Hello November: October Faves & Raves

Fall has changed me for the better this year and I am hoping that as the new year approaches I can learn more about myself and improve in the coming months. Some things may stay the same but, many things … Continue reading

It’s Our Anniversary (overview)

I saw the above photo on Pinterest and thought that, in all honesty, it describes the circumstances of true love perfectly. There are all kinds of love but, you can’t truly accept someone into your life, full-time, for better or … Continue reading

Hostess Hints: How Does She Do It?

Most of you reading this article are probably expecting family to be visiting you in the near future because of their time off during the holidays. For some, this can be a stressful time because you are welcoming, not only … Continue reading

Progress Report: Matter Over Mind

Well, they say that the destination isn’t most important but, that it’s the journey along the way. Let’s hope that’s true because this week, I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon… I just don’t know if I ever really got on.

I was so busy this week that most days I didn’t eat anything significant until 5 or 6 o’clock and since Aunt Flo made herself at home for a nice cozy visit this week, I spent most of my free time in bed, doubled over with cramps. I finished editing one wedding day, just to turn around and prepare to photograph another one. Not to mention my house was so cluttered with clean laundry I never had the chance to put away that I was feeling very overwhelmed by it all. I would say that the word “diet” didn’t really fit in with many of my plans this week, for sure. I envy people that can say no to a slice of apple pie or pizza, ’cause I sure have a hard time.

Plus, we have a new friend who is very generous and decided to bring over Indonesian food when I got home from my photography job on Sunday.

I’m already frustrated with myself, regardless of how much I go jogging…etc. But, because I promised to weigh in once a week, I have stayed true to that.

After much agonizing about stepping on the scale I was surprised to have lost 2.6 pounds! It’s probably mostly water but, it still makes me feel good to know I didn’t completely botch up my goal. I am pretty happy overall with this week’s success 🙂

I do hope, though, that this week lends itself to being a bit more flexible when it comes to fitting it workout times and, now that we’ve gone grocery shopping (which I loathe), I have ingredients to make low cal dinners. I have planned at least 3 weeks worth of recipes and hope that I can stick with indulgence in their healthfulness. I find that mid-week meals are usually easier for me than the weekends, when I’m around my friends or out to eat. Do you face the same problems? What is your favorite mid-week meal/snack? How did you do with your weigh in this week?

Home-Style Meatloaf  is one of my favorite easy things to make. Click the link to get the recipe and try it out on your family tonight! My husband and step-son love it and it’s full of ‘good for you’ yummies. 🙂

Related Article:

Design A Tea: Review

First off, I just wanna let you all know that I did a guest post over on TheFridayGirl’s blog. Click HERE to check it out!


“What’s in a name. That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

For the most part, I think Mr. Shakespeare was an interesting and smart man. However, I cannot agree with him on the above quote, when applying it to tea.

Drinking tea, my house, is almost a daily occurrence. Many times I think I should’ve been born British so I could’ve been brought up learning how to drink it “the right way”. But, I can’t imagine a tea named “Mud Pie” tasting as good as something called “Darjeeling”. Darjeeling, Darjeeling, Darjeeling… I just love that word! Plus, I’m also a bit of a health nut and will drink just about anything that is proclaimed as having natural healing and life enriching powers.

When it comes to tea, I especially like mine in loose leaves. I feel like the flavor can really come through that way. My husband and I discovered this when we were honeymooning in Tuscany and discovered a great little tea shop. Of course, we brought back a huge bag of loose leaves. Since then, I have been fascinated with stores, like Teavana, that make this beverage their business and livelihood. That being said, I also find them overpriced..

Recently, I came across a small artisan company run by Jenn & Brian Pfeiffer, called Design A Tea. Their motto? “Where tea leaves dream…” Who doesn’t like the way that sounds?! I sure do!

The business is run out of small town near Buffalo, New York and, as the website states, they are environmentally friendly, wholesale supporters, organic, & gluten free! But, what exactly does Design A Tea do? Well, it’s more about what they allow you to do. Using their online tools, you can design and name your own signature tea.

Step 1: Choose your tea.

Step 2: Pick Your Favorite Flavors

Step 3: Enjoy your custom blend!

[Click HERE and HERE to see two articles that really helped me in this process.]

I ended up choosing a Roobios tea blend with chamomile, vanilla, and apricot. And guess what came in the mail yesterday….?


I named the blend “Amorous Apricot” and, yes, it does taste as good as it sounds.


The first thing I did was immediately open it up and smell it! And what a divine smell it was! Seriously, guys, you need to have smell-a-vision or a scratch-n-sniff screen.


Next, I made a cup… How could I NOT? It was irresistible! And it tastes as good as it smells. It’s got a depth and a natural sweetness that I couldn’t have imagined just reading the description of the ingredients that I chose.

The company was also nice enough to send me a free sample of what they call “Happy Zombie”. You cannot go wrong with a bag full of cinnamon and orange deliciousness! One of the best autumn tasting teas, I swear.


All in all, I feel like $10 was a lot of pay for a small little pack of tea. But, the free sample definitely increased the value and I think I would order from them again, when I have the urge for something creative and yummy. And would recommend trying out Design a Tea even if it’s just for fun. If you aren’t afraid of the price tag they do have a bigger ordering option, which is enticing for me the next time. I just love the thought of a nice little treat in one of my vintage tea cups. I’m a collector!

What’s your favorite kind of tea? Do you like the idea of putting together your own blend of loose leaf? Or would you rather have a no-fuss tea bag?

Summer Favorites: Beauty, Fashion, and Food!

Summer is fleeting from us ever-so quickly and, although we are halfway through September, I wanted to share with you my favorite products/items of the summer. Let’s get down to business, shall we?


  • Awapuhi Wild Ginger Texturizing Sea Spray [by Paul Mitchell]: This spray single-handedly saved my hair this summer. After my husband and I got back from our business trip to New Orleans, I decided that it was just going to be entirely too hot to have super long hair. I chopped it off a couple of weeks later and wanted an easy way to leave my hair messy without looking like I had just rolled out of bed.

I had been debating on whether or not to by the Bumble & Bumble brand of texturizing, wave spray for quite some time. DebE’s review of the product, which you can read HERE, is rather convincing and I will still consider buying this product in the future. However, the Awapuhi product was available in the salon where I get my hair done. After requesting that my stylist use it on my hair before leaving, I was sold!

It’s a very lightweight product and smells AMAZING! It keeps my hair from getting greasy quickly and adds volume without maximizing frizz. All these things are a MUST here in North Carolina where the humidity is in the 80-90% range at all times during the summer. Even so, I plan on using this product year round. Try it out and you won’t be disappointed! The 5.1 oz bottle retails for a little over $20.


  • Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner: Toner has always been a ‘touchy’ product for me. I’ve experimented with it before and found that most of them burn and irritate my face, more like an astringent. Also, most experts agree that it’s not an absolutely necessary product to keep on hand. Supposedly, it’s marketed more for people with extremely oily and acne-prone skin than for the majority or make-up wearers. However, I’ve found that it does remove leftover make-up and residue from my pores when I’ve been really piling on the products.

Discouraged because of the irritation it caused me, I stopped using any kind of toner a few years ago. But, I was overjoyed when I saw the rosewater toner while browsing the store this summer. I have read a lot about the benefits of rosewater on skin but, so far, have refrained from buying any because it’s mostly bought in a small amount for more than I’d like to pay. It’s said to be a wonderful cleanser, proactive against blemishes, anti-inflammatory, and a mood enhancer- especially when used before bed. Because of these factors I decided to take a chance on this 8 fl oz bottle from Target. Sells for anywhere from $10-$15.

My skin is so soft and blemish free since using it; feels extremely clean and “breathable” after application. Not to mention that I can see a huge amount of make-up come off that I wouldn’t have been able to see with my naked eye after my normal face washing routine. Definitely a keeper!


  • Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream: Tinted moisturizer has always been my go-to sheer coverage for summer. But, when I stopped being able to find my favorite one, I didn’t know what to buy next. That’s when I came across the BB cream.

My mom has been using BB cream for the past couple of years and is always ranting about how great it is. Granted, she is naturally a beautiful chestnut brown color and doesn’t need to wear make-up to save her life. Nevertheless, I decided, against my better judgement, to try it out. My better judgement was wrong.

I’ve worn this exact product in the color “Medium Sheer” almost everyday this summer. The amount of coverage coupled with the SPF 30 that’s included in the serum, make it my #1 choice for a foundation alternative in hot weather conditions. And only $8!


  • Shine Drama Lip Gloss [by Victoria’s Secret]: Smear this lipgloss on and immediately feel like a model! I love this gloss that I picked up in the color “Punch Drunk” at my local Victoria’s Secret store. It can be worn with no other make-up at all or put it on to finish off your sophisticated look. However, I would not layer this with a lipstick.

Shine Drama comes in 13 colors and goes for $12 a tube. It is a tad sticky or, as my mom would put it, “It feels like I just ate a doughnut”. That characteristic doesn’t bother me because the shine and vibrance makes up for any ‘heaviness’. A great summer, make-up bag essential!


  • Maybelline Volum’ Express, The Falsies Mascara: Normally, the mascara I use is the Smashbox Hyperlash that sells for $22. But, needless to say, that is a lot of money to replace such a small product every few months. Because of this, I’ve been shopping around for a cheaper alternative that actually does what it says. Something I can use when I run out of Hyperlash and don’t want to spend the money on it right away.

Tanya Burr, Youtube go-to girl for make-up tutorials, often uses The Falsies mascara and raves about how great it is. So, for $6, I thought, “What the heck”, and picked it up at Target. It was definitely not a mistake! Even my husband says that my lashes look long and luscious when I use it!  The wand is perfect for winging your lashes up and separating them, and the mascara itself is not clumpy at all; it goes on very smoothly. Tanya never lets me down!



  • Ralph Tortoise Shell, Cat Eye Sunglasses [by Ralph Lauren]: My one and only favorite fashion accessory of the summer. These sunglasses are flattering, flirty, and fabulous. They have an old hollywood, Jackie O look to them that carries vintage into the 21st century in a very classy way. A splurge after a big photo shoot I did… I spent $90 on these at Belk. But, I believe it’s never a bad choice to splurge on something timeless. A well made, expensive pair of sunglasses is something you can hang onto year after year, that pairs well with almost any outfit, and is essential if you live in a hot and sunny place like I do. Protect your eyes with style!



  • Kale & Chia Wild Chips [by Wild Roots]: Made with real kale, quinoa, flax, and chia, these chips might sound like a health kick extreme. I’ll admit I was surprised by myself for buying these, although I’m all about healthy and organic foods. These chips taste better than tortillas and are good alone or with salsa/dip. They are gluten free and full of vitamins. Get this– even my 7 year old step-son is addicted to them!


  • Kombucha: Kombucha is a seaweed tea fermented by a mix of bacteria and yeast. It promotes a healthy liver, helps prevent cancer and arthritis, improves digestion/detoxification, and boosts the immune system. There are numerous different brands and flavors. Overall this drink really makes me feel lighter, healthier, and more energetic. I have most recently bought this at Harris Teeter and The Fresh Market. (If you try it out, let me know what you think.)


There you have it, my summer favorites! Who knows, maybe we have some of the same ones. If you have questions, or suggestions for something I should try and maybe include in my next post, leave me a comment below! 🙂

Homemade Gluten Free Donuts

GlutenFree Unfortunately, I cannot take the credit for these yummy creations. This recipe came from Prairie Hive, a completely awesome website that’s composed of designers, photographers, writers, and crafty creative types based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

 If you know me, then you know I go through major health food spurts and then total “I’m gonna down an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s before you can say ‘ice cream'” moods. Most of the time, though, I am NOT a fan of donuts. There is only one place within a 40 minute radius from my house that I consider to sell a worthy donut. 

 But, for some reason (no, I’m not pregnant), I have had a very strong craving for donuts. Why not make them as healthy as possible, then? Exactly! And, I found out last year than the healthier I can keep my thyroid, the better– but, more on that another time…

Below is the recipe that my husband, who hates most things gluten free, and I loved. My 7 year old wasn’t so impressed but, what does he know? 😛
This is the exact recipe you will find over at Prairie Hive, down the same donut pan. I sincerely apologize for not taking photos (being a photographer and all…. shame on me) of the entire baking process but, I got all excited and completely forgot. 

If you decided to try making these, please write me a comment below or send me a link to your blog so I can see the results!


Gluten Free Baked Vanilla Donuts

Makes 6 donuts, so I doubled this recipe for my dozen

  • 1 cup GF all purpose flour (I used Cup 4 Cup Flour)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Vanilla glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  2. Spray donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.  3. In mixing bowl, combine flour blend, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  4. Add buttermilk, egg, vanilla and melted butter.  Slowly stir to combine.  5. Pour batter into pastry bag with large tip (or plastic Ziploc bag with corner cut off) and pipe into prepared donut pan. 6.  Bake donuts for 10-12 minutes, just barely golden brown.  Turn out onto cooling rack.
To make the vanilla glaze:  Mix together the powdered sugar, melted butter, milk and vanilla.  Dip the tops of the cooled donuts in the glaze.  Top with sprinkles! ENJOY!