Light Therapy for the Dark Winter Days

Because the days are shorter, the weather’s colder and because I have had several friends ask me if this really does work, I feel compelled to re-share my experiences with light therapy.

Living in Maine has been an amazing experience. The food scene is phenomenal, the city of Portland is thriving and the summers are absolutely incredible. But the winters. My goodness, they are long, dark and cold. And while I love the idea of snow and having a white Christmas, come January 1, I’m ready for spring! It’s quite a change for an Alabama girl.

And so, after struggling through five winters here in Maine, last year I finally decided to invest in a light to help boost my mood. Light therapy is intended to balance your body clock and
help to alleviate the nagging symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In fact, there are clinical studies that show that ion therapy provides an automatic antidepressant effect within a few days of use.

The light was budget friendly and had great reviews so I made the investment in hopes it would help boost my spirits. And wow, I had an almost immediate lift, both physically and emotionally as soon as I started using this light. I started with 30 minutes, just sitting by the light with my coffee and some reading and within a few weeks, all I needed was 15 minutes to get me set for the day.

I literally pulled this back out the day the clocks changed and I’ve been fairly dedicated at starting my mornings by the light. I’ve also increased my vitamin D intake, because like most New Englanders, I was quite deficient when tested recently. And now that my children are older, I’m going to push myself to be outside more this winter and do my best to enjoy the activities the winters in Maine allow for us. (Hold me accountable to that last one please!!!!)

What do you do to help fight the winter blues? Let me know in the comments!

Cyber Monday Madness

Ahhhh – the Monday after Thanksgiving. Some of us are detoxing from a little too much food, a little too much family time (all the praise hands for back-to-school!) and maybe even a little too much shopping.

Others are just getting going on the shopping madness – are you a Cyber Monday shopper? I feel like these days so many of the stores are also online retailers – making the majority of the deals available on Black Friday. There often aren’t too many surprises by Monday. Having said that, there are some serious sales out there right now and I am highlighting a few:

J.Crew – It feels like the old J.Crew is back again. So many classic and stylish pieces! I love this top!! And just until noon today, it’s 50% off and free shipping!!!

J. Crew Factory – The deals right now are crazy good – 60% off online today! I wish I needed to shop because it’s hard to contain myself with so many cute things at such great prices. I’m particularly loving the Plaid Flannel Shirts for men at only $19 and all things Tartan.

Bath and Body Works – I feel a little like my 15 year old self again having rediscovered my love of this store. Were you obsessed with all of the lotions, gels and gift sets back in the day? These days, I’m really into their candles and scored the large 3 wick ones over the weekend for only $12.50. They will be releasing various deals throughout the holidays so keep an eye out. Today is 40% off everything. After burning Flannel all fall and loving it, my favorite scents currently are Bergamot Waters, Champagne Toast and Snowflake and Citrus. And of course they have wonderful balsam scents for that very  Christmas-y smell!!! They are also very generous with their in-store coupons so ask if you don’t have one!

Loft: Always worth a look for classics and the basics. 50% off and free shipping.

LL Bean: 25% off Wicked Good Slippers today only with code CYBER25 and 20% off clothes and outerwear with code THANKS20. I have had these slippers since I moved to Maine – they are the best!!

Old Navy: Even Old Navy is giving me heart eyes for their plaid! And these velvet leggings look so cute and cozy for the holidays. Everything’s 50%. I love all of their sleepwear for me AND the kids. Lots worth checking out!

Thanksgiving

Can you believe Thanksgiving is on Thursday?!?!? I don’t know, I guess we just had such a warm fall here in New England, it feels really soon. Which is ironic I suppose, since I’ve 100% been playing Christmas music since the day after Halloween!

We celebrated Friendsgiving for the second year with our family away from family here in Maine on Saturday. This is quickly becoming my new favorite holiday. There is no stress of travel involved and absolutely no pretense. These are people that you have chosen as family and so there is just 100% comfort in their company. My friend Kate pulled off an amazing meal, right down to the homemade ice cream to accompany the homemade pie and basically entirely from scratch made meal. It was so, so good!

We aren’t traveling this year, so I will be channeling as much of the south as possible in Maine with my mom’s famous southern cornbread dressing for our family’s Thanksgiving meal. I dedicated an entire post to it last year (that’s how good it is!) so please check that out if you need a little inspiration.

In addition to her dressing, I’ll be trying out this delicious looking Thanksgiving salad, making Southern Living’s blistered brussels sprouts, and a delicious flourless chocolate cake my family loves, along with some of the more traditional sides. Confession, I have never cooked a turkey! For all of my 40+ years I have never hosted a Thanksgiving meal. Thankfully, Moe’s BBQ does an excellent smoked turkey so I don’t have to stress over that detail for at least one more year!!!

And thanks to a dear, sweet friend, I don’t have to worry about the gravy or the cranberry sauce, as she dropped by the best care package last week from Williams-Sonoma along with several little activities to entertain the kids while I’m in the kitchen. I have the best friends!

Following the meal, we are going as a family to see the movie Wonder, (#choosekind) and we are all so excited!!! Have you or your kids read the book or seen the movie yet? I’ve cried every time I’ve watched the trailer (linked above) so I’m just planning to bring the entire box of kleenex to cover my bases!

While we should always, always choose to be kind, I hope watching this movie as a family will set the tone for a truly giving and kind spirit heading into the holiday season. We have much to be thankful for and I hope you and your family have wonderful celebrations this week!

 

 

Bold or Subtle?

Let’s talk lipsticks! Are you bold or subtle? Up until about a year ago, I pretty much only wore brownish/pink shades of lipstick. Subtle, easily applied without a mirror, and boring. Sometimes I’d kick it up a notch with a gloss but for the most part, I didn’t veer far from a small selection of colors.

But toward the end of last summer, a friend and I were at the beach glossing over magazines and she told me that I needed to be more daring . The article talked about Mac’s iconic Ruby Woo and how perfect it was for most skin tones, (but especially fair) so I started there. Soon after, I added a gorgeous wine color from Laura Mercier. I absolutely loved them for all of the evening outings over the holiday season and always got compliments. It was such a fun and different look for me!

However, when I tried to wear them out for day, it just felt like too much. The matte finish and the deep, deep color wasn’t working for me. I have plenty of friends that can pull off a bold lip all day but I felt too made up and uncomfortable. Not to mention, lip liner and a mirror were absolutely necessary for application.

So this fall, I made it a priority to try and find a few options for day that were still bold, but more wearable. I wanted something as comfortable and easy to put on as lip balm but with high impact. After buying and returning a few shades closer to my comfort zone (nude, brown, boring!) I finally found two lipsticks that I am now wearing and loving exclusively!

I have that same friend from the beach to thank for the first one (don’t you just love having product junkie friends!!!!) When I told her my frustrations, she immediately suggested Clinique’s Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. Do you remember these barely there lipsticks from our youth?!?! I’m pretty sure all of my makeup in my teens was Clinique and the almost lipsticks were a perfect starting point. Black Honey is much bolder than many of the options and while I didn’t wear that shade in high school, I absolutely love it today. A few extra swipes deepens the shade for a great, strong everyday lip color.

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The next shade I found thanks to an incredibly patient girl at the MAC beauty counter. After discussing many shades I’d looked up online, she suggested their Patentpolish Lip Pencil in Ruby. And she was right. It was absolutely what I was looking for – it’s a bit pinker than Black Honey but a wonderfully deep, but very wearable color. I’m in love!

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Both of these lipsticks are incredibly popular for their universally flattering tones. Both beauty counters told me they are best sellers for this very reason – I encourage you to give them a try. The consistency also makes for easy application and I can 100% apply without a mirror.

Lipstick is an inexpensive yet high-impact way to update your look. If you are looking for a bolder lip that you can wear every day, give these a try and let me know what you think!

Advent Season

Believe it or not, we are inching closer and closer to the holiday season. I cannot believe Thanksgiving is just over a week away! Before we know it, we will all be Christmas shopping and looking for the perfect gift for all the special people in our lives.

But before we make it to Christmas day, many of us will be celebrating the season of Advent. The word Advent means coming, and in many Christian homes, families observe this season of waiting and preparing for the Nativity at Christmas.

There are many ways to observe Advent and our family often makes an Advent wreath. I love this tradition, as it keeps the focus on the true meaning of Christmas, when we are so easily distracted by the busyness of the season.

The Advent wreath, is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent. It is a wreath with four candles, with a fifth, white candle in the center. The lighting of a candle begins on the first Sunday of Advent can be accompanied by a Bible reading, devotional time and prayers. An additional candle is lit during each subsequent week until, by the last Sunday before Christmas, all four candles are lit. Many Advent wreaths include a fifth, Christ candle which is lit at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

I also love that we can make wreaths as a family and involve everyone in the weekly observance. Here is a tutorial for an easy DIY advent wreath. Or you can order a pre-made wreath if you prefer!

An Advent calendar is another way to celebrate the season. It is a special calendar used to count the days of Advent in anticipation of Christmas. Nowadays, there are so many fun calendars for both adults and children. My favorite so far is L’Occitane’s gorgeous Advent calendar . It’s filled with wonderful goodies, from their famous hand cream to relaxing bath gels. This is a fantastic early teacher gift or Thanksgiving Hostess present for someone special to you.

 

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Doesn’t this look amazing?!?!

If chocolate speaks a little more to your loved one, you can’t go wrong with this option from Godiva.

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Chocolate is always a good choice.

And for the younger ones in your life, Lego makes several themed versions of an Advent calendar, from Lego City to Lego Friends or Lego Star Wars.

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For the Lego Lover in your life!

 

And finally, if you had a simple re-usable calendar from your childhood like me, you might like this adorable Snowman calendar, to mark the days in your home! This one is also a great deal!

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I love this one! Reminds me of the one we use from my childhood!

Does your family celebrate the Advent season? I’d love to hear how. Let me know in the comments!