Friday Favorites

Another Friday yet again, friends!

Important question to start: Have y’all thought about your Halloween costumes for this year yet? If you need some inspiration, here’s a list of seven clever costume ideas to use as a starting point. I’m hoping to hit up Goodwill this weekend to shop for the components of my costume. Here’s hoping they have what I need!

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that critical piece of the post out of the way, let’s move on to the links I’m loving this week:



  • This blazer, in black, is perfection. Who doesn’t need a good blazer (especially this time of year)? And this one’s on sale — you can’t NOT get it!ūüôā


mummy glitter

  • Love Starbucks’ festive drinks, but don’t want all the calories associated with them? Gotcha covered!


  • Where in the WORLD have I been? I didn’t know Suri’s Burn Book was a thing until yesterday, people. It’s amazing, as I’m sure the vast majority of y’all already know.
  • Do you fellow Southerners follow The Bitter Southerner? You definitely should if you haven’t already, since their content is amazing. They also have a great general store, with awesome (and Southern-themed, of course) apparel, home goods, and prints. Get to shopping to find that perfect gift for the bitter Southerner in your life!


Happy weekend, y’all!

My Fall Nail Polish Picks

A new season means new nail polish shades. With the summer months definitively behind us, it’s time to move the hot pinks and bright teals, replacing them with muted greens and matte grays. I love nail color for this time of year, and wanted to share some of my favorites:

  • “August” by Zoya. I’m actually wearing this nail color as I type this post! It’s the perfect shade of gray, in my opinion, and matches anything.







What nail colors top your list this time of year?

Muffins: The Most Acceptable Way To Eat Cake For Breakfast



I mean, think about it. It’s so true: muffins — no matter how healthy you make them — are a very cake-like food. Basically a cupcake without frosting. And that means when you have a muffin for breakfast you’re essentially having a dessert item. Yes. Yes, please.

Plus, this time of year, I find muffins especially comforting. They just hit the spot on a chilly fall morning, paired with a steaming cup of coffee or tea and maybe some scrambled eggs. Pure deliciousness.

And so, lovely readers, I thought I’d share a handful of tasty muffin recipes with y’all, in the event you want to partake in some cake-for-breakfast action in the near future. You won’t be disappointed with any of these choices:

  • Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. While I get a little overwhelmed with the “pumkin-ify everything!” trend that sets in this time of year, I can certainly get behind a few pumpkin recipes. I made these muffins for the first time this past weekend, and they certainly will be staying on my roster. (There’s something about mini muffins that’s especially fun, too. You don’t have to fully commit to a muffin with one of these little guys, or you can have, like, four, and call it a single muffin. Sign me up!)


  • Whole Wheat Apple Muffins.¬†I have yet to find a Smitten Kitchen recipe that steers me in the wrong direction. These muffins are delightfully hearty, and their brown sugar topping makes all the difference. Get ready for apples, cinnamon, brown sugar — basically autumn if the season were a muffin.


  • Applesauce¬†Muffins. These muffins are so very nostalgic for me. My mom made them regularly while I was growing up (sometimes in a bear-shaped muffin tin, even), and every time I make them I’m reminded of happy childhood mornings. The best thing about this batter, too, is you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, so you don’t have to commit to a full batch of baked muffins at once. Instead, you can just make one or two as you need them, guaranteeing hot, fresh muffins every time. It doesn’t get much better than that.


  • Glazed Gingerbread Muffins. With hints of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg — along with citrus zest — these muffins will make your house smell delightfully autumnal while they’re baking. And that glaze? Don’t miss that step.


Do you have any favorite fall muffin recipes to share?

Friday Favorites

What a beautiful fall week it’s been here in Winston-Salem! I’m looooooving it. These chilly mornings make warm beverages taste even better (my morning drink of choice these days is decaf black tea with some almond milk — yum!), and I’m even okay with the sun going down earlier. I was just ready for FALL.

This weekend, I’ll be spending lots of time at the Pure Barre studio, doing some much-needed house cleaning, and just laying low a bit, which I’m pumped about. I’m currently reading (and loving) The Nightingale¬†and can’t wait to curl up with it this weekend.

(For those of you in the path of Hurricane Matthew, or with family members who live on the coast, please stay safe this weekend.)

Time to get to my Friday Favorites! Here are a few things I’ve been loving this week:

  • Let’s lead with the baked goods, shall we? I whipped up a batch of these Pumpkin Latte Donuts (a recipe by PaleOMG, who always has tasty things on her site) for our debate crew (Kevin and me plus two good friends) to enjoy during Tuesday night’s VP debate. The verdict? I’m pretty sure the donuts won. (SO good. And the almond butter/honey/pumpkin spice icing? YUM.) As a note, the recipe calls for using a donut maker, but I don’t have one. I had good luck baking the donuts in my donut pan at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, and I got eight donuts out of my batch.


  • I am full-on obsessed with this lemur:

  • I’d been eyeing these black Alo Moto Leggings for months now, and so when they went on sale (25% off!) at Nordstrom this past week, I just had to pull the trigger and snag a pair. I’m glad I did — they sold out of my size that same afternoon. I can’t wait for them to arrive!



  • After hearing my bestie Bethany rave about The West Wing for years, I’ve FINALLY started watching the show…and it’s amazing. So very good. Bethany and I were having a conversation earlier this week and she sent me this clip from The West Wing — a scene between characters Josh and Leo — and I just love it. I’ve kept the tab open on my computer all week and have watched it periodically, so I knew I had to share it with y’all:

Kitchen Tools I’ve Been Eyeing



I’m always amazed by how¬†many clever kitchen tools exist out there. There seriously seems like there’s a gadget for any kitchen task you’ve ever thought of — and some that never crossed your mind.

I try not to get too carried away with kitchen tool craziness, because although I’m a definite fan of convenience, I’m also NOT a fan of clutter. The last thing I want is my kitchen drawers and cabinets crammed full of items that just get used from time to time. (For example, this hot dog slicer is never going to make its way into our kitchen.)

That said, I’m all for incorporating some new items that will be super useful and that Kevin and/or I will use pretty regularly. Here are some tools that I think would totally fit that bill. (Disclaimer: I don’t currently own any of these appliances or tools, so I can’t speak to their quality or convenience personally, but they seem quite awesomely handy.):


  • Silicone Bowl Set. These flexible cups seem ideal for pouring batter, whether into a cupcake tin or onto a pancake griddle.



  • Pineapple Corer. I am SO bad at slicing pineapple, and always feel like I leave so much fruit on the peel in the process. My sister and brother-in-law have one of these corers, and it’s like magic watching the process. Plus, you’re left with a perfectly hollowed out pineapple that you can then serve the chopped pineapple in or go super tropical and serve an umbrella-adorned cocktail in it.



  • Clip-On Pouring Spout. I often feel like I need a second set of hands when I’m trying to drain water from a pot or pour a pot or bowl’s contents into a difference container. This gadget would be an incredible help in those instances.


  • Cake Batter Dispenser. With as much baking as I do, I can see myself using this tool pretty frequently. Think about it: No more ugly batter bits along the rim of a cupcake liner. Score! (It’s the little things, right?)



What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets that you find yourself reaching for again and again?

Fall Recipes Worth Sharing


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Fall cooking is maybe the best, as far as I’m concerned. It’s root vegetable season, and Kevin and I love to roast huge batches of veggies with chicken (plus olive oil, sea salt, and pepper) and enjoy the results for days. In fact, I roasted up a collection of tasty fall veggies just this morning. (All the parsnips for me, please!)

And then there are the SOUPS. Yes. Yes, please. I’ve had very few specific cravings with this pregnancy, but soup has been one of them. So, needless to say, I’m happy soup season is formally upon us.

I’ve been trying a few new — and definitively fall — recipes lately, and wanted to share those recipes with y’all in case you’re looking for some new items to add to your fall cooking repertoire, too.

Get ready for some seasonal deliciousness:

  • Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash Soup (Gimme Some Oven). This recipe had me at “slow cooker.” I’m down for any recipe that can be magically created in the crock pot. This dish can be prepped ahead (I chopped everything and kept it in the fridge for a couple of days before cooking) for extra convenience. And if you REALLY want to make it easier on yourself, buy the pre-sliced butternut squash (they have it at Trader Joe’s). I don’t have an immersion blender, but used our Ninja blender to puree this soup, and it worked beautifully. You could use a food processor, too, I’m sure. I accidentally left out the coconut milk, but the soup was delicious without it so I’m considering that ingredient optional.


  • Butternut Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Cooking Light). Few things are as comforting as curry, in my opinion, and this healthy version is to die for. I added more squash and cauliflower than the recipe called for and was very happy with that decision. I love, too, that you can serve it over just about anything — rice, quinoa, spaghetti squash — you name it!


  • Chicken Chili (Food Network). This bean-less chili is super tasty, and you can turn up the spice to meet your family’s preferred level. I used rotisserie chicken to make for an even easier prep!


  • Paleo Shepherd’s Pie (Fat Loss Foodies). Lightened up comfort food? Sign me up! I tend to love Fat Loss Foodies’ recipes (this white turkey¬†chili recipe¬†of theirs is one I make again and again this time of year), and now this shepherd’s pie is at the top of my go-to list. Yum!


What delicious new recipes have you discovered so far this fall?

Best New Beauty & Hair Product Finds

Though I have a few tried and true beauty products that I’ve used for years, I also love introducing new products into my routine — especially after reading or hearing positive reviews about said new products.

I’ve been especially happy about a few new things I’ve tried recently, and wanted to share my success and enthusiasm with y’all. After all, I find that it can be intimidating to sift through the sea of products that exists out there. You can consider me your guinea pig on these:

  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day (PHD) Dry Shampoo. I had to lead with this product, because it’s AMAZING. I’d tried a handful of other dry shampoo brands before, and had just decided that dry shampoo wasn’t my thing. I was so glad to be proven wrong with Living Proof when they included a sample dry shampoo in my shampoo/conditioner order. I now use this stuff religiously, and it’s allowed me to significantly reduce the number of times a week I wash my hair (meaning mornings are far less hectic). I can’t recommend this stuff enough! (Bonus: Shipping is free on AND the site is Ebates friendly — 4% even. Score!)


  • Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. I don’t know about better than sex, but it is better than just about any other mascara I’ve tried. (A close second in my book: Benefit They’re Real Mascara.) My tip, though, when using this mascara is to scrape the wand against the¬†top of the mascara bottle before applying, or it can get clumpy when you apply.


  • Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. I’d heard people rave about this cult favorite product, and now I know why. I use it in the morning before I apply my BB cream, and love the way it helps everything distribute smoothly and stay in place throughout the day.



What new products have you discovered lately?


Village Juice: Winston-Salem’s Best New (& Healthy!) Restaurant


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First things first: Winston friends — Have you tried Village Juice Co. yet? If not, make a mental note to do so ASAP. Like, plan to grab lunch there today, even. You need to try this place. (It’s located off of Stratford Road, right across the street from Thruway, in the same shopping center as Zoe’s Kitchen and Brynn’s Frozen Yogurt.)


I’ve been a fan of¬†Village Juice since it started, and enjoyed getting to know its founder, Lonnie Atkinson, through shared connections at Pure Barre. Initially, Village Juice sold what its name implies: juice. Cold-pressed, super healthy, stupidly delicious juice. You could find their product at the Cobblestone Farmers Market and at their juice truck by the Krankies Airstream.


Recently, though, the company expanded to a dedicated restaurant space and extended their menu to include not just their amazing juices and almond milks but also smoothies, smoothie bowls (thicker smoothies topped with fruit, nuts, and other deliciousness), toasts, salads, grain bowls, and amazing healthy desserts.


I was lucky to get an up-close view of Village Juice Co.’s restaurant as it was being developed. The ad agency I work for, The Variable, helped Village Juice with some branding elements for the new space, and so I got to spend lots of time learning about their ingredients, mission, menu items, and more. I was giddy with excitement for this place to open. Winston-Salem just doesn’t have anything else quite like it — and it was about time we did!


So yeah — check this place out, please. The people behind the company are amazing. The food is incredible (both its taste and quality), and you can feel good about anything you order doing really great things for your body.


Thanks for bringing such a great healthy food option to our community, Village Juice!

Navigating My First Trimester (The Second Time Around)

Kevin and I shared recently via social media that we’re planning to become parents this coming spring.



We’re thrilled with the news and, while it doesn’t come without some fear attached, we’re focusing on the positive and are so excited about what this new chapter will bring. I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant, so we’re past the first trimester (often the danger zone), which feels really good. I’m dying to find out our baby’s gender (that appointment is slated for October 21)!

We’re in that stage of things, though, where this whole thing doesn’t completely feel real. Sure, we’ve seen a couple of ultrasounds and heard the heartbeat a few¬†times, which is always awe inspiring and so cool to be able to check in on this now-apple-sized person growing inside me. But it still feels somewhat distant at this point, and I find I’m reminding myself that I’m pregnant every now and then. (We bought a stroller and infant carrier last weekend, though, and leaving the store with those items felt VERY parental, I must say. It was kind of surreal.)

I’ve definitely had some symptoms to help remind me that something big is happening, though. Last time around, I didn’t have many symptoms, but this second pregnancy’s first trimester brought with it morning sickness (a.k.a. “not throwing up, but feeling not-so-great throughout the day many days” sickness), fatigue (I was SO TIRED), heartburn, and more sensitivity to foods and smells than usual. While on one hand I was most definitely thankful for these symptoms — as they acted as daily reminders that my hormones were working as they should — they also¬†brought some changes to my routine and to my mindset.

I felt SO TIRED so much of the time. This is FINALLY starting to let up, and I’m incredibly thankful for having more energy. A few weeks ago, I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. on a weeknight and slept ALL night, waking up at 5 a.m. to teach Pure Barre that morning. Ten and a half hours of sleep, y’all. On, like, a Wednesday. And it was amazing, but I still wanted a nap at around 2 p.m. the next day. All this sleeping meant I was cutting many evenings short (and sleeping later on mornings when I could), skipping some times I’d typically be working out.

I was eating somewhat differently than I usually do, too. Often, I found myself STARVING, but nothing sounded good to eat. When I finally landed on what did sound good, it tended to be carb heavy. My go-to breakfast during that first trimester was¬†Cheerios with bananas, blueberries, and almond milk. It was SO good, but my typical (non-pregnant) breakfast is a spinach and fruit smoothie. My standard lunch fare is a big salad topped with everything we have on hand. I was still eating a lot of those, but they just weren’t hitting the spot like they usually¬†do. I was craving (and eating more of) things like crackers, rice, pizza, noodles, and toast. My sweet tooth — usually going strong — was coming and going. Coffee didn’t sound at all good. (Which is good, since limiting or eliminating caffeine is doctor’s orders.)

Some of these changes have remained intact beyond the first trimester, but thankfully I’m feeling much more like myself these days — energy level and food preferences included. (I’m disappointed to report that the heartburn is still going strong, though. Tums are my new favorite food. Ugh.) I still find sweets far less tempting than usual (kind of nice, actually). And coffee? I can take it or leave it (decaf only these days, of course). If you ask me what sounds good for dinner, though, I’ll probably still lead with pizza.

These changes have been hard for me to be okay with at times. I’m trying my best to listen to my body and be kind to myself — after all, it’s doing some majorly incredible work right now — but some days it’s really hard to feel like me with all these changes happening. It’s also hard to cut myself slack when I skip workouts or eat less like my typical self. But I’m getting better about it. And, of course, this itty bitty baby is worth me feeling uncomfortable and out of control.

I’ve been thankful for this calmer second trimester period. I know that feeling will probably be pretty short lived, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can. My mom always said, “Having a baby is a lesson in losing control,” and I’m finding that her words are true — and they start well before the baby is actually here!

For those of you who have been through this phase of pregnancy, I’d love to hear any advice you have on how to navigate this newness. It’s strange to not know quite what to expect as far as what — or when! — changes will start happening to my body. (But seriously, consider this a solicitation for advice — both pregnancy and parenting related. I’ll take all the help I can get!)

Books I’ve Loved Lately



I’ve been doing lots of reading recently, which has made me quite happy. I find that reading happens for me like that — I almost have to build momentum and then, once I get going, I crave book after book. I just need to keep this streak going.

Anyway, I thought I’d share the books I’ve read of late, because all of them have been worth recommending. Here goes!:

  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: I haven’t seen¬†the movie that was inspired by this book, so I’m not able to compare the two, but the book is wonderful. It tells the story of a mid-20s girl named Louisa (“Lou”) who’s lived in the same small English town her whole life and finds herself acting as a paid companion to a wealthy quadriplegic man named Will. The two come from very different realities and at first seem the opposite of compatible, but find their lives starting to intertwine in ways neither expected. It’s lovely and heart wrenching and absolutely worth reading.


  • Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman:¬†I think this book should be required reading for all Americans — especially middle and upper class Americans. I’ve been a fan of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black since it was released, but found this book to be much more relatable than the show. It’s much more approachable and less dramatic than the show, although it’s easy to see how the show was born from the book. Kerman — thanks to her first-person perspective — is able to give readers a clear and honest view of what the state of prisons in America is. (Spoiler: It’s not great.) She combines compelling stats with stories of people she came into contact with during her 15 months in prison, making the story wonderfully human and strikingly memorable.


  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood:¬†This was a book club book (great pick, Sarah!), and I adored Greenwood’s writing style. The story — focusing around main character Wavy — is told from several characters’ perspectives throughout the course of the book, which is a storytelling approach I tend to really enjoy. The novel — dealing with themes including drug use and drug sales, OCD, underage girls in relationships with older men, and infidelity — was certainly not an easy read, but so very worth it.


  • Runaway by Alice Munro: I love, love, love short stories (and have blogged in the past about some of my favorite short story books, if you want some additional recommendations), but hadn’t read anything by prolific Canadian short story author Alice Munro until just recently. Talk about compelling. Each story is beautiful, and Munro’s approach is quite fluid, often with characters from one story appearing in a different life stage in another story. She builds characters in a captivating way — especially impressive since she has so little time to do so. I can’t wait to read more of her work.


  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff: Another book club selection (this one by Nora!), Fates and Furies is told first from the perspective of the husband in a relationship (the first half of the book) and then from his wife’s angle (the second half of the book). Groff does such a good job pointing out both the mystery as well as overlap and trust that tend to exist in any marriage, played out within the particular scenario of this couple and their life experience.


Please send any recent favorite reads my way as well to help me keep my reading streak going strong!