Eat in Month 2014 Challenge

Are you ready? It’s time for the fifth annual Eat in Month (EIM) challenge! Woohoo! EIM is a great way to start the new year – with eating healthier and saving money by simply eating in.  Easy, right? I’ll share some helpful posts throughout the month, so check back for more tips and recipes. I’ll also be adding some additional notes and reminders over on my Facebook page, so be sure to like The Chic Life on Facebook to get your hands on those goodies.

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks, coffee…whatever you choose!) “in”. The goal is to eat “in” more than you did before January to save money and eat healthy meals & snacks.

How to Play

  • Challenge starts January 1, 2013 and ends January 31, 2013.
  • The most important rule is to tailor the challenge to fit you best. Can’t play a whole month? Play one week or two. Still want to get coffees out? Go for it. We’ll each have our own tailored version of the challenge, and that’s great! Here are the rest of the main guidelines, but again, adjust as you need:
  • Cook or prepare all meals at home. If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat.
  • Traveling? Some people choose to extend the challenge by one day for each day you are traveling (and need to eat out). Some choose to just exclude those days from the challenge. Your challenge, your rules. Play as you see fit.
  • Drinks – coffees to cocktails – decide whether these count in the challenge or not for you. Some people just focus on the food. Some people do both. In past years, I’ve been very strict and wouldn’t even get Starbucks in January. But, I think this year, my focus will be on the food – meals and snacks.
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts. Some people consider eating at a grocery store (think hot bar or cafe) eating out, while some consider it “in” since it’s a grocery store. It’s up to you! I’ve had meals at my local health food store for lunch in the past, and they usually only cost about $6.99. They’re healthy and a good deal, so you can choose if these are “in” or “out”.
  • If you want to err on the strict side, then grocery-store-prepared dishes are okay if they accompany a meal put together at home. Example of acceptable use of grocery-store-prepped item: you want to eat sandwiches this week but don’t have anything to go with them. You pick up some bean salad at the grocery store deli to go with your lunch. Another example: you want to make chicken salad sandwiches, but you don’t have or want to buy all the ingredients. You buy grocery-store-prepped chicken salad, take it home, make sandwiches and enjoy lunch.
  • Frozen meals can be eaten “in”.
  • You get one cheat pass – one meal (preferably not a whole day) you can eat out during the month of January.


  • Get your pantry ready – I find it easiest to give in to take-out when I don’t have anything already at the house to cook. Stock your pantry with some quick-fix meals so you’ll be less tempted to go for take-out. Click here to read my Eat in Month Pantry Tips + Ideas post
  • Have snacks ready – If I’m hungry at work, especially when there are lots of quick options around, it’s easy for me to take a 15 minute walk to pick up a snack. By keeping snacks in my desk and in the office fridge, I can just eat those instead of seeking snacks elsewhere. Click here to read about my favorite snacks to keep at the office.
  • Plan ahead – Prep your pantry, create a meal plan for the week. If you have a meal schedule ready, you’ll be more likely to stick to what you already planned ahead to prep/cook/eat. You’ll probably also utilize those leftovers more efficiently, too!
  • Have quick meals in your back pocket – Go ahead and jot down 5-10 quick meals you can throw together using pantry & staple items. Use this list when you’re hungry, out of energy, and out of time. Try to keep your pantry, fridge, etc stocked with a couple of the items needed for these quick meal so you’ll always have something to eat when you’re in a bind. Think frozen ravioli, jarred sauce, and frozen vegetables, etc.
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook gourmet meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it as often as you’d like. Allow yourself to put together simple meals, even if it’s heating up a frozen dinner. We know you may have better intentions, but just do the best you can. Sometimes the simplest meals (spaghetti anyone?) are the best.
  • Make the better choice – Sometimes it’s about making the better choice, not the perfect one. Click here to read my post on this topic.
  • Bulk Bins – Check out the bulk bins for stocking your pantry. Click here to read my how-to on working the bulk bins.
  • I’ll be posting additional tips and tricks on the blog, as well as, on my Facebook page.
  • I created this Pinterest board (click) to share meal and snack inspiration – currently there are pins from last year’s challenge, but I’ll be adding more soon.

The Badge

Here’s the 2014 challenge badge – feel free to copy the code below to use this badge on your site or blog:

You can use the following code to add this banner to your site/blog:

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The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

Have a blog? If you’d like, post photos and/or descriptions of your meals. If you have a food blog, you very well may be doing a food diary already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post a few of mine throughout the month. If you do a post about the challenge (your approach, tips, meal plans, etc.), let me know, and I’ll link to you here.
If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.


Thank you so much for reading! And for those doing the challenge, thank you so much for joining in. This wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you doing the challenge, too!

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If January is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! :)

Christmas Part Deux 2013


I hope you all had wonderful holidays this year!

We spent the first half of our Christmas celebrations with hubby’s family in Durham, NC, where we helped Santa bring the tree for the kiddos on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, I caught a 24 hour bug of some sorts and ended up sick on Christmas, so I didn’t take any photos from the day. I slept through a lot of the day, but I did get to partake in two of the key family events – Christmas morning and Christmas dinner. I definitely didn’t want to miss hubby’s family (especially the kids!) opening their presents or catching up with his extended family.


We headed to Greenville the day after Christmas for part deux of our celebrations.


By this point, I was not feeling 100%, but I definitely felt a lot better!


Bailey, on the other hand, had an absolute blast.


He got to open a ton of presents…



…and this year my family even got him his own stocking with a “B” on it. So cute!



I think he was feeling a bit like the Happy Bunny – “It’s all about me. Deal with it.”


Mom made me some of her famous Get Well Soup (which I’ve blogged about before – click here for the recipe).


We ended up having to push our Christmas dinner back a couple days (since I’m easing my way back to food), which I feel bad about, but better late than never, right? I’m just so thankful we’ve been able to spend so many days with each of our families. It’s so nice to have some good down time with the people we love to end the year.

A Christmas Eve Tradition


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…


…in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…with presents…and a Christmas tree. Yup, a tree! In hubby’s family, they have a unique tradition that Santa brings not only the presents, but the tree, too!


So, us elves had a busy night on Christmas Eve, decorating the tree from head to toe.





I love these lights. I actually think I saw this candle-looking bulb at the start of the opening choir scene of Home Alone 2!







Merry Christmas to all those celebrating!

Does anyone else have a unique Christmas or Christmas Eve tradition?

#auctionforPH Grand Total


I’m so very excited to share that we worked together to raise $3,125 via the #auctionforPH (an online auction and bake sale hosted here on The Chic Life) to help the Philippines!

I’m so proud to be a part of this endeavor and to have worked with so many great people on this. This was such a beautiful, collaborative effort, bringing together food and healthy living bloggers and their family, friends, co-workers, and readers.

Grand Total and Other Numbers


Most of the donations were a direct result of the items up for bid in the auction, but we also received additional donations and company matching that brought the total up by quite a bit.

I also donated my ad money for the day before, of, and after for the auction, plus a little extra for good measure.

Every little bit added up to quite the total!


Here’s a breakdown of the donations:


Support Team

This auction wouldn’t have been possible without donations from many generous bloggers and individuals. If you have a moment, please show these blogs and businesses some love to thank them for their support:

Bloggers and Friends:

Charlotte Businesses:


If you’d like to share this post or info, I’ve created a special badge you can use.

Just copy this code and add it to your site.

You can use the following code to share this banner:

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Thank you again to everyone who donated their time, energy, and support. From participating in the auction, bidding on goodies, making donations, and helping spread the word, every little bit helped this auction be a success. Thank you!!!

Insta-Chic {Recent Zumba Outfits, #eatinmonth Prep, and Vacation}


This is what I’m ready for…



Any other workaholics out there? I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, but I tend to push-push-push myself as hard and fast as I can go to get all the things done that I want to do in a day. Work has been a little extra crazy, too. My project had a spike in activity, and that, combined with the right-before-you-go-on-vacation need to get all the last minute things done, has me ready for a break. It reminds me a bit of taking a really intense course in college – you bust your a$$ all year with an extra push to cram for exams at the end of the year and finally…Christmas break is on, and you can let go. I feel like I need to take a deep breath out. Phew!


As for shopping…

I went to the mall last weekend to finalize my Christmas shopping. I got almost everything I needed in about an hour and even managed to find this Naked 3 palette still in stock. After grabbing what I thought was the last one (there were more in another part of the store), I decided to take a look at the Naked 2, which I totally ignored when it came out since I still had so much of the #1 palette left. With the help of Tony, the nice associate who helped me, we decided that 2 was actually a better fit. The 3 palette has a lot of pink in it, and that doesn’t mesh well with my skin since it has some redness going on these days. I really wanted to take 2 home with me, especially since I had my $20 off $50 VIB discount, but I needed to use that discount for a Christmas gift for someone else. I added the 2 to my Christmas wish list instead. We’ll see if Santa brings it!


Here are some of my recent Zumba outfits – I finally wore this pink and black number I purchased at Zumba Convention this summer. The sweat pants were a little too hot to wear earlier in the year, but I’ve been rocking the tank top on the regular. It’s one of my current faves.


And here are my “crazy pants.” I got these patterned pants at American Apparel, and I was inspired to purchase them after seeing them on Mega Jam. I love Jasmine’s dancing and style!


I’m working hard to not let my fifth annual Eat in Month challenge sneak up on me. I haven’t started stocking up yet, but I have purchased a couple things to sample ahead of time. This frozen chicken pot pie from Trader Joe’s is a good buy. I had this for a last minute dinner recently, and it was really good for frozen food. I prefer fresh, but sometimes shortcuts are helpful.


I also need to remember to start making some more homemade soup. I love freezing these soup leftovers because they’re so much better than canned soup. I haven’t had canned soup in years now, and I don’t miss it one bit. I like to make big batches and label them with contents and a date.


The last week of work was a big food fest. I love how people start sharing food with each other at the office. My one co-worker brought us a bunch of locally baked croissants from Fourth Ward Bread Company, and they were so flaky, buttery, and delicious.


I decided to make a contribution to my teammates and co-workers by making batch of chocolate chip dough balls after work and teaching Zumba earlier in the week. They were a big hit. One co-worker even said I could sell them, he liked them so much, which made me happy to hear. I won’t be selling them any time soon, but you can make them with the chocolate chip dough balls recipe, which is online here.


As for today…today was my first day of vacation. I’m off work for the rest of the year! Woohoo! I started the day by trying to sleep in, moving slowly, and spoiling Bailey with a couple extra “just because” treats.


And then I went with my friend Summer to 7th Street Market for breakfast and coffee. I had a sesame seed bagel from Local Loaf, which they kindly warmed for me in their oven and served with butter.


And then Summer and I made our way down to Not Just Coffee to try their Winter Lattes – slightly spicy, chocolatey deliciousness! You gotta try one while they’re here. We loved those lattes! Coffee was followed by lunch homemade by Summer herself – roasted squash soup. Yum! She’s a talented cook and is in the process of writing a cookbook. You can check out her blog to stay apprised of cookbook updates and to hear when it’s ready. Her recipes are delicious for everyone, but she specializes in allergy-friendly cooking.

After my day of playing, I went out to wrap up Christmas shopping and run errands. And tonight, I’m getting things done before we leave town to visit family. I’m doing the last of my gift wrapping, taking care of laundry, and soon, I’ll be packing. I can’t wait for some R&R and quality time with our families. Soooooo ready for Christmas vacation this year!

Happy holidays everyone!

Christmas Decorating and Bailey Claus 2013


We put our Christmas decorations up last week, which meant we had to put Bailey’s Bailey Claus outfit on for the first time this year. All the Christmas things get packed and unpacked together, so inevitably, Bailey watches us put ornaments on the tree with his holiday costume on…every year. Yup.



The decorating wouldn’t be complete without holiday tunes (we played the Christmas station on Pandora) and fresh baked cookies. I tried adding some peanut butter and flaxseed meal to my emergency cookies, and the result was okay, but not blog-worthy. They fit the bill for that night, though.


The large star lantern we picked up at IKEA is quickly becoming a favorite for me.





I made these Snow Wo-Men ornaments a few years ago using styrofoam balls and Martha Stewart glitter. The eyes and mouth are made with seed beads. The flower is felt. The “scarf” is yarn, and the nose was hand-formed using bead clay. I made six of these wo-men, and I just love unpacking them from the ornament box.




I have one week left of work, and then I’m taking vacation for the rest of the year. Thursday is my Friday, so the countdown starts (pretty much) now!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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