2018 Goals and New Year’s Resolutions

Good morning and happy 2018!  It’s a new year (I say it every year, but how did that happen??), which means it’s time for reflection, refocusing, and refreshed goals, new goals, and an action plan to accomplish them.  Personally, I love learning about the goals that other people are working towards, and I’m hoping that since you’re here, you do too.

2017 wasn’t anything spectacular.  While we did get Gracie (a year ago on New Year’s day!), spend our first full year as homeowners, and did a bit of traveling, in terms of life-changing goal achievement, 2017 was more about learning about myself rather than achieving my goals.  This year will be different.  I’m stepping into 2018 with a fresh start, renewed motivation, and the knowledge that I will be reaching goals this year, using the things I learned about myself in 2017 to help me. 

First, I want to mention that I have some goals and resolutions for 2018 because while many will say that’s the same, I’m defining those words differently.  Goals are measurable, actionable things that I can check off when I’m done (goal weight, number of subscribers, completing something, etc), while resolutions are behavior changes that aren’t necessarily measurable, but something I want to work on anyway (practicing gratitude, spend less and appreciate more, etc)

That being said, here are my goals and resolutions for the new year:

Health Goals

Hit Goal Weight: This is my year! I can feel it.  My weight loss was slow last year, only ultimately losing about 10 lbs, but making that progress helped me learn what kind of things were working for me, tricks for keeping myself on track, and proved that I can, in fact, lose the weight this time around.  Between my 2017 learning experiences and the release of the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program, which I know is going to make a huge difference, I am positive that I will get to my goal this year.  Read more

5 Weight Watchers Smart Points Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats

Pumpkin Spice!  Pumpkin Spice is EVERYWHERE!

Pumpkin spice season is here, and with it comes a ton of grocery store finds and pumpkin recipes popping up everywhere.  This year I have been so intrigued by the overnight oats train that everyone seems to be a part of, I wanted to combine the two and come up with some pumpkin oats that are Weight Watchers friendly.  

After exploring some basic overnight oats recipes to understand things like the oats to liquid ratio and the general idea of how to build an overnight oats recipe, I finally came up with one that I love, and have made many times this year already.  It has several ingredients for flavor: cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, stevia, and even sugar-free maple syrup (game changer). While it seems a tad elaborate, the flavor this mixture brings promises to start your brisk fall morning with a filling breakfast that screams “it’s fall! Hooray!!”

A few things to note:

  • I tend to make this in batches, so I’ll fill 4 or 5 Mason Jars at a time.  Even if they are sitting in the refrigerator for a few days, they still taste great.  It just lets the flavors blend even more
  • There’s no rule that says you have to eat them heated up. It’s just how I prefer to consume my oats.
  • I use cinnamon crunch Quest protein powder, but you can use other flavors like vanilla or salted caramel.
  • You can also use other brands of protein powder if you wish, but changing the brand might change the Smart Points value of your oats.  Adjust your tracking accordingly.   

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy my recipe 🙂 

5 SP Pumpkin Spice Protein Overnight Oats
Serves 1
Overnight oats are a great way to get your mornings started off on the right track by making your breakfast ahead of time. These Pumpkin Spice oats are filled with protein to keep you full, and are only 5 Weight Watchers Smart Points.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (0 sp)
  2. 1/2 C Old Fashioned Oats (4 sp)
  3. 1/2 C Canned Pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling) (0 sp)
  4. 1 Scoop Quest Protein Powder (I use Cinnamon Crunch, but I imagine vanilla or salted caramel would work well too)(1 sp)
  5. 1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (0 sp)
  6. 1 Tsp Cinnamon (0 sp)
  7. 1 0 Calorie Sweetener Packet (I use Stevia)(0 sp)
  8. 1 Tbsp Sugar Free Maple Syrup (0 sp) *This makes it a bit creamier and oh so good*
  9. Vanilla to taste (0 sp)
  10. A Mason Jar (or some other container to store it in)
Instructions
  1. Mix everything together and put in container (It's really that easy)
  2. Let container sit in refrigerator overnight (Note: I actually make several jars at once, so some sit for a few days. It's totally fine.
  3. Remove lid and microwave oats until they reach your desired temperature, stirring occasionally (I typically microwave for a minute a time, stirring after each one. 3 minutes usually does the trick)
  4. Sit down with your cup of coffee or tea and enjoy a protein packed breakfast that brings fall to your table.
Notes
  1. Tip: While it really is as simple as mixing everything together, I have found it easiest to mix things outside the jar (in a bowl), starting with the almond milk and pumpkin first and adding the oats last. This makes sure the protein powder and spices are mixed thoroughly and evenly throughout.
Diva and the Divine http://divaandthedivine.com/

Be The Change

Guys, I can’t handle the news anymore.  I mean, I haven’t been able to handle it well anyway, since it’s always filled with bad news.  Why can’t the news report be full of fun, exciting things that are happening in this world?  Instead, it’s filled with drama, murders, trials, and terrorism.  It doesn’t exactly make me want to turn my TV on to tune in with my morning cup of coffee.

Of course, with social media always at our sides, it’s all too easy to get the bad news report right from your phone before you even get out of bed in the morning.  That’s what happened to me yesterday, Monday.  I hopped on Facebook to do a little bit of scrolling before getting out of bed to start my day and that’s when I found out about Las Vegas.  

My heart sank.  It sinks lower and lower with every instance of terrorism that happens in our country and around the world.  Why is it that the idea of living in a world where there is peace, kindness, and acceptance seems like this dream.  A world where we can feel safe going out at night, walking alone after dark, or attending a joyful and fun country music concert.  Am I crazy for thinking such a place should exist??

Friends, this world needs a lot more love and a lot more kindness, and it is up to us to see to it that the world gets what it needs.  I beg you, do something nice for someone; today and each and every day.  It doesn’t have to be anything huge. It doesn’t even have to be all that noticeable. Read more

Happy New Year!

Well hello there!  It has been a hot minute (or 5!) since I’ve sat down to write a blog post on here! A lot has been going on in my life the last few months, and with my show, the holidays, some family changes, and other life things that just get in the way sometimes, I haven’t been good about dedicating time to sit down and create blog posts.  While this site hasn’t been very active, I have been doing quite a bit over on my YouTube channel doing Vlogmas.  I’m happy to announce that my hiatus is over and I’m back and ready to hit the ground running with my blog and channel for 2017. First, let’s recap what’s been going on. 

  • I managed to achieve my goal of getting myself back on stage in 2016 by being in a production of Pippin in November.  It was so much fun and made me feel great, but it definitely messed with some of my routines, especially on the weekends.  Great times for me, not so much for my blog.
  • We’re homeowners now! On 11/30/16 we closed on the condo we’ve been renting for the last year.  Now we’re plotting and planning some of the organizational changes we want to make now that it’s ours to change. 
  • I traveled to Florida for Christmas to spend time with my husband’s family.  You can see all of my adventures in December in my Vlogmas videos on YouTube. Again, tons of fun for me, but no time (and no desire, if I’m being totally honest here) to sit down and dedicate time to creating content on here. 
  • Biggest change: we got a puppy!  Our newest family member, Gracie (a 2 month old Yorkie) joined our little family on 1/1/17. Anyone that has had a puppy probably knows how we’ve been spending our time.  While pups are adorable and so much fun, they are a TON of work ad require constant supervision if you’re trying to potty train them.  Since we live in a condo and it’s currently single digit temperatures in Chicagoland, we decided that pad training Gracie is the way to go for us.  My husband actually took a week off of work for “paternity leave” so he could bond with her before he starts traveling again, and while she’s loose, one of us has to be watching her.  So not only has all things Diva and the Divine suffered this past week, but house chores and such have as well.  
  • The icing on top of the crazy cake is that I’m also suffering from a cold. A big deal? No, but it does complicate things just a tad.  Thank goodness for Sudafed, NyQuill, and a puppy that now sleeps through the night. 

That’s the quick life update, and honestly, that’s probably all you need.  Now that Gracie has been with us for a week and Mister goes back to work tomorrow, it’s time that she and I learn how to balance our lives together.  It’s time to get back to work on my body, my home, my blog, and my life back in order. I’ll be training my pup, working on losing weight and creating content, and making 2017 the best year yet.  Stay tuned for a lot of exciting things starting with some discussions on 2016 reflections and 2017 goals.  

Happy New Year, friends. I hope your holidays were amazing and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!

 

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.  

xoflavors

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? 

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.

 

 

Thinking Out Loud #15

 

I haven’t done a Thinking Out Loud post since October, but I felt one was due. 

  1. I’ve been suffering from some major blogger burnout lately, and between that and life getting in the way (vacation and weddings are a positive thing, but still mess up my routines), it’s been a hot minute since I’ve published anything.  Do you ever suffer from burnout? What do you do to cope?IMG_2547
  2. Vacation not only feels like it messes with routines, but boy does it mess with my diet too!  At the end of the day, the key to living a healthy lifestyle is balance, right?  Some days, I did a great job, like when I started my day with my favorite green juice from a local breakfast place in Florida. It’s very similar to this juice, which is available online.  I get green juice every time I visit. It’s refreshing in the Florida heat, and it makes me feel like I’m doing something healthy for myself while on vacation.13566910_10154373500542755_7470224330840985296_n
  3. And then there’s the day that I started off with Cinnabon… Delicious? Absolutely!  Worth the 36 Smart Points?? (Yes..I said 36..aka more than my entire day) Not at all. That was just for the “center of the roll” treat.  Not even an entire bun.

Read more

2017 Erin Condren Life Planner & Accessories

The 2017 Erin Condren Life Planner Walkthrough and Review

The countdown is almost over and planner addicts everywhere are on the edge of their seats waiting for this moment.  The launch of the Erin Condren 2017 Life Planner is tomorrow!  I’m here to tell you a but about hat you can expect from the updates to the planner and some of the new accessories. 

As you probably know, one of the many joys of getting an ECLP is that you have options to choose from like what cover you want, how you want it personalized, and even what layout you want the insides to have.  This year, there are more ways to customize your ECLP than ever.  Read more