Gone are the heavy days of winter where I want to snuggle up in a blanket and eat warm soup and butter bread. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still a carb lover at heart, but my diet tends to change when winter ends. With the days getting longer and the sun shining 75% of the time, I don’t want to spend an endless amount of time in the kitchen slaving over a stove. I prefer fast, yet satisfying meals. My friend, this spring salad has it all. Protein, fiber, dairy (a cheese substitute can be used instead if you can’t have dairy, even though I’m lactose intolerant and have no issues with feta), antioxidants, vitamins, and so much more. Trust me. You want this 10 minute salad.
- Romaine Lettuce: Only contains 17 calories per serving and has high water content, which is perfect to help control your weight.
- Carrots: High in beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and good for your cardiovascular health
- Strawberries: High in fiber and potassium, not to mention they are delicious
- Walnuts: An essential fatty acid that contains manganese and Vitamin B
- Craisins: Honestly, just provides enough sweetness to appease my occasional craving of junk food
- Hemp Seeds: Contains 10 grams of protein per 3 TBSP; contains iron and other essential minerals needed in your body; I buy mine here.
- Feta Cheese: A Greek cheese made primarily from goat or sheep’s milk; has a salty, tangy flavor; lower in calories than traditional cheese from cow’s milk; nutritional in moderation due to the salt content; tastes delicious and a staple in this Greek woman’s household
- Olive oil and red wine vinegar: Used as the dressing, but feel free to use any vinaigrette of your choice
Now, I am by no means a nutritionist, so I encourage everyone to do their own research when it comes to their diet. Know your needs and approximate calorie intake each day and stick to a plan. I wouldn’t eat this salad five nights a week, but for my size and weight, once or twice is ideal. My husband even loves it and he despises vegetables.
Go ahead and savor this spring salad.
I had two pups watching me as I made the salad and couldn’t help but snap their pictures. They’re my forever sidekicks!
Leia, the watcher of all food making activities
Miner, the one who expects food because he knows he’s cute.
If you try this salad, let me know what you think!
For my 28th birthday in February, my husband bought us tickets to see Florida Georgia Line, a country duo I have been obsessing over since “Cruise” blew up the radio in 2012. I finally got to experience my birthday present last night, and I must say: I haven’t felt that old in a very long time. The younger crowd didn’t know the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys covers, I was yawning by 8:30 (side note: The concert started at 7:00), and I kept wishing ear plugs would be readily available because my ears would not stop ringing. I also found myself wanting to look at some of the girls in the crowd and say, “Please keep your shirt down and your pants up. No one needs to see that.” Ten years ago, I would have never thought to say that to anyone. After all, I was only 18 at the time, which was roughly the same age most of the concert-goers appeared to be. Anyway, all day I have been thinking about things I want my future daughters to know, not just about themselves, but other people as well. They’ll be 18 one day and then 28 another, and it’s extremely important they keep some basic things in mind whatever age you are.
- Seriously. Keep your shirt down and your pants around your waist. I don’t care how if you are an “A” cup or a “D” cup: Keep them covered. Someday, your husband will be asking to see more of them, so save the show for marriage. Oh, and the super low waist pants that were so popular 15 years ago? They aren’t anymore. The high waisted mom jeans are back.
- Comfort really is key. I cannot tell you how many times I would laugh at my mom for telling me to bring different shoes, pack a jacket, and wear a comfy pair of pants. Now, her words of wisdom are all coming back, and I was extremely grateful to be in jeans, a casual shirt, and sneakers last night. Do you really think the woman who came out of the bathroom continuously adjusting her romper was comfortable? How about the 5 inch stilettos a girl wore while walking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame because she couldn’t stand up straight? You’ll thank me when you aren’t stumbling around barefoot in the parking garage at 11:30 at night, which yes, we did witness as well.
- Cake face is not flattering. I enjoy makeup as much as anyone else who semi knows how to properly apply it, and I do love that my features can be enhanced with some CC cream, eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. However, piling on loads and loads of foundation to the point where there are cracks in it is not flattering, on anyone. It’s okay to learn how to apply it; I’m 28 and still don’t know my undertones or what shade I am. However, do yourself a favor and go light on the makeup. Your skin will thank you when you get older, and you can go through your night not worrying if everything looks right. Trust me, you’re beautiful the way you are.
- Stop growing up so fast. I was a teenager once, and kudos to you for being one in today’s day in age. There is pressure from every angle to dress a certain way, have the best smartphone, and fit in with the crowd. You know what? Those who don’t pressure you are the ones worthy of your time, not the ones who want you to be someone you’re not. You will end up falling in love with yourself and be who you truly are, and when you do, I can’t wait to see the person you become.
- Bring ear plugs to live music events. I cannot begin to tell you how important your hearing is, and don’t risk losing it by not bringing something as basic as ear plugs to a concert. If you wear your hair down, no one will even see them in your ears!
I am fairly certain that as time goes on, especially when my husband and I do have children, there will be other advice I want them to learn. My mother was a genius and taped motivational and inspirational quotes to my bedroom door as a teenager. Every time I opened it, I would be reminded of how loved I was and how I didn’t have to be anybody that I wasn’t. Does this mean I didn’t want to impress people? No, definitely not. I spent so much time worrying about what jeans to wear with what shirt that looking back, I realize that things would have been simpler if I had just had a smaller wardrobe.
In all seriousness, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. Heck, I struggle enough as an adult who is closer to 30 than her mid-20’s. Social media is much stronger now than it was even 10 years ago when I was 18, and teenagers are hit with pressure to post the perfect Instagram photo or catch that perfect Snapchat. It is okay to not conform to what everyone else is doing and simply be yourself. After all, who can be better at being you but you?
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the concert was an incredible birthday present. It was announced that Florida Georgia Line will be touring with the Backstreet Boys later this year, so I just need to find another good excuse for my husband to buy me those tickets….
In honor of being together for six years, here’s a throwback to us after dating for a grand total of 8 days. Talk about being young!!
Earth Day is in two days, so let’s talk about some ways you can up your green game. Some are pretty straight forward, but still are some of the simplest (and best!) ways to save the environment and help your wallet.
- Reusable Napkins. Ignore the pet hair on mine. We have two dogs and three cats, so pet hair is a permanent part of our home, no matter how often we vacuum! The conventional disposable napkin is chlorinated to make it white. Not only is the process extremely toxic to our environment, but do you really want chlorine around the food you eat? Reusable napkins can be neat patterns, are more durable than paper, and last way longer. Purchasing reusable napkins, no matter if you make them or buy a cheap set at Walmart, will save you money in the long run as well because you aren’t buying them so often.
- Reusable Bags. Save those free bags you get at conferences and use them for your grocery trips. Plastic bags are one of the top contributors to pollution in the world (approximately 1 trillion are used and discarded each year with only a small fraction of them being recycled). Did you know plastic is not biodegradable? There are no properties in it that benefit the earth, so any plastic that is used will just sit there. It is easy enough to leave extra reusable bags in your trunk as well for those spontaneous shopping trips we all know happen now and then. If you do get plastic bags, consider taking them to your local grocery store or Walmart for proper disposal. I know ours has a bin at the front of the store to put them. Mine pictured is an insulated Trader Joe’s bag, but I have at least 6-7 I use on a regular basis.
- Reusable Water Bottles. This one is a no-brainer. Although it may be convenient to buy a 24 pack of water and grab one as needed, the amount of plastic, both for the bottles and the packaging, is outrageous. Also, the plastic is #1, which should never be refilled due to chemicals leaching from the material. Invest in a stylish water bottle that will make you want to drink water each day. I have the one pictured that I got for $3 at TJ-Maxx and has reusable “ice cubes” in it; they’re BPA free, in case you’re curious. I have a stainless steel one that has served me well in the six years I have had it. Glass it fantastic, but do keep in mind it has a higher chance of breaking. Mine fell off a table and shattered 😦 Some excellent high-quality water bottle brands include Hydroflask, Contigo, Nalgene, Clean Kanteen, and S’Well. Other bottles have filters built-in (Brita makes a good one that can be bought at CVS) in case your tap water may not be the best for drinking. Add some fruit to your water for flavor as well!
- Wool Dryer Balls. Typical dryer sheets consist of nothing but chemicals that wreak havoc on your body and are actually flammable. Plus, they are ridiculously expensive. Wool dryer balls work just as well as dryer sheets and are non-toxic. If you like the scent of dryer scents, I highly suggest purchasing a high quality essential oil of your choice (lavender is great) and putting a couple drops on the balls before throwing them in the dryer. I use three balls per load, but when I have more laundry at a time, I will certainly invest in some more. My mom bought these for me years ago, and they have held up to hundreds of washings. I experience minimal static afterwards and feel better knowing I’m not simply throwing away something else to add to the landfill. Not mine, but here is a set in case you’re interested. I wish I knew how much money I have saved by not buying dryer sheets since graduate school!
- Storage Ideas. This Star Wars container is PERFECT to store the dryer balls. For Christmas last year, a pair of pajama pants for my husband came in it, and I hated to throw it away. Lo’ and behold, a dryer ball holder came out of it! It adds character to our laundry room too. Reusing items you already own is an excellent way to go green. I feel like every single child learned “Reduce Reuse Recycle” in elementary school, and that phrase holds true well into adulthood. Reusing helps your environmental impact because you’re simply not purchasing as much, which is less that you’ll put in the landfill. Be creative with your ideas; it can be fun to use your imagination!
These ideas barely scrape the surface of ways to reduce your environmental waste, but are extremely beneficial. What are some of your favorite ways to go green? I’d love to hear them!
A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on Seventh Generation’s Dishwashing Tablets I received from Generation Good in exchange for a review. Well, I have been testing them for a month or so and can say with 100% certainty they are just as a good as the dishwashing powder I had previously used. We have extremely hard water at our house, and it’s difficult to find products without chemicals that don’t leave streaks on our dishes. I will say it’s more cost effective to either A) make your own dishwashing detergent or B) purchase the powder version that gives you 70+ loads instead of only 20 for $6-$8 a bag, but if you prefer convenience, these are great. This link provides you with all the information you need to know. If you have tried any other cruelty free and chemical free household products, please let me know!
A few months ago, I wrote a post on FabFitFun, a seasonal subscription box filled with lifestyle, fitness, beauty, and skincare products. This subscription comes four times a year, and you can choose to buy each box whenever you want or pay the annual fee in January, which saves you roughly $20 a year. I will put a referral link below if you are interested in trying out this subscription service. I get $15 credit, but you also get money off your first order. It’s like a surprise at your doorstep four times a year! This spring box was valued at $374, which is insane since I paid $45 for it. If you try it out or have tried it, let me know what you think!
Referral Link: http://xo.fff.me/fiFNX
Best box ever. The round blanket is gorgeous and valued at $50!
The box is always well packaged and organized.
Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray, Valued at $20
Deborah Lippmann nail polish set, Valued at $19. This is a cruelty free product!
Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator, Valued at $79. This scrub has aluminum oxide crystals of parabens to polish your skin!
Karuna Hydrating Sheet Masks, set of 4, Valued at $28
RealHer Lip Kit in Neutral Pink, Valued at $48
Milly Zip Pouch, $45
LuvAJ, Diamond Kite Crawler Earring Set, Valued at $85
ADD IN: Hair, Skin, and Nails Gummies
Baths are not just for children anymore. A good bath can calm the mind, cleanse the skin, and provide the ultimate state of relaxation at the end of a long work day. Today, it was just what I needed, and I want to share the two products that made it so wonderful.
First, purchase a bathtub pillow that suctions to the tub. It will make laying down so much more comfortable. I found mine at TJ-Maxx for $6 and it works great. Second, invest in quality bath products that are more natural and not filled with toxins. It is very easy to get an infection due to sitting in still water for an extended period of time, so it is best to use natural products that won’t cause irritation or aggravate your skin. Essential oils work wonders, but if you’re like me and enjoy bubbles, there are tons of high quality bubble baths on the market. I love adding Epsom salts to help soothe any tight muscles and help me relax. Tonight, I used a new Bubble Bath and LOVED it. I’m very familiar with the Shea Moisture brand and am usually impressed with their products. This one was no exception. It provided more bubbles than any other one I use, which is saying something for sure. Shea Moisture products are cruelty free, nontoxic, and consist of fair trade and organic ingredients. How is that for something you can find at your local drugstore? I highly recommend their products!
My bath pillow with the bubble bath. The stuff works wonders.
Details on the bubble bath can be found here: http://www.ulta.com/african-water-mint-bubble-bath-body-wash?productId=xlsImpprod15691657
*What are your favorite ways to relax and/or products? Please let me know! 🙂
It is hard to believe I made a spring wreath yesterday when we are supposed to get 10 inches of snow tonight, but I am ready for spring. Ready for the warm weather to stay. Ready for the sun to be out until 8pm and my dog walks can last longer than 30 minutes. Believe me, I need spring.
That is where this DIY wreath comes into play. Our Christmas lights were taken down last week (we are THOSE people who keep them up for months after the holidays), and I felt like my life needed some color again. I picked up 20 fake flower bouquets from Dollar Tree along with the wire holder and made a wreath with really no game plan on what I was doing.
If you decide to do this at home, cut off as much of the stem as you can without the flower losing it’s pedals before you even figure out the layout on the wire. I made the mistake of putting half of it together and then realized the long stems were 1) going to be extremely difficult to cut and 2) messing with the layout because they kept overlapping each other. Thankfully, hot glue is easy to pull off depending on the material.
Simply arrange the flowers however you desire and put hot glue wherever you feel it would need to be held to the wire. Use your creativity, especially when picking out your flowers.
After a few burnt fingertips, the wreath was finished! The whole process between cutting the stems, arranging them, gluing them, and finally rearranging them once glued, took about an hour. I feel I have made better wreaths in the past, but I still wanted to share this relatively simple and beautiful (not to mention affordable!) spring craft idea with you. The whole project cost me about $20, depending on how many flowers you choose to buy.