French Women Don’t Get Fat

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Hiya!

Though it’s been a while since I’ve shared anything, Cat Hair in my Coffee has definitely been on my mind. In fact, over the past several months, not posting on here has helped me realize something: my posts gave me something to work toward each week. If I wanted content, I had to do something. I had to try a new workout, a new recipe, a new TV series to binge preventing me from moving from the couch! So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting back into the habit of documenting my meals and trying to better plan my activities so I could make this, my beloved blog, a part of my routine again. Without further adieu…

A few years ago, while Alex and I were in Mason, Ohio, at the Cincinnati Tennis Tournament, we decided to take an afternoon and tour the town. While not an exceptionally large town, Mason certainly has no shortage of great shopping and dining! We poked our heads in a great little discount bookstore and proceeded to fill our arms to the brim with our selection. One of my great finds was a cookbook titled “French Women Don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano. I believe I paid $2.75 for it and maybe flipped through it twice over the years. After all, how many ways can one serve leeks?

Last week, I decided to bust out ol’ Mireille’s cookbook and give a few recipes a try. In her book, she puts a lot of emphasis on how French cuisine contains little sugar and few ingredients, cutting down on a lot of the unnecessary garbage that we put in American food. She begins each chapter with a little bit about herself and the French culture. The first recipe I wanted to tackle was very basic. A simple ratatouille would be a great replacement to our usual take-out lunch on Saturday, I thought! So, I got busy chopping and dicing, but took several liberties with my version. (I had some CSA veggies looking so sad in my fridge, so I had to throw some of them in!) A traditional ratatouille recipe contains eggplant, zucchini/squash and tomatoes. The nice thing about this recipe is that no stock is needed; the vegetables create their own broth when cooked down. Here is my version of the super traditional and Pixar-inspired Ratatouille.

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 5 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup of Swiss chard, chopped (from Round Right Farm)
  • 5 garlic scapes, diced (from Round Right Farm)
  • Olive oil, for coating the pot
  • Salt and pepper

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  1. Prepare the vegetables and set aside. Add the olive oil and garlic scapes and turn on medium to high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low after about 2 minutes.
  2. Add vegetables to pot and stir to coat veggies in the garlic oil mixture. Add a hearty dose of salt and pepper and let cook, covered on low heat, for about 1 hour. Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese!

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I feel like this is one of those healthy and extremely easy recipes that you can have on hand that feels semi-fancy. I also like how versatile it is. Don’t have eggplant? Sub in whatever veggies you have on hand!

The next recipe I decided to try out was one for Madeleines. Mireille’s recipe is actually for a chocolate version of these classic French cookies and required minimal effort to bake. I didn’t have the adorable little shell molds that typically give Madeleine cookies their cute shape, so mine were simply round. Unfortunately, I ended up eating more dark chocolate while baking than I actually enjoyed the cookies fresh out of the oven. I digress.
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For more of Mireille’s recipes, check out her website, or pick up a copy of her book! I promise, it won’t disappoint.

PS: I’ll be sure to add my ratatouille recipe to the dinner section of my recipe tab.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: I brought my Brooks PureFlow shoes to work and actually put my orthopedic inserts in! BONUS: I actually walked in them for 20 minutes! I’m taking baby steps toward fixing my spinal alignment. Thanks Advantage Health and Wellness!

Skin Care

Hi everyone! I hope your new year is starting off with lots of happiness and motivation toward all of your goals! I know mine is going well so far. I wanted to bring up something that I’ve been a little obsessed about for the last few months: skin care. Before I got married back in October, I decided I wanted to try a new makeup. I had heard great things about Bare Minerals, so while I was at the South Hills mall in Pittsburgh, I stopped in their store. One of the employees immediately got to work on choosing the right combination of products for my skin. After she walked me through how to apply each product, I felt confident with my new face. I am now a HUGE Bare Minerals advocate.

Within a few weeks, I noticed my skin had really started to clear up. I had fewer bumps and my breakouts had reduced greatly. However, because of the nature of the powder makeup, I had started noticing a few other things about my skin that I just didn’t like. For example, from years of raising my eyebrows, I spotted two fairly deep lines on my forehead. Now, most people wouldn’t have noticed them, but every time I looked in the mirror, it was all I could see. If I had been in my 30s, I would have called this natural aging, but considering I’m only 26, this alarmed me. I also noticed that my pores had only started getting bigger. Again, something that I know is from aging, but shouldn’t be happening so rapidly. So, instead of rushing out to purchase a ton of products, I waited until my regularly scheduled dermatologist appointment to bring all of these issues up.

After meeting with my doctor, she and I both determined that an anti-aging skin care routine would be the best thing for someone of my age. The first thing she pointed out was the importance of moisturizing. Being someone with fairly oily skin, I had avoided lotions like the plague. She told me that this was actually counterintuitive, because a dry face would actually trigger my body to produce more oils to compensate. The second thing she recommended was a glycolic acid cream. This is the same stuff that is used for chemical peels; however, she provided me with a very low dose. She said as I age, I can gradually start moving up in strength. Glycolic acid is used to improve the skin’s appearance and texture, by reducing wrinkles, acne scarring, hyper-pigmentation and can help improve many other skin conditions. Basically, it works to exfoliate the skin, stripping away the dead, damaged layer to expose the new, young layer below. The third thing she provided me was a prescription for a retinoid cream. The retinoid cream works to clean out and shrink my pores, as well as clears acne. All of these things together create a more smooth, line-free, acne-free face. Honestly, my face has never been softer!

The bad news is that it takes about 10-12 weeks to really see improvements, but the good news is that it is so worth it to see new and beautiful skin! The glycolic acid does cause peeling, but a good moisturizer will help battle the flakes. My derm actually told me that if peeling and dryness doesn’t occur, the cream strength is too weak. By coupling all of these creams with a great SPF, I not only have baby skin back, but I am protecting myself for years to come. Below you’ll find my total skin care routine. It may seem like a lot, but your skin will thank you down the road. Deep forehead lines are usually hard to correct without the aid of Botox or surgery, so start protecting yourself now and avoid the frustration later in life. IMG_7657

If you can’t already tell, I’m a HUGE Neutrogena fan. I just find their products work best on my skin. So, when I wake up, I like to wash my face with the Ultra Gentle foaming formula. This just makes my skin feel refreshed and helps with the oil my face produces throughout the night. After that, I apply a thin layer of the glycolic acid cream. This cream does sting a little, so I usually like to apply it on and then go make a cup of coffee or something to allow time for it to settle in. After that, I apply Pond’s moisturizer to my neck and face. Never forget your neck! Finally, before I start my makeup routine, I put on my Elta MD sunscreen. I’ve also used Neutrogena’s sunscreen products and highly recommend them.

After the day is done, it’s time to strip all of that makeup off my face. I’ll start with removing my eye makeup with my Neutrogena Naturals wipes. I’ll usually try to remove as much makeup as possible with one wipe before I gently wash my face with the Ulra Gentle foaming formula again. Sometimes I notice that my pores are just looking large, so I’ll opt to swipe on some of the Pore Refining solution. Finally, I finish the night with the Adalapene Gel .3%, using only a pea-sized amount. Honestly, once I got into the habit of using these products, I realized it didn’t take up much of my routine as I initially thought it would. My final skin care habit is staying out of the sun as much as possible.

Well, there you have it. I hope you find some of these products as useful and effective as I did. Did I mention those two lines on my forehead are now gone? That’s right. GONE. :-)

Good luck with your skin care routine and have a fabulous weekend!

List of the Bare Minerals products I use.

Cooking Away

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I started using the Blue Apron service. So far, I’ve found it to be a really fun way to get comfortable in the kitchen. I was always a standard lasagna, chicken tacos and soup/sandwich kind of girl, but now I’m making dishes like these!

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Flank steaks and creamed kale with sunchokes

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Seared hake with melted leeks and fingerling potatoes

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Pan-seared salmon with cranberry and walnut stuffing

Oh, and it’s totally true what they say about white plates — they do make everything look more beautiful! Anyway, The dishes above were a few of my favorites to make and definitely favorite to eat. I never realized toasted sunflowers and kale could go so wonderfully together! Also, leeks in a tin foil bag with potatoes might be my new go-to. The leeks had such a mild flavor and really complimented the light hake.

In other news, we’ve finally started putting together our last few rooms of the house. I think when anyone moves into a new house from an apartment/condo, they just fill what they can and let the rest come later. That’s exactly what we did. One of our spare rooms still needs some major work before it’s magically transformed into an office, but the entryway room is now on it’s way to being complete.

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Karen’s favorite spot! (We were trying to flatten the rug — hence, the boxes.)

After a lot of consideration, we decided against making this room a dining room. It just didn’t feel natural to us and we didn’t see ourselves ever using it. A sitting area with a big, comfy rug? Now that we will use! Oh and that mirror you see off to the right only cost me $25 at TJ Maxx. That will, hopefully, be used for this Pinterest idea.

Umbrella stand + coat rack | Dream Green DIY

I love the idea of pictures surrounding the mirror!

I love the idea of putting a little table in the entryway for dropping keys, pocket change, etc. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to do one last hair check before dashing out the door.

Well, that’s it for me. I’m off to pretend I’m finally going to start that 30-day lunge challenge, when I know I’m really just going to go eat and loaf on the couch. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Brady moments. You’ll see it ties in to this post, because…well, there is cooking involved.

 

 

Blue Apron

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A month or so ago, I heard about this cool food service called Blue Apron. I did some investigating, got a first-hand account of the process and decided it would be something fun to do this winter. This is how it works.

You sign up for the service and provide your general food preferences — fish, beef, vegetarian, etc. Then, the chef’s at Blue Apron sort out the recipes catered to your dietary preference. All of the ingredients for each dish (three meals per week)are shipped in a refrigerated box, along with the detailed recipe cards. That’s it! The ingredients are always fresh and the chefs try to choose meals that incorporate seasonal ingredients. Each meal ranges from 500-700 calories, per serving, but you can easily divide that up for smaller portions. This service is basically for someone who likes to cook, but ends up wasting ingredients. The plans are very flexible and allow you to skip weeks if you don’t have time to prepare the meals. The plans offered are $59.94/week for two people or $119.88/week for four people. Depending on when you sign up, you can expect your first delivery within two weeks. So cool!

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On Friday, I received this box with ingredients for the following amazing recipes.

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-Moussaka-Style Lasagna
-Pan-Roasted Chicken
-Crispy Fish Sandwiches

Tonight, I’m preparing the chicken and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Mr. & Mrs.

Hi everyone!

For the few of you who are still left reading my sporadically updated blog, I’d like to share some news. Alex Miller and I finally tied the knot. On October 4, 2014, we said “I do” at the Chebeague Island Inn in Maine! The ceremony was very intimate and lasted about 5-7 minutes. It was perfect! I’d gush about how two souls became one and all of that jazz, but I’d rather not make anyone sick. So instead I’ll share a recap of our trip!

The Millers Do (Did) Maine!

We decided to drive to our wedding destination, which was a decision that was carefully thought out and considered. In fact, a PowerPoint was presented to the future groom informing him of our travel options. Once we nailed down the method of travel, we had to map out our route. My dear friend Abigail, who lives in Worcester and attends Clark University, advised us against any routes that would take us through or even close to New York City. (Spoiler alert: after a very unsuccessful trip “to” Boston, we figured out pretty quickly that driving in any city larger than D.C. or Pittsburgh is probably a mistake for us.) We chose the route that would take us through Scranton, Pa. (yay Office destination) and would only cost us about 30 extra minutes.

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Passing through Bedford, Pa.

We split the drive up into two chunks. The first was from Morgantown to Scranton and the second was on to Portland, where we filed for our marriage license. The drive to Scranton was picturesque! We took a lovely drive through Bedford, Pa., en route to our destination and took in every single sight of the leaves changing. Once it became dark, the trip became much less about adventure and more about finding a darn town. We knew we were close to Scranton, but what we failed to realize was that most of the state of Pennsylvania up to that point had forgotten to turn on the lights. We could barely see the road at times! After we made it to the Electric City, we got settled in and rested up for day two of traveling.

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The next morning, we headed out. I got a little anxious when my officiant called to report “weird” weather in the Portland area. She informed me that it had been drizzly most of the day, but that you could never really tell what the weather was going to do in that state. Ok, fair enough, but what she didn’t realize was that we were more interested in a chilly, autumn wedding day.

We drove through about a million tolls that second day, until we finally hit the straight stretch from New Hampshire to Portland. The crossing moose signs started popping up and I knew we were in heaven. Once we reached Portland, we were ready to put our house on the market and send for the cats. We instantly fell in love with the place! It reminded us of a mix of Morgantown and Pittsburgh, but much cleaner and with much friendlier people (friendlier than Pittsburgh — people in Morgantown are actually pretty pleasant). We headed over to City Hall to file for the license and then had a delicious dinner at a place called Timber.

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Wasabi peas!!!

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My dish combined vanilla and garlic with seafood. At first I was skeptical, but then, after a few bites, I was in heaven! Alex got some kind of cowboy steak, which was pretty out of this world. We stuffed ourselves to the brim. Shortly after finishing our dinner, we got word that Alex’s sister would be heading to meet us so we could all ride to the ferry together. We took off and just barely caught the shuttle to the ferry site. Water travel definitely took some getting used to! We arrived at the Chebeague Island Inn that night and settled in for the weekend of fun!

The next day, we were able to explore the island a bit. Boy oh boy was it gorgeous. During their “off” season, only 300 people reside on the island. That’s a huge difference compared to their 3,000 summer population!

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The beautiful Chebeague Island Inn.

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After realizing that we were going to freeze our pants off, we decided to head inland to buy some warmer clothes. We met my parents at the shuttle site and headed to the fabulous Freeport, AKA, the shopping mecca. I’ll fast forward to the good stuff.

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We had a fabulous ring bearer! :-D

We got married! Woohoo! On Saturday, October 4, 2014, we said “I do” on the porch of the inn. So fun. After that was just a lot of champagne, food and enjoying each others’ company. The next day we all headed off in different directions. Most headed home, but Alex and I headed north, towards Bar Harbor.

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It was night time when we arrived, but we could tell just from our brief lap around the main street that we were going to love this place. We were so right. We spent the entire day walking around the town and then driving through the Acadia National Park. So fun!

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I ate every bite.

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The amazing view from our room in Bar Harbor!

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Ok, so after we left there, we headed to Salem, Mass. We were sooo excited to go during October, because we had read that the entire town is just one big Halloween party the entire month. They weren’t kidding. We decided to stay at the haunted Hawthorne Hotel, which was pretty centrally located to everything in town. In Salem, we visited a witch museum, stopped at a local witch shop, toured the House of Seven Gables, walked past a million old buildings (the first established Episcopal church in U.S., the Witch House), walked through the graveyard where Giles Corey was pressed to death, and made a sad attempt to go visit Gallows Hill, which we later found no longer exists.

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Hawthorne Hotel had only two haunted rooms, but we definitely felt a creepy vibe in the hallways!

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This is where Gallows Hill used to sit. Apparently the town just wanted to forget this awful period in it’s history and decided to build a park for the community.

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“The Witch House” was home to the judge, Jonathan Corwin, who prosecuted the accused witches.

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The House of the Seven Gables tour was really fun!

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Tombstones back then were so creepy.

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The Old Burying Point Cemetery is over 400 years old!

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We didn’t have a chance to tour this museum, but it looked really interesting. Definitely going back next year!

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After Salem, we headed west to Hartford, Conn. There we stayed the final night of a our vacation. I didn’t get to do anything Gilmore Girls themed, but I now have a great plan for our next trip to NE!

We arrived home to find very happy cats. Apparently the grouchies missed us! We took our time getting settled in and then immediately decided we were going back as soon as we were able. Yes, the Millers LOVE New England. We highly recommend a trip like this to anyone interested in our country’s rich history. You honestly can’t turn a corner in any of the towns without running smack-dab into some historic landmark.

 

 

We’re In Our House!

Well, we’ve finally gotten settled in our new house! It’s been a few weeks since the move-in day and I already feel more at home there than I’ve ever felt anywhere. Seriously, I’ve started regressing to old childhood habits, like rushing home to watch ABC Family and have an after-work snack. I guess this was to be expected?

Some things I’ve already learned from living in a house versus an apartment.

  • Work dem legs, gurl! Granted, I moved into a house that is a great deal larger than my old apartments, but still…I was not at all prepared for how tiring it would be to walk from one floor to another. My god, man, the stairs.
  • The silence. Living in dorms and apartments taught me to drown out the external sounds (i.e. stupid-ace neighbors). It’s not something I ever really learned to ignore, but it definitely was something I’d adjusted to. Now, I notice I sleep better, relax more and just have a more comfortable feeling walking around my home.
  • The great outdoors. Actually being able to walk out into a yard may seem like a simple act, but not to a former apartment dweller. The feeling of walking through grass and it being our own is totally cool!
  • Security.  Every time I signed a lease, I knew that at any point, someone could walk into my apartment. Being in a home allows us the security of knowing that nobody will ever walk in unannounced again! Granted, it was nice having someone come in to change air filters and such, but I’d rather do that than wonder if someone is snooping through my stuff any day!

I could go on and on, but the best part is this:

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Karen and Grace are happy!

So there you have it. The Morris/Miller household (soon-to-be Miller-only household) is up and running!

Smooth Moves

A few weeks ago when I was carpooling with Alex, his sister graciously offered me a homemade smoothie to-go before we headed off to work for the day. I accepted and watched her get to blendin’. I’m always interested in new smoothie recipes, and let me tell you, her’s is great! Here are the ingredients.

  • handful of spinach leaves
  • handful of red seedless grapes
  • 1/2 medium sized banana
  • 1/2-3/4 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 4-5 baby carrots
  • 3/4-1 cup of almond milk
  • few cubes of ice

I’ve always been on the “spinach in my smoothie” train, but I never thought to throw carrots in! I took a big gulp of the smoothie and couldn’t believe how sweet it was. The grapes, banana and carrots, mixed with the vanilla protein powder really made for a milkshake-esque drink. I chugged it down before work and felt totally satisfied until lunchtime. I started recreating this drink last week and had one every single day. Yum! The only bummer is that my Magic Bullet takes a little longer to crunch up ice. Maybe I’ll have to consider registering for a Ninja! I hear such good things about them.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Ninja&es_sm=93&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=LU_FU6L7DeaG8gGbhYGoBw&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1600&bih=1069#q=Ninja+blender&tbm=isch&facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=dR3jVnPCwtcmXM%253A%3BAjbWvPMuJasDDM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fi.walmartimages.com%252Fi%252Fp%252F00%252F62%252F23%252F56%252F53%252F0062235653209_500X500.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.walmart.com%252Ftp%252Fninja-blender%3B500%3B500

 

Anyway, today I decided to mix it up and do strawberries instead of grapes and carrots. It wasn’t as sweet, but definitely delicious and filling. If you aren’t on the smoothie train, I highly recommend you give them a try. It’s the perfect breakfast for summer, because it really helps cool you down.

In other news, Alex and I are preparing to move into our first house together very soon. Yay!!! Alex is tackling the hard part — the paperwork — while I’m handling the home maintenance stuff, like picking out furniture, switching over utilities, etc. I’m also in charge of moving the cats, so maybe our jobs are equally challenging in this process…

Grace Soon

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Yesterday I went over to Ashley Furniture at the University Town Center and started browsing for a new couch. I’m particularly torn between a sectional and just getting a couch and loveseat set. Here’s what I found I liked the most.

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There was a section I didn’t snap a photo of, but it looked a lot like the fabric in the last photo above. I like all of these sets for different reasons. The main reason I like them all is the fabric. My cats have claws and no matter how much I try to deter them, they always manage to leave picks in my furniture. These fabrics are sturdy and would show less imperfections from my little furry roommates. Another reason I like them is because they are all darker colors. Light furniture, while beautiful, gives me anxiety that I just can’t handle. I’ll stick to grays and dark browns, thanks.

So the decision must be made! Hopefully we’ll get this sorted out so I can start thinking about accent colors!

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Toss in veggies with your smoothie to get some of your daily serving knocked out first thing in the morning. Carrots are nice for adding sweetness and spinach is great, because you can’t even taste it.

Opinion Time: Why You Should Consider a Destination Wedding

Hola! It’s opinion time here at Cat Hair in my Coffee.

Recently, I’ve received a lot of questions and comments about my decision to run away to Maine to get married and I have to say, most of these comments have really surprised me. In fact, the number one comment I actually get from married people is this: “I wish we would have done that.” Now, these married folks may just be saying this to me, because they secretly believe I’ll regret my decision and they want to make me feel as positive about it as possible. However, I truly believe that 80 percent of them are being truthful. Why? Because weddings are a you-know-what to plan and execute. Here are some fun facts for you to ponder.

  •  The average couple spends nearly $27,000 on their wedding. I read this fact and my jaw nearly hit the floor. That’s a new car, or a house full of new furniture, or 45 pairs of Louboutins! Think of the shoes, man!
  • The average number of guests attending a wedding is between 133 and 143. Most couples have commented that they barely spent any time enjoying their big day, because they felt they had to “make the rounds” at the reception.
  • Depending on the size, a wedding could take 10-12 months to plan. If you like wedding planning and can manage the tasks on your own, this could mean a year of fun. However, if you’re like me and start to glaze over at the discussion of floral centerpieces, this fact could be a deal breaker.
  • Once the wedding is over, coming down from the high can lead to post-nuptial depression. Suddenly after a year of planning and having people gush over your wedding plans, all those calls, all of that planning, comes to a crashing halt. You’re just left with a slice of cake in your freezer and a serving platter from your aunt Mildred.

www.victoriancatering.info

Obviously some of the info above could be viewed as a good thing for those who actually enjoy the efforts that go into wedding planning, but for others, it could be a wake up call. Still…the decision to forgo a medium to large sized wedding is entirely up to the individual couple and should be carefully considered before making the final decision. Alex and I knew early on that if/when we got engaged, we didn’t plan to have a large wedding. Still, we took the time after the initial engagement fuzzies started to wear off to make a level-headed decision together. We checked in with one another to make sure that it was the right decision for both of us. Turns out, we aren’t as in the minority with our preference as we thought! I snagged some of these elopement stories from a Huffington Post article. You can read all of the stories here.

So many reasons come to mind but perhaps the biggest was because we were also buying our first home at the time and blowing a lot of money on one day just didn’t seem like a smart financial move. We were able to afford a nice honeymoon trip by skipping the expensive wedding and had a small informal party when we returned — lots of fun without all the pressure of a big “performance.” – Laura, 44, of Massachusetts

My husband and I got married in secret because we didn’t want to babysit/worry about the less “stable” family members on that day. We did not want to hear other people’s opinions while planning the wedding. It meant our budget went A LOT further. The act of marriage was more important to us than a ‘big’ day. – Inga, 36, of Berkshire, U.K.

We decided to elope simply because we felt weddings have lost the art of being about love. Not all, but many turn into a status symbol for both attendees and participants. Everyone has an opinion on how you should celebrate your day, and people get all bent out of shape because they were not invited. You sometimes feel obligated to invite someone you dislike simply because you’re related or they are dating a relative. The bottom line, we don’t need a room of witnesses to our love because just living our life together is a testament to that. Also, we are a gay couple and we did not want people focused on it being a so-called “gay wedding.” So, we got our licence, we told no one except our witnesses and to the courthouse we went. We wouldn’t have done it any other way :) – Brian, 33, of New York

Now a few things you should think about if planning on eloping/having a destination wedding.

  • All states have different marriage laws. We decided to go to Maine, because we always wanted to visit New England and thought, “Hey, why not?” Before booking, we looked into what sort of laws they have in place (i.e. blood test) just to make sure we didn’t have any surprises once we got up there. I’ve been extremely lucky, though. My officiant, Cynthia Chadwick-Granger  has been great with helping me figure a lot of this stuff out along the way. If you decide to get married in Maine, I highly recommend her services!!!
  • Your friends and family might not be thrilled about not being included…but remember, this is about what you want as a couple! Sure, your friends and family may be upset at first, but you can always have a celebration after you get back to make them feel included. In the end, do what feels right to you.
  • Research the heck out of the state before you go. Once we decided we wanted to go to Maine for our wedding, we had to narrow a more specific wingonwing.comlocation down. We decided to go with Portland, because it felt like the area that had the biggest variety of things to do. From there, I visited the city’s Visitor Bureau website for more information about places to stay in the area. That’s where I found their very convenient wedding planning team. I simply emailed the contact, received a series of questions back (wedding date, party number, budget, etc.) and just sat back and waited for the hotels and inns to contact me. It was that easy. I also had to take into consideration the weather conditions for that time of year. We wanted foliage, but didn’t want it to be terribly cold. That’s pretty much how we landed on our specific date (which had been moved several times).
  • Talk to your wedding boutique about shipping your dress. If you are flying to your destination, be sure to let the folks at your wedding dress shop know your plans. They can help assist you with getting your dress to your destination in one piece. We decided to drive to our destination, making dress transportation a little less of a headache.
  • Keep in contact with your destination. The frustrating thing about planning a destination wedding is that you can’t pop over to the venue to check things out in advance. You can look at pictures online, but you really have to put your trust and faith into the folks on the other end. Keeping an open line of communication is key to your sanity throughout the process.

I suppose I should sum up why you should consider a destination wedding. Here goes:

  1. You will save money.
  2. Your honeymoon can start as soon as the wedding is over. (You’re already there!!)
  3. If you do decide to take friends and family, it will be like a vacation for them. (Or hell, depending on how you handle wedding stress.)
  4. Planning is a lot easier. (Just be prepared for multiple checklists. You’ll be packing for everything all at once.)

Finally, if you’re anything like me, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a state that welcomes all unions. When we first chose Maine, our decision was based purely on the fact that it’s a beautiful state with a variety of landscapes. After I did my homework, I learned that getting married there meant so much more. Choosing Maine meant that Alex and I could share our nuptials in a state that truly celebrated love. What’s better than that? :-D

Remember, the choice is yours. You can find ways to save money and have the wedding of your dreams. You can limit the guest list so it’s more cost efficient and intimate. Just because I am pro-elopement/destination wedding doesn’t mean traditional weddings aren’t the way to go. It’s gotta feel right to you and your significant other!

If you read this and think Maine might be the right place for your upcoming nuptials, feel free to reach out to me at bailee.r.morris@gmail.com.

Fitbit

I recently purchased one of the new and trendy Fitbit bracelets and can’t get enough of it!

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I’ve certainly read a mix of reviews, but so far, I can’t really say anything terribly negative about it. The one thing that bothered me was the lack of instructions when I purchased it. I assumed it was as simple as plugging the USB into your laptop and downloading the app, but it was actually a bit more complicated than that.

The first thing I quickly learned was that the app doesn’t automatically search for your Fitbit. You have to add a device to it before it will sync. Luckily, the data is already storing long before you download the app and will sync up nicely after everything is connected. The second thing I learned is that it’s actually kind of tricky to snap on. The band offers two sizes, small and large, with several notches for adjustment. However, I’ve found that I have to press pretty hard to get the Fitbit strap to “snap” into place. The last thing that kind of bums me out is the food database. It doesn’t even compare to MyFitnessPal in this regard; however I’m told these two apps will sync. So with these the exception of these three minor things, I’d give the bracelet two thumbs up. (Here’s a pretty great review of the product.)

New fitness jewelry aside, I’ve had a pretty exhausting few weeks. Saturday was our 4th Annual GOTR 5K, which was an absolute blast.

(Courtesy of Girls on the Run, Clara Santucci and Christiaan Abildso)

It was pretty much a nonstop kind of day, which left me starving and exhausted. After we finished, we had some leftover food and I devoured an embarrassingly large amount. I headed home and took the world’s longest nap. The night before that was Alex’s birthday dinner. We went to Oliverio’s with his family and then headed to Bartini for a few hours. It was a great time! The whole weekend was actually full of running around and having a blast.

Now I can take some down time to listen to my newest Audible purchase: The Goldfinch.

 

Meal Planning 101

I’m sure many of you are already diligent meal planners, but this concept is pretty new to me. In fact, there have been many trips to the grocery store where I actually made my list in the parking lot! Of course I’d get home and realize I missed an ingredient or two and the whole dinner would be out the window. Anyway, after actually following through with one of the many “Pin Now, Read Later” pins on Pinterest, I discovered a pretty easy system that has greatly increased the efficiency of my grocery store visits. Here’s how it works.

I start with a quick recap of what’s in season. I have the binder broken down into season, which helps a lot with the planning process. (I actually pulled the list from here: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season) Not only is this more “locavore” friendly, but it actually helps me save money, because it helps cut the travel cost. Buy regionally and seasonally!

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Check your local store listings for deals.  The reason I recommend this is because, like I said above, a lot of the localand seasonal stuff is on sale. Plus, it can really help dictate your menu. If there’s a sale for 10/$10 on zucchini, you can try out all sorts of new dishes! Heeeeell zucchini bread muffins! So, sort through your in-season selection and pick the ones that are on sale.

Get out the recipe book. I usually have a good idea of what I can do with certain ingredients, however I like to keep my recipes on notecards in the front of the binder, so I can do a quick check of my current knowledge base. This also forces me to do a pantry check to make sure I don’t buy an extra ingredient when I’m at the store. If I don’t have any recipes to accommodate the seasonal fruits/vegetables, I hop online and do some digging.

 

 

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Pantry/refrigerator check. Once or twice per week, I’ll pop open the fridge and see what’s left from the previous week. This allows me to do a quick inventory of the staples, as well. I add these needed staples to my list of in season veggies and recipe ingredients, and then let the planning begin.

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Plan your meals for the week. I always find this to be the most challenging part, because you have to make sure you properly carry over leftovers to the following day, so you don’t double up on food and recipes for the week. A lot of times, I’ll make a giant salad for dinner and have enough leftover for a wrap the next day. I also try not to be wary of specific meals that I don’t like as leftovers. (Specifically, fish. EW.)

 

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Make the cooking process easier by pre-sorting ingredients. I love the purpose of the vegetable and fruit crisper, but sometimes stuff can get lost in there! I find that keeping the ingredients I want to use for dinner in these little plastic containers can really expedite the whole cooking process. For example, in the bin to the left, I have ground beef, onion and green peppers for the stuff Italian pepper recipe I love. When it’s time to cook, I just grab the container and everything is ready to go. I also keep the smaller fruits in the one to the right so I make sure to opt for fruit instead of pudding!

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This system is far from perfect, but for right now, it’s what is working for me. Of course I have to take into consideration that sometimes I will throw dinner plans out the window and be stuck with extra ingredients for the week, but I try to address that problem by incorporating these extras into something else for the week.

I hope this helps some of you regain control of your kitchen like it helped me!