Sunday, December 21, 2014

DIY Christmas Centerpiece

When holiday season comes around I absolutely love entertaining family in our home and I enjoy trying to put together fun, new centerpieces each year to spruce up my Christmas table. This year as I was wandering through Walmart, I found a few unique floral pieces that gave me a great idea to build upon for this year's design. So here is my step by step for this gorgeous and easy DIY Christmas Centerpiece. 



You want to start by collecting the following: 
*A glass pitcher 
*Wire Cutters
*Floral Arrangements 
*Holiday Potpourri

Like I mentioned earlier, the floral arrangements I found at Walmart for $3 each, but they also have some fun options at Michael's and AC Moore. The potpourri I purchased at Home Goods in their festive holiday season section. The glass pitcher was something I have had in my cabinet for a long time now so I'm not really sure where it is from but I'm pretty sure you can purchase one somewhat similar at Target.
  



Once all of your items are collected, you want to fill the glass pitcher with the potpourri. 




Next you want to use the wire cutters to cut off each individual stem of the flower arrangements so that you have the multiple pieces to place into your pitcher as you wish them to look.




Once you have all of the individual stems laid out, place them into your pitcher with the potpourri as your anchor for the flowers.




The finished product looks super festive and adorable as well as smells lovely sitting on the table. The whole arrangement takes only about 15 minutes to place together and makes the world of difference on our holiday table.




That's all for this DIY. I pray that God blesses your family with a safe and very happy Christmas during this holiday season!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Choose Health - Taking Small Steps


So, I don't know about any of you, but body image has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I feel like almost every woman out there understands what I'm talking about and can sympathize with me in some way or another. And I've never been one of those girls who can really not work hard and continue to be thin. Like I have to work hard at it every single day and sometimes that is just super exhausting. However, learning to not get so down on myself if I have a bad day eating or I go up a few pounds here and there is something I have been spending the past few years working really hard on. It's something that has to come from inside to understand that I can love myself and be who God created me to be, and not have to get so stressed about what others think all of the time. That was the first lesson I've really been focusing on in this season of learning to choose health. The second lesson has really been just that, actually choosing health over anything else. I may not be at the number on the scale that I was hoping for, but am I healthy in what I am eating? Am I getting a good amount of physical activity in? These are the more important questions and even if that coveted number never gets where I want it to be, am I focusing my love for myself from a place of health? These are the constant questions that I need to remind myself when I am struggling with my body image and they help me to focus on what the most important goal is...choosing health.



One of the best ways I have been able to do this is to incorporate a small bit of physical activity for my body each day. And that may look different every day and I may not have time to do some huge workout, but I can always do something. Even stretching can be just what I need to make my body feel stronger and healthier. So I place my yoga mat in a nice little area of my living and stretch my body out in the morning. Another great small step that I have been taking has been watching some amazing Youtubers who have fantastic channels showing exercises that are not time consuming and really give my muscles a great workout. I will link two of my favorites below. If you are struggling with a place to start that will get you moving, both of these ladies have helped me a lot and they are great for taking your first small step towards health. Definitely check them out.

Yoga with Adriene

Blogilates

That is about all for this blog post today. Please leave a comment if you are at all struggling with your journey to health. I definitely know that it can be hard, but I also know that working through things in community is also one of the very best resources you can have. So I am here to chat with anyone who needs a friend or an accountability partner. Talk to you soon!
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Monday, December 8, 2014

Black Friday Madness ~ Vera Bradley, Bare Minerals, and More!


Hey Everyone! Yes it is that time of year once again where we all have the excuse to go a little shop crazy. And let me tell you, I love me some Christmas shopping. It's probably my absolute most favorite time of the year, not just for the shopping aspect, but also for the ability to give gifts to the people I love most and just see their faces light up. So I have the items here that I purchased on Black Friday, which I had such a blast out shopping that day, and I will also be posting some DIY holiday gift giving ideas in the next few days as well so keep your eyes peeled for that as well. 




So let's talk about Black "Friday." This was the first year that I actually went out on Thursday evening to go shopping and I normally do not do that because I truly believe that Thanksgiving is sacred and a time to be with family. But this year I happened to be with family down in Florida about 1 mile away from the outlet mall and just couldn't resist getting some of their deals. My sister, my husband and myself spent Thanksgiving cooking for our family and then decided to go out at 11:00 at night so as far as shopping goes it really didn't cut into family time since our parents were waaaay passed out by then. Getting to the outlet mall was crazy! There were seriously thousands of people there and I just couldn't believe the insanity, but I kind of feel like it lent to the fun of it all. So the first place we hit up was bareMinerals and let me tell you, the sales were out of control. I honestly wanted to buy the whole store (but I didn't). So the first thing I saw was my very very favorite facial cleanser. I've been using this stuff for a while and it always leaves my skin feeling so soft and clean without being overly dry. Really love this stuff! And it was 50% off plus their was a store wide Black Friday sale of an additional 25% off, so it was seriously a steal. The next thing I saw were these two gorgeous lippies in the colors Fearless and Bravado and they were also the 50% plus another 25% off deal. I've already worn both of them and I love love love them so much. Super hydrating and some great winter colors.




The next thing I found at bareMinerals was this gorgeous palette that came with the cute little gold bag here and I just thought it was super sleek and fun for the holiday season. The palette came with four gorgeous eye shadows, a blush, their primetime eye primer, waterproof eye liner,  and a lip gloss, which I will insert a picture of the opened palette underneath this pic. I've already tried every product in this and I'm in love with them all. They are a great blend of colors for the holidays and I am super happy with this purchase.




Open Palette <3




Then after we left bareMinerals we headed over to the Vera Bradley outlet, which literally had a line out of the store just to get in, but was so worth the wait. I purchased a new purse, an ID holder, and a clutch/cell phone holder in these three adorable patterns and only spent around $35 for the lot of them! I can't even begin to describe how great the deals were that night. I took a close up shot of the group of items I purchased instead of a more detailed one because these are going to be Christmas gifts and I didn't want the receiver to find too much on my blog before Christmas morning. 




Also at Vera Bradley that night, for every person that walked in the door, they gave a free little jewelry travel case holder to and because Josh came into the store with me I got two! I love these and already started storing my earrings in them.




At this point in the night it was past 1:00am and we were all super exhausted from cooking all day, so we went home for some sleep. That however, did not stop us from going back out the next morning/afternoon to pick up some more deals at Target. I love me some Target and their Black Friday deals are always my absolute fav. I don't have a ton of pictures from Target because again they are Christmas presents and I don't want people to stumble upon them before the 25th but I got a ton of stuff for my hubs and my mom and it ended up only costing me around $100. Which, for the amount of presents I bought, was a super good deal. They always have fantastic sales on DVD and TV series sets so I always grab a bunch of those. The very last thing I bought at Target was an adorable little onsie sleeper set for one of my best friends who just had a little baby boy the day before Thanksgiving and it was just so sweet I had to get it for him. 




This is the front and back of the sleeper set and seriously, how adorable?! I just couldn't resist getting them for him, especially since he it about to celebrate his very first Christmas and I'm super excited for the him and the whole family! 




So that about wraps up this blog. Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!



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Friday, November 28, 2014

Yummy Healthy Breakfast Muffins


I am definitely an on the go kind of person, as I have previously stated, and even though I love having a good breakfast every morning I don't always have time to sit down for a healthy meal. My nutritionist introduced me to a delicious recipe that stocks up my freezer with about 15-20 muffins that I can take with me when I am running out the door in the morning and don't have time for a normal sit down meal. The muffins are a perfect breakfast size and they are not only delicious, they are incredibly healthy for you as well. So here is my adaptation of that recipe. You want to start off by grabbing these essential ingredients:

*3 Bananas (mashed)
*1 Cup of Vanilla Almond Milk
*2 Eggs
*1 Tbsp Baking Powder
*2 Cups of Oats
*1 Cup of Wheat Bran
*1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract
*1 Tsp of Cinnamon
*1/2 Tsp of Nutmeg
*3 Tbsp of Dark Chocolate Chips



You want to start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees F. Then combine your almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract in a bowl and whip them all together.




Next you want to combine your dry ingredients into a separate, large mixing bowl. So this is going to be your oats, wheat bran, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir those all together very well.




Then in a third bowl you are going to mash all of your bananas together. I used my hubbies potato masher and it worked incredibly well and super fast. 




You want to add the wet mixture into the dry mixture bowl and throw in your mashed bananas and chocolate chips (which in my personal opinion, makes the muffins!)




Line your tin with your muffin liners and fill them about 3/4 of the way high.




You're going to want to put these in the oven for about 12-15 minutes and you're all finished.




I absolutely love these delicious muffins and they are crazy high in fiber, which makes them great for your digestive system. Like I said before, I keep them in my freezer and when I'm hurrying out of the house I can grab one, toss it in the microwave for 45 seconds, and I'm ready to head out the door. You definitely need to try out these tasty muffins!

For a Gluten Free version of these muffins, check out the adaptation my best friend, Made to be Margo, created to be dietary friendly to her GF lifestyle.


*Ingredients adapted from To Better Health, LLC 

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Stop and Smell the Roses (Literally)

Stop and smell the roses! That is such a funny little saying that I grew up hearing but am only now truly understanding the meaning behind it. I live in the Northeast so obviously I am constantly overwhelmed with the fast pace life that we all seem to indulge in regularly. I consistently have a place to be and a task to do, with very little down time, and in this fast pace lifestyle there have been moments that have passed by where I can honestly say that I've missed precious pieces of my life. I'm starting to realize how important it is to stop what I am doing, and smell the roses. The roses of our lives are those beautiful moments that decorate our days making them all the more magnificent. The idea of stopping to smell them, to me, indicates actually finding the enjoyment in what we are participating in and the blessings we've been handed. There are pieces of our lives that are not just there for decoration, but they were meant for us to enjoy through each and every one of our senses. It means that we are taking the time out to stop what it is we are fussing about with to appreciate the gifts we've been given daily. So stopping to smell the roses is exactly what I did this past week, literally.
My husband was given the privilege to have a day off this week in honor of Veterans day, so I myself decided to put down my work and super busy schedule and just enjoy the beautiful day God gave us. My husband is most definitely one of the "roses" of my life. He is my constant support and very best friend. My life would never be the same without him and for that reason, I need to stop and celebrate him more. He is not just a decoration in my life but someone that I get to share and enjoy this beautiful journey with. So we took our day off and spent quality time together in our most favorite spot, Longwood Gardens. If you live in the Northeast or are ever just visiting, please try to make it out to this magical place. It is by far the most charming park I have ever been to. Longwood is especially precious to us because it is where we had our first date and it's even where Josh proposed. If you are looking for a way to connect with your spouse and just enjoy spending some quality time with them, I would highly suggest finding "a place" that is all yours that you can constantly go back to and create incredible memories together. When Josh and I go to Longwood, we get to detox from the stresses of life and remember all the reasons we love to be around each other. It also helps to renew our relationship and reminds us to enjoy every precious season we find ourselves in. Here are some pics from our awesome day.


The Rose Garden


The Meadow


The Italian Water Garden


The Greenhouse 


I Love You


Always <3


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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Healthy Coffee Creamer Recipe


If you are a coffee junkie like me then you will be able to understand the dilemma I come across every morning in trying to make my refreshing cup o java. And that is all about the creamer. I love me some creamer, especially the french vanilla flavored kind, but my waistline isn't exactly a fan. So a friend of mine, who is a licensed dietitian, gave me some delicious recipes for creamer alternatives that have literally changed my whole coffee game. The one I use the most often is the French Vanilla recipe, but if I'm being completely honest it tastes more like a cinnabon to me than anything else, which is still ultimately fantastic! So here's how it works:

You want to grab a carton of your favorite Unsweetened Almond Milk. The particular brand I use is from Trader Joe's because I think it is delicious. Then I throw in 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon and 2 tsp of Vanilla Extract. Once you have placed the items into the carton, just shake um all up and let it sit overnight. It gives your coffee such an amazing flavor without any of the extra fat and preservatives found in regular creamer.

A word of warning for anyone set to try this yummy recipe, it will have a bit of a gritty texture as you go through the carton, since the cinnamon does pour out into your coffee with each use. To avoid the added cinnamon texture you can always substitute the group cinnamon with 2 cinnamon sticks. If you are more of the mocha loving kind of person, simply swap the ground cinnamon for 1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder and voila, mocha madness!  



And just in case you were wondering, Josh made us the Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes for breakfast this weekend and they were so super tasty. A delightful treat for a relaxing weekend! I would definitely recommend picking them up if you are ever out at your local Trader Joe's. 





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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

All things Pumpkin



Pumpkin has to be one of my very most favorite scents and flavors during the fall season. And if I'm being honest it's probably one of my favorites year round, but I really go pumpkin crazy in the fall. Josh and I did some food shopping this past weekend and purchased a few yummy things. Trader Joe's has some delicious pumpkin flavored items out this season and if you are a pumpkin fan like me, I would make sure you do not miss out on these. Especially since a lot of them are limited time only items. The first thing we picked up were these Iced Pumpkin Scone Cookies. Oh my goodness! These are the most delicious little treats ever and I'm definitely exercising some willpower by keeping myself from eating the entire box in one sitting. Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Coffee is another fantastic treat that I have been enjoying every morning with my breakfast. It has such a smooth flavor and puts a nice smile on my face as I am waking up. The Pumpkin yogurt is really super sweet, almost like eating icing. So it's not one that I can personally eat in one sitting. But if you like sweet, then I think you'll enjoy this. I have not had the pleasure of eating the Pumpkin Pancakes yet but I am planning on making them for Josh and I this weekend for breakfast and my hopes for these are super high. 




Two of my favorite scents that have been burning nonstop in my home are the Pumpkin Pecan Waffles and Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun. I picked these both up during Bath and Body Works two three-wick candles for $22 sale and I absolutely love them. They make my whole house smell like there are fresh baked cookies in the oven. I've had so many compliments about these when we have had guests in our home and to me they give a sense of coziness to our house during this fall season. 




The last thing I enjoy using pumpkins for is decor. I purchased these adorable miniature pumpkins or gourds from the local farmers market. I also grabbed this sweet little bale of hay and placed this arrangement on an antique table Josh and I picked up when we were yard saling. The arrangement sits at the top of our front porch and gives our home a cute little fall decorative vibe. Let me know if there are any pumpkin items that you have been enjoying this season that I should try out!

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Haul ~ Bath & Body Works, Forever 21, and Home Goods







Being the perpetual procrastinator that I always have been, I have for the very first time decided to start my Christmas shopping now. Yes, in October. Well kind of October, as it is Halloween today. But I've realized that starting my shopping early will assist me and my hubs in creating a proper budget to purchase our now very large family the exact right gifts. Of course, in my shopping rounds I ended up grabbing a few items for myself as well and wanted to share with ya'll some amazing finds that I was able to snag for this holiday season.

Bath and Body Works has some fantastic scents out for the fall and winter seasons that I am simply loving right now. The Wild Madagascar Vanilla is by far my absolute favorite. The scent is beautifully thick, almost like a deep perfume rather then vanilla. It's keynotes are Madagascar vanilla, African pear, wild jasmine, and white sandalwood. The fragrance is definitely not a soft vanilla that I am very much accustomed to, but I truly enjoy this new take. The Ultra Shea Body Cream has a very rich and buttery texture due to both aloe and cocoa that accompany the divine aroma of the scent. I would absolutely recommend it for anyone wanting to try a deeply rich new scent.
           
                     


I've also started showering with the seasonal Pumpkin Latte and Marshmallow shower gel and I am loving this scent as well. It is a sweet smell that makes me feel like I am showering with a freshly baked batch of cookies. Besides the pumpkin latte and toasted marshmallow, it holds keynotes of creamy sandalwood and white ginger. For real, this shower gel is beyond yummy and if you enjoy sweet smells like I do, this is a great one for you!

                        


I then headed over to Forever 21 and grabbed a few new tanks and this super comfy charcoal gray t-shirt. It is long sleeves that are rolled into a three quarter length design and it is an incredibly cozy cotton blend with a pocket in the upper left corner of the shirt. Here is a full length view for you.


Shout out to the brand new pink hair, woot woot! Thank you Ulta!


My last stop was Home Goods which is by far the most perfect place to pick up decor for my house as well as purchase cute little odds and ends, bits and babbles. I found a delicious smelling Yankee candle in "Baking in the Kitchen" which I placed in our bedroom. It really makes the whole second floor smell like there are fresh baked breads and cookies throughout the entire space. If you can't tell yet, I'm in love with making my home, and myself I guess, smell like home baked goods. It is just a comfortable and yummy smell to me.

                  


And I finished off my shopping with an adorable new green leather journal that has a quote etched into it, "I'm in love with cities I've never been and people I've never met."


Let me know if there are any new fall items that you have been enjoying this season and I will talk with you all soon. Thanks for reading!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Welcome to my Life (And my Blog)

Blogging was never something I ever thought I could really be good at so I never gave it a try...until now. There is so much going on in my life and it goes by way too fast, so this is my attempt to keep track of it all. I want to be able to have a place to look back on all of the exciting things I've experienced and help others with advice on life, home and lifestyle ideas, healthy eating and living, and travel tips and tricks. Basically a hodgepodge of all things me! 

So I guess I should start by letting you know a little bit about myself. My name is Danielle, but you can call me Dani for short. I live in New Jersey with my amazing hubs Josh. We were just recently married at the beginning of this year in Fort Myers, Florida and I can honestly say it has been one of the very best years of my life. I truly adore being married and find my husband to be the absolutely most perfect partner for me. This is us on our beautiful wedding day.



It seriously was one of the very best days ever and I would love to give you more details on the day, dress, arrangements, what goes into planning, all that fun info on a later post. But everything was extremely beautiful and I wouldn't have changed a single second of it. 

Like I said before, we live in an adorable little community in New Jersey and our home (like most others in our neighborhood) is over 100 years old. Our house has so much sweet little charm and character and we are really loving living in this area. We bought our house a few months before we were married and spent time really fixing it up and putting our own personality into it so that once we were finally married we could simply move in and enjoy our new life. Here is our cute little house, literally the day we got the keys handed to us.




We love sitting out on the front porch, drinking coffee, and just enjoying the scenery and each other. I would love to be able to post what it was like buying a house for the first time, the ups and downs, and also the excitement of redecorating a place and really making it your own. So that will definitely be in a future post.

The other love of my life is our precious little pug named Talula Marie, but we just call her Lu for short. She has been in my life for nine years and is my baby in every way. She is spoiled and loved so much by all people who meet her and honestly I can't even blame anyone cause she is just so stinkin cute. This is my darling Lu.



That was her last Christmas posing with the tree at my mom's house. She's really great at posing for the camera lol. She definitely brings so much love and entertainment into our lives.

And I guess lastly, some things about me that are pretty important are I absolutely love to travel and I try to do it as much as I possibly can. Volunteering in my neighborhood is something I'm regularly apart of, I adore my church and the life it has given me, dancing has always been at the heart of who I am, and style and design has always been a huge interest of mine. Like I said before, hodgepodge lol. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Photography has always been a big part of my growing up and more recently I've really been loving film and editing techniques as well, so I'm excited to explore those outlets here. So that about wraps up this post and I'm really looking forward to writing more! Bye guys :)
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