The Best of a July Day (with Kate Payne)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Note: This post was written by Kate Payne. Kate is the newest contributor here on H&H who will be providing a monthly roundup of quality products and various creative content. Her natural eye + heart behind her recommendations is something I am eager to share & implement often here on Habit & Heart.

As the days heat up, I find myself filling my hours with intention. In a whole year, we only get one summer, and I am learning to spend it wisely, fully and boldly. Though the days are long, I am keeping my to do lists short: I'm not doing more things, I'm doing better things. The same goes for what I'm using. This month, I've made it a goal to use less, focusing on quality instead. Below is a list of what I'm using, doing and loving on a typical July day.

Image via Kate Payne
This smoothie is closer to a desert than a breakfast. It's bright flavors epitomize summer. And even better, it's almost impossible to mess up. Gather, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1 and 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, and a handful of fresh mint. Place in a blender and blend till creamy. Garnish with a sprig of mint. 

Get used to me talking about Beautycounter because at least one of their products are going to make my favorites every month. This stuff transformed my skin. I won't dive into the details here, but you can read more about my skin journey and Beautycounter here

The BC cleansing balm is without a doubt my favorite product. Though I use it morning and night to wash my face and remove my makeup, there is something extra special about using it when I wake up. It leaves my face feeling awake, invigorated, hydrated and bright. 

I LOVE starting my day off by listening to this album. Will Reagan has always been one of my favorite Christian artists, but this album is awesome. It's lyrics are deep, relatable and full of truth. It provides a perfect soundtrack to my morning quiet time. Check it out on Spotify here.

Image via Kate Payne
This caprese salad screams summer and only takes about seven minutes to make. It's rich in taste & color and will leave you feeling not full, but satisfied. I make it by slicing up a large, bright red tomato, an onion and fresh mozzarella. Then I pick basil leaves from my herb garden (homegrown all the way!) and wash six-ish big leaves. Then I stack those items typically in the order of tomato, mozzarella, onion, basil and so on! Top with a sweet italian dressing, sea salt and pepper, and voila! All of summer's freshness right on your plate!

I hate sunscreen. Always have. I know it's pretty essential, but there are few things more annoying than having to lather every exposed inch of your body with this pasty lotion before jumping in the pool. But this different. Made with coconut oil and acai fruit oil, the BC sunstick is a joy. When I lightly run it over my face, chest and shoulders I feel like I'm enhancing my skin--not clogging it. It's light, breathable and smooth. Plus, it's compact, so I take it just about everywhere I go and can even use it on top of make up. Purchase this sunstick (for just $18), and I promise, you will love it just as much as I do. Shop it right here!

I've had this book on my list for awhile (mostly because the cover is darling), and I finally checked it off.  It was one of those light, easy, sweet reads, perfect for summer. It tells the story of two families, blended by an affair, and the adventures and tragedies they face together. I absolutely fell in love with these characters and was actually sad when it ended! 

Image via Kate Payne
Another album I have on repeat. This husband-wife duo have been rocking my Spotify since their debut, and their second album is GOLD. Seriously "Touching Heaven" makes me sob. Go download this album!
I accidentally invented this pasta when I had nothing else in my refrigerator, and it was one of the best mistakes I've ever made. It's SO SIMPLE. I boil noodles, and meanwhile I mash one avocado and stick in in a sauce pan with 1/4 olive oil, 1/4 cup milk, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and garlic. I heat that on low and then let it simmer until my pasta is al dente and then combine! In about fifteen minutes you have a light and satisfying summer dish. 

WATCH THIS. It is BEAUTIFUL. Who do you talk about in history class? Men. Who do you read about in books? Men. Who do credit for the greatest discoveries, inventions and innovations? Men. This Netflix documentary tackles this issue. Why do we not talk about women in class? When was the gender binary formed and what historical events enforced it? Each of the four episodes explores this. I love cozying up to a good documentary before bed, but I really love cozying up to one that challenges basic gender norms!

I hope that some of these inspired you. What products, habits, and recipes have you adopted this summer? I'd love to hear!

Written by Kate Payne. Follow along on Instagram HERE and her personal blog HERE

The Unvoiced Aspects of Self-Care: Part Two

Monday, July 24, 2017

Image via Cate Willis
NOTE: This post is PART TWO of a mini-series on true and long-lasting care for ourselves. In the previous post, we talked basics of this deemed buzz-word "self-care". You can view the article HERE.

Now that we know what self-care is and isn't, what does it practically look like? And, how can we actively day in and day out practice this authentic type of care for ourselves?

01 | Establishing Routine 

Treating ourselves feels good in the moment, while self-care honors our value for both today and days to come. Indulging in routine and rituals is just one way we can celebrate our worth. Whether it be a weekly coffee date with an encouraging friend or setting daily "alone-time", adding practical care into our schedule allows us go through life hopeful and with peace of mind. Even simply giving yourself time for a proper meal in the morning and a moment to read or converse with your spouse, family or roommate can allow you to slow down and invest in your day.

My friend, Sawyer, has great recipes and a genuine outlook on health over on The Wholesome Blog. Sawyer was featured on H&H earlier this summer sharing "Summer Recipes Even a Gilmore Could Make".

02 | Making Time & Space to Reflect 

When we go through life without taking the time to reflect on what is actually happening, it eventually catches up with us. That is why it is so vital to give ourselves the space to recall and contemplate our days. This does not have to be a daily habit, but implementing some sort of reflecting time often is important. This can be through writing, talking it out with a friend or simply giving ourselves the mind-space to think. Ah, yes, thinking. It's good for you.

a) A quality notebook. My trusty favorite is by Shinola.
b) On a solo drive? Try out "auditory journaling" by utilizing voice recording on your iPhone.
c) A designated physical space to reflect in. This can look like a lot of things, but ultimately this should be a space you know you will not be distracted or interrupted that also provides peace and familiarity. Mine is either a local coffee shop or solo-driving down my favorite road.

Image via Cate Willis 
03 | Seeking Counseling 

This is a hard one to talk about, but I can say from personal experience of counseling in different years and seasons of my life that it has proved to be one of the best decisions I have made to care for myself. Allowing a professional to walk beside us in a difficult period of our life is not something we should feel ashamed of. Consider this: we care for our body through seeing a doctor and our mind through various education, yet why don't we take the time or space to care for our emotions and feelings? In recent years, seeing a counselor has been seen as a failure or weakness (though that stigma is slowly but surely changing!), when in reality it is a simply a wise decision to care for ourselves in our need. (Plus, seeking wise counsel is not only smart, but biblical!)


I cannot give specific people or places due to the both the variety of locations and needs of my readership, but I encourage you to take the time to poke around on the Internet for counseling services in your area. (FYI: For those in college, many campuses provide free counseling services for students and faculty. Also, many places of worship provide services as well.)

04 | Making Clear What Is and Isn't Okay

Ooo, yes - boundaries. Boundaries with yourself, family, friends, coworkers, etc. are such an important aspect of caring for yourself. When we do not view ourselves as important or worthy, we lack being about to discern - and declare those discernments, too - what is and isn't okay. And, that is what boundaries are in Brene Brown's definition: what is and isn't okay.

Setting up practical boundaries with others and ourselves can be evaluating friendships by taking a deeper look into relationships to see if they encourage and build or if it perhaps is a toxic relationship that may need to end. For me, one way I have been practicing this is through staying true to my commitments while also being aware of the need to say no. (How I know when to say no: I am either emotionally or physically exhausted, knowing we would benefit more from another time when we are both available to fully show up.) Boundaries are a learned and practiced process for most of us: learning how to determine a work/life balance, learning how to have hard conversations with family & friends, learning how to not let your mind wander to unhealthy places. Therefore, boundaries practiced well with intention and forgiveness.

a)  Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
b)  Rising Strong by Brene Brown (Honestly, any of Brene's work is very helpful to this subject.)
c) Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
d)  "How to Handle a Friend Who Wants Too Much of You" by Rachel Brown via Darling Magazine

Image via Cate Willis
It is in the simple things. And, since I only have first-hand experience with my life, here are a few ordinary ways I am choosing to care for myself (besides stopping with the Pop-Tarts everyday):

01 | Regularly purchasing the melatonin medicine that works and helps me sleep through the night rather than the cute on-sale decor item I see at Target. I know consistent, quality sleep is far better for me to get through each day rather than a throw pillow.
02 | Getting out of the house an hour before I need to be at work for a coffee date with myself to recharge and rest.
03 | Saying "yes" over and over to sharing in community with others. Even when I am tired. Or would just rather watch Master of None on Netflix for the evening. Surrounding myself with people that love me well and push me towards truth is the biggest gift (and, far better than Netflix any day).

And, I asked over on Instagram ways you care for yourself. Here are a few of my favorites:

@ratchelroberts: "I use essential oils in this fancy diffuser I bought on amazon. I also bought a fancy robe from Free People because more often than not I find myself wanting to prance around in a pink silky dream." (Same, girl, SAME)
@tori_foushee: "Journaling! Helps clear my mind and keeps me somewhat organized."
@thekindpilot: "Running regularly. Clears my head and that breaking a sweat and clocking the (pretty small) amount of miles feels good."
@kaesturg: "Alone time is just so valuable. Doing literally anything by yourself is refreshing."
@elainemacq: "Hot lemon water instead of coffee every morning." (Guilty culprit on the latter.)


Caring for ourselves should not be a luxury, but a necessity in our daily life. To give ourselves the permission to intentionally take care of our needs and desires is a beautiful, brave creative endeavor that points to the immense value and worth we obtain.

Join the Conversation: How do you care for yourself in the day-to-day?

The Unvoiced Aspects of Self-Care: Part One

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Image via Claire Nichols
Ah, self care. A buzz word in this day and age on the ol' Internet. Honestly, I'm a-ok with this since it is addressing the simple need to care for ourselves that has been overlooked and ignored for far too long. However, cultural self-care has turned into something too trendy and only based on temporary satisfaction, while a true caring for oneself includes the real, tough and sometimes far-from-rosy work that honors our true value.

So, let's get some things straight on what caring for ourselves is and isn't:

01 | Self-care is not the same as "treat yo' self".

I'm a big advocate for Parks and Recreation's famous "treat yo' self" mentality. Still, when we view caring for ourselves as treating our short-lived desires, it eventually harms our identity and worth. For, "treat yo' self" is what it's name deems: a treat. Getting a milkshake after a hard day should be filed under the "treat" category rather than defined as true and long-lasting care. This is due to the fact that caring for oneself should be something we practice day in and day out regardless of circumstance or emotion.

Image via Claire Nichols
02 | A bath does not cure everything (sure does help though).

I love a long bath at the end of the day. Always have. I truly do not understand those who hate on baths and claim that you are "soaking in your own filth". (I'm just over here like "I like my filth and it feels GOOD".) However, I cannot count the times that I assume a bad day will be alleviated by a bath and ultimately disappointed when I still feel the weight of the day afterward. That's because a bath (or snack or small purchase) is not created to completely cure a crappy day or situation. It is made to help, I think - to be a small joy that we should enjoy to its fullest potential while understanding its worldly limits. Yet, even these good things do not heal the way we are made to heal - with truth, grace & love.

03 | Self-care is not selfish.

I know I am not the only one who has felt the guilt or shame brought onto me by others when caring for myself. Only recently I have started to see self-care as a valuable necessity to my life rather than a selfish endeavor. Hear me when I say this: Giving of ourselves for the sake of others is a beautiful thing and something we should practice and do often. Yet, when we forget to give ourselves that same care, time and energy, we are unable to fully show up for others in their need. Being able to recognize and express our own needs helps us to better understand the needs of those around us. When practiced well and often, this makes going through life together an even more beautiful endeavor.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO. I think this topic is both weighty and important, so I decided it would be best presented in two parts. Look out for a continued post on self-care -- specifically, some practical aspects and resources -- later this week. 

H&H Update: Contributor Call

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Image via Ellie Hicks; Other images HERE
Popping in today to share with you a piece of my long-term vision for Habit & Heart. I am currently in the process of rebranding the site, updating information, adding more resources, as well as inviting a few more people along with me on this adventure. I am learning that we can't do it all, and this blog is no exception. With that being said, this is a post to explain what I am looking for in a possible contributor. As a firm believer that we are better together, I hope that this invitation allows for building more consistent, quality content on Habit & Heart. 

Habit & Heart is looking for some gals + guys with a similar voice, style and desire to celebrate the real life that its content hopes to achieve to fill a few roles here on the blog. For the sake of organization, let's break this down into three parts.

Part 1: ROLES & POSITIONS to fill

01 | Photography Contributor 
Description: This role will basically provide images for various posts, with credit attributed. Selected images should reflect the content and nature of the post. If you are looking for a place to showcase your photography, this role would be the perfect fit.

02 | Post Contributor
Description: In this role, you would write and edit your own post for Habit & Heart. This could look like one of two things: One, a pitched & approved idea that reflects the content & values of H&H or two, an assigned or collaborated idea with me.

03 | Writing and Post Editor
Description: This position will differ depending who is interested in this role. I currently do not have anyone to regularly look over my work, but I think that needs to change. This position would be great for someone who is talented in the ways of grammar, sentence structure and literary terms who can also provide constructive feedback on various posts. 

04 | Visuals and Graphics Creator for Promotion & Social Media
Description: Where my graphic-designers at? You don't have to have a job title as such, but just a pure interest and growing expertise in the world of visuals. This role would be someone who is able to create consistent work for promotional content and social media. 

Desired role not listed? If you have talent + passion in a certain area, please let me know how this blog can be a platform to showcase that.

These roles could be a permanent commitment, such as a frequent post or consistent photography contribution, or as a more temporary position, such as a one-time or on-call type of situation. A-ok with either as long as you are loyal to your decision!

Ideally, I am wanting about five or six people to come alongside me in taking H&H to the next step. I ultimately want this to come together organically, but for the sake of expressing desires & needs, here are some aspects that I am looking for:

Part 2: My ideal NEEDS & DESIRES 

01 | At least one or two contributors to reside or live near Columbia, MO (my full-time location) or Little Rock, AR (hometown). This desire is so we could have some in-person time to talk through and create content together.

02 | A GUY! Maybe even two. Who knows. This blog's content is not targeted at just women, but all those who desire to live a creative & real life. So, I am *trying* to reach both women & men on H&H, and I think having a guy come alongside me would be beneficial to that goal.

03 Variety in ages, backgrounds, perspectives. Though H&H does need to stay consistent with its overall style and form, by myself, I am limited due to just one demographic. Therefore, expansion should come hand-in-hand with variety.

Again, this little list is purely an ideal desire. I am so thankful for whatever contribution interest I receive, but learning that speaking (or in my case, writing) your dreams gets you a little closer to them.

Part 3: EXPECTATIONS for contributors

01 | Quality, thoughtful work that is relevant to H&H's readership and true to your values.

02 | Organization and ability to work well on a deadline.

03 | Clear communication with me, other team members and readers. Must be available via email, text and in-person (if possible).

04 | Loyalty (loyalty, loyalty - Kendrick reference, anyone?). I know that a lot of us have a creative endeavor or side hustle already going on + school, work, family, friends, and well, LIFE. I think those things are far more important than this blog, however with a position I expect consistent time and effort put into your content.

Ok, that's a wrap. If interested, fill out THIS GoogleForm. Just asks a few questions so that I can gather some basic info.
(Form should take less than a minute to complete.)
by mlekoshi