Links I’m Loving

It’s FRIDAY! Wahoo! I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s been a particularly earned weekend this time around.

Hopefully these links — which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this week — will bring a smile to your face as well:

  • If you only watch one YouTube video today, please, please make it this one of an owl pooping on his friend and running away. It’s 14 seconds VERY well spent:

  • If you’ve flown Delta in the past few years, you’ve probably seen one of their awesomely amusing safety videos. Well, get pumped: they have a new one out, inspired by all things Internet:

  • As though I didn’t love Chris Pratt enough already, this video sealed the deal:

  • My friend Bethany posted about this letter on her blog today (along with her own version, which is also amazing), but I just had to share it with you as well. So. Damn. Funny.

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mindy and bj

  • I’m sure y’all saw this yesterday, but if for some reason you were spending your Thursday under a rock, you’re welcome. (It features Justin Bieber, but please watch even if you’re not a fan of his.):

Happy holiday weekend, friends!

5 Healthy Summertime Snack Recipes

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In North Carolina, summertime is here to stay, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not only do the warm weather and longer days make me oh-so happy, but the spring weather means I can once again enjoy warm-weather foods/drinks like iced coffee, smoothies, and overnight oatmeal. SWEET.

It also means I need to switch up my snack game, incorporating some more seasonally appropriate offerings. Here are five healthy snacks that top my list this time of year:

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  • Peppadew peppers or cherry tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese. So simple, and so very good! Sprinkle with some shredded basil for extra seasonal deliciousness.

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  • 5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup Energy Bites. I’ve learned to trust just about everything the lovely duo behind Minimalist Baker suggests, and this energy bite recipe is no exception. Just five ingredients! Healthy and filling! Peanut butter and chocolate are two of the five ingredients! Just grab your food processor and get to snacking.

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  • Greek salad skewers. If you’re a Greek salad fan like I am (it’s my go-to order at many restaurants), give this new, more snack-friendly twist on the salad a try. Just grab the key ingredients of the salad — a piece of cucumber, half of a cherry tomato, a chunk of feta cheese, a kalamata olive, and red onion, if that’s your style — and place them on a skewer or toothpick. Drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy!

greek salad skewer

  • Minty Pea Dip. This one’s tasty — trust me! Kevin and I enjoyed it as an appetizer just last night, in fact. Just combine 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint, and 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice in a blender or food processor and blend until combined. Serve with pretzels/pretzel thins, pita chips, sliced veggies — whatever you prefer! (Kevin and I had ours with pretzels last night.)

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What summertime snacks are your faves?

 

Whole Wheat Flour, Oatmeal, Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies With Sea Salt

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Since I’ve now made these cookies two times in as many days, I figured I should share the recipe with y’all. (The second batch is in the oven as I type so.)

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I knew I wanted to try a new cookie recipe to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day on Friday (my friend alerted me to the holiday and I knew it was one I should honor), and also didn’t have any butter on hand. Not to fear — this recipe fit the bill, replacing butter or vegetable oil with coconut oil and subbing out regular all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour (which I happened to have in my pantry). Throw in some oats (which are an ingredient in the beloved chocolate chip cookie recipe my mom made for our family growing up), and I was sold. These definitely can’t be classified as “healthy,” but they are a “better-for-you” version of the cookie, incorporating whole wheat, oats, no butter, etc.

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Be sure you sprinkle sea salt onto these cookies before popping them into the oven. It’s what helps take them from good to great. (All about the details, right?)

Whole Wheat Flour, Oatmeal, Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (not melted)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or a Silpat. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together coconut oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, beating until smooth.
  • Add in the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until just combined.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix!
  • Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.
  • Form the cookie dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheet(s). Sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes (until the cookies are slightly golden around the edges and still look soft in the center). Let cool on baking sheet for at least 3 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.
  • Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days, and also freeze well.

Enjoy!

Netflix Has Outdone Itself Yet Again With Bloodline

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Back in March, I raved to you lovely readers about the gloriousness that is Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The writing! The characters! The music! All so very good.

I have another Netflix original series to wholeheartedly recommend this month, although you’ll have to firmly remove your Kimmy Schmidt hat for this one, because it’s pretty much the exact opposite of that show. Maybe the only things it has in common with Kimmy Schmidt are: 1.) it’s by Netflix and 2.) it’s WONDERFUL.

The show? I’m talking about Bloodline here, folks. The drama/thriller starring Kyle Chandler (who Friday Night Light fans will always revere as Coach Taylor), Sissy Spacek, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Chloe Sevigny, and Sam Shepard is truly phenomenal. My friend Bethany recommended it to me, and now it’s time for me to pay it forward and let all of you guys know about its amazingness.

Here are just a few reasons why I’m obsessed with Bloodline:

1. Kyle Chandler. (If you didn’t know that was going to be my first reason, you don’t know Kyle Chandler.) I, personally, was introduced to Kyle waaaaay back in the day when he starred in Early Edition (remember that rather terrible show?), and then loved him on Friday Night Lights as Coach Taylor. He’s so well cast in Bloodline as well, playing good guy sheriff John Rayburn.

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2. It couldn’t be set in a more beautiful location. Bloodline‘s plot centers around a family that owns an inn in the Florida Keys, and every episode made me long to visit the Keys more and more. (Anyone down for a visit? Only half kidding here…)

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3. It keeps you on your TOES, man! This show blew my mind. So much so that, now that I’ve made it through all 13 episodes, I’m backtracking and re-watching the season to pick up on subtle things that make sense once you’ve seen the full storyline play out. You get snippets of what’s to come in each episode leading up to “the big event,” but even with those glimpses it will blindside you to a point. I have no idea how they’ll frame things up in Season 2, and I have a hard time believing it can be better than this inaugural season, but they’re definitely laying the groundwork for another interesting season.

4. Like another one of my favorite (and now over — which I’m still devastated about) shows, Parenthood, this plot focuses on a family of grown siblings who are making sense of their pasts and negotiating family politics, etc. The incorporation of flashbacks is well-done in this show, adding helpful context to each character’s past.

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5. Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the black sheep of the Rayburn family, is captivating in his role. He’s Australian (something I didn’t find out until after watching all 13 episodes — his American accent is PERFECT) and has an impressive resume, but he shines in this series as the charmingly creepy and cunning Danny Rayburn.

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6. Kyle Chandler.

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Happy binge watching, friends!

One-Bowl Nutella Fudge Brownies

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There’s just about nothing better than a homemade brownie, am I right? Add some Nutella to said homemade brownie, and you have yourself a chocolatey piece of heaven.

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This recipe was a new one I tried for a party Kevin and I threw last weekend, and I was super happy with the way they turned out. Another bonus? It has all of six ingredients and you just need one pot to make it all come together beautifully.

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Ready? Here are the deets:

Nutella Fudge Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick salted butter (or 1 stick unsalted butter plus about a teaspoon of salt)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs + one egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Optional topping: Nutella + chopped pistachios

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Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously spray an 8″x8″ pan with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
  • In a saucepan, melt the butter and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
  • Once the butter is completely melted and the chocolate chips have completely dissolved, stir in the Nutella. Remove from heat.
  • Add sugar and beat well.
  • Add eggs, yolk, and loosely packed flour, stirring until just combined.
  • Fold in remaining chocolate chips (be sure not to over mix or you’ll get cakey brownies).
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, and let cool for at least 30 minutes, then cut into squares and enjoy!
  • (If you want frosting, use some of the leftover Nutella combined with roughly chopped pistachios. Yum!)

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Mother’s Day Ads To Make You Laugh, Cry, & Remind You To Call Your Mom

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Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and I wanted to take a few moments to share some of the ads that have been released through the years to celebrate the holiday. There have been some lovely commercials put together to pay tribute to moms out there. Many of them fall into the “super sappy” category but, then again, this holiday’s a good time for that.

(Note: Not ALL of these are sappy. In particular, please enjoy the hilarious-not-sappy Mr. T “Treat Your Mother Right” ditty. And enjoy his incredible shorts.)

  • First up, the reigning champion of all sappy-in-the-best-way holiday commercials, Publix:

  • I appreciate this spot from Samsung, which is so on-point and hilarious (sorry, moms, but it’s true), yet wrapped in a heartfelt message:

  • We WILL treat our mothers right, Mr. T. Thanks for the reminder. (This isn’t a commercial, and I have no clue where it’s from, but it obviously made the cut.):

  • Nice job, as always, Google:

  • Do you have a #PartyHardMom?:

  • HAHAHA, SNL! (Please excuse the quality of the video. Still worth watching if you haven’t seen this sketch.):

  • This spot from Johnson’s Baby is adorable, and told from baby’s perspective:

  • Okay, so this Minute Maid one’s for parents in general — not specifically moms — but it definitely makes the list. It’s long — four minutes — but it’s worth watching. Such a good reminder of how easy it is to tell the people we love how important they are to us:

Happy (almost) Mother’s Day, everyone! (Get to shopping — fast — if you haven’t gotten Mom a gift yet!)

 

 

Romper Round-Up

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Last year, I was on the fence with the whole romper trend, but I’m here to report that at this point I’m fully on board. They have so many adorable and flattering styles available this year, and those things are SO comfortable. They’ve become my new go-to for spring and summer time. Who’s with me? (I’ve noticed that many of my favorite retailers now have “Romper and Jumpsuit” sections of their websites. It makes romper shopping easy, for sure!)

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All the love for the romper.

Now moving on to a handful of rompers that have caught my eye this season:

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Now here’s the question of the season this year: Jumpsuits? Yay or nay?

 

 

 

Guacamole Recipe Round-Up

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It’s nearly summertime, which means guacamole season is going to be up and running at full steam. I’m not upset about this in the slightest.

Just think about all the cook-outs at friends’ houses in your future. All the outdoor dining on restaurant patios and porches and sidewalks. The beachside snacks. Yep — summer is where it’s at.

Because guac is at the top of my list when it comes to summertime snacks, I thought I’d try to mix things up a bit and round up a few new takes on the dip to share with you guys. (Note: I haven’t tried most of these recipes myself, but they all sound amazing.)

  • Strawberry Goat Cheese Guacamole. My friend Micheal suggested adding goat cheese to guac to me, and I thought it was a genius idea. And incorporating strawberries, too, for some added brightness? Yes. Yes, please.

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  • Grilled Guacamole with Parmesan and Basil. I’m a firm believer that just about anything is good on the grill (peaches, romaine, pound cake, etc.), and so why should guac be any exception? I like the incorporation of non-traditional guacamole flavors with the parmesan and basil, too.

grilled guac

pumpkin guac

  • Grapefruit Guacamole. I’m not a big fan of grapefruit on its own (unlike Kevin, who routinely buys them and peels and eats them like oranges), but grapefruit as an ingredient usually gets two thumbs up from me. (One of my favorite summertime beers is Shiner’s Ruby Redbird, made with grapefruit, and this grapefruit pound cake is divine.) All that to say, I’d love to give this grapefruit guac a try.

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pickled

smashed pea

What are some of your go-to guac recipes?

Seriously. If You EVER Shop Online, You Should Be Using Ebates.

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I’ve told you guys about Ebates before, but it’s been a little while, and I think it’s time to bring it back up. I talk about it so much to my friends that it sounds like I work for Ebates. Just to be clear: I don’t (I’m not getting any compensation for this post), but I do feel like it’s advice worth sharing again. I love it that much.

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The reason I love Ebates is because it’s one of those “why not?” kind of behaviors to me. I added the Ebates widget to my browser, and so it automatically detects when I visit an Ebates-friendly site, prompting me to activate Ebates. SO EASY.

So what is Ebates, exactly? It’s a way to get cash back each quarter for the money you spend online. Sounds simple, right? It is.

Virtually every place I shop online is Ebates-friendly, including Target, Nordstrom, eBay, Ulta, TOMS, J. Crew, lots of travel sites, online florists, etc., and each retailer has a percentage you get back from your purchase. You just go about your typical online check-out process (once you’ve activated the Ebates connection to the site), and after you place your order you’ll get a notification telling you how much cash back from Ebates you just got. It’s typically just a dollar or two, but it’s a dollar or two you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Then, each quarter, Ebates cuts you a check with the total amount you’ve earned from them over the past three months. Easy peasy. Extra money in your pocket.

One important thing to call out about Ebates: The site looks borderline untrustworthy (I thought that when I first visited it, at least), but it’s totally safe to use.

If you want to sign up (please do if you don’t use this already, and be sure to install the widget to your browser so you’re alerted every time you’re on an Ebates-friendly retailer), please use my referral link to do so. I really appreciate it!

For those of you who already use Ebates, are you loving it as much as I am?

 

It’s Time To Get Over Our #Selfies, Don’t You Think? (The Launch Of #TheUsProject)

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(Full disclosure!: This post is near and dear to my heart because it focuses on a campaign our agency just launched for an activewear client I work on, Soffe.)

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Are you guys ready for a jaw-dropping stat? According to Google, 93 million selfies are taken each day around the world. 93 million!

And, worse, increased selfie taking is shown to correlate with having more shallow relationships, among other things. As someone who was already very much over the whole #selfie trend, these statistics only helped solidify my feelings about them.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for self-expression, and selfies can certainly be a way to express yourself. And I’ve most definitely taken them myself (although I always feel a little silly doing so). I just worry about the overall message selfies are spreading, and what they’re doing to our collective self-esteem.

So I was thrilled to be a part of the team at The Variable that, together with our client counterparts at Soffe, helped develop a campaign called #TheUsProject. Its purpose? To encourage a BETTER selfie: one that includes you WITH your friends and family. (Aren’t those the photos you treasure, anyway? The ones with you and the people who make YOU, you?)

Enough typing. Why don’t you check out this video we built for #TheUsProject?:

Inspired to join #TheUsProject? It’s easy! Just upload a picture of yourself and your friends/family to the social media channel of your choice and use the hashtag #TheUsProject to tag your photo to the campaign.

You can also join the movement by purchasing one of the four tops Soffe designed especially for this campaign. Aren’t these cute? They’re available for purchase on the campaign’s landing page.

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