Rant of the Week: Susies!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a rant, but today seemed like the perfect day to get something off of my chest. I’m so sick of the Susies!

For those that don’t know me in the real world, I am 100% what one would refer to as a hot head. I go from 0 to 100 really fast when I feel like someone is trying to trash something I am really passionate about. It’s hard to get me to that level, but when I do, watch out!

I used to think that having a personality like this was bad, but after some time I realized that it wasn’t. You see….when I get fired up about something….like REALLY FIRED UP….it is because it is something I am extremely passionate about. Passion is good!

I’m passionate about so many things, especially helping people get into a happier and healthier place. I try my best to share my sparkle with everyone I meet and help them reach whatever goal it is that they have, and I run a team of motivated men and women who do the same. We want to leave the world better than how we found it. That should be everyone’s mission!

I recently have seen a few fellow ex-coaches taking to their social media platforms to try and trash Beachbody. When I see this my heart always hurts a little bit. Most just want to trash the company and say that it isn’t a good company or that the market is saturated and that there isn’t a need for coaches.

Am I going to defend this company? Abso-FREAKIN-lutely.

Listen, people. We need to have a little REAL talk moment here, because I’m noticing a trend with some of you who are actively trying to trash my company, and this is a major bugaboo of mine, so I have to address it.

-With any business….NOT JUST BEACHBODY….if you don’t put in time and effort and TRY, you aren’t going to be successful. That goes for our company, that goes for Wall Street, that goes for McDonalds. You can’t expect to go to your job every day, sit around, do nothing, and end up making a million dollars at the end of the year. It just doesn’t happen. So before you start trashing a company that you **USED** to love, please take a moment and think about your work ethic or lack thereof. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you didn’t put in the work, which means you weren’t as successful as you wanted, which means you quit, which means you jumped to another MLM company thinking that would make you more successful. Bitch, please. The only place Success comes before Work is in the dictionary. It doesn’t matter what you are doing: your actions are tied directly to your result!

-Trashing any company, especially when you are making it a point to make your status updates about said company like every other day, makes YOU look like a real asshole. Do you think people will be drawn to you because you just want to bash a company? Negativity breeds negativity. I see these people who just post status after status on Facebook about Beachbody, and the people commenting on that post are all the same Negative Nancy’s who, much like the status maker, didn’t make Beachbody work because they thought signing up to coach meant the next day the sky would be raining money just because they smiled. Furthermore, when I see someone who is posting negative statuses of comments about there companies on the reg, they lose all credibility with me instantly. It’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s another thing to try to spread hate and nastiness without sharing the whole story. Remember, WHAT SUSIE SAYS OF SALLY SAYS MORE OF SUSIE THAN OF SALLY.

-Saying that the coaching market is saturated is THE. MOST. RIDICULOUS. statement you could possibly make, and it also makes me sad because it tells me you don’t see what is happening with this country’s health as a whole. This country is more obese than it ever has been….and child obesity is off the charts! Millions of people need a solution and to be connected to a person/product that can help them reach their goals. Now I’m not saying that what I do is the only option…there are so many great options out there, and everyone needs to find the best solution for their situation/lifestyle/goal….but what I am saying is that what I do and the products I am able to connect people with….THOSE ARE THE SOLUTION for many, many, many people out there.

I recently went out to Las Vegas with friends to celebrate a friend of mine’s birthday. One of my favorite parts of Vegas is Old Vegas….aka Fremont street…where there are the old school lights and casinos….the people watching is also pretty amazing there, too. As we were walking around I noticed a restaurant promoting the World’s Highest Calorie Burger, called the Quadruple Bypass Burger, and all kinds of unhealthy options. The menu even included cigarettes (that’s the vegan option). I was instantly disgusted. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a greasy hamburger and cheese sticks, but this is taking it to another level. This place was actually promoting poor health, high cholesterol, and heart attacks! And you are telling me that there isn’t a need for individuals to help those struggling with their health????? Yeah, mmmmooookkkk.

(Sidenote: I did look into this place when I got back home. It is part of a chain and there have been quite a few deaths as a result of the food. Several of the locations have closed, and the spokesman for the company actually died in 2013).

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-Sometimes things don’t work out. We have all been there…..a job didn’t work out the way we hoped, a relationship didn’t work out, etc. Does that mean something better is out there? Chances are, yes! Use whatever it is as a stepping stone and acknowledge that while it isn’t the final destination on your journey, it helped get you to where you should be. I’ve had a ton of failures in my lifetime….and I can guarantee you Im going to have many more. But…..I’m where I am in my life because of those failures. I wouldn’t have the career, the people, or the life I have if it wasn’t for the stumbling I did along the way. I won’t bash all the things that helped me get here. I acknowledge that they didn’t work out but I choose to see the positive in them.

Look, maybe you’d rather sell wine or makeup…..COOL! This isn’t about saying Beachbody is the only MLM out there….it’s not! There are many amazing ones depending on what you want to do and what you are passionate about (I have friends in pretty much every MLM out there….and I support them 100%, so don’t even go there). Sometimes you do have to try one before finding the right one for you. I’m not saying that’s not ok!

What I am saying though…..for those of you thinking wanting to build a business…. creating a staircase of people you have stepped on won’t get you the success you want.

I want everyone to find something that makes their heart so incredibly full that they want to spend every minute of every day rocking whatever it is. That’s how I feel. I literally wake up every morning excited to chat with my coaches, my challengers, the customers I work with one on one, my kick boxers…..I feel so happy knowing I am just one small piece of their success story. That’s what makes me tick. That’s what drives me. That’s where my passion is.

And that’s what has driven this rant.

Now let’s go about our day….and let’s be positive, ok?????

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Bah Humbug.

Yes, that’s how I feel this time of year, and I don’t even feel bad saying it. As much as I try I just don’t see the holidays as the same joyous time as everyone else, and it is really challenging when you feel like you have a heart made of coal when everyone else is rocking a heart made of candy canes and sugar plums.

November marked the second anniversary since we lost my father, and since his death came right around Thanksgiving, the holidays that year and ever since have changed for us. That first year I refused to acknowledge the holiday, and I did not put up a tree or any decorations. The gifts I purchased were wrapped in paper that could pass for a birthday present. Last year, I kind of tried….I did the tree thing, baked a little bit, and still refused to send out Christmas cards or wrap in festive paper.

This year I am trying a little harder. I put up two gorgeous trees in my house; one a frosted pine that has all of the ornaments given to me by my parents over the years, and the other a glitter tree that is Kate-tastic with a capital K. Our mantle is decorated, and I will be baking like crazy in a few weeks. Wrapping…..well, let’s just say I found Christmas doughnut wrapping paper, so that’s the theme of this year. I ordered Christmas cards, and if I ever finish addressing them they will be in the mail. Im trying.

From the outside it seems as though I’m into the holiday this year, but don’t be deceived. I am actually struggling more this year than I did that first Christmas, and I’m not sure why I am stepping back in my grief journey.  I was talking to some people in my grief support group about it and don’t know if it is because since my dad’s death I have lost both my grandmothers, one just a few months ago, and this entire time of year is laced with dates tied to their passings, funerals, or memorials, or if it is something else.

As I sit here and try to deal with my own grief I often think about how insensitive I was before my family suffered these losses. I remember giving friends grief when they told me they hated the holidays. I remember trying to push certain friends into partaking into holidays traditions with me, even when they made it clear they didn’t want to. I just couldn’t get that people could hate such a beautiful time of year.

Now here I am, one of those people. Nothing is worse than someone saying “Are you excited for the holidays?” and answering with “No”, then given either a dirty look or a hard time because of your answer. It’s also the time of year where there are parties and events going on constantly, and I struggle being able to go to any of them. To me, I am that Grinch in the group that doesn’t want to participate, and I am always afraid if I attend I will be the Debbie Downer in the group that will ruin the fun for everyone. It’s not a good feeling. And, unfortunately, I have many friends who have recently suffered significant losses that are joining me in the “Eff the holidays” club.

For those of you struggling this time of year, here are some things that I have found are somewhat helpful, at least to me:

1. Incorporate your loved one into the holiday in some way. 

This is probably the hardest thing to do. For me, I struggle with family gatherings and the traditions we used to do because I sit there the entire time and can’t help but think about the empty chairs at the table and who is missing. And yes, I know that our loved ones are there with us in spirit, but that doesn’t make it easier. An important thing to do is decide what traditions you want to keep and what you want to change, then add a new tradition for your loved one(s).

Last year my mom and I learned about The White Envelope Project, and we decided to make that a new tradition in honor of my dad. I supported a pet rescue last year and will be doing the same this year, as my dad was a huge dog lover.

Every year my dad would request I make him a batch of anise pizzelles when I made the basic ones for the family. I continue to make him a batch now. I cried the entire time last year, and I guarantee I will this year, too, but making these cookies that he loved makes me feel a little comfort.

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The White Envelope Project

2. Try to maintain your usual routine.

For me, that includes getting in my workout every day, completing the basic business tasks that I do daily, and acting like the holidays are just another day. I need that routine to keep myself from falling into a deeper black hole. Doing things that make you feel normal will help.

3. Be honest with your family and friends. 

It’s challenging for me sometimes to tell my friends the reasons why I don’t want to attend certain holiday functions. I know that just because I am dealing with grief doesn’t mean they are, but you need to open the lines of communication. Let others know you are needing support and a little extra love this time of year. There’s no shame in saying “I need help” or “I can’t do this” in relation to a certain event, and your loved ones will understand.

4. Connect with a grief support group online or in your area, or seek assistance from a counselor. 

DO NOT feel weird about talking to someone about your feelings and issues this time of year, or any time of year to be honest. I do it regularly, and I have found a lot of comfort from individuals in these groups. Sometimes just talking to someone who has gone through the exact same thing you have gone through helps.

5. Do not feel guilty if you do something that brings you joy.

I’ve struggled with this one a lot…..how can I have a good time when a huge part of my heart is missing?  Your loved ones want you to continue living life, so do things that may make a dark time a little lighter. Laughing and spending time with friends and family doesn’t mean you don’t miss them like crazy. I do my best to still talk about my dad if I am having a good time or hanging out with people who maybe didn’t know him because I feel like he is still a part of things if he is in the conversation here and there.

6. Always have an exit strategy. 

One thing that has happened to me since losing my dad is that I have moments that hit me where I go into a complete emotional meltdown without warning. Sometimes a song comes on…..sometimes I just see something that reminds me of him and it hurts my heart….I never know. But when it happens, I need to get the hell out of dodge, and I need to get out fast. Since this happens a lot, especially this time of year, I always drive separate so I can make sure I’m not stuck where I am and can get home or out of the crowded area I’m in fast. Have a plan in case this is something you are experiencing. For me, it helps me feel as if I have a little control over those moments.

7. Minimize gifts. 

I feel all too often people go overboard with the holidays. Do we really need ALL that stuff? I used to be one of those overboard people….I just loved buying and getting gifts.  Ever since my dad’s death my thoughts have changed. I don’t need things. I just want to be around those I care about and spend as much time with them as possible. Things are just things……but people and memories….those are what matters. Focus on the important things instead of trying to one up someone else with a bigger, shinier, more expensive gift. In the grand scheme of life it won’t matter.

8. TRY not to eat/drink your feelings. 

As someone who used to do this all the time, I know how tempting it can be. I’m not saying to not #treatyoself here and there, but don’t sit down in front of the cookie table and inhale dozens. It won’t help things, and you will end up feeling worse about it in the long run.

9. Volunteer and do good. 

I feel good donating for The White Envelope project, but I also try to get involved volunteering or helping others in need. There are soup kitchens needing help with holiday meals for the homeless, people who don’t have jackets to wear during the cold, animals who need shelter, children who won’t have any gifts to open on Chrismas day….do something that can help them but also make you feel good.

10. Give yourself grace.

Not everything has to be perfect, you don’t have to have it all together, and it’s okay if you cry. Focus on the things and people who make you happy and can’t help you get through these challenging times.

And for those of you reading this who may ask things likes “Are you excited for the holidays?” or “Why don’t you like Christmas?” etc, think before you ask….and if you do ask, don’t give someone a hard time if they don’t answer how you think you should. And DON’T call us Grinches, Scrooges, Assholes, whatever…..we are doing our best to get through the holidays and not ruin yours.

Thinking of all of you who are doing your best to get through the holidays and sending you peace and comfort.

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October: Sparkle or Dull?

I waited just a tad to get up the October Sparkle or Dull reviews since I dropped the ball HARD in September with my Fit Fab Fun box review. I didn’t want to overload y’all with beauty everything!

I’m constantly trying to determine if the high priced beauty products at Sephora and Ulta are worth the price tag…..and honestly, I love this challenge. Sometimes I find huge wins at the drugstore, other times they are a massive fail. This month I reviewed two drug store products to compare to products I previously reviewed.

If you have been reading my Sparkle or Dull monthly reviews, you know back in July I reviewed an eyeliner I loved by Stila (you can read about that here). I loved the product and gave it a sparkle review, but I was going through it like crazy because I love love LOVE eyeliner. At about $20 a tube, I went on a mission to see if there was a drugstore alternative that was as great as the Stila but more cost effective. I reviewed a similar product by Nyx that I liked, but even though it was much cheaper, it didn’t have as much product in the tube and I didn’t like it as much as the Stila. I’ve had several readers ask me to keep checking into a cheaper eyeliner version, so I opted to try another for October. I listen to you all….I really do!

Product #1: Colour Precise Eyeliner by Rimmel London

I’ve always loved Rimmel’s products. For the cost they have been great quality and have not disappointed, so choosing one of their eyeliners to try was a no-brainer. It claimed to have a heavy pigmentation and precise applicator, two of the basics I look for when I try out an eyeliner, and at $3.99 was a great price point.

One thing I liked about this eyeliner was the intensity of the color…..I always opt for the blackest of the black color, and this was pretty good. That applicator though….not so much. It was very challenging to draw a quality line on my eye, especially when I went to do a winged look, and it wasn’t as fine of a tip like the Stila and Nyx brands had. I also felt like the color faded quickly, and I caught myself having to apply a different eyeliner on top of it a few hours after the initial application.

Overall verdict: DULL AF. I know the low cost is exciting, but you probably would have better luck with using a black eyeshadow as a liner than this actual one. Just say no.

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Don’t mind the overly rosy cheeks here…I was battling a little cold!

Product #2: E.l.f. Lock on Liner and Brown Cream

Ohmygoodnessgracious friends….brows are so so so important! I can’t begin to tell you how much I cringe when I see people who have super skinny brows that aren’t manicured or brows that are not maintained…..they frame your eyes and make or break your face! The worst part….a lot of the people I see who need some brow help are selling products like Younique or Lipsense…..Y’all SELL PRODUCTS to help with this!!!! Use them! Because I’ll tell ya something…..I’ll never buy anything from someone with piss poor brows! Complete your freaking look!

Ok, now that my mini brow rant is over (sorry, I’m passionate), I’ll shift to my brows. See that picture above with the liner? Those are my brows without any product, so they are completely naked. For a long time I never did anything with them, and now looking back I wish some friends would’ve told me what was up. Those old pics of the 1990 and early 2000 Katie brows are just UGH!

These days I rely on two products for my brows: Precisely, My Brow Pencil by Benefit (reviewed here) and Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade. They are both fantastic products and worth every penny. I line with the Benefit and fill in with the Anastasia. Super easy.

As always when I go to Target…I ended up in the makeup section and had noticed Elf had a brow cream that looked a lot like my Anastasia one. Elf is a great brand and very affordable, and since I am typically pleased with their products, I purchased one of these $3 brow creams and decided to give it the test.

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And when I say test…..I mean one brow rocking the Anastasia cream and the other with the Elf cream for a true side by side analysis.

After applying the creams to my brows and taking quite a few pics in different light, I was pleasantly surprised with how similar the colors were. Honestly I could’ve gotten away with going into public with both products represented because no one could’ve noticed the difference.

My thoughts on the Elf? I’ll be using it over the Anastasia moving forward. It felt the same, looked the same, stayed on the same, but the price tag….exponentially cheaper. They are about the same size (Elf’s jar is a little taller; Anastasia’s is a little wider). Overall, it’s a great product.

Final Verdict: SPARKLE! It’s a drug store win! My brows are happy, too.

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Until next month, beauty babes…….

sparkleon

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Carbs are out, clouds are in!

Listen, friends….I’m all about that carb life…like 99% of human beings. But…..I have some issues with gluten, so I have to be careful. If I’m going all in with gluten, it’s going to be something really satisfying, like a huge doughnut!

My breakup with gluten meant that my bread intake went from a thriving relationship to pretty much non existent. That makes spaghetti dinners and lasagna and all things Italian a little sad, right???? And don’t get me started on things like egg salad or chicken salad, two of my favorite quick lunches!

Fortunately for me, I stumbled across a recipe awhile back that has been a lifesaver and serves as a wonderful bread substitute: CLOUD BREAD!

For starters, the name Cloud Bread is just fabulous as it is….but there is something to the name. This “bread”, made with only four ingredients, comes out light and fluffy like a cloud. The best part??? It is a protein! Yes, you read that right….nothing carby about it! You’ve got to make it!

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                                                    Katie’s Cloud Bread Recipe
Ingredients:

-3 large eggs
-1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
-Dash cream of tartar
-Dash of salt (optional)

How to make:

Heat oven to 300 degrees, then spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Separate egg whites from egg yolks, placing in separate bowls. Add dash of cream of tartar to egg whites and beat on high until peaks form (between 3-4 minutes). Set aside, then add yogurt and salt (if using) to yolks, beating until blended completely. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Using a spoon, scoop mixture onto cookie sheet, pressing mixture down to resemble a pancake. Bake for 30 minutes or  until golden brown. The “bun” should be crispy when touched. Once you remove from oven, loosen with spatula, then allow to cool. If not serving immediately, store in tupperware container.

***Few notes***

-Don’t over mix when combining the egg whites and yolks.
-When scooping out mixture, make sure scoop is about 3 inches in diameter.
-This recipe makes three servings. A serving is two pieces of “bread”.
-One serving has 94 calories and 9 grams of protein.

ENJOY!

 

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Halloween in Doughnut Form

I am as basic as they come when it comes for my love for all things pumpkin, and I’m okay with that!

When I think of pumpkin+a sugary exterior, I always think of the Halloween parties we had at school when I was younger….you know the ones with apple cider and those pumpkin sugary doughnuts???? I loved them! And where I am from, the doughnuts usually came from the greatest fall doughnut place ever, Whitehouse Fruit Farm. Seriously, if you have some time, make the drive there and grab some doughnuts and fruit from the orchard. It’s worth it, I promise.

Recently my kickboxing studio had a Halloween themed dj night for two of our classes, so the instructors made Halloween themed treats for the class. I kept thinking of those doughnuts from when I was little, and since I was going as a giant doughnut, I figured I needed to make a doughnut of some sort. I ended up making my delicious and always popular pumpkin spice doughnut muffins. Everyone loved them and asked for the recipe….here it is!

INGREDIENTS:

-2 tsp baking powder
-1 3/4 cups flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 cup canola oil
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-6 oz pumpkin puree
-1 egg
-1/2 cup milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
-1 cup sugar
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp pumpkin spice
-1/2 stick of butter, melted

Grease mini muffin pans and preheat oven to 350. Combine baking power, salt, flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, oil, pumpkin, egg, and milk until well combined. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and blend until smooth. I use a Pampered Chef baking scoop (medium) to scoop mixture into muffin tins. Bake between 10-12 minutes.

As muffins bake, melt butter, then mix in a separate bowl the remaining topping ingredients. Once muffins have completed baked and have cooled for a few minutes, dip in butter then spoon the sugar topping mixture over the doughnut muffin.

I love to keep these chilled, but you don’t have to. Be careful though….you’ll want to eat the whole batch! Enjoy!

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September: Sparkle or Dull????

I need smacked.

I was sitting here this morning going through some blog emails and realized I had completely forgot to post my Sparkle or Dull for September, which was a review of my Fit Fab Fun box! I had done this with my last box and had many of you ask me to continue to review the products in each box I get. My Fall box arrived when I returned from Myrtle Beach and I had intended to get the review up the beginning of October as I usually do with my S or D blogs.

But….life happened, as always. Those of you who follow me on social media know that my grandmother Bubu, passed away earlier in the month, and I was a little bit of a mess for awhile. My family has had a rough few years. First we lost my dad, then my paternal grandmother, and now my maternal grandmother, and all of those losses happened in the Fall months. This time of year isn’t my favorite anymore, and sometimes I tend to become a little distant.

Regardless, I totally spaced on this blog. Good news for my beauty buffs: you’ll get this late blog, then a new one for the month of October in about a week or so!

So let’s talk about my Fall Fit Fab Fun box!!!!!!!!!

This is my second time receiving this quarterly subscription box, which is full of goodies tailored to your likes. If you want to read my review of my first box, click HERE.

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Here’s a breakdown of everything that came in my box! I will include the link so you can check the items out for yourself or purchase if you would like!

Coxet Wire Heart Ceramic Jewelry Holder : I loved this minimalistic holder….it almost looked like a little piece of art! Initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to use it for jewelry and thought about using it on my desk, but eventually I realized I liked it better holding my daily essentials. This retails for $33 and would be great for the jewelry lovers in your life!

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Deco Miami Lavender Cuticle Oil : I was excited to get this item because lately I have been crazy busy and have been skipping my nail appointments, and these cuticles have suffered for it. They are a hot ass mess! I loved the smell of this and really liked how my cuticles felt after. It’s definitely one of my favorite items in this box!

Trestique Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon : We all know how I feel about a quality lip color! I knew Trestique was a brand carried by Sephora, but I had never tried it, and the color sent, Florence Fig, was gorgeous. I was pumped to try it! One end is a lip crayon, and the other is a BB lip balm to help with extra shine. I also read the balm could be used as a primer! Overall, I loved this product. The color was light, rich in pigment, and stayed on. It didn’t claim to be a long lasting lip product, but it was, and I loved it. If you are interested in this product, it does come in other colors!

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Mytagalongs Hot and Cold Gel Pack : Guys!!!! This freaking hot and cold pack is THE BEST! As an athlete and as someone getting a little older, sometimes I need to ice or apply heat if a muscle is a little wonky after a strenuous workout or class. The problem with a lot of ice packs is that they cannot double as a heat source, and ice packs I have used tend to get hard and rigid, as ice does when it sits in the freezer for a bit. This gel pack though….it is great because it doesn’t become rigid and can truly help. Since it can form to your body, it can provide more relief, and after heating it up for a few in the microwave it provides the heat you may need, too. At only $15, this is a great purchase for anyone.

B-Low the Belt Mia Belt : Each box there is something that is called a “fashion boost”, meaning you get one of two fashion items. This month you received either a cable knit beanie or this Mia belt, which is what I received. I received the black belt with a silver buckle, but it is also available in tan with gold. I don’t wear belts often, but I really liked this one. It was simple, yet modern, and I liked that I could wear it numerous ways. It retails for $55 (more than the actual cost of the box), and I couldn’t say I’d pay that for it outright, only because I’m not a belt person. For someone who dresses up for work or dresses up a lot, this would be a good purchase.

Private Party Gym Bag : I was over the moon stoked when I found out that a gym bag was   included in the box. Hellloooooooooo I work in the health and fitness industry! Of course I need a gym bag! There were three options for bags, and I was hoping I got the Gym and Juice bag…..and I did!!!!! It is such a great bag, and I use it every day when I go to the kickboxing studio. My mom got the one that says “Will workout for cupcakes.” They are a heavier jean material and great size to tote your gym gear! My favorite item in the box by far!

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Whish Beauty Renewing Mud Mask : I’m a diehard fan of Glamglow line and have been using it on my skin for quite some time, so it’s going to take something crazy amazing for me to replace their mud mask with something new. Yet, I am always open minded to try new products just in case. This product ended up being surprisingly good. Did I like it better than my Glamglow? No….but only because the smell of Glamglow beat it out. Otherwise it was very similar; it left my skin nice and smooth and did not feel harsh at all. It was a great exfoliator, so I will definitely use it again. Definitely worth a try, and definitely a quality product!

Dphue Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse : Just like there is a fashion boost choice in every box, there is also a beauty innovation boost. This box included a coconut teeth whitening powder/toothbrush combo or this apple cider rinse. I really wish I had gotten the toothbrush after trying this product….I’m kind of particular about what I use on my hair, and I love new teeth products. I did try the product a few times, but I was not pleased. I’m not a fan of the smell, plus I hated that this product did not lather up. My mom, however, tried it and liked it, so you may like it….I just didn’t.

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Mer-Sea & Co Scarf: This scarf is the coziest thing I have ever touched! I got the one in blush (perfect since I love pink!) and love the ombre look of it. I’ve been using it as a little throw when I’m in my office working, but now that the temps are dropping outside, I will be using it as a scarf! It’s a great size, so it can easily be used as both….and it retails for $98, which means I got it one hell of a deal!

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Once again, this box surpassed my expectations. I would’ve been happy with just one of the items. Aside from the Apple Cider stuff, I will be using everything in the box. Already looking forward to the next one!

sparkleon

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Hello, Hello Fresh!

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve seen that for the past few weeks I have been taking advantage of a weekly food delivery service called Hello Fresh. Chances are you have heard of this company….they market like crazy on pretty much every social media avenue known to man.

I was skeptical to try this food delivery service because I had previously tried Blue Apron, one of Hello Fresh’s competitors, and I was extremely disappointed. I felt the quality and selection of food items was poor, and for the cost involved it was not worth it (at least to me). But….I had a lot of things coming up and really wanted to try the Hello Fresh for the sake of convenience. I had a lot of people I know tell me it was fabulous, so I gave it a shot and used a $40 off coupon on my first box (Click HERE to get your own $40 coupon).

Since you may be a little skeptical, I’m going to cover the things everyone has been asking me about: the process, the quality, the cost, the portion size, and my overall opinion.

THE PROCESS

Hello Fresh’s ordering process is very simple, especially from their app. Once you create an account (you’ll have to do this), you select what plan you want. There is a vegetarian plan, classic plan, and family plan, and you have the option to easily modify if you want to down the road. I signed up for the classic plan because I knew I would be the only person eating the food and was curious how portions would break down for me since I follow a pretty regimented meal plan when it comes to portion size.

Once your account is set up and you have determined your plan, you get to pick your meals and the day of the week you want them delivered! On the classic plan, there are 8 dinner selections, and you pick 3. If you would select the veggie plan, you unfortunately don’t get to choose; there are 3 selections, and those are the 3 you get. I have had mine set up to arrive on Tuesday, but I have decided I am going to change the date so I have them delivered on Friday, giving me the weekend to prep.

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A look at my choices in the app

 

On delivery day, everything arrives in once giant box. When I say EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING. The only thing I have had to contribute to the meals is olive oil for when I need to cook meat or sauté veggies. You get recipe cards, nutritional information, and each meal in its own bag with the ingredients for that recipe. In the bottom of the box, packed under the largest ice packs I’ve ever seen, you will find the meat you need for your recipe.

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THE QUALITY

I have been incredibly impressed with the quality of the food I’ve had thus far. Every week I choose at least one steak option, and the steak I have gotten has been thick cut with very little fat. This week I had a salmon that was as good as the salmon dishes on the coast. Most of the ingredients that accompany the meat selections are organic. There has not been any item I have received that wasn’t excellent quality.

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Everything I need to make Cherry Drizzled Pork Chops!

THE PORTION SIZE

My biggest complaint about Blue Apron was that I felt like their meal sizes were more like snack sizes, and I was worried it would be mine with Hello Fresh, too. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the meals I have gotten have easily served as three portions for me instead of the two they claimed to be. I liked that….I liked that a lot!

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Chicken Parm Salad…this is ONE of the three servings I had!

THE COST

I started this experience with a $40 coupon which made my first box $19. Was it worth it? Absolutely! The quality of meals was well worth that and much more, so I didn’t have a problem with it. Full price for 6 meals is $59, so it equates to a little over $9 a meal (shipping is free), and that is before any additional coupon codes. Initially I thought this was a little high, but when I sat down to think about it I spent more when I ran to Panera to grab dinner and spent about the same when I meal prepped at home. Since getting Hello Fresh, my grocery list is minimal, as I don’t need to get much other than breakfast and some items for lunch, so really I am at about the same for my grocery tab for the month.

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One of my fave recipes thus far!

MY OVERALL OPINION

Super worth it! The recipes have all been delicious and most are all things I will make again. Did I mention you get the recipe to recreate them whenever you want? That makes it really easy to expand your recipe collection with healthy options down the road. Only one recipe I didn’t care for much, but that was only because I burnt the fish a bit….oops!

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This was the only recipe I didn’t love. 

I love the convenience of getting everything sent to my house, and I love getting to try some foods I don’t normally try. That’s the other nice thing about this program….you can pick those normal “safe” meals (like salmon and jasmine rice) or try something a little outside of your food comfort zone (like bibimbap). Sometimes we need a little push like this to try new things!


Guys, I 100% recommend you give Hello Fresh a try. Even if you just try one box, I guarantee you will be happy you gave it a shot! You may love it and stick with it…..you may learn more about eating healthy and portion sizes….you may just fall in love with cooking. Regardless, your taste buds will be happy!

 

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Jack-O-Peppers!

I don’t normally do back to back recipes, but since it’s been awhile AND Halloween is just around the corner, I wanted to share a fun twist to one of my go to recipes: the stuffed pepper!

A few years ago I shared my recipe (you can access it here), and it has remained a constant on my meal plan over and over again. Stuffed peppers are so much fun because you can change up how you make them based on your likes. Sometimes I use rice, other times I use quinoa. Sometimes I use black beans, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I season with taco seasoning, other times I don’t. Be creative with them!

I wanted to turn the pepper into a little jack-o-lantern to be festive, and it was surprisingly easier than I thought. All you need is a sharp paring knife (I use one from Pampered Chef that was the perfect size), and sub in orange peppers in place of the green peppers!

If you are the kind of person who usually tosses the “hat” or top of the pepper, don’t this time. Make sure when you make the cut you do so relatively close to the top so there is plenty of room to fill with your stuffing AND so it resembles the top of a pumpkin. Remove the innards (I call it the pepper brain).

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Using your knife, “carve” your pepper pumpkin.

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Prepare your stuffing mixture, then fill your pepper pumpkin.

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Place pepper pumpkins in a 9×9 pan (or larger if you are making a larger batch). Place top on each pumpkin and bake for about 40 minutes at 300! Your family will love them, and you’ll be hooking them up with a healthy and festive dish! Enjoy!

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Are muffins just naked cupcakes???

I used to think so, but then I started to find delicious recipes that made me love muffins as much as their cousin cupcake….and this recipe is one of them!

Since it is October, I can completely embrace my status as a Pumpkin-a-holic! I know I’m not alone with this….and my fellow basic bitches will agree. All pumpkin everything errrryyyyyddayyyyyyyy.

Lately I’ve been baking like a maniac, and everything seems to incorporate pumpkin in some way. It’s a great way to make (some) dishes healthier, but the recipe I’m going to sure isn’t one of those, but it is a tasty one!

Whether you want a nice pumpkin snack or a pumpkin muffin to pair with your morning coffee, this is the recipe to make!

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These are super easy and great for Fall!

                                    Katie’s Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins
Ingredients:

For muffins:
-2 large eggs
-1 3/4 cups flour (I use whole wheat but you can use all purpose)
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tbl pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-15 oz can of pumpkin (make sure it is pure  pumpkin puree)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 packed brown sugar
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 tbl vanilla extract

For cream cheese mixture:
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-8 oz cream cheese
-1 large egg yolk

Line muffin tin with liners as oven preheats to 375 degrees. Combine pumpkin spice, baking soda, flour, and salt using a whisk. Set aside after well combined. In a separate bowl, beat vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and eggs, then whisk in the flour mixture until smooth. Fill muffin tin with mixture until each cup is about 3/4 cup full.

Beat the cream cheese in a separate bowl until smooth, then add in egg yolk, vanilla, and sugar until well combined.

To swirl the cream cheese in the muffins: top each muffin with about one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture. Using a toothpick or knife, swirl the mixture into the batter.Don’t worry if it looks a little strange; once it bakes it will have a nice swirled look.

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Bake muffins for 20 minutes (keep an eye on them; every oven is different, and you don’t want them to burn). Store in the fridge in an airtight container after baking.

Enjoy!

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Give me S’more S’mores!

Last week I was in complete Fall mode and was craving S’mores like nobody’s business. Since I have yet to buy a fire pit for my backyard, I decided on a different solution to making S’mores: an easy, yet fabulous cookie recipe that I loved.

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The best S’mores cookie ever!

I shared a picture on Instagram and instantly was bombarded with people asking for the recipe. I have to preface this by stating these should be eaten in moderation because they will NOT fit into any meal plan, regardless of how hard you try.

                                                 Katie’s S’mores Cookie Recipe

-Chocolate Chip Cookies
-1 package mini marshmallows
-10 oz melting chocolate
-1 sleeve of graham crackers, crushed

If you have a specific chocolate chip recipe you love, I encourage you to use it. I use my family’s recipe (which I keep secret because some things should be). Obviously, you want to make the cookies first and let them cool completely.

Crush the graham crackers completely as you turn the oven on to BROIL. This is extremely important…you don’t want to have the BAKE setting on!

Place 7-10 marshmallows on each cookie (depending on the size of the cookie), pressing into cookie slightly before putting cookie sheet into oven and broiling until the marshmallows are golden brown. This happens FAST, so keep an eye on them or you will be really sad when you have burnt marshies!

Remove from oven and allow the cookie to cool completely. Once cooled, melt the chocolate, dipping each cookie in halfway and then sprinkling with crushed graham crackers. Transfer to cooling rack to allow the chocolate to harden completely.

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Sorry, Murphy. No cookies for you!

These are so easy to make and are always a huge hit, especially with kids! Enjoy!

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