Thrive: What do you want your Eulogy to say?

This post was inspired by Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington who encourages everyone to sleep their way to the top. Join From Left to Write on May 1 we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Thrive-From-Left-to-Write-Book-Club-Banner-2I’ll be honest, I loved the idea of this book and there was tons of great info and tips, but it was also extremely heavy on the data. While I understand it is important, I think it took away from the whole idea of the book, so I did end up skimming some sections, especially data that I had read before.

One of my favorite lines from the book was “Eulogies aren’t resumes”. I think this hit close to him because of what has been going on in our personal lives but it is something that everyone should remember.

When someone passes away, no one talks about the night the closed a big deal with a company, or the time that they stayed up all night working on a huge project. They talk about the love you shared, your friendship and kindness, the times that you made them laugh.

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Not the most attractive photo, but I will always remember this night (even now – almost 9 years later), even if he passed away months after this was taken.

There will always be petty arguments and fights and disagreements, but I think all relationships can make it through those moments if they want to. We also have to be willing to let go of relationships that are long over. Whether it be because you just naturally drifted apart, or because someone did something extremely hurtful.

Then there are those relationships that you need and want to put work into. I am not just talking about marriages. Relationships with family members and with friends.If we are being honest, we will not always agree with our friends, and there might be moments when their words hurt us. Both parties have to be willing to put in the effort to sort through those disagreements and hurt. Often times, coming out on the other side makes the relationship stronger.

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I have dealt with a lot of loss in my life, and I am glad have memories with those people who were full of love and laughter.

I am also grateful that my husband knows that the value of the dollar is important, but that he will never choose his work over his family, and I know that I am very lucky that he is like that.

What do you think? Do you believe your relationships are more important than your work?

 

Get Skinny Again: Review

Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for my review through my relationship with FitFluential. As always all opinions are my own. 

IMG_7785I received Sarah’s book: Get Skinny Again! back in February but I wanted to be able to try some of the recipes and workouts before I was able to give a thorough review to you. Before we get to the review I want to address the title of the book, while my end goal is not to “get skinny again” it is to have a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the healthy foods and workouts that are a part of my every day. I know the title can be off-putting, but I find that is the case for most healthy living type of books.

Sarah’s blog and YouTube channel were among the first I read and watched when I started getting into blogs, I always appreciated that she is real and talks about healthy living in a way that applies to most people, not just bloggers. She has HIIT workouts and how to buy a week of groceries under $40. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Sarah in person, she’s a very well-known blogger and YouTube personality, but she is extremely nice and encouraging to everyone she meets.

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The book is divided into three parts:

  • Time To Get On Your Fitness
  • Time To Eat Clean To Get Lean
  • Time To Live The Fit Life

I really loved all the different workouts in this book, there were a bunch of different types of workouts and I loved that each move had one entire page dedicated to it. For a lot of workout plans I end up looking on YouTube for some exercises, and there are a lot of badly performed exercises uploaded. The pictures show the moves and most steps as well as what you should not look like or be doing in some moves. I do wish they showed some modifications for items like push-ups or side planks. Not every person can do all the moves and it would be nice to not have to improvise or complete an exercise in poor form.

There are not only strength workouts, but cardio workouts as well, some of the cardio workouts include running. I do wish Sarah had used not only speed numerals but cues to how you should be feeling as not everyone runs the same pace. Overall, I really loved the Fitness section, it included home and gym workouts as well as stretching.

Now on to the Food section. Sarah included a lot of healthy options that you can find at chain restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I really appreciated that. She also gave some helpful ideas for meal planning, and of course recipes. I can’t wait to try the Salsa Chicken Quesadillas and Energy Bites.

IMG_6253Peanut Butter & Jelly Time Smoothie (minus the chia)

The last section, Living the FIT LIFE, is one of the most important, it stresses that every journey is different, and every body is different. What works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. She also gives ideas about how to still have a social life and go out with your friends, significant other, etc… and still eat or drink healthier items. I appreciate a healthy lifestyle book that doesn’t expect you to give up your social life and spending time eating outside your own kitchen.

You can buy the book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You can follow Get Skinny Again on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can follow Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Have you read Sarah’s book? Do you read her blog or watch her YouTube channel? What do you think?

Reasons My Kid Is Crying: Review

This post was inspired by the novel Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke who captures frustrating yet hilarious parenting moments through perfectly captioned photos of unhappy kids. Join From Left to Write on April 15 we discuss Reasons My Kid Is Crying. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

April is kind of insane month for From Left to Write contributors, the original books for the month were just: The Idea of Him and The Opposite of Maybe, and I signed up for both. Then we got word that we’d also have the option to review Reasons My Kid Is Crying by Greg Pembroke and Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan, but that essentially means one review a week, and A LOT of reading, but I was up for the challenge.

Luckily, Reasons My Kid is Crying is more of a picture book. It is just as describe above, pictures of kids crying with hilarious captions, if you are a parent you’ve probably seen the website that started it all.

IMG_8070He is crying because his UCONN shirt is dirty and I wouldn’t take it out of the hamper.

Parenting is full of ups and downs, but a lot of time I feel like you look back and laugh at a lot of the stuff that was ridiculous and silly, but you thought was so serious when it happened.

This book would make a great gift for a new parent or a veteran parent, or even if you want to buy it for yourself, it would make a great coffee table book…as long as the toddler hands don’t get to it. Or connect with Greg on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have a funny crying photo or story about your child?

 

WIAW: Designer Whey’s Sustained Energy

Back in May I was given the opportunity to try a handful of Designer Whey’s products, I had a great experience. So when I found out I would be able to try the new product line of products, through my relationship with FitFluential, I jumped at the chance.

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Designer Whey has created a new blend of protein powders, in Chocolate Velvet and Vanilla Bean. This is DW’s Sustained Energy line. This product is a blended powder, it has whey, soy and casein. The whey digest quickly to fill you up and the soy and caseins absorb slowly, which helps you stat energized for hours. Each scoop is 100 calories, has 5 grams of fiber, and 16 grams of protein. So how did these products fare in my kitchen?

I’d say that Designer Whey knocked it out of the park again.

The first smoothie I made was one of my favorites

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1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
1 handful of Spinach
1 scoop of Designer Whey Sustained Energy: Chocolate Velvet
1 Tablespoon of Natural Peanut Butter
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen raspberries

I absolutely loved the chocolate flavor, it gave the smoothie a nice smooth and creamy consistency! So far so good.

Next up was the everyday oatmeal test. I always use some sort of vanilla flavor in my oatmeal and the Vanilla Bean was my choice.

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I am so glad I had this. The flavor was great with the oatmeal and really thickened up my daily oatmeal. The day I tried this I then proceeded to lock myself out of the house with B. I had to wait until Nick could get a break at work to come home and let me back in the house. Of course all of this was during this ridiculous heat wave we have been having.

Normally, I would be ready to eat my arm at this point and feeling really low, but surprisingly I was feeling good. A+ Designer Whey.

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With the powders, I received a copy of the June issue of Shape Magazine. Inside the magazine was a recipe for a Tropical Tone Up Smoothie.

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1/2 cup skim milk (I swapped out for unsweetened Almond)
1 scoop Designer Whey Sustained Energy Vanilla Bean
1/2 banana
1/2 cup pineapple (I used frozen)
pinch of cinnamon
1 cup of ice (I substituted with 1/2 cup frozen peaches)

It was so good even B wanted some (I made his without protein powder though)

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I love the new products from Designer Whey, its official. I have had some really bad protein powders, and Designer Whey keeps me happy with every powder they have.

Now onto the rest of WIAW!


I haven’t been eating just oatmeal, smoothies, and cake!

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This salad has been a staple around here. I love summer mostly because I gorge on tomatoes and watermelon.

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My go-to lunch has also been grilled chicken and roasted veggies!

Have you tried the new Designer Whey products? What are your summer staples?

PV.body turned Ellie – Thoughts and a Review.

I apologize in advance since this post will be lengthy, I wanted to wait until I had all the facts pieces before I wrote my review.

A few months ago I became aware of a company called pv.body (no link since the web address redirects to Ellie now). The company sounded awesome, for the price of $39.95 (when I signed up — the price was raised to $49.95 a few days later) you would get two name brand items, they used names like Lululemon, Nike, etc… to pique the general interest and to be honest I definitely fell for it, but one thing had me apprehensive — sizing. I typically wear a 12 in lululemon and other companies vary between M, L and XL. I emailed Jenay and told her my concerns, she emailed me back and told me that most of the products in a L would fit me and that they have a liberal return policy. Okay, I will try it out.

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I used a 20% off coupon from a fellow blogger and signed up — this was the end of November. My card was charged and shipping status was unavailable, and I will be honest, two weeks later we were moving and in the throes of no internet and not worrying about anything except getting unpacked and settled. A few weeks later I started seeing reviews from other bloggers about their packages and workout gear. I called my mother-in-law (since I used their address) and she had received nothing. I checked my bank account and saw that pv.body had charged me twice. I was pissed, I called and emailed and got zero response, including from my friend Jenay.

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When I arrived at my in-laws for New Years Eve I had two packages from pv.body at their house. I tried on all 4 items and only 1 fit which was a bit frustrating. I logged into my account and was told I could only exchange package number 2. I called HQ because that was not going to fly with me, first I wasn’t sure which package was #1 and which was #2 and secondly, I received the first package so late and it wasn’t my fault so I should be able to return all items if I needed. No one answered at HQ it rang 3 times, an automated voice came on and said I was next, rang two more times and put me into a generic voicemail. I left a voicemail, but continued to call repeatedly until I finally got a hold of Riquel, it took at least 30 minutes to get through. Riquel was helpful — she asked what I liked in my workout gears (I prefer normal or high-waisted pants and longer tops that move well) and she emailed me a fed-ex slip, she also said to include a note and I could exchange the three items. I sent the items back to HQ in mid-January.

I received my new items a month later, but in the meantime I saw this post from Sarah – I immediately put a hold on my pv.body account and contacted someone higher up at pv.body to address my concerns.

Silver & Black American Apparel leggings and Unknown Top in Navy. The orange top is from Old Navy.

Silver & Black American Apparel leggings and Unknown Top in Navy. The orange top is from Old Navy.

The one item that fit in my first package was the American Apparel leggings. In my exchange I received another pair of the same leggings, a Nux top (similar to the one I returned) and a top that I can’t find the name for. While I do love the leggings and the nameless top, I wasn’t that impressed and I would be PISSED if I paid the $49.95 price tag, because the American Apparel pants were valued at $48 and the Nux top was valued at $45 — not exactly the promise $150 value.

So this is when Ellie comes in. As Sarah, Katy, Heather, Janine, & Becki had posted pv.body had essentially bought a ton of name (and not so name) brand items and shipped them off for a few months, but since most of these brands do not sell their items whole sale those at pv.body knew they had to do something else. They lured everyone in with the promise of Lulu and Nike and then swapped in their own brand Ellie a few months later. Not impressed.

There have also been plenty of people with great experiences like Linz, Danielle, & Heather.

I was contacted by Hope at Puravit who addressed my concerns and offered to send me a February package for review. I received it on Friday afternoon so I haven’t had the chance to work out in it. I will say however, I was given the February look book and picked two pieces that I felt fit what I needed from workout gear. I didn’t receive either of those pieces.

Ellie Bottoms

Ellie Bottoms

According to Hope, the quality of the Little Black Legging was not up to par for them, that’s fine I get it, I was told that I would receive the Love Struck Legging as it was their most popular item. I am not sure who it was popular with considering February was their unveiling and theoretically our packages would be sent out at the same time as everyone else’s, maybe it was the most popular among the staff? Also, the LBL is available for March packages – and I don’t work in any capacity for product development, but unless it is a small issue I don’t understand how February’s LBL wasn’t ready for shipping but March’s is. Regardless, I ended up receiving the Kiss Me Capri. I tried them on and they fit well and are high enough for my liking, as I said I haven’t worked out in them, but so far they fit well.

Ellie Tops

Ellie Tops

For the top, I do not know what happened, I requested the Truth or Dare tank and received the Peek-A-Boo top. This is a top I absolutely would not work out in. Frankly, I don’t know that I would even have the confidence to wear this out in public. Maybe with a cami underneath? It did fit well, the sizing is accurate and the material was comfortable. I just wish it was a top that I could and would wear.

So now that all is said and done what do I think?

I loved the idea of pv.body — it was a great way to try new brands at a cheaper rate. I am very picky with my workout clothes and it seemed to be a cheap way to find new brands before you spent a ton of money and time finding new gear. Since a lot of brands do not sell wholesale (really this should have been a huge red flag for me) this was a concept they could not keep up.

I think the bait and switch technique that they used was extremely shady, a lot of bloggers have called them out (please read the linked posts above) and they reached out to too many bloggers to review and push product. This caused them to get overwhelmed and get behind which is why I got my packages later than expected and they did not have enough staff to handle the influx of returns and exchanges.

So far I do like what I see of Ellie, but I am not sure I will keep a membership, the fact that I received two random items sort of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I have addressed it with Hope and will update when I get a response.

I do want to address that just because I am a blogger I do not get special treatment, I have seen this posted from commenters on other posts and the pv.body/Ellie facebook page. My packages have been delayed, my items have been wrong, etc…

If you would like to try out Ellie – click on the link. I am interested in your experiences so let me know in the comments, did you like what you got, hate it?

WIAW: Weekend Snacks & a cookie recipe

This weekend was full of new recipes and treats. I made the traditional corned beef and cabbage. I also tried my hand at Guinness cupcakes with a baileys cream cheese frosting. I made almond flour cookies and we tried a new at home popcorn recipe.

I was contacted by Swanson Health Products to try some of their products.

The first product was California Almond Flour. I have wanted to try almond flour for a very long time. The first thing I made was a coconut chocolate chip almond flour cookie.

First you need almond flour, obviously.

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Mix:

1 1/2 cups of almond flour

1/2 cup unsweetned coconut

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/4 tsp of salt

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In a separate bowl mix:

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp of vanilla

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then add 3/4 cup of chocolate chips.

I used a meatball baller to make the cookies, and placed them on an ungreased cookie sheet. I put them in the oven at 350F for approximately 10 minutes.

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The cookies essentially kept their shape and tasted like toasted macaroons, I honestly wouldn’t know that they were made with almond flour instead of regular flour. I won’t lie, every single cookie is gone. In the future I can only make these when we have guests or else I will eat every single one.

In good news they are only 89 calories per cookie.

The other product I tried was coconut oil. Nick has been after me for almost a year to get some. The only place I can find it around here is Whole Foods, and it is so expensive there. So, I jumped at the chance to get it from Swanson.

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The reason Nick wanted it was for popcorn. We have a whirly-pop

So we always make our own popcorn, Nick however is the type of guy who researches everything, including popcorn. He read that it was best to use coconut oil instead of regular olive oil. Seriously this is the best popcorn I have ever had. I don’t think I will ever be able to eat movie theater popcorn again. I don’t think it needs any extra butter or salt.

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I can’t wait to make other delicious items with the coconut oil.

Lastly, I made a Guinness cupcake with bailey’s cream cheese frosting.

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Recipe for the cupcake, baked oatmeal and a coconut flour biscuit to come next week!

And of course everything is better with this guy around.

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All products were provided by Swanson Health products, all opinions are my own.

Almost Wordless Wednesday: New Bakery

Today I decided to try a new bakery in Arlington, Cakes Bakery and Cafe. I picked out 2 cupcakes, Turtle for Nick, Red Velvet for me and a Lemon Bar for lunch time.I unfortunately did not get a picture of the lemon bar, but let me tell you, it was FANTASTIC. It is without a doubt the best lemon bar I have ever had. My biggest gripe is that most lemon bars are way to sweet. This bar had the balance of sweet and tart and the crust wasn’t too hard.

I will say in terms of the cupcakes, I put them in the fridge, I really like my cupcakes cold if I don’t eat them right at the bakery, and there was a sign in the bakery specifically stating that the cupcakes taste best at room temperature. Now on to the cupcakes!

Turtle:
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Chocolate Cupcake with a caramel drizzle inside and chocolate frosting and walnuts on top. I had a few bites, and the chocolate cake was super moist. I am not a huge fan of chocolate frosting, but this was pretty good, Nick said it was almost fudge-like, which I will definitely agree with, maybe that’s why I liked it. In Nick’s words “it was delicious”.

Red Velvet:
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If you know me at all you know my favorite flavor is red velvet, and I will always judge any bakery or dessert place by it’s red velvet. Like I said earlier, I refrigerated the cupcakes and I think that probably attributed to the red velvet cake being a little dry. The frosting on the other hand was out of this world, I would eat it by the spoonful. I also liked the sugar crystals, they added a nice texture to the cupcake. I would definitely try this again, at the room temperature suggestion.

Overall, I would recommend this bakery. They also have locations in Milton and Watertown, as well as a large sandwich and coffee menu.