Below is the really simple and really delicious variation of bulletproof coffee that I drink almost every morning. You will need a blender to make it, however. This “rocket fuel” recipe was taken from Healthful Pursuit.
I have found this version keeps me fuller longer and tastes better! You can get the ingredients almost anywhere, including Amazon 🙂 I prefer Starbucks Blonde Roast (very light and allows the cacao flavor to stand out), powdered MCT oil, and Swerve sweetener in my BPC– a little bit of Swerve goes a long way. I also add a splash of pure vanilla extract and heavy cream because it just enhances everything and makes this such a treat! You can also top with cinnamon, my favorite anti-inflammatory spice! Enjoy!
Brew coffee, add to the jug of your high-powered blender along with MCT oil, cacao butter, hemp hearts, stevia, vanilla, and cream. Blend on high for 1 minute. During the last 10 seconds, add collagen. Transfer to a cup and enjoy.
“The secret to having it all is knowing you already do”
This morning, I was reading about gratitude and how important it is to focus on the things we’ve been given versus the things we haven’t. Its so easy to make a list of things we want or need (guilty of to-dos that turn into wish-lists over here 🙋🏽♀️). But how often do we make a list of things we already have and are thankful for? I know the answer for me is not enough.
So this holiday season, I’ve decided I’m going to make *those* kinds of lists more often. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t already have notes here and there for Christmas gifts or items I need for my apartment. And truth be told, I love giving presents as much as I enjoy receiving them. There’s something about finding that perfect gift and letting that person know how much you’ve thought about them that truly brings me joy. Growing up, I could hardly stand waiting for friends to open up the presents I had gotten them. I’m sort of the same way today :). Gift giving does truly make me happy and I don’t believe it’s wrong. I do, however, believe that the emphasis we put on presents makes all of the difference.
As I type this post, the beginnings of Black Friday have already begun to crowd my inbox. Advertisements and commercials have been showing for weeks. And the Christmas decor seems to sneak out earlier and earlier each year. Don’t even get me started on Christmas music before Thanksgiving week. I’m certainly no grinch, but its starting to feel like there’s no time or space between Thanksgiving and Christmas anymore. It is definitely a pet-peeve of mine, mainly because I believe if we focused on the true themes of Thanksgiving, the meaning of Christmas (and the entire holiday season as a whole) would probably change for a lot of us.
It seems the older I get, the more I appreciate Thanksgiving. I also realize now that it can be just as stressful as Christmas (cooking for 40 isn’t easy–thank you Aunt Tricia for hosting this year)! However, I love that the focus is on spending time with family, friends, and a little football (HOTTY TODDY!). That’s it. No expectations, no presents, no where to be in a hurry. It really grounds me and reminds me of what is truly important in life: the things that no amount of money can buy.
I’m lucky that I have a family that enjoys Thanksgiving traditions and emphasizes spending time together. And I’m even more fortunate that every few years the number of people attending grows 🤗. It’s always amazing to me to see how things and people have changed over the years. Time isn’t stopping for any of us, and that notion makes the moments like this even more precious.
I genuinely think that one of the ‘secrets’ to having it all is being grateful for what’s sitting right under your nose. It’s far easier to be happy when the glass is half full. It sounds pretty simple, but the society we live in really makes it hard somedays. I am by no means claiming that I’ll stop shopping or even wanting things that may not be necessities. But I am going to make a conscious effort to practice gratitude during this holiday season and in everyday life.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading and have a fabulous Black Friday!
If you have ever browsed through my medicine cabinet, you will notice I am a huge fan of serums, which is why I was thrilled to try out the Formula No. 9 R-lift Face & Eye Serum from Raffaele Ruberto Skin! So far I adore this product and cannot wait to try out the rest of Raffaele Ruberto’s collection, which is entirely all natural, organic, and non-toxic. His products are anti-aging and have both instant and cumulative benefits, so you can see things working right away as well as over time.
If it seems to good to be true, it’s not. According to their website, Ruberto’s R-lift Complex is clinically proven to “lift & sculpt the jawline & cheekbones, blur fine lines & pores, smooth uneven skin tone, erase under-eye puffiness, & dramatically increase hydration.” This is quite a tall order, but somehow Ruberto’s line delivers: tackling the five signs of aging all while being paraben, phthalate and synthetic free.
The proprietary blend in R-lift Complex features some standout ingredients like hyaluronic acid, collagen, and vitamin C (anything with hyaluronic acid has a place in my heart). These can all be found in the R-lift Face & Eye Serum, which is also touted to “enhance the contouring effect of any good contouring technique” and is encouraged to be used as a primer. Is there anything this multitasking serum can’t do? Hint: no!
Last but not least, my actual personal experience with the serum was perfect. As someone with sensitive skin and occasional rosacea issues, I always worry that certain products can be harsh and that introducing something new will cause a flare-up. However, the serum did not create any negative reaction, and even features aloe as its first ingredient. It feels soothing and soft, while completely soaking into the skin (one of the many reasons I love serums). It’s safe to say I am obsessed with R-lift Face & Eye and seriously impressed by this brand, which I know will go hand-in-hand with my other favorite natural skincare line, Drunk Elephant. 🙂
Thanks to Raffaele Ruberto for sending me some goodies.
If you are a Nordstrom Rewards Member, you can find Raffaele Ruberto Skin on their site. Sephora, time to get with the program! 😉
I’ll admit it: I don’t wear red as much as I should (currently working on this). But when I laid eyes on this vibrant off-the-shoulder gown, I realized it was my chance to pay homage to my favorite emoji of all time: the salsa girl! 💃🏽
This Badgley Mischka creation is composed of chiffon layers and tiered ruffles that are made for dancing. This dress deserves some action 😉 The more movement, the merrier! Disclaimer: I don’t actually know how to salsa, but I tried my best. Any one want to take some lessons with me?!
I love getting to try some not-so-practical pieces that I wouldn’t wear in everyday life, which is why I enjoy my membership at Rent the Runway so much. If you still like to ‘play dress-up’ like I do, then you should give RTR a try!
Speaking of being impractical: I have to remind myself sometimes that fashion should simply be fun. And wearing this dress is just that! I had the song “Havana” on repeat and kept dancing and singing, despite the sweltering temps and people passing by. It was a great reminder to not take myself too seriously!
Even with the heat and risking my two front teeth to climb down these stairs while looking the other way (multitasking at its finest), this has been one of my favorite looks to date.
When life gives you lemons, just add vodka (or in my case, tequila), right? Not so fast! I am all for indulging in your favorite past times when stressed, however, I have learned when dealing with my own stressors and anxiety that going out for a wild night can only get you so far. Since I am having ‘a go of it’ this month (think interviews, major life decisions, traveling all over creation), I figured I would write a friendly reminder to myself and others on how to best cope with stress.
Oh how this girl loves to sleep! I am a 9-hour kind of gal, and I used to be able to sleep anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a dime. As I have gotten older, I have already seen how life’s effects on my sleeping habits are causing this talent to wane. However, proper rest is so important, especially during times of heightened stress. Your body does not stand a fighting chance (literally) against stress if you have not gotten a good night’s sleep. Hot baths, anything lavender scented (my favorite way to use essential oils), and sometimes the occasional OTC sleep aid find their way into my routine if I am restless. Friendly reminder for the general population: caffeine after 2 PM is typically not a good idea and can wreck havoc on your ability to get good shut eye.
EAT Coming in at number two is nutrition. Usually when I am stressed, I want to chug caffeine (after 2 PM of course) and the thought of cooking a decent meal makes me cringe. Who wants to do dishes when they’re stressed?! But this is another important piece to keeping yourself in check and preventing a hissy fit on the kitchen floor…I speak from experience! Go ahead and get the grocery run over with and stock your fridge with options that are full of protein, healthy fats, and not a lot of sugar. Think swapping chips for a full fat cheese stick. The protein and fat (guacamole, anyone?) will nourish your body and your brain. If you must have something sweet, try to limit consumption and pick an alternative like dark chocolate or berries (I personally like this combo together), both which have benefits to them that extend beyond their sugar content. Sugar + stress can send you straight to the looney bin and/or the doctors office. So steer clear!
I am really getting annoying, no? Truth be told, exercise can either be the last thing I want to do or the only thing I can think about when I am stressed AF. I am either forcing myself to put on exercise pants or dreaming of boxing until I can’t breathe anymore. There is no in between. Speaking of boxing, finding a sport that speaks to you is so important to loving exercise. If I can’t box, I also love tennis and running on the beach around sunset. These are my favorite ways to get out of the gym and be a little distracted, all while reaping the benefits of exercise (which are too many to name here). Remember not to push yourself too hard, it will only make your situation worse.
Sometimes all it takes to relieve stress is a good venting sesh, a little laughter, and maybe a few tears (laughing until you cry totally counts). These are all part of the process and you should not prevent them from happening. Calling friends and family (hi, mom!) or making a point to meet up with your people is so crucial during a time of stress. It is so easy to stay inside and keep everything bottled up–and sometimes that’s exactly what I want to do–but I always feel better after talking it out. I am also pro-therapist, or getting an unbiased opinion from a professional that has pretty much seen it all. Either way, you only have good things to gain from letting it go.
TAKE IT EASY
This seems sort of contradictory when you are in the middle of a crisis, but I have found that taking it easy is one of the best pieces of advice you can get. Our brain and our bodies react differently during stress, so you may not always be thinking with a clear head. To make matters worse, the lovely combination of stress and rushing turns me into the worlds biggest klutz, with the scars to prove it 😐 When it comes to making major life decisions, breakfast, or responding to a simple email: do not rush yourself. Take your time, really think about your communication, and be slow to react to others–you may need an extra minute to truly evaluate what they are saying or cool off your own jets. I am personally working on listening more and saying less in my private and work life. So far, I have a long ways to go!
If you are religious, then you were probably already praying about your situation before it exploded right in front of you. We tend to pray as things get really bad, and trail off as they start to get better (guilty). Even if you’re out of the woods, keep at it, because I truly believe it provides a certain mental clarity that can only come from prayer. Practicing prayer and meditation can change your life, but it will require your undivided attention and an open heart. I am still working on finding my own routine, but I do notice that devotionals or daily inspirational quotes (seems so cheesy at first), help keep me on track.
I don’t know many people who really love cleaning in the first place (if you’re out there, maybe we should be friends), especially when there’s a million other things weighing on your mind. If you know me, cleaning is my least favorite thing to do. I prefer to make messes 🙂 When the job is done, however, I am always happy I did it. A clean environment equals a calm environment, and it will help you operate more efficiently. You will sleep better, eat better, and do better in a somewhat organized–versus chaotic–home. If you want to up the ante, you can eliminate blue light in your sleeping space (more about that here) for better rest, or try some aromatherapy to help you wake up. Cinnamon is known to help sharpen your mind, pine can alleviate stress, citrus can make you feel energized, vanilla can boost your mood, jasmine can help with depression (read: anxiety), rosemary can help fight mental fatigue…the list goes on!
This doesn’t just apply to girls, but it’s definitely more fun (or more of a pain, depending on how you view it) for us! You know the phrase “fake it ’til you make it”? Well, when I am really anxious or feeling out of sorts, this is something I have to employ. And one of the things that really helps me is to make myself up. If I look s**t, I often end up feeling that way, especially during stressful times. Doing my hair is a must, but when it comes to makeup, it varies on the day. The biggest players here typically involve under eye concealer, mascara, bronzer, blush and/or lip gloss. Pick a happy, rosy color or a bright red to look and feel better. Pair this with a semi-put together outfit and you will pass for a functional human being.
After your have tackled *most* of your to-do list, gotten some solid advice from your go-tos, and crafted a game plan for success, it is now okay to reward yourself and indulge in a few of your favorite things. Whether it be a spa treatment, a nice glass of wine, or a little retail therapy (or perhaps all three), you deserve it. If you can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, go ahead and let loose. You survived! Your rewarding ritual serves as a reminder that this too shall pass. ‘I am going to be okay’ (new life mantra?) should be the phrase you are uttering at this point.
After a successful night out, brunch is always a must! And Asheville has plenty of options when it comes to a finding a decadent Southern breakfast. We decided to go to one of Emily’s faves, the funky Biscuit Head.
With three locations, Biscuit Head is clearly a popular choice among travelers, and for good reason. The offerings revolve around their famously fluffy cathead biscuits, with a menu that features anything and everything biscuit: specialty gravies, bacon, and a homemade butter and jam bar. The line that wrapped the building that day was a good sign, but be warned: when arriving during prime brunch time, waiting over an hour to order is the norm.
I don’t mind waiting for good a thing, however, a few of us decided we needed something stat while in line. Luckily, the West End Bakery and Cafe is less than a five minute walk from Biscuit Head and the service is quick and painless. They feature a mix of healthy fare, as well as homemade desserts and pastries. The coffee is very good and is actually from the local coffee house next door. If coffee isn’t your thing, there are boutiques and shops that also certainly get business from the Biscuit Head line!
After brunch, we headed downtown and popped into some local shops on our way to the breweries. The Mast General store was probably the most memorable of them all: it had just about any kind of item you can think of inside and was a great place to pick up a souvenir or a snack. But with the perfect weather that we got that weekend (AKA my hair did not frizz), we did not want to spend much time indoors.
We visited a few of the breweries that Asheville is famous for, but our favorite by far was Wicked Weed. Each brewery has something unique to offer, but the combination of the atmosphere and seating options at Wicked Weed made it the top choice. Wicked Weed is two stories and featured various different areas where you can enjoy your afternoon, most of them outside or open to the elements. The layout is made for sunny Saturdays like the one we got that weekend! Also, I was relieved to find that a majority of the breweries have at least one liquor bar for those of us who do not like beer.
After a perfect afternoon exploring Asheville, we headed back to our cozy barn and had a girls night (complete with matching pajamas) to celebrate Emily’s upcoming New Orleans nuptials.
Our time there was short but sweet. If we had gotten there earlier, we could have made a trip to winery at the Biltmore Estate. I also would not have minded checking out the hiking trails (full of wildflowers and waterfalls) on the Blue Ridge Parkway, specifically those deemed “quick” or “easy” 😉 There’s also the Grove Arcade, a high-end shopping and dining experience (think champagne bar in a bookstore kind of vibe) that is on my list for next time. And of course, I can’t stop imagining how the spa at the Grove Park Inn would be nice after a long day of adventures!
No matter what you like, there really is something for everyone in Asheville. A few traveling tips that I picked up on while there:
– bring comfortable shoes, because the city is totally walkable and very hilly
– it gets cool at night (even in the summer), so having a jacket or sweater on hand is not unreasonable
– the weather is generally comfortable year round, so there is truly no bad time to visit
– due to old laws, all of Asheville’s bars are technically clubs, and they require memberships! If you are not a member, you will have to sign in as a guest (this is normal protocol), and they can turn you away.
– speaking of old laws, ABC monitors everything alcohol-related in the state. And the state-run liquor stores are just that: spirits, but no wine or beer (and a poor selection of mixers). You will have to go to the grocery store to get non-liquor items. They are closed on Sundays, as well
– Asheville may have helped pioneer the “farm-to-table” experience, so checking out local restaurants like Tupelo Honey Cafe and Early Girl Eatery are a must. This also means a lot of the food is organic 🙂
I’ll be dreaming of a trip back, maybe in the fall, when the leaves are changing…until next time, Asheville! ❤
One of my closest friends and college roommates (sorry about that dorm room, Em) chose to celebrate her bachelorette weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. It was my first time visiting and I must say, it far surpassed all of my expectations! There are definitely some must-dos in the “Paris of the South.”
Although Asheville can be quite difficult to get to, it is worth all of the effort. We stayed outside of the city in a beautifully renovated barn that had both quirky characteristics and the modern luxuries a group of ten girls needs. It allowed us to have some true quality time together and made the trip that much more memorable for us. However, I would not recommend staying outside of Asheville if you don’t have solid transportation. Uber did not operate around our little countryside chateau!
Our first stop on Friday was to the stunning Omni Grove Park Inn. The property has some of the most jaw-dropping views of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains range. We grabbed drinks at the Great Hall Bar and immediately headed outside on the Sunset Terrace to enjoy the scenery. We also decided to dine outside at Edison, one of the hotel’s newer (and more casual) restaurants. Everything from drinks to dinner was perfect, and our service at dinner was exceptional. That being said, the vibe of the Grove Park Inn is exactly what you would expect: very rustic, but also classic and elegant. Based solely off of the experience we had, I would certainly add the Grove Park Inn on my list of places to stay in Asheville. They have an award-winning subterranean spa on site that sounds like the only excuse one needs to visit.
Friday night was our designated girls night out, so we hit downtown Asheville after a few digestifs 😉 (shout out to Shane)! Our waiter helped us decide where we might want to spend our evening, explaining to us that most of the bars downtown are technically concert halls and often feature live bands. We were mainly wanting to dance and let loose, so we decided to trade the music hall bars for more of a “club” atmosphere.
The following bars were on our hit list:
– SkyBar, a rooftop bar that is short on space, but a good way to start the night
– Scandals, a gay bar featuring drag shows
– Athena’s, like most of the nightclubs here, fun but small
– Nightbell, a speakeasy atmosphere featuring craft cocktails
– Room Nine, also called Club Nine by a lot of the locals
We ran out of time before we could make it to all five, but if you’re looking for a similar experience, I would suggest visiting any and all of these Asheville spots.