XO Marshmallow Kickstarter

kickstarter

With the weather cooling down I start to appreciate hot beverages even more than normal.  Along with my hot coffee, there’s tea, apple cider, and of course, hot cocoa. The perfect addition to hot cocoa is obviously fluffy, delicious marshmallows.  

Why am I telling you this in mid-September? I’m glad you asked!

I want to tell you about a Kickstarter that went live today by a local to me (Chicagoland) marshmallow company, XO Marshmallow.  I happen to know one of the two lovely ladies that runs XO Marshmallow (Lindzi from The Trendy Sparrow), so I jumped at the chance to get a sneak peek at their latest creation and give it a try.  Meet XO Marshmallow’s latest creation: the Monut!

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The monut is XO Marshmallow’s delicious recipe transformed into a doughnut shape.  Now, some of you may be asking “why do I want a marshmallow shaped like a doughnut?”  Well, it just so happens that the size of these monuts happen to fit perfectly inside a mug, which means you can take your hot cocoa and marshmallows to a whole new level.  

Since I didn’t have any hot cocoa laying around to have with my new treat, I decided to make some decaf coffee (my new thing if I want coffee in the afternoon. All in the effort to get better sleep.), although if you wanted an extra shot of sweetness in your morning cup, I say go for it. I made the coffee, added some chocolate salted caramel creamer (yum!) and put the cocoa dusted marshmallow monut on top.  After a few minutes, it started to melt and the result was an amazingly delicious cup of afternoon coffee. It also gave me a very Instagram-worthy photo. 🙂

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I ate the vanilla one on its own to get a true sense of what XO Marshmallows tasted like, and I was quite pleased.  They were soft and delicious; not overly sweet, but they had a great flavor. I was quite impressed and immediately wished I had more flavors to try. 

While this is their latest creation, XO Marshmellow has some awesome designer sounding flavors of their regular marshmallows too, such as salted caramel (which I really need to try), Kaluha coffee, matcha, honey lavender, and more.  

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Seriously, how amazing do all of those sound?  Boozy champagne is perfect for a girl’s night out (or in!), and there’s even a beer flavored one, which would make a really interesting and unique gift for any beer lover in your life  

XO Marshmallows are egg free, gluten free, dairy free (except salted caramel), and contain no high fructose! The ladies choose only the finest local ingredients to include in their marshmallow making, so it’s will truly be a gourmet experience.  What a treat!

As I mentioned, today they launched their Kickstarter to help fund not only their Monut but their desire to become bigger and better.  Lindzi and Kat are looking to get a bigger kitchen space as well as upgraded packaging, and equipment to help send XO Marshmallow to the next level, and you can help.  Head over to their Kickstarter campaign and consider backing their project.  They’ve got some great rewards for backing XO Marshmallow, which include Monuts and their original marshmallows in whatever flavor you want. I know that’s the route I’m going to go, as I’m now dying to try some other flavors and I can support these amazing lady bosses at the same time.  It’s a win-win all around.  

What flavor of XO Marshmallow would you be most interested in trying?

I was sent my monuts, but only after I expressed interest in helping these ladies get the word out.  There should be more spreading the love and the word, don’t you think?

 

September 2016 Goals

September is here!  It’s the end of summer and the start of the fall season which means cooler weather, sweatshirts, and pumpkin spice everything. While I’m sad to see summer go (I know we technically have until the end of the month), I’m excited for the fall season to begin. 

First lets check in on how I did on my August goals:

Break through my weight loss plateau: Sadly this was a no go.  While I’m close, and haven’t gained above the plateau, I technically I still haven’t busted through it. We’ll be adding this to the list of September’s goals.

Establish a better nighttime routine: I’ve gotten really good at getting ready for bed and even getting in bed at a reasonable hour, so I’ll consider this a win, but of course things like routines are always changing and improving.  Even though I’ve gotten good at the routine, that doesn’t mean my body cooperates and lets me sleep… that’s a whole different situation.

Read 3 books: I finished 2.  Not too shabby.

Start blogging daily: I’d say I’m 80% there.  I don’t post daily (not yet anyway), but I sat down and did something for the blog or channel most days.  Still working on this one. 

September Goals

Break through my weight loss plateau

Rolling this one over from last month. It’s pretty self explanatory.

Read 2 books

Because clearly 3 was a little too ambitious. Granted, if I applied myself to a little more reading and a little less evening tv or poking at a game, I could do it, but still…baby steps.

Find and buy a standing desk

I don’t necessarily want a whole new desk, but I want a computer stand or something that I can put on top of my desk or a table that allows me to stand for a bit while I work.  I told my husband this, and he’s 100% on board because he wants one too.  It’s really difficult to be a blogger who should be sitting at a computer working and someone trying to lose weight who should be active and moving all the time, so this would be a great happy medium.

Establish an official work schedule

I am very good at procrastination.  When I don’t have anywhere that I need to be at a certain time, it’s very easy for me to get distracted by social media, or a youtube video, or whatever, mainly because it ultimately doesn’t effect me much…except it really does. This month I want to work on my daily schedule, and establish more of a routine in my work, working out, and housewifing duties day to day.  If I know that I have to have my butt in the chair to work by 10am (workout done, showered, etc), then I have to figure out what has to happen to get me there.  This has been an ongoing battle, but back to school season really helps me put a fresh label on things, so September means its time to buckle down.  

Put out my video on my CMT story

Fun fact: September is CMT awareness month. While I’ve talked about it on my blog, I have only mentioned and briefly described it on my channel, and I really feel compelled to dedicate a whole video to my life experience with the disease, as well as talking a little bit about what life is actually like with CMT.  It’s a video where I will literally expose my weaknesses and show people what’s normally well hidden on camera, but as the biggest disease that no one knows about (1 in 2500 people have it), I feel like this video needs to happen. 

Make a pumpkin cake

It’s September.  It’s time to whip out the canned pumpkin and make a yummy, moist pumpkin cake.  Don’t worry, this will happen closer to the end of the month when fall actually starts. 

 

What are some of your goals for September?  Do you feel like September is a fresh start month (kind of like new years) like I do? 

August Favorites 2016

August Favorites Blog

Guys, tomorrow it’s September!  Can you even believe it??  This month I have a few favorites I’ve been dying to share with you.  

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palettes: I rediscovered both of my Urban Decay Naked Basics palettes and fell in love all over again.  The matte (and two subtle shimmers) shades in the palettes are great for everyday wear.  I found that when I didn’t really want to do my eyes, but want to have the no makeup look going on, creating an eye look with the shades in these palettes made my eyes look amazing without looking “done up.”  I’m very pleased that I decided to dig these out of my drawers and I know I’ll be getting a lot more use out of them.  The Naked Basics 2 is more cool toned than the original Naked Basics palette, but they’re both outstanding additions to any collection. 

Bare Minerals Pro Powder FoundationI wanted a new quick and easy foundation that (much like the eyeshadow) efficiently gave some coverage to flaws without making me look like I had a mask of face makeup on, and this new foundation by Bare Minerals did the trick. I did buy the brush that was released with this foundation. It’s a nice retractable brush that’s densely packed for better coverage.  Do you need it? No, but I like that it’s covered so I can easily throw it in my purse. 

Bare Minerals Gen Nude Products- I have a new lip obsession, and it’s the Bare Minerals Gen Nude Line.  They have 3 different formulas, and I’m obsessed with them all.  The product I’m loving least of this trio is the matte liquid lipstick, and it’s simply because I am not convinced that my lips  can use matte liquid lipsticks, period.  After trying quite a few formulas, this Gen Nude formula is light, smooth, and doesn’t feel the least bit drying. There is minimal transfer after it dries, and it’s comfortable to wear. Bonus: it smells amazing! Like a chocolate pudding pack I used to put in school lunches.  My only issue is that I feel like it settles into my lines and defines them more, but I’ve had that issue with every single liquid matte lip I’ve tried, and it’s not nearly as bad compared to others. 

The Gen Nude Radiant Lipsticks are absolutely divine.  They go on buttery smooth, feel amazing, and have great shade options(medium coverage), and a glossy finish.  I would reach for this product when I wanted to hydrate my lips, not just put on a dose of color.  I love love LOVE these lipsticks. Read more

Sephora Play! August 2016

Sephora Play August

It’s always a happy day when my Sephora Play! box comes in the mail.  I didn’t do any posting about it last month, but I discovered a few new things that I love thanks to that box, so I figured why not start telling people whats in the subscription?  Since I canceled my Birchbox subscription last month, my Sephora box is currently the only beauty subscription I currently have. 

Each month Sephora has a theme, and August’s theme was “The Eye Openers.” As one who currently struggles with things like under eye circles and puffiness, I was anxious to see what was inside my box.  Here’s what I found:

Make Up For Ever Artist Shadow in I-544

I am a huge fan of the MUFE Artist Shadows.  They’re smooth, buttery, and blendable, so I was super excited to see this beautiful pink granite shade in my box.  I was a little less excited when I discovered it was a shade I already had in my MUF Artist Palette Vol 1.  Either way, it’s a beautiful color.  

Full Size: 0.07 oz @ $21

Sample Size: 0.02 oz

Sample Value: $6.09

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Dr Formula’s Nexabiotic Probiotic Supplement

ProbioticProbiotics is is a word we hear quite often when discussing health and wellness.  While I have had an on again/off again relationship with probiotics over the last few years, generally buying a bottle, finishing it, and after not noticing any big advantages, failing to repurchase.  When I was given the chance to try a supplement by Nexabiotic, I decided to give my relationship with probiotics the “on again” status and give it a try.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are essentially strains of good bacteria that live in our gut to help absorb nutrients, keep the bad bacteria at bay, and generally keep digestion running smoothly.  Things like stress (something we all experience) and age (something no one can avoid) can cause those good bacteria to die off.  Have you ever noticed that when you’re particularly stressed, maybe because of work or travel, your digestion seems to be a tad uncooperative? Apparently those good bacteria don’t respond well to stress either..

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A Monday in the Life

Welcome to my very first “a day in the life” post.  I wasn’t sure what exactly to write about today (it’s Monday), so I thought it might be fun to let you in on how my day usually goes. Here’s a little insight into what this week’s Monday looked like for me. 

5:40am: I get awakened by a kiss from my husband, as I do every week, before he leaves for the airport.  A kiss, an “I love you/have a good week” and I roll over to try and fall back asleep.  He’ll be gone before I’m up.

7:10am: I’m awakened by my alarm, but after the really crappy night’s sleep I got my body really didn’t want to get up, so I turned off the alarm and left it up to my body as to when I’d get out of bed.  A risk, yes, but on Mondays that sometimes happens. 

8:03 am: I’m awake!  That’s not so bad.  Feeling better than I did when my alarm went off, it’s time to get up.  Bathroom, make bed, open curtains to let the sunshine in, and head to the kitchen. 

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8:16am: With my cup of fresh coffee in hand (is there anything better on a Monday morning?) I head to my office. Time to start this blog post (so I don’t lose track of my day) and get today’s post published.  

9:16 am.  After final edits, linking, social media, and several distractions, I finally hit publish on my new post, 20 Tips for Getting A Better Night’s Sleep. I’m obsessed with the image I made for it.  Now, it’s definitely time for some breakfast. 

9:18am: Just realized I forgot to take my morning pills.  Supplements, vitamins, and an allergy med down the hatch! Okay, now I can have breakfast.

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9:37am: Breakfast of protein pancakes and berries is made and ready to be devoured.  4 Smart Points total. Yum!  Also, switched to high caff tea to help get me pumped for today’s workout. 

10:23a,: Realized my iPad (my elliptical buddy at the gym) is almost dead, so I popped it on the charger.  Doing misc tasks (Facebook, blog social media, cleaning the kitchen, etc) to pass the time. 

10:56am: Time to start my workout.  While my ipad is charging I’m using an app called Sworkit to get my sweating started while I wait for it to complete charging. Ab workout for the win.

11:55. 20 minute ab workout done.  Caught up on Snapchat and IG stories (because I am a master procrastinator), and downed an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Quest Bar for 4 Smart Points.  Now it’s time to head to the gym with a warmed up and fueled body and a charged iPad. 

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3:15pm: Walked in the door after a great (long and hard) workout consisting of weights and cardio. After the gym I ran to Walmart to pick up a few essentials for the week (bread, fat free cheese, and bananas) and treated myself to a glorious dose of caffeine from Starbucks.

3:26pm: Made myself a quick open faced sandwich for a late lunch. Looked at Facebook while eating.

3:43pm: Time for a face mask and some stretching.  Mask Monday is something I do almost every week. Today’s choice is Kiehl’s clay mask. My skin has been such trouble lately. 

4:30: Showered, stretched, and ready to get to work.

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6:10pm: I just spent the last hour and a half playing with a DSLR camera on loan from a friend trying to update some of my blog photographs.  I can’t decide if I was successful or not.  Note to self: take DSLR photography course if you’re serious about this blog photo thing. 

6:15pm: I suppose I should make dinner. 

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7:03 pm: Sitting down with a delicious plate of Zoodles with chicken, homemade sauce, and fat free cheese for a whopping 4 Smart Points.  I was listening to the Pippin soundtrack (I want to learn it before I audition for the show in September) while I cooked, so I ate and surfed YouTube to see what Pippin related things I could find. 

7:35pm: Cleaning up my cooking disaster.  Why does cooking always make such a mess?

7:56pm: Sat down at the computer to update this post and order a few things from Amazon.  Printer ink and a new garbage disposal drain cover.. not so exciting.  Also ordered new tool for singing, which is much more exciting. 

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9:04pm A sweet craving hits and my energy is starting to fall.  I make myself a protein doughnut for a dessert, grab my laptop and head to the couch to do some misc work (read other blogs, answer emails, etc) and watch the olympics. I also decide to chug some water, as maybe dehydration had something to do with this sugar craving. 

10:12pm: I have auditions and musical theater on my mind, so I sat down at the piano with a few song books to see if I could figure out an audition piece for an audition that’s a month away.  I think I found one!

10:28pm: Okay. Time to get ready for bed. 

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11:07pm: Intense skincare routine done.  Before getting into bed a do a little light stretching to help get my body in relax mode.  Phone call from the Mister: check! Essential oils: check! Tonight’s reading: Check! Alarm set: Check! Time to get into bed and read my Women’s Health magazine.

11:42pm: Lights out!  Goodnight friends.

 

 

20 Tips to Help You Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Good Night

Sleep and I have a love hate relationship.  I love sleeping, but almost nightly I either struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get quality sleep.  This results in a very tired and unproductive person once morning comes around.  I recently started implementing different tips and ideas to help sleep and I get along a bit better, and while our relationship isn’t perfect, we are on much better terms.  Here are 20 tips to help get you ready for a good night’s rest. 

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August 2016 Goals

August Goals

Hello, Happy Monday, and Happy August!  I can’t believe that 2016 is already in a rapid downward spiral into pumpkin spice everything season.  While I’m kind of ready for fall (I love pumpkin flavors and sweaters), I’m also not ready for summer to end at all. 

I know I haven’t done a goals post in a few months, but I wanted to start them up again to keep myself accountable for all of the things I want to get done.  With all of the chaos and disorder that’s been in my life the past few months, I am calling August the “All About Me” month.  With no major events on my calendar and nothing too crazy on the to do list, it is time for me to focus exclusively on myself and the things I want to get done. Don’t worry, my Mister will get my focus too, but he’s gone half of the time anyway.  That being said, here are my goals for August. Read more

Fitbloggin 2016 Recap

Photo thanks to David’s Twitter account

Those of you that follow me on Twitter or Instagram know that this past weekend I attended Fitbloggin in Indianapolis. Fitbloggin’ is essentially the gathering of those who blog about their fitness journeys, or people who are interested in starting to blog. This was my second time attending Fitbloggin. My first experience was in Savannah, GA in 2014.

Because this year’s Fitbloggin was in Indianapolis, I was lucky enough to only be a few hours drive away, which definitely helped me determine if I would go or not. I arrived on Thursday night, and the only thing on the agenda was registration and appetizers at Scotty’s Brewhouse about half a mile from the hotel. I ended up arriving an hour late, but I happened to walk in at the same time as two girls in attendance on behalf of Sworkit, so they were kind enough to eat with me. Registration was nothing more than picking up or name tags. Not too exciting.

Breakfast both days was provided by Siggi’s yogurt in the form of a parfait bar. While this was quite tasty, the breakfast was not enough to keep me satisfied for long. Thankfully, I brought a strong supply of Quest bars with me.

Friday and Saturday had me attending some awesome sessions that had both blogging and weight loss related topics. I started my education on Friday with a blog themed day of “Being a Consistent Blogger Forever” led by the lovely and knowledgable Nellie of Brooklyn Active Mama, followed by learning some SEO basics (that were really helpful) taught by Jessica Woodbury of Don’t Mind the Mess. Saturday was my weight loss focused day with amazing discussions about falling off (and getting back on) the weight loss wagon led by David from Keep it Up David and weight loss highs and lows (led by Angela Gillis from We Beat Fat). The afternoon led me to a session about overcoming setbacks with Kristin Meekhof, and I topped off my education with a discussion on training your brain, habits, and all that jazz from Steve Carmichael from Run Buzz. All great sessions and amazing people.

Friday also had author of Secrets of A Former Fat Girl, Lisa Delaney, as a keynote speaker who told her story and answered our questions. There was also a panel discussion, and one of the panelists was Dawn Jackson Blatner. I thought she looked familiar to me, but it wasn’t until she uttered the words “Superfood Diet” that I realized why I recognized her. She was the trainer that WON the reality show “My Diet is Better Than Yours.” Since I’m a sucker for weight loss shows, I definitely tuned in to that one. Needless to say, I fangirled for a moment over the fact she was there. She went to the sessions and listened, learned, and participated just like the rest of us. It was pretty neat.

Saturday only had one keynote speaker before conference close, and that was Brooke Randolph. She gave a presentation on emotionally healthy living, and let’s be honest..we all could use a few reminders in that area.

In addition to sessions full of learning and discussion, there are also fitness sessions at Fitbloggin (duh!). There were 4 total, but I attended 2 of them. On Friday I attended a booty burning workout thanks to Sworkit. While I’ve never had any experience with that app before, the amount of soreness I was experiencing on Saturday made it very clear to me that the app works! Saturday was the ever popular Zumba class, led by Margo aka ShesNachoMamma, and Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama. Zumba was an amazing time!! We danced, laughed, bonded, got sweaty, and felt amazing. Anything that closes with a showtune sung by the great Liza, a kick line, and dance party is amazing in my book!

While the content was awesome, and the attendees were fantastic, I will admit that Fitbloggin 2016 left something to be desired compared to when I attended in 2014. For one, there were zero evening activities planned. I was used to evening receptions with provided meals and more opportunities to mingle, and here I was literally on my own Friday night because I didn’t feel like I had necessarily bonded with anyone enough to seek out dinner plans (my closest Fitbloggin friends all couldn’t attend this year for one reason or another), so I walked to find dinner, brought it back to the room, and hung out by myself. Could I have actively sought out some group to tag along with? Sure, but a chance for us all to be together would have been much more my style. On Saturday, the conference closed at 5:30pm, so I just decided to go home since I was only 3.5 hours away.

In addition to the lack of even activities, I’ll admit that I was very disappointed in the lack of food. If there’s one thing I know about Fitbloggin attendees it’s that we all love food, and the only food that was provided to us was yogurt parfait bars for breakfast and a few appetizers Thursday (most of us ordered our own food anyway) and at Friday’s expo. Lunches, dinners, and snacks were all provided by myself. Thank goodness for the Starbucks in the hotel lobby and the awesome cafe a short walk away. Maybe it’s just me (okay, I know it’s not just me..), but I feel like having more food provided would have just made sense. It would have been nice anyway.

My last complaint is about the sponsors and the expo. At my last Fitbloggin I felt like there were sponsors that I actually wanted to connect with, and this time around I felt a lot less so. A lot of food sponsors, but not necessarily the kind that would be considered a valuable connection for my blog personally. While I did come home with a bit of swag (mostly food) and a new love for figs (California Figs was a sponsor and we all had the chance to try them. I’d never had a fresh fig before), I just didn’t feel like the expo and sponsors were up to snuff.

While Fitbloggin 16 left me with something to be desired, I did enjoy meeting new people, making connections, and opening my mind to all of the knowledge and experience that was there for me to absorb. Oh, and since I had never been to Indy before, it was my first time seeing the city, and while I only saw a very small bit of it, I loved it. Indianapolis is a beautiful, clean, and very friendly city. Kudos to you for being awesome, Indy.

Benefit Cosmetics New Brow Collection Review

Benefit Brows Title

 

I haven’t always been on the brow game train.  It wasn’t until rather recently that I started paying attention to my brows at all, and at first it was only because my sister complained about how lame and sparse they were.  After finding my discovery and use of the original Benefit Gimme Brow and the Anastasia Brow Wiz pencil, I truly began to appreciate how much better done brows made me look and feel.  While I don’t think I will ever have the skills to make my brows “on fleek,” I do pay attention now, and because of that I managed to obtain a few of the items in the new brow collection from Benefit Cosmetics, and I wanted to give you my two cents about them. 

While there are 10 products in the brow line (who knew we needed 10 different products?!), I am only going to be talking about 3. These happen to be the 3 that I think are most practical to own: Gimme Brow, Goof Proof Brow Pencil, and Ka-Brow cream-gel color.  While I purchased the Goof Proof pencil because I needed a new brow pencil, but I obtained the other two in sample sizes,; one from my Birchbox and one from a bonus with a Sephora order.  While they aren’t all full size, I feel this gives me enough experience with them to justify a review.

The way I want to talk about these 3 products is in terms of coverage, like with foundation. I actually really like all 3 of them for various reasons, but I found it very easy to classify each as a light, medium, or full coverage eyebrow product, and I find all 3 to be useful for different reasons Read more