Places to Visit: All Good Things!

Things I like: eating healthy and supporting small businesses.

Living near two major cities, I have never had an issue finding great local joints that are full of healthy options or that cater specifically to a vegan/organic/non gmo kind of lifestyle. The people of Cleveland and Akron have lots of options, and I love it.

The problem has never been finding healthy options on the go here….it’s when I go back to visit my family in Columbiana County when I struggle. Lucky for me my mother stumbled across a relatively new restaurant, All Good Things, not far from her house and suggested we visit. Since her initial suggestion I have visited All Good Things every single time I have been home, some visited two or three times. I guess you can say I like it a little bit…..

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Enjoying a little Pumpkin Nice Cream to go!

One thing that I realized after visiting AGT for the first time was that this restaurant was practically in my mother’s back yard and had been there for awhile….and I had no clue that it existed! Instantly I began sharing my experience there with my local friends who I knew would enjoy the menu and items that were available to purchase, but I wanted to write a quick blog on the restaurant for those of you who are local and don’t know much about this diamond in the ruff local spot!

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All Good Things owners Melissa and Quinn

Owner Quinn Colella answered some questions I had about how All Good Things came to be!

What inspired you to open All Good Things?
Quinn: Years before the conception of All Good Things, we were both into eating clean and high quality food. We enjoyed supporting small, local farmers and would frequent the farmer’s markets on weekends whenever we could. I also spent a couple years on an organic vegetable farm learning the in and outs of farm life. We opened All Good Things in November of 2013 in hopes to fill the void of local and organic food options for our surrounding community. Since then, we have listened to the demand of our customers and have grown into a place for not only groceries, but also a place to stop for lunch and dinner.

How do you determine what items to add to the menu?
Quinn: With the adjustments on our menu we take into consideration a variety of scenarios. We have plenty of individuals who are new to organics, people who are gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and so on. We take all of our customers dietary needs into consideration when placing new menu items on our menu. Another important aspect we pay close attention to is seasonality. We use fresh, organic produce in our menu and have to use foods that are readily available and let’s be honest, more tasty as they grow in season.

How often do you change your menu?
Quinn: We like to offer food items that reflect the seasons, so we tend to offer two menus a year, a spring/summer and a fall/winter menu.

What is your favorite item on your menu?
Quinn: It’s hard to find a favorite item, but without a doubt our jackfruit has a lot of interest from our customers. We have used jackfruit in several dishes and people love it.

Do you grow your own produce? If not, do you purchase from local vendors?
Quinn: As running a business is rather time consuming, unfortunately we don’t grow our own produce. We do however have weekly certified organic produce deliveries to ensure freshness and quality. During the growing season in our area we do support local farmers who grow with organic standards.

What makes All Good Things unique to the area?
Quinn: All Good Things is unique because of the food we carry, the close relationships we have with our customers and the message we represent- to support local. In addition to our food menu we do offer local, pasture-raised meat, grass fed dairy, organic produce, natural groceries and locally made items from artisans from our community. Numerous times throughout the year we offer juice cleanses to customers. We use 100% organic fruits and vegetables and use a cold-press method to ensure there is very little nutrient loss. The cleanses consist of 6- 16 oz drinks a day which help to “reset” and balance your body.

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All Goods Things has a great shopping area with items for your pantry!


As someone who has tried the majority of the items on the All Good Things menu, I have to share my favorite: this Quinoa salad! I love eating it with one of their grilled cheese sandwiches on semolina bread! I’m also a huge fan of their jackfruit tacos and their mocha frappe smoothie! They Nice cream is also a great sweet treat….it inspired my own Nice Cream recipe that I make for myself when I’m not back at my mother’s.

I encourage you to check out this small business and grab lunch. Their menu is fantastic, their customer service is great, and whether or not your goal is to eat healthy, you will be feeding your body a delicious meal made from quality ingredients that is good for you. If you have an upcoming event and want to host it at the restaurant, All Good Things even has special event menus and rates!

I’m so thankful that my mother suggested All Good Things to me and can’t wait to hear what you think of it when you visit! Make sure you tag me in a post or send me what you tried!

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Quinoa Salad! 

All Good Things is open Monday through Friday from 10am-6pm and on Saturdays from 10am-3pm. They are located on South Main Street in Columbiana.

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Why did the Chicken cross the road?

To get to Katie’s kitchen for meal prep time, that’s why!

I can’t believe it is meal prep time again…the week has flown by! And this isn’t just any week…..It is the final full week of Core de Force!

If you have been following me on The Sparkle Fitness Babe, you’ve been watching my journey through the program thus far. I am so excited to share my results with you all when I wrap the program up in just 10 short days!!!!

As I head into the last week of a program I always dial in my nutrition more than usual. This means No Cheat Meals and a lot of repetition because I know that is what helps me be the most successful with my meal plan. You may not like repeating meals, but studies have shown that it is directly related to staying on track with your meals! I can attest to this first hand.

I’ve been craving chicken lately, so I am making my favorite chicken and serving it with two of my standard faves: green beans and sweet potatoes (made in the crock pot of course!) and a dish I haven’t made for ages, ratatouille!

Before we go any further….how do I make my chicken? A simple and delicious recipe, that’s how. Mix 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp pepper and spread over boneless skinless chicken breasts. Bake for 45 minutes at 375! This is how I typically make it and love that it isn’t your same ol’ boring chicken recipe. Try it!

Here’s how my meal plan looks for the week!

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Breakfast: Back to the Basics for me! Egg Whites and Oatmeal (I make with cinnamon) are the perfect combo of protein and carbs to start the day. This may be boring to some people, but for me, it is simplicity at its finest.

Lunch: All about my staples this week…..chicken, green beans, and sweet potatoes. I literally could eat sweet potatoes for every meal, but will just be enjoying them for lunch this week. Like I mentioned, I cook them in the crockpot which is super easy! The weekend includes me traveling back and forth to my mom’s as well as a baby shower, which means I get to visit my favorite local place, All Good Things, for lunch! If you haven’t tried this spot yet I will be sharing a blog on it this week!

Snacks: Canteloupe, Shakeology Protein Bites, and Shakeology at night!

Dinner: More chicken, only i am pairing it with my ratatouille recipe! Whenever I make this and tell people what it is called, they look at me like I am nuts! It’s a great spin on a veggie dish….try it!

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You might still be on the fence with making this….so here is a look at the finished product:

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Last week I make crockpot pork carnitas and had a strong interest in the recipe, so I wanted to share with you here! I love this recipe because it is super easy, flavorful, and it is versatile. I had the meat in true carnita form in a corn tortilla and also made salad with it a few nights. Here’s the recipe!

Crockpot Pork Carnitas

Ingredients for Pork Loin Rub:
-2 tsp cumin
-2 tbl chili powder
-1/2 tsp cloves
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp onion powder
-1 tsp garlic power
-1 tsp oregano

Mix all spices together and rub over 3 lbs of pork loin. Place pork in crockpot with one bay leaf and about 1 1/2 cups of water. I cook mine on low for about 8 hours, checking the pork every few hours to make sure it wasn’t getting dried out. If you notice this, add a bit more water! Once cooked, shred the pork.

You can top your carnitas with whatever you like, but we typically use black beans, shredded lettuce, avocado, shredded cheese, and brown rice. If you like your corn tortillas crisper, place in over for about 10 minutes at 350!

Top with a cilantro lime dressing! You can make this by mixing 1/4 cup lime juice with 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and cilantro.

Minimal effort for a great 21 Day fix approved dinner that makes a nice amount for the week or for your family!

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A beautiful dinner!

I’m ready to attack this week….I hope you are, too. If you are still feeling the post holiday hangover and bloat, tomorrow is a brand new day. Make great choices with your nutrition, get a good sweat in, and drink lots of water!

I believe in you!

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Things your Beachbody Coach Wants You to Know

When I began my journey with online fitness and wellness coaching a little over three years ago , I had no clue what I was doing. I did know I was starting something incredible…but I had so many questions that I kept to myself. With so many people reaching out inquiring about programs and solutions….especially with New Year’s and resolutions looming….I wanted to take a minute to share a few things that I, as your coach (or future coach) want you to know.

1. I want to help you….and will continue to help you….long past your initial purchase. My role as your coach is to help you for as long as you need it….whether that be for a month, a program, a year, or forever. My customers always have access to one on one support and all of my challenge groups, as my goal is to help you reach whatever goals you have set for yourself. I don’t mindread though(unfortunately)….so please don’t hesitate to tell me if you need more help!

2. I want to see those sweaty selfies and pictures of your food! I read somewhere recently that one of the top reasons why people are defriended on Facebook is because they post pictures of their food. Are you serious???!!!! I am proud of my clients when they share healthy changes they are making, and it makes me sad that some people are afraid they will be the butt of other people’s jokes when they share something healthy they are doing. Let me be real: I post my sweaty selfies because I need the accountability, and I know there are people who will shoot me a message if I don’t share something about a workout to make sure things are ok. When it comes to sharing what I am eating….I hope it encourages someone to try a new recipe or get past the idea that eating healthy is difficult or bland. When you share what you are eating for dinner, my wheels are turning and I am looking at a new addition for my next meal plan.

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3. I get you free stuff! When you purchase a bundle from a coach, you get a special thank you gift….a FREE workout! Having the ability to be in my challenge groups allows you to win lots of fun prizes, and once you finish a program I help you get your free completion t-shirt! Free stuff is lovely. Don’t pretend like it isn’t. Purchasing from a coach is different from getting programs from a random site….here’s a little more about that……

4. I struggle with workouts and eating healthy, too. I think a lot of people are intimidated by working with a coach because they think they have to be perfect and never mess up a meal plan or skip a workout. WRONG! Guys, I mess up all the time! I practice a life of balance, so I eat clean 80% of the time, but sometimes I overindulge more than I want. Some mornings I don’t want to workout and press the snooze button. Some days my workouts straight up suck and I don’t give it my all. The joy of working with a coach is having accountability and someone who has solutions when these things come up. Fitness is a journey with ups and downs…we all have them….but it sure is nice to have someone in your corner when you are having a down day to help power you through it.

5. I will take you back regardless of how many times you break up with me. Life happens. You may not finish a program. You may disappear in a challenge group. You might ignore my emails checking in on your progress for a month straight. It’s ok….when you are ready to get back on track, I will take you back, no worries.I just want to help you reach whatever goal you have!

6. Yes, I really do love Shakeology. Giving this product a chance was the best thing I ever did for my health. I realized very early on that it played a HUGE part in the weight loss success I had and it is the saving grace every night when my chocolate cravings fire up.  If you are starting a program and not seeing the results you want, your nutrition needs to be looked at, and, as your coach, I am most definitely going to recommend this bad boy. Don’t compare this item to another shake…there isn’t one out there that can compare. Comparing this shake to those is like comparing the rides at DisneyWorld to the horsey ride in the food court at the mall. I don’t just talk the talk with the products Beachbody offers; I genuinely love them and value what they do for my health and longevity.

7. No, I don’t love every program Beachbody has, and I will be honest with you when it comes to them. I’m not some robot….and I am very opinionated. I’ve tried pretty much every single program we have to offer because I think it is important to know first hand what is great or not so great about a program, and I want to be able to answer any question a client has. I’ve fallen in love with many and hated some as well. My goal is to help connect you to the right program, so I will always share with you what recommendations I think would be best based on what your goals are and what you like.

8. I love what I do, and I truly want everyone to find something they love like this. I’d love everyone to be a coach, but I know it isn’t for everyone. I’m sad when people write off what I do, but I have learned that if someone feels that way they don’t really know me and what makes me tick. I live for helping others and sharing my sparkle with everyone I meet. I want to make the lives of everyone I know better in whatever way I can. It look me 32 years to find this opportunity. If you haven’t found something that lights a fire in your soul yet, maybe you are overlooking it. I’d love for you to see what I see in coaching.

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Enjoying the view from our balcony on last year’s All Expenses Paid Cruise to the Bahamas and Jamaica.

My team and I are hosting an online open house that is sharing a behind the scenes look at coaching this Sunday, the 27th. We will be answering lots more questions and sharing more of our hearts with you about why we love this business. Join us! You have nothing to lose and can see if it is something you want to learn more about! Fill out this quick form so I know to add you, and connect with me on Facebook by searching for The Sparkle Fitness Babe!

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One year later……

You remember that Alan Jackson song “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning”? I remember hearing it when it first was released and thinking how true it was for so many people who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11….people whose lives changed in the blink of the eye. People who woke up that morning thinking it was going to be just like any other day only to go to bed a completely changed human being. I remember being so sad for our country and all of these families even though I had no idea who any of them were, but deep down I didn’t really connect to that song because my life….my world….did not stop turning that day. I didn’t understand that in one small blink of an eye everything you know could be no more.

And then one day MY WORLD stopped turning. The truth is….at some point in our lives something WILL happen to completely change the trajectory of your life. You know when my world stopped turning?

525,600 minutes ago.

One year ago today.

One year that feels like a trillion billion years ago while also feeling like it was just yesterday. Isn’t time weird?

I can tell you every.single.detail about November 20, 2015…..what I ate for breakfast, what workout I did that day, what I was wearing, where I was sitting when I found out that my dad had passed away, every single word Kyle said when he told me what had happened……everything.  I relive a part of it every single day, and I really wish I didn’t. To be honest, I probably can’t tell you every single detail of any other day in my life other than that one.

In my heart it is still so difficult to accept that I haven’t seen my dad or talked to him in a year. Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know that I’ve been very open about my struggles with grief over this past year, and I have talked a little about it here, too. It is hard to be vulnerable and share this kind of thing, but I truly believe it is important because so many people struggle with the same thing, and I hope (if nothing else) that I can connect with others struggling and we can help each other through difficult times. Ive had people send me nasty grams about it and tell me it is inappropriate to talk about, and Ive had people throw some serious shade at me. It’s strange how uncomfortable grief makes some people.

This past year has included some pretty incredible things that have brought about so many mixed emotions. It was hard buying our first home together and realizing my dad would never be able to chase Bubba around in the yard…..it was hard taking family photos at my brother’s wedding and knowing someone really important wasn’t in them….it was hard watching the Cubbies win the World Series….and it was really, really hard celebrating the holidays and birthdays that usually were so much fun. Everyone said the first year would be difficult because of all of the “firsts” without my dad, and they weren’t exaggerating one bit. I cannot even put into words how much my dad is missed, and today, on the first anniversary of losing him, I’m missing him more than ever.

An unfortunate thing that has happened over the last year is that many of my friends have had to go through the same thing, losing either their father or mother. Recently a girl I had connected with through Facebook messaged me. She had just lost her dad in a terrible accident, was still in the very early stages of grief, and asked what she should expect. I wanted to share my thoughts on this with the hope that if you are going through something similar you realize you aren’t alone.

1. Everything will remind you of that person. When I say everything, I mean everything. In the very beginning of this process I had a very difficult time getting rid of things that reminded me of my dad….and with moving, this proved to be a challenge. Things he gave me, things he wrote to me, momentos of places we had been, etc. I struggled with songs on the radio because I would connect them to my dad. I didn’t want to eat Ben and Jerry’s ice cream because it was his favorite. This process has truly shown me that moments matter, not things, and I don’t need to keep junk around to keep the memory of someone alive. Don’t hoard items just because.  They are just things.

2. There are days you can talk about the person normally. There are days you will start to cry at the most inopportune time. With me, I am a loose cannon. I never know when I will be able to talk about my dad or the loss in a calm matter or if I am going to start crying and getting weird. I do my best to try to talk about it as much as possible to get more comfortable with it, but sometimes I wonder if I ever will be 100% able to communicate about it normally. It’s ok to be emotional…..and if you are worried about it, just change the subject. I do it all the time, and no one has gotten angry about it yet.

3. Things you loved before may not be the same after a loss. This has been so difficult for me. My dad and I loved running….talking about it, running together, talking smack on the other’s running pace. It ALWAYS was a part of a conversation. After we lost him I really hoped that running would be therapeutic for me and help me still feel a sense of connection to my dad. It did just the opposite. I started to hate it because every time I would run I would get upset and cry. In April I ran the HOF Half Marathon and cried the entire 13.1 miles, so besides being tiring on a physical level, it was beyond exhausting emotionally. Since that race I have run only a handful of times and dropped out of the Columbus full marathon, a race my dad and I had previously discussed running together. I hope someday I will love it again, but I have accepted that it may not be the way it once was. Find something positive to substitute into the place of whatever the activity is that you are struggling with.

4. You can’t hide from holidays and birthdays. They aren’t going to be the same….nothing will….but they are still going to happen. It is important to find new ways to celebrate and incorporate the memory of your loved one. Last year we had Chinese for Thanksgiving and we didn’t decorate one bit for Christmas. I refused to buy Christmas wrapping paper for gifts (I still am this year, too). For my dad’s birthday we made one of his favorite meals and favorite kind of cake. We are trying. Sometimes that is all you can do. You can’t avoid these things so find a way to incorporate your loved one in a new way

5. It is important to talk about your loved one. Every day I talk about my dad. I will think of a funny memory or think of how my dad would react to sometimes ridiculous (I had lots of comments of things he would say during the election), and it helps. It helps to keep his memory and sense of humor and ridiculousness alive. Just because a person has left you in the physical sense does not mean they have left your memory. Keep them alive in your daily life.

6. React to the loss in a way that helps you, not harms you. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to do things that would inevitably hurt me. There have been days that I wanted to go get blackout drunk, which would’ve been my solution years ago, but I didnt. There were days I wanted to eat my feelings……ok, more like weeks I wanted to eat my feelings, but I didnt. There were days I wanted to be extremely negative and lash out, but I didnt. I always think of the quote about how life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how I react to it…..what good would any of that do? Nothing. I’ve been very proactive in seeking help and doing things that will help me move forward in the grief process, not back. In the beginning I saw a grief counselor; recently I connected with a local group through GriefShare. I’ve read lots of articles and books on grief. Those kinds of resources have helped me a lot, especially with realizing that many of the feelings I have had are normal. I think all too often with grief you think that feelings and thoughts you have are abnormal…trust me when I say they aren’t. Speaking to people and groups have taught me this. Don’t run away from grief because sooner or later you will have to work past what has happened.

7. You learn that support can come from people who you least expect it.I will forever feel like I have the most amazing group from family and friends….my friends have all been there by my side from the beginning of this and have continued to support me. I knew they would be there for me in the beginning weeks and months….that is when it is the hardest, but the fact that they are still helping me through this a year later means the world to me. Friends from high school who I had lost touch with did not hesitate to reach out…random connections on Facebook, too. Since losing my dad I realized that I want to make sure that I can help those who go through rough times, too….even if they are people I have lost touch with over the years. You never know who you can help, and if anything positive is going to come from this, I want it to be that I can help others find strength and hope for the future.

8. The one thing that irritates me more than ANYTHING and the one phrase I have removed from my vocabulary is: “You’re doing really well!” I know that sometimes you might not know what to say to someone who is grieving…I’ve been guilty of saying some really dumb things in my day….but please, don’t ever say this comment to anyone. Most days I do really well, especially in public, but every day at some point I do break down. You arent sitting by me when I’m at home crying or laying next to me when I’m crying as I try to fall asleep. I may be doing “really well” in your eyes, but I’m not doing “really well”. I’ll never do “really well” because I’m always going to be without this person who was so important to me. There was a quote I once read from Richard Gere of all people. He said that loss is very much like dealing with a broken ankle. On the surface things seem to heal in time, but they will never be the way they once were.  The pain is still there, some days more than others. In time you learn to adapt to living differently. It is so true.

9. Don’t feel guilty if you are having fun or enjoying something. I struggled with this a lot the first few months after losing my dad. I felt bad if I laughed or did something normal. I didnt feel like it was right to engage in fun things when something was missing. After talking to people, I’ve learned that is very normal to feel that way, so if you are feeling that way, too, you aren’t alone.

10. You will be a changed person. I can’t tell you how much I changed over this past year because of this happening to our family. Losing a loved one changes how you see and do so many things. My family has always been so important to me, and I think that has strengthened the most over this time frame. I’ve learned more about my limits…that it is ok to take a step back if I feel myself getting weird or sad. I’ve learned a lot about my strength…and that it is ok to reach out for help, something I haven’t always been the best at doing. I’ve learned I’m a lot tougher than I ever thought I could be. Most importantly, I’ve learned how important it is to always leave your loved ones with loving words. I’m thankful the last words my dad and I exchanged were “I love you.”

Life is just too too short to focus on negativity. My heart has broken over the past few weeks after seeing so much garbage in my newsfeed after the election….so many families divided or not speaking to each other…..kids publicly saying they don’t want anything to do with a parent because of how they voted. I wish so badly my dad was still here with us and can assure you that you someday you will be in the same place I am in now….that’s just the order of life. Please don’t waste any moment by being stubborn or nasty…..someday you will be willing to do anything to get those moments back. Trust me.

Thank you again to everyone who continues to be a beacon of strength for not only me, but my mom and brother. We all appreciate it so much more than we could ever say and are forever grateful.

Missing you so much, Papa❤

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My dad and my little Simon

 

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Operation: Don’t Eat the Feelings!

Do you ever feel like you absolutely KILLED the week?

That was me this week.

I officially started Core de Force Monday as a participant with a coach launch group as well as started a focused launch group of my own. These two groups were EXACTLY what I needed. Not only did I stick to my workouts, but I was laser focused on my meal plan, too. I’ll tell you what…when you have people who can see if you logged your workout or not….who encourage you when you don’t quite feel like pushing play….great things can happen. I’m so excited to take my progress pics tomorrow and measurements! Besides that, this program is proving to be a great fit for the stress and weird feelings I associate with this time of year. Let’s just call it DVD therapy!

Last week I totally failed and forgot to post my meal plan….sorry guys!

Here’s what on tap for this week.

This week I am fully exercising my right to the crock pot. Do you realize how many incredible recipes you can make in one pot with minimal effort???? Last year I ran a group focused on sharing healthy crockpot recipes that was a big hit….I’ve been toying around with the idea to run another one. The pumpkin overnight oats I am making this week came from that group originally, and I’m also making 21 Day Fix Pork Carnitas for dinner. They are so good!

Aldi’s has had some great deals on Jalapeños, so I am using them in my egg muffins as well as the Jalapeño Cheddar Burgers that came from the Core de Force recipe book. These are very flavorful, and if you are making meals for people who aren’t as focused on eating healthy as you are, serve them with a bun instead of plain.

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This week is going to be a little hectic for me…I will be out of town Tuesday-Wednesday, which will result be eating out for a few meals. Since I will be back home by my favorite local spot, All Good Things (be on the lookout for a blog on them coming soon), I will be grabbing dinner there Tuesday…their Quinoa Salad is one of my favorite things! I’m also trying out a new place Wednesday for lunch that is a vegetarian restaurant….I haven’t ben able to access their menu online, but I’ll make sure to share how it is! I get a lot of questions as to why I add an extra snack on Wednesdays…I always have an apple before I teach Cize Live….it’s just my little energy boost!

Besides being on the go this week is also going to be a tough one for me emotionally. Tomorrow would have been my Grandmother’s birthday, and since it has only been two months since we lost her, I know I am going to be a little sad. Besides that, Sunday is the one year anniversary of losing my dad. I’m worried I will deviate from the meal plan this week and eat my feelings, but I am going to do my best to stay on track. I know the groups I am in will help me, too. However, if you see me and I am going for a brownie…or cookie…or pizza….you have my permission to smack me.

Let’s do out best to make it a great week, ok? I know we can do it.

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Happy Birthday in Heaven to my sweet Gram. She is missed so much!

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October: Sparkle or Dull?

My makeup peeps…..why are there so many new and fabulous products being released???? Seriously! There are so many that I want to try out for you guys!

This month I decided to review a purchase I had made while redeeming some points at Ulta earlier in the month, the Too Faced Grand Hotel Cafe boxed set, and a brand new item from the Elf line, the instant brow lift.

Let’s start by chatting about some brows!

PRODUCT #1: Elf Instant Brow Lift Pencil

This was one of those random finds as I was trolling around Target one day. You know those trips….the ones where you go in for one thing and end up leaving with a cart full of things you really didn’t need???

Anyway…..I have been toying around with changing up my eyebrow routine for awhile now because I have not been 100% satisfied with the Anastasia brow products I have been using. If we are being honest….quality eyebrow products seem to be expensive, so when it comes to me purchasing a new one I really try to do a lot of research and get friends’ opinions so I don’t waste my money. I mean….I know this blog is about determining if a product sparkles or if it is a little lackluster, but my hope is to always have more sparkles than dulls….a dull product means money down the drain!

I was leaning toward trying out a product from It Cosmetics and was actually en route to Ulta when I stopped to make the previously mentioned unnecessary Target stop. It proved to be a smart move on my end, because the new brow pencil from Elf had just been released and came across my line of sight. At $2.00, its price was very attractive, and since I have always had good experiences with the Elf line, I decided to give it a chance.

Let’s talk about brows for a second. Do you need a product? Not necessarily. I never used to use one. Then one day I had an eyebrow wax that left them looking a little wonky and uneven if I didn’t use a product. For me, the product is more about shaping my actual eyebrow as opposed to filling them in. Depending on your brow, you may do the same, or they may be thin and you may need to spruce them up a bit.

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A look at the product in action. 

FINAL VERDICT: SPARKLE!

For $2.00, I was extremely pleased with this product. It went on smoothly and was easy to use, kind of like a mechanical pencil. I also loved that it included a spoolie brush on the opposite end to help blend and mute the color if you got a little crazy. I definitely recommend this product, especially if you want to try something cheaper before moving on to a higher price brow product.

***I do need to state this. The one thing I wasn’t super pleased with when it came to this item was the fact that it only came in three colors. I used deep brown because of my coloring, but it also comes in a taupe and neutral brown. I’m not sure if this is just because it is newer, but hopefully they expand the palette soon…the taupe, which is the lightest of the three, may still be too dark for you if you have very blonde hair, and there aren’t any options for my ginger friends. Fingers crossed for you guys!

PRODUCT #2 Too Faced Grand Hotel Cafe Palette

If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen me unbox this purchase live after redeeming my Ultamate rewards points at Ulta. When I saw this product, I had to have it….they claimed the three palettes smelled like coffee, and you guys know me…..

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Look how cute the packaging is!

What all comes in this boxed set?

-3 palettes that include 6 eyeshadows each, as well as one blush: Peppermint Mocha (top), Gingerbread Coffee (bottom left), and Egg Nog Latte (bottom right).

-Deluxe size of Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara aka best mascara in the damn land.

As you can see from the picture below, the color palettes are great for all people, as there are colors that compliment both warm and cool undertones. I personally love them all, however, I have been using the Gingerbread Latte more frequently for the eyeshadow colors than the other two. The blush in that palette, called Gingerbread, is great for contouring if you are a contour lover like me. I’ve been using it for that purpose, then using the blush from the Egg Nog palette over top of it. As with any Too Faced eye shadow, the colors are incredible and great quality…some with some shimmer, some with a matte finish…but all able to be blended beautifully.

When it comes to the mascara…this is the kind I use every day. I always put one layer of mascara on before applying my lashes, and with some lash styles actually apply a layer after to blend my lashes and the falsies together. It is great on its own for you non lash wearers!

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A look at what you get with the Grand Hotel Cafe box, photo courtesy of Sephora. 

Here’s a look at a basic eye that I did last week blending three colors from the Gingerbread palette on my eyes: Maple Syrup on the lid, Ginger Cream on the upper lid to blend, and Cup of Joe to smoke it out a bit. I used the Peach Cobbler blush from the Egg Nog palette. Absolutely love it!

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Love the simplicity of this look….add lashes and a bright lip to make the eyes pop. 

FINAL VERDICT: SPARKLE!

This boxed set is a great value…it is only $49, and you get a ton of great items with it. The only bad thing about this item…it is limited edition because it is seasonal, so if you want it get it asap!

Be on the lookout for great deals coming up at Ulta and Sephora….they always have awesome items that are great for gifts or stocking stuffers that surface this time of year!

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Just call me President Squash

More like President of the Squash fan club!

Over the last year I have become particularly found of the squash family….why I avoided it for so long beats me. I am consistently integrating spaghetti squash and acorn squash into my meal plan, but it was only recently that I gave their sister, butternut squash, a chance.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I’ve been making this recipe for awhile and wanted to share with you all! It is great for Fall, for those of you doing the 21 Day Fix and needing to get your green containers in, or anyone looking for a great addition to your table at Thanksgiving in a few weeks. You know why I love it? I kind of feel like I’m eating a carb (sweet potato), but I’m not! Trickery at its finest!

Here’s what you need:

-1 large butternut squash
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
-1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

To prepare, you first want to skin the squash. I cut the top and bottom off with a sharp knife, then I use a vegetable peeler to remove the rest of the skin. Rumor has it that Costco has butternut squash already peeled and cut up if you want to skip this step.

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Such a beautiful color!

After you have skinned the squash, preheat your oven. You can do this before if you want; honestly it does not matter. I also prepare my baking sheet at this time. I’ve found that I prefer lining the sheet with a piece of parchment paper as opposed to spraying it with a cooking spray.

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Make sure you scoop out the seeds….no one likes seeds with their squash…at least not in this case. Cut into chunks.

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After cutting up your squash, drizzle with the EVOO, Maple Syrup, and Cinnamon. Bake for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. I rotated my baking sheet halfway through just to make sure everything was cooking evenly. Serve with whatever you want, and ENJOY!

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So tasty….and good for you!

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Flower Power!

When it comes to flowers, I have a major love/hate relationship with them. I love love love how beautiful they are and how they have the capability to brighten my mood…..but I hate the fact that I ALWAYS seem to kill them prematurely. That whole green thumb thing….yeah, I did not get it…….surprising since my grandmother used to run her own flower shop.

Flowers are the one part of decor that I absolutely have to have and am constantly buying them during the spring/summer. I can’t help it….I love what they can do to a room! When I finally got my home office set up there was one thing I knew for sure: I wanted pink flowers on an all white desk to make my happy as I worked each day. My original plan was to use my wedding bouquet, however….stupid me had placed them on their side not realizing what I was doing, causing one side to rot and look weird. Bye, bye flowers.

Chillier temperatures outside meant that the end of a beautiful flower adorned desk were coming…..at least for a few months. This also meant an empty gap on my desk, and my OCD self just could not have that.

Spending as much time on Facebook as I do definitely has its benefits. As my flowerless desk conundrum surfaced, I randomly saw a post by my friend Stephanie that instantly provided me a solution. She shared her brand new business venture, The Pretty Paper Petal, and a photo of two roses she made, which you can see below.

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Photo courtesy of The Pretty Paper Petal

Immediately I messaged her about making a pink floral arrangement for my desk. I had no clue what the flowers were made of, but I knew that I had to have some. After some discussion I decided that three pale pink peonies would be absolutely perfect for the vision I had.

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My beautiful peony delivery!

I was so pleased with the final product that I had to ask her some questions I was dying to know about this paper flower talent she had been gifted. Since some of you may have the same questions, I thought I would share our quick interview here!

How did you learn how to make such gorgeous flowers out of paper?

Stephanie: I consider myself a figure it out person. I started this project after being inspired by so many wonderful papercrafters on Instagram. Thinking to myself “Could I really create something as beautiful as them?” So I started watching youtube videos, printing out tutorials and ordering paper and just really dove head in! I would make the same bloom over and over again with different types of paper just trial and error with my technique. Once I felt like I had that particular bloom down I would move on to another type of flower and start again with the learning process.

 

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The artist, Stephanie Morehead, in her shop.

 

How long does it take to make one flower?

Stephanie: Some flowers can be extremely labor intensive, I’ve made flowers that can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours! Each bloom can vary so much, from the amount of petals to cut and different sizes….to shaping the petals or painting the paper, then attaching, finishing the stem and even creating leaves. Thats why each bloom can look so unique and customized, the whole process is just so hands on and wonderfully personal.

What is your favorite flower to make?

Stephanie: There are so many flowers on my “OMG I have to try that list” but my favorite and most rewarding flower has been a ranunculus. They are so small, delicate and have layers upon layers of tiny petals. It takes over 100 hand cut, formed and placed petals per bloom. To me they are incredibly rewarding and realistic. Once I really figured out how to construct them I couldn’t stop smiling and taking pictures of the finished bloom.

What is your favorite thing about making these handcrafted flowers?

Stephanie: I love crafting, the sense of satisfaction that you created something beautiful, unique and special with your hands. It is also incredibly relaxing making each flower, the process of creating each petal is very enjoyable and almost serene!

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The artist at work!

What is the best way for someone to order?

Stephanie: The best way to order, say hi or ask questions is through my etsy page, Custom handmade crepe paper flowers by The Pretty Paper Petal. I am constantly adding new single blooms and arrangements to my store front.

Do you do custom orders?

Stephanie: Absolutely! I consider every order to be a custom order. Variations is color, length, size, leaves, each bloom can be hand crafted to you specifications. For bouquets and arrangements the possibilities can be endless!

 

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The beginning of a beautiful masterpiece.

 

How long does it take for a customer to get an order?

Stephanie: Each project can vary slightly in productions time, factors being size of the order or if custom paper colors need to be order. Generally custom orders can be delivered or shipped within 2-3 weeks, and ready to ship blooms within 1-2 days.

For customers who love flowers, why should they choose these?

Stephanie: To me they are so much more than fake flowers. Each is so unique and special looking, just like a real live flower but without the shelf life. I am excited for the day when I get married holding a hand made paper bouquet of beautiful, colorful lush blooms, and then on my ten year anniversary being able to see that same bouquet still in its full beauty.
But that’s what its all about, creating a forever moment with flowers. A perfectly styled desk arrangement, a valentines bouquet that will not end up in the trash, or a a recreation of your wedding bouquet to relive to magic of one day.

When it came to my beautiful peonies, I made them even more realistic by purchasing a product I found at Michael’s called QuickWater, a product that creates the illusion of water while hardening and holding your flowers at the same time (Be shoppertunistic….if you download the Michael’s app or visit their website, you can access a 40% off coupon so it is a little cheaper). You want to be very careful when mixing the QuickWater so it doesn’t bubble or look unnatural….and you definitely want to find a cute vase to display your arrangement! The vase I found was $1.99 at Michael’s and absolutely perfect! Here is a look at the final product in its new habitat!

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The finished product in its new environment!

I absolutely am obsessed with my flowers from The Pretty Paper Petal and look forward to having Stephanie craft a few more arrangements for me! And now I never have to feel bad about lacking the green thumb gene…..because my flowers will look all day errryyyyddddayyyy!

In addition to her etsy shop, you can find Stephanie online @theprettypaperpetal on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

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Thanks Stephanie for this beautiful addition to my office!

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More coconut, please!

This weekend I wrapped up my meal planning and prep early so I could watch the World Series game and get caught up on my emails. Usually I love to prep while watching a show or two (it’s a great way to motivate yourself if you know you are doing something you need to do with your health while indulging in a little tv), but tonight I didn’t want to miss a pitch!

Last week I stuck to my meal plan for the most part….which honestly was very surprising. Since yesterday would’ve been my dad’s birthday, I was fearful that I would spend the day eating my feelings because sometimes that happens with grief. Other than a piece of the little birthday cake my mom made to accompany the dinner she made (one of my dad’s favorites…..salmon burgers, green beans, and mashed sweet potatoes), I stayed on track. I’m proud of myself for that!

Here’s a look at what’s on my plate for the first week of November!

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Breakfasts: My usual Southwest Cups because I just love them and an omelette tomorrow to use up the spinach I have left over. I’m trying out a new recipe this week…healthy chicken and waffles! Don’t worry, I will share if it turns out ok!

Lunches: I’m president of the Ahi Tuna fan club right now, so that’s one of my lunch options, as well as Beast Egg Salad. I think I am just in Beast mode since we announced on Saturday that THE BEAST himself, Sagi Kalev, is coming to Cleveland in January! Beast Egg Salad was one of my favorites during Body Beast. I’m also making Chicken Parm (from the Fixate cookbook) and pairing it with spaghetti squash! If you want to come to our Sagi event, you can purchase tickets HERE!

Dinners: Last week I mentioned I was making a new recipe, coconut crusted chicken. I can’t lie…it was delicious! If you love coconut, you need to try this recipe….I’m sharing it below! I’m bringing it back this week! You probably will notice the healthy chipotle bowl….yes, you can make chipotle healthy! It’s all about portions and healthier choices (Just say No to Sour Cream)!

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The only thing you aren’t seeing broken down is Sunday; since I will be at my friend Jodi’s for a party I’m not sure what my options will be. However, I can tell you that I will be making wise choices and making sure I’m not abusing any containers!

This is a big week…..Core de Force launches tomorrow!!! EEK! I am so excited! Nothing helps me zero in on my nutrition like a brand new program to dedicate myself to! I cannot wait to get it and begin!

Remember….tomorrow may be Halloween, but that doesn’t mean that you should overindulge in mini candy bars. Make smart choices…those little things are the devil! And those calories add up fast!

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

As I sit here writing this blog we are minutes away from the first game of the 2016 World Series. I can’t begin to share how excited I am for the Cubs and Indians to battle it out for the title.

I am excited for the city of Cleveland and for the Indians…they have had an amazing year and Cleveland is such a great city….I like that good things are happening here and that the fans who have suffered many disappointments over the years have had some reasons to celebrate. I root for the Indians 99% of the time…..

The 1% of the time I don’t is when they are against the Cubs.

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Cubs Hat, Wild Thing Shirt. Baseball Balance. Until now.

I have to be honest…the moment the Cubs won the National League pennant I became extremely emotional. How incredible that after years and years and years of baseball heartbreak they would be heading to the big dance! I could watch this moment over and over again.

I was so excited they were heading to the World Series but was so brokenhearted that the #1 Cubs fan ever would not be able to see the game.

My dad.

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My dad at Wrigley Field in August 1999. 

This week I was called a bandwagon fan by more than one person. It irritated me. I understand any championship creates a plethora of bandwagon fans, I do. My family and I….yeah, we don’t fall in that category. You want to call me a bandwagon fan? Go ahead. But I know that if you do you don’t have the slightest idea who I am or anything about my dad, and that makes me kind of sad.

My brother and I were raised on the Chicago Cubs. Our basement was a Cubs fortress…the epic man cave. My dad not only loved his beloved Cubs, but baseball in general, and anyone who walked into our house knew it. There were so many unique pieces in my dad’s collection….from legit seating from Municipal stadium to autographed home plates to statues of baseball icons. So many wonderful memories in that space of my dad’s…..Christmas mornings (he even had a Cubs tree)…..laughter….runs on the treadmill my dad had positioned to still be able to catch the Cubs games on the tv….so many memories I miss more than I could ever say.

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When our two golden retrievers had a litter of puppies, the bulk were named after Chicago Cubs players….Ryno was named after my dad’s favorite, Ryne Sandberg….Gracie was after Mark Grace, the Cubs first baseman at the time….Sammy after Sammy Sosa. My brother and I each got to name one puppy, but we opted for the basketball route because at the time we were obsessed. Mine was Pippen, after my favorite athlete of all time, Scottie Pippen, and Zack named his Barkley after Charles Barkley (yes, my brother was a Suns fan….his room was once purple and orange).

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Man, we look sweet here. 

The majority of my dad’s wardrobe…..Cubs clothing. His tattoo: the Cubs logo. He lived for Cubs baseball, and because of his love for the team, we all grew up loving them, too. His tombstone even has the Cubs logo etched in it because they were that important to him.

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My dad lived his entire life waiting for this series. Even though he loved the Cubs, he always respected Cleveland teams and enjoyed watching and cheering on the Indians as well. I remember watching the fireworks at the Indians game with him last year the night before my wedding. The hotel we all stayed at provided the best view of them after the Indians won. I remember telling him this year we had to make time for a game. This series would have been the ultimate for him to see. I wish this was the game we were going to together.

This series will be as painful as it will be exciting. It’s exciting to see your team get to this point….but it is another sad reminder that the person who would enjoy it the most isn’t here to watch the games with us. I will forever cheer on my Cubbies…not just for me, but for my dad as well. Even though I selfishly want to be watching this with my dad, I can’t help but think that he had a front row seat watching it with Babe Ruth and Harry Caray and all of the other baseball greats that he loved.

Saturday is my dad’s birthday, and I’m hoping for a Cubs win to celebrate it. In my mind there couldn’t be a better way to honor him that day.

Bandwagon fan? Hell no.

I’m just a Daddy’s girl who grew up wanting to be like her daddy and loving the things that he loved.

Let’s go Cubbies….this series is for DSS!

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Cheering on the Cubbies!

 

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