2018: Living My Best Life


2018 Motto


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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith 
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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith 

I can’t believe I am sitting here at my dining room table typing out a post about the coming year. Tomorrow it will be 2018 and I am ready for the fresh start. I have no resolutions but I do have a new motto for the next 365 days and a few lists written out… I plan to live my best life and I want to take y’all on the ride with me because you deserve to live your best life too, whatever that may look like.

What does my best life look like? Its learning from 2017’s mistakes; I need to get back to keeping a schedule, building relationships, taking control of my health before my health starts to take control of me. I want to take more photographs, laugh big, and love even bigger. I am flushing the negativity to make room for joy, planning adventures, and pushing myself to be braver. It’s all about being kinder to myself, accepting complements, believing in me, and above all else taking a moment, a good long pause to live in the here and now. I want to be more present in everyday life.

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Smith 

Some days I won’t be able to keep up because life will get hard, I will beat myself up, but this is not a resolution, it is a lifestyle change and I plan to give myself the grace to make mistakes. I will lose friends, I am prepared for that fact, but I am ready to embrace the new. To put my energy in those who invest in me while I learn to re-invest in myself.


How to Live Your Best Life


1. Take Photographs
I know this could seem silly but the older I get the more I appreciate the value of a good photograph. Take the time to snap some shots in 2018. My favorite photos happen to be a quick snapshot I took everyday to remember exactly what I or my loved ones were doing. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t take enough for my liking last year so it is a goal of mine; take more photos. Moments of pride, love, adventure, happiness, all these things are worth remembering. It’s these photos that make life so sweet and help you live your very best life.

2. Laugh Unapologetically
Last year I let other people tell me that my happiness wasn’t genuine. I felt I had to dim my light to let others shine. In those moments, while the miserable people in my life were happy putting me down, I became miserable too. This year I will laugh unapologetically, big old belly laughs when something is truly funny. I will invest my happiness in myself and spread it to those around me. It is who I am and I am not sorry for it. Living my best life this year means being genuinely happy and passing that on.

3. Rid Yourself of Negativity
Save yourself the trouble and rid yourself of the negativity from 2017. Let the hurt go, forgive, burn the bridges of those who never cared for you, walk away from that volunteer job that doesn’t help you grow, cut that dead weight you thought was a friend, hush your critics. Don’t you dare do anything that doesn’t promote you living your absolute best life. It is in those moments where we rid ourselves of the negative that we open ourselves up to all the good.

4. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
Health is at the top of everyone’s resolutions list this year but after gaining enough weight to put me in a high risk category, living my best life meant getting ahold of my health in 2018. After being sick for the past three years I decided to start January 01 by joining our local gyms boot camp. I have purchased a new food journal to help me make better food choices, track the water I drink, and set up better nightly schedules to make sure I get 6-8 hours of sleep. I have been educating myself on exercises, muscle groups, the harm in sugary foods, creating goal lists, and even purchased a great pair of Bowflex weights to work out at home. This year I will have no excuses.

5. Appreciate the Brilliance Behind Routine
When I had my son 15 years ago the number one piece of advice I got was the importance of a child on a routine. It took work every day to maintain the same nap time, feeding, and playtime but a happy baby made those long days worth it. Why is that  so important? Because routine makes you feel accomplished, its stable, and its downright brilliant. A routine that carves out “you time” towards activities you enjoy, like an early morning devotional or a late evening run, won’t leave you feeling so guilty. I promise there are enough hours in the day. You’ll feel more accomplished with a cleaning schedule, more recharged taking time to yourself, and accountable for every hour of your day helping to eliminate unneeded stress.

6. Be a Joy Scout
You know what to do. Pass that daily joy you feel out to everyone, even a complete stranger. You’d be shocked to know how one smile, a quick hello, or a how-do-you-do could make everyone’s day. Stop and talk to the people who make your life easier by investing in others, start with the bagger at your grocery store and show your gratitude. Create a gratitude journal for yourself and right one thing a day that you are grateful for. Be motivated to pass on happiness and cheer everywhere you go! Lord knows we need more of it in the world today!

7. Be Kind to Yourself
The one line I heard a few times last year was exclaimed in the middle of phone conversations with a dear friend of 19 years; “I’m going to need for you to stop talking about my friend that way”. I was not kind to myself. Be kind to you. You are brilliant, beautiful, and you are here to contribute to the world. Give yourself grace, be understanding, but most importantly you have to be kind to you to live your best life.

8. Live in the Present
Sit back, close your eyes, breathe. Take it all in. Today is gonna be a great one! Go gett’em! You are about to live your best life! Enjoy every moment.

9. Go on Great Adventures
Remember when you use to slay all those dragons? You were living your best life and you should do that again. Go on great adventures. Try new foods, hike around your area, adventure is around every corner it doesn’t always mean a big-ticket to a far away country. But if you can purchase a big ticket for a big adventure I fully support doing that too.

10. Be Brave
I am not very brave when it comes to blogging. I am my own worst critic. This year I plan to open up more. In order to do that I must be brave. Brave with my privacy, brave in my writing, brave in my photography that I share. I never knew how scared I was until I put myself out there in the internet world. This year I know to live my best life I have to be braver, brave enough to make a connection with all of you. I want it the most and so I plan to do my best.


5 Lists Worth Making in 2018


1. A Bucket List
No laughing. Seriously, bucket lists are the perfect way to write things you’ve always wanted to accomplish in an unprofessional setting. They don’t have to be extravagant, add in events like running a marathon or finally seeing Adele in concert. Watching all the seasons to Hart of Dixie (guilty), joining a book club with the intention of reading the books, purging the items in your attic. There are really no rules to what you can’t conquer this year – write it down!

2. A Reading List
You should always have enjoyable goals and for me, reading is one of those activities. My list is long. Full of fiction, blogging inspiration, and biographies. I have even listed possibly joining our local book club (mentioned above) as something I would love to spend time doing. Reading enriches your life and can widen your social circle. I can’t think of a more positive list to create.

3. A Goals List
Life is all about goals both personally and professionally. The goal to lose weight, excel at work, bravely take on new adventures. A future goals list can help you stay on track and encourage making smart decisions all year-long. Short and Long terms goals are important to separate so consider making two checklists for this reason. Just don’t forget to update your goals list throughout the year as you mark things off, adjust others, and add as new goal arise.

4. A Travel List
Just like a reading list travel should be another important addition to your list making in 2018. Not only does travel enrich your life but it motivates you, giving something to work towards. Taking a trip to Greece? Wearing that swimsuit in the summer could motivate you in the gym. Paris dream vacation in your future? Paris could motivate you to take that French class you always wanted to. Divide your list into two with one being short trips and another longer adventures. I have already created my long list with a trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland in 2018. I can’t wait to wander! I can practically taste the fish and chips!

5. A Shopping List
A Shopping List? Really? I know it might seem strange but this is the year to reexamine your closet. I seriously don’t need one more white t-shirt in my closet in 2018. Start watching what pieces you wear on repeat, research capsule wardrobes or look into the cost for investing in classics. Armed with this knowledge, make a great shopping list to help you focus and keep away from impulse buys. Donate what you don’t wear, repurchase what needs to be replaced due to frequent wear, and grab up items that fit you. Proper fitting clothes can make you feel amazing! Don’t forget to secure a great tailor for the perfect personalized fit.


Living Your Best Life Wide Open


So what’s my plan to living my best life? Pretty simple, I plan to blog about it. January is going to take on my biggest struggle which is health so posts will be about my journey towards being healthy + balanced in my life. February will be 28 days of relationships. We’ll talk friendship, marriage, and family. All of the same components from the blog you love to follow will still be here; fashion, beauty, food, home decor, entertaining, do-it-yourself projects, we’ll even talk about hacks and money. Oh yeah I’m excited for the coming months! Thank you 2017 for all the lessons learned… Here’s to all of us Living Our Best Lives in 2018!

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Kathleen’s Wist List

The number one gift wish list request I get every year…

Are you going to share what’s on your personal wish list?

Today that answer is YES! Aside from the every year (still crossing my fingers) black calfskin Chanel Espadrilles (which are near impossible to find in Europe) I created a list of 10 easier to find items. I started off with a great iconic Burberry wool scarf, added in a Living with Landyn muscle tank I plan to rock at the gym, a Tory Burch card wallet to transfer between clutches, a beautiful french cookbook with recipes you can actually create, even a Hermes H belt inspired dupe (except with the C Wonder belt you get to personalize it with your own on letter monogram – and its on major SALE!) and a Hermes brown leather Apple Watch band dupe (under $20!). Hope this list helps you find some of your own inspiration for your christmas list this year!

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ONE | TWO
THREE | FOUR
FIVE | SIX
SEVEN | EIGHT
NINE | TEN

Gifts for Her

Let’s talk gifts for her, this is what I lovingly call the husband list. It’s the kind of list that you forward to those you think might need a small nudge in the right gift giving direction. Now what is SSLW approved this holiday season? What should you be asking for this year?

I have listed my favorite cold weather gear like Sperry duck boots, blush colored faux fur ear muffs, and a 3 in 1 faux fur-lined parka. I am a sucker for comfy pjs and soft sweaters so representing my   girls was a no-brainer. I had to list a beauty item from Slip Pillowcase that has change my hair and skin (I am not even kidding). Lets not forget some fashionable accessories, whether it’s an edgy Rebecca Minkoff bag or a great stocking stuffer like these oval gold hoops from Target.

Scroll down and click the links for 10 of my favorite finds. Then leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you are asking for and what you loved from this list!

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ONETWO
THREE | FOUR
FIVESIX
SEVENEIGHT
NINETEN

Holiday Gift Guide for Teen Boys

Teen boys are about has difficult as men can be sometimes. The older my son gets the shorter his christmas wish lists become. This usually results in family members playing rounds of rock, paper, scissors over who is buying what. To keep harmony I have scoured the internet, read reviews, and asked other teen boys… what do you want for christmas? Below are the top 10 things covering teen boys who loved sports, the outdoors, gaming, and travel (just to name a few).

Not listed but requested this year were new iPhones, Nike and Adidas shoes with apparel, sports equipment for spring teams or winter snowboarding, watches, beats anything, over the door basketball hoops, and go pro cameras. With all these great ideas christmas shopping is going to be a piece of cake. Happy Shopping!

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1. Fun Baseball Hat: Name a Teen that doesn’t love wearable items with funny messages. My brother wore a t-shirt through all four years of high school that said “Why read when you can rent”. He even wore it in his senior pictures. If you know anything about great hat makers you know Goorin Bros, they have a line of fun trucker hats with patches that boast a picture of a donkey with the word bad or a sheep with the word black. I personally loved the bald eagle with the word “freedom”.

2. Bluetooth Wireless Ear Warmers: I have to admit, when I added these to my Amazon cart I felt like a pretty cool mama. Ear warmers with built-in headphones are everywhere this holiday season, so you are right on trend with a gift like this. Have a teen on your list who would love a tech present like this? Check out the 180s Blue Tooth Ear Warmer in black.

3. For the Sports Lover: Let’s talk about the sports obsessed Teen in your home. Give this Hoverball a try. Not only will it save your walls but you won’t have to yell to stop throwing and kicking a ball around constantly. So really its a gift that keeps on giving.

4. A Fun New System: Do you remember the days of 2D Mario on an original Nintendo? Now he is practically lifelike and that’s not all. Due to the new handheld feature on the Nintendo Switch the game doesn’t have to end! He can travel with it, never stopping the action. It’s like a Nintendo game system and a gameboy in one. Pair the Switch with a teen approved game like Super Mario Kart 8, The Legend of Zelda, and Skyrim.

5. For the Outdoor Teen: Fishing, hunting, camping, away games, lock ins… this Teton Sports Sleeping Bag has been working overtime in our home. It’s practically become my son’s second backpack and he loves it. Know a teen like this on your list? I promise you can’t go wrong with this as a gift. Plus have you checked out that rating!

6. A Throw Back Game: Do you remember capture the flag as a kid? What if you could add fun lights to the equipment and make it a nighttime game? That’s what Capture the Flag Redux is. With 33 light up game pieces and the ability to play with 14+ friends at one time I’d say this is a great way to get your teen away from the electronics and out making memories.

7. When all Else Fails: Everyone has that teen on their list that loves to pick and choose their own gifts, that’s where a gift card to a favorite online store comes in. My son loves a good iTunes or Xbox gift card for apps, music, game upgrades, and even discounted games Microsoft might put on sale.

8. Childish Fun: Want a really good laugh at the expense of one unsuspecting family member or friend? You have to purchase the Hasbro Pie Face Game. Originally making its debut to kids in the 60’s this fun whip cream to the face game is making a comeback. There is now several versions like a Pie Face Duel where you hit the button as fast as possible to keep the whip cream out of your face and into your opponents. The best present to turn your teens and adults into a kids again, for hours of fun.

9. Hoodie: Just like the Men’s Gift Guide hoodies are the #1 wardrobe staple for all the guys in my family. For a teen you can’t go wrong with Abercrombie and Fitch, especially the Graphic Appliqué Pullover. It screams old school classic AF.

10. For the Adventure Seeker: If living in Europe has taught us anything its the importance of having the right bags for travel. The Montera Vintage Canvas Backpack is perfect with a luggage handle for carrying like a duffel and the option to use back straps to wear it like a traditional rucksack. Made out of heavy-duty canvas it can take a beating whether its being kicked under the seat in front or tossed in an overhead bin. Perfect for stuffing a weekends worth of clothes as well as designated pockets for electronics.

Holiday Gift Guide for the Guys

Usually it seems the hardest person to shop for happens to be the man in your life. Husband, boyfriend, father, father in law, and brothers, seem to give us a small amount of anxiety as we scramble to look for the perfect gift. Step away from the ties, he doesn’t need another one this year! Now, don’t worry sweet girl I’ve gotcha’ covered. A little something for everyone; the Gamer, outdoorsman, adventure seeker, fashionable gent, grill master, plus so much more. Take a deep breath, feeling better? You are going to ROCK gift giving this year… I just know it. Now keep scrolling and start clicking to score some great finds! Happy Shopping! Screen Shot 2017-11-24 at 6.24.49 PM

1. Travel Backpack: Have a military man on your list? Adventure seeker? Frequent work traveler? With tactical features the Eberlestock High Speed Pack will be your man’s best friend. After destroying an Oakley backpack from so much travel the past year, this item was high on his list.

2. Coffee to Go: Coffee? Yes please! Grab the Yeti 14oz. Insulated Rambler Mug earning the toughest most over engineered camping mug, as well as 4.9 out of 5 stars, he’ll be able to drink coffee at the office and carry it to all his outdoor sport activities.

3. Heated Socks: It took a night at a christmas market and another hunting pigs for my husband to beg me for a pair of heated socks. If you have a guy on your list who loves to play in cold weather add the ActionHeat Heated Wool Socks with Rechargeable Batteries under the tree this year. Promise he’ll love you for having warm feet!

4. Stylish Watch: I love to gift a fun, stylish, unique watch and this wood one from WeWOOD is perfect to elevate your man’s style on date night or while out with the guys. Plus its such a fun conversation starter.

5. For the Gamer Who Loves History: Does anyone else have a guy on their list that loves Xbox and history? Then this game, Call of Duty WWII, is screaming their name. I don’t know much about video games but what I can tell you is Call of Duty (COD) has been a long running franchise with many long time dedicated players. I know you can’t go wrong with this choice.

6. Shaving Essentials: Those who have beards understand maintenance is important. Dry skin happens and shaving or trimming is a must to keep its shape. Jack Black will make this grooming task more enjoyable. I really love the idea of The Grand Tour Collection where you can gift a set with all their products to achieve the perfect beard and skin while scoring a great travel bag in the process.

7. Bluetooth Key Locator: Have a forgetful guy on your list? This will save his 2018 for sure! Tile (Gen 2) is a slim tile that fits on key rings, in wallets, anywhere you need to locate a frequently forgotten item. These little tiles come in 1, 4, and 8 packs. Pick up the 8 pack to snag a couple for yourself.

8. Hoodie: The most worn item in my husband and teen sons closet, hands down, is the hoodie. Loungewear, the gym, to school, this is their most versatile warm top. I love the Reebok Elitage Grid Pullover for those Tall guys with a barrel chest on your list (like mine). For those guys who don’t need big and tall sizes check out the Kinetix Skyline Zip Henley at Nordstrom Rack!

9. Electric Fire Starter: Do you have a Grill Master on your list? Ever since we purchased our Monolith Grill this past spring hubby has been making at least one meal a week on it. Those that have anything equivalent to the Big Green Egg knows how long it can take to start a great fire. The Looftlighter Electric Firestarter cuts that time into mere seconds! No more 15 minute waits for the coals to get up to temperature. Definitely one of his most used grill tools.

10. The Most Used Gift: They say you should never talk about religion or politics in polite company but when you have a guy on your list who is into Government how can you say no? If they have libertarian or conservative views on politics get a yearly subscription to the Louder with Crowder Mug Club. It is the perfect gift for them! I purchased a yearly subscription for my husband on father’s day this year and somehow we both find ourselves tuning in daily to catch Steven Crowders videos. Discounted subscriptions for military, veterans, and students. Everyone who signs up scores a pretty sweet hand etched mug for under the tree.

Kitchen Beauty: Coconut Oil

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Photo Credit: Google

Let’s talk skin, better yet, let’s talk about my skin which has been a hot mess since moving to this much colder climate. Gone are the days of humidity and in are the long days of freezing temperatures and artificial heat. My regular shaving cream just wasn’t cutting it, nor my lotion. But I happen to have a few good friends who are into healthy beauty, their suggestion… Coconut Oil.

It wasn’t hard to read up on the benefits since coconut oil has been buzzing around the beauty community for some time. So, convinced, I went to my local commissary and ordered from Amazon in search of the perfect coconut oil to add into my beauty regime. Here’s what I thought and how I used it.

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Photo Credit: Google

My Review


I am not incredibly picky but I can say grabbing my shaving item from the grocery store shelves was a bit un-nerving. What if the oil makes me break out? What if I smell like a nasty coconut? What if it stains my clothes? Is something so cheap going to give great results? Here are my pros + cons:

Pro: Coconut Oil does such an amazing job of conditioning your skin that you don’t need to worry about cuts and so moisturizing that you don’t even need lotion afterwards. Killing two birds with one stone y’all!

Pro: No Smell. Seriously.

Pro: No skin breakouts. Guess that’s why people love using coconut oil to remove make-up too.

Pro: No oily stains. Zero. Which really surprised me. Just make double sure you rinsed off well after shaving.

Pro: Doesn’t gunk up your razor blade like shaving cream.

Pro: I’m in love! Hands down coconut oil gives you an extremely close shave. Probably one of the closest shaves I’ve had in a while and part of the reason why it was so easy to give up waxing my legs after moving to Europe.

Con: It can be a bit dangerous in the respect that your shower floor or tub will be a bit slick and greasy. Make sure to wash your tub and shower floor after every use. No one has time for nasty build up or a broken ankle.

Con: If you are going to be outside in intense sun I don’t suggest using coconut oil beforehand. You will fry crispier than Nashville Hot Chicken and skin cancer just isn’t cute. My suggestion is to shave the day before.

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Photo Credit: Google

The Benefits


Coconut oil is affordable and gives you more bang for your beauty buck.

Coconut oil is a huge time saver since you can shave and it pulls double duty as a moisturizer too.

Did you know coconut oil reduces the risk of razor burn? Sure does!

Coconut oil can help protect and repair skin from the effects of aging thanks to being rich in antioxidants which inhibit oxidization and prevent cell damage .

Fatty acids in coconut oil are what help to moisturize your skin but it also has vitamins A. C. and E.

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Photo Credit: Google

How-To Guide


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So here’s the low down to using coconut oil for shaving. The constancy will definitely throw you off at first because it scoops out like a solid but with the warmth of your hands it can quickly turn to liquid so work fast. Keep in mine a little goes a LONG way so use sparingly. Usually beauty gurus say a teaspoon of product can cover a whole leg and the oil doesn’t slide down the drain like shaving cream so no need to reapply.

Please remember to wash your hands before picking up your razor just so you don’t loose grip, remember this is oil and its slick and cutting yourself hurts. Last bit of how to is to make sure this is the last step to your shower routine. You don’t want to risk slipping and sliding or running greasy hands through that freshly clean hair.


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Viva, LouAna, and Green Elephant are my top three favorites. Stay away from glass jars, opting for coconut oil in plastic containers. Trust me, I’ve dropped my jar twice.


Thirsty Thursday: Chilton Cocktail

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It remains a rumor that a thirsty doctor looking for a refreshing drink created the Chilton with a country club bartender in a Texas town named Lubbock. This lemony cocktail has a refreshing taste some have described as “sunshine” in a glass. Incredibly simple to mix up on a hot day, many claim it as the perfect low-calorie, low-carb drink.  Chilton aficionados claim that this drink can be personalized (like aggressively shaking, not gently stirred) or replacing regular vodka with citron flavored (like Absolute Citron) and the juice of 1/2 a squeezed lemon. Anyway you make it this drink is delicious and near impossible to mess up. Cheers to Texas!


How To Video



What Will You Need


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Salt
Ice
Vodka
Lemon Juice + Lemon Wheel
Soda Water

Highball Glass
Stir Stick


Directions


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Makes 1 Highball Chilton

Rim a highball glass with salt, then fill with ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces of vodka and the juice of 2 lemons. Fill the glass with soda water and stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge.

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