Surprise! We're having a baby!

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I’ve been waiting to post about this, maybe because life has been non-stop for quite some time, or maybe because it honestly still doesn’t feel quite real! Yes, the bump when I look down is definitely starting to make it seem a little more real, but I’d be lying if I said I have totally wrapped my mind around the fact that I’m going to be a mom!


I can’t quite put into words how blessed I feel. Ryan and I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that having a child may not be as easy as we would like, and that we may need to have some medical assistance in order to be successful at conceiving. If you’ve read my other post, then you know I had excision surgery fro endometriosis in October of 2017, my doctor told me after adhesion removal I should be able to get pregnant, but the only way to truly find out was to try, and that putting it off wouldn’t be doing myself any favors. So, no we weren’t told we couldn’t have kids, we just thought it would most likely be a different road to conceiving. After my surgery in October I went back on birth control until March to help with symptom management, but ultimately decided birth control simply did not work well with my body and I’d try and manage my pain through diet, exercise and listening to my body. I know this approach is not for everyone, but I’m so happy I chose to go this route because we ended up conceiving naturally and unexpectedly.


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I know we weren’t doing anything to prevent it, but it was still in shock given my journey with endo along with a heart shaped uterus and a septum (TMI?). About 6 weeks after we had gotten home from Italy, I still hadn’t gotten my period which I didn’t really think anything of because they hadn’t exactly been regular. But then I started feeling really tired, like really, really exhausted so I decided one morning to take a test while Ryan was out golfing. Sure enough, it was positive, “PREGNANT” I went ahead and opted for the one with words so there was no way I could misinterpret the lines. lol I quickly ran to the store to get some balloons so I could surprise Ryan when he walked upstairs from golf. Let me just tell you, the look on his face was utter SHOCK. In fact his response was, but how? Instead of opting for the birds and the bees talk and painting a little timeline for him, I just said, I don’t know, we got lucky.

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That’s exactly how I feel, lucky, blessed, a little terrified that we are going to be responsible for raising a good human being to put out into the world in this crazy age of video games, social media, judgement and comparison, but ultimately just beyond blessed and happy! We are already getting so close, and I can’t wait to meet our little blessing this Spring! Stay tuned for a post on all the fun things I’ve learned while being pregnant that no one told me ;).

Avocado Toast

Photos by: Valorie Darling

Photos by: Valorie Darling

I mean honestly, who doesn’t love avocado toast? It seems to have quite the life of it’s own the past few years, and I’m here for it! I found the best avocados at my local farmers market the other day and naturally the thing that pops into my mind is to throw it on some toast. I’m kind of obsessed with toast, I know it may not be the healthiest option but I can go through a whole loaf in about 3 days. Oops

This is almost like a 2 for 1. You get your avo toast and then you get a little salad on top. I also snagged these gorgeous heirloom tomatoes so it made sense to throw them on top of this toast and oh man was it amazing! It’s so fresh and delicious, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it too!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces gluten free toast (I use Udi’s)

  • 1 large avocado

  • squeeze of lemon

  • half a lime

  • handful of heirloom tomatoes

  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

  • pinch salt x3

  • pinch pepper x3

  • 1/2 garlic clove, if you like it spicy (optional)

  • balsamic glaze to drizzle (optional)

While preparing ingredients, place bread in the toaster, I like to double toast it for that extra crispiness. Split avocado and remove inside with a spoon, place in a large bowl. Squeeze lime into bowl, add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Set aside, in another bowl, slice tomatoes length wise and add to bowl, grate garlic into tomatoes (using a microplane makes this really easy), squeeze lemon, add salt and pepper. It’s important to season every layer of this so you’re really getting a punch of flavor in each bite.

Top each piece of toast with avo mixture, then top with tomato mixture. I like to add a little drizzle of balsamic glaze, I used regular but flavored ones would be great also! Top with salt and pepper once more (maldon salt is amazing on this, but I was fresh out) add a drizzle of balsamic glaze and enjoy! It’s the perfect little snack, appetizer, breakfast, late night snack, or just a good excuse to use of some fresh avocados.

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Overnight Chocolate Protein Oats

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Like I said, I’m super into breakfast these days, I’m even more into make ahead breakfasts with minimal clean up. I love sweets, and I usually like to have a little something sweet with breakfast whether that be honey on toast, fruit or some chocolate in my oats!

These are so simple to make, you place all the ingredients in a jar the night before, shake and wake up to the creamiest, most flavorful overnight oats on the planet. Okay, maybe there are some better ones out there, but I highly doubt it, and I know they’re not as healthy as these bad boys!

These oats are packed with antioxidants and superfoods so you don’t have to feel guilty having chocolate for breakfast, and that’s a win in my book!

Make these and top them with anything you like, I love a nice tart fruit. You really can’t beat the flavor or texture of these bad boys, you’ll feel like you’re having dessert for breakfast!


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Ingredients:

  • ½ GF Oats

  • 1 scoop organic Plant Fusion Chocolate protein powder

  • splash of vanilla

  • 1 tsp maple syrup

  • 1 tbsp maca powder

  • 1 tbsp raw cocoa powder (makes it taste like chocolate mousse)

  • 1-2 tbsp chia seeds (1 makes it more like a pudding, 2 is firmer oats similar to museli)

  • ½-1 cup coconut milk (any non-dairy milk works well in this recipe)

Place all ingredients in a mason jar.  Fill remainder of jar with unsweetened coconut milk, shake and place in fridge.  Top with your favorite berries or granola, add chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey or maple, or grab a spoon and dig in.

 If you like dessert for breakfast than this one is for you!  It should maybe be called pudding instead of oats.  It’s just real good and chalk full of good things for you!  This recipe was born because I was sick of protein shakes in the morning but still wanted to find a way to get that protein in first thing.  I happened to have all of these ingredients in my cabinet years ago and it turned out it makes one delicious concoction.  If you’re feeling like you want a little added sweetness or serving it for brunch and want to really wow people top it with my maple coconut whipped cream.  I mean that stuff is really just good on anything!!

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Chicken Sausage Egg "Muffins"

Photos By: Valorie Darling

Photos By: Valorie Darling

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more excited to be home, in my kitchen, with the option to COOK my own food! I love, love, love traveling, but after 2 weeks on the road, tons of great meals out and some not so great meals out, I am more ready than ever for some home cooked food!

I usually can’t stand doing dishes, but even that doesn’t seem so bad to me right now. It’s amazing how much easier it is to feel healthier when you’re making your own meals at home. Even when I eat out, I’m not always 100% sure what exactly is in the food I’m eating.

Anywho, I’ll get on it with it! Right now I’m really loving breakfast, like a lot! Since arriving home and finally getting to the grocery store (ok, that’s a lie I used the best invention ever, Instacart) I couldn’t wait to whip up a homemade breakfast!

These egg muffins, or a variation of these are my go-to for a quick, healthy breakfast or snack that I always make extra of so I can have a quick snack or on the go breakfast throughout the week. They keep brilliantly in the fridge, and are easily reheated in the microwave with a damp paper towel. The best thing about these, there are no rules! Throw in whatever you have in your fridge or whatever is in season. I’ll throw in leftover cooked veggies from the night before or I make them Tex-Mex and add some green chilis and black beans. You really can’t go wrong. Hope you love these as much as I do!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 pkg chicken breakfast sausage (I love the ones in the butcher section of whole foods, I love all the flavor options)

  • 8 eggs

  • ½ yellow onion

  • 1 green onion

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp pepper

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 1 tbsp Italian herbs

  • ½ cup cheddar (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop yellow onion and set aside.  Heat large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and onion, sautee until translucent, about 3 minutes, add breakfast sausage and use spatula to break up into smaller pieces.

While sausage is cooking.  Chop green onion, including the white part and set aside.  In a large bowl (one with a pour spout is ideal), crack and mix eggs, add garlic, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes and Italian herbs.  Once your sausage has come to room temperature, transfer sausage to egg bowl, add cheese if using, mix all ingredients to combine.  Spray a muffin tin with non- stick spray (I like coconut or avocado oil) and evenly divide mixture amongst 12 cups.  If you’re using cheese, sprinkle on top and place in oven.

Check eggs after 15 minutes.  Depending on how done you like your eggs they will be ready, if you like your eggs on the firmer side, cook for 18-22 minutes. 

 I like to top mine with avocado and siracha!

Store extras in a zip lock bag in your fridge for up to 5 days.  These are a great make a head breakfast and can be reheated easily by placing a paper towel around it and re-heating in increments of 15 on the “reheat” setting.

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All Natural Mojito Popsicles

Photo By: Valorie Darling

Photo By: Valorie Darling

It's summer, which means it's hot!!  How about these little babies for you or your kids or to take to a 4th of July celebration to cool everyone off.  I use the same base for these as my Red, White & Blue mojito and then add a creamy finish at the end with coconut milk.  And how cute are these little rocket pop molds?!  Hope you love these as much as I do, I can't keep them in my house longer than a day.


Strawberry base:

  • 1/2 pint strawberries (washed and hulled)
  • 1/2 lime
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp honey

Place all ingredients in the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain through a mesh sieve and set aside.

Coconut base:

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp  vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey

Place in blender and combine all ingredients.  

Fill molds half way with strawberry puree and set in freezer until set (about 2 hours).  Gently pull out popsicle (I run them under warm water to loosen them first), ladle in coconut mixture and place back in the freezer to let set.  It's that simple! 


Photo By: Valorie Darling

Photo By: Valorie Darling

Lately I have been CRAVING anything cold!  Seriously, I'm finding myself at Pressed Juicery getting their freezes and pineapple mint juice WAY too often!  This is a healthy, naturally sweetened way to save myself money and a trip to the mall for my cravings.   Oh and I love that it's a healthy snack I don't have to feel guilty running back to the freezer for.  These also make a great addition to cocktails!  Enjoy!

Photo By: Valorie Darling

Photo By: Valorie Darling

Leafy Green Grain Bowl

Photos by: Valorie Darling

Photos by: Valorie Darling

Bowl

  • 3 stalks kale
  • handful arugula 
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup rotisserie chicken, skin removed and shredded (I used an organic one from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice (I used organic frozen brown rice from Vons)
  • Shaved parmesan, optional

Remove stalk from kale and chop.  Combine kale and arugula into a bowl and top with brown rice.  Add chicken, chopped dates, pine nuts and salt and pepper.  Top with go-to lemon dressing.

 

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Dressing

  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1-2 tsp grade A maple syrup (2 makes it slightly sweet, 1 cuts the acid)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon
  • Pinch Salt
  • Pinch Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ¼ Cup Olive oil, adjust to preferred consistency and flavor (I like it extra tangy so I start with less oil and add more from there.

Add all ingredients to a jar and shake.  If you want a little extra tang, chop or grate one garlic clove into mixture.  That is my fave to add over my paleo tuna salad or basically anything!


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This is such a simple bowl, yet so delicious and highly addicting.  It only takes about 10 minutes to make, including making the dressing.  I love throwing this together after a long day, it's easy, protein packed and fresh!  Pack this for lunch or make it for a quick weeknight supper!

Portobello Egg Scramble with Pesto

Photos by Valorie Darling

Photos by Valorie Darling

Mushroom Cap

  • 1 portobello cap
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper

Eggs

  • 3 organic eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp pesto, plus more for garnish (I used Cibo Naturals from Whole Foods)
  • 3 basil leaves
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • goat cheese, optional
  • handful of spinach

Toppings

  • 1 piece turkey bacon 
  • 1/2 avocado

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove center from mushroom and place gill side up.  Drizzle olive oil over mushroom, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Bake for 20-25 mins.

While mushroom cap is baking, place turkey bacon in a pan and cook until crispy.  Chop basil leaves, combine all ingredients for eggs, except spinach, and whisk with a fork to combine.  In a small skillet over medium heat add a drizzle of olive oil and sauté spinach until wilted, add egg mixture to pan and cook over low heat until eggs are set, I like a soft scramble, about 3 minutes.

Assembly:

Slice avocado, layer avocado on top of mushroom cap.  Add eggs, cut turkey bacon in half and place on top of eggs, or crumble.  Top with basil leaves and a drizzle of pesto.


This is seriously a incredible.  It's perfect for a Saturday morning breakfast or when you're trying to impress friends and family with brunch.  I basically took all the things I like in my eggs or on top and deconstructed it a little bit.  You get your own little serving but it is a complete breakfast, and it's mighty pretty to look at if I do say so myself.  Hope you love it as much as I do!

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Passionfruit Fruit Bowl

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Choose your favorite/freshest fruits of the moment, arrange in a beautiful way.  Cut a passionfruit in half and scoop out pulp and seeds onto arranged fruit.  ENJOY!


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Ok, this is totally NOT a recipe but woah does it make a fruit bowl THAT much better!  I like to say this is a passionfruit "sauce."  It is literally just the pulp from the middle of a passionfruit scooped out and spooned over a fruit bowl.  Every time I have served this for brunch or a snack when having friends over they are uber impressed and say it's the best fruit bowl they've ever had, when I tell them how I achieved such a delicious fruit bowl they're shocked and can't wait to get home and make it.  I'm basically eating these non-stop after trips to our local Farmer's Markets!  Each week I love to grab the freshest fruits of the week and top it with a little passionfruit, it just makes it that much more special.  Hope you love it as much as I do!

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3 Ingredient Strawberry Pops

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  • 1 container ripe strawberries, washed & hulled
  • 2-3 Tbsp raw honey (depending on sweetness)
  • 1 can coconut milk (including the cream from the top of the can)

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender.  Pulse until combined and small chunks of strawberry remain.  Add coconut chips if you like a little extra texture.  Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze until solid.  Makes 6-8 popsicles depending on size of molds.  Enjoy!

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I know, 3 ingredients hardly seems like a recipe, but that is the beauty of fresh, sweet produce!  I was inspired after a trip to my locals Farmer's Market and the brightest sweetest strawberries I've ever tasted.  I bought way too many, and wasn't in the mood for anything that required heating the kitchen up and viola, these bad boys were born.  I'm really on a popsicle kick with this current heatwave, so stay tuned for more, but in the meantime, it doesn't get a whole lot better than these bad boys.  They're naturally sweetened, creamy and oh so fresh!  

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Whole Foods Kale Superfood Salad w/ Spicy Chili Dressing

Photo by: Valorie Darling

Photo by: Valorie Darling

Salad

  • ½ cup cabbage (I used a mix of green and purple)
  • 6 large kale leaves (stems removed)
  • ½ avocado
  • ½ grapefruit (cut in half and then sections removed, reserve juice)
  • 1 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 2 Medjool dates, chopped (pitted)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • grated parmesan, optional

Slice cabbage, chop kale in very small bite size pieces, place in bowl and set aside.  Slice avocado and then slice again the opposite way creating a dice.  Chop almonds and dates.  Slice grapefruit and remove each section.  Once all of this is done I like to arrange the salad so I can see all the ingredients on top (hey we eat with our eyes first).  Then, if using parm, add that and top with dressing, I lot to spoon it over top and serve it with extra on the side.

This salad goes great with any protein you prefer and is also delicious with a grain like quinoa or buckwheat.


Photo by: Valorie Darling

Photo by: Valorie Darling

Dressing

  • 2 tbsp chili paste (I use Sambal)
  • juice of half the grapefruit 
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, optional (use this if you prefer  creamier dressing)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker.  Shake until thoroughly combined.  Enjoy!


Photo by: Valorie Darling

Photo by: Valorie Darling

Photo by: Valorie Darling

Photo by: Valorie Darling

I literally cannot get enough of this salad.   I had something similar to it a few years ago at one of my favorite healthy restaurants.  I loved it, but had a feeling with a few tweaks I could make it even better, and I did, A LOT better.

I crave this salad so much in the summer, it is so fresh but really packs a flavorful punch!

The dressing is very light, and it is not creamy unless you add the Dijon.  If you prefer your kale a little on the softer side, add the dressing directly to the kale and massage it (yes literally massage it with your hands) and then add toppings to the kale and serve with extra dressing on the side.

Double Green Shake

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  • 1 frozen banana (cut into pieces)
  • 5 ice cubes
  • 6 kale leaves (be sure to remove stalk)
  • 1 cup (handful) spinach
  • 1 scoop organic plant fusion plain protein powder (I prefer the natural flavor)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp raw cashews
  • 3 dates pitted
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (any non-dairy milk works great here)

Add coconut milk to blender first, then add banana, ice cubes, dates, protein powder and remaining ingredients (trust me, this is the best order to get that creamy texture from your blender).  Once all ingredients are in the blender, let her rip.   Adjust milk to reach desired consistency.  If making this as a bowl, cut the milk in half.  Top your bowl with your favorite fruits, nut butters, granola, chia seeds, honey, maple, etc.  If using this as a smoothie bowl, omit the almond butter and use it on top as a drizzle.  Enjoy!


Have you ever tried avocados in your smoothies?  If you haven't, now is the time, it makes them sooo creamy and decadent you honestly feel like you're having a sweet treat rather than a protein smoothie!  This bad boy is seriously so good, hence why I call it a shake, it literally tastes like a milkshake!  It's loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients and lots of protein!

I love this shake when I have an early morning or have to eat breakfast on the go, or after a workout when I simply can't decide what I'm in the mood for and don't feel like cooking.

Adjust the ingredients to suit you, would love to know any additions you made and love!

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Our Wedding 8/06/17

Photography: Valorie Darling, Venue: Flying Diamond Weddings, Custom frame: David Beahm Experiences, Dress: Inbal Dror, Suit: Custom Elevee, Shoes: Custom Converse

Photography: Valorie Darling, Venue: Flying Diamond Weddings, Custom frame: David Beahm Experiences, Dress: Inbal Dror, Suit: Custom Elevee, Shoes: Custom Converse

Weddings……… Who doesn’t love a good wedding??????  Well it’s been exactly a year since I had my dream day, so I think it’s finally time I do a little post and put my feelings down on paper!  Gosh, where to begin??  If you don't feel like scrolling for a long time, click HERE to see our wedding trailer (thank you Merge Social).


Dress: Inbal Dror, Bouquet: David Beahm Experiences

Dress: Inbal Dror, Bouquet: David Beahm Experiences

I guess I’ll start at the beginning.  The love of my life proposed to me on a beach in Mexico in mid-February of 2017.  Given his profession, we could either get married that summer (hello shotgun wedding), or we could wait until summer of 2018.  Seeing as I had absolutely no idea what I wanted as far as a wedding, 2018 sounded about right.  However, I was very very very aware that we were celibate, and probably wouldn’t be able to stay that way until 2018.  So, you guessed it, 2017 it was going to be.  Rumors of an unplanned pregnancy be damned.  Kidding Haha


Reception Cigar Bar

Reception Cigar Bar

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I wasn’t the girl who grew up imagining my wedding, so I really had no idea what I was looking for at first.  I always knew I wanted to get married and have a family one day, but I kind of always thought my path to that would be a little bit different than many conventional families.  Instead of planning my wedding day as a girl, I dreamed about which briefcase I would buy, what my business suit would look like, or what office building in NYC I’d be working in.  Literally, my favorite pastime growing up was playing secretary, and I could be counted on to ask for a cash register for every gift at every possible holiday.  Instead of being a high-powered business lady, I took a completely different route. I moved to LA to act, possibly because I had the potential to be any or all of those things I dreamt of, only it was on a set.  So anywho, needless to say, I had NO idea where to begin with wedding planning.


Flying Diamond Ranch

Flying Diamond Ranch

Draping and chandeliers in the tent, couldn't have loved it more!

Draping and chandeliers in the tent, couldn't have loved it more!


The only thing I knew for certain way in advance of my wedding, was that I wanted to get married in the summer in Iowa on a large, scenic piece of land – preferable my Grandparent’s acreage.  Unfortunately, my Grandparents had passed by the time my wedding came around, and their property was sold.  Iowa just didn’t feel quite as ‘right’ to me after that.  So, the hunt began.  We toyed with locations like Napa and Hawaii, but every place in Napa wasn’t looking quite green enough, or we wouldn’t be able to have our reception go nearly as late as we wanted to (our friends can throw down, and who are we to not give our guests what they want???).  Hawaii had the very obvious problem of distance, price, and the fact that if we had a wedding there, we could probably have counted on half of our invitees attending.  Basically, I was having a difficult time finding “the place,” and I was obsessive about finding the perfect venue.  I love the city, but nothing quite makes me feel as ‘at home’ as the country.  I’ve lived in Colorado half my life, and after dead end after dead end, I realized I needed to look closer to home! 


Photography: Valorie Darling, Veil: Gahlia Lahav

Photography: Valorie Darling, Veil: Gahlia Lahav


I had only been to Steamboat Colorado once before, but it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen!  It sits down in a valley with mountains on either side, so you get gorgeous mountain views, but also incredible open spaces and valley views.  It is still somewhat unknown compared to the more popular mountain towns in Colorado (Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, etc.), and is further away and more difficult to get to, which makes it all the more special in my eyes.  I started looking for places (we’re only about 3 months out at this point), and most of them were already full for our weekend.  This isn’t surprising when it’s an amazing mountain location in the prime of summer.  It also didn’t help that I was very adamant that we get married August 6th,at 5pm.  Why?  That date and time was the exact two year anniversary of our first date (ok, I was late, more like 5:15ish).

Bridal Party Dresses: Dessy Collections Suits: The Black Tux, Shoes: Custom Converse

Bridal Party Dresses: Dessy Collections Suits: The Black Tux, Shoes: Custom Converse


STUNNING earrings provided by: Jason of Beverly Hills

STUNNING earrings provided by: Jason of Beverly Hills


We did it! Let's party!

We did it! Let's party!


After hitting a few roadblocks with venues, I stumbled upon a video of Flying Diamond Ranch in Steamboat.  I was on a plane at the time, and literally had chills watching the video, while trying to keep myself from crying.  I’m not a crier, so it was obvious to me that I neeeeeeeeeded this venue!  I was so amped I felt like I needed to start making contact immediately.  Seeing as how I was still on that dang chunk of metal somewhere over the US, I couldn’t make the call myself.  What did I do?  I texted my older sister (thank you in-flight Wi-Fi) and told her to drop everything (except maybe one of her children) and call this venue immediately to see if they had availability for the one date I was dead set on.  They were booked, but after some begging and possibly some pleading and name dropping (I about died when I heard about that garbage – my eye roll could not have been bigger), it sounded like our wedding could be feasible.  Thankfully, the anniversary of our first date fell on a Sunday in 2016, so the amazing ranch staff thought they may be able to pull it off!!!  They only had to tear down the wedding from Saturday night, work through the night, and then all day Sunday leading up to the wedding.  That’s all - haha.  Sidenote: I cannot thank the owner of Flying Diamond Ranch – Tammy - enough!  She truly made the experience so incredible from our very first encounter.  Her and her entire staff are truly incredible!!!  As soon as I arrived at the ranch for a tour, I knew it was the perfect spot.  PERFECT.  In fact, it is my dream property.  I just need to convince my husband to trade his basketballs in for a tractor and become a rancher.  Goals.


I’ll be honest, planning a wedding in 5 months was rather overwhelming!  I thought about just going to the courthouse more than a few times!  But, when the day arrived, all the stress leading up to it was absolutely worth it!  I couldn’t have dreamt up a better weekend and a better day than we had!


Everything about Steamboat was incredible and it was so cool to have our friends and family in Colorado, many for the first time and to share all the amazing things it has to offer!


Pre-wedding festivities. Tubing the Yampa River

Pre-wedding festivities. Tubing the Yampa River


We started the weekend off with a Welcome party at Aura, right along the river, just light apps and drinks so everyone could get to know each other.  The following morning, we hiked Fish Creek Falls, which is a quick quarter mile gravel trail that ends at a stunning waterfall.  Our rehearsal dinner was that evening at Table 79, and oh my heck!!! The food was beyond amaze folks!!!  Go there!!!!!!!!  I left a day between our rehearsal dinner and the wedding - just in case anyone had a little too much fun or a little too much to drink and needed some extra time to recover (AKA me).  On Saturday, those of us who weren’t nursing our hangovers went tubing down the Yampa river that runs right through downtown Steamboat.  It was sooooooo fun! Sunday was wedding day and it was magical!  It was all I dreamed of and more.  I mean, check out the photos.  I don’t mean to brag, but…….OK – Yes I do – my wedding was one for the record books folks.  It was stunning and I’m so proud of how it turned out.  We sent our friends and family off early on Monday morning with an incredible buffet brunch at the Steamboat Grand Hotel, where they were able to get a sneak peek of our wedding video.  We were all so incredibly impressed with what they could do, and especially with the fact that they could turn an incredible video trailer around in under 12 hours.  Thank you Merge Social!!!  

Rehearsal Dinner

Rehearsal Dinner


Rehearsal dinner pics in Steamboat Springs, Dress: Alexandra Grecco Shoes: Gianvitto Rossi

Rehearsal dinner pics in Steamboat Springs, Dress: Alexandra Grecco Shoes: Gianvitto Rossi


Like I mentioned previously, my Grandparents are no longer with us.  None of them.  However, the acreage I spoke of belonged to my paternal Grandparents.  Their passing was extra difficult for me to swallow at first.  I always envisioned getting married at their house, and I never, ever imagined they wouldn’t be at my wedding one day.  I spent summers staying primarily with my dad’s parents until High School, and then visiting as much as possible.  My grandmother was one of the most influential people in my life, and especially because she couldn’t be there, I HAD to find a way to honor her and how important she was in my life.


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I told our planning team how symbolic a hummingbird is for my family.  My Grandma had feeders all over her property and loved to stand in her kitchen and look at them.  Frogs and hummingbirds will forever be associated with her for me.  Ever since her passing, I seem to see hummingbirds at the exact time I’m needing it – almost like when you are struggling, grab your Bible, and flip to the exact right verse at the exact right time.  It’s God, and it’s Grandmas.  My obsession with all things hummingbird had my planners and events team made sure to incorporate them throughout our entire wedding.  Our invitations, table assignment cards (which hung from a tree and were incredible), drink stirrers, and even our dance floor was embossed with a hummingbird.  The hummingbird was a huge theme in our wedding.  What’s special is that my close friends and family recognized the significance the second they saw it.   

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I also said I wanted hummingbird feeders out, even if they don’t typically come out in that part of Colorado, or near the time of my wedding - I still wanted to try.  Feeders were put up by the ceremony site and in the Aspen grove, and guess what??????  We saw hummingbirds all day!  This was one of the most special parts of the entire day for me.

Hummingbird with our Monogram on the dance floor

Hummingbird with our Monogram on the dance floor


Food:

Food was SOOO important to us!!!  Ryan and I basically met due to a food show concept so we knew food was an area that we really wanted everyone to enjoy!  Not only that but we are major fooooooodies.  I mean big time.  Our love of food is unrivaled by most.  We wanted our wedding to really be a culinary experience for everyone, letting them see little bits and pieces of our journey together.  We wanted to share our love of food with the ones we loved, including our favorite wine!

Pre-ceremony cocktails

Pre-ceremony cocktails


Our wedding planners were from Aspen, Colorado, and they recommended we used a vendor they work with frequently, Caribou Club.  Ryan and I were both able to make the tasting in May, and I was so grateful he was there because I don’t think I could have picked the menu without him.  Caribou Club really knocked it out of the park and made all of our food fantasies come true! 

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One thing I knew is that I never wanted people to feel hungry or thirsty at any point in our wedding.  We’ve all been there, while a wedding party is busy taking pictures, and we all stand around, starving.  Nope.  Couldn’t happen.  So, we passed champagne and spiked lemonade pre-ceremony, along with truffle popcorn and caprese skewers.  We also had cornhole set up at the ceremony site and in the Aspen grove because we couldn’t have our guests getting bored while we took our photos.  A must for us was bacon cheddar biscuits with maple butter from our first date.  Caribou Club was able to replicate them exactly and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.  We had them passed on cute little trays during cocktail hour, and it was a lot of fun to let everyone in on the backstory of the amazing biscuits.


Pre-ceremony and cocktail hour corn hole boards. Custom boards by: Victory Tailgate

Pre-ceremony and cocktail hour corn hole boards. Custom boards by: Victory Tailgate


Pre-ceremony tray pass

Pre-ceremony tray pass


Truffle popcorn to enjoy pre-ceremony

Truffle popcorn to enjoy pre-ceremony


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Our cocktail hour was hosted in the most gorgeous Aspen grove I've ever seen.  We had corn hole set up over there so everyone could enjoy their drinks with some snacks and a few games.

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Custom bar designed by David Beahm Experiences in the Aspen Grove

Custom bar designed by David Beahm Experiences in the Aspen Grove


Mini Cheddar bacon biscuits with maple butter, a recreation from our first date

Mini Cheddar bacon biscuits with maple butter, a recreation from our first date


Cheese plate at cocktail hour

Cheese plate at cocktail hour


Meat and cheese boards at cocktail hour

Meat and cheese boards at cocktail hour


Tray pass crab cups

Tray pass crab cups


Our main course choices were a Beef Shortrib or Truffled Chilean Sea Bass.  Let me tell you, this was not wedding food - it was downright amazinggggg!  I still dream about the short ribs!  Oh, and instead of passing bread around with the meal, servers came around with a side of freshly fried chicken with pickles and truffle honey to drizzle over top of it.  I mean seriously – divine.    

Tray passed fried chicken with pickles to accompany entrees

Tray passed fried chicken with pickles to accompany entrees


In the spirit of no one going hungry, we also had late night tray pass along with a partying gift as everyone loaded the shuttles.  We had cheeseburger sliders, truffle fries, white russian milkshakes shots, mini strawberry shortcake and beignets to go!  I’m soooo hungry now just typing this!

Late night, mini-strawberry shortcakes

Late night, mini-strawberry shortcakes


White Russian milkshake shots

White Russian milkshake shots


Bridesmaid gifts:

I couldn’t decide what to get my girls as gifts.  I wanted something to make them feel special and something they could use again!  No one wants something they can’t use again right???  I ended up choosing the cutest little robes from Pretty Plum Sugar, Kendra Scott Earrings, and a Nadri necklace with a small pendant so they didn’t have to worry about jewelry for the day.  I found cute customizable coffee mugs and little personalized bags via Sweet Simplicity’s site so they could have something to stash all their stuff in that they didn’t want to take to the ceremony.  Anyone who knows me knows I have a slight obsession with Chuck Taylor shoes, so I had to customize a pair for each girl with coordinating colors! 

Gifts for our Mom's and bridal party

Gifts for our Mom's and bridal party


Music:

I really have to say, I’m thankful my planners stressed the importance of the band!  It was an expense that I was on the fence about, but they really set the tone for the entire night!  We knew we wanted to mix things up and have a band, a special performance, and then a DJ (in our case it ended up being DJ’s – we’re high maintenance, I know).  I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out! 


Our band was Ground Control from Elan Artists, if you’re getting married or booking an event, you should really check them out!  People still text me asking for their info because they were not only amazing but brought incredible energy!  Seriously.  Google them.  There is nothing they can’t do!


For the ceremony, I had Grammy-winning artist Zach Williams sing me down the aisle to one of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns “Your love is Extravagant.”  It’s been one of my absolute favorite songs as long as I can remember and I just think it’s so beautiful to focus on God’s extravagant love and the extravagant love that he brought into my life through him.  Zach also sang us out after we were Mr. & Mrs. to his hit “Old Church Choir.” It’s a favorite of not only mine and Ryan’s, but also my bridal party.

Thanking Zach immediately after the ceremony

Thanking Zach immediately after the ceremony


My wedding was surreal.  Right out of the gate, I knew nothing about how I wanted the wedding to be.  However, from the beginning, I said I wanted Zach Williams to sing me down the aisle and sing our first dance song.  Never in a million years did I think this would come true.   Thank you God!

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Zach also sang our first dance song to Florida Georgia Line’s, H.O.L.Y.  He killed it and then performed five more songs later in the night.  We had a full-on worship service in the middle of our party, and it was beautiful and one of my favorite moments of the entire night!


First dance to H.O.L.Y performed by Zach Williams

First dance to H.O.L.Y performed by Zach Williams


Zach, thank you for traveling right after a show to come and be with us on such a special day.  It was something I will never forget and am forever grateful for!  Last but certainly not least, we had DJ Skratchy and DJ Vice close out the night.  The only way to describe it was a straight amazing, incredible PARTY!  So happy we opted to have the DJ when the night was really ready to get started!


DJ's Skratchy & Vice closing out the night

DJ's Skratchy & Vice closing out the night


Flowers:

I honestly think you can never have too many flowers!  This was something that was so important to me.  I loved the venue and how natural it was and I just wanted to highlight that even more with flowers.

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I wanted our entire vibe to feel glamorous yet rustic at the same time.  I really feel like we found a great mix by leaving some tables bare and using table cloths and elegant flowers and lighting.  I was so worried about flowers and them being perfect that they made me two bouquets so I could choose exactly the right one.


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Jalepeño Infused Watermelon Margaritas

Photos: By Valorie Darling

Photos: By Valorie Darling

  • 2 Jalepeños, sliced
  • 1 Bottle of tequila (I used Patron)
  • ½ Cup watermelon, juiced & strained
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • salt, for rim

Slice 2 jalepeños and add to tequila (I place in a mason jar).  Store in a cool area, but can be kept at room temp, allow to sit for at least 24 hours, I prefer 72 hours to get the desired heat level.  If juicing your own watermelon, slice melon in half, scoop out all the insides and place in blender (depending on size of melon you may need to do this in multiple batches).  Blend until smooth.  Use a small sieve and strain watermelon juice in order to catch any seeds or chunks that may not have been thoroughly blended.

Once tequila is ready, combine 1 shot of tequila, ½ cup of watermelon juice, juice of one lime, 1 tbsp agave in a martini shaker, add add and shake.  Rim glass with pulp of lime and dip in salt.  Pour margarita in and enjoy.

To make these margs extra spicy, muddle jalepenos in shaker before adding other ingredients.

I love margaritas, what I don’t love are the calories and extra junk that goes into most margs.  So, I created this bad boy because I love them extra spicy and as healthy as possible.  Make them individually or a large pitcher, trust me, they won’t go to waste!


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Simple fresh ingredients are really the star here!  If you're in a rush, buy a bottle of cold pressed watermelon juice and pre cut watermelon to spice up the rim of the glass.  Just because you're making a homemade cocktail doesn't mean it needs to be difficult.

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Acupuncture for Endometriosis

Written By: Lori Early LAc, MAOM, MS, DiplOM

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In 2010, I started experiencing sharp pains following intercourse, sometimes before or during bowel movements, and nearly always during my monthly flow.  At the time, I was a student of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, in the midst of my studies learning how acupuncture and herbal therapy can help heal (not just mask) debilitating conditions.  I began to question my own gynecological health due to the debilitating pain I experienced associated with my cycle, but I wasn’t ready to move forward with an endoscopy to know for sure whether what I was experiencing was actually endometriosis or not.  Not yet…

Endometriosis is an often painful gynecological disorder in which the uterine lining (the cells of the womb) begin to proliferate outside of the womb itself, like the bowels, the abdomen, and in rare cases even the brain and lungs, which can lead to severe and sometimes fatal events.

Western Medicine provides a few options: hormonal supplementation, like birth control, anti-inflammatories, or surgery; however, none of these fix the condition, and only suppress it for a time.  In fact, some women need surgery to remove the endometriosis as often as every 9 months.  No thank you, I wanted see how Chinese Medicine may be able to help me first.

Chinese Medicine looks at the body from a completely different perspective, taking a more holistic approach by considering patient history, diet and nutrition, emotional health, and stress levels.  Looking for patterns based on what symptoms are present, a skilled Chinese Medicine practitioner can determine the underlying cause of endometriosis (or whatever else may be ailing you).  Chinese Medicine also has helpful (non-invasive) diagnostic tools that can nearly always help make a diagnosis of endometriosis, like pulse taking and tongue diagnosis.  In fact, fast forward from 2010 to 2016, as I am sitting in a Medical Pulse Diagnosis seminar in Seattle, I learned the “endometriosis pulse”, which is a pretty cool tool to have when assessing the severity of endometriosis in my patients.

There are various root causes for endometriosis in Chinese Medicine, but for simplification sake, it really comes down to “blood stagnation” or “stuck blood” in which there is a lack of healthy blood flow to the area.  In my case, which is common with many women, a major culprit was due to a lifetime of being exposed to a cold environment.  I was a competitive swimmer through most of my childhood and adolescence, and the 5am daily swims in uncomfortably cold water eventually made their impact of my health.  Interestingly, being exposed to cold during adolescence, and specifically while on your cycle, such as sitting on a cold gym floor in shorts while on your period can create what we call in Chinese Medicine a “cold uterus”.  This can also happen during C-sections, as our uterus is open to the cold air and instruments of the operating room.  (Sure enough, my pain got much worse after my C-section.)

Our wombs love warmth, and when coldness invades, it stagnates blood circulation, creating painful periods with dark flow and clots.  When there is any sort of stagnation in blood flow, regardless of the area, pain is created.  Although cold invasion isn’t the only underlying cause of endometriosis, it happens to be a familiar story I hear from many of my female patients. 

Other things that compound pain and inflammation of endometriosis are:

  • stress, commonly referred to in Chinese Medicine lingo as “qi stagnation”
  • eating inflammatory foods, especially dairy, processed foods, sugars, and non-organic meat (especially hormone-treated meat)
  • intercourse during your cycle

With the help of herbs and acupuncture, my pain began to alleviate with each progressive cycle.  Today, the pain is both rare and minimal.  So, how was that possible?  Here’s the scoop…

Chinese herbs can help break down the endometrial tissue, promote healthy blood flow, and even warm the uterus (if that’s indicated).  Acupuncture is a gentle, yet powerful healing modality that can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, promote healthy blood flow, regulate hormones, and calm the nervous system.  Calming the nervous system is a key factor to healing, as the body can maintain homeostasis, self-regulation and restoration only when the body is in the parasympathetic state (or the relaxed state).  Acupuncture also tends to have a slew of much-welcomed “side effects”, such as improved sleep, diminished headaches, decreased PMS symptoms, heathier digestion, less stress and anxiety,  and an overall happier mood. 

In summary, here are ways to help ease endometriosis:

  • Reduce stress (I’m a yoga advocate because it is great for body flow and movement and also reduces stress.  And, of course, acupuncture is golden for this too!).
  • Eat consciously: include lots of fruits and vegetables (preferably cooked veggies, especially during Fall and Winter).  Say no to dairy, processed foods, excess sugars, and hormone-treated meat.  Why cooked veggies?  Because raw food is cold in nature (salads, most fruits, sushi, juices, smoothies, etc.), and when raw foods are ingested, they create more cold in the body; thus, more stagnation, perpetuating the pain and the problem.
  • Acupuncture weekly (or as suggested by your Chinese Medicine practitioner/Licensed Acupuncturist)
  • Take your herbs.  They may be nasty, but they’re great for your health.
  • Try cupping!  This is one of my favorite modalities to use for anyone dealing with endometriosis, as it not only relaxes the muscle tension and feels A-MAZ-ING, but by creating suction to muscles and fascia, healthy and oxygenated blood can circulate where there has been blood stagnation.  This therapy isn’t for everyone, and should only be performed by a licensed practitioner who understands and has diagnosed the underlying cause of your endometriosis.

*If you live in the Houston area and are interested in cupping, acupuncture or learning more about Chinese Medicine, please visit Phoenix Rising Acupuncture and schedule an appointment with Lori.

Red White & Blue Cocktails to spice up your 4th

Photos By: Valorie Darling

Photos By: Valorie Darling

I mean let's be honest, a 4th BBQ usually entails a cocktail or two, so why not make it a festive one?  These bad boys are red, white and blue thanks to the fruit and the fruit purees.  I even made a popsicle to toss in there.  I mean what could be better on a hot day then a refreshing, and healthy popsicle?  

Red, White & Blue Mojito

  • 1.5 oz rum (one shot, I used Bacardi)
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 lime (cut in half, slice one side)
  • 1 pint strawberries (fresh or frozen work here)
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp agave
  • 1 can club soda or lime sparkling water

Hull strawberries and place in a blender.  Squeeze half the lime and add half the mint leaves and the honey.  Blend until smooth.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve (this is optional but I like to get any seeds or chunks out). 

~At this point I placed some of the puree in star molds to create the cute little ice cubes.  

Place 3 tbsp strawberry puree in glass, add 5 mint leaves and two slices of lime.  Muddle in glass, then add shot of rum.  Top off with club soda or lime sparkling water.   Add a few strawberry star ice cubes, blueberries and enjoy!

~My other ice star ice cubes are simply lime sparkling water with pomegranate seeds

Photos By: Valorie Darling

Photos By: Valorie Darling

Rotisserie Chicken with Whisky BBQ Sauce

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Keeping with the theme of store-bought and entertaining, this just might be my most favorite "hack."  Follow the recipe for Whisky BBQ Sauce, set aside.  Purchase (yes, that's right, why do all the work when the grocery store makes an amazing one?!).  Remove skin from whole chicken, cut into pieces and begin to "pick" the chicken.  This is the glamorous (or not so glamorous) word for pulled chicken.  The beauty of this recipe is, you don't have to slow cook chicken for hours or wait for it to be ready in the crock pot, simply pick the chicken and follow the directions below.  You'll have insanely good pulled chicken in no time.  Top a bun with this and then add pickles and slaw, you won't be sorry!  Happy 4th and Summer food to you all!


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  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken (I prefer organic and found mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup Homeade Whisky BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock, or water

Once chicken is pulled, place in a large skillet.  Turn heat to medium low and add 2 cup BBQ sauce.   Bring to a gentle simmer and place lid on top.  Allow sauce to bubble and heat the chicken.  Once done, top on your favorite gluten free buns I used Udi's because I simply can't get enough of their products!


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Hope your 4th of July was/is relaxing and that you have a little less pressure on you now to make everything!  I promise people won't notice, and you'll keep your sanity!

Pamela's Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - Perfect for your 4th of July Celebrations!!

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Let’s be honest, hosting a gathering is A LOT of work!  I love nothing more than hosting friends and family and cooking for them, but I have little hacks to make my life easier!  These hacks come in the form of a little help from my friends at the grocery store!  This recipe is the epitome of getting a little help!

I used a package of Pamela’s sugar cookie mix (which I found at Whole Foods), and OMG!!!! I’m not sure I’ll ever make my own sugar cookies again!  These things were simply amazing!!  If I use something store bought, I like to go homemade with a component of it.  For this I did homemade icing!  Now I know my decorative icing skills are lacking, but it was my first time trying these.  You could absolutely add less coconut milk in order to have a thicker icing.  I also used vegetable dyes from Whole Foods in order to achieve these colors.

I picked this up at my local Whole Foods

I picked this up at my local Whole Foods

Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix

  • 1 package Pamela’s Sugar Cookie Mix (Whole Foods)
  • 1 stick of unsalted grass fed butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg

Follow package instructions.  Once dough is prepared, place in the fridge for 30 mins.  Transfer to a cool clean surface and roll out dough.  Use a star cutter and an offset spatula to cut cookies.  After baking transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


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Royal Icing

  • 1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tbsp full fat coconut milk (add more or less depending on desired consistency)
  • Sanding sugar, to top
  • 4 drops food coloring

Place confectioners Sugar in a bowl.  Add vanilla, then slowly add milk.  It doesn't look like there's much, but a little goes a long way!  Once cookies are cooled, dip them in icing and place on a rack with a pan underneath in order to catch the drips.  I topped these with some sanding sugar.  Honestly, these are the best sugar cookies I’ve ever had, and I hardly had to do any work!

~ You can sift your sugar in order to make sure there are no lumps.  Again, I know my icing game needs some SERIOUS help!  If you've got some tips, please send them my way!


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Homemade Whisky BBQ Sauce

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Sticking with the tradition of homemade and store bought, I made this BBQ sauce and bought a rotisserie chicken.  You can use this in the crock pot, add it to store bought, make chicken wings out of it or use it to top any protein!

I mean I just had to make a great BBQ sauce for the 4th of July!  I knew I didn't have it in me to make an entire spread but again, I love to put my spin on things, and BBQ sauce is one of my favorite ways to do it!  This one offers a nice kick, but is easily tweaked if you want to tone down the spice.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 jalepeno peppers, diced (remove veins if you don't like it spicy)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups organic ketchup
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3-6 chiles in adobo, plus sauce they are packed in 
  • 1/4 cup whisky (I used Bulleit)
  • 1 tsp GF soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock (more for thinning sauce if you like it thinner)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In a large skillet over medium heat, place olive oil, chopped onion and jalepeno in pan, sautee until translucent.  Add garlic and sautee another two minutes.  Once softened, add dry mustard, paprika, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and pepper, sautee for another minute and remainder of ingredients, ketchup through chicken stock.  Reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust seasonings.  Simmer another 15 minutes.  Let cool completely and place in blender, I prefer a smooth textured sauce, if you like it a little chunky, keep it as is.  Pulse until smooth, add more chicken stock by the 1/4 cup if sauce is too thick.  Place in a jar and store in the fridge for up to a week.  Stay tuned for my 4th of July chicken sliders.


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Ginger Turmeric Quick Pickles

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  • 1 medium English cucumber (or 4 small ones), rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ inch ginger, sliced
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked works great)
  • ½  serrano pepper, sliced
  • ½ jalepeño pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt

Rinse and slice cucumber into quarter inch rounds.  Place in clean mason jar.  In a pot over medium heat combine the vinegar, water, honey and salt.  Bring to a low boil and simmer until everything is combined, roughly 2-3 minutes.

Add garlic gloves, ginger, peppercorns, turmeric, pepper flakes, paprika, and serrano and jalapeño peppers to canning jar.  Once stove ingredients are combined, pour over cucumbers.  Put the lid on and shake several times so ingredients combine and distribute.  Place on counter until pickles come to room temperature.  Once room temp, place in fridge for 48 hours.  After 48 hours these bad boys are ready!!


I mean I love anything with a tangy vinegar taste.  Most of my dressings are vinegar heavy and I add a balsamic glaze to more things than not.  I mean it really is just the perfect finish to so many things!  So, when making quick pickles, I’m always anxiously awaiting the 48 hour period to when they’re officially done!  These bad boys have an extra anti-inflammatory kick from the turmeric and a tangy zing from the garlic, ginger and seasoned vinegar.  You can really add anything you have on hand to these, I’m not sure I’ve made them the same way twice. 

Keep these in the fridge to munch on or add them to sandwiches, salads, or rice bowls for a little acidic punch.  Let me know what you add or subtract and how they turn out.  Hope you love these as much as I do!

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Must-Have Summer Sunscreens

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It’s summer!!!!!  

Wohooo!!!  Bring on the bronzed skin, beachy waves and all the amazing products that smell like coconuts! Well, with sun and fun, I figured there is no better time to do a must-have sunscreen list than right now!

Even when you’re not trying to soak up the sun, let’s be honest, you are getting lots, and lots of sun exposure in the summer months if you’re outside!  I gotta be honest, there are few things that feel as good to me as that fresh vitamin D on your skin after a long winter!  Buttttttt, we gotta make sure we are protecting our skin, because skin cancer is no Bueno, and it’s really expensive to try and get sun spots removed, trust me, I’ve done the leg work!

I’ve put together my list of my favorite sunscreens for this summer!  I love and routinely use all of these products!  The best part is, you can order most of these products on Amazon (hello free two-day shipping) Nordstrom or Sephora!  Click the links below to purchase!

If you have any great recs I’ve missed, please send them my way!  I love me some products, specifically a great SPF, because protecting your skin is in more than ever!!!

* I have received no compensation for posting these products, I just love them and hope you do too!


1-    Alba Botanica Fragrance Free Facial Sunscreen, SPF 30

I’m always on a quest to find a great SPF that I can wear with or without makeup that doesn’t make my face look white and alter the color of my makeup.  If you have the same problem, then this sunscreen is for you!  Thank you, Whole Foods, for enticing me with your products at the checkout or would have never found this sunscreen!  I wear this every single day, it goes on as soon as I’m up right after my eye cream!  I never walk out my front door without this on!  When I shower and get ready to do my makeup, this  goes on yet again!  Did I mention it’s only $9.52 on Amazon prime??

About the product:

This gentle facial sunscreen provides broad spectrum protection against sunburn, skin cancer and premature signs of aging. Made with preferred sunscreen ingredients, this light facial lotion is hypo-allergenic, water resistant, gluten free and won't clog pores. Powerful antioxidant rich Green Tea, Grape Seed and Vitamin E nourish skin while Aloe Vera and Chamomile moisturize and smooth. Free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, PABA, nano-sunscreens and Vitamin A. Alba Botanica® sunscreens are free of active ingredients that may harm coral reefs.

Made WITHOUT:

  • Artificial colors
  • Gluten
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Parabens or phthalates

 


2-    Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen, SPF 30

Ummmm can you say love?!  This is not only for your lips but you can use it on your entire face!  I use it on my lips and my cheek bones/eye area since that is always what seems to turn red first.  Use this when you don’t have makeup on for cheeks/eyes, but use it all the time for your lips, it’s the perfect size to keep in your purse and reapply as necessary throughout the day.

About the product:

Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30 moisturizes and provides UV protection for the lips, face, and eye area. The durable, water-resistant formula is ideal for an active lifestyle, offering a protective shield against damaging rays and other free radical environmental aggressors. Its wide-stick applicator glides on with ease making it perfect for on-the-go use.  “This water-resistant formula for lips, face, and eyes is perfect for active outdoor lifestyles. The oversized treatment offers a powerful shield against UV rays and environmental aggressors, so you can play and explore with protective nourishment.”—Lev Glazman, Fresh Co-founder     

  • Sugar is a natural humectant known to prevent moisture loss.
  • Avocado oil is a moisturizing and emollient oil that contains vitamins D and
  • Meadowfoam and black currant seed oils help moisturize.
  • Grapeseed oil helps to smooth and soften and is rich in antioxidants known to protect from damaging free radicals.
  • SPF 30 protection

Made WITHOUT:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates 
  • Phthalates 

3. Coola Liplux SPF 30

If you’ve are noticing, I’m kind, really into lip sunscreens!  Thanks to a trip to the beach a few years ago when my lips burned so badly they blistered and I wasn’t able to be in the sun for days.  My smart self thought to put petroleum jelly on them to help, ummmm worst idea ever, and might I add, super painful!  Love to keep this in my rotation of lip sunscreen, they have tons of different colors too in case you’re into the tints!

This all-in-one lip treatment moisturizes and protects with SPF 30 broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. The vitamin and antioxidant enriched formula soothes and nourishes, while a unique blend of fruit butters like raspberry and avocado hydrate the delicate skin of the lips. Wear alone or apply over or even under your favorite lip color, transforming your signature shade into an antioxidant-powered UV protector. This product is formulated without gluten or oxybenzone. It is hypoallergenic, TSA-friendly, and cruelty-free.

Made WITHOUT:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Phthalates 

4.  Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm, SPF 25

I love balms, so this one I usually put on top of another sunscreen, it just gives me that extra moisture that I often feel like I’m missing when I’m sitting outside (of course under my massive sun hat).  I love the grapefruit flavor because-it’s nice and refreshing on those hot days, guys love this one too, trust me!

About the product:

This hydrating lip balm is enriched with superior skin conditioners and antioxidants to heal cracked and chapped lips. Grapefruit and ginger refresh and soothe, while shea butter and avocado oil soften and condition lips. Vitamin E, green tea extract, and antioxidants help protect lips from damage caused by free radicals. 

Made WITHOUT:

  • Parabens 
  • Sulfates 
  • Phthalates 

5. SUPERGOOP! Defense Refresh Setting Mist, SPF 50

I love this sunscreen and my husband is actually the one who ran across it on a trip to Disney of all places!  Since first falling in love with this, they have reworked the pump so it sprays more evenly and doesn’t clog as easily.  This mist is so refreshing and the scent is heavenly!  I love that you can set your makeup with it, but also reapply throughout the day without smudging your makeup.  I use this sans makeup too, and spray it on my collarbone, shoulders and chest also, such a great find!

About the product:

Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is a unique three-in-one, weightless mist that sets makeup, helps control oil and shine, and refreshes your defense against photoaging UV rays. With antioxidant-rich rosemary and mint to help improve skin’s complexion and deliver an invigorating essence, this is your perfect pick-me-up for fresh, flawless, sun-safe skin throughout the day. New spray technology delivers finer, more even coverage that will never disturb your makeup.

Optical diffusing silica silylate further helps to control oil and reduce shine—leaving skin feeling soft and smooth with a matte finish, not oily nor greasy as with many sunscreen products. The formula features an invigorating essence of antioxidant-rich rosemary to help improve the complexion and soothe redness.  This product is cruelty-free and does not contain synthetic fragrance or oxybenzone. All Supergoop! products have been clinically tested and determined to deliver broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.

Made WITHOUT:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Phthalates 

6. SUPERGOOP! Defense Refresh Setting Mist, SPF 50, mini

Okay, yes, it’s exactly the same thing as above, just the mini version!  I keep this one in my purse to reapply as needed throughout the day.  The larger one stays in my makeup bag to set my makeup immediately after I finish applying.


7. SUPERGOOP! City Sunscreen Serum, SPF 30

This was a recommendation from someone at Sephora when I was telling them what a hard time I had finding a great sunscreen for under my makeup.  I wear makeup that has SPF, but I personally like to know I have an additional SPF under that.  This was such an AMAZING rec!  It is super lightweight, ultra-hydrating and layers amazingly under makeup.  I think it actually works well as a primer.  If you like a very sheer lightweight sunscreen on your face, this is it!

About the product:

The ideal morning multitasker. This lightweight, silky formula delivers moisture, defends against UV, pollution, and environmental damage, and is power-packed with antioxidant protection from vitamins E and B5. Built for year-round use, it’s the must-do last step in your skincare routine.

This product is clinically tested, cruelty-free, and does not contain synthetic fragrance or oxybenzone. All Supergoop! products have been clinically tested and determined to deliver broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection.

Made WITHOUT:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Phthalates

8.  Sun Bum Original Spray Sunscreen-

I don’t remember when I fell in love with this sunscreen, but it has been my go-to for years.  Not only do I love the smell but I love how lightweight it is and all the junk that they leave out!  If you haven’t found a great spray sunscreen that actually works, try this one!

About the product:

This easy to use, ultra-sheer/dry touch continuous spray formula will protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays while enriching your skin with Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals, which are the main cause of premature skin aging.  It is reef friendly, hypoallergenic, cruelty free and vegan.

Made WITHOUT:

  • Gluten
  • Parabens
  • Oil
  • PABA
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Reinyl Palmitate
  • Propylene

9. Sun Bum Zinc Oxide

I love zinc based products!  When I know I’m going to be in the sun for multiple days, this stuff is always in my beach bag.  The best part is, it rubs in clear so you don’t have to run around the beach looking like a ghost.  Like I previously said, sun bum is awesome!

About the product:

This popular zinc oxide formula with added Aloe and Vitamin E adds a protective barrier between your face (or other sensitive areas) and the sun.  Slather it on your break and watch it disappear.

Made WITHOUT:

  • Gluten
  • Parabens
  • Oil
  • PABA