Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Minimalism at Work

While I don't consider myself a true minimalist (I'm pretty sure my kids' collection of toys could confirm that), I value a lot of the ideas that minimalism can teach us. I've found minimalism especially helpful when applied to the way I work. 

1. An uncluttered workspace, provides space for a clearer mind. This doesn't mean your desk has to be sterile. When you remove the clutter, only the most treasured pieces are left behind. That photo of your family or the quote that inspires and encourages you are no longer buried behind piles of junk.  

2. Minimalism helps us to focus on quality, not quantity. Instead of doing a lot of things that are just good enough, wouldn't we all rather do a few things well? Some days it seems impossible to get everything on my list accomplished. Minimalism teaches us to say no to the things that aren't essential and pare down our to-dos to those things that really matter.  

3. It rejects the idea that we need to "keep up" with anyone else and gives us the proper perspective to focus on where we are now and where we can improve. As an author, it can be tough not to compare my own work to someone else's awards, sales numbers, or contracts. But I'm learning that energy is better spent on honing my craft. When we don't feel like we're competing with everyone in our field, it gives us the luxury of celebrating the successes of others. 

4. Minimalism strips away pretense. Your work is no longer about what everyone else thinks but about the actual work itself, which is freeing and inspiring. 

5. Relationships trump everything else. When it comes down to it, the reason minimalists strive to have less is so that they can pour more into the relationships in their lives. This can help build positive working relationships and can also help you strike a healthier work/family balance.  

Here are a few of the thinkers and teachers on minimalism that I enjoy:

Friday, May 22, 2020

Just for Fun - Family Theme Nights

I’m pretty low key when it comes to being a mom.

I don’t cook elaborate meals. Those amazing food bloggers lose me around ingredient number five. 

I’m terrible at creating scrapbooks, scheduling family photos, and doing all the things I’ll probably wish I had done when my kids are out of the house. 

If a craft involves anything I don’t already have at home, I skip it. I don’t even own a hot glue gun. Gasp! Maybe this is why God gave me boys. 

My family still manages to have fun doing other things. One of the activities my boys have been loving is having a weekly theme night for dinner. We choose a meal and corresponding costumes, decorations (stuff we already own, of course, because I’m cheap) and sometimes even music to go with our theme.

It all started when my husband was making Hawaiian burgers. I’m the odd person who loves teriyaki sauce and pineapple on her burger. To be completely honest, I'd had a stressful day, and I wasn't in a great mood. I was doing my best not to let my sour attitude rub off on the rest of the family. I remembered that in the cabinet we had some plastic leis and coconut cups from Dollar Tree, so we pulled them out.

My boys (11 and 6) loved it, so they took the idea and ran with it. So far, we’ve done:

Hawaiian (Hawaiian burgers)

Cowboy (cowboy stew)

American / red, white, and blue (burgers, hot dogs, and baked beans - like I said, I’m not a fancy cook. Apparently, we eat a lot of burgers.)

Sloppy (Manwiches) My 11-year-old came up with this one. We dressed sloppily to eat our sloppy joes. Ha! My mom, who lives with us, even let the boys put crazy lipstick on her. She's a trooper. 

Next week, is French. They want to wear black and white striped shirts and paint on tiny mustaches. My French food repertoire is limited, so my husband had the idea to make breakfast for dinner with French toast. Brilliant!

Weekly Theme Night is a simple, affordable (yay for cheap!) way to have some fun and make memories with your kids. 

Give your family a chance to come up with the ideas. That’s half the fun and they’ll probably surprise you with their creativity.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The Fear with Becoming a Blue Belt

Moving up from a white belt to blue belt has been one of the most fun, exciting times in my Jiu Jitsu journey. But soon after, insecurities started creeping in. Did I really deserve this? Do my teammates think I deserved this? Is there a target on my back now? 

I’ve spent the last two years as a light feather weight, master 2, female, white belt. I had every excuse to struggle with bigger opponents. Get submitted by someone new? Oh well. Struggle learning a new move?  It happens. Then, I received my blue belt, and I felt this pressure  (imaginary or not) to be better, and I didn’t want it to steal the joy Jiu jitsu has given me. So how do you make the transition with excitement and a growth mindset instead of fear? 

  1. Trust your coach. It’s not your job to decide whether you deserve a promotion. Someone else with more experience than you gets to make that call. Your job is simply to show up and put in the work. You’re at this gym for a reason. Do you trust your professor or head instructor? If so, believe that he or she sees you as a blue belt. This person promoted you for a reason. Your gym and instructors want to be represented in a positive light. You earned this. Be careful if you have a tendency toward negative self talk. Don’t listen to the lies. You deserve this. 
  2. Realize that people aren’t thinking or talking about you as much as you probably think. Sure. You may be the talk of the gym the day you get your new belt, but people’s lives are busy and their attention spans are short. If they are saying negative things, it’s because they’re dealing with their own stuff. People have their own hang ups and insecurities that can be placed on us. Don’t accept that baggage. It’s not yours to carry. Your success doesn’t equal their failure. Move on and focus on your own progress. 
  3. You now need to step up your game...but maybe not in the ways you might think. The step up your Jiu Jitsu game will come in time like it has from the beginning. Whether you like it or not, you’re now a leader to a segment of people in your gym. How’s your attitude? Are you complaining in front of newer members? Are you setting a good example for others? Are you showing up consistently? Now is the time to push through a difficult roll instead of giving up. Now is the time to have the courage to try new things and learn how to deal with being in uncomfortable positions. 
  4. You should roll out of a place of continued growth and learning and not fear of being submitted. I get it. None of us want to be the blue belt submitted by a white belt, but if that becomes our new goal in Jiu jitsu, we’re going to become another statistic about practitioners quitting at blue belt. If you’re submitted, your job is to learn from and demonstrate to others how to take it graciously and how to keep going because chances are they’ll be in the same situation someday.
  5. Enjoy it. This is what you’ve worked so hard for. Now is your time to take the basics and dive deeper into the art. Explore new facets of the sport. Try new things, push yourself, and have fun

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Best Christmas Gifts for Your Best Friend

A best friend is a special gift, and you want to honor that with a special Christmas present. Here are some ideas that are sure to make her smile.

*Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links, which means this site could receive a commission (at no cost to you) for purchases made. 

1. Customizable Ring

This ring can be inscribed with a sweet message or an inside joke.

2. Soul Sister Mug

This cute mug will remind her every morning that you've got her back.

3. Teddy Bear Sweater

It's stylish and trendy! If you wear the same size maybe you can even borrow it. :)

4. Taco T-Shirt

If your friendship is NOT based on hours spent together at this gym, share a laugh with this hilarious shirt.

5. Weekender Bag

When is the last time you took a girls' trip? This bag is perfect for a fun weekend away with your bestie. 

6. Trifold Vanity Makeup Mirror

Getting ready for a night out? This mirror is magnified and looks pretty on a vanity.

7. Boho Wall Hanging

Help her make her house a home with this unique macrame organizer.

8. Good Vibes Hat

You've got nothing but good vibes coming your way with this hat. Perfect for an outing with your friend.

9. Girl, Stop Apologizing Book

What's almost as good as a best friend--a great book!

10. Gift Card

You know your friend inside and out, and you know that she probably would love to pick out her own gift. You can never go wrong with a gift card.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Best Christmas Gifts for Mom

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? If not, it's time to start making your list and thinking about what to give the most important people in your life. No matter your budget, we have some great ideas for your mom or the mom in your life. 

*Disclosure - This post contains affiliate links, which means this site could receive a commission (at no cost to you) for purchases made. 

1. Pajamas, Robes, and Sleepwear

This is something most women don't often buy for themselves, so it makes a great gift. 

Hotouch Women's Pajama Set 


2. Kitchen Items

Even if the mom in your life isn't an amateur chef, she'll love something cute to spruce up the kitchen. 

Sticky Toffee Cotton Flour Sack Kitchen Towels

3. Bath Products

Another item that she won't often buy for herself, great smelling, pampering bath items tell your mom that she deserves some well-deserved time to herself. 

Aprilis Bath Bombs Gift Set

4. Accessories 

Whether it's gloves, scarves, wallets or handbags, these are everyday items that can feel special. Plus, you can't go wrong with cashmere.

Women's Thick Soft Cashmere Wool Pashmina Shawl Wrap Scarf

5. Decor

Take one look around her home, and you can get a pretty good idea of what style she loves. Whether it's farmhouse, traditional or boho, a new decor item feels like a real treat. 

Felt Letter Board with 10x10 Inch Rustic Wood Frame

6. Something unique

If you're buying for the mom who has everything, think outside of the box. Honor her heritage with the gift of learning more about her and your family. 

23andMe DNA Test - Health + Ancestry Personal Genetic Service


7. Her New Favorite Cup

Whether she loves tea, coffee, water, or something stronger, any mom would love a more stylish way to stay hydrated.

Simple Modern 24oz Classic Tumbler with Straw Lid & Flip Lid - Travel Mug

8. Something to keep her warm

Who doesn't love to snuggle up with a cozy blanket? Not to mention there are so many cool options. 

techcity Chunky Knit Blanket 

9. Jewelry 

Jewelry doesn't have to be expensive. Whether it's a bracelet, ring, necklace, or earrings, there are great options at all price points. Bonus, you don't have to worry about getting the right size.

AZORA Womens Leather Cuff Bracelet

10. Gift Card

Still not sure those are the right gifts for mom? How about a gift card? Add a heartfelt card, so she knows you care. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

10 Weeks of Romance Giveaways!

Welcome to WEEK 9 of the 10 Weeks of Romance Giveaways!

Ten of some of the best authors in the inspirational and sweet romance genres are hosting a 10 Weeks of Romance Giveaway to celebrate their new Resort to Romance series!

Here’s the series premise:

It’s Matchmaking Week at an all-inclusive resort on a private island in the Bahamas. Each guest has been expertly paired and is here to enjoy one full week with their match. While there’s no money-back guarantee on the paid trip, the participants are guaranteed to find love!

Each week beginning Tuesday, February 19th through the week of Tuesday, May 7th, a new book by a new author in the series will release, and you have the chance to win one, some, or the grand prize which includes all ten novellas plus a $150 Amazon gift card!

Here’s how it works: Register at the rafflecopter below. We’ll randomly select a winner each Tuesday. And the great thing about this giveaway is the books build with every author’s new release! That means your entries roll over each week all the way up the grand prize.

This week’s prize is: Rematched by Julie Jarnagin

Courtney Bailey is ready for her new adventure, fostering kids in need. First, she’s agreed to go through a matchmaking week at a Caribbean resort. With no interest in actually falling for anyone while she’s there, Courtney hopes the crazy scheme will satisfy her mother who’s worried Courtney has given up on love. Courtney’s shocked when she’s matched with her ex-fiancĂ©, Tyler Dunn, but giving into feelings for Tyler would only ruin her big plans.

After leaving his ten-year career in the army because of a back injury, Tyler is heading to Joy Island to escape his problems and decide what his next step in life will be. He never expected that trying to figure out his future would lead him back to the most painful part of his past—Courtney Bailey. Still, he’s enticed by the thought of spending the week with his gorgeous ex, but when he starts falling for her for a second time, he doesn’t know if he can handle another heartbreak. 

Be sure to stop by Johnnie Alexander's blog next Tuesday to see what book is being added to the giveaway.

Here's where you enter: Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Cover Reveal - Molly - Beach Brides Series

I'm excited to reveal my cover for Molly, Book #3 in the Perfect Match Series.  This new romance series is written by six USA Today Bestselling Authors and each story promises to be a lot of fun! 

Molly - Perfect Match

Molly McShea, a relationship columnist for a national women’s magazine, is assigned to write an article about Perfect Match, a new matchmaking travel agency. When her date doesn’t show, she’s determined not to lose the promotion she’s been working toward or the chance to redeem her reputation after an ugly, public break-up.
Sean Logan started a new life as a surf instructor so that he could escape his painful past. He’d let himself get pressured into signing up for a dating site, but he finds out his date is planning to post his photo all over social media and write about their week together in a popular magazine. He knows he can’t let Molly get in the way of his privacy or his brother’s quiet life on the island. But he must ultimately decide if falling in love with his perfect match could be worth all the risks.

You can view all the Perfect Match covers and read the blurbs on my Facebook page.
All six books in the Perfect Match Series are coming May 1st through June 5th 2018, and they'll be available for pre-order in April. Grab your beach umbrella and prepare for six weeks of romance and fun in the sun with a brand-new series brought to you by USA Today bestselling authors… Perfect Match! A follow-on series to last summer's hit, Beach Brides!. Six exciting, sweet novellas linked by a unifying theme. You’ll want to read each one!


Six women receive invitations from Dawson Yates, owner of Perfect Match, a brand-new online matchmaking travel agency for a free week-long vacation to the island of her choice. As part of an extensive promotional campaign, Dawson expects to make six perfect matches that he can use to champion his business. The women expect to meet the men of their dreams. What none of them anticipates is the chaos that ensues when six couples who were strangers before agreeing to spend the week together discover that love is a lot more complicated than a match made by computer algorithms. Join Bree, Marni, Molly, Jade, Ava, and Maeve as they embark on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in the pursuit of love.

Find all the Perfect Match novellas at Amazon!

BREE (Raine English) – May 1, 2018
MARNI (Aileen Fish) – May 8, 2018
MOLLY (Julie Jarnagin) – May 15, 2018
JADE (Rachelle Ayala – May 22, 2018)
AVA (Denise Devine) – May 29, 2018
MAEVE (Josie Riviera) – June 5, 2018

**$2.99 on Kindle, FREE in Kindle Unlimited**