Life · stress free zone

One Hour Early


Trying to find time for myself in this season of my life is difficult. My days seem cram packed with work, cooking, cleaning, and babysitting. While I’m at work I imagine all the things I’m going to get done when I get home, but as soon as I clock out I have so many things to do by the time I can take a breath, it’s 9pm, I’m wore out and ready for bed.

Thanks to some advice from Rachel Hollis at The Chic Site, I’ve been waking up an hour early every morning (even weekends). I’m actually writing this post during one of my early mornings.   I’m surprised how much I can get done in one single hour while everyone else sleeps. I’m not talking about cleaning, laundry, etc. I’m talking about achieving my goals.

Every morning I sit down with my notebook containing my goal and all the thing that will have to be done to meet my goal and decide what I can do in that one day to get just a little bit closer to accomplishing it. My goal is huge for me. It’s a goal I have dreamed about for years now, but didn’t see a way to get there with my life the way it is right now. Things simply aren’t working the way they are now. I’m not happy in this season and neither is my husband. Happy with each other, yes! Happy with the direction we’re going in life, no. So you know what? It’s time to change my life to meet my goals.  That first step is waking up an hour early so I have the time to really look at myself and my day and make it happen.

I’m a month in, and though my goals are going to take a long time to achieve, I’m seeing small progress. Far more progress than I was at a month ago. In addition, I feel better about me. I’m becoming more optimistic about my dreams that I worried would never be fulfilled. Instead of dreading the day, I’m eager to get going and conquer the day. In general, my attitude toward myself and others has been far more forgiving and more pleasant. The people around me are noticing the difference also. I don’t know how many times in the last month I’ve been told it’s good to see the old me coming back to life. For over a year I’ve been in a complete fog and the light has finally started to clear the haze.

I’ve worked hard this month to create a good foundation on which I can build on throughout the rest of the year and the rest of my life. I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time and can’t wait to see where this leads me.

Tell me what you would do with your hour?

Food · House · Life · stress free zone

The Dinner Club


After years of talking about it and never following through, I finally had a dinner party. Why you ask that I waited years to get together with my friends at my house? Because I’m a perfectionist. I have always had it in my head that everything in my house, everything on the table, everything we wear has to be perfect and if I can’t make it perfect, then I can’t do it. Because of this I’ve missed out on the kind of fun and pure enjoyment that I had last night.

I’ve worked hard on myself for the last year. I’ve tried to recognize my own faults and fears to see what I can do to get past them and to a place where happiness is within myself. Being perceived as perfect (which I know no one else actually sees me as, but in my mind, that’s what I want them to think), is one of those issues. So, me being me, I decided it’s time to work on it. I text my two close friends and said, “Hey, I’m throwing a dinner party next month and this time I mean it.” I imagine they rolled their eyes and decided to leave that date open on their calendar for when they expected me to say a week later that I wasn’t going to do it. Nope, not this time. This time I immediately sent out a group text to all five friends and said we’re doing this on Friday 13th. It just might end up being a nightmare, but we’re doing it anyway.

I ended up changing out the center piece, but you get the gist.


While planning I made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to go overboard. I wasn’t going to panic. I wasn’t going to try to make it perfect. In some ways, I failed at all three, but in others I let go and let be.

I love to decorate. Love it. It brings me joy. So, I went full steam ahead on the table. Other than these plates I ordered (which I was planning to order anyway), I used only what I already had to set the table and decorate it. How I limited myself is I didn’t go out and buy a new dining table and chairs. Yes, the old me would have had to have this done before ever inviting people to come over. My husband is planning to build me a dining table and I’m going to purchase chairs, but I made myself wait until we could actually afford it and not just break the bank because I wanted the people I was having over to only see the best. Is anyone else like this or am I on a lonely island over here?


The panicking side I did really well on….until the day of the party. I was all good until I came home and started getting everything together and kept noticing things around the house out of place or something that was messy. I started to panic thinking what will these people think of me when they come over and see the vacuum hasn’t been put away yet. No kidding I started sweating so bad I had to take an extra shower. Seeing what I was doing, I left that freaking vacuum sitting out where it was so I could prove to myself that it doesn’t matter. If my friends cared that my place had things out of place, then I don’t need those kinds of friends. (no one cared!)



For six people, that’s a lotta cheese and bread! 🙂


You know what? It wasn’t perfect, but it was a blast. We laughed loud, ate too much, drank too much wine, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I actually had so much fun that I forgot to take photos of the food, but it was easy and delicious and I’ll leave the Roasted Chicken over Red Potatoes recipe video from Honeysuckle Catering here.  I sautéed fresh green beans as a side and that was it. Since we had a ridiculous amount of cheese beforehand I knew the dinner didn’t need much to fill us up.

Now we are planning on having a monthly Dinner Club. Once a month we’re going to go to one of our houses, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. One thing I know for sure is we women need each other. We need encouragement, acceptance, and love for one another.  In this time in my life, I need it.

Books · Life

From Sand and Ash

“With our hands, we reach for things we shouldn’t have and grab what isn’t ours. The way I have always reached for you.” Eva Rosselli, From Sand and Ash


This book is one for the ages. I’ve read Amy Harmon many times before and had no idea what From Sand and Ash was about when I purchased it on audible.  All I knew was she is a good writer and I would enjoy it.  It didn’t take long for me to realize I was listening to a story which would stay with me forever.

From Sand and Ash is one of the best books I’ve listened to in years. Considering I listen to about 200-300 books per year, that’s saying a lot.  As soon as I finished reading this book I bought the paperback so I could have it in my house to read over and over again.  Amy did a fantastic job making Eva Rosselli a normal, relatable girl who lived an ordinary life until the unimaginable happened to Italy and the world and Angelo Bianco a man who fought within himself what was expected from him and what his heart desired all while feeling powerless to protect the ones he loved.

What amazed me about the story was how it was written. How life changed in small bits for Eva (and all Italian Jews) in such a way that by the time they realized what was really happening, it was too late.   Though Eva and Angelo’s story was fictional, it was so wonderfully woven into real life events that it felt incredibly true.  Their love was timeless.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  It was simply beautiful.

“Confession: I’ve never hated anyone before.  Not a single soul.  But I’m learning.”  Eva Rosselli

The story gave a whole new picture of the Holocaust to me. Amy Harmon was brilliant in telling the story from the lives of two different religions, but the same love.   Not only was this a book about love that can survive all odds, but a quest to find happiness in a world filled in fear.

“You love Eva. And she loves you.  You’re a priest and she’s a Jew.”  Camillo Roselli (Eva’s father)

Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.

As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.

Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.

But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.

I can’t recommend this book enough. I’m desperately wanting for From Sand and Ash to be made into a movie or television series.




Cake Batter

Have you ever found a product you absolutely loved and knew just because you loved it so much, it would be taken away?

The moment I took a chance and bought Cake Batter Chapstick I was in love (or my dry lips were).  Immediately, I knew I had to buy as many as I could.  When I got home, I researched it and discovered my instincts were correct and it was a limited edition Chapstick.  LIMITED EDITION.  Yes, I love this Chapstick so much I actually researched it.  My lips are always dry and I’ve tried just about everything to remedy this, but nothing worked.  That was until I found Cake Batter.

So, knowing it was a limited edition, every time my husband and I went to The Dollar Store we would pick up a couple.  After a month or so I noticed other people around using or talking about the glorious lip nectar which only made my anxiety rise.  With the stock I already purchased dwindling from use and teenage kids stealing them, my supply was quickly being depleted.  There were a very few times I would gift one to a friend just so I can show them how cool I was to have them.

I admit Cake Batter was/is my crack.

One day, no joke, my husband and I were in line at The Dollar Store and the person in line in front of me picked up a tube and I went into survival mode.  I knew right then what I had to do.  I cleaned them out.  I bought everything left in the open case on the shelf and grabbed the only unopened case behind it all while my husband looked at me with a bewildered, “What have you become,” face. 

I just looked at him and said, “Trust me.”

He didn’t say more.  He just shook his head, probably embarrassed to be standing next to me and my soft, smooth, Cake batter covered lips.

But, not even one month after purchasing my stockpile, Cake batter was no longer on shelves.  I knew what I was doing.  With crazy eyes, I told my husband what suckers everyone else was to not buy a case or two and now their lips would be dry while mine would be lush. Oddly, he still had that, “What have you become,” look.

I write this story now because I just finished off another tube and realized I only have two tubes left.  I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit emotional about it.   My stash is gone. 

All I can do is hope Chapstick decides to reproduce Cake Batter in the upcoming holiday season and that the last two tubes I have make it until then.  I plan to write them today to ask if it’s in the works.  I mean, sales had to be awesome because everyone I knew was buying (my) Cake Batter Chapstick.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  If so, with what product?

health · Life · stress free zone

5 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

After weeks, heck months, of just an hour or two (if I was lucky) of shut eye I learned ways to help get a decent night’s sleep. You’ve probably heard most of these, but maybe not. I just know how it feels to try to function throughout a day after a sleepless night and hope I can help someone else.

  1. Yoga! Yoga makes a huge difference in my sleep patterns. It took a couple of days to notice a difference, but now, I don’t like to miss a day! You don’t have to go to a yoga studio to get your Namaste on. All you need is a mat and YouTube. Every evening I watch Yoga with Adriene. She fits me and what I’m looking for in yoga. I use yoga time as my time to clear out all the noise of the day. Go search some videos on YouTube and try a few out and see how you like it. 
  2. Warm Tea. I like tea a lot. I’m from the south so I typically drink sweet tea, but in the evening I like to drink a nice calming, warm cup of tea. I’m not a tea expert by any means, but this is what I like to drink about an hour before bed, Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief Tea, 16 Tea Bags, Packaging May Vary .  If I’m feeling extra fancy, I go to my local tea shop and tell them to make me happy, then I bring whatever they suggest home and add a little warm cream!
  3. Bedtime Snack.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed I don’t want to eat.  I’ll go to bed and listen to my stomach growl for hours until I finally pass out or just get up for the day.  Even if I don’t want to, I make myself eat a healthy snack within an hour before bed.  This might be a banana, sunflower butter on a tortilla, a handful of nuts, or even a yogurt.  Just one of those, not all in one night…..
  4. Bedtime Soundtrack.  I love to listen to waves and rain while sleeping.  When I first attempted listening to music to sleep my therapist told me not to listen to any music with words.  Apparently our brains stay active longer spending time making out what the words are saying instead of relaxing.  I’ve found I can’t even sleep if there are bird chirps, crickets, or any other background noise.
  5. Holes in My Feet.  This one is going to sound a bit odd, I know.  When I was first told to try it, I gave a fake smile and said I would when in my head I thought she was one odd duck.  But, being wide awake at 3am, stressed and exhausted, I was willing to try just about anything to catch some zzz’s.  So here’s how you do it.  While laying in bed (the floor, wherever) pretend there are holes in the bottom of your feet. Focus on your feet and breathe in good air through the holes and push out the bad air (stress).  Sounds ridiculous, but seriously, it works!!  If I’m having a particularly difficult day at work I will close my eyes and do this at my desk.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on aromatherapy and just got my diffuser and oils, but haven’t tested them out enough yet to know if they help or how to use them to their best ability.  If you know any oil combos that you love, let me know! URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser and Essential Oil Set

If you try any of these and they work for you let me know!  Also, if you have any tips that I didn’t mention, leave them in the comments.

health · Life

Becoming a Yaya


Never in my life did I think I would become a grandmother at 38 years old. It’s not what I would have planned for my kids or, for that matter, myself. But you know what, shit happens. It’s taken me a long time to deal with it (it’s still a struggle) and understand that my kids are not the first teens to have pregnancies. And before you say it, YES, I talked openly to my kids about sex and pregnancy and YES I provided birth control. I wanted my daughter on the shot, which they said she shouldn’t have at her age and gave her pills instead. Unfortunately, you can’t force your kids to make smart choices.

When it all unfolded, I had a nervous breakdown. I don’t say that lightly. It was a true and serious nervous breakdown.   After seven months of therapy and anxiety medication, I can finally deal with it enough to talk about it.

Back in October 2016, my husband and I were making all kinds of plans. We saw the light at the end of the teenage tunnel. We would look at our 14 year old and smile at each other and say, “four more years”.  We were getting our house ready to sale (in 2017) so we could move into something a lot smaller and more manageable which would help us afford to travel more and buy the furniture we wanted instead of what was cheaper. For the first time in our adult lives, we were doing really well financially. We had this beautiful plan to be totally debit free by March 2018 (still planning on that) and our lives were going to change. We were brimming with excitement.

Well, our lives changed alright. Just not like we expected.

First, my husband’s overtime at work was put to a screeching halt cutting his checks nearly in half right after I had to take a pay cut at work. Oh and, as I imagine yours did, our insurance premiums went way up. “Okay,” we thought, “We can handle this. We just have to tighten up our purse strings but we’re still on track”.

It was late October 2016, that things began to spiral downward. My then 18 year old son (now 19) told me his girlfriend was pregnant. She was almost 18, a senior in high school (they had been together for a few years). It was a huge shock.  I was more angry with him for not protecting them both than anything.  None of us were ready, but I trusted my son to do what was right no matter what their “right” was. I couldn’t believe this was happening.  I didn’t want this for him yet.  It’s so much responsibility to put on such strong, but young shoulders.

Three very short weeks later, my 16 year old (now 17) year old daughter told me she was pregnant.   Still, right now, months later, it hurts to type those words. This was the point I broke. My heart was broken. I was devastated. There were literal hours of that day I just don’t remember. I had severe panic attacks. If I stood up, I saw spots and would nearly pass out. I hadn’t realized it, but I started rubbing my hands and feet together constantly and would hurt from the swelling and rawness. I didn’t sleep for weeks. No kidding, weeks. I lost about 20 lbs in a very short period of time. I couldn’t eat.  I cried more than I thought was physically possible. To be honest, it felt like someone told me she died. I felt the death of all the dreams and wishes I had for her. I felt the loss of her youth and felt the pain of the future she would endure and the sacrifices she would make.

I was consumed by it.

I couldn’t talk with anyone. Not my husband, not my best friend, not my children, no one. I was failure as a mother. I failed them. Every vision, hope, dream, plan, I had would never be. Why did I struggle so hard for so long to give my kids more for them to throw it back in my face?  That’s how I felt.  That’s how I sometimes still feel.

So, I went to a therapist. After speaking to me she immediately sent me to the doctor to get anxiety medication. That was the beginning of my journey to where I am now.  It hasn’t been easy, but months of therapy (my therapist is awesome), different things I’m doing at home, and with the right medication I can see the light at the end of the tunnel again.

My son and, pretty much, daughter-in-law have lived with us since February and believe it or not, currently in the other room in the first stages of labor with my granddaughter. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re managing.  My daughter is still a straight A student who is doing so well in school she will be graduating early and with honors and plans to go to college while raising my grandson. Life didn’t end for me or either of my kids. Yeah, it’s going to be ten times harder than it would have been, but we’re a family and we’ll be there for each other. I raised my daughter to be a strong woman who can do whatever she sets her mind to and she’s proving how strong she is every day. My son is working hard and saving as much money as possible so he can provide for his family. His girlfriend graduated high school and I have no doubt will be a wonderful mother.

I was/am embarrassed to let anyone know what was going on because of what they would think of me as a parent and what they would say about my children. But no matter how many times I look at it, I can’t imagine anything I could have done differently.  I was open with my kids.  I did everything I knew to do to prevent this from happening, but here we are.  It happened.  Even writing this post scares the bejesus out of me, but I’m doing it anyway. I’ve looked at the stats, I’m not the only one out there going through this. I can’t keeping thinking of the “what ifs” and concentrate on the “what is”.

What is, is I’m going to be a Yaya to two babies who I will love with all my heart (I already do). I will still be a parent to my children and try my best to guide them to the right path even if that path is a terrifying one.

calm woman meditating reciving power by light

In later posts I’ll talk more about the process I’ve gone through and what I’ve done/doing to deal with it and the other medical issues I’ve had along the way and how I’m managing those also. But one of the things I’ve learned through all of this is life is messy guys. We can plan all we want, but sometimes life says change your plans. Pick people to be in your life that will be there for you no matter what, because you might need them one day and they might need you.