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Monday, February 8, 2016

Protein Smoothie Bowl { Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Delicious! }

Happy Monday! I've been drinking protein smoothies every morning after my workout. Right now I use chocolate or strawberry Shakeology powder and have been mixing these with cashew milk and a banana or other frozen fruit. I love having my smoothie every morning, but sometimes I am a little more hungry or just want something more substantial. I normally have either cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, and was missing it a little since I was switching out with my morning shake. I came across an idea for a Protein Smoothie Bowl and just had to try it out and make it my own. { PS I have included a link below for a similar smoothie bowl minus the protein for those who don't have that on hand. }

It was really simple, just throw a few ingredients into a blender, same as my typical shake. But it was a little thicker and allowed me to add some extra fruit and granola. Plus, it tasted just like dark chocolate FroYo, but is dairy, gluten and healthy...yum!!

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Chocolate Protein Smoothie Bowl
Makes 1 serving

-- 1 scoop of protein powder (I used Chocolate Vegan Shakeology)
-- 1/2 cup cashew milk (or almond or soy, or you could try chocolate cashew/almond milk)
-- 1 large frozen banana
-- 3 ice cubes
-- 1/4 cup water (or more if too thick)
-- Toppings of choice (granola, fruit, almonds, chia seeds, coconut flakes, etc)

Place your protein powder, cashew milk, frozen banana and ice cubes into a blender and blend until combined. Your mixture may be really thick, so begin adding a little water at a time. I believed I used about 1/4 cup, but feel free to add more if your mixture is too thick. It should be the consistency of frozen yogurt. Then top with your toppings of choice. I used granola and raspberries.

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I totally want to try this next with the Strawberry Shakeology powder. And if you don't have, or don't want to use protein powder, I came across this recipe that is similar but omits the protein powder and uses cocoa powder instead. I haven't tried it yet, but it would be perfect as a healthy dessert, especially for Summer!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Key to Epic Lashes + Eye Make-Up Essentials

Happy Friday! I love trying out new beauty products, and have a few fun items to share today. I like to keep my makeup pretty simple, but one thing I never leave the house without is a little mascara. I have very fine lashes and without any mascara it sometimes looks like I don't have any at all. So at the very least, I always seem to have at least a little liner and mascara.

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I recently tried Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara by Marc Jacobs and was curious what all the buzz was about. I heard it was the key to epic lashes and was excited to see what it would do for my almost non-existent lashes. This mascara claims to give ultimate volume for the look of false lashes.

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I had a really hard time getting a good picture to represent my lashes, but here is my typical every day look. I did really like how the mascara darkened my lashes and gave them the look of extra length. Since my lashes are pretty fine, my look is still far from looking like false lashes, but it has provided a lot more volume than I had before. I love using this mascara, but my only concern is it is a little pricey for an every day mascara. But it was fun to give it a try and see what all the buzz was about.

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I thought it would be fun to share some of my every day eye make-up essentials. My must have essentials include:

-- Clinique Touch Base for Eyes in Canvas Light - I have been using this for years, and it's perfect for keeping your eye shadow from fading throughout the day. I love the Canvas Light shade as it's light and neutral and is a great base.

-- Urban Decay Naked Palette - I purchased this about 2 years ago after I came across a wedding look tutorial on Pinterest. I love the colors in this palette as there are so many options and are perfect for day or night. My favorite combos are Sidecar & Hustle, Half Baked & Smog and Toasted & Hustle. I also use Virgin or Sin to on my brow bone and in the inner-corners of my eye. In the photo above I'm wearing Sidecar on my lid, Hustle on the outer corner and Virgin on my brow bone and inside corner.

-- Julep Gel Eye Pencil - I actually received this in one of my Julep Maven Boxes and I absolutely love it. It goes on easy and stays put all day long. Navy Smoke is my favorite color and works well with my blue eyes.

-- Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara

What are your favorite eye make-up essentials?

*I received the Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara to test from Influenster. The rest of the products were previously purchased on my own. No affiliate links are used. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Life Lately: January 2016 Edition

Happy Monday!

I'm trying something new this year and focusing more on monthly recaps. January was an interesting month. True to my horoscope, the first of the month I felt a little blah and was having some rough times. But by the end of the month things started to turn around and I've been starting to feel better about things.

My horoscope also said that between now and October I would be making tons of money and that the planets are pushing me to control my stress. It also said I would revisit past fitness and nutrition plans (very true...see below), and that we would celebrate important milestones in May and June. We do have a trip planned in June to celebrate our 2 year anniversary, but it will be interesting to see what happens in May. Lastly, I'll apparently become really cool and attract a lot of friends in October, probably because of all of the money I'll be making, right!

Moving back to January...

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We rang in the new year with date night at Easton. Dinner at Cooper's Hawk was oh so delicious, and the lights were so pretty and kind of magical. Although it was super cold, so our walk to see the lights was rather short.

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My Mom and I took the kiddos on a road trip to WVa to visit with my grandparents.

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Here is Grandma Nonnie and Grandpa Bob, aren't they the cutest! After I took this picture, my Grandpa points at my phone and says "I've never had my picture in one of those before." Gotta love his sense or humor :)

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The visit was full of games of Candy Land, and I lost every single game to Bella. I swear it was fixed!

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My workouts had been slacking the last part of 2015, so on Jan 4 I committed to 30 days of working out. I'm almost at my 30 days, and although I did miss 2 days due to weird circumstances (no power one morning and not feeling well the other), I'm pretty proud that I'm finally back into a great fitness routine. I'm hoping to keep up with my daily morning workouts throughout 2016.

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One of my other goals for January was to get back into healthy meal planning. I've tried all kinds of new meals this month, and some were winners and others not so much. But it's been fun finding new meals to put into our dinner rotation. I'm hoping to share some of our favorites soon!

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Miss Abby had a rough January. One morning she broke one of her toenails, and required a not so fun vet visit. They had to put her under to cut her toenail way back and was pretty groggy for the rest of the day.

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She was a hot mess in her cone of shame, but made up for it by being so cute in her sweater. And I loved her little "paddle foot" as I called it in her little cast. We had to put a sandwich baggie over it to keep it dry in the snow.

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We had a couple of inches of snow around the middle of the month, but we did not get any snow during the big blizzard last week.

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We did have a beautiful sunrise one morning that casted a pink glow on the snow. This picture doesn't do the view justice, but it still turned out kind of cool.

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We had some very cold days in January and one morning it was only 1 degree. When Rick informed me of this I immediately responded with "I hate life right now!" Because walking 3 dogs in the cold is not fun. Also during this cold spell we lost power 3 times in 3 days. It got crazy cold in the house one morning (a chilly 46 degrees), but luckily the next 2 times AEP was able to restore our power in an hour or so. Apparently a fuse kept blowing down the street which basically knocked power out in our complex. Fun times!! But the last few days it's been in the high 50's which is super crazy to go from 1 degree to 58 in a matter of weeks. But that is Ohio!

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We've had some fun lazy weekends to cuddle on the couch with the pups to watch movies and catch up on shows, including all of Making a Murder. I also finished my first book of 2016 - Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty. It was really good, although there were a few parts that I think were monologues of outsiders that kind of confused me. But overall it was a good book, and she is one of my favorite writers. Any suggestions for what I should read next?

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We finally took the Christmas tree down the 2nd weekend of the month and I pulled out some of my Spring and Valentine's d├ęcor. I missed all of my sparkly Christmas decorations, but was excited for a fresh new look.

In Case You Missed It - Fun January Posts:

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

DIY Winter Centerpiece

Ever since my DIY wedding flowers experience, I've been really interested in learning more about flower arranging. Right before Thanksgiving I took a DIY Fall Centerpiece class, and in December I took a DIY Holiday Centerpiece class. I know the holidays are over, but I really enjoyed the DIY class, and wanted to share my experience and the tips I learned.

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I took the class at The Flowerman, which is where I also did my DIY Wedding flowers. The class was $34 and included all of the supplies for the centerpiece.

When we first walked into class we were welcomed with this cute statement. I totally agree "I must have flowers always & always."

For each of the classes they offer complimentary snacks and beverages. I just adored this beautiful sparkly table runner.

And here is our inspiration piece, along with some of the snacks.

So to begin we started with a round holder, floral foam and floral tape. The instructor had already soaked the floral foam, but before you begin you need to make sure your floral foam has been soaked so it keeps your flowers from drying out. You also need to make sure you have the correct floral foam for fresh flowers. There are two different kinds, one for fresh flowers and one for faux flowers.

Take your floral foam and drop into a bucket full of water. Don't push it down and it will be ready once it's has sunk to the bottom of the bucket. You can cut your floral foam to fit your holder using some floral wire. Just slice it with the wire by pressing the wire through your foam. Then to make sure your foam stays in the holder, attach it with some floral tape. Just make sure to offset your floral tape from the center so you can place your candle in the center.

Next we gathered our flowers which included the following:

-- 1 greenery bundle
-- 3 stems of hypericum berries
-- 3 stems of green button mums
-- 3 stems of white cushion mums
-- 6 stems of red carnations

We started by adding the greenery. We inserted the lemon leaves first (which are the bigger green leaves). Insert them all around the bottom to add a round shape to your centerpiece. Then add some all over to add some height and round out your centerpiece all over. We then added some pine, which smelled lovely, and eucalyptus which was nice and drapey. Then we inserted our candle in the middle.

We then added in the mums, carnations and the hypericum berries. You can really add them in however you want, but it looked best to group them together. So I used 2 white mums and 1 red carnation bunched together, and then 3 green button mums grouped together. I just grouped them together, cut them so they had similar stem lengths, and then inserted them one at a time in my arrangement.

One thing I learned is to just go with whatever you do and try not to remove your stems/flowers after you insert them into the foam. If you do that too much, your floral foam will end up with lots of holes and start to break down. You can always fluff your flowers and stems or kind of bend them a little to get them to fit best. Or just add a little bit more greenery, especially if you need to fill in some gaps.

It was interesting because everyone's centerpieces looked really different, but they were all beautiful. We finished off our centerpiece with some preservative spray and were told to water it every other day to keep it fresh and last for up to a week.

I really enjoyed the class and am hoping they will offer even more classes throughout the year. As we were wrapping up, everyone in the class was trying to convince them to offer a valentine's day class, which I think would be a lot of fun.

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Have you ever tried to DIY a floral centerpiece? I was really overwhelmed at first, but it's actually not too hard. You just have to be very opened minded, and not get too discouraged in the beginning. It really doesn't start to look like its taking shape until the end and you can always add or take away to help balance it out.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Getting Organized & Setting Goals { + Plum Paper Planner Review }

Happy Monday! It's taken until mid-January to get myself organized and to set my goals. I blame it partially on the fact that I ordered my planner way too late, and partially because I feel like I'm still getting used to working a full work week (anyone else struggling??). But I finally received my Plum Paper Planner on Friday, and spent some time this weekend getting organized, so all is now in order in my little OCD world.

I love seeing how other people use their planners and how they keep organized, so I thought today I would share my planner and how I'm using it, along with some ways I'm attempting to stay organized with blog planning.

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This is my second year using a Family Planner from Plum Paper. I actually purchased this exact same planner last year (same cover design too), and loved it so much, I ordered the exact same one again this year. If it works, why not. The previous two years I used an Erin Condren planner, and although I loved those, this planner is much more budget friendly and I LOVE that you can personalize it. More on that here in a minute.
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There are some new features for 2016. The first is that the cover is made from a durable synthetic material. Previous versions had a white frosted plastic cover, which kind of muted the cover design. The second is this monthly highlights page. I love that it gives a quick glance of what's going on for the month, and I especially love the goals section. There isn't much going on right now for us, but I'm sure this will start to fill up as we get into the warmer months.

As you can see, my big goals for the month of January are:
-- Workout every day for 30 days
-- Clean/Organize our Basement and donate some items
-- Get back into weekly meal planning
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Next up comes a monthly calendar and I love to add birthdays and other important events here. Although these items are listed in the highlights section I love being able to see it out on a calendar. You can also list monthly To Do's or notes on the far left side.
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Here is my favorite section. Each month is then broken out by week, and the Family Planner allows you to personalize up to 7 categories. I choose to categorize my planner by: Celebrate, Appointments, Work, Blog, Dinner, Workouts and To Dos. These categories seemed to work for me last year, so I thought I would use them again this year. I don't really use my planner to keep track of my hourly appointments. My Outlook calendar at work keeps track of that, and it's linked to my phone.

But I love having a way to keep track of my meals and my workouts, along with any personal appointments. I did include a Work section to indicate any work trips or big To Do's that I might want to keep track of. I didn't use that section too much last year, but I liked having that category for when I needed it. I've seen others use these sections for different family members to keep track of sports or other after school activities. The options are endless.
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In the back there is another Special Dates section. I'll be honest I really didn't use this much last year, but it's another way to organize birthdays if you want to have them all in one place. It might be a good way to keep track of buying/sending cards or presents, so I may end up using it for that purpose.
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There is also a Passwords page (which I didn't take a picture of as I did already write in a few of those :) ), a contacts page and a Holiday schedule page. Again I didn't really use these that much, but I think last year I did include important phone numbers like my bank or the insurance company. Numbers you may not keep in your phone, but may need handy at some point.
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There is also a 2017 calendar and a pocket page which I like to keep card or bills that need to be paid or things that need to be dealt with.
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There are also some blank pages, which is where I am keeping my 2016 Goals. Some of these are personal goals, and some are projects that I want Rick to help me out with (or really just do...ha!).

My goals for 2016 are:
1. Save some money - We have a dollar figure from last year and are already half-way to our goal.

2. Pay off credit cards - We started this goal last year and are half-way there. Hoping to have this complete by maybe Summer (crossing our fingers no more unexpected expenses!!).

3. Dining Room Bench - I really want a bench for our dining room table so we have extra seating for when we entertain. This is a Rick project :)

4. Board & Batten for Entry Way - Another Rick project that I've been wanting to do, and we finally have the tools to do so.

5. Clean/Organize the Basement and donate some items.

6.  Clean/Organize/Donate items in our closets.

7. New floor for the 1st floor - half of our 1st floor is laminate and the other half carpet. The carpet has got to go, and hopefully that will happen this year. We were debating on trying to match the laminate, but I think we might possibly go with a tile option that looks like wood floors. The debate continues.

8. Organize and print photos - I have about 4 years of photos to go through, organize and print. Going to be a major project, but one I can't wait to have complete, and hopefully keep up with.

9. Replace the boob lights - We have 2 that just need to go, 1 in each of our stairways.

10. Read 12 books - hoping 1 book per month is a more manageable goal.

11. Travel and visit 1 new city - travel plans have been made and partially booked!

12. Workout - starting with a 30 day challenge; will try to workout at least 4-5 days a week.

13. Refinish desk and create fun workspace - so excited about this, and will hopefully start this project in February.

14. Paint upstairs trim - we painted the downstairs trim last year, and need to work on the bedrooms this year; and possibly touch up the downstairs again.

15. Work on my photography skills - an ongoing process, but I need to dedicate more time to this

16. Learn calligraphy - I started this last year, but again didn't give it as much time as I wanted to.

17. Blog about travel posts - I have a ton of travel pictures to share and am hoping to get those documented on the blog soon.
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For my blog, I purchased this Sugar Paper calendar from Target and I thought it would be a fun way to keep track of posts and plan future posts. I'll be honest I hate writing things on a calendar in pen and then having to scribble them out because for some reason they did not happen. And many times I have plans for posts and they just don't happen. So my goal is to use stickie notes and then I can move things around to give myself a little more flexibility. I also purchased this cute note book from the Target dollar bin to keep my blog goals and to also jot down different ideas. It will be interesting to see how well this works for me. If anyone has any other tips for blog planning, I would love to hear, so please share.
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So speaking of the Target dollar bin, they had a ton of notepads and other cute things to organize last week. I purchased a few notepads and may go back for a few more items if they are still there this week. Such great stuff lately!

Ok so now that I've shared how I'm planning to stay organized, please share your favorite tips. Organizing is one of my favorite things, along with cute office supplies, so I may have to share some more tips soon.

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