Toning Tuesday {Fitness Challenges}

Hey y'all,

Since it is almost the new year, I know a lot of people are setting goals and resolutions including ones about fitness. I know I am in that boat and I have a couple fitness related goals and I will share my January goals and the word of the year later this week but today I thought I would share some fitness challenges that are coming up since I think it is sometimes helpful to feel like you are part of a community and being challenged.
Barre3 4 week challenge (January 4th-January 31). The challenge is to take four 60 minute classes, do one 10 minute online workout and try one barre3 recipe each week. Although there is a studio in Raleigh, I am challenging myself to complete the barre3 challenge online. My plan is for 60 minute classes on Saturday and Sunday and then breaking it up to 4 30 minute sessions before my work day during the week.
TIU Challenge with Self. I love Karena and Katrina and they are hooking up with Self magazine for the Tone It Up Challenge. It will be an 8 week challenge and as usual, it's free! Each week K&K will post a workout calendar to follow along with some fun challenges and a brand new workout each Tuesday. Just follow along and have fun with the #TIUTeam

Blogilates Monthly Calendar (and Beginners Calendar). My babysister loves to workout with Cassey Ho aka Blogilates. Each month, Cassey emails out a workout calendar to follow along with her youtube videos. They are often set to fun pop music and Cassey is full of energy.

Create your own challenge. I am challenging myself to 12 5Ks next year. One a month. I am the kind of person that will only keep running if I have a race on the books so I am lacing up my sneakers and have my first 5K on January 1st!

Have you ever done a fitness challenge? Which one?
Do you have any fitness related goals for 2016? 

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Miscellany Monday {Chasing Perfect}

Hey y'all,

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and celebrated with your family and friends. As we prepare for the new year, we all begin to think of goals and resolutions and how to make the next year the best one yet. I have been spending a lot of time thinking of the coming year and reflecting on this year. What worked, what didn't, what I hope for. I have started to work on my Powersheets from the Lara Casey shop and I thought I would share this video from Lara Casey's blog today.

I am going to share my word of the year and my goals on Friday but I also wanted to share this link to a webinar between Lara Casey and Emily Ley about creating a joyful year. I plan on taking my long weekend (I have Thursday and Friday off) and spending it simplifying and preparing for the new year.

Are you doing anything to prepare for the new year?
Do you set goals at the beginning of the year?

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p.s. The Powersheets 6-month set is back on pre-order HERE!

Christmas Eve {Family Traditions}

Hey y'all,

I'm sorry to have disappeared this month but it has been crazy busy! I went to 9 Christmas parties between December 10th and the 19th! It was a lot of fun to celebrate and see lots of friends but I am happy to get back on track with my workouts and clean eating after I get back home from the holidays. I came to my parent's house on Saturday and I have been having a lot of fun with my parents and all of my siblings are home together. This hasn't happened since May 2014! So I know this all seems random but since we only really go to church on Christmas Eve, I thought I would share some of our favorite things to do when we all get together.

movies. We always try to go to the movie theater as a family whenever we are together. Over Thanksgiving, I went to see the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 2 with my parents and it was great and to celebrate my brother turning 31 on Monday, we went last night to see Star Wars: Episode 7 The Force Awakens. It was so good! That's all I am going to say about that. We also love going to see Disney movies together whenever they come out.
movie night at home. We are big on holiday movies especially the classics. While I love my Hallmark Channel Original movies (my favorite is A Boyfriend for Christmas) we always have to watch The Santa Clause, Muppet Christmas Carol, White Christmas, The Year Without a Santa Clause, The Town Santa Forgot, and The 12 Days of Christmas. There are others like Miracle on 34th Street and Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Clause that we will watch if they are on TV but aren't on the required viewing list.
game night. Board games are some of the best memories I have with my family. If you need some ideas on what to play together our favorites are: Phase 10, Mexican Train, Disney Scene It, Apples to Apples, Scrabble or Bananagrams, and Catch Phrase. Last night we played Citadels and I am hoping that tonight we play Heads Up. We also like to set up a card table and place a puzzle on it and everyone works on it little by little.
other activities. We love decorating the tree together (you traditionally put up your ornaments on the tree but our parents began to give us ours when we moved out of the house). We also used to make over 10 different kinds of cookies and give them to neighbors and friends but since our family all agrees that cookies are too much temptation that has gone by the wayside. Other things we love to do as a family: take a walk around the neighborhood, cook, go out for ice cream, drive through neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights, make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning,

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Sunday Sayings {December 6}

Hey y'all,

I have had a pretty busy week and the next few days seem just as packed. With over 7 holiday parties between Thursday and Monday I know that I need to take the time to breath and find myself in the Word. This verse has been especially helpful to me. Sometimes in this world we only seek instant gratification and even though it is tough patience is a virtue. The Lord came down to Earth to give us the ultimate gift and I have to remember that like a Father, God only wants the best for us even if that means we have to wait until his plan is revealed.

You can order this print here.
 What has been on your heart recently?
Are you doing anything special to prepare for Advent?

Saturday Snaps {UNC Football}

Hey y'all,

If you are new around here, I am a Carolina Alum and today ends UNC's regular season before they head to the ACC Championship against Clemson. I was raised a football fan and love going to the games. Last year, I unfortunately didn't make it out to Kenan stadium but this year I was able to go to the Homecoming game against our rivals, Duke, and then to the Military Appreciation game against U of Miami. The State game is always fun in our house since my baby sister, K, went to NC State.
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Let's Go Heels!
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Five on Friday {November 27}

Hey y'all,

It's Friday and if you are out hunting some deals I hope it hasn't been to stressful. I am actually almost done with my shopping thanks to Veteran's day sales and some great sales online yesterday morning. Now let's get to some things I'm loving on this Friday.

one. Thanksgiving. I had an amazing day yesterday hanging out with my parent's eating the best meal of the year. After dinner we went on a nice long walk around the neighborhood to try and walk off some of those calories. I mean, look at the caloric breakdown I found online. It's a good thing that my clean eating challenge and Cize start Tuesday.
two. Urban Decay Vault II. If you haven't heard, Urban Decay in late October released a vault of all of their Naked palettes with some significant savings. Sephora sold out quickly and Urban Decay restocked it online this week and I was luck enough to snag it as a Christmas present to myself. I love my Naked palette and can't wait to have the two Naked basics and Naked 2, 3 and Smoke.

three. Hallmark movies. It is officially okay now to watch all things Christmas and I have been watching some of the new Hallmark movies like Ice Sculpture Christmas, 12 Gifts of Christmas and I am excited for A Crown for Christmas tonight.

four and five. Fun Mail. This week I received the Write the Word journal and lSc's Save the Date!
The write the word journal has been a great reminder to take some time and just dwell in God's word without any devotional commentary but just what God has laid on your heart. LC's Save the Date is so cute that I couldn't keep it to myself! I mean, LC designed them herself and it perfectly fits her & R's sporty style (plus, she did the calligraphy herself!)

How was your week?
Are you linking up?

Thyme for Thursday {Happy Thanksgiving}

Hey y'all,

I hope that you are able to celebrate all that you are thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am spending it with my biggest fans (my parents) and the cats. While my family is not all together I am happy to have a chance to celebrate all of the year's blessings while we enjoy an amazing meal.
One of my co-workers asked each of us what our traditional Thanksgiving feast looked like so I thought I would share. We typically cook two turkeys (one regular and one smoked turkey), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, steamed carrots, garlic butter crescents, and for dessert: pumpkin pie & apple pie. Since we have our meal around 3pm we typically munch on veggies and ranch dip for lunch after watching the parade.

What's your Thanksgiving meal like?

Sunday Sayings {November 22}

Hey y'all,

As we prepare for Thanksgiving this week I felt that the verse "In everything give thanks"was very appropriate to begin the week with. Even with the stress of my job over the last few weeks I have felt very grateful for the family I have created in the Triangle pouring into me on weekends and of course for my actual family. I have the best support system and it is one thing on a long list of things I'm grateful for. This afternoon I started a list of things I'm grateful for including:
my job
clean water
patagonia pullovers on chilly mornings
best friends
supportive parents
my freedom bought by the sacrifice of many for this country
apple pie
the best bible study
fuzzy socks
a closet full of clothes
a roommate who watches Sabrina the Teenage Witch with me
a car that runs and the funds to put gas in the tank
sweet coworkers
flannel sheets
my college education
lunch dates with sorority sisters
my apartment
mac and cheese
 my siblings
blog readers
blue skies
a savior who died in my place

Have you ever made a grateful list?

Saturday Snaps {November 21}

Hey y'all,

It's Saturday! We made it to the weekend so it is time to show off some pictures I have taken over the last week or so. Kind of like an Instagram round-up of photos that didn't make it on the 'gram.

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I spent Tuesday afternoon last week taking my car in for her 35,000 service.
I was able to make a dent in reading during the wait.
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UNC vs. Miami
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OOTD: Work
Top: Banana Republic Outlet
Scarf: Lilly Pulitzer
Pant: LOFT
Shoes: Ralph Lauren
Bag: Kate Spade
OOTN: Southern Weddings V8 Launch Party
Dress: Cynthia Rowley via T.J. Maxx
Wrap: Lilly Pulitzer
Necklace: Lilly Pulitzer
Clutch: Kate Spade
Heels (not pictured): Target
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OOTD: Work
Cardigan: Target
Pants: LOFT
Shoes: Ralph Lauren
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I've been loving the 10 minute workouts from the online section. Perfect to squeeze in before work or right before bed.
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The dress is ordered. I'm a bridesmaid in June and after trying on dresses, a selection was made and the dress is on order (in a navy color).

What has your week been like? 

Five on Friday {November 20}

Hey y'all,

I can't believe it is already Friday! This week has flown by and I am gearing up for a busy weekend hanging out with some great kids.

one. Community. No not the show. This week I was able to have really great conversations and fun with friends at book club Sunday night and then Monday night my church is hosting a women's discipleship series and it was so encouraging to be there with women across the Triangle.

two. Tervis Tumbler. I love my Tervis Tumblers and this week I received a new one with a crab on it. I am so excited to be using it at work today for water. I might have added like 7 more tumblers to my Christmas list last night.

three.Fabletics. If you are looking for workout pants, I am obsessed with mine from Fabletics. They had a great black friday/cyber monday deal last year so keep your eyes out. I am hoping to grab these:

four. Now You See Me 2. I loved the first film and I'm excited to see where this film goes. I will miss Isla but the inclusion of Daniel Radcliffe is nice. I think I probably like this movie thanks to my parents allowing us to watch David Copperfield specials (and taping them from TV to watch over and over again).
five. Christmas shopping. I am typically one who waits until Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals and later but I have already finished shopping for my siblings and have ideas for almost everyone else. Let's hope that keeps the season of Advent stress free.

Did you link up?

Thyme for Thursday {Turkey Burgers}

Hey y'all,

Today I thought I would share one of my go-to meals when I feel uninspired. I got this recipe originally from Slender Kitchen. It is super quick for a week night and I sometimes make them on Sunday to last me the majority of the week. It has been a couple of months since I have made these since I found the Trader Joe's frozen turkey burger patties so ignore the stock image. These are delicious and I have cooked them on my George Foreman grill during the colder months.

1.25lbs of lean ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/2 cup red onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbsp mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined.
Divide into about five patties (I have sometimes ended up with 6-8 smaller patties) and let rest for about 10 minutes. I put mine back in the fridge with Saran wrap.
Cook burgers on the grill for 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through.

I love to serve this with baked Alexia Rosemary Fries without a bun. I have lettuce wrapped these burgers as well.

Do you have a go to burger recipe?
What's for dinner tonight?

What the Heck Wednesday {The Martian}

Hey y'all,

As I am sure most of you are aware, the movie The Martian wwhich stars Matt Damon, is based off of a book by the same title. A few months back, my friends and I picked it for our book club read and I figured that I should go ahead and share my feelings.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.
After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars' surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.
Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark's not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.
As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

I loved this book more than I expected. I do think that the beginning can be a little slow to get into but I loved when other perspectives came into play and you didn't feel as isolated with just Watney. I think it had enough humor and understanding that the scientific explanations did not go over your head. I only wish that the ending wasn't as quick. I wanted a complete resolution and I didn't get that.

Have you read the Martian? Seen the movie?
Favorite read of the moment?

Five on Friday {November 13}

Hey y'all,

It's Friday meaning it is time to link up with some amazing bloggers and write about five things on my mind/favorites from this past week.

one. Duke vs. Carolina. So last Saturday I attended the Duke/Carolina game at Kenan Stadium for UNC's homecoming. It was my first game of the season and it was so much fun. The stadium was packed and Carolina demolished Duke 66-31. I can happily say that the Victory Bell will be in Chapel Hill for another year. photo 12189258_10205507764119132_6841106748173127905_o_zpswmwnjmx9.jpg
 two. Southern Weddings Magazine V8 Launch Party. Last night I was able to attend the Southern Weddings Launch Party of the new V8 at the Carolina Inn. I went with lSc who I will stand beside as she says "I do" in June. I am still dreaming of the Bacon Bar. It was a fun event of great food, mingling with vendors, fans and the SW girls. I even connected with Kristin over our sorority and was able to chat with Nicole. Random but Nicole and I have known each other since we were merely sophomores in college!

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 Nicole and I
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Also how fun is everything in the swag bag?

three. La Croix Passionfruit. Random fact about me but I was a big soda drinker in college. I do not drink coffee so I turned to soda as my source of caffeine and continued with that habit postgrad. Well, about two years ago, I kicked the soda habit. I now mainly drink water only with some tea, juice, and smoothies. I love La Croix sparkling water to mix things up and I recently grabbed the Passionfruit flavor from Target and y'all, it is so good. I honestly have about 5 favorite flavors of La Croix now.

four. Cycle. I finally made it back into the gym and took my favorite cycle class. The past two weeks have been rough emotionally at work so I have been eating lots of chocolate but going to a class always lifts my mood.

five. Name Change. My sorority sister and friend LJ posted on her blog the many reasons she was not changing her name after she got married and I think it is well worth the read. Plus, this means I can always call her LJ.

And bonus, how cute is this video, Harry Potter as told by kittens.
All 8 Harry Potter Movies in 7 Minutes -- With Cute Kittens!
Harry Potter has never been more amazingly intricate and FUZZY.
Posted by The Pet Collective on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What the Heck Wednesday {The White Rose}

Hey y'all,

It's Wednesday, which means it is time to check out the books that I just returned to the library. I was so excited when the sequel to The Jewel came out and it arrived at the library the morning before my plane ride to Chicago. Here's the description:
Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.
But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.
But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

 I read the first half of the book rather quickly on the hour and a half flight to Chicago and on the way back, I got nauseous after reading a page so I set the book down for a good week. I felt that this book's story overall was not as strong as the first book. While I am glad that Violet was able to escape, the meat of the story was in the last fifty pages or so. I can't wait to read the next book though since this one left off with a cliff hanger.  

What are you currently reading?

Toning Tuesday {Half Marathon Finish}

Hey y'all,

For my first Toning Tuesday post I thought I would do a little recap of my second half marathon, the City of Oaks REX Healthcare Half Marathon on November 1st.

As far as training went, this time I didn't do much training...I know this is bad. I had a plan from Hal Higdon but I wasn't very motivated and would fit in runs here and there. I didn't run much at all the month before the race and was even recovering from a cold so I went into the race hoping I would just finish. I met up with the 3hr pace team (14 min miles) at the start and stayed with them for the first 9 miles. They were doing the Jeff Galloway method of running 2 minutes then walking 1min. This was great for me (minus the fact that we often were running up all the hills and walking down them). We were even a little ahead on time completing some 13:30 miles. I made it to the 10K mark at 01:31:14.

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 However, after I hit mile 9 I decided to leave the pace group and hope I wasn't swept by walking the remaining 4 miles. My left ankle hadn't been happy for a good 5 miles and my hips were really tight. I threw on T. Swift's 1989 album as Chesson always recommends and made it to the finish line at 03:13:46 with my chip time being 03:06:50(2 minutes faster than the Bull City Race Fest marathon I completed last year with my baby sister which you can read about on my old blog here).
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 I of course sent my Mom a selfie with my medal when I finished.
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Also, my best guy friend came up from Atlanta to run with me. He completed the full marathon that morning (in under 4hrs!).

I think my favorite signs from spectators on the course were a sign that said, "This is what you do with an extra hour," and one that said "Smile if you are not wearing underwear."

Do you enjoy running? Favorite training plans?
Favorite way to exercise?

Sunday (Monday) Sayings {November 9}

Hey y'all,

This past week was terrible. I think with our society of perfect images on Instagram, I need to use this space to be real. It started with recovering from my half marathon (chafing sucks) on Monday, taking over a meeting on Wednesday for 2.5 hours since a co-worker was out, a 2 hour meeting with management that wasn't handled very well and left everyone on my team feeling defeated, and then a nutritionist appointment where we talked about my "week of chocolate" and lack of exercising the entire week. So here is to a new week, let's reset and reintroduce green things. I am so glad I had a busy but refreshing weekend where I was poured into by wonderful families and friends. So here is a verse that I am taking on this week. It can be easy to be bogged down with this world with all the tragedies and everyday stress but we have a Savior who overcame death for our sake. We have wonderful things ahead even if we do not see it in this world, Christ is our joy.

Also, you can buy this image as a print at French Press Mornings shop. I just discovered her blog this weekend and I am trying to resist buying all the prints to have a verse wall.

What's on your heart today? What do you do to de-stress?

Snaps from the City

Hey y'all,

In late October, I took a week long vacation and headed up to Chicago to visit my best friend, aMl, while she is up there learning all things medical. I thought I would share some pictures from the trip.
 Wheels up to Midway
Panoramic view on the Farm in Indiana
aMl in a cabbage patch
I had to try deep dish pizza
I completed a page in my adult coloring book
I spent 6 hours in the Art Institute and was so excited to see Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Degas in a special exhibition.
Obligatory Bean Selfie
UChicago Homecoming Football Game
Have bag, will travel.

Have you taken a trip recently?

Thyme for Thursday {Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie}

Hey y'all,

I love to make smoothies for breakfast, they are quick and super filling. I sometimes even make this smoothie for lunch on Saturdays when I come back from a cycle or step class.
Ignore the bad nail polish job
8oz Almond Milk 
About 5 Frozen Strawberries 
1/2 a Banana, Frozen
1 cup Spinach 
1 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
*1 tbsp Jif Powdered Peanut Butter 
*1 serving of Protein Powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend.
I typically place the cocoa powder at the bottom along with the peanut butter powder and protein powder if using that time, then I layer the spinach, banana, and strawberries then pour in the almond milk.
Do you love smoothies?
Favorite on the go breakfasts?

What the Heck Wednesday {Red Queen}

Hey y'all,

It's time for more book reviews. Sorry to go MIA Monday and Tuesday but with the start of registration week and working for a college, the past few days have been crazy at work. I thought I would share a dystopian young adult book I picked up recently.

This is a world divided by blood - red or silver.
The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.
That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.
Fearful of Mare's potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.
But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance - Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart...

I felt like I could not put this book down and after reading half of it I was already looking forward to the next book Glass Sword which comes out in February. I loved the set up of the world with the divide of people coming from their blood and the power of magic. It shows what a small group with a lot of power could do to a group with none.

Also, I can't wait since Born of Betrayal came out yesterday. If you enjoy fantasy/science fiction and romance I greatly recommend the Born of series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Now to finish The White Rose before heading to Barnes and Noble to grab a copy.
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And for the What the Heck book of the week: Must Love Breeches. Who comes up with these titles/cover images?

What are you currently reading? Do you enjoy dystopian young adult novels?