5.30.2017

CAPSULE WARDROBE: JEWELRY

Capsule wardrobes are becoming more and more popular.  People are overwhelmed and seeing the benefits of living more of a minimalist lifestyle.  It's not just less stuff to own, but owning quality so that you always look and feel your best.  Your capsule wardrobe can include not only your clothes, but your pjs, workout clothes, shoes, makeup and even jewelry!


Have you ever worn a pair of cheap earrings and it was obvious?  Maybe your ears got red and itchy. Or maybe they even turned blackish green?  You might have even broken out in a rash!  Not pretty, right?


I went through a period where I really wanted lots of earrings and bracelets and necklaces to match all my outfits and colors.  Because I'm on a limited budget, that meant that I had to buy cheaper pieces.  Cheaper meant itchy ears, black skin and even rashes at times!  Plus, after a short time, the jewelry looked old and didn't keep it's color.  


Now, instead of spending $25 to buy 5 pairs of earrings, I'll take that $25 and buy one quality pair that I really love...like the ones in the photo above!  Yes, it means that I have less items, but the items I have hold up better.  

How about you?  Do you like to get lots of pieces at a cheaper price?  Or do you like to spend more to get a few pieces that are better quality?



5.25.2017

MY TOP 10 TO DO AND SEE AROUND THE WORLD


"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere,
I want it more than I can tell.
And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned."

Am I the only one that got emotional and thought of my Bucket List as Belle sang these words in the latest Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson?  I know it's easy to stay home, breeze through daily life and put dreams on the back burner.  Life goes fast and leaves us wondering where the time went.  I know that when I die, I want to go knowing that I lived an adventure.  Although I have a lot more that I want to do and see around the world, here are my top 10 so far:

1.  Hike the Inca Trail - In high school, every fall, our school would have camp and let us all sign up for what we wanted to do.  One year, I signed up to hike the Inca Trail.  Basically, we started at the highest point in Bolivia and hiked for four days to get to the lowest point in the country.  It was so hard, but I'm so glad that I did it!  It was a once in a lifetime chance.

Inca Trail 2001
2.  Go island hopping in Greece - In 2003, my dad took a trip over to Greece to speak in a church.  Lucky for my sister and I, he invited us along with him!  We stayed with friends over there for three weeks, went sight seeing, ate amazing food, stopped at many of the beautiful islands and walked through hundreds of adorable little streets.  It was a gorgeous country.  But one of the most unique parts of the trip was walking in the same places that Paul walked!  Although I know that the Bible is real and true, it's good to be reminded by seeing places, like Corinth, in real life.

Greece 2003
3.  Stand under the Eiffel Tower - Yea, ok, make sure you go to the top also.  But even more than the view from above, I was shocked at the size of the Eiffel Tower while standing below.  I had no idea it was that wide and tall!  We didn't get much time in Paris since it was a short layover on our way home from Greece, but I'm glad we took the chance to ride the subway, see the tower and eat a Nutella crepe (I've never eaten one that tasted better than that one) on the street.

Paris 2003
4.  Take a dip in the Dead Sea - It was so strange to try my best to force myself under the water and not be able to do it.  You can't help but float and bob on top of the water.  And it's so salty that they only allow you to stay in a maximum of 45 minutes for your safety.  One thing I have to say is that it did wonders for my skin.  By the time I got out, my skin was the softest it had ever been!  If you like to try new skin care products, I would recommend trying the Ahava Dead Sea Mud.  I got some of their products while there and loved using them after I got back to the USA.  Now, I see that they are available here, even at TJMaxx sometimes! 

Dead Sea 2005
5.  Visit Cristo de la Concordia - It was modeled after the one in Brazil, but it's found in Cochabamba, Bolivia!  The Christ is almost 900 feet tall and has an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding city.  Plus, if you like a good hike and aren't afraid of getting mugged, you can take the 2,000+ stairs instead of the quick and easy drive.  When growing up here, we would bring visitors and feel motivated to climb, until about 1/10 the way to the top and then regret our decision to hike.  It's not for the faint of heart.

Bolivia 2010
6.  Steal a kiss at the top of Lovers Lane - The Faroe Islands have the be one of the most beautiful places in the world.  Every view is breathtaking.  And the people are the absolute most welcoming.  Staying for two weeks in Klaksvik will always hold special memories for us.  One of my favorite days there was when we hiked up Lovers Lane to overlook the city.  The tradition is to kiss your love at the top.  

Faroe Islands 2012

7.  Goof around at Giant's Causeway - A few years back a friend was getting married in Ireland, so we made it a two week vacation to see the country!  Giant's Causeway was one of my favorite places we saw because of the crazy way the rocks are naturally shaped.  The world has so many mysteries and I love to see them with my own eyes and wonder.

Giants Causeway 2014
8.  Spend the night in a castle - I had no idea how many castles there are around the world.  Disney movies are probably the reason why I believed that the only places that had castles were the ones that also had a king and queen living in them.  So, naturally, it would seem that there was only one castle for each country.  Not true!  They are actually all over the place.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found out my friend's wedding was being held at a castle and we would be staying there overnight!  

Ireland 2014
9.  Roam around in Scotland - While on the subject of castles, we headed over to Scotland after leaving Ireland.  For five days, we walked the streets of Edinburg, toured the castle and even spent a day in Stirling.  We both love history and getting a glimpse into the lives of people from the past.  It's so interesting how they lived and how far we have come.  Plus, it's awesome when you see your last name "Stewart" all over everything in the castle...we felt like royalty.  And you see the yellow/red crest above Nick's head in the photo below?  That's his family crest!  So, that was exciting :)

Scotland 2014

10.  See the sunrise on Koko Head - Earlier this year, a friend invited me to go with her to Hawaii.  Um, yes!  I volunteer as tribute.  It was absolutely beautiful, the weather was great and the food was amazing.  We had such a good time.  Although it was super hard, one of the best things we did was wake up at 4am and hike to the top of Koko Head to see the sunrise!

Hawaii 2016

There is so much to do and see and eat around the world.  You won't ever run out of options.  Maybe that's why my Bucket List continues to grow each year!  It's like I check off one thing and add three more.  Just remember: don't be afraid to go somewhere new, get lost and change your plans.  Some of our best memories come from just winging it!  

Where are your top favorite places to see or things to do around the world?




5.22.2017

8 MUSTS TO GROW A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS

Since starting my own business in 2013, I have noticed that we are always looking for the next thing. The next challenge to join. The next call to listen in on. The next convention to attend. The next event to sign up for. The next book to read. The list goes on and on. There is always the next big thing. The next "secret" to success.  But, as I was wrapping up another business book last week, I realized that there is no solution to making a business successful that doesn't involve just plain old hard work!


So, I wrote down 8 things that I believe make or break our businesses.

1. You MUST be committed. Remove "try" from your vocabulary and make your business work, knowing that you will have to make sacrifices along the way. Stick it out, even when it is hard. Don't give up, even when you want to quit.
2. You MUST be consistent. Work on your business daily and show your customers, co-workers and employees that you are dependable. Make a plan, schedule your work time and do your work.  Participate in available product and business education, communicate with your customers and team, stay connected on social media (because you should be using it to your advantage to grow your business) and learn something new everyday. Show up and be present.


3. You MUST continue to learn. Read books, blogs, articles and anything that you can get your hands on related to your business or product.  Go to training events and take courses.  Make it your goal to learn something new each day, whether it's about the product or running a business or both.
4. You MUST love the product. Use the product every day (if possible, of course). At home. At work. With family. While running errands. The more you use it and love it, the more you'll have great stories to tell people and inspire others to purchase. Be the person who would be using the product even if you didn't make any money on the sales.


5. You MUST put yourself out there. Post daily on social media, host events, hold classes, sign up for vendor fairs, set up a booth at your local farmers market, talk to people in the grocery line, use the product in front of people.  Do whatever you can to educate people on your product and why they need it.  There is not one right way to do it, you just have to find the right way for you and do it and do it and do it!
6. You MUST lead by example. Do what you say you are going to do. Be available. Show up. Stay open to feedback. Offer to help in areas you are gifted. Participate. Be the type of person you appreciate in others.  


7. You MUST follow up. When someone comments on your post, comment back. When someone asked you a question, answer it. When someone messages, emails or texts you, get back to them.  Let people see that you are available so that they keep coming back to you, instead of loosing that customer to someone else who might have mediocre products, but a faster, better response.
8. You MUST stay positive. Everyone CAN grow a successful business, but not everyone WILL. Let's be the people who do it. Who work hard. Who learn. Who respond. Who participate. Who follow up. Who get out of our comfort zones. Who seek solutions. Who keep going. Who lead. This isn't easy. This is business. This takes time. Be willing to give it time. 


Don't be fooled by the idea that there are secrets to success. It all comes down to hard work, day in and day out, and not giving up when others are. That's great news, isn't it?! That means that every single person has the ability to succeed!


5.20.2017

WHEN YOU KNOW IT'S TIME TO CALL IN THE PROFESSIONALS

2 years ago, the day we bought our house, the kitchen looked like this.  And no, you are not looking at green and yellow tile floors, but at carpet.  Yep, kitchen carpet.  Shocking and disgusting, I know. Don't try this at home.


Then one day last year, I decided I just couldn't take it anymore.  While Ironman was away at work, I pulled up the carpet.  In my dreams, I pulled it up, threw it out and had the floors looking like new by the time he got home.  But was disappointed to find several layers of foam, linoleum and some kind of impossible paper.  Instead of the response I'd hoped to get, Ironman said "what have you done?" haha.  Not good.


After I had already spent the entire day working on this, Ironman and I spent several more doing the same thing.  My quick fix turned into a nightmare.  By Sunday afternoon, we somehow convinced a friend that he would have fun helping us scrape the floor.  Hunter, in the photo below, has never been back.  And I'm not joking.  


After who knows how many hours and days were put into the floor, we pretty much burned out and left it at this for over a year.  It wasn't uncommon to find a staple or nail when walking barefoot and some friends were afraid that we were living in and breathing in black asbestos from these floors.


We tried and failed several more times before deciding that we needed to just hire professionals to help us out.  See the floors now?  They got them looking like this in less than one day.  One day.  One.  I'm so happy, but it also makes me sick to think of the time I put in and how little I got done!  All the pulling and scraping and chiseling and pounding and the above photo is as far as I got.  I'm way happier with the professionals progress in the photo below!


I feel like today was a great lesson.  Yes, Ironman and I could renovate and DIY this entire house by ourselves.  But, it may take us a decade and it mostly feels like punishment for some past sins or something.  Unless you truly love to live like this and have a lot of patience, I wouldn't recommend it.  Sometimes the best thing to do is fork out that cash, get in the professionals and go spend the day at the beach.  Otherwise you may find yourself hoping that your fixer upper just happens to burn to the ground or get caught up in a tornado or something.  That's all hypothetical, of course.



5.16.2017

MY 10 MAGIC WORDS

A while back, a friend encouraged me and some other girls to come up with our own "Magic Words".  10 words that described me...


But, there are actually lots of words that could describe me.  Some days, I'm sick of my Bucket List because it's a reminder of all of the places I want to go but haven't gone.  I can be lazy and negative.  Sometimes I hoard things because "what if?", until I finally clean out when I come to my senses.  I can be harsh and want to keep everything for myself.  I'm not always inspiring because I don't always feel inspired.  I don't always make the best choices for my health.  And sometimes I can't think of any great story to tell.  So, I just want to set the record straight that I am not always my magic words.

But what I've found is that they are there, deep down inside me.  When I am taking care of myself, setting boundaries and doing what I love, they come out.  And when they do, I am the best version of myself.  I am the person that I want to be.

Won't you consider creating a list of your 10 magic words?  10 words that describe you at your best, when you are proud of who you are.  Write them down and keep them somewhere to remind you of the person you are striving to be...your best.


5.10.2017

6 TOILETRIES THAT ARE SLOWLY KILLING YOU

Most of us are concerned with aging well, but don't realize that we are using products that are harmful to our health and even may be causing premature aging. Skin care should be a lifetime choice, using natural treatments, should be focused on the whole body and we all should be checking our labels and researching the ingredients! Our skin is our largest organ and quickly absorbs everything that it comes in contact with.  Toxins and petrochemicals soak into the skin and can cause horrible side-effects, even sickness and disease!  I dare you to look at the back of every product in your bathroom and under your kitchen sink and in your pantry…for each ingredient that you don't know (and even the ones that you do know), look it up on www.ewg.org to see what harm you are doing to your body.  Many of us don’t realize how dangerous these chemicals can be, but the research is there!  However, many of us do know the dangers and try to buy natural options, but natural doesn't always mean natural!!!  We always need to look up ingredients in our products to see for ourselves if it is truly and honestly natural and safe!  Let's look at the 6 areas where we could be slowly harming ourselves, without even realizing it!

I love to soak in the bath, while I do a nice face scrub and masque!

SKIN CARE - Your skin soaks up everything, whether you're slathering on toxin-filled or all-natural products.  Most of us will do anything to have a youthful appearance, but what if all of the soaps and lotions and creams and serums are raising our risk of cancer and disease because of the toxic, synthetic ingredients?!  Also, did you know that many of the creams that claim to be anti-aging actually have ingredients that speed up the aging process!? When I first read that last year, I was shocked.  Don't be fooled by the media and your peers, having beautiful skin comes from good nutrition, daily exercise, staying hydrated and by using safe products with natural ingredients.


Cleanse, Tone, Scrub, Serum, Moisturize, Masque...repeat...

SOAPS, BATH & SHOWER GELS - Many people suffer from uncomfortable skin issues and don't realize that it could actually be caused by lathering up each day!  You would not believe the ingredients that are found in soaps. Most commercials soap makers buy the fatty remains of dead animals and use it in their ingredients…YUCK!!!!!  Plus, what about all of the harmful, hormone disrupting and disease causing ingredients???  NO THANK YOU!!! Keep your skin healthy by safely lathering up without stripping your skin of it's natural oils. Also, you might want to consider carrying a safe, waterless, hand purifier with you in your purse so that you don't have to use the toxic soaps in public restrooms!
DEODORANTS - Aluminum and anti-freeze are two common ingredients in Deodorant!  These chemicals can build up in the system and cause cancer, liver damage and neurological diseases…ain’t no body got time for that!!!  FYI, its not just deodorants that contain aluminum…baby wipes, skin creams, suntan lotions, toothpastes, buffered aspirin, some medical vaccinations, intravenous solutions, wound and antacid irrigations, ulcer treatments, blood oxygenation, bone or joint replacements, burn treatments, baking powder, cake mixes, frozen dough, pancake mixes, self-rising flour, grains, processed cheese, aluminum cans, aluminum foil, disposable turkey roasting pans and more!!!  Think of the millions of ways that you are contaminating yourself each day.  I’m not saying you’ve got to be perfect, but it's a good idea to at least cut down on your aluminum use where you can!  
These smell like a day on the beach!

HAIR CARE - Just like our skin, we want beautiful, healthy hair, right? But do we have to kill ourselves in the process???  No!!!  Many women don't know that they are harming themselves just by lathering up and styling their hair each day.  However, many do know the dangers, but continue to use the products because they believe that “natural” shampoos and conditioners don't work as well.  This is simply not true! Sure, it may take some trial and error, but make the time and commitment to find a safe alternative.
BODY LOTIONS & MASSAGE OILS - Massages are a great way to improve circulation, lymphatic drainage, elimination of tissue wastes, bring peace and tranquility, mental awareness, increase energy, balance the nervous system and more! And it is just as important to keep your body moisturized as it is your face!  You don't want a beautiful, youthful face and then a dry wrinkly body, do you?!?!!?  Of course not! Just make sure you're using natural, safe products and stay away from ingredients that claim to reverse aging, but actually speed it up!


Bye Bye Cellulite!

ORAL HEALTH CARE - Did you know that your mouth is the dirtiest part of your body?!!?!?!?  AND did you know that bad oral hygiene contributes to chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer?!?!?  I DIDN’T KNOW THAT!!!!  You can keep your mouth clean and healthy by Oil Pulling, using safe Toothpastes, avoiding Fluoride and using effective mouthwashes and floss.  And don't forget your lips while you're at it...no one likes dry, cracked lips!!!  But be careful with everything that you put on your lips…just like your skin, they draw everything in, the good, the bad and the ugly!!! Choose a lip balm that moisturizes and protects, naturally.

Many of you enjoy researching on Pinterest and going all DIY to make all the things. If so, go for it! However, if that's not your thing, start looking for a company that you trust and begin replacing your harmful products, for safe ones. There are many companies that I have enjoyed over the years, but Young Living has been my top choice since 2013. Young Living offers many products and essential oils that truly are natural and safe!  There are a variety of soaps, deodorants, conditioners and shampoos, massage oils, toothpastes, floss, mouthwash, throat lozenges, gum, bath & shower gel, beauty masks, facial moisturizers, cleansers, toner, serum, wrinkle cream, facial wash, ointments, facial scrubs, eye creams, hand & body lotions, lip balm, waterless hand purifier and more!  You can literally take care of your entire personal care routine without harmful chemicals!



5.08.2017

CAPSULE WARDROBE: PACKING

As you know, we love traveling!  Packing, however, is a different story.  I always plan to pack light, but then panic at the end and begin shoving things in "just in case".  Can you relate?  This is yet another reason why the capsule wardrobe is amazing.  The less choices we have, the less we pack.  And the more good options we have, the better we look.  It makes traveling so much easier.


So, you want some tips on packing with a capsule wardrobe?  Great!  Pull out that dusty suitcase, answer the questions below and then head over to your closet.

Where are you going?  Business trip?  Romantic getaway to Sandals?  Funeral?

What will the weather be like?  Cold?  Hot?  Rainy?  Muggy?

Who will you be with?  Just your husband?  A bunch of kids?  Your in-laws?  Girlfriends?

What type of activities will you be doing?  Sitting around with family?  Sight-seeing?  Relaxing by the pool?  Going out to fancy dinners?  Working out?

Will I have washer and drier access (for longer trips)?  


Now that you're standing in your closet, staring at your clothes, it's time to get started.  Choosing the right items is so important when traveling so that you are comfortable and feel confident.  It feels overwhelming because of all the "what if's" that could happen when you are away from home.  Just make sure to keep things simple so that you aren't busting at the seems when you arrive at your destination.


Here is my typical packing list (I try to only use my carry on when possible):
-underwear, bras and socks
-pjs (sometimes I throw in my bathrobe and slippers)
-one outfit per day
-exercise clothes (if you plan to work out)
-one pair shoes (try to bring just 1-2 pair that match everything and are comfortable)
-toiletries (ask your travel buddy to share some items so you aren't bringing two of everything)
-accessories (just like shoes, try to pack items that match everything)
-book
-cell phone charger
-you may also need things like a bathing suit, raincoat, little black dress, heels, etc depending on the weather and your activities!

Just remember to be prepared, while also packing light!


The trick is to taking just enough so that you are comfortable, but not so much that you have things you don't even need.  I have to admit, I'm not great in this area.  I can pack light, but I usually don't use everything and am wishing for something that I didn't bring.  Ironman actually tells me that I always pack the wrong things for trips!  Haha.  Practice makes perfect, right?  You'd think after how much I travel, I would be a pro at this!  So, if you are still struggling in this area, don't beat yourself up over it.


What is one thing that you can't live without when you travel?


5.04.2017

MY TOP 2 SECRETS TO GETTING IN BETTER SHAPE

Gotcha!  There are no secrets.  Just working out and eating right.  Who knew?!  Haha.  I've never been a fan of the gym or diets, so it's taken me years to really figure out what works for me.  It's not about being the skinniest, but about feeling good and being comfortable in my clothes.  Although it sounds simple to work out and eat right, it has taken a lot of trying and failing to figure out what I can stick with, while enjoying a healthy life.  I don't want to burn myself out, but want to find what I can do consistently.  Here is what I have learned:


NUTRITION:  Over the years, I've heard of every diet out there.  Atkins.  Whole 30.  Paleo.  Low carb.  High carb vegan.  Weight Watchers.  Calorie restriction.  No sugar.  Gluten free.  Slim Fast.  Plexus.  Low fat.  And, with each diet, I know at least one person who has tried it.  The key word is "try".  Most people don't go on a diet and stick to it the rest of their lives.  Which means, they either gain all the weight back when they quit or they yoyo their entire life as they try this diet and that diet.  It simply doesn't work.  Plus, I've found that when I try to give myself rules of what I can and can't eat, all I can think about is what I can't have and it makes me feel cranky.  Not to mention the damage is does to your social life and relationships!  Long story short, the best thing that I have found for me is the book The Eden Diet.  It basically teaches you how to eat smaller portions and only when physically hungry.  So, you can eat things that you enjoy, but with moderation and self control!  When I truly practice this concept, I lose weight while eating what I love.  If you want to lose some weight, I highly suggest this book!  I feel like it's a healthy approach and teaches you valuable lessons that keep you from yoyo and fad dieting.


EXERCISE:  It was May 4th, 2016...a year ago today.  I woke up and decided I was going to the gym.  Alone.  I couldn't find anyone to bring along for moral support.  I didn't know of anyone already going that I could just meet up with there.  But I decided enough was enough.  For years (ok, my entire adult life), I hadn't been faithful to work out because I was always relying on other people to join me.  That day, I decided "no more".  I was going to work out every single weekday whether I was alone or not.  And I decided that exercise was going to be a part of my daily routine, even when I didn't feel like it.  So, I began to wake up and work out.  There was no getting out of it or deciding, "Do I want to work out today?".  By simply removing the decision and making it a must, I have totally changed my fitness life.  Over the past year, I've learned that not only do I enjoy walking and going on bike rides, but I love Barre, Yoga, sculpting classes at the gym, HIIT workouts, free weights and online workouts that I can do at home!  I feel like a different person than 365 days ago and want to continue to branch out, try new things and see what else I might learn to love!


It's true, staying healthy and being in good shape is a lot of hard work and sacrifice.  But, I know that I feel so much better than last May 4th.  I'm stronger, fit better in my clothes and feel much better about myself.  The sacrifice has been worth it!  And I'm proud of myself for doing it in a way that I can continue to do.  I'm not depraving myself and wearing myself out, but learning a healthy balance of making good choices and enjoying what I have.  It's been a good year and I look forward to seeing where I'm at next May 4th!

Photos: Emily Christopher from Just Because, taken after our hike up Koko Head in Hawaii!


5.01.2017

HOW WE PAID OFF $26,355.47 OF DEBT IN LESS THAN TWO YEARS

When I got my Young Living Essential Oils Premium Starter Kit in 2013, I had no idea how these little bottles would change my life. 


Before Young Living, I would get the crud I just couldn't kick.  But, since my kit arrived three and a half years ago, I have been 100 times better!  And that's just my health. I had no idea how much this would change my life financially. 

As soon as I got my starter kit, I knew I loved the oils and decided to start the business side the next day. Not only have I been able to work from home for over three years now and travel much more often, but I've been able to help pay off $26,355.47 in debt since September 2015! Last Thursday, we paid off the last little bit and it was amazing seeing our balance at $0. Still a little shocked that we did it, but feeling the burden lifted is amazing! 


I'm so thankful for Young Living and my Lemon Dropper team for being such a blessing to Nick and me! And thank goodness we took Dave Ramsey as newlyweds.

There's nothing special about me and I have no secret to success. I bought a starter kit and started at 0 just like everyone else. Yes, it's been a lot of hard work over the past few years, but it was well worth it!  If you want to improve your health and live with more freedom, I'd love to share how I've done it.  Please feel free to send me an email.  And since we talked money, here is the Young Living Income Disclosure.