Tieks Giveaway + Breast Cancer Awareness

I’m proud to support the Pretty in Pink Foundation and love the work that they do. I started a Go Fund Me for the ladies who walked in the Fashion Show in Wilmington this year. They each listed three items they wanted to do in their lives, so I think we should all chip in and make those happen – or at least one of them.

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By giving to this fundraiser, you are directly bringing happiness to the lives of people who are facing an unimaginable situation. So in honor of breast cancer awareness month, I implore you to give whatever you can to put a smile on someone else’s face.

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I am so excited to raffle off a $100 giftcard from Tieks (makers of the best ballet flats EVER). Anyone who donates $10 or more will be entered into a raffle (winner selected on random.org) for the Tieks gift card, a pink ribbon hat and a $10 Amazon gift card. The giveaway will run through 10/31, so hurry, you only have 2 more weeks to get your entries in!

Source: @Tieks Instagram
Source: @Tieks Instagram

So here’s how you can help the cause and get a chance to win some awesome prizes:

  • Visit the Go Fund Me page and make a donation of $10 or more by 11:59 PM on 10/31
  • Then come back here and comment letting me know that you’ve made your donation (be sure to use the same name you used when making your donation!)
  • For extra entries, you can use the Rafflecopter below and share the post on Twitter and Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be randomly selected by Random.org the week of 11/1. Let’s see how many items we can cross of these bucket lists by November 1st!

Weekend Wrap Up

I feel like we did nothing and everything this weekend. JJ Grey and Mofro came to a local theatre that is within walking distance of our house, so we had date night there – with dinner at one of our favorite pizza places beforehand.

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On Friday we felt like we had partied like we were back in college the night before. Funny how much differently three beers impacts you at 28 versus 21. So we hung low and decided to see “Gone Girl” and recreate our first date with a movie and dinner at Fox & Hound. The movie was amazing but sadly ends just the way the book did (which I HATED). However, I loved my dinner and movie date night with him. Saturday, I got up early (feeling better) to run the Rocktoberfest 5-miler with some girlfriends.

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Official results aren’t up yet, but I’m glad I got across the finish line in less than 50 minutes (according to my watch and clock time). On Saturday evening, we got to see one of our dearest friends marry the love of her life. We both met Brandy at work (we started on the same day) and immediately bonded. She is such an amazing person, I can’t possibly tell you how wonderful she is all in one post. So when she called to tell me she and Bill were getting married, I literally squealed (loudly) in the store I was standing in. This weddnig was a long time coming and such an amazing production.

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I say “production” because there was a comedian, pianist, singer, gymnastics performance, and two one-act plays. By far the most interesting wedding reception I have been to in my life. Brandy and Bill were just as wonderful on stage together as they are off. I am so glad we were able so share in their beautiful day! On Sunday, we woke up to rain and sniffles. I made pumpkin pancakes in an attempt to make us feel better. They didn’t do much for the colds we had caught but they sure were tasty!

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Pumpkin Pancakes:

  • 3/4 c. white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 teas. baking powder
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. pumpkin spice
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix butter, milk, egg and pumpkin puree in another bowl. Slowly blend in the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until well blended. Heat griddle to 300 degrees and pour out 1/4 cup batter onto griddle (or skillet). Cook for about 2 minutes or until little bubbles appear and then flip and cook for 2 more minutes. I imagine these would be delicious with some powdered sugar or whipped cream, but we settled for just maple syrup. I made enough for leftovers for breakfast this morning – still good!

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I tried to ward off my cold symptoms some more with hot yoga but instead just made myself sweaty and dizzy. It did help to stretch out my sore leg muscles after Saturday’s race but I have to admit it was a very unfocused practice. Hoping to kick this cold soon so I can get back to the gym and yoga this week. Hoping we can make it to the pumpkin patch next weekend and finish getting ready for Halloween. How was your weekend?

 

 

Bucket list wishes + a Tieks giveaway!

Happy Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Straight from the American Cancer Society: “In 2013, an estimated 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed among US women, as well as an estimated 64,640 additional cases of in situ breast cancer. That year, approximately 39,620 US women were expected to die from breast cancer. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.”

For the month of October, I’m focusing on the Pretty in Pink Foundation, which is based in North Carolina and helps breast cancer patients directly with their medical bills, co-pays, gas money to appointments, etc.

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I was introduced to the Pretty in Pink Foundation by my sister-in-law, Logan. For the past 5 years, she has participated in their annual Fashion Walk Gala in Wilmington. She participates because she is a cancer SURVIVOR. The Pretty in Pink Foundation helped her with some medical bills as she went through her treatment, and within them she also found friends and a support group.

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We attended the Fashion Walk Gala earlier this month and as always, I was touched by the stories shared. The strength of these women who are fighting battles that no one should have to is inspirational. One mother had our whole table on the verge of tears as she talked about never giving up because she has an 18 month old and she wants to be there for his whole life. An older lady laughed with her husband as she talked about all the medical woes they had faced – and vowed to keep moving forward, together.

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This year’s fashion walk participants wrote down their top 3 things they want to do in the future and that’s where you come in. These women show us on their bucket lists that they have so much life left to live and so many things they want to do to have fun, see the world, spend precious moments with their families.

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I’ve compiled a list and an estimated cost of each. Through a Go Fund Me site that was set up, we can raise the money for these things and purchase them for these women. For the things that can’t necessarily be purchased, I am reaching out to others to help with connections and making some of these other wishes come true. (Hey, Ellen Degeneres!).

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I’ve set a goal of $20,000 to raise to grant these wishes, so together we can help bring some happiness to these women as they fight their unimaginable battles.

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I am so excited to raffle off a $100 giftcard from Tieks (makers of the best ballet flats EVER). Anyone who donates $10 or more will be entered into a raffle (winner selected on random.org) for the Tieks gift card, a pink ribbon hat and a $10 Amazon gift card.

Source: @Tieks Instagram
Source: @Tieks Instagram

So here’s how you can help the cause and get a chance to win some awesome prizes: 

  • Visit the Go Fund Me page and make a donation of $10 or more by 11:59 PM on 10/31
  • Then come back here and comment letting me know that you’ve made your donation (be sure to use the same name you used when making your donation!)
  • For extra entries, you can use the Rafflecopter below and share the post on Twitter and Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be randomly selected by Random.org the week of 11/1. Let’s see how many items we can cross of these bucket lists by November 1st!

PS – if you haven’t tried Tieks, you NEED to ASAP. I wear mine 24/7 and they still look brand new and are comfy even after walking all over cities like Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis and Charlotte, and of course my everyday wear.

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Weekend Wrap Up

This past weekend, we took a little trip up to Chapel Hill to watch the Hokies kick some Tarheel booty on the football field. My in-laws live in the area and were sweet enough to let us bring our pups and crash at their house for the weekend.

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Friday night, we went to the Fearrington Granary for dinner. For some reason, we were both craving red meat and ordered burgers and beer upon our arrival. Both were delicious. I think if we lived in Fearrington, we’d eat there at least 3 nights a week.

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On Saturday, we spent the day at Kenan Stadium, cheering on our beloved Hokies. The weather could not have been more perfect. We lathered ourselves in sunscreen beforehand but stupidly didn’t take any extra with us so we both got a little unplanned color.

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I ran into THREE people that have been some of my best friends over the years. Jacqueline and I were inseparable for years 18-20. She graduated college before me but did come back to hang out for special events like my 21st and Quadfest. We only live 1.5 hours apart now but we don’t see each other very often. Looking forward to another hang out session this week when she’s in Charlotte.

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Matt and I kind of grew up together (he was my cousin’s best friend) and we went to college together. We ended up hanging out in the same group, doing silly things like chugging Mad Dog 20/20 and running the beer pong table at parties. And of course, my bestie, Seth, who moved to Charlotte just after I did in 2008. I got him in the break-up with my college boyfriend. Seth is one of my most favorite people in the world – and my husband loves him, too. Actually, my whole family loves him. We laugh constantly when we’re together, like laughing til your tummy hurts, laughing. It’s wonderful.

IMG_5612We were so exhausted after the game (I took a two hour nap) and we wanted to watch the Ole Miss/Alabama game, which left us starving at 7 PM. After half an hour on Yelp providing options for places to go, we decided to head out to either the Singaporian place or the Italian place. Half way there I announced that we should just grab a frozen pizza and a red box movie and curl up on the couch. Winner!

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I am not a fan of pizza (never delivery!) and rarely recommend it for a meal, so my husband was happy to hear this idea out of my mouth. He ended up falling asleep in the movie (Blue Jasmine) and I’m pretty sure I only stayed awake because I had a nap earlier.

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Before we left to come home, we took our boys for a long walk which totally wore them out. It was an amazing weekend (especially with that Hokie “W”). I ended the weekend with an hour and a half of hot yoga with a friend, and started my week feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

 

My month as a (mostly) vegetarian!

For some reason, I decided I would be a vegetarian for the month of September. Probably not the smartest move since I had two full weeks of travel and events every weekend; but I obviously didn’t consider that when I made my decision. I did allow myself to have fish and shellfish – and I ended up having A LOT of it. I’m probably pumped full of mercury right now, and fiber from all the vegetables I had.

For breakfast, I mostly stuck with my vegan chocolate Shakeology. I have so much energy from these shakes – and I’ve totally stopped drinking coffee! A few times I had eggs or oatmeal for breakfast but that’s usually reserved for days when the hubs is home. Lunch was usually a salad or pasta (whole wheat, of course). I always had plenty of snacks on me like almonds or walnuts, fruit: blueberries, apples, bananas, scuppernongs, avocado, carrots & hummus, and greek yogurt with granola. Leftovers always serve as a delicious lunch, too, but I have always had a hard time re-heating fish so only when I had other food the night before did I take leftovers for lunch.

When I went to the conference, I had a veggie panini one day, pasta another and a veggie pizza from Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar on the way out of Indianapolis. For dinner, I was able to get a little more creative (and spend a little more time). I had salmon, sea bass, garlic lime shrimp pasta, vegetarian lasagna, vegan potato salad, and veggies and quinoa for dinner when I made it at home. When we were out and about, I had tofu, eggplant tacos, scallops & shrimp, various types of fish, shrimp pho, a black bean quesadilla, more veggie pizza and veggie burgers.

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Now, I say “mostly” vegetarian because I cheated a few times. The first was at an event where I had a piece of pork. I didn’t see vegetarian options, so I chose meat. Another night, I couldn’t get Mac’s wings out of my mind, so I grabbed 8 of them on the way home and devoured them. Last weekend, we hosted “Drinktoberfest” where we offered bratwursts, and I inhaled two of them. I probably could have avoided those 3 meals of meat but I didn’t. My husband laughs at me often about not having willpower (especially when it comes to Mac’s wings).

I’m okay introducing some meat back into my life but I think I’ll try like once or twice a week and do vegetarian meals the rest of the week. I feel a little better. Can’t say I’m any lighter but that probably has to do with all those guavaberry coladas in St. Martin and the Exact Target conference last week (it was open bar everywhere I turned).

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I think my next challenges will be no alcohol for a month and maybe a no sugar month. Sugar will be hard because I love dessert. I could probably just eat dessert for my meal. And I definitely eat it first when the option is there. I can avoid alcohol but it’s tough with all the weddings we have (I need a little liquid encouragement to dance).

Have you ever tried being vegan or vegetarian? What was your motivation? Did you miss meat / animal products?

Get Friendly!

One of our goals this year was to make more friends and do more with the friends we already have. It might sound silly but once you’re outside of college (and grad school), it’s rare that you’re in social settings with tons of people who are your age and share similar interests with you – so making new friends can be a little tougher than it sounds. As far as the “doing more”, well, we (and I’m sure we’re not alone in this) have a bad habit of doing things with just the two of us. And while we love doing things as a couple, sometimes while we’re out and about (at a museum, at a park, hiking, etc.) we think, “man, so and so would probably like to do this, too!”

We said that we wouldn’t said “no” if asked to do something. We haven’t help completely true to that, but we’ve definitely been better (and even given up our 9:30 bedtime!). Recently, I emailed a group of friends to see who would be interested in starting a book club. Surprisingly, everyone said they were in and had always wanted to be part of a book club. We had about 12 people for our first meeting a few weeks ago and we read The Book Thief. We plan to rotate houses each month to as not to overwhelm any one host, and to give everyone a chance to put their own spin on the evening. It was fun to discuss the book, but also so nice to spend time with friends and meet new friends, too!

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This past weekend, we hosted “Drinktoberfest” instead of going to the Oktoberfest event here in Charlotte. We invited over our friends + their kids (and my brother’s family) to hang out, enjoy bratwursts, drink some pumpkin beer and play corn hole. The kids had a blast running around and playing with their Tonka trucks and the adults enjoyed catching up. It’s so nice to have a backyard where we can do these kinds of things!

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I’ve recently said “yes” when asked to go to Yoga on Tap at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery but someone I only knew online (no worries, we had plenty of friends in common and went to the same university for undergrad). And I had a blast, even though I’m far from being a yogi and was there with practical strangers.

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And made 3 new friends at NoDa Brewery run club (also gals I only knew online up until that 3 mile run). And I’ve also said yes to 3 miles with my friends Valerie and Katie. Friends and fitness? That’s right up my alley!
photo 3 photo.PNG-2 photo.PNGA group of grad school friends got together one night to hang out and catch up at Heist Brewery. These folks inspire me with their lives and the work they’re doing. I miss being in class with them and having 3 hours of intellectual conversations (or at least having them make me laugh all through class).

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Our fun friend Stacy joined us for Science on the Rocks at Discovery Place. A night where adults get to run the place, while drinking fun things like liquid nitrogen wine slushies. Oh, and it was 90s night!

photo 2Last time I was in the triangle area, I got to sit down for coffee with my most favorite college roomie and BFF. I had recently blogged about it being 2 whole months since I had seen her, but she’s the kind of friend where we can literally not speak for weeks and pick right back up where we left off. Most of the time we don’t go weeks without speaking, we send each other silly texts on the regular. I was pretty sure we were going to get asked to join a sorority while we were walking through Chapel Hill since it was apparently rush time for UNC.

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I feel like I have a pretty good friend base (even if they are all having babies and we’re the no-kid family). Not to say that I couldn’t have more. And not to say I don’t miss my friends who chose to remove themselves from my life just before my wedding. I’ve recently talked with a few of them, which was nice but it’s clear that things will never be the same. How could they? No need to re-hash the story here, if you want to read it, you can find it somewhere back in January 2013’s posts; we all made decisions that ended our friendship.

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It’s hard losing friends at any age, but I think probably harder to lose friends that you’ve had for so long and thought you’d have forever. I never really let myself get upset over it, I think I was so stunned that they just left. But now I see that we won’t go to anymore weddings together, we won’t watch each other’s kids grow up, we won’t plan summer beach trips together or ring in the new year together. Birthdays will only be celebrated with some, and only through text messages. Grad school graduations won’t be acknowledged. Rival football games won’t be mentioned. These things all make me a little sad. Those are things i expected to share with each of them. Occasionally, my husband will ask about one or all of them: have I talked to them, do I miss them, etc. The answer to the first is sometimes yes, the latter, always yes. I grew up with these girls, and guys. We did practically everything together. Some of my fondest memories are with them.

But I’ll make new memories with new friends…. life goes on. I’m so thankful for the friends that I do have here in Charlotte and the BFFs that I have sprinkled around. I’m grateful for the friends we have across the country who we may only see on occasion but are so special to us. I’m definitely more aware of who I spend time with and I try to avoid those one-sided relationships. I’m excited for us to continue building “our friends” as a couple and hope we get to spend lots of time with new and old friends in the coming years.

We always try when traveling to connect with friends wherever we are but sometimes schedules don’t work out. I love my new book club, and the Stella & Dot party I hosted was fun last year. I’d love to hear your tips for staying in touch with friends from all over! Where do you go, what do you do? Does anyone else have a goal to say “yes” to all the invites they get from friends?

Pumpkin Everything

With the arrival of Fall this month, I immediately starting craving all things pumpkin (except for Starbucks’ PSL, I know, go ahead and hate me). It’s easy to crave comfort foods in the Fall, especially as the weather gets cooler and we want to be full and warm. So trying to be conscious of that, I’ll share my favorite pumpkin recipes and then some healthy recipes to offset some of the unhealthiness of those.

First, (since I love dessert so much), 3-ingredient pumpkin cookies. They claim these are “low fat” but I wouldn’t overindulge. They are quick and easy and great if you need to take something to a holiday party or work function.

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Next, pumpkin chocolate chip bars. These are heaven in your mouth. I won’t make any low-fat claims, but I will tell you how amazing they are. They will be devoured wherever you take them. That is, if you can get them out of the house; my husband wants to eat them all the second I make them.

Pumpkin Stew is another favorite. You make it and serve it right in the pumpkin, which will surely wow your guests (or kids). This one takes a little longer to make but will be well worth it. It’s a hearty meal, too. Make sure to scoop out some pumpkin with each serving to give everyone a little more of the pumpkin flavor.

For breakfast, I’d serve pumpkin pancakes, maybe with chocolate chips or caramel drizzle on the weekends but plain maple syrup will do the trick, too. You can’t go wrong with maple syrup. Oh and bonus? These are gluten-free (enjoy, Christina!).

Lastly, pumpkin chili, because everyone loves chili in the colder months. You add in black beans and garbanzo beans to make this recipe delicious, but we’ve always been fans of having 4-5 kinds of beans in our chili, so I say the more the merrier. This is a vegetarian recipe, but you could certainly add meat if you wanted. I would probably recommend ground turkey.

Now, looking for a few healthier fall meals and side dishes? These will be loved by your friends and family, so start cooking!

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Potato & Green Lentil Salad, a vegan side that’s actually pretty easy to throw together. I used baby red potatoes, but as the recipe says, you can really use whatever you prefer. Since it’s vegan, there’s no mayo which is a plus in my book! I loved the mustard-y flavor of this dish and that it was served warm, and not as gooey as traditional potato salads.

Vegetarian stuffed Greek peppers are not just colorful, but also flavorful. You can put so much goodness in one of these babies and even customize it for each person. Another favorite is this quinoa stuffed portabellos. I made these for dinner one night and was surprised at how full I got! I even had extras for lunch the next day.

15247_10100998721121973_1725917825394690934_nSince being a (mostly) vegetarian this month, I’ve eaten a lot of fish. Couldn’t cut seafood out of my diet, too! This roasted salmon and brussels sprouts recipe is perfect for fall. Brussels sprouts are definitely one of my favorite veggies to have for dinner – especially in the fall!

Lastly, I love this easy recipe for rolled oats turkey meatballs. I would suggest mixing in 1 TBSP of an organic (low sodium) tomato sauce to give them a little more flavor, especially if you’re not planning to use for spaghetti and meatballs. I ate mine as the meat for my meal, with a side of veggies. Usually 3-4 meatballs fills me up. You’ll want to play around with the recipe the first few times you try it.  *You’re supposed to stay under 2300 mg of sodium/day. Be aware of how much is in the packaged or canned food you’re eating. When possible, go with unprocessed foods!

I’d love to hear your favorite fall or pumpkin flavored foods – please leave a comment with a link to the recipe. Always looking for new ones to try! Speaking of, I’m dying to try this white bean, kale and sausage recipe I found on Pinterest! It will have to wait until October though, I’m finishing out September strong with vegetarian meals.