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courtneyg

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4 Types of Friends Who Make Your World a Better Place

My friends are like puzzle pieces, if one of them were missing, I wouldn’t be complete. So, today I’m giving tribute to my girlfriends both near and far. I’m raising a nice chilled glass of sweet Moscato wine to the ones I could never live without.

She’s Rough Around the Edges

She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. If you don’t want to hear it, it doesn’t matter because she’s going to tell you anyway. She’s the friend who will keep you honest. She’ll keep you on the straight and narrow and when you veer off the path just a little bit, she’ll be right next to you to jerk the wheel back in the right direction.

So don’t get angry when she doesn’t sympathize with you. Don’t get upset because she doesn’t feel sorry for you. Thank her for making you a stronger person. For showing you that excuses will get you nowhere and that a self proclaimed pity party can only last for so long before you need to put on your big girl panties, suck it up and get back out into the world.

She’s Always Your Last Call

She thinks of you all the time. She sends random messages to let you know that. You don’t talk every day, but in all those years she’s been your friend, she’s never let you down. She’s always been there when you need her. When you cry, she cries with you. When you are broken or hurting, she feels it too. When it’s 3am and you just need someone to talk to, she’ll be there. It doesn’t matter if she just fell asleep twenty minutes ago because her child finally did or she’s had a bad day of her own, if you need her, she’ll be there. Just like she’s always been because that is what she does.

Even though physically she may not always be able to be there for you, she is the girl who walks with you, step by step, each and every day while you cross canyons and climb mountains. She is the friend who throws rocks at those who hurt you (metaphorically speaking of course) and is ready to put up a fight against anyone who dares to cross you. She is the one that will show you that real, true friendships do exist. That lifelong bonds can survive silence, distance and everything in between.

She Just Gets It

There was a time in her life when she was right where you are now. Whether going through heartbreak, a life changing event or a midlife crisis, she understands you more than anyone else at the moment. She doesn’t judge you for the choices you make or the way you live your life. She lets you be free, run wild and even comes along for the ride. She knows exactly what you need to do in order to find yourself and accept your situation. She guides you slightly from time to time to make sure you don’t completely fall off the cliff, but for the most part, she lets you do your thing.

She’s the only one you can talk to about how you feel and what you’re going through and although she knows you probably won’t take any of her advice, she gives it to you anyway. She’s the one you look to when you lose hope. She gives you faith in brighter days. Her strength, her loyalty and her companionship prove that good people do exist.

She’s Wild and Reckless

She takes you out of your comfort zone and challenges you to try things you’d never do on your own. Your feet are barely ever on the ground when you’re with her because she’s always moving so fast, but that’s okay. Sometimes you need a timeout in life and she’ll be the one to give it to you. After a rough day at work, a fight with your significant other or when the stress of everyday life becomes too much, she’ll help lift your spirits and break you out of that funk with an all night extravaganza that will help you leave all your worries behind and find your inner party girl you forgot even existed. You need her to remind you that life shouldn’t always be taken so seriously. That a little bit of fun never hurt anyone.

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The 2 Things I Started Doing at Night for Clearer Skin

When I was in my early 20’s I was the girl everyone used to ask, “what type of cover up do you use?” My answer was, “I’m not wearing any.” I miss those days :)

Ever since I moved from New York to the south my skin has hated me. On a very regular basis I would be breaking out and have dry patches on my nose. I was never able to leave the house without heavy coverage and when I got home, I could feel the breakouts coming. It’s been awful to deal with and I have tried so many different kinds of face washes, masks and toners. It would work for a little while and then go right back to dryness and breakouts.

So, as 2019 set in, I decided to really focus on my skincare routine by doing 2 things every single night and guess what?!? My skin has improved by leaps and bounds! The secret…. well, I guess there really isn’t one, I’ve just been neglecting the obvious. Here it is:

WASHING MY FACE

Every night! No matter how tired you are or how busy you get, don’t ever go to bed without washing your face. Get all the dirt, oil and makeup off so that your skin has a full night to breathe.

MOISTURIZING 

I had no idea how much this would change my skin and I follow the same rule. Never go to bed without moisturizing. I like moisturizer that is light and once it’s soaked in, doesn’t feel like it leaves a heavy residue. The dryness on my nose has pretty much disappeared and I have seen an improvement in the evenness of my skin tone.

Pretty simple right?!? I’ve used a couple product lines over the last year that I really like: Formula 10.0.06 and Honest Beauty. They don’t leave a residue and my skin feels clean when I’m done.

If you are like me and you’ve been neglecting your pour skin, go ahead and give this a try and be patient. It took at least a month of consistency before I started noticing any changes, but the results were definitely worth it.

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6 of My Favorite Ways to Wind Down at Night

Sleep has always been something I suck at. As a writer, I find most of my creativity comes at night. I don’t start writing until at 10 and then when I’m on a roll, the next thing I know it’s 3am and I have to be up in less than 5 hours. Switching my schedule from night owl to early bird has been something I work hard at. These are 6 things I’ve found to really help get in a nighttime routine and calm me down so I can actually get some sleep and wake up feeling rested.

Shower Bomb

Since I don’t have a bathtub, I was ecstatic that I found these shower bombs at my favorite bath and body shop in Florida! I purchased a couple lavender ones specifically for night time showers. As it lays under the running water, it releases a soothing scent that helps me relax. A few deep breaths and I am ready for bed.

Exfoliate

I try to exfoliate a couple times a week. It leaves my skin super soft and I feel like I have a natural glow that lasts me through the following day. This is one of my favorite scrubs, but truthfully you can make your own with just a few simple ingredients at home. Search it on Pinterest and I’m sure you’ll find a ton.

Honey Face Mask

About once a week I like to go all natural … with my face mask that is. Right before I’m ready to brush my teeth, I’ll wash the remnants of the day off my face and add a little life back into it with honey. I spread it across my face and leave it on for about 10-15 minutes. Don’t put too much on or you’ll turn into Mrs. Doubtfire. When I use it consistently I find that my face holds its moisture longer and doesn’t dry out as quickly. It also have natural antibacterial functions to help with acne.

Warm Cup of Tea

I love the feeling of holding a warm mug between my hands and drinking a hot cup of something. To be honest, I don’t think tea helps put me to sleep, I think it’s more of the experience of lounging on the couch in my pjs sipping a warm cup that calms me down at night. Also, because it is hot, it keeps me sitting there rather than getting up and down to do laundry, grab a snack or distract myself with other chores.

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Read a Book

I’ve always heard that an hour before bed you should turn off all electronics. There’s too much stimulation of the brain with the movement and colors and screen and all of that. Reading is a great alternative for me. It’s great studying as I work on my novels to see how other people write and what really draws me into the story. Getting immersed in a whole different world is the perfect way for me to release tension and forget about anything around me as the day comes to an end.

Sleep Stories

This has become my absolute favorite thing to do every night as I fall asleep. I use CALM right now. You can use the limited version for free if you don’t mind repeated stories, or pay a monthly fee for more options. Very very rarely do I start a story I don’t fall asleep in the middle of. It helps my mind not to wander and I sleep better on the nights I listen. If you are one of those people who’s mind cannot shut off at night, I highly recommend trying it! – P.S. I am not getting paid for this, personally it has really improved my sleep and anxiety over the last year and I love to share anything I believe can benefit others.

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Disney Recap: Finding the Magic as an Adult

When you’re an adult, I think that Disney World is the place to go for revival. To inhale all possibilities and exhale your doubts. The magic that surrounds you at every turn is enough to break down the barriers you continually build in your every day life, reasoning with yourself about why you can’t do something.

I went to Disney a couple weekends ago as part of an extended trip for my cousin’s wedding and came back feeling inspired. The magic of the mouse resurrected the dreams that somehow fizzled out in the midst of real life expectations. I began building plans and breathing back to life ideas that had gone so long without air. I can’t wait to share those with you in the near future, but today, I’m sharing a bit more about Disney and the different kind of magic you find at 35!

EPCOT

Somehow Epcot felt smaller than when I was 8 years old, but not in a way that was disappointing. Being able to capture a glimpse of different cultures in one night shows possibility if you are willing to take the leap. We look at a map and want to experience greatness, beauty and adventure on the other side of the world not realizing that all three surround us much closer than we think. The mountains and glistening waters of Canada, the eye of London, wineries of Napa or deserts of the west only a half day’s drive or flight away. Epcot for me was the place that reaffirmed my love of travel and how much there is to see in this world.

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

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Film production has always been fascinating to me. I think it’s amazing how a set transforms on the big screen and how actors develop characters from an idea on a page. I’ve always wanted to create my own film, maybe bring one of my books to life or something completely new, not sure what, but it’s on my bucket list, so of course Hollywood Studios renewed my creative mind for that.

We met Woody and Jesse from Toy Story. The line was about an hour long, but we didn’t mind. As a huge Toy Story fan, Sam wanted a picture and I could see the happiness in his eyes when we were next in line. I love the joyful spirit moments like this bring. I think he was automatically swept back in time to the age of innocence when nothing else mattered but saving the toy world with Woody and Buzz.

MAGIC KINGDOM

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Ah, Magic Kingdom… it truly never loses it’s magic. I was dancing with 3 year olds as the parade came through Main Street. We walked through the Swiss Family Robinson tree house twice and Pirates of Caribbean was as fascinating as I remember. I definitely wasn’t leaving without hopping on the buggy through the Haunted Mansion either. I’m thankful to fast pass for both of those. My recommendation for Magic Kingdom would be to get the fast pass. It’s my personal opinion of course, but I felt as if it would be worth the money. Waits in the regular lines that were about an hour took us 10-15 minutes in the fast pass line. I don’t do well in traffic, so I know I wouldn’t have done well in those lines.

There wasn’t anything food wise I was looking forward to more than chocolate covered rise crispy treats. It’s been more than 2 decades since I was able to walk the Kingdom with one in my hand. I ate half of it before dinner thinking I would save the rest for a midnight snack, but all the dinner fun distracted me and I left the other half at the table (I’m still kinda bitter about that). Speaking of dinner,  I’ve always wanted to do a character breakfast, but an evening buffet with Pooh and friends was just as fun. It will cost you a pretty penny, but when else will you get hugs from Tigger, Pooh and Piglet?

After Magic Kingdom we took the monorail to the Grand Floridian because no matter how old I am, it’s the one place I step in and become Cinderella. It’s also where my favorite bath and body shop is, so of course I didn’t leave empty handed.

Needless to say, Disney was everything I needed to remind me that we get one life, one that is far too short to not believe we are capable of building our own kind of empire.

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4 Things I Started Doing to Reduce Stress in the Mornings

So, let’s be real. I am very high anxiety. I freak out about pretty much everything and always have to stop and remind myself that it’s not the end of the world when something goes wrong. I’m always running at a hundred miles an hour and flying out the door only minutes before I have to be at work. My normal routine was waking up, getting ready, taking the dog out, packing lunch and snacks, making coffee and then shoving food down my throat before I run out the door. This left absolutely ZERO time for me to just relax, breathe in the moment and prepare myself for the day.

That kind of lifestyle benefits nobody. It left me stressed out and it left my boyfriend stressed out for me, so I decided to sit down and reevaluate my morning routine. These 4 changes have helped immensely in reducing my anxiety and making me feel way less stressed as I start my day.

Prepare the night before

Lunch and snacks I have started putting together before I go to bed at night. They all go in a bag in the fridge so I can just grab it. I’ve also started figuring out what I am going to where and setting it on my closet shelf. That way I don’t have to try on and take off 3 or 4 different outfits before I decide on the right one. You’d be surprised (or you may already know) how much time that saves!

Hand over responsibilities

My dog is very high energy. He NEEDS to go for long walks at least once if not more every day. I was trying to fit a 30 minute walk in with him when I barely had any time to spare. So, instead of walking him every morning, I now share the responsibility with my boyfriend. He takes him out a majority of time during the day because he’s home a bit more, so I felt guilty not doing the morning walks, but the truth is, he has more time and doesn’t actually mind sharing in the morning walks with me. Now, the days I do walk him are the days I go into work a little later in the day, so I feel as if I’m on less of a time crunch.

This one was hard for me. I’m very independent and feel the need to do everything myself. The truth though is I’m not alone. Don’t feel as if everything needs to fall on your shoulders. Look around you and ask for help. Sharing daily responsibilities lightens the load. Don’t be afraid to try it!

Set an alarm for bedtime 

It’s always been a struggle for me to get up in the morning because I’m a night owl. Switching to an early bird lifestyle has been an adjustment, but I am improving! I realized that if I want to get up earlier, I need to go to bed earlier. That’s why I set an alarm to remind me one hour before bedtime. In that one hour, I prefer for the next day, get myself ready for bed and then wind down before pulling up the covers.

Let the world be still

The one thing I always find very hard is making time for myself. Spending just 5-10 minutes a day doing absolutely nothing but taking care of me. It’s so freaking hard, but recently I was reminded that if I don’t take care of myself, how am I going to be well enough to take care of anyone else. Meditation has been such and amazing insertion into my life this past year. It’s something I try to do regularly before bed, but it’s also something I try to find just a moment for each morning. Meditation can be different for everyone. For me, it’s sitting on the couch in peace and quiet with my eyes closed. I don’t think about yesterday or the day ahead, but the simple sound of my breath.

Life can be hard, sometimes seriously overwhelming, but life is also a blessing. We were given this amazing opportunity to make memories, explore and live every single day as if it was our last because we never know when that might be. It’s too short to be stressed out, so if you are feeling like me, sit down. Take a look at everything around you and try to figure out where you can incorporate changes to take a little bit of the load off. Start small, even the littlest steps in the right direction will make a huge difference.

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5 Date Night Ideas That Don’t Involve Sitting in Front of the Television

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Hulu and my Netflix and can cozy up on the couch for hours binge watching shows, but how much conversation happens between me and my boyfriend during one of our shows? Pretty much zero. Sometimes we even find ourselves both scrolling through our phones and not even paying attention to the show. It’s nice every now and then to break away from that and spend a night reconnecting and making fun memories to look back on.

Cooking Class

My boyfriend mentioned this recently. Once my dog’s training classes are over, we’re going to look into it! We cook at home all the time and think it would be really fun to try out new recipes to bring home. It’s also a nice way to work together to create something.

Candle Pouring

I did this recently and I’m obsessed. It was pretty easy and I LOVE my candle. You each can make your own. You can pick your own scents and candle holder and make it all right there in front of you. And you can drink wine while doing it, doesn’t that sound like a win-win?!

Escape Game

If you need a little practice in the communication area, this is the ultimate test. You’ve got to work together to get yourselves out of a locked room in just 60 minutes! It gets intense when the clock is counting down, but it’s super fun interaction and feels awesome when you escape.

Live Sporting Event

I can’t sit and watch sports for hours on tv anyway, but I love the adrenaline of watching it live. Thankfully here in Nashville we have a little bit of everything from hockey and football to soccer and baseball. Any season there is something to check out. Even if you aren’t rooting for the home team, you’ll get lost in the high energy atmosphere. And did I mention popcorn, pretzels and cocktails? Something for everyone.

Go For a Star Gazing Hike

Get lost underneath the star filled sky. Climb high above the city lights into peace and quiet where it’s just the two of you. Bring a picnic, or a bottle of wine and enjoy each other and the fresh mountain air. No mountain near you? Find a beach, a park or an open field. There’s gotta be one somewhere!

Again, I’m all about catching up on good television, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to get creative and work together. I think it helps you learn more about your significant other. It keeps you connected in a way sitting on the couch can’t.

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Valentine’s Day at Answer Nashville

We had the absolute best dinner date this past Valentine’s Day! Sam and I don’t do fixed menus on holiday’s so we always look for those restaurants hosting their standard menu. I’m so glad Answer was one of them because it was beyond amazing. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a boutique style restaurant in Sylvan Park. If you blink, you might pass it and I would feel terrible for you because you have to try it out.

First off, our waiter was awesome. He was super attentive and very helpful when we asked for recommendations. The menu had a lot to choose from, which is always nice when you have a meat eater and a vegetarian at the same table. We had 3 courses (4 if you count the drinks) and each one was better than the last. I could go on and on about the flavor and presentation, but I wont. I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves. One last thing before I let you drool over the food pics, make sure you save room for dessert!

Appetizer

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crab. avocado, lime, herbs, radish, pickled shallot, spent grain toast

Main Course

duck. confit leg, job’s tears, greens, carrot, brown butter, fig & port demi

duck. confit leg, job’s tears, greens, carrot, brown butter, fig & port demi. I got the garganelli veggie pasta (not pictured here).

Dessert

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Literally the best ice cream ever

 

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Weekend in Asheville

Just a quick drive on I-40 east and we were in Asheville in less than 5 hours! We wanted a little relaxation retreat while we were there, so we ended up booking a cottage in Black Mountain, a small town just outside. It was seriously the most adorable cottage I’ve ever seen. So much room for the 4 of us plus, for our high energy pup, the basement and fenced in yard were just what he needed. I definitely prefer airbnb to a hotel when our four-legged child tags along. It’s way less stressful.

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Oh and I can’t forget, they welcomed us with cupcakes and even a cute valentine dog cookie for Rhett. How sweet is that?!?

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With just a couple days in Asheville, I think we did pretty good making the most of what we went there for. First up was a self-guided tour of the Biltmore. It rained all day, so it was nice to be able to hear all about it’s history as we wandered through the house. The architecture was stunning and I was tempted to sit in front of the many fireplaces with my notebook for a little writing session, so much inspiration.

We braved the downpour once the tour was over for a wine tasting at Antler Hill Village to try some Biltmore Wines. Best part… the wine tasting is free and they have a lot to choose from, including some limited reserved wines.

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Asheville is also quickly becoming a hit for beer lovers, aka my boyfriend. We spent a good amount of both the nights we were there hitting up the breweries while he taste tested. We of course had to check out Wicked Weed, where he gave 2 thumbs up for his flight. Others breweries with Sam’s stamp of approval:

Hillman Beer

Catawba Brewing

Lookout Brewing (Black Mountain)

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All good things must come to an end, so we woke up the morning of our last day to grab a donut from Vortex Donuts and do a little shopping in Biltmore Village. Of course that’s when the sun decided to come out, but it made for a nice drive back to Nashville.

I know there is still so much more to explore, so we will surely be back again!