Spice Rack becomes AWESOME Jewelry Display!

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I was married over 4 years ago and like any bride-to-be, I registered for things before  I really knew if I would use it or how much I would use it.  Sadly, the awesome Martha Stewart Spice Rack I received didn’t get it’s use.  The lids kept popping open and if you know anything about spices….well, stale spices are useless. Plus it made a mess each time one would pop open.  Bad choice.

You can buy one at Macy’s – apparently at $49.99 it’s a steal.  But I’m warning you – DON’T DO IT!!

Typical of me, I refused to throw away something that was expensive.  SO…I found my idea!

Here’s the original spice rack:

BTW – who uses a spice called caraway? I cook all the time and never used it!

Martha Stewart Spice Rack

The dysfunctional Martha Stewart Spice Rack

Here’s my new jewelry holder:

New Jewelry Display

Now my necklaces are organized AND look awesome.

Necklace Containers

Screw off the top and voila!

Hook at top is perfect for hanging bulky necklaces

The large U-shaped hook at top is perfect for hanging bulky necklaces

Now I can see all my necklaces at a glance

It rotates so it’s easy to use

AND the small ones never get tangled!

Any other ideas for repurposing things that are useless?

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Opposite day.

Generally I whine when shopping b/c nothing I want on clearance is available in my size.

Today was very much different.

First – I didn’t realize they made shopping bags this big.

Second – I never thought having 1everything I love on clearance in my size would be such a problem.

Careful what you wish for. Kinda feel guilty. But… Nah.

Reality Check for 1, please.

Wow.  What a crazy few weeks it has been.  I’ll spare you – here’s the cliff notes version:

  • After deciding it’s time to move back to KY, I job search (I wish this on no one)
  • Job offer just before Thanksgiving – for the first time in my life I can say w/confidence I’m doing exactly what I want to do.  Feels GOOD.
  • Next Tuesday…Get Married announces their closing doors – last day is Friday.
  • 1 month no job – packing & being Mark’s personal assistant (hey – who would blame him?) FYI daytime TV sucks AND you who’d known how much you can fit into 700 sq feet?!
  • Saying goodbye to Atlanta & close friends. Spending as much time as possible with my best friend. Finally sinks in.
  • Moved into my in-laws basement (hey, if you have to live with your in-laws, pray they’re as nice as mine!)
  • Holidays.  ’nuff said.
  • Day 1 at the new job. LOVE it. In a hurry to get caught up and get rolling!
  • House searching.  Made an offer. (Is this seriously happening?)
Not gonna lie – it’s been a roller coaster at times….
And, well, I’ve felt a little like this:

Some days I wish nothing more than to be normal.  To spend a weekend doing nothing – no expectations, no to-do’s weighing me down, ah…just to be normal again.  Last night I wanted that so bad.

Mark has been travelling constantly.  Flying out of Cincinnati in the morning, we decide to drive to N. KY to visit good friends.  Running late & rushed – it’s snowing – then after 30 minutes of driving I forget my drivers license & have to go back.  Pity party of one.  Throwing a total b*tch fit. I’ve had enough & wanted to be normal for once.

Then I realized, I’ve had that before.  There was a time when we had nothing to do on the weekends.  No friends to see.  Our jobs weren’t exciting. Saturdays spent at the Home Depot. And I remembered how BORING that was. Forget normal – normal is BORING.

I guess I realized as much as I complain about how crazy our lives have been these past 4 months, I wouldn’t have it any other way and if I’m being honest with myself, I LOVE my life better when it’s crazy, spontaneous, surprising, always changing, challenging, and new.

A month of no job was AWFUL.  I wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t inspired. I got things done – but also spend 2 hours in Target one day for no reason at all.  Who does that? 

Yes, I’m busy at work but that was my choice – I want to be the BEST.  And as fast as possible.

Yes, our calendars are packed.  We’re busy.  But I’m spending time with people I LOVE.   Much of our reasons to move back is because of these very people.  Being closer to our family & friends.  We made that choice.

So I’m grateful for:

  • friends & family who want to spend time with me
  • a job at a company that is challenging & inspiring – and people I enjoy working with
  • a roof over my head and a car to drive
  • a husband who understands my crazy 🙂

It’s funny how you wish for something & whine about it, forgetting the very reasons you wanted it so bad.  Reality check for me.

Next week I’m thrilled to find out if it’s a “niece” or “nephew”! Gabe & Carla’s gender party is going to be so much fun.  Best of all?  If I lived in Atlanta, no way we could be there. This is EXACTLY what we wanted 🙂

Battling it out: Insanity vs. P90X

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I’ve done P90X and Insanity both and everyone always asks: What’s the difference?  Which do you like better?

So below I’ve summarized my thoughts on both programs.  They’re both great for different reasons.  It’s what you’re looking for that will determine what is best for you!

P90X Summary:

  • Cost: $139.80
  • Length: 90 days
  • # of workouts: 12
  • Customized program options: yes! 3: Classic, Lean or Doubles
  • Nutrition book: yes!
  • Equipment needed: pull up bar, free weights (I can get away with max 15lbs., Mark likes to go up to 40lbs.)
  • Basic theory: simple with variety.  “Muscle Confusion” is the term Tony Horton uses to explain why this program works so well.  Since your body doesn’t respond to repetition (eventually is adapts) they claim that by always mixing it up, adding variety, it keeps your body “on its toes” so to speak.

Insanity Summary:

  • Cost: $144.80
  • Length: 60 days
  • # of workouts: 10
  • Customized program options: no
  • Nutrition book: yes!
  • Equipment needed: none!  Just you.
  • Basic theory: maximum intensity exercises with minimum rest that keeps you constantly challenged.  Claims that you can burn up to 1,000 calories per workout (I believe it!)

1. Easiest? NEITHER.

P90X isn’t easier than Insanity.  Insanity isn’t easier than P90X.  They’re different.  Honestly? If you think either is easier, you’re body is probably stronger and you’re not pushing yourself very hard.  If you think BOTH of them are easy, you’re INSANE (and you’re lying).

2. Leaders – Shaun T vs. Tony Horton? SHAUN T.  Easy.

  • P90X: Tony talks a lot and after 90 days, you might go a little crazy.  He has an odd sense of humor, but again, after a couple of weeks……it gets old. Tony can get you excited, don’t get me wrong.  But he’s a little pompous at times.  If he didn’t talk as much, the videos would be shorter, which I think would be a plus since most of the videos are about 58 minutes.
  • Insanity: Shaun T does a better job of giving you a heads up for what is coming next.  All of his workouts seem to run flawlessly.   He works really hard during his workouts and I like that. I also like that he keeps count and tells you every move so you don’t have to look at the TV to see what is going on.  Most importantly, he keeps you motivated by focusing on you, how you can do it better and reminds you why you’re doing this to keep you going.

3. Background Cast Members? Insanity.

  • P90X: They show variations, which I like.  But they seem pretty quiet and not much personality (except for, of course “Drea.”)  I like that they’re fit, but they kinda remind me of gym rats and I can’t really “relate” to that mentality.
  • Insanity: These people get into it!  They’re working hard and pushing themselves and that makes me want to push myself, too.  This might be a little vain, but the women are really fit, but not overly muscular.  When I did Insanity, they motivated me because I wanted to look like them.  C’mon!  Have you seen Ariel’s abs? Geez.

4. Workout Lengths? Insanity.

  • P90X: If Tony talked less, it would definitely shorten the videos.  But with most of them around 58 minutes, it’s a looong workout and a big commitment.
  • Insanity: Some of the Max workouts are long but most of the other ones are around 35-40 minutes so before you know it, you’re covered in sweat and done.  I think it’s because Insanity warmups are harder and more of a workout themselves.  Insanity gets right to business though, which I like.  First time you do it, you’re lucky to just keep up.

5. Muscle Strength? P90X

  • P90X: They use weights, so if you’re looking to build muscles, it’s the better program because you have flexibility and can increase/decrease your weights.  Mark loves it for this reason.  He can decide how much or how little to push himself.
  • Insanity:  It’s cardio packed and definitely builds muscle, but you’re limited because you’re only using your body weight.  Once you get comfortable, there is little you can do to take it to the next level.  Don’t get me wrong – it will take you a LONG time to get “comfortable” with these workouts.  It’s also important to note that most Insanity programs also come with a “Upper Body” workout that does involved weights.  The guys love this one, and honestly I do too!

6. Cardio? Insanity

  • P90X: There are some workouts that are cardio intense (like Cardio and Plyometrics) but otherwise it’s lots of strength training.  I like to really work up a sweat and if that’s what you’re looking for, P90X is so-so
  • Insanity: Cardio at it’s finest.  You’re constantly moving, breathing heavy, sweating and trying to keep up.  Because of this, it burns a ton of calories.  I love that about Insanity.

7. Nutrition Guide?  It’s a tie!

  • P90X: I read the entire book and loved it!  It helped me transform my lifestyle and make big changes that led to big results.  In regards to recipes, P90X definitely takes the cake! (or takes it away, I guess).  We still use the recipe book because they are soo yummy!
  • Insanity: I love their nutrition guide because it is easy to read and simple to understand.  However, I think it does fall short on recipes.  Most of them were so simple that they were bland.

Summary: Either way, you’re going to see results with both programs – the important thing is to commit.  Personally, if you’re not in tip top shape, I would start with P90X because it can give you a good foundation to build off and you can increase intensity as you go.  If you start right into Insanity, you might get frustrated quickly and give up.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a Beachbody coach and I do NOT work for or get compensated by Beachbody.  In fact, the wouldn’t even agree to send me a program for free in exchange for my testimony and before/after pics. BOO!

I’m Taking Back Control of Turkey Time

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I love food. But Thanksgiving to me is about FAMILY and quality time. For the past few years, I’ve had 3 Thanksgiving dinners (2 in one day!)

For the hosts it’s a culinary festival and there’s a lot of love put into each dish. Less disappoint the cook I eat…and eat….and eat. Then everyone falls into a food-induced coma.

No one wants to end up like this….

Or this….

This year, I’m taking a non nonsense approach to my turkey time. I’ll tell you WHY and HOW below.

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My Versace for H&M experience…

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Not sure what exactly made me want to go to the Versace by H&M debut this morning…maybe it was the excitement, maybe it was the great deals or (perhaps) Versace pieces for lower-than-department-store prices.

Either way, I was sold on the idea.

One stipulation: I would only buy something I really liked (or that I could gift). I’m a picky shopper anyway, but I didn’t want to get caught up in the hoopla and buy an ugly cheetah/palm tree hot mess (sorry, Versace, those prints are too much for me).

Woke up at 6:15 and with 4 hours of sleep: coffee on, quick breakfast and out the door.

In line before 7 and it was crowded. Chatted with a guy in line who was saving a spot for a friend. He didn’t even want to buy anything, was there just to help out a friend. Heck of a friend!

So here’s how it worked: color-coded wristbands were given to every 20 people. Each group had 15 minutes exactly to shop. Store opened at 8 and my wristband got me in at 10:05. I was confident nothing would be left when it was my turn (it only took 30 minutes to sell out completely in London), but the crowd was so entertaining I decided to stick it out.

To set the scene, there were 20+ cops/security guards in the store and at the doors. You couldn’t leave without a guard examining your bag contents and receipt. A DJ was blasting music. ALL the Versace inventory was out – only 8, maybe 10 of each piece (which likely meant there was only 1 piece per size).

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30 before 30 UPDATE!

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The Challenge

Create your ultimate fantasy to-do list. Things you never thought you would do – but always wanted to. Things you want to do NOW. In my case, things I want to do before I turn 30.

The Rules

  1. The wishes have to be possible. Can’t be dinner with Jane Austen.
  2. No breaking the law. Sure, climbing the Hollywood sign would be fun. But felonies… not my thing.
  3. The list has to be exclusive – full of things you likely won’t want to do after 30. Could they happen after 30? Sure. Likely to happen? Probably not.

The Results

You could fill a library of books written about the practice. It’s simple, really: writing down your goals & revisiting them often helps you achieve your dreams. A little self-fulfilling prophecy, a little law of attraction, a little power of choice, the “secret”… whatever you want to call it. I think it’s the list. Spending time defining your dreams, what you want, enables you to A) jump on opportunity or B) seek it out.

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French onion soup: my ultimate fall comfort food.

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Paris French Onion Soup....yummy!

When we were in Paris, Mark was all over the nutella crepes.  For me, it’s the salty and savory that makes my mouth water and I couldn’t leave Paris without trying french onion soup.  The Paris version was pretty pricey, if I recall $7 euro…a bit pricey for me.  But it was so amazing.

I sought out my inner Julia Child, bought a couple of individual serving soup crocks and went to work on my first try at French Onion Soup.  It was a huge success.  Savory, warming and oh-so-fall.  It wasn’t 2 days after our first batch that we both had a hankering for it again.  Best part it: it’s really affordable to make!  Most of the ingredients I had handy, I just needed a french baguette.  And who doesn’t feel like a savvy cook when you walk out of the grocery with a loft of french baguette?

Try it.  It won’t disappoint.  Bon Appetit!

French Onion Soup, recipe courtesy of Gourmet magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt Continue reading

Heavenly Butternut Squash Soup (w/pears & ginger): Serves 6 for under $5!

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I love fall because of SOUP but I get so tired of the same ‘ole heavy chili all the time –  meat, beans and tomato gets old after a while!  Plus, I wanted to get away from the canned goods and use some fresh seasonal produce.  I found a winner I have to share!  Bonus – it’s super cheap.  The squash, pears, ginger and onion totaled $4.71 and I used bouillon for the stock and already had all the spices.
I found a good recipe but I changed it significantly to make it easier and added my own spices.  The flavor of the squash, pears and ginger works perfectly together.  It’s sweet but the chipotle pepper to gives is a welcomed kick and balance.  Try it!!
  • 2 1/2-pounds of squash (butternut, buttercup,  or other dense winter squash)
  • 3 pears quartered, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 inches chunk of fresh ginger, thinly sliced (don’t forget to take the outside skin off)
  • Olive oil  Continue reading

Best chili EVER. Here’s the recipe.

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Short rib chili

Giada De Laurentiis 

I love recipes.  But I never recommend any I’ve never tried myself.  This one?  I’ve made it twice & it’s a new staple in my recipe book.
This chili is amazing.  How good? Slap ‘yo momma, eat in silence and moan chili.  Ask your husband/boyfriend/anyone for something you want immediately after consumption for instant proof. Continue reading