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

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This is what I’m ready for…

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R&R!

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

Insta-Chic {#auctionforPH Goodies, Baking Begins, and Eats Lately}

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The holidays snuck up on me this year. I’m guessing the same thing happened to many people since Thanksgiving was so late this year. I’m really behind on Christmas shopping (read: I haven’t bought anything…well…maybe one gift), and I’m going to a holiday party tomorrow, and I haven’t purchased a thing for it. We have no decorations up yet, and I haven’t seen a single holiday movie so far. Nonetheless, I’m really excited it’s holiday time, and we’re getting into things this weekend.

We’ve decided to purchase less gifts this year, so I have less shopping to do, and I’m planning on wearing the same dress I wore to last year’s party to this year’s party. It’s a fashion faux pas, but I don’t care. I love that dress, and I don’t mind saving the money. We’re hoping to put our decorations up later this weekend, and I have plans to see Christmas movies on Sunday. All in due time…

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In the meantime, I’ve enjoyed seeing #auctionforPH updates on twitter and Instagram, and I’ve even received a couple of the goodies I won. Here are my winning treats from Erica of Itzy’s Kitchen – almond butter chocolate chunk cookies and mini muffins (a surprise bonus). I actually won these cookies before, so I knew they’d be delicious! Hubby and I have eaten almost half the box already. I had some of the muffins for breakfast on Thursday and froze the rest to enjoy later.

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My friend Leslie made this beautiful breakfast basket earlier this week with freshly baked apple bread, homemade jams, mugs, apples, and local coffee.

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Winning bidder Lindsey got to take that basket of goodness home on Thursday after Zumba class. Color me jealous!

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I cracked open a fresh bag of King Arthur’s unbleached all purpose flour – my favorite AP. Who’s ready for some holiday baking?

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I’ve made a few batches of dough balls recently, but molasses cookies always make me think of Christmas. I whipped up a batch of the molasses cookies from the latest Bon Appétit magazine. They were SO good! Great recipe! The smell of the cinnamon and spices made my house smell like December.

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My parents sent me home post-Thanksgiving with a bunch of vegetables from their garden. I steamed up some of this cabbage to go with dinner recently.

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I also used turkey leftovers to try making turkey tetrazzini again. I think I may have nailed it this time! Maybe I’ll share the recipe soon? I guesstimated most of the measurements, and they just barely fit into this casserole dish. But, they fit! #kitchenwin

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And here are more recent eats – spaghetti…with bison!

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Dad sent me home with this book to read. It seems pretty business-oriented, and I think there are some good tips for a 9-to-5-er like me. I’ve only read a little bit so far, and though I don’t agree with 100% of the book, I’ve seen many good tips so far that I can apply soon. Definitely good food for thought.

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And since I don’t have enough of them (hehe), I bought another mug. I love having positive messages on my coffee mugs. Coffee is one of the first things I go for in the morning, and I like starting my day off on the right foot…with an uplifting note.

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And here’s a Bailey photo. Just because.

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I’ve been editing photos of that vegan lentil loaf to share with you guys since you said that was the recipe you want to see next. I took SO many photos, and I first narrowed it down from over 100 to “only” 49. After looking through the collection a couple more times, I think I have it down to roughly 15. I wanted to share some in progress photos since those can be helpful in a recipe like this. I’m hoping to share the recipe and post tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the holiday season!

Insta-Chic {11/19/2013} – Auction Update, Healthy Foods That Can Be Unsafe, and Eats Lately

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Hey everyone!

I hope you’re all having a great week so far. I had some fun posts (new green monster smoothie recipe, tips for reading labels clean-eats-style for busy people, and a Parisian Wardrobe update) lined up to blog for you guys, but the Online Bake Sale and Auction supporting the Philippines has taken precedence over the last week. I’m squeezing in a quick post to say hello to you guys! Anywho, back to the auction…I remember when I did the bake sale for Haiti back in 2010 that it was so much more work than I expected it to be, and this time isn’t much different. I’ve had some late nights, and I must have sent at least a hundred emails. I think about the auction from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. It doesn’t seem like it would take a lot of effort to coordinate some auction listings and set things up, but oh is it ever. But, this is work that I’m more than happy to do. The late nights, the many emails, and all the hard work will be worth it in the end. The auction goes live Thursday night at 9pm, and I can’t wait to see how things go!

We have almost 50 items donated, so now that most of the donations are in, the next thing I’m turning my attention to is making sure we get bids for all those items! I’m hoping we can raise at least $1,000, but if we can raise more, I’ll be so ecstatic! With roughly 50 items donated so far, if each listing raised $100, we could raise $5,000!!! Think we can do it?

If you’re interested in helping out, please help spread the word or consider bidding.

How the auction works at a high level:

  • Click here to take a list of the current auction listings and take note of anything you’d like to bid on.
  • On Thursday night (9pm ET 11/21/2013), I’ll publish a link to the Main Auction Listing page, which will have links to bid on each individual item (and will take you to the respective individual item page).
  • Each item will be set up with its own page.
  • Bidding is super easy – just check the comments of the page to see the highest bid and leave a comment with one that is higher!
  • Remember to only bid as much money as you’re comfortable donating to one of the two charities supported by this auction.
  • 100% of your donation will go to one of those charities, and you’ll get a little treat for your donation! Win-win!
  • After the auction closes, I’ll email the winning bidders with additional instructions. Essentially, you’ll make a direct donation to one of the two charities and forward me your receipt as proof of donation. Once I receive your proof of donation, I’ll send your email/contact info to the baker/donator who will reach out to you regarding your winning item. The two of you will take things from there (customizing your winning item, if applicable, and deciding when shipping will work best for both of you, or arranging local pick-up for the Charlotte, NC local items, etc.)

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I’m so glad Google Docs are around for this auction. I have a huge spreadsheet set up that’s helping me stay organized. I’m planning to take a half day off of work on Friday so I can monitor the auction page and update current bids in this spreadsheet so we can calculate a running total. I’d love to keep you up-to-date with live information! That’s the plan. Hope I can do it!

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All this auction work has me feeling like this (above). I actually snapped this photo when I was working on the auction late one night last week. My second-in-command, Bailey, just couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer, and he fell asleep on the couch next to me while I was typing away.

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On to some eats…I found a new favorite flavor of bread at Great Harvest – 9 Grain Whole Wheat. I like this one a little more than Honey Whole Wheat since it’s not quite as sweet, which I think is more versatile. And do you see what I see? It’s the return of Power Toast! This is the 9 Grain with Earth Balance coconut peanut butter spread and chia seeds. This is such a great 5 minute breakfast when you’re running late for work.

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My sister wanted to meet me with some friends who were all out of town for a conference. I had a hard time picking somewhere to go till I remembered Nan and Byron’s had just opened. We had a wonderful dinner there. The food was great and the atmosphere was laid back and comfortable. I finally got to try one of their cocktails – the sparking mojito. It’s delicious! I can’t wait to try some of the others – they’re so creative.

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Did you know green skin on potatoes is toxic? Click here to read more on this Cooking Light article about not only potatoes but other healthy foods that can be dangerous.

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And here’s dinner from last night – grilled chicken, homemade potato wedges, and steamed cauliflower from my family’s garden. Home-grown vegetables are so good! This cauliflower was nice and sweet and delicious with a light drizzle of melted butter.

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That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more details on the Online Auction and Bake Sale for the Philippines! I can use all the help I can get spreading the word and rounding up interested bidders, so please share information about the sale if you can. I appreciate all your help and support, and I’m feeling the love from the blogging community. I’m so thankful so many kind people are interested in helping out because I couldn’t do this by myself. Let’s keep this momentum going to raise as much money as possible for the Philippines!

The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (14th President of the Philippines)

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Thank you for stopping by!

Insta-Chic {11/9/2013} – Bailey, Vegetables, and Nan and Byron’s

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Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Just wanted to pop in with some recent Instagram photos and updates from me…

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Bailey’s been a little sick, but he’s on new medicine and feeling much better. Woohoo!

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I made a new Green Monster flavor the other day – a fall-themed flavor! Hope to share it soon!

Sorry for the delay in posting my last recipe for the cinnamon spelt doughnuts. I had it drafted up and ready to publish early last week, and then we lost our internet connection for two days. Bah! Not that anyone is waiting with bated breath for my next post, but I’ve been hoping to post more frequently, and my schedule has working against me on this, much to my frustration. But, hey, a girl’s gotta pay the bills, right?

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I’ve been working on my vegetable consumption, and I’ve also tried to do better about supporting my local farmer’s market. Is it just me or does life seem to get in the way allowing convenience to take precedent? I’ve been doing pretty good about visiting the market at least once a week recently. I have a new vegetable addiction (if such a thing is even possible): vitamin greens! Have you heard of them? They are greens that are high in many vitamins and have a similar texture to bok choy. For my vegetable consumption, I’ve been focusing on eating more leafy greens, and these have been wonderful.

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I’ve been getting one bunch per week from a local vendor at Atherton Mills Market in Southend, and I even brought home the last beautiful bunch they had today. I’m thinking they’ll make a pretty fantastic side with dinner tonight.

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While I was at the market, I swung by Not Just Coffee. Their coffees are so delicious. I’ve really been enjoying their mocha. Yum!

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Also near Atherton Mills Market is the Savory Spice Shop. I swung by there the other day to stock up on baking ingredients. I’m so ready for some holiday baking – cookies, cakes, pies. Yesss!

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Anyone looking for a good way to re-heat roasted brussels sprouts? Put them in a sauté pan with a little oil. The taste and texture is so much better than what you’d get if you used a microwave.

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For eats lately, here’s a lovely lunch from this past week by Roots Farm Food. I had a pulled pork sandwich with kale apple slaw on a warmed pita with a side of ginger carrot salad. It was delicious, locally-sourced, and so enjoyable to eat.

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And I finally escaped my usual lunch-at-my-work-desk to have lunch with co-workers at Bentley’s. It was my first time eating there, and the view is so nice from that high. It was great getting away from the office, and the food did not disappoint. I had the grilled mahi mahi and nearly licked my plate clean I liked it so much.

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And I rounded out my week of fantastic eats with a trip to Nan and Byron’s on their grand opening night with my Epic Eater friends. As a fan of 5 Church and chef Jamie, I had no doubt the meal would be spectacular. We started with the Train Wreck fries and Peppedew Poppers. I’m not normally a fan of pepper poppers, but I would absolutely order those again here. The fries were rich and perfect for the cold day. For my entree, I had the beet slider with mojito fries. The combination of ingredients on the burger was unique and a great mix of flavors and textures. The fries were just-right crispy and seasoned perfectly. I’m not sure if I’d order this again next time only because I had my eye on several other things on the menu that I can’t wait to try! But, it was really good, so I guess I’ll just have to see what mood I’m in when I’m back.

Thanks for stopping by!

Insta-Chic {10/4/2013}

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Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying the cooler weather as much as I am. Fall is absolutely beautiful here in the Carolinas. The weather has been wavering between the 60s and 80s, but hey, that’s what layers are for. I’m actually liking the different temperatures. The 70s are my favorite, though.

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It’s definitely that time of the year to enjoy all things pumpkin. I had some delicious pumpkin oatmeal for breakfast the other day. When I don’t plan ahead, I don’t often have good oatmeal mix-ins, especially since I tend to get super busy during the work week. But, it’s really easy to have a can of pumpkin in the pantry. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to liven up oatmeal. I really like the subtle flavor pumpkin adds to oatmeal, especially when it’s sweetened with maple syrup.

Did you know oatmeal is good for the immune system? I like to eat oatmeal when the weather gets cold or if I’m starting to feel run down. It’s definitely time for me to start eating more since it seems like people around me are starting to get sick…especially at the office.

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For more cozy eats, I whipped up my Mom’s Beef Stroganoff the other night. I’m sure we’ll have this a couple more times this season.

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Here’s Bailey…he’s not amused. He was just trying to chill on the couch.

Speaking of couches, I’ve been feeling really tired all week. My energy levels have been low. Despite that, I willed myself into going to a 90 minute class on Monday. Sometimes it takes a little will-power to get to class. But, once I’m there and the music kicks in and I start moving, it’s all uphill from there. I know I’m a Zumba instructor and all, but our energy levels are not always through the roof. In fact, just this Thursday, I was feeling particularly tired. As the work day was wrapping up, I wanted nothing more than to find a cozy spot on my couch with Bailey where I could watch a movie and eat salt and vinegar potato chips. But you know what, I got myself to class and just like always, the music, the movement, and the smiles from my class really got me going, and I had a great time!

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I ended up swinging by Trader Joe’s after class where I filled this basket full to the brim. I haven’t been to TJs in forever, and I realized how much I’ve needed to go and stock up on their affordable staples like organic canned beans, frozen fruits and vegetables, broths, and rice milk. I probably could have filled another basket, but this will do for now.

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In other news, I participated in the Mooresville Green Jeans sale. I consigned roughly 80 items and sold 17. I’m definitely getting a good handle on how the sale works. I’m thinking of re-pricing and re-tagging some items, and I’m still working on purging my closet to pull more to sell. That Parisian Wardrobe is a tough thing to achieve for this recovering shopaholic. Anywho, I flippin love the Green Jeans sale and am already looking forward to the next one! I’ve worked pretty closely with Cindy, Dana, and Rita in the last year or so, and I just think they’re fabulous.

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And I have to give a special shout-out to Biggs Camera. I tried to do some fashion photos after work earlier this week and had a whole shoot set up when my silly camera remote just stopped working. The batteries were kicking, but it just wouldn’t take a photo for some reason. I tried troubleshooting everything I could think of – checking the cord connections, the power switches, the signal switches, different camera settings…all to no avail. I stopped by Biggs after work today to see if they could help me figure out what was wrong. They tried troubleshooting the device for awhile, too, but they also couldn’t get the darn thing to work. And you know what they did next? They replaced the whole remote device. How’s that for quality customer service? Just another good reason to support your local camera shop. Thank you, Biggs!

I’m really looking forward to this weekend – lots of fun ahead! Be sure to follow me on twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the scoop!

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