Healthy cooking for one on a budget

Or: “This is how you cook for one….and possibly your hungry roommate and visiting long-distance boyfriend if need be”

A lot of people have commented on my Instagrams saying that they like my food and wonder how I have so much yummy foods all the time. For the next few blogs I’m going to give you some tips and tricks on how to shop, prep and cook and generally eat well on a budget.

My next blog will be on how I shop for organic, local and good foods on a budget…so look out for that one. But this blog will mainly cover how I cook for myself and how I manage food so that I can always have a yummy homecooked meal, but (hopefully) not waste too much food for one time meals that then go to waste.

As an example I will use this week of food. Last week I cooked up some ground turkey for tacos and heated up some black beans and canned corn to put on top. I saved half of the 1 lb of ground beef for a later date and stored it in a tupperware container in my fridge. I also saved the extra black beans and corn in tupperware containers (they keep FOREVER).

Corn Tortilla Tacos: 16 WeightWatchers points for 2 tacos (with sour cream and cheese)

  • Corn tortillas from Trader Joes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn/ creamed corn/bagged corn (it really doesn’t matter)
  • 1 lb ground organic or free range or just you know good quality turkey (half this after it is cooked. Use one half to make taco turkey and one half to use for other things if needed…or if not to make taco soup *see below*)
  • 1 taco seasoning packet (Whole Foods carries an organic one)
  • Follow the directions on the seasoning packet to make taco ground turkey
  • Sour Cream and shredded cheese if you’re into it

I used this to make 2 days worth of tacos. I was super filled up by the black beans and lean protein in two tacos, so I saved the other two for about 3 days after in my fridge. They were still awesome heated up in the microwave!

Soups are great because they’re easy, take little hands on work and can use up all the stuff you have laying around your kitchen and need to use. Have you ever seen at restaurants that the special one day (maybe chicken with carrots and asparagus) is magically the soup of the day the next day (chicken and asparagus soup, anyone?). This speaks to the magic of soup…it’s basically the best way to use up all your ingredients while being generally low calorie and incredibly cheap to make. Bonus points if you use your slow cooker/crockpot, they’re awesome.

Here I used up the corn, black beans and ground turkey by making a delicious taco soup. Since the flavor profile was the same, I was able to use the already seasoned turkey (whoops I made too much taco turkey and not enough plain!) and was able to just add that right into the recipe and combine with the new ingredients (chicken stock, onion, spices).

[#Z]

Black Bean, Corn and Ground Turkey Taco Soup: 4 WeightWatchers points per serving

  • 8 oz/.5 lb of ground turkey (from the taco recipe earlier)
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 3/4 cup black beans
  • 1 cup low sodium organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • Sour cream topping and Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips optional

In a sauce pan throw in a little olive oil, then add the ground beef and 1/2 diced onion. Cook until the onion starts to brown and become translucent. Then add the black beans, corn, chicken stock, salsa and spices. Bring to a boil and then cook on low for 30 minutes. Top with sour cream and crumbed multigrain tortilla chips. Makes up to 4 servings!

You can also do this with many other items. For instance, I prep whole chickens and make meals for days using the meat, then make stock and soups from the carcass of the chicken. We’ll talk about shopping and prepping coming up soon!

What are your favorite recipes? Do you like cooking for just yourself or would you rather cook for a group? Did you make any of these recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

Liebster Award

Hey! It’s me, Kelly-Lynne!

How did you come up with your blog name?

I live in Baltimore which is known as “Charm City” and I wanted to center my blog around thrifting and getting a good bargain but still being very fashionable and keep the focus on my wonderful city. I just started working in DC, so I might be expanding the range of my blog to include the DMV area.

Why did you start your blog?

My friends kept asking me where I got my outfits, and didn’t believe me that my stuff was second hand. So I, of course, had to prove it to them. CCT was born as a resource for them, and for people who want to look amazing and keep a budget.

What do you love most about blogging?

Getting to share what I love with other people! Learning new social media techniques to market my favorite client: me!

What was the most ridiculous but very cool fashion trend you followed?

I had these really cool mustard colored pleated cropped linen pants in 2011. They were very British and cool. My ex HATED them, but I was obsessed. I got them from this really cool line that Sears did for a British brand.

One goal you wish to accomplish this year?

I just started a new job in community management working with the VA on a project, and have SO many goals. I really want to learn to code some more and become more autonomous as a blogger and an employee. My dream is to be like Huck from Scandal and just be like “Yeah, I got this…I got this too, and this.” I really want to be more consistent and more fearless as I learn more and start to refine my looks. While this blog is largely a fun outlet for me, its ability to create a niche for me in the field I’m passionate about (fashion/beauty) is an awesome opportunity that I am unwilling to let go of easily.

What is your favorite social media site?

This is like asking me to pick my favorite child (if I had kids)! Yes, social media sites are like my children. I just really like social media…which is why it’s my day job. I’ve been really into Instagram lately and think it has tremendous advantages for me as a blogger.

If you could travel to only one place this year where would it be and why?

South Africa, I was born there and my extended family all lives there. I’ve dabbled a little bit in South African cooking and get CONSTANT snapchats of my cousin’s farm in the Bush. I love elephants and could die happy if I saw one in the wild. Hopefully, next year!

How would you describe your personal style?

Feminine, timeless, creative and minimalist as well as likely pre-loved by another classy lady. I do love me some fru-fru, but it never works out for my body type and makes me look insane. I have been trying to get great tailored pieces that have an edge, are feminine and are timelessly simple. My on the job style is very polished and minimalist, my free-time style is more laid back and a little hippie-ish, and my going out style is starting to be more unique, edgy and feminine.

Spring or Fall fashion?

I like me a good fall outfit, but let’s be honest, I have an obsession with pastels. Every year when those pretty pink, minty green and creamy frothy get ups come out I nearly die of happiness. Spring is my season.

If you could choose one store to shop at, your entire life, which store would you choose?

Modcloth. I love you Modcloth. You are beautiful. You are out of my budget. It’s a problem. I get lost in Goodwill. Probably I would choose Goodwill. That’s where I find my best finds and where my love for fashion really started. I could live at Goodwill forever. There are beds there so it’s totally feasible. Liketwice.com is a close contender.

What is one fear you would like to conquer?

Fear of taking pictures of OOTD’s. I need to learn how to control my boyfriend better. (ahah! Love him!). Getting up the gumption to pose in the middle of a public place for thirty seconds is terrifying to me. I’ve never been super photogenic and I’m not comfortable in the spotlight in that way. Nevertheless, look for some more CCT (full-body!) pictures coming soon.

Thanks to fellow Baltimore Style blogger, Legally Charming Style, for nominating me for this award! (Sorry for taking so long to do this!)
Blogging ladies that I’d like to nominate for the Liebster award:

My old roommate and all around stylish lady: J is for Jord

A Practical Guide to Snow Storms

In case you hadn’t heard…NEWSFLASH it’s gonna snow on the East Coast this weekend…like A LOT. Just because we’re gonna be knee deep in the fluffy cold stuff doesn’t mean you can’t be both productive and chic during your snowstorm times. Here’s some ideas for both things to do as well as things to wear and eat…because obviously you need a guide for these sorts of things. You’re welcome.

The snow will be just like this but like…much deeper.

Friday:

The snow is starting to really come down as you arrive home. You know what you need. WINE! If you haven’t already picked up enough bottles from Trader Joe’s…well then, it’s too damn late now, fam. I recommend Club W for next time, it’s basically a recommend-er engine for wine. They’ll send you 3 curated wines a month right to your door!

Snuggle up in a perfectly soft blanket and watch the sky fill with snow while you watch my new most favorite show ever, “Mozart In the Jungle” on Hulu and let the comedy/sounds of beautiful orchestral music lull you into a snow and wine induced coma.

Once you’ve finished season one, check out this warming recipe for Nutella croissants (literally just get those freezer croissants and spread nutella on them before you roll em up. Bake for 10 min at 350) and munch the night away with whoever your cabin mate for the next three days is (mine is my roommate and we eat like 10 of these each).

Saturday:

Likely your power is out, so get busy doing things that you can’t do when you have wifi (well you CAN do them, you just don’t). Start out by perusing Goodreads (on your dying phone) and picking out a few books to add to your Kindle or start ACTUALLY reading the books on your bookshelf. Don’t have books? Read all the boxes and shampoo bottles in your house… you could learn something.

Next start on some household chores. Maybe you want to use the Marie Kondo method to make your house more tidy, or maybe you just really want to finally organize your desktop or clean your fridge, whatever it is…get to it. Distract yourself from the chore factor by pumping some Jams on your phone (don’t worry you’re good because you’ve got your handy dandy solar backup charger) and drinking a big glass of “Not Your Father’s Rootbeer” because it’s flipping delicious, or making this ridiculously good Kahlua and cream mudslide recipe cocktail thing:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 oz. Baileys
  • 1 oz. Caramel or Chocolate syrup
  • stir and then shake over ice

The rest of the day? Meh! Take a nap! Cuz screw it. Or go make a snow angel, or another mudslide. Whatever.

Sunday:

Guys are you even serious. Screw this snow. This apartment is too small to contain you. Go outside. Make a single snow angel and then forget the entire thing and come back inside.

Make yourself the single best ever grilled cheese. The secret is using real cheese not some gross shredded cheese or whatever…and real crusty bread. I recommend using Cave Aged Cheddar and Trader Joe’s Santa Fe whole wheat sourdough for the best results. Also make sure to use real butter, because you’re not messing the eff around here.

As for the drink of the day? Pretend it’s not even winter and turn up your heat (you know if you have it or whatever) and make a flowery gin cocktail:

  • 1 part gin to 1 part lavendar syrup,
  • add a little simple syrup up in there to flavor things up.
  • Shake with some sprite or drink it straight up).

YUMMMM!

Finish up that book or project you started on yesterday and prepare for your work to inevitably make you come in despite THUNDERSNOW!

Monday:

UGH! You have another day off…I wouldn’t normally say this..but like…at this point cabin fever has set in.

Great idea! Did you play an instrument in Middle school…GET IT OUT. This will have the dual effect of making your roommate want to kill you (yes sweet death! an escape from the snow!) and also giving your neighbors the first sound of music they may have heard since they lost power way back on Saturday (bonus!). Highly recommend using piccolo or oboe or other annoying wind instruments and playing a highly obnoxious Christmas song all morning long. Or experimental jazz played a quarter step down and mostly flat. People love that.

You should probably just drink your moldy milk by this time. Screw it.

Build a snow fort on your deck or roof and throw snowballs at children as they run by. Yell “ThIS IS FOR THE ALAMO” and run away if they catch you. Use a sled as a getaway vehicle.

Tuesday:

Just go to work even if you don’t have work. Because that’s the only way you can stay sane. Plus your roommate has probably already evicted you by this time…so yeah. Go make yourself a nice igloo.

How to get a discount at your favorite store

Hey everyone, it had never occurred to me to write about how to get a discount at stores, since it sort of second nature to me at this point. But since some of you have not grown up with a super strict budget and very great case of sartorial lust, I thought I would share with you some of my great tips and tricks. Just a warning: You have to be rather shameless, and very very very polite, but firm. I have faith in you, everyone.

5 Tips for Scoring a Discount at Your Favorite Shop:

1) Ask:

Something is not marked? You’re not sure of the price? You want to know if it is on sale? Ask the cashier. Do as them “Do you know the price of this item, it wasn’t marked but I really want it.” If they say “$xx” and that is not quite in the range you wanted, wait a few seconds and just look at them…then if they don’t say anything ask “I really want to take it and it’s the last one, but is there any way you can do $xx.” This often works, this is called bartering, do not be afraid to barter for an item that has not been marked correctly, is on clearance or is the last of a bunch. Full priced, new items are not as easy to gamble with, so use discretion. Do not ask them if there is a long line behind you, that’s just plain rude. You want this person to really work with you, and being nice and human is key to that. Thank them when you leave. They don’t have to go above and beyond, they’re probably only getting paid like $8 an hour, which isn’t encouraging.

2) Coupon Scavenge:

A lot of stores have coupons if you are willing to look around. Before you shop, take a look online to see if your store has a deal online (like a Daily Deal, a “sign-up” deal or a deal for liking them or following them on Facebook or Twitter). Side note: all the sign up newsletters can really add up. I use a service called “Unroll.me” to manage store subscriptions. If nothing gives on the internet, use some old fashioned sneakiness and check around the register to see if there are any coupons just lingering around you can snap up (Looking at you Bath and Body Works and Urban Outfitters). A third resort is to subscribe to magazines. You get all the fun of reading some trashy rag and you also get the sweet store coupons that are inside. Limited, Express and Loft are all running these sort of coupons right now. New York and Company offers this sort of coupon via mail.

3) Watch their sale pattern:

This is where the savvy consumer has to actually pay attention to the way things work. Goodwill usually runs on a “every x Saturday model” they have certain colors of tags on sale, so obviously go on that Saturday. Watch for sales from your favorite stores by following them on Facebook, you’ll be alerted and you can share it easily with friends who might want to tag along. Don’t mess around with trying to decide when a store will mark their stuff down…honestly sometimes they don’t even know. Instead, if you are “stalking” an item, keep on checking back, unless it is the last item in your size. If it is the last item, just go ahead and buy it already if it is on clearance, chances are it won’t be there when you come back. Additionally, late January and early February most clothing stores are trying to get rid of everything at cut-rate deals to make room for Spring stuff, so now is a really good time to shop for things like coats, sweaters and boots.

4) Trade them:

This one is truly a long shot, but has worked at stores where I developed credibility with the owners, was polite and it was something that made sense. DeBois Textiles once traded me two beautiful dresses and a purse (valued total $40) for a metal clothing rack that I offered to literally just give to them. This sort of thing is worth a try if at second hand stores that are family or owner operated. Additionally, stores like Uptown Cheapskate and Plato’s closet do a direct trade of your clothes and accessories without waiting for the craziness of consigning.

5) Shop with a friend:

Told you I was shameless. When I have a discount coupon for my me and my best friend’s favorite store, we shop and combine things instead of trying to hit the quota limit ourselves. For instance if I have a $40 off $100 / $75 off $120 coupon, it makes more sense to aim for the higher percentage off. We combine forces and then pay altogether and work things out later by subtracting the percentage off of our totals. We save some money, and get a really fun lesson in accounting. Then we get Auntie Anne’s. It’s a thing. This also works if you have to reach a certain total in order to get a coupon towards the next purchase.

This blog has mainly covered in-store techniques. Watch for a later blog post explaining discount online shopping techniques. Enjoy <3!

Best Thrifty Places to find deals in Baltimore

I’m gonna pop some tags, only got $20 in my pocket…

Hey thrifty ladies and gents of Baltimore (and beyond). I’m the Charm City Thriftanista The time has come for me to actually live up to my name and share some of my amazing knowledge of everything thrifty in Baltimore city. If you are looking for a way to look fabulous for literally any event, or job or just for looking fabulous for fabulous sake…I have a way to get it cheaper.

Uptown Cheapskate– Timonium, MD

This place is a win-win. The aisles of stuff are reminiscent of a regular thrift store, but the difference is that everything in this store is expertly organized and displayed into a cute little boutique with a nice little sitting area (perfect for boyfriends and husbands that get tuckered out). Uptown’s greatest appeal is that they allow you to swap your clothes for either store credit or for cash. The store credit bid for your gently used and no-longer wanted clothes is usually higher and never expires, or you can take the cold hard cash. Cheapskate offers a variety of clothing and accessory choices for junior and the more mature set, but leans toward a younger aesthetic. Plus-sized ladies may have trouble finding clothing here as the choices are based on what people bring in. Bonus points: Uptown’s Facebook page consistently posts new items and allows followers to “hold” items for up to 24 hours. Talk about great social media!

Facebook: Uptown Cheapskate on Facebook

Plato’s Closet–Towson, MD

While Plato’s Closet in Towson, is not necessarily the best maintained store (the one in Frederick is a lot better, in my opinion) it is a cheap place to find clothes for your everyday wardrobe. However, this store tends to lean towards Junior’s rather than grown women. They do pull from Towson University, so many of their donations are from college girls (something to keep in mind). Still, this can be a great place to donate your clothing and get some extra cash while picking up some cute dresses. Bring in your items (can’t be in plastic bags) and walk out with new stuff, or cold hard cash. They also have a better skirt collection than Uptown Cheapskate. Usually when I go to one, I hit up the other. Make a day of it, discount clothes shopping in Towson.

Yelp: Plato’s Closet of Towson on Yelp

Killer Trash– Fells Point, Baltimore City

Elaine Ferrara, Killer Trash owner, and current manager, Brittany create the perfectly executed and expertly curated boutique that makes up Killer Trash. Elaine used to hang with the rock and roller folks in Las Vegas and hang out with Sonny and Cher and Elvis himself, and her collection of used costumes, crazy glittery accessories and amazing oddities is really all the old-school over the top glam you could ever want. Often, they will negotiate prices with you if you’re nice, seem interested and are really serious about a piece. This is the perfect place to shop when you’re looking for evening outfits, anything metallic, or an absolutely amazing Halloween costume. I also find absolutely amazing scarves there, one of the best pieces in my closet, a pink silk scarf with metallic design is literally one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen. It cost me $30. Not bad. Be sure to try some haggling, it usually ends up saving me a little bit of cash.

Yelp: Killer Trash on Yelp

10 Car Pile Up– Towson, MD

This is located right in the “circle” near the Towson Mall. Similar to Killer Trash, but with a less sequin induced shock factor, this store sells things from the “good ol days” and has enough crazy pieces to make any hipster happy, while also carrying classic vintage looks for those modern day Jackie O’s. The owner, an older gentleman helps you make sense of the array (a God-send when thrift shopping) and points you towards things that are crazy (like a pair of leather pants worn by Mick Jagger…yeah). Also we had a great conversation about the merits of reclaimed storage spaces, and people that buy them. Consensus: buying abandoned storage spaces leaves you with a bunch of useless crap from the 80’s that no one wants. Purchased a great knife pleat bright pink skirt (polyester likely from the 70’s), which I have worn several times. This store is decidedly more 70’s and 80’s leaning, with a really Rock n’ Roll feel. The greatest part of the store is their jacket (sorry vegans…there is a lot of leather here) collection, and their accessories collection up at the front of the store. Take a while to browse, chat and get a little history lesson at this great vintage store.

Ten Car Pile Up website

DeBois Textiles (Boulevard Boutique/Thrift Store)- Pigtown, Baltimore City

DuBois (which now is conveniently less than a mile from my house, what more could a girl want), is a vintage treasure mine. This place stocks itself with all manner of vintage finds, as well as vintage fabric. As an added bonus DuBois boasts a back room filled with typical thrift store finds. While the location may not be ideal, and the exterior looks a bit dingy. Like any diamond in the rough, DuBois boasts an interior full of sparkling gowns, splashy polyester prints from the 1960’s and walls full of shoes and purses from posterity. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and check in City Paper for their sale weekends which usually discount things up to 50% off.

Facebook:The Boulevard Boutique at DeBois Textiles

Fashion Attic- Fells Point, Baltimore City

This is definitely one of my favorites. Fashion Attic looks like a luxe boutique, but has much cheaper prices. Fashion Attic is my go-to for a wide variety of things, always at a coupon-ed price. This is also a great place for vintage treasures. I have gotten some great 60’s style suits, boots and coats at this place. They also have an excellent social media presence, online store and consistently running discounts and sales. Fashion Attic also boasts a great ebay store for some discount online shopping. Before you go, do a quick internet search or do a check in on foursquare to get a discount. There are ALWAYS discounts or coupons to be had at this store. It’s right next to Bad Decisions bar and near Goodwill…make a day of it by hitting up some great discount stores and then having a great cocktail. Balt-amor!

Facebook: Fashion Attic Facebook

Goodwill Boutique– Fells Point/Mt.Vernon, Baltimore City

Sure, it’s a Goodwill, butit’s a Goodwill in the city. So, replace your regular Goodwill memories (See Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”…”I’m gonna pop some tags”) with a more chic refined second-hand boutique feel. This boutique Goodwill boasts better wares, bigger names and a smaller floor as well as stocking regular Goodwill finds. Finds from this little store include: Marc Jacobs raincoat, glittery gold and navy Charlotte Russe dress, several pairs of gently worn heels and one almost new watch set. Watch their Saturday sales for the best deals, and as with all thrift stores…examine the racks carefully…then examine again.

Yelp: Goodwill Fells Point

What the doing the Whole30 taught me about myself (and everything else)

Hey guys, it’s been awhile. I took about a month or so off to sort of regroup and get my self together. I’m sure you know the feeling. While I’ve been gone I’ve been making some really great self improvements that I’m excited about. Just know that I’m telling you these things as just me, not a fitness or health instructor, but a flawed human being who has PLENTY of her own struggles with body image, weight, not feeling good enough and generally just trying and trying and trying again (anyone know the story of Atlas? Yeah that’s what it feels like).

During April, my friends and I decided to do Whole30 aka a “lifestyle change” where you give up dairy, legumes, sugar, grains and alcohol for 30 days. On the outside, I was not pleased. If you follow my Instagram you know how much I love French pastries, burgers, brunch foods and yummy drinks. But on the inside, I knew it was time for a change from what I had been doing and time to feel like I wasn’t dying when doing fitness activities.

Nevertheless, I threw myself into pouring through Pinterest recipes, scouring shopping lists and making sure to have all the things that people recommended for Whole30 (which for me was akin to going into battle or running a marathon).I spent ENTIRELY too much money and time on that. It wasn’t really that complicated. It was tough, but it wasn’t complicated.

If you’d like to see documented proof of things I ate and thought during this process check me out on Instagram: @ChokingonVeggies

For the first week, I was doing okay. I was pretty sleepy and pretty moody (mostly because I was doing a lot of after-work volunteering and it’s near impossible to get something to eat quickly while on Whole30 from most normal restaurants) and since I wasn’t at home, I couldn’t cook.

The second week I worked, and I slept. My roommate came home, and I was already asleep because I was just so wiped out. I didn’t really work out much that second week.

During third week, I traveled out to visit my boyfriend in Colorado. I packed a MILLION snacks. Guys, if I have one piece of advice: Don’t get as many snacks as I got…just don’t. It’s not necessary. Your pre-whole30 self will think that you need to do this, but you don’t. Just make your own! The third week I was feeling pretty good. I had WAY more energy, which I’ll talk about later, but I was still pretty unhappy that I traveled all the way to see my bf and wasn’t able to do what we usually do: Netflix and eat. Still, I bought my groceries and made some pretty bomb meals and he even felt better during my almost two weeks there.

The fourth week I was still with Matt and NARROWLY didn’t cheat my last days. I think some serious serious will power was in place there, but I did not give in and drink a beer or eat a cookie or even use my free drink coupon on my flight back. On May 1st at 12:30 am, I ate my first taste of the real world. Chocolates that I had saved, bought at a local British store. They tasted AMAZING.

Here are some of the things I ate:[#Z][#Z][#Z][#Z][#Z][#Z]

Mostly eggs. If I told you that you could eat bacon and eggs for breakfast for the next 30 days and lose weight…you would probably laugh in my face. But that is legit what happened.

Non-Scale victories…or whatever:

  1. Fitness gains: One of my first times in Colorado (and a few subsequent times) Matt has taken me hiking the flatirons in Boulder. What is “technically” a foothill is far bigger and steeper than ANY single mountain we have on the East Coast. Did you climb Old Rag…well good job, now climb two more and you have a FlatIron! They’re a difficult hike that Coloradoans think is basically kids play (they RUN up them…RUN! Guys I’m not making this up). When I first attempted this climb I was bigger, less fit and definitely not acclimated to the elevation (which as you’d imagine gets even less oxygen-y at the top). I had to stop half way and thought I was literally dying. This time around, I’d been working out, doing my Whole30, was actually physically much lighter by this time and FINALLY finished the whole thing. It was hard, I had to take breaks, and I’m not as swift as my completely-different-body-type boyfriend, but I did it. That was my main goal. Finish the damn mountain. See the view from the top and know that I can do it. I may not be the fittest, I may not be the thinnest or the fastest, but I can do everything I set my mind to. I know it’s a dumb metaphor, but I guess you could say I conquered my mountain. YAY!

This screenshot of my fitbit stats from the day sort of puts into perspective how hard climbing mountains is on your body. No wonder everyone in Colorado is so darn fit!

2. More wardrobe choices! Stuff that didn’t fit me for at least a year before hand, now fits me. Including this cute dress I kept “just in case” I lost weight…so I guess that actually DOES work out sometimes. Cool!

3. No more heartburn: Before Whole30 I was taking heartburn medicine every day. After whole30 and even a few days into it, I haven’t been taking it. It was getting really bad and actually really starting to worry me. I had been dealing with it for over a year before this point and had little meds with me everywhere I went. Since heartburn meds are pretty expensive, and also heartburn is VERY painful, I consider this a pretty huge win.

4. Skin: My skin really cleared up quite a bit. I had some stuff that just wouldn’t go away, which I’m pretty sure was entirely sugar based, because it cleared up pretty dang quick. Now I know to keep my sugar and grains to a minimum, and actually have the physical ability to do that. Which leads me to…..

5.Surmountable cravings. Before I used to have cravings for things and then just eat them. I think I’d sort of just given up. Now I have cravings for sweet stuff, but I know that I can just eat something like an apple or maybe just drink more water or actually know when I’m really hungry. What the writers said about eating fat is actually really true, and they have some pretty solid groundings for things they say. Also, I find it easier to follow a program with stricter rules, rather than something like WeightWatchers with flexible rules.

Scale victories:

Guys I lost 13 lbs in one month. That is unheard of in other programs. If all of the non-scale victories didn’t convince you that the food we eat in the US is completely garbage, that should. It’s not really about the weight loss, but it’s an added side effect of learning about all the crappy stuff you’re eating and getting perspective on really how bad it is.

I didn’t work out THAT much, but when I did it was SO much easier. Not just because I was losing weight, but also because my insides were happy and my mind was happy (mostly…except for all the pictures of food I kept seeing).

On Whole30 you cook basically all your own food, and that is pretty much the only way to eat in America. What does that say about the way that we do food here? Why can’t I just find some grilled chicken and greens at any restaurant? Because the food we eat here is engineered to make us unhealthy and we don’t even know it. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s real. Look at the food you eat and see if any of it has sugar..guys…WHY IS THERE SUGAR IN THINGS THAT AREN’T SWEET??!!!! Just little stuff like that you’ll realize when you do Whole30 and see all the random compounds in even “healthy” foods. It’s awful. It will make you want to throw things. I feel like I’m basically the only one I can trust to cook when making healthy food which sucks.

Takeaways:

  • Not everyone supports you. You’ll learn who to filter out and you’ll also learn that people get jealous that you’re making this decision and will try to make you feel as horrible as they (probably) feel. Don’t stop doing good for yourself! Lead by quiet example and try not to get so down when it feels like the rest of the world is having SO much more fun. Definitely try to do this with a friend or two who you know will be supportive and not give up! (Shout out to Hannah and Mary for being a frands!)
  • There is sugar in everything….try to limit added sugar so you can enjoy sugar treats in it’s REAL and delicious form: chocolate and wine.
  • Our food is trying to make us unhealthy and give us leaky gut and diabetes. Educate yourself about that…and at least try to understand the cluster-frick of just awful stuff out there and how it affects your everyday feelings, moods, looks, and pretty much everything. It’s actually very alarming and not at all a conspiracy theory. For instance: All bacon has sugar in it. Gluten isn’t the only thing that messes you up in bread, and your body actually wants you to eat more healthy fat. Crazy!
  • Eating vegetables make you feel good. Weird.
  • A lot of health concerns and minor annoyances in your health are actually diet related. Like heartburn and crazy skin and weird hair stuff.
  • ALWAYS eat a low carb, high (good) fat breakfast! I didn’t really do that before and it was lame.
  • If you attempt Whole30 you will probably have dreams about cake or burgers or mac and cheese or pizza. You will also feel guilty in your dreams. For consuming a cake you did not eat. Sigh.
  • Whole30 is better than a cleanse. Don’t do a cleanse. Cleanses are ridiculous!

Have you ever done Whole30? Does it sound crazy? Should I do a round 2? Let me know in the comments below or on any of my social media channels. Have questions or need suggestions…I’m not an expert, but I can steer you in the right direction. Plus my sweet potato soup recipe was ON POINT.

*All facts and fictions stated here are imho. If you don’t agree, comment below. If you do agree, also comment below.*

7 Fall Must Haves

Faux Leather Jacket” $25 Forever21.com, Cape: H&M, $56, hm.com, Fleece-lined Leggings$11. charlotterusse.com. Hiking Socks: $14. jcrew.com, Chealsea boots: $37, forever21.com, hat: you can find this anywhere just get one, Infinity scarf: Pretty much anywhere. Gloves: $22, target.com, Sweater: $40, Gap.com, Tall boots: $32, remy, Justfab.com, Glasses: $95, warbyparker.com.

Ugh! Fall is upon us…okay it’s really not that bad. But it does mean that Winter is Coming, so gird your loins.

If you don’t have these items already, what’s wrong with you? You will wear these every day…seriously…every single day, so get out there and get yourself these basics.

1) A leather jacket: Preferably faux leather, water and beer wipe right off (as does any other liquid…smoothies, coffee…etc). Plus it makes you look tres badass.

2) A cape: These are seriously cool and very rare to see. Set yourself apart by wearing the chic equivalent of a blanket. Curvy girls, pick one that doesn’t go too long…no need to look like a mushroom. Keep your bottoms sleek and streamlined.

3) Fleece leggings: I’m no fan of the leggings-as-pants look, but you know you’ll wear these fuzzy lined leggings a million times during the colder months. You can wear them under dresses and even pants as a substitute for long underwear in particularly cold weather and as a lazy Sunday outfit.

4)Cable knit sweater: Can be dressed up or down and is an immaculate layering tool. Make it preppy or punk, ladylike or boyish…plus it’s sooooo warm.

5) Chelsea boots: Very in style season. Plus you can actually WALK in these. Nothing better than not looking like a baby giraffe on the rough streets of the concrete jungle.

6) Tall boot: Hallo riding boot. I love you. Just make sure to pair with non-cotton amazing boot socks otherwise hello sinky, cold feet.

7) Cold weather accessories: Try to find glove you can text in…or at least hold things in that also look chic. Leather gloves do the trick. Infinity scarves are a must…go get one…or you know….one for every outfit. Hats mess with your hair, but you’ll be warm. Just add some glossing serum and dry shamp when you get to work and you’ll be fine.

Bonus: Accessorize with Peppermint Mocha latte, Warm (spiked cider) or just a cute flannel button down.

6 Daytime Essentials for your Spring Routine

All these robins and still no Batman?! Happy *Insert an appropriate adjective* Monday, folks! As I write this today it is a glorious 70 degree evening in northern Virginia! It FINALLY feels like Spring is here to stay!

Still whether rain or shine you have to wake up in the morning. It’s a fact. If you’re like most women in the DMV area, that’s usually to rush off to work on the sweaty/stinky/smokey metro, or maybe to a fitness class before work or if you’re lucky, to walk/ride the couple blocks or miles to your office or your designated coffee/coworking place.

Is there really time in that equation for millions of fancy products that don’t actually DO anything? heck no.

These products are multitaskers, they’re totally small enough to throw in your gym bag….and many of them you can use with or without makeup because makeup IS optional no matter what the patriarchy tells you.

This stuff is basically glow in a jar. Birchbox describes it as an “morning-after eye cream” which I think aptly sums up the efficiency of this stuff. Originally sampled in one of my boxes, I fell in LOVE! The little jar is actually HUGE in the eye cream world and lasts me several months. Plus this stuff brightens up my under eye area without even putting on makeup. It has a very subtle pinkish highlight that makes your whole face glow. If I’m being honest, sometimes I use it for more than just my eyes. While it is on the pricer side of what I usually share on this blog, just know that it’s worth it. If you’re hesitant, ask for a sample at your local Sephora (-:

Originally sampled from Birchbox monthly beauty box, $10. Consistently great samples (they basically INVENTED beauty boxes), and a killer review-for-points-program. Check it out!

I recently discovered this in my Sephora Play box (click on the link below for more info on their $10 boxes!) and LOVE it! Not only is it a really good size, it also doesn’t have any of that weird white residue that most dry shampoos have. In fact, this made my hair actually look BETTER. No wonder Jen Aniston has been plugging this brand for years! #hairgoals

Sephora Playbox, $10 a month, dope samples PLUS you get a card for 50 points with any purchase at Sephora which, if you’re a Beauty Insider is worth $50 worth of points! Highly recommend.

Full disclosure, I picked up this guy when I was desperately trying to spend off the tax-free dollars I put aside into my FSA/HSA at the end of the year. Nevertheless…I fell in love with the efficiency of this product. I’m quite a pale lady-human and I wear sunscreen EVERY DANG DAY (thanks Baz…). In case you haven’t noticed from so many of my daytime products, I like a good solid 30+ sunscreen AT LEAST. If I could, I’d probably wear sunscreen at night! HA!

This product is not only a really solid makeup primer, it also serves as an enviable 50+ primer and has anti-aging ingredients. Not shabby! I wear this without makeup sometimes to cut down on shine on my face, and to make my pores look teensy.

I got these two as a little set from Sephora. Sadly, it’s not available anymore, but you can still pick up these two individually or in one of their other sets. I have a process for using these two together, so that’s why I’ve combined them. Argan oil is one of the rarest oils on earth and is basically made of magic (that’s the scientific term, guys). Really you can use it for whatever…your hair, taking off makeup, moisturizing your body…anything.

First, pump out three pumps of the sunscreen into the back of your hand. Then drop two to three drops of the argan oil into the sunscreen and mix. The sunscreen is too thick to spread easily across the face so I follow this process to both moisturize AND protect in one step. If you haven’t used face oils before, don’t be afraid! They’re natural (no preservatives needed in natural oils!) and they don’t make your face breakout. If you’re really worried about this, Josie Maran also offers a light argan oil. The oils are light, and absorb easily into the skin but moisturize deeply without being greasy.

If I could spray this on my entire body, I would. Do you want to smell like a beautiful ninja-princess? Then get this all up in your hair. This stuff has all the things (as the name purports): leave in treatment, promotes hair growth, protects from UV radiation (sunscreen for HAIR!?!), and has provitamin B5 for moisture and conditioning during heat styling…oh AND it fights frizz and smells like the most amazing angel farts you could ever bottle. So yeah, mildly obsessed with this.

Another find originally sampled from Birchbox monthly beauty box, $10. Consistently great samples (they basically INVENTED beauty boxes), and a killer review-for-points-program. Check it out!

What are your favorite morning multitaskers? Do you find yourself coming back to the same products, or do you like to try new things every month? Tell me in the comments below!

5 Subscription boxes that will get you out of your Winter rut

Whoo! We made it through brave warriors of Snowpocalypse/Snowmageddon 2016! By now you’re probably about to try taking a flame thrower to all the snow in the backyard (don’t do this…cautionary tale) or hop on the next available plane to Florida. Sadly, if you’re like me, you’ll probably just be very selective about the time you spend out of the house and really just need a way to make your boring winter days more interesting. Here’s some ideas for sweet subscription boxes that come right to your door (you know if the postal workers can get there or whatever):

  1. Club W: Pick three or more wines a month and they’ll send you them in two business days. When you enter the website you take a quiz with your different likes and dislikes (you can choose how many red/white bottles you want as well), the quiz will then recommend some bottles for you! The wine comes in a big ol box with menu cards and information about each wine and tasting notes, which just adds to the super cool wine delivery experience. This is a monthly service, but feel free to skip months if you’ve met your wine spending budget.Price varies, skip months no penalty, 50% off your first purchase of three bottles (My total came out to around $25 for three bottles of wine! WOOO!)
  2. Birchbox:You’ve probably heard of Birchbox by now, but it does not cease to be totally awesome (and affordable!!). For $10 a month, Birchbox will send you deluxe samples of makeup, skincare, cool gifts (I got a Alex & Ani bracelet one time), and even additional little snacks and yummies. After you sample each product you can go on the site and earn points toward full size product by giving reviews to the site (about $5 in points possible per box). Then you can redeem your points for stuff on the Birchbox site, which if you haven’t checked out, is EXTENSIVE and not only skincare and makeup related. Also, I’ve found customer service to be really helpful if anything goes wrong with delivery (because my delivery people are totally clueless!)$10 a month, month skipping not an option.
  3. Gwynnie Bee:If you wear a size 10 or over in clothings, this subscription site is totally worth looking at. For $34.99 you get a basically the Netflix of clothing, one at a time, sent to your house. When you’re done with your dress or outfit send it back and Gwynnie Bee will send you another. In my experience, they often bump you up to an upgrade (1 item at a time upgrade) for most of the subscription time, so if you’re looking at adding item upgrades, just wait for one of these sweet perks. Additionally, GB customer service is AWESOME! When my awful postal people have misplaced my box, they replace it and QUICK! I would definitely recommend this service for curvier girls looking to never wear the same thing and try out some great plus designers!$34.99 and up a month, first month free!
  4. Graze:SNACKS! I mean, need I say more. This service sends you healthy and delicious snacks every week. You can skip weeks if you have a little bit of snack overload at the time. You can customize the kind of snacks you like (salty, spicy, sweet, CHOCOLAT-EY!) and they just send you a bunch of them right to your door. NICE.$11.99 for a week of boxes, skip anytime, first box FREE!
  5. Allure Beauty Thrills:This is technically not a subscription, but I’m including it anyway because it’s awesome. Every season, the good people of Allure magazine put together a winning list of both drugstore and higher price brands into a giant box of awesomeness. Usually there are about 30 products in total and they usually add up to several hundred dollars worth of product all for $50 (plus tax and delivery). While this may seem like a lot, if you spend $15 a month on things like shampoo, body wash, deodorant, makeup, skincare products, hair products, etc. then you’re actually spending more. The box usually includes shampoo, conditioner (FULL SIZE), body wash, hair stuff galore, lots of great skin products and some added makeup and tool type things. Overall it’s a really great value, so much so that it usually sells out in just a few minutes! Gotta be quick if you want this one!$49.95 (plus shipping and tax), once a season.*Allure also has a beauty box subscription, I haven’t tried it out, but it seems pretty cool ($15/month)*

5 of the Best Fall Fast Fashion Finds at Forever21

….Say that one ten times fast….WHEW!

I have a love-hate relationship with Forever21. Do they sometimes treat their plus sized section like a catch all for literally the most ridiculous clothing I’ve ever seen? Yes. Do they also actually produce the + section with MUCH better actual adherence to little things like hems and fabrics, etc so that your clothing doesn’t fall apart in seconds? Also, yes.

Check out these finds for yourself and let me know what you’re looking at this fall in the comments below!

1. A silky bomber for when you’re not sure if it’s hot or cold or if it’s still 98 degrees outside but like…30 degrees in your office.

Forever21+, $34.90, find it here. For you small folk here.

Forever21+, $27.90, find it here.

I could see myself wearing this a lot of places. Light jackets like this always come in handy when you’re transitioning from one season to another (aka Hell Fire into “north of the wall”). I would wear this over a fit and flare dress, adding dark tights as weather got colder. Maybe over a crop top for a little more coverage or even as pictured here with ripped up boyfriend jeans. This is versatile and adds a utilitarian – feminine flair to pretty much anything which is basically my life mantra.

2. A criss-cross applesauce shirt that you can wear when you feel badass…AND when you feel a little more demure because ties.

Forever21+, $14.90, buy it here.Here it is in mustard for ya’ll under size 12 peeps.

This is a pretty trendy-trend…but for $15 why not! Channel your inner goth Kardashian, or tie the ties a little tighter to show just a hint of skin while being super kewl. Basically you could wear this anywhere you could wear a black long-sleeve top. Love that this is bracelet/3/4 is length which I feel like is the most flattering. I would wear this with jeans, possibly highwaisted flares in a 70’s sort of way, or with a mini and tights with crushed velvet platforms ala 90’s chicks.

3. A shirt that says “I’m somehow wearing a navy blue puffy shirt but I still look like I could fight you” also says “I love the Ren Fest…but not like…THAT much”

Forever21+, $19.90, Buy it here.

Forever21+, $22.90, Find it here.

Forever21+, $22.90, Find it here.

This shirt does look suspiciously puffy…but hear me out. The sleeve detail is ridiculously on trend for fall. The navy color is pretty versatile, and you definitely can lace up the front so as not to have your bits all hanging out. The floral and white area also equally as versatile. This could be equally as cute with ye olde Renaissance festival garb as it could be with shorts (in early fall times) and later just simply with jeans or a button-front A line mini.

4. A jacket that will provide you warmth and the added bonus of no train-creepers or street-harassers asking you to goddamn smile. A girl can dream.

Forever21+, $39.90, find it here. For you lil’s you can find an awesome mustard one here. Guess straight-size F21 is all about mustard this fall. *shrug*

Truth be told, if you haven’t already gotten on the moto/leather jacket train you’re probably too sad to even have gotten on your computer at this point. But don’t worry. F21 is here to save you with a jacket that actually feels like a thick, snuggly, faux leathery hug every time you slip it on. I have the black version of this jacket and it’s the tits. The pink one is whispering sweet nothings in my ears. That should make you smile.

5. A slouchy, sexy sweater for all those “Sweater Weather” snaps and instagrams to your besties.

Forever21+, $19.90, Find it here.

Forever21+, $19.90, Find it here.

You know you’re gonna want to throw on a sweater early this fall, even though it’s still like…86 flipping degrees out. Whatever. You do you. It is still cold at night and in your office so these transitional friends are perfect. Chose a slouchy style for weekend hangouts or throw over a dress or skirt for more structured environments. Make sure to snap it all. #sweaterweather #fallisbae #pumpkinsareinseason

What are your favorite fall trends? Are you more a chili mocha or Pumpkin Spice latte girl (assuming you buy into the corporate coffee structure). Let me know in the comments!