March 2, 2015

nakd bars

How can I resist food that greets me with this when I open the box?

I can't. I really can't. 

But more importantly, I don't want to. You wouldn't either if you were staring at a box of snack bars with flavors like Pecan Pie, Cafe Mocha, or Ginger Bread. Just saying. 

I've been looking for a snack to tide me over between the end of my work day and dinner that 1) is made of real food (i.e. not calorically dense junk), 2) has low or no added sugar, and 3) tastes really good. Seems simple, but you'd be surprised. Have you read the amount of sugar in most granola bars these days? No thanks. So when Natural Balance foods asked me to try out a few of their nakd bars*, I jumped at the chance. Being that it's my personal mission to bring vegan information to the masses, I really had to take one for the team and eat all some of these. 

In terms of flavor and texture, they were soft and chewy like a Clif bar, but seemed lighter and a lot less sugary. Totally up my alley. Nothing is worse than those dry granola bars that explode crumbs in a five foot radius every time you take a bite. 

In addition to the above bragging rights, they boast a short (and pronounceable) ingredient list...

...without any added sugar. Ding ding ding!

Now I'll have something to tuck in my backpack on the nights I head straight to Carolina Barre and Core after school, as well when I'm running errands and don't want to be tempted by fast food. I'll also be tossing a few into my carryon this weekend when I head to Florida for a sorority sister's bachelorette party! 

While nakd bars are currently only available online, they are offering free US delivery! (Free, people. #free.)
*I was given these free in exchange for a review, but the opinions are my own. 

February 25, 2015

Vegan UGGs

I'd like to introduce all of you to my babies. 
No, they aren't my students. Or even, er, Patrick. They're boots people. 
Straight from New York Fashion Week...
Winter boots. Warm, fuzzy boots. Boots that are just dying to be worn with some leggings and an oversized sweatshirt as you binge watch Gilmore Girls. (I mean....hit the clubs.....)
And they're vegan. Faux UGGs. "FUGGs" if you will (which I won't). 
Listen: it's a cold, harsh world out there. Despite being one of the ugliest things around, faux shearling boots make my feet all toasty (literally), which then makes my heart all toasty (figuratively). After some intense internet searching, I was able to find myself vegan knockoffs of UGGs for less than $40 that have now survived two winters. (Side note: I can't comprehend how real UGGs, despite being completely impractical due to the fact you can't wear them in the rain or snow cost $200. Say whaaaaa?) These are man made materials, no suede or shearling in sight. Which ironically means they stand up better to winter conditions for way less money. #vegansforthewin
While I can't find the exact one I bought on Amazon over a year ago, a little internet searching had me stumble upon these beauties: 
Soda Womens Soong Soft Fur Eskimo Boots(affiliate link)

Ok I'm using the term "beauties" loosely. They're horrible. But so, so warm. 

Did I mention they also come in leopard?

Soda Womens Soong Soft Fur Eskimo Boots(affiliate link)
And at $50 a pop compared to $200, I'm happy to trudge through the snow and ice in them. I'd even wear those leopard lovelies to school and call it a day. I'd probably be pretty nice to the kids with my feet all toasty warm and such. 

February 24, 2015

Ikea Rast Hack

{Inspired by this post on LiveLoveDIY}

After years of books teetering in piles on my nightstand, I've accepted something about myself: I need a dresser as a nightstand. A dresser, with draws to shove full of the books I'm 1) currently reading 2) want to read, and 3) have finished reading and am waiting to spring on an unsuspecting guest. You think I'm kidding. 

Since Patrick and I were in the market for new end tables when we moved in anyways (because he only had one...#boydecor), I started scouring Craigslist for two small matching dressers that I could makeover. Turns out that people on Craigslist want $100 for the dressers that Helen Keller would have found unattractive, which put me back at square one. As it generally goes for any girl on a budget, Ikea came to the rescue. 

Here was my shopping list: 

 Grand total:$130, or $65 bucks a pop. Score. 

Since we wanted to stain them before we moved (vs. trying to do this on a cramped apartment balcony in the middle of February), we left them unassembled. We also made sure to start this when the weather forecast predicted sun and warmth for a few days in a row. 

First, we laid out each dresser on it's own newspaper so that we could put the pieces back into their respective boxes when they were dry: 

Then we sanded each piece and wiped them down with a damp cloth:

After that, we broke out the stain and got to work on each piece. 

Eventually we let each side dry for a day, flipped it over, then repainted. (By that I mean I put on one coat and then Patrick came over and did the rest one day while I was at work. #oops.) Apparently the newspaper was all stuck the the sides and he had to scrape it off, blah blah blah. Anyhoo, after that we packed the dry, newspaper-free pieces into their original Ikea boxes and moved them into our new place for assembly. 

I discarded the knobs that were included and attached the "crystal" ones I linked to above that I found on Amazon. The final result: 

I'm incredibly happy with how they turned out, especially since they're still cheaper than the junk I was looking at on Craigslist. While no one would be surprised that this is a $34 dresser after opening and closing the drawers a few times, they certainly serve their purpose. And at the end of the day, I smile every time I look at them and they hold all of the books my heart desires. What more could I ask for? 

February 20, 2015

Date Night @ the Barre

I've never been super into Valentine's Day (which I realize was almost a week ago...#laterblog), and I can't say that's changed much even now that I have someone to celebrate it with. Call me a Scrooge, but I find myself quite annoyed by the weird and useless decorations (heart shaped plates? Hearts hanging on a string around your house?). Maybe the grump in me is just against decorating for anything other than Christmas, or maybe I'm just odd. 

Heart decorations aside, I will say yes for any excuse to drink champagne and spend time with my man. And if I get to kick his a** in a workout at the same time? All the better. This invite from Carolina Barre checked all three boxes:

Patrick agreed to participate upon condition that some of BFFs Erin and Harley were there as well. Luckily Erin had already talked Harley into it, so the decision was made. 
Erin, Harley, and beer after barre. Perfect combo. 
The boys did great, and I have to admit it was fun to prove to Patrick just how hard the workout is, since he'd had his doubts. (And by "had his doubts", I mean he mocked me. Rude.)

Afterwards, we celebrated with a little booze...

...and a date to Mellow Mushroom, which now has a vegan menu! Be still my heart. 

And on the actual Valentine's Day, we went out to dinner with some friends and then snuggled on the couch watching Downton Abbey. No heart decorations needed. 

Ice Day Fun

It's been a bit of a weird week: teachers had the option of taking Monday off for President's Day (kids weren't in school anyways), then this happened Tuesday: 
Only slightly worried by those tire marks that appear to be going in circles...

Ice. Straight up, solid ice covering every surface. So we had an "ice day" from school. 

Ice day? More like nice day. (Har har har.)

Since I had shirked my to-do list Monday in favor of crafting and general laziness, it was great to get a little do over the next day. Hence the explosion of Montessori material making on my coffee table:


Then a teacher's worst nightmare happened: I ran out of glue. So I made Patrick walk to the store with me with the promise that I'd buy him some Starbucks with one of my gift cards. #teacherprobs and #teacherperks in one fell swoop. 

Yesterday ended up being a two hour delay due to super cold temperatures early in the morning (supposedly they don't want kids waiting at the bus stop when it's about zero degrees), but that also meant we weren't allowed to take them outside for recess. Um, no. 

I don't know if you've ever been trapped in a room of seven year olds who haven't been at school for a week and don't get to go outside, but it goes a little something like this: 

I'm that dude. 

Go Gators. 

Cheers to Friday!

February 18, 2015

Motivation Kick-Start

Between ice storms, report card writing, and a bunch of good books stacked on my nightstand, it's been difficult to motivate myself to get out from under the pile of blankets and get my heart rate up. Like at all. And despite my refusal to wear real pants every chance I get, even my leggings are starting to feel a bit snug. Yuck. 

I worked way too hard and spent too much money to regain the weight I lost last year, so the buck stops here. My new apartment has a beautiful fitness center, meaning I have no excuses (ice storms, the next episode of Downton Abbey beckoning) as to why I can't fit in a little cardio when the weather's poor. 

So here's the plan: a lot of barre, a good amount of cardio, and a little yoga tossed in there to ensure my sanity. Once I'm at a weight where leggings feel good again I'll ease back on the cardio a bit. 
{background source}
What keeps you motivated to work out in the wintertime? 

Cheers to fitness...eventually!

February 17, 2015

Creating Your Capsule {Workout} Wardrobe

Last summer, my friend Maggie clued me into this crazy-sounding thing called a capsule wardrobe via a crazy-awesome blog called Unfancy. In essence, a capsule wardrobe is like those magazine articles that say "20 pieces, 100 outfits", except with clothes you'd actually wear. Go figure. 

Minimalism has been heavy on my mind lately, since moving made me realize how much money I've truly wasted buying things I don't need. I'm not kidding you when I say we took at least 4 bags of clothes + a box of books + other miscellaneous things to Goodwill this week. Um...what? This is after I've "cleaned out" my closet at least three time in the past year. THREE TIMES. Wasn't one of my 2015 Resolutions to have "Less stuff, more experiences?' No bueno.

While capsule wardrobes don't include workout clothes (meaning they don't count as some of your thirty-seven pieces), I realized my drawer of them could use a little coordinating. Why was I holding on to grody T-shirts that I never wore, leggings with holes in them, and that one random leggings-and-tank-combo that only matched each other? No idea.

So armed with the knowledge of a wardrobe planner but modified with workouts in mind, I went to war on clutter. To begin paring down, I narrowed the colors of my workout clothes to this: 

You can down the full wardrobe planner for free here
So maybe I didn't need all three boxes down at the bottom for accents. Woops. 

I started by getting rid of clothes that only served on purpose. For example: ankle-length leggings can take me to barre, on a run, or to hot yoga. Running shorts are only useful while running, and let's just be honest about how often that happens. #never. So out they went. Baggy t-shirts make me feel like a blimp, plus they hang in my face while in downward dog and expose my midriff to the world. Um, if I were comfortable doing that I wouldn't be working out right now. Shirts that rode up and caused me to tug and pull constantly also got the boot.

In terms of colors, I realized that black makes me feel great whether I'm tan or pasty-white, pudgy or svelte. Since I'm generally getting dressed in the inky blackness of 5am, this also prevents many a wardrobe mishap since I'm 99% sure I'll be wearing a matching outfit when I get to the studio. A few pops of color via some hot pink or neon blue keep it fun and prevent me from going too Morticia Adams-esque.

My last step was to think about how many of each piece I actually needed. Let's get real: I generally workout out 4-5 times per week, thus I don't need ten pairs of leggings. I currently have the two Fabletics leggings pictured below that I mix up with $10 to $15 versions from TJ Maxx. Dropping $60 on basic black leggings ain't for me. For tops, I asked for Athleta gift cards for Christmas and bought myself versions similar to the ones below that are no longer available. I also own the Fabletics Aventura tank, a heather grey racerback, and a fun Carolina Barre version that's the comfiest thing I own. 5 tops + 5 workouts = all I need. 

Top row, from left: Athleta Rally Up tank//Athleta Crunch and Punch tank//Athleta Stunner tank//Fabletics Aventura tank
Bottom row, from left: RBX Stretch Fit legging// Fabletics Salar legging//Fabletics Lima capri//The Girls Tummy Control Seamed legging
Besides giving me a lot more drawer space, this has sped up my morning routine because I'm not digging through stacks of clothes trying to find the one top that matches the leggings I want to wear. I'm also not going to be on the hunt for new workout clothes until some of these wear out, because what purpose would another black tank top serve? Plus, all the clothes that made the cut are ones I absolutely love, meaning they fit perfectly and make me feel great. 

So it saves time, money, and helps me get my Beyonce swagger on? Check, check, and check.
What areas of your closet need to be pared down? Would you create a workout capsule wardrobe? 

Cheers to less stuff and more joy! 


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