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Developing Your Morning Habit Routine

Fashion, DIY, How To, Healthy, Petite Style, Lifestyle, Inspiration, Style, TravelCrystal JacksonComment
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Lately, I’ve begin growing into the discipline of developing habit routines. After reading a few incredibly inspiring books like Thrive and The Power of Habit I’ve learned to begin my day the way I need to so that I set up a foundation to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate and most of all loving. There was a time in my corporate work career where I moved from one activity to the next without giving any thought to how it might affect my body, mind and soul. After a decade of living like that and burning the entire candle not just both ends, I’ve made a conscious and deliberate effort to change a life of chaos and develop a life of purpose, discernment and intention.

While hardwork and diligence is a discipline, I was far exceeding discipline and I turned it to a full obsession. I was a corporate supervisor’s dream… always ready to tackle more. Always willing to say yes. Never realizing that the more times I said, “yes” without hesitation or intention I was slowly become less of me and more of something I did not want to become. Late nights at work spilled over to not being able to sit still and enjoy time at home. I literally lived in chaos for a decade. Although I appreciate every single experience from that time, I now realize I can achieve a better life by implementing discipline into my morning habit routines that will allow my mind to have the space it needs to flourish. At the beginning of May I set out on a new journey. A journey to redefine my purpose - you can read more about that in last week’s post.

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After exptensive research and trial and error I begin to develop new routines. I start my day with a glass of water beside my bedstand. Before I even move or stretch I get this first glass down to fill my body with the hydration it needs. I spend a few minutes making my bed and stretching. I slowly let my body come alive instead of being my previous pop tart of a self. Then, I read a small meditation or excerpt from something inspiration and journal about thoughts. From there, I make a list of three categories:

  • One Big Thing I’m Going to Accomplish Today

  • Three Important Tasks

  • A Timeline for My Day

I begin with the end in mind which is how I am going to accomplish one big thing. That way if nothing else goes my way, then at least I knocked off one thing. Sometimes the one big thing is a long workout. Sometimes it’s a project or chore. My one big thing has become the center of the day. From there I list three other important tasks - pick up dry cleaning, coffee with a friend, or maybe write a blog post. I base my entire day’s timeline on these four items. I allow plenty of time to accomplish things and keep my schedule simple. I’ll be sharing my daily schedule with you guys over the course of the next few weeks on Instagram Stories.

If I could rewind the clock I would have been kinder to my twenty something self. I would have taken more breaks. Turned off work and slept more. Turned off the phone, the emails and late texts for work. I became consumed with being a slave to deadlines and projects. I literally could not go on a Sunday drive through the city without thinking as I passed by an industrial building that maybe I could help them become a client. While I do believe that many work inspirations can bloom out of the office, I was not being inspired… I had conditioned my mind to think only about work… about the next meeting, the next sale, the next goal I needed to reach to support my family financially. Now my days are different. My morning routine sets me up with intention. I realize what’s important and urgent and what can wait. At the conclusion of my day I reflect upon the things I put on plate and decide if it’s too much or too little. Whatever your current routine is I challenge you to start with just five minutes. Take five minutes to think about your purpose in life. Build your day around that purpose.

How do you prepare for your day? Anything especially helpful? Leave a comment or send me a tweet!

All photographs courtesy of the talented Andrew Sherard.

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How to Wear the Hottest Hair Accessories

Fashion, DIY, How To, Houston, Lifestyle, Petite Style, Photography, Style, TravelCrystal JacksonComment
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One of the best parts of being a fashion and lifestyle blogger for my job is getting to share new ideas with you guys! I’ve always been drawn to a feminine, modern and timeless style but I like adding touches of whimsy from older eras like hats, silk scarves, vintage bags and hairpieces. Mixing old ideas with new pieces is one of the most fun parts for putting together a new fresh look.

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You may notice that lately I’ve been playing more and more with scarves. You can see an entire group of posts where I use scarves in different ways on the blog and on Pinterest. Today I’m sharing how to incorporate some of the best accessories for your hair right now! For today’s look I added a simple floral crown to tie in the blush rose printed dress and mules. I love how this changes the entire dress taking it from an otherwise conservative approach to something more whimsical.

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Adding a new style or accessory in your wardrobe can be a little bit of an adjustment. I remember when I first started adding hats into every day outfits I felt like they were a little over the top. But as I wore them more and more, I began to grow comfortable with this new apparatus being on my head. Same with headbands, hairclips and floral crowns. Sometimes, our minds and bodies have to adjust to something new. Think about it like a new piece of furniture you just purchased to fill an empty space. At first, the piece of furniture may feel like it’s taking up so much room in your home… but after a few weeks your mind adjusts and you can’t imagine the room looking any different!

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This can be said with anything you add in your life. Maybe it’s a new routine like I talked about last week on the blog. Maybe it’s a new decor item or fashion trend. Life is about experimenting and expressing creativity. When we do the same things over and over expecting different results it increases frustrations and feelings of inadequacy or low self worth. As humans, I believe we were meant to be exposed to new places, experiences and ways of self expression to deepen and define exactly who we are. I challenge you this Monday morning to try something you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it’s a floral crown like I did here in today’s post. Or maybe you decide to take a walk to relax at the end of your day today. Maybe you finally pick up a pen and write words that have been lingering in your mind. Whatever you choose, challenge yourself to try something new. Write down how you felt afterwards. Reflect on your purpose and choices.

What is one thing you plan to add to your life today that’s new?

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Houston Hotspots: Strawberry Picking at Atkinson Farms

Fashion, DIY, Houston, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Petite Style, Style, Travel, HealthyCrystal JacksonComment
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I’ve been dying to get over to pick fresh strawberries for some time now. Every Spring comes along yet I seem to miss making it to a berry farm. Well, this year it was highly prioritized and I’m lucky in the fact that I live about 30 minutes from one.

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Visiting a strawberry farm is a way you can show local farmers and business owners support. I am a HUGE plant lover. I eat a primarily plant based diet which includes mostly vegetables and fruits. Finding good quality locally sourced produce aids immensely in providing my body with the right nutrients and vitamins. I try to shop as often as I can at a local farmer’s market. When I have the opportunity to go pick my own fruit that’s even better! Local farms support our economy and farming is HUGE in Texas. I mentioned last month in this post just how the Houston Rodeo supports kids by giving them scholarships for agriculture and livestock.

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Since I knew we would be getting down on our hands and knees I wore a durable pair of dark overalls. I am an overall freak! I love them. They are easy to dress up or down. They are perfect for days at the farm or a visit to a Northern climate. I’ve worn them so often when we’ve gone to snowy places. I prefer a pair that is fitted with a skinny pant leg so that I don’t get engulfed in fabric or look sloppy. I also look for stretch in all of my denim since I had the feeling of a restricted pair of jeans. You can find several options under $75 here, here and here.

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Another garden and farm must have includes weather proof shoes. I wear my Hunter boots all year round. From hiking at Cascade Caverns to trekking through a foot deep of snow they are such a staple. If you are looking for a new pair of gardening shoes consider a pair of clogs, low boots or tall boots depending on how much protection you need from mud.

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If you are local to Houston and want to visit Atkinson Farms they are open all week long starting at 10am. The property is beautiful and centrally located just north of Houston in Spring, TX. When you arrive you can stop at the store and grab a bucket ($1.25 and you get to keep it). Then, you head out and pick strawberries at your own leisure for $3.99 a pound! A bucket holds approximately 3-4 lbs of strawberries. There are no fees to enter and if you go on a week day you’ll find you have plenty of time to pick strawberries without fighting a crowd.

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Lately, I’ve been working on producing more video content for you guys! I recently uploaded a video to my YouTube channel on a visit to the Antique Rose Emporium and now you can view a clip from my visit to Atkinson Farms where I go strawberry picking here or click on the image below for a two minute video of my trip!

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I’m crossing things off my Spring Bucket List one at a time. Are you guys making plans to visit a local farm or garden? If so, share your plans below in the comments!

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Capsule Suitcase: What I'm Bringing to Birmingham this Spring

Blogging, Fashion, DIY, How To, Packing, Petite Style, Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
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Today’s post is new! I am packing for a trip on Thursday where I’ll be visiting my “hometown.” I say “hometown” because I grew up moving all over the world due to my father being in the military for 24 years. I am forever grateful for the experiences that came with my childhood knowing I saw far more than most at an early age, but the word “hometown” still resonates as a funny sounding concept. Anyhow, due to a death in the family, I am returning to Birmingham, Alabama where my family is from.

As I prepare for the upcoming trip where I’ll be gone five days I thought it would be fun to share outfits with you all. Packing is both a science and an art. It’s a science in the fact that you have limited space and you want to use all of it appropriately. It’s an art being able to feel and look put together without overloading your suitcase. If you haven’t checked out my page on Packing, I suggest you immediately stop reading and head over there. It’s full of TONS of tips and strategies. I include how to pack in a color scheme, how to pack in a carry on and additional posts on what I actually wore on trips.

For this trip I am obviously wearing black for the memorial service so that was a given in the color scheme. I am adding in pieces with pops of red and yellow for accents throughout the trip because black can tend to wash me out. I also added Spring inspired accessories like basket bags, totes, and a patchwork bag! Although the purpose of the trip is to celebrate a lost one’s life, I am looking forward to seeing my extended family for the first time in almost three years! Here’s a breakdown of what I’m wearing. The only items I will additionally pack include two fitness outfits, undergarments, a swimsuit in case the hotel has a pool and finally pajamas. I hope you guys enjoy this round up! If you do, please DM me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or leave a comment below!

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For every flight I want to be as comfortable as possible. Since we are going direct and the flight is short I’m wearing stretchy skinny jeans both there and back. Once you find a soft pair of jeans that have a little stretch you’ll find they aren’t uncomfortable to sit in for a few hours. For longer flights I usually opt for a maxi skirt or a pair of leggings. I usually bring my largest jacket on board for warmth and to save space in my bag. I prefer to wear a pair of slides or ballet flats for security screening but pack in my personal item a pair of warm socks. I like to have layers that I can put on or remove so that I can adjust to the surrounding temperatures. Plane flights can get hot and cold depending on what the air craft needs so being able to easy add a scarf or remove a sweater is a necessity. Finally, I like to look put together when I land so that I am ready to go and don’t have to waste time changing if we aren’t going straight to a hotel.

Flight There

Flight Home

Daytime Outfits

The weather is going to be a little tricky this time of year in Birmingham. If you live in Texas, it’s similar weather to Dallas and Ft. Worth. This time of year it’s warm in the day 60-75 degrees and cool at night. I’m packing an extra daytime outfit so that if I don’t like something, I have options to change. I can also change out a shoe and wear one of the following in the evening if I want to. It’s nice to always pack one additional option for the trip that’s versatile for day or night. Again, I’m mostly wearing neutrals with pops of red or white so things can mix and match if I feel like I want to be a little more creative. Travel Pro Tip: Make sure you try each outfit on BEFORE you pack.

Outfit 1

Outfit 2

Outfit 3

Outfit 4

Evening Outfits

For the evenings, the temperatures will drop between 20-30 degrees. I’m taking a trench coat and a suede moto jacket to layer over the dresses or jeans I’m wearing. I packed a few long sleeve dresses which are perfect for Spring to stay both warm and cool and then an evening out wearing jeans. One of the misconceptions about packing is that you need to bring a lot to have options. Not true, by carefully planning out your outfits and bringing neutrals you can have a much bigger variety. I really love navy, so of course, I mixed navy pieces in with my evening looks. It also gives me a little break from black. Travel Pro Tip: Dresses are the easiest thing to pack and take up the least amount of room!

Outfit !

Outfit 2

Outfit 3

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While I oftentimes pack in a carry on this trip is different. My mother (an amazing woman who has always generously taken care of her entire family) has a disease that has rendered her in the need of a full time caregiver. As my father and I planned the logistics of the trip we decided to make things simple by checking the bags in and just bringing personal items on board. That way, if we need to help mom we are able to without dealing with a bunch of suitcases in the airport.

I hope to write an upcoming post on this specific topic. At this point, I have flown with a six week old baby, elderly and toddler so I do have more to share with you on transporting others that need assistance. Once my sister sprained her ankle during a Summer trip home and had to ride with us on a 24 hour trip back to South Korea from Alabama with a removable cast. There are so many ways to make the trip easier and I want to share that information with you guys!

What are your packing tips? Although I fly often there’s always something new to learn so leave me a comment!

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How to Prepare for an Upcoming Trip

DIY, Fashion, How To, Lifestyle, Packing, Petite Style, Travel, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
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Travel can feel really stressful if you aren’t prepared. For over a decade I’ve traveled on a monthly basis. Sometimes it’s just a few hours away for the weekend and others are longer trips involving multiple types of transportation and hotels. I’ve found that if I stick to the following list I’m sharing in today’s post I have a better time during my travel and thus, lower stress levels. Today’s post is constructed in a chronological order of the things I do leading up to my next trip. I really hope this post is helpful for your upcoming plans for a getaway.

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As Soon As Trip Dates Are Finalized

  • Start with Pinterest. As soon as I know when and where I’m going I immediately look up places to visit and inspiration on Pinterest. I’ve found so many other blogs and trip iteneraries this way! It’s nice to hear an unbiased opinion of other adventurers about their experiences when they visit the same destination. I try to find all sorts of activities from family friendly to outdoors to even local restaurants. My goal with most trips is to experience the destination so I prefer to find small businesses or unique attractions that make the destination interesting.

  • Research climate conditions. You can’t even begin to have an idea about packing without knowing the climate. I made a mistake years ago of not bringing enough heavy items when I traveled to Europe. I was visiting in May and June coming from Southern Texas where this time of year is HOT. I use apps like Accuweather to give me a reasonable prediction but I always pack for multiple climates with lots of layers now.

  • Make arrangements for work, pets and/or children. Some of my vacations I can bring along my dog and others become family fun with the kiddo, but not every trip. Sometimes I travel for work and others for fun. As soon as I know my travel dates I immediately find childcare if needed and pet care. I also put a backup in place. People get sick and accidents can happen so I make sure this isn’t a last minute tragedy.

  • Finalize lodging and transportation. If I need to rent a car, I go ahead and do this as soon as possible. If there is a big event going on sometimes car rentals are sold out. If I’m not renting a vehicle, then I’ll book my flights, trains or other transportation now. I alto not so book my accommodations. I really love for accommodations because they have an option for many hotels where you don’t have to pay up front and if you give them enough notice, you can cancel a few days ahead.

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A Week to a Few Days Ahead

  • Consider all transportation needs. At this point, I research everything from subways to how I’m planning on getting to and from the airport or train station. I try to take a ride share to the airport if possible so I don’t pay for parking and can leave my car in a place I feel comfortable with. I also look at how I am going to get to my living accomodations once I land. I make phone calls to see if the hotel has a shuttle and also familiarize myself with transportation options available at the destination.

  • Pull outfits. I don’t pack until the day or two before but I do start reserving space for pieces I may want to bring. I use Pinterest again for outfit ideas. I try EVERYTHING on to make sure it fits before leaving. I also like to make sure I have enough variety that can mix and match. Although I will be packing in outfits, I make sure I can wear items different ways depending on the weather and the climate.

  • Manicures, Hair or Color Before You Leave. I don’t like to worry about these things on a trip. I prefer to get them out of the way so I look and feel refreshed without worrying about adding something else to the schedule. Get your hair cut or colored if you are due or go get a manicure a few days ahead. I like to get a powder dip manicure so I don’t chip it during packing.

The Day Before

  • Reserve Time to Pack and Tidy Up. I have found to decrease stress I need a day to get myself packed, my home in order and any last minute errands completed. If it’s a short trip I may only need a few hours, but for longer trips I make sure I give myself a full day (or two half days) to get everything organized.

  • Charge all devices. If you are bringing a tablet, back up battery, laptop or any electronic device now is the time to plug them in and get a full charge. Also, don’t forget wireless headphones if you plan on listening on board. It’s awful to finally make it on a flight and pull them out to listen to relaxing music only to find they are dead and you have no way to charge them. Another thing I charge up is a backup battery. That way if I’m in a pinch or my battery on a device drains I have a backup

  • Download playlists, podcasts, e-books and shows. While your devices are charging now is a great time to go ahead and download things to keep you busy on the road, waiting for check in or during a flight. I always bring a hardcopy book and notebook, but usually also have a few downloads available too. The worst is being bored and not able to fall asleep on the plane.

  • Make sure you have medication and prescriptions filled. Because I have medication that I must take daily I usually let my doctor know if I’m traveling soon so they can refill anything I need in advance. I also make sure to discuss a plan in the event medication is lost during the trip. Walgreens is a really good resource for travel due to the fact they can transfer prescriptions throughout the country if you fill it in your hometown. Another tip is to separate your prescriptions into two sections in the event something is misplaced you can buy yourself a day or two.

  • Prepare your home. If you have time to arrange a housekeeper it doesn’t hurt before you leave. It’s so nice to come home to a clean space after a long trip. At minimum take out trash, make sure there is nothing in the sink and clean sheets so you can crash when you get home. Also, I recommend having a quick meal or two on hand in the freezer so you don’t have to look for something to eat as soon as you return. I also like to make sure the house smells good so I leave plugins on low throughout my home when away.

  • Pack your suitcase. I try not to pack too far in advance or too last minute. Packing the day of can be super stressful. A day or two before I try to get my suitcase completely packed and I sit what I’m bringing on a trip by the door. Unless I’m camping or bringing a ton of things, I do not pack the car yet. I put everything in a space near the door and do a final inventory the day I’m traveling.

  • Pay bills. Any upcoming bills that are not already auto drafted need to be considered now. You don’t want to come home to a bunch of things you have to take care of.

  • Set up out of office notifications if needed. If you’re in sales, business for yourself or a blogger make sure you leave an out of office reply on your email and notify readers and/or followers if you are going to be in a remote location. This is also when I schedule a few blog posts so if I can’t make it to internet there’s some activity going on. If you work in a corporate job make sure to let team members know and also make sure to inform your backup of any information or resources they may need while you are away.

The Morning or Day Of Your Trip

  • Get yourself ready first. Take a shower or bath. When I travel it can be a while from the time I land to the time I can get to a shower so I always take one right before I leave. I usually focus on skincare so I pack my toiletries after I take my bath and get ready.

  • Do your hair, but skip the makeup. I mentioned this in January’s post on How to Perfect Your Flying Routine, but I do not wear makeup on flights. I try to rest if I’m not driving somewhere and I don’t want to arrive with racoon eyes. Instead I pack a few makeup items for when I’m landing or arriving and do my makeup at the destination instead of where I’m leaving. I have found that wearing my hair up for long periods of time makes me uncomfortable so I usually fix it in soft curls so that I can wear it down.

  • No coffee after you leave and eat breakfast. It’s easy to forget to eat. When you don’t feed your body nutrition or hydrate then it leads to unwanted stress. Nobody wants to deal with hangry you so have a good breakfast or meal before you leave. Avoid salt or too much coffee.

  • Pack your carry on. After getting my toiletries together I go ahead and pack my carry on. I always bring a notebook, pen and book but I also usually pack at least an outfit, pjs and swimsuit so that if luggage is lost I have something to change into. I also put my jewelry in my carry on and print flight tickets. I like having hard copies because electronics fail sometimes.

  • Check your flights, rides and arrangements for delays. I like to know if something is behind during travels. Inclimate weather can cause major delays. Also, check the weather to make sure your route is safe and be aware of traffic.

  • Lower or raise thermostats. If I’m traveling with others I go ahead and let them load into the car or wait outside while I lock up. I’ve found the fewer distractions during the last few minutes, the better. I do a quick sweep of the house to make sure things are in order and then lower or raise the thermostat to a low cost temperature but I do not turn it completely off.

  • Relax. Once I get to my travel transportation whether it’s a flight or car I relax. I use the time for skincare, rest and reading. I try to create the best environment possible full of comfort and serenity. So much of having a centered experience begins with being aware of how we feel inside. Sometimes I’ll put on my favorite song or a meditation to clear my mind before I leave.

Well, there you have it! A complete list of how I prepare. Although not every trip do I accomplish everything on this timeline, I use it as a framework and checklist to make sure I am prepared. At the end of the day, remember you can always buy something you forget to pack. Relax and enjoy the trip. Open your eyes to new experiences and have fun!

What do you do to prepare for a trip?

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