January 23, 2015

Weekend Links We Love



We hope y'all have had a wonderful (and hopefully short) week! Can you believe it's almost the end of January? Usually January seems to go by so slow, but both of us feel like the past few weeks have flown by.

This weekend's list is full of inspiration - for travel, for our home, for our kitchen, and for our careers.   And, we threw in some fun links for your weekend perusal as well.

52 Places to Go in 2015 - New York Times. We're dreaming of visiting so many places on this list, including hotspots across Europe, South America and across the States.

30 Instagram Pets That Colored Our World in 2014 - Mashable.

Kale Salad Bowl Recipe - I Will Not Eat Oysters blog. This kale salad is chock full of sweet potatoes - healthy and satisfying!

Southern Living Associate Travel + Culture Editor Lacy Morris - The Everygirl.

The Brain On 23 - Huffington Post.

10 Quotes About Creativity - Brit + Co. One we love: "Foster creativity and aspire to create unexpected joy and fun."

January 2015 Issue of Matchbook Mag.

January 21, 2015

In Our Kitchen: Breakfast Acai Bowls

Both Katie and I are big breakfast people. Of course we have to start with a cup of coffee, or two,  but we always make time for a healthy meal to start the day. It's necessary when you're working all day!

Lately, I've been loving making my own "smoothie" bowls full of fresh fruit and Greek yogurt. Although I often resort to scrambled eggs in the morning, these smoothie bowls really do make starting the day a little bit brighter (maybe it's just the bright colors that make me happy...it's the little things when you're waking up bright and early!). After the holidays, and all the rich breakfast foods you might have partaken in...maybe those extra pieces of bacon or cinnamon rolls are coming to mind, this is a great way to start of your year on a more nutritious start.

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Today we have a recipe that we're both swooning over. It includes Acai berries + hemp seeds, which I've been trying to incorporate in my diet. For an extra boost, I like that the recipe includes protein powder - it saves me from feeling hungry for lunch circa 10 am!

INGREDIENTS

Base
4 packs frozen Acai berry puree
2 cups coconut water
2 bananas
1 cup frozen strawberries
2 tbsp hemp protein powder

Topping
1 cup granola
2 handfuls fresh berries
4 tbsp hemp seeds

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until thick and creamy. Add more milk if you prefer.

Pour the blend into two bowls, top with granola, berries and hemp seeds and serve immediately!

January 20, 2015

Fair Isle Sweaters

In the winter, I especially am drawn to oversize sweaters in all colors and patterns. The fair isle sweater is one of those sweaters I love to wear during these cold months. It's one that never seems to go out of style. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but this wardrobe staple reminds me of curling up by the fire, mug of hot chocolate in hand, and watching the snow fall outside.

Although we don't exactly see a lot of snow in Alabama, we can pretend right? Here are our favorite ways to wear the iconic winter sweater. My personal favorites? The ones in neutral tones that can be worn both to the office and on the weekend.

Work
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Weekend
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At Home
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Lunch Date
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Running Errands
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January 19, 2015

Blonde Hair Don't Care

Confessions from a semi-fake blonde...
**Note - some products are applicable for brunettes, red heads and all the colors in between!

I'm what is considered a natural blonde, but as others with similar hair face, my hair has seemed to darken with age. Oh how I long for my toddler days when my hair was almost platinum. In an effort to keep my hair its golden color, I do get partial highlights. However, living on a budget and a busy schedule do not allow for regular monthly colorings or the necessary regular cuts (and I am not the type to color my hair myself or use something out of a box - I'll leave my hair care to the trained professionals). Thus, I have several products that I use daily (or weekly) to help keep my hair healthy and as light and blonde as possible for as long as possible. Check out my top five favorite hair care products for strong, healthy hair (colored or not)!

1. Shampoo/Conditioner - Joico K-PAK Color Therapy: I use this shampoo and conditioner once a day. I am trying to spread my hair washes out to every other day to help with hair growth and strength, but find myself washing every day more so than not. This shampoo and conditioner is great for colored hair because it contains advanced Quadra├čond Peptide Complex® of peptides to help keep color vibrant and hair moisturized and healthy.

2. Mousse - Big Sexy Hair Root Pump: This product comes out as a spray and turns to a mousse, helping to get the product straight to the root. I apply to damp hair and blow dry with a round brush for maximum lift. I like this product because it gives my hair the texture it needs without making it too sticky. 

3. Color Extender - Blonde Idol Custom Tone Conditioner by Redken: This is a great way for blondes to extend their color in between touchups. Use it starting a week after your color treatment and adjust the dial based on the strength of the color deposit you need. This helps neutralize brassiness and condition hair after a color treatment. 

4. Moroccan Oil: My Moroccan Oil actually comes straight from Morocco, but you can get your own right here in the states. I apply to the ends of my hair after towel drying. I have to be careful to only use a very small, dime sized amount to avoid an oily look. This product helps condition split ends and can also help tame fly aways. 

5. Repair Treatment - SeaExtend Ultimate ColorCare Silkening Oil by Aquage: This stuff is amazing. I use it once every week or two to help restore nutrients to my hair. This helps build stronger, more moisturized hair. The product uses advanced technology to mend the hair at the cuticle for smooth, healthy hair that lasts. 



January 16, 2015

Winter Home Inspiration

Happy Friday!

With all this chilly weather on the forecast, I've been looking forward to coming home from work and curling up with a blanket on the couch. (Yes, it really doesn't take much for me to get excited these days). Even if Alabama has yet to see snow, which confession: Katie and I don't like all that much, the evenings and mornings have been freezing lately! Brrrr, y'all.

Here are some of my favorite finds for your home or apartment that will hopefully spruce up these next cold couple months. It was hard for us to put away all our holiday decor, so we're hoping to incorporate a few of these things into our space within the next few weeks!

Furry throw 

I love the faux fur trend, not only on vests and jackets, but as a blanket! I would love adding one to the end of my bed.

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New candle

Swap out those holiday scents for a fresh, clean candle like this one from Anthropologie. You can't go wrong with this blue color either.




Tea kettle

Lately Katie and I have been drinking a whole lot of tea throughout the day, partly to keep warm. We have a bright red teapot sitting on our counter that I adore, but this one is an adorable find! It also doubles as a fantastic little entertaining piece.

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Cable knit pillows

Whether you add one to your bed or your sofa, these instantly bring warmth (and comfort!) into your room. Sticking with white or off-white is always a good option so that they'll match regardless of what furniture you own down the road.


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January 14, 2015

DIY Peel Off Mask

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Alright ladies... and gentleman.. all barriers (and concealers aside), I still struggle with blackheads! My nose and chin seem like breeding grounds for these facial imperfections, and my pores seem like sand buckets at times. I've scrubbed, squeezed, pinched and more to try and get these pesky black things out of my skin.

One remedy I love is a DIY peel-off mask. I love the refreshing, clean feeling I have after a nice peel away mask. I found a simple, easy mask on Living Traditionally that seems to help. This one always leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth and my pores clean! It only takes three ingredients and is super easy to mix up and apply!

Ingredients

1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon gelatin (here)
2 tablespoons organic milk

Directions

Clean your face thoroughly and then steam to open up the pores.
Beat the egg white lightly.
Mix gelatin and milk together and heat on low, constantly stirring, until the gelatin dissolves completely. Transfer to a bowl.
Let the gelatin/milk mixture cool. 
Once cooled, add the egg and mix well.
Spread the mixture over your face and let it set for 20-30 minutes.
Peel off starting at the chin and moving upwards.
Rinse with warm water and splash with cold water to close the pores.

January 11, 2015

A Meal for the Stars - Golden Globe Edition

What has Julie and I buzzing with excitement today? Awards season is in full swing and tonight the 72nd Golden Globe awards take center stage. Two favorites, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (literally the one I wish would play me in a movie of my life) host these iconic awards which recognize the best in television and film, both domestic and foreign.


From the fashion, to the stars and all of the hot topics being talked about on the red carpet, it is sure to be an evening full of entertainment. Which obviously means Julie and I are doing a little entertaining of our own. A few friends will be coming over for appetizers, dinner and of course champagne. Take a look at our Golden Globe menu:

Champagne Spritzers

You Will Need:
Champagne
Cranberry Juice
How To Make It: A glass of champagne and a splash of cranberry juice


Artichoke Dip

You Will Need:
2 Cans of Artichoke Hearts
1.5 Cups Mayonaise
1.5 - 2 Cups Parmesan Cheese
Dash of Garlic
Dash of Paprika
Crackers for Dipping
How To Make It: Drain and dive up the artichoke hearts. Grease up a baking pan and fill with the hearts, mayo, garlic and cheese. Top with paprika and bake at 350 degrees until bubbling. Serve warm with buttery crackers!

Garlic Chicken with Orzo

You Will Need:
1 Cup Uncooked Orzo
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic
1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken 
Salt to Taste
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Parsley
2 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves
Grated Parmesan Cheese Topping
How To Make It:  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo pasta, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the garlic and red pepper 1 minute, until garlic is golden brown. Chop chicken into bite size pieces. Stir in chicken, season with salt, and cook 2 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned and juices run clear. Reduce heat to medium, and mix in the parsley and cooked orzo. Place spinach in the skillet. Continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Old- Fashioned Chocolate Cake

You Will Need:
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Table Salt
2 Cups Hot Water
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Distilled White Vinegar 
1 Tablespoon Instant Coffee or Espresso Granules (optional)
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Glossy Chocolate Icing
How To Make It: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8x2 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine water, oil vinegar, instant coffee and vanilla in large measuring cup. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until just combined (a few lumps are OK). Divide batter between pans and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes and then invert on a rack to cool completely. Once cooled, ice to your liking. 

January 9, 2015

Happy Weekend

Happy Friday, loves!

The past few weeks have been a blur for Katie and I, in the midst of traveling home, traveling for work, and catching up on life back in Birmingham, we have been what seems like non-stop-on-the-go. Christmas, of course, was a time we wanted to spend away from our computers and with our families and friends. Then once it got into the new year, it's been nothing but catch up, resulting in "starfishing" (Katie's term) on our beds in the evenings. Although we've taken a little time off from the blog, we are back and ready to start 2015, and hope you haven't missed us too much.

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Our weekend plans? Lots of blog planning, healthy recipe browsing (and hopefully cooking!), and of course cheering on our Tar Heels tomorrow afternoon. Also, you bet we'll be watching the Golden Globes Sunday night. (But it's really to see the dresses, y'all). I know I'll be finalizing my list of 2015 goals this weekend in between those activities - there's a long list of things I want to accomplish this year running through my head and I just need to get those things down on paper.

We hope you all have a lovely, restful weekend! And keep warm!

January 6, 2015

New Year Toned Abs

We all do it. A new year rolls around we all say we are going to focus on eating healthier and working out more. While we may start out strong, sticking to our work out routine gets harder as we get deeper into the year. Work gets busy, things come up and slowly we begin to skip out on gym time. Trust me... I do it too...

However, I have found a way that seems to help avoid getting into the gym rut or feeling like not even going at all. Try to switch up your daily workouts. I sometimes catch myself getting stuck just jumping on the treadmill for a quick run and rushing through a quick weights workout. Now that we are almost a week into the new year, try switching up your workout routine. Take a new class at your gym, jump in the pool for a new type of exercise, or download a workout plan online to exercise new muscles.

To get you going, I've found seven easy exercises you can try to target your abs. Make tomorrow abs day at the gym and try this new workout! See picture examples from the workout here.
Plank Row

Get into a plank position with a glider under each foot. If you don’t have gliders or want to do the workout at home, try using paper plates or towels. Hold the plank, press down on the gliders, and slide legs out behind you, maintaining the plank position. Your arms will extend as you slide your body back. Then, pull your body back into the starting position. Keep a straight plank pose the entire time. Make sure you’re pushing and pulling as far as you can, getting as much range as possible. Do 10-15 forward and backs (counting forward and back as one) or for 30 seconds.

Bear

Position yourself into an extended arm plank. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, feet hip-width apart. Press down on the gliders and slowly pull the knees until they are about 4 inches in front of your hips. Then, push back to starting plank position, keeping the core tight the entire time, drawing the navel in. Do for 30-45 seconds, or about 10-15 reps.

One-Legged Mountain Climber


Start in a plank position and lift your left leg. Keep the right leg engaged and stable to help maintain balance Then, slide the left knee in and back, maintaining the height of your hips. Do 10-15, then switch and do the same on the other side.

Army Crawl

Get down into a plank position, squeezing your butt, with a glider under each foot. Start with your arms on the back edge of your mat. Using your forearms, crawl forward about five steps, until your gliders hit the end of the mat, and then crawl back. Make sure to hold the plank position. Engage your muscles to keep legs straight and hips stable. Do this 3-5 times, counting forward and back as one full rep.

C-Curve

Sit on the floor on your tailbone. Keep your back straight and lower down slightly as if you are lowering down for a sit-up. With a ball squeezed tightly between your thighs. Rest on your elbows and make sure to maintain that height throughout. Arch your back into a small stretch, tuck the tailbone and drive the low back down. Pick your elbows up and hold onto the backs of your thighs. Keep shoulders down, chin open, and elbows wide. This is the c-curve position.

From here, grab a set of light weights (soup cans work!) and hold arms out by your knees. Lower arms and tap the ground, then lift back to start position. Repeat as you hold the c-curve for 60-90 seconds, concentrating on the arm movements the entire time.

Hip Tips

Lay flat on your back, legs straight up in the air at a 90-degree angle. Place a ball in-between the inner thighs. Relax your hands down by your side. As you press in on the ball, tip the hips up. Keep in mind, this is a subtle movement: Be careful not to rock your hips, just tip them up slightly, initiating all movement from your lower abdomen. Crunch in and tip the hips, release halfway, repeat. Progress it by holding weights in your hands. Do 15-20 controlled reps.

X-Factor
Start with your body sprawled out on the floor in an X, holding a weight in each hand. You can also do this exercise without weights. Lift your left hand and bring the weight towards your right shin, lifting your torso and keeping your belly pulled into your spine, until you roll all the way up to balancing on your tailbone. You can come up onto your elbow a bit to make it a little easier. Lower back down and alternate sides. Try turning your foot out, still keeping the leg straight, to get a deeper inner thigh workout at the same time. Do 24-30 reps, alternating every time (so 12-15 each side).

Six Pack Scissor

Lay flat on your back, hug your knee into your chest your left leg straight and about two inches off the ground, right leg up toward the ceiling. Lift your upper body nice and high, use hands behind knee and then bring your hands behind your head. Lift the left foot and tap the back of the right heel, crunch and tip your hips, half release (just shoulder blades don’t drop your torso), and bring the leg back to its starting position a half inch from the ground. Do 12-15 per side, completing all on one side before switching to the other.