Lifestyle / January 5, 2018

Hello!

Is it just me, or do 4 day weeks following a holiday seem to draggggg on. Well whatever the case, cheers to Friday! I made these protein balls yesterday and wanted to share the recipe with y’all because they are seriously SO easy to make and a great option to make in bulk and leave in your freezer for a quick (and delicious) protein snack. I love these because unlike so many other protein balls they are smooth and almost creamy, and I honestly think they taste like cookie dough- but healthy! So win, win. Clearly Aspen thought they would be delicious too, but sorry toots you can’t have any.

The four main ingredients for this recipe will always remain the same (peanut butter, oats, honey, and protein powder), however you can add whatever additives you wish to make them to your liking. I stick with chocolate chips, but you can get creative and add coconut flakes, m&ms, chia seeds, dried berries, nuts, seriously anything you desire!

Ingredients

1 large (40 oz) jar of peanut butter. You can use whatever brand you wish- I use reduced fat Jiff simply because I prefer the last and consistency of it. But feel free to use whatever. (You can also use nut butters but make sure it does not have the oil sitting on top).

2 Cups quick oats. (quick oats dissolve better which creates a smooth consistency).

1 Cup Honey.

2 Large scoops of vanilla protein powder.

1/4 Cup mini chocolate chips.

Directions

Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. You want to make sure that all the peanut butter is thoroughly mixed in to prevent stickiness when separating. You want the consistency to be similar to a firm cookie dough and should not stick to the side of the bowl. If you find that your consistency is sticky and or not firm add more oats and or protein powder. Roll the batter into little balls and place on parchment paper. Freeze for 1 hour and transfer to a air tight container. You can store these in the fridge and or freezer, I like to store a handful in the freezer so that I always have them on hand.

Enjoy!

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Lifestyle / January 3, 2018

Welcoming 2018

Feature Image: LC.com

Happy Wednesday! Here we are already three days into 2018, how crazy is that? I previously mentioned this, but 2017 was a year that flew by for Thomas and I. Just three months into 2017 we relocated from Chicago to Nashville for an unexpected change, we both had lived in the Chicago area our entire lives and wanted to experience a new adventure. We picked a moving date prior to either of us having a job lined up and signed a lease shortly after, thankfully we both found jobs prior to making the move, but we were both just excited for new experiences. Nashville truly is an exceptional place to live, we loved every second of it and had big plans for our life there. However fast forward 6 months when we discovered one of our greatest surprises in life- we were pregnant! So many thoughts and emotions ran through us both and I was concerned about welcoming our first child into the world and having our closest family members and friends be 8 hours away. I specifically knew that I would love to be surrounded by friends and family as we welcomed this new journey into our lives, but we both also loved Nashville and were unsure as to the best option. If we stayed at minimum a year than we would be trying to move just a few weeks before baby boy’s due date, and this for obvious reasons was not an option. It seemed as if everything fell into place when I received an option to relocate my job to Chicago, Thomas and I both decided to jump at that opportunity and make the move back to Chicago and leave Nashville. Of course the decision to make the move was incredibly hard as we both loved our new city, our jobs, and the new friends we had made in just 7 short months of living there. But at the end of the day I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to move back home to Chicago to be with friends and family and that Thomas and I were both able to transition jobs smoothly.

2017 was a whirlwind year for us, we had so much going on and it was full of ups and downs. But we are so grateful for the year and the many experiences we were able to have, as well as the wonderful people we met along the way. I find myself entering 2018 with so much excitement for the year ahead and as I plan for the year I have so many goals that I have for myself. I have narrowed these goals down to my top 10 to share with you all and I would love to hear the goals in which you have yourself for the new year- please share!

  1. Live in the moment. Enjoy the simple things and make each day count. 
  2. Try something new. 
  3. Stay persistent with eating right and being active. 
  4. Read more. 
  5. Grow my blog and be persistent. 
  6. Be kind. 
  7. Be adventurous and take chances. 
  8. Be my biggest supporter rather than my biggest critic. (Stay positive with a ‘can do’ attitude’).
  9. Stay focused and welcome change.
  10. Be a good mom.                                                       

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Lifestyle / January 3, 2018

New Year, New Healthy Habits.

Happy 2018! It feels so odd to be saying that as 2017 truly was a year that FLEW by for me, however I am so excited for the year ahead, as Thomas and I will be welcoming some major changes this year (hello baby!), and I am already looking forward to setting my yearly goals and accomplishing as much as I can. With that, one of the goals I always try to accomplish is to be more active and live a healthy life for the year ahead, and really don’t we all? Whether it be to become more active or eat healthier, we have all probably started a new year with this exact resolution. Unfortunately this resolution seems to quickly fade as the new year proceeds on as we set our expectations and goals too high. Which is why I want to share 10 realistic healthy habits that you can incorporate into your life to ensure that 2018 be the year that you reach (and possibly succeed) your fitness, health, and wellness goals!

  1. Set realistic goals & visualize them: This one is huge. We are all guilty of setting unrealistic expectations for our fitness goals (yeah I am talking to you mr. goal of ‘lose 10 pounds in a week’). When you don’t reach this unrealistic goals it is easy to become disheartened and give up, but if you set small weekly or monthly goals, that can be reached, you will feel motivated and willing to stay on track with your goals and be able to visualize the outcome.
  2. Measure your results: I am completely guilty of not doing this in the past, however I have come to find that this is SO important. When you are working out and changing your diet it is easy to feel as if you are putting in so much work and not seeing any results; which again becomes disheartening. It is hard to see the small changes everyday, but if you document your work (IE: take a beginning photo and monthly result photos) it will be made evident to yourself that you are in fact creating change and thus continue to motivate you to strive on with your goals.
  3. Plan. Plan. Plan: The saying a ‘successful individual is organized and prepared’ holds true to living a healthy and active lifestyle. Plan your week ahead- take one day to plan your weekly workouts, your meals, and what you wish to accomplish for the week ahead. If you do so it will become easier to stay on-top of your goals and healthy lifestyle.
  4. Know your ‘Why’: Always remember why you are doing what you are doing. Keep your eye on the prize, is your goal in the end to feel better? Or to live a more active lifestyle? Or to make healthier choices? Whatever your end goal may be always remember to stay focused on that because it is easy to forget why you have started this ‘healthy habits journey’.
  5. Find a workout you love: This one seems self explanatory, however I have found myself in the past doing workouts I am not too fond of just because they burn a lot of calories and thus making a workout feel more like a chore. But when you find a workout you love and enjoy then that workout feels more like a relaxant or a treat! Whether it be taking a few various classes throughout the week, running, biking, home workouts, BBG, or whatever the workout be- just ensure you love it and it motivates you to keep going. 
  6. Cook your meals: Not only will this save you $$$ but it will also allow you to eat healthier. When you cook a meal you are in charge of the ingredients and know exactly what you are fueling your body with, however eating out can be deceiving and you may think that you are eating healthy but that meal out may actually be packed with unwanted ingredients, calories, and fats. Buy hey, don’t be forget to splurge occasionally to stay sane 😉
  7. Drink water! Your body needs it and you will feel good drinking it. Plus drinking other drinks, such as juices, can add unnecessary calories and sugars to your daily intake.
  8. Take the active route:  Take the elevator instead of the stairs, park a little further at the grocery store, or if possible walk to your destination rather than drive. These small changes can result in big results!
  9. Do not be afraid to try new things: Don’t be afraid to take that new workout class or try a new healthy food. Pushing yourself to try new things can result in so much good for yourself, not only from a fitness and health perspective but for your overall wellbeing.
  10. Embrace rest day: Listen to your body, it needs that rest day or two to ensure that you do not cause injury. plus working out 7 days a week can quickly begin to feel like a chore- and we do not want that. So rest up! (Above images utilized from LaurenConrad.com)

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Lifestyle / February 9, 2017

Valentine’s Day Date Night Ideas

PC: Gummergal

Valentine’s Day is just a few short days away, and if you are anything like Thomas and I you find yourself doing the same thing year after year to celebrate. Cue dinner and a movie. It is not due to the lack of creativity, it is honestly because time gets away and then we find ourselves trying to brainstorm a date night last minute, which omits all creativity and we settle on the easiest plan. I love Valentine’s Day, yes it may be considered a ‘hallmark holiday’, but I love the excuse to purchase/make cheesy valentines and do cute things for one another, so this year I want to be more creative with how we spend Valentine’s Day. This had me thinking about numerous fun (and mostly inexpensive) ways to spend the ‘holiday’ with your significant other or even just with your closest pals, and I narrowed it down to my top 20 ideas:

1. Breakfast in bed: whether you choose to do this the morning of, or have dinner for breakfast, get cozy, relax, & eat in bed.

2. Overnight getaway: Get a hotel room for the night, explore the city, eat, and enjoy a night away from home.

3. Wine night: I love this! Have a wine tasting at home, you can purchase a few wines that you have never tried before, pair it with some good food, good company, and a good show/movie and you have the perfect date night at home.

4. Game night: Invite a few friends over for a friendly competitive night of games, drinks, and snacks.

5. Cook a meal together: This is a great way to enjoy one another’s company, cook a meal together (something that you have never made prior) and the two of you can spend time together preparing the dish and then enjoy eating it too!

PC:Annawithlove

6. Fondue night: This is like having a romantic dinner together but with a twist! There are so many fun variations of fondue, you can have it be the main dish and be savory, or you can enjoy it for dessert and go sweet! I like the idea of all of the above!

7. Go out for dessert: If you want to be low-key this Valentine’s Day you can have dinner at home, but still go out to enjoy a sweet dessert, whether it be going to a restaurant and only getting dessert, or hitting up the local ice-cream shop, you need to get your sweets in on V-Day.

8. Home movie night: Get cozy and stay in! Round up all your favorite movies, get your favorite snacks, and watch movies all night long.

9. Indulge on takeout: Calories clearly do not count on Valentine’s Day, so aside from your favorite treats order your favorite takeout food and ENJOY.

10. Beer tasting: Find a local brewery and partake in a beer tasting and or a tour of the brewery.

PC: Abeautifulmess

11. Wine and paint: Get boozy with your lover while painting a masterpiece! You can usually find great deals for these classes on Groupon.

12. Pot luck dinner: Invite your closest pals over and have everyone bring a dish for dinner.

13. Picnic: If the weather is warm enough pack up a meal and have a picnic, or you can always set up a romantic ‘picnic’ at home if the weather does not permit!

14. Be a tourist for the day: Explore your city as if you were a tourist, partake is things that you wouldn’t normally do, explore and discover new aspects about where you live!

15. Take a bike ride

PC: Pinterest

16. Dinner Crawl: Have appetizers at one place, then move on to another restaurant for dinner, and then so on for dessert!

17. Take a class together: Nothing brings couples together more than partaking in an activity together, take a workout class or dance class with one another- it could be fun!

18. Go to a comedy show.

19. Drive-in movie: If you do plan to go see a movie, change it up and go to a drive-in theater.

20. Couples massage.

 

 

Enjoy & Happy Valentine’s Day!

xoxo, Nicole

 

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Fashion / December 2, 2016

Small Outfit Roundup & Quick Life Update

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                                            How beautiful is Chicago during the holiday season?! I just had to share! 

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Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we welcome December! But does anyone else feel as if they need a week of recovery following Thanksgiving? Once Thanksgiving hits I am in complete holiday mode; so the work weeks leading up to Christmas seem to drag. Not to mention  we have been SO busy! In the midst of preparing for the holidays, decorating, traveling, gift shopping, organizing holiday parties, and finishing up last minute projects for the year- we decided to rescue a puppy.. Not just your average puppy either, we rescued a 5 week old puppy who truly needs more attention than an infant. As some of you may have seen from my Instagram photos, she is the sweetest little Siberian husky named Aspen 🙂 After hearing that her mama was no longer caring for her I knew we had to take her in and nurture her. It was not easy. The first few nights she was waking up every hour to go potty, she was on a strict feeding schedule, and we were still providing puppy formula for her so that she could receive all the necessary nutrients that she was no longer receiving from her mama’s milk. But we survived! She is sleeping almost entirely though the night now and solely eating puppy food– she still has not been vaccinated yet (due to her young age) so we cannot take her to public places yet and we need to be very careful when we take her outside to potty. It has all been worth it though because she is so sweet and adorable, I will provide more photos of her for y’all soon! Aside from being busy caring for TWO dogs now, Thomas and I are busy prepping for our holiday party that we are hosting next week. We decided on an ugly christmas sweater party, we think it’ll be fun to celebrate the holiday while getting a good laugh from the ugly sweaters that our friends wear and or make. 

I may have been busy the past few weeks but that did not stop me from shopping and taking advantage of  the great deals stores were having over the weekend and on Cyber Monday. Is it just me or did it feel as if the deals this year were incredible! I purchased so many great items, including this fun blue holiday sweater and plaid scarf. I am usually all about wearing neutrals (I can’t help it) but this gorgeous blue caught my eye and I am so glad I purchased it!  For sizing reference, the sweater does run small; so I suggest going one size up, this will also provides a more relaxed and cozy fit as well! 

I have linked my outfit details below along with a few other goodies I purchased over the weekend. PS; my sweater is currently on sale for $25!

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Lifestyle / November 10, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts Under $50!

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It is that time of year again! 

As of today there are only 45 days left until Christmas… I cannot fathom how fast this year has gone. 45 days may seem as if you have all the time in the world to shop and mark everyone off your shopping list, but lets be honest those days will fly by and the absolute worst feeling is when you realize Christmas is only a week away and you have yet to begin your holiday shopping. When it comes to holiday shopping, one of my favorite aspects is when stores provide suggested gifts for the holidays, this provides an abundance of great ideas and truly does make the shopping process a bit more smooth. We all have that one lady on our list who we cannot seem to find the perfect gift for, either she has everything or you are worried that she will not enjoy any present that you give her. With that being said, I wanted to share with you a holiday gift guide to ensure that your holiday shopping goes smoothly, all these gifts are under $50 and each would make an amazing present for someone on your list! 

I will be sharing a ‘Holiday Gift Guide For Him’ later this week, so stay tuned 🙂  

Xoxo,

Nicole 

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