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My Morning Routine + Giveaway!

March 9, 2015

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One of my favorite blog series of all time is a series on Bon Appetit called “My Morning Routine” where celebrities and Bon Appetit editors talk about how they start each morning. I’m not sure why I find the column so fascinating, but it gets my attention time and time again. Does anyone else love hearing how people start their days?

I’m partnering this year with Lavazza, one of my favorite coffee companies, to promote some of their amazing coffee products. I’ve loved Lavazza since we traveled to Italy in 2013 and drank our fair share of their coffee and espresso. It was everywhere! I know some women are quick to give up coffee during their pregnancies, but I just couldn’t stand to give up my beloved morning cup of coffee and my afternoon cup of decaf. I took a little time before Ainsley arrived to write down what my morning routine looked like pre-baby and had planned on posting this before she arrived, but since our little lady arrived early, I never got it posted pre-baby. As you can imagine, my morning routine has changed quite a bit since Ainsley arrived; I’m not sure I even have a morning routine right now! But here’s a look at my pre-baby mornings.

I head straight for my coffee the minute I get out of bed. My method of coffee preparation takes different forms. We have a Keurig 2.0 that I’m partial to because of the convenience factor and the fact that I can make different coffee for myself and Joe. But on mornings when I want to make a really wonderful cup of coffee I gravitate to using my stovetop espresso pot or French press with some quality dark roast or espresso roast coffee grounds. Lately, I’ve been using the Lavazza Perfetto Espresso Roast coffee and it’s divine. My coffee has to be super dark and strong because I like to add a little whole milk or 1/2 and 1/2 without losing that good, strong coffee flavor. On the weekends when I have a bit more time I’ll use my Nespresso milk frother and make a cafe au lait.

I’ve never been someone who can wait very long after I wake up to eat breakfast. It’s probably the reason I’ve always hated brunch! I usually wake up first thing in the morning absolutely starving, so I waste no time preparing breakfast for myself and Joe. Joe’s pretty easy to please as far as breakfast goes and will eat whatever I make. If he had strong preferences, I would probably tell him he was on his own! (I’m only sort of kidding…)

Breakfast has to be something healthy and balanced or I find that my whole day is thrown off and I tend to make bad food choices the rest of the day, although I have to admit that pregnancy has thrown my appetite off a bit this entire 40 weeks. Oatmeal is usually my favorite and I typically make it with some chia seeds or a little ground flax thrown in for good measure. I used to be a fan of stevia in my oatmeal, but once I got pregnant I started to think more about what I was putting in my body and switched over to using plain old brown sugar with a bit of almond or peanut butter for protein. Sometimes I’ll mix things up and make eggs and whole wheat toast or my current favorite, a mixed berry smoothie made with a little orange juice, milk, ice and frozen berries.

Joe and I have always had a bit of a habit of waking up earlier than we really need to in order to give ourselves a little bit of time to wake up, watch the news, talk about our mornings and do our devotionals. It’s amazing what an impact an extra half an hour in the morning can have on the entire day! I feel like that extra time gives us the opportunity to talk and make sure we’re on the same page about what we have going on. Sometimes sleep takes priority and we opt to hit the snooze button a few times rather than wake up early, but that’s rare.

My extra half an hour in the morning also creates a little time for me to pack a lunch for Joe. Once again, he’s not picky (thank goodness!) so the standard is kept pretty low. We eat a lot of leftovers for lunch since it’s just the two of us eating dinner each night. Otherwise it’s a rotation of sandwiches with yogurt, fruit and some sort of raw veggie like carrots.

My work schedule lately has, admittedly, taken on a bit of a different routine. Instead of rushing off to work, I’ve been settling down to some time in front of my laptop, responding to e-mails and brainstorming new ideas for the blog and working on freelance projects that I have in the pipeline. Usually about halfway through the morning I’ll help myself to another cup of coffee, this time decaf. For me coffee is only partially about the caffeine and almost entirely about the taste!

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Lavazza isn’t just supplying me with plenty of coffee to stay warm; they want to supply you with coffee as well! Below are a few ways to enter to win a $20 Lavazza gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


From Vegetarian to Paleo?

January 5, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 8.52.34 AMPhoto via Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse 

Friends, it’s time I got honest with you about a secret I’ve been keeping for the last month or so. As the title of this post suggests, the way I’ve been eating and how my diet and evolved has changed quite a bit over the last month. After eating vegetarian for over 3 years, I’ve been dabbling in the world of paleo-style eating, meaning my new diet is heavy on the veggies (no change there), meat (big change there!), fruit and nuts.

I hesitate to say that I’ve really been eating truly “paleo” since that’s not entirely accurate. It’s probably the reason I’ve always hated labels when it comes to eating styles, because I think what works for each individual person rarely fits into a very neatly defined category or diet structure. If you are one of those people, count yourself lucky that you don’t need to explain your eating style and can very neatly tie it up into a single phrase or term.

As a bit of background, ever since my miscarriage I’ve been reading a lot about nutrition and what we put into our bodies. In no way am I saying that I think the way I was eating caused my miscarriage, but I felt a pull to re-evaluate what I eat and why I eat it. In the wake of my miscarriage, I had a serious almost primal desire to eat eggs, eggs eggs! And chicken! And I even found myself craving a sandwich with turkey deli meat. Strange coming from someone who hates eggs, has never craved chicken in my 3+ years of being vegetarian and really never loved deli meat even when I wasn’t veg.

Since I’ve always focused on eating a balanced, well-rounded vegetarian diet with seafood mixed in now and again, the cravings really took me by surprise. But, as my mom once said, if you’re craving something it must mean that your body is telling you something, that something is lacking in one way or another. (Side note: I don’t think that saying applies to, say, chocolate cake, ice cream or brownies.) My mom is so wise like that. She has always been a huge supporter of “listening to your body.”

So, I set off on my new “experiment” if you will with a few general guidelines:
1. Give paleo-style eating a try and use it as a rough guideline going forward. However, breakfast was my one non-negotiable. Since I am pretty attached to my morning bowl of oat bran with nut butter (either peanut butter or almond butter) I wasn’t going to part ways with that aspect of eating any time soon. However, since starting this new way of eating, I have found that eating eggs with a slice of bacon tastes way better with a cup of black coffee than oatmeal, oat bran or anything sweet ever could. Who knew?
2. Focus as much as possible on quality meats, organic and free-range poultry and sustainably caught fish. I love canned tuna but have been shelling out the extra $$ for pole-caught tuna with a low mercury content. I was never a steak eater, so I don’t see myself eating a bunch of red meat anytime soon, but that’s not to say that I won’t ever eat red meat, just in moderation.
3. Avoid eating grains, breads, pastas, legumes and all sweets/baked goods as much as possible. I’ve been making exceptions here and there to this rule. I’m still eating hummus and peanut butter because of the ease and convenience, but mostly I’ve been getting my carbs from foods like sweet potatoes, the occasional banana and squash. I’m not going to lie, right now I’m dreaming about a crusty whole grain roll with butter the way I used to dream about chocolate cake.
4. Eat plenty of healthy fats. I’ve been eating a lot of healthy fats in the form of almonds, walnuts, avocados and olive oil. These have really helped me feel super satisfied at mealtimes and when having a snack.

So far, I’ve been feeling really great! I’m amazed at how full I feel after meals and I find I’m staying full longer than in the past. I’m not sure where this will take me, but I’ll keep you posted along the way.

Has anyone else made a big shift in eating styles? I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences! 


5 Tried and True Tips for Traveling Light

November 19, 2013


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Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of flying and traveling for work. First, it was the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Las Vegas for five days. Then, five days later it was back on the plane for a quick 28 hour trip to New York for a satellite media tour with Pillsbury. Next week, we’ll be off again, this time for Thanksgiving with family in Idaho. Truth be told, travel isn’t my favorite thing in the world. Sure, I love seeing new places and visiting family, but the whole travel process wears me out.

One thing I think I have mastered along the way is the art of packing light. For many years I was a horrible over-packer. I would take a giant suitcase and stuff it with everything I liked in my closet. Then, in 2007, my mom, cousin and I took a trip to Spain for 10 days. My mom mandated that I only take a carry-on suitcase for ease and to avoid our luggage getting lost. After that trip, I was a changed woman! Now, it’s very rare that I’ll ever take anything more than a small carry-on suitcase. Or, in the case of our trip to Italy, a large backpack.

Here are a few of my favorite trips for traveling light on the road:

1. Keep a Stash of Mini Toiletries Handy
I used to always have to run to Target before a trip to get all the mini 3-oz or less toiletries I needed for my carry-on. Sometimes I would be short on time and end up having to check my bag because I didn’t have smaller versions of my favorite products on hand. Now, I keep a basket in our linen closet filled with small containers of my favorite shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, mousse, eye cream, etc. It’s a little more expensive, but totally worth it to have smaller versions of the items I already use at home. Also, keep those small samples of products you receive when buying make-up. They come in handy for short trips!

2. Wear Your Bulkiest Items
Right now I’m writing this as I fly home from New York. I’ve got on my coat and tall brown boots. For this short trip, I packed super light, only carrying-on a large purse, which meant no room for a coat or boots. Wearing these items will help keep you warm on the plane and save space.

3. Stick with a Color Palette 
I’m sure that the brown flats you have and the black heels you  just bought are super cute, but it makes a lot more sense to stick with a single color scheme when packing light. Usually I try to either go with brown OR black to keep coordination easy. That way, I don’t need a black belt and a brown belt, or a black cardigan and a tan cardigan, etc.

4. Limit Your Shoes
Shoes are the biggest space hog, so try to pack shoes that will get multiple wears. I always bring a pair of super comfortable flats, shoes for working out and either a pair of tall boots for the winter or sandals in the summer. Keep the heels at home unless you know you’ll need them for a very specific purpose. If I’m really crunched on space, I’ll leave my workout shoes at home and do a yoga workout or something similar in my hotel room instead.

5. Learn to Live Without
Once upon a time I thought I needed to be perfectly dressed for every vacation. Okay, sometimes I still do, but I’m working on letting that go! When we were in Italy, there were a bunch of times when I had to wear something that was less than 100% clean, was stretched out or wasn’t perfectly suited for the occasion. In the past that would have totally bothered me. Now days, I try to just roll with it. Sure, it would be great to have endless options to choose from, but at what price? For me, the trade-off of being able to fly light, not have to pay for a bag and not have to worry about my luggage getting lost is totally worth having to wear something twice.

Do you have any tips to share for packing and traveling light? Share them below!