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Friday, February 28, 2014

Nicole's Curated Life: Navigating the Cluster

Hi peeps. The look of the blog has changed a bit and I am working on more changes (though it's going slower than I'd like). Until the new look launches, I thought I'd lay out some page features and highlight what's going on around the site this week.

This is my home page. Most people read it without noticing the links in the upper left corner. Show them some love!


Once you do, you'll go to one of 4 pages (which will all be combined in the new launch...I was a little all over the place when I started blogging and created separate pages rather than just writing about everything in one place).

"Under the Roof" is where you'll find home decor DIYs and inspiration. The last post was on a project I did for a friend's baby nursery. Read about it here.


The Style page is all about my style musings and mood boards. There are also some accessory DIYs. This week's post was about Fashion by Mayhem. You can read it here.


The Food page is near and dear to my heart. It started with crazy stories of my cooking journey (I used to be a nightmare in the kitchen) then it traveled with me through my journey into veganism. Now, its a place for my favorite recipes (mine and other peoples) and of course, there's a place for cocktails. Every week, I do a Friday Happy Hour post to help you toast in the weekend. This week's post was about champagne cocktails to celebrate the Oscars. Read it here. I also share the Weekly Weigh In recipes on this page. This week's is here.


Finally, there is my Lupus page. I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE in 2005. With the help of some awesome doctors, I am doing really well but it wasn't always that way. This page documents my journey and also provides updates on research, helpful health tips and events to raise awareness. Check out the latest here.


And that's it. I hope you'll check out the other pages during some of your visits to the site. Want to see more of a particular type of post? Let me know if the comments. And now, I'm signing out to go celebrate the start of the weekend with Ash. Happy Friday!! See you next week. 

Friday Playlist


It's time for the Oscars. This week's playlist is a compilation of the Oscar winning original songs for the last 20 years. I've also included the four songs nominated this year because these days, no playlist is complete for me without Pharrel Williams' Happy. You cannot be mad when its on. It comes with me to work in the morning, on the treadmill when I miss a class and in the car when I'm stuck in traffic. It's perfect. I'm pulling for it to win this year. Whatever you're doing this weekend, have a good one. Be blessed! Cheers!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Oscars Party

The Oscars are this weekend and I will be tuning in to see if my favorite movies from this year win. I've actually seen all of the best film nominees this year. That rarely happens. All the buzz got me thinking about an Oscar party. I'm not sure anything can really top the full on red carpet experience at the party I attended last year but here are some of my favorite festive ideas for the occasion anyway.

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No movie themed party would be complete without popcorn but this idea steps it up a bit. With sweet mix ins, a variety of sprinkled toppings, and fancy popcorn boxes, the popcorn bar is ready for its close up. Okay. That was cheesy. No more movie industry cliches.
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Cupcakes with Oscar themed toppers are the perfect dessert. You can find some cute ones here.

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Filling out a ballot and competing with your guests for most correct predictions will add a little excitement. Think about adding incentive with a prize for the winner. 

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Adding photos of the nominees to your cocktail straws is a festive way to incorporate the theme of the night.

Do you have an annual Oscar party? What are your favorite ideas for decorating/food? Be sure and check out the Friday Happy Hour post this week (just click the Food page on the bar at the top of the page or click the link in this paragraph) where I've curated a group of yummy champagne cocktails great for any Oscar shindig. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love List


1. Ever been caught singing the wrong lyrics to a beloved song? Like a virgin/Touched for the 31st time? Hold me closer Tony Danza? Well, you're not alone. It happens so often the MakeATX shop made a set of coasters devoted to mistaken lyrics. Great conversation starters at a party! You can get them here.

2. I'm behind on this one but for me, love is an everyday thing. That makes this bangle the perfect gift at any time of year. You can get the Kate Spade Valentine's Day Bangle here.

3. You know I'm vegetarian but lately, I've been refocusing on eating a vegan diet. This Tomato Chickpea & Coconut Soup from Love and Lemons is right up my alley and I can't wait to make it.

4. This is one of those tips that makes you say "why didn't I think of that?" I go to The Beauty Department for makeup tips all the time but I stumbled across this trick for protecting your clothes from leaking beauty products since everything over 3 ounces has to be packed. Such a cheap, simple trick. I will pack my products like this from now on.

5. Buzzfeed got four women together to do a photo shoot and then had their in-house Photoshop expert edit the photos to make the women look like cover models. The video showing the process can be seen here. The women's reactions opens an interesting discussion (or maybe puts a finer point on an existing one). Our differences are really what makes us beautiful. The images of beauty sold to us should reflect that and shouldn't all be whitewashed to eliminate our smile lines, freckles, curves, etc. I love anything that reminds us of that.

6. I've been on a gold eye shadow kick for a few months now. I like the look of the gold smoky eye because its easier to hide my mistakes and it doesn't make me look like a raccoon (I am working to perfect the whole smoky eye thing...I want my Drunk in Love eyes.) In the mean time, I'm going to ramp up the gold look by following this tutorial.

7. This Israeli Salad is a great light option from The Forest Feast. I'd normally associate it with summer but the fresh ingredients and the hint of feta have me adding the ingredients

8.  I love this photo collection of female film heroines assembled by Vanity Fair (though I'm kinda missing Halle Berry in the bunch). Read about it here.

9. You know I have to inject a little humor here and there. This kid reenactment of clips from some of this year's Oscar nominated films is great.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Weekly Weigh In


Robyn: 

Well, back again.  Today’s post is all about honesty.  This time, I am up 1 pound.  I know that does not sound too great, but I will take it.  Let’s be honest – last week’s weight loss was all due to the virus.  So, if we are going to be honest (and I am), I am down  since the onset of the virus 1.6 pounds. So, to date, I am only down 3.8.  If I have to be honest (see, there is a trend), I am not happy with that.  Of course, I have had some setbacks along the way, some injuries, and some bad news over the past month (making for some long wine nights).  So, I guess its not terrible.  At least it’s a “down” rather than an “up.”

I am still not feeling up to exercising.  Falling on your tailbone is not a pretty thing and it’s a very slow recovery.  I am really hoping to get back to the gym next week (and that’s an honest goal).  I’ve also realized I am having a hard time motivating and keeping track of points without attending WW meetings. So next week, I need to commit to that as well.

Here’s to hoping for a fresh start (and a healed tailbone) next week! Today's recipe is for a pizza! You can get the recipe here



Nicole:

I’m back in the saddle this week. I’ve been going to the gym and continuing my classes. I’m also incorporating strength training exercises into the routine. I am down from last week (when I was a punk and took a PASS) but still slightly up from the last time I posted about my weight. As of today, I am down a total of 10.8 pounds. It’s working out to about 5 pounds a month, which would still get me to my goal weight by June. I will say that I am re-thinking the idea of a goal weight. I mean, you have to have one for Weight Watchers but I think rather than obsessing about numbers, I’m adopting more of an “I’ll know it when I see it” attitude. This time around, I don’t just want to lose weight. I want to be strong. Two minute planks? I want to do that without shaky arms. I want to be able to do full push ups (Note: I refuse to say “boy” push-ups), run for miles without being winded and do spin at full speed for the entire class hour.

Last night at the gym, I noticed I wasn't as winded during class as I was when I started in January. I can get through some high intensity routines and I can lift slightly heavier weights (mind you I started with 5 pound dumbbells). The progress got me thinking about assessing my overall fitness level and measuring the growth just like I’m measuring my body and tracking my weight.

In elementary school and junior high, at the beginning of each year, my Phys Ed teacher made us do a fitness assessment. We had to line up and see how many push-ups, pull ups, jumping jacks and sit-ups we could do in one minute. We did the same test at the end of the year to see how (or if) we’d progressed. I want to do something similar so I did some research and found The President’s Challenge Adult Fitness Test. The plan is to do the test this week and do a follow up every 6 months. Wanna join me? Please do and share your results in the comments. 

This week, in terms of food, I’ve finally crossed into (or put a toe into) the raw realm. I told you at the beginning of the year I wanted to try more raw food recipes. This week, I’m trying a raw dinner that isn’t a salad. You can find the recipe here. I'm also doing an expanded post on raw food recipes and useful tools so be sure to check back later in the week. 

Have you tried raw food recipes? Share your favorites in the comments. Here’s to a good, healthy, happy week. Cheers!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Quotable


I think of internal harmony as knowing what you should be doing and actually following through. To know deeply who you are and to honor that make you unstoppable. Often (and I am certainly guilty of it), we push down dreams in favor of practicality. We become who the people in our lives need us to be. Bills have to be paid, stability needs to be achieved. Living that way makes your inner voice weaker and weaker until one day you look up to realize years have passed and you don't recognize who you are--or at least the young, hopeful dreamer you used to be wouldn't. There is immense struggle in the journey to sweep practicality aside but when you do, the harmony you feel in your soul becomes worth it...or at least that is what I've been told. I've known harmony in some parts of my life but there is one lingering piece. Career. Practicality has been winning on and off for years. Not getting it on track makes me feel powerless sometimes but I feel like change is in the forecast. Here's to finding harmony. Happy Monday! 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Playlist


This week's playlist is a nod to the Brit Awards. I was channel surfing earlier this week during a bout of insomnia and they were on. I knew a lot of the artists nominated and winning awards--or at least knew their music but I found a few new (to me) artists and songs and the love was instant. Today's playlist is a sampling of that. I also mixed in a few artists I already knew about who've been killing the UK charts but haven't quite exploded in the states. Enjoy and Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Love List




























1.  There's nothing like several feet of snow piled up in front of your door to make you want to start planning a vacation. Robyn sent me a list of bucket list trips this week and I really just want to throw caution to the wind and go buy a ticket.

2. As you know from the skin brushing post, I'm on a natural beauty product kick. I got the ingredients to make my own body butter this weekend. This is the recipe I'm using.

3. I love the idea that random spots of beauty can come from throwing something as terrible as a grenade. People are throwing Kabloom grenades into abandoned lots and voila! Patches of wildflowers.

4. I'm 5 '10 and currently wear a size 14. Though I'm working my way down with the help of Weight Watchers and 24 Hour Fitness, it's nice to see Daily Candy showing the current trends I love styled for plus sized (I hate that term) women.

5. The Purple Buddha Project is making jewelry from upcycled weapons in Cambodia and Laos. The area is one of the most heavily bombed areas in the world and removal of undetonated bombs is slow. This project is helping fund removal and raising awareness by selling the bracelets. I got the one shown here but there are several to choose from.

6. Oprah recently launched the Just Say Hello Campaign. I love the idea and the chance to spread a little joy. I usually smile at people as I pass them at work but I never really say hi. I decided to try this out this week. The person didn't speak back but I'm going to keep trying.

7. I'm intrigued by this herb body map. I cook with fresh and dried herbs all the time. Might as well get to know a little about their helpful properties.

8. I love anything that makes life a little more convenient. Prepping smoothie packs ahead of time is a great idea that cuts down on prep time in the morning. Great idea from the Chic Site.

9. I'm trying Fit Sugar's Anywhere Workout to vary my routine a little this week. I know I will have to cut a couple of things out. I can barely do a plank at this point so burpees are out of the question but as my stamina grows, who knows what I'll be able to do.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Naturally Beautiful Series: Skin Brushing

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One of my goals for the year is to put myself higher on the list. So far, the pursuit of that has meant focusing on my health. I’ve been exercising regularly, eating better (for the most part) and incorporating a few hippie (and I say that lovingly) natural beauty routines. I’ve had some good results so I thought I’d kick off a new series sharing my experiences/results. First up? Skin brushing.

One of the items on last week’s Love List was a natural bristle skin brush.  I bought mine after seeing a quick beauty segment on the Bethenny show a few months ago.  Here’s the clip:

           

Seems easy, right? I headed to my local drug store to find a natural bristle brush and end my dry skin battle once and for all. I couldn’t find one. There were tons of shower brushes with synthetic bristles and several small loofah style brushes for foot care but nothing I needed for skin brushing. Natural bristles are important for skin brushing. I took my search online and found one on Amazon very easily.  

The first time I tried it, I may have been slightly overzealous. It felt good on my skin but when I got in the shower, it felt like I was bathing in fire for about a minute. ..a very long minute. I decided I should do some studying rather than going by the quick segment I’d seen on TV.  After extensive research, I learned that skin brushing does a lot more than slough off dead skin.  Here are some of the benefits.

It removes dry, dead skin, which allows your body to soak up moisture better during and after your shower.

It helps with lymphatic drainage. If you don’t know what that means, here’s a little explanation (warning: It’s about to get slightly scientific in here). You know when you get a massage and they tell you to drink lots of water afterwards to help flush out toxins? It’s because the massage has helped to break up and move backed up/thickened lymph fluid. Lymph fluid is fluid in your body tissues. It travels through the body and through the lymph nodes and ultimately mixes back into your blood. The fluid can pick up bacteria, toxins, cancer, fats, etc. and help to eliminate them. Because of that, it is the first line of defense in your immune system. The circulation of the fluid helps remove toxins from your system and also helps excess fluid from building up in your tissues. Helping this process along with skin brushing (or massage) lightens the burden on your liver and kidneys.  In short, lymphatic drainage is a good thing.

It is a natural detox (because it opens your pores to release toxins and aids in lymphatic drainage) that doesn't involve starving and juicing for several days. 

It helps with energy by improving circulation.

It helps alleviate joint pain.

It improves the look of cellulite.

Sounds great right? So does it work?

For me, it does. I've been brushing daily for about 6 weeks and it has certainly made my skin very soft. Dry brushing got rid of the dry flaky skin on my shins and elbows in a way lotion never has.  That alone makes it worth it for me but I will confess, I do feel a little better. As you know, I have lupus, which can (and does for me) cause joint pain. My medication goes a long way in eliminating that pain but I still get residual pain in the morning. Since I started skin brushing, I don’t feel that pain. I also feel energized after brushing but I’d contribute that more to the feeling of a brush scraping across my skin than to any chakra opening and the like.

I think my circulation is a bit better because I don’t have as many issues from Reynaud’s as I did before. As for the cellulite, I'm still looking for that miracle cure. Skin brushing didn’t do anything to improve the back of my thighs. I think the exercise will be the best thing to assist with that.*

Getting Started

I checked out a couple of YouTube videos. There are so many!! The one I found most helpful is below (I know its long).  

                           

Tips

Only brush once a day. Do it before your shower.

Use an all natural soap to wash and a natural oil, lotion or body butter as a moisturizer.  You’re helping your body eliminate toxins…don’t put them right back in.

Follow the watershed guidelines (in the video).

Avoid brushing injured or damaged areas of the skin.


* Exercise doesn’t eliminate cellulite. It comes from fat pushing through the collagen under your skin. You can't really reverse it. That said, creating strong, lean muscles under the fatty areas can help the affected areas look better. If you want other tips, click here so see what Dr. Oz has to say on the topic.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Weekly Weigh In


This week, the time came for me and Robyn to weigh in and we both said (without hesitation), PASS!! Here’s what happened:

Robyn:

So in Weight Watchers, they allow for weeks where you are given a “pass” from weighing in.  This is my “pass” week.  Although I went down a few pounds last week due to being sick, I was unable to stick to my diet after that. I was living on soup, crackers, bagels and eggs.  When I fully recovered, I'd planned to get back on track.  Then, I fell. Yes,I slipped on ice and fell flat on my tailbone.  I literally was not able to get out of bed the next day– which just meant eating quick foods and bringing in.

I am finally feeling better and start to plan tracking my food again today. Gosh, this dieting thing is tough. And with my tailbone still killing me – so the gym is out.  And that is not an excuse – I really am hurting.

So I will weigh in again Saturday.

Today’s recipe is a take on Chicken Marsala that I am hoping to make this week. Find the recipe here


Nicole:

Let me confess. I think the "pass" is a bit of a chump tool. It gives you an excuse to cheat and not suffer the mental consequences by stepping on the scale to weigh in. That said, in a week where I was trapped in the house while snow piled up on the ground outside, the scale is the last thing I want to see. Full confession? I know I gained weight. I have to weigh in for medical reasons every day. I guess my pass is in not having to actually track my yo-yo-ing.

I will note the weekend included an indulgent Valentine’s Day meal (recipes to come on the food page) and a small gathering with friends to watch the All Star Game (I wrote about the buffalo chicken sliders yesterday).  You may be wondering where there’s room for a health lesson among all of that. Well, shockingly, there is one. It came from two guests at the All Star party…a couple who had decided to eat “clean” following a recent vacation. They didn’t eat. Literally. They didn’t check the table to see if there was a healthy option among the full spread of food. They didn’t ask if I had healthy options to offer. They didn’t go near the table. One half of the couple eventually shared some of the alcohol they came with (a delicious pomegranate infused tequila) and it was the first alcohol he’d had in weeks.   

My first reaction was to be insulted (inwardly of course). I’d spent so much time in the kitchen that day making food I don’t even eat (non-vegetarian) only to have a large part of it go to waste.  We sat there not eating for quite a while because they weren’t eating. We didn’t feel comfortable. That changed after a couple of drinks.  My second reaction was shame as I ate my pizza in front of them. That little internal voice telling me I was making bad decisions was on 10 as I sat in their judgment. Ok…I don’t know if they were judging. In all likelihood, they weren’t. Maybe it made me judge myself for not ever being so fully committed to “clean eating” that I would turn down a host’s food. All in all, it was such an awkward experience.

What did I learn? Well, you’d think I had some epiphany about what real commitment looks like and adapted that as a trait. No go. I admire their commitment but I like to live my life. Some would question my equating indulgent eating with living my life to the fullest but I don’t care. I know from my past when I was obsessed with fitness that one day of sidestepping dietary restrictions doesn’t kill any progress—particularly when you work out (and take it to failure) every day.  I don’t want that for my life anymore. Also, there are always ways to survive at a party—including telling the host you are on a restrictive diet and don’t plan to eat or requesting something specific that you can eat. Grilled veggie platter anyone? Naked grilled chicken tenders? I’ve certainly done it and a good host won’t mind. Chances are you’re not putting him/her out of the way. They’re shopping for the party anyway.

How do you manage your dietary restrictions in social situations?

For this week’s recipe, I’m highlighting my quick Sesame Ginger noodles. Find the simple recipe here. I also have a recommended workout this week. It’s an easy one to use at home, which is useful with the kind of weather plaguing most of the country lately. Pop in your headphones and check it below or here if the video doesn't work on your device. 

          

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ads vs. Reality: McDonald's and Makeup

Today's quotable was about being your true self and how it is the greatest gift you can offer yourself in this life. When I came across this video comparing expertly styled food from the McDonald's menu with what you actually get when you drive thru, I thought it was perfect to share. So often, we have our commercial side ready to go after a little time alone with the makeup bag. The bright, shiny finished product is what we show the world. When we get home, the real us (hair pulled back or wrapped in a scarf, freshly scrubbed face, comfy clothes) makes an appearance.

Which one is preferable? I mean, would the world fall apart if we looked fresh faced everyday (the idea behind Makeup Free Mondays)? Would anyone (besides your mom and your girlfriends) even notice? Unless you are super beat by a glam squad every morning, I would venture to say the answer is no. At most, people may just think you look a little tired.

I may want my food to look like the highly styled (and likely inedible) version that enticed me in the commercial (though I don't eat McDonald's) but in real life, I think I prefer the real thing flaws and all (despite my slight obsession with beauty products).

p/s Who knew McDonald's could inspire soul searching beyond the Supersize Me movement? I must either be really tired or really hungry. Until tomorrow, cheers!! 



             

Monday Quotable


This is the third time I started this post over. In trying to write about the relevance of today's quote in my life, I've found myself talking in circles and platitudes all morning. At the end, it was all a bunch of philosophical mush. The truth is it really is a privilege to be comfortable in being yourself--and I mean truly yourself--no matter what judgment it will bring. While I fancy myself an honest person who cares little about what others think (Fancy myself? Really? Sorry. Blame Downton Abbey.), there is still a part of me that seeks validation from the outside world. There is still part of me that is reserved and scared to be myself outside of the comfort of my house. What would people think of the silly, over the top Nicole? The bitingly sarcastic (but all in good fun) Nicole? The vulnerable Nicole? One thing is for sure. I'll never know unless I let go of the restraints in my head (read: the gut feeling telling me people are watching and judging). So, on this Monday, here's to working towards being free of the restraints holding me back from the "privilege of a lifetime." Happy Monday. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Playlist



Today's playlist is all about love. Happy Valentine's Day! Love yourself first. xo

Thursday, February 13, 2014

20 Questions


I get e-mails every now and then asking for answers to 20 Questions before you pass it along to friends/family. I rarely answer them. I will confess that I was in need of content for the blog when I came across 20 Questions asked to Sara Jessica Parker by Marie Claire (as shared by Maegan Tintari of ...love Maegan). I thought I'd join in on the fun and reveal a little about myself. If you blog or are active on social media, tag, you're it.

1. What brings you the greatest joy? Spending time with the people (and animals) I love…and being present enough to appreciate it.

2. What are your vices? Wine, french fries and dessert.

3. What is on your nightstand? A lamp, a box of tissues, a collection of essential oils, the nail polish from last week’s manicure and important mail that I should have looked at a week ago.

4. Do you have a secret talent? I sing a little and I can imitate a couple of accents.

5. What is your greatest indulgence? Coats. I love them and have way too many.

6. What should every woman try at least once in her life? Anything her heart desires…indulging her desire to say no…going on a date with herself.

7. What makes you laugh? My husband, The Read, Lola (my dog) when she’s in zoomie/psycho dog mode and running laps around the house.

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I LOVE rap music and often blast it right up until I pull into my very corporate job. I also curse a lot but I’m working on that.

9. What is on your bucket list? So much! Right now, I really want to do a meditation retreat in Bali.

10. What is on your feet right now? Nothing.

11. How did you make your first dollar? Babysitting for a neighbor's baby. It eventually turned into my first summer job.

12. What superstition do you believe in? It’s not really a superstition but I believe your words have power. You name it, you claim it.

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most? Dark rinse skinny jeans, black tank, gray flowy cardigan.

14. What is the best gift you’ve ever received? Life and a husband who loves me, flaws and all.

15. What is on your liquor shelf? The real question should be what isn’t on it. It’s still pretty well stocked from the holidays.

16. What is on your kitchen counter? Convection oven, toaster, can opener, knife block, and an assortment of cutting boards stacked and leaning against the backsplash…or the piece of countertop crawling up the wall that wishes it was a backsplash. Kitchen makeover is way overdue.

17. What would you never leave home without? My phone and my wallet.

18. What movie has the greatest ending? Too broad…Love Actually (or any predictable RomCom)

19. Who is on the guest list for your ideal dinner party? I’m going to go with the living because my list of deceased legends to talk to is a mile long. Maya Angelou, Jon Stewart, Oprah, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Gaffigan, Barack and Michelle Obama, the closest women in my life and Ash. It's just random enough to be a blast. 


20. What is one thing you wish you had known when you were younger? Things that I could never plan for will happen and uproot my life but it will ultimately be for the best. Everything really does happen for a reason so don’t spend time worrying and stressing over the things you can’t change. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love List


1. I know this feels a little like a glorified sticky note campaign but I love the idea of tiny one sentence love notes stuck on the fridge, the steering wheel or in a lunch bag throughout the year. Keep the romance flowing! You can also use it with your kids.

2. You already know I'm not a pink girl but there is something so sweet about baby pink on a highly structured dress. It's the perfect balance. Buy it here.

3. Unless you live in a place that's warm year round (lucky duck), you've been smacked around by the polar vortex and a seemingly endless barrage of snow storms lately. I've been mentally planning a trip for weeks and this list is pushing me closer to purchasing some kind of tropical getaway package.

4. The trends from NYFW are shaking out and among them is one that popped up a few years back: socks with heels. I didn't go for it the first time around but this look from the Ralph Lauren show is making me reconsider.

5. I read about the health benefits of skin brushing a while back and I finally started doing it about a month ago. I love it for the exfoliation benefit alone but there's more to it. Look for more about my experience in an upcoming post. Anyway, the brush I use is an all natural one with a removable handle. Find one like it here.

6. I love a good combo. Naiad Soap Arts has a lemon poppy seed sugar whipped soap that's a soap and scrub in one. Not a lemon fan? You can choose from a variety of scents. You can even sample them first by buying one of the mini pots before you commit to a scent.

7. I love this Grits a Ya Ya recipe from Peas & Crayons. I love it so much, I am adapting it for Valentine's Day. We're in a NOLA state of mind with All Star weekend just around the corner.

8. I am late to Shameless. Friends have been telling me to watch it for a while now but I have so many shows I watch regularly that I've been pushing it off...until now. With all this snow we've been having, I've had lots (LOTS) of indoor time. It felt like the perfect time to binge watch season 1 and as you may have guessed, I love it. This is the love list after all.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In


Robyn:

Well friends, this week I am down 2.6 pounds.  I'd like to report this was due to hard work, becoming a gym fanatic, and counting points.  But no!  It was due to the horrific stomach virus I battled for about 4-5 days.  I barely ate for a few days.  


Once I started eating, my diet consisted of bananas, crackers, bagels, eggs and Gatorade.  Suffice to say I’ve gained 1 pound back since Saturday. So that's really a loss of 1.6.  But hey - if I had to combat that virus, a girl needs a silver lining. I'm still not eating my regular diet and let's face it -- a box of saltines is not the healthiest or most point conscious meal.  But sometimes life gets in the way.

I'm planning to work from home tomorrow.  My plan is to hit the gym if I'm up for it (I think I will be).  Oh, yes the gym is in my building so I really have no excuse not to go (now that I’ve figured out the treadmill).

Until next week, stay warm and safe and enjoy the Olympics!  (Gosh can't we all have bodies like those Olympians!!!!)

Sorry, no recipe this week since I lived off of bread products for the last 7 days.

*********************************

Nicole:


Last week I spent a lot of time in the gym. Let me qualify that statement. I spent a lot of time for me. I went 4 times (3 cardio classes, 1 strength training session) and did a Fitness Blender video (which kicked my butt) at home before date night. 

And speaking of date night, some changes had to go down there too. I still went and i still had wine but I cut consumption by one glass and I skipped happy hour at home. I had enchiladas but skipped the rice (still terribly high in points but that's the reserve points are for). we also didn't stop for bagels or make fried egg and cheese sandwiches when we got home. Don't judge. I didn't gain 30 pounds over the last 5 years by eating salad. Ah...the confessions of an overweight vegetarian. 

Saturday, instead of going out to dinner, I cooked at home and we went for drinks. The temptation for fries wasn't there. And as for that last glass of wine I shouldn't have ordered (not because of the points but because it would have led to a massive hangover), Ash finished it for me. Now, full disclosure, I did come home and inhale a bag of butter flavored popcorn (because by then, the french fry craving was begging for attention). Sunday, I had oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch and I made a yummy pasta dinner. At weigh in the next day, I'd lost 3.6 pounds. Happy dance!! 


The lesson for this week is that slight modifications can still result in significant change. Also, as I learned last week, inches matter more than pounds (but its nice to drop some pounds when you're working so hard). 

This week's recipe is the dinner I made on Saturday. Crab Salad Rolls! The pretzel bun is the highest calorie part of the meal (8 points if you're on Weight Watchers) and it's high in carbs (if you're on any manner of low carb diet) but it's so tasty if you're a bread lover like me...plus it was a pre-cocktail dinner. Lettuce just isn't gonna do it, ya know?  For lighter fare, feel free to adapt the recipe by serving it in lettuce wraps, on a Wasa cracker or in a low carb sandwich wrap. You can also eat it plain. Enjoy! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Quotable

So...Valentine's Day (and all the feelings that come with it) is Friday. Through the years, whether I've been single on Valentine's Day or not, it has always bothered me that so much emotion is attached to what is essentially a greeting card holiday. No matter the historical significance of February 14, today, every television commercial, store display and radio promotion make it seem as if you need to be in a relationship to be worthy of love at this time of year.

If you are so lucky to have someone you've deemed "worthy" (or who has deemed you worthy), you must express it with a heart shaped piece of jewelry, a dozen overpriced, underbloomed red roses, a heart shaped box of mystery chocolates, singing mylar balloons, teddy bears and reservations for an overpriced dinner. Oh, and don't forget the greeting card. Preferably a giant, singing one that will cost you a good $30. The bigger the better right? I mean, don't you love your significant other??? How will they know without a card the size of a small child.

Then, the day passes and a large part of the time, romance flies out of the window just as fast as it came in...and really was that teddy bear all that romantic?

To all those who LOVE Valentine's Day, I don't mean to be Debbie Downer. I do actually enjoy making my DIY love-themed gifts to Ash. I love him more than any greeting card could express but if we skipped the commercial side of Valentine's Day, I wouldn't mind. And if I didn't have him (gasp), I'd still be worthy of love. I think understanding that is a big part of looking past all the mixed feelings that come with the day.

So, what's my point? We are all worthy of love everyday no matter our imperfections or challenges. That love is bigger than all the paper hearts and cards in the world. Remind yourself and remind those you love every chance you get. You never know who needs to hear it. Then, make a commitment to continue spreading that love throughout the year and not just on February 14. xo. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Playlist



Today's playlist is a chance to work it out. It's some of the songs from my workout classes (Zumba, and hip hop fitness) this past week in addition to a few "shake my butt and burn some calories" faves. Hope it gets you moving and you run into the weekend! Cheers!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Love List


1. I was late to Humans of New York, having only discovered it after the Stella post.  Since then, I’ve been a huge fan. When the book came out, I was really excited to add it to my coffee table collection. Despite my love, I realized I never put it on my Love List. So, here it is…buy your own copy here

2. I don’t watch many reality shows these days. I left the drama for The Following, American Horror Story, Walking Dead, Scandal, etc. Yet, when I saw the pilot of Blood, Sweat and Heels, I couldn’t get enough. Check it out on Bravo.

3. Smoking slippers are a huge style trend at the moment. These slippers by C-Wonder are the cutest I’ve seen and they fit right in with my “choose happiness” mantra...and weirdly, with my love for BeyoncĂ© (Beyhive)

4. The Grommet has really unique gifts. This Starscape Pendant shows the star pattern of your astrological sign. You can also add a loved one’s sign to the same pendant. Get yours here


5. It’s fashion week here in NYC and I’m already excited over some of the collections. I LOVE the kind of nomadic elegance this BCBG Max Azria dress offers. Check out the full collection here. It’s on the top of the wish list. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gift Guide: Valentine's Day

I'm not super obsessed with Valentine's Day (read more here) but it is the perfect time to do something nice for those you love. It doesn't have to be a  big investment. A simple card will do the trick but if you're so inclined, here are some fun ideas to show a little love in a way that doesn't involve mylar balloons that play Mambo No. 5 or a drug store stuffed animal (unless your loves are into that kinda thing).


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Art Love: Whether you fill a canvas with hand painted lyrics to a special song or paint a place special to both of you, the personal touch offered by one of a kind art is sentimental, thoughtful and unforgettably uniq

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Food Love: Valentine's Day often seems to be about the sweets. Why go for a box of heart shaped mystery chocolates when you can make a much better product yourself? It can be as easy as melting chocolate and letting it harden in a candy mold or as hard as making gourmet truffles. No matter what, your loved ones will appreciate your hard work over any sampler box...unless they happen to have a serious affinity for the Russian Roulette of the mystery candy box.

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Retro Love: If you or your loved ones have days gone by on the brain, go retro with your gift. T-Shirts with 80s movie moments, Necco Conversation Hearts, and Vintage Valentine's Day cards are all available online. You can also make a date of it and look for an 80s prom in your area. There's a popular one here in NYC. If you want to DIY, get a gable box from your local craft store and fill it with a variety of sweet snacks from childhood.

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Lovely Reads: I'm not talking paperback romance novels with Fabio on the cover. I'm thinking coffee table books like the new one by Drew Barrymore or books of love poems (think Pablo Neruda). If you want to go a little racier, why not give an ornate looking copy of the Kama Sutra (with yoga lessons...because, really, who is that limber??). For friends and family, think about books with quotes and stories about love.
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Music Love: You can't go wrong with a modern mixtape. Do a playlist of love songs like the one I created last year. Fill it with songs that remind you of your loved one, songs that have been important in your relationship or songs that remind you of great memories. You could also consider music lessons if your loved one has been longing to play guitar or piano. If you're really creative and musically gifted, you can even write a song! 


Travel Love: Whether its a day trip to a nearby city, the place you had your first date or a long weekend getaway far from your immediate surroundings, getting away has a great effect on everyone. It's the perfect time to reconnect and forget about the ___________ (insert gripe here) going on in your everyday life.


Zen Love: Everyone loves a little extra pampering. That could mean a day trip to a spa for a massage or facial. It could mean a mani/pedi at a local shop OR (if that's too pricey), it could mean spa treatments at home. Pick up a mud mask, massage oil, or nail polish and pamper your loved one with their favorite treatment. You can also round up your friends for a spa party/sleepover/excuse for cocktails and mani/pedis.