Weekday Prep: Veggie Omelets

Hello! I hope everyone had a great weekend. This Sunday for weekday prep, I am doing some simple veggie chopping to shorten my breakfast routine in the morning.  I love having eggs for breakfast but I don't have time in the morning to chop everything up and cook the eggs.  Today I am filling little plastic containers with a morning's worth of chopped onions, red peppers and broccoli. That way tomorrow morning when I cook my eggs all I have to do is toss in one of these pre portioned veggie cups.

Most of my weekday prep posts have been about making a healthy breakfast quicker and easier.  There's a reason for that!  I'm sure everyone has heard the "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" line a million times.  I'm also sure that a lot of you probably still skip breakfast. You are making a big mistake!

Most people don't eat anything after dinner until breakfast (or lunch if you're bad).  This long period of time without food causes your metabolism to slow down.  There are some good reasons for this slow down. When your metabolism slows down it helps you relax and fall asleep. Once you are asleep, it helps your body focus it's energy on repairing and restoring rather than digesting your midnight snack.

An important thing to remember is that your metabolism won't speed back up again until you give it some fuel. Think of it like a fire. If you light a fire at night (dinner) and don't put anymore wood on the fire until the lunch time next day, you wouldn't have much of a fire anymore.  It's better to have a healthy breakfast in the morning to keep your fire burning all day and your metabolism revved up.  Even something small like a handful of nuts or an apple can wake your metabolism up and give it the signal to start working. This jumpstart will help your body continue to burn more calories throughout the entire day.

Now that everyone is on board with eating breakfast, there is one caveat. Don't just have any breakfast. A bacon, egg and cheese sandwich isn't going to give your body the fuel it needs to be energized the whole day.

I try to stay away from any type of white flour at all costs, with the exception of special occasions (everything in moderation, even moderation).  White flour is made by stripping away all of the nutrients that come from grains.  Since all of the nutrients are stripped away during the processing, your body doesn't need to exert much energy to break down the food to get to the energy source (sugar) and in turn your blood sugar spikes. This reaction causes your body to store the food you just ate as fat for your body to use as energy later on. If you can't tell, eating a breakfast high in processed ingredients and white flours will make your metabolism go haywire, you'll be hungry again in no time and guess what? You will be craving sugar!

Eating a healthy breakfast is crucial to your body since it is the first chance your body has to replenish itself from all of the work it did the night before while you were asleep. Try a balanced meal high in fiber and protein. It will keep you full and energized for a long time and you will have an easier time saying no to that donut during a morning meeting.

Happy Hour: Sassy Sunrise

Happy Friday! It is a rainy, chilly day here today so for happy hour I am making something that will heat you right up! It is a different spin on the classic tequila sunrise.

I have told you about my friend Marissa, the "mixologist," well one of her favorite ways to spice things up (pun intended) is to toss some freshly sliced jalapeno into her drinks. She makes a great jalapeno mojito which is what inspired this drink: the sassy sunrise.

Lightly muddle 2 thin slices of fresh jalapeno. Pour in 2 oz tequila, 1 oz triple sec, 1 oz simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), 1 oz fresh lime juice and 2 oz fresh orange juice. Add ice, shake, strain and serve! I drank mine with crushed ice and tossed a few jalapeno slices right into my drink.

The jalapeno doesn't over power the other flavors in the drink but it does provide a little kick. I am pretty much a wimp when it comes to anything hot or spicy and this drink wasn't too much for me. If you are worried about it try just using 1 slice of jalapeno and not muddling it as much.  The flavor will be less pronounced but still there. The only warning I have is: don’t drink this with chapped lips!

Lately I've been seeing a ton of spicy and savory drinks out there. What other spicy or savory drink combinations have you tried?

Fall Wardrobe Essentials

My fall wardrobe is by far my favorite. I love to layer and fall is the perfect time to do that. 

1. A sleek overcoat works perfectly to make any outfit look put together. 
2. Use lightweight scarves to layer. They keep you warm on chilly fall mornings and (if you are like me) in the office but if you get to warm they are small enough to toss in your purse. 
3. I tend to carry a larger handbag in the cooler months to hold gloves, lip balm and other cold weather necessities.
4. I love these boots. I love boots of all shapes and sizes for that matter. When it comes to boots I say the more, the better.
5. Just because summer is over doesn't mean it's time to put your sunnies away. You want to be sure to use these babies all year round.

What are your fall essentials? 

DIY Inspiration Board

As part of the effort to get things in working order I bought a cork board from Ikea last time we were there. There are no shelves or drawers on the desk so it's easy to get disorganized. I am constantly tearing things out of magazines to remember and figured the cork board would be the best place to store them for now. I've seen a bunch of inspiration boards on Pinterest and gave it a shot this weekend. So easy!

Since I already had the cork board, I just picked up a piece of pretty fabric and some nail head trim. The only other things you will need is spray adhesive and staple gun. 

If there are any wrinkles in your fabric you may want to iron them out.  Once you are wrinkle free position the fabric over the cork board and allow about an inch of over hang to wrap around the back. Use the spray adhesive to secure the fabric onto the cork only, wait to spray the frame. 

When the fabric is positioned where you'd like it, start applying the nail head trim along the edge of the frame. I used a nail heads width between nails in attempts to keep the spacing consistent. 

After the trim is complete, spray the frame and smooth the fabric over it. Fold the corners of the fabric like a present and staple to secure. I used about 5-7 staples to keep the fabric in place after the corners were secured. 

The rest of the desk area is still a work in progress, but it's coming along (finally). 

The next thing to tackle will be finding storage space for everything that tends to collect on top of the desk. Any suggestions on keeping your workspace organized? 

Thanks for reading!

Weekday Prep: Superfood Trail Mix

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  It was beautiful out here this weekend and we did a few projects outside (check for posts this week!) which felt amazing. Fall is officially in full swing. I'm excited to finally burn my cinnamon spice candle. They don't last long in my house, I always have fall scents burning once it gets a little cooler out. 

Today instead of being glued to the TV for football I whipped up some homemade trail mix.  It's a great mix of protein and fiber which will give you long lasting energy and help to keep you full throughout the day.  It's full of healthy ingredients like walnuts and almonds which have heart healthy nutrients like unsaturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids and fiber.

Superfood Trail Mix:
2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs chia or flax seed
1/4 c. honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. golden raisins 
1/4 c. walnuts
1/2 c. almonds

Preheat the oven to 275. In a bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, chia seed, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix until throughly combined. I rolled some of the oat mixture into clusters that were a little smaller than a bouncy ball. This makes it a little easier to eat if you eat the trail mix alone. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 275 for about 5-8 minutes.

Once the mixture is cooled, mix with the remaining ingredients. I immediately package mine in zip loc bags to control my portions and make it easy to pack for a work day snack. Dark chocolate chips would be a good addition to the mix but I like to mix mine with yogurt and prefer not to have the chocolate in there. Eating the trail mix with yogurt makes it a little more like granola but I'm ok with that. 

Packing snacks on Sunday like this trail mix or these protein bars, is one of the easiest ways to prep for the week. The best way for me to stick with healthy eating is to have a plan. If my snacks are already packed in the morning it keeps me from grabbing a bag of chips while at the office. Plus healthy snacks taste better and help keep you feeling fuller longer, too.  The trick  to eating right is to have a healthy snack readily available. It's so much easier to avoid temptation when you have a better option at your desk.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? I love expanding my collection of recipes for stuff like this so I don't get sick of eating the same thing over and over again. Have a great week!

Happy Hour: Cosmorita

It's about that time! Happy Friday. Today for happy hour I am enjoying a Cosmorita. It's a nice twist on two classics.

To make one drink, fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add 3 ounces cranberry juice, 1 1/2 ounces tequila and a splash of fresh lime juice. Strain into a salt rimmed glass.

Enjoy! Have a nice weekend!

Adding Character to an Apartment

Hello! I hope everyone had a great weekend. It finally started feeling like fall this weekend. It is such a welcomed change from the humidity and heat from summer.

As you may know, I currently live in an apartment. It's not one of those old apartments with a ton of character, either. It is as plain as it gets. We have white walls and white-ish carpet which I am trying to look at as a blank slate rather than extremely boring. I guess it it better than the apartment with all coral walls I saw on Apartment Therapy earlier.  We aren't allowed to paint while we are here so I have been searching the web for other ways I can spruce up my space and add some much needed color.

That's when I came across this in this month's Elle Decor:

The issue features Carolina Herrera Baez's home with what looks like an upholstered wall.  It really got me thinking- I could create an accent wall full of color here in my apartment by upholstering it. Kind of like a grown up version of the tapestry I had hung in my dorm room. I got to googling and low and behold the fantastic Jenny Komenda over at Little Green Notebook actually has a tutorial.

After seeing all of the staples in the tutorial, I will really have to think this one out but I think it can be a great addition to all of the white in this apartment. Planning for this project and fabric hunting starts tomorrow! Can't wait to get started!

Any suggestions on tweaking the tutorial for minimal damage to the wall? Or any other fun ideas for adding color and character to a cookie cutter apartment?

Happy Hour: Autumn Apple Sangria

Hi everyone! Happy Friday!  This happy hour post takes a little planning but it a great option for an early autumn sangria.  The apples give it a nice crisp flavor and the cinnamon screams fall.

Autumn Apple Sangria with Cinnamon Sugar Rim:

1 bottle (750ml) of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 c. peach schnapps
1/4 c. apple cider
2 apples (I used granny smith and gala)
1/4 c. honey
1 lemon
1 lime
2 cinnamon sticks
2-3 quarter size pieces of ginger root
Club soda

Combine the wine, schnapps, honey and cider. Add chopped fruit, cinnamon sticks and ginger. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. Strain the sangria into a pitcher.

Moisten the rims of the wine glasses with water and dip into cinnamon sugar mixture. Top your glass with a splash of club soda.

I hope you enjoy! Have a nice weekend!

Creating A Home Away From Home

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to document my experience creating a home away from the place I grew up in. I know a lot of people do this with ease but for me it has really been a period of learning, growth and transition. Parts of it have been fun, parts have been miserable but together the experiences have forced me to try new things, meet new people and do a lot of self reflection which at the end of the day I think has made me a better person.

I grew up in a pretty small town in upstate NY right on Lake Ontario. There is only one middle school and high school so everyone goes to school together from about age 13. Some people I grew up with hated that everybody knew everybody else, their parents and probably even every time they got detention. For me, it turned out ok because I had a great group of friends and we only grew closer over the years. When it came to going away to college, I knew I needed a change of scenery from the small town I grew up in. I applied to all out-of-state colleges except one, my safety school, which was in state but 2 hours away. In my mind I had "out grown" Oswego. Things I had done all my life didn't have the same appeal, my friends didn't seem as fun and the idea of starting new at college was exciting. It was great thinking that the people I met didn't know anything about me and at the end of the day my parents wouldn’t find out everything I did.

I got into all of the schools I applied to (most were in the Virginia/DC area) and what do you know… I chose my safety school in Albany, NY. At the end of the day I was a little more scared to leave than I thought. I stayed for a year and transferred to University of Connecticut for the remainder of my college career. I don't regret this at all. I had an amazing college experience and I was only a 5 hour drive from home. Of course there were times I couldn't wait for break to get home. That's the great thing about going away to college, it's not your home. You get to experience this new place and new people but on your bad days you can always count down the days until you go home.

I think that’s why this past year has been so hard for me. I graduated from Uconn in December 2010 and hung out for the remainder of the academic year (I highly recommend that, if you can swing it). I had all the fun of college with no responsibilities… except job hunting. I finally got a job after about 8 months of applying in April 2011. Most of my friends graduated in May and everyone moved away from what was our home for the last 4 years….except me. Since I got a job in Hartford, I found a little apartment about 15 minutes away and tried to make it feel like home. It didn't take long to realize that "grown up life" wasn't like school. There was no count down to going "home." I didn't get to spend a month with my friends and family over the holidays and another couple months during the summer. I was left with a long weekend here and there.

There have been some things that have made my home away from home feel more comfortable. In a new place it's important to put yourself out there.  I started going to cardio kickboxing twice a week and started to see familiar faces there, made it a point to connect with people at work and tried to keep in touch with my hometown and college friends as much as possible.

To make a new place feel like home try recreating a dish from a favorite hometown recipe. It probably won't taste the same but I'm sure it will bring back all of the same feelings of being at home.  Be sure to invite a new friend over to try!

Small touches go a long way in a new apartment. My mom always had a bunch of plants around our house so I made sure to incorporate them into my life here. I keep a bunch of pictures out and brought some meaningful pieces from home with me (like this coffee table). The most important thing for me has been to make my space as comfortable and inviting as possible.  At the end of the work day, I finally look forward to coming back to my apartment (even if it isn't exactly Mom's house).

Are any of you trying to create a home away from home? What have you done to make your place feel less like an apartment and more like your home?

Weekday Prep: Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Hi, everyone. I hope everyone had a great weekend. It flew by for me and I am not ready to face Monday morning quite yet.  Isn't it crazy that Monday and Tuesday can feel like an eternity but Saturday and Sunday fly by? Today was a great day for R&R since I was so busy Friday and Saturday. As much as I love summer, I am looking forward to my slower paced lifestyle of the cooler months.

One thing I am not looking forward to phasing out is my iced coffee. It is one of my favorite warm weather treats. To me, it signifies summer and is a great way to start the morning, especially when trying to blow dry my hair in the heat.  Since summer is quickly coming to a close I will be squeezing in my iced coffees every chance I get.  I don't always have time to stop on my way to work for an iced coffee and I have seen a million ways to make it at home. I have tried just about all of them. This Sunday as part of my weekday prep I am making a batch of Vietnamese iced coffee.

Vietnamese iced coffee is typically a dark roast coffee brewed and served over ice with sweetened condensed milk. I will be cold brewing the coffee concentrate and keeping in the fridge for a couple days which eliminates my last minute stops to Dunkin.

To make the concentrate: in a bowl stir 4 1/2 cups cold water into 1/2 lb coarsely ground dark roast coffee. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain. This base can sit in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To make the iced coffee: pour 2 ounces sweetened condensed milk into a tall glass. Add 6 ounces of the concentrate and 4 ounces of milk. Stir well. Top with ice.

I hope this weekday prep post will make taking on the week a little easier. I say the best way to take on Monday is with a great cup of coffee. Enjoy! Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Hour: Blood Orange Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

"Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is you've got a bottle of champagne in the fridge."  -Hester Browne

Happy Friday! I hope everyone's work week flew by. It is finally time to relax, sit outside and have a drink. This afternoon I was in the mood for something crisp and refreshing since it is close to 90 degrees out. A simple thing to do on a day like today is a champagne cocktail. Champagne was never one of my go to drinks and I generally saved it for special occasions but today the special occasion is there was a bottle in the fridge.

To make this simple cocktail all you need is champagne, blood orange soda and a splash of cranberry juice. My boyfriend first introduced me to what he called "Maui" about 5 years ago.  Apparently his parents were on vacation in Hawaii and for breakfast they were served a mix of orange and cranberry juice. Hence the name. It quickly became one of my favorites so I figured I would incorporate it into a cocktail.

I hope you enjoy! Now go sip outside while the sun is still shining. Cheers!

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Cuckoo for Coconut Oil

I'm here today to give the scoop on coconut oil.  A few weeks ago I was visiting a friend and couldn't help but notice the improvement in her skin since the last time I had seen her.  She claimed me that coconut oil had been her recent go to beauty product.  I didn't need to hear anymore.  After seeing how clear, soft and dewey her skin looked- I was sold.

Coconut oil works great as a facial and body moisturizer as well as a leave in hair conditioner.  It's even perfect for cracked heels and lip balm.  Wow, what can't this stuff do? The oil is high in lauric acid which has antiviral, antibacterial and anti fungal properties which is a bonus if you are prone to bumps and blemishes. I know many of you may have reservations about applying  the coconut oil directly to your face since no one wants an oily face but after using coconut oil for about 2 weeks I can report I haven't experienced this at all.  I use a basic daily cleanser (St. Ive's) to wash my face in the morning and before bed.  Before using coconut oil I used Clinique moisturizer after every wash.  At the end of the day my face would feel greasy which I blame on it not being properly moisturized.  Once you wash your face is stripped of important oils that nourish the skin which causes your body to produce more oil.  Most of us compensate for this by applying a topical moisturizer and I'm sure a lot of you still notice certain sections of dry skin.  This is because most moisturizers are made up of water which doesn't penetrate the skin enough to moisturize properly.  My experience with coconut oil has been that my face actually stays moisturized throughout the day and after work when I take my make up off, my skin isn't nearly as greasy.  It is even said that coconut oil can actually penetrate the skin enough to repair deeper layers. Needless to say, I have completely swapped out my normal facial moisturizer and body lotion and replaced them both with coconut oil and I don't see myself switching back anytime soon (or ever).

To find coconut oil, check your local grocery store's cooking oil section.  Yes, you can also use coconut oil for cooking. There looks to be great benefits for consuming coconut oil as well including boosting your metabolism (always a plus in my book).  I picked a jar up at Whole Foods for less than $10.  It comes in a fairly big jar and will last you a long time since moisturizing my entire body only takes about a tablespoon. Don't worry, it has a long shelf life.  I scooped some of it out and put it in a small decorative jar to keep in the bathroom.  I scooped some out for my mom while I was at it to share the wealth.  The oil is solid at 76 degrees but lately since it has been so hot mine has been liquid which hasn't made a difference to me.

There is one major caveat to this post: THE COCONUT OIL MUST BE ORGANIC, UNREFINED, VIRIGIN COCONUT OIL.  Refined coconut oils go through a ton of processing including bleaching and deodorizing, which is too bad since the smell of the unrefined oil is the best part.  It is nothing you want to apply to your face. Unrefined coconut oil is made from fresh, raw coconut without the addition of any harsh chemicals.

Have any of you tried coconut oil? If not, what's your favorite go to beauty product?

DIY Infused Olive Oil

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a great labor day weekend.  It is awesome having Monday off!  It definitely makes the week feel much shorter.

There is a great little specialty store here in Connecticut that specializes in infused olive oils and unique vinegars.  It is one of my favorite stops when I am in the area.  After a recent visit it got me thinking about all of the different flavor combinations you could come up with when making infused olive oil. Since I don't get to the store too often I thought I'd give making my own infused oil a whirl.  It has been something I have wanted to try for a while since I use EVOO so often.  It was a great week night project.

This really couldn't have been any easier.  The entire project (if you can even call it that) took about 10 minutes.  I decided to make 3 different types of infused olive oils: jalapeño lime, rosemary garlic and lemon black pepper.  Before starting be sure to clean our your containers and wash all of your ingredients and let them dry completely. This is critical because moisture may allow for bacteria to grow.  I washed my containers and ingredients and let it air dry for 24 hours.  Once everything is completely dry it is as simple as adding the ingredients and pouring the olive oil over it in the container. The olive oil works to preserve whatever you decide to include.  You can use the olive oil right away but letting the mixture sit about 2 weeks will allow the ingredients to infuse properly.

My favorite has to be the jalapeño lime.  It doesn't pack much heat but it has a great after taste.  The rosemary garlic oil also has a ton of flavor.  I'm not sure if I would make another batch of the lemon pepper though because the flavors didn't come through as much as I would have liked.  The possibilities are endless.  These make a great hostess gift and are super easy to prepare with short notice.  I had all of the ingredients on hand already.  The only thing I had to do was pick up the olive oil containers.

Any ideas on other flavor combinations? I definitely want to incorporate dried chilies into my batch.  I'd love to know what you come up with. Have a great rest of the week! Thanks for stopping by!

New Month, New Start: September

Good morning! I hope everyone is having a great long weekend.  I am in my hometown in upstate New York.  No matter how long I am away, this place still feels like home. I have had a great weekend so far.  My mom recently moved into a new house so it's been fun watching the transformation every time I come to visit. The whole house was gutted and an addition was made, it's been a major project for her to say the least.  I also got to spend some time out on the boat with the whole family.  Couldn't have asked for a better day yesterday.

The best part about being home is being able to "disconnect." It is so refreshing leaving my phone at home and not spending hours a day looking at a screen.  Work feels so far away.  I wanted to take a little break from my weekend disconnect to share what has become somewhat of a tradition for me and a few friends.
image via
At the beginning of each month we do what we call "New Month, New Start." It is like setting a monthly resolution.  The goals can be big, small or any combination.  During the last week of the month I tend to start thinking of what I will try to accomplish in the coming month. I keep a list of all of the goals that are most important to me for that month. Most time my list starts pretty long but before the month starts I try to whittle it away to something manageable and attainable. If you are too ambitious, it's unlikely you will stick to it so stay reasonable. Sometimes I even have the same goal for a couple months in a row.  Goals can be as small as- eat more sweet potatoes. Get creative.

The fun part about New Month New Start is sharing your goals with you friends.  Once you say your goal out loud, it becomes real.  My friends and I keep tabs on each other and like to offer motivation and encouragement throughout the month.  It's a great way to get motivated, stay focused and continue to move forward.

There are a few things I would like to focus on this month: blog, fitness, eating habits. This tends to be the focus for most months.

September Goals:

1. Workout 3-5 times a week (my apartment has an indoor pool that I should really utilize more often).
2. Try 1 brand new recipe a week (Sundays are good for this because I have more time than weekdays).
3. Post 3-5 blog posts a week.
4. Bring my camera everywhere I go!
5. Weed out my shoe collection.

Keys to success:
1. Write it down! Write down your goals and place them somewhere you look often. I keep mine on my desk at work but for this month it might be a good idea to put them on my bathroom mirror.

2. Tell a friend. Saying your goals to someone else gives them a little more meaning. Someone else will be asking about your progress.

3. Make a plan. After I write down my goals, I write 2-3 bullet points on how I plan to achieve them. Make a workout schedule, plan your weekly meals, put the time on your calendar.

4. Take the option out of it. When I plan my week out I put my meals, workouts, etc in my calendar. Once they are written down, there's no going back. I look at it as an appointment just like the other things on my calendar. Keep your appointments with yourself. You deserve it.

What are your goals this month? Do you do anything like this to keep yourself motivated? Good luck and feel free to share this with friends so you can start your own New Month, New Start.
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