Holiday From Real – Cali Bound for Thanksgiving

Anybody else on vacation mode already?! : ) There’s something about a short work/school week that makes focusing extra difficult. What can I say? I got turkey on the brain!

After work today, I’m leaving for Los Angeles to spend Thanksgiving with some friends from college. It will be my first Thanksgiving spent away from my family, but I’ll be flying home to Pennsylvania for Christmas in no time (24 days to be exact!). Lots to be thankful for and excited about this holiday season.

Last night, I had a little pre-vacation celebration at the Andrew McMahon concert here in Austin. Any Something Corporate/Jack’s Mannequin fans out there?

Andrew McMahon at Emo's in Austin.

I recently blogged about how much I love his new album, In the Wilderness. I’ve been listening to Andrew since I was 14, and it’s always a pleasure to hear him play songs that span over different chapters in my life. There’s definitely a special place in my heart for Jack’s Mannequin’s “Everything in Transit” album.

In addition to being incredibly talented, smart and funny, Andrew is a leukemia survivor. His story is pretty inspiring — his sister Katie donated bone marrow that saved Andrew’s life. Now he’s married with a baby and still making music, 15 years after his first band, Something Corporate, came out with their new album.

Guess I’m feeling mushy with the holiday coming up, but I just wanted to check in and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that you enjoy a happy, healthy (it’s a relative term, hehe) and safe Thanksgiving with your loved ones. No matter where you are or who you’re with, make it a wonderful memory.

I’ll talk to you next week — when it’s officially Christmastime! : )

Lovely Thanksgiving decor at the Whole Foods Austin headquarters

Your Turn-

  • What are you thankful for?

Affordable & Essential Cold Weather Running Gear

The trees in Texas just got the memo that it’s fall.

Finally looking a little more like fall in Texas!

In most of the rest of the country, though, ’tis the season for cold weather running. Having trained for my half marathon during the brutal winter last year, I quickly had to learn how to keep warm on those long, cold, snowy weekend runs. Good times!

As I was figuring out the best balance of what to wear, there were a few freezing runs, and a few toasty ones as well. I found that investing in a few key pieces of cold weather running gear was essential, and I could sort of improvise the rest.

So as the weather is cooling down, I thought I’d share some of my top cold weather running gear essentials that won’t break the bank.

Affordable and essential cold weather running essentials

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Sugar Talk: Real vs. Artificial?

It’s a never ending discussion, isn’t it? Stevia’s bad for you… no it’s not… sugar is an addiction… low-cal is best, etc. Everyone has their dietary preferences and priorities, whether it’s paleo, vegetarian, “whole” foods, low calorie, or otherwise. It can be hard to choose an approach and stick with it.

sugar talk: real vs. artificial?

It seems pretty common for people to switch to low cal/low sugar when they’re trying to lose weight. Think Light ‘N’ Fit yogurt, Splenda in your coffee, etc. I think this works well for short-term calorie cutting, but is it truly healthy?

Now, I’m seeing more and more articles/blog posts about the emphasis on real food. If we’re talking sugar, think maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, etc. There are also a ton of “outside the box” natural sugars popping up like monkfruit, etc. — but even those probably require a little more research, in my opinion.

There are a few things mostly everyone can agree on:

  1. Sugar makes you crave more sugar. It happens to me all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I polish off a bowl of froyo and say to myself, “I can literally eat 5 more bowls of that right now.” … usually I don’t. ; )
  2. Sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin are so ’90s. These are more commonly known as Splenda, Equal and Sweet & Low. There are tons of studies on how these can actually contribute to diabetes and obesity. Got Diet Coke?
  3. Stevia is the most natural artificial sweetener. But it’s still an artificial sweetener.

Luckily, I’ve never been into Splenda or artificial sweeteners at all. They hurt my stomach, as I learned the hard way post-skinny-peppermint-mocha-latte in the fall of 2011. No, I’m still not over it. I use Stevia, but I try to use it sparingly.

So here’s the thing. Say I want pancakes. Do I go for natural maple syrup at 53g sugar and 210 calories per serving? Or do I choose a sugar free maple “flavored” syrup for 0g sugar and 35 calories?

Nutrition Facts for a sugar-free syrup

Honestly, I don’t know the answer. I don’t think there is a right or wrong. However, I do think it’s important to be aware of what you’re putting in your body, and more importantly, how it makes you feel.

For me, I would rather have a little bit of something real than a ton of something fake. So if I want syrup on my pancakes, I’ll have a dab of real maple syrup. If I want ice cream, I’d rather have a small bowl of full-fat stuff than a huge bowl of the “light” kind that’s packed with chemicals.

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I guess it all comes down to preference, priority, etc. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Your Turn-

  • Thoughts on Stevia? Splenda? Real vs. artificial sources of sugar?

WIAW – Vegan Ice Cream + My New Kryptonite

It’s been too long since I’ve done a WIAW post – I’ve got some catching up to do!

I haven’t cooked anything too elaborate lately. It’s cold. I’m getting lazy (so not like me). So, I’m all about quick and easy. The highlights of my week have definitely been the sweets I’ve been craving as the weather gets colder. Puttin’ on that winter layer, you know. ;]

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Fall into good habits, yeah.. “good” is a relative term.

Let’s back up and start with the weekend, shall we?

Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream in Vanilla Chai and Chocolate Almond Chip -- I couldn't decide!

Friday night = Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream. This was an impulse purchase… sooo pumped that I tried it. Not a bad nutritional profile (130 cal, 10g sugar), based in Austin, and soo delicious! Can’t wait to try the Maple Pecan flavor.


The Pink Panther smoothie from JuicelandSaturday treats… (unpictured – the Dunkin’ coffee AND froyo I also got .. whoops ;))

This Juiceland smoothie was SO awesome — strawberry, banana, watermelon juice, beet, pecan, coconut oil and cayenne.


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Yogurt on toast for breakfast on Sunday morning. This is my new go-to for quick breakfasts with a good balance of carbs and protein. Thanks, Instagram, for the inspiration!

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A pretty standard weeknight dinner. Trader Joe’s chicken sausage, green beans, side salad (leftover from a restaurant), sweet potato with peeeebz. =)

And then there’s these suckers…
Yogurt peppermint holiday pretzels from central market are so addicting!These stupid peppermint + yogurt covered pretzels from the holiday bulk section of Central Market are MY KRYPTONITE. I’m sorry, is there crack in these????!!?!

Confession — I bought a baggie full on Friday, and they didn’t even make it out of the car. ;D Oops. When I got some more (obv.), I rationed them out in these baby Tupperwares to make them last over the course of the week. Or, you know, more than the car ride home. #yolo

Your Turn-

  • What have you been craving lately?
  • What food is your weakness?

Holiday Things + A Survey

Hello hello! It’s been a super busy week, so I’m thrilled to spend today running errands and watching Netflix. The best Saturday things!

This morning, I woke up naturally at 5:55 AM and decided to stay up. It was actually pretty nice to lay in bed, turn on Gilmore Girls (I’m not kidding- I’m obsessed) and have a leisurely breakfast & coffee.

Had my morning coffee with Lorelai and Sookie

Had my morning coffee with Lorelai and Sookie : )

Right now, I am waiting on a box of things from home that my Mom sent me. She periodically ships me the random clothes, knick knacks, accessories and decorations I’ve asked her for (thanks, Mom!). This time, I’m expecting some warmer clothes (it’s been FREEZING in Texas) and the start of my Christmas decorations. Sooo excited to put them up — after Thanksgiving, of course.

Me and Kyle's cute Christmas tree set up from last year

Me and Kyle’s cute Christmas tree set up from last year

Speaking of Christmas, I’m getting really excited for the holidays! I was 1 of 5 people in my office who was asked to plan our company holiday party. It’s probably not a big deal, but I’m super psyched!

But is anyone else struggling with the fact that Christmas has taken over Thanksgiving?! I love Christmas, but I can’t help feeling like it’s not time yet!! I actually thanked the Trader Joe’s employee for the fact that they’re decked out for Thanksgiving and not Christmas yet. I think they’re the only ones!

Is it Thanksgiving or is it Christmas?!

However…. that’s not to say I didn’t buy a Christmas tree from Target today. 😀 They were on sale, what can I say?!

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This Day in History + My Year in Photos

Dates and anniversaries have always had special meaning to me. I think of things, both past and future, in terms of time. It fascinates me to think of what I was doing a year, five years, ten years ago today.

For this reason, I love the Timehop app. I check it first thing in the morning (post email, pre Instagram), and get such a kick out of seeing my day in history.

Today is an anniversary for me, of sorts. One year ago today, November 11th 2013, I started my first job after college – a Marketing Assistant at the Anthropologie home office in Philadelphia.

URBN Headquarters in Philadelphia

Fast forward exactly six months to May 11th, 2014. That’s the day I moved to Austin without a job, an apartment or a plan. So now it’s been six months, and so much has changed.

Life is weird. Time flies, but goes so slowly at the same time. I feel like it was last week that I was starting at Anthro … yet I feel like I’ve lived in Texas FOREVER. What a strange perspective!

My fortune, the night before starting at Anthro.

My fortune, the night before starting at Anthro. So true.

Today, I thought it would be fun to post some other highlights from the past year – perhaps the most uncertain, unorganized one of my life. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing! Continue reading

The Grass Is Greener…

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while. It’s been on my mind for a few months now, and something I’ve been working on improving.

It’s about negativity. Comparison. The human tendency to believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

There’s a quote that I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind since I first came across it:

The Grass is Greener Where You Water It

“The grass is greener where you water it.”

You see, I was finding myself being negative way too often. Nothing major – just little things. It mostly became apparent in my conversations with my mom and my best friends, since I tell them everything. I love that I can vent to them, but I started to feel like such a gray cloud!

Even if I never said these things out loud, in the back of my mind I wondered whether I would be happier if …

… I shared my apartment with my boyfriend instead of my brother.
… I moved to Texas/California/New York/back home/xyz city, etc.
… I had a cooler job.
… I could afford expensive, trendy clothes.
… I was engaged.
… I pursued a different career.
… I weighed 5 lbs. less.
… I partied more.
… I made more money.
… I could run 1 more mile, lift 10 lbs. heavier, or hold that yoga pose longer.

And so on. I know it’s normal for us to wonder these things. But I don’t want to let it stop me from enjoying the things I do have.

I’m incredibly fortunate in so many ways. That’s why I’m making a conscious effort to count my blessings more than my problems (oh haayy, another Pinterest quote).

Count your blessings, not your problems

So – my new mantra is “the grass is greener where you water it.” To me, this means stop looking at your neighbors’ grass! Only worry about your own. You might notice just how green it really is. ❤

Your Turn-

  • No questions, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! =) Thanks for letting me get preachy~

The Only Way I Can Enjoy T Swfit Right Now

So I already alluded to the fact that I’m not a fan of T Swift’s new pop vibes. So, the one way I can actually tolerate her new single?

Alongside this fabulous ’80s aerobics video of course! ; ) It seriously does sync up perfectly with their moves… too funny.

I’ll be checking in later today or tomorrow — but until then, have a great Friday, everyone!

Your Turn-

  • Thoughts on the new Taylor Swift album?
  • Good plans for the weekend?!

WIAW: Apple Pumpkin Breakfast Bake

Are you an apple or pumpkin pie person? I’ve always been teased for my tendency to sample each of the desserts at our holiday get togethers. I see nothing wrong with that!

I’ve been experimenting with baked oatmeal lately, and have been loving different flavor combos. My latest success was this Apple Pumpkin Breakfast Bake, and I’m really excited to share the recipe.

Apple Pumpkin Breakfast Bake is so comforting and delicious for fall!

There’s been no shortage of apple and pumpkin-flavored everything in my kitchen this fall, and I’m sure many of you are the same way.

By combining apple and pumpkin, you get the best of both worlds … because I don’t believe in choosing between apple vs. pumpkin baked goods. ; )

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Currently… (& Can I Be a Gilmore Girl?)

So, apparently it’s November now. Actually… apparently it’s Christmastime, according to all the stores and retailers. We’re not even gonna go there!

Christmas in November?!

Inspired by Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli, I thought I’d talk a little about my current obsessions, thoughts, books, snacks and more. I’d love to hear what you’re currently up to, as well.

Currently Reading

Emma by Jane Austen.

I figured it was time to start making my way through the classics. I’m getting through it a little slowly, but am pleasantly surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. Any Austen fans? =)

Currently reading Emma by Jane Austen

Currently Listening To

Andrew McMahon‘s new album, In the Wilderness.

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I heard there was another big album release last week … cough, Taylor Swift. I still haven’t listened to it. I’m not real excited about the direction she’s taken. What were your thoughts?

Currently Pinning

I’m making a conscious effort to pin (are you following me?) more than just food porn. Right now I’m obsessing over these booties and cuffed jeans for fall:

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