Reflection

This past year (or better yet, all of 2020/2021) has been quite the whirlwind for all of us. For obvious reasons, it’s forced us into feelings and emotions that we’ve probably never experienced before. It’s hard to even remember what life was like before “all of this”. And while the world has had it’s dark moments, my personal life has been the opposite. How is it that I’ve had these life-changing good moments while the world has been in the gutter?

I’ve neglected this blog before, so it’s no surprise I haven’t signed back on in over a year. It’s what I do. I start things and don’t finish. Classic Sara. However, if this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that you need to keep going. For instance, I’ve gone back to school. Virtually that is. Next week I’ll be entering my third semester, taking four classes. Lord help me. But I’m more determined than ever to get my associate’s degree. It’s the thing that I’ve started so many times and just haven’t followed through with. For me, it’ll be a real accomplishment to get that diploma.

Health-wise; I haven’t been great. I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to that. While I haven’t gone completely off the rails, I certainly took a step back in my fitness journey. So I’ve decided to get back on the bike, quite literally. I bought a Peloton and have been loving it. I look forward to those days when I hear Cody Rigsby and his sassy words of wisdom. I also decided to sign up for a 10K in November. While I’m no stranger to races; I’ve done several 5Ks and even a half-marathon, this one feels different. It’s like a reset in my running journey. I used to run quite a bit and that just slipped through the cracks. So having this race on the calendar will ignite my love for running again. Because who doesn’t want that runners-high?

And personally; my relationship with David has blossomed into a beautiful partnership. I moved in last fall and we’ve been making this once bachelor-pad, a home for both of us. While no major renovations have occurred yet, we’ve done little projects here and there. And even though we constantly get the age-old question “when are you getting married?”, I’m enjoying what we have now and look forward to the future.

So needless to say, I just felt like writing this morning. There’s no rhyme or reason for this post, but sometimes you just need to brain-dump. And for me, those are the posts I enjoy reading the most.

XO – Sara

Morning Skincare Routine

Hey there! Today I’m bringing to you my basic morning skincare routine. In my Curology post, I mentioned that I wanted to dial-back with the products I use and really start from scratch. A little background on my skin; I have always battled with acne. When I was a teenager, it was definitely worse. Looking back now, I don’t how I survived without makeup, lol. But back then us girls didn’t know about good foundation or concealer! Entering my 20’s, my skin started to get better. And honestly, I wasn’t doing anything special and certainly no products that come to mind. However, now that I’m in my late 20’s (say whatttt), I’ve started to get those pesky pimples again. And even though I know how to “control” it, I still have scars. And in all seriousness, I’m just not comfortable in my own skin.

With all that being said, I’ve tried countless products and regimens. High-end, drug-store, EVERYTHING. So finally I decided to stop trying everything, and just stick with the basics. Keeping my routine to a minimum has helped for sure, simply because I do have sensitive skin.

Typically in the morning I don’t use that many products. Cleanser, moisturizer, DONE.

Cleansers – CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser / BeautyCounter Nourishing Cream Cleanser – I’ve talked about my favorite BeautyCounter products before, including this cleanser. I love using this in the morning because it is so gentle and nourishing.  I use the CeraVe cleanser at night as well, so sometimes I alternate. This cleanser is a great drugstore option and I again, can only say positive things.

Moisturizers – BeautyCounter CounterMatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion / Olay Daily Moisturizer with sunscreen – Back in January I said that this lotion from BeautyCounter was “meh”, but after using it for months I’ve really grown to loving it. I love how lightweight it feels, especially in the morning. I used to use this Olay Moisturizer way back in the day. For some reason I decided to grab it one day, and now I know why I used to love it. It’s a great option when you’re looking to add sunscreen to your routine. By now, we all know that you should be wearing sunscreen every day. And while I admit that I do slack in this dept, this moisturizer helps.

Honorable Mention – CeraVe Hydrating Tinted Sunscreen – This is a fairly new product for me, so I don’t have a strong opinion yet. However, I do like using this when I’m not wearing makeup. It has a sheer tint to it, which smooths out your skin (if that makes sense). I’m heading to the beach next week, so I know I’ll most likely be wearing this everyday.

And that’s pretty much it! Like I said, keeping my routine simple has helped tremendously with my skin. And although it’s nowhere near perfect, it’s a lot better than before!

Links: CeraVe Cleanser | BeautyCounter Cleanser | BeautyCounter Moisturizer | Olay Moisturizer

My Go-To Summer Outfit

The Carolina heat is upon us! Being that it’s officially summer, it was time to go through my closet and do a little refresh. While I do have another post coming up about my summer basics, I decided to share an outfit that will most definitely be on repeat.

Full disclosure here; I hate shorts. I’m just not a shorts person and never have been. And while in NY you could get away with a whole summer not wearing them, NC is completely different. The humid heat is next level down here. So with complete luck, I’ve found the perfect summer shorts. These pull-on shorts are the true hero of the summer. They are so comfortable but also look stylish. You can easily dress these up or down too!

The key to wearing these loose-fitting shorts is to wear them with a form fitting shirt. When you have loose on bottom, you should do “tight” on top. And lately I’ve been loving these high neck tanks. They are a great staple to have in your closet, and another option to dress up and down.

These shorts are from Target and I was able to snag them when they were on sale for $15 bucks. (Tip: Size down with these. They will stretch and loosen throughout wearing). I got the olive and black colors because I tend to stick with those neutral colors to begin with. And because these colors are so neutral, you can make countless outfits using different tanks/colors on top. Which side note; is perfect when you’re on vaca and looking to pack less!

I also picked up these tanks from Target and I wish I grabbed more! These were $8 each and a complete steal in my opinion. Tucking these into the shorts gives you some shape and really accentuates the waist. And not only do these tanks work with these shorts, but you can wear them with some jeans and wedges for a date night.

My wardrobe goal going forward is to stick with basics and create a capsule. Having these core pieces in your closet makes choosing an outfit less daunting and definitely less stressful. Now is the perfect time to go through those drawers and really decide if it’s worth keeping. Stay tuned for that post!

Links: Pull-On Shorts | Slim Fit Tank Top 

BBQ Chicken Pull-Apart Sliders

Happy Monday y’all! Hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed Father’s Day. David and I kept it easy this weekend and hung around the house. On Saturday I made these yummy sliders that were so delicious that I just have to share with you guys.

Ingredients

  • Cooked, shredded chicken (I used 5 chicken breasts, in the crockpot)
  • BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s) – 18 oz bottle
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Dinner Rolls (I used the Sweet Hawaiian kind)
  • Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • Crispy Onion Strings
  • Garlic Butter

Directions 

  • In the crockpot, whisk together the BBQ sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder
  • Place the chicken in the mixture, coating it evenly, and cook on high for about 4 hours
  • Once the chicken is cooked, shred apart and let it sit to soak up all the sauce
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Slice dinner rolls hamburger style and lay bottoms in a greased pan
  • Spread the shredded chicken on bottom of rolls
  • Top with mozzarella cheese (the more the merrier!) and crispy onion strings
  • Cover with the tops and spread butter on top
  • Cover with foil and bake for 10-15 mins

We had these with some mac salad, coleslaw, and potato chips. The ultimate summer dinner if you ask me! To make this even easier, you can totally use rotisserie chicken and just BBQ sauce from the bottle. Just pull apart the chicken and mix it together. Then you elevate the anticipation all together, lol. But I will say the smell of the chicken was divine and worth the wait.

David and I both loved these sliders and even had leftovers the next day. Because this dish was so easy to make, it will for sure be a repeat!

 

Crockpot Shredded Chicken | Burrito Bowls

If you’ve been following along, you know I’m a big fan of meal prepping. Even if it’s cutting up fruit and veggies to have on standby or full-on meals available to grab, it’s extremely helpful. A great and easy way to cook up chicken all at once is using the crockpot. There are so many recipes and variations that you can do too. This week I was craving Mexican food, so I decided to make burrito bowls.

 

Ingredients

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Rotel (I used mild)
  • Brown Rice
  • Black Beans
  • Southwestern Style Corn
  • Shredded Cheese (topping)
  • Sour Cream (topping)

Directions 

  1. Place the chicken breasts (I used 4) on the bottom of crockpot
  2. Sprinkle packet of taco seasoning on top
  3. Pour can of Rotel over chicken
  4. Cook on high for 4 hours / Low for 8 hours
  5. Once cooked, use 2 forks to shred chicken
  6. Rinse black beans and drain, then pour into crockpot
  7. Drain corn and pour into crockpot
  8. Mix together chicken, corn, and beans
  9. Cook brown rice (I used the microwavable kind which makes it even easier)
  10. Divide out the rice into containers, then put the chicken mixture on top

Notes

  • Make sure everything has cooled before putting in fridge
  • When ready to eat, heat up in the microwave – usually about 2 mins or so
  • Add whatever toppings you’d like! I had sour cream and cheese already, so I just used that. But more salsa and lettuce would be great too.

Pump House | Rock Hill, SC

Over the weekend David and I had ourselves a lunch date at Pump House in Rock Hill, SC. I heard about this place from my sister, who recently went there for her wedding anniversary. Because we are slowly coming out of pandemic mode, restaurants are (thankfully) starting to open up. And honestly, it was nice to actually go out! It definitely felt a little weird with the servers wearing masks, but they seemed to be in good spirits too.

Pump House is located in the “Riverwalk” community and sits right along the Catawaba River. I’ve never been in this area, so it was nice to do some sight seeing. We ended up getting there early, so we drove around and scoped out the community. There are some shops and a couple restaurants and they are continuously building brand-new gorgeous homes.

For lunch we sat on the patio overlooking the river. It was a hot day but luckily the patio is covered and they had fans blowing. Being that it was so hot, there were many people floating down the river. Looks like fun!

Let me first say that their lunch menu is what really sold us on trying this place out. Looks like there are so many yummy options to choose from! For an app we decided on the meatballs, which consisted of house-ground tenderloin and pork, grape jelly chili sauce, and pimento cheese grits.

David and I LOVED this dish. The combination of the sweet and spicy jelly was perfect and the cheese grits was a nice addition. And the meatball itself was delicious. Melted right in your mouth. Highly recommend!

We ended up both getting the sweet tea fried chicken sandwich for our meal. When the server described this as a favorite, how could you say no? He also told us that the chicken marinates in the sweet tea for hours beforehand.

At first glance the sandwich looked great. Nice brioche bun, honey Dijon, and cheddar cheese. It also had pickles but I wasn’t too fond of those. I’m not sure if I just got a bad batch, but they were almost not pickle-y enough. More along the lines of cucumber, which I despise. As far as the chicken, it was okay. We were both disappointed on how tough it was. We both ended up having some stuck in our teeth, lol. I hope that ours was just a fluke and normally this dish is great. But next time I’d give something else to try.

All and all it was a great outing. Like I said, it was nice to just get out of the house and be able to sit in a restaurant. Also, this was only a 35 min drive from Charlotte, so it was pretty convenient. If your in the area, I would definitely suggest going to Pump House!

June Reading List

Can you believe it’s June already?! In my eyes that means it’s summer time. And with summer ahead, I want to challenge myself to read more. Here’s whats on tap for this month.

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain – I just started this book today and I’m excited to dive in more! This book was recommended by sister who loved it, so I have high hopes.

Get Out Of Your Own Way by Dave Hollis – You know I’m a sucker for a good personal development book. I like to read a chapter every morning just to do start the day in the right space. It’s something new I’ve started to do, but I can definitely start to see the difference it makes in my day to day life. I’m a follower and fan of Rachel Hollis, so I wanted to hear Dave’s perspective about the world of self help.

Fierce Free Fire – The Guide to Being Glorious You by Jen Hatmaker – I only recently discovered Jen Hatmaker even though she’s been around the block for quite some time. I’m eager to start this one!

Where The Crawdads Sings by Delia Owens – This book has made waves thanks to Reese Witherspoon’s book club. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to get my hands on it, but when I saw it pop up on major sale on Amazon, I decided to grab it.

I’m excited for June and the summer months ahead. I’m looking forward to appreciating the small things while our country continues to go through these hardships as of late.

Stay safe everyone. XO.

My Honest Review of Curology

If you watch countless Youtube beauty videos or scroll through Instagram on the daily, I’m sure you have heard of this company, Curology. Curology is custom skincare that’s available online. In other words, you can get a prescription cream catered just for you, based on what your needs are and what you’re looking for. So without going to the dermatologist, you can get this custom skincare within a matter of weeks.

Dealing with adult acne I’m always looking for the next best thing and what can help. Some weeks are better than others (as far as pimples) but I also have scars that I desperately would like to be faded. So when Curology kept popping up (thanks to their abundance of ads) I was intrigued.  Since they have a 30 day money back guarantee (just pay $5 shipping), I figured I’d give it a shot.

Cleanser – They suggest using this morning and night. Honestly? There is nothing special with this cleanser. Nothing that made me go “WOW” but yet nothing that was wrong. Just your basic cleanser. With that being said, I would pass on getting this and just go for something at the drugstore (CeraVe is my fav).

Rich Moisturizer – The suggestion is to use this at night because of how thick it is. Having dry skin, I did enjoy using this. But yet again, I feel like there are better options out there.

Now to the custom part… On the Curology website, you take a short quiz about your skin. You also send pictures (yep, up close and personal) of your skin (obviously without makeup) to see what your problem areas are. Then a dermatologist will come up with a formula tailored to you. Here’s the formula I received: Niacinamide 4%, Clindamycin 1%, Azelaic Acid 2%. Honestly? I’m not really sure what these “ingredients” are but I gave it a go anyways. I applied this nightly for about a month and unfortunately didn’t see any results. Luckily it didn’t make things worse, but didn’t improve anything either.

With all that being said, I would not recommend Curology. I think it’s a interesting concept, but I ultimately think you need to physically go to a dermatologist to get examined and better results. Another turnoff is that there are so many ads for this company. I understand you have to have marketing, especially with an online company, but with so many ads and reviews crammed in your face, it’s a major turnoff for me.

As far as my skincare goes, it’s always an on-going process. Lately I have been keeping it simple and trying not to stress out my skin with new products. I will do an updated routine in the near future once I feel comfortable with the progress – fingers crossed!

Healthy Baked Chicken Fajitas

Now doesn’t that look scrumptious?! This is an easy and healthy chicken fajita recipe that can be altered so many ways. You can throw in a tortilla, add rice and beans, top with all the fixin’s, the options are limitless!

ONLY 5 INGREDIENTS! 

  • Chicken Breasts or Thighs (I prefer breasts but only had thighs this time – no biggie)
  • One Pepper (I used green, but any will do)
  • Yellow Onion (I actually used 1/2 of one)
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Taco Seasoning

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the chicken in a single layer at the bottom of a baking dish
  2. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the chicken
  3. Layer the onions and bell peppers on top of the chicken
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the onions and peppers
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked)

It’s that easy! I added my mixture to a flour tortilla and added some salsa and sour cream on top. SO GOOD. And like I said, you really can add/do anything with this base recipe.

Enjoy!

 

Easy Sheet Pan Recipe

This is a great weeknight meal when you don’t really feel like cooking. Few ingredients, easy to throw together, and cooks quickly. Sounds like a perfect combo to me!

Here’s what I used:

  • Buffalo chicken sausage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Little Baby Potatoes

Directions:

  • First I boiled the potatoes for about 20 mins
  • Half the sprouts and sprinkle with olive oil and whatever seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic/onion powder)
  • Chop up the chicken sausage
  • Once the potatoes are tender, smash them and cover with a little butter and minced garlic
  • Cook for about 20 mins in a 375 degree oven

And there you have it; So simple yet so delicious.

Enjoy!