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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DIY Leopard Clutch

I have something really exciting to share today. Many of you may know about the Clare V Leopard Clutch. It seems to be popping up all over fashion blogs, Instagram posts and fashion pins. This clutch seems to go with everything from a fancy evening gown, to a classy work outfit, to a casual brunch with friends outfit.

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I, along with everyone else in the blog world, seems to have this clutch on their wish list. But this girl's budget doesn't like the $260 price tag. So when I came across a couple of DIY versions on Pinterest (here and here), I immediately started to search for the fabric so I could make one of my own.

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I finally came across some fabric on eBay which I think was the same fabric used in the two pins I shared above. I had a hard time tracking it down, so if you are interested in making a clutch of your own, you can order the fabric here.

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The shop actually has all kinds of colors/styles, and included these 3 fabric samples in my package. I really liked the one in the middle and the one on he right, and think they would be great options as well.

This was a pretty simple sewing project. The only hard part about it was the fabric was really thick so it was a little hard to run through the sewing machine. I actually had my Mom help me sew it up because I was sure I was going to break my machine. In all reality, she's just a really good and fast, and she is always up for a good DIY project. So shout out to my Mom on her sewing assistance!! When I told her how much the original cost her comment was "Well, we are in the wrong business!"

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DIY Leopard Clutch

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1. Gather all your supplies (pic a).

2. I could only find a 14” zipper, so my Mom first showed me how you can sew up the end of the zipper so you can trim it down to size. You basically just sew across the zipper on both the front and the back sides (pic b) so it won’t unzip any further. You can then cut off your zipper to the size you need for your piece (pic c).

3. Then just pin your zipper to one of the short ends of the face up side of the fabric, giving yourself about 1/8" seam allowance, or as close to the edge of the zipper you can go. I used a fully exposed zipper on this clutch because the leather fabric was really thick and was already pretty difficult to get through the sewing machine. The black thread blends in really well with the black zipper and I think it actually finishes off the clutch rather nicely to have the zipper exposed.

4. Once you have sewed the zipper on one side, zip up the zipper and pin it to the other side so you are forming a tube (pic d).

5. Then once your zipper is sewn in place, turn your fabric inside out. You will then need to sew up the long sides of the fabric with about a 1/4" seam allowance (pic e). A few things to note: Unzip your zipper a little before you do this, or it will be very hard to unzip your bag once it’s complete because it’s inside out. Please learn from our mistake…ha! Also the fabric is really thick, so it’s going to be a little difficult to feed through the machine. If you have a sturdy needle use it. Also just grip the fabric and tug it through. It’s pretty sturdy fabric, so it’s not like it’s going to rip easily.

6. Once your sides are sewn together, unzip, turn right-side out, and press out your bag with your hands (do not use an iron!). Because my fabric wasn’t cut perfectly straight, and it was really difficult to sew due to the thickness, my clutch was not perfectly flat when you lay it flat. But once you fold it over, you don’t notice this. Also, I did not line the inside, but that is definitely something that I might do in the future. I will likely hand sew in the lining since the bag is already sewn together and I think it might be easier than trying to re-run through the sewing machine again.

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I wanted to find something to finish off the zipper, so I found this cute tassel at Michaels. It actually came as part of a pendant, and I just used pliers to un-hook from the pendant and then hook onto the zipper.

The total project cost was:

Fabric - $39.00
Zipper - $3.00
Tassel - $3.00
Total Cost - $45

**That's almost 1/6 the price of the original!!

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{ Outfit details: Chambray shirt, skirt, shoes, necklace (similar) }

So what do you think? Would you be willing to try and make your own? If you do, please share as I'd love to hear how it turned out!

Linking up with Style Sessions on Style Elixir.

Linking up with In Residence for Pin to Present.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

My 21 Day Fix Journey - Round 1

Happy Monday! It's been exactly 1 month since I dedicated myself to getting fit. So I thought it only appropriate to share how my journey has gone so far.

For those of you who are new, Rick and I were tired of the rising health care costs, especially since the last part of 2014 and the first part of 2015 seemed to be filled with medical bills. I personally have been dealing with IBS, and have desperately been trying to find a way to control my symptoms without a very costly prescriptions that also have some negative side-effects. So we both decided to take our health and wellness into our own hands.

Four weeks ago I stared working out on a daily basis with Autumn Calabrese, the creator of the 21 Day Fix. For the majority of these workouts I actually got up 30-45 mins early in the morning and completed before I started getting ready for work (there was only 2 days I worked out after work). This is an amazing accomplishment considering I struggled to workout 1-2 days a week before, and I have never been a morning person. I had every excuse in the book NOT to workout, but the last couple of weeks I've actually been excited to get up and get my workouts in. And I get even more excited after work when I realize I don't have to go to the gym, because my workout is already done. I'm actually debating cancelling my gym membership since I've enjoyed these workouts that much.

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{ LOVE these compression pants from Old Navy }

3 weeks ago I started the full 21 Day Fix program which included drinking Shakeology, along with a clean eating diet. Shakeology was a great source of protein and lots of other super foods and nutrients that I'm sure I wasn't getting before, and it actually was my motivation for getting up every morning to workout. There were many times that I told myself if I didn't get out of bed right now, I wasn't going to get to drink my chocolate shake. I mean who would turn down a chocolate shake for breakfast? It was totally worth it y'all!

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The clean eating portion wasn't too far from what I was already eating, but I quickly realized I was not eating the appropriate portions of these foods. I was eating way too many starches/carbs, and not enough protein or veggies. It's interesting because I quickly learned that the nutrition portions were really based on the food pyramid we all learned about in school -- 5 fruits/veggies { 3 veggies (green container) and 2 fruits (purple container) }, 4 proteins { red container }, 2 carbs { yellow container }, and then a small amount of healthy fats { blue and orange containers }. You also get 2 tsps which represent your nut butters.

The containers made it really easy to portion out my food and see what a true portion really was. I'm planning on sharing some of my dinners later this week so you can see what the portions really looked like, and it was a lot! When I first got the containers I thought "I am going to starve." But when I actually started preparing my foods I then started to think there is no way I'm going to be able to eat all of this food. It really was a good amount of food.

So how did it go?

I was completely overwhelmed at first, and it took a week or so to figure out the best way to portion out my containers throughout the day. My coach did assist us in the challenge group by providing a few meal planning tools. For me, the best plan was:

1. Breakfast: Shakeology with 1/2 cup of banana or blueberries (protein + 1/2 fruit)

2. Mid-Morning Snack: Quiona Cups (carb + protein)

3. Lunch: Left-overs from Dinner (veggie + protein + sometimes carb)

4. Mid-Day Snack:1 cup of Strawberries or Pineapple/Grapes (fruit) + 1 tsp Peanut Butter (tsp)

5. Dinner: (veggie + protein + sometimes carb)

6. Late Snack: 1/2 cup of Pineapple (fruit) or herbal tea

Sometimes I had my 2nd carb for dinner and sometimes I had it for lunch. I tried to rotate my meals so I was only having 1 carb for dinner every-other-day. I also sometimes doubled up on my veggies when I wasn't eating a carb to try and get my 3rd serving of the day in, but I'll be honest I typically only got 2 of the 3 veggies in. I also included some avocado, a little cheese and olive oil as my healthy fats which represented my blue and orange containers. My indulgence ended up being a heaping tsp of all natural peanut butter. I tried to pretend it was a peanut butter cookie, which worked most of the time. A few times I cheated and had some dark chocolate chips (I couldn't help myself!!)

The first week I got really bad headaches about mid-day, and I realized after a few days I was going through sugar/carb/coffee withdraw. That's when I realized I needed to have some fruit and carbs first thing in the morning, and then more fruit in the afternoon to keep my energy going.

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{ Look at that muscle baby!! }

So the big question is...what are my results?

I only lost 2 lbs, which was fine by me because I really didn't need to lose any weight. My main goal of this program was to gain muscle and to tone of some of the jiggle in my trouble spots. I did lose some inches, which actually shocked me. I lost:

2" total in my thighs
1" in my butt
1" in my hips
2" in my waist (this was the craziest for me)
1" in my chest
1" total in my arms

Total of 8 inches!!

The other big achievement I made was I was able to finally hold a plank for 60 seconds. Yes my core is really weak, and planks were totally killing my back. I can still barely hold it for 60 seconds, but I'm hoping that as I continue this will get easier. There are way more planks in this program than I care to do, but they are making me stronger, so I just have to suck it up and do them.

How's my IBS?

I feel that the cean eating, and cutting down on the carbs/starches is really helping my IBS. Do I still have bad days, Yes. Stress, not drinking enough water, and not getting enough sleep also cause symptoms. But the clean eating and working out every day is really helping and I love that the Shakeology has probiotics and digestive enzymes which are also good for digestion. I was already taking a probiotic before, but I stopped taking that one since the shake already has one and I wasn't sure about doubling up. I'm excited to continue with the healthy eating habits and see how much more I improve.

So am I going to continue?

Yes! I'm going to continue to workout every day because I really do love the workouts, and I feel they are making me stronger. I'm going to also continue to drink the Shakeology because it helps keep me motivated to workout, and it tastes really good. I have some really awesome recipes to share with you all soon for those of you who are in the program, or might be interested in trying Shakeology.

I'm also going to continue to stick with the clean eating and the meal plan. I'm taking a week off from using the containers and will just work on eating healthy and enjoying a few splurges this week. Then next week I'm joining another challenge group and will start round 2.

My goal for round 2 is to continue to get stronger, and to continue to tone my problem areas. I'm thinking I'll definitely be bikini ready by Summer!!

Has anyone else heard of or tried the 21 Day Challenge? If so, how did it go for you? I'd love to chat more and share ideas. Also, if you would be interested in trying to 21 Day Challenge, or are just curious and would love to hear more about it, leave a comment below, or shoot me an email. The one thing I have learned is that having support is key to success, so I'd love to chat with others who have tried, or would like to try this program.

Linking up with Mingle Monday.
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Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Favorites: Chambray Love

Happy Friday and happy first day of Spring!!! I have shared on multiple occasions my love for Chambray. I was afraid this was going to be a quick trend, but I'm loving that chambray continues to be in style and it seems every season there is a new way to wear it. My favorite season to wear chambray is Spring and Summer because it's such a casual and comfortable thing to wear. Today I wanted to share some of the fun new pieces I've come across and added to my wish list.

Chambray Love

My absolute favorite is this watch. I have an obsession with Michael Kors watches, and think this watch will go with almost everything. I also love all of the crystals. I think it's a great combination of casual, but also can be dressy with the sparkles. I'm just waiting for a good sale at Macy's before I order it.

My second favorite is the chambray Toms. I might have actually ordered these the other day and can't wait for them to come in. There is a 10% cash back offer + a save $5 with any $25+ purchase on Toms website through Ebates + you can get free 2-day shipping if you pay through Paypal...if you don't buy it's like throwing money away...just saying :)

I also really love these chambray striped shorts from Loft. I especially love the length of these shorts. I wouldn't mind this cute scarf and this Michael Kors tote to finish off my look. It's like a outfit full of chambray.

What other chambray pieces do I need to add to my wishlist?

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Healthy Breakfast On The Go

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'm currently trying the 21 Day Fix program. It's a program that combines clean eating with a 30 min a day exercise program. The workout portion is pretty simple, just press play and workout according to the plan.

The clean eating portion was a little more work to find recipes that were considered clean and fit within the nutrition components of the plan. You get to eat so many fruits, veggies, grains, proteins and healthy fats per day, and you just need to stick within those requirements. Lunch and Dinner were pretty easy as I already cook pretty clean meals for dinner and then always have left-overs for lunch. Breakfast was hard as I don't have time to cook breakfast every morning and needed something grab and go.

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I found some really great recipes for muffins and quiona bites that I modified to fit the needs of the program. I also did some math to calculate what I think are appropriate serving sizes per the plan. It may not be perfect, but it's close and a good guess! They are both very delish and I would highly recommend you try even if you aren't doing the 21 Day Fix Program.

What I love best is they are healthy, and don't require a visit to the health food store for crazy ingredients (I hate taking extra grocery trips). You can find all of these ingredients at your local Walmart or other grocery store. I make them on the weekend and then place what I need in containers for the week and then freeze the rest if there are left-overs. I've been eating the quiona cups during the week and then the muffins on the weekend with a serving of scrambled eggs.

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Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Makes approx 16 muffins
For 21 Day Fix - 2 muffins are 1 carb container, 1/2 fruit container, 1/2 protein and 2 TSP due to the honey

-- 2.5 cups of old fashioned oats - pulverized in a food processor
-- 1 cup of plain low-fat greek yogurt (2 individual sized Chobani plain yogurt cups)
-- 2 eggs
-- 1/2 cup of honey
-- 2 tsp baking powder
-- 1 tsp baking soda
-- 2 tbs ground flax seed
-- 1 tsp vanilla
-- 2 ripes bananas

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place your oats in a food processor and pulse about 10-20 seconds. Add your remaining ingredients into the food processor, pulsing every so often to keep from getting too full. You will likely need to scrap the sides of the bowl often also. Continue to pulse until everything is a smooth-like batter. Then place into muffin liners or silicon muffin cups (which are my fave!). And bake for approx 20-25 mins or until the tops are brown and the insides are set. Just keep an eye on it from 20 mins on.

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Quinoa Breakfast Cups
Makes 10-12 cups
For 21 Day Fix - 2 cups are 1 carb and approx. 1/2 protein; If you add cheese or veggies you will need to account for those

-- 1 cup of uncooked quiona
-- 2 eggs
-- 1.5 cups of diced ham
-- Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, other seasonings to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 1 cup of quiona based on the packaged directions. Typically this is mix 2 cups of water to 1 cup of uncooked quiona, place on the stove until boiling, then turn down and simmer for 15 mins or so. Then mix in your quiona (this should make 2 cups cooked), with your eggs, diced ham, seasonings and any extras if you want to add them (veggies, cheese, etc). Place in silicon cups and bake for about 25-30 mins or until brown on top and set.

Do you happen to have any great grab and go breakfast options?

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sharing my Green...with Pops of Pink

Happy Hump Day! I really enjoyed seeing everyone's green outfits yesterday for St Patrick's Day, so I thought it would be fun to share how I rocked my green yesterday...with some pops of pink!

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I do have to admit, I got some outfit inspiration from Annie over at Stylish Petite. I love that she shops from many of the same stores that I do (Love Loft!), she mixes classic pieces with trendier pieces, and she shares things in a wide budget range. I hate when bloggers share these awesome outfits and everything is hundreds of dollars each. Although I have splurged on some pieces in my time (hello Tory Burch riding boots), I still never pay full price for them, and I usually only pay higher prices for classic staple pieces.

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I already had the green military jacket, which I got last year from Target. And I was shocked to come across the striped shirt in Macy's one day with the only one left in my size, and on clearance. It was like a match made in heaven.

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I got the cute tassel necklace from Laura Cox's Etsy shop. I keep seeing all of these super cute tassel necklaces all over the place, and some of them are pretty pricey. I loved the pop of pink and it was only $20...I was immediately sold. And it arrived 3 days later...score!

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I thought my cute pink shoes, which I shared the other day, totally finished off the outfit. My co-workers yesterday commented on my pops of pink and I told them I was definitely loving pink lately. I'm so ready for brighter, Springy colors.

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So my husband is always kind enough to help take my outfit pictures, but he always seems to keep snapping away and captures some pretty crazy poses. I thought I would share this funny out-take. Although I look super goofy, my hair looks like model hair blowing in the wind. If only my hair looked model-worthy all the time right...ha! Don't worry I have some fun pictures of him to share soon from a photo shoot that I took a few weeks ago. Fun times!!

Linking up with Style Elixir and Because Shanna Said So.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Planty Projects

Happy Monday! So rumor has it, it's going to be 70 degrees today. I'll admit I'm a little skeptical, but we certainly are ready for it. I have steaks ready to cook on the grill tonight, and Rick's picking up the ingredients for some Moscow Mules. If everything goes as planned, you will find us both parked on our deck enjoying some bevvies later tonight.

I'm sure everyone agrees that we are all ready for Summer to get here. I'm especially ready to work on some of my garden projects. We both love growing plants, and can't wait to get our outside garden going again. Until then, I did work on a few inside planty projects this weekend to help spruce up the place. I also started working on my Spring/Easter decor, so more to come on that soon!

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I love the look of succulents, and they are rather easy to grow...once you get the hang of it. I'll admit my first attempt did not work out very well. They all ended up frying. I then tried my second attempt last year, and 3 out of the 5 plants survived (the one in the middle, the one in the back and the long tall one). I ended up purchasing 4 more plants this weekend from Home Depot to fill in my succulent planter and I'm loving the look.

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I have found my succulents work best in my living room, right next to the window. It's actually filtered sunlight as the curtains filter the sunlight a bit, but still allow some sunlight to come in. I learned the first year not to leave them outside in hot direct sun. They all fried. I also learned that they really only need about 1/2-1 cup of water every week (or I've even gone 2 weeks). Pour the water around the base of the plants as some of the leaves if they get too much water they will get moldy. Also note I did use some cactus potting soil to help with drainage, and then added black river rocks I got at Michaels on top.

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I have this Jade plant over on my kitchen counter. Again it gets sunlight but is not direct sunlight. I water it about 1/3 a cup every week or so. This is actually one of my favorite plants and so easy to grow.

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I realized I never shared my herb garden from last year. We purchased this cedar box at Home Deport 2 years ago, and use it to grow all of our herbs. I love to grow oregano, chives, rosemary, cilantro, thyme, basil and mint. The mint and basil have their own planters as they tend to go out of control. Also we've only had luck with cilantro growing for about a month and then it goes to seed too quick and we lose it. We purchased some seeds so we may just keep planting seeds this year and see if we can keep it growing. Anyone else had any luck?

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Also, I love my plant markers and think they give my herb garden a cute personalized touch. I'll try and be sure to share this year's herb garden, along with a deck update in a few months. I have a few projects to spruce things up that I can't wait to start!

Anyone else excited about gardening projects? What's your favorite plant/herb to grow?

Linking up with Life of Meg for Mingle Monday.

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