A Weekend in Chicago. Where to stay, what to eat, what to see.

advice, chicago, Dinner, eats, food, guide, Lifestyle, travel

Hi friends,

This past weekend we went to Chicago- and had an absolute blast! Here is a recap of our getaway, and roundup of some of our favorite eats and things to do in the Windy City.

#Adulting: Your Halloween Dinner Party, Planned. A complete guide.

advice, Dinner, eats, food, guide, Halloween, holiday, How-to, Lifestyle, party

Hello, hello. 

As Halloween approaches, I sit at my computer and reminisce on many fond memories of this holiday. 

Quick back story…

Growing up- Halloween was something I always looked forward to. Every year we would go over to my cousins house, have sloppy joe’s (random, I know), dress up, trick or treatreturn to dump out & sort our candy, and (if we begged hard enough)…end the evening with a sleep over.

It was the best. Pure childhood bliss. (& yes, I am the frumpy pumpkin) 

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Fast forward to adulthood, and we have carried on the tradition in the best way that we can. We still get together, dress up, have sloppy joes, laugh, and enjoy each others company. We have the best family, fo’ real.  (& BTW I have no idea how the sloppy joe thing started, …but there is no end in sight)

Unfortunately, this year, we are unable to get together. But- it got me thinking. I wanted to share some of the fun ideas that I found for Halloween 2018. In hopes that it will help anyone throwing a Halloween party, not knowing where to begin.

I mean, as long as you have wine- you’re probably set for a good gathering. BUT, if you’re as extra as I am when throwing a party- you will appreciate this post. It’s all about the details- and I’ve got ya covered. 

***Disclaimer: all suggestions below are NOT my property or things that I have photographed myself. This post is simply a roundup of awesome ideas that I have cherry picked for y’all. 😉 All photos have direct links to the creators websites. Happy Halloweening. 

Pre-party musts:

Step 1. Send a fun invite.

Seriously, who doesn’t love to get mail (especially when it’s not a bill) ? Treat your guests to a snail-mail invite. This way, they will be looking forward to the party in advance- and most importantly- not forget about it. There is nothing worse than planning a party, accounting for guests, and having them not show up or … ‘forget’ about your event… save yourself the trouble and send a dang invite. Bases covered.

I find that downloading a template off of etsy and printing it out at home, or sending it to office depot for printing, works best. 

Here is one that I love:

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Appetizers:

I have learned the hard way…don’t overdo the appetizers when hosting a dinner party. Stick to about 2-3 (max). Too many appetizers result in extra food that does not typically fare well as leftovers. Stick to a few that are the bomb.com and you’re golden. Trust me. Soggy, sweaty cheese squares (you know what I am talking about)…is just plain GROSS the next day.

Speaking of soggy cheese, please do not think that I am cheese-bashing. As a proud Wisconsinite, I LOVE  cheese. In fact, my go-to party hosting hat trick is always a unique cheeseboard. So, to be clear, choosing cheese as an app is perfectly fine…and it will get consumed by your guests… IF you don’t have too many other things on the table. Just let the cheese shine, man. 

If I were throwing a Halloween party, I would choose one of these cheeseboards, and a ‘hot’ appetizer to go with it.  

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Now that you have picked out a killer cheeseboard (that Halloween pun thooo), here are a few ‘hot apps’ that would be complimentary. Once again, I would choose just one.

I mean…C’MON…do these get any cuter? YUM. Your guests will love these little jalapeno popper mummies.

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Also…this mummy pizza dip? Can’t go wrong. Who does not like pizza? I would serve this with french bread toasts & crackers too. Voila! Delish.

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Drinks:

I like to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages when hosting a party. I have found, that the dollar store sells plastic baskets which are perfect for holding drinks. Simply fill with ice, and you’re set. basketIn these baskets, I would stock coke, diet coke, sprite, waters, one white wine, one red wine, and beer.

Bonus find: For your guests convenience, snag a spooky wine spout…they are just one amazon prime click away…. (and under $20!)

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Where were we? Ah yes, ALCOHOL.

Here are two Halloween cocktails that look amazing, I would choose just one to prepare for my guests:

How sexy is this blackberry bevvy? O.M.G. get in my belly.

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It is hard to go wrong with sangria. This one is is WIN.


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Salad:

All of the goodies in this fall cobb salad do not go unnoticed. Personally, I would use this recipe – sans chicken. If I were to serve this salad as a main dish I would keep the chicken. BUT as a starter, too much protein would leave guests full before dinner even began.


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Mains: 

Whenever I get an excuse to make a large pan of ooey-gooey goodness, ya girl is going to take it. This decadent pumpkin mac and cheese is perfect for a chilly Halloween night in- with friends!

(I would make the mac and choose one sandwich to go along with it.)

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So, clearly I am going to include a sloppy joe recipe (this one is almost exactly the way my mom makes it). Take it or leave it…but all I’m sayin’… is that it’s an unexpected, hearty, crowd-pleaser. Try it, you won’t be disappointed. 

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However, if you’re uncomfortable serving sloppy joes at an adults-only party, I get it. Another great option would be these caramelized baked ham sandwiches. If you have never had these (or a similar rendition), my condolences. My mouth is actually watering….

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Desserts:

(I would select just one to prepare)

How delicious does this chocolate spider trifle look? Most people LOVE chocolate…this is a great make-ahead dessert.

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Who else is dying over this red velvet cake? (another terrible pun, I know) Also, the steak knife in the middle is perfect. 

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Decor:

Ahhhh, yes. My favorite part of throwing a party: the decor!

Here is the table setting that I would use for a Halloween gathering. I have also linked similar items (all amazon prime, duh) so that you can recreate this look, if you so choose. 

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I am LOVING this dark, sultry tablescape. I find it spooky, yet elegant. It has me feelin’ some type-a way, that’s for sure. The image below has a direct link to crate and barrel. They have some awesome sales going on right now, however, some items are still pricey. 

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Here are some affordable dupes for items pictured above:

Get that magical look- for less!!

Simple Black tablecloth ($13.99):

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Black cloth napkins ($11.49 for 12):

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Black Candlestick Holder ($15.29 for 4):71PacwN6YVL._SL1500_

Tall Black Candlestick Holder ($20.98 for 2):

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Black Candles ($13.99 for 12): (deep purple, burgundy, or white would look nice too)

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Candle Centerpiece Idea ($12.64):

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White ceramic plates ($18.83 for a set of 6):

(most people have simple dinner plates at home- which is what I would use- if you do not, here is a good option)  

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Placecard Template ($3.95 instant download): I would use these for guests names at the table & to label the buffet area.

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Placecard Holders ($10.95 for 12):

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Grocery store items: I would pick up red roses  and greens at the grocery store, and place one (as pictured) on each place setting. I would also get a few gourds (once again, as pictured) to spread around the table. This is your pop of color against all of the black. 

Pro tip: find a ‘spooky Halloween’ playlist on spotify, youtube, or pandora and play it during your party!

One (actually cool) Party Game:

Trivia is always a blast. Print out this free game and enjoy some laughs (and probably some shouting) with your friends. 

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So there you have it, an entire Halloween party, planned. Now get shopping, decorating, & cooking… there is fun to be had!

Wishing you all,…. the happiest of Halloweens

katie writes sig

A cozy wine-themed bachelorette party.

advice, Lifestyle, wedding

Y’ALL.

It has been a hott M.I.N.U.T.E. since I have written anything (…I feel like I start out every post like this lately…). But you know what? Sometimes that’s perfectly OK.

Let me tell ya’ why….

No joke, – my life for the past year has been a freaking fairy tale. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of planning a wedding, celebrating (*a lot*) along the way, and ultimately marrying my dude. Lucky– does not even begin to cover it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t holding my breath- waiting for a shoe to drop. I realize, this euphoric state will not last forever. Undoubtedly- there will be extreme lows ahead…BUT the magic of this year-and-a-half engagement will be something I treasure forever. The memories of this joyous time will warm my heart- even in the darkest of times.

A major thanks to anyone reading this, who helped to make us feel loved and special during this time (even by sending us positive thoughts)- you are so appreciated. Seriously. Hat’s off. Cue the applause. 

In turn, the reason why I have not been writing- is because I have just been LIVING

Living in the moment- happily

Something I suggest everyone tries. 

Life ebbs and flows. And even if you are going through a ‘dull state’ or a ‘rough patch’ right now,…there is still time to stop and smell the roses.

Guys, there are always roses to be smelled… even if they seem poo-covered sometimes. For example, if you’re reading this right now, you woke up today, amiright??

BOOM, thasssa rose hun. 

(Smell it, boo-thang…& yes I am talking to YOU.)

I know I am dramatic, and seriously- eye roll away (permission granted). However, I have found that by taking a second, and focusing on ‘living’…rather than just ‘existing’…anyone’s situation can be improved. If that means taking a social media hiatus, or bingeing a Netflix show for a day (to forget about the world)- that’s totally cool. Focus on you for a minute and see how much it helps. 

Wisdom. There ya go- my transcendent moment. Take or leave it man, – I am not offended. 

WHEW.

You made it this far! Good news. …the deep stuff is over, now we can move on to the fluffy fun stuff.

As the wedding is now done, – and I float back down to earth- attempting to return to normalcy (not very gracefully, I should add)- I am able to tend to the things, which I have willingly neglected.

LIKE…catching up on the old blog-ski. 😉 So, here we are.

For my first post ‘back’ in awhile- I wanted to share my bachelorette party festivities with you!

Now,… a ‘stereotypical’ bachelorette party involves phallic imagery, and extreme quantities of alcohol consumed. Not that there is anything wrong with that, BUT it is not my vibe (I’ve somehow become a 28 year-old-grandma, btw). Since this party was lovingly planned by my younger & sassier little sister…I was a BIT worried by what she had planned… Visions of unwanted lap dances, and unsolicited phone numbers danced in my head…. 

But, boy was I wrong… it was better than I could even dream.

You’ll see.

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She planned something that was so ‘Katie’ (as she said). She absolutely put herself aside and organized something that she knew I would love, even though she would have wanted to do something more risque…  

Best sister award!

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We began the evening with a winery tour and tasting at a local place that I frequent often…probably too often… 😉 She knows me SO well…. the girls and I had a blast. Also, our tour guide was unexpectedly hilarious. We were rolling by the end of the tour. Good hire, Cedar Creek Winery.

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Bonus attendee: My dad or ‘Our Captain’ was sweet enough to rent a bus and drive us around- he was a hit.  

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We then headed home for drinks, appetizers, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, and salads catered-in from my favorite spot. Such a win. My sister (knowing my love for anything cozy and comforting) had monogrammed sweatshirts made for us and had set up the prettiest decor! 

We ate, drank, and lounged- in style 😉 Absolute perfection.

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My mom’s contribution (besides opening her entire home to us 😉 ) were these gorgeous handmade makeup bags! She is an extremely talented seamstress- with an even bigger heart. Everyone loved them! Such a sweet touch.

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Oh & (NBD) she also ETCHED everyone’s initial onto a wine glass. I need to start calling her Martha from now on. She is #momgoals for real. If you’re jealous- I get it, my mom is the best.

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& finally, what’s a bachelorette party without some silly pictures?

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What a lovely and memorable day. (I told you it was better than a dream)

I hope you enjoyed this post- and just remember to take time and LIVE (like really, actually, truly LIVE) your life. Find a rose to smell, they are all around us.

Also… don’t I have the best (and prettiest) friends ever?!

I think so too. 

 

katie writes sig

 

(Shout-outs: Photo cred: Natalie Knoespel Photography,Winery: Cedar Creek Winery,Food: Out n’ Out)

A Dreamy Summer Bridal Shower

beauty, eats, Lifestyle, wedding

Hi Friends,

So many showers lately- amiright?

I bet everyone reading this has been to at least one or two showers within the past few months. It’s wedding season,…baby season,…wait is that a thing!?..probz not…

…Anyway, my lovely aunt and cousins threw us the most gorgeous wedding shower. I am going to take the easy route on this post…and let the pictures do the talkin’ …enjoy!

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…Seriously….the day was a dream (I wasn’t lying, pictures = proof!!!).

Friends and family joined us from near and far. It was so humbling to be surrounded by those who love and truly support us. Every single detail was perfection. We cannot believe that our wedding is less than 100 days away!

This post leads me into a wedding mini-series that I have been working on, and will be releasing next week.  I have connected with many brides to help write this piece, and am thrilled to share it with you soon. Essentially… it navigates various ‘sticky situations’ that can occur during the wedding planning process, and how to handle them.

…wedding planning… AIN’T. EASY. Y’ALL.

Whether you are planning a wedding or not…this relatable series is sure to have you giggling,…eye rolling,…and possibly even tearing up, too. Wedding planning brings out alllll types of emotions and behaviors.

Ultimately: no matter what you do,… or how contentious you are of one’s feelings,…. someone is going to get offended by your choices.

…And *spoiler alert* THAT’S OK.

For those of you who have submitted an email sharing your ‘sticky’ wedding situation, thank you! For those of you who haven’t… please do. Your privacy is completely respected, and up to your discretion when sharing your story.

Feel free to email me directly at katiewritesblog@gmail.com if you have a sticky situation to share. Get ready for some serious tea to be spilled, my loves…

Real talk ahead…stay tuned.

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Ahoy, it’s a boy! A surprise nautical baby shower.

Baby, eats, Lifestyle

Hello Friends,

First off, I miss you guys.

With wedding planning in FULL effect…and just life in general- I have totally gone ghost on this blog. But here I am y’all! Back in action.

I wanted to write this post because it is a glimpse into my real life, behind the keyboard, and something I really enjoyed doing.

Quick backstory: My friend (and bridesmaid!) is pregnant with her second child, and this time around- it’s a BOY!! So, I thought it would be fun to completely surprise her with a baby shower!!! I chose a nautical theme….and went WILD….

Let me tell you,…it was…

so. dang. fun.

If I do say so myself, it was a total success. Great friends, good food, sweet gifts, and lots of laughs. Here are some pictures from the day….

 

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the moment of surprise…..

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Every baby shower needs a ‘mom-osa’ bar… amiright?!

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DIY nautical flags – such a sweet touch.

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She’s happy because … cake … DUH! Oh, and I mean…mayyyyybe because of the shower….I’m leaning towards the cake though….

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Classic BBQ style summer food- an all around win!

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Thunderstorms in the forecast called for an indoor shindig instead of outdoor. It was a bit squishy, but we made it work and had a blast.

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She was blown away by all of the generous and heartfelt gifts.

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Fun little ‘decorate a diaper & onesie’ station. The results were hilarious…

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Our gift and favor table. Guests left with a beachy smelling Bath and Body Works hand soap with a cute little ‘thank you’ sentiment.

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So there you have it! A nautical baby boy shower. Almost all decor was DIY and so much fun. Don’t be afraid to pinterest and actually attempt those pins from time to time!

Also, I have to give a HUGE shout-out to my mom, fiance, and aunt. Without their help the shower would not have been nearly as beautiful or delicious.

Wishing you all the best,

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Relationships Are Made in the Kitchen: 30 Day Vegetarian/Vegan Meal Prep Challenge! Free Download.

eats

Hey friends!

     My fiance and I decided that we wanted to write a book…on meal prepping! For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, you have probably seen our cooking videos.  We meal prep every Sunday afternoon for 5 days worth of food. This is our special time to crack open a good bottle of wine, rock out to some music, and enjoy each other. We now look forward to Sunday’s (I used to dread them),  love to grocery shop, and prepare the food.  I mean, anytime I can make a ‘chore’ more enjoyable…I am alllllllll in. #lifehack

So how does meal prepping build relationships you ask?

Here are our notable effects when we meal prep:

We both feel a sense of relaxation during the day, knowing that we don’t have to worry about meals. The thought of having to run to the grocery store after work, or whip something up upon arriving home is an extra stressor which is completely eliminated by meal prepping.  Coming home to great meals and being properly nourished during the day, results in mental composure. It is much easier to take on life with a full belly! At the end of the day, we are able to focus on each other, rather than a sink full of dirty dishes or an upset stomach from delivery pizza.

Here is a look at what happens when we do not meal prep:

Basically…“if you have no plan, you are planning to fail”…

HANGER. It’s real. It sucks. It wares on relationships. When we don’t meal prep we feel chaotic, and every night seems to be a scramble. Before we began planning meals, we would ravenously get home…barely even greeting one other. Blinded by hunger while bickering at each other, one would angrily order takeout and end the night feeling bloated, annoyed, and not ready to take on the next day.  This was a draining cycle and as our pants got tighter, and wallets and patience ran thin, we realized a change was needed. 

As an avid pinterester, I began to watch meal prepping videos online and even purchased a few books of my own. Starting slow, we began to prep meals together on Sunday afternoons. This quickly became much more than just cooking. It became our special time that we spend together every Sunday, which slingshots us into a great week. In life, there are not many things we can control. However, food is one of them. So, by choosing to control this small aspect of our life, it makes other tasks seem a bit easier.

Soooooo why is it a vegetarian/vegan challenge?

          Although there are numerous reasons to go veg, ours is simple: we feel physically and mentally nourished completely through this way of eating.  We have tried many different diets together. Ketogenic, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, SAD (standard American diet) to name a few. Doing this gave us a real perspective on which type of eating makes us feel best. Most of us shop around before making a big life decision, right? We did the same…except, we ‘shopped’ around for a way of eating! This may sound silly, but we honestly wanted to try all different ‘diets’ before deciding to stick to one.  On a vegetarian/vegan diet, we feel full without the bloat, alert, and mentally clear. One thing we noticed right away, was our ability to wake up in the morning and head to work without that ‘ugh I am so tired’ feeling. We also noticed our moods and outlook on life, in general, improved. We dare you to try it too!

If you are interested in meal prepping, getting your spouse involved in cooking, would like more information, or simply want a few awesome recipes…. please download our eBook for a week of free vegetarian/vegan cooking!  Cheers!

Free Download

Vegetarian Challenge

If you enjoyed this week of eating, we will be releasing a full month of recipes at the end of December gearing up for a healthy January, be sure to check back!

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katie writes sig

GIVEAWAY!!!!The dreamiest, creamiest, non-dairy yogurt you ever did taste. 

eats

Hi all,

I’ve got a giveaway going on my Instagram right now and wanted to let everyone here know too!! For the longest time, I searched and searched for a delicious vegan yogurt. I tried many; almond, coconut, soy….and none were hittin’ the spot.  

After numerous failed attempts, I stumbled upon Forager Cashewgurt…..

Y’all ….. my…..mind. was. blown

It truly is creamy and delicious! My favorite flavor is the classic vanilla topped with blueberries, Bee Free honey, and cinnamon. However, Foragers vanilla isn’t your run o’ the mill basic vanilla. It’s so legit you can see flecks of real  vanilla bean in the yogurt!!! Try it for yourself. Click below and enter !! 

Good luck, my loves!!! 

Tis’ the season….flu season. The natural remedy you need.

eats

Greetings, blogosphere!

Today I’m coming at ya’ with some advice. It is that time of year where most of us inevitably come down with something not so pleasant… So, I wanted to share my go-to cough/cold/flu/allergy remedy in hopes that it helps someone out there! 

I have struggled with allergies and asthma my entire life. Because of this, I am incredibly susceptible to upper respiratory and sinus infections, especially. Until I began regularly making this tonic, I was sick alllllll the time. Seriously. Someone could sneeze a block away and I would get it. I was living in hell. 

…Until… I started to do a little research and use myself as a test subject. I have played around with the following recipe for over a year and (knock on wood) it works like MAGIC.  I went to the doctor over 25 times for Upper Respiratory or Sinus related ailments in 2015-2016.

Twenty. five. times. Typing that just sounds insane!

In 2017 I have gone to the doctor only 2 times for UR/Sinus issues!!!! I have saved myself so much time, pain, and money by drinking this elixir. I promise, it works.

magic elixir

Here are the products I use. I get them all right off of amazon. I prefer to use a capsule version of turmeric and ginger. I have tried all different types of turmeric/ginger and completely feel that I have gotten the best results with this method. I use a bulk Ceylon Cinnamon and Matcha powder too. This seems to be the most cost effective way for me because I drink it daily. You are more than welcome to  use whatever you like, these are simply my tips!

turmeric

matcha

cinnamon

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Pro tip: Check this little guy out for mixing up your drink! Under $7 dollars on amazon and I LOVE it. Since the ingredients can settle and thicken, I usually will add more hot water and re-stir halfway through drinking.  frother

I make the elixir for myself daily, right when I wake up. If you struggle with Upper Respiratory/Sinus issues regularly I highly suggest you try this out too. If not, maybe try it a few times a week or just use it as a remedy when you feel that tickle in your throat or tingle in your nose coming on….

Please let me know if you give this recipe a try! My hope is that this helps someone out there feeling as hopeless as I was…before I figured out a way to manage my sinus/allergy/UR/flu symptoms.

 

katie writes sig

 

Egg free, Pescatarian, Keto Diet? It’s possible.

eats

Hi all,

Today we’re diving into some real talk, about food. Mainly, finding success on the Ketogenic diet with major allergy restrictions. A bit daunting, right?

As my wedding day swiftly approaches, I am highly motivated to get my bridal bum in shape. I’ve had about 10 extra lbs of love hangin’ around, and I am ready for them to be gone. My original goal was to be more svelte by summer, butttttttt that didn’t quite happen. So now I’m backtracking.

After some research, I was intrigued by the Ketogenic diet. Everyone’s doing it, and it seems to work. I am always eager to try something that has brought success to others. The Keto diet fit the bill, there was just one hitch….. (cue the horror music)……..

DUNN…….DUNNN……..DUNNNN……..

FOOD ALLERGIES. I have a few, which makes following diets, to a Tee, nearly impossible. Keto being no different. My main intolerances are eggs, peanuts, and chicken. I choose to avoid all poultry, pork, and red meats too.

The Ketogenic diet is a way of eating that involves the consumption of high protein/fat, and very low carbohydrates. Therefore, typical Keto meal plans include numerous recipes featuring meat and eggs. Here are some simple ways to make the Keto diet more manageable, for those with food allergies.

1. Use egg replacements. I love eggs and when I found out I was allergic to them I was devastated. My favorite swap is the VeganEgg by follow your heart. Honestly, when using the VeganEgg to make an omelet or frittata, I don’t even miss the real thing. This product works well for baking too. It is especially great for low carb pancakes and muffins. I love it. My favorite way to prepare the VeganEgg is with some colby jack cheese, any veggies I have in the house, a little cayenne, topped with some sour cream and salsa. Tasty and Keto approved. Below you will see two of my fave breakfasts with recipes linked.

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Side note: This is what the VeganEgg looks like. Click on the picture if you’re interested in visiting their website.  My local grocer keeps these in the refrigerated ‘vegetarian’ section. They do not actually need to be refrigerated though, so you might find them in an aisle.

Did I mention how much I love, loveeee these pancakes? They totally crush my doughy-carby-sweet cravings (and they’re even good for you!!) Top them with some sugar free syrup, and you’ve got a party. YUM.

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Here is the perfect frittata recipe. I just throw in whatever veggies I can find and it turns out flawlessly every time.

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2. Swap out peanuts for almonds. This tip is so easy to do, and many of you might already.  Almond butter is beyond luscious and I could eat it by the spoonful. I like to make my own, but if I don’t have time, this Barney AB is the bomb. (I order it right on Amazon)

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3. Exchange meats for seafood.  Substitution has been my savior when it comes to Keto. There are already tons of Keto seafood recipes, but if you’re trying to follow a specific meal plan (like on an app) this helps to stick to it. Since I am so new to Keto, I just downloaded meal plans online so that I didn’t have to do any guess work. Here is a Ketogenic chicken stir-fry recipe that I followed, just swapping out the chicken for shrimp. Viola! Allergy friendly.

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4. Utilize meat substitutes, SOME are Keto friendly. I love a Boca patty or Morningstar farms breakfast ‘sausage’, here and there. It’s not something I crave everyday, but it is nice to have options. I was never a huge meat eater to begin with, but seeing tons of beautiful Keto pictures online gives me meat cravings every once in awhile!

These are my favorite Boca burgers. I like to top them with cheese, avocado, pickles, mayo, and sugar free ketchup.

51XFdKUqmTLI enjoy these breakfast patties with a side of avocado or vegan eggs. I like to drizzle a bit of Walden Farms sugar- free syrup over them too.

c6699cf6-6e19-4d66-890a-3d078a37edab_1.8342f0df9130e2c95eaa03b4b63591a2Like I said, I am pretty new to this way of eating. I simply wanted to share a few things that have helped me so far. After only a month of Keto, I have definitely noticed some changes in my body. YEY!  This is the first diet that does not feel like a diet at all. Also my mood has remained positive, because protein/fat is satiating. So there you have it! I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful for following a modified Keto diet. Please let me know what your favorite Pescatarian Keto recipes are!

katie writes sig

My DIY Raised Bed Garden- Update. Tips, Tricks, and lots of Pics included.

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I wanted to give y’all a garden update. Prepare yourselves for lots of pictures! I have completely, totally, utterly, become a crazy. plant. lady. I don’t know what has happened, or what has taken over me. Since I do not have any kids to photograph, apparently this is my outlet? A year ago, I would have laughed in your face, if you told me that this  is how I spend my thyme now (..you guys, I even make garden jokes..). Either way, gardening and photographing nature’s beauties has become my recent obsession. It makes me happy, so I’m rollin’ with it.

Now that I have come clean about my addiction…I’ll start with some real talk.

First of all, I need to get this out there. I have NEVER  been able to grow anything. Ever.  Many thymes (…ugh…I can’t stop, sorry)…, my followers will say things like “I am so jealous of your green thumb” or “I’m so bad at gardening”…. I was no different, and do not have ANY special mother-earth-magical-garden superpowers. I promise. So please do not look at these pictures, or read my blog, thinking that I have any more talent than you do. I am brand spanking new to gardening, and this is the first time (in my life) that I have been able to keep anything alive…for more than a week, that is. If you want to start a garden, but are afraid that it will not be successful, I encourage you to try! I had these worries too, and it has really worked out for me. I know the biggest reason my plants are actually thriving is because of three basic things: Sun, water, and good soil. I’m sure you’re thinking ….DUHHHH, Katie…but hear me out.

Sun: there IS  such a thing as too much, or too little direct sunlight. Although this sounds silly, I genuinely did not know this. The way our garden is situated, it seems to be the perfect balance of shade and light. Our garden patch is surrounded by trees, so it isn’t getting full sun alllll day. In the past, I thought, the more light the better… makes sense, right? Wrong. plants need some shade too!

Water: Mother nature has been my home-girl this season, not gunna lie. This summer we have had alottttttt of rain. This has been wonderful for my thirsty, growing babes. I still water on hot, dry days, but like I said, the watering has basically been done for me.

GOOD soil: Since our beds are raised, we were forced to purchase fresh dirt, rather than use what was already there. This was a game changer. Getting quality soil is key for plant growth.  Once again, this sounds obvious, I know. In the past, we would simply get out the dusty ol’ tiller, and plant directly into the ground. Our soil quality was obviously lacking in nutrients, because we didn’t have much success. I urge you to take my word for it, and treat yo-self’ to some quality soil. Your plants will thank you.

 

If you have made it through all of the above ramblings, you’re in luck. Here are the pictures I promised. Enjoy.

 

This was about two/three weeks after we planted, in full sunlight. If you read my original garden post, you’ll know that we planted mostly everything pre-sprouted (about 3-4 inches). We did this because, by the time our garden was built, it was a bit late in the growing season. Next year we plan on starting everything from seeds.

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This is our garden in its current state, on a cloudy day. As you can see, it has really taken off. We went from cute, organized plants, to a full on jungle. I have embraced the chaos, and choose to see it’s unruly beauty.

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Pictured below, is our main fruit-growing section. We have blueberry and raspberry bushes planted here. These probably will not fruit this year, but hopefully next season there will be an abundance of berries! Good things come to those who wait, right? I am beyond eager for these sweet morsels to arrive.

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Best part? This garden is puppy approved. Our beloved 13 year old Bandit is a huge fan. He looks pretty excited for the blueberry and raspberry bushes to fruit, as well.

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We just love letting him run around the garden to explore. He adores all the different sniffs, twists, and turns the structure provides.  One thing man and beast have in common? It’s both of our happy places.

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*Disclaimer: I am going to do a separate post alllll about what we have harvested so far, and what we have made with the fruits of our labor. However, I couldn’t resist, so here’s a sneak peek of my favorite shots.

 

Bountiful broccoli. I honestly didn’t even know how broccoli grew, before we planted some. It started off almost floral looking. Then, voila, broccoli started to bloom from the center of the plant.

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Fresh, yummy, romaine. I cannot tell you how crisp and decadent this was with my homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.

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Check out this cute lil’ bell pepper! We have not harvested these yet,  but I can almost taste the stuffed peppers I will be making……yum!

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This grilled corn on the cob was just amazing. Every kernel popped in my mouth. It was so marvelous that I didn’t even top it with butter or salt!  I couldn’t get it in my face fast enough. No lie.

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For the final shot, I had to include our first official, farm-to-table, meal! We made Pasta Primavera. For the sauce, we used parsley, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini. This was decidedly the most rewarding moment so far. The meal was divine, I almost licked my plate. Of course, it tasted even better knowing that we somehow grew it all. #winning.

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Anyone else out there feeling empowered by growing and eating their own food? This garden adventure has been such a joy. Thank you for tuning in, and keep an eye out for my next posts containing recipes and more pictures!

katie writes sig