Holiday’n on a Budget: Recipe Edition

The holidays are here! Which means family, friends, presents, food and a lot of memories to be made! We have come up with a few little things to help ease a few hot topics of the season. A few simple recipes, some outfit inspo’s that are very wallet friendly and some ideas for splitting gifts that can not only make the receiver happy but as the giver..let’s just say you’ll go down in history as the best gift giver ever!

For starters, I love how the holidays are so unique and special to each family. For me, I will basically starve myself the day of only to indulge in the biggest plate of food known to man by mid-afternoon. Others, will make an entire day out of every single meal in the kitchen. I think both scenarios are exciting. Regardless of what’s being prepared, it’s what brings us all together in the first place that means the most. My friend Kellye is one that starts the day off by making a breakfast casserole. By lunch, they generally have finger type foods to snack on and then the real business starts at supper time. Her favorites are down below and you can find the recipe by clicking the photo!

 


 

Sheet Pan Pancakes

Who doesn’t love pancakes!?! Pancakes are a staple in my house. My husband is better at whipping up flapjack masterpieces but I’ve got the best recipe for easy sheet-pan pancakes so who’s the real winner here? Grab some mixed fruit, follow this amazing recipe below from dinnerthedessert.com, and have a crowd of happy guest with full bellies!

Click the photo below.

 

Sausage and Gravy Breakfast Casserole

Often times, the easiest recipes are casseroles you can throw together in minutes. My Aunt always has a “breakfast staples” casserole ready when we visit by using whatever she has in the fridge. I love this version below from Scattered Thoughts Of A Crafty Mom Blog. You’ll for sure have a house full of happy guests by using the recipe below.

Click the photo below.

Cheesy Corn Casserole

Corn casserole is a favorite of ours and a definitely a crowd pleaser. I’m sharing my recipe from Kay Robertson’s cookbook which is linked above to purchase from Amazon. The best part is that the “cheesiness” is optional! Sometimes we omit the cheese depending on how well it pairs with the other sides we are serving with the meal. You can find the recipe below the photo or purchase the cookbook for this side dish and more by clicking the photo.

Cheesy Corn Casserole
Makes 8-10 Servings • 9 x 13- inch casserole dish
1 stick ( 1/4 pound) butter, melted
1 can (15.25 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (14.75 ounces) cream-style corn
1 carton (8 ounces) sour cream
1 box (8.5 ounces) jiffy corn muffin mix
2 cups grated cheese, divided: 1 1/2 cups in mix and 1/2 cup sprinkled on top.
1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Lightly butter the casserole dish.
2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into the casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool a little before serving.

Green Bean Casserole:

Like I said, I starve until we eat our late lunch and then by supper time, I’m mostly still full but I can usually cram something else in. When it comes to my favorites though, I am all about some fried turkey and some macaroni and cheese casserole. We usually indulge on what’s left until everything runs out but then I found myself trying to figure out a different way to enjoy those tasty left overs. Allow me to introduce you to the almighty Thanksgiving Slider recipe. I scored this recipe on Pinterest and I just know it’s a winner. It’s basically taking what is left from the meal and layering it between two sides of a Hawaiian roll, baking it and then enjoying Thanksgiving or Christmas all over again but this time it’s between two buttery, toasted buns. Sign me up!

Turkey-Cranberry-Sliders

Fuzzy, Wuzzy Was A…

Fuzzy was a….me. I am Fuzzy Wuzzy. Does anyone else remember that childhood poem? It was my absolute favorite! So,  you’re probably wondering why I am referring myself to a hairless mama bear? Well, for one, I am squishy-ish like a bear and secondly, I also just had my second round of laser hair removal on my face. I am noticing as the time goes on just how non-fuzzy my face is for once in my life!

Let’s rewind a bit shall we? When I was like 13 years old, I begged my mom to let me shave my face. Of course her answer was always no until she finally decided to give in. She let me use one of those face/nose trimmers to edge off all the dark peach fuzz off of my face. You see, with my genetics, I have always had incredibly dark hairs. It was never a thing where I shaved and it grew back in dark, which is a total myth by the way but we will save that lecture for another time. My entire family has dark hair. It only makes sense that I would follow suite and fit in with the rest of them. Even before I hit puberty, I had dark little fuzzes all over my face. As I got older, I  disliked my teenage beard less and less…it got really hard to not just shave it off without my mothers permission. But alas, I was a good girl and waited for her blessing and thank God she finally gave it. I have been shaving my face ever since.

It’s been almost twenty years and I still shave. No, I don’t have a man beard. No, It doesn’t grow in thicker. No, it doesn’t grow in darker. No, it’s not wiry pubes all over my face…however, if you do have a few “granny hairs” as I like to call them, this treatment is for you sister! I have a few myself that have sprouted the older I get and the rest is just dark colored peach fuzz like it always has been. As I have gotten older, I have discovered new ways of hair removal, one being dermaplaning and the other being laser hair removal. Since laser hair removal is more permanent, I figured, why not! So I have tried it and after my second treatment, I am so flipping impressed, it’s unreal!

To prepare for this treatment, I could not:

-Wax or tweeze for at least six weeks prior.

-No Retin-A, antibiotics, tanning/tanning products or skin bleaching.

The reason you cannot wax or tweeze is because the actual hair bulb beneath the skin has to be present for this procedure to be effective. When you wax or tweeze, that little bulb is removed, thus making the laser treatment ineffective. Skin bleaching is a big no, no because the laser used in this treatment is drawn to anything dark so if you bleach, it will be very hard for the laser to target those hairs.  Retin-A, antibiotics or tanning products simply because the skin can react in different ways in general, however, using these products can actually be dangerous to the skin. The kind of dangerous that if you have done any of these things, your procedure will have to be rescheduled and totally for your benefit. Rules are meant to be followed, not broken in this case!

Getting down to the nitty gritty, let’s talk about the actual procedure. Let’s not forget that I had this done on my face so the actual steps I list here could be different when this treatment is done somewhere else on the body..but back to the good stuff. When you get started, your skin will be cleansed to ensure that there are no traces of anything left behind that could alter the lasers ability to do it’s job. Next, you will have goggles placed over your eyes so that the brightness of the laser doesn’t affect your eyes. Then the real fun begins! Your skin care provider will begin working the laser in a complete pattern around the areas of concern..for me, this is the entire “beard” zone. The sides of my face, under my chin, under and above my lips. Voila! It’s a pretty quick job too, I can get the entire treatment done from start to finish in about ten minutes. I’ll add another fun tidbit while I’m at it. Ever smelled burnt hair? You’ll get a slight little whiff of that too, so be prepared!

For the most part, there isn’t any pain either. I’ve done the bikini area before and that was rather painful, however, it is a much more sensitive area. The face on the other hand is actually not all that painful. The upper lip though…I don’t know if you have ever seen a cat hanging upside down on a ceiling but that’s basically what I pictured myself doing the first time I had my upper lip done. It’s very instantaneous though. There’s pain and then it just mellows out immediately after. There’s actually a really interesting feature on the laser that instantly cools the skin when the laser goes off so it helps to soothe the skin. It kind of feels like a little surge of ice. Another factor to consider is that if you are a woman and you are around or on your cycle, the sensitivity in your skin is much greater than normal. And that happened to be the case the first time I had this done. The second time I had it done, it wasn’t shark week, praise Jesus.

Afterwards, you can expect your skin to be slightly inflamed and red for a little while but it does go down. You can go back to normal activities right after with no down time except for some mild redness in the skin. I went to Target right after, I didn’t care. Stare away folks..stare away..admire my iced peppermint mocha too while you’re at it.

The methods prior to the treatment are pretty much all the same for any part of the body but where you have it done on your body can differ in the after care. You can have this treatment done roughly every 4-8 weeks until your desired results are achieved! You can easily learn all about Laser Hair Removal by contacting Laser Skincare Of Louisiana at (337) 237-1116 to schedule your consult or dive straight into an appointment..go ahead, you little daredevil you!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. Kevin J. Duplechain.

 

Smart Ways to Shop this Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I know it, you know it, we all know it!

With that said, we all know it means family, friends, The Griswold’s and Kevin McCallister, gathering, laughter, joy, the birth of our Lord and Savior, Santa and his reindeer, the sneaky little elf cramming cookies in the DVD player, the tree and the food that brings everyone together..and of course..shopping! Shopping, shopping, shopping! Did you know that roughly 165.8 million people shopped between Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday just last year? Holiday sales also surpassed the $1 trillion mark for the first time in 2018! All due to physical and virtual shopping! That’s a lot of money, y’all!

Clearly, we are a world who loves the spirit of giving when it comes to Christmas. I wanted to go over a few smart ways to shop this year. There are obviously a ton of ways to make your Christmas shopping successful and I will undoubtedly miss a few popular methods but I wanted to showcase some of my personal favorites as well as my close family and friends way of doing things.

pexels-photo-712319
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

#1. Amazon

Here comes Amazon, here comes Amazon, right down my driveway!                                       FedEx and the UPS man sortin’ and shippin’                                                                                     Delivering all over the place!                                                                                                              Horns are honkin’, Mom’s are stalkin’                                                                                                Grabbin’ gifts, put’em out of sight                                                                                               Hang your stockings and say your prayers                                                                                      ‘Cause Amazon’s comin’ tonight!

Who sang this with me? It’s basically my fight song for Christmas because I am the queen of online shopping. There is nothing I love more than sitting at home in the comfort of my pj’s and shopping online. In fact, for years now, friends and I have all gotten together on Cyber Monday and let our children play while we all shop from our laptops. It is so much fun!

The first smart way to shop is definitely Amazon.  I’ve compiled what I think are the most time effective and realistic ways you can shop and save.

– Smile Amazon feature:

This feature is operated by Amazon. It has the exact same products, prices and shopping features as regular Amazon. However, the difference is that when you shop on www.smile.amazon.com, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the eligible items you purchased to a charitable organization of your choice. For me personally, my nephew Kaden has Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and this happens to be one of the many organizations available for donation. I shop this feature year round because I love the aspect of giving in such a loving and effortless way. There are so many charities to choose from. This is not a way to save money but you aren’t exactly spending any extra money either as the donation is taken out of the purchase price from your order. If you aren’t already using this feature, I highly encourage you to start shopping smarter and making donations to causes that mean the most to you this holiday season and throughout the year!

-Amazon Prime:

Amazon offers a yearly subscription service that includes free shipping at a quick delivery turn around, prime member deals, streaming on music and videos and so much more. I have been a Prime member for quite a few years now and it’s convenience makes it all completely worth the yearly cost. Who doesn’t love free shipping? Technically you’ve obviously paid for it with the membership but I order so much and keep a lot of my household items on subscription so, it totally makes sense to have it. Sometimes I shop online and places want to charge an arm and a leg just to get it to my house so I will literally close out of it and never order it. Amazon Prime takes the stress out of all of your orders costing so much to be delivered to your doorstep. With all of this said, I realize that not everyone is just chomping at the bit to pay the yearly membership fee which is $119 or $12.99 a month. You can actually sign up for a 30 day free trial and just cancel before your first payment would be due. Hello! Perfect time to jump on that train, am I right? Not to mention, you can actually cancel anytime. Better yet, if you are a student, you can register for an Amazon Student account and get many of the same benefits as the Prime members do and get it free for the first six months. Verified EBT and Medicaid cardholders can get Prime benefits for a discounted price of $5.99 per month for four years max. See? Everybody wins!

-Amazon Wish List:

This is actually a super cool feature within itself. You can create different lists that are public or private and add to them anytime you want to. What’s also really cool is the items you add, Amazon actually watches them for you in the even there is a price change. You’ll receive an email about the price change and if it’s a better price than before, great! You can jump on your purchase for a better price! You also run the risk of that item running out of stock. This feature has it’s perks but if it’s something you just have to have and you know it’s a popular item, saving it on your wish list might not be the best choice.

-Deal of the Day/Lightning Deals:

Every single day Amazon offers deals. Each deal gives the time limit left for each item and the Lightning deals go way faster than regular deals. There’s a limited amount available so not only do they go quickly but they go faster due to the time given for the sale. You can also monitor upcoming deals and have Amazon remind you about the items you have interest in.

#2. Paribus

This is actually pretty new to me. As in, I just learned about it as I was searching out smarter ways to shop this year and write this up for you guys!

So this is actually an app you can download to your phone. You create an account and the rest is basically taken care of by the app from what I understand. You shop online like you normally would and Paribus monitors your confirmation emails and watches for price changes so you essentially, don’t have to! If a price drop is detected, Paribus lets you know and they help you get refunded for the price changed amount. So for example, if you purchase a $90 sweater and the price drops down to $75 dollars, Paribus lets you know about it and you will be refunded the $15. How cool right? I have already downloaded the app and I am basically just waiting for magic to happen at this point! Paribus tracks purchases from over 25 major retailers including Amazon, Target, Nordstrom, Walmart, Gap, Macy’s and more. As if this doesn’t sound exciting enough, they also monitor the return window for your items as well.

#3. Honey

This is actually what sparked the idea for creating this write up.  I was listening to the Rise Podcast this morning by Rachel Hollis. She is so good. Her words just bring peace and excitement to my soul in so many ways. In her episode this morning with Tim McGraw, they had a break and she started talking about this website called Honey. Honey is 100% free and you can look into it at www.joinhoney.com. It’s literally like three whole clicks and you’re done. It adds a web browser extension and you can go shopping anywhere. Literally, they serve over 37,000 stores. So you can shop away on whatever website whether it’s Target, Sephora, Nike or wherever and it automatically scrolls the web and finds discounts and applies it for you! I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a couponer right? Except now, you don’t even need scissors or a game plan, you just download this to your browser and continue living your life and get discounts. Sign me up!

#4. Black Friday:

So, I actually went black Friday shopping when I was like 14 or 15 with my Mom and sister-in-law. We got up at like 1 in the morning, drove to the nearest city which was about an hour away. We got in line which was already eons deep. We waited hours in the cold before the doors to Sears opened and we ran. Everyone ran. There was so much running. We get inside, we grab a buggy, everyone is still running. And then it happens..a little old lady on a mission ran over my achilles tendon and ruined every ounce of me that wanted to enjoy Black Friday Shopping. Sixteen years later, I have yet to endeavor on a Black Friday journey ever again. And I lived happily ever after.

On the flip side, I hear that the thrill of all the running and chasing after your most wanted items at discounted prices are exactly what people enjoy the most! I actually reached out to my network to see what the hype was all about and everyone basically said it’s all about tradition and making memories. For some, it’s a way for stay at home moms to actually get out of the house and do something exciting for once, which I think is insanely special! I think I can definitely relate to that, since I have started my Rae Dunn obsession, I have found myself running in stores, drifting buggies and grabbing all the things. Some love being in the crowds and all of the excitement associated with the Holidays. I get it. If you know what you’re running after, I say go for it. Make those memories girl!

#5. Shop Small:

When you shop small or locally, it keeps the tax dollars in your community and encourages others to start businesses and aim for growth. You will also undoubtedly get way better customer service. Those with small businesses care about every single detail from the items they market, to the way they’re created and the way they are delivered. You can also connect with the people in your community and learn more about the things and opportunities going on around you. Not to mention, when you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance. It helps puts food on tables, it helps pay for a child’s dancing class and ultimately, it helps to support someones dream.

family sitting near dining table and eating food
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

So your daughter has curly hair..

Let me just start by saying that my daughter’s curls are wilder than they are. I had always hoped, even before my children were born that they would inherit my curly hair and, by golly, they did. Theirs isn’t quite as curly as mine, but none the less, I have two beautiful, blue eyed, curly headed beaus.

I always get asked how I get my girls hair looking like I do and truth be told, there really is no magic trick to it, you just have to know how to take care of it! Perhaps since I have always had curly hair and I also have a cosmo degree, I probably know more than the normal but that doesn’t mean that the average mom can’t learn a thing or two about how to manage some curly fries.

The number one step in taming any type of wavy hair is product usage. When my girls were first born, they didn’t have hair for the longest time but when it started to grow in, the curls just took over. Shampooing AND CONDITIONING is probably one of the biggest musts when dealing with this hair type. I know it’s difficult to figure out what to use on babies when they’re so little and also factoring in what the actual heck is safe to use. We use Noodle & Boo, The Honest Company and Hot Tot.

Noodle & Boo is a brand that produces products that are safe and effective for babies and mama’s. Their formulas are amazing, I have used quite a few of their products and have loved every single one of them! And the smell…it’s what memories are made of. Seriously, when I smell it, it reminds me of what my girls smelled like when they were newborns. It just takes me back. Getting back to the hair products, I used their extra gentle shampoo, nourishing creme rinse and the conditioning hair polish. The Polish was a great post cleaning product to smooth and de-tangle. They’re all super gentle formulas but perfect for taming their little curls.

Next on my favorites list is The Honest Company. Their products are safe and effective also! They also have a variety of bath time products to choose from with different lovely scents. We used the Shampoo/Body Wash and paired it with the Conditioner. A little truly goes a long way with these products! They also carry a conditioning de-tangler that works really well if your child’s hair tangles easy! Which more than likely, it will if it’s curly!

Lastly, Hot Tot. This was actually an Amazon find but the mom who created this brand actually went on ABCs show Shark Tank and ended up gaining support from one of the sharks on the show and has been building her business ever since. I absolutely love supporting small businesses whenever I can and especially when I love their safe and efficient products. Now, for this line, I have never personally used their shampoo or conditioner. I have heard AMAZING things but I just haven’t tried it yet! No real reason why, however, I have used their Conditioning De-tangler which is basically the bomb dot com. I have also used and still use the Sweet Pea Curl Serum. I absolutely love this in the girls hair, it just calms and smooths it perfectly into place.

These are all my top favorite child products for the girls hair. As far as styling goes, air drying is probably my favorite. Curls are pretty delicate and the least you do with them, the better. When they get out of the tub, I will typically use a wet brush to de-tangle and get my post bath products in quickly and let it do its thing.

Oh and before I forget, whoever said to just use a dime size amount of conditioner tells lies. Do not be deceived, Mama. Those curls are thirsty and they need a drink. I can’t tell you just how much to use on your little one but trial and error it until you figure out how much gets the job done.

4 Ways We Are Surviving Pre-K

I thought I felt my heart actually breaking the weeks and days that led up to my oldest starting Pre-K. I felt sick to my stomach. I was losing sleep. I was having anxiety about following such a strict routine because, let’s face it, I have been a stay at home mom with no real schedule for years. I was crying at the drop of a hat. I was making myself miserable..and I was making my child miserable too. I know all the regulars who have been doing this for years are literally laughing at this right now saying,” Come on Mom, get it together!!” Don’t worry ladies, after about six weeks into this, I have the swing of things down and I want to share some of the things that have made this a fun transition for us.

For starters, let me just say that the first day of school was actual trauma. Seriously, if you go to a dictionary and look up the word ‘trauma’, our first day of school story will be written there in big bold letters. Going back to the part where I said I was making my daughter miserable, I realized that I really hadn’t said much about how much fun she would have or how many friends she would make. I spent our days cuddling her, playing with her and telling her how much I would miss her. Don’t get me wrong, I did tell her should would have fun and she would make friends but there was far more emphasis on how much I loved her and how much I would miss her while she was at school. Looking back now, I realize I should have swallowed my sorrows and built her up more to prepare her for her first day. The truth is, she was only as excited as I was to send her to school, which wasn’t very much.

The Heart.

The second day of school, I knew I had to do better and I had to be better for her. If she was going to go to school and have any kind of fun, I was going to have to instill some form of hope in her. I prayed and prayed the night before for her and for myself so I could be better for her. While I was making her breakfast that morning, suddenly it just hit me. I grabbed a marker out of my craft room and I drew a heart on the inside of her wrist and mine. I told her to look at it every time she missed me and I would look at mine too. A friend of mine on Instagram had mentioned a particular book I needed to order on Amazon to read to her about going to school so I think that might have been what sparked the idea. I, unfortunately, still have not ordered the book. Ally and I still have a matching doodle on the inside of our wrists every day and it is special to us. I know the book is probably the best thing since sliced cheese but to me, this is ours. It’s one of the ways we have survived this transition. Now my youngest likes to have something drawn on the inside of her wrist and occasionally when my husband is home in the morning, he gets a matching drawing on his wrist too.

The Blanket.

Also starting on the second day of school, I did something I remembered my mom doing for me when I was little. The house I grew up in was at least 100 years old and high off the ground. The least bit of a chill in the air would make the house freezing. My mom would put a blanket in the drier or draped in front of our lit fire place to wrap me in to keep me toasty while I ate my breakfast. Typically this was a Winter thing only but considering my house thermostat is set on arctic temperatures at all times, it kind of applies every single morning. My daughter looks forward to her warm blanket in the mornings. And the little girl in me smiles inside because I remember the safe and loved feeling it gave me when my mom would snuggle me up in a fresh warm blanket.

The Cinnamon Rolls.

Several of my mom friends who have children in school already warned me that my kids would be exhausted by Friday afternoon, for us so far, that happens to be by Thursday. When they come home from school, they are whipped. So much that they hit the hay early and have a hard time getting up the next morning for their last day of the week. So, I started getting up even earlier on Friday mornings to pre-heat the oven and bake some fresh cinnamon rolls. Usually the kids hear me stirring around in the kitchen and wake up just before it’s time. But they’re immediately excited because the smell of sugary cinnamon fills the house and they typically stand at the oven watching them back until they’re done cooking and ready to eat. It’s crazy how changing up the breakfast to something a little more exciting gets them a little bit more eager for the day. It’s like a sweet little incentive for making it to Friday!

The Sunday Snack Ritual.

I had been buying tons of snacks at the grocery store every week and before the second or third day, my stash was nearly gone because the kids were going through them so fast between school snacks and after school snacks, then before bed snacks. I mean, this snack issue was a real issue! Coincidentally, I had a box of cake mix that was going out of date if I didn’t bake it soon and clearly, my kids love to watch things bake in the oven so one Sunday evening, we baked mini cupcakes with no icing and it turned into their snack for the week. Making messes seem to be one of the main things that feeds into their joy, so this was actually a really fun little thing for us to do together. And my snack stash didn’t disappear within five seconds that week! I was like..okay…so maybe this could be a thing! So now, we bake on Sundays. Even if its just a tube of nestle cookies, we do it together. It doesn’t matter how messy it is or how un-chef like they look. It’s the gesture itself of simply making them with the girls that makes it fun and the girls just “know” that they’re making their snacks for the week.

I know that I am probably setting my expectations high for the kids and maybe things won’t always be this way. I guess the way I see it is, they’re only little once and soon enough, these things will only be a distant memory and they won’t want their warm blankets, hearts on their wrist or to bake with mama anymore. It does make for a little extra planning and sometimes it makes for a bigger mess than I really feel like dealing with but the laughs and their smiles are so worth it.

I’d also like to add in that sometimes reading things exactly like this make me feel very less than. As if I don’t measure up and I’m not doing enough with my kids. If you’re that mama, please hear me, we are all doing the absolute best we can. Even if it means you could barely roll out of bed in the morning because the baby didn’t sleep last night or all the snacks for the week are store bought. No one is judging you and if they are, they aren’t your friend. You do what’s best for you and your family. There are no rules or guidelines to follow when you’re doing what makes your role in motherhood easier or flow for that matter. Keep your chin up and smiles on those littles faces. You’re doing a great job!

13 Reasons Why…You Need A Hollywood Laser Peel:

I know you’re already wondering what the heck this is, so I will make this quick and painless, just like the procedure!

The Hollywood Laser Peel is a fancy way of saying Carbon Laser Facial. It’s also known as the Charcoal Facial or Charcoal Peel. Liquid Carbon is applied directly to the entire face, then the laser is used to remove it. When the laser goes off, it blasts the carbon away. The carbon absorbs contaminants in the skin, so when the laser zaps the carbon off, it removes that too! And that is reason #1 why you should get one of these peels!

#2: Your skin will get a much needed exfoliation. Proper exfoliation removes dead skin cells from the surface. Meaning it can unclog your pores and leave a fresh new layer of skin that’s more accepting of the moisturizers you use. It makes the products you use, work much more efficiently!

#3: It will improve the skin’s texture. Skin texture can often end up damaged or uneven due to the sun, scarring, dehydration, lack of the right vitamin usage and even season change among other things. This peel will immediately improve the way your skin looks and feels. It will make your makeup application look much smoother too!

As you can see here, I have a few breakouts on my forehead. This is what I was looking forward to treating. I don’t break out very often! The one above my eyebrow was so intense and painful!

#4: You can expect your fine lines to be reduced! The laser is actually pretty warm when you feel the surge go off so it causes the skin to contract and it stimulates collagen! This means you will see your skin be much firmer and have a more youthful appearance.

#5: Your pores will shrink. This was a huge one for me and definitely one of the main things I noticed about this treatment. My pores aren’t really large or dilated in any particular place. However, my nose seems to be one of the only areas that I will regularly get whiteheads. My pores are just wide open there so it makes sense that they just accept dirt, oil and bacteria with open arms…you know what I mean. It’s been several weeks since I received this facial and that’s one of the biggest changes I have seen in my skin. My nose doesn’t have pot holes all over it anymore. Stop laughing, it’s not funny. But seriously, if larger pores are a thing for you, this is your jam!

#6: Zero Downtime! Let’s be honest, we live in a fast paced world and we often want to partake in things that give us fast results. There aren’t many things in life that offer a quick fix, but this service will offer immediate results afterward and the days following. Imagine if you continuously received this service once a month and how much your skin and complexion would thank you!

#7. With that said, it isn’t painful at all. I wouldn’t even go far as to say it’s uncomfortable. It definitely does have a sensation though. It’s almost like when your arm or foot goes to sleep and then it starts to tingle. It’s like quick little zaps of tingle. If that makes any sense!

This photo was taken about a week after the treatment. This photo has not been edited or altered in any way. The breakouts were gone and the one I worried about the most above my eyebrow had disappeared and I was left with a soft, smooth surface. No bumpy scar tissue or anything that causes your makeup to cake up on top of in efforts to cover.

#8. It’ll set your acne straight! Having a breakout is actually a prime time to get the treatment. Since it blasts out all the bacteria responsible for the acne, it can minimize and diminish those bad boys within just a few short days. Whether your skin is acne prone in general, you have hormonal breakouts, reactions to medications…it’ll help!

#9. The regenerative results with your collagen and elasticity in the skin continues for weeks and months to come and there’s an even higher success rate with following the recommended treatment schedule.

#10. This treatment is a quick and easy way to achieve bright, smooth and beautiful skin just before prom, a photoshoot, a wedding or any type of special event where you’d like to show up just a little more extra than normal. Even if you have no events coming up and you’d like to sport the best skin you’ve ever had…consider this!

#11. It’s what a lot of celebrities do!  A-list celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie do this treatment very often and their skin is gorgeous! They also probably benefit from many other treatments and procedures but this particular charcoal facial promises plump, soft and radiant skin!

#12. This treatment is well suited for many skin types and skin conditions. I will say that if you are sensitive like me, you should do just fine. However, you’ll be able to judge best upon consultation with your skin care specialist.

#13. You deserve some Red Carpet pampering. If you are a mom and you are reading this, you know just as much as I do, you aren’t getting enough sleep. You’re probably not drinking enough water. You’re probably not filling your cup regularly like you should. You’re probably not taking care of yourself or your skin like you want to. Cut to the chase and splurge on yourself because you deserve it!

I enjoyed this treatment and I look forward to my next one! You can schedule a consultation or appointment by calling Laser SkinCare if Louisiana at (337) 237-1116. They will be happy to assist you and tend to all of your questions and concerns.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Dr. Kevin J. Duplechain.

VBeam Me Up Scotty

So, a few weeks ago, I had a lot of things going on that really just drug me down through the dirt. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those sappy “poor me” blog posts, I promise.

Long story short, I got sick back to back..to back. I went to doctors, I was prescribed all kinds of medications and I had an awful allergic reaction to some steroids. You know that game kids play called bobbing for apples? I looked like I had gone bobbing for french fries in a deep fryer. It was so embarrassing. And the hardest part was having to wait until it was all out of my system, which took several weeks. Being a beauty influencer, I rely on my face to be the billboard for my brand and my business. In many cases, makeup could easily cover any flaws or imperfections but this was so far from either of those things. It was bumpy and bright red and while a lot of spots went away, not all of them did.

I went to my trusted skin care specialist, Jessica Darbonne at Laser SkinCare of Louisiana, for a treatment and ended up getting something other than what I went in there for. I was going to get another IPL like I wrote about a couple of months ago, but my skin couldn’t even handle that.  I thought the spots that I had left on my face were still left over from the allergic reaction that I had but she told me that those left over spots were actually scars left over from the reaction. F A N T A S T I C…. just what I need, scars on my face. I know it’s not the worst thing in the world that could happen but dang it..I did not want this!

So she switched me to another procedure called the VBeam Perfecta. This type of treatment will safely and effectively remove all types of discoloration in the skin. This includes sun spots, age spots and freckles. Those who have stretch marks, warts, psoriasis, scars, rosacea, port wine stains, facial veins or even leg veins would benefit from this treatment as well! Jessica mentioned that the beam is actually targeted towards the color red in general, so this procedure was going to be perfect for my new, unwanted scarring.

Pictures above are before procedure.

The way this treatment works is by using a Pulsed Dye Laser to disperse bursts of light into the skin. The light is then safely absorbed into the skin and treats the abnormalities. It is safe, effective and has zero downtime. Some people even notice results right away! For me, I started noticing within a few hours that the redness was going down significantly..can I get an AMEN?

For this treatment, I had to go to a different room than a typical facial room. This particular machine has it’s own special suite. I got cozy and ready to start the treatment. Jessica put my hair back and goggles over my eyes, then put her hands over my face and said,” I am Buzz Lightyear, I come in peace….” Just kidding, I just wanted to make sure you were really paying attention. I swear, one day I will stop making references towards my toddlers and their infatuation with Disney movies, but today is not that day! Seriously though, Jessica started the procedure by working from one side of my face to the next and before I knew it, the procedure was all finished. I know you’re probably wondering..”So…you get zapped by this really intense flash light..and then you’re just fine afterwards?” The answer is yes. Have you ever been unexpectedly sprayed by a water hose that’s on full force? It doesn’t exactly hurt but its a surprising sensation? That’s sorta what this is like except this sensation comes from a much tinier source and of course, it’s not water, it’s light. That’s the best way I can explain it. Not painful, just a surprising little zap.

Pictures above are three days after procedure.

Like I mentioned above, I started noticing the redness and inflammation in my skin going down in the hours following the procedure. Days and weeks after, they’re all gone! This treatment more than exceeded my expectations. I know that my skin doesn’t look all that bad in these pictures but imagine what it could do for someone who has a lot more going on than I did!

You can schedule a consultation or appointment by calling Laser SkinCare of Louisiana at (337) 237-1116. They will be happy to assist you in choosing your next skincare treatment!

Picture above is twenty days after the procedure. Smooth, glowing skin!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the office of Kevin J. Duplechain.

Rules For Wearing A Swimsuit

I know I don’t have an in-shape body. I wasn’t in great shape before pregnancies, during pregnancies, after pregnancies and I gained more weight while breastfeeding than I did while my babies were baking in the oven. I have stretch marks, I have cellulite, I have empty tube sock tee-tahs and I’ve gone a mean muffin top. My thighs are full of thunder and lightening. My arms could come in a close race with Drogon’s wings on Game of Thrones. My double chin game is strong and up until last year…I wasn’t confident sporting any of that in a swim suit. Over the last year I’ve talked with a lot of women about body image and swimsuit season. I’ve compiled a few key things I think are important for swimsuit wearing this season.

R U L E S F O R W E A R I N G A S W I M S U I T:

1. Have a Body. Love your body and teach your mind to respect it! Workout because you love yourself or don’t if it’s not your thing but love your body either way. Love the scars, the shape & curves, the stretch marks, the size..all of it; from head to toe. Love your favorite parts and your not so favorite parts. Love every square inch of the body that you wake up in every single day. Love the body that God gave you. Don’t let the world tell you what kind of body you should have or strive for. Your body is also just a part of who you are, it isn’t EVERYTHING you are. And last time I checked, I don’t think fluffy or out of shape is the absolute worst thing you can be in life. Be proud you have a body! Be proud of the things it’s done and will do!

2. Wear the swimsuit. Wear the swimsuit. WEAR THE SWIMSUIT. Wear the one that you feel lovely in. Wear the one that makes you happy. Wear the one you’ve been eyeballing for months. Wear the one that you love before everyone else starts saying what they don’t like about it. Wear the one that you and your subconscious are aggressively in love with. Stop comparing yourself to women on the internet. Stop worrying about the women on the side of you and what they’re wearing or how their body looks. Stop worrying if they’re looking at you or whispering things. That’s their character and their problem, not yours. Worry about yourself. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Stay in your own lane, even when the traffic sucks.

3. If you have children, rule #3 is for you. Mamas..we only have 18 delicious summers with our babies. What summer are you on? How many summers have you spent worrying about your swimsuit body while your children beg you to play? Forgive me if I’m hitting a sensitive spot but you need to hear this. Your children do not care about any of the things that bother you about your body. They care about your time and attention with them. Whether you are splashing in a pool with them, running through a tunnel of spraying water or hunched over building sand castles. Those are the memories they want and need. They will unfortunately learn about negative body image through tv and magazine but it’s our job as their parent to teach them to love their body no matter what. You’re the only person who’s worried about your body and what it does when you run, squat or bend over. Stop worrying about it! Teach yourself to love the skin you’re in. Make those memories with your babies. They’re only little once. They’ll remember the fun over the flab. I promise.

Boltfarm Tree House

If you need a place to completely disconnect from everything and re-center yourself, reconnect with your spouse and get some rest..this read will be such a treat for you! My husband and I visited Boltfarm Tree Houses near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s tucked about 30 minutes away from the city in a secluded area just off of the water. There are so many beautiful oak trees towering over the grounds that you lose count. You truly get lost in how serene it is, which is exactly what my husband and I needed.

Nick and I did the math while sitting on the deck at the treehouse..so between my husband being a Lafayette Firefighter and owning and operating his own Dirt Contracting business, he works roughly 102 hours per week. Guys..there’s 168 hours in a full week! That’s insane right? And as for me..well, I’m a full time mama, blogger, influencer and beauty guide. So if there’s only 168 hours in a week, that basically means I work at least 1,714 hours a week. However, I have the ability to juggle all of my responsibilities but I can always count on there being zero breaks when it comes to the girls. Even when they should be sleeping, they don’t. Long story short, my oldest barely believes in naps anymore and my youngest is the most nocturnal little being I’ve ever known. Not the good kind of non-sleeper either. Moms, you know what I’m talking about. It gets rough sometimes but I manage to find the beauty in between. I like to think she’s the one who will teach me patience. I guess we can call this a “blesson.”

The ability to view a lesson as a blessing..

Needless to say, my husband and I desperately needed a break. We didn’t want the kind of vacation where we were on the go constantly with an itinerary. We wanted to be able to sleep in, relax and essentially do nothing since we are always doing something! I don’t know how the treehouse could have been anymore perfect. Tori and Seth Bolt poured their heart and souls into these treehouses. Every detail was so well thought out and didn’t go unnoticed on our part.

As soon as we arrived, we drove up on the most beautiful iron gate in the shape of all of the oak trees you see covering the entire treehouse farm. We drove up to The Honeymoon Treehouse and were greeted by Jared who is the General Manager of Boltfarm Treehouses. He gave us a quick tour of the treehouse we were staying in, explained all there was to do and encouraged us to unplug and enjoy each other and our time there. Afterwards, we swung on the hanging chairs on the balcony of our treehouse and just marveled the beautiful grounds and all that the treehouse had to offer.

The Honeymoon Treehouse featured a copper bathtub on a platform in the main room. The back wall in front of the bed was covered top to bottom with charming antique mirrors. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept on. When it comes time for us to replace our own mattress, we will probably be ordering the same Sleepy mattress with a pillow top like they used. On the side was the kitchen area. It was finished with an above counter copper sink, a miniature retro style refrigerator hidden behind the stained wood cabinetry and a dining area for two complete with an antique China set. Let’s not forget the old style record player complete with a basket full of old records to play, adult coloring books, pillows to sit for meditation and prayer, a legit picnic basket filled with everything an outside picnic would ever need and a little fireplace. Sounds like a dream right? That’s just inside the treehouse, that’s not counting the amenities outdoors!

Outside there was a gorgeous view of the water with oak trees giving the perfect amount of shade. Double bicycles, outside grill, pizza oven, jacuzzi, fire pit fit for snuggles and s’mores, outdoor shower and screened in room with a swinging bed complete with a screen and projector to play movies. Don’t all of these things just sound like heaven?

Every single thing I named made the Treehouse every bit of the experience we were promised. But every ounce of alone time, relaxation, peace and quiet with my husband was the best part of all. It was exactly what we needed in our 10th season of marriage. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:18,

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

I felt this verse fit perfectly for everything I wanted to end with. Everything was serene and absolutely perfect at the tree house and we are literally chomping at the bit to plan our next stay. But it wasn’t just beautiful scenery that we enjoyed, it wasn’t just the quiet time we needed and it wasn’t just the opportunity to be the big kids we know we are at heart; it was the unseen that sparked magic because of the seen. Does that resonate? I think we can all agree that life happens every single day and we all fall short in allowing it to get in the way of the things that mean the most to us. Making time for your partner and the things that matter most to you will be one of the greatest investments you can make in your relationship. God and each other. I think the best love story is to be able to fall in love with the same person over and over again.

Being able to be with my husband where he was only my husband for a few days was bliss. I’m sure he would agree the opposite for me. We could just be our true selves for a few days with zero responsibilities except pouring ourselves into each other and reconnecting on a level that we haven’t been able to in years. It’s truly amazing how doing nothing is absolutely everything you could possibly need. We swung outside and enjoyed the views, took naps on the swinging bed outside, we showered outside during the daytime and nighttime under the moon and starts, we listened to Calming Guitar Playlist on Pandora; I highly recommend that soothing playlist by the way. I have listened to it every day since we have returned. It almost as if I was able to bring the tree house experience home with me. Not to mention, growing up as a musicians daughter, my father was always playing his acoustic guitar at random times throughout the day. It was an enjoyable part of my childhood. This kind of music is medicine for the soul. We also made our own pizza, we roasted s’mores, rode the double bicycles, drank wine, walked down the lane full of oak trees and got to see lightening bugs for the first time since each of us were children. That may seem like nothing but it was truly a magical moment for me, at least. We took the time to visit Charleston one afternoon and had lunch at a tavern that was downtown. Which was incredible by the way.

Writing all of these things and telling you how insanely mind blowing it all was just brings me back. Even though it was just a few short weeks ago, the thought of being there and what it did for my heart and soul has stuck with me. Like the unseen I mentioned before, it wasn’t just an experience, it was purifying and healing. I will never forget what that trip did for me and I cannot wait till we go back. Matter of fact, if you’d like to mention that I recommended BoltFarm Treehouses to you when you book your stay, you will be upgraded to a complimentary VIP experience..and We will be too upon our next stay!

www.boltfarmtreehouse.com

This content is not sponsored by BoltFarm Treehouse or by Seth & Tori Bolt.

The Barn.

My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. Holy macaroni, you read right, TEN WHOLE YEARS. How time passed so quickly, I don’t think I will ever know but as our anniversary date approached we started planning and trying to figure out what the best trip would be. We knew we didn’t want anything in a big city..or city at all really. We knew we didn’t want to be busy the whole time. We knew we didn’t want there to be a lot of people or really any people for that matter. We wanted simple, we wanted to be secluded, we wanted total peace and quiet. Which is what led us to our first stop on our vacation. The Barn.

The Barn was a lucky find on Airbnb. I say lucky because I searched for what felt like weeks for a good hideaway and it was hard finding a place that could accommodate us on such short notice. I wanted something that wouldn’t be too far off of our main route to the Boltfarm Treehouse, which I will be blogging about next. My first few searches were in some small towns in Alabama. There was a really cute Caboose…yes, a train car, an actual caboose that was completely converted into an adorable tiny living space. Then there was this house thirty plus miles from the nearest anything but the views were gorgeous. Lastly, there was a Yurt we found on a campground overlooking a lake. All of them were beautiful and different, just like we wanted but none of them seemed like the perfect fit so, I continued to look. I found myself looking just south of Atlanta along our route, which led me to The Barn.

As soon as I saw it, I knew this was it. I immediately showed pictures to Nick and he was like YES!! It’s basically everything that Pinterest, Rae Dunn and Farmhouse dreams are made of. The owners put every little detail into thought when they created this space. From the beautifully landscaped grounds, the outdoor grill area, to the screened in game room, the pool and hot tub to all the homey details of the inside of the barn. I was definitely taking notes for our new home in Breaux Bridge! As we told friends one of our stays was at a Barn, the looks we got were hilarious. They were like,” …..you’re staying in a what?” It made me laugh, they just didn’t know how good this was going to be.

The whole space is incredibly dreamy. The Barn is actually situated in the owners backyard but it’s off set and there’s a lot of privacy. It’s not in a big town but it is about 40 minutes south of Atlanta. I say it’s not a big town, it’s much bigger than what I’m used to over here. The Chick-Fila and Burger King look like five star restaurants (seriously) compared to how they’re constructed down here in Louisiana! The town has a lot of places to shop, restaurants and antique stores. To be honest, even though the town has all of those amenities, it has a lot of country to it too which is what we were mostly interested in. With a short drive, you can easily get to a lot of beautiful hiking trails that have lovely sights and waterfalls. We went to Chochran Mill Park which was about 20 minutes away from The Barn and it was amazing! We only hiked one of the trails but one of the first sights was a gorgeous waterfall.

Back to barn though, when we arrived, we were greeted by a deer in the driveway. Which totally reminds me of going home. Back where I grew up, it was nothing to drive up and see them in the driveway or in the yard somewhere. Sounds cliché but this was definitely a home away from home experience. What made the experience even more personal was a little letter board in the hall welcoming us to their Barn and the owners wishing us a happy anniversary. This is the part where you say ” aweee!”

Even though we did go hiking and out to dinner one night at a local Sushi restaurant, we spent all of our time soaking up the barn and each other. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and are both always incredibly busy. He is also a Firefighter meaning, even when he is sleeping, he is working. I am a stay at home mom, raising our two sweet girls ages 4 and 2. While that is a lot in general, I am also a Director and Certified Mentor for LimeLife by Alcone and I blog. All of it makes us super happy but just like anything else, sometimes you need a break. The Barn was perfect for this. I like to think we are simple people and simple things make us very happy and that’s what The Barn delivered for us. An opportunity to slow down, get some rest, reconnect with each other and enjoy each other which is something I think every modern day couple can definitely appreciate these days.

We sat in the hot tub, we played pool, we laughed, we played the large sized Jenga, we napped on the outdoor swing, we laughed some more, we caught up on some of our favorite Netflix shows, we hiked and it was the most fun My husband and I been able to have in a while together. I think my husband would agree. We basically got to be the big kids we are and have fun! Having kids and hustling to have thriving businesses are definitely some of the best blessings life can offer but it was so nice to disconnect for a minute and just be. Just enjoy time and each other. Jesus says in the book of Mark 6:31,

Come away with me to a quiet place and rest awhile.

And that’s exactly what we did. We both loved our stay and highly recommend The Barn in Newnan, GA. It’s such a fantastic getaway! I’m just glad I gave AirBNB a try before booking a hotel room somewhere along the way because there is absolutely no way any hotel, five star or not, could ever top our experience here. I don’t know when our next trip would be but if I can help it, The Barn will definitely be a part of our stay any time we travel on that side of the country. This AirBNB is perfect for a one night stay, a weekend stay or even a week long stay for any occasion. Thanks again to Mona and Brent for allowing us to come and experience your little piece of heaven!! We will be back!

Check out the link to The Barn here: https://abnb.me/6WHs3w3T5W