No skin off my bones.

I have lived my life to this point very, very opposed to one item that so many people seem to love…..

The chicken wing.

I know what you are thinking. Whhhhhaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttttttt? Yes, you heard right. I have been leading the anti chicken wing movement with no solid reason why.

Thinking back, I can blame my disgust for chicken wings on my hatred for sauces. I don’t like salad dressings…..not a fan of BBQ Sauce or ketchup, and until recently, I was not a fan of mustard. I understand that to many of you, this is strange. When it comes to the aforementioned condiments/sauces, I have given them all the effort to say with conviction I DO NOT LIKE YOU. Mustard and I got together by happenstance, and we have been doing well ever since. I have tangoed with sriracha….may have a future there….the jury is still out. I am trying new things and attempting to add some sauces to my cooking arsenal.

Back to that wing.

This past weekend Kyle and drove back to my hometown to take my dad out of dinner for Father’s Day. Since it was his celebration, he got to pick where we went, and he chose Quaker Steak and Lube….always a crowd favorite. The Lube is known for their wings, but me….being the wing hater I am, opted for a healthy chicken salad instead of living on the edge. Kyle was the only one of the bunch who got boneless wings. The order was huge, and for some reason he didn’t clean his plate, so we had some to bring back home.

Later in the evening during our Mad MenOITNB date, Kyle decided he was ready to have the rest of his wings and offered me a bite. I had a little trepidation….I mean, the flavor he chose was called “Boom Boom”, and I am not the biggest spice person either. However, I decided to try the wing bite.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOO.MMMMMMMMMMMM.GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG.

Why has no one force fed me a wing before? It was the most delicious thing ever! In fact, I was so obsessed that we ended up ordering a takeout order from Chili’s to share because #cheatmealshappen.

My deepest apologies to you, boneless wing. I promise I will spend the rest of my life making it up to you.

If you haven’t consumed a wing, first of all, congratulations on being part of probably 0 .000001% of the world, but do yourself a favor…..go to Quaker Steak and Lube, get some Boom Booms and rejoice.

New favorite cheat meal right here.

New favorite cheat meal right here.

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Birchbox Vs Ipsy: The Great Debate

I am obsessed with makeup and beauty products…..pretty sure everyone knows this by now. I’m also pretty into samples. Getting to try something gives me the opportunity to try things out before I choose to invest in them….i like saving myself money.

Insert into this discussion a concept that I embraced several years back: a sampler box being delivered to my door every month. At first I was apprehensive….do I really want to spend money on samples and products I have never heard of….is it worth it? Finally I bit the bullet and decided that I would give Birchbox a chance.

So what is Birchbox? It’s a company that launched back in 2010 by two individuals, one a self proclaimed makeup connoisseur and the other a makeup novice. Their objective was to provide beauty product lovers of the world the opportunity to try some quality products in an inexpensive way. Their idea ended up being a monthly beauty box that arrives monthly…… all for the lovely price of $10. Each box comes with 5 total items, 4 of which were sample size and one full sized.

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Then there is Ipsy. Ipsy was created by Michelle Phan, an individual who was known for her Youtube beauty tutorials. Much like Birchbox, Michelle wanted to get great products she loved out for others to try. Ipsy’s monthly Glam Bag is $10 a month and delivers five samples including full sized products.

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The two sound similar, right?

On the surface, they seem like they are the same fabulous deal. To be honest, they are both great. If you are a beauty lover like me, getting new products to try is a great thing…..especially when one is full sized, so it’s hard to not love samples. I can honestly say that some of my favorite new beauty products were discovered after I gave a sample a shot. With both companies you create a profile based on what kind of beauty products you like so they customize the samples they send you, which makes it even better.

I have declared a winner in the Birchbox/Ipsy debate. If you are trying to determine the best of the two and where your $10 should go, let me share with you my thoughts. After all, this month I officially canceled my subscription to one of these companies and now only subscribe to the company I think it better. Who would that be?

My winner!

Ipsy is my winner! Let me share my reasoning:

1. The packaging. Birchbox does come in a different box each month that has a fun design….and don’t get me wrong….I love the boxes, but I don’t really have much use for them after I take the items out of it. Ipsy not only comes in a cute metallic pink envelope (screams Katie), but each month your samples come in a different bag. The bags are great for traveling, plus they are very modern and chic….nothing lame like some of the bags you get from department store makeup counters (Clinique comes to mind).

2. The Quality. I have gotten many great products from Birchbox, but I don’t think they hold a candle to the products I get from Ipsy. The past couple of months my Birchbox items included fun products, no doubt, but the only brand I really knew about prior to the box arriving was Benefit. In addition, sometimes I got items that I didn’t want….like shampoo and conditioners when I had specifically asked not to have any of these items sent. With Ipsy, I have received Too Faced Melted lipstick (one of my all time favorites), Smashbox, OGX, and Not your Mother’s (if you read my article on hair you know how much I love this brand). I’d much rather receive the items I love…..great for having on hand for trips and to meet airport regulation size, and I have yet to receive something outside of the profile I created when I set up my account.

3. The Benefits. If I wanted to purchase anything from my Birchbox, I didn’t feel like I saved much, sometimes 10% was the max. With Ipsy, I save 40%. That’s called being shoppertunistic.

You may agree with me, you may not. Regardless, I truly support anyone who gives either a try. $10 is a great deal for the items you add to your makeup vanity and can help you save money in the long run. You won’t be sorry….especially if you are new to the beauty game and want to determine what you like.

In the meantime, I’m leading Team Ipsy.

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Shaun T and I are like peas and carrots.

Ok, maybe I just have been eating a lot of peas and carrots and have them on my brain. Regardless, you get the idea. We are like virtual BFFs….he just doesn’t know it yet.

However, in 41 days I will be in Nashville getting to work out right next to my man Shaun T and getting to talk with him, and you better believe I am going to tell him how much he has changed my life. And then I will cry. Yep, that’s a guarantee.

I. Can’t. Wait. In fact, I have an app on my phone with Shaun T’s face and a countdown. It is going to be great. Oh yeah, it’s also going to hit during my birthday week, and I think we all know how I like to celebrate my birthday………

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This week started Week 3 of Round 3 of my T25 journey with one of my clients. After the  last post I wrote on our joint T25 experience, I realized that I needed to give this client, who has asked to be anonymous, a name for blog purposes. I understand her desire to keep things on the DL, but referring to her over and over as “The Client” makes me feel like Im hanging out with Brad Renfro, and I don’t really dig that. Moving forward, I am going to simply refer to her as Tania the Machine.

Now, if you have rocked out T25, you know EXACTLY who Tania the Machine is…..she is Shaun T’s right hand lady and also the modifier in the T25 workouts (Beachbody lingo…the modifier is someone who does the same movements, just at a lesser impact. She is a great resource for beginners!). Check out these pics….Tania’s before and afters. She had a baby and used T25 to get those abs of steel back. I like to think of Tania as a quiet riot….when I first saw her, I had no clue what a bad ass she is. Now I know.

This photo courtesy of Tania's FB page.

This photo courtesy of Tania’s FB page.

Back to my Tania the machine, the lovely lady who challenged me to complete T25 alongside her. How is she doing?

FANTASTIC!

Every day Tania and I have communication. She texts me after her workouts, tells me how they went, tells me what she was most proud of completing, and shares where she needs to improve. You see, my job as a coach is so much more than posting cute selfies on FB ( No shame in my selfie game….just saying). It’s about holding those who choose to work with me accountable and helping them stay on track. It’s about helping them meal plan and find a way to LIKE healthier options. It’s about being that one person that serves as a cheerleader when you think the whole world is against you. Every Sunday, as I do with all of my challengers, I have Tania send me her meal plan for the week. The meal plan is always a beginner’s nemesis. You don’t know why you have to plan all these meals out and you certainly don’t want to spend time on Sunday portioning out ground beef when you could be indulging in a Sex and the City marathon. In time, you get it. You do it, and in time, it becomes a part of your weekly routine. Meal planning and prep is the single most underestimated tool in the war against obesity. Just plan, people! And if you are local to me, I will even come help you do it.

Being in Week 3 means one thing: We are almost done with the Alpha workout block, which lasts a month. Once this is complete, we move onto Beta, which is another 4 weeks. The time flies when you are doing pike ups, I tell ya.

On the first day of this challenge, I made something very clear. NO SCALE. We weigh ourselves the first day, and we weigh ourselves on Day 60. The scale is the other nemesis my challengers face. I was once a scale addict, too….stepping on that thing constantly and beating myself up when I wasn’t losing weight.

Here’s a newsflash: you need to focus on the NSVs. What does that mean?

THE NON SCALE VICTORIES!

This is exactly how Tania and I have been measuring our success these past three weeks. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite NSVs………

Tania’s NSVs

– Started the program using the modifier 100% of the time; now using modifier about 20% of the time

-Completed 2 real pushups with perfect form

-Stopped taking the elevator at work

-Has not had a Diet Coke in 3 weeks

-Pants feel looser and her once favorite dress is now too big

-Feels more confident in groups because she feels good about herself

-Has not missed a single workout

My NSVs

-Have not missed a single workout

-Completed every single oblique knee pushup in every Total Body Cardio workout (I used to not even be able to do one)

-Pants and skirts feel looser

-Said NO to my mother’s delicious home made Strawberry Shortcake because I had not planned for a cheat that day

-Finally can do a Pike Up without looking like a complete moron

-Have eliminated gluten from my meal plan and feel healthier, cleaner, less bloated, and not as sluggish

Feeling like Wonder Woman 3 weeks in!

Feeling like Wonder Woman 3 weeks in!

This T25 game clearly isn’t new to me. I know I’ve lost weight. BBBUUUUTTTTTTTTTTT the one lesson that I have learned and that is the most important thing I can share with all of you is:

The Non Scale Victories are where it’s at……it’s not about the number on the scale, but how you feel. 

The thing with T25 that I constantly think about is how hard it was for me the first time. I’m not saying it is easy now…nothing with Shaun T IS EVER EASY……but I downright struggled every day with the workouts that now I am killing. I could’ve given up every day. I could’ve told myself being fat and feeling like garbage was ok. I could’ve talked myself into skipping workouts every day and watched television instead. I could’ve settled for a life of elastic waist pants that grew with me as I shoved disgusting fast food down my throat.

I didn’t. Because I didn’t, I am now stronger and able to do things I couldn’t do the first time I did this program. I shared this with Tania after the first week when she was convinced she would never be able to do some of the moves without modification. Every day you do something, you are making progress. You are one day closer to meeting whatever goal it is that you have. Giving up won’t get you there. Believing in yourself and doing it…..even if that means doing a Pike Up looking like a complete mess like I did for a looooonnnnngggggg time…..will eventually get you to the point where you can say, “I did it.

I am so proud of Tania for sticking with a program that will completely change her life. In fact, I know it already has.

And for those of you who wonder why I love Shaun T so much, here’s a little video from Beachbody’s Summit in 2013. His passion, his love for what he does…..that is what inspires me every day to give everything I have to my clients and challengers.

This guy helped me get my life back. 41 days from now I will get to tell him this in person.

I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

Inspiring someone is the greatest thing you can ever do. Don’t waste that gift.

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Rave of the Week: Being a Good Witch

If you ever have to interact with me before 10am, there is one piece of information about me that you absolutely must know.

I need coffee.

Correction: You need me to have coffee.

I wish this was legit.

I very much like to get up early, and I very much like to be productive. Often I am doing work before the sun comes up….sometimes even holding conference calls where interaction is a must. When this happens, I am already about 3 cups in. I’m a busy person with deadlines, an Inbox constantly full of emails, videos to record, trainings to lead, meal plans to create, exercises to do….coffee is to me what gas is to a car. I don’t go without it.

During the month of May I had an amazing little surprise from Panera: free coffee for the entire month. I like having a My Rewards card, but to be honest, I don’t use it all that much because I pack my meals and stick to my meal plan. However, when I learned of this little gift from the coffee fairy, I took advantage of it every.single.day. In fact, I am now on a first name basis with the barista, Brianne, and I have a little morning gang I see daily that is composed of 4 gentlemen all in their 80’s. Panera, I love you and please, feel free to share this with me any time you wish. It absolutely was an amazing gift.

Coffee. It happens.

One day a few weeks ago I posted this picture on my Facebook to showcase my coffee cup cemetery (and my strong lipstick game). An acquaintance of mine messaged me and told me that I needed to stop drinking coffee because it was healthy. No, no it’s not, acquaintance. You clearly haven’t had your coffee and are not thinking correctly.

Go get yourself one of these IVs, sister.

Back when I didn’t care about my health, I had no problem ordering the fattiest drinks on the menu or overloading my coffee with those delicious creamers (hello, Samoa creamer….I am talking to you). However, I have learned about how bad some of those drinks are for you and have made modifications. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks here or there, but when I do I get my soy milk fix and drink them sparingly.

My favorite way to have my coffee involves the secret gem of the kitchen, coconut oil. Are you using it? Im serious, you should be. I use coconut oil for so many things that I probably should devote a blog to it so you can learn how versatile it is. My favorite use is putting it into my coffee. Not only do I love the taste, but it helps me avoid the “I need the sweet creamer taste” that I used to get back when I was going through creamer withdrawal.

Here’s how I make my coffee. P.S. You can use any kind of extract your heart desires, but I love caramel, hazelnut, and vanilla.

Hello, lover.

So back to my acquaintance telling me coffee wasn’t good for me. I’d like to share with you some of the health benefits so you can see for yourself that, just like milk, it does a body good.

Reasons why Coffee is the bomb.com. 

Benefit #1: It increases energy levels so you don’t feel as tired.

Benefit #2: It helps boost your metabolic rate by as much as 11%….. meaning it helps you burn fat.

Benefit #3: It DOESN’T contribute to high blood pressure, like sodas do.

Benefit #4: It assists with the increase in adrenaline in the bloodstream.

Benefit #5: The smell of coffee decreases stress.

Benefit #6: It is a huge source of antioxidants and helps fight free radicals.

Benefit #7: It helps your memory…..moderate amounts of caffeine increases the size of the hippocampus, which assists with long term and short term memory.

Benefit #8: 200 to 300mg of caffeine helps your heart perform better by improving the blood flow.

Benefit #9: It helps reduce the risk of diseases such as cirrhosis, Alzheimers, diabetes, gout, liver disease, and cancer.

Benefit #10: It can help suppress your appetite .

Here’s to all of you whose blood type is also Starbucks. And based on the fact this blog entry is posting at almost midnight, someone better make sure I am caffeinated in the morning…..or else you may be seeing the Wicked Witch.

Found this online...so true.

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Third Time’s a Charm….Ok, the First and Second were, too.

Do you know that feeling when you are about to embark on something really, really, really incredible??? It’s like a mixture of excitement, fear, trepidation, adrenaline, and happiness. I hope you know what that feels like because it is one of the greatest feelings ever. Can I? Will I? I just love those feelings all mashed into one.

I’ve had that feeling ever since I received a request from one of my clients last week asking me to join her on a very specific journey. The email said:

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In the year and a half I have been a coach I have not had anyone ever ask this of me. Most of what I do is coach and motivate through online support groups, but occasionally someone will prefer a different method, which I always welcome. Without hesitation I called this woman, told her I would do the program with her, and that I would support her the entire journey.

Let’s bring up some feelings again, because I had a pretty strong feeling hit me when I read this email and spoke to this woman on the phone. It was the same feeling I mentioned earlier and the same feeling I felt when I was in the same familiar place as this woman.

Those who don’t know me or don’t follow me on Facebook may not realize that a year and a half ago I was a totally different person. I was someone unhappy with many aspects of my life which led to a domino effect of alcohol abuse, fast food binging, and excuses that overcame my desire to exercise. I was 60 pounds heavier and could barely fit into the very extensive wardrobe I had collected over the years. One day a college friend reached out to me and asked me to join a challenge group. He told me about the special that month, a little program named T25, and how I would be getting this awesome shake called Shakeology to help me curb cravings and help me jump start healthier eating habits. I knew virtually nothing about either.

Like this woman, I had been scared to purchase it….to commit to myself that I would try to be healthier. I remember that feeling when I purchased it…..when the box showed up at my door….how I felt (and how much I cried when I took my before photos)…..how I felt during my first workout….and how I felt 60 days later when I stepped on the scale and realized I had dropped 47.5 lbs. Oh yeah, and three dress sizes.

My first experience with T25. I'd say it was a total success.

My first experience with T25. I’d say it was a total success.

That picture is so much more to me than just a before and after photo. That picture represents two of the most defining moments of my life: The moment I realized I wanted to change more than I wanted to stay the same and the moment when I finally was able to say I DID THIS. I will never forget the emotions I felt in either picture. As a coach, I want everyone I meet to feel those emotions. Beating your inner demons, excuses, and feelings of complacency…..guys, that is something that will change the course of your entire life. It did mine, and it has for so many people I know and have had the privilege to work with over time.

What is T25? Besides being the #1 program in my life for the rest of my life, it is a program created by my main man Shaun T that delivers crazy fun workouts in 25 minute a day segments. The first month you spend completing the Alpha program, the second month is Beta. If you are new to the workouts, don’t worry….there is a modifier, and there is absolutely NO SHAME in utilizing her. In fact, I spent the majority of the first month using her moves, which are not quite as intense, but still killer. Here is a look at the workouts:

To date, I have done this program twice start to finish and have lost a combined 60 pounds. I’m at a point now where I want to lean up in a few areas while building more muscle in others. Is this program still for me? Absolutely. This program is great for you regardless of where you are at in the game. I am pumped to see what my third round will bring me as far as success.

Monday my client and I officially began our T25 journey together, and I decided I would recap the 60 day journey throughout to share more about how it went and so my readers could learn more about it and how I do things.

Day 1 of Round 3!

Whenever anyone begins a group with me they know I expect one thing from them at some point in the game: a meal plan. Meal planning is one of the most neglected areas when it comes to getting healthier. Abs aren’t made in the gym, people. They are made in the damn kitchen. Don’t forget it!

Since my client is doing a one on one approach with me, some things are the same while some are obviously different. She sent me her meal plan Sunday night, and I sent her mine. Here’s a look at how mine is structured for the week. I am in the middle of a clean eating group, so I am following a clean eating meal plan a little different than my usual. I like to repeat a lot of things each week because it is easier and honestly, I like to eat the same thing. I eat to live, not live to eat. If something comes up where I don’t stick 100% to my meal plan I don’t beat myself up. As long as I am eating clean 80% of the time I am a happy camper.

May 18th

After our first workout, Cardio, my client and I messaged each other. She had struggled through the workout much like I had my first time. I found myself pushing myself harder than ever…..telling myself I could get my knees higher when I ran and deeper on my lunges. I pushed the heck out of myself. When I finished the 25 minutes I still felt like I earned my shower.

Now, halfway through Week 1, I can assure you I am just as sore as I was during round 1. I love it. The feeling….that nervous, exciting, adrenaline filled, trepidation lingering feeling…..yep, it’s still here. I welcome it now. After all, it helped me get from the girl on the left in the picture below to the girl on the right.

Stay tuned for updates on how our journey is going! I have no doubt that the third time will be an absolute charm for me….nor do I doubt it will be anything less for  my client during her first round.

I love hearing someone say “I did this.”

In 60 days someone will be saying it that questioned if they ever would.

And that, my friends, is why I love what I do.

Giveup

RANT of the Week: Tradition Schmadition

I haven’t had a ton of rants lately (shocker), but there is one that has slowly been growing to the point that it is time to finally do a little rant about it.

My Upcoming Wedding.

My excitement for my wedding is off the charts….I literally cannot wait. As the countdown becomes shorter and shorter, there is one thing that I am learning. Lots of people seem to have opinions.

I don’t know if you know this or not….but I am a little different. I do things different than most people,  so my wedding will be absolutely no exception. Therefore, this rant is for those who keep telling me how things “should be” or just straight up sharing their ridiculous ideas on weddings. Not that I feel I need to, but I WANT to address a few topics that seem to really hit my nerves the hardest.

  • MY DRESS. I knew the moment I got engaged that I didn’t want a white dress like everyone else. My favorite color is pink….and I wanted pink. Therefore, I went on a hunt to find the perfect pink dress….which was a success. The dress I will be wearing on my wedding day is 100% Katetastic and the perfect shade of pink.I have gotten many looks from people when they have asked me to describe my dress and then hear the color. I think most people think it is some hot pink taffeta masterpiece, but let me assure you, it is not something that will rival the dresses on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding or whatever that TLC show is called. Here’s the thing….you should wear a wedding dress that is reflective of you and your style. It is essentially the most important dress I will ever wear. Why would I want to wear something that isn’t me? You don’t like a pink dress? Cool. Then don’ t wear one on your wedding day. Problem solved.
  • WEDDING WEBSITE. I think most people expected me to set up one of those wedding websites where people could go online, read our story, learn about our wedding party, creep on all of the details, yadda yadda. I get it. After all, a big part of my life is online due to the nature of the business I run. However, there are some parts of my life that I do keep relatively private, and while I may mention little snippets about the wedding here and there, there are some parts everyone doesn’t need to know. Moral of story: stop asking me to make one. It isn’t happening.
  • THE CHURCH. There is NO CHURCH for my wedding. From the very beginning, Kyle and I knew we did not want a church wedding. From my point of view, I wanted our wedding to be an amazing experience for our loved ones, not just any run of the mill event. I wanted things to be different and the day to be something they all would remember forever, just like Kyle and I will. Therefore, we rented a museum so our guests can enjoy the ceremony and reception at a cool location with some really neat things. There will be nothing religious with our ceremony….in fact, one of Kyle’s best friends is marrying us. It is exactly the way we want it to be. A church wedding may be great for some of you; it isn’t us, and that is why we aren’t doing it.
  • ASSUMPTIONS. Oh, there’s been lots of these. They are annoying. We made the decision to have a smaller sized wedding because that is what we wanted. Realistically, we both know a lot of people and could’ve easily invited a ton of people. I can see how people struggle with this, because drawing the line is hard. From the jump we decided on our family (which we have quite a few of) and closest friends. We wanted it smaller…we are keeping it smaller. That is that. I just don’t understand why people Ive talked to like twice in my lifetime feel like they should be invited to the wedding or even be a part of the bridal party (yes, that assumption has happened).Our wedding will be 100% us. I am excited about every little detail we have worked on to ensure it is just that. If you have an issue with something we are doing, go plan your own wedding or event and do it your way.

    After all, your approval is not needed.

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    RANT OVER.

 

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Hotcakes for a Hot Waist!

Many, many things contributed to me gaining that extra 60 pounds I decided to hang out with a few years ago.

Fast food and booze were up there on the list, but there was one little food friend that helped escalate the weight gain process.

Pancakes. Mother F#%&@ing Pancakes.

I am very honest with my love for breakfast food. IT IS THE BEST! I swear I could eat it every meal of the day and be happy, especially my beloved pancakes. Who doesn’t love a pancake (if you don’t, I may need to put you on friendship probation….Im serious). I love them so much that the very first profile picture I had on Facebook was a rabbit with a pancake on its head.

Don't believe me? Go look at my Facebook.

Don’t believe me? Go look at my Facebook.

When I started my weight loss journey, I knew I would have to seriously re-evaluate my eating habits. I was fine with cutting out the nasty processed food, but my heavenly little buttermilk breakfast buddy…..not so much. With time I learned there were ways I could still make pancakes in a healthy way and enjoy in moderation.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite recipes: the Cashew Pancake!

I'm nuts about these.

This recipe is from the 21 Day Fix Extreme Meal Plan, and to be honest, I’m a little mad at Autumn for not sharing it with us sooner. Things I like about it: 1) It’s healthy. 2) It has minimal ingredients. 3) I can make a bunch of them, store them in the fridge, and reheat when needed. 4) Taste great topped with fruit instead of syrup. 5) I can make lots of nutty pun jokes when making them (see what I did there???)

Here’s what you need to make them and the easy instructions, too!

Cashew Pancakes

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup raw cashews

-2 cups oats (old fashioned)

-1 large egg

-Dash Pink Himalayan salt

-1 teaspoon cinnamon

-1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

-1 1/3 Cups water

-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

All you need!

Here’s how to whip them up!

Step 1: Pulse oats, cashews, cinnamon, and salt in food processor until fine.

Step 2: Add egg, water, oil, and vanilla. Pulse again until batter becomes thicker. If you need to thin it a bit, add a tad bit more water.

Step 3: Heat up your griddle/ pan/ water you are cooking these on (SIDENOTE: the cavemen used to cook their pancakes on rocks) and spray with Coconut Oil. I use this instead of Pam…so much healthier.

My favorite spray!

Step 4: Cook like any other pancake, flipping when one side has browned and the edges bubble.

Step 5: Top with favorite berries or syrup.

Something to mention…..these are more solid than your fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Don’t think you did anything wrong when you flip them and realize they are a little sturdier. They still taste amazing. This recipe makes 10 pancakes, and a serving is 2.

If you want to watch my girl Autumn make them, you can watch here. She uses the same coconut spray as me, so we are basically best friends. Plus the last time I saw her I got to clear a bathroom for her to use, which was pretty neat and made me feel like a jacked sequined security guard. That’s best friend status.

Oh yeah, and get quality kitchen help, like I always seem to have……

On duty 24/7

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No great story ever began with a salad….until the salad met the mason jar.

If you are someone who follows me on Facebook, you know there is one thing I do every single Sunday.

I meal prep #likeaboss.

Back when I started my journey toward a healthier lifestyle, I learned quickly that one of the best things I could do was plan out my meals for the week and prep for them the Sunday before the week began. Initially it seemed like so much work, but after awhile I got into a rhythm where this weekly ritual became just part of my routine.

So why meal prep? Im guessing a few people reading this are asking themselves that question. Let me tell you why I do it.

-IT SAVES ME TIME.

I live an extremely busy lifestyle. As someone running their own business juggling multiple work projects all the time, including planning a wedding, I have no choice but to eat on the run most days. I refuse to eat at fast food restaurants, and it can be pricey to go to sit down restaurants constantly. Plus, let’s be real….I just like the way I cook, and I like to know what kind of food I am putting into my body at all times. Having meals portioned out properly and in cute little containers makes it easy to grab and go.

– IT SAVES ME MONEY.

You may think that it doesn’t, but trust me, it does. When I first started meal planning I went back through the previous month and tallied up how much I spent on random meal purchases, lunches with coworkers or my employees, or quick snacks from wherever I was. It disgusted me how much I spent. Having everything, including snacks ready, eliminates those mindless trips. When I grocery shop, I have a specific list, meaning I am not grabbing random things that aren’t good for my body or my wallet.

-IT KEEPS ME ON TRACK.

I have goals, and I am very conscientious of what I eat. My lifestyle has changed so much over the past couple of years. How I eat is not a diet; it is my way of life. We are only given one body on this Earth, and I am taking care of mine by making healthy choices in the kitchen. I won’t tell you that I don’t ever eat unhealthy things….because I do…I have a cheat meal every week, and I do enjoy ice cream here and there. Since I started meal planning I am more mindful of my choices overall. I like having a plan. I like sticking to a plan, and I like the results I see when I complete a plan.

 

This makes me very, very happy to see.

This makes me very, very happy to see.

One thing that is pretty consistent with my meal planning is that I like to make meals that don’t necessarily take a long time to make. This brings me to the star of this blog article, my mason jar salad.

Mason jar salads are great for anyone because they can be made about a million different ways. If you are a picky eater and don’t like a certain recipe, all you have to do is modify the recipe to meet your tastebud’s needs. I like to think of it as the perfect mix and match food item. The great thing about using a mason jar is the salad stays fresh much longer. Also, they look really cool, and it saves you from container chaos. Before, whenever I made a salad to go, I had separate containers with the cheese, the meat, a dressing if I had it…so many containers. (Sidenote: Mason Jars come in a variety of sizes and are very inexpensive. I got mine at Target).

While you do have lots of options with this, there is a way you want to assemble everything, so consider this when planning out your salad. You want to start with wet ingredients and move up to dry ingredients, if not your salad can be soggy, and no one likes that.

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Here is how you want to assemble your salad.

1. Dressing on the bottom. Ive never been a huge dressing person, so this is often missing from my jars, like the one above. If you use a dressing, use about 2 tablespoons or so.

2. Hard Veggies are next. I love green peppers, so this is a staple for me, but sometimes I use broccoli, cucumbers or carrots. These hard veggies serve as kind of a barrier between the dressing and softer items to follow. I also add nuts to this layer if I am including them. This week’s salad includes some pecans toasted lightly with cinnamon and coconut oil.

3. Soft Veggies. Soft veggies include avocado, tomatoes, onions, corn, etc.

4. Protein. This is where you add your meat and cheese, as well as egg if you choose. This week I chose ham for something different.

5. The very last layer is for your lettuce. You can use spinach, arugula, whatever you choose!

Tighten lid and refrigerate. They are that easy.

I’ve made many variations with my mason jars, but these are 4 of my favorites (minus the dressing). Pinterest has a variety of options, too, so if you are a pinhead like me, make sure you spend a little time cruising through the options. Another favorite of mine: strawberry vinaigrette, strawberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries, then grilled chicken, a little shredded cheese, some of my delicious pecans, and lettuce. Great for summer!

Some of my favorites from lexiscleankitchen.com

Some of my favorites from lexiscleankitchen.com

Here are some fun things to keep in mind as you made your salads.

-Do pack your jars super tight and leave as little air as possible. Less air means the salad stays fresher longer.

-Do be creative….you can use pasta, quinoa, rice…whatever you like! Just always keep the lettuce/spinach/arugula at the top away from any wet ingredients so they don’t wilt.

-Do make salads in an assembly line. It is easier to cut up everything and have it arranged in an assembly line for quicker processing time. Also, don’t make just one or two salads……it is more cost effective to make a week’s worth.

-Do stick with the same protein and change up the rest of the ingredients to be cost effective. For example, preparing chicken in bulk saves you money and can be modified many different ways.

-Do buy your mason jars in bulk. Typically a dozen will run you about $10, and you can also use the jars for overnight oats, canning down the road, or other creative projects.

Give meal planning a try, and make sure you add these bad boys to it!

Look how cute!

Look how cute!

 

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Who What Hair When Why.

I freaking love big hair and have no shame in my hair game. To date I think I have had my hair every color and every hair style known to man. I’ve also tried about a gazillion hair products, so chances are I could write a review on the product that you are using.

I get so many questions about how I fix my hair and what I use on it that I figured it was finally time to show you how easy it is to get my look. For all of you hair folks, this one’s for you!

First of all, let’s talk about my shampoo/conditioner situation. I love love love the Way to Grow Shampoo and Conditioner from Not Your Mother’s. I love sulfate free products, and these two really do make my hair grow. Best part, they are about $6 each at Ulta or CVS. I only wash my hair twice a week because I like to keep my hair healthy and use other products to keep my hair looking fab. Also, it takes a while to blow dry my hair, and I like to save time. Side note: Not Your Mother’s has a huge product line to help you reach your desired look (I like the Beach products, too).

 

Always sulfate free!

Always sulfate free!

After the shampoo and conditioner process is over, I emerge from the shower looking like a real hot mess. Exhibit A. Also, it is at this point that I share with you I have naturally curly hair. Obviously.

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Blow drying my hair takes forever, but I have found ways to cut out some time. Exhibit B, this crazy looking thing. You can purchase this hair bonnet that looks like it is from 1950 (or a spaceship) by clicking here….it’s on Amazon for less than $10! You hook your blow dryer into the end so it helps dry your hair much quicker…sometimes I roll my hair in velcro rollers first, but not always. I also rely heavily on my Wet Brush…..I have the classic I use at home and a mini brush in my purse at all times.

People thought I was crazy when I posted this on Facebook!

People thought I was crazy when I posted this on Facebook!

After drying, I sometimes look like my finger was in an electric socket. It’s ok….and a quick fix for me!

Post blow dryer

Post blow dryer

This right here is my secret weapon: Aquage Transforming Spray. I use this before styling and after styling. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find in stores, but you can find it on Amazon (Yes, I love Amazon).

I love this stuff so much.

I love this stuff so much.

Before styling I lightly spray my hair with Aquage. I make weird faces consistently throughout the process.

Making a fun face helps.

Making a fun face helps.

When you get to this step, channel your inner Marcia Brady and brush your hair. I use my Wet Brush and brush probably more than the necessary amount. The Aquage I have sprayed tames my hair a bit, and I am ready to start my fun styling process.

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During the blow drying process, I am heating up my hot rollers. Of all of the rollers I have tried, these are my favorite. And at only $20 at Walmart, they are affordable. I don’t use rollers with the clips….very anti the kinks they leave behind in my hair.

Love the velvet..helps keep my hair in place!

Love the velvet..helps keep my hair in place!

Place the rollers in your hair. The purple curlers here are actually the same brand, just a little bigger. I use these on the top of my head and always leave out the front piece to style later.

It never fails...a piece always sticks out.

It never fails…a piece always sticks out.

Once your curlers are in place, spray a light dusting of the Aquage transforming spray to set them in place.

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While my curls are setting, I put on my makeup. This is the best time to do it because your hair is off your face. I let the curlers set for about 10 minutes, which is the same amount of time it takes me to do my makeup. Winning!

When you start to take your curlers out, your curls will be very tight. Don’t worry….we will fix that in the next step. Just take the curlers out and admire your Shirley Temple-like curls for a minute.

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I then tousle my hair and loosen the curls by shaking my hair a bit and using my fingers as a comb. If you want your curls tighter, don’t tousle as much. Sometimes I brush my curls out with the Wet Brush and make them into waves. The curls keep shape (and volume) thanks to the Aquage spray.

Before I finish up my hair process, let me address the elephant in the room: I get ready in beach cover ups. I have a bunch like this one and love them. I can throw them on and off, and they don’t mess up my hair or makeup after I finish both up. My favorite cover ups (for getting ready and for the beach) are from Target.

So many ridiculous faces. No shame in any of them.

So many ridiculous faces. No shame in any of them.

If needed, I use a curling iron to curl the pieces that frame my face or any weird pieces that curled in a strange manner. It happens. Don’t pretend it doesn’t.

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This may seem like a lot of work, but it honestly isn’t. Drying is the most time consuming part, but the roller/styling process takes about 15 minutes total. I follow the same process on days I don’t shampoo my hair. Ever hear of dry shampoo? It’s one of the greatest inventions ever. This is the one I rely on. I spray a little on my hair, blast a little with the blow dryer, then style as usual.

Worth every penny.

Worth every penny.

Every couple of days, I use oil in my hair before brushing. My favorite oil is this one from Ogx….surprise, it’s coconut….one of my favorite scents. You can buy this at any store, and it costs about $7 a bottle. Last month in my Birchbox I got a pricey oil to try….one that retails for about $40. It couldn’t hold a candle to my coconut heaven oil!

Smells like the beach!

Smells like the beach!

The final result: my signature curly look. I lightly spray Aquage once my styling process is over. As it gets more humid, more spray is used to prevent my hair from turning into a lion mane. Just wait. The time is near.

Fabulous.

Fabulous.

Here’s the thing with hair: It’s weird. It took me a loooonnnnngggggg time to find products that work. The products I mentioned here? All products recommended to me by friends, which is why I wanted to share them with you. I would’ve never discovered Aquage on my own, I initially thought Wet brushes were weird looking when I saw them in the store, and I was convinced Not Your Mother’s was a cheap brand. Fortunately, I trust my friends, so when they suggested these things to me I tried them and fell in love. Moral of the story: be willing to try things, and trust the people you love most. There are lots of great sites that can hook you up with samples so you aren’t flushing money down the drain (my favorite is Birchbox and it’s only $10 a month).

Hair is fun.

Home Sweet Home No More.

I’ve been riding a roller coaster of emotion for the past month. Seriously. Front row of the roller coaster, no seat belt, hands in the air. No friends joining me.

This weekend I finally stepped off the roller coaster that has clearly been tugging at my heartstrings. That, my friends, was done by saying goodbye to a member of our family that has been with us for 25 years.

Our house.

Yes, you heard right. My house.

25 years of some of the best memories of my life.

25 years of some of the best memories of my life.

Several months ago my parents shared with me that they had made the decision to sell the home where I had spent a great portion of my life living. I understood their reasoning. After all, there was a substantial amount of yard work, and they didn’t want to have to manage that anymore.

I had never considered them leaving that home, so when my mother first told me I wasn’t sure how to react. At first I felt a little silly that my heart was so torn with their decision. I wanted them to be somewhere they loved and could be happy, and I knew moving to a condo  would definitely help them with that. I was heartbroken to leave behind so many memories and the comfort of a place I could always go to for peace and happiness…..and also leave behind my beloved little Simon, who I had buried after his death near a tree by my bedroom window. At the same time, his death and the reasons behind it had a part of me wishing my parents would move since it happened.

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One of many wonderful moments in our living room.

 

I have always had an attachment to places, and moving has always been hard for me. To those who know me best, you know that I, myself, have had my fair share of moving. Since I graduated from college I have moved 16 times. SIXTEEN. I don’t like doing it….life has happened, jobs have relocated me….I’ve just become best friends with Two Men and a Truck. In fact, as most of you know, 90% of my stuff is presently in a storage unit as Kyle and I prepare to move again, which will happen as soon as we find a house that meets our needs (we need a pump room, no negotiating that fact). Yet, this move is different.

How do you go about sorting through the emotions involved with a move like this? I had no clue with this one. I helped my mother go through items that I forgot existed as they started to pack everything up….clothes I wore as a baby…my favorite books and toys as a child…old trophies and awards….my entire Barbie collection (it was extensive). It was fun to cruise down memory lane while also being so emotionally draining.

Here's an old school pic of my brother and I at our (now) old house.

Here’s an old school pic of my brother and I at our (now) old house.

Yesterday I was able to visit my parents’ new condo, and I absolutely loved it. I am so happy they found a place that was perfect for them. Yes, it was a hot mess because boxes were everywhere and they were just starting the “put things away” game, but I could see the possibilities in it. As my mother said, a home is more than just the building….it’s the memories and people that were in it.

Mama is always right.

As I sit here today and think about the fact that I will never be in my old house again, I also think about what a great house it was.  Im thankful for 25 years in such a beautiful place. I’m thankful for 25 years worth of family dinners together and shooting hoops outside with my dad. I’m thankful for the Sunday morning runs in the cemetery that was across the street and for living in the country so I could appreciate its beauty. I’m thankful for the parties, holiday events, and people who have graced our residence over 25 years. Mostly, I’m thankful for the family I have and thankful that regardless of where we live, we will always be at home when we are together.

Congrats on a new chapter of your lives, Mom and Dad!

The number of pictures we took in this spot cannot be counted. First day of school pics....special events...just because pics.....this one was before my uncle's wedding.

The number of pictures we took in this spot cannot be counted. First day of school pics….special events…just because pics…..this one was before my uncle’s wedding.

 

 

 

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