Under the Weather Favorites & Sale Shout


I've been a bit under the weather this week, which spurred me on to share some of my favorite seasonal supports and remedies. 

Traditional Medicinals Tea...Breathe Easy, Throat Coat and Gypsy Cold Care. Drink lukewarm for best effect.
Urban Moonshine products... Immune Tonic (daily support) and Immune Zoom (acute support)
Diffusing essential oils...I've got lavender and geranium right now for a calm comforting effect
Local honey...Add this to any of the teas above, or warm lemon-ginger tea.
Sambucus Black Elderberry Extract Throat Spray...I always keep this handy when I have a sore throat. The elderberry has great healing properties. 
Zand Elderberry Zinc drops...Take these at the first sign of a cold. They taste great and really work!

I love that I can buy ALL of these items from Vitacost for the best price and one easy shipment (it's like a "hey you might get sick which is a bummer but these things will help you feel better and it's a package in the mail so it feels like a present!" thing). I usually stock up at the beginning of the season so everything is within reach when a cold strikes. The Zand drops sell out fast because Vitacost has a FANTASTIC price on them! While I'm shopping, I usually grab a bag of Bob's Red Mill oats from Vitacost for my winter morning breakfasts. 



Speaking of amazing deals, I just found out about ePantry this week, which is quickly becoming a new favorite. My first order is on its way...the process was fun and easy with the best user interface I've seen online in a LONG time to get the best natural products that I actually need and want delivered to me. AND they rescue 25 square feet of rain forest for each order and offset the shipping by buying carbon credits (at no extra cost for you), then ship everything using only 100% recycled materials. I'm in love! I always buy Mrs. Meyer's dish and hand soaps anyway (and sometimes refill with my own soap) because the match my kitchen perfectly. I've heard great things about the Mrs. Meyer's candles, so I added one of those to this order too, since they are hard to find on store shelves. 

ePantry has a great deal going through Friday only...if you order $30 worth of merchandise, get a $10 instant credit, a FREE Mrs. Meyer's hand soap AND free shipping. So you get close to $50 worth for only $20. Score! It will be automatically added to your cart. Get started HERE!

Stay well!



Dear Kates Yoga Pants and Bralet Review


I love Dear Kates "performance underwear" and I've told you about them a few times before. 
Last summer, they launched a Kickstarter for their new line of yoga pants and shorts, and you know I had to be in on that! They had a few delays in production, but did the BEST job of managing expectations and keeping customers in the loop and excited during the months that followed. 


My Kickstarter goodies (and a few extras to review) arrived with brand-spakin'-new packaging and two luxurious Vosges Haut Chocolate chocolates. I adore Vosges and was thrilled to see their trademark deep purple box in my package. Dear Kates also gave everyone a free online yoga class for waiting so patiently. Good things come to those who wait!


My yoga pants, panties, and bralet are all new favorites that I will be wearing often, no doubt. This time I ordered Mediums in everything, since my Smalls were a bit too snug last time. These yoga pants don't have a ton of stretch. Instead, they skim over your skin, which is nice but takes a bit of getting used to. Sizing varies on the items from DK, so take a look at each item before you order. 


The real star here is the bralet, in my opinion. While the yoga pants are super comfy and thick, I am more impressed by the darling little bralet that is perfect for yoga, slackline and wearing under loose tees around the house. The little keyhole (where the two cups meet..hard to see in photo) and delicate crossed straps are lovely. I do wish it were a bit more stretchy as the thick material can take a bit of work to get over one's head ;) I love that the yoga pants have a band around the tummy (perfect for keeping things nice and smooth!). My yoga pants fit a bit higher in the front that the back, but did not fall down in the back, just sat lower. I'm not convinced about the crotch seam...I think that could use a bit of re-engineering.


My Ada hipsters in a Medium are perfect, and my Dear Kates favorite. The lace top is feminine and delicate, but the thick yet silky fabric beneath it feels wonderful. I highly recommend these! 



The pros win! Let me know if you try DearKates yoga pants, bralets or performance panties. Don't forget to give me a shout-out by using this code for $20 off your yoga pants




Get Your Craftsy On!

Have ya'll heard of Craftsy? I've told you about them before :) I love their simple-to-follow but really informative online classes and the prices are great. Even better? Their free digital e-guides that you can download at any time! These are all at least a $4.99 value, for free. Grab 'em all!



It's the time of year for cabin fever which means it's time to learn something new or dive deeper into a favorite or forgotten hobby. Let's talk about this free doughnut recipes class. Or watercolor. Or SUCCESS with container gardening, which cracks me up, because they don't just say "container gardening"...it's SUCCESS WITH, which is a class I need, given my perpetually brown thumb.

Check them out here:

Photography
eGuide: Understanding Exposure for Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography Tutorials
Cake Decorating
eGuide: Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas
Food & Cooking
eGuide: Delicious Doughnut Recipes You Can Make at HomePaper CraftseGuide: 6+ Stash-Busting Paper Craft Projects
Drawing
eGuide: Drawing the Human Face: A Primer
Painting
eGuide: Beginner's Guide to the World of Watercolor
Gardening
eGuide: Success With Container Gardening
Woodworking
eGuide: Woodturning Basics for Beginners

Happy craftsy-ing! 



Luna Bars Review: Gluten Free


Ok, I have some really fantastic news for all of my gluten-free on-the-go snackers...ALL Luna Bars are now gluten-free! YES, the cupcake one. YES, the brownie one. YES, the cookie one. 
(also: need I mention how happy it makes me that their new 'gluten free' symbol is PINK?!)


Have you tried Luna Bars? I like them because they are tasty, not too chewy, and have a well-rounded flavor profile. Granted, they have a bit of sugar, but I'm fine with it once in awhile. It's better than grabbing a candy bar, which I am apt to do now and again. Don't get me wrong, I love my Lara bars, my KIND bars, my Bumble bars, and others, but these are a part of my rotation, too. It's easy to get burnt out on snack bars.

ClifBars sent me an assortment of the new line to try and give you my reviews. They sent me 7, but I like these and have tried some of the other flavors on my own, and I'm including those below. My absolute favorite one is Chocolate Cupcake. The runner-up is Blueberry Bliss. Here are the official reviews, in no particular order. 

Chocolate Cupcake: Absolutely delicious. Truly, it reminded me of a Little Debbie brownie from elementary school days. 

Blueberry Bliss: My second favorite. Beautifully decorated with a thick layer of blueberry jam and oatmeal flakes, this is reminiscent of a blueberry Pop Tart. 

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut: I took a box of these on a long road trip with me and they are still a favorite (that's saying a lot after eating 6 in 2 days).

Caramel Nut Brownie: This was dry and hard. Not my fave...and it didn't taste like caramel. 

Honey Salted Peanut: Tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios! Reminds me of the Milk and Cereal bars.

Iced Oatmeal Raisin: I had such high hopes for this one, but it was relatively flavorless.

Lemon Zest: A cheerful and easy one to keep handy no matter what flavor you're in the mood for (sometimes you just don't want chocolate in the middle of the day, believe it or not!).

Nutz Over Chocolate: A good granola-bar-esque flavor. Nothing to write home about.

Peanut Butter Cookie: Quite tasty indeed. I love peanut butter in mid-day snacks, and this fit the bill nicely. 

Tell me, do you grab Luna bars or another favorite when you're on the run? 




What I'm Watching


The Great British Baking Show on PBS: This is my latest obsession. It is so CALMING and lovely to watch. A totally lovely television viewing experience. In direct contrast to the overblown dramas and hype of the Food Network, this show is congenial and real. The contestants actually HELP one another. This is our Sunday night ritual, followed by Downton. 


If you haven't seen these on Netflix, you're missing out: Call the Midwife, The Paradise, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (not for the faint of heart), Bomb Girls, Little Men.


Also loving HitRecord on TV, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's awesome (Emmy-winning!) quirky television show I've written about before. You can now own the whole glorious shebang in a boxed set with download codes, and be the hippest person you know. Then watch for the next season, coming soon! 


Movies I've Watched Lately That Are Not Necessarily New (But Some Are) & My Ratings Out of 5 Stars: The Imitation Game (4.5 stars), Unbreakable (4 stars), Grand Budapest Hotel (3.5 stars), 42 (5 stars), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (5 stars), Grey Gardens (4.5 stars), Three Coins in the Fountain (3.5 stars), Silver Linings Playbook (3 stars), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (3.75 stars, lol)  and a few others I can't remember, so I'll add them to my next list! 

What I'm NOT loving: haha: The Wedding Pact (on Netflix) was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It was painful but hilarious (since we were in the right mood) to watch.

Happy Watching! 


Book Review: Scary Close



Scary Close
provided by booklookbloggers
by Donald Miller
4 stars 

I finished this book in an afternoon. Three hours went by in a jiffy as I was involved in Miller's story, which truly is a "Scary Close" picture of his recent trials and triumphs in life. The story is engaging, and gains momentum as Miller dives into the story and finds his footing for the telling of it. I found myself nodding along, pondering how things applied to my own life (some applied a little too much!) and generally enjoying the story. To some degree I think we all have our "capes" we wear and hide behind, afraid of truly being seen.

As I said, Miller takes awhile to rev the engine in this book, which is understandable. As a prominent Christian figure, he is headed into deep waters here, and I feel he toes his way in. One can't fault him for this, but I felt the writing really gained his trademark voice about halfway through. He was able to become more philosophical and introspective about what he was experiencing. This book is not for those who like their leaders on pedestals (which is often part of the problem of them having personal troubles anyway...who can stand to be alone that high up for long?). But for those who have been down a similar road or who admire the courage of getting help, it's inspirational.

I did find the lack of mention of God and the role of the Holy Spirit in such healing work to be disconcerting, which adds to the lack of that fifth star in my review. Another reviewer noted Miller's brand of "subtle Christianity" here, but I would have liked to have seen a stronger correlation. For that, I HIGHLY recommend Sheila Walsh's Loved Back to Life (read my review of it here).

Overall, as I said, this book was a quick and fascinating read. It definitely offers more insight into the person behind the persona of Donald Miller, and is a helpful mirror to look at your own foibles and relationships. That's always a good thing to do. 
Thanks, Miller, for braving this. The next part of your story should be just as interesting. 

Happy reading!



Sun and Snow


So here we are, still most assuredly in winter, but with more sunshine, bringing with it a longing for Spring. 

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And pink lipstick, because that's sort of like spring. 

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And Valentine's Day, coming soon! 
Oh I can hardly wait! 

Enjoy the sunshine on the snow...it's quite beautiful and it makes me smile. Spring will come soon enough, dears.


More of What I'm Reading

Goodness, you guys, I've been on SUCH a reading kick lately! In 2014 my goal was to read a book a month (which I exceeded). I'm at about half a dozen books so far this year! Here is what is on my bedside table now: 


13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do
(book courtesy of Harper Collins)
by Amy Morin
4 1/2 stars
Goodness gracious. This book is another game-changer, if you have the tough skin to take it. It's truly therapy-in-a-book. Morin doesn't pull any punches, and her writing is to-the-point and practical without being off-putting. Not a whole lot of warm-fuzzy, but not overly clinical either. Morin earned my trust right away from her Introduction. After losing her husband and several others in her family in short order, she realized she had to dig deep and put into practice the things she told her pyscotherapy clients. This book is all about avoiding negative traps that we can all so easily fall into. Exercising our mental strength, particularly in times of duress, can really strengthen our entire selves. I highly recommend this one. It only loses half a star for me because the writing may be too tough for some who are struggling. 


Where'd You Go, Bernadette? 
(from local libary!)
by Maria Semple
4 1/2 stars

This one has been on my library list for awhile, and I finally nabbed it. That cover, though, right?! Adorbs. Once you get used to the unique format of this book (it's a collection of communication from different parties to tell the story), it is engaging and a very quick read. This one kept me up until 2am to finish it and find out WHERE Bernadette went! But I won't tell you :) It's a romp, a funny look at life and cliches. I think you'll enjoy this one. Perfect for a beach read, too, if you're taking a vacation any time soon to some place sunny and warm. 



Supermarket Healthy
(courtesy of bloggingforbooks)
by Melissa D'Arabian
4 stars

I was really excited to get this new cookbook at the start of the New Year. I'm looking for some quick, easy, healthy recipes to add to my repertoire and get out of a food rut. This book doesn't disappoint, with upscale twists on healthy dishes, such as grilled portobellos, acorn squash with a "fondue" baked in it and, my favorite: 


The Fried Green Tomato, Bacon and Spinach Sandwich. 
I mean...Wow.

D'Arabian is a Food Network personality, with her "Ten Dollar Dinners" series. Another recipe that stood out to me is the Carmelized Brussel Sprouts, Pine Nuts and Penne for a nice meatless dinner. My only qualm with this book is that she says in the subtitle, "Recipes & Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending a Lot." I didn't see any prices or references to spending less at the grocery store throughout the recipes, which was disappointing. Not every recipe has a photo, another negative point for me. I need photos in a cookbook! However, there are definitely a few in each category here that I think will become regular rotations. So, mission accomplished!

Happy reading (and cooking!) 



What I'm Reading


Vlog Monday 1/19: Reading from Natalie of Good Girl Style on Vimeo.

I have this bad habit of recording vlogs on Monday and not posting them until Friday, just to confuse you. I really should just wait until the next Monday, but...I'm terrible at waiting. And you need to know about these books!


Living Well, Spending Less 
(provided by BookLookBloggers)
by Ruth Soukup
4 stars
Ruth Soukup's popular blog (I read it myself!) has been translated into a book by the same title. Blog-to-book direct translations can be hard to manage, but Soukup does a great job here of bringing more fullness and personal stories to the book, along with action steps. Best of all, Soukup doesn't shy away from her Christian faith one iota, which is so refreshing. I also really appreciated Soukup's honesty in sharing her own relatable life stories. This is not ground-breaking information, but if you like Living Well, Spending Less the blog, you're sure to enjoy the book. What is at least slightly ground-breaking is her use of QR codes throughout the book to give readers direct access to extra resources on her blog. I wasn't sure about this, because I was under the impression that QR codes never took off, but then again, I only got a smart phone a few months ago. It was a quick read that's sure to glean one or two things that add value to your life. Then, pass it along to a friend so she can get a few tips to add value to her life. Plus, this cover is so pretty, and...well, sometimes I judge a book by its cover. I know, I know.

Make it Happen
(provided by BookLookBloggers)
by Lara Casey
5 stars
Lara Casey's writing comes to life and stirs the soul. There's just no other way to put it. This book is sure to inspire you to Make it Happen in your own life. And if you aren't sure what "it" is that God has called you to? Casey has the formula and the grace to help you uncover the divine appointments God has created for YOU right where you are, with what you have. Casey teaches us to be faithful with the little, but to nurture it and grow it in accordance with God's heart for us. Casey writes with heart, in a a vulnerable but grace-filled way that is easy to soak up into your soul and translate into action. The action-steps and thought-provoking questions along the way, along with the entire last section about HOW TO make it happen, beg for a pretty notebook and long, uninterrupted hours in the coffee shop. Or at least, an hour too late after bedtime with the nightstand lamp on. I highly recommend this one. Bonus: It also has a pretty cover!


Loved Back to Life
(provided by BookLookBloggers)
by Sheila Walsh
5 stars
Oh, this title just spoke to me so loudly. I've used those exact words about myself, needing to be loved back to life. Sheila Walsh had it all together before...well, it all fell apart. See it's funny that our facade of perfection crumbles so quickly, isn't it? The thing we most wish to protect (our image) is the first thing that goes tumbling down, bringing our worst fears to life. Depression, anxiety and recovery are very touchy subjects to write about. Sheila is able to share her story in a tone that is incredibly motherly and yet sisterly at the same time, with finesse. She is beside you, but has gone before you. Her own story gives strength and hope and a sense of God's divine plan for every person. To live with peace and in an intensely intimate relationship with Him, deeply dependent upon Him. I had never heard of Walsh before (I don't have a TV, ha!), but appreciate her story and her sharing it.

And a bonus not in the vlog that I just finished:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
(provided by the local library, ha!)
by Mindy Kaling
4 stars
I've been reading a lot of deeper, self-help and/or business books and was looking for something lighter. This definitely fit the bill. Mindy Kaling, from her start on The Office to her new Mindy Project, has always been a fun one to watch...her personality shines through and she just is. I love that she doesn't apologize for who she is. The first half of this book is hilariously funny (I wrote a bunch of alternate titles over on Twitter of the best lines), but the book drags a bit in the middle as she gets more biographical about her start on The Office and as a writer. This book is half tell-all, half comedic romp and all Mindy. If you love her, this is a gem of a book. I highly recommend reading it on an airplane so you can snicker out loud and everyone will be annoyed and wonder what you're up to. Or read it in bed with meatloaf for dinner on your lap because that's what I did. I feel that both of these would be Mindy-approved reading scenarios.
*Bonus: Mindy went to Dartmouth like I did, so I'm pretty sure we're best friends. #duh #obvs

Happy reading, my dears!


Valentine's Day with Minted: Sale Shout

A Valentine's Day outfit from a few years ago! 

OOoo, it's almost Valentine's Day! It truly is one of my favorite holidays. It's the turning point of winter in my mind, when spring feels like it is possible, love is celebrated, and chocolate is doled out. Could it BE any more fun? Well, yes, with some of Minted's Valentines and Gifts.


 They have Valentine's Day Cards and, for the kiddos, Classroom Valentines cards that are unique designs, high quality, and many incorporate the gold foil trend that is tres chic. Ooolala!

 faves for the kids at school:
Treat Bag
All-Star (love this for little boys!)
You're So Cool


to send love from the kids/babe:
Lil' Baby Love
Sunset
Big XO

to showcase your love (+ that delicious gold foil that is 20% off!):
Jotted Love
Hearts Aflutter
Luxe Heart

And quite possibly my MOST favorite, this little gem for those with new darlings:

In Love 



Are you feeling the love? I soooo am. Love Minted's products, the quality and customer service are truly unbeatable. Order now for delivery in time for your sweethearts, classmates, family, friends, and...well, I'd love one too :) Email me for my PO box! Tee hee, but seriously.


Catch Up!

Time for a catch-up post! 

A day-late vlog: 


Featuring:
DaySpring (affiliate link)
 GroopDealz (affiliate link)
(my shirt from there, but no longer available)

I've been busy on the interwebs lately! New poems for Darling Magazine:



And I've been baking up some goodies around the web, too: 

Candy Cane Meringues that would be perfect for Valentine's Day!



and, for a lighter, New Year's dessert...Bruleed Grapefruit with Honey-Yogurt Sauce


Tell me what you've been up to lately in the comments!

Have a great week!



Birthday Pretties

birthday 030

So I'm a year older now :) 
And I happened to have the most lovely dusting of birthday snow (I always hope for just a light powdered-sugar snow!)
to add to the blue skies!

As usual, I'm such a fan of birthdays and simply MUST dress like a confection of some sort as evinced by years past:
see here, here, here and here! I call this my "birthday skirt" because I have worn it for many birthdays!

Of course, if I am dressing like a macaron or cupcake or some such delicious baked good, I have to have my "frosting hair"
as I call my swirly bun, this time accented with a rosette ribbon headband.

birthday 037

Candy pink lipstick, cozy collar, and wind-blown hair! It was so windy the power was out until 2pm!

birthday 051

Sprinkle cookies (recipe from Averie Cooks) were in order, of course! Delicious and these taste just like funfetti cake!

But cookies are no substitute for a proper birthday cake, and this year I tried piping ombre pink rosettes
(3 colors of pink frosting, though it's hard to tell since this picture was taken at night): 

cake1

Harder than it looks to pipe these delicate flowers! But SO PRETTY!

cake2

3 layers of white cake inside, though I think I should combine the rosettes with the ombre green inside I made a few years ago, yes?!


Little goodies popped in throughout the day: this lovely sparkly Zoya nail polish from the boyfriend, and this
Audrey bag and pearl bracelet from his mom...

photo
(oh such pretty, happy things!) 

Notecards, lipstick, flowers, a For the Makers subscription, pink champagne, and more.
These are just things, though, and really, I am so grateful to have amazing family
and friends who love me and support me.
That means more to me than any pretty little thing ever could.

And I always choose a birthday song, so this year's was, of course, Taylor Swift. I'm still obsessed
with the music video for Blank Space with its gorgeous costumes, scenes and imagery.
Just keep in mind it's a parody of what people say about Taylor,
and that no animals, actors, automobiles, trees, or anything else were harmed in the making of the video :)


Can we talk about the clothes for a sec? 
Vintage schoolgirl meets Town-and-Country meets Grace Kelly meets Taylor Swift and I am in loooooove. 

So there we have it, the birthday roundup! 
Now, into a new year!


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