lifestyle

Not long ago I heard one of my favorite bloggers (Shelby at Glitter & Gingham) talk about what fills her up and how she’s really tried to live lately around those things.

That phrase got me. How trite, I know, but I couldn’t help but use that moment to think, “what fills ME up?” and “Am I doing enough of that?”

I know some things that totally fill me up; others not so much. And my goal for the rest of the year is to really identify those things and concentrate on only those things that fill me with joy and fuel, and give me purpose. Of course, that means also doing less of the things that DON’T fill me up.

What I mean are the things that remind me why I wake up every day and work by butt off to enjoy. I thought it would be helpful to make a list that reminds me of what fills me up:

  • Dogs, in any form or fashion
  • Family time
  • My husband
  • Writing
  • Lunch with a friend & dinner with the girls
  • Being kind to a stranger
  • Good cup of coffee
  • A WWII novel
  • Reality television

OK, OK I know some of these are silly (but not untrue) and I swear I have a more extensive list, but you get the jist.

I know this is probably some life message I am way late to the game on, but I thought I should share anyway. Because there’s got to me at least one other goon like me who hasn’t thought of things this way.

A good night with the hubs always fills me up
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Last week we talked about graduation gifts, now it’s time to talk graduation invitations. Some of ya’ll know I made my own wedding invites and I definitely do not regret it. They turned out exactly how I wanted! But, I think since graduation invites are not as elaborate or detailed, and you don’t need as many (ie expensive) as wedding paper suites, you can pretty much buy them exactly how you like and spend less than you would making them and have less of a headache.

Enter Basic Invite. Basic Invite is an online company that offers thousands of paper products, including business cards, stickers, and stationary. They specialize in invitations though, and they have some of the cutest grad invites I have ever seen.

Picture of Basic Invite graduation invitation

One really cool thing about Basic Invite that makes them different from some of the other paper companies out there is that they have nearly more than 180 color options for every element on your card, meaning you can completely personalize *everything* and make your invite look like YOU, and not just one picked off the shelf at Hobby Lobby. That’s the biggest thing for me— I want my invites to be as unique as I am, and Basic Invite lets you do that.

They also offer custom samples, so you can hold an actual printed sample of your invite before you put in your order. That way, you don’t order 100 and realize you don’t actually like the picture you chose.

Basic Invite also offers more than 40 colors of envelopes, and the envelopes are peel and seal (praise the LORD, you do not know how helpful this is unless you’ve licked 300 wedding invitations!). They also have an address service that works with a link you post on social media, so friends and family can directly input their address info and its saved to your account. The best part of this service is Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at NO COST on all card orders. What! 

Picture of Basic Invite graduation invitation

For my extra gals, like myself, they also have foil cards too in gold, silver, and rose gold.

If you want to try out Basic Invite for their medical assistant graduation invitations,save the date graduation invitations, invitations for college graduation, or anything else they offer, you can get 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51

If you get overwhelmed, some are my favorites are called The Tassel, Script Frame, and Gold Confetti Corners.

Thank me later! 

This post was sponsored; all opinions are my own.

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When we booked our honeymoon at Sandals, I had no idea what to expect. I had seen the commercials like everyone else, but I was pretty up in the air on what it was really like. And, the online reviews are only so much help.

After we booked and I would talk about the trip with various people, everyone who had visited a Sandals resort raved about it. They would tell me the most amazing, complimentary things to the point where it sounded like an advertisement. But, that made me feel more at ease.

We visited the Sandals Montego Bay resort in Jamaica in December. There are several Sandals in Jamaica, so you definitely need to do your research about which you want to stay at or what part of the island you wanted to be on. That being said, keep in mind this review is based off of that resort! 

Sandals Jamaica, review and was it worth the money

The arrival

Once we landed and made it through customs, we were pointed to the Sandals lounge where they had a drink machine, coffee, snacks, etc. Someone there took our bags and tagged them, so we didn’t have to lug them through the lounge. Within a minute of sitting down and sending Mit to get me a drink, our driver was coming to get me. I mean, we were in the lounge a total of 4 minutes, maybe. Keep in mind we had a private transport as part of our package.

The porter carried our bags to a luxury, clean BMW and the driver took us on the less than 10 minute drive to the resort. He was super friendly and knowledgable, and it was the perfect first impression. Once we got on resort property, it took about 15 minutes to get checked in and in our rooms and then a few more minutes for our bags to arrive. Within half an hour of arriving, I was in my bathing suit and on the beach! 

Sandals Jamaica, review and was it worth the money

The rooms

We had a beachfront walk out room with the tranquility soaking tub. We loved our room’s location— literally you could step on the sand off the porch area. The porch area could also be closed off with a curtain if you wanted privacy, especially because the tub was on the porch (which def seemed odd at first but was exactly super relaxing). It was also great to be able to walk into your room from the beach and not have to walk around all the buildings to get to your “front door.” 

The actual room wasn’t 5-star hotel ish, but it was still nice. The beds weren’t the most comfortable to me, but I was so exhausted at night it didn’t matter. There was also a safe, which we kept rings/phones/ passports while we were in the ocean. I would definitely recommend using it if you have a walkout room because (while I don’t think it would happen) it would be easy for someone to walk in and grab your diamond ring or anything valuable.

If you’re a privacy freak, one of those rooms probably isn’t for you.

The food/drinks

I heard the most mixed reviews on the food, but we had a great experience at all the restaurants we visited (except the Stewfish place, but that was just not an appealing menu in my opinion). While you needed reservations at a few places, you could call that morning to get in for dinner so I didn’t feel super inconvenienced. Also if you have a butler, they will handle that. 

I really liked that the servers didn’t judge you or look at you weird if you ordered two plates or four desserts or whatever. They literally encouraged you to order as much as you wanted! Me and my husband love food, so we definitely liked that.

Of course, the drinks were awesome. I didn’t have one bad drink and neither did my husband. Everything was awesome and they have actual known brands— not some $5 thing they picked up at a corner market. They will also bring full bottles to your room if you ask! 

In full disclosure, I drank liquor and he drank liquor/beer. Neither of us tried the wines.

The butler

In full disclosure, we loved having the butler. If you have extra cash to spend, go for it. But, I’m not positive it’s worth splurging on if you are trying to be as economical as possible. 

The best thing about the butler was by far having them reserve our chairs on the beach (they’ll also do this for the pool too, but we never even got in the pools!). Each night we told them what area we wanted to be in the next day, and they reserved us a great set of chairs with an umbrella. If you don’t get up early and go save your chairs by putting a towel or something else on them, it could be easy to not have a spot. That being said though, it’s not a huge deal to run out there early and throw a beach bag on the chairs you want to save.

Also, the butlers will make your dinner reservations/excursion plans. We had them make our reservations because, why not… but we definitely could have handled that ourselves.

The bottom line is service is so amazing at the resort, you don’t really need the butler to have an amazing experience! We never waited long for drinks or food when we were without our butler.

The excursions

We did one excursion at Montego Bay- the snorkeling trip that also stops by the Jamaican Margaritaville. It was a BLAST. If you like the whole “booze cruise” crazy vibe with music and dancing, its totally for you. Even if you don’t though, it’s still a blast. We did the snorkeling and the famous water slide at Margaritaville, and then relaxed on the boat ride back without getting into the dance party that was happening on the lower deck. 

That trip was $90 a person, and I think it was worth it, primarily for the snorkeling experience.

The final opinion

We’ve already booked our next Sandals trip for this summer! I had the most amazing time, and was both relaxed and energized with all the stuff we did. I don’t think you can beat the Sandals Montego Bay resort, and we’re excited to explore more Sandals locations. Don’t hesitate to join the rewards club while you’re there— its free and you get points for all your Sandals vacations. Just our honeymoon stay got us over $100 off our next trip in points.

Sandals Jamaica, review and was it worth the money

I hope this review was helpful, and let me know if you visit Sandals Montego Bay! 

This post is not sponsored; all opinions are my own.

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The holidays are over and it’s a new year! I’m back at it here on SSD after a little holiday time off. We took our honeymoon to Montego Bay (pics coming soon, I swear) and then spent some quality time at home with friends and family. After two weeks of r&r, I went back to the real world this week.

Which is honestly, kind of nice. I thrive on a routine and it definitely threw me off having so little to do. I def missed the gym too!

I am not a really dedicated new year’s resolutions type of gal, but I do have some general things  I’d like to accomplish and incorporate into my life this year.

Home wise

Organizing is one of my favorite things (I know, I’ve completely lost it) but something I want to do this year is make it a priority to stay organized. Instead of having to totally redo my organizing system every three months, I want to continuously sort my stuff and make sure everything always goes back to its home.

Clothing wise

Lately I’ve really been trying to make sure pieces I purchase are things I will wear time and time again, and can pair with plenty of other things in my closet. I want to stop having to go through my clothes and donate things every few months so I can fit in more stuff and stop being stressed when it’s time to pick out an outfit— I want to only keep pieces I love and am excited to wear. It’s the “if it doesn’t bring you joy” method for sure, but it works for me. 

Life wise

It’s hard to make time, but it’s possible. While I definitely want to take time to center myself and regroup, I also want to make it a priority to use my time more wisely. My husband works full-time and is in law school, and that means he’s tied up a lot right now. When he’s holed up studying, I want to spend less time napping and being lazy and more time cleaning (see above!) and being productive. That means I will have more time this year to devote to my blog, too!

Blog wise

Obviously I want to grow my blog, but I really want to make sure my readers are happy and seeing content they really are interested in. If there’s something you want to know about, like what my favorite brand of makeup is or what in my closet is on repeat, please let me know! I would love to talk with any of ya’ll and write posts that you want to see on this blog. After all, that’s what its for!

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Can ya’ll believe we’re just 12 days away from the most wonderful day of the year?! If you’re like me and you haven’t totally finished your shopping list yet, it’s okay. I don’t panic until we start getting in the single digits.

I’ve had so many people ask me what my top gift ideas for men are– whether its your boyfriend, husband, brother, or best friend, I think I’ve got some ideas that he will love.

Next to each item I’ve linked several options- one more affordable choice and a splurge item. I hope this list helps you shop till you drop and finish that Christmas list this weekend!

-Slippers: SplurgeThese UGG ones from Amazon SaveFleece Deer Stags

-Robe: Splurge Plush Ralph Lauren robe Save Target lightweight version

-Travel mug: Splurge Insulated stainless steel version Save- Colored version under $10

-Sports poster: Splurge- Personalized jersey print Save- Unframed Lebron poster

-Grill accessories: Splurge- William Sonoma tools set Save- Amazon version of tools

-Espresso machine: Splurge- This Breville is my husband’s dream Save- Nanopresso bundle

Golf shoes: Splurge- The Golf Warehouse version Save- More affordable Nike version 

-Gloves: Splurge- UGG shearling glove Save- Fleece North Face set

-Kindle: Splurge- New Oasis version Save- Original paperwhite

-Headphones: Splurge- Beats solo 3 Save- JBL in-ear headphones

-Tennis shoes: Splurge- UA Curry 5s  Save- A range of styles from New Balance

-Gaming keyboard: Splurge- ROCCAT Vulcan 120 Save- Backlit USB keyboardFollow

Happy Thursday!

Ya’ll know I love fall, and even though we’re still sweating in Alabama, I am already dreaming of red leaves and cooler temps. Fall is the best season to get outdoors and enjoy the cooler temps with good company and a good hot cup of coffee!

Here are some of the things I know I want to do this season… ending with the best one, getting married!! The countdown is on! I have a feeling this fall will be my best yet.

Fall, Southern Style Diaries

What are you most looking forward to this season? Let me know!

XOXO

Ivana

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With all the hustle and bustle of the world, it can be easy to get drained. You know the feeling, when you’re so over your day job, but too tired to even enjoy your hobbies. By the time you feel recharged, its Monday all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But juggling everything can be exhausting, and sometimes its easy to put everything— work, keeping the house clean, taking care of family/pets/etc.— above yourself. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself first.

I feel like as women, we’re wired to think that we have to fix everything for everyone else… or at least, that’s definitely my personality. I also have a problem of thinking I constantly have to be productive, and I have to build Greece in a day. It’s obviously not my best trait!

I have had to learn over the years that taking care of yourself, mind and body, is so important for this very reason. You can’t take care of everyone else if you haven’t also checked on yourself, and anything you do won’t be done 100% if you’re not completely present.

For me, it’s super important to take a little time every evening for myself. Whether that’s reading a new book for 30 minutes before bed or having a cup of coffee on the porch, I find that I operate so much better in every aspect of my life when I have a little time to recharge.

Here are my top five ways to take a little time to center myself at the end of the day! I highly recommend trying some way, even if its not one of these, to check on yourself each day.

 

Take a nap

Yes, we’re adults. Yes, we need naps. Sometimes, as much as I want to do something productive and creative, I just need to lay down and sleep. A good 30-minute nap after work and before dinner has definitely saved my life many times.

Read a good book

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s one of my go-to things to calm myself down after a long day. There’s something so relaxing about losing yourself in a good story! I try to read before bed, and make sure I save my place in case I fall asleep in the process.

Have dessert

Let’s start by saying I am not really a cook. I love to bake, probably because I could absolutely live off sugar, and I have the biggest sweet tooth, it’s like ALL my teeth are sweet. I have something for dessert every. single. night. It can be a mini Hershey’s bar and a giant marshmallow, or a bowl of ice cream… but, I always look forward to it, and it can make my night if I’ve had a less than great day. Don’t deprive yourself.

Watch your shows in bed

We have a TV in our bedroom but we don’t have cable there, so I’ll watch a new Netflix drama after dinner while curled up with the dogs in bed. I also have a guilty pleasure of binging YouTube makeup videos, so I’ll lay down with my iPad and go to town. The dogs love having an excuse to lay down, and so do I.

Take a walk and listen to a podcast

A short walk around the block is good for your health, but it’s also a lot more enjoyable (for me at least) when you have something to listen to. I’m a podcast junkie, so I take my earbuds and listen to the newest episode of my favorite show while getting a little exercise and vitamin D. Win-win! And if you have dogs, or cats that like leashes (I’ve known a few), take them along to boost both of your moods.

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This is something that’s hard for me to put into words, but I’m going to try. I love new makeup, and a good pair of shoes, and my fancy KitchenAid mixer, but I think we’ve all started taking these things for granted and started giving too little.

More and more, as I slather on my tinted sunscreen and mascara before work in the mornings, I realize how lucky I am to do this, and to live this life. 

Just today I spent $30 at Walmart on beauty and skincare items. It hit me while I was checking out, couldn’t someone use this $30 more than I do? Couldn’t someone use this money for something more— like food, or water, or a blanket— than the new L’Oreal eye shadow palette I bought?

L'Oreal, Flower Beauty, makeup, beauty

(We’ll talk more about that later)

I think about this kind of thing a lot lately. Sometimes I fall into this thought that since I’m not a millionaire, I can’t give or make a difference. But then I remember the little things I try to do, like donate clothes I don’t wear, give cash to someone who needs it, feed the neighborhood strays, and listen to someone who needs to talk. While I can’t give $10,000 to charity, I like to think that these little things I do can make a difference in someone’s (or an animal’s) life.

On a slightly separate but related note, I think what you do with your words and actions is equally important. Last weekend, my fiancé and I went to Waffle House down the street from our house. We walked in and sat down and just then, a server approached a man at a nearby table. In a completely unnecessary, degrading tone, she told the man that he couldn’t sit there because he didn’t order food and he needed to leave the restaurant. The man, who had a WH to go cup in his hand, politely explained that he had ordered and was waiting on his food. Obviously surprised, she tucked her tail and walked off… while the clearly embarrassed man got up and walked to stand by the door. Turns out, the people next to us had bought the man a meal, and he was waiting to get it.

My amazing fiancé (who will kill me if he reads this) looked at me and said, “I know you’re hungry baby, but I can’t eat here with someone who acts like that.” Neither could I.

We got up, left, and ate somewhere that welcomes everyone for breakfast.

I’m not saying this to brag, but because it reminded me that goodness and giving doesn’t have to be measured by dollar signs. It’s measured by kindness.

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I know I don’t usually talk about my health on my blog, but I think it’s important and I wanted to tell you about my health and fitness journey, and how happy I’ve become with my body and overall health over the past year.

I’ve always liked exercising, but struggled to find a consistent workout routine that I didn’t get bored of or dread. In high school and at the beginning of college, I opted for the treadmill/ elliptical for sometimes two hours just to feel like I was burning “enough calories” to lose a few pounds. I was also at a really rough part in my life in the first semester of college, so I compensated by exercising for hours to feel like I was in control of something.

Fast forward to the middle of college, I tried (and failed) to get into trial/outside running. I was also eating horribly, but I didn’t try to change that because I wasn’t gaining any weight. Because I looked okay, I thought what I was putting into my body didn’t matter. I felt so tired all the time, probably because I was consuming so much sugar and empty calories.

But last year, I did a total health 180. I found a workout program that is perfect for me, and one I actually look forward to going to! I got on a steady schedule, which I need to be consistent, and I hardly ever miss a class. When I do, I am never happy about it and I find myself working harder at my next class to make up for it. I couldn’t love my trainers more and they push me to be my best, without ever making me feel embarrassed or not good enough.

Ivana Hrynkiw, Southern Style Diaries, kickboxing, Gauntlet

If you’re like me, you never thought you needed a trainer. You are wrong! I think having such great trainers has pushed me to want to do better and want to stay on track. You don’t have to have a bootcamp type trainer– I hate that– but you need to have someone to encourage and support you, no matter what kind of exercising you do.

After nearly a year of being at my gym, I got my level 1 kickboxing certification! It may be silly, but I was so proud of myself and my body, and I can’t wait to keep testing for the next level.

Food

Aside from fitness, last year I totally changed the way I ate. I started paying more attention to what I was putting in my body, but without being obsessive. Now I eat healthy, prepped meals most days for lunch and dinners during the week, so I know exactly the nutrition I’m putting into my body and I can keep track of what I am not getting enough of. And, I don’t feel bad about scarfing down nachos on Saturdays and having a few drinks!

It makes so much sense, but I never thought about how the things I was putting in my body were affecting me negatively. Now, let’s get this straight. I still have to have at least one ice cream per week, and I still can knock out a whole pizza and a bowl of cheese dip in one sitting… but, I don’t feel so bad about it. It’s all about balance!

I’m so proud of myself because I made this change for me. I wasn’t necessarily trying to lose weight (although I did), but I wanted to tone up (which I also did) and feel more confident in my body. I am so happy with my health these days, and it breaks my heart to see girls who are not. I hope my story can inspire someone to change their lifestyle and get in shape for THEMSELVES. Not to fit in a dress, and not to look good for bikini season. Do it for you and you only! Your health and fitness is crucial to YOU.

Xoxo-

IvanaFollow

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They say you can’t do it all, but with a little time management and a whole lot of hustle, I think you can.

I work full-time, go to the gym 3-4 times a week, and run the Southern Style Diaries… all while trying to maintain a (very) small social life and hang out with my fiancé and family. Did I mention I’m also planning a wedding?

It can be really overwhelming sometimes when I look at my to-do list. But, I’ve found a way to mostly manage my schedule and balance all my activities so that I don’t lose a lot of sleep, and I don’t take away time with my loved ones.

I know this isn’t a unique problem. People tell me constantly how stressed they are with managing their time, and I always say I get it— because I do, and I used to be that person. I still am occasionally, but not nearly as much!

Today I’m going to share several tips of mine on how to balance work, home, fitness, your side hustle, and whatever else you have going on!

I hope this helps you when you feel overwhelmed, and please leave me tips in the comment section about how you manage your time!

Have a bed time

I know, we’re not 8 anymore. But, when I started scheduling myself to go to bed every night around a certain time, everything changed. I have more energy to get things done during the day, and I sleep without tossing and turning through the night and waking up exhausted. Its all about your body clock and getting that regulated. If you are going to bed at midnight one day and 8 p.m. the next, your body gets so out of whack it doesn’t know when to be tired and when to be alert. Get yourself on a schedule where you’re getting between 6-8 hours a sleep every night, and stick with it. You’ll get so much more done during the day, and when bedtime comes you’ll sleep like a baby.

Eat, but eat well!

If I skip meals or don’t eat, I get incredibly cranky. Not only that, but I get killer headaches and feel lightheaded… meaning, I usually have to lay down and totally waste the rest of the day. I hate not feeling well and missing out on a perfectly good time to finish a blog post or to have dinner with my family! That’s why I make sure I’m eating something small every few hours, and I don’t miss meals. I buy prepped meals for my lunches and dinners during the week (I’m planning to do a post on that soon!) so they are portioned out based on calories, carbs, protein, and veggies. Getting all those nutrients in my system makes me feel so satisfied, and I get energy that I wouldn’t get from shoving McDonalds in my face (which I sometimes still do). I firmly believe if you put good things in your body, it’ll do good things for you!

Write everything down

This is another necessity for me! Every single thing gets written in my planner, and I mean everything. My gym schedule, work deadlines, when to fill out my time card, when bills are due… My planner looks like a ball point pen exploded, but that’s ok! If I write something down, I’m more likely to remember it. Also, I need to be able to look at my week (or month) and see what needs to get done and when. If you’re not a planner person, try using Post-It notes or a legal pad. Or, get a desk calendar and use the daily boxes to plan your week ahead.

Stick to a gym schedule

Lots of folks don’t want to hear this, but schedules are key to consistency with anything. To ensure that I don’t  get “too busy” for the gym, I have a hard schedule that I almost never break. Knowing what days and times I workout lets me plan around it, and I also exercise harder because I’m not thinking about the 17 things I have to do when I get home. That’s an hour where I just focus on me and my body, and it’s such a stress reliever! I can go into the gym worried about 90 things, and leave feeling like I can conquer them all and more. I need that for my physical AND mental health.

Have a plan, but don’t freak out when it goes up in flames

No matter how much you plan and schedule, sometimes things just go to hell. And that’s okay! It’s inevitable. You’ll have car trouble, or be sick, or your friend is in town and you really want to have a drink with her. It’s okay to step back for a minute and remember, you are human and things happen. Give yourself permission to take a day or an afternoon off, and take a break. If you don’t, you’re going to burn out… and that’s one thing I know for sure. It’s all about balance— and of course, having a little fun too 🙂

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