Sunday, October 11, 2020

Loft Fall Looks

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I have been a LONG time Loft shopper. Honestly, I think the Loft is such a hidden gem. The quality of clothing is so good, and they last. COVID hasn't been awesome to me in terms of my boy shape, and that means it is time to stop being uncomfortable in my old clothing. However, when I was going through my pile of "I'm not fitting in those again" there were so many jeans from the Loft because the clothing lasts. 

Whether you need a work from home look, or casual weekend or loungewear they always have something I love. Plus, the sales are almost too good to be true. 

Outfit 2: Floral Top (I am wearing this backward and in a large for an oversize look) | Slim Ankle Pants

One of the things I really about their jeans is that they offer most of their pants in classic (more of a traditional super skinny fit) and curvey (those who have some hips aka me).

Green Floral Blouse | Mock Neck Tunic | Sunglasses

Friday, September 4, 2020

Leopard Loungewear and Simple Earrings

 I will never have enough leopard in my closet. With fall around the corner, yet knowing that I am still probably going to have to continue to be on a bunch of Zoom calls, I wanted to add some fun yet cozy new pieces to my closet.

1. Black Mock Neck :: I love the polished look. Throw on with faux leather leggings or black skinnies and be ready for a night on the town. 
2. Leopard Snap Up Fleece :: I bought the Amazon dupe a few years ago and you get what you pay for. This is already in my closet and I am obsessed. 
3. Tunic 3/4 Zip :: A friend had this on at golf league. The length is perfect and I love the softer color. 
4. Leopard Tunic :: This is also in my closet. I think the color is so unique. A little hard to tell but there is deep plum in the pattern. 
5. Drop Sleeve Crew Neck :: I am a sucker for a good crewneck. This would look great with a chambray button up under near for when you need something more polished. 

When going a little more casual with a sweatshirt it is easy to dress up your look with a great lipstick or a pair of earrings. I love statement earring but these daintier studs from my boutique are a great everyday look. 

Hammered Hearts (available in silver, gold & rose gold) | Pearl Huggies | Rebel Stud (also available in gold) | Sparkle & Spike HoopRoar Studs | Black Pave Hearts

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Most Wearable Lipstick Colors

To celebrate National Lipstick Day I am bringing you my updated ride or die lipstick colors. Many of the same colors made the list as last year, but I do have some fun updates. I split up my pick into: the only colors you'll ever need, glosses that I love and fun pops of color.

Details on my jewels here.

This grouping of lipsticks and the lip liner are all my MAC. Honestly I LOVE their lipsticks. They are super easy to wear, look amazing when you combine them with the lip liner or wear two of the three at the same time. These three really are my ride or die lip color.

1. MAC Soar: a pinkish brown lip liner that looks good with everything. I've also worn this lip liner with a lot of the glosses that I mention below. 2. MAC Snob: a light pink that is more on the girly side. 3. MAC Pink Plaid: I just realized this is discontinued. Sad face. 4. MAC Brave: I should have listed this one first. It is my all time favorite. Described as a pink-beige it looks good on everyone. 70% of the time this is the lipstick I am in. 

I am not a big gloss personal because they are normally so sticky. However, I will personally guarantee that these are not sticky. Remember glosses aren't going to have a lot of staying power. Layering a lip liner underneath will help, but you are likely going to have to reapply a lot. 

1. Laneige Glowy Balm: the perfect product for moisture and a tiny tint of color. 2. EVER Smooth Peptide Therapy: this product keeps selling out and for good reason. A bit of color, but more importantly you will fix chapped lips with Smooth. It is clinically proven to increase the appearance of lip volume and decrease fine lines. 3. EVER Rose Nude: a slight tingle and great over all of the MAC lipsticks. 4. EVER Cameo Nude: a slight tingle, one of the most unique colors I wear. It is the perfect gloss in the fall. 5. EVER Sunset Nude: a slight tingle nude metallic.

Bring on the color. If you are looking for a long wear lipstick remember that a liquid lipstick or matte is going to wear a lot longer. 

1. YSL 3 Rose Ink: A buildable lip stain. 2. EVER Pink Sapphire: long wearing deep pink. 3. Dollup Beauty Love: bright matte red. 4. Becca Flame: orangey red, super comfortable to wear. 5. EVER Glam: long wearing mauve nude. 6. MAC D is for Danger: matte deep berry red. 

What lipstick colors or brands am I missing out on? Come hang out in my Insider's Group and share your favorites. It is girl code to dish the details. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Hidden Gem in Eastern Iowa

This post is sponsored by Travel Iowa. All opinions are my own. 

The need to scratch my travel itch is strong. I keep thinking about all the places I would love to hop on a plane and go visit, but then I think of all the places in Iowa I have yet to visit. I admit this a little sheepishly but until last week I had NEVER been to a state park. I know, I know.

After a two-hour Zoom training call on Friday afternoon, I said "today is the day" and I jumped in my car. I drove the 15 minutes to the Cedar Rock State Park and started on my adventure. Cedar Rock is located in Eastern Iowa, south of Hwy 20 between Independence and Quasqueton. I had driven past the park's entrance dozen of times, but had never turned in.

Cedar Rock provides over 300 acres of native grasslands, but is more famously known for being the location of one of the most complete designs of Frank Lloyd Wright's, an American architect and interior designer. The home was built for Llowell and Agnes Walter in 1950 and it is so cool. So, if you are looking for a state park to explore on a rainy day, Cedar Rock is for you!

I was in complete awe walking through the home and listening to the Walters' story. Wright picked out all the furnishings, vases, plates, every detail, and it is all still in the home today. The home is open for tours from May through October. RSVPing for the tour is recommended as limited people can be in the home at once in order to uphold social distancing guidelines. Normally, more than 10,000 people from across the U.S. and world visit the park and home each year. 

Living, entertaining and dining area in the Frank Lloyd Wright House

The park also provides two walking trails. I road on the tractor wagon down to the home and then hiked the 3/4-mile trail back to the visitor center. The trail is perfect for someone like me that isn't a huge hiker. Throughout the park and on the trails, you'll find stops with QR codes that tell you about your surroundings, and you can pick up a BINGO card at the visitor center. 

The park is full of native wildflowers and planted garden.

Before you visit any state parks, I highly encourage signing up for the Iowa State Park Passport. When you sign up, you get access to the Iowa State Park app which will allow you to track the parks you visit this, and enter to win the Grand Prize of a two-night stay at Honey Creek Resort. The app also has a bunch of information on the parks in Iowa, when they are open and COVID precautions they are taking. If you need help planning a day trip, the Travel Iowa plan a trip tool is awesome. You enter you starting city and ending city and it'll give you stopping points all along the way. 

I can't wait to go back to Cedar Rock. They have multiple Monarch butterfly release days, music in the park events and participate in the Iowa State Parks First Day Hike. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Best Zucchini Blueberry Bread

I remember when I was a young girl we were invited over to our neighbors house for chocolate cake. Once we arrived she shared with my mom that she had used zucchini in the cake. Say what?! I came for chocolate cake, not some veggie cake.

To my surprise the cake was amazing. It tasted just like tradition chocolate cake, but was SO moist. That's when I learned that zucchini takes on the flavor of whatever it is paired with, and is a great way to add moisture to your baked goods.

This particular recipe is one my MIL shared with me. If you have a ton of zucchini it is a good one because it uses two cups of grated zucchini. The small zucchinis you find in the grocery store typically only generate about a cup or a little less once grated, so grab a BIG one from your farmer's market or pick up a few small ones at the grocery store.

I also love that these recipe calls for the use of mini loaf pans. If you don't have these available I would split the recipe between two regular loaf pans.

3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
3 teaspoons of vanilla
2 1/4 white sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pint fresh blueberries or 1.5 cups frozen

Step 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease four mini loaf pans, or two regular loaf pans.

Step 2. Grate zucchini with box grater. Squeeze out additional liquid.

Step 3. In large bowl, lightly beat together three eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Fold in zucchini.

Step 4. In separate bowl mix flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Step 5. Beat dry ingredient mixture into wet ingredient mixture.

Step 6. Gently fold in blueberries.

Step 7. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes in pan, and then remove from pan and finish cooling on wire rack.

Try not to eat an entire mini loaf in one sitting, but remember if you do you just got a 1/4 cup of veggies in, lol. Next up on my list is to try this Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread from Dessert for Two.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Best Tanners for Pale Skin

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I have many secret talents including I can hands down win a palest leg contest. And yes I would put my legs up against your 65-year-old uncle's. The only people that could maybe beat me are my sister and dad. Genetics are strong.

The thing is I really do love tanned skin but the reality is that my skin just doesn't tan, and secondly SPF is my secret to younger looking skin. I am actually a little SPF crazy. One of my good friends passed away from skin cancer. So lather up ladies. We want you around for a long time.

1. St. Tropez Foam Ulta Amazon | 2. Jergen Instant Tan Ulta Amazon | 3. Neutrogena Tanning Mist | 4. Tanning Mitt  

1. St. Tropez Bronzing Mousse $$$ 

I have always found mousses a lot easier to use when it comes to self tanners. This is one that I can be a deep rich tan quickly. What you need to know about this option is that it goes on dark, gets quite dark within 12-18 hours, and then you are going to want to rinse off which will leave you with a nice natural glow. I don't recommend using this on the day or at least right after you have shaved your legs.

2. Jergens Instant Tan Foam $$

This is a brand new product for me and I have to say I am loving it. The color of the foam is a little odd when you pump it out but it gives you really nice color. I find this is a little more forgiving than the St. Tropez and you can go back in the next day to fix spots you missed or deepen the tan easily. You also can't beat the price.

3. Neutrogena Micro Mist $

This is my I am in a pinch because I forgot I am wearing a skirt product. It is simple to use. It is forgiving on skin that isn't perfectly exfoliated. Get your spray on and you are walking out the door in minutes.

4. Tanning Mitt $

A foam self tanner is only as good as your application mitt. I love to use a fluffier one as they don't leave as many streaks and they are easy to throw in the washing machine. Yes, your tanning mitts need to be brushed the same way your make up brushes are washed. Also, we've heard it a mitten times but regardless of which product you use exfoliating is key. I love this body polish.

5. EVER Tanning Drops $$

I don't like to put the self tanners mentioned above on my face so I opt for a cleaner product that I can more gradually build. I love the EVER Tanning Drops as they can be added to my daily moisturizer or my SPF tinted moisturizer easily. I usually use 4-5 drops the first time and then two drops to maintain. Since I am exfoliating and washing my face daily I really have to use a product continually if I want my face to match my body.

6. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Radiant Light $$

There is nothing wrong with faking it with a little powder. I am not a sparkly bronzer girl but I do LOVE the Hourglass powders. They create that glow from within and they last forever.

7. EVER Out the Door Face and Cheek Palette $$$

I hate to say you need this palette just for this bronzer but is really so good, especially if you have a pale to medium skin tone. The blushes are also gorgeous for a sun-kissed look. It is my ever day go to palette.

Side note: I also really like this brush for both of the bronzers I mentioned.

What self tanners or bronzers have become ride or die products for you?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Yes, I shave my face.

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I'm going to start off by saying don't knock it until you try it. And I would bet money on it that once you try it you are going to love it. I started shaving my face a couple years ago. I didn't have some mustache that I was trying to hid. Instead I was really curious about the skincare benefits.

You may have noticed that I have REALLY blonde hair. The thought of is this peach fuzz going to grow back darker when I shave it off definitely crossed my mind. However, I did my research and talked with my esthetician and she reassured me that wouldn't be the case.

Why would you want to shave off that peach fuzz? Shaving your face is just another way that you can exfoliate your skin. No matter how much moisturizer you use, if you never exfoliate to remove the dead skin your products aren't going to be able to sink into the skin. You spend good money on clean, effective products you don't want them just sitting on top of your peach fuzz or skin.

Exfoliating also has huge benefits for fine lines. Think about the men in your life. Have you ever noticed somehow their skin isn't aging the same way yours is despite them only using bar soap? That's right they shave their face and you don't.

I also love how much smoother my makeup goes on without that peach fuzz acting as a barrier.

So what should you use? For me this facial razor has been the easiest to maneuver. You can also use a men's razor. Regardless of what you use you want something that is sharp and clean. I typically only use a blade 1-2 times. This will also help prevent breakouts.

I start by wetting my face and then apply a moisturizing cleanser. This will help reduce friction and irritation. Next, grab your blade and hold it at a 45 degree angle. Use short strokes and go in the direction the hair grows. Be very careful around your eyebrows and hair line. After you are done wipe your face clean, and be sure to moisturize well. I love to give my skin an extra drink with this hyaluronic acid, and then will apply my daily moisturizer.

My skin look best when I do this weekly, but sometime I get a little lax and it ends up being every other week. So are you in? I can't wait to hear how it goes because I am betting that you will love it!

If you are curious about what skincare products you should be using to combat your concerns take my Beauty Consult Quiz

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Squad Life: Lindsey Davidson The Real Deal on Influence

Lindsey and I have been "online" friends for so long we can't even remember how we met. It could have first been through our blogs or perhaps it was Instagram. She has mad style, rural roots, is a communications pro and now has added Pure Barre instructor to her resume.

Influence is something that can be really powerful. However, often we think we have to have a massive following, a strong voice or a brand before we can influence, and that can't be further from the truth. Yet it is super easy to fall into that trap. Even Lindsey and I have had that conversation.

I remember our first in person meeting was while I was in Oklahoma City on a business trip. Lindsey recommend the perfect breakfast spot for us to meet up at. Definitely Instagram worthy. We both naively shared that if only we could grow a huge Instagram following all of our problems would be solved. Live and learn, right?

Through Lindsey and I's journey on social we have both discovered that it is the meaningful comment that always matter the most. The conversations that go down in the DMs will always have a bigger impact than the perfect curated Instagram feed.

In this episode Lindsey and I discuss:
  • What influence truly looks like
  • What it is like to work with brands
  • Girl code is sharing about all the things you genuinely love and find helpful
  • How she stays so stylish 

IG: @ll_davidson
Podcast Recommendation: Awesome Etiquette, Be There in Five
Squad to Follow: Kate Kennedy
Make Up: Beauty BlenderBeauty Blender Soap, Living Proof Dry Shampoo

Crystal's Book Recommendation: The Influentials

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Squad Life: My Right-Hand Man Jon Blin

Since I kicked off my podcast last May Jon has been asking when it would be his turn to be a guest. Well the day has finally arrived and he gets to share his side of the story. It was really Jon pushing me to take the leap that helped me get off the ground. And during times when I have felt a little under motivated he is the one the keeps me accountable. I truly view him as a teammate in all that I do even if I am the "director" of the project.

In this episode we cover:

  • What it was like moving to his small town 
  • How we have overcome obstacles in our relationship
  • The story of how we met
  • Whether or not we want kids, and how to handle those situations 
  • The best thing we have each done for each other
  • and there are more than a few laughs along the way 

Jon's Recommendations: 
Jon on Instagram: @jjbcattleco

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day Sales: Women Athleisure Wear

I feel like my legging/jogger/sweatshirt game has been strong the past few months. However, with warmer weather and golf league starting soon it was time for an update. Now I will say I am the girl that is constantly wearing a sweatshirt. If you see me in a sweatshirt or a long sleeve shirt that really is no indication of the weather. I just love how cozy they are.

I had to pick up a new golf glove, and figured at the same time it was the perfect opportunity to grab some new spring/summer pieces. The sales for Memorial Day (or maybe they just need people to start shopping again) were AWESOME. 

1. Crewneck Sweatshirt - this thing is SO soft | 2. Simple Long Sleeve Shirt | 3. Running Shorts (I love this pattern) | 4. Bike Shorts (I'm jumping into this trend) | 5. Golf Skirt with Ruffle | 6. Simple Golf Skirt This price on both of these skirts are AMAZING price

If you don't own a golf skirt or a skort get one now. They are the most comfortable things ever. You look put together but don't have worry about any accidental exposures ;)

I have decided this summer that I am going to try and stay in the same color palettes so it is easy to mix and match. You know I will throw in a pop of citron every now and then but I am always loved this purpley pink color. 

If I wasn't sticking to our budget I would have definitely picked up a pair of new sneakers. 

1. | 2. | 3. | 4.

#4 are kids but I have smaller feet so I think I could make them work because they are so darn cute.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Moving Through Change

Change or move on. Short and to the point, but it is quite simply what needs to happen for you to find contentment or joy in a situation. In this season we are all facing a LOT of change. Our world has changed. How we work, where we work, who we surround ourselves with, how we get groceries, it has all changed.

For awhile now Jon and I have had the unofficial mantra of if you aren't changing you are dying. Now that isn't to say change isn't hard. However, it is something that I am around constantly Whether it is change in my life or business, or watching 400 teammates go through change in their personal lives and business I see a lot of change. 

I like to break change down into three stages: letting it go, embrace the state of limbo and focusing on the beginning. 

Take a listen to this week's Squad Life podcast to learn what it is like navigating these three phrases. 

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Squad Life: Unstoppable in Life with Diva Q BBQ Danielle Bennett

I first came across Danielle Bennett on Twitter. She was tweeting about grilling and steak, and I instantly could tell she knew what she was talking about. Her "Canadian girl that now lives south of the border" bio and the bright red lipstick had me thinking. Could Danielle be my long lost sister?

Food has led Danielle down a vibrant path. She is a pit master, best-selling cookbook author, has perfect BBQ competition scores and is sponsored by Traeger grills. If you follow me on Instagram you'll learn my husband LOVES our Traeger, but secretly I might love it just as much. Listening to Danielle share her story you can hear the confidence in her voice. Whether it is diving into learning how to grill the perfect cut of meat or make a cast iron dessert or making a big change in your life or career it can be hard when you don't feel confident. Danielle built her confidence by jumping right in, by asking a million questions and trusting herself to be unstoppable. As Danielle puts it, "you have God on one side, determination and grit on the other."

In this episode you'll learn: 
  • her grilling tips
  • why hands up is better than hands out
  • how to find that unstoppable women in you 

Danielle's Recommendations: 
Thermometer: this is the one our family loves

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Squad Life: Ashley Alderson of Boutique Hub Growing by Serving

Ashley Alderson of the Boutique Hub has cultivated an incredible community that appreciates fashion, boutiques and small businesses. She is a huge proponent of showing up as your true self even if that means you look different from the people around you. Like all good entrepreneur's stories Ashley has had to learn valuable lessons including what it is like to almost lose your business when you put too much faith into someone else and don't listen to your gut. Whether you are boutique owner, small business owner or active in a community organization you'll be able to use Ashley's advice to help keeping pushing forward in these uncertain times. 

Ashley's Favorites:
Books: Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The One Thing 
Squad Members: Jessie Jarvis, Laura Benson - Filly Flair, Fashion Posse, Kelsey Darby - The Lace Cactus, Jocelyn McClellan
Make Up: It Cosmetics CC Cream

Adopt a Healthcare Worker here.

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mastering Your Schedule Tips from a Virtual Assistant

Ever feel like your schedule is out of control? Perhaps your productivity is way down because you are trying to juggle a million things. Like that work from home Zoom, home schooling and needing to cook dinner since we can't go out to eat now.

I am a terrible multitasker. For a long time I thought it was cool or beneficial to be good at it. Then I realized that multitasking really means that you aren't excelling in any areas. My friend Tara Titsworth is a virtual assistant and has learned how to make the most of each minute of the day through time blocking. If you are cringing at the thought of having your whole day scheduled Tara believes it has actually given her MORE flexibility.

This is a snapshot of what her schedule looks like. Tara puts EVERYTHING on the calendar. From coffee dates to drive time to the blocks that she will be working with her different virtual assistant clients it is all on there. Tara is pretty adamant that everything has to go on the calendar because she has found that if it doesn't get scheduled it doesn't get done.

Tara's Weekly Schedule

Now I also am a "timeblocker." But let's be clear my time blocked calendar looks more like a bunch of chicken scratch in a paper planner. Yet on the days that I sit down and plan out my day I get WAY more done. I promise giving time blocking is worth a shot.

On this Squad Life Episode Tara Shares:
  • how to effectively organize your day
  • how she overcame fears and launched her virtual assistant business
  • who should be using a virtual assistant

Tara has also graciously put together a sample time blocking worksheet that you can access here.

Tara's Favorites
IG: @tarasheatheva
Books: Girl Wash Your Face and Present Over Perfect 
Squad: Darcie at GreenBitesProject and @bemindfulmarketing
Make Up: Buxom Lip Gloss in White Russian

Receive $15 off Tara's Foundations Virtual Assistant Course with the code SQUADLIFE.

Adopt a Healthcare Worker here.

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Work From Home Essentials

For almost 10 years I have had a work from home gig. First in a corporate setting, and then again when I left my job to work for myself. When I asked my husband what you "need" to work from home also know know as WFH, he said "Internet and a printer." Thanks for the help Jon. While that might be true there are a few creature comforts that I love having in my home office.
1. & 1A. | 2. | 3. | 4. 
5. | 6. | 7. | 8.
1. Ring Light aka Selfie Light: I'm telling you go ahead and get one. The chances are you are going to be on a LOT more video conferencing calls. This is the light that you need to give you the perfect "I don't want to spend time on my make up" glow. Whether you go with the larger size or a smaller version that sits on your desk a ring light is worth it.

2. Softest Loungewear: Let's be real. Us "work from homers" are the queens of casual workwear. We have been showing up to Zoom calls business on top, pjs on the bottom for years. These pjs are my absolute favorite and they come in lots of different combinations of long sleeve/short sleeve, shorts/pants. Buy a pair to sleep in and a pair to work in.

3. Yeti Mic: Not a necessity, but if you want to amp up your sound quality or launch you podcast now that you have all this extra time this is the mic for you.

4. Blanket: I have two different colors of this particular blanket and I love them. My tip is go for the twin size instead of a lap blanket for ample coverage.

5. Lavish Hand Cream: Since I am washing my hands about a bizillion times more hand cream is a must. I also love this on because of its beautiful lemon smell. It feels like a little midday spa treatment.

6. Foamer: Since you now wear all the hats including at home barista you are going to nee a foamer. It will change your latte life.

7. Insulated Cup: It's about treating yourself to the little things, right? These cups keep hot things hot, and cold things cold for three hours. And it's pretty, and that matters.

8. Notebooks: Whether you are documenting your new normal, brainstorming a new business plan or just need to take notes during the morning virtual staff meeting give your notebooks a refresh.

What did I miss? What has made your new WFH life a little better?

If you need a weekly pick me up make sure you tune into the Squad Life podcast on iTunes or Spotify to hear the stories of small town girls doing big things. 

This post contains affiliate links, but I wouldn't share it if I didn't LOVE it. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Squad Life: How to Get Involved in Your Community with Molly Knuth

Small towns can be an interesting place. I mean a lot of us LOVE our small towns. A lot of us feel lost in our small town or feel like it has nothing to offer. Molly Knuth is a small town Iowa girl who not only is working to make the town of Cascade a better place to live, but she is also growing her social media marketing company her small town.

Molly and I both agree that when it comes to living in a small town getting involved is a two way street. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, try new things, put some elbow grease into a project. On the flip side if you have been a resident in your town or community for a long time it can be easy to get stuck in your ways without realizing it. To outsiders or newcomers it can feel like there is a wall up even though that may not be your intention.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts about this week's episode. Remember if you share on social be sure to tag me @crystalcattle.

Molly's Recommendations:
Book: Rachel Hollis Girl, Wash Your Face
Squad: Sweat Inspire Sisterhood
Make Up: Covergirl Mascara

Carilynn's Favorites:
Squad: @seriouslysabrina, Jen Hatmaker, Danielle HaydenSheriden Wimmer 
Make Up: Wet and Wild Megalast Catsuit Lipstick in Rebel Rose
Book: Michelle Obama Becoming 

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Squad Life: When Chip Gaines Calls You with Carilynn Coombs

Imagine driving in your old truck, down a dusty Kentucky road. The windows are rolled down because the A/C doesn't work and you've got two kids in the backseat.

Now imagine while you are in this situation Chip Gaines calls your cellphone. It happened to my friend Carilynn Coombs. Two years ago Carilynn and her family, who are third generation dairy farmers, found themselves in the worst scenario possible. They lost their milk contract and couldn't find another. That meant the cows had to go. In 90 days they lost their business, and then Chip Gaines called.

Now I don't want you to think that Chip and Joanna magically solved all of the Coombs family business problems. These are hardworking, "we'll figure it out" kind of people. As Carilynn puts it "if you have enough fight in you, you can do exactly what you want."

However, through a unique partnership between the Coombs family and the team at Magnolia there is a new business plan in place. First the Jericho Farmhouse ice cream trailer, then a farm store where you can buy products direct from the farmer, and one day a dairy processing plant. The day the processing plant opens will be the day that a new group of cows return to the farm. The Coombs family will be in complete control of their product and how it will be marketed. Everyday they are taking steps to make the new dream a reality.

Carilynn and her family outsider of the Jericho Farmhouse Ice Cream Trailer

If you have ever thought, "I don't know how we'll get through this," this is the episode for you.

Carilynn's Favorites:
Squad: @seriouslysabrina, Jen Hatmaker, Danielle Hayden, Sheriden Wimmer 
Make Up: Wet and Wild Megalast Catsuit Lipstick in Rebel Rose
Book: Michelle Obama Becoming 

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Squad Life: Politics, Fashion and Grace Van Cleave

This is the best kind of mash up of topics that I could ever imagine. Grace Van Cleave and I crossed paths through our Stella & Dot businesses. In addition to being a fashion junkie (the girl has mad style - like Sex and the City style) she is also a political junkie. She has done it all in the political campaign world, and was a major part of her identity. However, after find herself without a job twice in a 10 month period she decided it was time to leave the corporate America to purse entrepreneurship and launch her own business.

What you'll learn in this episode:
  • the words you need to hear to launch into that opportunity you have being dreaming about
  • what women can learn about how men approach criticism 
  • Grace's life hack for fashion

And of course we discuss Grace's favorite book, the women in her Squad that we should be following and her favorite make up product. Also make sure you check out Grace's group 24 Karat Bold.

Grace's Favorites
Book: Brene Brown - Braving the Wilderness
Squad: Rachel Rogers, Glennon Doyle
Make Up: Ever Whiplash and Skincare

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Friendships: Why Horseshoes are Better than Circles

Cow show friends Jill, myself and Suzanne.
Ready to talk about horseshoes? Normally I don't transcribe the entire Squad Life episodes line by line. However, this week's topic is one that really resonated with me. So listen in or read along. Either way I hope you'll create a horseshoe. 

Don't miss an episode of the Squad Life or my weekly 5 Favorites by subscribing here

When I say horseshoes I am not referring to the game my Grandma Hazel taught me to play at our family reunions. If you didn't know I am a farm girl. And specifically when it comes to all that farm stuff I really like cows. I few up as a 4-H nerd and would spend every single minute of my summers either getting ready for a cow show or proudly parading my cows around a one.

It was 1998 and I had a beautiful red heifer with a big white blaze down her face named Harmony. I LOVED that heifer and Harmony and I took home a lot of banners. However, what was better than those banners were my cow show friends. When you are 13 years old and you lived outside a town with a population of less than 400 people the selection of friends is limited. The number of people that understood my love of cows was even smaller aka my sister got it and that was it. But when I went to those show with Harmony in tow there was a whole group of other 13-year-old girls from small towns that loved cows and were craving deeper friendships just like me.

One of those friends was Jill. We both had pretty bad Dixie chicks inspired haircuts, loved tiny butterfly hair clips and the screams went into another octave when the Spice Girls came on.

We were there for the cows and the friendships, but what better way to round out any 4-H or youth cattle show than a dance party. I am talking DJ in a metal pole shed, lights slightly lowered and songs like Faith Hill’s This Kiss, Britney Spears singing Baby One More Time and Offsprings’s Pretty Fly for a White Guy. Somehow it is ingrained into a woman’s DNA that when the music starts, and you are shaking and grooving on the dance floor the natural formation is a circle. If you have heard Rachel Hollis speak she recounts that this natural instinct is important for your later clubbing years, as it allows you to put all your purses in the middle, circle up and provide protection as you booty shake the night away.

However, my friend Jill was wise beyond her years and as the circles would form she would yell out, "no circles, no circles." In my head I am thinking, "Wait what!? Why we breaking up the circle. Cruel Summer is about to come on?"

Jill never said out loud why we were disrupting our instinctual formation, but I soon got it.

A circle creates a tight wall, one that no one else can get into. The new girl or the person that doesn’t have their own circle can’t get in. You are either a part of the circle or outside of the circle. We broke a part our circle, still dancing close enough to sing as loudly as possible into the other persons face (you know that dance move), but our lack of circles allowed us to welcome others in.  

At the time the word horseshoe was never used but a few years ago I came across a quote from another insightful lady named Glennon Doyle

Horseshoes are better than circles.
Leave space. Always leave space.
Horseshoes of friends > Circles of friends.
Life can be lonely. Stand in horseshoes.

Jill was right, Glennon was right. Horseshoes. We need more of them.

Over and over again in my life I have found myself outside of the circle. It was the birthday parties I wasn't invited to, the college spring break trip I wasn’t included on, the committee that there wasn’t a seat for me at, the mom’s night out planned, but I was excluded because when you don’t have kids it is easy to forget about girls like me.

On the same note I bet I was the girl that also had my own circle and didn’t step back to welcome someone else in, and I regret that decision.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment it is easy to not think about others. You want to be inclusive but the hotel room will only sleep four people so that means not everyone gets to come. As a group grows you worry that you'll lose some of the closeness and the trust factor. All the above may be true but I think we still need to make an effort.

I have heard others say I don’t need any new friends. I get it. Adult friendships take a lot of work especially to turn them into deep relationships. We get distracted and don’t answer the text, which doesn’t allow a foundation of security and consistency to be formed. We feel like we are connected but honestly exchanging likes and comments back and forth on Instagram doesn’t allow us to go deeper. Research shows that sitting in front of someone and being able to look them in the face while giving them your full attention creates a psychological sense of connection. So text your friend and then meet up for dinner.

You also have to stop pretending that we are cooler than we are. Disclose that you aren’t into the Bachelor but you do love to binge watch the Kardashians. Share that you love drag queen music or that you could probably give up alcohol if you had to. Reveal that one of your biggest fears is that you won’t be remembered. If you are curious those are all my personal confessions.

When you say that you don’t need any new friends it breaks my heart a little because someone out there really needs a friend. There is always going to be a new girl in town or a new girl in the office. There is going to be someone that is going through a life change and is in new unchartered territory, and would love to hang out with someone that has already been there.

Are the wheels turning? Still not ready to take the big leap into best friends forever territory? That’s ok because low-stakes friendship, also known as weak ties have benefits too. A 2014 study found that the more of these weak tie friends that you interact with the better off your well-being is. Meaning you'll be happier. 

Interacting with your exercise classmates, that person you give the little nod to at church each week or making conversation with the other moms in the pick up line can all increase your happiness. Over the past four years I have watched people join me in my Keep Collective and Stella and Dot business. They come for the product or the need/want to make a little extra money and then they stay for the friendships. Being a part of a team and a community is something that we crave. It is something my community can provide. 

These low stakes friendships allow us to create mini networks. I wanted to say circles but remember we are going for horseshoes.

Make horseshoes. Look for the person that you can invite into the conversation. Have a mix of acquaintances and but also don’t be afraid to take those next steps of being vulnerable to deepen the friendship. 

And if you ever need anyone to coach you through the moves to the Spice Girls Stop Right Now dance I'm your friend. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Squad Life: Freezer Meals, Instant Pots and Lindsy Trotter

Have you ever been headed down a path and then needed to make a change? Lindy Trotter loved her career in teaching but as her two daughters began to grow up she realized teaching didn't allow her the flexibility she needed. As she puts it "it is kind of hard to walk your daughter to class on her first day when you are teaching your first day of the new year."

A daughter with food sensitivities lead Lindsy down the path of more home cooking and freezer meals. Soon in addition to providing meals for her family her friends were asking her to cook for them as well. That is when Chilled a freezer meal and menu planning business was born.

I have personally done the Chilled Shipping service and the meals are amazing. The convenience and reduction in stress is even better.

In this episode you'll learn:

  • Whether you are a stay at home mom or an entrepreneur both can be isolating
  • You don't need a business plan to have a business
  • It is important to find the people that will push you out of your comfort zone

Lindsy's Suggestions:
IG: @ChilledFreezerMeals
Books: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a Year of Food, Girl, Wash Your Wash
Beauty: Salis Skincare
Squad: @Just.Ingredients

Discount Code: Use the code Squad Life to receive 10% off your first Chilled Freezer Meal Bundle.

If you loved this episode make sure you are signed up for my weekly newsletter. Don't forget to subscribe on iTunes or Spotify, share a screenshot on social or send me a message. Join our community on Instagram by using the hashtag #thesquadlife and tag @crystalcattle.
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