Health & wellness, what I love

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I was reminded today that you can’t run from what pulls you, what you’re passionate about. You can try, and maybe you’re not even consciously running from it, but for some reason, doubt sets in and you feel distant from that passion.

One of my biggest passions is my health & wellness business I discovered back in the spring when I was doing the Arbonne 28-day clean eating challenge. I had a beautiful Arbonne launch party last month. My whole life, it seems, has led me to this point as I’ve found myself leaning toward a more natural, less materialistic way of living. When I see an article about making homemade non-toxic sunscreen or the potential harmful effects of genetically modified foods, I can’t help but stop and read them. This habit doesn’t make me popular in many circles. I hear the sighs and see the eye-rolls. I often get caught in the self-doubt tunnel. But the urge to pursue my interests and learn more always returns. I can’t always eat organic and non-GMO foods. I’m exposed to toxins. I’m human. But I can choose what I put in and on my body. Knowledge is power. And that’s why I keep reading and learning about these things.

Last weekend, I came upon a recipe – grain-free, dairy & sugar free banana pancakes. Two simple ingredients: eggs and a banana.

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The process was simple. Blend the two eggs and one banana in my NutriBullet, spread coconut oil in the pan and make your cakes. They didn’t turn out pretty or perfect – so much so that I couldn’t even take an after-photo. ;) But they tasted good. Before the clean-eating challenge, I would have seen this recipe, maybe tabbed it for later, but that later would never come. Now, I see a recipe and I give it a go. Like these pancakes, the recipes usually turn out far from picture-perfect. It’s the simple steps of accomplishment and trying something new and different that keep me coming back for more.

That clean-eating challenge was so much more than physically life-changing for me. It gave me a renewed confidence and opened the door to a business so I can share health & wellness – my passion – with others.

A Gorge good time : running, clean-eating (and wine ;) included

Outdoor fun, good food, music and friends – another fabulous Labor Day weekend at the Gorge is in the books!

I live in a hilly neighborhood and got in several runs before my trip, so at least I was somewhat prepared for my traditional hike/run down the Gorge to the Columbia River and back up. The trail starts along one of the roads at Cave B Winery & Inn, where I have the pleasure of staying for the long weekend. A “Caution: Beware of Snakes” sign greets you at the head of the trail. An acquaintance passed me going the opposite direction after I made it down the steepest part and through a patch of sage grass. She said she and her friend had just seen a rattle snake and she could hear other rattlers nearby. I ran till I reached a mile, and as the brush got deeper and trail rockier, I decided to turn around and head back up to our little slice of civilized life in this wild west domain.

photoI was sad to see the water level of the Columbia River down so much from last year. Still, the grand landscape and majestic beauty of the Gorge and Cave B were just as captivating as always.

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cavebwaterOn Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent my evenings next door at the Gorge Amphitheater, where it was all happening, even dinner. I made a stop at Whole Foods in Seattle on Friday before my trek through the mountains up to the high desert. I got almond milk for my Arbonne protein powder shakes (yes, of course I travel with my pea protein! :)), fruit and other healthy snacks for the daytime. Dega Rock ‘n’ Roll Catering prepares homemade meals every show day for bands and their crew. They get there before anybody, scout local food sources and obtain the finest ingredients to create the most bountiful, healthy meals for the hardworking folks. I’m amazed at what Chef Fiona and her team come up with each time. And the catering spaces are even decorated for a nice, homey feel. I’m lucky to partake in the meals – primarily dinner.

gorge3menuThere’s always a meat, fish and vegetarian choice plus delicious sides and first-course options, such as soup or salad. It is definitely not difficult to follow my clean-eating habits with a Dega buffet before me!

I thought this was really neat … They post the local farms they work with to obtain fresh produce and meat.
degafarmsAnd they do this in every area the bands they work for are traveling. Talk about supporting the farm-to-table movement! I talked briefly to Chef Fiona, telling her how impressed I was that she cooks such magnificent dishes for so many people. She said, “It’s really not that much harder than cooking at home. You just have to make more.” What an inspiration! Next time I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll keep her and her traveling kitchen in mind ;)

Monday was an off day. With no show, that meant no schedule or time constraints. Jerry and I had fun exploring Cave B. I had never been to the winery and tasting bar, so we played tourist for the afternoon.

cavebfunWalking under those vines (top left photo) was so refreshing! The sweet smell of grapes, the breeze, that view … oh, and picking a few white grapes for the tasting. Turns out the rose wine is my favorite. It’s not too sweet but dry and crisp – perfect for a warm, sunny day.

That night, we were invited to a special dinner in Cave B’s Tendrils restaurant. I was in the company of some of the most interesting, kind people I’ve ever met.

cavebmenuI chose the grass-fed beef and king crab combo as my main course. There are no words to describe how fabulous all of these items tasted!

I’m so grateful for these genuine times of adventure, good food and friendship. I always learn something new about myself and others in this world we share. You know, those moments that make us smile and those awkward moments that connect us as humans – all the things that make life worth living.

 

Naturally dealing with chronic pain

I receive lots of PR emails in my work inbox. I don’t have anywhere to place this worthy article in my magazine. But I can share it here! Painkiller abuse is a BIG deal that we need to discuss. I’ve personally seen the bad effects from those little pills. Opening up to more holistic ways of dealing with chronic pain and evaluating your lifestyle (which more than likely is the reason for that chronic pain) and what you put in your body is the key to relief, I strongly believe.

From the experts…

Roughly 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain lasting more than six months, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine. Throughout the past decade, the use of painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin has soared by 300 percent. For many – 17,000 people per year, or 46 each day – the treatment is worse than the pain; those are the number of users who die from the medicine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

For every person who dies from the use of painkillers, 30 more are admitted to emergency rooms due to complications.

“Those figures are appalling,” says Dr. Frank King, a doctor of naturopathy, president of King Bio natural medicine company, and author of The Healing Revolution (www.kingbio.com).

“Death is just one of the many side effects of heavy-duty pharmaceuticals, and researchers unanimously agree that addiction to painkillers has risen drastically in recent years. People are so focused on pain that they miss the fact that it is a signal of deeper health problems. Don’t shoot the messenger! Listen to the pain, and it will lead you to the root causes.”

With decades of experience helping patients, Dr. King offers four natural suggestions for pain management.

•  Identify the root causes of pain. Pain is a signal of deeper problems, similar to the warning light on the dashboard of your car. You can mask the light with duct tape, which is what prescription drugs do with pain. You can cut the wires, which might symbolize a surgical approach. Or you can look for the root causes, which is what our more natural, holistic approach seeks to do. Address the problem, and the pain will subside.

•  Make good choices. Most chronic conditions are caused by bad lifestyle choices. Try walking more, eating and sleeping better, eliminating stress and bad habits from your life, and watch pain decrease and health increase. It’s that simple. Moreover, surround yourself with a healing community of like-minded “healing buddies” who support your healthy choices.

•  Explore natural healing techniques, and if necessary, see a natural healing practitioner. You are your best doctor, on call 24/7. I developed many self-healing techniques that address the needs of every aspect of mind-body health. These techniques are free and easy to implement at home, on the job, and wherever you might be. You might also explore meditation, yoga and other approaches for filling the holes in your wholeness.

•  Look into homeopathy. Homeopathy predates modern medicine. Homeopathic medicines are safe and effective, with no known side effects or negative drug interactions. They target the root causes, not the superficial pain. I have personally seen homeopathy dramatically raise the quality of life and happiness for countless of my patients.

With the appalling death toll due to pharmaceutical pain medication, natural solutions like homeopathy are our safest, brightest hope for the future of pain management.

 

On the road again

The title of this post might have you humming the Willie Nelson song, dreaming of a road trip. While I love a good road trip, I’m talking about road running here. It’s been a while … okay, according to my Garmin, it had been nearly two months … since I’ve woken up, laced up my running shoes and hit the streets for a morning run.

I’m sorry to admit that my running had been sporadic even two months ago. I’d maybe go once a week. The past two weeks I’ve stepped into an old habit. And it feels good. I’m not running long distances (no more than 3 miles) and that’s okay. Maybe the pressure I put on myself to run at least 4-6 miles on each run is what pulled me from one of my favorite hobbies because running that much didn’t interest me at the moment. I’ve realized running even 1 mile is worth so much. In these hot, humid (so very humid!) August days it doesn’t take long for me to work up a good sweat. I had forgotten how good it feels to start the day with a run. The endorphins, the morning dew, birds chirping, sun rising – all that corny stuff – feel good. And to think fall is just around the corner – my favorite season to run outside.

I’ll be spending Labor Day weekend at the high-desert utopia that is the Gorge. I plan on taking my yoga practice to new heights and going on a run down to the Columbia River. Ooh, that means I’ll have to come back up! Good thing I’m used to hills in my hometown!

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Happy holiday weekend, everyone!

 

Falling for Clean Eating

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Spring is typically associated with rebirth, renewal and starting fresh. For me, fall represents those things. It may be because my birthday typically lands on the first day of autumn, but I always feel refreshed and ready to declutter my closets and mind when the leaves start to fall and the air becomes crisper.

This fall, I look forward to continuing my clean-eating journey. Since first doing the challenge in April, I’ve pretty much stuck to the plan, filling my plate and belly with organic/non-GMO foods and steering clear of refined sugar and processed junk. But it’s the summer and I’ve enjoyed vacations. Inevitably, I’ve indulged, drank a little too much wine and enjoyed delectable desserts. I’ve seen the difference in my skin and energy levels. When I follow a cleaner diet (and one free of dairy, gluten, refined sugar and soy), my skin is clearer and energy higher. And I sleep better.

As an Arbonne independent consultant, I’m leading the 28-day challenge that began on Aug. 4. I’ve enjoyed inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle. They are on Week 3 and I’m so proud they’ve stuck it out this long! Along with them, I’ve prepared “clean” meals and supplemented my diet with the detox-worthy and gut-bliss promoting Arbonne products. Naturally, I’m enjoying the benefits of a cleaner diet.

The other day a friend asked me about another diet in which health professionals advocate consuming only 500 calories per day. This plan floors me. It seems any qualified nutritionist would know that drastically cutting calories can put the body into starvation mode. Metabolism slows down and blood sugar levels can plummet. Hormones in the body react, and cause your body to store fat. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is key to any weight management program. That’s why I’m such a proponent of Arbonne’s pure, safe and natural approach. The program touts eating real food that’s not processed or that comes in a box. It encourages buying from your local farmer and cooking in your own kitchen. I used to hold onto to the story I had been telling myself for years – “I’m not a good cook.” Because of this 28-day challenge, I found I am a good cook and am perfectly capable of preparing a meal with multiple ingredients and steps. Such a freeing feeling.

The next challenges start Sept. 8 and Sept. 22 (my birthday!). What a birthday treat it would be for me for you to join me on this life-changing journey! :)

#Emeraldcoasting

The email had me at “coast.” Working for a local magazine that covers a range of topics, my email is flooded daily with pitches, advice and story ideas from public relations execs and advertising agencies. This subject line caught my eye: “INVITATION: Press trip to Experience the Emerald Coast.” A fully-funded trip. This was too good to be true. It had to be.

emeraldcoast_fourpointssheratonHard to pass up that view, don’t you agree?

I forwarded the email to my team. We run busy schedules so it can take a while for these things to be considered. After a week or two of kicking it around and dreaming about the trip, my boss came in my office, suggesting I represent the magazine on this “girlfriend getaway” adventure!

I gladly accepted the invitation from Margaret at Peter Mayer Advertising in New Orleans. She coordinated the press weekend and kept us on task while there. I packed my beach towel & sunscreen and was ready to enjoy a complimentary flight and long weekend stay at the Four Points by Sheraton. During the jam-packed weekend (Aug. 7-10) exploring Fort Walton Beach, Destin & Okaloosa Island with remarkable cuisine and beach activities, I had the privilege of meeting and learning from other writers and professionals. We shared every meal and excursion together. We shared laughs and sang songs together in our fancy ride for the weekend – a top-of-the-line minivan. I will never hear the 1980s version of “Puttin on the Ritz” the same way, thanks to Misty of Girl Will Travel. ;) I’m amazed at how spending a few days with strangers can turn into lifetime memories.

emeraldcoast_ajs_emeraldgrandeThis photo encompasses the camaraderie we established in just a short time. After a delightful lunch at AJ’s World Famous Seafood & Oyster Bar on Saturday during which we were spoiled by the restaurant’s marketing director (and history buff extraordinaire!), he was gracious to transport us by golf cart to our next stop. The Spa at Emerald Grande is on the Harborwalk, where AJ’s is located, but it was hot & humid, and after a two-hour adventure with standup paddle boarding, we happily accepted the ride – albeit a bit overcrowded. We giggled along.

The spa experience – ahhhhh, what a relaxing hour. I melted into the massage table and afterward felt like one of the jellyfish I had spotted the day before at the Gulfarium.

The Gulfarium (right next to my hotel resort, turns out) is where we experienced up-close-and-personal encounters with dolphins. I know aquariums and zoos can spark controversy, and I’m no animal/marine life expert, but I can say the animals at the Gulfarium seem happy and cared for in the most humane and proper way possible. We talked to one knowledgable trainer who most definitely cares about how animals are treated. That warmed my heart. The child in me was giddy over the dolphin encounter. I’ve been fascinated by them since I can remember.

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emeraldcoast_gulfarium_dolphins4Our group of three (me + Nathalie from Chattanooga and Tyler, the social media guru from Peter Mayer) played with Cosmo, who’s 10.

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Hope he didn’t mind having his tail held and or his belly rubbed. I sure enjoyed it :)

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One of my favorite views at the Gulfarium was this elevated spot.

IMG_6678What a perfect view of the green water, sugary-white sand and beach life.

Other highlights of the trip were a visit to Destin Commons and Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill, candlelit meal at Cuvee Bistro, standup paddle boarding in Harborwalk Village, another fabulous meal at Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi and a to-die-for-brunch at Clemenza’s. I could have stayed and talked for hours with Clemenza’s owner, Dom Damiano – the real Italian deal. He’s brought so much history and richness from his Chicago upbringing to this uptown bistro (sister restaurant to his Fat Clemenza’s pizzeria).

Pictures tell it best so here goes …

Fruit plate greeted me upon arrival at Four Points

Fruit plate greeted me upon arrival at Four Points

Under the pier

Under the pier

emeraldcoast_blackpearlOur sunset view during dinner at the Black Pearl. Thanks to Kendra Moore – our helpful, fun and very knowledgable tour guide – with the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, we were alerted at the perfect photo-op time.

My first meal – seared tuna (double yum!)

My first meal – seared tuna (double yum!)

Super neat bowling alley/grill

Super neat bowling alley/grill

Underwater theme inside the bowling alley/grill

Underwater theme inside the bowling alley/grill

Handpainted murals and carefully crafted props give the underwater illusion

Handpainted murals and carefully crafted props give the underwater illusion

After our bowling alley tour and warm welcome reception from the Destin Common folks, we dined at Cuvee Bistro. We were met with fireworks.

emeraldcoast_cuveebistroWell, not really fireworks, but sparklers!

Sunrise ...

Sunrise …

Our SUP adventure begins ...

Our SUP adventure begins …

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emeraldcoast_SUPWe stood up once we reached the other side of the harbor. SUPing is a recreational activity (and great workout) I can’t wait to do again! You’re practically standing on water. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Hmm … maybe paddle board yoga is in my future. ;)

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Jetpack anyone?

Southern Star Dolphin Cruise time!

Southern Star Dolphin Cruise time!

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emeraldcoast_sunsetcruiseSunset over the Gulf. The moon was just as impressive that night.

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 Sunday came too soon. I set my alarm an hour earlier so I could take one last walk on the beach.

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Till we meet again!

In the meantime, girlfriends (or boyfriends), get your crew together and go #emeraldcoasting!

 

 

 

 

 

… and I’m off!

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Big news!

I had my official launch party last night to kick off my Arbonne business! I was nervous that no one would show up, anxious and excited for the unknown journey ahead. I’m happy and so very thankful to report that I had a good crowd. Some I had personally invited and others were invited by my friends (and my oh-so supportive mom!) and their friends.

I planned this party knowing I would have just returned from a jam-packed business trip to the beach (more on that soon!). But because of its location and the relaxed trance the ocean breeze through my hair and the sand between my toes typically put me in, I figured I would still be in “beachy” mode upon my return. Once I reached the mainland and back into a crowded airport, the salty air and crashing waves became a faint memory. It was back to the hustle of everyday life. And I was one tired pup after a long weekend of eating, more eating and beach-activity hopping. The thought Sunday night of hosting a party the next day after a full’s day of work was daunting.

BUT I knew I had a great support team in place. As per usual, I worried for nothing. My good friend Alex offered her mother’s idyllic home for the evening. That generous offer took weight off my shoulders – no cleaning or party prep was required. I walked into her perfectly manicured home with my bags of product samples & food and was ready to set up.

Amy, one of the Arbonne regional vice presidents in my upline, offered to host my launch party. I was fortunate to have her on board. A wealth of knowledge, she’s business-minded with a calm, at-ease approach. I’ve learned so much from her. Breezy, who re-introduced me to Arbonne, was able to come, too! She teaches evening yoga classes so it can be difficult for her to attend evening affairs. I am so happy she could attend!

The happy-smelling and oh-so-moisturzing Awake Sea Salt Scrub greeted guests as I had them lather their hands in the goodness upon entering the party. A Pomegranate Energy Fizzy Stick + frozen strawberry concoction refreshed their palates. Judging by the empty serving pieces at the end of the night, they didn’t seem to mind that the snacks I offered were detox-friendly and healthy :) – even the bite-sized protein bars that taste like nutty brownies.

The time came for me to share my “why” with the group. I was nervous at first, but this overwhelming sense of confidence came over me and I knew I was where I am supposed to be. It went something like this:

They say one thing leads to another or a new experience might open another door. This new thing for me was yoga. My co-worker Katie introduced me to Barefoot Studio three years ago. I latched on pretty quickly and yoga began to transform my life. I came to know Breezy, who owns Barefoot, more and more and she quickly grew to be a great source of inspiration for me. I appreciate her honesty and integrity and genuine nature.

Back in January, I started noticing all of these posts she was sharing on Facebook about this Arbonne clean eating challenge. I thought, “I eat healthy and exercise. I’m good.” But as the months wore on, Breezy kept posting about all of wonderful things she was feeling and experiencing because she changed her eating lifestyle. Finally, after three months of seeing her posts, I decided to give it a try. I was feeling bloated and having digestive issues. I knew Arbonne products were quality products because I had used them before. I thought, “It can’t hurt.”

Within one week of being on the challenge and seeing the physical and emotional changes in me, I knew I had made the right choice. People started asking me about it and wanting to try it. That’s when I knew I wanted to have my own Arbonne business. Helping people feel and look their best makes me feel good. The perk is I get compensated for recommending good products and helping others. When you recommend a favorite lipstick from Sephora or the lotion you got at the Body Shop, you don’t get paid for advertising for that company. Arbonne rewards you.

I think about my future now more than ever. There are no guarantees in life and I want to be able to provide for myself and build a cushion for a prosperous life. I enjoy adventures, meeting new people and developing meaningful friendships. Arbonne has already done that for me. It can only get better from here. I’m canceling out negative thoughts like ‘What if it doesn’t work?’ to ‘But what if it does.'”

I reconnected with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a while and everyone seemed to have a good time. It was a perfect evening. My only regret from the night? There are no pictures! I’m usually the picture-taker, and well, I was a bit busy :) There’s always next time!

 

 

My yoga moment

A few weeks ago, YogaGlo – an online yoga service for at-home practice – asked for stories sharing “aha” yoga moments. The Facebook call to action also said you could mention your yoga studio and they would share that link as well. I love my hometown yoga studio and thought, “why not?” Maybe inspire someone and give some love to Barefoot Studio – a win-win.

I submitted my story and had forgotten about it until this morning. I get notifications from YogaGlo when they update on Facebook. I liked the quote on the photo they shared: “The beauty of yoga is you never fail. You do what you can in that given moment. Nothing more, nothing less.” Then I realized that was my quote! They shared my lil story. (They did misspell my last name, but oh well.)

I was having a bad morning. This added some spring back in my step. Only, I’m strapped to my computer pretty much all day, so I’ll have to get springy and do some celebratory yoga later :)

Road trip!

I recently had the fortune of taking a week off from my hometown life and venturing out on the road.

Jerry picked me up in Cleveland, we played around at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ate a divine meal at Morton’s, and then journeyed across the upper Midwest, making our way to Chicago. Jerry drives a custom coach for a living. Riding in it for a couple days when he’s not obligated to his regular job duties is one of the best ways to see the countryside. It makes for the best view around.

Lovely view from way up in the air on my way to north.

Lovely view from way up in the air on my way north.

Some of my favorite sights at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Some of my favorite sights at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Two musical greats!

Two musical greats!

On our way out of Cleveland, look what I discovered!

On our way out of Cleveland, look what I discovered!

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Then we parked in Sandusky, Ohio – this beautiful little shore town full of history. I was so impressed at the landscaping work in and around the town square. And of course, I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the above homage to the First Amendment. Once a newspaper girl, always a newspaper girl.

After exploring Sandusky, the plan was to do a little outlet mall shopping in Indiana, grab a good dinner and then make our way to the Sand Dune Park along Lake Michigan, just on the other side of Chicago. Shopping and dinner (at Timbuktoo’s – this different restaurant that definitely stands out in its hometown) were achieved. Jerry mentions Timbuktoo’s in the book we published about his life on the road. We chatted with the owner and gave him a complimentary copy. He was thrilled!
Because of a severe storm and downed trees, we didn’t make it to the park for final resting that day.

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We did, however, catch a pretty cool lightning storm over Lake Michigan in Michigan City just before the storm hit landfall. We sought shelter in the bus until the storm’s strength dwindled some. I wasn’t so calm as the bus shook a little from the high winds and I looked out the window to see toppled over port-a-potties. But I knew I was in good hands.

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The next morning, after crews got the trees cleared, we made our way to the sand dunes. Now that’s some calm after a storm.

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Hello, Chicago! Duty called Jerry away to Milwaukee for a day, so I stayed back in Chicago and enjoyed the city! First thing I did was go on a guided bike tour through the city and Lincoln Park. This was our first stop – the tour guide’s favorite view of the city. I met a neat family from Napa Valley, saw where Oprah resides and rubbed Abraham Lincoln’s shoe in Lincoln Park for good luck. It was a good day!

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I especially enjoy walking around Chicago and taking in the architecture and old homes.

I especially enjoy walking around Chicago and taking in the architecture and old homes.

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I love that skyline. The week ended with a couple of concerts with good friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better week and way to celebrate July 4th!

 

Summertime

It’s clearly summer, because I have what I call “summer brain.” You know, where mustering up the energy to fix your hair and look presentable on a work day is a good feat in these energy-sucking hot temps. And doing things like updating your blog fall by the wayside because a friend invites you to the pool or you’re living in the moment on vacation.

No excuses, I know, I know, just being honest. And certainly not complaining. Despite the heat, I love the laidback feel of summer.

I was lucky to enjoy a weeklong vacation roadtripping, enjoying new sights and spending a whopping five days in one of my favorite cities: Chicago!

I stuck to my healthy eating habits for the most part but also didn’t punish myself for indulging. It’s all about balance. That’s what I love so much about what I’ve gained from the clean eating challenge I completed back in April. No deprivation. No crazy, unattainable diet. Just real food for real living.

I want to write a longer post about my trip with some lovely images, but until then, I’ve got to get some sleep for a busy Tuesday! I’ll leave you with a new find that I’m digging.

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An herb saver that has saved me from the frustration of buying fresh herbs only to watch them wilt before I could use them up. Yay for small victories!