KETO AT TRADER JOES


Back in March I hopped on board the keto diet train. I have tried every diet under the sun and while I have seen results with many, I am not able to sustain them. With keto I have never felt better. As someone with certain food sensitivities, I have found that keto is the best way for my body to eat. I am less inflamed, skin has cleared, I have more energy, and to top it all off, I have lost twenty pounds and four dress sizes!

Maneuvering keto at first was difficult. I had to find the right foods to eat that fit my daily carb and fat intake. I relied a lot on the internet the first couple weeks, as well as asking a couple friends who were successful on keto, for suggestions.

Over the last few months I have found that Trader Joe's is the holy grail for keto snacks. I am able to go there and pick up enough snacks to make sure I am happy, well fed, and still in ketosis. Here are some of my favorites:



Chomps Beef Sticks: These beef jerky sticks are filling, easy on the go, and come in six different flavors. My favorite is jalapeƱo.

Seaweed: This snack is another good one on the go and keeps your sodium and electrolyte levels up, which is really important with keto. It also adds a nice crunch to your lunch when you want to grab chips.

Mozzarella Rolloni: Cheese wrapped in salami. Do I need to say anymore?

Oven-Baked Cheese Bites: Another good chip alternative, these cheese bites are high in protein and have almost no carbs.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes: Although it takes some prep time, it's a favorite snack or side for me. I make the cauliflower mashed potatoes, which honestly don't taste that different from regular mashed potatoes, and top with butter and parmesan cheese.

I hope you enjoy these favorites of mine and if you have any favorite keto snacks, leave them below!
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VITER ENERGY REVIEW


I love coffee. Plain and simple. I enjoy it for the taste, the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives me, and the  way it gives me confidence and energy to accomplish the tasks of my day. However, I often get tired around 2 or 3pm and having a cup of coffee around that time means I will have difficulty falling asleep that night.

Viter Energy Caffeinated Mints are helpful in giving me my afternoon boost while not making me jittery or have a crash. These mints leave your breath feeling fresh, while also giving you full control over your energy level. Two mints has the same amount of caffeine as a small cup of coffee and also includes Vitamin B and Folate.



These mints come in five different flavors: spearmint, wintergreen, cinnamon, chocolate mint, and peppermint. My favorite is cinnamon, with wintergreen in a close second. The spearmint was strong for me, but certainly left my breath feeling cleaner than it's felt since going to the dentist last month!

If you are looking for a way to give yourself an energy boost that is under your full control, doesn't give you a crash, and doesn't keep you up at night, I highly recommend checking out Viter Energy.

Warning: Do not exceed 5 servings of Viter Energy per hour or 10 servings of Viter Energy per day. A serving is one mint. Do not take if you are pregnant, nursing, under 18 years of age, or sensitive to caffeine. Be sure to check with a doctor before using if you have any concerns about consumption.

FTC Disclosure: Viter Energy sent me these products in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are true and my own.

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4 TIPS FOR THE SUMMER BLUES


Summer is historically everyone’s favorite time of year...no school, warm days at the pool, staying out late with friends. However, based on studies from Psychology Today, 1% of Americans dread the summer, just like me. Summer has always been a rough time for me and it helps knowing I am not alone!

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder is a disorder that occurs for affected individuals during the summer due to modulation in melatonin production. It can be triggered by the increase in sunlight exposure or the shift in schedule and sleep patterns. This modulation in melatonin production can lead to a risk of depression and anxiety.

As someone who thrives with structure and routine, summer can be difficult! I feel uneasy knowing my days aren’t scheduled out with places to be and work to do. However, with the help of my amazing coach from Blush Online, last summer I was able to finally knock my disdain for summer, at least just slightly!

Here are some tips I learned that made last summer run smoothly and actually have me excited for this summer!

  1. Anticipate it’s arrival and come up with an action plan before it is too late. People who struggle in the summer typically have this problem each year. Being self aware and trying to get to the root of why you have a hard time in summer will help you to turn it around. For example, summer is hard for me because I thrive on schedules and routine. However, during the summer as a student and now as a teacher, my summer is very open. I try to fill my summer with a part time job, a class, or a lot of activities to handle this.
  2. Stick to a schedule and routine. I create a schedule each week and further each day. I have things I need to complete and set goals, even if basic things. For example, even for days I have nothing going on, I will schedule things outside of the house, even if it is a thirty minute walk around the block or going to the grocery store. By having a routine for each day, I am able to keep the consistency and comfort I have during the rest of the year, allowing me to rewire my dislike for summer.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say no, but still spend time with others. If going to the beach or a pool party isn’t your thing, say no! Don’t feel like you have to join in just because it is a common expectation to attend those things during summer. If going to an air conditioned movie is more your jam, try to set that up with a friend instead. Even though the typical summer social events may not be best for you, it is still vital to surround yourself with supportive friends so that you don’t fall further into a depression.
  4. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins. Haven’t you watched Legally Blonde? I truly believe exercise is what kept me going last summer. I would schedule a workout almost everyday during the week. On  hot days when I did not want to be outside, I would go to an indoor spin class or walk on the treadmill at the gym. This is another good opportunity to stick to a routine and schedule. Exercise increases your energy, creative flow, helps you sleep better, and typically makes people happier.

I hope these tips help you this summer in the event that you have a case of the summertime blues! If you are doing anything exciting this summer, please leave a comment below!
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WEDDING OUTFIT IDEAS


With my wedding coming up in two (!!!!) months, as well as a bridal shower this weekend for a cousin, I have been thinking a lot about appropriate attire for wedding activities. I am a part of many Facebook groups for podcasts I listen to, such as The Lady Gang and The Morning Toast and there are frequent questions about what to wear to a wedding. Here are four suggestions I have to make your #OOTD super easy!



  1. Don’t wear white!!!! I don’t care if it’s between Memorial Day & Labor Day (is that rule still a thing?) but this is the bride’s day to wear white! There are hundreds of other color options for you. Even if the outfit you have selected is white with some print in other colors, please find something else. You have 364 other days in the year to wear white. Give the bride her moment!
  2. When in doubt, ask the bride or someone in the bridal party about what to wear. There are dress codes for weddings, but some can be unclear. For example, with my upcoming garden wedding, I had no clue how to word what to wear. However, a friend asked me what I suggested she wear and I had tons of ideas.
  3. Be mindful of your shoe selection. Sure, your new six inch Steve Madden’s will look stunning in pictures, but will you still love them when you’re sinking into the grass or falling over on the dance floor? Look up the wedding venue and decide the appropriate shoe wear!
  4. If you have a lot of wedding events coming up, check out Rent The Runway. This summer I have 4 of my personal wedding events, as well as some wedding events for a family member. I don’t need to buy 4 white dresses I won’t wear again, and I don’t have a lot of formal wear in my closet for the wedding I am going to. With Rent The Runway I am able to pay a monthly fee for an unlimited amount of designer wear. It is nice to see photos of the outfit on others, as well as browse their wedding section for suggestions on what to wear.

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SUMMER READS


This year I set a goal to read 52 books. That’s one book a week. I am trying to complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, which I attempt yearly, but never complete. This is a unique type of challenge because it gives you random suggestions for what to read, without suggesting actual books. For example, “Read a book that is becoming a movie this year.” That allows you to read from a wide variety of books, while still completing the tasks listed in the challenge. Recently I have been reading a ton, and here are three books I have loved.

Supermarket by Bobby Hall
This book from rapper Logic is full of twists and turns. A unique take on everyday life, young Flynn is stuck in the hamster wheel of life, feeling depressed, and fresh out of a break up. When he arrives to work one day at the grocery store, he walks into a crime scene. Dark, yet funny, this New York Times Best Seller is creative and unique. I hope this isn’t the first read from Bobby Hall.  

Girl Stop Apologizing: A Shame Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis
I read Girl, Wash Your Face in 2018 and was transformed by the reminder of how frequently I succumb to the lies I tell myself based on society and their own opinions. When I heard Rachel Hollis was coming out with this book, I knew I needed to read it. I am someone who apologizes profusely for anything and everything, and it needs to stop! This book helps the reader chase their goals, excuse free, and unapologetically. It has helped me to be more confident in myself and who I am

A Love Letter Life: Pursue Creatively, Date Intentionally, Love Faithfully by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff
I chose to read this book recently because I had heard the Roloff’s on several podcasts I listen to promoting this book and felt like it was appropriate for me to read as I head towards marriage in two short months! I am constantly trying to be intentional with my relationship and my actions, and decided to give this book a try. It began with telling the beautiful relationship of Jeremy & Audrey, then carries into how to have a strong, committed, connected relationship.

Leave a comment below if you have read any of these books or if you have a book that you recommend I check out! Happy Reading!
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FAB FIT FUN SPRING REVIEW


FabFitFun is a lifestyle subscription box that sends full-sized beauty and lifestyle products on a quarterly basis. It's seriously like having Christmas arrive at your doorstep every season! Each box contains at least $200 worth of products, but costs only $49.99 per box, including free shipping!

FabFitFun allows you to customize half of your box, so you are guaranteed to get products you love. This past month I was able to select sunglasses from Quay I haven't stopped wearing, which alone cost $55!, as well as a Show Me Your Mumu Robe that is valued at $84, and an under eye cream, that Sephora sells for $42. Just those 3 products alone cost $181 and that's just half of what I received! My whole box valued at $289 and I only spent $49.99!



On the very rare occasion that there is something in my box I do not want for myself, I have them to keep for gifts for friends or family for birthdays or holidays, or I sell on Poshmark to make some money back on my box!

The first 5 people to send me their email address will get a free starter box from FabFitFun! If you are late to sending me your email, use this link for $10 off your first box.
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BACHELOR SPOTLIGHT: CATCH UP WITH CONNOR OBROCHTA


For the first time in ten plus years, my Monday nights are not revolving around The Bachelor franchise. This is the first season I remember where I have zero investment. I am still watching the episodes, but sometimes not until a week after it airs. I am not keeping up with Reality Steve, all his spoilers, and the play by play of what is happening off air. Maybe I am finally growing out of it, or maybe I am just bored with Colton...likely a mixture of the two. However, I still enjoy catching up with past contestants and sharing their whereabouts on my blog.

While making an early name for himself on Becca's season of The Bachelorette when he threw Lincoln's wedding picture off the balcony, he seamlessly faded into the background afterwards, flying under the radar with the rest of the season's drama. Connor Obrochta, not only made it halfway through Becca's season with major Clark Kent vibes on your television screens, but he was also a contestant on Bachelor in Paradise this past summer.


Prior to becoming part of Bachelor Nation, Connor was a baseball player in the Braves organization and a personal trainer in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was focused on growing his business, opening a gym, and potentially getting into TV hosting before he ended up on the show.

However, since returning home from Paradise, Connor has jumped right back into his fitness business, adding on charity work to his resume. He has helped Colton Underwood, this season's Bachelor in case you're living under a rock, with the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation, as the lead instructor for bootcamps. Connor has also been doing hosting and fitness modeling, while using his platform to be a role model to others to have a positive outlook on life.

The show helped Connor learn a lot about himself, grow as an individual, and take on each day with positivity and faith at the forefront. While he loved being on both shows, his favorite experience was Bachelor in Paradise. His only regret with Paradise is not being able the be there long enough, which gives him (and all of us fans at home!) the hope that he will return to our tv screens this summer!







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BRIDESMAID PROPOSALS


When we got engaged, I wasted no time asking my girls to be my bridesmaids. If I remember correctly, my text to my 3 college besties telling them Jared popped the question was a picture of the ring asking them to be my bridesmaids. I knew I would want to ask them in a more formal, Insta-worthy way, and began scrolling Pinterest a couple weeks later.

 


However, as I began searching for the perfect Bridesmaids proposals, I found out that every way to ask that I loved was SO expensive! Etsy has a ton of adorable handmade boxes that can be shipped to your bridesmaids, which I was going to have to do since 5 of my 6 bridesmaids live out of my area. However, I couldn't justify the couple hundred dollars for ask gifts, when I knew I had a laundry list full of other expenses coming up for the wedding.

What I did first to create the perfect ask boxes was decide what my priorities were. I wanted something sweet for my friends and family to know I loved and appreciated them, and wanted them by my side on my special day. However, I felt like it was more important for me to get nicer, and likely more costly, gifts for them on my actual wedding day, as a way to say thank you for all their love, support, and hard work leading up to our day.

Second, I looked at the trends I saw in the boxes I loved on Pinterest and Etsy. Pink and gold seemed to be in every box, which ironically is similar to our wedding colors. (Hey, at least I am consistent!) Because this was something I kept feeling drawn to, I decide to make this color scheme the theme of my gifts.

Next I began searching the holy grail of quality products on a low budget...Amazon. I immediately was inundated with adorable products to include in my boxes, and realized the high price on Pinterest and Etsy was because someone else is making the proposal box for you! Because there were so many options on what to include, and I had a price point I wanted to stay under, I spent a couple days thinking about what would go in the final product.



I ended up choosing gold bracelets that have a knot, with cards that say "I can't tie the knot without you!" hair ties that say "Bridesmaid" and a card that says "to have and to hold your hair back" and floral scratch off cards asking them to be my bridesmaid. I also ordered white gift boxes and pink crinkle cut filler paper to include in the boxes. I included heart shaped candies and Hershey kisses to keep with the theme of love. I wrote each girl a little note, specific to them, again asking them to be my bridesmaid...yes I asked them a million times, I gave them numerous opportunities to say no, but they still ended up saying yes.

The incredible ladies include: my sister in law, Sara, as my matron of honor. Sara has been my rock the last ten plus years, and I wouldn't be who I am or where I am without her as my sis. My college besties, Jade, Kiersten, and Courtney, and my two other sisters-in-law, Jessica and Leslie. I am so grateful for these women and I can't wait to have them with me when I say I do!
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WALKING ON WATER


Last week I was a wreck. The weight of everything was piling up on me. Wedding planning, work, maintaining the house, amongst other things going on in life that I will get to share in a month or two. I stepped back and realized I was drowning because I was going at it alone. I wasn’t seeking God, I wasn’t praying, I wasn’t going to others who are grounded in faith for guidance. I spent the rest of the night on my balcony, listening to worship music, praying to God, and enjoying the fresh Los Angeles rain.

A few days later I had a moment. I was reminded of Jesus walking on water. It was just like what I had gone through a few days prior. When you feel like you’re drowning, it’s cause you’re walking alone on the water. You ARE drowning. But, when you have faith and rely on God and ask for help, he pulls you up and you can “walk on the water.” But you can’t walk on the water without seeking God and having faith.

The night before Jesus walked on water he spent so much time, fully surrendered in prayer. He was alone all night on his knees, just seeking God for strength and guidance. Jesus was headed towards the disciples, walking on water. When the disciples saw someone on the water, they thought it was a ghost. (Can you blame them?) Peter told Jesus if it was really him then Peter should be able to walk on the water too. As he stepped on the water, Peter got scared looking at the wind and rocks. Jesus pulled him up though. Together they walked on water.

And together we can “walk on water.” We can’t do this life alone. We can walk through anything if we just seek the kingdom first. When we doubt, we get pulled under. When we spend time in fervent prayer, going towards God first, and surrendering all to him, we can walk on water too. (Hypothetically speaking, please don’t go try to walk on real water and then come at me when you drown.)
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PERFECT LA GETAWAY & PROPOSAL STORY


Sometimes you just need to get away! This is something I really needed in January, when I was feeling overwhelmed with work and life. My boyfriend and I started planning a couple day getaway for Martin Luther King weekend, and felt that the mountains were calling us! We looked into Air BnBs and various resorts in Lake Arrowhead and Mammoth, finding that most places required us a three night stay since it was a long weekend. However, we stumbled upon a quaint little town called Idyllwild, which neither of us had heard of, and booked a two day stay.

Idyllwild was the perfect weekend get away from Los Angeles! The drive was only about two hours, but had us feeling like we were in a completely different world. Idyllwild is in the San Jacinto Mountains, just past Riverside and Hemet. It is a tiny town, with limited cell service, no Ubers (well maybe 1 Uber, but that's a story for another time) and beautiful views.

We rented a cottage on Air BnB and absolutely loved it the moment we walked in the door. This was my first Air BnB experience and everything about it was great. There was a large backyard, with seating and a jacuzzi, a reading nook made just for me, and a massive kitchen. Before getting up to Idyllwild we stopped at the bottom of the mountain to pick up some groceries, wine, and cheese. Since neither of us had been to Idyllwild we were not sure if there were would be a grocery store with full access to what we needed for the weekend.

Idyllwild has a small village area with boutiques, trinket stores, a brewery, a winery, and a pizza shop. We spent some time there enjoying the tastes of the town, and especially loved Idyll Awhile Wine Shop, where we watched football, enjoyed wine, and listened to live music. Idyllwild Pizza Co. was another highlight of the weekend, with delicious pizzas, pastas, and calzones. We went twice during the weekend and enjoyed it just as much both times.

While Idyllwild had a ton to offer, my favorite thing about it was the hiking. While I love to hike whenever I travel, this excursion was particularly special because WE GOT ENGAGED!





Within a couple hours of getting into town we decided to go for a hike. Prior to getting into town I had looked up a few hikes. I really liked the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail because of the length, views, and pictures others had posted on Instagram. Halfway up the hike we found a stunning view and stopped to admire it and take some pictures. While engrossed in the scenery, Jared started talking to me about his love for me and his vision for our future. Before I could even process what he was saying, he was down on one knee with a ring in front of me, asking me to be his wife. Of course I said YES!

This proposal was the PERFECT way to start our weekend getaway. While Idyllwild is a stunning trip for anyone in the Los Angeles area, it will always be a special place to us because it is the place where we started forever together.
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I'M BACK! [life update]


I’M BAAAAACK! But where have I been!? I haven’t written since September 3, and I actually wasn’t sure at that time if I would ever write again. Looking back at why I wasn’t blogging anymore, I think it became a chore for me. It was something I felt pressure to do and the passion for writing wasn’t there anymore. Between working full time and going to school full time, I decided it was time to just walk away. However, the last month, since completing my Master’s (Whoop! Whoop!) I was able to revisit some old passions. I have been able to start reading for fun, playing tennis, and realizing that I missed writing!

So here I am, back on the blog. I don’t think it’ll ever be what it was. I want it to just be a passion project. Something I come to when I have something to say or need a creative outlet. The ideas for blog posts have been brewing the past couple months, and last week I created a spot in my Bullet Journal (new obsession, BTW!) to keep all these ideas when I feel like writing.

So this post is just a catch up post, to tell you where I have been. In the last four months I have finished both Master’s Degrees, including my teaching credential, visited New York and Washington D.C., and got ENGAGED! Yup, I am marrying the love of my life this year. I can’t believe my prayers have been answered by God and I found my soulmate. I can’t wait to share the wedding planning journey here as well! Although, I promise this won’t become some bridal heavy blog.

Life is really good right now and I know it is only getting better from here. I will be back, soon, with a post about how to “Ball on a Budget” as the cool kids say.
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