Happy Happy New Year!

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If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

This question has been asked time and time again, from elementary school when everyone would just choose their favorite animal (a sheep…?,) to job interviews when you’re caught off guard and stutter for a few minutes before again, choosing your favorite animal and coming up with some BS reasoning (an owl…,) to most recently, an art school course, that actually required some thoughtfulness to be put into the answer.

From planning a wedding, road-tripping to Florida with 3 out of 4 of my bestest CCS friends, to graduating and going to Paris for a week, and Vermont a week later, to getting a new car, getting married (and everything that went along with that), honeymooning and moving to Kalamazoo…to getting new jobs and taking an impromptu weekend trip to Disney in December…it’s pretty safe to say this year has been QUITE the whirlwind adventure. Oh, and to add to it? We got Joe’s new car today, which required 8 hours of driving. Whew. I’m pretty sure we couldn’t have squeezed more in if we tried.

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Joe and I have probably had one, singular free weekend since a month or so before our wedding. I wish I was exaggerating. But honestly? I’ve loved every single minute of it, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Throughout that school project I bounced around from animal to animal, tossing out idea after idea during many critiques…until landing on the perfect animal: the hummingbird. 

The hummingbird symbolizes the enjoyment of life and lightness of being. They are constantly on the move, enjoy the sweetness of life, lifting up negativity wherever it creeps in, and express love more fully in their daily endeavors. This fascinating bird is capable of the most amazing feats despite its small size, such as traveling great distances or being able to fly backwards. By affinity with the hummingbird, encouraged to develop their adaptability and resiliency while keeping a playful and optimistic outlook.

Thanks to both of us now working full time, there isn’t too much planned for the upcoming year, but I’m sure we’ll soon be filling it with lots of weekend trips. We don’t do “nothing” well.

Here’s to an excellent 2015, and many hummingbird-y years to come 🙂

Happy New Year!

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Happy….Tuesday Night!

Welp, it’s going on Wednesday and I’m just now realizing I failed to write my ‘Happy Monday’ post yesterday, so instead, I bring you ‘Happy Tuesday Night!”

  1. My job’s start date was pushed back to next Tuesday, since no one is in the office this week. Makes sense. Joe has been taking half days at work, getting everything he needs to done in the morning, so we’ve been enjoying one last week of relaxing before both heading back to full time work next week! We’re also both feeling a bit under the weather, so the downtime has been pretty great.
  2. Christmas back on the other side of the state was great, but way too short. If I’m being completely honest, I was crying for a good portion of our drive back to Kzoo Sunday night – not because I didn’t want to go back, but because Christmas went so quickly – I felt like I didn’t get to appreciate our tree or spend as much time with my fam as I’d’ve liked. Whew this got sad quickly for being a ‘happy things’ post. SO anyway. Christmas! And of course we’ll be back for the Auto Show which will be fab. We’re looking forward to it 🙂 We love Kzoo, but the east side still feels like home.
  3. On an upside, there were lots of fun goodies waiting for us on our return home. A ton of (free) new Garnier products to share, some (free) snack bars, and perhaps most excitingly…a Dyson! The $40 vacuum Joe got for his (carpeted) place in Buffalo just wasn’t cutting it on our wood floors – we decided enough was enough, and invested in a Dyson. Yay!
  4. Can I dedicate a number to leggings? Sure I can. I got 4 new pairs of leggings (a pair from each family member!) for Christmas, and I couldn’t be more excited. Tomorrow will be my first day back at Bent9, and I’m excited to put them to use 🙂 I also ordered a yoga mat towel from Amazon the other day – it looks so cool and I’m super anxious for it to arrive.
  5. All of our plants (as well as Poppy (hedgehog) and Agnes (frog)) survived our absence! We’re currently trying to figure out when to take down our Christmas tree, since we aren’t quite sure when the trash will take it. They never took our pumpkins, which ended up in the back of our backyard about a month after Halloween. Hopefully we’ll figure it out.

Anyway, hopefully everyone’s weeks are off to a great start! We’re in the midst of figuring out what to do for New Year’s Eve – we’ll see what happens!

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Review: Chomps Snack Sticks


Disclaimer: I was sent these products from Chomps, with no compensation other than the products to test and review. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions about the product!

Although I love snacking (probably too much,) snack sticks are usually more up Joe’s alley than mine. I’m more of an ‘oops I just ate an entire bag of ______ in less than 48 hours‘ kind of girl. Yes, I could probably stand to have more protein in my diet, and yes I’m on the hunt for some good snacking options to bring to work – but I’m sorry, a Slim Jim just doesn’t appeal to me 99% of the time.

Enter: Chomps Snack Sticks.

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With the new year coming up soon (where did the time go?) these snack sticks are a perfect way to start your healthy eating resolution off right! They are made with 100% Non-GMO Grass-Fed Angus Beef, which is sourced from New Zealand. They have no artificial ingredients (no nitrites, nitrates, MSG, colors, or flavors) and are shelf stable for a year with the help of celery juice rather than an artificial preservative.

I’m always trying to find the Clif/Kind/Luna bars with the most protein to get me through the day (plus I just don’t eat enough protein in general,) but each Chomps Snack Stick has 9g of protein, which is crazy awesome. We brought a couple on our trip to Disney to keep our energy up throughout the day, and they really were the perfect mid-day snack – even though I had to smush them into my purse a little bit.

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So, as far as meaty snack sticks go, these are pretty great. The Original flavor is definitely my favorite, Joe liked the Jalapeño, and my whole family thought the Crankin’ Cran flavor was a bit too spicy…but we do have a relatively low spice tolerance, so I’m sure it would be delicious to many others!

Pros:

All natural, including a natural preservative.

High in protein.

Gluten free and paleo friendly.

Cons:

Not quite as “snappy” as other snack sticks (the casing) which I suppose worked in my favor when we brought them to Disney – they fit in my purse more easily 😉

Info from Chomps:

Peter and Rashid started Chomps out of an apartment in Chicago in 2012 with the help of their wives. Since then the product has rapidly gained popularity in the CrossFit and Paleo space. It continues to grow in popularity hitting new target markets including Outdoorsmen, Bodybuilders, Gluten Free Dieters and Parent’s looking for healthy snacks for their kids.

The team mission is to create the highest quality jerky product on the market.

You can find the snack sticks on Chomps’ website and on Amazon – if you’re intrigued, get yourself a couple! Like I said, it’s (almost) a new year, time to kick those artificially flavored and preserved snack sticks to the curb 🙂

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Review: Billion Dollar Brows

Disclaimer: I was sent these products from Billion Dollar Brows, with no compensation other than the products to test and review. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions about the product!

If you had asked me 5 or 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have known the first thing about makeup (okay well maybe the very basics, but that’s it.) However, I can now fend for myself pretty well thanks to the efforts put forth by two of my bridesmaids during all of our pre-wedding prep!

A huge part of my new knowledge involves filling in my eyebrows! I’m not gutsy enough to go thick and/or dark with them, but a little more definition has been life changing (well, maybe not. But I do feel more ‘put together’ when I attempt to do my brows, even if they aren’t perfect.)

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Anyway, I was super excited to be given the opportunity to try/review Billion Dollar Brows’ Best Sellers Kit and the 60 Second Brow kit, since slowly but surely I’m figuring this makeup thing out! I think my favorite part of both kits is that they’re good for people with both light and dark brows…though I’m not sure I’ve 100% got a handle on the pencil included in the Best Sellers Kit – that’s my fault though. The only eyebrow filler I’ve used up to this point is a brow pomade, which is similar to the powder in the 60 second kit – so I’m just more comfortable using that one!

As a relative newbie to the eyebrow world, I would have appreciated a bit more of a ‘how to’ included with the best sellers kit – there lots of pieces that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with off the bat. Luckily Google has allllll the answers to every question you can think of, and I’ve made it work! Now the only thing I need is my friend Olivia to get my eyebrows under control a bit. Or I could get them done professionally, but I mostly just want to see my friend! 🙂

Brows aren't perfect, but they're pretty darn good I'd say.
Brows aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty darn good I’d say.

Pros:

60 second kit is super easy to use!

Spoolie brushes included in both kits. If I don’t have time to do anything else, I try to at least “brush” my eyebrows before going out. Even that makes a difference!

The pencil in the best sellers kit doesn’t need to be sharpened – woohoo!

Cruelty free, and based on a quick Google, I’m pretty sure the products are Vegan.

Cons:

 

I wasn’t 100% sure how to use the best sellers kit at first- mainly just what order to use them in! But again, that’s just me being a relative newbie 🙂

I think it would be a skosh better if there were light and dark options of the pencil.

Info from BDB:

**Universal Brow Pencil: Formulated to work beautifully with most skin tones and hair colors, this amazing eyebrow pencil goes on smooth and natural. Plus, the Universal Brow Pencil is automatic—it never needs sharpening and it comes complete with a spoolie brush on the opposite end for effortless blending and a perfect finish.**

**Brow Duo Pencil: Highlights your brow bone to add gorgeous definition and warmth while providing instant visual “lift.” Our highlighter works with every skin tone. Plus, for on-the-go touchups, we added a handy universal concealer on the opposite end of the pencil. It’s effortless flawlessness!**

**Brow Gel: Our clear brow gel locks in your look, giving your eyebrows a long-lasting, radiant glow while keeping them perfectly in place all day.
Smudge Brush: This flat, synthetic brush is the ideal mate for applying creamy cosmetics like our Brow Duo Pencil. The perfect Holiday gift to share with a friend and spruce up your look for Holiday and New Years festivities.**

And with that, I’m going to help get the house ready for Christmas dinner…I can already hear (…I mean smell?) the cheesy potatoes calling my name. Merry Christmas!

I love our tree. It is enormous.
I love our tree. It is enormous.

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Flexibility Challenge – Update

Remember how I said I was going to do a flexibility challenge for the month of December?

Me either, until tonight. Oops.

Anyway, thanks to my Bent 9 classes, my flexibility has gotten a little better, despite me not actively trying to get closer to touching my toes like I said I was going to do. On a different, but related note, I’m excited for tomorrow’s Flex 2.0 class – there will be Christmas music!

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Yay progress! Though I’m not quite able to touch my toes, I’m getting somewhere, and that counts for something 🙂

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Claire Cooks: Overnight French Toast

If I’m being completely honest,  I’m not usually a breakfast person. Breakfast for lunch or dinner? I’m all about that. But a large meal before I’m even fully cognisant? Usually a no go, especially when it requires functioning large and small motor skills.

So when Joe and I were trying to figure out something to make for our guests this past weekend, I was immediately drawn to this overnight french toast recipe from Pumpkin Spice. A bit of prep the evening before, an overnight soak in the fridge, and 45 minutes in the oven is all it took, and the results were SO delicious…quite possibly (almost definitely) because of the high calorie content. But hey, it’s the holidays…so calories don’t count, right?

Before you read on to the ingredients – just know that this recipe is SUPER delicious and totally worth gorging on 😛

overnight french toast

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf French bread, cut into cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups Baileys French Vanilla Coffee Creamer
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 bananas, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce, divided
  • 1 pint (or more) of rinsed, sliced strawberries

Directions:

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coffee creamer (ugh I’m seriously cringing as I type that. Just going to reinforce right here that the end result is delicious,) heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Place 1/2 of bread cubes on bottom of baking dish.
  4. Top with sliced banana and 1/4 cup of caramel sauce. I accidentally used half a cup here and it was probably even more delicious. Heck, you could use the whole jar if you want. I don’t think anyone would complain.
  5. Add the rest of bread cubes on top.
  6. Pour egg mixture over bread, making sure to cover each piece with the mixture. Lightly press down on bread to ensure that each piece is saturated.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F.
  9. Remove cover and top with 1/4 cup caramel sauce (or more. Caramel sauce is yummy.)
  10. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until bread is firm and no more liquid remains.
  11. Remove from oven and top with additional banana slices and extra caramel sauce, if desired. Top with strawberries.
  12. Enjoy!

It’s really quite easy, and would be perfect for a Christmas morning meal…just sayin’.

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Happy Monday!

Christmas is so close, I cannnnn’t wait! And, perhaps more excitingly, I’m going to need to relish in this particular week of bumming around the house, because…

  1. I was offered a position with Newell-Rubbermaid (in the baby division)! If all of the paperwork goes through in a timely manner, I’ll be starting mid-next week 🙂 I’m beyond excited, and am looking forward to getting out of the house – like I said before…freelancing/working from home is great, but it gets a bit old after a while. I’ll also continue freelancing, so hooray for things falling into place!
  2. Joe’s mom and her boyfriend visited this past weekend, and we had an awesome time catching up, showing them around Kalamazoo, and visiting Boatyard Brewery, which I’ve decided is one of my new favorite places, if only because of the two owners who were incredibly friendly. We were given a fairly extensive tour, which primarily consisted of hearing about their backgrounds, how they got where they are, etc. It was lovely – and the nautical decor was fab. 😉 If you live in the Kalamazoo area, Boatyard currently has an awesome Groupon  right now that gets you all sorts of fun Boatyard swag, a flight of 6 5oz tastes, and a tour (which is worth it on its own, I’d say.)
  3. It snowed…but all of that snow has melted already, which is totally fine by me! Although a 50+ degree Christmas is going to be a bit bizarre, I’m glad we will have a safe and relatively easy drive back to the other side of the state on Wednesday night. I’m also excited for my Wednesday evening Flex 2.0 class, which will apparently be Christmas-themed. Doesn’t get better than that!
  4. All of my present wrapping is done! I think that pretty much speaks for itself. Sitting on the floor wrapping for hours on end left my back feeling a little wonky though o_O
  5. I made a few yummy things this past weekend: chex mix, a caramel banana french toast, and potato soup! They were all super delish, and I’ll be making a post for at least the french toast sometime this week. Bonus: the fire alarm hasn’t gone off in a month or so! Heh.

Hopefully everyone else’s Christmas weeks are also off to a great start, happy Monday!

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A Year Ago Today…

I got my wedding dress! BHLDN had so many amazing dresses, it was hard to decide…but I definitely think I chose the best option <3

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eep!
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Can’t say enough good things about the BHLDN experience!

So good. I want to have another wedding so I can wear that dress on the far right – it was amazing, just not perfect for that particular day 😉

That is all, just wanted to share some pictures!

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Review: HASK Macadamia Oil Moisturizing Hair Care


Disclaimer: I was sent these products from HASK, with no compensation other than the products to test and review. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions about the product!

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My hair is longer than it’s been in 9 years, and I’m not going to lie – I have no idea what to do with it 90% of the time. It just feels limp, frizzy, and on the either end of the dry/greasy spectrum depending on the day. Since I’m so used to having short hair, I have no idea what to do with it being this long (and typically pretty unruly,) so it usually ends up in a ponytail, bun, or more recently, a side braid (though not nearly as epic as Rapunzel’s sadly.)

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So, I jumped at the chance to review the HASK Macadamia Oil Moisturizing Hair Care Collection – anything to get this mop on my head under control!

I’ve been using the shampoo and conditioner for 6 days now, and although my hair still ends up in a ponytail most days from hot yoga/barre/flex classes, I’ve definitely noticed a change in how soft and smooth it makes my hair feel, without getting too oily or weighed down with product like so many oil-based hair products do (and trust me, Birchbox has sent me my fair share of hair masks/oils.)

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I took so many selfies.

Pros:

It smells SO good. Especially the shampoo. I feel like I’m baking cookies whenever I wash my hair!

Affordable ($6 each for the shampoo and conditioner.)

There’s also a deep conditioning hair mask and a hair oil to complete the macadamia oil circle of moisture. (I just made that phrase up. You know what I’m getting at though.)

No sulfates (which isn’t usually something I pay attention to, but it’s good regardless!)

The wording on the bottles is super approachable. “Apply generously, leaving on for 1-2 minutes, or as long as it takes to shave your legs!” <- things like that make me chuckle and appreciate the brand. Buuuuttt…..

Cons:

Papyrus. Why!? Why do so many companies still think using Papyrus as a font choice is a good idea?! You’re killin’ me, HASK. If I saw this brand on a shelf, I’d move right along simply because of the typeface :/ #graphicdesignerproblems ?

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WHYYYY!?

From HASK:

You know how macadamia nuts are super delicious but super-high in fat (and thus, calories)? Well, the very thing that makes them not-so-great for your waistline is what makes them oh-so-perfect for your hair: Essential fatty acids! Macadamia nuts are loaded with these things! That-plus the fact that they have the uncanny ability to mimic our scalps’ natural oils-is probably why Macadamia Oil has been a treasured beauty aid in Australia for generations.

Free of: sulfates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, drying alcohol and artificial colors.

Sooo, yeah! If you’ve been looking for an effective, affordable moisturizing shampoo, especially with the impending dry winter weather (it’ll get here eventually, I’m sure of it!) –  I can definitely recommend the HASK Macadamia Oil Moisturizing Hair Care collection…if only for the smell of the shampoo! 😀

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Favorite Christmas Music

Are you sick hearing Mariah’s version of All I Want for Christmas is You?  Or really any number of other Christmas songs local radio stations seem to have on repeat that reeeeally aren’t worth repeating over and over? (No offense, Mariah.)

Well with snow once again covering the ground (it’s about time, Mother Nature!) I’m in a Christmas-y mood, blasting Christmas music while finishing the epic cleaning saga leading up to Joe’s mom’s arrival, and decided what better way to continue procrastinating (sorry, Joe) than figuring out what my favorite Christmas songs are! For now we’ll ignore the fact that it’s supposed to be 50 degrees on Christmas and all the snow will have melted.

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The Osborn Spectacle of Dancing Lights reminded me of one of my absolute favorite obscure Christmas songs, which is what initially got me thinking about other favorites (obscure, and not so obscure.) So, without further ado – here is a list of songs to get you in the Christmas spirit…in no particular order 🙂

  1. Jingle Bells – Barbra Striesand (1967) Thank you Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights for reminding me that this song exists.
  2. Winter Wonderland – Aretha Franklin (1964) Motown Christmas music is the best.
  3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Jackson 5 (1970)
  4. Carol of the Bells – David Foster (1993) This song always reminds me of Disney World for no reason in particular.
  5. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys (1964)
  6. The 12 Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser (2009)
  7. Christmas Canon – Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1998)
  8. Mis Desos/Feliz Navidad – Michael Bublé (2011)
  9. Go Tell it on the Mountain – Little Big Town (2008)
  10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings – Barenaked Ladies (2004)
  11. Soul Cake – Sting (2009) This whole album is fab if you’ve never heard it.

Gosh, I really could keep going, I love Christmas music. But I hope you enjoy the songs on this list as much as I do (and have a great weekend preparing for Christmas if you’ll be celebrating it next week)! 🙂

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