Thursday, January 29, 2015

If you're a curvy girl...

When I first started trying to find cute plus-size clothes a couple of years ago, I found the selection to be incredibly lacking. Everything I found looked like it should be worn by someone at least thirty years older than me, and it was all ridiculously overpriced.

I discovered Lane Bryant, which I really love, but it's pricey and still not always quite as stylish as I'd prefer.

I'm not sure how I initially discovered that Forever 21 offered plus sizes. But I can guarantee that I very likely almost didn't even look, because I will always associate Forever 21 with cheap, uber-trendy, tiny things made for teeny-boppers. (And the hellish part-time job I had there the summer before I started college. I still have nightmares about trying to put back all of dressing room rejects on the proper racks. How many versions of a black sleeveless top can one store sell?) 


I did ultimately end up taking a look at what they had, and I was pleasantly surprised at how adorable it all was. Yes, it's trendy. And no, you probably won't get more than a season's worth of wear out of the pieces. But they're cheap. And likely to go out of style by the time they wear out anyway. Plus, I really loved the idea that I wouldn't be breaking the bank to buy transition items to get me through while I lost weight. I figured I'd let myself splurge when I got down to my goal weight.

So I started buying a few things here and there to supplement the basics I had in my wardrobe. The funny thing is that, nearly every time I wear one of my Forever 21 pieces, I get compliments and questions about where I got them. I always hate having to confess that I'm a nearly 30 year-old who still shops at Forever 21, but whatever. Haters gonna hate.

Overall, I mostly stick with tops, dresses, and sweaters, as the pants are generally too trendy for me, and the basics aren't really worth buying there, even though they're dirt cheap. (Leggings and camis are, like, $4 and super thin.) The sizing is generally pretty accurate. I'm ordering X-Larges right now with the knowledge that I'll probably have to bump down to a Large soon.

Anyway, in case you've been wanting to spice up your wardrobe, I thought I'd share some of the things that caught my eye as I was perusing their site recently. A few of these are currently en route to my front door. (Don't tell Micah, y'all. I've so blown my shopping budget the last couple of months, it's not even funny.)

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1 / 2 / 3

One. This floral kimono would be fabulous over black leggings with black booties and a fun statement necklace.

Two. I adore peplum. This may be slightly short for my preference, but the pattern is on point.

Three. Apparently this is super sheer, so you'd probably need to save it for a night out. But how gorgeous is the coral and gold?

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4 / 5 / 6

Four. Long, flowy cardigans are my jam. This one looks like it'd be perfect with skinnies, boots, and a skinny peppermint mocha, yeah?

Five. This navy top has a fun, little embroidery detail. I put this in my cart because I love the way it's styled in this picture, but also partly because I want this model's hair color. That's irrational, I realize.

Six. I have a red tunic from F21 that's really similar to this one, and I'm telling you... it has been one of my favorite and most-complimented pieces of clothing. Ever. So I couldn't resist this one.

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7 / 8 / 9

Seven. This tee looks to be super comfy and a decent length. One thing you do have to watch out for with F21 is that their tops can be on the short side. They usually have pictures of the back, so check that out before you commit if you're hoping to be able to wear it with skinnies or leggings.

Eight. THIS MAXI SKIRT. I love it styled with this black tank and a long pendant necklace. Bought this one, too.

Nine. Another tunic. I like the belt to accentuate the waist. I'd probably pair this with my favorite long-line open, cream cardi, some skinnies, and my tan peep-toe booties.

I recognize that this post is totally and completely random, but I just felt like talking fashion today. Over and out, friends.

(Also, Forever 21 has no idea that I exist. This post is not sponsored, and there are no affiliate links. Just wanted to share some cute stuff with my friends.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie

This post is short.  Like really short.

And that's because I have only one thing to tell you.

Go make this Paleo Chicken Pot Pie.

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(I used oversized muffin tins because my ramekins were too small, and they were a crumbly mess when I tried to get them out, but they were still ridiculously delicious.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hi from Delaware!

So I'm in Delaware.

I'm here for a deposition (just for one night), but for once in my life, I got everything prepared ahead of time, so I thought I'd take a minute to pop in and say hi.

Things have been insane for us lately. Work is busier than it has been for awhile. I've been bringing my laptop home and working after Grace goes to sleep most nights (which isn't my favorite thing to do, as you might imagine). 

I also thought now would be a great time to start working on our home office. Ha. I'm getting help from a designer on this one because I'm so out of my element, and we had the initial consultation last night. I'm so excited to get that room done, and a vision is starting to come together in my head. I'll be sure and keep you guys updated on our progress.

Whole30 #2 is still going wonderfully! I mean, I'm basically just on autopilot with my food choices right now, which is a really good thing for me. I have been eating some really delicious stuff, as you've probably noticed on Instagram.

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Left: Ahi tuna salad with balsamic vinaigrette at dinner tonight
Right: Cage-free eggs scrambled with Aidell's Chicken and Apple Sausage + sweet potato hash + Trader Joe's Cruciferous Crunch mix with Tessamae's Southwest Ranch dressing

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Left: grilled chicken salad with pecans, heirloom tomatoes, blueberries, and Tessamae's Southwest Ranch
Right: eggs, bacon, and spinach scramble with blistered tomatoes + carrots with homemade Paleo ranch

Micah snapped this picture the other night while we were on a walk through our neighborhood, and it makes me happy every time I look at it. And also heart-wrenchingly depressed about what a big girl Grace is becoming.

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She has been such a funny, little thing, lately. She's been saying "'kay" or "okay" in response to just about everything, which kills me. She's still O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with "fo-cen" (Frozen, obviously) and asks to watch it nearly every night.

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(Micah loves it when we watch Frozen because Grace gives the sweetest snuggles snuggled up under a blanket on the couch, even if her eyes stay glued to the screen.)

I crossed off one of the things on my 30 Before 30 list this weekend. We went to a surprise 30th birthday party for my best friend's husband, and the opportunity presented itself. I'll share the photographic evidence soon, but for now, I'll leave you with this.

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Man, I love her.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Whole30 Meal Plan: Week Three

I am one-third of the way through this Whole30, y'all. I'm still feeling really good, and my energy levels are increasing. Mentally, I feel strong, although I have discovered that I'm incapable of eating dried mango (unsweetened and Whole30-approved) in moderation, so I decided to forego it for the rest of the Whole30. My mental resolve isn't quite strong enough to allow me to determine how much is a reasonable amount, so it's just best if I don't eat it at all. 

Work is going to be insane this week, so I picked meals involving minimal prep work to save some time. And then I bought all of our groceries for the week at Trader Joe's. You guys, that place is amazing. The hype is so legit. So many healthy, organic options for really reasonable prices. Plus, I just feel so freaking cool going in there.

Prep: None

Dinner: Trader Joe's Chili Lime Chicken Burgers with buffalo cauliflower (I'm just steaming the cauliflower and then drizzling it with this sauce)
Prep: Make ranch dressing, grill chicken

Dinner: Grilled chicken cobb salad with avocado and homemade ranch 
Prep: None

Dinner: Eat out
Prep: None

Dinner: Paleo Chicken Fingers, roasted zucchini, and roasted shoestring sweet potatoes (we didn't get around to making this last week)

Prep: None

Dinner: Eat out
Prep: None

Prep: Boil eggs, make Whole30 mayo

What are you guys eating this week?

Monday, January 5, 2015

A revelation...

I had a sort of epiphany today. One that hadn't really occurred to me before. And it's silly because it's a completely obvious, not at all revolutionary concept. But for me, it's significant.

Here goes.

Your eating habits are, indeed, habits.

Ha. I told you it was simple.

I've shared before about how healthy living, for me, is like a light switch. When it's on, I make smart decisions, exercise self-control, and am capable of thinking like a rational person. When it's off, though, it's off. I will eat whatever I want, whenever I want with zero regard for what's best for my body.

The trouble is learning how to turn the light switch on when it's off.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I knew I'd be starting the Whole30 this week, so I told myself it was okay to indulge. And then I really indulged. Every meal was an opportunity to eat something delicious because, you know, 30 days without crappy food is basically a lifetime. And I deserved to taste everything one last time.


With that mindset, I got into a legitimate habit of ordering the most delicious thing on all the menus and adding dessert, even when I was full. In just a couple of weeks!

Now I'm five days into this Whole30, and I'm forcing myself to exercise a ridiculous amount of self-control. In doing so, I'm having to rewire my brain. Again. What I've noticed, though, is that with every day that goes by, I have to think less before telling myself that I won't have something non-compliant. My decision-making process is becoming more automatic. I know that I won't be eating the cookies, so I don't eat the cookies. Eggs, kale, tomatoes, hot sauce. Repeat.

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Maybe that sounds awful and uninspired to you. But for me, it's such a relief. And it's proof that our bodies and minds are so very malleable. Two weeks ago, I was eating donuts like my life depended on it. Today, the homemade ranch I dipped my kale in this morning tasted like heaven.

So then two significant questions come to mind: How do you go about creating healthy habits? And once you've established such habits, how do you learn to practice moderation so that you don't have to forego your favorite foods for the rest of your life?

With respect to the first question, I think the answer really is pretty simple. At least for me.

You just do it. You do whatever it takes. For me, that probably means committing to doing a Whole30 a few times a year. So that way, when my motivation starts to wane, I've already got a plan in place to get myself back on track. 

For you, it might mean committing to one week without dessert. Or chips and queso. You get an accountability partner who will be willing to call you on the carpet if you slip up during your challenge. You tell yourself that you'll eat clean for an entire day. And then see how you feel.

You make one healthy decision, and then another, and then another. And after a week, you'll look up, and you will have created a legitimate habit.

But complying with the Whole30 guidelines for the rest of your life obviously isn't really feasible. At least not for me. If you have an autoimmune disease, you may have to accept that deviating from the Paleo plan isn't an option if you want to stay well, but for the rest of us... well, it'd be fantastic if we could all find a way to exercise some moderation.

The answer to that question is a little more difficult. 

On the one hand, I've typically not been very good with moderation. One cheat night turns into another, and then another, and then, before I know it, I've got unhealthy eating habits again.

I did significantly better this last go-around because I found the Paleo lifestyle to be so much more livable than anything else I've ever done. For five months or so, I was able to occasionally indulge in my favorite foods without compromising my commitment to Paleo.

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But then we went to Austin, and I gave myself "permission" to check out for several days. I didn't make ANY effort to keep my brain on track, and I arguably created bad habits in that very short time span. Thanksgiving came shortly thereafter, and I was able to keep it together for the first part of December, but the damage had been done.

Maybe what I need is to make sure I keep my indulgences limited in time frame and frequency so that I can maintain the healthy frame of mind that serves me well? 

I sound like a nutcase, I'm sure, and this is becoming a rant rather than a thoughtful, coherent post. But I'm going to hit "Publish" because maybe someone else can relate and because I promised you guys I'd always be real.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Whole30 Meal Plan: Week Two

Hi friends!

Day 4 of this Whole30 is nearly in the books. I've had a pretty legitimate headache the past couple of days (so, so normal), but I'm feeling pretty strong mentally. I was surrounded by cookies and cake and queso (my true love!) today at my in-laws' and never even contemplated taking a bite. Mostly because my in-laws were sweet enough to make some delicious fajitas (with  meat prepared specifically without packaged fajita seasoning because they knew I couldn't have it), roasted onions, and guacamole for lunch. So I loaded my plate up with the good stuff. I just love them.

But I know it's going to get significantly harder, and that's okay. No pain, no gain, right?

Here is this week's menu plan. I've got a couple of day-trips this week, so I'll have the challenge of trying to find something compliant at the airport. (It's nearly impossible.) But other than that, I'm excited about what we'll be cooking up.

Dinner: Chicken Curry (recipe found in It Starts with Food, similar here)
Prep: Dice zucchini, onion, and carrots (for Wednesday's chili)

Dinner: Out of town
Prep: none

Dinner: Paleo Chili with steamed broccoli
Prep: Trim chicken, chop zucchini, peel and chop sweet potatoes

Dinner: Out of town
Prep: none

Dinner: Paleo Chicken Fingers, roasted zucchini, and roasted shoestring sweet potatoes
Prep: none

Dinner: Pizza Spaghetti Pie and spinach salad with Tessemae's Southwest Ranch dressing
Prep: none

Prep: boil eggs for the week

Now it's your turn! Link up your own Whole30 post below. If you don't have one, feel free to shout out meal ideas or Whole30 rants in the comments!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Off to a good start...

Three posts in a row with no pictures?

And I call myself a blogger?

But, yes, I'm dropping in picture-less, in real time, because I feel like it. It's the first day of this new year, and it just felt right to come say hello. (And I've been working some tonight and need to unwind for a minute before I try and go to sleep.)

Just like last year, our New Year's Eve was ridiculously low-key, mostly because I felt awful. On Tuesday night, I came down with the most insane bout of vertigo. Everything around me was spinning, and the feeling lasted for hours. I woke up in the morning feeling slightly better, but not enough to talk myself out of heading into urgent care to see what was up. Fortunately, it was just an ear infection (what IS it with me and ear infections?!) causing the vertigo and not the super-serious neurological issue I had worked it up to be in my head. Ha.

So since I was still feeling icky and my niece had pink eye, our plans to ring the new year in with my brother and sister-in-law over a plate of prime rib were foiled. Instead, we ordered in pizza and ate this divine cheese dip and s'mores. We put Grace to bed, watched Pretty Woman, and were asleep by 10. 

So lame. And yet so very appropriate.

Today was similarly low-key, though we did head over to my dad's house for a little while. He made chili and cornbread and black-eyed peas, which Micah and Grace seemed to enjoy. 

I, on the other hand, obviously could not partake because I started my second Whole30 today! So I munched on carrots, grapes, and a cherry pie Larabar. One day down, 29 more to go.

I can't even tell you how insanely good it feels to know that I'm putting ONLY good stuff in my body again. It's going to be a challenge to resist my favorite things for 30 days (including my beloved Paleo mug cookies and Paleo ice cream!), but I NEED it. The last few weeks of eating anything I wanted were fun and not fun at all. I've felt like crap, I've gained a couple of pounds back, and I just have felt out of control. But the donuts were delicious... 

To the extent that you weren't quite ready to jump into the Whole30 today but think you might still want to give it a try, there are several people in the Loved and Lovely Whole30 Facebook Group who aren't starting for several days. So you'll be in good company if you are wanting to wait a few days to start.

I hope 2015 has already been spoiling you guys rotten. Here's to an incredible year!
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