35 Things On My 35th Birthday

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Happy Friday, loves!

I am SO excited about this weekend!

It’s my BIRTHDAY!

Well, Sunday is my birthday, but you get the point. I’m turning 35, and I’m so excited. I’m excited about all of my birthdays. It’s my favorite day of the year because it’s all about me and myself. With four kids, a husband, a business, all the boards on which I sit…I just don’t have a lot of me time. I’m fine with that since I prefer to be around my family.

Ironically, I’m a little bit of an introvert, but I have extrovert tendencies from time to time. I prefer to spend the bulk of my time at home with the people I love the most, but sometimes I love to be social. Too much socializing, however, turns me into a monster.

I’m complicated. And I’m okay with that.

Back to this weekend. We are Disney annual passholders (is it possible not to be one when you live an hour and 15 minutes from the park and have four kids 10 and under?!) and we always take my birthday weekend to leave the kids home and head to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. They detest Epcot, but we love it. So, they’re not invited.

All I know is that we are doing that this weekend. I have no other idea what is going on, what the plan is, or anything. My husband has been super secretive, but I can say with certainty that I definitely suspect something since I’ve caught him having more than one secretive conversation with the people we love. Very hush, hush. And I am so on to him.

I’m excited (and it better be fancy, Raiford. I’m a fancy girl, and there’s not enough fanciness where we live)!

I love my birthday because I love reflecting on the past year. I love to see how I’ve grown and changed over the year. I love to get older and wiser, and I really love to see how I’ve progressed and bettered myself. I’m always looking to be a better person than the one I was yesterday. I’m in constant competition with myself to be better and stronger.

Thirty-four has been such a fun year! We took the big girls to NYC with us for the first time to see the city for three days. They ask every time we go to join us, and we decided they were ready – and they had the best time! We spent my 34th birthday in the city enjoying date night at our favorite restaurant (Il Tinello) after brunch at our favorite place (The Boathouse) after spending the day before at Epcot for the Food and Wine Fest.

We spent a long weekend in SoCal visiting all of our favorite places (The Montage and the Surf and Sand, the Ritz-Carlton, Javiers in Crystal Cove, The Balboa Bay Club…). We cruised to the Bahamas with our four favorite couples. I did yoga in the beach in the Bahamas. We flew with the kids to Texas to spend a long weekend at my grandmother’s farm. We rented a vacation house in Orlando with family and had the best time just hanging out and having all the fun.

We took the kids to Palm Beach for a long weekend with friends. We saw Kenny Chesney and Thomas Rhett in concert. We let our 10-year-old spend her birthday at the Taylor Swift concert with her bestie. We spent most of our Sundays after church at our best friend’s River House kayaking and paddleboarding and grilling and having all the laid-back fun. We had fun. So. Much. Fun.

We spent more weekends than we can count watching Gator Football and going to Disney and enjoying date nights. We got back to basics and we’ve been enjoying all the simplicity of life as a result.

That brings me to the point of this blog post. I’m sharing 35 things about me as I turn 35. That’s right, friends. I’m officially turning the corner in which 50 is closer than 20. And I’ve literally never felt better.

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  1. I’m a bad ass motherfucker. I’m just saying. I am. And I’m not ashamed of that. I’ve spent the past year challenging myself to do things that are just beyond my comfort zone (becoming a runner, for instance), and I’m killing it. And to quote the bestie – and nearly every conversation we have this year – I’m a bad ass motherfucker. And I’m not even sorry for the language.
  2. I’m really organized. Like, super-duper, crazy organized. It’s how I get so much done.
  3. I go through one to two laptops every year because I type so much. I type anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 words per day for my clients five days a week (and sometimes on the weekends depending on the project). That’s something like 3.9 to 5.2 million words per year on my laptop – and that doesn’t count things like my blog posts, my emails, and any correspondence or other items I type. That’s literally just for my clients. The letters start to disappear off my keys within a few months of having my computers.
  4. I love to bake. I really love to bake, but only during the holiday season. Fall and Christmas – let me bake all the things. It makes me feel at ‘home’ and like the holidays.
  5. I have become really good at saying no over the past few years. If it doesn’t interest me, I don’t have time, or I’m tired, I’ll say no. Sometimes I just don’t want to do something, but other times I’m just saying no because I know my body and how it responds to stress, and when I’m too busy for too long, I know it’s time to pass.

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  1. I don’t care what people think of me. I know I come across as a little bit much. I know I’m not everyone’s cup of coffee or whatever, and I’m okay with that. I like me (a lot) and therefore, I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me. So long as this girl is happy, I’m good.
  2. Getting back to basics was one of the very best things we ever did in our house. No longer planning every weekend months in advance, and just learning to enjoy the simple things has been the best. It all came about over a long and hilariously fab dinner date that lasted almost 5 hours one night (December 22, 2017 anyone?) when we realized that we just all missed the way things used to be. The simplicity of an impromptu Sunday afternoon get-together. The enjoyment of spur-of-the-moment plans. Regularly scheduled date nights and bang bang shrimp…it’s been really, really good.
  3. My faith is so important to me. I begin and end each day in prayer. I spend my first few minutes with my daily devotional. I am a firm believer, and I’ve personally witnessed the grace and the beauty of God in every success, in every failure, and in every challenge.
  4. I wonder why we had kids like 8 times a day. Honestly. I do. Then I remember. It’s a cycle.
  5. I am so focused on my health and the health of my family. I love food, but I love good, healthy food. I can take any recipe and definitely not cook it because I suck at that, but I can take it and make it healthy. I want my kids to see my husband and I as a good example that a healthy lifestyle is all it takes. I don’t want them to be uncomfortable in their own skin, and I never want them to be come a statistic or obsessed with fad diets and unhealthy ways of life. You only get one life, and I want theirs to be long and healthy. Thanks, Grandma, for that lesson.

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  1. I am terrified of snakes. I can’t even leave my garage door open longer than the time it takes to drive out. I’m terrified of them getting into the garage and then getting into the house.
  2. I love red lipstick. It makes me feel powerful and put together when I’m not feeling it.
  3. I have a black thumb. Brown one? Whatever color that kills things immediately. Someone once told me to purchase succulents because they cannot be killed. I killed them.
  4. If you come to my house unannounced, you will find two things. It’s spotless, and there are fresh flowers on the kitchen island, the dining room table, the breakfast nook table, the fireplace, the sitting room coffee table, and on the entryway table (well, most of the year on the entryway table. I have some fabulous fake flowers for fall that go on the entryway table from September through November.
  5. I don’t like to sweat. I take something like three to four showers per day. As soon as I wake up, after I go to the gym, before bed, and at least one other time per day if I sweat outside or go shopping or something.

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  1. I think my body looks better at (almost) 35 than it ever has. I think I’ve been skinny fat for a long time, but the past year I’ve been really serious about my workouts. I have abs, muscles, and I’m pretty toned, and I really love it.
  2. I like good people. Plain and simple. I like people who are confident in themselves, who don’t live to please others, who don’t care what anyone thinks of them. I love people who don’t care what other people are doing in their lives. Those are my people. I like good people, and I’m so fulfilled with the goodness we have in the people we surround ourselves with. Which leads me to number 18.
  3. Our Wednesday night dinner tradition is one of my favorite things in life. It’s been 10 and a half years and counting, and it’s so much fun. We began having dinner ever Wednesday with our best friends before kids by going out. By baby number two or three, we were eating at home, switching homes every other week. Seven kids later, it’s hectic and crazy, but it’s my favorite tradition. We have the best time, the most inappropriate conversations, and entirely too much laughter.
  4. We have a friend who tells the best stories sometimes. You always know when it’s going to be a good one when he’s laughing before he even starts talking, and he cannot get it out. I have no idea how half his stories begin or end because he cannot stop laughing, but I’m sure they must be hilarious. And that is hands down my favorite thing about him. Other than his spectacular head of hair.
  5. Yoga and running have become two of my favorite things to do in the world.
  1. I’m a little obsessed with Bath & Body Works candles. Maybe a lot. Especially this time of year. Since September began, I’ve noticed I’ve had 7 packages filled with candles delivered. I cannot stop. It’s a sickness. And I’m fine with it.
  2. Ask me for A-1. I promise you I have a bottle in my handbag. Just ask me. There have been too many near disasters, and we must be prepared.
  3. Giving is what makes me happy.
  4. If there’s a committee, I’m on it. Well, kind of. I’m on the PTA board at my girls’ school and the twins’ school, and I’m co-running Safety Patrol for our fifth grader. I like to be present in their lives, so sign me up. But, really, don’t sign me up. There’s nothing left to go around!
  5. I tend to overreact a bit, but give me a day to calm down.

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  1. I’m paranoid. About everything. I worry incessantly about things happening to us and our kids. I worry about the worst case all the time. I’m perpetually paranoid, and I’m not ashamed of that.
  2. I am the most routine-oriented person on the planet. I have to be. It’s called organized chaos, and I need it in my life. I need my routine. It’s how I get anything done.
  3. I hate wearing flats. Hate them. I love high heels. I wish I could wear them all day every single day, but that mom life doesn’t always allow it.
  4. I put a lot of value and importance on date night and time away from the kids. We try hard to have a date night at least every other week. We are so busy and we have four kids – and our nephew for two hours before school in the mornings and at least an hour after school in the afternoons – and we need that time. It’s good for our souls and our marriage.
  5. I’m not the girls trip type. I did it once, and I prefer to spend the time with my husband. I love my girlfriends, but I’m looking to be sharing my bed with my husband at the end of the day. That’s all.

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  1. I hate the beach. HATE the beach. I hate sand. I hate salt water. I love to look at the beach. But I prefer to look at it from a gorgeous restaurant or hotel bar.
  2. I’ve grown so much in the past year, and I’m really proud of that. I’ve opened myself up to a lot of new experiences, new people, new things, new places – and I’ve learned from all of it.
  3. I give up trying to explain to people what I do. They think when I say, “I’m a writer,” that I’m J.K. Rowling and have a New York Times Bestseller. They don’t understand what a web content creator is. They don’t understand what I write or why I don’t use my name often in what I write. They don’t get how my business works. If I’m not an author of books, I must be a blogger. And while I do blog right here, this is just for me. This is not my job. This is for me to have a creative outlet for some of the very fun and creative things my job perks allow.
  4. I think raising a little boy is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. We have three girls and a boy, and our boy is our ‘youngest’. He’s one of the twins, but he’s our baby B. He was born five minutes after his twin sister. He’s difficult. Boys are loud, rambunctious, dirty. He wants to be outside all the time, but I’m not a big nature fan. He cannot spend time playing on his own. He needs someone to play with him all the time. The girls are the exact opposite. They are quiet. They all play well independently (and together when they want), and they’re so clean and tidy. Carter? He’s a hot mess. Boys are hard. Our sweet best friends were ‘boy parents’ until a year and a half ago when they had their third child (and first girl) and they told us a million times that boys are, well, boys. We didn’t listen to them.
  5. I’ve really come to appreciate grace in the past year. I’ve learned to give myself grace. I’m not perfect, though I try so hard to be the very best at anything I accomplish.

So, there you go. Thirty-five very random facts about me and who I am to kickstart my 35th birthday. It’s been a beautiful year with all kinds of great moments and not-so-great moments, and I cannot wait to see what 35 has to bring my way! Cheers to the freakin’ weekend, loves!

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Fun and Flirtatious Date Night Look

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{ Greylin Red Artemis Jumpsuit $30 Rent the Runway – I’m wearing an XS and it fits perfectly }

{ Christian Louboutin So Kate Pumps }

{ Kate Spade Bow Clutch – old but I like this one, too }

{ Givenchy Sunglasses }

 

Happy Thursday, loves!

Friday is just around the corner, and I thought this might be an appropriate time to share my new favorite date night ensemble from Rent the Runway. Since it’s my birthday month, RTR sent over a $30 gift card to use on any rental this month. I decided I was going to step outside of my usual comfort zone of timeless classics and find something a little more flirty and fun for date night.

This week has been all things hectic. I have been volunteering all day, every day at our girls’ school at the Book Fair (all our board members spend the entire week at the school working the book fair like this because #teamwork) taking our kids to and from cheer and tumbling, hosting extra kiddos at home, and dealing with Safety Patrol meetings and such. It’s my #momlife situation all the time.

The jeans and tee shirt mom life is definitely one I enjoy, but at the very core of my being I just need all things fancy and fabulous (hey, I didn’t earn the nickname Fancy Pants for nothin’). Last Friday night we had date night/birthday dinner with our best friends. Every time we have one of these nights, it consists of too much food, too much wine, and hours and hours at a table laughing hysterically at just about everything.

Basically, it means I take all form-fitting ensembles off the table. Literally, because I will eat everything in front of me. As I was thinking of what I’d wear on date night, I thought I’d try something different. That’s what I love so much about Rent the Runway. I can try new things, new styles, and new looks that I’m not sure are really me – and if I hate it, I can send it right back and get something else or simply take a credit. Since I had my birthday credit, I figured I’d really try something new. That’s when I decided I’d go for this amazing red jumpsuit.

Typically, I’m a DVF wrap dress and stilettos kind of gal, and jumpsuits don’t find their way into my closet. I’m petite, so length is always an issue. This one, however, was so much fun. With the fun cut-outs in the front, back, and on the sides, I felt just a little bit daring. The bold red is my favorite, and I cannot tell you how many compliments I received that night. Everyone and their mother loved it (even my mom liked it – which almost made me change my clothes before we left!). If you’re looking for something fun and flirty, this is it.

Quick, Healthy Pizza With CauliPower!

Happy Friday, loves!

This week flew by! Perhaps it was being gone all last weekend, or maybe it was our daughter’s Safety Patrol Induction ceremony and all that went into planning that (hey, surprise! I’m on the Safety Patrol committee….because what committee am I *not* on? Oh, none, that’s the one I’m not on), or perhaps it’s just because it was a four-day week. I don’t know, but it flew by!

Last week I was fortunate enough to do a campaign with CauliPower, which is an amazing cauliflower pizza crust. We love pizza in our house, but we are huge fans of taking our favorite foods and turning them into healthier options. When the amazing people from CauliPower reached out to me, I was all in to try their amazing crust and shoot this campaign (which is a hilariously funny story I’ll get to in a moment).

Craig and I are big fans of food. We like to consider ourselves foodies. We love to try the most amazing restaurants in the most amazing cities, and we love to cook. I’m not great at it, but he is – and we’re an amazing team. Because we are very health conscious (because metabolism and good genes alone aren’t enough once you hit those mid-30s my friends), we always find a way to make our favorite meals healthier. Since we love pizza, we always look for a cauliflower crust, and we always choose healthy toppings.

This campaign was fun. I received the product on Monday night, the campaign was due Thursday morning, but I wasn’t home Tuesday because of a PTA meeting and a Safety Patrol meeting. We didn’t have time to shoot until Wednesday night – a night all the kids are home, we had guests, and it was POURING rain. The sky was black. Like the night.

Our house is usually amazing for shooting my campaigns because we have so much natural light. We like to say our house is made of glass, and it kind of is. It’s amazing how much beautiful light we have, and we like our furniture and décor to be light and bright, too. Except that it was dark. It was so dark because it was pouring. The rain was insane. The thunder and lighting were insane. Our power went out several times while we tried to shoot. It was so dark, and it made our light, bright kitchen look like a dark, closed off kitchen.

The recessed lights didn’t do any justice. I set the fire alarm off cooking chicken sausage. The kids were terrified of the smoke and the storm. My gorgeous lifestyle shot was not gorgeous. And I drank all the wine.

The pizza, though, was spectacular.

So, I thought I’d share the recipe with you.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 cauliflower pizza crust

1 red onion

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Arugula

1 red bell pepper

Salt and pepper

EVOO

3 pieces chicken sausage

 

All you need to do is cook your sausage completely and cut it into small bites. Next, cover your pizza crust with arugula. Slice your bell pepper and add slices to the pepper, add mozzarella cheese, sliced red onion, and then top it with your sausage, and sprinkle a little bit of EVOO on top before adding salt and pepper (I totally borrowed this recipe from my friend, Veronyca Poupard, follow her here on Instagram for more health and fitness tips). Bake it for approximately 10 minutes at 425 degrees, and then enjoy.

I like to pair this healthy pizza with a glass of dry red wine – and you might, too.

Enjoy!

Fall Favorites for the Home

Happy fall, y’all!

I know, I know. It’s not officially fall until September 22 (right?), but it’s officially official in my house effective September 1. If there’s college football on television, it’s fall. I mean, it’s never actually fall in Florida, but there are faux pumpkins on my mantel, so it’s fall.

I can justify just about anything in my life, for real. It’s amazing how I can magically believe that any day now  – as of September 1 – I can look at my weather app and the 15-day forecast and expect that at any not fall, and that’s what the weather says for the next 15 days every single day that I check it. But, really, any day now. I just know it.

It’s officially September, which is the first official month of the most exciting and wonderful time of the year for me. This is the time of year I live for, and I cannot even hide my excitement. There’s so much excitement in our house this time of year, and I love it. It’s my birthday month (hey, 35). It’s college football (Go Gators). It’s fall (I know, I know). It’s everything I love the most about the year.

We just spent the weekend on a little vacation to a place we’ve never been. We’ve been Floridians our entire lives, but we always prefer to spend our vacation time out of the state seeing the world rather than traveling our own state, but we tried West Palm Beach for the weekend. Let me tell you about the love I have for Palm Beach right now. The moment we drove over the bridge onto Palm Beach Island, I fell in love. The amazingly gorgeous homes with so much character and all the flowers growing up the walls. The beautiful Breakers resort. Worth Avenue. I felt right at home driving along the coast without any touristy stuff blocking our view of the ocean or high-rise buildings in the way of the gorgeous landscape. And all my favorite stores on one street is one way to put a smile on my face.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Palm Beach, and we’re already thinking about another trip – because I am dying to stay at the Brazilian Court Hotel now – but the entire time we were there spending the weekend with our littles, I was kind of sad about missing my annual fall decorating on September 1. Putting it off until the third made me a little sad. Like, I lost two whole days of fall.

Thankfully, the time passed, we came home, and my house now looks like fall. I’m just waiting on my weather app to get with the program.

On that note, I want to share my fall must-haves with you. There are certain things I cannot go without every year in my home, and I know you’ll love them as much as I do.

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Fall Scents

I love Bath & Body Works candles. I am a sucker for their fall fragrances. The one, this one, and this one are my favorites. I prefer the single-wick candles for smaller rooms such as bathrooms and hallways, and the 3-wick versions for the kitchen and living areas of the house. There is a good reason for this; the single-wick candles don’t put off nearly as much scent as the 3-wick candles, and our main area needs a 3-wick or we just don’t smell it. The space is too large for one small candle, so I highly recommend you get the 3-wicks if you have a large space to freshen.

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Fall Soaps

Okay, I know – but I really don’t love the soaps in any of our bathrooms or our kitchen to smell like the wrong time of year. I change out the soaps every season, and I always use the B&BW foaming hand soap. It’s my favorite, and these are our favorite scents here, here, and here.

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Flameless Glitter Candles

These flameless candles are my favorite. I haven’t bought them in silver yet, but I think I’m going to for Christmas this year. I bought gold ones and green ones years ago, and I love them this time of year. They really do make a statement that’s still elegant enough to not feel tacky during the fall season. They make great accents on the table where you might not want an open flame because of little hands or the passing of plates.

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White Pumpkins

Over the past four years, I’ve gradually found myself falling more and more in love with all things white. Perhaps it’s this house. It’s so farmhouse-like, and I love how white, bright, and open it is. It’s a dream, and I recently realized that I’ve removed all the colored pumpkins and other décor from my life in favor of white pumpkins. These are some of my favorite, and I know you’ll love them. They’re sophisticated and fun, but they’re still seasonally appropriate.

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Thankful Wood Sign

This is probably my favorite piece. I have it on the mantel in our family room. It’s where we spend the most time in our house since it’s right off the kitchen, and it’s where we have the most beautiful natural light come through from all the doors and windows. It’s my favorite room in the house, and I love that we have this constant reminder to be thankful. To quote Pinterest, “There are so many beautiful reasons to be grateful,” and I cannot agree more. We live a life filled with abundance; we have the most spectacularly beautiful people in our lives, a house filled with laughter (and some yelling…but a lot more laughter), and happy hearts. We are thankful for this life we lead with our God leading the way for us, and we love the reminder.