Self-Care: Apps and Books for Your Mental Health

Now that we’re full swing into 2018, it’s time to check in with ourselves and make sure that we’re doing our best to really take care of ourselves! Life gets hectic and the first thing to go onto the back burner is your own self-care. This year, our goal is to stop this bad habit and make our well-being a top priority! We aren’t saying to go out and spend money on weekly massages or even that you need to take a ton of time each day to dedicate to yourself, that’s not necessarily realistic for everyone. However, there are some really easy ways to take a few minutes out of your day to slow down and check in with yourself. Today, we’re sharing our top tools that help us focus back in on our well-being.

1. The Calm App

Image Source: Calm

Image Source: Calm

We love the calm app! This meditation app offers a huge variety of guided meditation options to choose from. While there is a subscription fee, you can download the app for free and play around with some of the meditations before you decide if it’s for you or not. More often than not, you’ll end up receiving an email with a coupon code to use for your subscription! These guided meditations cover things such as stress relief, anxiety, happiness, focus, peace, sleep and so much more. Start your day with a five minute meditation session to put you out the door on the right foot. Listen to a sleep story to help you relax and fall into a deep, restful sleep at night. We truly cannot say enough wonderful things about this one!

2. The Daily Quote App

Image Source: Daily Motivation

Image Source: Daily Motivation

Do you respond well to inspirational and motivational quotes? Well, so do we! The Daily Quote app is a free app that provides you with daily inspirational and motivational quotes. Enable notifications to have it send you your quote of the day each morning! We have ours set to notify us the same time we wake up, because what’s better than waking up to some motivation waiting to greet you?

 
Image Source: Samia's Photography

Image Source: Samia's Photography

This is one of our all-time favorite books. The tagline is “How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life.” If you’re someone looking to really take control of your life and make positive changes, this is the book for you! Find a way to take even 5 minutes a day to read a few pages. Put yourself first, make a commitment to read each day, and transform your life into the one you want to be living.

 
Image Source: Rachel Hollis

Image Source: Rachel Hollis

As women, we unknowingly believe many lies about ourselves. The title “Stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be” couldn’t be more true. Hollis starts each chapter with a lie that she, and most women, believed about herself that made her feel negatively. She then re-tells her experience with this lie, and finishes up with what helped her work through and unpack things to discover the truth of her situation. This story is so relatable and motivational, showing just how true it is that you can accomplish anything if you stick with it and believe in yourself!

The Skincare Bible

Image Source: Pink Peonies

Image Source: Pink Peonies

We’ve all been there - one little pimple pops up, uninvited, right before you’re headed out. You try to cover it with layer upon layer of packed on powder and concealer and hastily wipe it off at the end of the night with a makeup wipe. The next morning, everything is even worse, and there’s no covering it now.

A spot treatment could come to the rescue, but the best way to deal with these unwelcome blemishes is by knowing exactly what to do to prevent them. And caring for your skin is more than just trying to zap every pimple that pops up; it’s also about learning what works for your skin type (and just figuring out what exactly your skin type is!) and cutting out any unnecessary products that are worsening whatever issue it is you’re dealing with, be it an oily t-zone, wrinkles, or dry winter skin. We’re here to break down every product and habit you should (or shouldn’t!) be incorporating into your skincare routine, so you can rock the glowy, fresh face trend confidently!

Pick your facial cleanser wisely!

Image Source: Mysterious Beauties

Image Source: Mysterious Beauties

Choosing your cleanser is arguably the most central part of your skincare routine, especially if you typically wear a full face of makeup. Whatever your skin type, it’s important to pick the right kind of cleanser to get rid of any left over product that might clog up your pores. Picking a cleanser isn’t necessarily about finding one for morning and one for nighttime. Instead, it’s about finding what works for you. People who suffer from oily skin should opt for a foaming cleanser, but dry skin needs a little more moisture from something like a lotion or cream wash. No7’s Beautiful Skin Foaming Cleanser is an affordable option to use day and night if you’re dealing with oily skin you can’t seem to get under control!

If you’re struggling with dry, flakey skin, be careful that you aren’t over-exfoliating. It’s an essential part of the skincare process, but it’s too easy to go overboard and scrub away necessary oils, leaving you with dull looking skin. It’s recommended that you only exfoliate your face about 2-3 times a week. Using a natural product like Lush’s Ocean Salt is a great idea if you have sensitive skin but still need a gritty exfoliant, and the lime-infused vodka in it smells great and brightens!

Toner’s great - but only when it’s necessary!

Image Source: ASOS

Image Source: ASOS

Toner is one of those skincare products you kind of ignored in high school because you weren’t really sure what it did, and as you grew up, more and more of your friends started using it, but without any real direction. Toner can be tricky, especially if you have dry skin, but it can also be really beneficial in brightening, balancing, and evening your skin tone. One of the most important parts of skincare that people seem to ignore is that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing - there’s no rulebook that says you have to use a toner, but it could also be exactly what your skin is missing!

If you decide that you are looking to add a step to brighten your skin, a great drugstore toner is Pixi’s Glow Tonic. It’s perfect for adding a little extra glow to a fresh face, and there’s no alcohol in it that’ll dry you out, which makes it a great universal option for all skin types.

Don’t mistake serums for moisturizers!

Image Source: Fashion, Love and Martinis

Image Source: Fashion, Love and Martinis

Serums can add a lot of moisture to your skin, but they’re actually quite different. Think of them as a supplement that provides a little extra help, while moisturizer is more of a regular, basic need. If your skin is on the oily side, seek out a serum with glycolic acid to incorporate every night. Don’t forget to add products on in order of their consistency, too - serum comes before moisturizer, not after!

If you’re not a serum kind of gal but still want to add a bonus step to your routine, test out some face masks every other night that target exactly what issues you’re looking to solve. Clay masks are great for oily skin because of how absorbent they are, but make sure to only put them where necessary (for instance, in only the T-zone if you have combination skin) or you can dry out your skin. Dr. Jart+ Shake & Shot Rubber Masks are perfect for targeting specific needs, like firming and brightening, and they add some fun and excitement to what can be a monotonous routine!

… And pick the right moisturizer for you.

Image Source: First Aid Beauty

Image Source: First Aid Beauty

No matter the skin type, if there’s any one guideline that you should follow, it’s to make sure you have SPF in your moisturizer! SPF is necessary to protect your face against the sun, and using it daily drastically reduces the possibility of wrinkles. If you have dry skin, it’s a nice idea to grab a heavier weighted moisturizer for the nighttime (and a nice, hydrating eye cream), especially in the harsh winter months. But if you want to use the same product day and night, go for it - just make sure it’s around SPF 30!

 

Be mindful of your skincare habits!

Skincare isn’t solely about what products to use and when. It can be tempting to use a tanning bed so you get that bronzed glow fast, but the harsh reality is that they dry your skin out drastically and expose you to harmful rays that’ll lead to wrinkles. Try a self-tanner that moisturizes instead! A lot of habits actually link directly back to our skin, whether we realize it or not. Something as simple as drinking more water can lead to brighter, healthier looking skin - if your skin is looking thirsty, you should be too! Changing your diet and cutting out dairy and junk food can minimize breakouts, too. Just being mindful enough to go through your whole skincare routine instead of lazily choosing a makeup wipe can contribute to a beautiful, natural glow!

Image Source: Herbivore Botanicals

Image Source: Herbivore Botanicals

Top 5 Tricks to Snapping the Perfect Instagram Shot

Image Source: The Blog Market

Image Source: The Blog Market

In the age of social media, all anyone seems to want is to snap that perfect Instagram-worthy shot. But what is it that makes that shot so perfect? That’s the million dollar question! Today, we’re doing our best to help share our top five tips to what we believe will make your photos absolutely perfect. While there are so many things to focus on, our top five are composition, quality, lighting, aesthetic, and editing.

Composition

Image Source: Picture Correct

Image Source: Picture Correct

Do you remember learning about the rule of thirds in art class? Guess what, it’s still applicable! For those of you who haven’t heard of the rule of thirds or just need a little refresher, the rule is as follows: Draw a grid across your space with three lines equally spaced both horizontally and vertically, breaking it into nine equal parts. Just as important as the nine parts, if not more so, are the lines and intersections you have just created. Did you know that when viewing an image your eye is not naturally drawn to the center of a photo but to the points of intersection? It’s true! With that in mind, while framing your photo, try to place the point of interest along your lines, highlighting a certain spot at an intersection. When shooting portraits, it’s best to have your subject be off-center and aligned with your rule of thirds grid line instead of smack dab in the center, which can actually cause an awkward looking shot. By using the rule of thirds, you are taking time to intentionally plan out the composition and framing of your photo, which will show through in the quality versus an image you quickly snapped without a second thought.

Quality

Image Source: Venus Trapped in Mars

Image Source: Venus Trapped in Mars

With the ever expanding land of technology, it’s even more important (and easier!) to have a high quality image. There are a number of factors that play into the quality of an image, but here we’re talking about the actual resolution and size of your image. While our iPhones and Androids are getting more and more advanced cameras by the day, you’ll see real quality by picking up a “real” camera instead! A traditional camera will give you a much higher quality zoom, larger range, better features, and an overall higher quality image. And with the leaps and bounds that technology has improved, you can easily download images directly from your camera to your phone for quick posting. With all the free resources online, it’s no longer as intimidating to pick up a camera and learn the basics. Trust us, you’ll see a significant difference!

Lighting

If there is only one thing you can remember to focus on when taking your photos, it is the lighting! Having the proper lighting can make a world of difference in your images. Sure, we have the ability to easily manipulate the brightness of a photo, but nothing will truly compare to a photo taken in good lighting. In most cases, the optimum lighting is natural light. Whether you can have your subject be outdoors or in a room with lots of windows, having natural lighting should always be your top preference.

Aesthetic

Image Source: A Quiet Style

Image Source: A Quiet Style

One of the biggest keys to having a killer Instagram feed is your aesthetic. Whether it’s picking the same filter or editing style for all of your images or a theme for the subject matter, you want to give your feed a cohesive look that’s still unique to you. While it’s still acceptable to mix in a different style image here or there, the majority should have a sense of uniformity. A cohesive feed is an attractive feed!

Editing

The rise of social media has also resulted in a rise of photo and video editing applications. There are so many options to choose from! You’re no longer limited to the select few filters that Instagram allows you. There are hundreds of free apps that allow you to choose from additional varieties of filters and editing techniques.


However you choose to create your photos for Instagram, make sure that you’re creating something you are happy with and love to look at! Make sure that you’re still taking time to live in the moment and enjoy life offline too. There’s more to life than “doing it for the ‘gram” but if you’re going to do it for the ‘gram, you might as well have some extra tips to help you get the best shot possible!

Setting the Perfect Table

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Everyone loves entertaining! Whether it be a dinner party, family get together, or celebration of a holiday or special occasion, your table setup is the perfect way to showcase your style. The dinner table is the centerpiece of your home and the perfect location to really illustrate your aesthetic and wow your guests. However, determining your aesthetic and picking the right pieces to really shine can be a difficult task! To help make this easier, we’ve compiled a list of “must-have” items on every table, regardless of style, to ensure you have everything you need to complete that perfect look. Not sure what your look is? No problem, we’re sharing some of our favorite inspirational images of various table styles to help you out! 

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  • Table cloth 
  • Matching dining set 
  • Chargers 
  • Linen napkins 
  • Candles and candlesticks 
  • Florals 
  • Full set of utensils 
  • Various glassware 
  • Serving dishes 
  • Table runner or similar draping fabric 
  • Additional small decor items 

For more formal events, consider adding a few extra special touches, like menus and name cards, to really finish off the look!

 
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What’s the number one design element on your list that you just can’t live without? Or your favorite style? Let us know!

Home Decor Pieces that Transform a Room

Just moved into a new space or maybe just bored with your current décor? We’ve all been there! The easiest way to transform any space is by switching out simple pieces for a statement piece. A statement piece can be practically anything – a modern chair, a unique coffee table, some jaw-dropping art work, or even a new lamp. The possibilities are endless! Here are some of our top picks for adding a quick spruce to your living space.

Switching out your old light fixtures is a simple way to add more character to a space. Whether it’s a new lamp or even a pendant, you would be surprised at the difference it can make! Not in the budget to go buy that dream fixture? No problem. If you’re feeling crafty, you can simply buy a can of spray paint from your local home improvement store to give your current fixture a new look. We love this rubbed-oil bronze spray from Home Depot! If you’re not the crafty type, check out places like Home Goods or weekend flea markets, chances are there’s a diamond in the rough just waiting to be found.


A coffee table is such a fun way to make a change and really set the tone of your design within a space. The best part? There are so many ways to DIY your own coffee table! Not only will this create a statement, but it’s also a great conversation starter. We are obsessed with these DIY Herringbone tables from Shades of Blue Interior and Comfort and Chaos.

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Sick of your empty walls? Fill them up with beautiful artwork! Better yet, create your own gallery wall including your own photos of loved ones and memories. We also love large wall clocks as an easy way to add a level of class to the space. If your living space in on the smaller side, a great way to make it feel larger is by strategically hanging a mirror on your wall. This gives the illusion that the space is larger than it is while also adding an element of décor.

Decorating as a Couple

Moving in together is just like wedding planning: an exciting time that can filled with stressful decisions. Find out how to combine styles and who to look for when you need inspiration!


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The first step in making your space a home that reflects you as a couple is to identify your couple's style. Odds are that each of you is bringing a different aesthetic, so just being able to articulate your style will prove helpful in the design process. This sounds easy but it can be difficult! To help in this process take this Style quiz by Lonny.

Here are the three main styles that are trendy right now.


Don't feel like you need to stick to one style! If you are bringing a modern style couch to the space, it doesn't mean the entire room needs to have a minimal modern feel.


To save you time, we have done our research and are excited to share our tips and top pieces of advice with you. Happy designing!

  1. Identify each of your styles- See our What's Our Style section.
  2. Take inventory- What are you bringing to the home? What is your partner bringing? This way you can quickly identify what major items you have duplicates of. Two couches but just need one? Our advice is to pick the one that is more neutral. Having your major pieces be neutral allows for more options. Once you have taken stock of your inventory, then you can create a shopping/wish list for decor items that will help bring in your new couple's style.
  3. Live in the space first- We suggest taking a few weeks to live in your new space. You need to have time to see how the space works for you, your style and your schedule. Pay particular attention to what your high traffic areas are and plan your design accordingly.
  4. Look for inspiration- While some times Pinterest can be overwhelming, when it comes to the home design process, it will be your most useful tool. Designing is a visual process and if you are not familiar with it, look to the experts! Use Pinterest not only for room design ideas but also for the small designs, like how to style your coffee table.

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