Archives for December 2013

#16 Treat Yourself Tuesday

Happy New Year’s Eve! What are your plans for the evening? Kyle and I are going on a Lake Michigan dinner cruise with friends to celebrate the New Year – I can’t wait to tell you all about it and to show you my dress!

Since it is Tuesday {albeit a Tuesday that falls on a holiday}, I have decided to deem this Treat Yourself Tuesday as the “how others treated YOU” holiday edition because sometimes it is nice to be spoiled by those in our lives :)

Treat Yourself Tuesday Badge

If you’re new to TYT, head over here to read about why I am a firm supporter and advocate for treating ourselves – even in the smallest of ways – everyday! I promise you will fall in love with the idea and once you do, please link up below :)

So what did I get for Christmas?

I already showed you what I got from Kyle – he’s so good with gifts!

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We also booked our “spring break” to Jamaica over the weekend!!! To say I’m mildly excited would be an understatement ;) We worked with a travel agent (Travel Made Real) for the first time and the entire experience was amazing. We (and by we, I mean Kyle) are picky travelers and TMR was able to satisfy each of our requests AND – from what we looked at while attempting to book the trip ourselves – TMR also saved us at least $1000. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Do you know how many purses and pairs of shoes I can buy with that kinda money?! ;)

Bob Views

Photo from our trip to Puerto Rico last March!

Anyways, we’re pumped about Jamaica and it will be a great Christmas present to ourselves.

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Both Kyle and I were spoiled this year and received lots of gifts from our parents so I’m not going to list them all out here, just the big ones.

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We got a tagine, a tagine cookbook and spices from my dad – it’s like an African/Middle Eastern slow cooker and is definitely unique! Kyle loves cooking unique recipes and he has already made a tagine Moroccan lamb and vegetable stew.

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From my mom and sister, I got a few new books (one of my resolutions for 2014 is to read more!), a new tote bag, lots of jewelry from Stella & Dot and Erin McDermott, giftcards (yay for Starbucks and Lululemon!) and makeup.

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We told everyone that we didn’t want anything large because we live in a tiny apartment and Kyle’s mom and grandparents did an awesome job on finding gifts that fit that description! His grandparents gave us a membership to the Chicago Architecture Foundation that provides tours in and around Chicago – we can’t wait to check out our new city once it warms up a bit :)

Kyle’s mom gave us a gift card for a few cooking classes at a nearby restaurant, an IOU for brunch and stainless steel “ice” cubes that won’t water a drink down <– great for white wine that you forgot to put in the fridge!

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And since it is called Treat Yourself Tuesday, I can’t do an entire post about telling you how I treated myself over Christmas “break.” On Christmas Eve, I treated myself to a deep-tissue massage! It was needed in a bad way – my shoulders and upper back were so tense – and it was a great way to relax over a stressful holiday season.

How did others treat you over your holiday break? How did you treat yourself over Christmas?

Gingerbread French Toast Bake

Yes, I am aware that Christmas is now over.

And yes, I realize that the recipe I am sharing with y’all today involves a food typically only consumed during the holidays – gingerbread.

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Some say gingerbread should be reserved only for the holidays. I say, fight the status quo, be a rebel and devour some delicious bread of the ginger variety well into the new year!

Who’s with me?!

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As I mentioned last week, Kyle and I woke up on Christmas morning in our own bed – a first for us! Since both of our families always make a family breakfast on Christmas morning, I knew I needed to plan something for our first Christmas at home.

Because we both love French toast and because I recently discovered my love of gingerbread (and I saw many gingerbread French toast varieties floating around Pinterest this holiday season…), my decision of what to make was easy.

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Gingerbread French Toast Bake

This recipe has the essence of French toast – thick, soft and sweet bread, combined with the flavor of our favorite holiday cookie, gingerbread!

What makes this French toast even better is that it is prepared the evening before, leaving you plenty of time to tear into your Christmas gifts under the tree… err… sip on your cup of coffee like a civilized adult while your pan of bread bakes into a decadent, ginger-infused breakfast feast!

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Whether you’re already planning for Christmas 2014 (who’s with me?!), are planning ahead for the morning after New Year’s Eve (because we will all need a hefty breakfast that morning… #amiright?) or are looking for an easy Sunday brunch recipe for a date with your girlfriends, this Gingerbread French Toast Bake is the answer.

For the recipe, I am going to direct you Averie’s way. The only thing I changed when making this recipe for Christmas morning was doubling the gingerbread-egg mixture that is poured over the bread.

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It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s the next best thing to a gingerbread cookie and most importantly, it’s almost as if you’re eating dessert for breakfast. And that, my friends, is what I like to call perfection.

What is your take – gingerbread after the holidays, yay or nay? What do you serve for breakfast on Christmas morning or New Year’s morning or for a brunch with your girlfriends?

Perspective

Awhile back I wrote a post about attitude – about how your attitude greatly impacts your view of the world and your circumstances.

Choose joy. #quotes

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On Friday I had an experience that made me recall that post and how important perspective is each and every day. And today, I’m going to share it with you because sometimes, especially during the crazy, stressful holiday season, we all need a little reminder about how good we have it.

On Friday morning I made a quick stop at the post office in downtown Chicago. This post office is always crazy busy and the line is always outrageously long but it is close to my office so I deal with it.

Helen Keller

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When I walked in the door I was excited to see a super short line because that meant I could get to my Starbucks sooner ;) Right as I was about to jump in line, an older man stepped right in front of me from the other direction. I wasn’t upset and honestly didn’t even notice until he apologized after he realized he had cut in line.

He offered to let me ahead of him to which I refused saying something along the lines of: “No, that’s okay, I don’t want to go back to work. I’d rather stand in line.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth he gasped and looked at me with wide eyes.

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“Ma’am, don’t say that,” he said, “You should want to go back to work. Do you know there are many, many people your age that would love to have your job or any job for that matter? Do you know how high the unemployment rates are in Chicago?”

I laughed it off because I didn’t really have a response… actually, that’s a lie, I had a response but it was along the lines of: “Damn it, why do you have to be right?” but I didn’t feel like that was an appropriate answer.

My encounter had me thinking, however, all day long.

"She decided to schedule some time each day to be overwhelmed y the sheer amazingness of it all." :: sheer amazingness 8x10 print by pinwheeldesigns on Etsy

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This man, as far as I could tell from his accent, was not originally from the United States and I can only imagine how difficult his life was before making the journey to a better life.

And there I was, saying that I would rather stand in a post office line than be at work.

Sigh.

Courage, Humor, & Grace. Love this.

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Oftentimes we take so much of what we have for granted.

A job. A family. A roof over our heads. Clean water. Food. Freedom of religion. Access to education. 

Rather than appreciating what we do have in life, we complain about what we don’t have or about what is wrong with our job or our house or our lives.

A simple life.

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Leading into 2014, instead of focusing on the negative, let’s focus on the positive.

I challenge you to make a list of all of the things that you are thankful for in your life. It might just change your perspective.

Tell me something you oftentimes take for granted.

A Healthy Way to Ring In 2014!

As well all know, New Year’s celebrations often involve parties full of friends and sparkly dresses and cocktails – you can’t forget the cocktails on NYE!

With many of us resolving to be a healthier version of ourselves in 2014, Vita Frute has a great option that will allow you to ring in 2014 in a healthier way!

Vita Frute Cocktails by VeeV – The first line of organic and all-natural ready-to-drink cocktails.

vita frute

 

Vita Frute sent me a bottle of their Cosmopolitan cocktail mix and I must say that I was impressed!

I am not a fan of overly sweet cocktails – they make my stomach hurt! – and the Cosmopolitan mix contains the perfect amount of sweetness and has a fabulous flavor. The mix is also organic and contains 125 calories per serving.

One warning though, the drinks are STRONG!! Even Kyle agreed ;) If you want something a bit less strong (you do need to stay awake until midnight, remember!), I think Vita Frute would taste perfect mixed with soda water.

Along with their healthy cocktails, Vita Frute is currently offering a 2014 New Year fitness special! You can save $25 on any gym membership when you purchase two of their bottles.

Drink healthy, organic cocktails and workout for less – sounds like a plan I could get down with ;)

What are your plans for NYE? How are you planning on staying healthy in 2014?

*Disclaimer: Vita Frute provided me with a bottle of their Cosmopolitan cocktail. All opinions expressed are my own.*

Oysters, A Pool Table, Eataly and PRESENTS – A Christmas Break Recap!

TGIF!! Man, it was a long week ;)

Before I get into the recap of my Christmas break, I want to share with y’all how productive my day was yesterday!

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Besides doing about 5 minutes of actual work, I completed the following tasks:

  • Mid-morning Starbucks break
  • Target Run
  • Sephora Run
  • Ulta Run
  • Lunch at Native Foods Cafe
  • Addressed and mailed thank-you notes
  • Balanced my checkbook/Paid bills
  • Booked NYE Lake Michigan Dinner Cruise tickets!!
  • Rented a NYE Dress from Rent the Runway (Fingers crossed it works out!)

Phew – all in a days work! ;) Tell me again why all businesses are not closed between Christmas and New Years Day?

Now to fill you all in on my Christmas travels and activities!

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Last Friday, Kyle and I packed up the car and headed to Ames, Iowa where both of my parents live and also where we went to college (Go Cyclones!). The roads were a bit icy and Starbucks was needed for me to keep from screaming at Kyle to slow down sane :)

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Mitchell’s face says it all – Are we there yet??!

We arrived at my dad’s house around 2pm and quickly took some time to rehydrate (does anyone else get dehydrated while driving?!), unpack and enjoy some snacks before it was time for wine.

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Wine is always needed after a long road trip.

We played a few games of pool on his new pool table and enjoyed a dinner of chili and oyster stew (Christmas Eve traditions in my family) and presents, of course!

Mitchell Collage

Mitchell was spoiled with an extra large treat and a furby-esque toy that lasted approximately 5 minutes before he ripped the toy apart to get to the squeaker ;)

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The next morning Kyle and I lounged around before heading over to my mom’s house. We dropped Mitchell off (where he conveniently got ANOTHER treat – spoiled granddog!!) and then ran a few errands to finish up some last-minute Christmas shopping.

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We decided to check out a new Italian restaurant in Ames – +39 Restaurant, for lunch! It’s delicious and if you ever find yourself in Ames, I highly recommend it. As a side note, it was named after the country code required to dial into Italy (+39) and is owned by some very fashionable Italian men (in case you needed another reason to eat Italian!)

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Later in the day, my sister and her husband arrived from Colorado and we all spent some time catching up and watching SNL before crashing for the night.

Sunday morning was CHRISTMAS (for us celebrating early)!!!!! My sister and I have a long-standing tradition of running to the tree and ripping open presents as quickly as we can get our hands on them… We’ve slowed down a bit through the years but can still open presents at the speed of light. Talent, I tell ya ;)

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I’ll share my goodies with y’all on Tuesday but here’s a sneak peak of the perfect bag for me. Treat Yourself via Kate Spade :)

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For dinner we had steak with mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and my favorite cranberry salad and a major cheesy-spinach fail by me. So so pretty but so so icky – I was hoping to share the recipe with you but it would make you gag so I’ll refrain…

We woke up bright and early Monday morning and met my dad for breakfast at The Cafe before the drive back to Chicago. (If you visit Ames, you cannot skip The Cafe. Seriously the best food in Iowa!) I ordered oatmeal and coffee – stereotypical HLB ;)

Breakfast Collage

On Monday evening, after a good workout and a nap, Kyle and I decided to check out Eataly! Holy mother of Nutella and all things Italian – I could dedicate an entire MONTH of posts to this blessed place. Two floors of foodie and wino heaven.

But since I do not have a month to devote to such a thing, first things first… When we entered the building, I turned to my right and saw this:

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NUTELLA!!! I instinctively looked at Kyle with huge eyes and then took off in the direction of the Nutella alter.

Wine Eataly Collage

The first floor of Eataly is comprised of getalo and Nutella and sweets and produce and cooking accessories (utensils, cookbooks, plates, etc.) while the second floor contains wine (oh the wine!) and beer and meat/seafood counters and fresh pasta and restaurants galore.

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Surprisingly, we made it out with only buying a glass of wine and two “natural” Nutella treats!

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The next person to visit me here in Chicago is getting taken to Eataly whether they like it or not. All I gotta say is that it is a good thing my gym is on the walk home from Eataly ;)

Eataly Collage

Eataly was a bit crazy when we were there so we decided to eat elsewhere (I know…). We first stopped at Pops for Champagne (adorable champagne bar!) and then went to Quartino for pizza and pasta.

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On Tuesday came Christmas Eve and final Christmas present wrapping for Kyle and I. We caught up on things around the apartment (laundry, dishes, cleaning – super exciting…), I went to an impossibly hard core class at the gym which was followed by a much needed massage, and then Kyle and I decided to visit one of the local dive bars that was open for a late lunch and a beer.

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The rest of the evening was spent watching a marathon of Christmas movies, making homemade vanilla and gingerbread cookies and eating frozen pizza for dinner at 9pm (we’re classy and had no other options in the apartment).

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When I woke up the next morning, IT WAS CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!! After yelling at Kyle to get out of the shower (Because who showers on Christmas morning, for real!), we ripped into our gifts! I was spoiled – per usual – and got a new chalkboard, a new watch and new boots. Plus, we’re planning a tropical island vacation (with the help of Travel Made Real) for February that is part of both of our gifts :)

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I gave Kyle a new coat (in gray, not crazy striped!), a sweater and another gift that Amazon lost in transport that should be arriving today!

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Mitchell inherited my love of ripping open presents and excitedly helped us on Christmas morning! (Have you seen my Christmas morning video of him on Instagram?!)

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Later in the morning, after enjoying a new-to-us Christmas-themed French toast bake (recipe coming Monday!), Kyle and I drove north to visit his mom, brother and sister and grandparents for Christmas Day. There were mimosas and chips ‘n’ guac and presents and a fire in the fireplace – a perfect setting for Christmas!

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And that’s a wrap! (No pun intended – haha!)

What did you do on your holiday break? Have you been more productive than I have been at work the past few days?

Confessions, Part IV

Merry {day after} Christmas!

That’s a thing, right? No…?

I hope all of you had a fabulous Christmas and I can’t wait to share the fun I had on my “break” with y’all tomorrow and my Christmas treats with you next Tuesday! FYI, I am deeming next Tuesday’s TYT as the Christmas treat me edition because sometimes it is nice to be spoiled by others :)

Thinking-Out-Loud

Regardless, in the spirit of the holidays, I have another confessions post here for you today for Amanda’s Thinking Out Loud series! It’s much less serious than last week so get ready for some fun and juicy confessions ;)

Confession: This was the first Christmas that Kyle and I woke up on Christmas morning in our home, in our own bed. All of the previous years we have been together have been spent at one of our parents’ houses. It was kinda weird but also kinda nice. {See confession below.}

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Confession: Kyle and I have VASTLY different views of how Christmas morning should happen. My view (The correct view in case you were curious): Jump out of bed as soon as your eyes open (oftentimes this is around 5am…) and rip open ALL of the presents as quickly as possible. Then follow-up the paper massacre with a homemade breakfast while sipping on coffee and playing with your new toys. His view: Leisurely lie around until you feel like getting up which is then followed by a shower and making coffee before even glancing in the direction of the tree. <– This may have caused me to break into the bathroom and tell him to get out of the shower ASAP because there are much more important things than being clean on Christmas morning.

Mitchell Christmas Morning

Seriously though, who showers on Christmas morning??!?!?! Not me as you can tell by the above photo!

Confession: Let’s talk positions… SLEEPING positions, who do ya think I am?! Ahem, anyways… sleeping… I used to think I didn’t have a favorite way to sleep – stomach, back, side – I like ’em all! (#TWSS) But recently I have realized that I like to sleep like a leaping leprechaun. Yep, you read that right. I sleep on my stomach with one leg (I’m not particular) bent up as high it’ll go and the other leg straight with my arms up under my pillow. Maybe this is why I take up 3/4 of the bed…….

Confession: I’m obsessed – like I might have a problem, obsessed – with Instagram. Phew! I must say that I feel about 1000x better getting my obsession problem addiction out in the open ;) Oh wait, you already knew about this problem of mine?

Instagram

Confession: If we were to hold a blogger look-alike contest, I think Mia and I would win. For real, check out my totally normal blogger bathroom selfie below and then check out her blog. Twins, I tell ya! Now if I could only get her to do my makeup on a daily basis… ;)

Pops for Champagne

Confession: I don’t actually mind the snow that much. *gasp!* A few months of it can get old, yes, but I like that it gives me a reason to be lazy relax and not feel like I need to be going a mile per minute. In the summer I always want to be outside enjoying all that Chicago has to offer so it is really nice to sit back, catch up on sleep and kick my feet up for a few months each year.

Your turn! Tell me a holiday confession ;)

What blogger do you think you look most like? Are you patient when it comes to presents or do you need them all RIGHT now?

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

By: Clement Clarke Moore; Edited, non-rhyming version by ONW :)

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Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the tiny Chicago apartment
Not a creature was stirring, not even Mitchell Man.
The Norfolk Island Pine was set by the window with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

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Mitchell was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of treats and car rides danced in his head.
And Kyle in his Bear’s jersey, and I in my sock monkey onsie,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.

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When out on the Sears Tower there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash (because it is only two steps, not because I am fast),
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

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The red and green city lights on the breast of the parking lot snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than the Chicago winds they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the building! To the top of the city!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up over Chicago the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and wine and gallons of Nutella, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the deck
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was setting my wine glass down,
In through the window St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with smog and dirty snow.
A bundle of wine he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a wino, just arriving home from Napa.

His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of Nutella!

He was perfect and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled the wine rack, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, out the window he flew!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us here at the ONW household!

Christmas Recipe Collection

TWO days until Christmas! TWO!!!

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Is anyone else as excited as I am?!?

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, I’ve put together a collection of recipes for your Christmas dinners, errr… rather Christmas desserts ;)

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This array of Christmas treats – both savory and sweet – are perfect for parties, family dinners or that random night home alone when you just need a piece of chocolate, or five.

  1. Baked Brie with Fig Preserves
  2. Biscoff Chip Cookies
  3. Peanut Butter-Chocolate Swirl Fudge
  4. Chocolate Chip Birthday Cookies
  5. Chocolate Chip Cookies Dough Cheesecake Bars
  6. Grandma’s Cheeseball
  7. Monster Cookie Cupcakes
  8. Reese’s Cheesecake Brownies
  9. Peanut Butter Blossoms
  10. Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
  11. Chocolate-Dipped Quinoa Coconut Bars
  12. Pumpkin-Nutella Bars

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Of course, if none of the above look appealing to you (you’re crazy have immense amounts of self-control…), you can always try my Reese’s Peanut Butter Bark or S’mores Cookie Dough Bars or Salted Peanut Butter & Fudge Brownies or SWAT Treats or Triple Chocolate Nutella Bites

Or, you could just check out my recipe page above!

What are you making for your Christmas dinner? Do you have a favorite treat to bring to Christmas parties?

 

 

2014 New Year’s Challenge

As you all know – especially if you read my post last week, I am NOT one for diets. I’m about eating a balanced diet that is right for your body and lifestyle. Because I’m not about diets, I’m also not about cleanses (remember my failed attempt at a juice cleanse earlier this year?!). I am, however, all for lifestyle changes, changes that make you feel better, look better and let you perform at your highest level.

Many of us HLB-ers have heard about Advocare and I am no exception. To be quite honest, I have been wanting to try it out for quite some time but I was scared and had many questions.

What is exactly in the products? Is it a diet? How expensive is it? Does it go against my avoidance of “fad” diets and quick fixers?

Well, as luck would have it, Lauren reached out to me last week about joining her 2014 New Year 24-Day Advocare Challenge. At first I was skeptical but I did my research as well as asked Lauren approximately 5 million questions (thanks for answering all of them, Lauren!!). Also, many of the bloggers that I know and trust swear by Advocare.

So, it is official, I’m joining Lauren’s 24 Day Challenge beginning January 6th! I love this “challenge” because it isn’t really a challenge or a diet at all. The products are important, yes, but it is more about the healthy food you are putting into your body. And while I’m going to strive to meet all of the goals and dietary suggestions, my birthday does fall on January 26th so I am planning on at least one glass of wine ;) It is all about balance, right?

And, because I know some of you are definitely interested in Advocare, I did a little Q&A with Lauren about herself, Advocare and the 24-Day Challenge!

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hi everyone! I’m originally an East Coaster who is now living in Southern California with my two, young, crazy boys and my handsome hubby.  I worked in Interior design for many years, then put my business on hold to be home with the kiddos.  You can now find me chasing my boys, crafting, cooking, exercising, throwing parties, and blogging about it all.

2. How did you find out about the Advocare 24 Day Challenge?

Exactly one year ago I was OVER IT!! I hated that my favorite pair of jeans were still maternity jeans (yes this was a whole year after my second son was born…I just loved that thick stretchy band lol).  I was tired, eating my feelings, and totally unmotivated to get my butt to the gym.  The kids were my excuse…they are my excuse for everything!  I made it my goal to pull a total 180 in 2013, but didn’t have a plan yet.  Then I saw my friends results with the 24 Day Challenge on her Instagram account, stopped dead in my tracks, asked her about it and was sold!

3. What exactly is the 24 Day Challenge?

The 24DC is a two part program that typically results in an 8-15lbs weight loss, and a whole lot of energy.    The first 10 days is a gentle cleanse (don’t worry you get to eat…5x a day actually), and the next 14 days is the max phase that is loaded with awesome supplements for core nutrition, calorie burning, appetite control and energy.  You pair the supplements with a very healthy and balanced clean eating regimen and viola…you have awesome results!  The cool part is it’s not a diet (I hate diets!)…it’s a bad habit breaker and a jumpstart.  While the results in the 24 days can be quite shocking, the changes it makes beyond the 24 days is what really matters.  I always say it’s sustainable…that’s why it works at being the lifestyle change many people are looking for.

4. In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of starting the 24 Day Challenge?

Buying it!  It’s one of those things that once you bite the bullet you have officially made the commitment to making some big changes.  Not everyone is ready to do this for themselves.  I thought I wasn’t ready at certain points in my life, but I know now I was just holding myself back because I was afraid of “failing” and letting myself down.  I’m so glad I finally made the mental shift to do this favor for myself and for my family.  And yeah, I’m not going to lie…not drinking wine for 24 days was not very fun (you do know why I love Becky’s blog so much right? Total wine-o over here), but the best part is the 24 days is the challenge….past that it’s all about moderation and you bet I indulge in my favorite things now!

5. How would you compare your pre-Advocare self to your post-Advocare self?

Well aside from my 30 lbs weight loss and my husband’s 50+ lbs weight loss, we are the most fit and most active either of us have ever been in our lives.  I never played sports growing up (I was more into art), I dreaded Phys Ed class, hated running with a passion, and was definitely always picked last for any kind of team sport.  I have always associated being active with being embarrassed because I wasn’t any good at it, and was always the chubby kid.  Let’s just say in 3 months on Advocare I went from not being able to run a mile (walked most of it), to placing first in my age division for my first ever 5k race, and 3 months after that ran my first ever half marathon with over 12,000 runners and place in the top 5% of women.  It honestly boggles my mind the difference that has been made in such a short amount of time.

Advocare before & after 1

Lauren pre-challenge (left) and 2 weeks into the challenge (right).

Advocare 6 month progression

Lauren 6 month progression photos.

5. If ONW readers are interested, how can they participate in the 24 Day Challenge?

When I did the 24DC a year ago I did it alone.  I obviously had success with it and loved it, but I remember thinking how fun it would have been to do with others (especially since all my friends were off drinking wine without me!).  So I started a Facebook group for friends, family, and my internet pals to gather for support, recipes, workout ideas and just a whole bunch of encouragement.  This group has since grown to about 200 members and starting January 6th we are all kicking off the New Year with a giant group 24 Day Challenge.  I held a group challenge 3 months ago and the results were incredible, so we decided to do it again.  I am SO excited Becky will be joining me too.  She is going to be such a helpful and supportive addition to the group.

You can order your challenge bundle here. I will then send you some additional information I give to group members and of course send you an invite to the Facebook group to join us.

Thanks so much to you all for reading this, and thanks so much for having me over here Becky!  Can’t wait to get this challenge started with you! xo

Advocare Challenge

Are you ready to join us? Order the 24 Day Challenge here!

*Disclaimer: Lauren is providing me with the initial 10-day cleanse phase free-of-charge. I will be purchasing the remaining 14-day max phase and any additional products I would like.*

Friday Favorites – Fitbit Flex Review

IT’S FRIDAY!!!!!

I’ve been waiting for this day for what seems like forever. While my break won’t be quite as long as my college winter breaks, I cannot wait to have a few days off :)

I want to first thank you all for the great discussion and debate on yesterday’s post. I appreciated all of the different perspectives and thoughts about IE. Also, I hope you understood that parts were overly dramatic to get my point across. #dramaqueen

Today I’m excited to link up with Katie for Friday Favorites!

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And although, I don’t have a huge list of favorites, I am sharing my review one of my favorite Black Friday purchases – The Fitbit Flex! That counts, right Katie?

I wanted to test out my new Flex for a few weeks in order to share an accurate review with y’all so thank you for being patient.

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Overall, I LOVE my Flex. I never knew how many steps I was taking a day, how much energy I was burning and so forth and the Flex is able to track it all.

It pushes me to take more steps and made me realize that it isn’t as easy as I thought to reach 10,000 steps/day. If I don’t walk to and from work or the train plus workout or walk Mitchell, there is NO way I’d reach my step goal daily. It was eye-opening to me to realize how much you actually sit and do not move in a desk job! There is an alarm you can set to vibrate at whatever time interval you choose if you would like a reminder to get up and walk around.

I wore it while sleeping the first few nights after I purchased it and it was interesting to see how many hours of restful vs. “awake” sleep was tracked. Conclusion: I am a solid sleeper ;) I have sensitive skin, however, and ultimately decided to skip the sleep tracking function to keep my skin from getting irritated.

I love the “bracelet” that holds the actual Fitbit and you can buy them in multiple colors, you know, in case you want a pink band (ahem, Katie – your fav!)! The bracelet blends into any outfit and I’ve only had one question to what was on my wrist. I told the inquirer that it was a prison tracker and they looked at me like I was serious/insane.  I cracked up at their response and had to show them that it was actually a Fitbit ;)

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If you link your Fitbit up to your phone via the app, your get fun updates throughout the day that tell you how many steps you have left.

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You also get alerts when you’ve gone over your goal. My Type A self loves this ;)

Now to my personal pros and cons for the Fitbit Flex:

Pros:

  • Easy to set up for your body by entering age, weight, height, etc.
  • Tracks EVERYTHING – Steps, Miles, Active Minutes, Calories Burned, Water Consumed, Sleep and Weight Goal Progress (if you choose one).
  • Easy-to-use iPhone app and computer app
  • Long battery life – approximately 5 days!
  • The bracelet does a fun little light show and vibration dance when you hit your step goal. This always makes me do my own happy dance too :)

Cons:

  • Can take up to 7 minutes for the bracelet to sync with the app – ain’t nobody got time for that! Typically, it syncs up and shows your current stat updates within 1 minute.
  • Could cause negative/obsessive feelings for those easily influenced by numbers (calories burned, etc.)
  • Does not track steps when walking on treadmill (it does for running but not walking)

I am glad I picked my Fitbit Flex up on Black Friday! It definitely motivates me to stay active and/or get moving if I stay sedentary too long. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to better track their activity level!

Do you have a Fitbit? Have you checked out Friday Favorites yet? What are you up to this weekend?

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