Open When Letters

Letters are a great way to communicate with those that we love. They’re personal and, in my opinion, are something that I wish would make a comeback in 2020!

When the Army keeps my husband gone more than normal, I love to write a bunch of these to put in a packet that he can take with him.

‘Open When’ letters hold a special place in my heart. They’re a sweet and thoughtful to let someone know you really care. If you haven’t written one, it’s as simple or involved as you make it! At the core of each letter is a predetermined topic.

After you’ve picked what the letter you’re writing will be about, just write on the front of the envelope when it should be opened; ‘Open When… You’re Having A Bad Day’, ‘It’s Your Birthday’, ‘You Need Encouragement’…

To keep things simple, you can write them on notebook paper. If you want to be a little more creative, you can buy or make cards and include other things with the letters.

I love adding pictures and silly stickers that I know will bring a smile to my husbands face!

Who would you write ‘Open When’ letters for?

XOXO,
Leah

 

Homemade Baby Food: Butternut Squash

Baby K has had teeth since he was about three months old! Ever since he started showing signs of teething and showing an interest in food, I’ve been doing all the trial and error runs I can with making his food.

I love the convince of store bought baby food, but at the end of the day, it’s super easy to make and takes me less time than it would to get it from the store!

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What You’ll Need

  • 1 Medium sized Butternut Squash

First things first, wash and peel your butternut squash. Then you’ll dice it into cubes. Don’t worry about how big or small they are, everything is going to be puréed.

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Next, throw all of the cubed squash into a pot and cover with water. For me this came out to be about 3 cups. Bring water to a rolling boil and leave until squash is tender (about 20 minutes).

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Reserving the cooking liquid, strain the squash and put into a food processor or blender. Pulse on high or blend until the squash has a smooth consistency.

Incorporate the reserved liquid into the purée until it reaches your desired thickness.

Depending on the size of your squash and how much of the cooking liquid you add back into your purée will determine how much it makes. For me, I used 3/4 of the cooking liquid and got about 32 oz. of food.

The purée can be kept in the fridge for about 3 days or frozen for up to three months! Use any freezer safe container you’d like. I have these ice pop bags from Amazon and freeze in two oz portions!

And voila! Homemade butternut squash baby food.

XOXO,
Leah

Love the Mama Too

As I sit here looking at him while he naps, I can’t help but be so thankful for him and all of the people that have poured into our little family!

Babies are such a wonderful gift. Most people you know want to come love on your little addition, but sometimes the mamas can get lost in it all.

Ask her how she’s doing and really listen. God knows she’d probably appreciate someone asking about her before the baby!

Bring or send her a favorite meal or snacks. When the decision comes down to eating or trying to get some sleep, I can almost guarantee that sleep will win out.

Take the baby for an hour or two without asking. Help is always appreciated, but if the new mama in your life is anything like me, asking for it is hard!

When you bring something for the new little one, bring something for her too; a candle she loves, a nice lotion and body wash, coffee (I’m mostly made up of coffee these days). Just a little something that says you were thinking of her too!

I know it can be easy to be sucked in by the cuteness of a new baby, but it’s just as easy for a new mama to lose herself in it all too.

Next time you go visit a new baby, don’t forget to love on the mama too!

XOXO,
Leah

Life Update: Why I’ve Been MIA

If you follow me over on Instagram, you’ll know that life has gotten pretty busy for me and my husband this last month; we welcomed our baby boy into the world on July 9th!

While we are both over the moon that we have been trusted with this sweet little love, the struggle has been real as far as sleep is concerned! After months and months of waiting for the day that we would finally get to hold him in our arms, it is still so hard to believe that he is here.

Keeping that in mind, I think we’re finally starting to get into a rhythm, or as much of one as a family with a newborn can be in!

I’d love to know what y’all would like to see more of in the weeks and months to come; Recipes, product reviews, fashion, lifestyle… Let me know in the comments or send me an email!

As always, thanks for following along for the ride with me!

XOXO,
Leah

Testing It Out: Tula Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm

Happy Monday, Y’all!

Today, I wanted to tell you all about another product I’ve been testing out lately and loving; the Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm by Tula!

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Generally speaking, my skin looks and feels it’s best when I’ve had plenty of water and sleep, but as we all known, life happens. Sometimes that means I need a little extra help, but I still try to only focus on a few products.

On their website, Tula claims that this product “Instantly cools, hydrates, and brightens the look of undereye dark circles. Tightens & hydrates the look of lines & wrinkles. Wear under or on top of makeup for a natural dewy glow.”

I was definitely skeptical at first when I ordered this product! I had heard so many of my favorite bloggers hyping it up for months, but couldn’t help to wonder if it really worked or not.

After almost three months of putting it to the test in this hot and humid North Carolina weather, I am so happy to have nothing but good things to report back!

This is my new go to product! I love that it comes in stick form and is easy to throw into my bag when I’m on the go. It gives a nice and healthy look to around my eye area without being shimmery like a highlight. Think more natural and glowing from within!

Living in the South, I am no stranger to heat, so the fact that this is cooling is always nice! I’ve noticed that my dark circles and undereye puffiness are both gone within minutes of applying this which is a huge plus when I’m trying to get makeup on and out the door.

Speaking of makeup, this product can be applied over a full face! I’m not sure how, but whenever I do use it on top of makeup, it never seems to get smudged or removed!

I love that it’s also packed full of ingredients that help hydrate my skin and lock in moisture! If all of that wasn’t good enough, this product is cruelty free and free from things like fragrance, parabens, and alcohol!

Over the last few months of using the Glow & Get It Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm, I have definitely noticed a difference in my undereye area! Not only do I no longer look tired (even when I am!), but I can really see the transformation in how radiant my skin looks now.

I highly recommend this and can’t wait to try more out from Tula!

XOXO,
Leah

Testing It Out: St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse

If you follow me over on Instagram (@alongftride), you might remember that, a few months back, I shared that I was trying out a new self-tanner; St. Tropez. Well, today I’m sharing all the details about it!

Like I said, I’ve been using the St. Tropez Self Tan Dark Bronzing Mousse for a few months now. There’s just something about being tan that makes me feel my best!

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As a former pageant girl, I love a good spray tan, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to go to a tanning salon for an appointment. This product helps give me that glow right at home and for a fraction of the cost!

I always start by using a good exfoliant, especially around my elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles. My favorite is a homemade body scrub that has ground coffee, brown sugar, and coconut oil in it! (Recipe will be coming soon!)

If you’re more on the pale side, I would recommend that you start out with the Classic Bronzing Mousse since dark may be too dark for you. What I do like about this is that it is buildable to a degree!

In the winter and spring months, the Dark color is perfect for me since I am naturally tan with being Asian, but I will probably make the switch over to the Extra Dark color.

To apply, I do use the St. Tropez applicator mitt since it came with my self-tanner, but any mitt should do the trick! I use three pumps of the product per leg and two per arm. My stomach, chest, neck, face, and back definitely depend on the day as far as how many pumps I use!

I just pump the product directly onto the mitt and apply it to my skin in circular motions. I do use this on my face most times. So far (fingers crossed) I haven’t noticed any irritation or breakouts which is always a plus! Since my back isn’t always visible, sometimes I’ll just skip it altogether, but I recruit my husband to help if I do!

It does have a faint scent to it. While it doesn’t bother me, it is something to be aware of! I also don’t love that it goes on a bit sticky until fully dry. This is normally around 30 minutes, but I have noticed that having the ceiling fan on high helps cut down on that time a little!

What product would you like me to try out next?

XOXO,
Leah

How I Prepare For Guests: T-48 Hours

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We all know that feeling of still having a million things we’d like to get done before guests come to stay. I’m currently right in the middle of it!

Every time, I always wonder to myself what I can leave until the last 48 hours beforehand. Have you ever done that too? After many times hosting, these are the 10 things I’ve learned can wait until almost the last second to do:

1. Putting fresh towels out. If there’s a clean towel left unattended for too long, my pup will find it! She loves smelling fresh laundry, so I’ve learned it’s best to wait until right before guests arrive to put these out!

2. Vacuuming. Did I mention I have a puppy? With a big back yard to play in and spring in full swing, it seems like she’s always tracking something into the house. Laminate floors are not too forgiving either. Needless to say, I may or may not be putting the vacuum away as you pull up to our house.

3. Lighting candles. I love how inviting a good smelling candle can make a house, but I’ve also been in homes before where you can tell the candles have been burning for days. For our home, I’ve found that the perfect compromise is lighting the candles an hour or two before guests arrive. This way you can still smell the scent, but it’s not too overpowering!

4. Stocking the fridge with the fresh stuff. It’s no secret that fresh fruits and veggies don’t last forever. That’s why I wait until a day or two before to stock up on the fresh goodies; fruit, veggies, dips, etc. This way, they’re good and ready to snack on, but not pushing their expiration or sell by date!

5. All of the pretty flowers. I think a pretty bouquet of flowers really adds an extra touch to a guest room or kitchen table. Not only are they pretty, but they smell good too! Just like fresh produce though, flowers don’t last forever. Whenever I go out for the fresh food, I make a point of it to pick up some fresh flowers too!

6. Cleaning the kitchen, living room, etc. This is not to say I don’t clean, because I do at least once a week. I do however wait to give every day spaces like the kitchen and living room until the day of before I go through one more time. Life is never 100% neat and tidy and neither are the spaces we live in on a daily basis!

7. Laundry. I like to have as little in the dirty clothes hamper as I can when we have guests. This way my husband and I know we have plenty of clean options for whatever we end up doing. There’s almost nothing worse than getting ready to go out and realizing that part of the outfit you had in mind is dirty!

8. Any kind of baking or cooking. I always like being able to offer guests something homemade; bread, cookies, muffins, etc. It’s a nice little extra touch since when we do have guests it involves a full day of travel to get here. Since there aren’t any preservatives, it’s best not to make them too far in advance. It also helps makes the whole house smell so yummy!

9. Stocking the coffee and tea bar. Our coffee and tea bar gets used on a daily basis and even more so when we have guests! I always wait until the day of to restock and top things like sugar off. That way, it’s fully loaded for guests to use. I also make sure to have a little dish with peppermints nearby in case it’s a grab and go kind of morning for coffee!

10. Make the bed(s). Last but certainly not least, is making and freshening up the bed or beds depending on how many guests are coming. This always involves clean sheets, fluffing up the pillows and smoothing out the comforter. I normally finish it off with a cozy blanket on the end to help make the room feel warm and inviting!

What are the things you leave until the last 48 hours to do before guests arrive? Let me know in the comments below!

XOXO,
Leah