Self-Care Sundays

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Through the craziness of the work week and time spent with family and friends, it is easy to just rush into the next week without batting an eye.

The older I get, the more I realize how crucial it is for me to carve out time to myself.  Self-care used to be plentiful.  But now, as a wife and a mom, my me time isn’t always mine anymore.  There’s not much I would change about that, though! 😉 But, in order to do my best in all of the roles I play in life, I make an effort to relax and recharge over the weekend.

Whether it is all rolled into one, beautiful Self-Care Sunday session, or it is taken as a few 10 minute increments throughout the week, make it a habit to recharge.

Here are a few ways to start:

Skin

Normally I wash my face with hand soap.  I have been doing so ever since I can remember and I have been fortunate that my skin is not problematic.  It kinda puts up with whatever I put it through.  (I’ll wait while you roll your eyes.)  A few times a week, though, I like to treat my face with something special.  After I do, I always feel like my face is more fresh and bright.  Here are some of my favorite pampering products:

Visanti Brighten Up!vasanti

A little bit of this stuff goes a long way!  It has a very sandy, gritty texture and I just can’t get enough of it.  Exfoliation!  Yaaaas! I squirt a bit out onto my fingertip and dot it around my face, then I take a little water and lather it up all over my face and jawline until my little heart’s content.  After rinsing it off, my face feels amazingly soft and I can almost see my pores exhaling little sighs of joy and contentment. Almost.

Deep Sea mask

mask
There’s something about the thick, clay texture that makes me feel like I’m lounging at a luxurious spa when I’m only really bent over the bathroom sink.

I love the balancing effect this mask has.  Whether my skin is seeming a little oily (summer time) or extremely dry and flaky (middle of winter), wearing this clay mask for 10-15 minutes a week seems to even out my complexion.

 

Derma Roller  
rollerI’m new to the Derma Rolling world, but after my first treatment, I was already hooked.  If you’ve never heard of a Derma Roller, no worries, let me fill you in.  The rolling device is full of tiny needles that help with a variety of skin issues when used regularly.  I use a 1.0mm needle which helps for most conditions, but there are many varying lengths that you can check out here.  Generally you’ll want to stick to .5mm or 1.0mm, go any higher and you should to consult a professional first.

I first tried the Derma Roller on my face.  Yes.  Needles.  On my face.  Think of it like acupuncture..sort of.. 😛  I won’t lie to you here: it is not comfortable.  However, I don’t think it is uncomfortable either.  It feels just like you think it would: tiny little pin-pricks rolling across the surface of your face.  But, because of the rolling motion, it also gives a tingly sensation that takes away from any discomfort the needles bring on.

After rolling the device in all directions across my face, I put on an Aloe mask that came face.jpgwith my Derma Roller kit.  I had never tried a mask like this, but like the Derma Roller, I. Am. Hooked.  The mask is so silky and cooling, and after taking it off my face just radiated.  What?  Did she really just say her face radiated?  Yes, I know, it isn’t like me to be this giddy about skincare.  Honestly though, after one Derma Roller treatment, I saw a noticeable difference.  Be cautioned, though: the Derma Roller should be used lightly, and never turned on side to side on your skin or you risk tiny tears in your skin’s surface.  Additionally, do not wear any makeup, lotion, or sunscreen for the following 24 hours after using the Derma Roller.

Because of the effects the Derma Roller had on my face, I decided to give it a try on my stomach.  The Derma Roller claims to help the appearance of stretchmarks, so I thought: well, it can’t make my stretchmarks worse!!  I took a before picture (which I will keep to myself for now), and I’m only a two treatments in, so I don’t have final results to mesmerize you with, but I will say that, similar to my face, the skin on my stomach seems a lot softer, so I have high hopes that things in that region will smooth out even more!
derma

I got my Derma Roller from http://www.dermarollersystem.com/  so head there to read more about the product if you are new to it, or ask me any questions in the comments section here.

 

Hair

My skin treats me pretty well, but my hair, I’m convinced is out to get me.  I used to love it’s texture before I had my daughter, but post pregnancy, I just seem to get more and more frustrated by it.  And, pregnancy was almost four years ago, so you can imagine my grief!  Aside from just chopping it off a couple times over the past several years, I have decided to make a commitment to my hair by giving it some extra love on the weekends.

Dry Shampoo

I feel so gross if I don’t wash my hair.  For whatever reason, I just get so nervous about greasy hair.  Any expert would tell you, however; washing your hair just a couple times a week is plenty.  Say whaaaat?

Marie Claire and many other women’s magazines explain that washing too often can strip hair of its natural oils and moisture. And, maybe that is my problem.  Though I frequently wash my hair because I worry that it is too oily, what it really becomes is dry, frizzy, and full of tangles.

I decided to relax on all the washing in the past couple of years, and it has proven that my hair can, indeed, last longer than a day without getting too greasy.  In order to reassure myself though, I always use “dry shampoo.”  When I say “dry shampoo” I really mean baby powder!  Seriously, this stuff is great.  I put a little on my palm and rub all around my hairline, and then a little more on the top of my scalp where I part my hair.  It’s important to really scrub and rub it in so that your hair doesn’t look powdery.  What I love even more than the de-greasing effect is the added volume.  Adding powder to my hair is one of the only surefire ways I’ve found to pump up my hair’s volume and make it last all day.

Some people purchase dry shampoo, but you really don’t need to.  Baby powder is an easy option, but if you want to step it up slightly without overspending on actual dry shampoo, try my sister’s recipe and make your own:

recipe

Leave-in Conditioner

Just before a shower on Sunday night, I try my best to remember to apply leave-in conditioner.  I load the stuff on my hair, kneading it around until every strand is saturated, and then I clip it up in a bun and forget about it for a half hour or so.

I shower as usual and then after my hair is dry and styled, I just smile and nod to myself as I gaze at my majestic hair in the mirror.  Just kidding.  But after a leave-in conditioner application, my hair-game is really amped-up for the next week or two.  The ends are soft instead of dry and brittle; no static in sight–even in the dead of winter; and my hair is so much more voluminous.

Pictured here are my two favorites-but, I admit, I haven’t tried a wide variety of brands of leave-in conditioners, so if you have a favorite other than these two-leave me a note in the comments!

Body

Most times I feel like sleep and rest are the things my body needs most, but if I really think about it, that isn’t really the case.  If I’m being honest, my body feels the best when I put it to work!  Getting in an intense workout leaves me feeling fabulous.  Instead of just resting my body and forgetting about it when I do slow down, there are a couple of self-care techniques I use to

Nail Care

This school year has been pretty dull in terms of my fingernails.  I think I’ve done them twice… (maybe?) since August.  The easiest route for me is always Jamberry.  Nail wraps just last so much longer than anything else.  If I paint my fingernails, my polish chips by the end of the day-no joke- I’ve tried all types of brands and finishes, and that statement still stands.  I think I wash my hands too much or something.  Not that I’m OCD about anything… really.. 🙂 augustnail

However, a 10 minute Jamberry application leads me to not think about my nails’ appearance for at least 10 days.  There’s also no dry time like there is for regular polish, which is something that every mama will appreciate.

Toenails are a whole different story.  I’ve done many Jamberry applications on them as well-which is great because those applications last for 4+ weeks-but, there is nothing like a good salon pedicure.  I try and treat myself to a couple pedicures a year, but if I had the extra cash, I’d go every week.  They. Are. Heavenly.

Not only does polish usually last longer on your toes, (and when done at a salon it could last up to 3 months if you let it-not that I have of course 😉 ) but you also get an hour or so away from all the stresses in your life, a fabulous foot and calf massage, and just a generally more optimistic view of life when you leave a salon after a pedicure.  Being the start of sandal season, Mother’s Day is a perfect time for a gift certificate to a nail salon – so start dropping hints to your hubby now!

Muscles
 During the workweek I try to get in several sweat sessions.  A lengthy neighborhood walk, a little Zumba, or weight training in the basement are all great ways to make me feel better physically and mentally.  After a workout, I stretch for a few minutes, but when crunched for time I always fit in more heart-pumping moves as opposed to a lengthy bout of deep stretches.

I know better.  Stretching your muscles is so, super important!  I’m working on allotting more time to stretch during the week, but on weekends I always leave my ‘crunched for time’ excuse at the door.   Fitness Magazine notes that each static stretch should be held for about 30 seconds.  Much less than that, and you won’t be
lengthening your muscle fibers.  After a workout during the week I pick a stretch or two for each muscle group I worked and I leave it at that.  During the weekends, though, I try and pick several stretches for all parts of my body and I really focus in on relaxing and breathing through each stretch.

Another great way to help muscle performance is by incorporating dynamic stretching into your fitness routine.  Dynamic stretches are typically done before a workout whereas static stretches (the kind mentioned in the previous two paragraphs) are performed after a workout as a cool-down.   Focused on warming up the muscles, dynamic stretching uses a rhythmic movement that you perform several times until your body starts to loosen up. Runner’s World outlines a great dynamic stretching routine, and if you’re not a runner-have no fear- dynamic stretching can work for anyone.

No matter which type of stretching you go for, the even better part of building in some extra time to give your muscles attention comes with the foam roller.  After a heart-pounding, sweat-inducing workout, rolling out my muscles is the most indulgent treatment I can give them at home.

There are several varieties of foam rollers; softer, firmer, ridged, etc.  Once your muscles loosen up, and you no longer feel any discomfort from rolling, you can advance to a firmer roller. But, at the beginning, just go for something average, like the one pictured above.

Whoa. Back up.  Did she say “when you no longer feel any discomfort?” Foam rolling will bring discomfort?

Yes.  It might even be pretty painful at first.  Do your best to just roll with it. (See what I did there? 😛 )  The pain comes from muscle tightness, to put it simply.  And, with more rolling, that tightness slowly goes away.  foam-roller-exercises1

Check out the images on the right for guidance.  Hit one of these poses on your foam roller, and start rolling side to side until you span the entire length of the muscle you’re trying to target.  You can also rotate the joints in play to hit your muscles at all angles.  Another great reason to have a foam roller around the house is that it helps rehabilitate strained or injured muscles as well.  After a Sunday night foam rolling session, I feel totally relaxed and ready to face another workweek.

Mind

If I address no other area of self-care during the weekend, I always make sure that I cleanse my mind so that I can begin the upcoming week organized and relaxed.  I’ve found that getting my mind right is the most important when it comes to self-care.  When crunched for time, other areas may slip away, but I always always always make sure to do something for my mind.

Organize

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished around the house than organization.  It could be straightening out my pantry, going through old clothes and forming a ‘donation pile,’ creating new boards on Pinterest, or meal-prepping for the week.  I love it all!

Last week I was in a teensy bit of denial that the weekend was coming to a close, and I didn’t organize myself at all for the week.  Let me just say: Never again!  I felt lost each day scrambling to make lunches and staring at piles of dirty laundry.

Two of my favorite ways to organize the food in our house are making freezer meals, and portioning out fruits, veggies, and breakfasts.  Most of my freezer meal recipes come from this website.  With so much variety and printable recipes and shopping lists, it makes freezer meal prep so simple.

I make a batch of freezer meals about every three months.  After shopping early on a Saturday morning, I fill my counter with all ingredients, and I just gooooo!  I prep 10-20 meals at a time depending on the amount of space in my freezer, and it usually takes me about two hours.  Then, during the week, I pull out a meal that I want to use the next day and place it in the fridge.  In the morning, I put it in the Crock Pot and don’t think about it again until it’s dinner time that night.  We usually eat 1-3 freezer meals a week, and if we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t eat!  Just kidding of course, but they are just so easy, why would I do anything else?

Something I do every Sunday is portion out fruits, veggies, and breakfasts.  I find that if all the healthy stuff is washed, and ready to go in containers there is really no excuse not to eat it.  We also don’t eat breakfast at home most of the time, so if that is taken care of before the morning of, it also saves a ton of hassle.  Whatever the type of organization you are into, completing it over the weekend is ideal.

Unwind

Did someone say adult coloring book?  Why, no, I didn’t.  But this is close.

I bought a planner like this one at the beginning of the school year, and I can’t get enough.  It combines my need for organization (like I mentioned above) with my need to unwind.  Every week there is a new page to color and I indulge in this relaxing pastime after a long day at work, or when I’m crabby and need to just zone out, or as a way of spending time with my daughter when she wants to color in her own coloring books.

Another unwinding activity I’ve gotten into recently is Sudoku puzzle books.  I feel kind of like a granny admitting to this hobby of mine, but I really enjoy the challenge that puzzle books bring.  A lot of times I feel stuck on my phone or the computer because, let’s face it, everything is tied to technology these days.  Even my Bible reading is accompanied by an app.  (Okay, it doesn’t have to be that way, but it helps me feel organized….)

For Christmas I asked for a puzzle book because I just wanted to get away from technology a bit and have a paper and pencil kind of thing to do.  Turns out, I really enjoy it.  I feel like I’m ‘keeping my mind young’ as those grannys probably claim as well, and I also find my puzzle book relaxing after a busy week.

Rest

The best for last.  Rest is the easiest and probably most important self-care routine.

The advice you are given after having a baby: Nap when the baby naps.  I don’t know about you, but I barely could give into this.  I always felt guilty; how would the dishes get washed if I was napping? But, I’m telling you now, just nap. Go to bed early.  Turn on a 1/2 hour cartoon for the kiddos, and shut your eyes for those 30 minutes.

For whatever reason, on Saturday night I get wild.  Around 10 p.m. I get this burst of energy and I just want to clean, and organize, and write, and dance, and eat, etc., etc., etc.!  And, as tempting as it is to stay up late and get everything accomplished, instead I make myself a list of all that is spinning around in my head and tell myself, “But first, sleep.”

There has never been a Sunday morning that I have regretted going to bed instead of staying up and giving in to my wild streak. 😉


I hope after reading through my ramblings, you find some inspiration to take with you and create your own self-care routine.

If you’re unsure of how to begin, I have created a free printable with an easy way to start a self-care routine that fits your life.  You can devote one weekend a month to each area of self-care and then start again the next month, tweaking activities as needed.

Get the free printable here — selfcareblue

selfcare-border1

Black-Eyed Peas and Other Resolutions

No. No recipe here for black-eyed peas.

More of a recipe for the new year…

 

I get giddy about January.  I love the thought of a fresh start, goals to strive for, and opportunities that await.

I’ll admit, some years I am discouraged.  Only human, I hope to achieve this or that and end up in a complete opposite space by January 3rd.

This year I was a little bit slow to make my list of resolutions.  I was {and still am (and probably always will be)} a bit unsure of where life is going.  As December slid out of my hands, I was lackluster when I considered the future.

It has always been in these times of waiting and drifting that I learn and grow the most.  But even as unconcerned as I tell myself that I am, because I know something golden will come out of this season of life, the planner and dreamer parts of me are running haywire.

I once heard the perfect analogy for my life.  Coincidentally, this piece of enlightenment came to me in one of my life’s many waiting and drifting periods.

“Be like a duck.” — Staying calm on the surface but paddling frantically underneath.

beaduck

This can mean many things to different people, but it always seems to cycle through my mind when I’m more or less “stuck.” Trying to keep my demeanor in check when really my questioning and anxiety are out of control on the inside.  The duck idea comes up other places in my life too.  I tend to want a lot of projects on my plate at once, making me, again, strive to appear cool and collected when really I bit off more than I could chew.

January 1st knocked on my door, and I still didn’t have any resolutions to hand over. What is wrong with me this year? I wondered.

I sat down on the couch with a notebook, a computer, and a pen and tried to plan.  Tried to dream up some vision or goal or hope or intention for 2017.  I visited some websites with lists of ideas for the new year, you know the kind: “Get Organized in 60 Days” and “A Workout Plan That Won’t Feel Like Work.”  Normally these would be super appealing to me, but instead, I just kept scrolling.

Suddenly, on the screen in front of me I saw it– black-eyed peas.  

Gross.  If I search my mind, I cannot uncover a memory of tasting black-eyed peas ever in my life, but I have..right?  And they’re gross..right?  I mean some people like them, sure, if they have just always grown up eating them.  If you’ve had something since childhood, then yeah, you’d have to just like it.  But otherwise? Gross.

2017 just clicked.  I DON’T KNOW WHAT BLACK-EYED PEAS TASTE LIKE!!  Why don’t I know?  What else of life am I missing?  And why am I not out there?  Doing and trying and tasting and knowing?

The stars are aligning as I write this, so-to-speak.  As 2016 dwindled down, I had been praying for God to make me bolder.  Not only in my faith, but also in life.  And with this black-eyed-pea-epiphany (or, e-pea-phany if you will 😛 ), 2017 has been given direction.

I don’t know what opportunities will arise, but I will take them.

I don’t know what surprises are around the corner, but I will happily greet them.

I don’t know what foods will present themselves in front of me, but I will taste them.

I don’t know what sorrows I will face, but I will accept them.

I don’t know what lessons will be taught, but I will be sure to apply them.

I don’t know where God will lead, but I will follow Him.

I don’t know where life is going, but I will stay calm as I paddle like hell to keep up.

 

 

10 Things That Should Be On Your Summer Bucket List

With a heavy heart, I have to admit that summer is winding down.  July will be running on fumes by the end of next week, and once August hits, school will be back in session before we know it.

For the past several summers, I have made a “Summer Bucket List” in which I list all the places I want to go, chores I need to accomplish, people I should catch up with, projects I hope to try, etc.  While cleaning the other day, I found these lists from the last two summers.  I lovingly gazed through the items on each list and my mind filled with fond memories of the summers that once were.

This year, I did not make a formal list, but I scribbled down a few intentions of mine (one being to start this blog-check!) With the end of my summer vacation in sight, I decided to come up with a condensed version of my summer bucket list to help make the most out of these next several weeks.

10 Ways to Squeeze the Last Bit of Life Out of Your Summer

Get Outside – This one should be obvious- there are SO many fun activities to do outdoors during the summer.  Sand volleyball, a walk to the park, bicycling, rollerblading, sun-tanning, gardening-whatever you’re into, do it outside!

Get Wet – Another obvious one; it’s 90 degrees!  Find some water!  I don’t know if we’ll make it to the lake this year, but our family is all about spending time at the Splash pad. We have found a few of these local spray parks, but if all else fails, you can just hook up a sprinkler in the back yard.  Here’s another fun activity for the kids that we tried earlier this summer.  Fill containers with water, add food coloring, and hand out spoons and cups and let your kiddos pour, scoop, mix colors, and explore!13256580_922249897883440_1853070564_n

Get Together – I have a running list of people in my head who I don’t see often enough during the school year, or that I know I need to make more time for, and my summer break is a wonderful opportunity to play catch-up.  In such a fast-paced world, we have to make extra effort to plan out time to see everyone.  I try to keep balanced and schedule with people in these categories: time for family, play-dates for my daughter, girl-time with my close friends, and date (or double date) nights for my husband and I.

Get Away – What? A vacation is not in the budget? I feel ya.  But getting away doesn’t mean you have to go far.  Explore somewhere that you’ve never been before.  Experiencing something new and out of the ordinary helps you feel recharged and refreshed as opposed to going through the same motions everyday.  Check out a new hiking trail, park, or beach (Free).  Try out a children’s museum; the zoo; a local winery ($).  Travel to a state park, enjoy a concert, stay overnight at a spa in the city ($$) Whatever your budget, you have options!

Get Cooking – This is my fave.  (Maybe I should also create a summer bucket list just for cooking?! 😀 ) I cook no matter what, but the freedom of summer allows the time to cook more complicated dishes as well as breakfast and lunch options; whereas, during the school year, I’m typically just making dinners as fast as humanly possible (or not making dinner at all – don’t ask my husband about this one).  One thing I wanted to start this summer is a Sunday brunch.  Go to the early service at church, get home, and create a series of culinary masterpieces which fit in the breakfast and lunch categories. It hasn’t happened yet, but last Sunday I made a few pancakes..So by the end of summer, I should be able to get this mini-tradition together.

Get Eating – Well, if you cook, you’re going to eat what you make, I would think.  But, what I mean here is something a little different.  Try a new restaurant in town, invite friends over to enjoy a meal together, pack a picnic and dine amidst nature. My hubby and I have decided to visit the restaurant we used to frequent in college on our next date night, and our family is going to venture out for a picnic before summer ends.

Get Reading – I try hard to “read for pleasure” during the school year, but with (close to a million…okay maybe not quite that many) papers to grade, among other job-related literature I have to keep up with, it can be hard to find the time.  Extra free time in the summer months is perfect to check out a new best seller, a magazine that peaks your interest, or subscribe to a blog that you can’t get enough of.  Curl up with your new read in a lawn chair and ahhhh…life is good.

Get Creative – One way I get my creative juices flowing is writing for this blog, but creativity comes in all fashions.  Cooking, painting, building, playing, dancing, designing, whatever you are gifted with-go for it!  Set a day or two aside to explore your interests.

Get Cleaning – This item probably wouldn’t make your bucket list, so I made sure to put it on there for you. 😉 Besides the normal vacuuming and toilet scrubbing, it is nice to get some deeper cleaning accomplished.  I am good at coming up with organization projects, but not so great at executing them.  I’m sure you have piles of stuff on your counters and in corners of your house that need a forever home, but if you have trouble deciding which dust bunnies to escort to the garbage first, check out this handy cleaning checklist  I have pinned here.  And, if you want to enlist the help of your children, try the age appropriate chore chart pinned here.

Get In The Zone – By this, I mean the relaxation zone.  After all, it is summer.  There is a lot to be said about saying “No” and deciding not to over schedule yourself or your family.  Take the time to just be.

There you have it!  (Or if you like a more visual format check below.) Take what you need and add your own ideas and saturate the rest of this summer with memories.

Summer Bucket List

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?  Leave me a comment below!