Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to stop in today to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope that everyone gets a chance to spend the day with family, friends, and loved ones.  Eat too much, be lazy, and enjoy each others company.

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And to say I am incredibly thankful for all of you.  It has been so fun over these last several months (almost a year!) to make connections and meet new people through blogging, so thank you for stopping by!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Plaid Blanket Scarf

I don't know about you, but I am nearly always cold in the winter time.  I'm always wearing layers and adding things like scarfs and wraps to keep warm.  I'm not one typically to quickly jump on trends, but I am so glad I jumped on the plaid blanket scarf.  Do you have on in your collection yet?  I know I have seen them make appearances all over blog land.

Now I don't know if I can even say I jumped on the plaid blanket scarf, I just added mine to my collection a few weeks ago.  But I absolutely love it, and I have worn it nearly everyday since I bought it.

I'm not typically a plaid person, nor am I a red person.  I liked how the plaid looks on everyone else that I saw it on so I was determined to find one that worked for me this season.  I actually spotted this scarf on an earlier shopping trip, but it didn't come home with me.  As I shopped around it stuck with me and I went back for it a few weeks later.  When I first hit the store it was no where to be seen and I was worried I had missed out, but eventually I found it!

On a side note, if you do any shopping in the Chicago Suburbs, particularly at Woodfield Mall, there is this newerish (you know, kinda new, but not really) store called len.  That is where I found this goodie, it's more of a boutique style store, and it's the first one that they've opened outside of the Minneapolis area.  The best part is that nearly everything in the store is marked 50% off, and they are usually running a $10 off when you spend $50 or more promotion.  They have no idea who I am, I have just found some great pieces there and I like to spread the word.

Back to my new favorite scarf.  I'm in love with the mix of burgundy, green, and navy.  But I am more in love with the fact that not only can I wrap it around my neck and pair it with my winter coat.  I can also unfold it and wear it as a nice warm cozy shall to help keep me warm in this unseasonably early cold spell we seem to be having.  It truly is a blanket scarf.

I was unable to track down my exact scarf online, but here are a few other options I found on the web.  In case you are like me, and take a bit to jump onto the bandwagon.

Do you have a favorite cold weather accessory?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stocking Stuffers

Yes I am 31, and yes we still do Santa and have stockings to open on Christmas morning.  Growing up we always did family gifts on Christmas eve, and then Christmas morning was all about seeing what Santa brought in our stockings.  So far, the tradition has continued.  I love the holidays, and I love tradition, and I look forward to hopefully someday being able to pass along these traditions.

Since we will be diving into those Christmas stockings in just one short month from now, here are a few ideas that would make great stocking stuffers for any lady in your life.

Clockwise from top left
EOS Lip Balm Trio | Sephora Hair Ties| OPI Mini Set | World Market Glass Snowflake Mugs
Dagoba Drinking Chocoalte | World Market Candle | Sugar Paper for Target Planner
Looking for other stocking stuffer ideas, check out the link up below!

Friday, November 21, 2014

High Five For Friday

Happy Friday! I'm sure you've heard, but the weather in the Midwest had left a little to be desired as of late.  It has been absolutely freezing, to the point where all I want to do is be in cozy pj's and constantly be carrying around a warm mug of something.

I'm a little bit in denial the the holiday season seams to be in full swing already.  Not because I don't like the holidays, actually I really do.  But because I already feel behind on my shopping, aka I haven't started, and usually I don't feel that way until sometime after Thanksgiving.

So today I am sharing 5 things on my holiday wish list, checkout what I've got my eye on!

I love the idea of a nice camera strap.  It seems like it's a little fancy then my camera skills at the moment, but I have plans to upgrade those shortly!  I love the combination of the leather and the bright pink.  Bonus, this shoulder strap is customizable and you can choose from a variety of fonts to have it monogrammed, gotta love something monogrammed.

I came across these bangles the other day and just fell in love.  Both of these phrases spoke to me, they seemed like the mantra's I've been trying to work into my life this last year, and wearing them would be a nice reminder.  They also had them on charms, which were beautiful as well, I wouldn't discriminate!

Ever since we finished our bathroom remodel I look at baths as a nice treat.  My new tub is deep and perfect for soaking.  I love Lush bath products and am a fan of their bath bombs, but really any nice bath time products would be a good treat.

I have been wanting to try Caudalie for awhile now, and just haven't.  This little gift set seems like the perfect way, and I've heard great things about their nourishing lip balm.  I love all the little gift sets this time of year, especially Sephora's.  It's such a great way to give more pricier products a try, especially if you're like me and always like to be giving new things a try.

I really want to add one of these to my kitchen repertoire.  Although I'm dreading that it's another big kitchen item (where am I going to store this?)  I love the idea of being able to make noodles out of healthier options like zucchini and sweet potatoes.  I've heard that this version works so much better than the hand held version, so even if I have to store it in the guest bedroom closet, I'm more excited about what I can do with it!

Where are you with your gift shopping?  Are you like me, and not even started yet, or are you long finished?  (I'm super jealous of you if that is the case!)  My goal this weekend it to get my house (aka life) in order so I am ready to move into this holiday season full steam ahead.  I can't wait for some fun holiday traditions that are around the corner, like cookie day!  Happy weekend!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Everyday Warm Weather Essentials

Now that we've officially had our first ground covering snowfall, and here in Chicagoland the bitter cold has set in, it's time to break out my everyday warm weather essentials.  Last week I shared my indoor essentials for when I have no where to be and am doing things around the house.  Today's everyday essentials are what you can typically find me in on a weekend day running errands, hanging out, or if I have to be seen in front of other people (aka pajamas aren't acceptable).

My everyday essentials can be summed up as a tunic, leggings, and boots.  I love this uniform, not only is it so comfy, but it's such an easy go to and makes getting ready super simple.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Loft | Loft | Nordstroms
Nordstrom Rack | Nordstrom Rack | Victoria's Secret

Lately I have been on the hunt for comfy longer tops and sweaters that will pair well with leggings.  Loft has so many great options right now, especially from their Lou & Grey Line, I definitely will be snagging some of those up.  But I actually just came home with the two tops on the bottom left.  I love the feel of the Sweet Romeo sweater, it's super soft and the drape on the Lush tunic is super flattering.

Loft | Jessica Simpson Kiss Me Leggings | J.Crew Factory

Leggings are one of those things that can quickly go wrong if you haven't found the right pair.  Too many of them have the potential to be see through, or become see through in a few washes, or be so saggy after a few hours of wearing that they are no longer qualified as leggings.

I have found 2 go to pairs, I LOVE my Loft pair.  They are going into I think their third warm weather season and are still holding up well.  They are thick with a nice wide comfy elastic waist band.  They are not the leggings that come in a package wrapped up like tights (they have those too)  you will find these usually with the real pants, you will spend a little more on them, but they are so worth it.

My other favorite leggings are the Jessica Simpson Kiss me leggings.  These are more like real pants, with a button and zipper, but they have the perfect amount of stretch that allows them to be super comfortable without becoming saggy.  Their durability isn't as great as the Loft pair, I'm on my second pair of these, but clearly I loved them enough to go get another pair!

I have my eyes on adding something like the J.Crew pair to my wardrobe, I like the look of the faux leather accents.  I've seen them all over the place, so I'm sure you will find a pair in my closet shortly.

Booties | Snow Boots | Black Boots | Brown Boots

Why is it that I always feel more guilty adding more boots to my collection?  More so then when I buy shoes, is it because they take up more room?  These four boots are my staples during the warm weather months.  I just picked up these exact booties and snow boots and I love them both.  Depending on what pair you go with it can completely change the whole feel of the rest of the outfit.  I like that I can be running errands in my snow boots, come home and switch to something a little nicer like the booties and be ready to go out to dinner.

What are your everyday warm weather essentials?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching next week (seriously, next week?!)  I'm really trying to find ways to blend my focus for a healthier cleaner way of eating with my traditional Thanksgiving favorites.  I've found that for me eating more clean and focusing on whole foods, and staying away from gluten, dairy, and refined sugar makes me feel the best.  I feel more healthy, energized and more importantly less bloated and gross and just generally uncomfortable.

I have recently come to the conclusion that although that certain food may look super appetizing in the moment, it is just not worth the way it will make me feel in the long run.  A mindset that I learned last week during the PCOS Diva Jumpstart Program (that I really liked!) is approaching food with an I can eat whatever I want attitude, but I am choosing not to eat that right now.  It feels way less restrictive, and way more empowering.

I have put together a few healthier alternatives to some of my Thanksgiving table favorites, aside from the Turkey, because that's just a given (and I'm never in charge of that!).

Something that is always a must at our Thanksgiving table is the traditional Green Been Casserole.  I was excited to stumble upon this from scratch recipe from The Detoxonista.  The Detoxonista is one of my favorites go to places for easy recipes that fit within my currently dietary wishes, she has so many great recipes!

Clean Green Bean Casserole

Side dishes are big at Thanksgiving.  I'm convinced that's why we leave the table stuffed, just way too much stuff to eat!  Aside from our Green Bean Casserole we usually have some sort of potatoes.  Everybody is my family has different preferences for what kind of potatoes they would pick for Thanksgiving, if it was up to me it would be sweet potatoes all the way.  This recipe sounds great with the flavors of honey and cinnamon it almost sounds like a dessert. 

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes

 But if more traditional mashed potatoes are up your alley, you could always substitute it with some mashed cauliflower, which is actually quite tasty and helps you to avoid all those extra starches.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash

Another staple that is always on our Holiday table is Cranberry Sauce.  We've always made it from scratch, but usually it consists of a bag of cranberries boiled with tons of white refined sugar.  I'm loving this recipe I found because in place of the sugar it uses maple syrup to cut the bitterness of the berries.

Spiced Cranberry Sauce
No good meal is complete without some sort of good bread, and honestly that is the one thing that I have missed the most.  I have been gluten free for a year and a half, and I've been just craving a warm crusty piece of bread with some soft melted butter on it.  I was excited to find this simple recipe for Paleo Dinner Rolls, hopefully this will satisfy my craving!

Paleo Dinner Rolls
No good Holiday meal is complete without a selection of a few good desserts.  Ok lets be honest, no meal at all is complete without dessert.  I have an undying sweet tooth, and all of these delicious treats would fit the bill for me.  Of course you need a good ole Pumpkin Pie.

Pumpkin Pie

Or you could go the route of these super yummy looking Pumpkin bars, the frosting looks delicious and they are 100% grain free.

Grain Free Pumpkin Bars
Though if you want to try something different you could go for this Clean Eating Pumpkin Ice cream, it may even make a great accompaniment to the next dessert.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Though I know at some tables the pecan pie is a staple, it has never been one at ours.  But I'm a sucker for those mini one bite pecan pies, someone is always bound to bring them into work.  These No Bake Pecan Pie Bars sounds like a great alternative.

No Bake Pecan Pie Bars

Martin and I will be traveling to his family for Thanksgiving this year, but I still plan on trying out each of these recipes back at home for us, because you can't go wrong with food like this this time of year.  And if it's the clean eating version, all the more reason to indulge!

Do you have anything special planned for your Thanksgiving Table this year?

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Holiday Linkup

Friday, November 14, 2014

High Five For Friday

I am SO looking forwarding to this weekend, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am.  Due to event after event at work I haven't had my normal weekend in what seems like way too long, and this is my weekend to catch up on life!

On a side note, can we talk about how it turned into winter this week.  Not like it kinda started to get cold and winter is around the corner, but like break out your winter boots, down coat, and gloves kinda cold.  This is so not right in more ways than I can count.  I am not ready for this!  Ok, end of complaining.

Now I've mentioned a few times that this week I under took the PCOS Diva's Jumpstart Program this week.  Today is day 5, of 7 and I am going to share 5 things I have learned along the way, at least so far.

1.  I miss my morning coffee more than anything.  Not the caffeine, more so the actual warm goodness of my coffee and cream.  This week we've had to start off every morning with a cup of hot water with lemon.  Just not the same, but it's supposed to help in waking up the digestive system.  I've also been drinking tea, and I'm trying to become a tea person, I just haven't quite gotten there yet.

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2.  Meal planning is a necessity for me.  This week had all of the meals planned out, every single one.  With recipes, and a shopping list.  I have never jumped on the meal planning band wagon, and it's high time that I did.  Without it I have haphazard trips to the grocery store and all I end up coming home with are the staples, and then in turn I end up eating out way more then I wanted to.  This week we learned about having our staple go to's for breakfast and lunch, making it quick and easy, and then changing it up for dinner.  Do you already meal plan?  Do you have a great method?  Here are some printables that will hopefully help me get started!

3.  Speaking of meal planning, I discovered this week that with my schedule if I try to cook meals as I go along each day of the week it is way to overwhelming for me.  I have about an hour in the morning where I've been trying to cram in all my cooking and I have felt like I end up running behind everyday this week and have no time to get anything else done.  So in my quest to take on menu planning, I also plan to do the majority of my cooking for the week on Sunday's and Monday's when I am off of work so I don't feel so crazy rushed throughout the week.  I'm sure it doesn't help that I eat both lunch and dinner away from home, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

4.  My body needs some sort of cardio workout at minimum 4 days a week to keep it happy.  The more days the better.  Because I have a hard time with my blood sugar and hormone levels due to do PCOS, exercising regularly helps keep both of those things in check, and I can feel it so much when I don't keep it up regularly.  Not only do I just generally kinda feel like crap, but it also affects my mood and general outlook.  It's hard for me because I am on my feet moving all day, but that is what my body is used to, so I really have to hold myself accountable to incorporate more intense workout sessions into my mornings.  This week they really focused on the concept of movement, versus working out  which I feel has a much more positive connotation.  Working out tends to feel like more of a chore, though I actually do really enjoy it, I feel like I always have to squeeze it in and don't have all the time for it that I really would like to have.

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5.  I can do this.  I have had plenty of those days of anger and frustration.  Why can't my body just function normally, why can't I just eat whatever I want.  I have discovered that a lot of the anxiety I have dealt with over the years is a symptom of  my PCOS, and knowing that I have the power to control that and how I feel and my over all health and well being by choosing what I put into my body and how I treat my body is very powerful.  I'm glad I invested in myself this week, if nothing more than realizing I can do this and it isn't that hard, I just have to make a conscious choice to live this way.

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Happy happy happy weekend to all!  Here is to a weekend of relaxing, enjoying, regaining the hold on life, and meal planning!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reclaim Your Awesome

This week I have been partaking in the PCOS Diva's Jump start Program.  Not only is it a series of meal plans to help get my body feeling as healthy as possible, it is also a series of exercises to help your mind be in the best place possible.

One of yesterday's exercises really struck a cord with me.  The exercise was this;
Reclaim your awesome, reconnect with the little girl in you.  That little girl was open to the world, she was "full of awesome".

It's amazing how much our own self talk pushes our mind into a certain state.  For me this tied into a meeting I had a few weeks ago while at a training seminar.   We were focusing a lot on positive and negative self talk.  We had to make lists for each one and not surprisingly, at least to me, it was a lot harder to write down my positive self beliefs, while it was easy to fill the page with the negative.  That seemed to be the general consensus in the room.

But then we had to take our negative statements and transform them into positive beliefs.  For example if I had said "I can easily get too emotional", my transformed statement would be something like "I invest my feelings to the extreme because I care so much and am very passionate".  To me, that project is just another example of reclaiming your awesome.

If you were talking to yourself as a little girl what hopes, dreams, and wishes would you have for her?  Why is it that we are mostly surrounded with not enough's, or I wish I was, or only if's?  What if we changed that to I did, I am, and I can.

I strive to keep a positive outlook, not that I am perfect at it 100% of the time, but I know how much that it can impact everything in life.  I realize now, for me, it's hardest to keep that when looking back at myself.  The line that really set in was, "Would you ever speak to that little girl the way you're speaking to yourself right now?"

So break out your footie pajamas and reclaim your awesome!  It's about time!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Warm Weather Favorites: Indoor

It's that time of year where the chill has officially set in the air.  No more going outside without a jacket, and for me that also means my indoor uniform has changed.

When I refer to my indoor uniform, I'm talking about what I can typically be found sporting around the house.  Because if I don't have to be at work, or out and about, I'm all about being as warm and comfy as possible.

Today I've rounded up my indoor warm weather favorites.

Robe | Throw | Top | Pants
Socks | Slippers | Mug | Hot Chocolate

When I'm at home some super comfy lounge clothes are always in order, those are the foundation of any great warm weather outfit.  Layer on top of that some fuzzy socks, and if it's extra chilly a plush robe.

This time of year I wear my slippers everywhere in the house.  I've had these exact slippers for the last few years and I love them.  I have gone through a few pairs, and I'm sure when they wear out I will get another.  I love that they are soft and fuzzy, but they have a real sole on them so I'm not sliding all over the place like I would otherwise.

If I am sitting down you can for sure find me under a blanket, those super soft fuzzy ones are my absolute favorite.  That pretty much goes for me year round, though this time of year you can typically find me cuddle under not one, but usually many blankets.

Another staple this time of year, a great mug with a warm beverage inside.  You can never go wrong with hot chocolate, it's perfect for those cold dreary days like we are having today!

Do you have any warm weather favorites?

Friday, November 7, 2014

High Five For Friday

Is it bad that I wanted to title this post "Thank God it's Friday", for some reason that didn't seem quite appropriate.  But that is exactly how I feel.  I would feel even better if it was Friday and that meant a weekend was coming, but I won't quite be there until Monday.  It's just that time of year where it goes right from one thing into the next.  I'm just trying to keep Dory's mantra running through my head, Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. . .

While I'm still afloat here are a few moments from this past week.

1|  While I was in Vegas I had the chance to participate in a company wide teaching competition.  I had made it through 3 previous rounds of the competition to be part of the team that represented the Midwest.  Our team kicked some butt and took home 2nd place in the competition, which we were all really excited about!

2|  Our flight didn't leave until late on Sunday so with some time to kill our boss took us to Chinatown for a bite to eat.  Did you know Vegas had a Chinatown?  I didn't.  We ate at this place called Hot N Juicy where you buy seafood by the pound, it comes to your table in a plastic bag dripping with sauce and spices, and you go to work with your hands peeling and shucking and eating.  It was pretty messy, but also pretty good.  It's one of those meals where you're not sure if you burned more calories trying to eat the food than you actually ended up eating.  

3|  As much fun as traveling is, there is nothing like coming home.  One thing I like about flying into Chicago is that they always circle out over the lake to make their landing at O'hare and it's just so pretty and majestic at night with all the lights.

4|  This week I signed up for an online program I found to help get a manage on my PCOS.  I'm super excited to give this a try in hoping to have a way through diet and exercise to help regulate all of the symptoms and effects that I get from having PCOS.  Just being recently diagnosed this last year it's been a big learning curve figuring out what is all apart of this, and I hope that this is going to start to help me feel like I am more in control of my PCOS and how I am feeling.

5|  A few weeks back I had ordered my starter kit from Young Living Essential Oils after attending a session one of my friends held.  I received my kit and have been diffusing different oils every morning and evening.  I don't know much about them yet, but I am excited for the potential that they have.  I like the idea that you can use something natural to help remedy something before jumping right to the medicine cabinet.  I am looking forward to learning more about them and how I can best use them.

And as a bonus, because why not, here is how I found Max when I was on my way out the door the other day.  You know, just chilling in a basket.  I walked right by and totally did not expect to see him in there, he caught me off guard!

Here's to Friday, have a good weekend, whatever it may bring.  And remember, just keep swimming!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Bars

If there is one thing that can make anything better that is salted caramel.  That combination of salty and sweet, it's just perfection.  This fall treat has just that.

I discovered these bars last fall.  Thanksgiving was around the corner, and it was my first fall with a gluten free diet.  And well, you just don't do fall and Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie.  Now I could just make a gluten free pumpkin pie, but when you come across gluten free Salted Caramel Pumpkin Bars that just sounds a million times better.

What I like most about these bars it that they are made with almond meal (or almond flour) which helps to pack them with protein, making them a filling treat.  Side note, I was able to find almond meal/flour at Trader Joe's for $4.99 a bag, where as everywhere else it was nearly $8 a bag, so keep your eyes open!

Gluten Free Salted Caramel Pumpkin Bars

For the Bars:
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8x8 baking pan.  In a large bowl whisk together all of the ingredients.  Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until the bars are cooked through.  Remove and cool.  While the bars are cooling prepare the frosting.

For the Frosting:
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Using a mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and milk.  Spread over cooled bars. Drizzle bars with caramel, and then sprinkle with sea salt.

There you have an easy and super tasty Thanksgiving dessert.  I even made these for my family last Thanksgiving, and kept my mouth shut that they were gluten free, and packed with protein, (because then for some reason everyone automatically assumes they are going to be gross) and everybody loved them.  Enjoy!

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