Monday, September 30, 2019

Step Into My Week 9.30

I hope that the last day of September is treating you well! I now have the song “Wake Me Up When September Ends” stuck in my head thinking about the end of the month which is a little obnoxious but also kind of funny. This past week wasn’t quite as busy as the week prior, although it did come with its fair share of activities. 

I started my week feeling kind of unprepared considering I hadn’t meal prepped or done all of my typical Sunday tasks to prepare for the week ahead. This wasn’t all bad, but it did make me appreciate getting these things done ahead of time not to have to worry about them as the week kicks off. At work, I spent my day emailing, working on following up with companies we work with, creating invoices, and more. At lunch, I left the office since I hadn’t made anything to eat over the weekend and came back afterward to do the same sort of tasks. After work, I went to the Y and did a 40-minute bike ride before heading to Publix to get some chicken and Brussel sprouts to cook and have on hand during the week. I preheated the oven, showered, cooked (and ate), and then got in bed and submitted some sponsored blog work before turning out the lights and going to bed. 

Tuesday morning, I did not want to get out of bed and opted to hit snooze and spend minimal time getting ready. Once I got to the office, I was prepared to hit the ground running, knowing that I only had short periods of time to get tasks done between the three meetings I had throughout the day. When I was at my desk, I was able to get through some invoices, social scheduling, and emails. I was so excited come 5:00 since I had plans to meet my friend Kate for dinner at 5:30 at Real & Rosemary in Homewood. We ended up staying there catching up until 8:30 and made a pack to see each other more often now that we’re in the same city again! Once I got home, I made a cup of tea, tidied up my room, and did a bit of work while watching Gilmore Girls in bed. 

Wednesday felt like a very normal day which made it the perfect day to vlog (per y’alls request). I worked on social posts in the morning along with some copy for upcoming issues. The weather was nice enough to sit outside on our deck to work for a bit before helping one of our stylists prepare for a shoot we had the following day. I wrote out social captions, created graphics, and had to run to a store we work with locally to pick up a couple of items for our shoot on Friday. Wednesday night I usually have bible study, but I ended up missing it due to a few friends planning for us to all play doubles tennis that night. Since that was the only night that worked for all of them, I felt bad canceling and wished there were enough hours in the day to do both. I went home and changed quickly before meeting Macy and two friends at the tennis court to play. We ended up playing from 6:15 til past 8:00 and refueled with Taco Mama after. Once I got home, I showered and got in bed.

I knew I was going to be out of the office all day on Thursday for a poolside shoot, so I got to come to work in workout clothes which was pretty nice. I got to the shoot around 8:00, and we began to set up. I spent about 20 minutes of the day holding an oversized umbrella to get it out of the way of the shot but still have the lighting just right. Despite it being very hot, we were able to wrap the shoot around 3:00. I took the van and all of the props back to the office to unload, and my boss told me to take the rest of the afternoon for myself since we were all gross and hadn’t taken a lunch. This made it so that I was able to go to an earlier true40 class than I had originally scheduled, which meant I was able to go with Nell. It was a great class, and I was excited to be home and showered before 6:30. I spent the evening getting some work done before ultimately getting in bed to watch Gilmore Girls.


Friday morning, I slept in until 6:15 and woke up very well rested. I got ready and was at Starbucks for my typical Friday morning coffee and blog work session by 7:10. I got to work at 8:00 and read through some copy that had been sent to me, worked on one of my pieces for an upcoming issue, and squared away some social posts for the weekend. Noon arrived quickly, and from work, I went to get my car an oil change and run and grab some snacks from Trader Joe’s that my parents had requested. I got some things done at home before going with Nell to a Beyonce themed true40 class at 4:00. We got dinner at Jack Brown’s after that which was nice since I felt like I hadn’t really caught up with her over the week and we got to try someplace new. I went home and showered and got roped into going over to a friend’s house to hang out with a few of our other friends that were over there that night. We all ended up chatting and catching up there for a while before we were ultimately convinced to go out for a little while before coming back, making some snacks, and then heading home. 

The next morning I had to be up bright and early (given the time I went to bed) to pack and head about an hour away to see my parents at the cabin they had rented for the weekend. I got to them around 11:15, and we spent most of the day hanging out and enjoying being in the woods. I did take a three-hour nap that afternoon which was lovely, and we took Scout for a sunset walk and caught a great view from the highest point in Alabama. We made dinner in and were all reading in bed by 8:30.


I slept in a little bit on Sunday, and my mom and I made cinnamon rolls and took Scout on a walk before we had planned to catch my dad at the finish line of the bike race he was doing. We still had about an hour and a half to kill before that would take place, and I had a blog project that had to get done that afternoon, so I ended up bailing early which I felt guilty about but was the right choice given how my afternoon went. I drove back and got all the supplies for that shoot and started setting it up before showering and unpacking. My friends who had agreed to help me with it came over around 6:00, and we were able to knock it out relatively quickly. As a thank you, we went to dinner at Five afterward, and I was in my pajamas and in bed by 8:45. 

I hope y’all had a week mixed with as much fun and productivity too! I think this week will be a little bit calmer on the social side, which will hopefully mean that I can get a lot done at work and after work on blog-related tasks! 

Friday, September 27, 2019

September 2019 Favorites

For once I am actually posting my favorites before the end of the month, this is a borderline miracle and rare. So, enjoy it while it lasts since I make no promises! Nell and I were on a walk at the beginning of this month debating which month we liked more, August or September. Neither months are standouts in my book, but I definitely prefer September to August (which Nell chose partly because it’s her birthday month). My argument was that in September you are at least somewhat adjusted back to a routine and the hope of it being colder is there even though it’s not usually a reality. I’m not sad to see September go since I really like October, but overall it was a good month even though nothing all that notable occurred. I did have a few items that stood out to me this month as favorites, but I have a feeling that once it really starts to feel like fall, these favorites posts will become a bit more exciting. 

I got this top at the beginning of the month when Tuckernuck’s sale section was an additional 25% off and have already WAY overworn it. I even wore it three times in the span of a weekend, which is saying a lot. It’s a little bit big on me (I ordered a small) but its versatility ultimately makes up for that. I’ve paired it with white jeans, a white skirt, jean shorts, and jeans, making it an easy summer/fall staple top. The material is a swiss dot and airy but not see-through which is a definite win! Unfortunately, I don’t think it is in stock in all sizes since I found it on sale, but the details about it can be found here. 

My giving love language is definitely gifts. I love coming up with a thoughtful present for a person and can get caught up in trying to find something absolutely perfect. Lucky for me, I came across Paper From Eliza on Instagram and was presented with the best gift idea for my roommate’s birthday/celebrating a year in Birmingham together. Eliza was so fast and did an awesome job illustrating our house and us from the reference images I gave her and her prices are unheard of. Add her artwork to your gift-giving arsenal stat!

So often vitamins are one of those things I convince myself of working even if I haven’t fully seen results. The same can be said about these “beauty” vitamins from the brand Olly. My hair has kind of been driving me crazy all summer, and I’ve been looking for ways to strengthen it, so I gave these a try. I’d like to think they are working but even if they aren’t these gummy vitamins are now a delicious part of my morning routine. 

I know I’ve shared this piece as a favorite before, but it gets to be included again since I finally have it again after my original one broke. I received this Goldbug Blue Ring for Christmas from my parents and the brand recently re-made them after some of the originals breaking. I forgot just how much I loved wearing it until the new one came in the mail. It’s one of those pieces that catches people’s eyes and instantly has them asking questions about it. Even my brother complimented it when we were in California for his wedding, and it is rare for him to notice jewelry! 

Speaking of California for my brother’s wedding, the bridesmaids all did their own makeup for the wedding which meant that I needed to find something a bit more substantial than the CC Cream I wear every day. After spending more time reading makeup reviews than I cared to, I bit the bullet and decided to order this highly raved about foundation. It hurt to spend so much on makeup, but the reviews didn’t lead me astray. Since I knew these photos were ones I’d see for years to come since it was a family wedding, I wanted something that was full coverage, would last all day, and still look natural. This did all of those things and somehow held up in the hot church and until I finally took it off around midnight! 

Part of the reason I think the foundation mentioned above held up so well was thanks to this Smashbox Photo Finish primer. I had used a sample of this before and liked how it felt, so I purchased a little bottle of it for the wedding. It’s not something I wear every day (are you supposed to wear foundation daily?) but do notice that my makeup holds up really well when I do actually apply it. 

Alabama is still so very hot meaning that as much as I want to put on sweaters to fully embrace fall, I’d likely have a heat stroke, and I don’t want anyone to have to deal with me like that! Instead, these leopard slides have been my favorite way to add a touch of fall to weather conscious outfits. At under $30, they are a good solution for any of y’all in the same boat as me. 

I know I mentioned this planner in last month’s favorites post BUT how I’ve been using it and planning ahead has me feeling ready to conquer the busiest time of the year for blogging. Since we work so ahead at work (we’re already finished writing content for our Jan/Feb issue) I felt motivated one night to start outlining what posts I’d be doing from now till the end of the year, and I’m determined for this planner to help me stay on track! 

Now that you’ve read through all of my reasons for loving each of these items, you’re more than welcome to listen to me ramble about them as well in the video I created to accompany this post! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

2019 Fall Bucket List

As I’m sure you’re all aware, Monday was officially the start of fall. I get pretty excited when a new season rolls around but especially when that season is fall as it is one of my favorites. From football games consuming your Saturdays to a brisk chill in the air and all things pumpkin, I don’t know how someone couldn’t love it! As I like to do at the start of each season, today I’m sharing my fall bucket list filled with achievable tasks that epitomize the season at hand. 

Feel free to print it out and add to it while you are enjoying the best season!

If you caught Monday's post you'd know which task I can already check off! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Step Up Your Reading: New Fall Releases with Phoebe of Read & Wright

In my head, I always assume that summer is the time of the year when I read the most. For a long time, this was true given that I’d have time off from school and could quickly grab a book and sit poolside for hours. Now that I work in the summers and don’t necessarily have a set time when vacations occur, I have a feeling that my reading will remain relatively consistent into the fall. Luckily there are plenty of new books for me to add to my ever expanding to-read list just begging me to head outside to enjoy them. I am excited to have Phoebe from the blog Read & Wright back again this month to share a taste of the new books coming out this fall. If you missed her post last month, read that here too! 

I couldn’t be more excited to be back on Prep in Your Step sharing some of the new book releases that are available this Fall! I think we need a name for this about #StepUpYouReading? Thoughts, Dorothy? (Love it!) Anyway, I think publishers save their best books of the year for September/October because they want to make it onto the “Best of” lists, as well as the National Book Awards! I’m not complaining, because then I happily transition from beach and poolside reading to fireside reading with cozy blankets and a hot drink! 

New Releases Available Now 

American Royals by Katharine McGee
The Author describes her book as “Crazy Rich Asians” meets “The Crown,” and I’d have to agree! What would have happened if George Washington had been America’s first king instead of the first president? Follow the lives of the current generation of Washington’s as they prepare to take over the throne, fall in love, and discover who they are beneath their crowns. 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The long-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale! I don’t think there’s more I can say about it than that. Perfect for fans of the book and TV show! 

Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Who doesn’t love a YA romance? It is about two friends who wind up in a fake dating scheme, family drama, and discovering who you really are. 

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
This is my current read and one that has been buzzed about relentlessly! It is the story of four orphans during the Great Depression. If you liked Where the Crawdad’s Sing, you’ll love this one too! 

Well Met by Jen Deluca
Sometimes, you just need to read a fun light-hearted romance. Go behind the scenes of a town’s prized Renaissance Festival with outsider Emily, who’s always struggled to find purpose in her life. It’s funny, witty, and a little steamy. An easy read for Fall! 

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
This is steamy, feminist romance that will have you wanting to pack your bags to England! It’s a period drama, taking place in England 1872, about the destitute daughter of country vicar becoming on the first female students admitted to Oxford University and the struggle of being taken seriously. 

From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
I don’t know how I missed the buzz about this book when it first released in 2018, but it definitely caught my attention during its paperback release! It also happens to be one Dorothy read before me and loved! Beck takes you on her journey working in the Obama Whitehouse as a stenographer. It’s less about politics and more about being a young woman in your twenties, trying to figure it all out. But in Beck’s case, she’s figuring it out on AirForce One! 

After the Flood by Kassandra Montag
One of the most talked-about books of the Fall! If you love dystopian fiction, I think you’ll love this book. It’s bingeable, hopeful, and fascinating, plus completely relevant as it deals with the effects of climate change. 

Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz
Alright, who loves Friends? I think just about everyone does. In celebration of the release of Friends 25 years ago, Generation Friends takes you behind the scenes of the beloved show that changed prime time television one Thursday night. 

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff
This is definitely a heavier book, and I highly recommend reading it only if you can manage mentally! It is the true story of the September 11th attacks told through the people who lived it. 

Upcoming Releases 

Michigan vs. The Boys by Carrie S. Allen (October 1, 2019)
If you loved Beartown by Frederik Backman, you will love this book. It’s a slightly more YA spin on a similar story with great young female characters. I flew through it and was obsessed after finishing it!

The Furies by Katie Lowe (October 8, 2019)
I am SO excited for this book! It’s a fun spooky debut from Katie Lowe. It takes place at an all-girls boarding school in 1998 when a student is discovered dead on school grounds. It’s part mythology reimagining, part Salem witch trials, and all the spooky teen drama. 

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris (October 1, 2019)
This is the follow up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. It’s a beautiful story of strength, resilience, and bravery. Some parts are tough to read, but it’s an important story. 

Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco (October 1, 2019)
This is another tough read, but very important if you love memoirs and stories about women. It is part memoir, part true crime, and all-around fascinating. 

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis (November 5, 2019)
This is romantic, feel-good holiday read! It’s a romantic comedy of sorts about a 20 something woman who falls in love with her roommate. It takes place in London too, so SWOON. 

What Happened in Paradise by Elon Hilderbrand (October 9, 2019)
I’m a huge Elin Hilderbrand fan, so you can count every post by me including her! This is the sequel to Winter in Paradise, which is a great mystery or light thriller for all my beach reading lovers. It is a series, so if you haven’t read Winter in Paradise yet, it just released in paperback! 

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness (September 24, 2019)
If you love Queer Eye, you need to read this book! I love Jonathan so much, and his story is so raw, heartfelt, and over course, funny. He’s a great storyteller, and I admire him so much more after reading his book! 

That was A LOT of books. I hope something sparks your interest and you can pick up something new to fall in love with this season! 

Don't forget to follow Phoebe's bloginstagram, and Goodreads accounts! 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Step Into My Week 9.23

Happy first day of fall! For whatever reason, I had it in my head that the first day of fall wasn’t until tomorrow, but I’ll take the season as soon as it wants to come. Stepping outside this morning felt amazing (it was 65 out), so I rode part of the way to work with the windows down knowing that it is supposed to jump back up to the 90s by this afternoon…again taking what I can get of it! I’ll be sharing a fall bucket list this week for those of you as eager to embrace this season as I am, but in the meantime here’s what I have been up to this past week. 

Quick disclaimer, somehow, I forgot to take outfit photos three mornings so that’ll be something to work on this week!

Thinking back to Monday has me confirming just how long the past week felt. It feels like two weeks ago that I was at a cover shoot, but instead, that was this past Monday. I came to the office beforehand to get some work done and pick up the last of the props we needed and then headed over to the shoot. We were working on Cottage’s Winter cover and had four different color schemes to shoot, so there were a lot of details to keep track of, but all of the variations looked really great, and I’m excited to see what is picked. We wrapped the shoot a little before 3:00 and had to load up the van with all of the props in some intense heat. I went back to the office for the last hour and a half of the day with a long to-do list I had started the previous week of tasks that needed to get done. After work, I went to the Y to work out and then went home to eat, shower, and get some blog work done. 

Tuesday and Wednesday were a little bit stressful as unexpected tasks came about with an already long to-do list. Fortunately, by Thursday, a lot of those tasks were completed, which was a relief. I started Tuesday morning off by unloading the van from the day before while it wasn’t quite as hot. I was supposed to have a meeting at 9:00 that got pushed to the following day, so instead, I worked on photo associations for upcoming issues, responding to comments, and working through some scheduling logistics for upcoming social posts. At 11 I had a meeting with one of our stylists to start selecting products for a shoot we have at the end of the month and divvy up responsibilities of who was going to contact who. That lasted until about 12:10 and made for a long list of people to get in contact with that afternoon. I had plans to meet a friend for lunch around 12:30 at a place called Maki Fresh (I had their brussel sprout bowl and will be recreating it at home since it was so good). After that, it was back to the office to start reaching out to various vendors and sending out complimentary copies of one of our issues. I went to the Y after work and then quickly showered and ate dinner so that I was ready for the finale of Bachelor in Paradise. I multitasked while watching it and eventually gave up when I realized that the episode was scheduled to last 3 hours. Instead of finishing it, I got in bed to read before falling asleep. 

I started Wednesday by quickly crossing some smaller tasks off my to-do list before a meeting at 9:00 all about some Christmas content we are working on for social media. After that, I had another meeting to pick out products for a January/February feature which left me with more people to email. I also worked on finalizing the resources for an issue that was headed to print and didn’t end up heading downstairs to eat lunch until around 12:50. Emails continued to consume most of my afternoon as did scheduling upcoming social media posts. After work, I headed home to change before meeting Nell at her apartment to go for a walk. We got back to her apartment around 7:00 to meet our friend Caroline and eat dinner together before bible study started at 7:30. I got home around 9:00 and showered and immediately got in bed.

Thursday looked about the same when it came to tasks I was accomplishing so I don’t feel the need to re-list those out. After work, I had a quick turn around since Nell and I had tickets to see Bob Goff at a church here in Birmingham. If you don’t know Bob Goff, he’s the author of the books Love Does and Everybody Always (plus his wife has a book called Love Lives Here). I loved all of those books and was excited to have the chance to hear him speak. He was so energetic and funny throughout the talk but more notable is the fact that he was greeting people as they came in and took the time to take photos, sign copies of his book, and ask the people going up to him to tell him something about themselves. For being a celebrity of sorts, he is about as down to Earth as they come. The event ended a little before 8:00, and from there I went home and got in bed early! 

Friday morning felt like such a treat since I slept in until 6:20 and still had plenty of time to get ready and go to Starbucks to work through some blog emails. Once I got to work, I read through some copy for upcoming issues and wrote and scheduled social media posts. One of the stylists had some returns to make, so I helped her with those before it was time to head home. I ran some errands before making myself lunch and hanging out. At 3:30 Nell and I headed to a True40 class which felt like a great way to kick off the weekend. After we went to Taco Mama in Crestline, where a few of our friends met us for dinner. I went home and showered and quickly got ready to head to a friend’s house to hang out before a group of our friends went to a concert for a band a few of the guys had friends in. The venue was not what I was expecting, but the music was good, and it was all around pretty fun. After the concert ended, we headed to Moe’s for about an hour before calling it a night. 

I slept in a little bit on Saturday morning and took it easy until Macy and I went for a walk around 11:00. The good weather we had been having had heated back up, unfortunately, but my fingers are crossed that the next time we go for a Saturday morning walk, it’ll be a bit crisper out. I showered before some friends showed up at our house to lazily watch the Alabama game from our couch. Eventually, my roommate and I got ready so that we could meet Macy for a late lunch at Carrigan’s before going to Back Forty to watch the Auburn game with some friends. While there we planned a last-minute dinner and game watching gathering at Macy’s house where we watched the Georgia game and hung out the rest of the night. I got home around midnight and was so ready for bed!

I woke up around 8:30 on Sunday, which gave me plenty of time to do a couple of loads of laundry, make pumpkin bread, and go to the store before heading to church around 10:30. Nell came over after church was over to help with a few blog photos. Once she left, I had some other photos I needed to shoot before heading to an “influencer” class True40 hosted that afternoon. I am so excited to have recently become an ambassador for the studio (more on that to come later), so it was fun to be able to go to this class as well with other creatives in Birmingham. There were goodie bags, a DJ, and wine and cheese once we completed our workout! I left the studio around 5:30 and talked on the phone with my mom as I headed home. Once there, I quickly showered and changed to go to the State Fair with my friend Mary. I wanted to go so badly last year but couldn’t convince any of my friends, so I was overly excited when Mary said she wanted to go. I could not stop smiling the whole time taking it in and definitely felt like a little kid. We got to watch an elephant and acrobat show, eat funnel cake, and ride rides. What could be a better way to end a really fun weekend? 



This weekend kicks off some of my fall travel plans, and I’m excited that it involves seeing my parents and our dog Scout! Fingers crossed that having plans doesn’t make this week go by too slowly.

Friday, September 20, 2019

September Q&A

Happy Friday! This week has felt a lot longer than previous ones and I am so glad that the weekend is *finally* here. You'd think this meant I had big plans but that's the opposite of the case so we shall see what I come up with to do. After so many requests from y'all to post more videos I decided to turn this post into a video. If you have any requests for future videos feel free to let me know since I am more likely to film them if there are requests. 

For those of you loyal blog readers trying to decide if it's worth watching me ramble in this video, here are the questions I have answered! 

Q: Why don’t you post to Youtube anymore?

Q: How do you tell people you just met about your blog?

Q: What do you do for a living?

Q: Do you have any closet decluttering tips?

Q: How can I make friends in a city where the only people I know are my new coworkers?

Q: Any tips on how to build a community post-grad?

Q: What are your favorite fall treats/activities?

Q: When you meal prep chicken what do you use for seasoning?

Q: What are your favorite TV shows?

I hope that y'all have fun plans for your weekend! 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

How To Re-Establish A Routine

At this point, I feel like everyone who is going to be back in school is officially back. The first month back always felt like a prolonged period of getting back in the swing of things and attempting to establish a routine. I was recently talking with a friend about how we were both attempting to do the same thing workwise now that summer has drawn to a close. It seems as though fall never fails to become its own kind of busy so in an attempt to make weekend travel and day to day life a bit easier I’ve been doing my best to re-establish my ideal routine. 

Y’all know I’m a routine person, so since I only was out of it for shorter spurts this summer, it hasn’t been too challenging to get back in the groove the past couple of weeks. Below I have included some of the things that have helped me most, and that will certainly be my go-to tricks when I find myself wanting to regain a bit of structure.

Do As Much As You Can To Help Yourself The Night Before
No matter how much I have grown to love mornings, before heading out the door can always feel a little bit rushed. My solution to this is to prioritize doing whatever I can do to make my morning easier the night before. Personally, that means packing my gym bag (whenever I do it in the morning I tend to forget socks), thinking about what I’m going to wear the following day, and packing my lunch. Packing my lunch is my least favorite of those tasks but doing it at night tends to make it easier to get out the door on time. In an ideal world, I’d have everything I plan to put in my lunch box already in its container (be it a ziplock or Tupperware) and even have my iced coffee ready to grab. This doesn’t always happen but is going to be my goal for next week to save myself time and maybe even earn a few extra minutes of shut-eye.

Set Your Alarm Earlier
Hi, my name is Dorothy, and I never wake up to my first alarm. This fact tends to surprise people, but if you were to look at the alarms I have set on my phone, you’d be baffled. I have so many set, and they are oddly in three-minute increments. I usually get out of bed around 5:30 after my first alarm going off at 5:15. It would be great to get out of this habit but popping out of bed right when the first one sounds is not my strength. If I am aiming to get out of bed earlier, I know that my first alarm needs to be at least 10 minutes before I actually need to get up. Having that extra ten minutes in the morning makes me feel calmer as I get ready, which in turn allows me to start my day with a better attitude. 

Reward Yourself
Personally, re-establishing a routine doesn’t just involve waking up on time to head to work. Instead, it means going to the gym and meal prepping, among other things. While rewarding yourself may sound a bit generous, I don’t necessarily mean it as getting something just for doing something you know you should already be doing. Instead, as you ease yourself back to going to the gym, reward yourself by doing your favorite workout so that you don’t dread it. Or as you’re preparing food for the week make your favorite recipe so that you at least know that you’ll be excited to eat what you’ve worked so hard to make in advance. It really is the little things when it comes to trying to re-establish your everyday. 

Create An Achievable Ideal Schedule
I think that the hardest thing that people face when it comes to a routine is overcommitting themselves to thinking they can do a lot more than they actually have time for. Realizing that you’re not able to get it all done can be discouraging. Instead, create an achievable ideal schedule by writing out the priorities you have for yourself each day. From there, build that into your schedule while also giving yourself plenty of time for flexibility! 

What do you do when working to re-establish a routine?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

One Year In Birmingham + What I've Learned

The beginning of this month marked my official one-year anniversary of living in Birmingham! I think back on it and am so torn as to whether or not it feels like it flew by since in a lot of ways it feels like I am so settled here. Time is a funny thing, so I’m not even going to try to figure it out since in short, being in Birmingham has felt so right! 

This time last year, I’m not even entirely sure I was processing all the changes that were happening in real-time since it was a lot all at once. In the span of a weekend I found a house in Birmingham (well my roommate’s mom happened to find us our home and stalled with our landlord long enough for us to both give her the ok), packed up my entire apartment in Greenville, SC, graduated with my master’s degree, drove the U-Haul of my stuff to Birmingham with my parents, put all of my things in the living room of the house, and interviewed for the job I currently have the next day. That sentence is exhausting just to read, and I’m sure glad I don’t have to relive it any time soon. 

I couldn’t let a year of being here pass without reflecting on it and while I’d like to think I could remember all of the things I’ve learned in this new (well not so much anymore) place I know there are things I’m leaving out. Below are just some of the things that I have learned over my past year that may be due in part to moving, changing jobs, but also are probably lessons I was bound to face along the way as I grow up. 

A House Is 100 Times Better Than An Apartment
While there is nothing wrong with living in an apartment, if I can help it, I hope it’s not something I’ll do again since I LOVE living in a house. A bit more elbow room, not having neighbors you don’t know above and below you, and a place that feels cozy and your own are just a few of the perks. I am definitely biased, but I think our house is the cutest (it has been confirmed to be the cutest house on the block) and it certainly feels like home to my roommate and me. Our house is old, and our landlord is young, so it comes with its fair share of quirks (read: most of the appliances), but I wouldn’t trade it for a brand new apartment! 

As a happy to celebrate our one-year in Birmingham anniversary, I gifted my roommate with this adorable print from Paper Eliza of us in front of our house. I can’t wait to frame the print (since naturally, I wanted my own copy too) and have it as a sweet reminder of this past year and the years to come. 

Making Friends In A New Place Takes Effort But Is So Worthwhile
Thank goodness for having a few good friends in Birmingham before I moved because it made making friends more seamless than if I had moved here completely alone. Even with those connections, I made it my goal to build a community early on. I’ll never forget my roommate’s mom claiming that Rebecca wouldn’t have friends if it weren’t for me and the way in which I pulled groups together. I don’t think anyone else would peg that on me, but in some ways, it is the truth. I don’t think I’ve ever been so intentional about trying to make plans with people and hosting things to meet and make friends. I did a whole blog post about how to make friends in a new place here that may be helpful for those of you in the same boat. 

Work-Life Balance Can Exist
Y’all, one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in the past year is that I finally have a balance between work and my regular life. This was unfathomable in Greenville while teaching and also getting my master’s but boy does it feel good. I can go home at night and not have to worry about doing anything related to my job. Nope, no emails and no stressing about what I have to do the next day! This is going to sound dramatic, but it has made my quality of life so much better. There are still times when things are hectic at the office (especially since I now work on two different titles) that I’ll bring work home so that it can all get done but most nights and weekends I am completely disconnected from my job. It’s a dream come true so much so that I sometimes get bored on Sunday afternoons even when I have a blog to keep me busy! The Sunday scaries are also not a thing, and I don’t think I’ve cried about work once (and I cried too many times to count while teaching...)!

You Don’t Have To Have Your Life Figured Out At 24
You know that plan you had in your head about what your life was going to look like in your (nearly) mid-twenties? Yeah, go ahead and scrap that. My life looks a lot different than what I pictured, and there are times I find myself laughing and thinking, thank goodness it does. I hope to have this same mentality when I hit 25 in December (for whatever reason I’m scared that birthday/number is going to be a harder pill to swallow than previous ones). As someone who could definitely be pinned as a “planner”, it’s nice to remember that you don’t have to have everything figured out at this point. Fortunately, I have a job I enjoy in a city I love, and that feels as “figured out” as my life needs to be right now! 

When You Want To Explore On Your Own Put On Your Running Shoes
So much about Birmingham has been great, but with so many friends in school who need to study and a roommate whose schedule is very different than mine, there are times when I felt like I didn’t have anyone to explore with. I don’t know if it was wanting to pass some time when other people were busy or hope to get to know the area better or a combination of the two, but I’m so glad the solution I found involved running. I know this may not sound enjoyable to everyone, but this post is about me, so it gets to stay ;). I feel like I know the area where I live SO MUCH BETTER thanks to long runs on the weekends weaving down different streets. This became so much of a thing for me that I even decided to cross off the goal of running a half marathon thanks to it. I will warn those of you in Birmingham thinking about running to explore; it’s not called MOUNTAIN Brook for nothing… 

Routines Are Great, But It’s Nice To Get Out Of Them On Occasion
I know I mention this all the time, but I am a routine person to a fault. I like to have my week mapped out in advance and typically know exactly what I’ll be eating, when I’ll be working out, and what days I can get away with using dry shampoo instead of washing my hair before the week even begins. Because I write a lot of this down, my routine can feel very scheduled, which tends to get boring after a while. I’ve found myself saying no to spontaneous things with friends because I’ve already forced my brain into thinking that some other to-do is non-negotiable. Again, totally my own fault but fortunately I’ve learned this about myself and can make it more of a priority to schedule things outside of the norm with friends or say yes even to last-minute things to make week-night life a little bit more fun! 

Summer Can Still Be Fun Even Without An Official Summer Break
When I decided to stop teaching, I had an odd number of people ask me if I was sad to give up my summers. This always made me laugh since the summers book-ending my year of teacher didn’t exactly feel like the summers that most teachers get since I was in grad school all day. My response was usually along the lines of that it was best to give them up when I was in the habit of not having them and therefore not knowing differently! Fortunately, my roommate and I both agreed that even when working during the summer, we should do our best to have a summer mentality. That meant being social with friends more frequently than usual, staying at baseball games later than we should despite early alarms, and taking advantage of weekend activities as much as possible. Let us be proof that summer can still be plenty of fun without an official break. 

Somewhere Aside From Fairhope Can Feel Like Home 
Sappy much? I don’t mean for it to sound cheesy, but after being in Greenville for so long, I was still quick to tell people that I’m from or that home was Fairhope, AL. I still proudly claim Fairhope as my hometown but have grown to consider Birmingham home for the time being. I think that’s due to feeling very settled here. My parents like to give me a hard time about the fact that I’m now 4 hours closer to Fairhope and visit a lot less now (in their defense the last two times I was home I didn’t even stay at our house for the whole weekends). Maybe I’ll make it back before Christmas, but weekends this fall are already filling up fast! 

To sum it all up, it's nice to be in Birmingham. Hope that joke is clear based on the picture...Making a move to Birmingham and starting a job that was very different than my major but something I was passionate about was definitely the right decision for me. Have I been overwhelmingly happy every moment since I’ve moved? Of course not. But overall have I been a lot happier than I was previously. Undoubtedly. I have the best group of friends here that have created a community I was afraid to have lost when I left Greenville, and the group only continues to grow. I’ve put myself out there more than I have in the past and have become a lot more confident in who I am as a person. And the list goes on and on. 

I look forward to continuing to share my life here in Birmingham with y’all in posts to come and maybe I’ll finally get started on a guide to Birmingham in year two! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Little Luxuries I Love

Do you ever look at something and think what would I do without this? I do and often catch myself and laugh because it is typically about the most non-necessary item that I just happen to really love more than I should. Could I live without these things or substitute them for something else? Definitely. But, since I hope I don’t have to, I thought I’d be a bad influence and share some of the little luxuries I love with y’all instead. This post could have also been titled “why my parents tell me I have expensive taste” since it seems like all of these items are slightly overpriced. Regardless, they are the items that never fail to make me excited to use/wear when I reach for them. 

As far as drawers go, I think my pajamas drawer gets to be classified as my favorite. It’s filled to the brim with so many favorite pajama sets that make me excited to get in bed and have me feeling semi put together when I wake up. Lake Pajamas make the softest sets, and I’ve definitely been suckered into “collecting” a few of their different styles and color combinations. While they are pricey, they hold up really well and have maintained their softness over the years. I have linked some of my favorites from their newest collection at the bottom of this post! 

There’s something about lighting a candle that makes me feel a little bit more at ease. Maybe that’s because I tend to do it once I’ve sat down in the night to eat dinner or watch tv. I should probably light them more often since I’ve collected so many over the years, but all the smells seem to have a time and place (or at least that’s what I tell myself). I love the Baies candle by Diptyque, but it’s VERY pricey, so I only have a mini version from the set offered during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. 

When it’s cold outside, and I’m lounging around the house slippers are a good option, but soft socks are even better! They are something I forget about on occasion but am so happy to have remembered when I do reach for them! 

Having a favorite (expensive) detergent is downright ridiculous, but this detergent has become my signature scent according to my friends so now I feel like I’d be disappointing them along with myself if I didn’t continue to repurchase this product. I get the $28 bottle probably twice a year and am set which isn’t terrible but also isn’t ideal. To make this product last longer use regular non-scented detergent and add a cap full of this product to the washing machine and you still get the great scent without using the bottle up so quickly.

I remember about halfway through the school year when I taught one of my students asking me if I ever wore my nails unpainted. I had to laugh because it is a rarity for me not to have my nails painted. I pretty much always paint them myself and am a sucker for a new Essie color! 

I have gotten to the point where I’ve justified purchasing my favorite ground coffee which is pricier than typical ground coffee since I use it in my re-usable K-cup pod and am not having to buy the pods. So I’m helping the environment while also getting to drink my favorite copy which epitomizes win-win. This is the coffee that is served at one of my favorite restaurants in my hometown, so while the flavor is great I also like the association I have with it! 

What are your favorite little luxuries? 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Step Into My Week 9.16

Finally, Step Into My Week posts are back to going live on Monday! There are so many times that I write these posts and think about how on Earth y’all could be interested in what’s going on in my day to day life and it never fails that when I’m having those thoughts is when someone reaches out to tell me these are their favorite posts to read. So, thank you to any of you who find these interesting even when I’m just recounting checkmarks from my agenda. 

This week felt very much so “back to normal” after a summer of being in and out and attempting to take advantage of any, and all socializing friends wanted to do. While I still am quick to jump on a spontaneous excuse to not eat a meal I’ve made at home or mix things up a bit, it feels good to know that September is shaping up to be a more laid-back month before the craziness of fall kicks off. 

Monday was a pretty typical day with my morning beginning with emails, social media comments, and general organization of my to-do lists for the week. I had to review a binder around mid-morning and work through our resources which made time move quickly. Aside from that, I wrote out social captions for the week, attempted to schedule most of them, and worked on gathering product ideas for an upcoming shoot. After work, I went back to the Y for the first time in a while. I stayed there for about 45 minutes before hurrying home to shower and eat dinner before some friends came over to watch Bachelor in Paradise. It’s always fun to invite friends into our home for a casual evening in, and I especially appreciated that everyone had entertaining commentary to share. After they left, I got in bed to read before falling asleep. I’ve been reading Undercurrents by Nora Roberts, and while some parts of the storyline are a bit shocking, I’m interested to see how it all unfolds.

On Tuesday, I spent some time working on copy for upcoming issues and continuing to try to plan ahead social posts. I had a meeting in the afternoon and aside from that decided to take advantage of some time at my desk to work on emails and other tasks that are my responsibility. After work, I went to the Y to get in a bike workout. I finished that and headed home to shower, eat dinner, and work on some blog tasks with Bachelor in Paradise on in the background. 

Wednesday morning felt full of meetings, but fortunately, I was able to get some things done during the in-between time. One of those meetings was with Mary Catherine of Cotton & Quill to showcase her new collection. The color lover in me was hooked. So, if you need any pretty printed fabric or pillows, she’s the perfect solution! After that meeting, we had a team meeting for cottage to plan a couple of upcoming shoots and check-in our progress for the current issues we are working on. I spent the afternoon working on resources and some content management tasks before heading home after work. I made dinner and relaxed until heading over to Nell’s apartment to catch up before bible study that night. That finished around 9:00, and I gladly put on my pajamas and got in bed to read afterward. 

Thursday was a bit more eventful since two photo shoots were going on that I got to help with. The first one was in the studio, and the second was on location, which is where I spent the majority of my day. We were working on a winter tablescape for our January/February issue, and it turned out beautifully. Once the shoot wrapped, I had to make a couple of returns for a stylist, and then it was time to head home. I had dinner plans not too far from my house so decided to walk to meet my friends there while talking on the phone with Sophia and catching each other up on what has been going on in our lives. We finally nailed down a time for when we will get to see one another next, and I’m already looking forward to being back together in person. Macy, Betsy, and I got dinner at Taco Mama in Crestline at 6:30 and ended up staying there talking until 9:00, which was so fun! Macy drove me home after and I showered and got in bed to prepare for an early wake-up call in the morning.

I started my Friday morning with a 5:15 True40 class with Macy and then came home to get ready for work before heading to Starbucks for a little while. I got to work at 8:00 and worked on scheduling out social posts, reading copy for an upcoming issue, and planned ahead for the following week. I got to attend a tasting for an upcoming photo shoot before leaving the office which is always a treat especially since the menu for this shoot includes some All-American classics. I left work at noon with a list of errands to run in preparation for having a big group of friends over that night for our first deck party of the season. I cleaned up the back deck (which I shared on Instagram stories), made a few snacks, cleaned the house, and got ready for everyone to come over around 8:00. It was a lot of fun getting to have our group of friends back together, and the last people left around 11:45. After that, I cleaned up and got ready for bed! 


Saturday morning, I slept until around 8:00, made myself a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal and got back in bed to eat breakfast and finish the Netflix show Dead to Me. Nell and I had plans to go shopping around 11:00, so I took it easy until then. We went to a shop in Crestline, explored Mountain Brook Village, and eventually made our way to Homewood. We grabbed lunch with our friend who met up with us at Brick and Tin and then all headed back to my house to watch the Alabama game. My roommate had some family in town and on her way out the door to meet them snapped this picture of all of us asleep watching the game. A group of our friends had tickets to a concert that night, so we all got ready for that before reconvening at my house for pizza beforehand. The concert was for a smaller band called The Brook and the Bluff (my roommate’s brother is the bassist). It ended a little after 9:00, and we all headed home afterward. I felt like I was coming down with a cold, so I took some NyQuil to attempt to get rid of it and fell asleep before 10:30. 


I woke up around 8:30 on Sunday morning and started my laundry before my second morning of the weekend having breakfast in bed. I worked on Sunday’s blog post and then eventually got up and got ready for church at 11:00. After church, I went to Trader Joe’s before making myself lunch and meal prepping for the week. I went for a walk and talked on the phone with my parents in the afternoon and even ate a popsicle on our back deck. The rest of my evening was very laid back, and I was able to get in bed pretty early. 

I hope that y’all had an equally as restful yet enjoyable weekend, and I hope your Monday is off to a great start.

Blog Design by Get Polished