Honey Roasted Cinnamon Wink Almond Butter

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried making your own nut butter before, but once you go homemade…you pretty much don’t go back. I still like my Barney Butter and Maranatha, but they just can’t top the from-scratch stuff.

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You guys have probably noticed how I’ve been drooling over that whipped cinnamon honey I picked up recently at the farmer’s market. I basically use it as much as I can.

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Many of you guessed that I actually used the whipped cinnamon honey in the almond butter I made. I actually only used the flavor combo for inspiration. I didn’t use any of the actual whipped cinnamon honey.

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Somehow, I was thinking about how much I liked the whipped cinnamon honey…

…and then I thought about how honey roasted peanuts used to be my absolute favorite style of nut to eat when I was kid…

…and then I thought about how awesome honey roasted almonds (since I like almonds better than peanuts) would be…

…and then if I just blended those honey roasted almonds up and added in the cinnamon from my inspiration honey…

…I’d get something pretty awesome.

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I thought about blending up already honey roasted peanuts, but I really wanted almond butter…not to mention I wanted to be able to control the ingredients myself. I researched honey roasted almonds online and all the recipes I found seemed to stem from this recipe, which actually roasted the almonds and then did a glaze in a saute pan with lots of added sugar. I decided to try something different by using as little added sugar as possible and doing the whole cooking process in the oven.

As soon as I had enough free time, I excitedly gathered my ingredients.

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The process was actually pretty hands-off and easy. Total prep time was about 30 minutes, but with only about 5-10 minutes of the total as hands-on time.

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You just whisk up your glaze ingredients.

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Get your almonds together.

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Coat almonds in the glaze.

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And bake your almonds for about 12-15 minutes.

(Let me tell you…your kitchen will smell absolutely heavenly as they roast away! Mmm)

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While your almonds bake and then while they cool, you can prep your storage containers…or read blogs…or a book…or watch TV. Whatevs.

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Once your almonds are completely cool (I waited an hour just because I was working on other things, but you could probably check sooner), you just blend everything up. The blending takes at least 10 minutes, so you could set a timer and multi-task again while your food processor does all the heavy lifting. Just stop the processing and scrape the sides of the bowl down once in awhile.

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And then…you have this deliciousness to enjoy!

Honey Roasted Cinnamon Wink Almond Butter

This Not So Sweet almond butter is so good, it made my non-oatmeal-enjoying hubby happily scarf down a whole bowl the other day when I topped some oats with it. The flavor is lightly sweet with just a wink (a hint) of cinnamon to it. One thing I dislike about store-bought nut butters is that the sweet ones are often too sweet. So, I made this one with just a wink of honey. If you’d prefer your almond butter sweeter or the flavor more cinnamon-y, feel free to add more of either ingredient to suit your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almonds, whole and raw
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil (or other non-flavored oil, like canola, etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Stir in almonds and continue stirring to almonds are evenly coated. Pour almonds onto prepared baking dish and spread to an even layer.
  4. Bake almonds for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almonds are golden-brown and glaze has darkened slightly. Once done, set almonds aside to cool to room temperature (Note – I waited an hour, but I was multitasking-it while the almonds were cooling – you may be able to use them sooner).
  5. Once almonds are cool, pour them into a food processor bowl and process for 12-14 minutes, or until almond butter has reached your desired texture. Stop the processing occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula (I also found I needed to scrape the bottom of the food processor because some slightly larger bits were sticking there). Note: I stopped my processing around 10 minutes and the texture was pretty liquid-y, but I decided to go 2 more minutes to be sure.
  6. Optional step: Do a taste test of the almond butter. If you want it sweeter, then add 1 teaspoon of honey and process to combine. Repeat until almond butter reaches desired sweetness. Ditto to the cinnamon, if you want a strong cinnamon flavor, but I’d only add 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Remember, as my mom likes to say…you can always add more honey or cinnamon in, but you can’t take it out! ;)

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Enjoy your homemade almond butter over oatmeal, spread on toast, on an almond butter and jelly sandwich, or on banana slices. ;)

Individual Apple Breakfast Cakes + Shop Till You Drop

Ahh, my first free day from work. I expected to have a million things queued up to make, but this morning, I puttered around a bit trying to figure out something interesting to make. It’s not every day you have as much time as you want to do something creative for breakfast.

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In addition to not having a plan, I also didn’t have a lot of ingredients. I decided to combine pantry items with fresh fruit…the only fruit being apples and bananas. I’ve done bananas a few times, so I turned my attention to the apples. I recently made that quick apple topping, so I chose to do something different…something…baked?

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I decided to do a play on my apple topping as a layer in a breakfast cake, but individual-sized so it would bake faster. I did something silly and decided to just mix stuff up and see what happened.

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I crossed my fingers as I put everything together and pushed my creation into the oven. As the timer ticked by, I kept expecting to pull a monster mixture or raw dough or who knows what.

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To my surprise, the end result was not only edible, but it tasted pretty good, too!

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Individual Apple Breakfast Cakes

Traditional cake lovers may hate this recipe. Personally, I don’t really like cakes that are so sweet they give you headaches when you eat them, so this recipe has a lot less sugar than most cakes. This cake is also lacking in the butter department, so it’s not as rich-tasting but still has a nice fluffy texture. If you like richer, sweeter cakes, you may want to up the sugar and butter amounts, though I’m not sure how that would affect the texture. To make extra healthy, try subbing whole grain flours.

Serves 2, makes 4 individual cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 apple, chopped small (I left skins on for nutrition, but you may get a smoother texture if you remove them)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, another 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg or flaxseed egg
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened, but not melted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • sliced almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 4 cups of a muffin pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine apple, water, maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon in a small pot and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or till apples are tender. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  4. In a medium bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Whisk/stir in milk, egg, and vanilla till combined.
  5. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined, careful to not overmix.
  6. Fill bottom half of 4 cups in a prepared muffin tin with cake mixture. Use finger to smooth to cover bottom. Batter will be a bit thick.
  7. Evenly distribute cooked apples into the 4 muffin cups.
  8. Evenly distribute the rest of the cake batter over the apples. Smooth/spread as needed.
  9. If you’re using a nut topping, add that to the top.
  10. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  12. Enjoy!

***

After breakfast, I worked on some stuff around the house and then met up with Michelle at the mall to get my Christmas shopping. Somehow, I’ve waited till the last minute to buy…all my Christmas presents. Oy vay!

Here are some photos from our shopping adventure…ok just the food. :lol: Excuse the crappy iPhone photos.

We first stopped by Banana Republic where they had an extra 40% off sale items till 2pm. I used to love clothes shopping, but since getting the house about a year ago, I’ve cut waaaay back. I’ve been able to restrain myself from buying lot of clothes…till today. But hey, I’ve worked hard this year, so I think I’ve earned a little shopping spree. Especially considering the fab deals I was getting!

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After BR, Michelle and I broke for lunch at Blynk – the organic food place at the mall. Thank goodness for Blynk!

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I had a half simple turkey sandwich and white bean soup with water. This was way better than your typical food court fare. I loved the soup especially.

Then, it was back to the races!

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We met up with Jen for the last half of the shopping day.

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Michelle, Jen and I hit up California Pizza Kitchen for dinner.

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We split this field green salad 3 ways. Loved this – from the walnuts to the dressing.

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And I got the BBQ Chicken Pizza for the main event. I saved half for hubby, which he enjoyed when I got home.

We ended up spending almost an entire day at the mall, but I’m happy to report that my Christmas shopping is DONE-ZO! I have a couple wee items to pick up, but the main event is over. Phew! We really did the whole “shop till you drop” thing. I guess that’s the price you pay when you wait till the last minute to go shopping.

I was really dreading Christmas shopping this year (the crowds, the craziness!) but it was sooo much better with friends! I actually had a blast!

Do you like Christmas/holiday shopping or do you dread it?

Carob Cherry Oatmeal + Busy Signs

Have you tried carob oatmeal yet?!

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Do itttttt! It’s divine! If you’re getting sick of oatmeal, add a teaspoon of ground carob to your oats and it will give your bowl of oats a whole new flavor!

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Today, I made Carob-Cherry Oatmeal. Nom!

I’ve had a couple requests for how to cook oatmeal, so I’m going to break it down today. :)

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Carob-Cherry Oatmeal

For 2 people who like small oatmeal portions

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp carob powder (ground)
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds, optional
  • 6 seeded and halved cherries
  • sprinkle of sliced almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine oats, water, milk, chia seeds, carob powder and agave in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Heat mixture till thickened to your preference, careful to not boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve in bowls and add cherries on top with any additional toppings you want.
  4. Enjoy!

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Lunch was super weak. I was planning to go to the grocery store first thing this morning, but instead of being off, I had to work! :( I scrounged around in the freezer to come up with this: a TJ’s soy “corn dog”, a corn muffin (re-baked from a frozen batch), and peas.

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For a snack, I had a micro-baked sweet potato with a dab of real butter and a wee bit of brown sugar.

Then, it was time for ZUMBA! I was super tired in class today. I think it’s because I was stressed about work today and not doing a great job of hydrating. Doh! I downed a coconut water pretty fast near the beginning of class and was actually feeling more energized towards the end of the class than the beginning. Guess that stuff really works!

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Hubby cooked dinner tonight – a little concoction of his own. Bulgogi over brown rice.

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For dessert, we had cookies we got from our neighbor! Woohoo! Our first neighborly perk. :)

Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve had a day off with nothing major to do. I have a million things I could be doing, but I’m just not sure where to start! I feel like I’ve waited so long to have a free day of my very own. Normally, I feel like I rush from one to-do to another, barely accomplishing the must-dos (work, eat, sleep, Zumba, blog) in a day. Now that I have a free day, I’m so excited! I just have so many ideas I’ve wanted to execute and fun things I’ve wanted to do for so long that I want to do ALL of them! I am trying to get organized, though. I actually have a to-do list I’ve started and am hoping to share tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a funny little list that I put together about being busy all the time.

Top 5 Signs You’re Too Busy

  1. Your email inbox has more than 1000 unread emails (ok, maybe closer to 5000…yikes!)
  2. You’ve waited 2 years to buy a laptop so you don’t have to rely on your desktop and can work away from home. You got your laptop 2 weeks ago. You haven’t had the chance to even crack open the box.
  3. You find yourself blogging half asleep after midnight because it’s the only time you can do it.
  4. Your clean laundry sits in piles on your couch because you haven’t had time to fold it yet.
  5. Your significant other asks when they can see you again…and you live with them.

Reader question #1: What’s your sign you’re too busy?

Reader question #2: What do you like to do with your days off from work?

Cherry Almond French Toast

Booyah!

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Best use of cherries to date…fo sho! :)

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I was feeling french toast today. Besides toast + almond butter, toast + egg is a great way to get whole grains (assuming you’re using a good bread) and protein.

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Bread of choice – Great Harvest honey whole wheat.

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Toppings = real maple syrup, sliced almonds and organic cherries. Nomalicious!

I really should have french toast more often!

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Remember this garden photo from several weeks ago?

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Just look at it now! It’s really getting big!

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I tried to plant beets in my front 2 boxes. Unfortunately they either died or were eaten by pests. :(

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So, last weekend I planted some more of my tri-color green beans! The seedlings are just starting to push through the ground.

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This one will see sun very soon! So neat how plants push their way through the earth.

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This sight makes me happy – yellow tomato plant flowers aka future tomatoes I can EAT! lol

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Most of the flowers around the yard are doing really well, too! Hazzah!

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I love my dahlias.

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This photo would look really good printed and framed and hanging in our house!

What are your favorite French toast toppings?

DIY Zumba Top + Goji Berry Banana Smoothie

Nothing like dancing in the morning to put you in a happy mood for the rest of the day, right?

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I have some new songs I’d like to learn how to lead, so I try to practice them every once in awhile when I have a free moment. I thought going over one this morning to wake up and get my blood flowing was a good idea. I think it was! I’m doing Break Your Heart by Taio Cruz. ;)

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We need to do some serious grocery shopping, produce-wise. With a shortage of fruits in the house, I decided to make some energy bite oatmeal using an Energy Bite I had stowed away in the freezer.

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Coffee + oatmeal

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Other ingredients: 1/2 milk, 1/2 water, chia seeds, sliced almonds, flaxseed meal and Galaxy Granola (*).

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So cozy, so perfect in the morning!

I got to WFH today, which means better than normal eats.

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I made me and hubby Goji Berry Banana smoothies (2 frozen bananas, small handful dried goji berries, milk till consistency was to liking).

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His was prettier because I added some green-colored Vega Health Optimizer in vanilla chai to mine.

Mine tasted darn good, though! I thought it tasted like frosting!!!!

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I cooked up some tofu for lunch. Nasoya cubed – so you don’t have to press it.

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I chopped up my marinated kale from yesterday (still too much marinade!) and set it on a paper towel to soak up some of that extra marinade.

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I topped it with some steamed broccoli.

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And I hoped the bland broccoli would help balance the overly flavored kale. It worked out pretty good, but I still prefer my broccoli with just some melted butter.

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Lunch was pretty fab, though it was on the light side.

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I carbed up with a couple handfuls of pretzels…

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…a piece of orange marmalade toast…

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…and a piece of Barney Butter toast with chia seeds. Yea…I like toast. A lot! :) It helps when you’re short on time and need groceries. :lol:

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I also got to finish my Honest Tea today – this stuff is yum-o!

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I got a cool sample in the mail today: Lighter Living Probiotic Bars (*). Neat-o! I like how these seem to be a non-dairy source of probiotics. I mean, Id need to look at the ingredient list again (I think they have a yogurt topping), because they might contain some dairy, but it’s not like you have to eat a cup of yogurt for the beneficial probiotics. The ingredient list is almost (if not) all organic and looks to have some good stuff, including dates as the first ingredient. I love dates!

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I got 3 different flavors: Chocolate, Lemon Poppyseed, Apricot Coconut. They all sound amazing – I can’t wait to dig in!

DIY De-Constructed Zumba Top

I took a cue from my Z Life Magazine and decided to go a la Tanya and cut up a tank top. Since this would be my first cutting experiment, I decided to test out something on the cheaper side. Unfortunately, the cheapest thing I could find was an $8 tank top from Target…too much money to throw away in the event my cutting experiment failed, but it turned out okay. Woohoo!

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I gathered my materials – tank top, scissors, rotary cutter, chalk pencil, mat, guide.

I actually put on my tank top so I could see how far up the side to start making cuts and where in the front to do the diagonal cuts. I eyeballed some marks with my chalk and figured I’d clean them up once I could use a straight line.

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First, I cut some slits down the side. I made 5 cuts, each measured 1 inch apart.

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I decided to convert the tank top to a halter top. You can check out this tutorial (click) to see how I did this. I basically went straight along the top of the back.

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I did the diagonal cuts – drawing the lines, then making the cuts. I spaced these by an inch also. It seemed to be good spacing for the cut lines.

I did 2 rows of the diagonal cuts – a lower section of 3 and an upper section of 3.

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Guess I should have gotten some photos in class, eh? Oh well, these will have to do.

Vega Sport Pre-Workout Drink Mix

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I tested out my other Vega Sport Natural Plant-Based Performance Optimizer today. This one was the same as the other, but a different flavor – Acai Berry.

I actually have a really fun experiment/case study/test planned with this stuff…details soon!

Here are some photos of the packaging for the curious:

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I swear this stuff really works! I think I need to buy a jug! Can’t wait to see how my experiment with this product works out.

Oh and I definitely prefer the Acai Berry flavor to the Lemon Lime. The Acai was less grassy and more berry-licious!

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Hubby and I went out after my workout to see my friend Dana. I wore too-tall heels when I should have worn flip flops or something. I have more fun when I can walk easier. :lol: Though we didn’t stay out long, it was good to get out and see our friends!

Hmm…now…what to eat for tomorrow morning? Is it sad that I’m already thinking about what yummy things I can eat for breakfast? I think not! ;)

Reader Question: Are you more concerned with how you look or how comfortable you are when you go out (with friends, for dinner, etc)? Which is more important – fashion or comfort?

Bonus reader question: Do you have any de-constructed DIY tops like my cut-up zumba top? Send me your photos! thechiclife at gmail dot com. The cutting bug has caught me and I’m itching to snip up another top soon…I need inspiration!

Vega Sport Performance Optimizer Review + Breakup Recovery Week

Waste not, want not!

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I had half a leftover Flying Biscuit pancake this morning with more yummy peach topping, a fried cage-free egg and nice, hot coffee.

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I celebrated Starbucks Monday with a grande vanilla soy latte. I had to re-charge my card…using my Starbucks card gets me discounts on the syrup and soy upgrades. Actually, they’re free with the card! :)

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For lunch #1, I had a turkey sandwich on Great Harvest WW with romaine and dijon mustard. I planned to eat my sandwich first strategically. The reason? As I learned recently, meat and gluten are hard for your body to digest. Your body uses energy to digest food…this energy could be energy your body could put towards other things like exercise, and I wanted all the energy I could have for my post-work workout.

Plus yerba mate tea.

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Lunch #2 was easier on the body to digest – a strawberry salad: romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, SC strawberries, almonds, and Trader Joe’s poppyseed dressing.

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Odwalla Strawberry Pomegranate Odwalla bar.

Vega Sport Natural Plant-Based Performance Optimizer

Post work, I had a wonderful workout planned – ZUMBA!

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But, before my workout, I had an exciting experiment to kick-off – sampling one of the Vega Sport Natural Plant-Based Performance Optimizer packets (*)!! I decided to try out the lemon lime flavor first.

According to myvega.com, this optimizer has many features & benefits:

  • Immediate and sustaining energy
  • Increases endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacity
  • Enhances mental focus and motor performance
  • Reduces stress and enhances immune system function
  • Replenishes electrolytes lost during exercise
  • Reduces inflammation, joint and muscle pain
  • Improves body composition and reduces body fat
  • Supports healthy weight management

I often start feeling tired during my zumba classes. I’ve tried everything to give myself more energy:

  • stay hydrated
  • hydrate well the day before
  • eat a good pre-workout snack
  • avoiding heavy meals beforehand

Some days these things work (I think they’re good to do anyways), but often times I still find myself tired! Very frustrating!

So, today, I was extra happy to be testing out this energy boosting pre-workout drink.

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The package even matched my zumba pants!! :lol:

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Nutrition – only 70 calories.

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Add the dry mix to water, shake, and enjoy! The mix looked a lot like the health optimizer stuff I’ve been enjoying, but it tasted totally different – more tangy. I sort of expected it to taste like gatorade…not sure why. It didn’t. I won’t say I loved the flavor, but I I think it may have been because I was expecting something different. I can see myself growing to love it, though. It’s not too sweet and is smooth (not gritty).

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Bottoms up!

The gym where we had our work-out was MUGGGGGGYYYY from all the rain we had today. Did I mention the gym doesn’t have AC? Yep…the environment conditions themselves made the workout hard…let alone being tired from working a 9 hour day.

The Result: I was surprised at how effective the drink was. I’m sure a lot of things factor into energy levels beyond just energy drinks. I had hydrated well all day. I had eaten healthy meals earlier and given my body plenty of time to digest the food. But I was feeling a bit drained from work and from the heat and humidity in the air. Still, I had a steady stream of energy throughout class. Some days I start feeling tired during class and I wonder if it’s almost over. Today, I just enjoyed every minute and put my attention towards dancing and having FUN! It was awesome.

I have another sport performance optimizer packet to sample, so I can’t wait to see if the results are the same. I sure hope they are!

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I whipped up a quick dinner at home – lemon garlic sauteed shrimp, steamed broccoli and that 3 grain blend TJ’s pilaf I picked up Saturday. That pilaf is good stuff! I loved the chewy textures of the different grains and the box made a TON. We have lots of leftovers, so I’m hoping to use them later in the week. Yum Yum!

Hubby and I enjoyed dinner whilst watching Twilight – New Moon and as I finished up some projects. Can you believe I waited this long to see that movie? It seems like everyone raved about it when it came out. I thought it was pretty good, though a little teenager-y-sappy.

Breakup Recovery Week

I have a friend, who will remain anonymous, who is recovering from a recent break-up. So, to help them out, I’ve decided to post some breakup recovery tips that you guys send in. I’ll be posting your tips all week. So far, I’ve received a few via twitter and some others via email. If you have a breakup recovery tip to share, please leave it in the comment section and I’ll try to blog it later this week.

Here are today’s tips:

  • @Zoziku – Plan a vacation to look forward to. And do something she’s always wanted to do to her hair :)
  • @healthyashley – Get a pedicure! Write down a list of all you want in a future partner.
  • @possiblymaybe – I would take this opportunity to assess what you really want out of a partner. Then spoil yourself silly with a massage, facial, pedicure and a fun evening out with your girl friends.
  • @karathon – Your poor friend :( surrounding yourself w/ tons of supportive friends is my best recommendation! Also ice cream helps :)

If you tweeted or emailed me tips and you don’t see them, I’m probably saving them for tomorrow!!

If you have some breakup recovery tips to share, please, I encourage you to leave them in the comments section and I’ll add them to blog posts throughout the week.

Tidbits

Check out this interesting article I stumbled upon by WSJ on gardens saving people money.

I read about a neat house-organization trick in my Real Simple the other day – Game 29 or “29 Pickup” as I like to call it. The concept – pick up 29 things every day. 29 should be subbed out for your age if you want to play along. I’m hoping to incorporate this little game into my every day life to help me get things together. I played 29 Pickup last night and it was surprisingly simple and effective.

Good night everyone! :D

Be sure to leave your break-up recovery tips in the comments (or submit them via the Contact page).

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