fitness. motherhood. life & style.

Lessons Learned in the Last Decade/2020 Goals

Happy New Years Eve! I can't believe that not only is it the end of 2019 but it's the end of a decade! So much has happened in the last decade and I'm sharing a little bit of what I've learned.

1- People will judge regardless of what you're doing so just do you! When I was 17 (ten years ago) I worried way too much about what people thought. I still have my moments but they're few and far between because that kind of worry is just a waste of time! It's your life. Listen to Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves.

2- Time flies, from 2010 till now I have moved 6 times (in the same city), bought two homes, had Miss Mia, graduated with my High School Diploma, Bachelor's degree, and Master's degree and traveled to six countries and countless states. When I listed that out I was like WHOA. Time really flies by. So I want to make sure in this next decade, that I really cherish all of life's moments and don't rush time. I lack patience lol so sometimes I feel like I was so focused on the next step that I didn't cherish all that happened in the last ten years. It's good to relish in your accomplishments and enjoy them before moving on to the next big thing.

3- You have to go get what you want. As you probably realized in item #2, complacency isn't for me. I get restless. 10 years ago I knew I wanted a lot out of life but I also waited for some of it to just come to me. You can't wait, you make your own destiny. This year I knew I wanted to end up in a new job and I decided I wouldn't stop until I got there. I knew that only I had the power to make that happen. In addition to that, don't put up with crummy people or things in your life. If you are being mistreated, you can fix that. You can't fix others who don't want to change but you can decide what you put up with. Get rid of toxic people and things! I did a lot of that in the last decade. Go get the life you want!

4- Life will test you but always have faith. I always look for the silver lining so I will say the last ten years have been awesome! But they've also challenged me. I struggled with an eating disorder, I struggled to find who I was and what I wanted out of life (typical for your 20's, I'm ready to be 30 already lol), and I went through a break up in 2018 that really tested my faith. I've always believed that everything happens for a reason but I've had a few moments that made me question that. And it was hard. But in the end of this decade it has brought me closer to God and my faith that He has a plan for me. I don't talk a ton about religion (like to keep that private) and if you don't believe in God, at least believe that everything happens for a reason. Any time I have gone through something hard, I have come out much stronger and ended up with something better. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

5- LOVE YOURSELF. I shout this one from the rooftops. You are uniquely you and no one else is special like you. I've for sure struggled with this in the last decade and if you've followed me for awhile, you know I've always shared my work towards self love and I hope that's helped someone else find their own self love. Life is too short to critique yourself. My biggest tip here is to always talk to yourself how you would to others. You wouldn't call someone ugly to their face would you? So don't speak to yourself that way. Praise yourself but remain humble. It makes life so much more enjoyable.

6- Lastly, and most important to me is integrity. My dad always reminded me of this. Your reputation will follow you throughout life and you don't want it to be a bad one. I've made mistakes, I've been a crappy friend at times, and people don't forget that stuff. If you lose someones trust, it's hard to get it back. Every decision you make in life will follow you (especially if you never leave your hometown lol). Not only that, but your guilt will follow you. Be a good person, good friend, and do the right thing because then people will remember you for your integrity and being a stand up human. You want people to be able to trust you and rely on you. You want to proudly say, I'm a good person and a good friend. You attract what you give.

As I write this out I can't help but think that these are six very important lessons I also want to teach my daughter. I'm sure she will have to learn some of this on her own as I did but hopefully I am providing a good example for her. As for 2020 and the new decade, here are some of my goals:

1- Saving money. I want to be very fiscally intelligent and explore investing, etc. Saving can be hard when life hits and I know I need to make it more of a priority now that I have a family.

2- Furthering my career is also big on my mind for 2020 and this next decade. I am finally where I want to be and I want to soak up all the learning that I can in regards to my job.

3- Furthering my blog. This will never be a career for me (I like my job) but I do enjoy it as a side hobby and helping others through my blog.

4- Sign up for more fitness challenges. I signed up for a 10k last year and even though it's a short race it was one of the best things I did! I really want to start exploring more fitness challenges and getting out of my comfort zone here.

5- A few small things, I want to prioritize sleep and hydration more, live in the moment, travel to a few new places, and get outside with Mia and Leo more. Also, I hope to get Mia involved in some kind of activity this year!

I hope ya'll had a good 2019 and decade and CHEERS to 2020!!!!


Last Minute Gift Guide for All

Christmas is just four days away so I've put together an online gift guide for all you last minute shoppers!! Everything is from Nordstrom and if you order before noon on 12/22 then it should arrive for free by Christmas Eve! Win! Also, most of these items are on sale.

I tried to find items that most men would like- like slippers, who doesn't love slippers. I also love the gloves because they work with touch screens!

These are all items I would love or have. Again, good items for all women. The gloves are cashmere and on sale!!

Miss Mia would love any of these gifts and I think any of them would be good for girls or boys. Mia is a little over two and she loves cars and kitchen items.

Reminder: no matter what you get for someone it is the thought that counts. Happy Holidays and enjoy this time with your family!!

Amazon Favorites Gift Guide

I love me some Amazon!! I also think Amazon is a good place for last minute shopping because most of the stuff can still be shipped by Christmas. The items below are some of my favorites!

The Infamous Revlon Blow Dryer
I use this thing after every hair wash and it gives my usually flat hair a TON of volume. It's like an easy at home blow out for your hair. I recommend it to everyone, lol.

Amazon Sheets
For the practical person, these are the softest sheets I've ever had and the King is under $30. They are 1800 thread count.

Clothes Steamer
I hate ironing and I also hate wrinkled clothes when I travel. This steamer is small enough to travel with and it heats up quick for easy use.

Travel Case
To add to the steamer, this travel case holds a lot (I use it for toiletries) and folds up nicely. It also comes in cute patterns.

Apple Watch Cover and Bands
I have ordered plenty of watch bands from Amazon and I have to say I love them more than the Apple ones. They hold up well and stay cleaner than the expensive ones from Apple. The cover is another one of my top favorites because it protects my watch but is not bulky.

Running Water Bottle
I really wanted one of these but the water bottle belts were a little aggressive for the shorter runs I was doing. This thing is magnetic and holds onto my pants or running belt SO well. It's also lightweight so it doesn't drag me down. The water bottle holds just enough water and doesn't leak.

3/4" Curling Iron
I have tried the T3 (expensive curling iron) and didn't love it so instead of spending too much money on a curling iron, I purchased this $24 one and it's the best I've ever used. My hair does not curl well so this is tried and true. It's also cute like the T3 but much less expensive. (UPDATE: This sold out on Amazon so I had to add two more links to shop here and here.)

Echo Dot
This was something that was gifted to us and it's become everything I never knew I always needed (or wanted). It is affordable and I keep it in my kitchen so Alexa can make my grocery list, update me on Amazon packages, and tell me the weather. I love it!


Beauty Lovers Gift Guide

You have to be careful with this one because you don't want to buy someone acne cream and offend them. (kind off LOL'ing here because if you listen to the Ty Bentli show the 10 minute tune this morning was about offensive gifts) anyhoooo, if you know someone is into beauty items or they may not get offended at good quality products, then this gift guide will help you. I've tried all of these items and LOVE them.

Eye Shadow Palettes
These are my two favorite eye shadow palettes because they are universally flattering and have good day to day colors. I have used and loved both almost daily.

Lip Gloss
These are my two go-to lip glosses. They are almost identical lip plumper's with good color. The Milani one is less expensive but just as good.

Eye Cream
This eye cream is the best I've used, hands down! I do have "crows feet" as they call them but this eye cream has significantly reduced how deep my lines were already getting.

I have tried a few Tula products and these three are my absolute favorites. The eye balm is cooling which is good for puffiness and it gives my eyes a nice glow under my makeup. You can use it over makeup too. The exfoliating mask is one of my favorite masks of all time! My skin feels so good afterwards. And the gel cream is the perfect hydrator for my skin without being heavy.

Face Oils
If you would have told me a year ago that I would want to put oil on my face I would have argued. But these two oils have so many good skin benefits. The Vitamin C is a major anti-agent and the Vitamin E hydrates my skin like no other. I use the Vitamin C daily and the Vitamin E once a week. They do not break me out.

These can get expensive and this one is inexpensive and has various colors for various skin tones or for eyeshadow. I love it!

NYX Lips
These three lip items are my top favorite lip stick, lip gloss, and lip liner BY FAR. I use the lipstick and liner daily. The color and quality is so good. This is the best matte lip stick EVER. The gloss is good for a hint of color or a shine over the lipstick. The liner stays on all day if I let it. Also, helloooo affordable.

Setting Spray
This is the best setting spray and it was actually a gifted to me. I wouldn't have bought it on my own so I was happy it was a gift because now I'm hooked. I only use a tinted moisturizer and it is still on well at the end of a long work day.

Lastly, the Best Gift-The Derma Roller & Jade Roller
Derma rolling can be really expensive but this item is $20 on Amazon and it leaves my face feeling AMAZING. I recommend it for everyone. It exfoliates and helps with anti-aging. My face was glowing the day after I used it. I'm convinced everyone needs this! The Jade Roller helps with anti-aging and it really just feels nice on my face. It's under $15.

Happy Shopping!

Week of Sales

Here I will be sharing and updating all of the Black Friday sales from my favorite retailers throughout the week. I won't be updating on Thanksgiving since that is a time for family! Hope this guide helps!

Abercrombie - 50% off entire store and free shipping

Aerie/American Eagle - 40% off and free shipping, 50% off all sweaters and sweatshirts

Amazon - lots of good Cyber Monday deals all on the home page, including an Echo Dot for $22

Anthropologie - love this site, hardly shop here because of prices so 30% off today is a good deal! I love their home items. 50% off sale, free shipping over $100

Express - 50% off everything and free shipping, my favorite jeans are here and I only buy them on sale!! They fit all body types.

H&M - 30% and free shipping (the sweater I wore for Thanksgiving is included in this, good legging sweater and so soft)

J. Crew - right now it is 50% off with code MONDAY, including sale items (this is a good time to buy a nice coat)

J. Crew Factory - has 60% off everything, you can get another version of my favorite coat for $100!! Normally almost $300. Get an extra 10% off with code SOAMAZING

Mia Karson Shop - I will be having 10% off site wide, and tons of new items up starting Saturday for Small Business Saturday no code needed :) ends Monday night

Nordstrom - they have sales on various good items like some Sam Edelman boots, Tory Burch bags, etc. It's easy to search the sale and I will link some items in my Like to Know It app.

Nordstrom Rack - they have various flash sales listed on the home page and they have a "spend and get" event going, spend $100 and get $20, spend $150 get $30, spend $250 get $75

Old Navy - 50% off everything

Peloton - if you have been wanting the bike they have a deal for all accessories with bike purchase, you can use my code JS2FMJ

Pottery Barn - 25% off everything and free shipping with code CYBER, 30-50% off slippers, 50% off throws, etc. all deals listed on the home page

Rebecca Minkoff - 25% off of $100 with code THANKS25 this includes sale which takes a lot of those bags under $100 or 30% off of $250 with code THANKS30, THANKS35 gets you $35 off of $300 and THANKS40 gets you $40 off $350

Sephora - lots of gifts under $15 here or they have 50% off some items like the Urban Decay Naked2 and Naked3 palettes which NEVER go on sale and are probably some of the best, most universal eye shadow palettes. My bloom palette is back on sale and half off!!

Sole Society - 40% off site wide! I just ordered the travel bag linked here and it is VERY nice quality. I kept waiting for a sale!

Spanx - their leggings are 20% and I do love mine but would only buy them on sale, they hold you in well and can be dressed up or down

Target - they have a lot of deals right now that are easy to see on the home page, way better than Black Friday in my opinion!!

Tory Burch - 30% off $250 with code THANKS and they released a new crossbody just for today

Ulta - $10 off $50 with code CYBERMON19

Victoria Emerson - 50% off all collections!!

Walmart - they are doing the same thing as Target with all the deals on the home page. Again, a good spot for deals on toys, kitchen, electronics.

If there is a store you'd like to see just message me, I'm only sharing deals that I feel are really worth it. I may add a few more through the weekend.


Green Bean Casserole & Apple Pie Recipes

This year I am also going to attempt these two recipes. I searched for the perfect ones so I will have to update later on how they turned out. Sharing what I picked below.

For the green bean casserole I wanted something very tasty and made from scratch. I found a lot of easy recipes but I didn't want an easy one. Linked here.

For the Apple Pie recipe I am going to do an Apple Crisp Pie. First I will use my homemade pie crust, linked here. Then I will use this recipe for the apple crisp- linked here.

Can't wait for Thanksgiving!!

The BEST Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Thanksgiving is right around the corner so I'm sharing my favorite Pumpkin Pie recipe. I can't take  credit for this one but I have made it for several years and it is the best Pumpkin Pie I have ever had.

First off I make the pie crust from scratch. It's very easy to double this recipe and make two pies, etc. etc.

Pie crust recipe here.

Then I make the filling and I do use canned pumpkin, but this filling is sooooo good. It is seasoned perfectly. This makes plenty of filling and I usually have a little left over.

Pie filling recipe here.

Both recipes are very easy to follow and have never failed me!


Peloton Review

Recently I've had a lot of questions on my Peloton so I figured I would round up my answers in a blog post! I figured now is a good time to share since they just started their holiday sale where you buy the bike and get the accessory pack for free.

The biggest question is obviously if it is worth it. For me, it was 100% worth it. When I bought my Peloton, it was just Mia and I and I had a hard time working, raising her, and going to the gym. The gym just became stressful because I was trying to get in and out so quickly. When I was able to work out from home I enjoyed it again and it made it so much easier to work out quickly or do a longer workout while Mia was asleep. This also meant more time with her. I love that not only do I have my bike but I have a ton of classes for weight training, yoga, etc. Now if you are the type of person who can't stick to something, I would not recommend the Peloton. It is an investment and you don't want it to be collecting dust.

Pricing wise, the Peloton can be paid in full or you can do monthly no interest payments. The classes are around $40/month on top of your Peloton payments if you do it that way. You don't have to buy the classes, you can just get on and ride the Peloton. I purchased my bike after Black Friday (holiday season) and they had the deal on buying one and basically getting a mat, shoes, headphones, weights, and heart rate monitor for free (going on right now).

Do you need just Peloton accessories? No you don't! You just need shoes that clip in and light weights that fit on the weight racks (behind the seat) for the arm workouts on the bike. The intervals and arms classes do not need heavy weights, they are the type of classes where you burn out your arms so 3lbs was all I needed and that's the heaviest Peloton offers.

Some other Peloton perks are that they have people come and set it up for you and give you the run down on how to take care of it. You can easily find how to adjust your bike for your body and they have a lot of beginner classes as well that discuss form. The classes are SO motivating and so good. I have not taken a class that I did not like. They have meditation, yoga, running, strength, spin, etc. I have the app on my phone so that I can do the strength, yoga, etc. on the floor. You will want good wifi for the classes on the bike tablet. I haven't had any glitches with the bike or tablet and my shoes are still in good condition as well. The bike is very well made (as it should be) and easy to use. The tablet updates frequently and hasn't give me any trouble. The maintenance on the bike is simple as well and you can easily move the bike (should still have someone help you with this).

I use to think that working out at home would be un-motivating but the fact that I can get a workout done from home quickly and sometimes in my pajamas, is actually very motivating. They also have monthly and seasonal challenges that you can sign up for to keep you motivated. Other riders can see you if they're in the same class with you and they motivate you as well. If your friends have bikes you can add them to your Peloton friend list and motivate each other or see what classes they've taken so you can try them too. They have live rides and sometimes the instructors will shout you out if you've hit a big mile marker like 100 rides. You also get a shirt for hitting that century ride, how fun! They have theme rides and holiday rides and BACKSTREET BOY RIDES, it's all good stuff- trust me.

Hope this helps you weigh your options!


Chicago Travel Guide

I oddly love these kind of pictures when I travel

We absolutely loved our trip to Chicago! I couldn't wait to get back and share a blog post on this vacation. Chicago is like New York with more space and lots of hidden gems to visit. I'm sharing a few of our favorite parts of this trip below if you ever plan on visiting. Most pictures are unfiltered so you can see Chicago in all its glory!

First off- the River Architecture tour. This tour takes you through the Chicago River via boat and talks about he history of Chicago. It was really interesting, had amazing views, and the boat had a bar (vacation plus). We booked through and our tour guide was awesome.

Second- I'm pretty sure I had the best Truffle Gnocchi in my entire life at Siena Tavern. This is a nice Italian restaurant on West Kinzie St. if you're looking for a nice dinner in a dark, classy environment. That Gnocchi is on my list of about five meals that I will never forget about.

We stayed at the St. Jane hotel and because we booked early, the price wasn't bad for one room split three ways. It's a nice, boutique hotel that was close to some fun bars, restaurants, breakfast spots, the lake, and Millennium park. I would 10/10 stay here again.

Millennium park is obviously a must see, it's beautiful even in the fall and has the famous Bean. The Bean wasn't as impressive as I thought it would be but it's still cool to check that off the bucket list.

One morning we ran from our hotel through Millennium park and onto the trail along the Michigan Lake which was beautiful. The lake and parks in this area are a must see!

Stan's donuts was right by our hotel as was Garrets popcorn. You need a pretzel bagel and Chicago mix popcorn in your life! Trust me!

One day we had lunch on the river at Beatnik on the River and it was one of the cutest restaurants I've ever been in! It was filled with plants and global vibes. The food was awesome and different with things on the menu like the delicious Baba Ghanoush. There are lots of neat restaurants on the river that were still nice in the fall but would be ever more amazing in the summer.

Last but not least, you have to visit the top of the Sears (now Willis) Tower. It's like a $22 ticket and you can stand in the Sky Deck which is a clear box hanging off the side of the 103rd floor. It's scary, touristy, but awesome!! This tourist attraction did not disappoint.

I'm sure there are a million more awesome parts to Chicago but these were the best parts of our three day trip. Bookmark this for a future trip! I loved this city.


Gifts for the In Laws

My first gift guide of the season is here! I'm trying to venture away from your basic gift guides that you can find pretty much anywhere. I'm kicking off the gift guide season with a gift guide for your in laws. A very important gift, if you ask me!

I absolutely love this rustic cheese board/cutting board that can be personalized. It's a very nice, affordable, and thoughtful gift for anyone who likes to entertain. Add cheeses, crackers, etc. to make it a full gift basket.

Of course I had to include one of my own products here. A personalized or holiday doormat is also a fun/affordable option for an in law(s) who likes to decorate.

If your in laws enjoy coffee, these mugs are personalized and very unique! Pottery Barn has my favorite mugs and they frequently go on sale. You can either do a set with their last name initial or a set with their first name initials. Throw in some coffee to make this a cute gift set.

I had to throw in some ideas for the more practical person. These are a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets! Make sure to get them something they will use (if they're not a wine drinker don't get them the wine bottle opener, obviously) but I approve of all these items. You can also make a little gift basket out of it with food or other small gadgets.

If your in laws enjoy cocktails, I love this personalized bar set. It's a little on the pricey side but it's very unique! You can add in a drink recipe book so they can get to mixing!

Everyone loves a good robe, slippers, and coffee mug. This is another sweet, gift option that can be made into a gift basket.

Lastly, I always think it would be great to treat any in law to a spay day or date night on you. Sometimes people don't like "things" they instead prefer thoughtful activities or a gift card to their favorite place. Then they can go on a date and discuss how great of a daughter or son in law you are *wink wink*.

See what I mean, we all love a good robe, slippers, and mug full of coffee!!


$19 Pantry Organization

This is a small space in every home that can get a little crazy, quickly. I love seeing all of the Container Store organized pantry's but have you ever seen the prices on those containers?! No thanks!  So I went to the dollar store and organized my entire pantry for $19. Sharing the details and tricks below.

A mess. I couldn't even walk into the pantry and a lot of items went bad because I didn't know they were in this mess.

I left only large items on the floor (trash cans, dog food, trash bags, and paper towels so that I had room to step into my pantry.

I organized items in sections- top to bottom:
-Bags and utensils
-Canned goods, pastas, lunch items
-Breakfast items
-Oils, cooking items, Leo's treats (above the dog food), and cooking utensils (toothpicks, pie tins, etc.)

On the other side I organized a follows- top to bottom:
-Cereal and my sweet snacks, I store these up high in a container where I can't see them so usually I forget about them but if I want a sweet treat I have something. Balance, don't restrict yourself but also I think it's okay to avoid temptation.
-Breads, pastas, nuts
-Mia foods and snacks and my own snacks
-Seasoning and tea's/drink mixes

Before I went to the store I made sure to map out my pantry so I knew how I wanted to organize and what I needed to accomplish that. It took me less than an hour and less than $20! I also had Mia's bibs hung on the back of the door but we don't need those anymore. Now I've been able to keep it organized and food isn't going bad because it's not hidden. Let me know if you like this post and I can share more affordable organization tips!
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