Today is our four year wedding anniversary! As if year three wasn’t weird enough – we had another year literally together practically every day working from home together. Since we conquered working from home together, we decided to try something else that was challenging, like conquer a major home renovation and make healthly lifestyle changes.
This year we grew a lot and went through a major health journey together – although it was primarily for me, B was an integral part in the success of my gut health journey and both of us getting back on track and into a healthier lifestyle. I don’t think I would’ve been as nearly as successful with it all, without him. He carried our team from grocery shopping to meal prep all the way to cooking. On top of the initial journey, we’ve been holding each other accountable ever since.
We also decided to take on a major home renovation that has definitely tested us. Dealing with contractors, having gigantic holes in your house, not having a kitchen for 6+ months, on top of spending a lot of money. We had our fair share of arguments, disagreements and also kismet moments. Our kitchen for the record, still is not finished – but hopefully we’re on the home stretch and just in the waiting game for cabinets, I think the contractors, headaches and major stresses are luckily behind us. What I cannot wait for is all the new memories that we are going to create in the new kitchen, all the parties were going to host and all the little moments we’ll have together there too.
I can’t believe we’re kicking off year five married together. Each year we continue to conquer new adventures, take on new challenges and grow together as a team. We are never short of having lots of big plans, from house projects, to more firsts and many, many more travel plans.
Are you ready for something Spookilicious? With Halloween weekend upon us, I couldn’t help but feel inspired to create a healthy and gut-friendly Halloween-themed charcuterie board for two! Especially with the forecast not looking so great, cozying up at home sounds like the perfect fix paired with some snacks and adult bevies.
Since our gut journey, we still enjoy snacks and sweets – we just look a little differently at what we pick out and snack on or opt to make things with fresh and healthier ingredients. We’ve been cutting back on processed snacks, but when we do, we’ve been really conscious at reading the ingredients and buying things without artificial flavors or hidden junk – the fewer ingredients listed…, the better!
My secret to creating the perfect charcuterie board is having an even mix of crunch, sweet, savory, veggies, and some fruit. Even if they’re good for you, having the perfect blend of all the right things can make for healthy snacking without the guilt. What’re your Halloween plans?
Ready for a fun reveal? As we’ve been in influx awaiting the official go ahead for our kitchen, we of course found another project to keep busy with. So why not build a wall in the basement and create a built in bar?
A few years ago, we created a‘finished/unfinished’ space in our basement for an additional living space with a TV, $60 DIY shiplap walland some deep couches. To help section this off from a storage area, we created a wall with a large drop cloth and piping, which worked great for an easy, temporary solution – but the plan was always to create an actual wall… eventually. Well, B had been itching to build the wall, and I told him I really wanted to add a built in bar and shared some inspiration, so together we worked to figure out the spacing and how we could pull it together – but not without a few disagreements of course.
To keep it somewhat simple, we bought prefab base kitchen cabinets from Lowe’s — we originally wanted to find something a bit more swallow, but everything was super expensive, so upon searching we found a taller wine fridge and compromised for deeper cabinets. From there we needed to figure out a counter top, all your typical counter tops at Lowe’s were either super basic and blah or a bit more than we wanted to spend, so upon doing some research B found this nicer plywood that we could stack, glue, stain and polyurethane to create our own counter top. It actually came out way better than expected.
Once we had our base all figured out, it was time for the fun part – decorating! We were able to utilize some left over gold handles from a previous project for our cabinets, that give it a modern and sleek look, pulling in the gold accents. I went with a simpler approach to two parallel photos vs. a gallery wall like I was initially thinking – it definitely keeps it cleaner with the two stacked shelves on the right side. We got the brackets off Amazon and then bought the shelves, that were a little more expensive but a nice sleek look that we were also able to stain and polyurethane. We also got the wine glass holder from Amazon, which fits perfectly and has ample counter space still underneath it.
A few other fun touches include the artwork, that B and I ended up hand painting ourselves – I did the fun Notorious B.I.G. quote and B did the champagne bottle! We also had to get oversized snack jars for some sweet and savory treats, although I can’t say they’ve been staying full. Moz also has her own filled with her favorite treats. Lastly, we finally have a place for the cocktail books we’ve received over the years – and the Fancy AF book inspired me to also make this an unofficial Bravo Books library – more to come as my collection grows! Some greenery and other fun bubble trinkets also helped finish off the space.
We are finishing up painting some french doors that will open and close also into our new basement space – which will make it perfect for any guests who may end up staying in the future. The space has seen a complete transformation – and we also now have an enclosed nice big storage closet on the opposite side of the wall too.
We can’t wait to host some friends, catch a football game and eat some snacks – because that counter is also big enough for plenty of food and we’re stocked with plenty of beverages!
National Prosecco Day was last month and I always first think holy sh** we’re half way through August and Summer is over… and then instantly like, oh but it’s National Prosecco Day. *pops open a bottle of bubbly* — I often joke that I try to live every day like it’s National Prosecco Day… but adulting and life sometimes interfere.
To commemorate a much delayed NPD, I’m sharing a few of my latest process-obsessions. We’re in the process of creating a built in bar in our basement to further complete our intimate basement space — and the best part about it all besides having a new space to decorate is the fact that we bought a champagne fridge! (I mean technically it’s a wine fridge, but we’ll be stocking up on the bubbles). So without further ado, here our my latest obsessions to help make our bar a bubbly sensation!
Prosecco Prints. I am playing around with a prosecco themed gallery wall – I love the idea of pulling in black and white to match our large painting we have in our basement. Fun illustrated bubbly bottle outlines, or even great champagne inspired quotes (ugh, there are so many good ones!) is what I keep coming back too – but can’t decide on.
Bubbly Quotes. OK, so there are like SO many good quotes about champagne (I know it’s NBD) and bubbles. And a lot of them are from the great F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Here are a few of my favorites: – “Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald – “Among the whispering and the champagne and the stars.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald – “Now we sip champagne when we thirsty.” – The Notorious B.I.G. – “My only regret in life that I didn’t drink enough champagne.” – John Maynard Keynes
Champagne Fridge. We scored this fridge at almost 50% off – just by chance. We were going to do a bulk online order, and I just happen to just go into the store and saw it was discounted in store! Score – we just had to drive to another location that had the last one in stock. This Frigidaire 34-bottle wine fridge (is actually still discounted from $419 to $319) and fits better with the pre-fab cabinets we got as well. Even better, champagne bottles fit just as easily as the wine bottles. Now, we just need to keep it stocked!
DIY Cork Memories. Another fun little project I may tackle, is creating 3D art with champagne corks that we’ve saved and written on documenting special moments. We have one from our first Christmas married together and a few others – I think it’ll be a fun way to use those, while also creating a custom piece that is special and meaningful to us!
Life of course has been a little nuts, as I had full intensions on sharing this post a few weeks ago on National Prosecco Day, but that’s life! I cannot wait to share our DIY built in basement bar with all our fun bubbly pops and personal touches with you soon!
OK – I’ll have to admit one of the reasons we’ve been able to be so successful with our gut healthy journey and change of lifestyle is there have been some amazingly delicious and super easy recipes – like our go-to grass-fed burgers (or bison) with an easy coleslaw, fermented pickles and avocado. Yum!
Once you’ve had this, there will be no surprise why it’s quickly become one of our favorites. There is one ‘weird’ ingredient that you may not be used to eating or cooking with is fennel. We have never had fennel prior to our gut health journey — but there are a handful of recipes that’ve called for it like this one. And it does have a distinct taste, but it tastes good! Fennel is oddly shaped and a member of the carrot family, but it is not considered a root vegetable. A few other ‘gut healthy’ pointers when buying some of your ingredients:
Yogurt – Make sure to get greek yogurt that has live cultures with at least 1 million CFUs (colony-forming units). Also, when possible look for pasture-raised cows so that you don’t have any extra hidden evils in there.
Meat – It’s crucial to purchase and eat grass-fed beef or bison, this ensures you’re not eating any additional antibiotics and getting the freshest and safest meat. We are always stocked on grass-fed beef thanks to Meatboxlocal.
Ingredients: – (4) carrots, peeled and shredded – (1) fennel bulb, shredded – 3-cups of sliced red cabbage – Juice from one whole lemon, – 1 teaspoon of celery seed – 1-cup of 2% plain greek yogurt – For Serving: avocado, fermented pickles, grass-fed beef or bison burgers.
Step-by-Step Instructions: 1. Wash and prep your carrots, shred them with a cheese grater into a bowl — add your red cabbage. 2. Next, prep your fennel – wash and cut the greens off. Then shred overtop your carrots and cabbage. Next up shred half of your lemon peel and pour lemon juice over top. 3. Top with your 1-cup of greek yogurt and teaspoon of fennel seeds. Mix well, refrigerate until ready to serve! 4. Serving size is 1-cup of coleslaw, use as your base and stack burger, quarter avocado and a few pickle slices for your final meal!
Serving Size: (1 burger, 1 cup of slaw, quarter of an avocado, 3 sliced pickles) 284 calories, 31g protein, 24g carbohydrates, 9g total fat,
And that is really it! I promise you it’ll be a go-to and it’s so easy to pull together. The coleslaw recipe would be great on it’s own as a side and a healthy alternative to bring to your next backyard bbq or family gathering. We make this at least once a week and love every bit of it – you don’t even miss the burger buns because the flavor between the coleslaw, avocado and pickles paired with the burger is just soooo good!
Welp! Demo has officially started on our kitchen reno, perhaps a little preemptively but after meeting with our contractor to talk him through the plan – we quickly realized there were a handful of hidden outliers that had B and I itching to uncover. So last Saturday, we just tried to rip up a few of the lament floor tiles to see if the hardwoods were wrecked or not… a few hours later – we had half the room ripped up and the floor was looking in pretty tip-top shape. Since then we’ve (mostly B) taken down the ceiling, layers of plaster walls to continue to uncover what we’re working with. I mean… we live in a 100+ year old home. So far, we’ve uncovered a ceiling leak (thanks rain) and a few other janky workings.
I say we preemptively started demo, because once we start something – we can’t stop (especially B) and also because, we don’t actually have any contractor confirmed for when work is going to get started. We have gotten a few different cabinet quotes and think we have that nailed down at least the company and general direction we want to move forward with. But now that demo has started – there is no way this kitchen isn’t happening this year. We’re hoping to get a few follow-ups from our slow contractor and then go from there. So until then, I’m working to finalize some of the design and details as we work through the demo — it’s funny, now that we’ve disrupted our currently living room and are starting to get a blank canvas, the design and finishing inspiration is finally coming to life for me.
So now what? We’re going to continue to move forward and get our kitchen cabinets and counter tops finalized – the company we’re most likely going to move forward with the in home field measurement and design consultation to make sure we’re optimizing the most out of our space. Yes, this is getting us more kitchen, but it’s still going to be relatively cozy (that’s the nice way of saying small) — compared to what we’d really want in a dream kitchen — and sadly that still includes moving walls to extend our footprint.
Having a design consultation will be exciting and then we’ll be able to make sure we’re closer to exact as we’ve learned a few hard ways how important accurate measurements are. For example, our first cabinet quote was through Home Depot, super fast, great way to get an initial price for cabinets — but we ended up having more space in one area than we actually do (we had guestimates of our measurements when we went to this apt.) — the reality is those couple inches significantly impacted the potential sink size (like 33″ down to 27″) and the corner cabinet solution, i.e. lazy susan or something a bit unconventional. Luckily, with this new company – it sounds like they have some fun solutions to get us space to have a larger sink while being able to best utilize that corner spot.
Now, with the demo and our kitchen footprint pretty open, we have been able to put a few pieces to “mock up” the spacing to get a better idea of our kitchen nook area and what we can fit comfortably in the space while still letting it feel big and open. I even sat and browsed for products while we had the nook set-up and it was perfect – I can’t wait to hang out and blog while B cooks dinner. I was even finally able to decide on a few design pieces. I might even be as far as to having an idea of the backsplash that will go counter to ceiling on either side of the kitchen above the stove and sink area. Here is a look at a few of the potential final picks, a bit of mood board for our kitchen – I’m still trying to find an affordable faucet!
Since I want to incorporate brass/gold – it’s going to be crucial to make sure the shades of everything match up closely. That is why I was excited to find the light fixtures as that look pretty similar in the brass color that they are. Our appliances – as of right now – are white and gold, so as long as the back order doesn’t lead us to cancelling, we’ll be having pops of white and gold! Here’s to making some actual progress towards getting this kitchen done!
Ok, I have to admit the four year wedding anniversary gift is kinda weird and kinda of boring. Up until year four, the gifts have been fun and make you think outside of the box – but fruit or flowers? Yes, fruit or flowers is the traditional wedding gift for year four, which traditionally, is what B and I like to stick too. But ironically, the modern gift for year four is appliances. Ironic, because we’re in the process of a kitchen remodel and the only thing we’ve actually done is order our appliances, which are an upgrade and major splurge.
“Your relationship has fully bloomed by your fourth anniversary, making flowers or ripe fruit an appropriate gift.”
“A more practical gift, sure, but electrical appliances also embody how settled you feel in your relationship by the fourth year.”
Fruit and Flowers just seem like every day normal things to me – which in my opinion make this ‘theme’ a little less-special, especially when celebrating something so special as a marriage and your commitment. I also do research when I’m putting this together to provide unique gifts and ideas for my readers, because otherwise what’s the point?! So here are some twists/turns on this oddly normal gift theme.
Lemon Tree. A fruit tree can be a clever way to give the gift of fruit (and flowers) without letting it be eaten up or temporary. A lemon tree can grow and produce lemons year after year — of course some research may need to be done based on your climate, and/or keeping this inside. But I personally, would love a lemon tree!
Hydrangea Bush. In the same vein, this is something that you can plant together AND it will come back each year as a perfect reminder of your marriage – and each year it’ll grow bigger and stronger just like your relationship does. Of course, any sort of flower bush or plant would be a great gift, so finding something that fits into your climate and landscape will definitely be the best bet and may require a bit of research!
Flower Inspired Jewelry. If you’re not really a plant person – get something that never dies! Thesebirth month flower gold necklaces are simple, delicate and meaningful. Or this option is a little more bold and trendy(B, if you’re reading this, winky winky on this second link!). You could even get the flower of the month you were married to make it a little more special and tie it into your anniversary more! There are so many options to choose from on Etsy, plus then you’re also supporting a local business.
I definitely don’t recommend surprisingly your spouse with a brand new expensive fridge, unless you’ve already consulted each other on the purchase. Otherwise my beef with appliances as a gift is, it feels sort of boring and generic and bad-Christmas gifty — unless that is your thing! But that’s why I dug deep for a few more price-friendly and unique “appliances” if you’re shopping for a modern fourth wedding anniversary gift. The key for thinking of a more personalized appliance, is what’re things you enjoy doing together? Here is some inspiration from B and I.
Adult-Level Toaster. First of all, if you don’t have a four slice toaster, get one! Also four sliced toaster for your four year anniversary… dare I say, genius? Now, upgrade to a nice looking toaster that has style and function. B and I always like making breakfast together – so this makes sense and is something we’ll both enjoy using. Also, if you ever host you’ll be able to toast four slices, instead of two.
Gourmet Coffee at Home. B and I love to drink coffee, we also love getting coffee. You too? Bring the barista to your home! Even if it’s just getting a single serve espresso maker – this can instantly up your at home coffee game, especially if it’s something you both enjoy together!
A Glammed Up Air Fryer. We haven’t jumped on the air fryer train, but Drew Barrymore’s Beautiful line, exclusive to Wal-Mart (ugh!) is SUPER cute and kinda of makes me want an air fryer. The color options are so fun and you can get a few other matching pieces or appliances that all match and will make your kitchen looking high-end but at a much nicer price tag!
Here’s hoping that the appliances we ordered in June actually get here and that we can make this kitchen renovation a reality this year! So, backorder pending – we have our four year anniversary gifts already picked out, but I know we will find another way and something small to celebrate and spoil each other come November.
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a weekend highlight. One, because last year it felt like a cardinal sin if you had an ounce of fun or socialized with anyone — and this year, is just an awkward light-switch back to normal, so you better be prepared to live life like last year never happened! Sorry, not quite there – and have been taking baby paired with big steps into trying to get back to live pre-19.
But we had the most perfect weekend away, so I just had to share a few highlights from our time away.
Our annual STBC trip. A trip to the cabin means an automatic trip to our favorite spot, Southern Tier Brewing Co. We first went to STBC in 2013, and have made it back almost every year since as it’s our annual tradition. We usually make it there in the fall so that we can enjoy their fall seasonal beers, but we got there a little earlier this year! Luckily they had their fall beers on tap – so I was able to have my fave Warlock. The forecast for the weekend, specifically Saturday was looking like a wash, but we were going to try and arrive to STBC when they opened at 11am, so we could snag an optimal covered outdoor spot since we brought Moz. Well, when we were heading out, the forecast looked like it was clearing up, at least for our morning timeframe. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. We got our prime covered, outdoor seat – avoided the crowds – and splurged on some yummy eats and brews! And by the time we left, it was a crazy downpour, so it was seriously the definition of perfect timing.
Homemade, local ice cream! I wanna scream right now — I ate real ice cream… in a cone… and didn’t die! After being diagnosed lactose intolerant almost 6-years ago, I just came to grips that I needed to opt for dairy-free or yogurt-based ice creams to avoid a problem. BUT after going on this gut cleanse, I was interested in trying out ice cream again, I think a big thing that helped is we went to a homemade local ice cream spot near the cabin. I really wanted cookie dough, but they didn’t have the flavor (can you even believe?) so I opted for buckeye and thin mint. Thin mint was definitely where it was at – I wish I had a whole cone of thin mint. It was basically amazing.
Cabin life. Our cabin getaway is a family home, so we are so lucky to be able to enjoy our time away, make memories with a quick drive to the middle of nowhere. Once you arrive at the cabin, you’re just welcomed with a sense of relief — the real world is so far away, even when you’re scanning work emails or posting something for a client. The covered deck is perfect for early morning breakfast and late night game nights with fun lights, tiki torches and quiet ambiance of nature. Even with the rain, being “stuck” inside is welcomed, because either way it’s a retreat and a break from the real world. We love our walks around the grounds, our morning coffee, sleeping in, and making breakfasts.
Between the rain working out with our schedule and being able to get our STBC trip in – to enjoying some ice cream – having a fun game night – and then meeting some fun farm animals at a neighboring farm, the weekend was simply perfect.
My “official” gut health journey is wrapping up, which means the start of the official life as we know it gut health lifestyle — this three part journey has only just been the start. In Phase 1, we took 30-hard days of cleansing our gut with a keto-like approach, which helped drop serious pounds and also clean out the bad gut bugs. In Phase 2, we focused on fertilizing and re-planting the good gut bugs back into our gut by adding in fermented foods and probiotics. Phase 3 has been all about maintaining and easing into “life as we know it” – and I have to say, I’ve been pretty pleased with Phase 3, as I’ve been able to give and take a bit more while still maintaining my weight over the last few weeks – which is the ultimate goal on top of having a healthy gut!
THE GIST OF PHASE 3
Phase 3 is basically life as we know it – with a primary focus on food that is closely related to and inspired by the Mediterranean Diet. Phase 3 is about achieving and maintaining the ultimate healthy lifestyle – with a good balance of healthy, natural foods, paired with exercise, ways to reduce stress, better sleep and even enjoying the finer things in life every now and again. That last part, was something that also made me realize I’ve picked the right thing to help switch up my overall health — being able to enjoy sweets and other tasty things. As we are reminded throughout the book the poison is in the dose. So many ‘diets’ are about being super strict and eliminating this whole food group or that whole food group – and this really offers a nice variety – it’s just focusing on cutting out the fake foods our society has normalized and made so easily accessible overtime.
Also, so many diets focus on the food only – and not the well-rounded being beyond saying you should “work out.” Here is another powerful quote that represents what this lifestyle change is really all about. Another gut-health resource on Instagram is Dr. Mark Hyman – he shares a lot of great gut health information.
“Environmental influencers do impact the expression of certain parts of your genetic code. Diet, exercise, stress levels, toxins, and more can trigger receptors in your genes that will alter the messages they send to your body. That means what you do, what you eat, how you exercise, how much stress you have, and how you behave everyday actually affects you at the deepest possible biological and physiological levels.”
The Gut Balance Revolution
MY PHASE 3 RESULTS
This 85 day journey has proven crazy results, including obvious physical ones and then mental and other health benefits. I’m actually below my initial goal weight of 154 and weighing 149, which is a total loss of 25lbs. And, as I mentioned since Phase 3 has started, we have been able to maintain that weight steadily for the last couple weeks — even with a cheat day thrown in here and there.
Let’s talk more numbers! I’ve lost 6% of my body fat since the start – which is incredible in and of itself. I’ve even lost over 7-inches around my upper thigh, 5.5-inches around my belly and my breast width is down 2-inches. The physical transformation, has also helped my mental well-being, I just feel better. I’m more confident, more happy when I put clothes on — the weight has literally been lifted.
As I mentioned in my Phase 2 update, I’ve been able to eat a few things that I haven’t in over 6-years, like yogurt (pretty regularly, soft cheeses). My cough that was lingering since October has even gone away, whether it was acid reflex related or not, my cough and congestion have become much more tolerable and pinpointed to actual natural elements (even though I don’t have any technical allergies).
We will continue to make recipes and utilize everything we’ve learned from a healthy diet perspective, what to favor and what to have fewer into our everyday diet. We’ll continue to integrate wild caught fish like salmon and shrimp and even focusing on making sure we’re buying grass-fed meats (oh hey, Meatboxlocal!) And we will continue to severely limit those processed foods that do our bodies no good. And yes, I look forward to integrating a few more cheat days into the mix – especially as we’re getting back into a workout routine along with our better eating habits. I did enjoy a frosted cookie and piece of my mom’s apple pie over the weekend – totally worth it, but also worth reeling it in the rest of the weekend!