Saturday, July 30, 2016

IdealFit Review + Giveaway

Happy Saturday!! I'm not sure if it's because I was running all over the place this week or what, but this week felt sooooo long. One thing is for sure, I'm thrilled that it's the weekend!!

I use the weekends to get longer workouts in because the gym is less crowded and typically I'm not under a time constraint. Today I opted for a full body workout with some extra leg sets because I knew I wouldn't have to fight the guys to get a smith machine (my gym doesn't have squat racks). Morning workouts are my favorite for a number of reasons, but mainly because it helps wake me up. It gets the blood flowing, adrenaline rushing and helps me feel energized for the day. 

Since I workout so early in the morning I don't eat breakfast before I hit the gym. I know I'll get some haters telling me how terrible it is to do that, but my body does not handle food before a workout well at all. I do however make sure to have a protein shake before I hit the gym- just protein mixed with water, this way I'm not hungry during a workout and I have energy to push through. 

Recently I got to try out some products from IdealFit. I was super pumped to try IdealFit products because the creator, Lindsey Matthews, is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer. It's a product that's made specifically for women (sorry fellas). All too often proteins are made and marketed specifically to men, but what companies fail to grasp is women use protein supplements too and men and women's bodies are different. Men have an easier time building muscle then women thanks to biologic factors. Lindsey has taken all of this into account when creating IdealFit and thus created an entire product line for women. Everything from protein to BCAAs are included in the line to help you achieve your fitness goals.

I got a few friends to help me test out the products. First up was the protein. When we opened the french vanilla protein it smelt amazing! The macros are really awesome for the protein too, 20g protein/0g carbs/0g fat for a total of 80 calories per scoop. The protein comes in four really fun flavors french vanilla, chocolate brownie, cake batter and piña colada. The macros are the same for all four flavors. A container runs $39.99 and has enough for 30 servings. IdealFit protein is gluten free (YAY!)  and uses kosher dairy. Seeing as I can't have milk I let my friends test it out and they loved it! The taste was just as good as the smell and it was filling. I did some baking with the french vanilla protein and it baked very well! I made some protein pancakes for a friend who was in town visiting and she loved the vanilla taste, she didn't even know I used protein powder until I told her. I also made vanilla coconut energy balls that turned out really good (recipe will be up on Monday). Further proof that not all protein powders are thick and chunky.

Next up was the BCAAs. I tested the raspberry lemonade flavor and immediately liked it. I rarely use BCAAs just because I don't feel the need, but if I'm squeezing in an extra workout with a friend I'll use them so I feel energized and sustained throughout the workout. The flavor was really good without being overly artificial and just like the protein it is gluten free. 

A container of fat burner pills was also included, but none of us took any because we simply don't believe in taking 'diet pills.'  If you're truly looking to lose weight the only way to do that is by putting in a lot of hard work- changing eating habits, focusing on whole foods, fruits, veggies, and protein, getting a good nights sleep, and of course exercising regularly. There is no magic pill that is going to help you lose weight.

Overall we all loved the protein and BCAAs. The macros are great, they taste good and they're not loaded with scary chemicals and who knows what else. All of the products complimented our active lifestyles perfectly. We'd take protein before a workout and BCAAs during and we felt great whether we were lifting, running, cycling, doing yoga, paddleboarding or any other sort of activity. 

If you're interested in trying one of IdealFit's products you're in luck! IdealFit, FitApproach and I have teamed up to give ONE lucky winner a full size product of their choice! To enter all you have to do it head over to my instagram account, follow me and like the IdealFit photo that's posted! For a bonus entry tag a lady friend you love to or would love to workout with! The giveaway runs until August 1 at 11:59pm and the winner will be contacted via instagram on August 2 to get their shipping information. 

Good luck and have a terrific weekend!!

*This is a sponsored post brought to you by IdealFit and FitApproach. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Favorites #3

Happy Friday!! I totally dropped the ball last week with a favorites post so I have some making up to do this week, especially since I've been MIA this week but it's been a really busy week. If I could slow down time that would be fantastic because it's one of those weeks where it seems like my to do list only gets longer while nothing is getting done. Nonetheless, here are some of my favorites from this week and be on the lookout for a fun surprise tomorrow (*hint hint*)!

Buddha bowls and old friends. I've made buddha bowls on my own, mainly because I have tons of leftover veggies in my fridge that need to get eaten, but I got to see an old friend this past week and we made Buddha bowls for dinner. My friend and I both love to cook and let me tell you she makes an epic buddha bowls. She tossed butternut squash and cut up tempeh in a little taco seasoning for some flavor and roasted it. While that was roasted we made guacamole- just avocado, some seasoning and lemon juice- and homemade salsa. She also whipped up rice, sautéed black beans in some seasoning and managed to get everything done within minutes of each other, this is a talent I wish I had. Normally I get one thing finished while the other things need more cook time and yeah it's not good. Dinner was delicious and it was nice to just relax and catch up on life.

S'more brownies. Do I really need to say more? I love making these brownies because they're so easy! I've been making them for a number of years and tried a few different ways, but when I'm short on time these brownies are perfect, plus they're a sure hit. Let alone they're S'MORES and they're much less messy than the original s'mores- babysitters/nannies/parents you can thank me later. You can get the recipe here.

Emily from Beauty In Christ. I'm so happy my path crossed Emily's in the blogging world because she is beyond a doubt one of the nicest people I've ever met. Her love for Jesus shines through absolutely everything she does. I got a surprise in the mail this week from her and was just blown away by her kindness and generosity. Emily surprised me with a beautiful devotional, which I had been looking for a new one, and a canister of Amazing Grass protein. Her words of encouragement have meant so much to me, especially over this past week which has been incredibly hard and draining. 

Hemp dairy free yogurt. I've tried a lot of dairy free yogurt in the past number of months, but this is by FAR the best one I've had. It's Tempt dairy free yogurt and it's made from hemp. It's packed with 10 grams of protein which is unheard of in dairy free yogurt and it's allergy friendly. A full review of Tempt will be up next week and I'm super excited to share all the info with you (and no I'm not sponsored I just like sharing awesome products I find with you guys). Do yourself a favor and go find this yogurt ASAP!

Post-workout foam rolling. I have to admit I hate foam rolling. I've never seen any benefit from doing it so I get streaky with it. I'll do it for awhile then stop and eventually start again. Recently I started foam rolling again because I've been upping my weights and running more and I've been so sore. So far I'm still not seeing any benefit, but maybe it will eventually help. I'm willing to try just about anything to help with my tip hips and my right hip flexor. 

What have been some of your favorites from this week? 
Do you foam roll? If so, can you tell if foam rolling has made a difference?

Have a terrific Friday everyone! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Super Easy S'more Brownies

Maybe I had a strange childhood but I didn't have my first s'more until I was a senior in high school. There were plenty of bonfires during the summer months, but my family just never made s'mores. Whenever I'd go to a friends house and they'd have a bonfire everyone would be roasting marshmallows, laughing and having a great time. I never partook in the s'more making simply because I'm not a sweets gal, but I loved spending time with my friends. Now when I think about s'mores I think about summer nights with my friends and it brings back fantastic memories.

This past weekend I had a few friends over, but it's been so hot (90F+) for a straight week with 100% humidity that bonfires have been banned for fear of starting a giant fire. Our conditions are nowhere near as dry as California, but it's better safe than sorry. What's a girl to do when her friends can't make s'mores because of the fire ban? She makes s'more brownies! 

S'more brownies are ridiculously easy to make. All you need is a box of brownie mix, marshmallows, chopped up chocolate and graham crackers. This recipe is very easily made allergy friendly simply by buying allergy friendly brownie mix, graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. I've seen allergy friendly s'more products at Whole Foods and various other grocery and health food stores. Every single party and bonfire I've brought them too they've been a hit and there's been none leftover. You cannot go wrong with s'mores! 

S'more Brownies
  • 1 box high quality brownie mix (Ghirardelli, Betty Crocker Dark Chocolate Fudge, etc.)
  • 1 cup marshmallows (size does not matter)
  • 4 graham cracker sheets, broken into chunks
  • 1  King sized chocolate bar, chopped into chunks or 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Spray a 9x9 pan with nonstick cook spray or coconut oil and preheat oven to temperature on brownie mix box.

Mix brownie batter according to package directions and pour into 9x9 pan.

Set pan in oven for 20 minutes.

While brownies are cooking break graham cracker sheets into small chunks. If using jumbo marshmallows, chop them in 1/2 as it will make baking easier. Chop chocolate bar into chunks.

In a bowl or ziplock bag combine graham cracker bits, chopped chocolate chunks, and marshmallows. Toss until everything is combine. 

After 20 minutes take pan out of oven, then brownies should be partly cooked, but still very doughy. 

Spread marshmallow, graham cracker and chocolate mix over top of brownie batter. Try to spread it in as even a layer as possible to make baking easier.

Put pan back in oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes insert a toothpick (try to avoid chocolate chunks) to check for doneness. If toothpick comes back clean the brownies are done, but if it's not clean the brownies are not done. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes. The brownies are done with the toothpick comes out clean and the marshmallows are golden brown. My brownies took a little over 40 minutes to bake, the additional toppings take longer for the batter to fully bake.

Allow brownies to cool before cutting, if you can't wait at least allow 15 minutes for cooling. I was able to get 16 brownies out of a 9x9 pan.

If you make these delicious brownies take a picture, tag me on instagram, and use the hashtag #thesimplelife I'd love to see your creations! Don't forget to like my new Facebook page

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WIAW and Why I Gave Up Nut Butter

Happy Wednesday friendly faces! We've made it halfway through the week which has to count for something right? I've still got a smile plastered on my face from this past weekend, you can read my weekend recap here. I haven't done a WIAW post since before the 4th of July weekend, so no time like the present to bring it back! 

I'm a creature of habit when it comes to food, especially when I find foods that fit my macros. I have no shame in the fact that I'm a repeat food offender, but as my uncle always says if it ain't broke don't fix it. 

Breakfast is always on repeat for me because I love my oats. I have breakfast after I come back from the gym and I'm almost always starving. Lately my obsession has been mixing 2 tablespoons of Bob's Red Mill vanilla chia protein powder in with oats (after they're cooked) because it makes them SO thick and creamy- and no I'm not paid to say that. Not to mention the awesome vanilla chia flavor! Toppings always the best part and I normally pile on the fruit. All my favorite summer berries are in season so I've been eating my weight in fruit this summer. Of course no oats would be complete without a drizzle of walden farms zero calorie chocolate sauce and some sprinkles. 

Ok, so as the title of the post mentioned I gave up nut butter. Back in January when I saw a gastro he drastically cut my fat intake for health reasons. In recent months we've been increasing it and he wanted me to try to add some foods back into my diet. Maybe it's because I went months without peanut butter, but when I started trying to add it back in the smell immediately gagged me. I pushed past the smell and for weeks tried eating peanut butter and other nut butters, but my body just wasn't having it. Within half  of hour of consuming it I was sick to my stomach and felt horrible. After talking to him again I decided nut butters were not worth it. My former nut butter loving self is disappointed, but at this point the smell of it makes me sick so it's not worth it. Maybe my body will be able to handle it again in a few years, but for now I'm choosing to get my fat from other sources like avocado, eggs, salmon, etc. You have to do what's best for your body because no one knows your body like you do.

Anyway, on to lunch. I hate to say it, but I'm a lunch repeater too. Technically I'm a 2/3 lunch repeater. My go to lunch recently has been one O'Dough's bagel thin topped with avocado, spinach, tomato, organic turkey, peach salsa and goat cheese. The flavors work so well together and it's basically a party in your mouth. I'm also obsessed with peaches because they've been so dang good this year! I had some leftover carbs (I plan meals a day ahead) so I had some coconut milk yogurt and topped it with an allergy friendly trail mix I found at a local health food store.

No repeat offending for dinner! My brother gave me a Whole Foods gift card for my birthday so I finally made the trip out there, it's a solid 30+ minute drive in good traffic. Of course I had to hit up the salad bar so I loaded up on greens, artichoke, roasted beets, orange bell pepper, tomatoes, pineapple, strawberries, broccoli, mushrooms, turkey and a whole lot more is buried under there. I got two meals out of it so it was definitely worth the money! My sweet friend Cailee recently shared some tips on how to save money at the Whole Foods salad bar and definitely worth the read (it's short!!). 

Do you have a favorite breakfast food that you eat all the time?
What's your favorite place to eat out?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Weekend Recap

This past weekend was so good and so relaxing. I haven't had a weekend that fun in such a long time and it was beyond needed. My heart is full to bursting at the moment. Bear with me as this might be long.

I finally got back in the kitchen to test out a few recipes. First up on the list was granola. I've been making a few gift baskets and packages in recent weeks and granola is always a hit. It's something that's perfect for a quick snack or to use as topping for yogurt, nice cream, etc. I'm the first to admit that I do buy packaged granola, but I'm super picky about brands- normally I stick to Purely Elizabeth or Jessica's (which is made in Michigan!). Homemade granola is nice because you're in control of what goes into it and you can tailor it to your taste. The end result of my recipe testing was this nutty granola which was used in a few gift packages over the weekend. 

The weather has been so gorgeous that I've been outside almost all day, the only downside is that it's been rather humid. We had a harsh winter though so I'm not going to complain because I know what's around the corner, unfortunately. Cora has been in the lake pretty much 24/7 these past weeks because of the heat. I'm pretty sure she's half fish. 

Speaking of being in the water nonstop I've been out on the lake a ton. A few friends and I rented paddleboards again and were out almost all day. I have to admit when the wind gets whipping it gets hard to paddle and my upper body was totally dead by the time we got back, but that didn't stop me from going back out the following morning after working out at the gym. I was out on the water by 7:20am and it was perfect. The lake was glass and so peaceful. After paddling for a few hours I was tired and sadly had to come back in to get the board on the car to return. I'm looking into buying a board so if anyone has any recommendations let me know! 

I have to say paddleboarding makes me extremely hungry. I think it's because when I go with friends we are out all day, so when we come back watch out because we are all hangry. One of my go to post paddleboarding snacks has been coconut milk yogurt or fresh watermelon. I like both of them because they're cold and refreshing, but not too filling. Coconut milk yogurt is a great dairy free alternative and it does not contain soy, which personally I've found soy to cause skin problems.

Saturday I had a few friends over to hangout by the lake. A few of them I hadn't seen in over a year because we've all been busy finishing up school and living hundreds of miles apart doesn't make it any easier. It was coolish so no one swam, but we grilled, drank wine and laughed so hard my stomach hurt by the end of the night. I didn't take any pictures (probably a good thing) because I was just enjoying time with my friends, but it was funny to see my guy friends drinking wine out of girlie glasses. The guys mostly drank beer but I convinced them to try some wine and they liked it, don't doubt me or my wine picking skills! 

I did not track macros on Saturday, but instead focused on having a good time. Now did I go crazy and eat everything in sight? No. I had worked out in the morning and knew what my macros were for breakfast and lunch (because I eat the same thing a lot) so for dinner I focused on balance. I had some grilled chicken, salad, watermelon and baked beans. I also had a few glasses of wine. Sometimes you just need to let lose and have fun with your friends without worrying so much about macros. 

Sunday was a much needed recovery day. We stayed out way too late the night before so I cut myself some slack and didn't go to the gym. I slept in until 6, which is unheard of for me and that's probably because I didn't get to bed until around 2- way past this grandma's bedtime! A few of the neighbors were around so I hung out with them and later on we took the boat out for a ride. Cora isn't a big fan of the boat, but we are working on it. I'm hoping that if we keep exposing her to it that she will become less afraid of it and learn to enjoy it. So far she loves when she sees other dogs. 

The night was capped off with a beautiful lake sunset. If you've never gotten to experience a Michigan summer sunset then you're missing out. I definitely hate on Michigan, especially in the winter, but in the summer there's no place like it and no place I'd rather be. Being out on the lake is the perfect way to spend the day and watching beautiful lake sunsets remind me how lucky I am to call this place home. 

What did you do over the weekend?
What's your favorite thing to do with your friends?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Letter to My Best Friend

"A friend is someone who can see the truth and pain in you even when you are fooling everyone else." 

I came across this quote this past week and absolutely loved it. Friendships are such an important part of life and finding really good friends can be really hard. I can count on one hand the number of best friends I've had in my life. Best friend isn't a term I use loosely because it actually means something to me. 

To me a best friend is someone who always has your back, is there for you no matter what, listens, drags you back down to reality when you need it, loves you, defends you, and would drop everything in a second if you needed them. There's so many other qualities I could add to the list, but these are just a few that I think are important. 

Occasionally I like to share snippets of real life and today is one of those days. I want to introduce you to my best friend Kate! She's totally gorgeous, even with a silly mustache :) 

The crazy thing about our friendship is we met less than a year ago. I was interviewing her sister for a news story about breast cancer awareness and she introduced me to Kate. We immediately hit it off because we both had lupus and as they say the rest is history. So, Kate this post is for you! 


I cannot believe I got lucky enough to have a best friend like you. From the day I met you have been nothing short of amazing. I am eternally grateful that our paths crossed because my life would not be the same without you. 

You have the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. In all our time hanging out I don't think I've ever heard you say a bad thing about anyone; there's not a mean or negative bone in your body. You have a heart of gold. 

I don't think I've ever trusted anyone as completely as I trust you. Maybe it's because we share a bond over lupus, but I knew right away that I could trust you. I've told you things I've never told anyone else because I know you won't judge me. I know you will never betray my trust. 

You've never failed me and you've had my back through all the highs and lows of the last year. Your surprise letters and cards have always brightened my day and the love and thought that you put into my birthday gift astounded me. The wine glasses are getting a lot of use ;) You have a way of making a person feel loved even when you're hundreds of miles away. 

In so many ways it feels like I've known you forever, but its crazy to think its only been a year. Despite all the aches and pains I wouldn't trade this last year for anything because through it all you've kept me laughing. 

I cannot even begin to put into words how thankful I am to have you in my life. You're so much more than a best friend, you're a sister and a fellow lupus warrior. Your beauty, grace and poise even during painful and frustrating situations amaze me. I'm forever in awe of your strength and determination and how you manage to keep such a positive outlook throughout some really tough situations. Your smile lights up a room and you always know how to make someone laugh. You've taught me so much about life, love and friendship over the past year that nothing I could ever do would fully express how grateful I am. 

You're a rare gem Kate. You're a triple threat of the best kind- brains, beauty and a heart of gold. I don't know how I got so lucky to have such an amazing best friend, but I hope one day I can be half as good of a friend as you are. There's no way for me to even begin to get to your level. 

You've made me a better person and my life is forever better because of you. Thank you for being the best best friend a girl could ever ask for. Most importantly thank you for being you!  



Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Favorites #2

Happy Friday!! Is it just me or has it seemed like a really long week? I can't complain though because the weather has been absolutely gorgeous- 90-95F degrees and perfectly sunny. The humidity has been another story, but I crave days like these in the dead of winter.

Moving on, two weeks ago I did a Friday Favorites post and it seemed to be pretty popular so I thought I'd do another one. Just be warned it's a random mishmosh (does anyone still say that?) of things.

Of course I had to put paddleboarding first! I've been paddleboarding a number of times over the past week with friends and solo and every time I fall more in love with it. It's a fantastic workout because it works your entire body, I even got some of my friends to try doing yoga on it with me and it's hard than you think! We've been getting Groupons for board rentals, but now I'm looking into buying my own board because why keep spending money renting a board? If you've never been definitely try it out!

Earth Balance creamy coconut peanut butter is kind of my new obsession. The coconut tastes so real, no artificial junk here! My body is still having a very hard time with fats, specifically peanut butter so my doctor and I have been working on it. I'm eating anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon a day and hoping that overtime my body will get used to the fat, so far no luck, but I'm not about to quit trying, especially with peanut butter that tastes this good!

Have you ever heard of the book The 5 Love Languages? It's been around for awhile and I had to do some work on it in college, but I never gave it much thought. A friend of mine was showing me the results from the quiz she had taken that showed her love languages. She got me to take the quiz too (it's free!) and I have to say the results are pretty accurate. I'd much rather have someone do something for me, like empty the dishwasher, or spend time with someone rather than receiving a gift. I'm also not a touchy feely person, nor have I ever been so that was spot on. The only thing that I felt was wrong is in certain situations these change. For instance, when I go to someone's house I always try to bring a baked good with me, that could be interpreted as a gift, but really I try not to show up anywhere empty handed. Also, with certain people I tend to be more touchy feely. When I was in a long term relationship cuddling/hand holding/etc. made me feel safe and secure, but with friends and family I'm not touchy feely (minus my dog who I love cuddling with). Take the quiz (REALLY IT'S FREE!!) and comment below with your results because I'm curious now!

I met up with a friend for lunch at Panera last week and was immediately reminded why I love it so much. It's such a cozy atmosphere. It reminds me of fall where i want to wear chunky sweaters and sip hot tea in front of the fireplace. I have no idea why it reminds of that but it does. Anyway, I was also reminded of how awesome my local Panera is about accommodating food allergies. I really wanted the Thai Chicken salad so they made it work for me! The service was fantastic, the salad was delicious and the company was even better. I left with a very full heart (and tummy). 

Lastly, of course I'm loving Cora! She hasn't made a blog appearance in awhile so that needed to change. This goofball has been loving the summer weather. Technically she loves all weather (minus downpours) but she loves playing in the lake. I'm pretty sure she's half fish because I have to physically get her out of the water or she'd be in there 24/7. I have to give her a bath once a week because she spends so much time in the lake that she stinks. I still love her to pieces though, even when she is stinky.

Now it's your turn! What are some of your current favorites? Comment below and tell me and tell me your results of the 5 Love Languages quiz! Have a wonderful Friday!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Amazing Grass Review + Giveaway

Happy Friday! It felt nice to have a short week after the holiday, but I am more than ready for the weekend! I'm super excited about today's post because I have a giveaway for you! First let's talk about the protein powder.

Since I had to make the change to dairy free everything I've had a hard time finding protein powders that I like. I'm not someone who likes to use the same thing every time, so switching it up is a must for me, but it's easier said then done. If you've ever tried plant based protein powders they tend to be a bit too thick, chunky and taste like chalk- why try to sugar coat the truth? When I was offered the chance to try Amazing Grass I jumped on it.

All of the ingredients in Amazing Grass protein are items that are easily pronounced and readily available. Not to mention they're all organic, so no nasty pesticides! It's important to me that I know what I'm putting in my body, so when I read ingredients lists that contain wheat grass, pea protein, chia, organic acai, organic peanut butter, etc. I have no problems putting that in my body because it's good for me!

Let's talk about taste. Taste is tied for first place (with ingredients) for what's most important to me in a protein powder. I'm super picky about taste because who wants to drink chalk? Not me. I always drink protein powder mixed with just water, so I was really happy when it mixed so well. If you let it sit for a few minutes it really thickens up too! Pro tip: mix protein and water the night before and set in fridge- it gets so thick that it's like a smoothie! The chocolate and peanut butter taste really shined through but neither overpowered the other. I really liked it plain (just mixed with water), so I also tested it in a smoothie. I throw a lot of fruit in my smoothies so I was worried that there would be too much competing for taste, but I was pleasantly surprised! The chocolate and peanut butter taste were subtle, but detectable and the smoothie tasted like chocolate and peanut butter strawberries- so good! Overall 10/10 for taste. 

The only downside to Amazing Grass is the cost, it's $34.99 for a 10 serving container. You can save a little by purchasing more than one at the same time though. While it is expensive, you're getting the highest quality ingredients possible. I'd much rather pay more and know what I'm putting in my body. Other than price, I have absolutly zero complaints about the product. It tastes great, the ingredients are fantastic and it's an awesome source of nutrition. Plus one serving of Amazing Grass contains 2 servings of fruit and veggies! For picky eaters it's a great way to sneak in some extra nutrients. 

Now for the super awesome part, Amazing Grass is giving away a container of their new protein to one awesome reader!! The contest is open to US residents only (sorry international readers!) and the winner will get to pick their flavor of choice to try- chocolate peanut butter, original, or pure vanilla. To enter for your chance to win all you have to do is follow me on instagram, like the picture and share your favorite way to keep fit during the summer! For a BONUS tag a friend on the picture or comment on this post with your favorite way to use protein powder! The winner will be announced and contacted Sunday morning! Good luck!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

4th of July Weekend Recap

Happy Thursday, I hope you had a great 4th of July and long holiday weekend! I meant to post a weekend recap yesterday, but life got a little busy so it's a day later than planned, but also another day closer to the weekend again YAY! The holiday weekend was busy but so much fun.

I had some friends over on Saturday to watch fireworks on the lake and to have a relaxing lake day. We had so much fun soaking up the sunshine and swimming so I cannot wait to have another lake day with everyone soon. 

Once it got dark we sat out and watched the fireworks. It was by far one of the best firework displays I've ever seen. There was so many awesome fireworks that it was hard to choose a favorite firework. I was also excited because one of my best friends was able to get off work just in time for the show, so he rushed over and watched them with us. I always feel like a little kid when I watch fireworks because I'm so in awe of their power and beauty. I've always been curious how they make fireworks to form different shapes and patterns, but that's my inner nerd showing. 

My friends and I hung out for a bit after the fireworks, but some of them had to work in the morning so we called it a night pretty early. We used to stay up until 3 or 4am talking and laughing but it's a lot harder for all of us to do that now- as my grandpa used to say getting old ain't for sissies! 

Sunday was a relaxing day; after being up late with friends I needed some time to just hang out in the sun. A few people came out and we had some wine and just relaxed by the lake. Can we please take a moment to appreciate how adorable this wine glass is?! One of my best friends Kate got me a set of wine glasses from HomeGoods and I'm in love with them! They're so cute and I feel so much classier drinking out of a proper wine glass than a solo cup. 

For dinner Sunday night I had some leftovers of grilled chicken, grilled sweet potato and green beans. This has been my go to meal lately because it's so easy. To grill sweet potato all I do is slice it into semi-thick chunks, spray both sides with nonstick cookspray or coconut oil (it keeps it from sticking to the grill), throw on some seasoning and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. It's so easy but so good! 

I started the 4th of July at the gym with a lift and a run. I always start my day off with a workout because it makes me feel good and it helps me get the day off on the right foot. I ran outside, but immediately regretted it because it was SO hot and humid that it was hard for me to catch my breath. Needless to say I cut my run way short. I refueled with my usual oatmeal and berries (and sprinkles of course), but lately I've been mixing in some vanilla chia protein powder from Bob's Red Mill and it's so good! It makes the oatmeal extra thick and creamy, plus it gives it a really good taste.

Cora and I spent a ton of time outside on the 4th because it was so nice out. Unlike me, Cora doesn't mind the heat or humidity. She will just charge into the lake to cool off. 

Tuesday was by far my favorite day of the long weekend. A friend and I got a Groupon to rent paddleboards. I had rented a paddleboard in Maui with my brother, but hadn't done it since and forgot how fun it was. We popped right up, no falling or anything, and paddled for hours. It was a picture perfect day for paddleboarding- sunny skies, a light breeze and the water is warm. We took breaks to get water to stay hydrated and to jump off our boars to cool off. After dinner I headed back out on the board for another few hours. I wish I didn't have to return the board because it was so much fun. Now I want to buy a paddleboard because I'd be out on it all the time. I just wish they weren't so expensive!

What did you do over the holiday weekend? Did you do watch fireworks for the 4th of July? Have you ever tried paddleboarding or would you try it?

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday and hello long holiday weekend! It's going to a fun-filled weekend full of lake days, BBQing, fireworks and spending time with friends. I'm definitely looking forward to a little R&R this weekend! 

I've never done a favorites post, but I've gotten requests to share some of the products I love and where I get them. I picked five of the products I get asked about most frequently and linked them up below. None of these are affiliate links and I'm not getting paid to share these products, these are things that I simply enjoy and have been asked about. Let me know if you try any of them and what you think! 

Bob's Red Mill Vanilla Chia Protein Powder. This is the one I've been asked about the most and I must say it's so good! I'm super picky about protein powders because I'm so limited in my selection and most plant based protein powders I've had taste like chalk<- no one likes that. The vanilla flavor is subtle and does not taste artificial, plus it's packed with chia seeds so you get a boost of omega-3's. One serving has 20g of protein and 12g of fiber so it definitely keeps you full for a long time. If you click this link you can get $1 off coupon for any Bob's Red Mill product and let's be real, who doesn't love saving money?!

Newman's Own Peach Salsa. I've been having this every day for the past 2 weeks and I've yet to get sick of it! The peach flavor is very rich and pair well with just about everything. I love having it on my sandwich because it goes so well with the goat cheese. I've found the salsa at just about every grocery store I've been to, but you can use the locator on their website to find it near you. Walmart is the cheapest at about $2 a jar. It's $2 well spent my friends!

Vega Protein & Greens. Since I found out I can't have milk I had to change protein powders ASAP (Bob's Red Mill hadn't come out yet), so I switched to Vega. I found the protein & greens at Costco in a big tub for $29.99. I've had both the vanilla and chocolate flavors and they're both really good! Every morning before I head to the gym I have a scoop mixed with water, but the trick to making it really nice and thick is to mix the protein and water the night before and put it in the fridge. In the morning just stir it and you'll see how thick it gets- no joke it's like a smoothie because it's so thick! Speaking of smoothies I also love mixing it in smoothies because it makes them thick, but you're also getting the benefit of the greens. It's a great option for people who don't like to eat greens and think green smoothies are "icky."

Nike Air Zoom shoes. I've gotten a ton of questions and compliments about my shoes at the gym so I thought I'd share those too. I'm crazy picky about my running shoes because I have foot problems. I have basically no arch in my foot which causes pain sometimes so I need a little extra support in my shoes. When I first started running I went to a running specialty store and they helped fit me with the proper shoes. All these years later it's still the only place I'll go to buy shoes because they help me get the right shoe for me, plus it's family owned and I love supporting local businesses. The shoes are pricey, but for me it's worth it so I'm not in pain later. They come in a lot of super cute colors too!

Kona Body Scrub. I have never been a girly girl or found the idea of going to the spa appealing, but I do love a good body scrub! I love Kona body scrub for a lot of reasons, but most importantly they use high quality ingredients. Go look at body scrubs in the store and they contain all sorts of chemicals and things I can't even begin to pronounce and if I can't say it, it's definitely not going on my body! Kona body offers free shipping over $25 on orders too so it's a good excuse for some pampering ;)