15 Summer Dinners You Can Make in Less Than 30 Minutes – The Everygirl

Source: Sweet Potato Soul

I grew up in Washington, D.C., about 40 miles away from the Eastern Shore in Maryland. Because of my proximity to the best crabs—dare I say in the world—summer always meant crab season. We’d hop in the car and drive for about an hour to sit on the water and crack open crabs all afternoon. Over the past few years living in Chicago, I’ve found that the crab quality doesn’t come close to matching anything on the East Coast, so I’ve had to find other ways to celebrate the summer food season.

Fresh herbs from our garden and other varieties of seafood seem to do the trick (that is, between my trips back east to get the good stuff). I thought I’d share some easy summer recipes that are simple, quick, and delicious, and will get you in your summer cooking groove. Keep reading for 15 summer dinners you can make in less than 30 minutes. 


1. Crispy Lemon Chicken Thighs

Source: What’s Gaby Cooking


2. Mediterranean Orzo Salad

Source: Fox and Briar


3. Korean Beef + Toasted Sesame Rice

Source: Half Baked Harvest


4. Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pasta

Source: Budget Bytes


5. Bhetki Fish in Citrus Basil Butter Sauce

Source: My Food Story


6. Ultimate Vegan Burrito Bowl

Source: Sweet Potato Soul


7. Mango Chicken Teriyaki

Source: Pinch of Yum


8. Healthy Southwestern Chicken Bowls

Source: Lovely Little Kitchen


9. Lemon Butter Scallops

Source: Chungah Rhee | Damn Delicious


10. Grilled Romaine Salad with Jalapeño Ranch

Source: Isabel Eats


11. Honey Garlic Chicken

Source: Chungah Ree | Damn Delicious


12. 5-Minute Seared Tuna

Source: Sonja & Alex Overhiser | A Couple Cooks


13. Jerk Salmon with Pineapple Salsa

Source: Grandbaby Cakes


14. Prosciutto and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Basil Pesto Vinaigrette

Source: The College Housewife


15. Orecchiette Pasta with Lemon and Asparagus

Source: Sonja & Alex Overhiser | A Couple Cooks




Transition: How to Leave a Good Thing Gracefully

A woman with her head down on a diner table

Ever since I was a kid, I longed for adulthood. As a little girl, I politely declined swinging on the monkey bars with the other kindergarteners, opting to converse with the teachers. I played “school” with my dolls, imagining what it would be like to call the shots—to teach instead of being taught. In middle school, I wore blazers and a sleek bob. 

Freedom dangled before me as my older siblings crossed each threshold ahead of me: staying home alone, driver’s licenses, extended curfews. Then, the ultimate mark of adulthood finally came: college. The place where tastes of high school freedom and responsibility tripled overnight. My siblings packed their suitcases and left behind rooms filled with their childhood memorabilia, and I waited, very impatiently, to grow up too.

I waited, very impatiently, to grow up too.

For me, high school was four years of watching the clock, my foot tapping an anticipatory rhythm on the floor, while waiting for the final bell that signaled the start of adulthood. I flipped  through many chapters of my life like I was cramming for a reading quiz—skimming for the big picture that’ll get me to the ending.

Then, college came. I loaded whatever would fit into my mom’s Jeep Wrangler and trekked 22 hours across the country to adulthood. I exhaled and four years raced by.

Throughout each year of college I felt I was becoming someone dramatically differentsomeone who was more  of myself. The freedom and responsibility that once glittered in my dreams was now reality, and it was just as I hoped. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to love where my feet were planted, to build roots and press into my reality. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to read ahead to the end of the book. 

For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to read ahead to the end of the book. 

My senior year of college came in the middle of pandemic uncertainty. After a spring semester spent in lockdown and a quarantine summer, fall was a whirlwind of reunions. However, as the calendar days slipped away and the job search began, I was once again confronted with growing up. I’d always welcomed transition eagerly, deeming it a stepping stone to something greater. But when the fall semester ended, a series of lasts began, and I found myself desperately trying to pump the brakes.

I’d spent 22 years wishing away my youth. Why was I now struggling to move on?

It dawned on me that this was the first time that the next season didn’t sound better than what I had at that moment. I was living in what felt like a hundred answered prayers; the idea of leaving was gutting. It felt almost disloyal to move on. Yet, my college expiration date was rapidly approaching.

Whether you’re graduating from high school or college, changing jobs, entering motherhood or marriage, transition is inevitable. I have a lot to learn and ample space for growth, but there are three lessons that have served me well as I have navigated transition.

Grieving a season of life is normal and healthy.

Even if you feel ready for what’s next, moving on means leaving something behind. It is natural for a sense of loss to linger as you transition. Process through the good and bad of the season you’re leaving and allow it to take up proper space as a chapter of your life. Let tears wet your cheeks and friends sit by your side.

If leaving something is hard, it means that it was important to you.

I have said this about every season of my life: gratitude changes things. Instead of being resentful that a monumental season of life is coming to a close, recognize what a privilege it was to experience it. Take time to reflect on how you grew, the relationships you built and celebrate the person you are at the end of it all. 

Instead of being resentful that a monumental season of life is coming to a close, recognize what a privilege it was to experience it.

Choose to see abundance instead of scarcity. 

I have experienced life stages I couldn’t wait to leave and ones I wished would last forever. In both, I struggled with a scarcity mindset where I believed goodness (contentment, excitement, joy and growth) existed only in small increments in specific settings. However, the reality is that it can exist in every season. Trust that a new life stage will bring renewed perspective and unique gifts. They always do.

A lot of my life was spent waiting for the perfect combination of settings, friends and age to create my idea of an “ideal life.” As I reflect on college, I realize it was less about a calculated synergy and more about contentment. I have learned to find a reason to love every seasonto show up both when life seems thrilling and when it feels impossible. To keep counting answered prayers and investing in the people in front of me. I have learned to balance profuse contentment for the here and now with anticipatory excitement for what’s to come.

Here’s to the beautiful reality of a life full of growth. May we have the courage to keep climbing and the wisdom to grab a hand along the way. 

Have you ever grieved a season of life coming to an end? How have you learned to embrace change?

Image via Sarah Kehoe, Darling Issue No. 16

13 Things You Need to Do Before You Go on Vacation

Source: Social Squares

If you ask us, one of the greatest joys in life is to jet set away from the automation of day-to-day tasks, escape to somewhere new, and explore all of the scenic adventures that the world has to offer. Here at The Everygirl, we’re always counting down the days until our next vacation and looking forward to our next getaway.

Whether you prefer relaxing at an all-inclusive resort, getting down and dirty with the challenging hikes and stellar views of the Pacific Northwest, or sightseeing and eating your way through Europe, the prep that goes into the week leading up to your trip is essentially the same. Besides packing up your suitcase and setting your work status to OOO (out of office), here are 13 things to take care of the week before you go off the grid:


Source: Blue Apron


1. Strategize your grocery shopping and meals

When you’re getting ready to leave for a vacation, planning your grocery shopping and meals for the week can be tricky. You don’t want to do a full fridge restock only to pick at a few items and throw the rest away before your trip, but you also don’t want to put yourself in a position to spend a ton of money eating out and making not-so-great fast food choices.

One of our favorite pre-vacation hacks is to set up meal delivery with Blue Apron for the week before we leave. With 35 delicious recipe options a week, a plethora of options for dietary preferences, prices as low as $7.49 per serving, and pre-portioned ingredients to reduce food waste, it’s the perfect solution to that awkward week of a half-empty fridge we tend to endure before our getaway. Besides the fact that they offer so many yummy recipes (Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir Fry, you have our heart), we love how easy Blue Apron makes things, especially during our busiest weeks. With portioned, premium ingredients and easy cleanup, Blue Apron takes the guesswork out of meal prepping and makes dinnertime an absolute breeze.

Blue Apron

Blue Apron Meal Kits

Get 8 free meals and free shipping when you switch to Blue Apron!
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2. Review travel information and keep it in one place

Unless you’re a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow traveler, it’s more than likely that you put a decent amount of planning into your trip. Between travel itineraries, hotel confirmations, dinner reservations, and daytime excursions, there are a lot of details to keep track of. The week before your vacation, compile all of your confirmations into one space (physical or electronic) that you can bring with you when you travel. Double-check the dates, times, and locations of what you have pre-planned to ensure that you’re showing up to the right place at the right time to help avoid any issues when you get to your destination. 


Source: Alaina Kaczmarski


3. Arrange care for your pets

Unfortunately, we can’t always bring our furry friends on vacation with us, and for such getaways, we need to arrange care for our pets ahead of time. If you have someone pet sitting or someone checking in for a few hours a day, be sure to provide a house key and stock up on pet food, treats, litter, and/or doggie bags. Place everything in a designated area so that the person pet sitting can find everything your pet needs with ease. If your pet is going to someone else’s home, pack up an appropriate amount of food and provide toys, treats, litter, water/food bowls, and other necessities. 

Provide clear instructions for your pet’s day-to-day schedule, their vet’s number in case of an emergency, and your contact number in the event that they have any questions. Knowing that your furry family member is in great hands will allow you to fully relax on your getaway.


Source: Social Squares


4. Circle back with your work contacts to remind them you’ll be OOO

While you probably (and hopefully) already let your team know that you’d be traveling, one week before your departure is a great time to put your out-of-office status back on everyone’s radar. As much as you’ve been counting down the days until your vacation, the odds are that your team members aren’t paying attention to the same countdown. Making sure that everyone communicates their needs with you before you leave is crucial to avoid all of those last-minute requests and mid-vacation calls that you don’t want to be receiving while away.

Whether you’re someone who likes to check in on projects while on vacation or prefers to go off the grid completely, it’s important to communicate your expectations to your team members for your time away so that they can prepare accordingly beforehand.


5. Prepare in-flight or beachside entertainment

A perfect day at the beach or a long plane ride is just so much better when you have your next new read queued up and ready to go. The week before you leave, be sure to download podcasts, music, audiobooks, and eBooks so that you’re not downloading them in a panic right before boarding your flight or while en route to the beach. Also, in case you didn’t already know, Netflix allows you to download shows and movies so that they’re available to watch while you’re on airplane mode during your flight. It’s such a game-changer that makes in-flight time, delays, and long-car rides absolutely fly by.

Downloading media so that it’s available (even if you don’t have service) can take a bit of time and a strong Wi-Fi connection, so it’s best to prepare your entertainment options at least a few days before you depart.


Source: Social Squares


6. Alert your credit card company

There’s no greater buzzkill than getting to your destination, swiping your credit card for a long-awaited margarita, and getting hit with a “declined” message because you forgot to alert your credit card company of your travels.

While on a normal day we appreciate the safeguards that come with new purchases in areas we don’t normally frequent, it can be a total pain to deal with your credit card company while you’re on vacation. Before you leave, notify your bank of where and when you’ll be traveling to avoid being locked out of your own funds. While every bank works differently in terms of how and where to send travel alerts, the process usually only takes a few minutes, which is definitely worth avoiding the hassle once you’re in vacation mode.


7. Take out cash just in case you need it

In a modern world of swiping debit cards, relying on credit cards, and using touchless payment methods like Apple Pay, bringing cash to your travels is something that can quite easily slip your mind. It’s always a good rule of thumb to bring cash on your vacation for a multitude of reasons—it’s preferred by small vendors, important to have on hand in case you don’t have access to an ATM, essential for exchanging currency, necessary for tipping service members and taxis, and useful in emergencies. 

While pre-paying for as much as possible ahead of time will help you to reduce the amount of cash you should need while away, it’s still important to bring about $50-100 per person per day for meals, drinks, transportation, entertainment, tips, and whatever else your day abroad brings you.


Source: Social Squares


8. Pause package deliveries

If you don’t have someone checking in on your home, pets, plants, or mail during your vacation, it’s a great idea to pause your package deliveries. While you can plan ahead by not ordering new items the week before you leave, there are always those surprise “I forgot I ordered this!” items and subscription packages that we may not feel comfortable leaving on our doorsteps.

Vacation holds and hold mail requests can be arranged with USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL to stop package delivery for a specified timeline. This will help you avoid that pesky and frustrating “return to sender” situation—which is probably one of the last things you’ll want to deal with after your getaway.


9. Take care of bills ahead of time

Review your finances before you leave for your vacation and make sure that you won’t miss any deadlines while you’re away. While you can put a pause on a lot of things in life, bills are (unfortunately) not one of them. Be sure to pay your bills early or set up auto-pay to ensure that you aren’t missing any payments and subjecting yourself to late fees (because we simply don’t have time for that). 


Source: Social Squares


10. Make a list of all of the last-minute items you have to pack the morning of your trip

While you can pack clothes for a trip pretty far in advance, a large part of our packing lists can’t really be packed until the last minute, which can make the moments before leaving the house extra stressful. Making a list of all of those items (phone, Apple watch, chargers, toiletries, hair styling products, identification, etc.) can help keep you a bit more organized and less stressed in the hours before your trip.


11. Water and relocate your plants

Even if you can find a designated person to water your plants while away, if you’re a dedicated plant parent, figuring out how to set your plants up for success while you’re gone can be tough.

While considering an automatic watering system is always an option (check out these watering cones, glass bulbs, and in-house irrigation systems on Amazon), you can also water a little extra and add woodchips, newspaper, rocks, or mulch to hold in water. According to Travel and Leisure, it’s also helpful to dabble with the idea of a makeshift greenhouse, moving humidity-loving plants into the bathroom (which tends to be the most humid part of the house) and moving sun-loving plants a bit farther from the light source (more sunlight = more watering).


Source: Social Squares


12. Clean your home

The week leading up to a vacation can feel like a race against time. Getting packed, arranging care for pets and plants, confirming travel plans, and getting prepared while still having to be present for your day-to-day operations can be pretty messy. But as we all have probably experienced at some point, coming back to a tornado of a home after a week abroad is one sure way to be violently thrust into the Post-Vacation Blues. 

Two days before you leave, start cleaning your home so that when you return, you can start fresh and only have to focus on unpacking and doing laundry from your trip. Take out the trash, empty out your fridge, tidy up, and do the loads of laundry that you won’t be bringing on your vacay. 


13. Set your A.C. so you don’t come back to extreme temps

To turn the air conditioning off or to leave it on? That is the question. Sure, we don’t want to waste energy, but we also don’t want to walk into the extreme temps that come with sauna-like summer temperatures or below-freezing winter weather. 

First things first: Check the weather in your hometown for the week you’ll be away. If the weather will be relatively mild while you’re gone, it’s a safe bet that if you turn off your air conditioning, your home will survive and you’ll be fairly comfortable when you get back.

If your home base is going to be experiencing hotter-than-average temperatures, consider keeping the home cool but not cold, seven to 10 degrees higher than you would normally set it if you were at home. This will prevent your cooling appliances from working overtime to compensate for above-normal temps within the home. On the other hand, if your city is going to be experiencing below-freezing temperatures, it’s best to set your thermostat to 50 to 55 degrees to prevent your pipes from freezing.



This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Blue Apron, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.



11 Skincare Products a Dermatologist Would Get From CVS

The Everygirl’s product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.

We talk a lot about the beauty products recommended by our editors and by celebrities because it’s important to know whether or not the products you’re testing (likely on your face) are actually worth the hype. Who wants to order a $100 cream before they know how to use it, what the texture is like, or how often it should be applied? But there’s something to be said about skincare products loved by the experts we all look to for advice: dermatologists.

After watching about a dozen TikToks about drugstore skincare recommendations, I needed to know what the experts had to say. What are dermatologists telling their patients to pick up when they head to the drugstore? We scoped out the long list of skincare products available at CVS to find which ones were actually worth the price, according to doctors.



Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

If you can’t make it to a dermatologist or are afraid to try tretinoin, Differin is the next best thing. It’s an adapalene gel, meaning it’s a gentler, over-the-counter alternative to tretinoin and is known as one of the best ways to treat acne without seeing a doctor. Dr. Fatima Fahs, board-certified dermatologist in Michigan and creator of the Dermy Doc Box, said this gel is great for comedonal acne, the small bumps you might get on your forehead or chin that never seem to go away.

Shop it now


Rapid Tone Repair 20% Vitamin C Face Serum

Regardless of your skin type, incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine should be high on your priority list, and this one from Neutrogena (a brand loved by dermatologists for their effective, tested, and inexpensive products) rivals high-end formulas without the price tag. These come in capsules that you break open and apply to your skin, resulting in a smooth, bright, clear complexion in just a few uses.

Shop it now


Gentle Skin Cleanser

There’s a reason you can’t get out of a dermatologist’s office without hearing someone utter the words “gentle cleanser.” Especially when you’re using actives like retinol and AHAs, opting for a gentle, basic cleanser like this loved one from Cetaphil ensures you don’t over-exfoliate your skin. “It hydrates while cleansing the skin and also strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier. I like that it is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and does not clog your pores,” said Dr. Marina Peredo, a board-certified dermatologist in New York.

Shop it now


Moisturizing Cream

When you need a good facial moisturizer, you can always count on CeraVe. This moisturizing cream is thick without feeling heavy, so it’s great for many skin types, but especially great for dry and very dry skin. Dermatologists recommend using this with retinol to keep your skin hydrated and plump.

Shop it now


Creamy Wash 4% Benzoyl Peroxide Daily Control Deep Cleaning Wash for Acne

“[I] love this benzoyl peroxide-based wash for managing body acne,” Dr. Fahs said. “Stick it in your shower and use it as a body wash to acne prone areas like your chest, back, and even bottom!” She said it’s also great to keep on hand after a sweaty workout.

Shop it now

La Roche-Posay

Anthelios Ultra Light Tinted Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 50

Finding a sunscreen for dark and deep skin tones at the drugstore can be a struggle, but this tinted one from La Roche-Posay ranks quite high. It’s a mineral formula, so you don’t have to worry if you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, and the extra tint adds a physical protection against UVA/UVB rays. It has a matte finish that doesn’t disturb anything else you put on your face, so it’s ideal for long days when you know you’ll need to reapply.

Shop it now


Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment

Classic Aquaphor is one of the best products to have in your arsenal if you deal with dry skin, eczema, rosacea, and other skin conditions that make you feel itchy and irritated. You can use it on your lips, elbows, heels, knees, cuts, scrapes, and even on your face as a highlighter. “Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment is ideal for those who suffer from dry, cracked skin,” Dr. Peredo said. “It helps restore the skin to be smooth and healthy.”

Shop it now


Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

If you’re on the hunt for a moisturizing body cream with some exfoliating ingredients, look no further. This one contains lactic acid to gently exfoliate away dead skin and leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. “I love this for keratosis pilaris (chicken skin) on the arms, rough elbows, knees, and heels,” Dr. Fahs said.

Shop it now


Daily Moisturizing Lotion

If you bring home samples from your dermatologist, you can bet some Aveeno moisturizers will be in there. Dermatologists swear by the minimal ingredient list and love that the product is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. It’s also light and not greasy. Apply it after you shower when your skin is still damp for soft skin that doesn’t feel sticky.

Shop it now


Retinol Correxion Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Eye Cream

According to Dr. Fahs, “this is one of the strongest over-the-counter eye creams formulated with retinol and a great addition to a routine looking to target fine lines and discoloration under the eyes.”

Shop it now


Gentle Facial Cleanser

“This is the most underrated drugstore brand that truly has amazing products all around,” Dr. Fahs said. “Their gentle facial cleanser is one of my favorite nighttime cleansers. Simple, effective, and won’t leave your skin super dry.”

Shop it now


Our Editors’ Favorite Drugstore Beauty Products



How to Cultivate Emotional Intimacy With Your Spouse

A woman leaning on a guys shoulder as they stand outside against a garage door

As I sat across the table from him, I wanted to know his thoughts, ones I hadn’t heard before. An undeniable thirst to know him better washed over me in the moment. Not even the perspiring glass of water in front of me could satisfy the feeling. 

What I was craving was emotional intimacy, which is defined as “a perception of closeness to another person that allows sharing of feelings, accompanied by expectations of understanding, affirmation and demonstrations of caring.” The longer I have been married, the more I have come to value emotional intimacy as a tool to know my husband better and to be truly seen and known by him. In our culture of hustle and busyness, this could not be more important.

Here are a few ways I have learned to cultivate emotional intimacy in relationships:

Get creative in conversation.  

There’s something about getting outside of the house and looking the man I love in the eyes that sparks a sense of that first date fondness. In an effort to recreate those early moments, I began asking him “what if” scenarios.  

What if you had to have a job that was dangerous? What would you choose? What if you had to live on an island? Where would you live? If you could only change one thing at your current job, what would it be? 

Similar to dreaming up make-believe worlds as a child, I created scenarios that took my husband to a state of imagination and daydreaming. Those abstract questions sparked conversations that related to our current lives, our ever-developing feelings for each other and our future. By speaking my seemingly odd trains of thoughts into existence, it created emotional intimacy with my otherwise quiet-natured partner. It opened the door for laughter, connection and ultimately, reinforcement of our relationship. 

It opened the door for laughter, connection and ultimately, reinforcement of our relationship. 

Lean into their interests.

When you’re no longer in the early stages of a relationship, you have to get crafty when it comes to discovering new things about your partner. Sometimes, I feel like I couldn’t possibly find out anything I don’t already know about my husband, but he continues to surprise me.

When I give my spouse my full attention as he tells me something he’s discovered, it creates another avenue for emotional connection. He could share anything from a new band, a YouTube show or an author who he has unexpectedly unearthed. Ironically, he typically picks times to reveal these things whenever I’m busy, but what I’ve noticed is that when I put aside what I’m doing and lean into a conversation, he feels seen and heard. His excitement only grows. 

What I’ve noticed is that when I put aside what I’m doing and lean into a conversation, he feels seen and heard.

When I’m at work the next day, if I listen to the song he’s become obsessed with or read an article about an author he loves, I have something to “report back” when we come together for dinner that night. It shows that I’ve taken the time to care for his interests, even if they are not my interests. He does the same for me. It takes a little work on both of our parts since we have vastly different tastes, but the work makes us feel well-rounded in our relationship. 

Take time away from your devices and connect through intentional dialogue.

Most weekday evenings, my husband and I sit down on our living room couch, exhausted after everything we’ve done that day. We binge-watch our favorite shows, and after an hour or so, we go to bed. It hit me, as we were turning out the lights one night, that while we sit together almost every day and while we’re close in proximity, our conversations are minimal.

Our dinners are pretty quick with small talk about our days. Then, it’s on to the next thing until we can’t possibly get anything else done that day and collapse together on the couch. 

Recently, we’ve taken this into account and instead of zoning out (which is totally acceptable to do occasionally), we lie next to each other rather than at opposite ends of the couch. We lie in silence and let whatever thoughts that are top-of-mind surface. We have intentional talks in these quiet moments, making them some of my favorite times. When the silence is broken, it’s only because one of us is telling the other what we observe in them—the good, the areas of needed growth, the unique talents, the beautiful truths and ultimately, the reasons our love grows for the other daily. 

We have intentional talks in these quiet moments, making them some of my favorite times.

When my head hits the pillow on nights like this, my emotional tank overflows. If I haven’t connected with my favorite person in the entire world on any particular day, it hurts my inner being. It’s so easy for us to fall into our daily routines that we don’t realize the damage until it begins to hurt.

Throughout the span of our marriage, we have both intentionally sought connection. Because of this, we now can quickly discern when it’s been too long since we’ve had a night of talking and getting to know each other again. While our mind-numbing TV binging habit can be fun at times, we consciously choose to take a few nights away from the screen. We intentionally choose to rekindle our love for one another. 

If your emotional tank is running on empty in your relationships, it is possible to cultivate emotional intimacy. It requires effort, energy and a little TLC. You and your partner’s relationship will only be better for it!

How do you and your partner cultivate emotional intimacy? What, if anything, might be getting in the way of you connecting on a deeper level?

Image via Prakash Shroff, Darling Issue No. 17

Why Won’t My Hair Hold Curls? Here’s The Answer

The Everygirl’s product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.

Source: Getty Images

Everyone’s seen the Instagram and Pinterest pictures of women with gorgeous, long curled locks. You spend an hour (or more) in front of the mirror, twirling a scalding hot iron around your head, creating the perfect curls that will hopefully brush out to the messy waves of your dreams. Then, after all that time, your hair falls flat before you even walk into the restaurant and you’re left wondering: why won’t my hair hold curls? Womp womp.

I’ve always had very fine hair that refuses to hold a curl. I did beauty pageants as a child (#nbd), and my grandma used to have to curl my hair and put it in sponge rollers for them to stay long enough to last the duration of the pageant. No one has time for that, but I also know that my lifeless curls need some revision stat.

So, why exactly does our hair lose shape so quickly? I went on a mission to figure out what I was doing wrong (self-awareness is key), and yeah, it was a lot. This is what I’ve learned from my mistakes!


In this article

You’re not using the right tools

You’re not properly prepping your hair

You’re not sectioning your hair

You’re curling from the bottom to the top

You aren’t holding the curls in place

Your hair is too clean

You’re brushing out your curls


You’re not using the right tools

There’s more to curling your hair than the old curling iron your mom gave you freshman year of high school for the homecoming dance. Upgrade your iron to something higher quality with ceramic plates that heat equally all the way through—this way your curls are the same size all the way through. A lot of people think that their irons need to get super hot to get the best curls. If you have very thick hair, you’ll want a higher heat than someone with finer or thinner hair; however, you shouldn’t need an iron with anything over 300 degrees, and make sure your iron is never set above 400 degrees.

Pay attention to the size of the barrel. Short hair would benefit from a thinner barrel because you can wrap your hair around the barrel more times and it forces you to use smaller sections. People often think you need a large wand to do tousled waves. I’m not telling you what to do, but using a smaller barrel will make the curls tighter from the start so they fall throughout the day.

Also, don’t discriminate against curling irons! You can use a wand, an iron with a clip, or even a flat iron to create waves.


Shop some of our favorites:

Kristin Ess

1″ Beach Wave Curling Iron

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Kristin Ess

1 1/4″ Pivoting Curling Wand

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Interchangeable Styling Wand Set

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Porcelain Ceramic Curling Iron

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Source: Getty Images


You’re not properly prepping your hair

The prep is almost as important as the actual work of curling your hair! One trick to getting your curls to last is using a product with hold before you put the iron on your hair. Whether it’s a moose, a heat protectant, a hair spray, or a dry texture spray, your hair will already be prepared to hold onto the curl.  I love dry texture spray instead of hair spray because it gives your hair some grit which allows it to stick to the iron rather than sliding off and adds a nice messy texture. 

If you have the money and are trying to get curls for a big event, consider adding extensions! Not only does this add length and tons of volume, but it also adds a different hair texture to the mix. This gives your curl more bounce.

Bumble and Bumble

Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer

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Hot Commodity Heat Protecting Spray

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Kristin Ess

Dry Finish Working Texture Spray

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You’re not sectioning your hair

If you have a lot of hair, you need to section. Not sectioning makes it easy to miss pieces, which makes your hair look flat even when it’s not. Don’t be afraid to go all-in with your sectioning.

Especially if you’re using a small barrel, large sections of hair won’t get the same amount of heat across the iron, so make sure your sections are no larger than an inch.


You’re curling from the bottom to the top

When you curl from the bottom to the top, the bottom of your hair is getting most of the heat. This means your curls are the tightest at the bottom, which weighs down the hair closest to the scalp and makes the curls fall faster. This trick is especially important if you’re using a curling iron with a clamp.

This technique also comes in handy if you’re using a curling wand that tapers at the bottom. If the bottom of the barrel is thinner than the top, your ends are getting a tighter curl than the hair at the root. This creates a beautiful wave; however, it also tends to fall faster than a curling iron that is all the same size. You could opt to purchase a different curling iron or make do with what you have and place the entire section of hair onto the bottom of the barrel.


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You aren’t holding the curls in place

Curls aren’t set until they cool, so while they’re still hot, pin them to your head. You can use bobby pins or clips. If you really need them to stay, spray your hair while they’re setting!


Your hair is too clean

Clean hair just doesn’t have the grit and hold as hair with a little oil in it. Curls work best on second or even third-day hair. If you need to be clean, you can add dry shampoo to your hair before you curl to give it some texture and volume.


You’re brushing out your curls

Of course, no one’s walking out of the house in pageant curls; however, you don’t need to use a brush to get the bounciness out of your curls! A brush pulls the curl down too much, whereas using a wide-tooth comb or just your fingers pulls them apart without overdoing it. I also recommend flipping your head over just after you finish curling and shaking the curls out at the root of your hair. Not only does this add serious volume, but it gives your curls some piecyness. My favorite trick for messy, undone curls!

Make sure to spray them with hairspray or dry texture spray before you brush them out so the hold stays.


How to Curl Your Hair With a Curling Iron and a Straightener



How to Start and Grow a Business

A smiling woman with glasses in her hands that are touching her chin as she stands in front of a two-tone wall

Starting and growing a business is a deeply gratifying experience. Your business is a reflection of your unique gifts and experience—a contribution that no one else can make to the world. However, it’s not always easy.

Throughout several years of running a custom jewelry studio and coaching purpose-driven entrepreneurs, I’ve grown and been stretched more than I could imagine. There’s no single right way to run a business, and we’re all on a journey of discovery.

There’s no single right way to run a business, and we’re all on a journey of discovery.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned about how to thrive as an entrepreneur.

Learn about yourself. 

Honesty is best when it comes to your business. The start-up stage can be grueling, and you don’t want to build something you won’t enjoy. You’ll wear many hats and some may not be your favorite, but the bulk of the work should align with your talents, interests and past experience. 

Now is the time for personal exploration. Ask yourself:

  • What are your strengths? What are your assets?
    This might be prior work experience, education, finances or a professional network.
  • What gives you life?
    Consider keeping a journal for a week to identify what activities give you energy and which drain you.
  • How can you leverage your strengths to overcome challenges?
    After you’ve taken inventory of your strengths and assets, take notes on how to use those strengths to overcome any challenges you might encounter.
  • How much is “enough” revenue from your business? What would success look like for you? How many hours are you willing to work? What boundaries will you need in place?
    It’s more difficult to define values while you’re in the midst of struggle. Define your values around time and money. Take time to set the values and intentions you want to operate from in the future.

Create a self-care routine.

There will be tough days in your business. Don’t wait until you are already exhausted to try and refill your bucket. Build a healthy foundation by creating a self-care routine. As a business owner who is also raising four children, proactive self-care has become essential for me. 

Here are a few tips that have served me well:

  • Review my journal of life-giving and life-draining activities to identify things that could trigger exhaustion, as well as ways to refill.
  • Make a list of self-care practices you’ll need on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis.
    Consider your physical, emotional and spiritual needs. A few of my practices include a weekly long walk with a podcast, a monthly date with nature and annual health check-ups.
  • Schedule your self-care on your calendar.
    Booking appointments with yourself means you’ll be more likely to keep yourself running in a balanced state.

Build a community of encouragers.

Building a business is exciting. You’ll want to celebrate your wins and also maintain a sense of hope. As with a self-care routine, building your community of encouragement now will start you off with the support you’ll need throughout the life of your business.

Tell friends and family about your new venture. It may be tempting to wait until you’ve had “success,” but the whole point is to have support and encouragement before you have the “proof.” Running a business is often an act of faith, and there are days when you’ll need others to hold the faith for you. Don’t wait on success to connect. Let people accompany you at every step.

Running a business is often an act of faith, and there are days when you’ll need others to hold the faith for you.

That said, do be choosy about who you bring into your circle. This is sacred ground. Be sure you’re sharing with people who respect that. You’ll want people that can provide support without judgment or unnecessary fear.

Explore creative ways to broaden your community of encouragers. Consider networking or mastermind groups to meet other entrepreneurs.  Make a list of motivating music, quotes, social media accounts, books and movies to keep you inspired.

Plan and take action.

A business is its own entity and warrants thoughtful planning. However, don’t let fear or perfectionism turn into procrastination. There’s nothing about running a business that you can’t handle. 

  • Invest in learning.
    Think back to your list of strengths, assets and areas of growth. Where might you benefit from professional development? The surge in online courses has made it easier than ever to learn new skills. Word to the wise: Invest in learning, but don’t use it as a way to procrastinate. There is a temptation to wait until you’ve learned everything, but some things just have to be learned by doing.
  • Make a plan but practice flexibility.
    You don’t know what you don’t know. Businesses that are flexible are more likely to survive.
  • Invest time in creating systems.
    It takes longer at first, but systems create more time as you grow.  They also lead to a more sustainable business in the long run.

Also, a few practicalities to plan for when starting a business: Create a separate checking account from the beginning. Research licensing requirements, and consider hiring an accountant if you’re not versed in the tax implications of owning a business. 

With knowledge of yourself, a solid foundation of self-care and encouragement and a plan that is adaptable, welcome to the journey of a lifetime! It’s hard to top the joy earned from launching your ideas out into the world. I can’t wait to see what you create.

What tips do you have for the new entrepreneur? In business, what are some things you can plan ahead for and some that you cannot?

Image via Sierra Prescott, Darling Issue No. 16

How to Talk About Finances With Your Significant Other

A woman seated at an office desk

As a couples therapist, it may not surprise you that I see many couples struggling with conversations and disagreements surrounding the topic of money.

It’s a classic fight that couples have, like loading the dishwasher, asking for directions and driving. Money is just one of those things we expect couples to disagree about. However, what may surprise you is the “why.” Why is it that finances can be a difficult topic with your significant other? Once we identify the reason, we can understand more clearly how to talk to our significant other about money in a way that propels the conversation forward positively.

[Money] is a classic fight that couples have, like loading the dishwasher, asking for directions and driving.

Money is a topic that has many layers underneath it. Like the tip of the iceberg, money sits on top and is simply one part of the story—the part that we can see. However, underneath the water, like the base of the iceberg hidden from immediate view, are layers of personal experience, family history, culture, beliefs and values surrounding money.

Money is just one way we express our own history and background. When it comes to the topic of money, we each carry not only our own fears and hopes, but the fears and hopes of those who raised us and those who we grew up with. Money, for each of us, has a story, with lots of voices playing a part. In order to understand how to talk to your significant other about finances, there are few things you must do first.

Money, for each of us, has a story, with lots of voices playing a part.

Understand each other’s “money story.”

I imagine that when you first met your significant other you swapped stories. Maybe even on your first dates, you filled each other in on who you are and where life has taken you. You probably fell in love with your partner as you heard some of these stories. Maybe some of these stories caused you to take pause or maybe some of them were healing to share with each other.

Whatever the case, you probably got to know each other by sharing the stories you each carry. However, even with all this sharing in the early stages of dating, it is unlikely that you shared your “money story” with one another. 

What is your money story? It is all the things you remember and experienced around money growing up in your family and in your larger culture. What were the implicit and explicit rules surrounding money? Were there experiences of being without money that make spending it anxiety provoking?

Was it encouraged that success means making a lot of money? Does that perhaps influence your goals today? Is giving money to those in need a value you were taught? Or were there people around you who spent and lost money irresponsibly which created a fear of doing the same?

[Your money story] is all the things you remember and experienced around money growing up in your family and in your larger culture.

The questions and details of each of your stories will be very unique. Spend some time getting to know and sharing with one another your “money stories.” You will likely marvel at what you never knew and how much more you know your partner afterward.

It’s never just about money.

Remember the iceberg analogy? Well now that you’ve shared your unique stories about money with each other, you may understand more of what goes into each other’s opinions, beliefs, anxieties and hopes about money. Spend some time discussing each of your personal patterns with money.

Is one of you very detailed and never spends a dime not allotted for in a spreadsheet? Does one of you spend more than you make, getting caught up in an emotional moment before crunching the numbers? Think through and discuss these patterns and tension points. Then, connect them to the stories you shared and just learned about the other.

Where does your story influence your decisions? What part of your family history do you want to emulate? What part of your history do you hope not to repeat?

Understand that when you talk or even disagree about money, you are touching on the parts of the iceberg underneath the water. Get curious together about what is impacting each of you as you share.

Understand that when you talk or even disagree about money you are touching on the parts of the iceberg underneath the water.

Prioritize your bond.

If it’s never just about the money, what should be the focus of understanding each other’s stories? One of the emotional questions we are all asking—especially in our most important relationships—is: Can I trust you?

According to the therapy model developed by Dr. Terry Hargraves, we all want to know that we are safe in the world and more specifically, safe with one another. So if your money story holds places of anxiety or a history of worry—or if you or your partner’s behaviors with money cause anxiety for the other—understand it’s still not only about the money.

It is about knowing that you can count on the other person. It is about knowing you will have what you need to feel confident that you will be OK in this world. It’s about knowing that your partner will help this feeling, not threaten it.

It’s still not only about the money. It is about knowing that you can count on the other person.

So as you talk about money, ask each other what you need to feel like you are reasonably secure in the world. Ask each other what behaviors and choices help build confidence in your partner around the topic of money.

Merge your stories: Make a plan that fits you both.

Finally, you are a couple now, not just an individual. You are two stories merged into one. This can feel hard sometimes, but it can also be amazing.

Discuss together which part of each of your stories you want to carry forward in terms of money. Also, figure out which parts you want to do differently and where you hope to veer away from the habits of your parents and those who came before you. Define together what you hope your shared relationship with money will look like. You’re writing a new story together.

What story do you hope those who see you or come after you will learn from the way you interacted with money? What do you want to include, aim for or prioritize as a couple going forward?

Image via Frank Terry, Darling Issue No. 6

Darling Letters: On the Type of Leaders We Choose to Be

A woman seated on a chair with her hands pressed against her mouth

We are bringing “Darling Letters” from your inbox to the blog! We love the art of letter writing and believe it helps build authentic community. Our editors and contributors have thoughtfully written encouraging letters to cut through the busyness and speak straight to your heart.

In her novel “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” author J.K. Rowling wrote, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

Recently, on a hectic work day, I was reminded of these powerful words. As my email notifications pinged in the background, my stress levels piqued. Then, the moment happened. Someone on my team asked a question in an email chain about something that I had previously explained in detail, and I reacted instead of responding with patience. 

I reacted instead of responding with patience. 

I sent a quick and snippy, “Per my previous email…” You know that passive aggressive, easy response we send when we safely sit behind the comfort of our computer screens? She responded kindly with the necessary information, and instantly, I felt that little twinge in my heart say, “Oh shoot, I could have done better.”

The ball was in my court. I thought: What type of leader do I want to be? Will I be the person who is quick to apologize and who lifts up my team? Or will I be the prideful leader who is unrelenting and unwilling to show grace?

I knew what I wanted my answer to be. So I sent her a note thanking her for her hard work on the project and apologizing for being short with her in my previous email.

I’ve had my fair share of bad bossesinternship managers in NYC who sent me home crying, nonprofit leaders who micromanaged my every move and retail managers who made me carry all the weight. None of these are the type of leader or person I want to be. I want to roll up my sleeves and work side-by-side with my team. I want to champion them. I want to stay at the table to have the hard but necessary conversations for clarity. 

The measure of our leadership isn’t contingent upon how well we treat our superiors or those who have something to offer us. It’s based on how we treat our team, especially the ones who are a few steps behind us. Let’s roll up our sleeves and be leaders who lead from a place of humility and grace and watch how it transforms the workplace.

The measure of our leadership is based on how we treat our team, especially the ones who are a few steps behind us.

With hope,
Stephanie Taylor, Online Managing Editor

How would you describe your style of leadership? As leaders, how can we help foster healthy workplace culture?

Image via Ben Cope, Darling Issue No. 15

Here I Go Again: How To Stop Self-Sabotaging

A woman looking down as she walks with her hands in her pockets

We all have an image of what our ideal life looks like: successful, purpose-driven, balanced, content. So what’s preventing us from fulfilling that vision?

Well, if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer most likely will be: ourselves. We know what’s good for us and what we need to do to reach our goals, but oftentimes, self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors prevent us from stepping out toward that vision.   

Self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors prevent us from stepping out toward that vision.   

Some forms of self-sabotage are obvious, such as declining opportunities outside of one’s comfort zone or shortchanging relationships. Meanwhile, others are more subtle, such as procrastinating on projects or making little excuses for our shortcomings. 

For me, self-sabotage has recently manifested itself as fear of the future. After experiencing constant change and loss during the pandemic, I’ve been feeling as though I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This in turn has prevented me from appreciating all the beautiful blessings and happiness of the present moment and from fulfilling the vision I had for this season. 

According to my friend Britt Van Asbach, a mental health worker based in Wisconsin, the good thing about being able to recognize self-sabotaging in our lives is that it enables us to work to overcome it. No matter what self-sabotaging behavior we’re dealing with, acknowledging the incongruence between our goals and actions is the first step toward breaking the pattern.  

The good thing about being able to recognize self-sabotaging in our lives is that it enables us to work to overcome it.

Once we do acknowledge the issue, there are a few steps that we can take to transform our habits: 

1. Define the root cause.

Perhaps we’re afraid of the expectations other people have of us or we do not dare to dream for fear of being disappointed.  Whatever we might be experiencing, unless we understand what’s driving our self-sabotaging behavior, we’ll never be able to cultivate alternative habits or thought patterns to fill that void. 

Unless we understand what’s driving our self-sabotaging behavior, we’ll never be able to cultivate alternative habits or thought patterns to fill that void. 

2. Get support.

It is also important to not isolate. Find friends and mentors to talk with about your weaknesses, strengths and goals. This will provide you with both accountability and support. 

3. Engage in wellness activities.

It can also be helpful to do activities that switch your thoughts from self-sabotaging behaviors to positive things. This could be as simple as spending time in nature, cuddling a pet, seeing friends or volunteering. 

Last but not least, we must remember who we are. “We must know that even if we fail, our failures don’t define us,” Van Asbach writes. “We can fail at our goals over and over again; what’s important is that we pick ourselves back up and continue striving.”

Do you have any self-sabotaging habits? What emotions compel you toward that habit? How can you confront those feelings head on?

Image via Jack Belli, Darling Issue No. 17