Monday, December 30, 2019

My Favorite Posts of 2019

I look forward to doing a round up of all my favorite posts each year! It's a fun excuse to go back and read through the things I've written. Sometimes I'm surprised to see a photo and realize it happened this year, when it feels like a lifetime ago. 

2019 was filled with great trips, fun crafts and plenty of pug pictures! It was also the year of my rebrand from Pugs and Pearls to! Super exciting and I feel like that little makeover re-inspired me. Blogging under my own name just feels right.

What's interesting though, is when I started selecting favorite posts to share in this round up, I noticed they were all on the same theme. I've never been a niche blogger, but I really talked about simple living a lot this year. That's so reflective of how I felt personally. After a few crazy years, I truly enjoyed getting back to basics and uncomplicated living. What makes me happy is being at home, spending time with friends, and being productive. Not hustling. 

If you are struggling with 'the hustle' I think this round up of posts will truly help you get started on simplifying. Although it's an ongoing journey, the benefits begin right away. 

My Favorite Posts of 2019 |

Monday, December 23, 2019

Our Favorite Place: Paradise Beach in Cozumel Mexico

I've been sharing our family cruises on the blog for years now! We go almost every year, and most often in late November or early December. We love cruising, and this trip was just as great as always. The past two years we've gone to Cozumel, Mexico and I wanted to share the amazing beach club we are now obsessed with! 

Paradise Beach is an all inclusive beach club located just 10 minutes away from the cruise port. We decided not to do a cruise sponsored excursion last year and found Paradise Beach on Tripadvisor. It had good reviews so we gave it a shot. We loved it so much that we came back this year! 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Life Lately #8

Life Lately | North Florida Lifestyle Blog |

Practicing Hiking Outfits
I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I am Type A enough to practice outfits months in advance, right? For our tenth anniversary early next year, we are doing an amazing trip to see the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and other really cool stops. We've already mapped out several hikes and even a horseback tour. It's going to be fairly cold when we go, so we've been stocking up on cool weather hiking gear. I'm obsessed with my LL Bean hiking boots! Our trip includes something like 6 hikes, and we are going to attempt to only bring maybe you can see why I am thinking so far ahead.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Recent Reads #5

Whoops! Haven't done one of these in awhile! After reading a ton of books at the beginning of the year (you can read all my book reviews here!), I took a reading hiatus over the summer. Partly because of being generally more busy, and partly because I rely on the library for 99% of my books and for some reason they didn't add a whole lot of new books to the Libby app over the summer. 

That being said, I made a goal to read 12 books this year, and I'm on no. 24!

Recent Reads |

Monday, December 9, 2019

Must Have Cricut Accessories

Must Have Cricut Accessories

When I first started using my Cricut machine I was so overwhelmed with all of the possibilities! There were so many projects I could do, and SO many products to buy. I wasn't sure what accessories I absolutely needed, and I wasted a whole lotta vinyl because of buying the wrong thing. I thought I would compile the must haves and my favorite products here, in case you are in the market for a Cricut machine. I have a Cricut Explore, so if you have or are getting a Maker keep in mind you have more options for materials to use. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Best Home Purchases of 2019

This post is going to make me seem like an old lady, but this is the kind of stuff that gets me excited! Clothes and makeup don't do it for me quite like home improvement does. None of this is super glamorous, but I wanted to share a few things we've purchased this year that have made our lives easier and better!

This post contains affiliate links!
Best Home Purchases of 2019 |

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Just Five Things

One | Fancy Cups!
I shared one cup that my friend Dana made for me recently, but I had already asked her to make two more! She can take a cup you already have (which is what we did) and make it completely over. I chose a Disney themed cup for myself. We love Disney, but the fireworks are especially special to me because that's where Blake proposed to me! Blake's cup turned out so sick. Guys are hard to design for, but she knocked it out of the park. Dana is awesome to work with, and I know she'd love it if I sent you her way.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cricut Creations No. 2

I don't think I need to tell you that I'm obsessed with my Cricut! I lurk in a Cricut Facebook group for people with these machines, and it's absolutely incredible what some people are making! Some women (and a few guys) are entering craft shows, selling on Etsy and making some serious money! It's so inspiring. I'm not quite ready to dive into a real side hustle, but it's so fun to feel creative and whip up a project. 

Here are a few things I've been crafting lately!
This post contains affiliate and referral links.
Cricut Craft -Homebody Sweatshirt |

Monday, November 11, 2019

New Beauty Products I'm Loving

New Products I'm Loving |

By no means am I a beauty guru, but I do love trying out new products and finding great stuff! With so many 'misses' when it comes to beauty products, I thought I'd share a few products that I've tried recently that I love! 

Monday, November 4, 2019

What's On My Wish List

Since I'm on a self imposed buying freeze, one thing that has helped me limit my spending has been adding things to my Amazon Wish List-instead of just adding it to the cart. In fact, I've noticed that I previously added a few items to my wish list and later decided I didn't want them after all. It's a great strategy to prevent impulse purchases! 

Wish List |

After glancing through my list, I thought it'd be fun to share these random items! Click on the photo to take you to the product link. Affiliate links are present.
(A few things aren't on Amazon, but I'm including them as well.)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Let's Finish 2019 Strong!

There are 65 days until 2020! It seems like as I get older, the faster time flies, and it's kind of jarring. We have so many exciting things planned for 2020 that I have been thinking of 2019 as a prologue. The prologue of a novel really sets up the story, and so, I'd really like the rest of this year to set up the next in the best way possible.  In fact, the post I shared on January 1, 2018 was all about doing something today, that you will thank yourself for tomorrow. 

I still feel very strongly about that life strategy. What better way to set up next year, than starting right now? There are 3 areas of my life that I am going to focus on, and doing so will really help me finish the year strong. Those areas are Health, Wealth and Self.

fourth quarter goals |

Monday, October 21, 2019

Contentment Challenge

Contentment Challenges and Tips |

a state of happiness and satisfaction.
Contentment is a struggle for me. I'm a goal getter, an obsessive thinker, and someone who is constantly looking for ways to improve. While none of those things are truly negative traits, discontment usually follows. 

I never want to give up pursuing a better way. My need to improve is actually something that works to my advantage most days. However, when Blake and I started battening down the hatches on our budget, I realized just how often I was adding things to the wish list. 

Contentment is something that I want to work on in all areas of my life and personality, but today I specifically want to talk about contentment with material things. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday Five

One | West Palm!
We go to West Palm every year, with Blake's family. The group has been different everytime, but we have so many wonderful memories there. Usually we go the last week of July or the first week of August - but this year we were in Europe! So, it was a real bonus for us to fit in a long weekend in October. The weather there is perfect this time of year- still hot, but the sand doesn't burn the bottom of your feet like it does in July.

It was all too short. I felt like I had just started to relax and it was time to go. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

What's Been On My Mind

Often I feel like what I write in a blog post would be what I would share if I were on a coffee date with a friend-whatever has been on my mind lately. That's exactly what I want to do right now. I don't drink coffee, but I do drink hot tea, so I'm going to sip on some while I catch you up on a few things I've been obsessing over lately. (Because I don't just think about things, I obsess.)

I'm so so thrilled to be a runner again. On the blog over the years, (5 by the way! I completely forgot about my blogiversary.) I've recapped various races and fitness goals. In fact, in my office I have all of my race bibs displayed, and I think there are at least 30. So, I guess I've always been a runner. But it's been a very long time since I've felt like one! 

It all started with finding my 30 Before 30 list. I wrote it when I was like 24, and now that I'm 29 I realize how ridiculous my aspirations were! So, I rewrote it. Some of the things on the list remained the same, one of them being running a half marathon. After almost spending over $200 on a Disney race, I found a half marathon in my home town for $40 and decided to sign up. It's in the beginning of February, which gives me plenty of time to prepare. 

I also signed up my reluctant sister and mom. We found a half marathon training schedule and have stuck with it for 4 weeks. I'm super proud. The mileage has been low so far, so we've been working on endurance and speed. It's SO exciting to see progress from run to run. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Just Three Things

One// New Cup
My friend Dana started a business making epoxy tumblers, and I had her make one for me! I was inspired by the Happy Stripe pattern from Simplified, and Dana knocked it out of the park. A cup this size is only $30. Thought I'd mention it in case you are on the hunt for a great gift! Here's her page.

Two// New Recipes 
Have I mentioned that I purchased an air fryer? If not, I have to tell you how much I love it. It's been a complete game changer in the kitchen! We use it almost everyday. It makes vegetables taste so much better. I recently tried a recipe for 2 ingredient bagels in the air fryer, and they turned out so good! 

The recipe is just 1/2 cup self rising flour and 1/2 cup low fat greek yogurt. Mix it until you have a dough ball, then divide into 4. Shape into a bagel shape, and coat with a beaten egg. Top with whatever seasoning you want. I went with everything seasoning. 350 degrees for 10 mins! These end up being about 150 calories a piece, which is about half of a traditional bagel. 

2 Ingredient WW bagels in the air fryer

2 Ingredient WW bagels in the air fryer

The second recipe I made in the oven, but you can certainly make a smaller batch in the air fryer. This recipe is for a healthy pumpkin muffin! They are only 65 calories per muffin. Or about 100 if you add chocolate chips, which I did. 

Here's the recipe:
1 15 oz canned pumpkin
1 cup egg whites
1 cup flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp clove
3 tbsp stevia
1 tbsp baking powder 
(chocolate chips are optional)
Mix and pour in a muffin tin. Makes 12 muffins. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. 

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

Three// Closet Clean Out
I am on a mission to continue decluttering, and my closet is one place I can always find things to get rid of. I did a massive clean out, and even said goodbye to some pieces I had been holding on to. It was encouraging too, because I found some shorts I had set aside because they had become too tight. Now they fit like a glove! 

I ended up with an entire rubbermaid and a TJ Maxx bag full of clothes. My sister got several pieces, but, I also posted quite a bit in my Poshmark closet. Head on over to take a look! 

If you aren't already on Poshmark, you can use my code KESWOOLSEY for $10 to use towards clothes. I also do big discounts if you purchase more than one item. 

Let's Chat! Leave me a comment below with something you've got to share! Buy anything new lately? What about new recipes you've tried? Do you have an air fryer?! Tell me what you think!

Monday, September 23, 2019

4 Days at Disney | Magic Kingdom After Hours | First Time In The New Star Wars Land

With our annual passes expiring at the beginning of October, we wanted to go out with a bang and do one last big Disney trip! We are not renewing our passes this time. 2020 has a lot in store travel wise, and we needed to make some adjustments in the budget. Florida Residents can pay monthly for their passes, and even though that's helpful, you still spend so much money on hotels and food. 

Before our passes expire we wanted to make sure that we got to see the new Star Wars land area and visit each of the parks one last time. We had an awesome long weekend and definitely got our money's worth. That being said, I think I've got Disney out of my system for a long time. 

Day One | Magic Kingdom After Hours Event
19,872 Steps
After we did After Hours at Hollywood Studios earlier this year, I am convinced there is no better way to do Disney. It's a seperate ticket, but you get access to the park from 7pm to midnight. Usually the other guests leave when the park closes around 9. At HS we only waited for one ride, but when we did Magic Kingdom this time, we did not have to wait for anything. Walking on every ride was awesome, especially when the wait times were over an hour when we arrived at 7. 

Additionally you get free bottled drinks, popcorn and ice cream. We both brought backpacks to fill with drinks for the rest of our weekend. 😂 Both of us attempted to take a few pictures to show how empty the park is, but taking night photos on your phone is always a gamble. 

We had basically every ride to ourselves. Our own boat on Pirates...Smallworld...

Day Two | Animal Kingdom & Disney Springs
16,381 Steps 
We kept it pretty easy going on Friday, since we were up so late the night before. Mostly, we were very excited to do the new animation class. They used to have this class at Hollywood Studios and it was our favorite thing to do. So we were thrilled they brought it back to AK! 

After doing a few rides, we actually headed back to the hotel for a nap. This is my absolute favorite way to do Disney. Go early, go take a nap and then do something at night. Our hotel was right next to Disney Springs, so we walked over for dinner. Before dinner we looked in a few stores, and then we went to Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar so Blake could try a bourbon flight he'd been looking forward to. The bar is based on an Indiana Jones character, which we loved. 

Then we went to Paddlefish for dinner, which has been a restaurant we've been wanting to try for ages. It was fantastic and the service was top kotch. 

We got the tableside lobster guacamole, and holy moly, it was fantastic. It serves maybe only order it if you have a big group! I felt like I needed to be rolled out of that restaurant. 

Day Three | EPCOT Food & Wine and A Sneak Peak at Batuu 
21,965 Steps
We wore matching shirts on Saturday! I loved how these turned out. Having a Cricut made me ultra critical of the shirts I saw at Disney this trip. I saw SO many shirts that were improperly pressed and looked reallllly bad. I really hoped that those poorly done shirts were DIYs and not something that people spent a fortune on through Etsy. 

We arrived at park opening and that helped up get several rides done without waiting. Early bird gets the worm! Epcot on Saturday is not really the best plan. It got busy really fast. We were still able to try several snacks and drinks at the festival booths though! It was probably the first time we actively went around with the passport and picked out things we wanted to try. 

This was the day I realized I was getting Disney out of my system. We had kind of done everything we wanted to do by 11am, but we had a lunch reservation in the UK pavilion that we had to stick around for. I have been wanting to try it for a long time, and hadn't been able to get a reservation. We randomly looked on the app one night the week before and one had become available. Turns out the food was just okay and it was so expensive. 

One of the problems with Epcot is that they do a tiered fastpass system. You can only get 1 fastpass for a 'big' ride and then your other two are 'smaller' rides. It makes it hard to do a lot, because it forces you to wait in hours long lines to ride more than one big attraction. /rant. 

Blake had been *dying* to go to see the new Star Wars land at Hollywood Studios. We originally planned to do it on Sunday, our last day, because we had just recently done everything at HS with After Hours and could devote a whole day to that land if we wanted. Well, after basically becoming bored at Epcot, we decided to go anyway. 

I'm SO happy we did because it was fantastic. After feeling bored earlier in the day, it was so refreshing to do something new and to see what all the fuss was about. We were able to grab a few HS fastpasses and did those rides after checking out the new Star Wars land. 

Can we just compare the smiles between the photo above, and the one below?! He was so stoked. I was too honestly. Disney knocked this area out of the park. The details are amazing. Saturday was a bit crowded, but not bad at all. We were able to do some exploring, try some food and ride the new Smuggler's Run ride. It's a blast. The wait time hasn't been outrageous either. 

You really feel like you've stepped into a movie. They've got characters walking around and interacting with guests. We were able to distract some Stormtroopers to help Rey and Chewie get back to the Falcon. 

Day Four | Hollywood Studios 
13,889 Steps
We found out that our hotel had Extra Magic Hours, which allowed us into the park at 6 am. Only a handful of people were up that early, and those who were in line that early were heading straight to the new SW land. We decided to head to the Toy Story area and do Slinky Dog and Toy Story Mania while they were walk on rides. Toy Story land heads right into the Star Wars area so it was a great strategy.

We grabbed breakfast at one of the Star Wars restaurants, which was really good. And then we rode Smuggler's Run again. It's just so fun. Especially when you have a group that's really into it. 

Then Blake went full on geek and bought a lightsaber. I have to admit, it's pretty cool and the shop you buy them in is amazing. 

The blue milk is actually tasty, even though it's a bit different. I enjoyed it. Plus you can get it with alcohol...which we didn't, since it was only like 8am. 

After riding a few other rides with fastpasses, and seeing the Indiana Jones show, we ate at The Brown Derby. This was a restaurant we never wanted to eat at before because the menu never looked  that appealing. We ended up there last year randomly, and now we are obsessed! They have a famous cobb salad that is to-die-for. 

It was about 2 or 2:30 when we decided to head home. Because we had arrived at the park so early, we were parked in the first row. It's so nice when you are ready to leave and you aren't parked miles away! 

I loved getting home before 5. Our pugs were excited to see us and we still had plenty of energy to unpack and get things cleaned up. We had such a nice weekend together, just the two of us. We also left feeling really satisfied with using our passes. We definitely got our money's worth. Those passes are so nice for free parking and you get a pretty decent discount on merchandise too. But, we feel ready to let them expire and put that money towards other things. 

If we do get the itch to go to the parks next year, there is a cheap Florida resident 3-4 day pass that I feel is a great deal. Alternatively, we may just do After Hours. The parks are just more fun after dark, and the temperature is always so much better. (Although I didn't mention that this weekend had the best weather!! It was warm, but very very breezy!) 

Alright, that sums up our last Disney trip for awhile! I hope you had fun following along. Leave a comment below if you've been to the new Star Wars land, or have a Disney trip coming up soon! Tell me what you have planned trip wise in 2020!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Home Office Organization Tour

It might be the back to school season, but I have been in such a mood to reevaluate my little home office and make some changes! We shared our office makeover about a year ago when I started working from home. Previously, my husband and I shared a desktop computer and I didn't really use our home office all that often. Things have certainly changed, because the office has become the room we are in most frequently! In addition to work, Blake and I also do some volunteer construction work, and the majority of what we do is clerical, so a functional office is critical. 

When I shared our mini makeover, I had not purchased my Cricut yet. My Cricut has got to be one of the best purchases I've ever made! It's quickly become my favorite thing.'m always using it. With the Cricut comes a certain...mess. I have accumulated quite a stash of vinyl and other supplies. But, this space still needs to function for actual work-so I had to do a little more organizing. 

I wanted to share a real life look at what my work space looks like. I did not fluff it up for these photos! (I did flip a few papers around and cover up some private information.) Maybe it'll inspire you a little bit, or maybe you are like me and just nosey. =] 

Affiliate links present!

Home Office Organization Ideas

Here's my space! I have an Ikea desk and shelving system, and the drawer cabinet is also from Ikea. I couldn't recommend this set more. It's durable and easy to reconfigure. Additionally I have a rolling cart that I found at TJ Maxx. (Similar) Under the desk is our Fireproof box.

Home Office Organization Ideas

Told you I didn't stage these! Look at all of those cords under the desk...yikes!

I adore this self! I love that when I'm sitting at my desk, I can easily reach over for scissors or a different pen. It was also perfect to clip my work light onto. I try to keep these shelves decluttered, but because our office wears so many different hats, I've got a lot of stuff!

Home Office Organization Ideas

One of our newest office organizers are these paper storage boxes. I found these at Walmart (similar on Amazon) and used my label maker to distinguish the drawers. I'm using these 4 drawers for paper, cardstock, photo paper, and then the last drawer for random things like sheet protectors and page dividers. Super easy to set up and they really hide the clutter. On this shelf I keep an acrylic sorter to organize my notecards. (I have another one on Blake's desk to organize bills.)

Above the other paper organizer, I have an acrylic tray where we keep random cords and chargers. I'd love to find a prettier solution but, my husband is an IT guy-there will forever be cords everywhere. 

Home Office Organization Ideas

This tray came from Walmart, in the bathroom section. (Similar on Amazon)

Home Office Organization Ideas

These are my most used shelves! The top has two sets of acrylic organizers for my pens and Cricut tools. Again, I found the acrylic cups in the bathroom section at Walmart and labeled them with my Cricut. (Similar on Amazon

If you are a pen person...I love the Stablio pens, Papermate Flair pens, and the Erin Condren dual tip pens. If you are new to Erin Condren, you can sign up for an account with my link and receive a $10 gift certificate! (Don't forget to use Ebates too!)

The second shelf contains three packs of colorful cardstock that I have yet to use! I bought it for making greeting cards with my Cricut, and I have failed everytime. Making that a goal to get right! 
I also have a 3 ring binder with sheet protectors to store my vinyl scraps. It's really fun to make something using only scraps. It's like it was free!

Shelf number two also contains my main notebooks. I swear by the Erin Condren spiral notebooks. The paper quality is great and you get to customize your cover. I have a dedicated notebook for several different things. For example, one for work, one for our volunteer work, etc. (Use my referral link and that gift certificate makes those custom notebooks $10!)

I also have yet another acrylic organizer for more pens, highlighters, dry erase markers, sharpies and my washi tape. I believe that organizer came from Target. See it better in this post.

Oh! And that colorful box is where I keep the decals I sell in my Etsy shop! The box comes free when you buy some custom stationary from Erin Condren. (Also something I love! Those note cards are fantastic!)

Home Office Organization Ideas

My biggest suggestion for staying organized is to give everything a home! I'm sure you've heard "everything in its place." It really works. I've saved so many random containers and small boxes to use in my office! The little bowl holding all of my memory cards and flash drives? A tealight holder. The bigger one next to it, holding my giant paper clips? The ceramic bowl that came with my dish brush

Home Office Organization Ideas

On top of the shelf is where I keep our letterboard. I shared how I organize all of those little letters in this post! I love the letterboard, because it's an easy way to change things up. I also store our paper cutter and my button maker on the top. They don't fit anywhere else! 

Home Office Organization Ideas

Isn't it beautiful!? Haha, I really do love that thing. I started a tag on my website so that you can follow along with my Cricut creations. I make use of the vertical space and hang my sticky mats on either side of the bookshelf. 

Home Office Organization Ideas

Command hooks are my best friend!

Home Office Organization Ideas

January?! Nope, it's still September, I just hid my current calendar so you can't be extra nosey. This is what I look at the most, besides my screen. I have the glass dry erase board from Ikea, two cork boards and a few photos I love. In addition to my monthly calendar

Laptop is an Asus, which has been great. Mouse pad and notebook are Erin Condren. The notebook is sitting on an acrylic stand, also from EC.

Home Office Organization Ideas

I recently added my Disney pins to my corkboard and it always makes me smile! Previously, I had them on my backpack that I took the the parks. Last time we were there 2 of my pins popped off and I decided I didn't want to risk it anymore. This is a fun way to see them everyday! I kind of started a dog collection. 

Home Office Organization Ideas

On top of the drawer system from Ikea, I have another lamp. It's best feature is that it has a USB port at the base, so it's so convenient to charge my tablet and my wireless headphones. Another new addition to this area is this black file box. It was a super easy and cheap way to organize a few things that just floated around before.

I also love diffusing calming essential oils while I work. This diffuser was really inexpensive, but works really well. (Here are some of my favorite diffuser blends!)

Wanna look inside my drawers?
Home Office Organization Ideas

Home Office Organization Ideas

Home Office Organization Ideas

The absolute key to keeping drawers organized is using sorters!! These drawers always look like this. It's because everything has a spot. The top drawer has an Ikea organizer that was meant to go with this piece. It fits perfectly! The next two drawers are a combination of old boxes I've kept and drawer sorters from Walmart. You do not need to go out and buy drawer organizers! (Although the Dollar Tree has a great selection for $1.) Save packaging and use that! All of my button making parts are stored in a gift box from one of Blake's anniversary presents last year. 

Home Office Organization Ideas

Alright, here is further proof I did not clean up! This rolling cart is home to all of my Vinyl. The top has my HTV (for fabric), my stencil paper, and transfer paper rolls. The middle shelf holds all of my traditional vinyl. There is a lot. It used to be in cute little rolls, but my stash got too big. I have just about every color they make. 

The bottom shelf holds some blanks. A few tea towels, t-shirts, some plain water bottles...just stuff that I can use to whip together a quick gift. I also have a few canvases tucked away for my next reverse canvas projects

Okay guys, your turn! Let's talk in the comments below. Tell me what you think! Could you work in this space? How do you stay organized? Do you even have a home office? 

You may like: Our Home Tour
This post contains affiliate and referral links!