GO READY MADE REVIEW


Now that summer is over and I am back to teaching, I am having to really plan ahead to be successful and stress free each day. One thing I do to stay ahead of the game is to make my lunch the night before. However, I have found when I am in a pinch, I love being able to grab a quick, healthy alternative that I can throw into the microwave on my lunch break. I learned about GoReadyMade, a meal delivery service, and they offered me a week of meals in exchange for a review. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity because I am always looking for services to make my life easier.

GoReadyMade makes fresh, delicious, ready-made meals that are delivered directly to your doorstep each week. The meals are healthy and individually packaged for your convenience. For 4 meals per week, GoReadyMade charges $49.99 with free shipping. However, there are a number of plans available for whatever size your need is!



When you first join, you can select which meals you'd like. Some of the meals include Smoky Chicken Fajitas, Beef Steak with Peppercorn Sauce, and Soy Glazed Chicken. My favorite of all the meals I tried was Orzo and Tomatoes with Mozzarella and Spinach. Meals come on ice so that you don't have to worry about their safety while in the shipping process.

GoReadyMade separates themselves from other meal subscription companies because the meals are already prepared. Just a note, be sure to read the directions on the packaging BEFORE planning on eating. Day 1 I assumed everything was microwavable. However, the steak I brought to work with me required pan-searing! Whoops!

To get $25 off your first order with GoReadyMade, use code JWKX5 at checkout!
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BACK TO SCHOOL NECESSITIES & TARGET GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY


Back to school shopping is my favorite time of year. Even as an adult, I love the brightly lined aisles of Target full of college-ruled notebooks, #2 pencils, and locker decorations. While the key of back to school shopping starts with the perfect backpack, the most fun is found in filling it up. Here are some of my back to school backpack necessities:


1.) Cute, but reliable backpack
2.) Blotting Paper to help control the oil and shine when your crush sits next to you in COMM101
3.) BB Cream
4.) Lip Balm
5.) Snacks, protein bars, popcorn, and other healthy alternatives are great to keep on standby
6.) Planner
7.) Hair Bands/Bobby Pens
8.) Fun Writing Utensils

To fill your backpack for back to school, I am giving away a $50 Target gift card!
To enter: 
1.) Follow me on Instagram @kickbackwithcate
2.) Like the Back to School necessities Instagram post
3.) Leave a comment with how you are feeling about back to school

Winner will be announced on Monday, August 20th at 6pm PST.

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GRAMMA IN A BOX


Whenever I spend time with my niece and nephew, I always want to find fun activities to do together. Whether it be making s'mores, going to the zoo, or doing art projects, I love those moments together. When I learned about Gramma in a Box, I thought it was perfect for the time I spend with the kids in our family.




Gramma in a Box is a subscription service started by a woman whose grandchildren moved away from her. She would send them boxes of cookies and treats, then they would make them together on Skype. After sharing this with friends and family, she created Gramma in a Box for others to have a monthly activity to do with their loved ones.

Each box includes baked cookies with frosting and sprinkles, plus two easy candy crafts. There are step by step instructions, with illustrations, included in each box. Some months will have a theme, such as for holidays like Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day.

Gramma in a Box is a steal at only $20 per box! When I think about how much I spend on baking and decorating cookies, plus all the extra random stuff that ends up in the cart that I didn't need, this is actually saving me money! Be sure to place your order for the September box ASAP!
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BACK TO SCHOOL LUNCH HACKS


Packing lunch is such a simple thing, but when not put at the forefront of your prepping for the following day, it can end up in you running late in the morning and have to go out to lunch, which can be unhealthy and expensive.

Here are 4 lunch pack hacks to make sure you have healthy, convenient meals for work or school:

1. Get ahead of the game on Sunday. Sunday afternoon, in between doing laundry and finishing up homework, prep as much of your lunchtime meals as you can for the week. I like to utilize my crock pot for this to make something delicious and healthy that will last me the whole week.

2. Have a snack station set up. Have crates in the fridge full of various objects such as ready to go packages of fruit, sandwiches, cheese sticks, vegetables, hummus, and more. This will make it easy to grab and go out the door in the morning.

3. Make freezer meals! Believe it or not a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be kept frozen for six weeks. Make a bunch of them one day and you can take them with you to school or work. By lunchtime it will be thawed out and ready to eat!

4. Don't be afraid of leftovers. I know they're not ideal, but make extra of your dinner so that you can eat leftovers for lunch the next day. It will save time and money.
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BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT: CHAMPAGNE & A CARRY ON


I have said it time and time again that the best part of blogging is the people that I get to meet. Earlier this year I had the honor of meeting Tori at a Bloggers Who Brunch event. We immediately clicked and she has quickly becoming my blogging bestie! Although she is currently living on the other side of the country, we have stayed in touch via Instagram! I am so excited to share her and her blog with my sweet readers!


Before blogging, Tori was the average 20 something year old girl! She was engaged, working at Chase Bank, and going to school at Cal Poly Pomona. Because of her fiancé's busy career, most of her free time was spent with friends and family. Itching to create content and knowing life was about to change drastically upon getting married, Tori started Champagne and a Carry On

Tori's husband plays minor league baseball and before getting married, she didn't know anything about moving across the country to be a WAG. So she took the leap of faith and started her blog in hopes of helping other women in her same position.

The first year of marriage has been an adventure for Tori. She moved across the country because of her husband's career, leaving her friends, family, and job behind. Blogging has given Tori the outlet to grow in her faith and share her experiences with others, creating a community of other people experiencing the same things. In her post, God Knew What I Needed, Tori transparently shares how God walked her through difficult times. Knowing Tori, I know that God gave her this passion to blog so that she had a platform to inspire other women going through struggles themselves. 

Q&A with Tori:
What do you enjoy doing outside of blogging?
I love watching my husband's baseball games like any other WAG! I just started cooking a lot more so I've found great interest in that. And then of course, I love drinking wine. (Told you I loved Tori!)

Where is your favorite place to shop?
My style has gradually started changing to a more minimalistic look just because our lifestyle consists of lots of traveling. So I can always count on Nordstrom, Forever 21, and TJ Maxx.

What is your summer fashion staple?
A basic tee or cami with a cute bralette is my jam this summer!

What are your top 3 go to beauty products?
Huda Beauty foundation is one of my staples, Fenty Beauty highlighter always makes me popping, and I love BLVD Lashes.

For more of Tori, follow her on Instagram @champagneandacarryon 




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MY POSHMARK EXPERIENCE


I recently cleaned out my closet and had a bundle of clothing and jewelry that I haven't worn in years. I finally decided it was time to part ways with anything I don't absolutely love or that I haven't worn since I moved into this apartment in November. However, I have some nice pieces that were barely worn, some still with the tags on! So I downloaded Poshmark.

Poshmark is an app that allows you to sell gently used clothing or accessories. You post a picture of the product, fill in the brand, information about it, the price you bought it at, and the price you want to sell it for. From there, people will ask questions about the product, make counteroffers, or bundle your products with others.

Something I love about Poshmark is that you are protected if the sale goes wrong. If the buyer doesn't like what they get, or something happens during shipping, Poshmark has your back! However, the downfall is that Poshmark takes a selling fee. When you sell on their platform, they take up to 20% commission, depending on the cost of your sale.

Overall this summer I have had a great experience with Poshmark cleaning out my closet while adding money into my pocket...which let's be real I will use to buy more clothes!

If you want to shop my closet, click here. And to get $5 off your first purchase, enter code c8dimm when you sign up!



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SUMMER SALMON RECIPE


One of my favorite dinners is salmon and asparagus. It is a detoxifying dinner, full of nutrients and low in calories. Plus it is super easy to make! This recipe uses foil to create a pseudo-grill in the oven. The use of the foil locks in the moisture and flavor to the salmon.


Ingredients:
2 salmon filets
1/2 lb asparagus
1 pack cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced

How To:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut 2 sheets of aluminum foil, about a foot long.
3. Divide asparagus and tomatoes into half and place in each sheet of foil.
4. Place salmon in foil. 
5. In a bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over salmon and veggies.
6. Top with 2 lemon slices, each salmon.
7. Wrap sides of foil around salmon.
8. Bake for 25 minutes. 

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BACHELOR NATION'S SHAWNTEL NEWTON


I’m taking it old school today with the Bachelor Nation interview. I recently started watching Brad Womack’s season (the second one) after learning that Keltie Knight and Michelle Money were on it. I listen to Keltie’s podcast, The Lady Gang, and am an active member of Money Talks, the exclusive Facebook group for individuals who have taken Michelle’s Money Method course. 

While watching this season I fell in love with Shawntel Newton, who was in the top 4! I had the exciting opportunity to catch up with her regarding her life in the past ten years since competing on The Bachelor and was very inspired by her story. 

Prior to going on the show, Shawntel had never seen an episode of The Bachelor! Her sisters secretly signed her up for it and within weeks she was receiving phone calls from producers to move her forward in casting. With limited expectations, Shawntel continued through the interview process and the rest is history. 



Besides traveling the world and meeting incredible people, Shawntel’s favorite experience was her first one-on-one with Brad, a shopping spree in Vegas. Although things didn’t work out between Shawntel and Brad, she gave it another shot at love by appearing on Ben Flajnik’s season of the show. Her and Ben had previously connected, and although hesitant, she decided to give it a shot. However, do to a previous commitment, she came into the season late, finding that Ben had already formed a strong relationship with Courtney, and Shawntel headed home. 

After finishing the show, Shawntel went back to work full-time as a funeral director, but shortly after began writing a book, Final Rose. (To purchase Final Rose, click here) While she does touch on her experience on the show, the main focus of the book is about her experience as a woman in the funeral service industry. A unique experience that very few understand, Shawntel was eager to share this side of her life. This writing process was a therapeutic time for her to share her story…her faith, boyfriends growing up, school experiences, career, and the families she served…it gave readers a glimpse into the life that few saw on the show. 

Shawntel is now married, with a son, Anthony, and another baby boy on the way in October! Once she got engaged she relocated to Sacramento and left the funeral industry. After struggling to conceive due to unexplained infertility, her and husband went through IVF. While their infertility journey was mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally draining, her faith was unwavering. Through this difficult time they spent a lot of time praying and trusting God that he would bless them with children. And that He did! They were able to naturally get pregnant with their second son and are so excited. 



Shawntel’s hands are certainly full, but so is her heart. Being a stay at home mom keeps her on her toes, but she loves having the opportunity to spend her days watching her son learn and grow. They keep a tight routine full of walks to the lake, playing with cousins, and spending time in the kitchen. Hearing Shawntel proudly talk about her son shows that motherhood is truly what God has called her to! 

Shawntel balances being a mom with the rest of life by having grace on herself. “I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself and try to be that perfect Mom who balances everything perfectly,” said Shawntel, “Well I’ve learned to give myself a break. Being a wife comes first, then being a mom, and the rest follows.” She makes date night a priority for her and her husband, schedules playdates so that she can have adult conversation with her girlfriends while the kiddos play, and allows herself a sitter a few hours per week to get stuff done.

Random Questions

If your son wanted to go on the show in 25 years, would you be okay with it?
Haha, hmmm! If the show was still classy and clean then yes. I just hope it stays that way.

Favorite Beauty Product? 
I’m in love with my NARS foundation and my Mac rose petal blush!

Favorite Place to travel?
Maui...hands down! I feel as if apart of my heart stays there.

Favorite song right now?
The entire soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.

Do you still watch the show?
Yes! Every season. Once you’re on the show you become part of the bachelor family and you’ll always support the show.

If so, who is your favorite this season?
LOVING Garrett for Becca & Jason or Blake for the next Bachelor!

One thing you wish you could tell 16 year old Shawntel?
Trust God, he’s written you a really good story!


To keep up with Shawntel, follow her on Instagram @shawntelnewton

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SUMMER BEAUTY PRODUCTS


My summer beauty products are definitely different than those I use in the winter. Due to the change in weather, the sun exposure, and the heat, I use different products. These are my top 5 summertime beauty products!



Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30, $34
This sheer sunscreen is free of damaging ingredients and full of antioxidants. It adds moisture back into the skin that most sunscreens draw out, and is lightweight. This sunscreen has zinc oxide, which is great for sensitive skin, like mine. It also contains astaxanthin-rich algae extract, sunflower sprout extract, and grape juice extract, to soothe the skin and calm redness.

DryBar Prep Rally Prime & Prep Detangler, $23
I've been letting my hair naturally dry this summer, but I still need some added protection from heat and damage. I have been using this detangling spray for a couple months and have noticed a major change in my hair. This spray includes Biotin, Vitamin B, and Vitamin D, which increases strength of the hair, nourishes the scalp, and adds in moisture. It is cruel free and smells AMAZING, with hints of ginger, mint, and sandalwood.

Whole Foods Market Organic Pomegranate Orange Lip Balm, $1.99
This chapstick was a "need cash back purchase" at Whole Foods one afternoon. And it was the BEST purchase. This all natural chapstick smells and tastes amazing. It has cured my summer time dry lips and actually made them feel moisturized for hours after putting it on. I always struggle with dryness, so I am glad I finally found a balm that helps.

Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Cream-to-Powder Quickie Contour Stick, $28
This bronze cream contouring stick turns to powder after application. It is a matte bronzer that helps create a contoured face without feeling heavy. As someone who didn't know how to contour well, this stick has made it super easy. I love the cream to powder formula because it creates a perfect glow without melting on my face in the summer heat!

Clinique Soft-Pressed Powder Blusher in Soft Pink, $23
This lightweight blush creates the perfect sun kissed look! It is buildable and develops a radiant glow.  It is compact, comes with a mirror and an applicator, making it ideal to throw in your bag and go for a night out. It doesn't have a shimmer to it like most blushes, so it allows for a natural, sheer look.




















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STAYCATION IN MALIBU


You don't need to travel far to enjoy a fun little getaway. While my summer has been spent locally for the most part, I have still been able to get out and experience the beauty that Southern California has to offer. Whether that be a drive down the coast to San Diego, a visit to the wineries in Solvang, or just walking around my own neighborhood, there is so much to experience around Los Angeles.

A perfect staycation can be planned with a day in Malibu. The temperature is usually cool, the sun is always shining, and the salty fresh air makes you forget about all the smog over the hill.

MASH Hike at Malibu Creek State Park
This beautiful 4.75 mile hike is the exterior shot of the hit television series MASH. This is an easy hike with incredible views. The hike can be extended to just past 6 miles if desired. The hike hosts a creek and many old oak trees. When you reach the MASH set, it is the turn around point for the hike. Note that it does cost $12 to park there, but this money goes to keeping our state parks up and running.


Malibu Farm Pier Cafe
After your hike, grab lunch off the Malibu Pier at the Malibu Farm Cafe. Although a bit pricy, the view is worth every cent. We spent the 4th of July here and enjoyed a seat on the patio overlooking the ocean. Their dishes are all farm to table, organic, and delicious. Known for their Frose, I also love their green tacos and burgers. Note that parking is a bit hectic there. You can pay for parking outside the restaurant if it is available, but I recommend finding free parking down the street and enjoying the walk.


Malibu Wine Safari
Nothing says a fun afternoon like wine paired with feeding a llama. With a variety of safari tours, including one that allows you to feed the famous Stanley the Giraffe from The Hangover, and another with just mimosa tastings, there are many options for all different winos. Bonus, you never know who you may run into. You could see Jennifer Love Hewitt. Or that triplet comedian from America's Got Talent.

Photo Courtesy of JLH Instagram


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BACHELOR NATION'S BEN HIGGINS


Back in January I created a vision for my life, including what I wanted to achieve on my blog. On my vision board, I wrote "Interview Ben Higgins." With how in demand he is, I didn't think it would happen, but I put it out into the universe. And it happened!

Ben Higgins is my favorite Bachelor of all time. Maybe it's his wholesome spirit, maybe it's his love for Jesus, or maybe it's just his smile.



Prior to appearing on Kaitlyn Bristowe's season of The Bachelorette, Ben was living in Denver and working at a tech company. After finishing 3rd on The Bachelorette, Ben aka America's Sweetheart, was chosen to be The Bachelor. When he returned back to Denver, it was an adjustment for him. Casual activities, such as grabbing dinner or a drink with friends, were now impacted by people coming up to say hi and take photos.

Ben currently hosts the Almost Famous podcast, contributes to the blog Mahogany Workplace, and has co-founded Generous Coffee.

Generous Coffee was started by Ben and two of his friends, Drew and Riley. After a trip to Honduras where they left beaten down with the local conditions, they decided they needed to do something bigger. That's when they created this coffee company to give back to non-profits, such as Humanity and Hope United Foundation. Each year this foundation travels to Honduras to provide love and support to underserved villages.

Since appearing on The Bachelorette, The Bachelor, and Bachelor Winter Games, it is clear Ben has kept himself busy. He manages the chaos of his life by staying self-disciplined and organized. "I live by my calendar. But I also have to step back sometimes and remember to schedule off days for myself so that I can slow down and enjoy my friends and family," says Higgins.

More About Ben:
What is your favorite place you have traveled?
I've been a lot of cool places, but honestly probably Honduras. Being there just changes you.

What is your favorite thing to do in Denver?
Denver is full of so many awesome places! I love to go hiking, find a cool brewery, really anything where I can be outside.

If you could speak any 3 languages what would they be?
I like speaking English, so I'd keep that language. Probably Spanish, so I could communicate better with the people in Honduras and then maybe Italian!

If Hollywood was making a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?
Taylor Kinney

What is your favorite song right now?
Duo by Ben Rector

For more of Ben, follow him on Instagram @higgins.ben

To get involved with Humanity and Hope United Foundation, email info@humanityandhopeunited.org

And who knows, maybe we will see Ben soon on another Bachelor show soon! ;)

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GIGI HADID LOOK FOR LESS


Gigi Hadid has been everywhere lately with her on again, off again relationship with Zayn Malik, modeling, and famous family. One thing I always love about Gigi is her chic style that can be easily recreated my us common folk. This laid-back summer look is perfect for lunch with friends, browsing the farmer's market, or grabbing a quick coffee between errands! This look can be styled on your own for under $100!

Total: $86.98
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AT HOME DATE NIGHT


Last weekend we had the BEST at home date night! 
The night only took ten minutes to put together, but brought a night of love and laughter. 
We grabbed a couple bottles of wine from our Revel Wine Club shipment, picked up some snacks from Trader Joe's, and grabbed a whiteboard, paper, and pencil from the living room. 


After setting up our snacks (crackers, Brie, and an assortment of meats) we opened up Light Horse Cabernet Sauvignon from Revel. I LOVE Cabernet, and the incredible staff at Revel knew this, so they made sure to include it in our shipment. The best part about Revel is that they allow you to choose what types of wine you prefer: red, white, or both, so you know that you are going to love whatever you get.

After enjoying some food and wine, we started playing a game, based on the old television show The Newlywed Game! Although we are not yet newlyweds, we enjoyed getting to see how much we really knew each other. A question would be asked, such as what is Cate's favorite movie snack? Each of us would write an answer and see if they matched up. This brought a lot of laughs, especially as the wine kept flowing!

To finish off the night, we shared some dessert, another glass of wine from Revel Wine Club, and watched some Parks & Rec.

Talk about my perfect night! I encourage you try this at home date night, with your favorite wines and snacks to spend some time having great conversation and growing your relationship. I love knowing that the wine can be shipped to us again next month so we can do it all over again!

FTC Disclosure: Revel Wine Club sent me product in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own. Trust me, I love the wine. 



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JUNE FAVES


Holy moly. How is tomorrow July? How is my summer halfway over? I am NOT ready for it to end. It's like I blinked and we were halfway through 2018. June was a fun month. I finished up my first official year teaching, I took my last in person class for my Master's program, and I visited Malibu Wine Safari with some friends. It was busy, but so enjoyable. July has some fun stuff in store for me and my family. My brother is getting married, I have two vacations planned, and I am heading back to work at the end of the month. To soak up the last moments of June, we are going to watch The Sandlot in the park tonight. Here are some of my favorite things I loved in June.

Picnic Dates
We have been trying to save money for an upcoming vacation, as well as a goal to buy a home in the next couple years, so we have been trying to find cheap date night ideas. One of our new favorite dates is to set up a picnic on our patio, enjoying wine, cheese, and playing games. We love this uninterrupted time to catch up with each other, talk about our dreams, and share some great laughs. My favorite part of these picnics, besides the company, is the wine. I recently learned about Revel Wine Club, which ships wine directly to you. You can select the type of wine you like, how many bottles you want, and how frequently you want it shipped. This takes away the overwhelming feeling of choosing from hundreds of bottles at the liquor store and allows you to just enjoy quality wine with ease! I highly recommend Revel for your next date night in!


Parks & Rec
I am so late to this party. I am just now watching Parks & Rec for the first time and it's already a contender for my favorite show. The writing is witty, the characters are hilarious, and the storylines are cheeky. This is a show I don't get tired of watching. While we are only in the end of season two, I envision my love for this show continuing to grow. I can't even choose a favorite character because they are all an important part of Pawnee and the show wouldn't be the same without them. However, Chris Pratt. Hi.



Aromatherapy Associates The De-Stress Edit
Since I have been on summer break I have been moving my body a lot more. Soul Cycle, booty bands, and hilly walks have been a constant in my days. While I am loving the sunshine, mind clearing, and exercise, my muscles have been feeling overworked lately. However, Aromatherapy Associates has a new line that restores balance to the body, as well as the mind. The De-Stress Edit has two bath and shower oils, one for the mind and one for the muscles. These oils have a variety of essential oils, including frankincense, camomile, rosemary, and lavender. The De-Stress Muscle Gel cools the skin and has ginger to soothe achy muscles, perfect after an intense amount of tap backs during spin. The Inner Strength Soothing Face Oil soothes redness, which I need after time in the sun. The camomile and arnica contain probiotics that strengthen, repair, and restore moisture in the skin. My favorite thing of this kit though is the De-Stress Mind Rollerball. This blend of frankincense, camomile, and petit grain help to focus the mind and the body. This whole kit is available to purchase from Aromatherapy Associates for $54.


High-Waisted Bikinis
I haven't put a bikini on for a couple years, just because I haven't felt comfortable in my body. However, I decided this summer it was happening. I have lost a little weight and am continuing to, but I am finally starting to feel comfortable in my body, belly fat and all. Even when I have been in really good shape at points in my life, I still carry my weight in my belly. With an upcoming vacation to a lake, I decided to try out a high-waisted bikini. This one from Cupshe, which I purchased on Amazon, flatters my body in all the right places. It hides my tummy, while accentuating the parts of my body that I love. 



What did you love this month?

FTC Disclosure: Revel Wine Club & Aromatherapy Associates sent me product in exchange for a review. Kick Back With Cate is an Amazon Affiliate. Anything purchased from the links provided may give a percentage of purchases back to Kick Back With Cate. All opinions are honest and my own. 


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MONDAY MOTIVATION: MORNING ROUTINE


I have noticed life runs a lot smoother when I have a consistent morning routine. My morning routine during the school year is typically brush teeth, throw on clothes, grab my coffee, and run out the door. However, during the summer I enjoy a more self-care centered morning routine. I can take more time to journal, read, and set my intentions for the day.

Studies show that having a morning routine reduces stress and leads to an overall healthier lifestyle. I have noticed a reduction in my anxiety throughout the summer due to starting my mornings with the same calming routine.

1. Gratitude: Starting the day thinking about what you are grateful for changes the perspective of the day. It increase overall happiness, reduces stress, and opens up more opportunities for things to be grateful for. Thinking about the good things in your life at the start of your day opens up a higher level of vibration and energy to attract happiness and productivity throughout the day.



2. Goals & Intentions: I started 2018 writing 10 realistic goals for the year. I am making great strides in achieving them. One way that I do this is by looking back on these goals first thing in the morning. I create an action plan for the day surrounding my goals. This typically includes working on blog posts, doing homework assignments, working out, and finding ways to serve others. Keeping these goals at the fore front of my mind allows me to be intentional with my day.



3. Meditation & Affirmations: Starting the day with meditation is a positive reminder to just go slow and be present throughout the day. Often I rush through the motions of crossing off my to do list that by the end of the day I wonder what I even achieved. Meditation gives me the right mindset and prepares my body to be relaxed going into the day. While meditating I speak affirmations to myself, reminding me of my worth. Last summer my bestie wrote a blog post for me about Real Girl Mantras, including positive affirmations to tell yourself. Check them out here.


4. Morning Pages: Morning Pages are something I have been doing on and off for a little over a year. I think I have had the most growth in my life by implementing morning pages. This is an uninterrupted, hand written journal, where you write a 3 page long stream of consciousness. This writing was difficult at first because three pages can be a lot. After a month or two it was difficult to limit myself to just that! I have used this time to work through problems I was facing, to write about hopes and dreams, and just to write down random funny things that have happened. Occasionally I go back and read my morning pages, and sometimes when I feel stuck I use prompts. This is a great way to clear your head before beginning a fresh day.



5. Workout: Getting the workout done first thing in the morning reduces the ability to make an excuse for not to do it. It creates a strong feeling of accomplishment at the beginning of the day. It also increases your endorphins, making for a happier day. When you have other activities to tackle the rest of the day, having already worked out leaves you more focused and energized. My favorite way to start a day is by going for a long walk while listening to a podcast or taking a spin class at Soul Cycle.


How do you start your mornings off?



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GRAMMA IN A BOX


Whenever I spend time with my niece and nephew, I always want to find fun activities to do together. Whether it be making s'mores, going to the zoo, or doing art projects, I love those moments together. When I learned about Gramma in a Box, I thought it was perfect for the time I spend with the kids in our family.

Gramma in a Box is a subscription service started by a woman whose grandchildren moved away from her. She would send them boxes of cookies and treats, then they would make them together on Skype. After sharing this with friends and family, she created Gramma in a Box for others to have a monthly activity to do with their loved ones.




Each box includes baked cookies with frosting and sprinkles, plus two easy candy crafts. There are step by step instructions, with illustrations, included in each box. Some months will have a theme, such as for holidays like Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day.

Gramma in a Box is a steal at only $20 per box! When I think about how much I spend on baking and decorating cookies, plus all the extra random stuff that ends up in the cart that I didn't need, this is actually saving me money! Be sure to place your order for the July box ASAP!





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REAL LIFE WITH HALEE


As I share often, one of my favorite parts of blogging is the connections I make with other bloggers. I get to know women from so many different walks of life that I otherwise wouldn't meet. What always fascinates me the most though is when I find someone in the blogging sphere who I would possibly run into in other areas of life one day! 

Today's featured blogger is Halee, has had a career in ABA therapy and is a preschool teacher! For those who have been following me for awhile, you know that I am in the midst of getting my BCBA and my teaching credential, so I basically met my match with Halee! Some of her blog posts are about Trader Joes, wine, and tacos, so yup, basically the same person.


Halee started her blog Real Life With Halee to share her life with others. She gives tips on living a full life without spending extravagantly. She is relatable and wants her readers to feel inspired and know it's okay to be living the life they are living!

A little more about Halee:
Favorite blog post? Wine tasting hacks! In this post she shares how to enjoy this often expensive habit while keeping within a tight budget.

What keeps her motivated? Knowing that people are waiting to see and read what she is going to write!

How she has fun? The 3 B's: brunch, beach, & binge watching TV

Favorite place to shop? Target, Trader Joe's, & Forever 21

Top 3 beauty products? Olay night cream Ouai Wave Spray, Shea Moisture Overnight Face Oil

For more of Halee, peep her personal Instagram and her blog Instagram. They're equally awesome.




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SUMMER WEDDING STYLE


Summer weddings can be difficult to dress for because you want to look your best, but also need to beat the heat. Wearing bright colors and cool fabrics can help to combat the heat while you still look stunning. This full look including dress and accessories, is perfect for a summer wedding!

This nail polish, Odeme Dance Hall Days, is a beautiful, bright color. It is a stunning hue for summer, but is not too overwhelming. It costs $12, is quick drying, and is easy to apply. This polish didn't need 2 or 3 coats to look good, one swipe was plenty with Odeme. Odeme's polishes are made without harmful chemicals. There is no Touluene, Dibutyl Phthalate, Formaldehyde, Resin, and Camphor.
Wearing white is the coolest color for summer but an absolute no-no when it comes to a wedding! Unless instructed by the bride, please do not wear white! That is HER color! However to stay cool, wear bright, light colors. This stunning floral printed dress from London Times is perfect with nude heels and dangling earrings. I rented this dress from Le Tote and you can rent it for free here


Dangly neutral toned earrings are a perfect combination to the bright outfit you are wearing. They are subtle, adorable, and add a classy touch to the outfit. These earrings are by Kendra Scott and can be rented from RocksBox for free with code kickbackwithcatexoxo which allows you a month of free jewelry rentals!

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SHE'S THAT NEW GIRL (BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT)


When I learned about Talisa from She's That New Girl, so much of her story resonated with me. She started her blog as a creative outlet to express her thoughts and navigate post graduate life, but continued writing as a way to give young women a voice. As an educator, and aunt to a tenacious little girl, I believe this world needs more positive female role models. Talisa is just that.

Talisa is an open book about her personal struggle with social anxiety and mental health setbacks (I feel you girl) and gives personal, effective advice to readers on how to improve their quality of life. A favorite post of hers (and mine!) is Three Effective Ways the Everyday Girl Improves Her Mental Health. Talisa will also soon be sharing her personal struggle with social anxiety. Her bravery and vulnerability is something that inspires me as I toy with the idea of sharing my personal struggles.

"I feel motivated by the fact that someone out there will benefit from what I have to say," said Talisa, "The best moments have been when I get emails from young women saying that one of my posts helped them through a bout of depression or lifted their spirits."



Q & A with That New Girl!

Advice for new bloggers?
Do it for the right reasons and be patient. Your success would depend on your relationship with your readers.

What do you enjoy outside of blogging?
Anything outdoors! I love going for walks in open green spaces and I enjoy outdoor sports too. I am a huge bookworm as well, so put me near some sunshine with a good read and I'll be a happy camper!

What are your top 3 go to beauty products?
Mascara, a red hippie, and a lightly floral scent

For more of Talisa & She's That New Girl, visit her website, her YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.


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YOU ARE LOVED


I have spent the last couple days trying to put my thoughts about the death of Kate Spade into words. She was a designer I admired, an inspiration to women everywhere, and someone I never knew struggled with depression. Then, this morning when I heard about Anthony Bourdain I was angry. In our society we hear about people battling cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, but we don't hear about people battling depression. It's something we as a society don't discuss. And that needs to change.

My heart aches for the family of every individual who has taken their own life. My heart aches for everyone who has struggled through depression, anxiety, and the feelings of self doubt. We need to make it okay to talk about the reality of mental healthy We need to make it okay to ask for help.

As someone who has battled severe anxiety and depression, I can promise you that when you ask for help, it gets better. It doesn't make the hard days go away, it doesn't make the pain any lighter, but it gives you hope. It gives you something to hold on to. It makes you feel better knowing that someone is there for you. I am grateful to have family, friends, and a therapist who have held my hand on the darkest days. But none of them would have known my struggles if I had not asked for help.

So many people loved and admired Spade and Bourdain. I wish they could have understood the power and inspiration that they had on everyday people. What we see is not reality. On the surface, these two people had everything, but inside they were lost.

Please know that it gets better. Please do not be afraid to ask for help. You are worthy of love, support, and living this life.

Please know that help is just a phone call away. Call 1-800-273-TALK if you need it.

YOU ARE LOVED.
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LOVED + BLESSED REVIEW : PERSEVERANCE


Each month I receive a box of love and encouragement on my front porch. This month's Loved and Blessed Box had the theme PERSEVERANCE.





This box included:
-a highlighter, pen, and paperclip set
-magnets
-a theme card
-a mini poster
-a reminder sticker
-a scripture card
-an encouragement kit (to share the love with a friend!)

Loved and Blessed is a Christian subscription box service with a goal to help women share their testimony. For only $19.99/month (even cheaper if you buy in bulk!), each box includes a mini poster, reminder sticker, scripture card, and small gift. 



I enjoy receiving the Loved and Blessed Box because it provides me with encouraging reminders to remain strong in my faith. It is different than any other box I have received. It is full of meaning, heart, and joy. Place your order quickly to receive your own box of encouragement next month!
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CATCH UP WITH ADAM FROM THE BACHELORETTE & BACHELOR IN PARADISE


The Bachelorette is here! And while I am not doing recaps this season, I am still catching up with past contestants. One of my favorites from last season, Adam Gottschalk, was sent home by Rachel just before hometown dates, but found love in Paradise with Raven Gates. I enjoyed catching up with Adam, who is local to my area, and seeing what he is up to now that he is in Dallas.


Adam ended up on The Bachelorette when a friend from college (University of Arizona) nominated him. The day after JoJo's season aired, the friend texted Adam asking why he wasn't on the show. The rest was history.

When he went on the show, he brought a doll version of himself. This doll, Adam Jr., made cameos throughout the season, and honestly got more airtime than Adam himself. Adam journeyed through Los Angeles, South Carolina, Norway, and Switzerland, before getting sent home and ultimately ending up on the beaches of Mexico.

After the show ended, it took Adam time to adjust. He is working in commercial real estate and has strong partnerships with clients such as W Hotels and Equinox. He loves his career and the connections he is able to form with all kinds of personalities. Adam strives to be a hard working role model for our generation. "The social media blurs out all the hard work that can go on behind the scenes and all we see is the finished product," says Adam.


Nearly a year after Paradise, Adam is still with Raven. The two have talked about moving in with one and another and it is happening soon! While Raven currently lives in Arkansas where she owns her own boutique, Grey Suede, the pair see each other often.

For more on Adam, follow him on Instagram and Twitter.




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WHAT I'M LOVING LATELY


May came and went in the blink of an eye. I can't believe June is here. I am less than a week away from summer and six months away from finishing school. (Although I am toying with the idea of getting my PhD!) This month was full of fun adventures, including a Taylor Swift concert, spending time with friends I haven't seen in awhile, and meeting my biggest celebrity crush. Here are sthree things I loved most in May:

Rocksbox: Rocksbox is a jewelry rental service that delivers designer accessories straight to your porch. For $21 a month you'll receive three pieces of jewelry to wear until you are ready to either purchase or return. I love this service because it lets me try out Kendra Scott and House of Harlow products I love, but can't afford. It also allows me to borrow some bold pieces for events that I would likely only wear once. To sign up, visit Rocks Box and be sure to enter code kickbackwithcatexoxo at checkout to get your first month FREE!



Soul Cycle: I have always loved Soul Cycle but this month the admiration came to a whole new level. I took a class that shifted my perspective and gave me exactly what I have been looking for lately. I wrote about it in a blog post for my friend's blog, and you can read all about it here.


Everyone Is Doing Great: I had the opportunity this month to chat with my middle school crushes, James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti. I screened their new show Everyone Is Doing Great, which is about two actors leaning on each other as they navigate life after a hit television show. Seeing as both these men were on One Tree Hill, you'd think it was based on their personal experiences. While the series hits close to home for Lafferty and Colletti, most of the series is built from their own creative writings.


FTC Disclosure: Kick Back With Cate is a RocksBox It Girl! This means RocksBox sent product in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own. 


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POWER HOUR


Recently I have been on a quest to make more of the 24 hours I have in a day. A lot of times when I finish work and homework, I find myself just wanting to curl up in a ball and watch TV. This leads to piles of laundry, dirty dishes lingering in the sink, and an overall feeling of undeniable guilt. Recently I have reinstated a previous method I used to increase productivity, called Power Hour.

I learned about Power Hour when I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In this book she shares the life hacks that worked for her on her quest for happiness. Rubin found that items that did not have a due date or high priority, often got ignored, leaving her feeling drained and stressed out. This is items such as cleaning the kitchen, making a doctor's appointment, or cleaning out the pantry. By dedicating one single hour to it, the tasks seem less daunting.

If I commit to just one hour of getting stuff done, I find myself to be much more successful and feel much better about my life. Once a day I will set an alarm for one hour. During this time, I do not allow interruptions. I put my phone away, I let my boyfriend know I am working, and I just focus on the task at hand.

The great thing about Power Hour is that more often than not, I find myself working well beyond the hour. Once I get in a groove and start crossing items off my to do list, I don't want to stop.

Some tips for Power Hour?
Make a laser focused to do list! Having twenty items on your to do list won't be helpful to you. Pick 3-5 items to focus on during that hour and zone in on just those.

Respect your hour! It won't be useful to you if you spend the hour scrolling through Instagram. Put the phone away and be honest with yourself!

Reward yourself! After completing an hour of uninterrupted work, celebrate it. I usually allow myself 15-20 minutes on social media or YouTube after I complete an hour. Then more often than not, I find myself getting right back to work!




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SUNDAY SCARIES


I think we all deal with a bit of anxiety, but some more than others. I am naturally a very anxious person. Whenever there is any bit of unknown in my life, I panic. I have spent years working on this in myself and through self-development, therapy, meditation, journaling, and so many other techniques, I have been able to (occasionally) diminish my anxieties. However, sometimes there is a need for a supplement to ease the anxiety when all else fails.

Recently I have heard a ton about the benefits of CBD oil. For awhile I brushed it off, assuming it was just the hype of the recent marijuana legalization in California. However, CBD oil has NO THC, and is non psychoactive. This oil has a long list of benefits, including anti-inflammatory, treatment for nausea, treatment for anxiety, and is proven to reduce seizures in individuals with epilepsy. CBD oil can be found in many forms, but my favorite is through CBD gummies!


Cue Sunday Scaries. Named for that feeling we all get on Sunday evening when we have been lazy pieces of dirt all day after a fun Saturday out with friends. You know the feeling. When you've ignored your to do list because bottomless mimosas was more fun, and now you are stuck realizing you have seven loads of laundry, a sink full of dishes, two papers due, and have to be up for work tomorrow morning. 

Last weekend I had a case of the Sunday Scaries on Saturday and decided to take one of my dummies. My to do list was daunting me, I was feeling anxious about things going on, and none of my self care strategies could help. I took one of my natural CBD gummies and felt stress relief and hyper focused. I was ready to take on the day anxiety free. I love that these gummies allow me to live anxiety free without the scary side effects that come with taking prescription medications. I appreciate an all natural approach to subsidize the self care techniques I use such as meditation, journaling, and exercise. 

To check out Sunday Scaries, click here! They offer a variety of purchase options, including a monthly subscription. Added bonus: free shipping! 

The faster you purchase Sunday Scaries, the sooner you can get rid of them. 

FTC Disclosure: Sunday Scaries sent me product in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are honest and my own.

Medical Disclaimer: Please seek advice from a doctor before making any changes in your health regime.



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