Friday, September 25, 2015

In vs. Out Link Up

Happy Friday!! I'm super excited to be linking up with the lovely Allison of Because I Said So for today's post. She has a great post every week where she discusses a few things that are "in" in her life, as well as those that are "out". Since I do not do this every week, I thought I'd share a few in's and out's of the whole month of September! I hope you enjoy, and head over to her site to join the link up!

The official start of Fall. Growing up in Georgia, I didn't get to experience too much of what fall truly is about- mainly the gorgeous scenery! Virginia is absolutely breathtaking during this time of the year and I'm really thankful to have been given the opportunity to experience a true fall!

Visiting Family. I started out the beginning of the month by spending Labor Day in Tennessee with my family and came back refreshed. It shouldn't take a trip to remind me, but I'm extremely blessed!

New Music. This weekend will be spent at the Landmark Music Festival, and I couldn't be more excited! I'm an avid country fan, but I've been spending the last few weeks listening to some of the artists I will hopefully catch- and I haven't hated it!

Twitter Chats. Y'all, I may have created a monster. I totally LOVE attending Twitter chats now! I've really enjoyed getting to know new people through them, and the discussions are invigorating to me. A few favorites are #CreateLounge, #TipsyChat, and #CreativeCoffeeHour.

Project Runway. I have no idea where I've been, but this show is fantastic! I got sucked into a marathon yesterday and can't wait to fill in the gaps of what I've missed. I have never been a sewer, sans high school home ec, but this really gets my creative juices pumping!

Insomnia. I have had a terrible time sleeping this month. I don't take prescription sleep medication and will occasionally use OTC, but I refuse to do it for a long period of time. I've tried lavender essential oil, chamomile tea, and exercise.. nothing is consistently helping. Yuck.

Hotel Pillows. I've been in a hotel at least one night a week for the past month and I am O-V-E-R the flatness of the pillows! It's almost like they aren't there.

Eye-area Wrinkles. Need I say more?

Papercuts. How this keeps happening, I'm not sure. But I feel as though I'm consistently rocking a cut at all times. Hello, bandaids!

Negativity. I've harbored and been surrounded by a ton of negativity lately- which is so not my jam. Typically I'm an optimistic person, so I would love to shake this cloud of negative thoughts and get back to finding the silver lining. Here's hoping!


In case you've missed them, here were my favorite posts in the month of September:

How to Save Money in your 20s
My First Outfit Post (!!!)
Tips for Long Distance Friendships
How to Appear Confident (even when you don't feel it!)

What are your ins and outs for the month? What was your favorite post from September?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Easy Sauteed Kale for One

Hey y'all! Happy first day of Fall! I can hardly believe that it's official! It definitely has been feeling more like fall this week, with the highs slipping down below 80. I'm wondering if we'll get one more bump of warmth, but it seems as though fall is here to stay! Hallelujah! I just wish we could hit pause and stay here, but I know that harsh winter weather is lurking in the not-so-distant future.

I'm a huge fan (as you can see through my previous recipe posts) of creating meals that don't result in an excessive amount of left overs. I don't like to waste food, but I also don't like to eat the same thing 4 nights in a row to avoid trashing my extra servings. It can be so difficult to shrink down some of the recipes that I want to try! I run into all sorts of problems. To name a few- small amounts required of expensive ingredients, difficult to decipher divisions of measurements, or rounding missteps that still leave me with too much food. Additionally, I like to eat healthy and that limits my current recipe list even further!

If you are in the same boat as me, I'm happy to share a quick and healthy side dish edited down for one person. This is my go-to choice for hot veggies these days. I'm a huge kale junkie and love to find new ways to enjoy this superfood! This recipe makes a generous portion, and reflects the measurements that I use to serve myself kale as a single side alongside or as a bed to a main dish. I love garlic, but if you wanted a more breath-friendly meal I'm sure you could rock this recipe without it. Check out my easy recipe for sauteed kale for one!

Easy Sauteed Kale for One
easy sauteed kale for one

Easy Sauteed Kale for One

2-3 loosely packed cups of kale, stems removed and washed
1 clove of garlic, minced or finely diced
2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds-1 minute.
2. Add in to kale to the skillet in portions, I do it one cup at a time. As the leaves wilt, add additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil and remaining kale. Stir every so often to help all of the kale touch the pan. Cook until tender.
3. Once cooked, add in salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately alongside your favorite main dish!

Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Appear Confident (even when you don't feel it!)

Happy Monday! I can't believe we're starting another week, time is flying by so fast for me these days! This week represents a big one- I have hugely important event happening for work this morning (prayers appreciated!), I'll be traveling tomorrow, Wednesday is the first day of Fall, and I'm attending the Landmark Music Festival all next weekend. To make things crazier, I'm in the midst of my busy season for work so I have a lot to do to make sure everything is squared away. I love to be organized, it gives me a sense of calmness that I have yet to find another way. Additionally, when I feel like everything is under control in a certain area of my life, I'm able to focus my energy elsewhere. But I'm human, and unfortunately I forget to cross certain t's and dot certain i's. It usually happens at the worst time possible- and the realization of those missteps leads to panic. Thankfully, I have learned a few ways to put my best foot forward and fake confidence on the outside even when I feel like I'm falling apart on the inside. I wanted to share a couple with y'all today!

Take a deep breath and focus. Whether I'm about to give a presentation to colleagues or walk into a meeting with an important customer, re-centering my thoughts is the way to go. Placing all focus into the task at hand- and squashing the temptation to worry about something completely unrelated- helps channel your energy towards rocking your task!

Stand up straight. Posture, specifically poor posture, can totally set the tone for how you are perceived before you even open your mouth. Standing with your feet shoulder's width apart and planted (read: not shifting your weight side-to-side), keeping a micro-bend in your knees so they don't lock, and rolling your shoulders back shows anyone who's watching that you have things under control. Be mindful of your hands and do your best not to fidget!

Smile. Having a bright, confident smile on your face does more than a million reassuring words! Think of something that makes you genuinely happy and it will show. This allows you to appear relaxed and ready to take on what's in front of you!

Wear a power outfit. That statement means different things to different people. To me, a power outfit would consist of clothing that makes me feel comfortable yet look polished. I don't want to be worried about straps sliding down or hemlines riding up! My power outfit is typically a pencil skirt with a loose-fitting sleeved blouse tucked in, and my favorite black heels. Honestly, it could be anything that gives you that extra "oomph" when you need it!

Speak slowly. I don't know about y'all, but when I'm nervous or excited I tend to talk at a rate that's easily 2x that of my normal language. Combating this takes conscious effort but truly helps to come across cool, calm, and collected! I try to intentionally pick my words and make sure that I'm articulating my thoughts in the best way. This keeps me from rushing ahead of myself in my mind and speaking too quickly.

While it doesn't seem like a ton of work, when used properly these tips have the ability to make a huge impact on how others perceive you! Next time you're in a pinch- I hope you remember a few of these and are able to implement them to project a little extra confidence. If you found these helpful, don't forget to pin this article to reference later!

What do you do to appear confident? Have you used any of these tips successfully?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fall 2015 Shoe Favorites

Happy Thursday!! Although the first day of fall isn't until next Wednesday, I'm in full force fall. All this week, we've had chilly mornings. Warm afternoons- but crisp, cool, lovely mornings. After doing some closet reorganization over the weekend, I have decided that I need some more fall shoes. Mainly, I'd like some more work-appropriate shoes. I try to wear heels most days, because they help me feel confident and dressed up, but a new pair of printed flats would also fill a gap with my current choices.

It's no secret that I love to shop, but I don't indulge as often as I'd like. Budgetary restrictions suck. My shoe collection could use some love and honestly I'd jump for joy to have any of the above join my shoe rack! Most of the selections above are perfect for fall and winter (aka closed toe so I can wear tights), which makes it more justifiable from a cost perspective for me. I mostly have black and nude work shoes. I think that's why I'm so attracted to the colored pairs above! Once I get a few more work appropriate pairs, I'll venture into the more casual arena... Helloooooo riding boots.

Until then, I'll just drool over these beauties!

Which is your favorite pair? Did I miss any fall must-have shoes?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Transitioning to Fall

Hello, hello! I hope your weekend was full of relaxation and rest. Mine sure was! I spent some time with a friend visiting from out of town on Friday and Saturday- always a favorite of mine! Unfortunately, we were puddle jumping through rain and steamy humidity on Saturday. That made the 70 degree weather we experienced on Sunday that much better. I did some much needed cleaning around my apartment and started to get things transitioned over for fall. I'm getting excited just talking about it!
Transitioning to Fall

After the Labor Day holiday, I switch gears into fall mode. I'm not a Pumpkin Spice Latte girl (gasp, don't send an angry mob my way!), but I fully embrace other aspects of this lovely time of year. I love the mild daytime temperatures, cool nights, and gorgeous scenery! In preparation, I made several little changes around my place that help me to transition to fall.
First, I packed up all of my whites. I am not one of those gals who continues with white clothing after Labor Day. It works for many, I know, but one of my ways to embrace the cooler weather is a seasonal color palette. There are SO many gorgeous colors that you can get back into that have been packed away all summer and to be perfectly honest, many of my whites aren't warm enough to be worn during the fall. Bye bye shorts, tank tops, and tissue tees. Hello sweaters, dark denim, and layering pieces!
That brings me to my second tweak for fall- rotating my cold weather items to the front of my closet. I have everything that I own with me up here and limited storage space, so I keep all seasons of my clothes in my closet. To make mornings easier, I just keep the current season's clothing front and center and rotate the off season clothing to the back. That way, I spend less times sifting through my things to find something weather-appropriate. Keeping my current season's clothing at the front also helps me identify what else I need to purchase. I keep to a pretty strict budget (you can read more about that here), so I keep a running list of things that I want to buy. That way, I don't spend on things I already have. It will start getting cold here soon and it takes over so quickly! I want to be ready!

While I was in my closet, I took inventory of my sweaters and shoes in preparation for fall shopping. There are so many cute trends this year and I am still trying to figure out which ones I'm actually going to embrace. Because I don't shop all that much, I mainly stick with more timeless pieces (aka the bigger, more costly items) and may get more trendy with my accessories.
Lastly, I made a quick stop at Bath and Body Works to pick up some fall-scented items. I don't normally do this last change but I love love love burning candles in my apartment. I typically opt for light and floral scents, not usually heavy or sweet/food scented candles. However I couldn't help myself this year. I picked up some Pumpkin Pie candles and fall hand soaps. I think they add the perfect touch and will be used frequently.
I just love the detailing on the lid!!
I'm linking up today's post with Tutu Tuesdays!

What have you done to get ready for fall? Do you have a staple item (candle, drink, etc) that just screams fall in your world?

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Current Beauty Wishlist

Happy Friday my lovelies! I hope you had a fantastic short week. Mine was so crazy and just flew by. Short weeks always have a way of going quickly and slowly at the same time for me! You still have 5 days-worth of work, but only 4 days to accomplish it. So naturally, I'm happy to get through today. I haven't done a beauty post in a little bit, so I wanted to share some items on my wishlist with y'all!

Current Beauty Wishlist

Volumizing Spray. I've yet to jump on the blow out bar trend, but I've heard fabulous things about Drybar's products. I have super thick hair, but I struggle with keeping volume up in the roots. A spray that adds volume and texture without being sticky is ideal, and this particular spray is designed to be long-lasting. As the dryer months of winter approach, I'll be straightening my hair more and want to pump up the volume!

Detangling Brush. I have breakage problems- thanks to heat styling, brutal brushes, and clips- and want to minimize that however I can. This brush sounds amazing! I really like the idea of a brush that can be used on wet hair that won't result in an alarming hairball afterwards.

Essie Frock and Roll. As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of at-home manicures and pedicures. I'm so excited to dive into fall nail colors and this has already caught my eye. It's like nothing that I already have!

Conditioning Hair Mask. I repeat- major breakage problems- so I need to do everything I can to preserve the texture of my hair. I'm just plain cruel to it. I've done at-home versions of deep conditioning hair masks, but I'd like something that smells nice. I don't currently use any Origins products but I've read wonderful things about it!

Dry Shampoo Paste. I received the aerosol version of this in my last Birchbox and am OBSESSED. The smell is fabulous and this stuff seriously works. I have never used the paste, but it's highly rated and is supposed to target the oil on your roots. I know some ladies use dry shampoo as a texturizer spray- but not me. If I'm pulling dry shampoo out, I need oil control! And why not try the latest and greatest?!

Angled Blush Brush. I have updated most of my make-up brushes in the past 2 years but have been using a particular blush brush for longer than I'd like to admit. It's had a good run, but I think it's over. The bristles are brittle and it irritates my face if I rub too forcefully. I'd love to try an angled one and I'm already a huge fan of Sephora brand brushes!

Have you used any of these products? What's on your beauty wishlist?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

5 Tips for Long Distance Friends

Hey y'all! I hope you had an excellent LDW! I'm always thankful for a long weekend and am just trying to get acclimated to working again. Yuck. My weekend was everything I had hoped it would be and reminds me why I can't wait to move back closer to my family. They're the best! Moving away was one of the best things that's happened to me from a growth perspective, but it has also caused strain in different areas that I hadn't planned for. Being so far from home has made many relationships different- not just those with my family.
friendship, long distance friendship
I honestly had a hard time dealing with being away from my friends at first. Not only did I miss them, but I harbored strange feelings towards them- feelings that I'm not proud to admit. I had this ugly surge of jealousy and loneliness when I saw photos of everyone hanging out without me. I knew that I wasn't there, so I shouldn't be upset to be excluded, but it still hurt. It took me many months to finally realize that I couldn't expect my friends to just put their lives on hold until I returned. I was the one who moved away- but they were all still together, in our city. That was hard for me. I think what made it most difficult for me is that I wasn't expecting anything to change. Our relationships would be different, but that didn't mean they'd be worse! Although it takes more effort, it is possible to have your friendships survive (and thrive!) through a long distance friendship. Here are 5 tips for long distance friends:

Understand that things will be different. You may not talk every single day or even every week, but truly good friendships are able to pick up right where you left off when you do talk again. Embrace the changes of your relationship and put effort into the time that you do get to spend together! Don't focus on the quantity of conversations, but rather the quality of your conversations. I think that acceptance is the first step to happiness with the changes you'll experience!

Schedule out Skype/FaceTime dates. Being able to see each other makes the conversation feel 100x more personal. Facial expressions and body language can be key to understanding what someone is saying. You truly miss out on an important factor if you restrict yourselves to phone/text/email conversations. It's also a fun thing to look forward to and helps me battle homesickness!

Stay connected with social media. While FaceTime conversations are awesome, you can't realistically have each and every conversation that way. Even if I haven't talked directly with a friend in a little bit, I love seeing what they are up to and chiming in on their Instagram/Twitter/Facebook postings. That's a great way to feel closer to them! Additionally, Snapchat makes for a fun platform to go back and forth- and can also let you see their lovely faces.

Send care packages! This is one of my favorite things. I can honestly think of few things that make me more excited than an unexpected package! There are so many opportunities to get creative and really show your friends how much they mean to you. A few months ago, I got a package with the most darling prints to hang up in my apartment after mentioning that I was having trouble finding the perfect wall decor. It was so touching and thoughtful that my sweet friend took the time to help me with something I brought up.

Plan getaways. Everyone loves (and deserves) a good vacation! And what is more fun than a weekend/week away with your besties? Not only does this give you something to look forward to, but it's a great opportunity to create new memories with your friends. Plus, it makes for a fun reason to plan and dream together!

How do you make your long distance friendships thrive? What have you learned from them?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Late Summer Scallops

Hey y'all! I'm a little nervous but excited to share my first outfit post today!! Since I work 5 out of 7 days in a week (I know that's normal, but it's so sad seeing it written out!), my work wardrobe occupies the majority of my closet. I love finding pieces that are work appropriate and help me feel confident when meeting with customers. Today, I'm sharing a lovely scalloped dress from the custom online retailer, eShakti!
Dress: ℅ eShakti // Clutch: Mark & Graham // Cuff: JCrew Factory // FitBit Flex // Shoes: Charles David

For this outfit, I'm wearing this adorable scallop dress selected from eShakti's website. I love the detailing across the bottom, and the pockets! I mean, who doesn't love a dress with pockets?! While mine is now sold out, this dress and this dress are great scalloped alternatives! I'm carrying my new clutch mentioned here and just adore it! The monogram is so subtle but really gives it the perfect amount of personalization. I chose to go minimal with jewelry, a simple gold cuff and my ever-present FitBit. The wedges are Charles David from last season, but I've linked this season's pair above and they are on serious sale.

The beauty of eShakti is that every single item on the website can be customized to your taste! For someone who comes in at a towering 5'3 like myself (jokes), skirt length can be an issue when shopping for work dresses. Yes- it needs to be work appropriate- but it doesn't need to come down to my ankles. I love that you can raise or lower the neckline, add or subtract from skirt length, and add-in sleeves! These are all important tweaks for me! I ordered this dress as it was featured on the website and had no issues. I did play around with the website and have no fear- the customizations are very simple to add.

It gets better, y'all. You can take the customization one step further and have a piece custom-made to your unique measurements! I think this is an innovative move to help women of any size feel their absolute best when they step out in a new piece. We all deserve that feeling! I've gotten so many compliments on this dress and am excited to continue wearing it until the weather stops me!

**ALSO** eShakti was kind enough to offer a discount code for an extra 10% off to my readers! Simply enter the code 'apeachysonder' into the promotional code box to redeem your savings. This code is valid on any purchase now through September 28th, 2015. Check out more from eShakti on their Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages!

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary dress from eShakti in exchange for my honest opinion. As always, all thoughts and words are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to Save Money in Your Twenties

Hi readers! I hope all is well in your world this week. Mine has been busy, but good. I really can't complain! Today's topic is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. As a young professional, I feel as though I'm in a great phase in my life. I work for a great company, do a job that I enjoy (most days!), am financially independent from my parents, and am able to pay all of my bills while having a little left over for fun. But, finances can be tricky in your twenties. Not to toot my own horn, but I feel like I got on the right track pretty quickly from a financial perspective right out of college. I can't pretend to have gotten things taken care of on my own- I am very blessed to be surrounded by people who have great advice to offer from a financial perspective! On the flip side of that, I have also seen the financial struggles of people dear to me and my family during the economic recession that many are still bouncing back from. These experiences have given me a unique view on my finances and have allowed me to take charge from day 1. I want to share some insight with you so you can better understand how to save money in your twenties!
save money in your twenties
Thinking back on my initial job offer with my company, I was not thrilled with my salary offer. I was familiar with the cost of living in Atlanta, but I was going to be moving upon the acceptance of my position and was not sure what my salary would do for me in my next destination. I was pretty upset to be honest when I looked things up! It wasn't pretty. Thankfully, I signed on with a training program that had an increasing salary structure as I completed the phases and was able to live more comfortably as I moved through my program. Even though I felt strapped for cash and couldn't shop as much as I felt I needed to (getting a job required an ENTIRE wardrobe change for this gal! I couldn't wear Nike shorts and sorority tshirts every day), I decided to begin investing in my 401k immediately. I work for a company who offers a matching program up to a certain percentage of your salary. Y'all. That means FREE money from your employer for when you retire. Please, if you aren't sure, check to see if your company does this and opt-in for the maximum they match. I promise that you won't notice the small percentage missing from your paycheck! This is also the easiest way to save because it's already deducted before your paycheck is deposited into your bank account, so you never really know what you're missing! With all of the changes going on with Social Security and the instability of our economy, we have no idea what we will need by the time our generation retires. Saving early and diligently will absolutely help.

With that being said, I also believe it's important to have additional savings outside of a 401k. It's recommended to have 3-6 months of living expenses in an easy-to-access savings account as an emergency fund. Calculating this value is a great exercise because it forces you to look at your required costs vs extra costs (a great place to start formulating a budget...). Set this emergency fund as a goal and really do what you need to in order to build it quickly. So what if it means drinking water instead of soda at lunch? Or ordering frugally at happy hour? Or skipping the extra trips to Starbucks? You will survive, I promise. Establishing this fund ensures that you can live if anything happens to your current income flow and should be a priority. Oh, and once you've accomplished this? LEAVE IT ALONE. Don't dip into it next time Lilly or Nordstrom has a sale- you'll regret it if you ever happen to need this fund.

On top of an emergency fund, you may want to set an additional savings goal depending on where you are in your life. Do you want to purchase a new car or your own place? You'll need a down payment. How about replacing your hand-me-down furniture? That's not cheap. Are you going to be financially responsible for your wedding? You might want to start getting some extra cash set aside. Regardless of your goal, this is a great way to keep adding to your savings. Take a look at what you'd like to save and how long before you want to do so. This will allow you to break down what you need to save every month. I am currently allowing myself more flexibility here than I did with my emergency fund, but I do my best to keep track of extra spending so I can make up my shortcomings the next few months. I do this so my end goal isn't disrupted. This girl is hoping to buy when I move next, so I have a ton of saving to do!

As I mentioned before, bugeting is a great idea when you're first starting out. Getting paychecks larger than you've ever gotten before can trick you into thinking you can spend freely. Now, sometimes that is true (please refer me to your company if you have this kind of job) but more often it's an illusion. Required spends tend to increase when you're getting a full-time paycheck and need to be taken care of first before spending for fun. You should use some sort of visualization (I used Excel) to identify all of your earnings and spendings each month. I recommend splitting into sections with income, required spends (rent, car, gas, heating, power, etc.), and optional spends (eating out, concerts, shopping, etc.). This helps you to identify areas that you can have more flexibility in vs. those that are consistently there month to month. If you'd like more information on how I set up my budget, please send me an email and I'd be happy to go into more detail with you!

I hope you find my experiences useful and are able to start saving ASAP if you aren't already!

How are you saving? Do you have a savings goal? How do you prioritize your savings efforts?
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