Friday Favorites #2

Good morning, happy Friday, and Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed ringing in the New Year in their own special way. Ours included being in bed by 10:30.

Without further adieu, let’s get into this week’s round of Friday Favorites. I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday Favorites #2 


I get a lot of compliments on my hair ‘do. I think it’s just because girls normally have long hair, and people notice when something [or someone] is a little different. Regardless, people are normally shocked when I tell them that I go to Hair Cuttery and pay $16 for my ‘do. It’s where I went when I first got it chopped off, and it’s where I’ve continued to go. My stylist, Anna, is the best; and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

When I got my hair cut a few weeks ago, Anna suggested this oil treatment and I’ve been really pleased with the results thus far. Like I said in the last favorites post, my hair has been SO DRY this winter, and I’ve been lucky to find a few products that have helped combat the dryness.



This was one of my Christmas presents from Cory, and I’m so excited about it. I love the message behind the lokai bracelet: The black bead is infused with elements from The Dead Sea, while the white bead is infused with elements from Mt. Everest; the lowest and highest points on Earth, respectively.  The lokai message is that we need to remain hopeful at our lowest points and humble at our highest points. For me, the bracelet is a reminder to always keep a positive perspective. If you know me, you know that’s what I’m all about!



I was so stoked when we opened this present from my parents on Christmas Eve! It was a top item on our registry, and I’m so thankful they gifted us something a little early. It’s a video baby monitor that connects to an app on your phone, so you can hear and see the baby. We’ve hooked it up and used it to watch Penny a few times while we’ve been out, but I’m ready to use for more than my fur baby ;)


picture via dropcam because lighting is terrible in my house this morning!


I didn’t even know this existed until Emily got it for Christmas! We canceled our gym membership a few months ago, and the only part that really stung for me was that I’d be missing my Body Pump classes. Well, for a $100, I just bought this set [it includes weights, the bar, the bar clips, and seven Body Pump DVDs!] Now I can save money by not having a gym membership while also getting to do Body Pump at home. That’s a major win, my friends.

[Edit to add: I know that link kind of looks spammy, and the “3 payments of $33.33″ didn’t sit well with me at first, but you can totally make a one-time payment upfront. Mine has been delivered and there was nothing spammy about it. Just FYI! :) ]

What’s Overwhelming Me Wednesday

No, I’ve never participated in the ever-popular What I Ate Wednesday, but I did make myself chuckle with this slight twist on the original. [Judging by Jen’s hilarious personality, I doubt she’ll mind.]

If my pregnancy-related posts aren’t your cup of tea, you might just want to come back later. I didn’t intentionally make this a pregnancy post, but it happened. Welcome to my life.

What’s Overwhelming Me Wednesday!

The nursery. It’s stupid, I know. The rational part of my brain understands that the baby won’t care if it’s all done and put together when he/she arrives, but damn it, I want it all done and put together before the baby arrives. This will not happen, by the way, as we’re waiting to add certain decor until we know the gender. Which won’t happen until after the baby arrives. 

My hospital bag. Don’t judge me yet – I haven’t put together a hospital bag, or even come close. Again, the microscopic rational part of my brain knows I have three months before I’ll need said hospital bag, but I like to be prepared. I’ve pinned approximately 17 blog posts about what I will and won’t need. Reader input is welcome. 

My body. I know that my growing body equates to a growing baby. I know this is good and amazing. [Do I have to keep referencing the tiny, rational part of my brain?] But, goddamn, I’m getting huge. I’ve caught side glances of myself in the mirror, and I’m slightly terrified. There are days when I do feel cute, but there are also days when I feel like I should just go ahead and burn all of my pre-pregnancy clothes now.

Sleeping. I’m someone who is used to functioning off 8 – 9 hours of sleep each night. Ha ha ha ha LOLOLOL I know that’s laughable because I’m pregnant and about to birth a human who will ravage my sleep patterns, but man, sleeping is not enjoyable right now. It’s impossible to get comfortable [like, I get sore from laying on my side. WTF?!] and every time I try to roll over, I realize I have to pee.

Childcare. I could write an entire post on the anxiety-producing monster that is childcare, but I’ll wait on that. For now, I’ll simply say that the who, what, when, where, and HOW [hello, $$$] of childcare is sincerely keeping me up at night.


Is anything overwhelming you? 

Christmas Is Over?! [A Recap]

Holy cannoli. I can’t believe Christmas has come and gone and that 2015 will be here this week. Does anyone else feel like this year flew by?! Someone once told me that life is like a roll of toilet paper – the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. The older I get, the more sense that makes. When I was younger, a year used to take to pass, but now it goes by in the blink of an eye!

Speaking of time passing in a blur – that’s how our Christmas Eve trip to Alexandria felt. It was so wonderful to spend the day with my immediate family and the evening with my extended family, but it went by too quickly! With over 35 people at one party, it’s impossible to catch up with everyone in just a few hours.


My cousin, Lauren, and I lamented over scary bodily things that have happened to us/will happen to us. It has been such a godsend being pregnant at the same time as three of my cousins. Sarah, Sam, and Lauren have been more help than they even know! I have asked more “did this happen to you?” and “do you think this is okay?!” questions to them over the past few months, and none of them have made of me to my face.


We drove back to Richmond that evening and spent Christmas morning at home. A childless, adult Christmas is extremely anti-climatic, but still enjoyable. We drank coffee, exchanged gifts, and lounged around until heading over to my in-law’s for dinner.


we dress alike and use the same hair product. casual.

My in-law’s made a delicious spread [per the usual; my MIL gives Martha Stewart a real run for her money] and we left completely stuffed – and with leftovers! :)

I won’t lie – I took down all of our Christmas decorations with gusto on the 26th. Maybe it’s the pregnancy, or the fact that retail-America has been celebrating Christmas since October, but I had no desire to dilly-dally.  On to the next, ladies and gentlemen!

Christmas Eve [Eve]

It’s Christmas Eve Eve! Guys, Christmas Eve is my all-time favorite day of the year. We make the trip up to Alexandria and my mom’s whole side of the family gets together to have one big party. I come from a large family, and being together with everyone is just so much fun.


Look at all those stockings! We’ve added added two new babies in the last two months, so my mom has been on stocking duty ;) One was actually born three days ago! And while she won’t be making the trip from Greensboro at the ripe old age of 4 days old, our family is just buzzing with happiness. My cousin, Lauren, is due about six weeks before me, and as you can imagine, my Grandma is celebrating the fact that she’s raking in the great-grandchildren like nobody’s biznass.


she plays flip cup, no big deal.

I have a few last minute errands to run and a few more presents to wrap [I suck at wrapping] before I can officially proclaim that I’m “ready” for Christmas, so I better go get to it!

On Blogging and Mindfulness

I did a lot of fun stuff this weekend.

Two ugly sweater parties. Tons of laughing with friends. A manicure. A haircut. A date. Too many Christmas treats. A Criminal Minds marathon. We paid someone to bathe Penny (what a treat!) We ordered pizza.

And I have zero pictures to show you.

[Tisk, tisk, Colleen The Blogger.]

I love blogging because I love writing and connecting with others. On the flip side, I find myself at odds with blogging because it impedes on my mindfulness practice.

To remain relevant in the blogging community you need to be constantly connected, constantly sharing, constantly sticking your phone in the middle of genuine moments to “capture” them – and that doesn’t jive well with me.

For instance, when I was getting my nails done this weekend, I watched a mother sit in a pedicure chair scrolling through her cell phone while her 7-ish year old daughter sat in a chair next to her looking bored. The only interaction I saw between them was when the mother suggested that they take a selfie.

They smiled, looked excited and after the picture was snapped, Mom went back to her phone and daughter literally twiddled her thumbs.

I imagine the Facebook caption being something akin to “Mommy-daughter day with my best girl!”

The whole thing made me sad.

I’m guilty of allowing social media to interfere with my real life social interactions at times, but it’s something I’m actively working on correcting. What does that mean for me as a blogger? I don’t know. But I know it can only mean positive growth for me as a person.




Friday Favorites

I love reading other bloggers’ Friday Favorite-type posts because I’m always on the lookout to try new-to-me products. I’m not saying I’ll do this kind of post every Friday, but I would like to make it regular thang.

Friday Favorites

1. I’m obsessed with the newest addition to my coffee mug collection, thanks to my Christmas present from my BFF, Emily. I had never heard of Ashley Brooke Designs, but I feel like she’ll be collecting large sums of my money in the near future.


2. L’Oreal’s Magic Anti-Redness primer. [I can’t find a link to the exact product that I picked up from Ulta, but think this is the same thing.] I went out and bought it the day after I watched Fran use it in her videothat’s how serious I was about trying this out. My skin tone is uneven; my chin, nose and around my eyes are always kind of red, so I had to buy it. I’m glad to say I totally approve! [FYI: Fran just posted a new video reviewing all her favorite DRUG STORE products. Check it out here!]


I took a picture after the first time I used it, and was 100% sold. Redness, be gone!


3. My new Kor water bottle. When I was contacted about trying the product, I jumped at the chance. Guys, I am drinking so much water these days, and I’m not always in my house or office when I need to refill my water bottle, so the fact that this has a built-in filter reeled me right in. The top pops right open to reveal a nice straw, and I love the fact that it doesn’t sweat.

[FYI: I was sent this product for free, but was not compensated or required to post about it.]


4. Aussie’s 3 Minute Miracle is not totally new to me, but it’s been a long while since I’ve used it. My hair has been bone dry lately, so I revisited this product and was not disappointed. If you’ve never tried this, I highly recommend it! I just use it in place of conditioner and it works wonders.


5. SERIAL. I’m so not a podcast person – like, at all. They bore me, really. It’s a fluke that I started listening to this when it first aired. As you know, I’m a sucker for crime drama, so when Cory asked me to listen to the first episode, I half-heartedly agreed. I figured I’d hate it and wouldn’t listen to a second episode.

Oddly enough, I was sucked in almost immediately [along with the other 3 million+ listeners.] I’ve gone back and forth about Adnan’s innocence and/or guilt tons of times. Cory and I process and debate after each episode, and when we’re done, I call my brother to do the same thing. It’s fascinating.

In the end, I have to agree with Koenig’s final conclusion from last night: as a juror, I’d have to acquit. Do I know for certain that Adnan is innocent? No. I can’t possibly. But I can be certain that there was never enough evidence to convict him and sentence him to life in prison.  So there’s a murdered teen and a guy spending his life in jail for a murder we can’t say he committed – and to me, that’s what’s so frustrating.


What are some of your favorite products?!

Did you listen to Serial? What do YOU think?

Revisiting Anxiety

My post on anxiety is by far one of my most popular posts. It’s one that generated a great deal of conversation and an overwhelming amount of reader emails. Because of that, I know it’s an important topic.  I’m very open about the fact that I was on anxiety medication, and it’s the one thing I get the most questions about. Many people tell me they don’t want to take that route because they don’t want to be on it forever, and/or they fear what will happen when they decide to come off.

So let’s talk about it!

Since July, I’ve been off my anxiety medication (another “perk” of pregnancy) and to be honest, coming off of it terrified me. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have anxious thoughts! I no longer felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, and I could finally take a deep breath! I stopped worrying about nonsense and scary, unrealistic things happening! It was fantastic, and I was anxious (ha) to give it up.

tough times


To my surprise, I had no adverse effects whatsoever coming off the medication. (I weaned myself off, as it’s not recommended to stop cold turkey.) But lately, I’ve found myself getting more worked up about situations, or unexplainably anxious, than I have in a over a year. Not fun to experience, not fun to admit.

It’s in these times that I have to remind myself of a key fact: we get to choose our energy, our attitude, and our perspective 100% of the time.* We can blame a bad attitude or anxiety on a million external things, but in reality, it always comes down to our choice. (Even if it really, really, reeeeeally doesn’t feel like it.)



For some people (myself waaay included!) anxiety needs to be treated with medication at some point. I’m all for that! But for me, medication was never meant to be a forever thing, an easy way out or the “autopilot choice.” It was meant to calm me down long enough to figure myself out.

When I was on my medication, I became extremely mindful of choosing my energy, attitude, and perspective. In all fairness, the medication made it easier to do so because it calmed my mind enough to allow those positive thoughts, but it also taught me that I am 100% in control (even when I really, really, reeeeally don’t feel like it.)



Getting on anxiety medication is one of thee best choices I have ever made for myself. It helped me get my physical and mental health back on track, and in my opinion, that’s invaluable.

I’m not a pill-pusher by any means, but I do support anyone with anxiety trying medication, because I avoided it for so long simply out of fear and the mindset of “This is the way I have always been, nothing will ever change.”


Things can change and get better, way better. You don’t have to suffer in silence, you don’t have to “feel crazy,” and you are in control (even if you really, really, reeeeeally don’t feel like it.)



*This does not include serious mental illness, obviously.

Note: any rude or hateful comments on this topic will not be tolerated and will be removed immediately. Please be kind or be quiet :) Any personal comments or questions can be sent to me at lunchboxdiaries[at]gmail[dot]com. Thank you!

Found: My New Favorite Beauty YouTuber

If you’re anything like me, you watch and Pin tons of makeup tutorials but still end up only knowing how to put on mascara and the same shade of eyeshadow every day.

After watching makeup tutorials, I normally feel inspired to head to Ulta and spend a ridiculous amount of money on products I don’t even know how to use. Upon arriving to said makeup store, I walk around in a daze because I literally have no clue what’s what. I mean, I can read but I don’t know what BB cream is and I don’t know if I want things volumized, plumped or concealed. Forget ever correctly picking the right shade of anything. 

Trying to look pretty is hard work.

Without fail, a gorgeous staff member will approach me and ask if I need help. My response is normally along the lines of, “Can you see how lost and confused and blotchy I am?! YES. HELP ME.” And that never really ends well.

Anyway, I think some of you are like me. Which is why I want to share my newest YouTube makeup tutorial find: Fran Ileanaa

She’s detailed, but not intimidating. I’ve probably watched her video about “everyday” make up and covering up acne scars 15 times because I definitely have some of that going on.

I like her sense of humor, and I think we would be friends in real life. Those are the types of bloggers and YouTubers I follow – the ones whose genuine personalities seem to effortlessly translate in their posts and videos.

I also really appreciate that she made a video using only drug store beauty products. Because it’s depressing to watch these tutorials when the girl is like “this is my faaavorite mascara!!” only to find out it’s $37. Um. No.

 I totally creeped on her last week after watching her first video and immediately followed her on Instagram and Twitter. I even reached out to her on Facebook and begged her to come to Richmond and make a video with me. My fingers are crosssssed.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the DC area and find yourself in need of a makeup artist, Fran can be reached at makeupBYfranileanaa[at]gmail[dot]com

Totally Truthful Thursday

1. Christmastime is my favorite time of the year, but the pressure of finding the perfect gifts for my loved ones by a certain date stresses me out. I LOVE gift-giving, but I do it throughout the year; if I see something that reminds me of you, I’ll buy it. I like that much better. Less pressure.

2. My BFF, Emily, sent me proofs of the baby shower invites that she made, and my heart swelled five sizes. I am so hashtag blessed.

3. I shared this on my personal Facebook page at Thanksgiving and forgot to share it anywhere else, but Penny was so thrilled to have my brother around.



4. I got pulled over by a cop this weekend for running a stop sign. When he asked if I had an excuse, I said, “I’m a pregnant lady on her way to Sweet Frog. It’s not an excuse, but it’s the truth” and I apologized for running the stop sign. He told me he appreciated my honesty and didn’t give me ticket.

5. I’m ashamed by some of the lazy thoughts I’ve had recently. Like: I wish I had a seat in my shower so I didn’t have to stand here. Please share some of your lazy thoughts with me. 

6. I remember when I was newly pregnant and was lamenting to my cousin Sarah about feeling bloated. She told me that there would be a time during my second trimester when I felt cute, and I didn’t believe her. She was right, and I feel cute.


7. I was majorly anti-Taylor Swift for a long time. Then she came out with 1989, along with a new-and-improved personality, and I adore her. She wildly eloquent, she’s been speaking her mind regarding feminism, and I’m a total fangirl now.


via buzzfeed

8. As a part of my job, I’m a public speaker. I train lots of people on various topics. I normally get the most positive feedback and complimentary comments on my presentation style, but public speaking remains one of my biggest fears. What’s up with that?!

9. Serious question: In the winter, do you sleep with socks on? I love to because my feet get so cold but Cory thinks it’s gross. But he also doesn’t want me to touch him with my cold feet. What’s a cold girl to do?! The struggle is real, friends.

10. Sometimes I make [decaf] coffee just to keep my hands warm.

Not the Time for a Boozy Joke

Earlier this week, I had my gestational diabetes test. A routine test for pregnant women to make sure our glucose levels are in check.

Clearly, this is my first rodeo, so I didn’t really know what to expect other than drinking a sugary drink and waiting. I normally get nervous if I’m taking any sort of health-related test, even if it’s routine. Anyone else?

I arrived to the doctor’s office and was quickly ushered back to the “blood draw room” as I call it.

The phlebotomist simply said, “fruit punch or orange?” and I chose fruit punch, because it’s the best flavor anytime, anywhere. 

She handed me what looked like a miniature water bottle filled with, you guessed it, fruit punch and said, “you have five minutes.”

She swiveled her chair away from me and started scrolling through her cell phone. I felt awkward.

Expecting something totally foul, I was shocked by the first sip. I say first sip, because by the end, it tasted like straight cough syrup. But at first, it wasn’t really that bad. So I said, “Man, if we added some vodka to this, we could have a party.”

To which she slowly turned around and gave me a look that shot daggers into my soul.

Note to self: as a pregnant woman, you should not make boozy jokes in the presence of medical professionals.