Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Party Noonday Style

Last night my little condo was full of my fabulous friends & family, and my heart could not have been happier. I have always known how blessed I am to be supported by such wonderful women, and last night was just another reminder of that fact. What was the occasion, you ask? Well, it was my Noonday Collection trunk show.

Several weeks ago, I blogged about attending my first Noonday party, where I fell in love with the beautiful jewelry & accessories, as well as the company's mission. I knew then that I wanted to host my own Noonday trunk show. If you share my affection for pretty pieces of jewelry, and also want to make a difference in the lives of others, I suggest you start planning your own Noonday Collection party. Follow these simple steps, and you'll be well on your way to partying Noonday style:

1. Contact your local Noonday ambassador. Fortunately, my local ambassador happens to be my lovely sister-in-law, Kate
If you don't already know someone, you can connect with a Noonday ambassador here: After you decide the optimal date & time and invite your peeps, it's time for my favorite part: the food.

2. Plan your menu. Since my party was an Open House from 4:30-7:30, I decided to do appetizers. In other words, we didn't need silverware, y'all. Chips, dips & toothpicks is what I'm saying. Also, I had more fun coordinating the plates, bowls, and napkins than anyone probably should.

3. Let the good times roll. Once Kate had set up the display of gorgeous goods, we basically just had a blast with all the lovely ladies who came to party. Try on the jewels, eat the food, drink the drinks, and laugh the night away. It's really that easy. And while you're having a terrific time, remember too that you're helping create economic opportunity for the vulnerable. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Too Precious at Two

Happy 2nd birthday to my sweet little niece! I cannot believe it has already been two years since my McNugget made her entrance into the world. 

I know I'm a tad biased, but I swear she grows cuter, funnier, and more precious each and every day. 

You want proof? Well, here are some (and by some, I mean a lotof the things that make her so precious:

She knows her name, but refers to herself as "Baby". 

She likes to go around the room and point and announce every person who is present: "Mama, Dada, Papa, Mimi, Aunt Jackie, Uncle Andy, Pete, Baby, and Uncle Jill" (yes, Uncle Jill-we just can't bring ourselves to correct her).

When someone in the family isn't there, she notices right away. 

She frequently requests to call family members on the "iPhone".

She loves stickers, crayons, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles.

Her favorite show is Doc McStuffins, which she pronounces "Stock M'stuffins".

She loves to dance, and busts out original choreography often.

She already has an awesome sense of humor and loves to laugh.

She thoroughly enjoys collecting shells & rocks and playing in the sand.

When she says "Yes" it sounds like "Yesh" and trust me, it is the cutest thing you've ever heard.

She loves to eat (this is how I really know we are related).

She is quite the little athlete already.

She is obsessed with her big brother "Petey Pug".

During any given visit with her, she will ask to see "pictures of Baby" on my phone, which includes watching videos of herself over and over.

She sings "Let It Go" in a whisper voice.

She loves jelly beans and calls them "double bees".

She lives for sprinkles & ice cream.

She sticks her lips out at random like me (when you've got it, flaunt it).

We can be in the same room together for several minutes, and she will randomly turn and say, "Hi, Jackie" (cue my heart melting).

Clearly I could go on and on, but at this rate she will be 3 by the time I finish. Here's to the past two terrific years of getting to be her aunt, and the many more McNugget birthdays to come! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Comes After The 30 Day Shred?

Well, I did it, you guys. I completed all 30 days of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred! To say that I feel great is a huge understatement. I'm not sure what's improved more: my mental strength or physical strength. Either way, I'm so glad that I achieved my goal, especially considering I had to complete the last 4 days on vacation.

It would have been easy for me to be like, "Well, I did 26 days so I don't need to worry about 4 measly days." But the new, disciplined me was like, "Shut up, lazy bum." (When you live alone, you talk to yourself a lot, okay). So anyways, I packed my hand weights, exercise mat, and 30 Day Shred DVD in my giant green suitcase and busted those last 4 days out at my grandma's house & then at the lake house. 

I know I said I wasn't going to weigh myself, but my curiosity got the best of me last night. The last time I got on the dreaded scale was back in February, so while I'm not exactly sure if my starting weight 30 days ago was the same, it was probably close. With that in mind, I was happy to see that after a month of exercising each day and much healthier eating habits, I am 20 pounds lighter. Woo hoo! I can tell that my clothes are looser, and I'm well on my way to feeling fit & fabulous.

Originally, I had planned to continue working out each day, alternating Zumba on the Wii, yoga, and the 30 Day Shred. However, after seeing me exercise while we were on vacation, my sister asked if she could borrow the 30 Day Shred to get "buff" before her wedding (Also, she sang Chicago's "You're The Inspiration" to me. Okay, no she didn't, but that would have been awesome). So, little sis took the DVD home with her.

Luckily, my sweet friend, Ashley lent me another Jillian Michael's DVD, Ripped in 30; I used it last night, and have decided to make my new fitness goal to stick with Ms. Michaels for another 30 days and get "ripped". Let me just say that I'm glad I did the 30 Day Shred first, because I can already tell this program is even more intense. But since I'm now a workout beast, I'm sure the next 30 days are going to be a piece of cake (insert laughter here).

Nutrition over the next 30 days will be focused on finding a realistic balance between what's good for me & what's not-so-good-but-tastes-really-good (I'm looking at you, hamburgers & french fries). Bascially, if it's a special occasion like a party or a night out with friends, I'll allow myself to indulge (within reason). But for the most part, I'll be cooking with whole foods at home. I'll repeat some of the healthy dishes that I cooked last month & really enjoyed, but am looking for new ideas too. Help a sister out, y'all.

Here's to accomplishing my goal these past 30 days, and here's to the next 30. Cheers!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Operation Get-It-Together

It's midnight on a Tuesday night as I begin to write this post, and I've just finished working out for the 16th day in a row. No, this blog hasn't been hijacked by someone else. It's really me, you guys. I know that I just blogged about how Summer has been all relaxing and whatnot (which it has), but it's also been a time for change.

I've dubbed Summer 2014 as Operation Get-It-Together, and by it, I mean, my health. I've been wanting to make some changes in my diet and exercise routines for years now, but as we all know, "wanting" and actually "doing" are two very different things. I think it's been a combination of factors this year which really prompted me to finally take action. 

First, in February, Mom had a health scare. Thankfully, it turned out that she was fine, but she did meet with a cardiologist who put her on the South Beach Diet. She has since lost over 30 pounds and looks & feels awesome! She's definitely inspired me to change my diet and make healthier nutrition choices (more details on that to come). 

The next factor that brought about these changes was my most recent relationship/break-up. I know that many of you reading this may be thinking, "I didn't know she was dating anyone," which is because until I'm really sure about someone, I'm not going to bring him around or tell many people about him. This relationship was fun while it lasted, and I learned a few things about myself as a result of it ending; one being that I really do want to be in a relationship (something I haven't always been sure about in the past), and another is that I need to hold myself to the same standards to which I hold the type of man I want to attract.

The final factor that has prompted my life changes, is the fact that my little sister is going to walk down the aisle in less than 4 months. Bottom line: I want to look & feel fabulous as I deliver my maid-of-honor-speech.

So, as part of Operation Get-It-Together, I decided to set short goals for nutrition and fitness. My first goal was to complete the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I've had this exercise DVD for years and have never completed more than 2 days in a row. Yet, here I am on day 17 (I started this post on Tuesday night and finished it later on Wednesday evening), more than halfway to my goal of 30 consecutive days. It is an awesome workout, and by "awesome" I mean it kills me. But I can tell that my fitness level has improved vastly, seeing as how the warm-up used to leave me winded, and I couldn't even do a push-up on my knees when I started. On the days when I really just don't want to do it, I think about that bridesmaid dress hanging up in my room, and I suck it up. To make it more enjoyable, I mute Ms. Michaels, and play my own motivational music (Turn Down for What, y'all). Upon completing the 30 Day Shred, I plan to continue working out daily for the next 30, but will add in Zumba & yoga.

The nutritional goals that I made for this month have included no soft drinks, no fast food, no white flour, no potatoes, and no sweets (in other words, none of the crap I've been eating for far too long). My diet has consisted of lean meats, whole wheat breads, low-fat cheeses, fruits (low in sugar), and water, water, water. With a palate as picky as mine (I don't do salads), I'm surprised at how easy this way of eating has really been. Then again, when I really want something, I make it happen. 

One of the things I've enjoyed making for breakfast is a berry smoothie:
1 handful of spinach (you won't taste it)
1/2 cup of frozen berries (I've used a mix of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries-if you choose to use fresh fruit instead, add a handful of ice cubes)
2 large spoonfuls of greek yogurt (I like Yoplait 100, vanilla flavor)
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 cup of skim milk
Blend & enjoy!

For lunch, I've had whole wheat english muffin pizzas (with turkey pepperoni), as well as chicken salad with pita chips:
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 handful of grapes, cut in fourths
3/4 cup of mayonnaise (give or take based on your preference)
1 pinch of salt & pepper
Optional: I added a handful of finely chopped spinach as well.
Stir & enjoy!

For dinner, I've made turkey burgers, as well as oven "fried" chicken:
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 pinch of black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir all ingredients together. Dip each piece of chicken in extra virgin olive oil, then in bread crumb mixture. Bake for approximately 25 minutes. Yum!

When my first 30 days are up, I plan to continue to eat this way, with the exception of special occasions. I will continue to refrain from soft drinks, fast food, and refined sugars. If you have any healthy recipes you'd like to share, please put them in the comments section!

Throughout this process of change, I'm not weighing myself because I'm not really concerned with reaching a certain number. Getting it together is just all about feeling better. By writing this post, I'm holding myself accountable, and hopefully helping out any readers who want to make healthy life changes too. I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress, and I hope that you do the same.

Let's get it together, y'all!