No Tree for Me

I love Christmas. I love the reason, the music, the spirit, the joy of gift giving (it’s my top love language)…I love it all! With that being said, I can be a Scrooge at times. My resourcefulness tends to deter me from going too far into seasonal decor or frivolous gifts.

When we got married, we had our first Christmas after two months of marriage. We talked about starting our own Christmas traditions and we decided on curating our Christmas ornaments. I didn’t want to go to the store and buy a preselected assortment of ornaments – we wanted our tree to reflect us and the year we just experienced.

2015 – Steven’s sweet cousin, Sarah, got us a wooden ornament with our names & wedding date embossed into it. We purchased a globe ornament and circled the Philippines to commemorate our honeymoon and first international trip together.

2016 – That year I learned calligraphy and made personalized ornaments for me, Steven and Amber.

2017 – The big move to Texas. We got a Texas shaped ornament that says “y’all” and another wooden ornament from the Christmas at the Silo’s concert.

My mom added to that tradition and has been getting us the Pottery Barn dated frame ornament as another way to highlight a moment from the year.

We’re currently in a 990 sq ft temporary dwelling that is furnished with more than we will ever use and there just isn’t much space for a Christmas tree. We’re going home for Christmas so it didn’t seem practical to buy a tree that we’d only enjoy for a few weeks (see that Scrooge-ness coming in?). Thankfully, Trader Joe’s sells these mini potted trees that can hold this year’s ornaments!

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In just three years, we have a box full of ornaments that mean so much to us. I cannot wait for our kids to add to the tree and see what it’ll look like 10-20 years from now!

What type of holiday traditions do you participate in?

With love and warmth and just a teency bit of Scrooge-ness,

Tay

PS: And just so y’all know we are living in bizarro land…it was 80+ deg a few days before coming out of work to find my car like this:

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Everyone just keeps telling me, “That’s Texas for ya!”

 

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Black Friday on a Budget

One year during college (I think it was 2009), a few friends and I decided to experience our first Black Friday madness. We headed out to Cabazon Outlets around 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving and quickly realized we were about 5 hours too late. Parking was non-existent (nearby homes were selling spots on their driveway for $20!); the swarms of pushy people exasperated my anxiety of being in crowded spaces; the lines went out the door and the line we so happened to wait in had people in front of us smoking so many cigarettes that I later threw up from the nausea; and the cherry on top: I walked out with two pairs of jeans that were basically forced purchases to justify our trip out. NEVER.AGAIN.

With the convenience of online sales these days, I think most people can agree that shopping from home in your sweats is way more thrilling than any trip to the mall. Because let’s face it, way less rational thinking goes into clicking “add to cart” than  watching your total skyrocket at the cashier. (Why is it easier for me to say, “Actually, I changed my mind, I’m not going to buy that.” to a human being than convince myself of it when I’m checking out online?!) But when my inbox and Instagram feed started getting filled with teasers and sale announcements last week, I was in a much different mindset. Now that we’re living in a new state and adjusting to this monumental life change, we on a budget.

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You want to know see my wild purchases?

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  • Face wash / BeautyCounter. The lightest, cleanest option I’ve found at a great price point. My beautiful friend Justine Campbell introduced me to it and I’ve loved every product!
  • Foundation / Crunchi. Obviously, another clean, non-toxic product that I’ve used this entire year and it’s ah-mazing. It smells ridiculously good, free of all the cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, junk AND it works better than any other conventional product I’ve ever tried. (I stopped using my current bottle every day just to stretch it until Black Friday. Mama lookin’ real natural at work these days)
  • Cleaning solution / Branch Basics. I’ve read about how this is the only product you’ll need for any household need — I’ve been itching to try it so the 20% off finally convinced me to try it.
  • A sweater and jumpsuit (okay so that wasn’t a need to have…I’m actually proud that only one blogger I follow influenced me to make a purchase. And how much does that look remind you of Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding?)

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  • Laundry detergent / dropps. If you have a few minutes and want a good laugh, click the link and watch the intro video. I already had a favorite natural, eco-friendly detergent but this video suckered me in and now I love these pods.
  • 10 pack of classes at my favorite barre studio that beat using ClassPass

Exciting stuff, right?! I needed to buy/refill all of these items but figured I should wait to see if BFCM would bring any good deals. So now, eight years later from my first (traumatic) experience, Steven still shudders at the words Black Friday and I try to suppress his PTSD with extra tight snuggles in the warmth of our bed as we drift off to sleep knowing we have all we need. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 

Xo, Tay

A Texan Thanksgiving

A Texan Thanksgiving

I’ve been very blessed with a work schedule that allows for every Friday off. Typically goes like this:

  • Sleep in (8 a.m.)
  • Go workout
  • Walk Amber
  • Clean the house
  • Catch up with a loved one (Dona my first Friday and my Daddy this past Friday)
  • Run some errands

…all before Steven gets home. By Saturday, I’m already feeling at a loss of things to do and always ask Steven, “So what are we doing today?!”. Poor guy works 6 of the 7 days so he certainly does not share the same enthusiasm (but he’s a trooper so he goes along with whatever I come up with).

It was the most beautiful day. The clouds were gone and the sun was beaming down! So we took Amber for a hike through yet another river (I swear we have a completely different dog in Texas) and tried to soak in the sun all morning.

My co-worker/boss, Brittney, texted me asking what we were up to for the day and asked if we wanted to hang out. She starts telling me of all these free events happening around town. Tiny homes + free tacos. Jazz music + free BBQ. We decided to go for it all and have  an afternoon filled with as much free food as we could get our hands on. Our first stop: Lockhart. 20+ miles out of Austin. We get there — no tacos. Just tiny homes and chips. We get our fill, hop back in the car and head back into town to get that free BBQ. We roll in, Steven & Britt go to use the restroom, I make small chat with these two guys who said the BBQ was gone within the first hour of the event and realize we are 0-2. Austin has so many cool events and happenin’s and yet we kept missing each one by a SMIDGE! We decided to cut our losses and go find food that would definitely be available … a restaurant. Britt asks us, “Do y’all like Mexican food?” We pretty much laughed and explained that CA is basically Mexico when it comes to food. She took us to her favorite place, Matt’s El Rancho, where the server asked if we’d like a “bob” to start. Looking absolutely dumbfounded, she explains that it’s basically guac, ground beef and melted cheese. That’s all we needed to hear before we said, “heck yeah!” It did not disappoint! The night went on for hours as we laughed, continued eating and quickly realizing Britt & I were kindred spirits. Steven later told her husband that he hung out with two of me all day. What a lucky guy!

Britt & Grant invited us to their Friendsgiving the following night and I wasn’t sure if Steven would be down for it but he happily agreed. We have two friends here (the Popes who came from Redlands) so we were definitely in need of expanding our friend base. Never have I realized how Californian I was until tonight. With each person who arrived, there was another meat, sausage, queso that I had never seen before. And what did I bring? Spinach (spanakopita). I clearly did not know my audience but they all liked it!

There was “swamp sausage” (basically cajun style rice mixed into the sausage), steak, BBQ chicken, another something sausage with cheese and jalapeños, risotto, green bean casserole, fried turkey that was caught the day prior by the dude who brought it. Oh my goodness – it was amazing. It was like popcorn chicken but with the freshest turkey you’d ever tasted. The Martin’s were amazing hosts and we were so grateful to be included! Back at home, we’d do Friendsgiving every year and I did my best to fight off feelings of loneliness and distance this time around so I was really touched to be in the company of friends — even if there weren’t ours!

Steven and I talked about our first Texan Thanksgiving the whole way home. We would never have known any of this if it weren’t for Britt and absolutely soaked in every second of it! Steven’s ready to go huntin’ with the boys and I…I’m still holding out for some freshly caught fish!

Sweet Ache

I’ve had no craving for sweets or junk food since I started the 12 Week New Body Makeover but I’ve been feeling kind of sluggish today and was craving some chocolate. My office had a party and I gave in and grabbed a mini ganache cake and I barely finished the last bite and I have the worst stomach ache. This is terrible. My body is resisting some of life’s best pleasures.

Week 2 in Full Swing

After successfully completing the first week of the 12 week challenge, I am more encouraged and motivated than ever. To sum up this past week: it was so easy!

Having your fridge and pantry stocked with ingredients for the week and a meal plan to follow has been such a blessing. Of course, there is a lot of grunt work in going to multiple grocery stores to get all the items (I had to go to three) and spending hours doing meal prep (and more hours doing clean up. Ugh.), I can officially say that I enjoyed my first week.

My diet at work is what concerns me the most. Either I wasn’t eating at all or I’d be going out to eat for every meal. It wasn’t hard to turn down lunch offers, either. I totally enjoyed everything I was eating. If you’re a calorie counter, the average day consisted of about 1,400 calories. Mine was a little less because I never ate M4 because I like to work out right after work and didn’t want to do it on a full stomach.

The weekend consisted of a night in with my boyfriend, Christmas party for his work and a birthday party for our friend’s daughter. Needless to say, there were many opportunities to go ham on my meals and I did. Haha, just kidding. Everything was in moderation. I didn’t deprive myself and I honestly don’t think Cassey would want me to either. I stayed on track with my eating and exercise the whole work week and a couple of meals throughout the weekend didn’t kill me. In fact, I weighed myself on Friday (lost a little over 2 lbs!) and then again on Sunday, and only a 0.5 lb difference! I’m okay with that!

Meal prep was a lot easier this week since I still had a ton of leftover groceries from last week. I will say though that this week’s menu is not the business. Already decided that I didn’t want to follow the breakfast plan, so I subbed it with last week’s menu. And I experimented with today’s lunch plan and I have the worst stomach ache. It was canned tuna with brown rice (why?!), apples (ate it on the side), celery (learning to tolerate it), egg whites (umm..okay…) and a “dressing” of lemon juice, some herbs and a bit of EVOO. I was telling Steven this recipe reminded me of that episode on Friends when Rachel makes an English Trifle for Thanksgiving but accidentally combines that recipe with a Shepherd’s Pie recipe. It just didn’t add up and I did not like it. Oddly enough, this week is supposed to have that damn tuna salad for lunch every single day! Last week was a M, W, F and T, Th and S rotation. I will definitely be getting more creative this week because I am not sticking with this tuna mush.

Aside from that, I’m drinking more water than ever. I’m also peeing more than ever too, but I guess more steps from my office to the bathroom is an added bonus too.

From what I’ve read on Instagram and Twitter, a lot of people have been getting results already too so that’s amazing! I do love the community of Blogilates and fellow popsters!

Now back to work as I try to not get distracted by this nauseating feeling resulting of today’s lunch.

Taylor

Day One: Done!

Everything today was so so yummy. It was definitely an adjustment to eat my oatmeal without brown sugar (I loooove) or PB (I looooove). Everything was so darn good today! I’m excited to sleep so I can wake up and eat some more tomorrow!

Today, I attempted to cook spaghetti squash for the first time. I’ve seen tons of people rave about it on blogs and I totally underestimated the difficulty of cutting that thing in half! I immediately petition any help and suggestions from Facebook and then little resourceful ol’ me found a solution:

My 5 lb weight was just what I needed to get my giant knife through the squash!

Ya learn something new every day!

Probably should have slept hours ago but I got a late start on meal prepping for the week since my Body Pump class didn’t get out til 7 p.m.

On to Day Two!

Taylor