Friday, August 30, 2013

Five on Friday

Hello from Mexico! I bet you thought I'd skip my post for today. No way! I am bringing you a Riviera Maya edition of 5 on Friday...
  - ONE - A little peek into my packing earlier this week:
 One of the greatest things about vacationing "off season" is that bikinis are super cheap! I scored the polka dot bikini from Victoria's Secret for $14!
I made sure to pack our bags wisely. And by wisely I mean we only packed travel size everything so we didn't have to wait on checked bags - the sooner we could get our toes in the sand the better! Oh, and thanks to Laura for the awesome iHome recommendation!

 - TWO - I wanted to make sure that McKinsey and I were going to be drinking in style on the beach so I whipped up a few customize tumblers for us. Large cups are a necessity for all-inclusive destinations. If you don't bring your own, you usually end up with teeny cocktails from the resort. But not us! We were prepared!
I picked up the mason jar tumblers from Walmart and purchased the monogram decals from Paisley Peacock Gifts etsy shop.
- THREE - After compiling all of your book recommendations, I went to the library and signed up for half of my reading list {every book had a wait list}! Days before the trip the library notified me that I had a few books waiting for me to pick up! Perfect timing. Here's what I ended up with:
 - FOUR - Vacation mani/pedi - the brighter the better!
- FIVE - Sorry y'all, but I have to get back to cabana!
Happy long weekend!
 
 Wanna join  Darci, April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is... 1.)  Write  your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!). 2.)  Share the logo above on your blog and link back. 3.)  Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!

You can also follow me here:
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Five on Friday

Hi friends and happy Friday

This weekend has all the right ingredients to be awesome. First of all, it started with wine and friends. Add in some relaxation, packing for Mexico and maybe some more wine and that's about all I've planned so far. Speaking of blog friends, this happened last night:
Wine + Bloggers {Laura & April} + Bun Hair Tutorials

Okay, on to the five..!

- ONE -This week I made it my mission to wear as much white, brights and seersucker as possible. Sadly, the "acceptable" time frame of wearing these items is quickly coming to an end. Don't get me wrong, I'll still wear all these things until the first cold spell, but until then I'll enjoy the judge-free opportunity to dress for summer!
- TWO - My new favorite sodium-free veggie - Balsamic Roasted Asparagus & Red Peppers.
Ingredients
    1 pound asparagus, cut in pieces
    2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, sliced
    1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation
    1. Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. 2. In a small dish, combine olive oil, peppers, vinegar and garlic. 3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 4. Sprinkle with black pepper and serve.

- THREE - Darci made me buy this. No really. Did you see her {adorable} vlog recently? I already use Organix shampoo on the reg but had never tried the coconut milk version. So of course I immediately had to run to Ulta and pick it up a bottle for me, one for April and one for Laura.
 
And true story - Matt was helping me unpack my shopping bags and found the shampoo. His response, "let me guess, Darci or April blogged about this." He's on to me.
Oh, and although these weren't my best bows I've ever made, you can find the tutorial for them {here}!
 
- FOUR- I squeezed in a DIY monogrammed canvas project this week.
   It was super easy and inexpensive. I purchased the canvas at 40% off from Michaels, the monogram from Southern Proper Monograms and the spray pain from Home Depot. All you have to do is spray a coat of white paint on the canvas, glue your monogram on top then spray a finishing coat all over! Told you it was easy.
  - FIVE - For all you ladies who are coveting the Michael Kors Chain Link Watch but don't want to drop $225, Target just came out with a similar watch called the Geneva Gold Tortoise Chain Link Watch for only $25!
Michael Kors Chain Link Tortoise Watch // Geneva Gold Tortoise Chain Link Watch

Pretty awesome right? And for $200 less! Shhh, don't tell Matt.

 Wanna join  Darci, April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is... 1.)  Write  your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!). 2.)  Share the logo above on your blog and link back. 3.)  Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!

You can also follow me here:
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Southern Gentleman {Giveaway Winner}!

Just popping in to announce the winner of The Southern Gentleman giveaway...
Congratulations to Courtney W. from Line Up and Wait. Check your email, Courtney!

{winner selected via random.org}
 
Thanks to everyone who entered into the contest and to The Southern Gentleman for hosting such a great giveaway!
Don't forget to link up tomorrow for Five on Friday!
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

{Healthier} Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Odds are pretty good that you've seen the "easy crockpot chicken tacos" recipe all over Pinterest by now. Those tacos may look unbelievably tasty but you should know they are packed with MSG {430 mg of sodium} and milk. EEK! But I have some good news! I have a much healthier, sodium-free version for you today! And they will leave your friends, husband, kids, etc. begging for seconds.
First things first, you'll need to make your own taco seasoning. Don't panic. It's super duper easy and much better for you than those nasty, MSG riddled store bought packets. If you need any more convincing, take 2 minutes to read the ingredients in your taco packet or check out {this post}!
 
Homemade Taco Seasoning
Ingredients:
1/4 cup Ground Cumin
1/4 cup Garlic Powder
1/4 cup Chili Powder
1/4 cup Onion Powder
4 tbsp Crushed Red Peper

Directions: 
Mix all ingredients together! Store in freezer. 

Yields approximately 1.25 cups of taco seasoning {which is more than 10 packets of store bought taco seasoning}! 
Next, grab your favorite salsa {grab fresh salsa if you can}. The jars have more sodium than the kind you can find in the produce section. I've been using Jack's Special Salsa.
Season your chicken breasts with your taco seasoning and place them in your crockpot. Then dump your salsa in.
Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork.
And that's how you get dinner on the table in less than 5 minutes.
Healthy Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Ingredients
1 Tablespoon Homemade Taco Seasoning
4 Pieces Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
16-ounces Fresh Salsa
Directions
Dump everything into a crock pot and give it a little stir to blend the seasoning with the salsa. You do not need to add any water to the taco seasoning. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork.

Spoon chicken into hard or soft shell tacos. Add avocado, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese or any of your favorite toppings.
 
Happy {healthy} Taco Night, Friends!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Southern Gentleman {Giveaway}

I bet you thought I was going to be giving away a tall, dark and handsome southern gentleman today. Sorry to disappoint!
However, I do have something exciting to share with you today - I am hosting a giveaway! That's right! And it just so happens to be the most perfect summertime giveaway.
If this doesn't scream "southern belle," I don't know what does! I am all about a cute headband, and in my opinion you can never have too many. In Matt's opinion, I have 15 too many. Anyway, this Southern Belle Blue Gingham Headband from The Southern Gentleman is one of my new favorites. 
The fact that it's handmade in Carolina is the icing on the cake. However, for all of my Texas readers, you should know that The Southern Gentleman is actually a company based in Dallas, Texas! You can read their story {here} which is pretty impressive!
Want one? Well, The Southern Gentleman has graciously offered to give one of these away to a lucky follower! All you have to do is LIKE {The Southern Gentleman's Facebook Page} and leave me a comment with your email address.
 Make sure you also check out The Southern Gentleman's website too. There are all sorts of amazing {and affordable} items for you and your beau.
 
A few of the items I am thinking about picking up for the hubs...
Gentleman's Crimson Gingham Bow Tie / Gentleman's Hat / Gentleman's State Pride Long Sleeve Tee
 
  The contest will close at midnight EST on Wednesday and the winner will be announced on Thursday.
 
{CLICK HERE} to Like The Southern Gentleman's Facebook Page
 
Good luck y'all!
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Five on Friday: A Link-up!

  Helloooo Friday!! I wish I had a more clever intro for this post but am lacking in the creativity department this week. However, that doesn't mean I don't have 5 great things to share! Shall we get down to it?
 
  - ONE - I think one of the best things about this week was the fact that I am already down 4 pounds from my salt-free diet. I've never been able to lose weight before without starving myself so this came as a surprise. Well I have to be honest, kicking salt has realllly limited the foods I can eat so I guess I kind of am starving myself to an extent. I've been eating lots of plain oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, a medley of black beans, rice, avocado, onion and tomato for lunch, fresh fruits and veggies for snacks, salads for dinner and Greek yogurt popsicles for dessert. Plus I've been putting in my time at the gym each day. So hopefully some of those LBs aren't just water weight!
- TWO - You may remember my splurge on Benefit's they're real Mascara I wrote about {here}. Although I absolutely love the product, it's just too expensive for daily use. So I am saving it for the weekends and going back to the old faithful Maybelline Great Lash. Lucky for me, I scored several tubes at Ulta for $1.99/each this week!
- THREE - I owe so many of you a huge "thank you" for posting your favorite summer reads. And because it would only be fair to share, I've compiled all of the recommendations below in case you need a new book to dig into too:
 
The End of Normal by Stephanie Madoff Mack.
The Ten Best Days of My Life by Aldena Halpern
*Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
*The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
*Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Mitch Rapp Series by Vince Flynn
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequest
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequest
The Other Boelyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Divergent triology by Veronica Roth
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
*American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

*Recommended more than once
 
- FOUR - I thought I'd showcase a few of my most favorite office supplies. Can you tell I love color? The brightness doesn't stop at just my supplies, I keep my whole office colorful. Hey, if I am going to spend 8 hours a day in one spot it should be bright and pretty! You can find other posts about my office decor {here} and {here}!
  - FIVE - I am totally obsessed with my polka dot planner {from Target, of course}. Maybe it's because August is definitely panning out to be the best month yet this year - two vacations, an engagement, a trip home and big changes for the hubby {his law firm was acquired by a larger firm in town - so proud}!
 Wanna join  Darci, April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is... 1.)  Write  your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!). 2.)  Share the logo above on your blog and link back. 3.)  Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!

You can also follow me here:
 
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Currently Reading

I finally finished The Happiness Project while on vacation. Even though I loved the book and took tons of notes, it took me 3 months to read it. I'd pick it up, read a chapter and set it down and not touch it for weeks. Overall, it's a book I'd keep for my shelf to read again and again down the road so I give it 4 stars!
I learned a lot from The Happiness Project about how to be more grateful for the ordinary day and have already come up with five of my own {with the help of Gretchen} happiness resolutions {in no particular order}:
 
1. Don't Save Things for Special Occasions because life is too short to save your good anything for later because truly, later may never come! I guess that means it's time to drink that expensive bottle of wine, send notes on my monogrammed stationary, spray the perfume, wear the heirloom jewelry, serve dinner on the china, burn the candle, etc. etc. My list could go on.
 
My new motto - "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." 
 
2. Be More Forgiving, Generous and Lighthearted. This also includes cutting people slack even when they are rude. You never know what's going on in their life.
 
3. Be Present
 
  4. Remember Birthdays. I know how much I enjoy receiving birthday calls, texts, cards and emails so I am making it my mission to do the same for others.
 
5. Six Second Hugs. Matt and I love this new resolution and swear by it. Six seconds is the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mind boosting chemicals that promote bonding! No more quick or half-hearted hugs!
 I recommend reading this book even if you consider yourself a really happy person. You will definitely learn a thing or two!
Okay, so now I need a new book preferably a trashy romance! I've already read Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, The Expats, The Paris Wife, The Happiness Project, Little Bee and a few others I can't remember. I'm looking to stock up on a few page turners for the rest of summer! I don't really enjoy super girly novels but I do love suspense and mystery! 
What do you recommend?!
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hold the Salt!

In less than 3 weeks Matt and I will be leaving the country for a little tropical getaway. The thought of living in a bikini for 5 days makes me freak out juuust a tad. Okay, maybe a lot. So to get bikini-ready {and preferably lose at least 5 pounds}, Matt and I began a new crash diet on Sunday. We are cutting salt and sugar for the next few weeks. Simple, right? Not so much. Apparently those tiny little crystals are in just about everything, including lots of healthy food choices! I never really paid much attention to my daily salt use and had no clue my intake was off the charts until I tracked my usual meals in My Fitness Pal. Yikes! 
So to find out how much sodium I really need and to learn which high-sodium foods to avoid, I did some research. Along the way I found the Sodium Girl which is a blog filled with low-sodium recipes and written by a girl who lives a low-sodium life. 
Next up, I wrote out my grocery list for our first few meals:

- Fresh Fruits {apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, watermelon, etc.}
- Fresh Vegetables {spinach, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, etc.}
- Unsweetened Dried Fruit
- Fresh Fish
- Eggs
- Beans & Peas {packaged, not canned}
- Fat Free Greek Yogurt
- Unsweetened Almond Milk 
- Sparkling Water

As I continued to write out my shopping list, I realized that this list wasn't all that different than my usual list. So where was all my salt coming from? The way I prepared our meals. I add salt to just about everything. A a single teaspoon of salt has 2,325 mg of sodium and the Mayo Clinic recommends consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day.  
 
However, it should be noted that salt does not cause your body to gain or lose fat. In fact, salt has no calories. High consumption of salt only results in temporary weight gain as it causes your body to retain water. Conversely, low consumption of salt can result in temporary weight loss as it causes your body to expel water.
So a few of my biggest changes will be kicking the added sprinkle of salt, switching from salt-packed salad dressings and condiments to oils & vinegars, using more garlic, herbs, onions, lemons and limes to season our foods and cut pretty much all processed foods {most of my snacks}!  If I can't choose fresh, I'll have to pay closer attention to the Nutrition Facts Label to check the amount of sodium - foods with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less.
So now that I've announced my diet to the world I'll have more accountability. If I make it to my goal weight I'll tell you what it is {but don't expect before & after pictures}.
 
Wish me luck or give me some tips!
 
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