new. There's a specific message on each page, so it's a relatively quick read and has been such a great way to start my mornings. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Making a New Place Feel Like Home with Tempur-Pedic

I have officially been in Birmingham for four weeks now and getting settled this go around as compared to last year in an apartment has been day and night. My last place was my very first non-furnished living situation making it a very slow process getting it to look the way I wanted it to. Fortunately, I was familiar with Greenville, SC after attending college there so at least I had that familiarity when trying to feel a little more at home. Birmingham on the other hand is unfamiliar territory to me which has made it so that I’m always using Google Maps on my phone and oftentimes missing turns. Our house however, is starting to feel like home even if the city isn’t quite there yet since I already had some furniture for it.

I’m hoping that this week will be when I finally start to feel settled in both a new city and new home. With it being my fourth week, some things are starting to feel routine which definitely lends me to feeling more at home with what I’m doing. Since I know so many people go through transitions like mine in August and September with college move in or new jobs, I thought I’d share some of the things that have helped me feel so much more at home in a new space and place. 

Make Your Bed
I’m not talking about making sure you’ve made the pillows look just right each morning on your freshly made bed, although I would recommend that too. Instead, we are back tracking to make your bed feel like a welcoming and comfortable space since it’s where you’ll hopefully be spending around 8 hours each night. For me, I had my bed frame, headboard, pillows, and duvet ready to go so that I could make sure that if nothing else were settled in my home that at least I had a comfortable place to sleep. That meant my mattress needed to make its way onto my bed and potentially more important than that, my mattress topper. In my last place I had been using the same full-size mattress topper that I had had on my bed junior and senior year on my queen size bed. This meant that there was about a three-inch border framing each side where my mattress topper abruptly ended. Moving was enough of a motivator to fix this. I opted for a Tempur-Pedic Mattress Topper which is designed with the original revolutionary TEMPUR material that made the brand famous. Another benefit of making your bed early on in the getting situated process is that it quickly eliminated a number of bags since you’re unpacking them and directly making your bed. This also creates a place to set things as you’re putting other items away while also giving you a comfortable space to take a much-deserved rest during the moving in process.

Cook A Meal in your New Space
Unpacking kitchen boxes was the last thing I wanted to do when I moved into my house. Something about not having visual progress in the space discouraged me from getting it done. Once I finally did it I felt so much more motivated to cook myself food instead of depending on quick grab and go options that epitomize transition for so many. If you’re looking for something that tastes like home but is still quick enough to allow you to make progress as you continue to unpack be sure to check out some of my previous Meal Prep In Your Step posts!

Fill blank space (hang curtains and art)
For any of you out there that choose to be minimalists more power to you but that’s definitely not how I tend to use my space. There were a few days in the beginning when I didn’t have anything on my walls and despite having furniture in place, my space felt bare and uninviting. Once I finally decided where I wanted art I was quick to hang things up to make it feel more like home. Curtains played a huge role in this too since my room then looked more lived in. Hanging up art usually doesn’t take long so it’s such a quick way to add some personality without a ton of effort.

Go on a walk to get a better feel for your neighborhood
Long walks are without a doubt one of my favorite forms of exercise. It’s easy to get so consumed in the moving process that you neglect a different form of exercise (because let’s be real, moving is definitely a work out in itself). I found that going for a walk in the area near my house helped me to feel more familiar with the area I had moved to help me to feel more settled with my surroundings. 

Try to Mimic Your Regular Routine
I am definitely a routine person. My parents would tell you that this dates back to childhood. I like knowing what I’m doing a day and filling in the rest of my day as needed. I am convinced that I am so much more productive when operating with a routine than those times when I am not. As someone who likes to be busy, routine is good for that. While your routine may change based on a move (i.e. commute among other things), establishing some sort of familiarity through your day to day activities will help you feel more settled and in turn make your new location feel more at home.

Make it Smell Nice
My friends will be the first to tell you that my signature scent undoubtedly comes from my laundry detergent. So much so that my little discovered I was her big because of the t-shirts I gave her and my best friends and her fiancé both turned around at an event and said “Dorothy” when someone walked by who must use the same laundry detergent as me. When I think of moving I think of sweating while moving boxes and the scent of cleaning supplies as you make sure that you’re unpacking into an orderly environment. While cleaning is great, the smell of Clorox wipes isn’t necessarily the most inviting. To make your space feel a bit more like your own, light a favorite candle and let it burn until eventually your space starts to smell more like home! 


Moving can be an exhausting and slow process (hence why I think making your bed is a great first step). Knowing that as you start to unpack and attempt to settle is reassuring. If you have any other tips as to how to make a new place feel more like home in the midst of a move definitely share them below! 

Thank you to Tempur-Pedic for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Prep In Your Step possible!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fall Bucket List

Happy Fall (now that the season officially begin on Saturday)! I love this season although I definitely feel like it is one of the busier ones. Since I don’t have lots of work to do on the weekends now that I’m finished with grad school and am not teaching anymore, I’m eager to have a bucket list to depend on when I’m looking for something fun to do. 

 *artwork by Evelyn Henson*

I already know that some of these “tasks” will be crossed off soon since my roommate and I are hosting a house warming party this coming weekend and have everything we need to make s’mores ready to go including an amazing new fire pit from Seasons Fire Pits. It’s made of carbon steel and looks sleek and modern. I was lucky enough to meet Anne, the owner, and hear more about what led her to designing beautiful and functional fire pits for outdoor spaces. I can't wait to keep y'all updated on how awesome this fire pit is!

We will be printing this list out and placing it on our fridge in an attempt to hold ourselves accountable. On the off chance we fly through this list, I'd love to hear what else y'all will add. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tips For Creating An Inspiring Bulletin Board

One of my favorite pieces I own for my bedroom is my scalloped pin board from PB Teen. Although it’s an investment, I feel like it is a timeless piece that can be updated time and time again to create a new look. 

It’s a bear to get hung and definitely takes two people. My brother unknowingly volunteered to help get this hung when he came to visit a week after I moved in. I was a dummy and threw away the template that it came with to help with hanging after hanging it in my last apartment, but he measured everything out and on the second try got it right. For those of you love the look of this but not wanting to have to pay quite as much for the PB Teen version, I found a less expensive option here. It’s not identical, but it is the closest I’ve been able to find. 

Since I took everything off of it to move it to Birmingham, I started over completely when it came to hanging things up. This gave me a great excuse to print new photos to give it a more updated look. I always got questions from y’all when I showed this in the past about how I chose to fill it and thought I’d share my best tips here. 

Think about what you want out of your pinboard. 
I know this sounds like you’re overthinking something as simple as a bulletin board but hear me out. If you’re using this above a desk you’re studying at often maybe you will want to hang things that are school and subject specific. While I know that might not be the most fun place to display things, it’s practical. If you’re like me and using this instead as a place to feel inspired and hold memories and notes, then you’ll probably be gravitating toward different items than your school schedule or geometry equations. That’s not to say that your pin board can’t have a healthy dose of both but keeping this in mind before you start pinning things can be helpful. 

Don’t feel like you have to fill it all at once. 
            When I decorated mine the first time, it was a slow process. I wanted to make sure that it didn’t look too crowded and that I was hanging things that I really liked. It didn’t bother me that it wasn’t filled at once but if that is something that may bother you then maybe don’t take this tip. This time, I saved what I really liked from the first time and printed more recent photos to hang and did fill it all at once only because I had things I liked.

Gather what materials you have first. This helps spatially. 
            I am a very visual person so having things spread out in front of me helps when doing things like this. I also made sure that I had plenty of thumbtacks and push pins to hang things up with so that I didn’t get in the rhythm and then have to pause. I also sorted the items I wanted to hang into piles so that it would be easier to figure out what all I had to hang. I made a pile of pins, stickers, letters from friends, horizontal photos, and vertical photos. 

Start with the larger items and things that go together first. 

I like to spread out the items I use so that things look more balanced. By putting the larger pieces I have on different sides of the board as well as hanging any items that go together first, I'm able to better use all the room on my board by arranging items around those things. Personally, the canvas painting of Scout I have, an ice cream print, and bucket lists that come with Tuckernuck orders are my starting point. By spreading those items out at the beginning, the rest was a breeze! 

Add in different textures and orientations.
            Going off of that last tip, having things in piles will help you to better mix up what you’re using in each area. I also like using things other than just pictures and notes such as illustrated prints, pennants, canvases, and pins. I think that this was the best way to make it more interesting to look out while serving as a great place to put those things when you may otherwise put them in a drawer out of site. 

Hang what makes you happy.
            Based on my last tips this probably comes as no surprise but hang what makes you happy. This time when filling the board I decided to use a little bit less white space between the objects being hung so that I could fit all of the photos and notes that I wanted to. I had lots of photos of friends that I wanted to go up there as a reminder of fun memories as well as different event items and even a custom tattoo with my big’s face on it from her birthday at the beginning of August. All of these things brought back good memories and are fun to look at when I am sitting at my desk or looking across my room at my bulletin board. 

I’d love to hear of any other ideas y’all may have when it comes to what to put on a bulletin board that inspires you! I’m very pleased with the way mine came together and love how it was so easy to update after moving.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Step Into My Week

Another great week has come and gone. This one was definitely a quieter one at the office since a lot of people from the specific magazine I work on were out of town. Fortunately, there were plenty of other people in the office to keep it social. I feel like each week I’ve been trying to ease into a new part of what my routine will look like here, and this past week it was all about figuring out a workout schedule. My goal for the week ahead is to figure out how to better balance work, working out, and keeping up with blogging and social media. Last week I wasn’t the best about the blog and social media aspect although I think having spent some time this weekend working ahead will help that balance to become more natural. Y’all can feel free to keep me accountable. 

Also, it's becoming apparent to me that I need to expand my work-wear color palette. 

shop this outfit here (obsessed with this jumpsuit + it's on sale) 

shop this outfit here (similar dress)

shop this outfit here (similar dress)

            Monday started off very normal and it’s still so refreshing to drive to work on Monday morning with a cup of coffee in hand excited to get to the office for the week ahead. After work I ventured to the YMCA to work toward my goal of the week of figuring out a workout schedule. Y’all, it was PACKED! If you can avoid going to the gym after work and go at some other point, do that. I had to park at the building next door since there wasn’t a single spot in the Y’s large parking lot. Fortunately, I was able to find machines to use and stayed for about an hour before heading home. I cleaned up and made myself dinner (a Meal Prep In Your Step recipe I’ve shared here) before winding down for the evening. 

            Tuesday was extremely similar although after working out I met up with my friend Macy and one of her friends for half priced margaritas at Taco Mama. It hasn’t taken me long to realize that Taco Mama seems to be a staple among people my age in Birmingham. We sat outside for about an hour before determining that it was time to head home and prepare for the workday ahead. Wednesday was really fun since I was able to help out with another local photo shoot. The shoot was for an issue nearly a year out which was just wild to me. We were outside for most of it and never have I wished for fall to come more. After work I decided to go for a long walk through my neighborhood to catch up with a friend on the phone. I’m finally starting to figure out how the roads and various neighborhoods connect. Once the weather cools off I’m excited to be able to walk to these different areas for a coffee or breakfast on a Saturday morning.

            Thursday I was able to get a ton done at work while also trying to figure out who I could convince to go with me to see Reese Witherspoon at her book tour that night. This reminded me that I need more friends than the three I’m depending on so far. Maybe that will be a goal for another week. Instead of going to that event, I took Nell and her roommates a study snack (Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s and Peanut Butter cups) since they had their first tests that day and had another the next day. I was convinced it would be a quick hello and drop off, but we ended up catching up for a while (long enough that we should’ve grabbed dinner like I suggested – ha). Afterward, I went home and made myself dinner. I read in bed for a while before eventually calling it a night. 

            Friday’s have quickly become my favorite day of the week since I go from 8:00-12:00 instead of my usual 7:30-5:30. After work, I went straight to the gym before coming home since I knew I wouldn’t go to the gym if I went home first. My roommate and I ordered deck furniture last weekend and have been staring at the boxes for half of this week. Once I finally hauled the boxes to our basement, I was committed to putting them together and getting them outside. It took us a while to do, but they are finally out there and fill the space nicely. That night, we invited a couple of friends to walk to Saw’s Barbecue with us for a casual dinner. We had to wait a bit to get seated, but it was good to catch up with each other while we waited. After dinner, we came back to our house and showed our friends around before deciding to sit on our newly assembled porch furniture. 

            Saturday was pretty uneventful. My roommate went to the Auburn game, so I ran errands and hung out for the most part. Nell and I went on a long walk that afternoon. Although it was the first day of fall, it didn’t exactly feel that way out. Saturday night I ordered a couple more furniture pieces for our living room and went to bed early (I need more friends here so that all Saturdays don’t turn out this way, ha!).

Sunday, I did laundry, cleaned, and eventually met Nell at the Mountain Brook library to work on blog stuff while she studied. I came home, made dinner, and finished watching a movie with my roommate. We called it a night relatively early in preparation for the week to come. 


I felt bad not sharing anything for my “lately” section, but there wasn’t much that was noteworthy. Maybe I’ll start to make this an every other week thing if it continues to be that way. 

This is a book I’ve been reading a chapter of before bed and love. If you read Love Does then you are already familiar with Bob Goff. This is his second book and does not disappoint. Each chapter has a different story/message, so it’s easy to pick up.

Watching: Southern Charm
I haven’t watched this in a few weeks and remembered that I still had some episodes in season five to get through. There definitely seems to be a decent bit of drama so far in this season which makes for entertaining TV.

Listening: Podcasts – Serial & S-Town
Some of the stuff I’ve been doing at work lately has revolved around content management and matching photos with the articles they were published with. Because of that being relatively mindless, I started listening to podcasts while I did this. I just finished the first season of Serial and am definitely behind the times with this podcasts hype. I won’t say much, but I was bummed that it went unsolved since I was very invested. On Friday I started S-Town which is by the same producers, and it has me hooked already. 

Loving: Perfect Bars
I’ve always been a big granola bar fan, and these refrigerated ones are no different. I buy mine at Trader Joes although I know you can get them from Starbucks and Amazon as well. I’ve only tried the peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip, and pumpkin spice ones but can recommend them all. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the peanut butter chocolate chip. 

Wanting: To Wear Fall Clothes
At the end of each season, I am always eager for the weather to cooperate so that I can start to wear clothes for the next season. Being in Alabama, this may be a mindset I need to change. I’m kind of tired of wearing summer dresses and tops and am counting down the days until vests and sweaters can make an appearance without causing me to break into a sweat. 

Last Week’s Posts You May Have Missed

I hope that y’all had a great week. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

My Trader Joe's Staples

You know you’re becoming an “adult” when you suddenly have grocery stores you like more than others. Trader Joes is this for me. When thinking about moving from Greenville I had it in my head that I couldn’t move anywhere that didn’t have a Trader Joes. While this would definitely be negotiable, I’m glad it didn’t have to be when coming to Birmingham. Over the past few years, I’ve come to gravitate toward the same items consistently when stocking up at Trader Joes and today I thought it would be fun to share those with you. 

Although most of you probably adore Trader Joes some of you may be unfamiliar with my holy grail of a grocery store. For anyone who falls in that category, Trader Joes, for the most part, carries their own brand. Their prices are great and I'm always able to find what I need. 

I’ve decided to set up this post by where in the story these items can be purchased in order to attempt to make your life a bit easier. While the photos don’t necessarily provide the most clarity, I’ve shared the names underneath each one. 

Frozen Food

Quinoa, Chicken Fried Rice, Chicken Tenderloins, Turkey Burgers, Grilled Chicken Strips. Brown Rice, Margarita Pizza, Cauliflower

Refrigerator Foods

Broccoli Florets, Baby Spinach, Kale, Shredded 3 Cheese Blend, Edamame, Ground Turkey, Perfect Bars

Pantry Foods

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Granola Bars, Avocados, Whole Wheat Wraps, Sweet Potatoes, Mini Cheese Bites, Limes, Pita Chips, Candied Pecans, Chocolate Chunks, Cheddar Cheese Bites


Soyaki, Coconut Oil Spray, Olive Oil, Taco Seasoning Mix, Pepper, Seasoning Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Cinnamon, Everything But The Bagel (not pictured)

I would love to know what some of your Trader Joe’s staples are so that I can add them to my shopping list next time! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

101 in 1001 Update

It’s been a little bit since I last sat down to look at the 101 in 1001 list I created back in July of 2016. As wild as it sounds, my 1001 days will be up semi-soon on April 5th of, 2019. I’m hoping that having the date as an “approaching” deadline will help me to feel motivated to finish up a number of the to-dos. I’ve made good progress now that I’ve looked through and actually crossed off what has been done (see that original list that I update over time here) but there are some things that I’m a bit nervous may not get done. Fortunately, the idea of making this list in the first place is to identify achievable and reach goals for the following 1001 days. I am already planning to create another list once this one is complete and may have to make a roll over rule so that things that aren’t accomplished this go round may have the chance to be accomplished next time.

-      Work on #4 – Unsubscribe to unwanted emails. 
-      Work on #13 – Buy coffee for the person in line behind me. 
-      Work on #17 – Go through and minimize Facebook friends and likes. 
-      Work on #21 – Make a yearbook of college photos and memories. 


I have made some progress with this category but feel like some of the goals still listed may not be attainable in the next 7 months. I have included two of the more attainable goals to make it a goal to work on. I’ve come to discover over the year that there is a lot about blogging that a blogger can’t necessarily control. The two I’ve chosen are ones that I can seem to control so hopefully that will motivate me to accomplish them.

-      Work on #29 – Attend a blogging conference. I would love to attend the Southern C but am not sure if I'll be able to make that work this year or not. 
-      Work on #42 – Become good friends with another blogger. Any Birmingham bloggers want to be friends?

Real World

Somehow based on this list alone, the “real world” has been my most successful area. I’m not sure if I made the list too achievable in this regard or prioritized it more, but after crossing off a few things recently, I only have one more thing to do to say that I’ve completed this entire section. 

-      Work on #55 – Create an address book (and not on the computer).

Family and friends

This was a category I was able to cross some “tasks” off of when I recently looked over it. There’s always room for improvement when it comes to keeping up with friends and family and the things listed below will be a great way to remind me to stay intentional. 
-      Work on #59 – Surprise 10 friends with handwritten letters.
-      Work on #61 – Give 5 just because gifts.
-      Work on #66 Host a brunch for friends just because
-      Work on #69 Plan (and execute) a reunion with college friends


I’m kind of failing at this section but I knew it would be a stretch when I made this list. Having started my 101 items while in college I didn’t exactly set myself up for success with a ton of free time to travel. This past year with teaching full time and getting my masters it wasn’t exactly an option either and now that I have a new job I’m thinking that travel will be on the back burner for just a bit longer. 

-      Work on #75 – Watch the sunrise at Pretty Place.
-      Work on #82 – Have a friend visit my hometown.
-      Work on #83 – Visit Seattle.

For fun

Who doesn’t love an excuse to have a little bit more fun? I feel confident that the tasks I’ve chosen to work on in this category will be accomplished seeing as they are all things that I really want to do and know I’d enjoy. 
-      Work on #87 - Take a cooking class.
-      Work on #91 - Go to a drive-in movie.
-      Work on #94 – Read 30 Books.
-      Work on #100 – Keep up with a line a day book. 

It was so much fun to re-visit my original 101 in 1001 list to motivate me to continue to make progress and hopefully by sharing part of my “action plan” with y’all you will be seeing some of these fun activities featured in Step Into My Week posts soon! If you happen to have a link to your own 101 in 1001 list definitely share it with me below. I love reading what other people are eager to accomplish! 

Blog Design by Get Polished