What I’m loving Wednesday!

I am excited to share some products with you today that I am loving right now! And I’m proud to say that none of them are tested on animals – which is something that is near and dear to my heart. But first….

I wanted to share something else that’s near and dear to my heart: THE BIG GIVEAWAY that’s happening RIGHT NOW from which all proceeds go to help women in NC with breast cancer or who are survivors, cross things off of their bucket lists! You have until December 15th to enter (by donating to the GoFundMe) and you’ll be entered to win a variety of prizes such as these items from Carolyn Leona!

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Liz, the owner of Carolyn Leona, donated two fancy dishtowels (valued at $14 each!) and one DARLING pig apron. Now, her pig items have been FLYING out of the shop, so this is a great opportunity for you to win one and make sure you get your hands on it before she sells out again!

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Is that not THE CUTEST? Her aprons are $30 each. If you’re interested in ordering any of her items, she has free shipping through tomorrow with the code “SHIPFREE” at checkout. I am a HUGE fan of her linens and aprons and will definitely be purchasing my own – but YOU can win yours here. And by donating $25, you are entered 3 times to win (which is still less than the cost of the apron or both dish towels!).

Now, for those products I wanted to share with you. Have you ever heard of the Beagle Freedom Project? Their videos make me cry all the time. These poor pups have been caged up since they were born and had products put on their skin and in their eyes and mouths to see what kind of reactions they have to them. What products, you ask? TONS of products that you have in your house and probably use on a daily basis. There’s an app that you can use when shopping to find out if an item is tested on animals – isn’t that handy?

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Image from Beagle Freedom Project website

So, in an effort to not support testing on animals, I’ve been very careful about what products I purchase. I’m proud to say my current toiletries do not fall in the category of being tested on animals.

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First is Dr. Teals: I use the foaming bath and epsom salt (I like the relax and relief kind!) for my post-run or hard workout baths. They have a variety of other products available as well, and other scents.

Next is Organix lotion: I have the coconut milk hibiscus scent and love it. You’ve probably seen their hair products when you’re out shopping, those are good too!

Method is a brand I’ve been seeing pop up in different places, but it’s definitely available for you at your local Target, grocery stores or drug stores. Not only do they have body wash, they have household cleaning products – and all at reasonable prices – including laundry detergent.

Jessica Alba’s brand has been one of my favorites for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve used her hair products. I have the conditioner pictured here and I can’t tell you how much I love the smell! It also does a great job of making my hair silky feeling! Did you know Jessica Alba also helped found the Honest Company and they have a ton of baby products?

Jason is a new one for me. I saw this shampoo and thought I would give it a try (I also tried Aquage but I didn’t love the smell of the shampoo. I do like the volumizing products though!). This particular shampoo boasts that it has biotin and of course, that it doesn’t test on animals. It kind of smells like baby powder to me. I do like the way it works, so I’ll probably continue using it.

Lastly, the Neutrogena Naturals line offers a wide selection of acne treatment, creams, cleansers and scrubs for your face. I am currently using the pore scrub and liking it. It’s just enough scrubbing for my face and doesn’t dry me out.

What are some of your favorite products? I’m currently seeking make up that also isn’t tested on animals (and working on convincing my husband we need to foster one of these beagles!).

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

First of all, DID YOU SEE THE BIG GIVEAWAY that’s happening NOW?! A donation of $10 tiny dollars gets you entered to win over 25 items!!! I am super grateful for those folks who donated items for the giveaway and want to highlight them over the next few weeks. I’m starting with the “Love Never Fails” prints. There are THREE of these to giveaway and any of them would look just lovely framed in a bedroom, or a hallway, or anywhere to give you a sweet reminder that true love, never fails.

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I ordered the first one from Southern Weddings for our very own wedding, and ordered a second one for this giveaway! The black version pictured, is from Lovely Little Paper Co. and is STUNNING. This would stand out on just about any wall! The third one is classic with it’s black and white look and is from The Stationary Boutique. All three of these prints are $16-20 each, so by donating just $10 and having the chance to win one of these, you’re still coming out on top – and you get something pretty out of it!

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Now, for our Thanksgiving Tour wrap up. We started in the triangle area of NC with my in-laws and spent 2.5 days with them, eating ourselves silly

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….and playing tons of games.

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I made some special treats to take with us, including Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mini Sweet Potato Pies and Apple Butter Cookies (with my Paw Paw’s apple butter). They were all delicious but the Nutella Cookies obviously took the cake, or cookie.

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On Friday, we hopped in the car (with the dogs!) and headed to Virginia for time with my family and to celebrate my cousin’s recent marriage with a Hokie themed reception!

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Our niece and nephew loved spending time with the doggies…

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On Saturday, we went to the Pete Dye River Course and celebrated my cousin and his wife, Katie.

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The Hokie themed reception was so much fun – especially the photo booth. All of the little ones loved putting on moustaches and crazy hair. It was so nice to catch up with everyone and see how happy Alex & Katie are together. And now that wedding season is over for us (whew!), it’s time for everyone to start having babies (except us!).

How was your Thanksgiving? What was your favorite part? For me, it was definitely the sweet potato casserole. I think I could live off of that!

 

Pink Friday! [GIVEAWAY]

Thank you to those of you who participated in the last giveaway. We were able to help a few more items be crossed off the bucket lists of some amazing cancer survivors. If you didn’t participate, you can read about it here and how this whole thing got started.

I’m excited to announce the next giveaway which includes a TON of amazing items from some really wonderful people who donated them for THIS good cause.

1. Noonday Collection Scarf (purple scarf, different than what’s pictured) // 2. This is Your Year journal by MiGoals // Make-up Bags by Love W Boutique // 4. Monogrammed Wooden Wedding Guest Book (made to order!) by For Love Polka Dots  // 5. Say Yes to New Adventures 2015 Planner by Nude and Loitering Tees // 6. Love Never Fails print (black & gold) by Lovely Little Paper Company // 7. Winnie the Pooh quote print in gray by WisePrints // Holiday Cocktail Tea Towel by Emily McDowell // 9. Harbor Style Scarf (Burnt Orange) by My 2 Shay from Our Corner // 10. Take the Bull by the Horns journal by Evelyn Henson // 11. Proverbs quote print with blue background by Wise Prints // 12. Roosevelt quote print in purple by Wise Prints // 13. Greeting Cards set by Sugar and Type // 14. Dish towel set by Carolyn Leona // 15. Hope necklace by Island Cowgirl // 16. Make Today Ridiculously Awesome journal by LH Calligraphy // 17. Pig Apron by Carolyn Leona // 18. Two sets of earrings by The Painted Pearl // 19. Two Pink Ribbon Rings by Lori’s Wire // 20. Work Hard Be Kind mug by Sara Moore // 21. Trio of Owls by 518 French Girl // 22. Love Never Fails print by Southern Weddings // 23. Love Never Fails Print by Stationary Boutique  24. Love Compass pillow by Fiber and Water // 25. Today I Choose Joy pillow by Simply Said Stitches

Chances for winning in this giveaway are exponentially better than last time when there were only 3 items. I am so grateful to be able to continue raising money for such an amazing and fun cause. It’s been so wonderful to speak to each of these ladies as their item is presented to them. So, here are the deets:

Starting on 11/28 (which I’m declaring Pink Friday because I don’t shop on Black Friday – or Thanksgiving!) you can enter by donating $10 or more dollars to the Go Fund Me that has been set up and you will be entered to win one of these items. If you donate $10, you will be entered once. If you donate $25 you will be entered 3 times. If you donate $50, you’ll be entered 7 times. Remember, all of the money goes to putting smiles on the faces of people who are fighting unimaginable battles. Once you enter, come back and leave a comment letting me know that you donated and SHARE the blog post on either Twitter or Facebook (the icons are at the bottom!). I’ll keep track of the entries along the way.

The drawing will be held on 12/16 – in time to get your items to you before the Christmas holiday. I will video it and upload it for all to see and also include a recap of the winners in a separate post. Got it?

Good. Let’s raise some serious money for these ladies and make their holidays even more special. Oh, and say thank you to these AMAZING people who donated all of these items!!

Giveaway details: 

1. Donate $10/1 entry, $25/3 entries, $50/7 entries

2. Comment on blog letting me know you donated (follow the blog for updates on new posts!)

3. Share blog post with icons at bottom on either (or both) Facebook/Twitter

4. Drawing will happen on 12/16

So, what are you waiting for? Get entered today! I’d love to hear in the comments which items you’re most excited about – I am pretty much in love with all of these items and know I’d be excited to win any of them!

*number of entries depends on amount of $ donated. chances of winning depends on number of entries. all items will be shipped by 12/20. must be in U.S. to participate. right reserved to cancel giveaway or change end date at any time. winners will be selected randomly and all decisions are final. 

Wednesday Wish List

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? 43 days away, to be exact! While I’m not sharing a “Christmas” list, I am going to share some things that I’m loving right now. Since we’re still in our first year in our new house, we’re still figuring out some things we want/need and where they’ll go once we have them. One thing we can definitely agree on is a firepit.
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I am smitten with this dormat from Lulu and Georgia that says “You & Me,” and is the song we danced to at our wedding. I would love to put it out on our screened in porch. Isn’t it darling?

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While we’re on the topic of Lulu and Georgia, I LOVE this book shelf. It’s so different from traditional book shelves and would look great separating our dining room and living room.

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I have also been swooning over bar carts but haven’t made a purchase yet. Society Social has a great one, but is definitely high-end.

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This vintage-chic one that I found on Etsy is also quite charming:

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Target also has a couple, one which is very simple but I do love that price!

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The other is gold bamboo which is unique, plus it has places for your wine glasses:

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We still want bikes so we can ride around our adorable neighborhood, but with winter quickly approaching (Friday’s “low” is 25 degrees! Brrr!), I doubt we’ll be riding bikes ANYWHERE in the near future. I’m not much of a jewelry person but occasionally I will find items that I love (mostly staples). I sent my husband this Kate Spade watch recently. I have a watch that I wear almost every day to work, but I think this one could be more of an every day and night kind of watch!

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I also love this simple gold bar necklace. I saw a similar one in Monkee’s when shopping with my BFF Amy. This one is less than half the price (I know, I know, you get what you pay for!), but it’s just as cute!

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I rarely splurge on high-ticket items for myself, so this baby will have to wait but I am definitely in need of a David Yurman Pearl ring. I have looked at this for years and just can’t ever seem to suck it up and buy it. Maybe for a push present when we have a baby (don’t get excited moms, Baby E and Baby L are still a long ways off!).

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These vegan Tieks are amazing. I have said over and over again that my Tieks were the best shoe purchase I’ve ever made. I love my gold ones, and after two years, they are finally starting to show wear. I would definitely by the same ones again, but if I were going to switch it up, these would be a close second.

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I’ve been eyeing GiGi clutches for a while now and this eggplant color is all the rage this season. Plus? I love anything monogrammed!

1gigiclutchMost of these things are just nice-to haves. I always have such a hard time coming up with lists of things I actually want for birthdays and Christmas. What are some things you’re loving lately? Would love to hear what’s on your wish-list this year!

Oh Happy day + giveaway winners!

A few weeks ago, I ran a  5-mile race with some of my girlfriends. Afterwards, I tweeted about the race and Mizuno reached out offering me a free pair of their newest running shoe, the Wave Rider 18. These beauties arrived and I can’t help but notice the irony that the color scheme is called “Key West” and we just announced our trip to Key West + my running the half marathon there in January. I think these shoes and I were meant to be!

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I’ve already started training for the race but since I’m 10 weeks out, I have the opportunity to slowly work my way up. I’m currently at 5 miles and did a run last night, keeping my pace under 9 miles (though my first two miles were by far my fastest!). So far, so good with hitting my 2 hour goal. I’m excited to try out my new shoes, set a new PR in this race, and get back into running.

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Now… the real reason you’re here…. the winners of the giveaway. I am so grateful for everyone who donated and read the blog this past month. You helped make some serious wishes come true for perfect strangers. The Porters visited Bald Head Island last week. Adrienne had two stock-car driving experience passes sent to her (big thanks to the Joey Logano Charitable Foundation). Julie G is getting her discs to help her learn to speak French. Michelle received two passes to go hang gliding in the OBX. As donations continue to come in, we’ll work to cross more items off these bucket lists. But let me say one more time, THANK YOU. I’m so grateful for your big hearts (and your excitement for Tieks). The winners were selected by Random.org. There were 14 of you who entered (names were matched with donations and comments). Congratulations to Kelly W, winner of the $100 gift card to Tieks; Amy T. winner of the pink ribbon hat; and Arely P., winner of the $10 Amazon gift card.

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I will be in touch with each of the winners. I hope to be able to offer more giveaways and to continue raising money to bring happiness to the lives of these amazing fighters. Check out the Pretty in Pink Foundation if you get a chance. They do some pretty awesome things with some pretty awesome people. Oh, and you just did something awesome, too, so high five to you. And big hugs all around. My heart is so full of gratitude for you all!

Happy November + a running playlist!

I woke up to stories of snow here in NC, as well as in SC. We don’t have any in Charlotte, but we do have some cold rain. Hard to believe that this past Monday was 80 degrees, and this coming week we will be back in the 70s. Is anyone out there still denying global warming? This weather is craziness! And this weather pushed me straight to the gym for my first half marathon training run this morning. I don’t do rain and I especially don’t do cold rain.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.57.27 AMYesterday, I registered for the Key West Half Marathon in January. I’ve wanted to do this race for years and since my birthday is also in January, we decided to make a birthday trip out of it. My husband even decided to do the 5k while we are there! Having a winter birthday and growing up in Virginia meant I didn’t have a lot of warmth or sunshine to celebrate my special day, so I’m thankful that this year, I will. Well, warmer than January in North Carolina, anyway.

11315_10100995262378323_6758311029683940757_nIf I haven’t told you before, I LOVE the beach. Don’t care where it is, as long as it has sand, salty water, and sunshine, I’m a happy camper. However, signing up for a January half marathon means winter training runs. So I’m going to need a lot of motivation, warm running clothes and some awesome music to keep me going. Luckily, the course is flat (Thanks, Florida), so I will have an advantage training on hills here in NC. I’m already prepared to train some on the treadmill, at least on rainy/snowy days, or days that drop below 45 degrees. My run this morning was 4 miles at an 8:53 pace. I’m pretty happy with that, but am also pretty positive I can’t maintain that for more than 5-6 miles. My goal for this race is to get it done in 2 hours or less. So, I need to be under (or at) a 9:10 pace for 13.1 miles. Whew! That’s what training is for, right?

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 3.16.06 PMI created a new playlist to get me motivated for training. I usually just put my iPod on shuffle so I’m not always listening to the playlist in the same order. Everything is pretty upbeat. I’m especially loving Florence + The Machine these days! I grabbed a few songs from Jen’s playlist to push me to the 2 hour mark. Now I know I have enough music to run 13.1 miles (or I’m going to have some quiet thinking time if I don’t get it done in 2 hours).

So, here’s to 13.1 miles, birthdays in Florida and some awesome music on this cold, rainy November day. What are your favorite songs to run/workout to? I’m always looking for new additions to my playlist! 

Favorite Fall Foods

It looks like these gorgeous days with 70 degree weather are about to leave us, just as we Fall back an hour this weekend. So I’m prepared with warm (mostly healthy) foods that are full of fall flavor.

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For my bridal shower, guests were asked to fill out a recipe card for our adorable monogramed recipe box that my Aunt Joann got us. I love being able to try new recipes and customize them to my tastebuds – and it’s so nice to know that a dear friend or family member gave me one of their favorite recipes. Oh, and I say “my tastebuds” because my husband travels so there are lots of times he doesn’t get to enjoy the delicious meals I make (but I usually send him pictures!).

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My Pumpkin Pancakes that I blogged about earlier this month are definitely one of my favorite flavors this month. They are the right amount of sweet and super savory. I have considered adding in some nuts or chocolate chips but they’re so good as-is that I’m not really sure add-ins are needed. I definitely recommend whipping up a batch of these if you haven’t already!

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My grandfather used to make apple butter with his church every fall and give jars to everyone in the family. I always got two. I love spreading apple butter on biscuits or toast in the fall. This year, I want to try these apple butter cookies and see if they’re as good as they sound. I’m down to my last two jars of apple butter which makes me sad. We’re definitely using it sparingly. There’s something special about it being the apple butter that my Paw Paw made with his own two hands. I hate the thought of not having any more of it.

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Soy lime Salmon and lime cilantro quinoa are another favorite meal. This is a 6 oz. piece of salmon pictured. 4 oz is actually a more appropriate proportion but I didn’t feel like having the guy cut 2 oz. off of it. I usually put a little oil or non-stick spray in the baking dish and preheat the oven to 375. I usually just dash light soy sauce (lower in sodium) on the fish, squeeze lime juice, and sprinkle garlic powder, Himalayan pink salt, and pepper. Bake for somewhere between 15-18 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. Quinoa is a protein packed food. Usually you mix one cup quinoa to two cups water (depending on how many servings you are making). Bring the combination to a boil, lower heat and cover for 10-15 minutes until water is absorbed. Once you’ve lowered the heat, squeeze in some lime juice. I like to use fresh cilantro and mix it in right at the end. The flavors all work so well together!

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Chili is another amazing fall/winter dinner – and so easy! I love that I can make a big pot on Sunday and it lasts the week, making taking lunch to work or dinner when I don’t feel like cooking, super quick! I like to use light sodium beans, and as many kinds as I can find. This particular pot had white beans, light red and dark red kidney beans, and black beans. Be sure to drain all of the beans before tossing in the pot. Since I also L-O-V-E spicy food, I toss in a can of (drained) rotel. A large can of tomato sauce is also needed. I chop up a red onion and green pepper and toss those in. I use lean ground turkey or bison for the meat. You should brown the meat in a skillet before combining it with the other ingredients. I use pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder for spices – use to taste. Once you’ve got everything combined, cook on medium for 10 minutes or so and then simmer for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I like to top mine with jalapenos and a spoonful of sour cream!

Zuppa Toscana is one of my FAVORITE soups (heavy and not healthy!) but I think I’ll hold off a few more weeks before making my first pot. I’d love to hear some of your favorite recipes and add them to my box! Please share in the comments. I promise to post pictures and reviews once I try them!
PS – there are only TWO days left to get in on the Tieks gift card giveaway! Enter NOW!