Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 In Review


Just a handful of hours left in 2016. So crazy! I don’t have any major plans for New Year’s Eve – just hanging out with my boss and his family since I have to be in Oxford Sunday for church.

I know lots of people are joking that 2016 was the worst year ever. I don’t totally agree with that (though I was heartbroken over the loss of Carrie Fisher this week). Now 2016 definitely had some of my lowest lows, but it had some of my highest highs as well. I figured this post would be a good place to recap all of that. The good, the bad, and the ugly. (Actually there's no ugly haha.)

The Bad
My ORP. I’ve never been so stressed out in my entire life. The last month of the proposal I didn’t sleep, hardly ate, and got the flu the week before I presented. I can’t put into words how terrible that experience was. Nothing ever could have prepared me for that!
Weight gain/loss. I’ve struggled majorly this year with losing weight. I trained for and ran a half-marathon but I’m still in the same size clothes as I was at the beginning of the year. I even talked to my gynecologist about it this summer and she’s pretty puzzled by it too because all of my blood work came back saying I’m super healthy. While it's kind of discouraging, I haven't given up! I'm going to keep eating healthy foods and I'm going to get back into a good workout routine...plus keep talking to my doctor!
Anxiety. My anxiety attacks came back in full force this year, thanks in large part to my ORP. I've always struggled with them, but stress and big changes tend to really trigger them. Thankfully, I've been meeting with a woman at my church once a week and it's definitely helped! So a quick soapbox: If you're struggling with anxiety, there's so much good that can come from talking to someone. Now I know friends and family are great, but I suggest finding someone who can be a little more unbiased. Their perspective can be exactly what you need! End soapbox.

The Good
My ORP. There was a good side to all the stress: I’M A PHD CANDIDATE! This is arguably the best thing to happen this year. It’s crazy to think that in just 8 months I’ll be Dr. Ashley. Four years of incredibly hard work and I'll have the best 3 letters after my name I could ever hope for!
Travel. I got to travel to so many new places this year: Michigan State (hey Justin!), Atlantic City, San Francisco, Philly. I absolutely loved being able to do and see so many things this year. Plus it was super fun to go from the east coast to the west coast in less than a week!
My blog. I didn't realize how much my blog has actually grown! From January to December I've tripled my monthly pageviews. I didn't realize that many people actually care about what I blog about! So to all of you readers, thank you! I know grad school gets in the way and I'm not always sticking with my schedule, but thanks for still coming back! Below I linked my top three most popular posts if you want to revisit them:

Overall 2016 turned out to be a great year. It started off pretty rocky and didn't smooth out until the end of April, but since then I've been pretty blessed! So here's to 2017 and praying for even greater and better things to happen!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Day Outfits


Only four more sleeps until Christmas! I can't believe the holiday is almost here! I'm leaving to go home to Indiana on Friday so I'm already trying to plan out my outfits for the week I'll be home. So if you're like me, hopefully this post will help give you some inspiration for what you'll want to wear on Christmas - whether you're more casual, dressy, or somewhere in-between.

This is one of my favorite outfits period. But it's super casual if you're just hanging out with the fam. Plus, the layers make it great for running between dinners!

If you're family eats all day, this outfit is made for you! Leggings and a long sweater are your friend when it comes to spending your day eating and curled up on the couch. 

Dress up the previous outfit by pairing it with dark skinny jeans and black heeled booties. I love how these booties instantly dress up any outfit!

Looking for something a little sexier? Is it weird to look sexy on Christmas? Whatever, do you girl. This off-the-shoulder top is perfect when paired with jeans and booties. Plus it's flowy enough around the middle that it's still comfy!

I can't get enough of this outfit! This skirt is perfect for Christmas! I wore this in Indy when I went to Yuletide with my family but it may make another appearance when I go back home.

You've already seen this outfit in this post, but it's perfect for a nice Christmas dinner - whether you're going out to eat or having a family dinner at home.

Hopefully these outfits give you some inspiration! To all of you who are currently packing, we can do it! I dread packing, but honestly I may just throw all of these outfits in my suitcase and call it a day!

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Three Ways To Survive The Holidays


The holidays are so fun. You get to dress up (even if it's just fancy Christmas pajamas!), eat lots of yummy food, and hang out with your favorite people. I love the lights, the music, the laughter, everything! But for an introvert, the holidays can be incredibly draining. You're constantly surrounded by family and friends and there isn't a lot of down time. At least in my family there isn't! So how do you stay sane? Keep reading for three ways to not lose your mind and come completely unglued.

1. Two words: Quiet. Time.
Every introvert knows that alone time is the best way to recharge. But when you're constantly surrounded by people it's hard to find time alone. This is especially true if you're staying with family for an extended time. If you're struggling to find quiet time, here's a couple ways to carve out that time to recharge: Offer to run to the store when your mom inevitably forgets something. Just the drive to the store is at least 10 minutes of peace and quiet. Go workout. Why not tell your family you're starting your New Year's resolutions early by hitting the gym before January 1? No judgment if the gym is actually Starbucks. Pretend you forgot to get someone a present and "go to the store." Again, no judgment if the store is actually Starbucks. I'm not above making up an excuse to get out the house for a few minutes! Or just be honest and tell your fam that you need some time alone! Chances are they'll totally get it. Even the most extroverted person can get burnt out at the holidays. However you get around to it, take some time to just be alone.

2. Remember everyone has baggage.
No, not a suitcase full of clothes. Everyone is coming into the holiday season with emotional baggage. We're all stressed, and we all handle it differently. So when your sister-in-law explodes at you when you don't compliment her new dress, try to remember she's got her own problems. She may be feeling like a bad wife because she didn't wrap her presents the way she saw on Pinterest. Or she may feel like a bad mom because she forgot about Elf on a Shelf...again. Whether or not you know what's really going on in her life, show her grace and love and lend her an ear if she needs to vent. When we remember that everyone else is also dealing with crap, it makes it easier to show them grace when they come unglued.

3. But don't keep dragging around your own baggage.
Like I said, we all have our own baggage. But don't give the lies that come with it a place to stay. There's so much pressure at the holidays, especially with Pinterest and Instagram showcasing the best of the best. Here are some examples of lies that I've encountered at the holidays: I don't have the cutest outfit for Christmas, so I'm not beautiful. I'm still single at Christmas, so I'm not lovable. I didn't wrap my presents with the best DIY bows, so I'm a failure. Y'all! That's an awful place to be! So when those lies start creeping in, confront them with truth. Philippians 4:8 says "Whatever is true....think about such things." And Colossians 3:1-2 says "Set your heart on things above...set your minds on things above." So what truths can you think about? God gives never-ending grace. God loves me. My worth lies in the fact that Jesus died for me. Repeat these truths when the lies start filling your mind and your heart. That's the most sure-fire way to get rid of the stress that they bring!

Whatever you do, just remember that the holidays are about celebrating the coming of the Savior. Enjoy the time with family and friends. And embrace the fun and crazy! Don't give in to the pressures and lies. I highly suggest preparing yourself with verses or mantras you can chant to yourself when you feel yourself slowly unraveling. And if you're really struggling with the holiday season, talk to someone. Tell your best friend, your mom, a cousin, even me! I totally understand the pressure at the holidays. But I promise we will make it to January 2! Until then, let's enjoy the love and laughter that fill the holidays.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Dress


Dress | Tights | Booties | Bracelets here, here, and here (all similar)| Ring | Earrings (similar)

I saw this dress while doing some pre-Black Friday shopping and I knew it would be perfect for Christmas. I love the little ruffle along the top. It gives it enough to wear without a necklace. There's a high chance I end up wearing this again before Christmas! 

Below I linked some more dresses that would be perfect for the holiday season. To make a dress winter appropriate, wear a pair of thick, opaque tights and some booties. I tend to gravitate toward booties over heels because they're more comfortable and keep my feet warmer because you can wear socks!

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Gift Guide: Your Man

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Today's gift guide is all about the man in your life. Whether it's your boyfriend, husband, brother, dad, these gifts are practical items that they can use often. The guys in my life tend to be very no-fuss when it comes to what they want (unless it's guns or tools then it's a "must buy everything" kind of situation!). These items are things they can get a lot of use out of - not something they'll use once then it'll collect dust for the rest of its life!

1. This cocktail shaker is perfect for the guy that has his own mini-bar. But it's not just any cocktail shaker. It has recipes already on it! Sometimes I feel like if it isn't written out right in front of them, guys won't think to look up a recipe. So give him a shaker that has recipes already on it!

2. This leather case is so manly to me! Just because he's a guy doesn't mean he can't have a cool phone case. Get him this one that's protective but still stylish enough that it can be a talking point for him and his friends.

3. If your guys is really no-fuss, he likely gets annoyed with wires. Wrap up these wireless headphones for him. He can still answer calls with them but they connect using Bluetooth so he doesn't have to worry about wires getting in the way. Plus, they come with a wire in the case where he can't use Bluetooth!

4. I know I know. Guys might roll their eyes if they get socks for Christmas. But if you get him a good pair like these from J.Crew, they'll last him so much longer than a cheap pair from the drugstore. Plus, they have lots of fun prints so he can bring a little spice into his everyday work attire.

5. If your man is active, he needs a Fitbit. Or some similar fitness tracker. This one is sleek enough to still look like a watch while giving him all the fitness perks

6. If the men in my family are anything like the men in your life, they can be very particular about their shaving products. This Jack Black kit is incredibly well recommended! It comes with facial cleanser, moisturizing oil, conditioner for shaving, and razor bump/ingrown hair solution. It's everything he needs (minus a razor!).

7. Guys usually don't need a huge selection of clothes to choose through. I know guys that wear the same 5 shirts unless it's a special occasion. So if he's pretty selective in what he wears, choose shirts in staple colors. Old Navy has some great shirts that don't come in crazy colors. They also hold up really well so he'll be able to wear them for a long time! 

8. It's winter and guys need gloves. This pair from The North Face are super warm but still have the tech fingers so he wont' need to take his gloves off to use his phone.

9. Going along with it being cold, grab him a fleece pullover. This one from L.L.Bean is casual enough to throw on over a t-shirt but he could make it a little dressier by wearing it over a button-up shirt (like the one you'll get him from Old Navy!).

10. If your guy likes to give back, these boots from TOMS are perfect. For every pair bought, they give a pair to someone in need. These boots have a warm lining so they're perfect for winter while still looking stylish enough to not be clunky winter boots!

Third gift guide is complete! I'll probably do one more next week, I just haven't quite figured out what on. So if there's a gift guide you'd like to see, let me know! I'm all ears.

The semester is over today and finals week is next week. Praise. The. Lord. Life has been so crazy lately I feel like I'm never going to feel caught up. Hence why I've been quiet on the blog and social media. Here's hoping once the students leave campus I can catch up!

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Gift Guide: The Momma Bear

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Mommas are the best. But if I'm being honest, sometimes it's hard to shop for her. I know what she likes, but I like to get her something she may not think to get for herself. Whether you're shopping for your momma, step-momma, momma-in-law, or a woman who has been like a momma to you, these pieces are sure to make her feel special.

1. Measuring cups: These measuring cups from Anthropologie are so adorable! I think my mom had the same yellow measuring cups until we got her a set to match her kitchen years ago at Christmas. If these are little too pricey for measuring cups, check out the Pioneer Woman line (at Wal-Mart!) for a more affordable option.

2. Bracelet: Kendra Scott makes the most gorgeous jewelry! And what momma doesn't love a little bling. But if you have a momma in your life that's like mine, she's not as willing to spend the money on a gorgeous piece of jewelry for herself. So why not spoil her with this beautiful cuff?

3. Classic tote: Mommas are known for always having everything anyone could ever need in their purse. It's like they all own a Mary Poppins bag! This tote is actually from Kohl's and it's under $50! It's structured and a medium size so she can fit everything she needs in there. For a splurge-worthy tote, Michael Kors has a purse that's similar in size and style (it's currently on sale!).

4. Candles: My momma has candles in every room in the house! These diptyque candles smell like heaven and come in lots of fresh scents. I like them because they're not overpowering - they're light but still manage to make a room smell like heaven.

5. Artwork: Truth time - I wish I had gotten this for my momma! She's decorated the house with rustic, primitive pieces so this longhorn picture would have gone perfectly in one of the rooms. Artwork is something that people don't purchase all the time so it's a sweet gift for your momma.

6. Travel tote: Has anyone else's parents started taking more trips now that they're empty-nesters? I don't ever remember my parents taking as many trips as they have since I moved to Ohio. If your momma is jetting off on lots of trips, make sure she has a cute travel bag. This one from Vera Bradley fits everything she'll need for a weekend away!

7. Cozy robe: I think a great go-to gift is something cozy for your momma to wrap herself up in at the end of the day. And what's cozier than a great robe? I've heard so many great things about the Barefoot Dreams line. I think I touched everything by them in Nordstrom one time. Sorry I'm not sorry!

8. Personalized stationary: I feel like mommas always have someone they need to write a note to. Whether it's a thank you, hello, sympathies, whatever. Give her stationary a personal note with a set from May Designs. They have so many designs available. You can add her name, monogram, or her favorite quote. Plus, you can get coordinating envelopes!

9. Hand cream: My momma always has hand cream on her. Always. L'Occitane hand cream is a dream for your hands! This French brand has so many great products, but I love their hand cream most. 

The best part about buying gifts for your momma, is that no matter what it is, they always love it because it came from you. I think my momma cries more when I hand-make her card as opposed to when I just buy her any old thing from the store. Mommas love their babies so don't stress out about what to get for her - she'll just be thankful to have you around for the holidays!

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Gift Guide: The Beauty Addict

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Happy December! Today's post is all about gifts for the beauty addict in your life. Whether it's your best friend, your sister, or your momma, these gifts are sure to add lots of joy to her beauty collection. These gifts all come in at different price points so even if you're on a budget, there's something here for you!

1. Acrylic Cosmetic Organizer: With all of her products, she's bound to need some organization! While GLAMboxes are super popular, they're also super expensive. This acrylic organizer from Target is under $40 and holds up well! You can also check out TJ Maxx - the one in Oxford usually has quite a few!

2. beautyblender Two.BB.Clean: I use my beautyblender every. single. day. Most beauty lovers I know swear by their beautyblender. Plus, this gift set comes with two beautyblenders and cleanser to clean them!

3. First Aid Beauty Holiday Trio: I've only ever tried First Aid Beauty in sample sizes but y'all! It's so great! It packs so much hydration! Perfect for repairing and protecting her skin from the harsh cold weather.

4. Bite Beauty Best Bite Redux: I was lucky enough to get to try these lip crayons through Influenster a while ago (check out my Instagram posts here and here) and I love them! They're super pigmented and stay super well! And since they're like a thick pencil/skinny crayon it's easy to be precise with the application.

5. Dior 'Miss Dior' Blooming Bouquet: I fell in love with this scent over the summer but I didn't buy a bottle of it until the fall. It's easily my favorite scent ever! I've never finished a bottle of perfume because I usually get bored after a month or two, but I don't think I'll ever tire of this scent. Don't let the name fool you - it's not a heavy floral. It's got some citrus mixed in too. It also works well in every season so it's perfect for a go-to perfume!

6. GLAMglow SUPERMUD Set: This stuff works miracles! My favorite thing about this is that it works for every skin type: oily, dry, combination, whatever. This set comes with SUPERMUD (a clearing treatment), THIRSTYMUD (a hydrating treatment), and YOUTHMUD (a tinglexfoliate treatment) so your beauty-loving friend can try three popular GLAMglow products!

7. T3 Whirl Trio Interchangeable Styling Wand: This styling wand is on my wish list. It's one of the pricier items, but it comes with three interchangeable barrels so it's like buying three wands. I've heard of so many ladies that swear by this wand and that it's 100% worth the price!

8. Tula Discovery Kit: I recently started using Tula because I had heard so many good things about it. I've been using it for a couple weeks now and I'll never use anything else! Okay that's probably a lie, but this stuff is amazing! My skin looks brighter, smoother, and just overall better. The Discovery Kit comes with cleanser, eye cream, illuminating serum, and hydrating cream all in a travel bag. While I'm on skin care, you could also get her the Clarisonic White Mia 2 Cleansing Gift Set. This brush gives an amazingly deep clean and this set comes with an extra brush head and cleanser!

9. Sigma Basic Face Kit: Good brushes are a must-have for any gal that loves makeup and if all the reviews are true, Sigma makes some of the best brushes. While I love my e.l.f. makeup brushes, you can tell a difference in the quality of the brushes. Plus, help her keep her brushes in prime condition by getting her the Sigma Beauty Brush Cleaning Glove to keep her brushes in pristine condition.

10. Sephora Face Masks: I should buy stock in Sephora because I buy their masks all. the. time. They're amazing! I've tried lots of different sheet masks and I always end up going back to the Sephora ones. These are the perfect pampering gift!

11. tarte Tarteist Pro To Go Highlight and Contour Palette: If your girl loves that "glow" this palette is perfect for her. This palette was designed to work with all skin tones so it takes the worry out of guessing her shade. Plus the portable size makes it perfect for traveling!

I'm going to start some Christmas baking this weekend. Last year I was in the middle of my ORP so I didn't get a chance to bake as much as I wanted so this year I'm starting my baking nice and early! Let me know if you have any favorite Christmas sweets recipes!

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