Thursday, January 22

Literary Libations: Grapefruit Mimosa

Picture taken by John Knox - Edited by Lauren

Sometimes there isn't anything better than a sparkling drink on winter morning to keep you feeling perky. My ideal Saturday morning is waking up late and curling up with a good mystery or fantasy novel, a croque monsieur, and mimosa. This weekend, why not mix it up? I'm sure by now that you've had a traditional mimosa, but it is equally as tasty (and slightly healthier) to replace the orange juice with grapefruit juice! You can make it the long way and actually squeeze the grapefruit yourself, or you can take a short cut and simply by grapefruit juice from your grocery store. When I make mine I use the 50/50 method and simply add equal amounts of champagne and juice, but you can always use the taste test, starting with a little juice, taste, add a little more, taste, until you're happy.

Currently I'm reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I had heard so many great things about the book that I decided I better give it a chance. I never heard anything specific about the book, but a lot of people gave that vague "I really enjoyed it" answer and they made a movie out of it, so it must be popular. I really like reading books that have movies. After I read the book I always force my husband to watch the movie with me the very same night I finished the book. Then I analyze how well they translated the book into movie and harp on all the important pieces they skipped. I know, I'm just a ball of joy, but the English Writing major in me gets my kicks that way. So SPOILERS are coming. Don't read the next paragraph if you intend to read Gone Girl in the near future.

Essentially Gone Girl is about a married couple having relationship problems. Then one day the wife disappears and that's where we come in. The husband, Nick, comes home on their 5 year anniversary and finds his house in disarray and his wife, Amy, is simply gone. He immediately calls the police, who soon discover that the living room is staged. The coffee table is knocked over, but the books that were on top are on the wrong side of the table. The couch is flipped over, but is too bottom heavy to have been flipped in a struggle. The paintings on the walls are perfectly straight, despite the fact that they fall over with a single stomp. The forensic team finds remnants of Amy's blood in the kitchen, where someone has clearly done a sloppy job mopping it up. It's not looking good for Nick. We read the novel from two points of view, we get Nick's thought process as he is in the present, and we see inside Amy's head via a diary left behind. We often see the same event from both points of view because something or other will trigger Nick's memory and he will think through an old event and then we read about it in Amy's diary. The thing that bothered me was that these two characters seemed to be living in alternate realities. They didn't connect on anything and the actually events were told differently enough that red flags were popping up all over the place. I almost stopped reading because the discrepancy annoyed me so much. Then, half way through, everything clicked into place.

Amy is a psycho path. Half way through diary Amy comes to an end and we meet real, live, in-the-flesh Amy, who has run away and framed her husband for her murder. Nick isn't totally innocent, he has been cheating with a 23 year old woman, but he didn't ever harm or abuse his wife. Amy has been plotting her revenge for an entire year. And Missouri has the death penalty. This is when the novel came to life and I truly began enjoying it. I still haven't finished, but so far I think it was worth it to carry on reading through the first half. The payoff does come, it just takes longer than I'd like.

Have you ever had a Grapefruit Mimosa? Have you read Gone Girl and if so, did you feel that the first half of the book was inconsistent? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, January 9

Fashion Friday: Fitness

Happy New Year!

Like most of you, I gave up all attempts at healthy living over the holidays and my pants now fit a little tighter because of it. So, along with most the rest of the world during the month of January, I am attempting to get back into shape by trying to actually go to the gym. And with that, Fashion Friday is back with a round of workout wear (because who says you can't still be cute while you sweat?).

Shirt: Victoria's Secret; Sports Bra: Sports Authority; Leggings: Sports Authority; Shoes: Skechers
For those of you (like me) who simply despise running, there are other options as well. Yoga, for example, is not only incredibly relaxing, but builds mussel strength and endurance as well as significantly improving your balance (though I still can't seem to get hang of a tree pose). Many gyms will offer beginning classes as well as other great alternatives to traditional workouts including kickboxing, zumba, or (my personal favorite) step aerobics!

If you don't have the funding (or time, or effort) that goes into a gym membership, take a look online for some great at home workout videos or make some simple changes in your daily life to help stay fit without sacrificing your schedule. Some of my favorites include:
  • Using an exercise ball instead of a chair.
  • Walk when and where you can.
  • Do sit-ups or jumping jacks during commercials.
If you have some tricks of your own, please write them below!

Most importantly, don't be intimidated by those around you. As the great internet has quoted, “Don't compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.” Everyone has to start somewhere, the important thing is that you are putting in the effort to live a healthier life and that you feel good about the choices you are making. So whether you grab a friend and suffer through together or go it alone, just keep taking those steps in a positive direction.
Best of luck to a healthy 2015!

Wednesday, January 7

Ridiculously Practical Meal: Avocado Baked Eggs

Whether you want a decadent breakfast or a breakfast for dinner feel, have we got the meal for you! Jamie (Instagram: @browneyelovely) put together scrumptious looking meal... and this one won't break your new healthy eating resolution!

First, gather your ingredients. You will need 2 eggs, one ripe avocado, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bacon bits, and chives. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Start by slicing your avocado in two, long ways. Remove the pit and lay the avocados in a sturdy ramekin or cooking dish. Crack one egg into each avocado half and season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Then move your prepped avocados into the oven for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes are up, pull them out of the oven, top with bacon and chives, and serve!

Tuesday, January 6

Happy New Year

It's been crazy for me lately so I haven't gotten around to as much on here as I would like. However, on my second blog (I freelance for The Life Change Institute) I've published a couple new posts all about the new year!

Photo by Nadir Hashmi.

If you need help feeling grounded as the new year begins, bringing a whirlwind of new responsibilities, then check out Breathe. It's a concept I've been trying to practice regularly.

If you made some new year resolutions and are determined to keep them this year, then check out Top Three Tips For New Year Resolutions.

I hope you will hope on over to and read through them! Let me know what you think in the comments. What do you do to stay calm when life is stressful? Did you make any resolutions and, if so, what are they?

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 22

Hot Toddy For Christmas!

Hot toddies are pretty much the quintessential winter drink. Hot buttered rum puts up some stiff competition, but it doesn't have the reputation of soothing colds the way a hot toddy does. I had a hot toddy for the first time this weekend and it was not at all what I expected! Having heard of hot toddies around Christmas for years I had somehow gotten it into my head that it was a chocolaty drink... How wrong I was. When I finally looked up the recipe I was a little unsure about how it would turn out, but when I finally tasted my concoction I was very pleasantly surprised!

Hot toddies can be made with a variety of different alcohols. I've heard of using rum, scotch, brandy, and more, but for mine I used a honey bourbon. I choose the honey bourbon because I thought the sweetness complimented the drink well, but use your preference (or whatever you happen to have laying around).

You will need: 1 Irish Breakfast tea bag, 1.5 ounces of honey bourbon, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 cinnamon stick, a pinch of nutmeg, boiling water.

You can either measure out your honey and just dump it in your mug, or you can do what I did and guesstimate by coating the inside of your mug with honey. Add in the lemon juice, honey bourbon, tea bag, and cinnamon stick. Fill your mug with boiling water and let it steep for 5 minutes. Once the five minutes are up remove the the tea bag and top with the pinch of nutmeg. I sipped mine on the couch, looking at the Christmas tree and dreaming of Christmas.

Friday, December 19

Fashion Friday: Idea Dresses

It's almost Christmas and that means it's also the season of holiday parties! Below we've laid out a few fabulous choices of outfits for office parties, family gatherings, or just plain ol' holiday fun!

For a twist on the norm, stand out by wearing green instead of the typical red. Just add a few simple accessories (like these amazing Steve Madden lace heels!) to this lovely vintage-inspired gown from Modcloth and that's all you need to dance the night away! 
Shoes: Steve Madden 
Accessories: Target
Feather hairpiece: Local Vintage Shop

As we've shown earlier this month, the holidays are all about RED. And nothing says Christmas better than the classic Scarlet and Gold. Pairing a bright red dress with various gold accessories is a classy way to get into the holiday spirit
Dress: My Story
Watch: Fossil
Bracelet, belt, necklace: Lou Lou’s

My personal favorite! They say "simple pictures are best" and this sparkly number by designer Von Vonni is beautiful enough to stand on it's own. Adding a pop of color with these bright red heels from Journey's is all you need to be on your way. 

Not up to the hassle of a dress or feel like going more casual? Well a shirt/skirt combo is perfect! This red top by Modcloth and gold skirt by Von Vonni are my go-to for friendly get-togethers and ugly-sweater parties. The detailing on the shirt will make you straight-from-grandmas-closet appropriate, but without having to descend into the truly “ugly." Bonus points for antlers or other Christmas headwear!
Skirt: Von Vonni
Shirt: Modcloth
Headband: Fred Meyer 

BONUS LOOK: I'll be going out with the old and in with the new by wearing this classy black & gold outfit on New Years Eve! No one knew how to party like the roaring 20's did, and this timeless art-deco dress from Modcloth is just the thing to start the new year right. But most important: no matter what you wear, don't forget a watch so you'll be able to start the countdown and get your New Years kiss right at midnight!
Watch: Fossil
Top hat: Ye Old Hat Shoppe
Shoes: Steve Madden
Necklace/belt: Lou Lou’s

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! It's been great sharing with you and I'm looking forward to more #FashionFriday starting again in January

Love Always,
Jamie (