Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Favorites + A Local Discovery

Happy Friday!  I feel like no matter how good a week is, I am always going to be happy to see Friday.

1.  Valentine's Day!  I was definitely feeling the love this week and enjoying reading all the Valentine's Day posts this week, too.  Even if you don't have a specific person to celebrate with, I think celebrating with friends and family is just as nice.  With all the turmoil in the world, spreading the love is something we can not do enough of, and it was just great to read all the happy / love related posts!

2.  Lamb recipe.  A handful of people asked about the lamb recipe I mentioned in last week's Girl Chat post about Valentine's Day plans.  The recipe is actually the Armenian Lamb Shish Kebabs from In the Kitchen with Kris.  I highly suggest checking out the cookbook.  I have made multiple recipes and all of them have been delicious and repeated since. 

3.  Spanx.  Guys, I am totally embracing Spanx.  I shared on Wednesday the pair I bought to wear under my gala attire and I wore them again this week for work!  I love the look of more tailored / fitted dresses for work, but honestly some days they look better on me than others.  For those "other" days, these are really great.  Just makes me feel more confident!  I feel like I might need to get another pair or two to have on hand.

4.  Blog switch!  Sarah and I did a little switch a roo yesterday, and guest posted on each other's blog.  The topic for both posts was 'being healthy'.  I focused more on the eating part, and Sarah shared some really great tips on how to keep yourself motivated and on track.  I thought it was fun to see the different takes we had on the topic.  We have been great blog friends turned real life friends for awhile now, and doing a guest post was long overdue.

5.  My new robe!  One of my Valentine's Day gifts was the robe I had been lusting after.  It's the exact same material as the ever popular blardigan, and I am obsessed.  I have been wearing it non-stop at home since Monday.  I just love it.  While it is expensive, I think it is totally worth it to have something this soft and cozy...without being too heavy and bulky.

6.  I have an extra favorite for this week for any local ladies - Arch Apparel.  I found this company via instagram, and I love how simple and neat their designs are.  I think my favorite is the coordinates tee shirt, but I also love the "Midwest Mannered" top, too.  The circle STL sweatshirt looks cozy, and I wouldn't mind the blue Saint Louis baseball tee.  Basically I love them all.  I haven't purchased anything as of yet (because I can't decide which to get!), but when I do, I will definitely be sharing.

Have a great weekend!

Linking up with AndreaApril, and Katie.       

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Guest Post: Sarah @ Meet the Shaneyfelts

Hey y'all!  I'm so happy that Emily is allowing me to write on her space today!  We've been blog friends for a long time now and just realized that we've never guest posted on each other's blogs, so we're fixing that today!

So allow me to introduce myself to y'all!  I'm Sarah and I blog at Meet the Shaneyfelts, where I blog about everything ranging from eating healthy, fashion, books I read, and just life in general.

Since I'm on a journey to lose the weight I gained during graduate school (and to become healthier overall), I wanted to share a few things that help me when I lack motivation for eating healthy or exercising.  Because trust me when I say I wish I had the metabolism where I could eat all the pizza and cookie cake I wanted and not have to worry about working out.  But that's not real life.

1. Have someone to keep you accountable.
Since the new year has started, this has been the biggest blessing for me.  I have two friends who are in a group text and we keep each other accountable with eating healthy.  So when I feel like I could eat a cookie, I remember that I have to text them ha!  It works!  If you don't have someone that you can depend on for that accountability, have a notebook that you keep with you where you write down everything you eat.  I read that Carrie Underwood did that to help her lose weight because she didn't want to have to write down the fattening foods.  I also have a coworker who helps to keep me accountable because she's into a healthy lifestyle and working out, so we get each other and the daily struggles.

2. Plan out your meals for the week.
Meal planning is the best way to ensure that you will eat healthy.  You'll have the ingredients on hand and you'll know when you need to defrost meat for that night's meal.

3. Plan out your workouts for the week.
When I started training for my first half marathon, I ran 4 days a week--Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and then Saturday was for a long run.  I strive to follow that same schedule for working out.  I try to be flexible and allow myself grace when I miss a day.  But I try to keep it at 3 workouts a week minimum.  Sometimes it's best to pencil them into your planner so you are able to prioritize those and plan around your workouts.

4. Switch up your workouts.
I'm at a place now where I'm tired of running.  It was a solo workout for me, and now I'm tired of working out alone.  When you get tired of going to the gym, then look on Youtube for a workout.  Youtube has a great variety of workouts for every level, so you really don't even need a gym membership.  Popsugar and Fitness Blender are two of my favorite channels to choose workouts from.

5. Read blogs or magazines that inspire you to be healthier.
When you are striving to be healthy, then I fully believe in surrounding yourself with people who are healthy.  I love reading Shape or Women's Health mag, and I love finding new blogs to read that promote a healthy and active lifestyle.  My most recent fav: Living Loving Paleo.  I'm not a paleo person but I'm starting to cook a few paleo recipes.

Sarah, thanks so much for sharing your tips.  Having someone to keep you accountable is so true.  I can totally attest to that!  One day last week I had zero desire or motivation, but you totally helped me overcome that and I got my workout in!  Thanks again!

Do you all have any other tips that help to keep you motivated when you are struggling with your healthy eating habits and getting your workout done?  

Linking up with Annie.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gala Attire: 2017

I love having an excuse to get all dressed up to go somewhere - especially when it is for a good cause.  As I mentioned on Monday, I attended the Spirit of Provident Gala this past weekend.  It was a ton of fun but, I took only two pictures the whole night - none of which included one of me in my dress, unfortunately.  I was hoping to snag a picture from one of the local St. Louis magazines.  They had photographers going around and I know I got in a shot once or twice, but unfortunately, they have not been uploaded to the website yet.  However, I still wanted to share my look with you, because I really loved my dress!  

I picked up this dress (no longer available) at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale last summer.  I knew I specifically wanted to wear it for the gala, so I kept it hanging in the closet until last weekend - I didn't want to mess it up before the event!  It was great for the gala, where the dress is cocktail attire, and will now be the perfect dress for work, too.  I tried the dress on earlier in the week and wasn't quite happy with how things looked, so I hightailed it to Macy's the next day and picked up a few different undergarment options to wear under it - just to smooth things out and make me feel more confident.  I ended up with these Spanx, which I have to tell you are so comfortable and totally do the job, without making you feel like you are stuffed into something.  Just a little extra smoothing action.

I paired the dress with my favorite strappy heels (similar).  These are seriously the most comfortable sandals I have worn.  I love them so much I have both the nude and the black.  I wear them to work, too, so they do double duty between the office and special occasions.

I kept my accessories at a minimum, with these Kendra Scott earrings and then a few of Erimish bracelets I get at my favorite boutique!  I included a reddish one (pictured), more of a shimmery pink / blush color and then a tannish / gold one.  I thought they played nicely off the dress, my earrings and shoes!  One of my volunteer duties was to "model" jewelry during a live auction and one of the people actually asked about my bracelets!  I am telling you, they are the best!

I am already looking forward to next year's event - and finding the perfect dress!

Linking up with Jenn and Jessi.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review: January 2017

I am really excited for this post, because January was a good reading month for me!

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  I loved this book.  I was concerned it would be a little scary and dark, but I honestly didn't feel like it was - just more suspenseful.  I was engaged the whole time and could not figure out how it would end...until the end.  If you enjoy suspenseful novels, I would highly suggest checking this book out.  

Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard.  I love history and heard good things about these books, so I decided to try Lincoln first.  The book starts a few weeks prior to Lincoln's assassination.  I truly enjoyed this book because they somehow are able to stick to the facts, while making it a good read, rather than a dry, history textbook.  I spoke with a coworker who read this shortly after I did, and he made a good point that the dialogue they used to fill in parts of the book probably wasn't spot on, and while that bothered him a bit, I still thought it was good.  At the end of the book you find out what happened to all the major players at that time, which I really liked, too.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I thought it was a good read, especially if you enjoy reading about organization / decluttering.  I shared a more in-depth review here.

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks.  I LOVED this book.  It had me smiling, it had me crying, especially at the end.  It's about a husband who thought his marriage was in a good place, only to find out that his wife would like a divorce and then it follows him along throughout the entire journey of the separation, focusing on his relationship with his daughter, and his family.  It was a very real-life book, and I can't say enough good things about it.

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger.  This was a pretty good book.  The story is about a woman who suffered a tennis injury and then follows her rehab and the changes she undergoes in order to make it back up to the top.    

The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke.  I have always been a big fan of Mary Higgins Clark, and this book was no different.  She's a great mystery writer, and I don't think you can really go wrong in choosing any of her books.  I will be honest and say I chose this one because Cinderella is my favorite, so the title got me.  It's about a tv show that re-investigates old crimes to see if they can take another look and solve them.  It was dubbed the "Cinderella Murder" because the young woman killed lost a shoe.  While I kind of knew who the killer was before the end, I still thought it was a good book. 

Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand.  This wasn't my favorite Elin book.  It's about a current wife and 2 ex-wives coming together after their husband/ex-husband dies.  Lots of drama.  If you like her books, then I would say give it a try if the story sounds interesting, but it just wasn't as good to me as others.

Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard.  Once I finished Killing Lincoln, I immediately checked out Killing Kennedy.  That era always has interested me, but honestly I didn't know much about Kennedy or even many details about the assassination.  I was a bit surprised at some of the personal ongoings of Kennedy, and even some other prominent figures, like MLK and even Vice President Johnson.  I knew somewhat of their womanizer ways, but the book really touches upon that.  I also never knew about Kennedy's time in the war, and that story just is pretty amazing.  As with Lincoln, it just makes you wonder what would have been different, had these two enigmatic lives not been cut short.    

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson.  I have had this one on my reading list for awhile, and finally got to it last month.  It's about a woman and the book literally makes you feel like she is living in two worlds.  I had no idea where the book was going or what was right or wrong.  It kept me guessing, which I enjoyed.  The book was a little slow at some points for me, but I overall really enjoyed it.

February is shaping out to be a lot slower of a reading month, but I hope to get through a few and have some good ones to share!

Linking up with WhitneyLindsay, and Steph.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekend Recap: Spirit of Provident Gala

How did we get to Monday already?!  This weekend flew by.

Friday night was real low-key.  I caught up on some DVR'd shows and painted my nails.  Big night!

I spent Saturday morning picking up my apartment, and watching Say Yes to the Dress.  I think they must have marathons on pretty much every weekend because I always see it on and totally get sucked into watching it every time.  It's so neat seeing all the different wedding dresses and then seeing what each bride picks!  The gala I was volunteering at was that evening, so I made sure to allow myself extra time to get ready, before heading out.  It was such a great night - so fun volunteering, hanging out with all the other young professionals, and of course, helping raise money for such an important organization.  We ended the night at the hotel bar, and we were able to enjoy the gorgeous weather outdoors.  I snapped a picture of the arch from the rooftop - one of two pictures I took of the night!  It was seriously such a great night, I am already looking forward to next year!

I was moving slow on Sunday, after staying out way late and then my internal alarm waking me up at 6:00 am!  Luckily I was able to fall back asleep for a couple hours, but I still felt like I was dragging all day.  Normal weekend errands were ran, chores were done, a little FaceTime with my brother and Jack and I ended the night with the Grammy's.  Which, funny story, when I was at the grocery store, one of the workers was stocking the strawberries / blueberries and we made a little small talk, only to realize that we both were at the same gala last night!  He was one of the photographers.  Small world!

Linking up with Biana.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Favorites: Thanks, Mom & Dad

I am dubbing this "Thanks, Mom & Dad," because the majority of my favorites have to do with their visit this past Saturday.

My mom (and dad) still spoil us with little Valentine's Day gifts.  This year, I got some of my favorite bracelets (Erimish) to add to my collection.  They are so pretty, yet neutral enough that I can see them going with almost anything.  In these little holiday presents, I can always count on some homemade trail mix, which is my very favorite.  This year's included conversation hearts (my favorite!), Valentine's Day M&M's, almonds, and raisins.  I am pretty sure my little baggies were gone shortly after my parents left - just so good!

Reebok joggers.  My mom keeps me in stylish work out clothes, whether it be from her hand me downs, or items she picks up when there is a good sale.  She already had a pair of these joggers and when she saw them on a great deal (only $13 as of last night!) she picked up another pair for herself and one for me!  I love them.  While I probably won't wear them to work out in (I prefer tight work out pants), these are the perfect lounging at home pant...or running errand pant.  They are ridiculously soft, are the perfect jogger style (not too tight / not too big), and just look so cute on. Thanks, Mom!

I shared this picture on Monday, but I am still loving it, so had to share again.  My dad hung this printer's drawer for me and it just really adds a little something to that wall.  It seriously seems like it has always been there.  I am debating if I will fill it up with little momentos, or just keep it plain.  For now, I am loving the simple look, with just the added texture and different material in that area.  Thanks, Dad!

Ever since Biana shared her Shari's Berries delivery, I have been wanting to try them SO BAD.  Well, I finally got the chance, because my 100+ hints over the last little bit had not gone unnoticed - I had a box waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday.  Let me tell you, they are as good as they look on TV and online.  Delicious!  I was so excited that I made them fit the #create prompt for the instagram challenge I am participating in.  Which should be a favorite in and of itself, because I have kept with it and am sticking to my goal of completing it.  Only a few more days left!  

The Spirit of Provident Gala is this weekend and I am super excited.  While I am just volunteering again this year, I can't wait to get dressed up and help raise money for such a great cause.  It was a blast hanging with the other young professionals last year, and we have some really great new members this year, so I feel like this year will be even better.

Linking up with AndreaApril, and Katie. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Girl Chat: Valentine's Day Plans

Today is a really exciting day for me.  It's the first day of our Girl Chat link up!!!  I am so happy to be joining my fellow hosts, Danielle, Lindsay, Lizzie and Sierra today for a little girl chat.  Our first topic - Valentine's Day plans.  

I have to tell you a good dinner and the best company honestly is all I really need on Valentine's Day.  Obviously, presents never hurt anyone, but at the core, what is important to me is just having a little special time together.  For some reason, we have kind of taken to celebrating on the 13th (or sometime before), rather than the actual day.  I think it was a way to avoid crowds, and now it just kind of has stuck.  So this Monday, I will be making a special dinner - lamb.  I have only ever made this one lamb recipe from Kris Jenner's cookbook, but it is seriously so good.  The recipe is actually for kabobs, but I just throw everything on the grill without skewering them.  The marinade is delicious, and then I serve it with rice.  I usually keep this recipe for a special occasion because lamb is not cheap, and a holiday like this one is perfect for a little splurging.  I am sure it will be served with a glass a of wine, and now that I am thinking about it more, having a little something for dessert after sounds like a great idea - any suggestions?

Other ways I like to celebrate Valentine's Day include doing a little something for my family.  Growing up, we always got a little card from both my grandparents and one of my aunts and uncles.  I loved that they thought to do this for us, so I wanted to carry on that tradition.  Not to mention, I just LOVE giving gifts - it makes me happy, while hopefully always making someone else happy, too.  This year, I got my nephew a card and then a little book on trucks.  Originally I wanted to do a Valentine's Day book, but the selection at Target just was not doing it for me, so I opted for something I knew he would love - trucks.  His card had one of the Cars characters on it, which I thought was perfect because I know that is on repeat at my brother and sister in law's house.  My mom was actually going there to babysit, so she took the present for me.  It was super helpful, because I like to avoid the post office if possible.  To make it even better, they sent me a video of him checking it all out and it was the cutest thing.  He literally let out a little yelp when he saw the card and tore it out of my sister in law's hands.  That boy loves his cars and trucks!  Too precious.  I also usually send a card to my grandma.  Since my grandpa has been gone, I want to make sure she feels the love on Valentine's Day, too.  Besides, who doesn't love receiving cards?!  This year, we also sent a little something to my parents, kind of as a thank you for all their treats to us, in addition to just saying Happy Valentine's Day.  I won't share what exactly, because I don't want my mom to know before it's delivered, but it's something sweet they can enjoy. 

Can't wait to check out everyone's Valentine's Day plans - I always find it so interesting to see how other people celebrate!

To link up - just grab our graphic, link up and let's get to chatting!  Make sure to stop by a few others linked up for an extra bit of girl chat!

And don't forget to follow your hosts!

Danielle - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter 

Emily - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lindsay - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lizzie - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Sierra - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter