Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy first birthday, Beans!

I can't believe it, but it's Beans' first birthday today! Happy birthday my bestest animal friend! Pictured above, Beans is sporting his new winter coat that the hubs and I picked up for him last weekend. He wore it out for the first time today and when we got back he was so toasty! He was warmer than me! The coat really works and yes, he really does need it since he's so skinny and loathes even the slightest cold. After our walk, we went to Petsmart to get him a birthday toy. Although I had just gotten him some toys about a week ago, he needed a birthday present ;) Petsmart really only had holiday toys this time of year though, so Beans got stuck with a snowman. Pretty cute, but it wouldn't have been my first choice if there were other options. Thankfully Beans doesn't know the difference! 

So, a quick recap of Beans... So far he is 8.2 pounds. It seems like he's done growing, but he might fill out a little more. So far he knows the following tricks: sit, stay, come, lay down, crawl, dance, high five, speak, and walk (on his hind legs). Not bad for a one year old if you ask me! And just today in Petsmart, a lady who walked by him said, "He is so well behaved!" as he sat there wagging his tail at her. And I couldn't agree more. He is usually well-mannered and a pleasant dog to be around. 

Later, we'll celebrate by giving him a nice dinner (probably his food topped with chicken broth, warmed up, and maybe a slice of ham or something nice). And that's about it! It's funny that I am so excited about his birthday, but he doesn't even know it's his birthday. Oh, crazy animal people... Wait, that's me. 

Do you do "crazy" things for your pets? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holidays, Reflecting, and Life Update

Well, hello there! I feel like I have been in a whirlwind since last week from the holiday! I don't know what exactly happened, but everything in my apartment was a disaster, I had no food, all my laundry was dirty, and yet I didn't have a lot of time to catch up so I was going crazy. Holidays tend to do that, don't they? With that said, despite all attempts to fit it in, Manicure Monday was a miss. My nails were left absolutely obliterated from work last week anyway. The long squared edge I was rocking is gone since all my nails broke. I'll take this non-mani week as a time for recovery for my poor tips and start fresh next week.

Despite all the busyness, I unexpectedly had yesterday day off, which was such a blessing. I grocery shopped, cleaned my whole apartment, did laundry, and a ton more. Love when that happens! And I did it all while listening to Christmas music! This is so random, but never in my life have I enjoyed Christmas music. I didn't grow up with Christmas music really, and so I guess it's just been kind of foreign to me. I don't know what got into me, but I decided to listen to some on iHeart Radio as they were advertising the channel, and well - now I'm hooked! I don't usually even feel "in the Christmas spirit," but this year is totally different. Maybe it's because I'm working in retail this year? I don't know, but I like it!

Anywho, during my day off yesterday, I did some reflecting. There's only 28 days until Christmas and not many more days left for 2012. Once the year starts wrapping up, I get the itch to reflect. Basically all of 2012 has been a year of spiritual growing and maturing for me. I've discovered so much of who I am and what I believe. I've also done a ton of exercising and really realized my love for exercise and running. And if you knew me say, five years ago, or even three - that statement would shock you. There has been so much change, growth, and progress for me this year. It's just neat to see a year coming to a close and to realize that it was a year truly well spent. I've also documented a lot of what I've done this year through photos and journaling so it's really easy for me to actually see all the progress instead of just relying on memory. A 2012 reflection post to elaborate is definitely in order!

As for blogging, I literally always have about a hundred blog post ideas in my head at once. I tend to write a few down and I'm lucky if I get to one. But then time passes, and all those ideas are usually not timely enough or would be odd writing about after the fact, so the go unwritten (oh, my writer's heart aches!). But I think sometimes I just completely forget to write personal posts, like this one. This post really has no overarching theme. It's just my life. And I forget that people not only post that on their blogs too, but that people want to read this kind of thing because, after all, I am a real person with a life. Something I did get done today was taking a new head shot for all my profiles and the blog. My old photo was over a year old and I wasn't a huge fan anyway. So there's one thing off my long blog to do list! What do you think?

Look for a very special blog post tomorrow! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Creative Ways to Love Yourself

It's a beautiful day in New England, and as always, I've been doing some soul searching this week. Something I tend to reflect on now and then is what I am doing to love myself. By love myself, I mean, what am I doing to make sure I am taking the best care of myself that I can? This goes for my mental, physical, and emotional health. Below are some things I do to show myself love. Some of them come naturally because I have made these things a habit, but some of them I find I have to push myself or schedule in for me to actually get around to. Either way, I think as a woman, I tend to think that loving myself is something I should feel guilty about. There are so many things calling my attention elsewhere that spending time on just me seems so contradictory to the nature of my everyday and the culture I live in. But when I have a week where I realize - wow, I haven't done anything for myself, besides eat and sleep I guess - that's when I need to step back and just give love to yours truly.

Creative Ways to Love Yourself 

1. Do something you never do. Trying or treating yourself to something new can help you make yourself feel special. Do you always pass up that little bakery you've always wanted to try? Go in and grab a croissant! Have you wanted to be more adventurous, but didn't know how? Look up a place you can go hiking alone or with a friend. Do something different to give yourself a new experience and maybe even a new hobby.

2. You know that thing you've really been wanting to do but always come up with some excuse not to do it? DO IT. For me, this is taking the time to read or buy my favorite dessert. I always find an excuse (aka I busy myself too much) to read and I usually look onto those favorite desserts of mine with a guilty feeling inside. No, I am not advocating you give in to every whim you have about dessert, but if it's something you always want - why not give it to yourself once in a while? Often I find myself at the end of a busy day thinking, If I had all the time/resources in the world tomorrow, I would do (fill in the blank with something you really want to do). And yet, if I have the chance, I don't take it! Be good to yourself and do what you want to do without excuse or reason.

3. Do nothing! This is so incredibly hard for me! I am such a go-go-go person that the thought of doing nothing is baffling to me sometimes. I see every minute as time to be used well. But sitting in silence, just chilling out, for even three minutes is calming to the mind and body. When I start to feel overwhelmed, it's nice to take a personal time out and do nothing.

4. Save your money. I don't know about you, but saving money for my own personal use (shopping spree, something I've really been wanting) is just not happening for me these days. I usually find myself spending money without giving it much thought, like on coffee or buying Beans new toys/treats. It's nice to want to treat yourself to some thing, but if you don't have to money to do it - well, there goes that idea. Simply knowing that I have money saved gives me a peace of mind. When I find that "something" that I really want, the savings will allow me to buy it. You deserve to treat yourself to the things you want, within reason of course, and saving money is the first step toward making it happen.

5. Exercise. This one is a no brain-er, but if you rarely exercise, you're robbing your body of some serious physical and mental benefits. I don't have to tout off all the benefits of exercise, but exercising just makes me feel and look my best. When I don't exercise, I feel slow, unmotivated, unattractive, and I have less energy. I often don't want to exercise, but when I do, I am always happy when I'm done.

6. Take some time off of technology. I like to give myself periods of time or even whole days where I choose to unplug from technology. Sometimes, I'll give myself an hour or so with my phone in the other room so I can actually read or focus on something else. On the weekends, I tend to "check out" and not really pay attention to my phone or email as much. The more I realize that I am allowed to be away from technology, the more I tend to give myself the "treat" of some Facebook-less and email-less downtime.

7. Be in nature. I have a favorite pond that I run or walk around with Beans. There's a lot of trees and the pond is always shimmering. It's beautiful and it reminds me that this world is out there to be seen. Being in nature reminds me that the world is not all about me and that there is so much beauty to be taken in. Nature centers me, refreshes me, and renews my mind. If you haven't found a favorite outdoor spot yet, I encourage you to look for one! Having that special place that is "yours" is so nice to go to when you just need a breath of fresh air.

8. Slack up on your [fill in the blank]. What are you working towards? A new exercise routine? Incorporating more fresh foods into your diet? Being a more positive person? Whatever you are working towards, I'm sure you've made progress. But just because you're working toward something doesn't mean it has to be perfect all day, every day. And in fact, it won't ever be perfect. For me, I tend to get perfectionistic with how healthy I'm eating. And if I'm not eating "healthy enough," feelings of guilt or shame tend to surface and then I start bashing myself for not being perfect. When I look back on my progress and realize that one day or even one meal is not going to throw away a stretch of hard work, I can chill out. Cut yourself slack where you need it most. This is probably the single most important gift I can give myself lately.

Well, that's all I've got for now. What do you do to show yourself love? Do you have trouble making "me time" a priority? 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Manicure Monday: Quick Festive Mani

Hey, world!

Thank goodness I even remembered Manicure Monday today because I have been quite busy! All I had time for today was a quick single color mani. Today's culprit is one of my favorite ORLY polishes. It's called "Rock on Red," although sometimes I find it to have a pink tint to it. It has a slight shimmer to it without being truly glittery. I chose red because really, you can never go wrong with red, but also because it's the start of the holidays! I really don't feel ready for the holidays yet. It just seems like it's come too quickly this year! But this mani kind of gets me in the mood for Christmas music and some sugar cookies by a fire :)


I used two coats of Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails beforehand. I need this mani to last because I'm working a lot this week, including Black Friday! I know my mani will chip, so I didn't even want to venture into anything complicated, especially considering my last mani lasted about two seconds :( Anyway, I only put one coat of the red because I'm lazy and topped it off with Essie No Chips Ahead. Done!

For those of you who missed out on last week, the original Manicure Monday post is here. Well, that's all I've got time for before I head to work, but hopefully I'll make some time to blog for real :)

What are you doing for Thanksgiving this week? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Manicure Monday: The start of a new blogging tradition!

Hey folks!

Like many other blogs, I've decided to hop on the bandwagon of writing the same themed posts on certain days of the week. Lately, blogging has admittedly become more difficult for me to commit to on a regular basis because of, you know, life! But themed posts are a foolproof way to ensure that I blog often. These posts will also help you as a reader look forward to something each week on a specific day. I'm planning on releasing several of these kind of posts, but first up is Manicure Monday!

What is Manicure Monday? 

I'm glad you asked! Manicure Monday is simply where I share my manicure for the week. For quite a while now I have been dedicated to making time for a nice manicure each week. I find that committing to at least one activity a week that makes me feel pampered and put together helps make me feel like my best self. Manicures are easy, something I can do myself, and it's a simple way to get some "me time" in.

Manicure Monday is certainly not my attempt to try and be perfect, look better than others, or be too self-focused. Manicure Monday is just a light, fun way I can share something that makes me happy with the world. I also have a hefty collection of nail polish that only seems to keep getting bigger, so by committing to a new mani each week, I can actually use all of my nail polish! I'm trying not to use the same colors over and over like usual, but to use the colors I tend not to use often and to try new nail painting techniques.

Admittedly, I actually end up doing most my manicures on Sunday afternoon. Sundays tend to be a day of relaxing after church and prepping for the week ahead. I like to clean my apartment a bit, make a nice dinner, make some to do lists, see what's happening for the week, and just re-coop on Sundays. I also happen to typically have extra time on Sundays, which allows for this little pampering treat. So while the post is called Manicure Monday, I will most likely actually do the manicure the day before when I have time. This also gives me time to get the post ready the night before or the day of without having to rush.

My Manicure Techniques 

Okay, so I am by no means a beauty expert or even really that good at doing my nails. You know those really awesome manicures you see on Pinterest all the time that look like you could never do at home? That is not what I am capable of or what I am going for. This is not a beauty blog, but I do love beauty and I will share what I am personally capable of doing, but don't expect a lot! With that said, there are a few mani staples that I swear by. They are:

* My Miss Manicure Kit: I picked this beauty up at Wal-mart. I'm not sure where else is may be available, but probably any similar retailer. It was around $10. The kit includes any tool you would need for nail care: nail files, cuticle sticks, nail clippers, tweezers, trimmers, scissors, a nail buffer, etc. It comes in a cute bag that has room for nail polish or other supplies on the opposite side. It's great for travel and every day use.

* Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails: This stuff is my nail life saver. Exposing your nails to the harsh chemicals of nail polish and nail polish remover each week can really suck the life out of your nails. This stuff revives them, keeps them strong, shiny, and long. I used to have very weak, brittle nails that would peel, but my nails have been nothing but awesome since using this product for probably about 3 years. If you've ever had fake nails that were left weak and damaged, this stuff will fix that right up with regular use. What's more is that you can put this on first as a base coat and then paint over it too. It's awesomeness in a bottle. I try to use it at least once a month with no polish on top to give my nails a break.

* Decent Nail Polish: I am not a total nail polish snob, but some decent polish is a must. Yes, I have a few dollar store polishes that actually work great, but who knows what are in those! My personal favorite brands as of right now are Essie and ORLY. Both of these brands are relatively inexpensive, available locally, and chip less than other brands I've used.

And that's it! As simple as it is, painting my nails is fun to me. I like finding ways to incorporate what I do in real life into my blog writing, and this is one of them. And so without further ado...

The Manicure of the week is Essie "She's Picture Perfect" topped with Funky Fingers "Sand and Stilletos." Don't you just love nailpolish names? I wish I could come up with all the names of nail polish! What a fun job. For this mani I did use Sally Hasen's Hard as Nails as a base coat. I just recently started shaping my nails square, and I find that they need to be stronger in the square shape versus rounded/oval. Anyway, I put two coats of "She's Picture Perfect," let it dry for a good long time. Then put a piece of scotch tape (just a strip) diagonally before painting "Sand and Stilletos" in the corner. Peel the tape off and finished with Essie's "No Chips Ahead" top coat. Pretty simple! :)

Do you find joy out of a nice mani or do you find it more of a chore? Would you ever commit to pampering yourself with one thing every week? 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review { The Relief of Imperfection }

Whoa, it's November! Just last week was Halloween, but I feel like the holiday came and went faster than I could blink, and now "the holidays" are already in full swing! What happened? Sometimes I feel like fall flies by so fast. Anyway! I got the chance to finally finish a book that I started earlier this year. I am the kind of person who tends to get really excited about books and so I start reading many books at once. This habit keeps me from finishing books for a long time, as I like to read a little bit of each over a course of time (I wouldn't recommend this reading habit!). The book is called The Relief of Imperfection by Joan C. Webb. This is the book that inspired the name and the general topic of this blog. Because this book had such a big impact on me, I'm going to give a quick review of the book. Enjoy!

The Relief of Imperfection

So much of what Webb writes in this book is easy to relate to. Even if you don't consider yourself "perfectionistic," her words have depth and truth that I'm sure all women can relate to. While the book is Christian based with many Bible verses fluttering in and out of her text, it is a lot less Christ-focused than other Christian books I've read. This is a good and a bad thing. Sometimes I felt as if Webb is merely talking about perfectionism as a problem that women have that can't be solved, and sometimes I felt that she was talking about how perfectionism can be relieved by the truth that Christ has saved and forgiven. While I'm sure Webb meant the latter, sometimes I was a little lost as to how to get over perfectionistic tendencies. Overall, the book is specific enough to relate to but broad enough to realize that you must personalize the information given to understand the "how" part for yourself. Overall, she offers good advice that isn't too "trying to fix your problems" minded but is still realistic and helpful.

The book is neatly divided into sections such as "Imperfect Families and Relationships" or "Imperfect Churches and Culture." She divides the book up in chunks so that you can see the truth in all the areas that perfection takes over - and so you can see how imperfection marks all areas of life. At the end of each section, there is something called a "relief guide," which is basically a few pages of questions about the section to help you better understand the material and to personalize it. I did most of them, but not all. They were helpful and not too long. Being a perfectionist herself, Webb gives you the choice of not doing the relief guides, which I felt was really helpful. Often when I read a self-help book like this, I feel that I simply must do the workbook part or I'm not doing it right. Clearly, she thought with the mind of an over-doing when including that disclaimer :)

Webb offers a real glimpse at a totally overworked, over-trying life - the life she once had and is admittedly still recovering from. She admits to many faults of her own and shows how the Holy Spirit and a greater trust in the Lord has helped her become the better, less exasperated self that she is now. It's a relief hearing her story, knowing that God still loves us, despite how much we may over-try or even doubt ourselves. Her words are comforting, funny, and smile-able.

This book has had a huge impact on my understanding of that life is not perfect and that imperfect is okay. Those are two pretty big pills to swallow for someone who loves order, control, and for everything to be perfect. At the end of the book, I am not a recovered perfectionist. But neither is the author! She truly describes her life as always a work in progress, not striving for perfection in letting go of perfectionism, but embracing reality with the Lord on her side.

End Notes 

This book is a great starting point for fellow perfectionists. I would even recommend it to people who don't consider themselves perfectionistic at all because there is a lot of truth about human nature in her words. You don't have to be a "perfectionist" to want perfection; you merely have to be human, which we all are. This book is something I plan to come back to later in life as well. There are a lot of great reminders about who God is not - a slave driver - and who God is - a lover of your soul, no matter what or how you do life. That basic idea helps shed the "perfect" skin that hides the imperfect inside. Understanding what areas of your life you try to perfect and how to combat those tendencies by replacing them with healthy habits and ideas, the road to lasting joy is near. This road also happens to be very imperfect.

Have you ever read a self-help book similar to this? Does this book sound like something you would read, even if you're not a "perfectionist" by nature? 

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