Life

Link Love + Reader Love

December 5, 2016

Farewell for now, friends.Hello to all you beautiful souls who’ve either been dropped off at this site because you clicked on something somewhere or because you actually frequent it and enjoy my sporadic musings.

Today is an odd day for me. It’s the first Sunday of December–the last month of 2016–and I have some news.

No, I’m not pregnant.

Nothing that serious.

But…I have decided to take take an indefinite break from this space.

If you’ve been following me on and off over the past year, I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you. When I told Ryan I was going to take a major break from the blog, he chuckled at me because I’ve taken so many “breaks” from blogging and always get roped back in by all the enthusiasm of readers, friends, family members, and fun brands. It’s what’s made me rally these past few months.

Yet, in the back of my head and deep in my heart, I know it’s time to take a serious pause.

If I’m being honest with myself, I’ve changed over the past year. Probably in small ways, but definitely in ways that have made me want to prioritize my own health and wellbeing a little bit more than I have been.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I painted for fun because, if I have any spare time, it’s usually spent at work or working on this blog. And I think I need more space to relax, create and come into my own.

The second reason I’m taking some space is sort of linked to the first reason – my heart isn’t in it anymore. The lure of working with brands or talking to creative people is strong, BUT the fact I barely post on here is telling. I’ve begun to see this space as an obligation or a second job, rather than a creative outlet–which was the whole reason I birthed the blog in the first place. And I don’t want it to be like that. I want to be excited (most of the time, at least, since being excited about something constantly is probably impossible) to post and share things with you on here, not dread it like a corporate 9-to-5.

The third reason for leaving is – of course – I do have another side project in the works. One that has been low-key taking up a lot of my creative time, energy and focus. Now, in some ways this runs completely contradictory to the points I just listed. However, the purpose of this side project is *very* clear, unlike midwestlovefest, which originated as a simple creative project and morphed into more over time (making it nearly impossible to set a solid purpose, in my mind).

And not only does this new side project have a clear mission; a clear objective–for both readers and myself–but it comes from a super secret and deep-rooted passion, with the goal being to empower and inspire young women (another focus very near and dear to my heart). I’ve also learned a lot from this blog, and am planning on taking those hard-learned lessons into this new space; hoping that it helps me better manage my time and prioritize my health, while still growing this other thing to it’s full potential.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’ll update all my social channels as the time get’s closer (I’m shooting to launch it in early 2017, but you know how that goes) and, of course, you’re all more than welcome to join. But be forewarned, it’s about women and boobs. I won’t go beyond that 😉 but at least you have some vague idea of what you *may* be getting yourself into.

Any who, I needed to get all of this out because it’s important you know that I am trying to be serious about setting boundaries with this space, and taking needed time away from for now in order to keep moving forward in my own life and achieve my own personal goals, whether it be focusing on my wellbeing or building a new brand. Now, if I decide in 6+ months that “Hey! I miss the blog! I need it in my life!” Well then, hell, you’ll be hearing from me. But if not, then here’s where you can find me moving forward:

  • Blog-related Instagram account: If I ever feel the itch to share book recommendations, random musings, recipes or creative happenings, it will probably be here.
  • Personal Instagram: I’ll probably update this more than the blog-related IG account, but #notgunnalie I haven’t been the best at it over the past few months, so don’t expect *too* much…
  • Facebook: I will continue to update this with old content or anything I may find inspiring.
  • Twitter: Same as Facebook – I will continue to update this with old content or anything I may find inspiring.
  • Snapchat
  • Tumblr (yes, I have a tumblr!)

 

And if you want to take a quick glance of some of the work I’m most proud of:

I’ll also be sure to update this post and any/all social when it’s the right time to reveal more about my next side project.

Thank you to everyone who’s supported my blog over the past few years, whether you’re a friend, a reader or a brand rep. YOU are what has kept me coming back, week after week.

Till next time!

Oh, and if you’re still wanting a few of my favorite links from over the past week, here ya go:

+ THEY HALTED THE DAKOTA PIPELINE! I literally cried when I read this.

+ Stumbled upon this minimalist fashion blog and am in love.

+ How to drop everything and move abroad.

+ The holiday movie I’m seeing this Friday.

+ UM. Making these this month.

+ Holiday cocktail recipes, of course.

+ Using this hack to find all my fave celebs on Snapchat.

+ Can we talk about this?

+ Yarn Christmas tree DIYs that Im thinking about doing to spruce (ha, puns!) up the apartment.

+ Bookmarking this talk by swissmiss to watch later. Or all the time.

Interview

Midwestern Love: Mick Champayne

November 30, 2016

Between my day job and this blog, it sometimes feels as if social media is running my life. However, social media is also incredibly awesome. You can find such inspirational, interesting people from all over the world, or in your immediate area. Such is the case with my new friend Mick.

Through some serendipitous events, I started following her on Instagram (p.s. her account is currently set to private) because her illustrations are BOMB, only to notice 6 months later that she was living and working in Chicago! Um, of course I had to reach out because I pretty much low-key wish I was a designer, and needed to meet her/pick her brain for the blog (obvii).

The only thing I have to apologize for — aside from calling Ira Glass a “she” during my at one point *facepalm* — is that it took me, um, like almost a year to publish this interview. I’m only sorry that it took so long because 1. Mick is awesome and doesn’t deserve that and 2. You guys are awesome and could’ve been enjoying this lady’s wisdom MONTHS ago if it weren’t for me.

But hopefully you can forgive me and give this a read. Because Mick’s a pretty incredible, creative lady who’s bound to do great things. #justsayin

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?

I’m from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Did a little stint in Chicago. And then London. And then Chicago.

 

WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP IN KALAMAZOO?

It was like a typical Midwestern town. I mean, technically it was a college town so there was a little bit more going on, but it was just, normal. You had a high school football team and you went to watch their games on Friday nights. I did sports, like water polo, and was part of the National Art Honors Society.

 

DID YOU GROW UP IN THE SUBURBS?

Technically the suburbs yeah. Not like Chicago suburbs, though. Definitely lots of green-ness. If you went 10 miles out of the city, you’d start hitting farmland and stuff. And then there’s a lot of lakes around. I didn’t grow up on a lake, but there’s a bunch.

 

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE WORLD OF DESIGN?

My mom was always super artistic. She wasn’t so much a painter or an illustrator, but she was always redecorating the house and moving things around and doing things like that. So I always feel like I got my artistic bug from her.

I took a bunch of art classes. I loved it. In elementary school, art was my favorite subject. And I’ve always been more of an art kid than a science or math kid. Though, I don’t think I actually started illustrating, like how I’ve been doing recently, until about 2 years ago.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

HOW’D YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?

I took art classes all throughout high school, including this one class called Digital Media that taught you how to animate in Flash and make websites and really touched on all those sorts of things.

I enjoyed it, and looked for colleges with similar focuses. Ultimately, I ended up at Columbia College here [in Chicago], where they had a major called Digital Media Technology, which they renamed to Interactive Arts and Media. It was a Bachelor of Arts –not a a Bachelor of Fine Arts–so that’s why I’ve always been really good on the computer, but not so much the fine arts part. AND That’s why I wanted to learn how to illustrate, because I never really had that background.

On my computer, they call me Fast Fingers because I can make revisions super quick and on the fly, but when I have to go sketch out my ideas – since I am in advertising – I struggle. Because my instinct is to go to the computer and not to the paper. Which is why I’ve just been trying to teach myself how to be more comfortable actually drawing out my ideas.

 

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE ROLE YOU’RE CURRENTLY IN?

Columbia has a very “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. The teachers don’t really spoon-feed you. If you want to make something out of yourself, you have to go and do it. It’s a little more of an independent place. And when I was a sophomore, I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m a first generation college kid and I’m paying through the nose to go to this place,’ and I wanted to make the most out of it. So I was always constantly working on my own portfolio. One of my teachers had a senior portfolio review coming up, but her seniors weren’t that great, and so she brought me in.

At the review, there were a few creative directors from Digitas who wanted to get me an internship at their agency. And I don’t want to put anyone down, but my work was a little bit better than the seniors’ work. But I told the creative directors I couldn’t take the internship because I was just about to leave for a study abroad/internship program in London. And the they were like, “Okay, well if you’re looking for an internship, let’s hook you up with our people in London.” They were really nice and helped me get my foot in the door.

The internship in London was — I don’t know if it was because they were a little bit more on the fly — but it wasn’t as structured as places I’ve seen. They treated me like a junior designer because they didn’t know I was an intern. I was in client presentations and I’m thinking, ‘This is wrong. This is not supposed to be how it goes.’

But I stayed there, then came back to Columbia for one semester because you had to finish at school. And then I moved back to London and stayed there for another year or so.

 

OKAY, BUT HOW WAS LIVING IN LONDON?!

I’ve always grown up appreciating British humor and stuff like that, but you feel really American there. And it’s not like I was wearing UGGs and drinking Bud Light. I think the funniest thing was that they thought I had an accent and I’m like, “I don’t have an accent – you all have accents!”

And then, advertising over there is really rooted around the pub. That’s where you go and concept — you go down and have a drink. And then after work, because London’s huge and everybody lives so far away, everyone meets after work to have a pint or whatever.

It really was really communal and fun. I had a great time there, but I did really miss my Midwestern roots and being in the States. I guess I had my quarter life crisis and then was like, ‘I gotta go home!’

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director MickInterview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

HOW WAS THE ART SCENE THERE?

Oh it was amazing. All the art museums are free – you can just walk into the National Portrait Gallery and hang out there. It was really cool. And everybody just felt like – kind of like New York – where it feels like everybody is just on a higher level. Especially being in the advertising industry. It just felt like everything was much more creative and really inspiring.

 

WHO DO YOU THINK HAS HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR DESIGN CAREER THUS FAR?

I had a teacher at Columbia — though I’m not sure if she’s still at Columbia — that was really motivating. Her name was Tracy Taylor. She was the one who pushed me to apply for that internship. And she was the one who brought me into that portfolio review. She was really great, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a lot of mentorship. I’ve always been self-motivated and seeking inspiration from other people. Stuff like that.

Though I will say, my old ACD (associate creative director) at Digitas, Alana Beseau, who actually had a writing background, had a huge impact on me. She had a larger than life background. She’s really funny, she’s just super conceptual person and she’s really quick-witted. When I think of my designs, I always think ‘What would Ellena write as a caption?’ I feel like she says witty things in her sleep. She’s always on and she’s such a great person to be around. And it’s always going to be a fun time when she’s around.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

DO YOU THINK THERE’S ANYTHING IN THE MIDWEST OR MICHIGAN SPECIFICALLY THAT’S FOSTERED OR HINDERED YOUR CREATIVITY?

I don’t feel like there are a lot of art scenes in the Midwest, which has always pushed me to get out of the Midwest and go explore. That’s what took me to London. And even now, I feel like I’m hitting a little bit of a wall. Like, I go to New York or LA and I’m constantly inspired. I can Instagram every nook and cranny of those places and then I come here and sometimes I’m like, “Aww..I guess that’s cool?”

It just feels like I tapped a lot of my resources here [in Chicago]. Because I’ve also been really into nature photography – I see so many Instas of beautiful shots of nature — but we don’t have much of that here either. Because Chicago, right now, is stuck in the middle a little bit. There’s not really a ton of outdoor stuff.

Granted, this place [Chicago Athletic Association] is so nice. And I’ve never been to the bar [Cindy’s] but apparently that’s got a beautiful outdoor patio. There’s also certain little outfits, like Land and Sea Department that help create lots of cool little places in Logan Square. But you go to New York and walk down the street and there’s all these cool, conceptual type of restaurants and I wish we had more of that here.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick 10268866_1657053817879456_758323206_n

FAVORITE PLACES TO BE INSPIRED?

I love that little stretch of Armitage – between Elston and South Port. Or the South Port Corridor is super cute; it feels like a microcosm of New York. I just like walking around there. Otherwise, I really do like Logan [Square] just because it has so much greenery.

My husband is from the Muskegon area and Lake Michigan is 15 minutes from his doorstep. And in Kalamazoo, I was an hour away from the nearest lake. So when we visit Muskegon, he takes me to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, which is so pretty. It’s so funny because I spent most of my life trying to escape Michigan and now I desperately want to get back to it.

 

ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CREATIVE COMMUNITY HERE IN THE MIDWEST/CHICAGO?

I don’t know. I don’t feel like I’m in it enough and I really wish I were. I just wish there was more creative opportunities. I see people on Instagram who do “Ladies Drawing Nights” and I would love to get involved in that sort of thing, but maybe I just have to start one…

 

DO YOU WANT TO ILLUSTRATE FULL TIME? IS THAT YOUR GOAL OR ARE YOU JUST FEELING IT OUT?

Yeah, I think I’m just feeling it out. Just trying to have some fun with it. I don’t want it to ever feel like work.

It’s something I’m still trying to figure out because a lot of it is really personal right now. And I don’t know if it’s an artist’s plight to never feel good enough, but I always have this wall that comes up where I think to myself, ‘You’re not good enough to ever commission.’ That made me sound really sad, but I swear I’m not a Debbie Downer about it.

 

DO YOU THINK THE MIDWEST INFLUENCES YOUR WORK AT ALL? AND IF YES, HOW?

I think so. I think Midwest people are really humble and not braggarts.

I once had a creative director come in from New York and he was a total asshole. He was all about being the biggest and the best. And I just wanted to make something really good that I’m proud of. From an experience design (UX) background, I want someone to play with it and have fun and not just do something to win an award at a show. I want it to have a little bit more meaning and purpose.

But being from the Midwest has definitely made me a humble person. It’s made me put a strong focus on family too. I want to have a nice work life balance, I don’t just want to do the rat race.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’D GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

To have more confidence. I was always worried about what other people thought and if it was good enough. And I wish I could’ve been happy with what I was doing; be more of my own cheerleader.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

ADVICE FOR ANY FUTURE DESIGNERS?

Don’t be so critical of yourself. The internet’s a scary place and can lead you down a dark scary hole of constantly trying to measure yourself up against other people (dribbble, Pinterest, even just in the office), and it’s hard not to feel like you’re not good enough. Be patient and go at your own pace. Your own happiness should be your main focus.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

WHAT KIND OF LEGACY DO YOU HOPE TO LEAVE BEHIND?

I hope that the legacy I leave behind is one of new experiences. As much as I am a creature of habit, in my short time I’ve noticed that I’m always trying to push myself a little bit out of my comfort zone. Whether it’s moving to an entirely new city, or just trying to finally touch my toes with a new yoga practice, I hope I inspire people to never sit still and always look forward to tomorrow.

 

DO YOU CONSIDER THE MIDWEST HOME?

Oh yeah. I’m Midwest through and through. I love corn, sweet potatoes, hearty meals…

 

ARE YOU CREATIVELY SATISFIED?

No. I think that’s why I’m trying to teach myself how to hand letter and illustrate. Because sometimes client work can be really draining and not as fun. You see all these incredible case studies featuring fun projects that people got to work on for big brands, and then you get stuck on something like KitchenAid. And I was actually on that account for three years, and you’re selling steel boxes, thinking ‘How can we make this interesting?’ and, sure, we got to a point where we were doing cool stuff, but sometimes it just feels like you’re selling socks. It’s not always going to be creatively fulfilling. That’s why I’ve been trying to figure out something on the side; a creative release.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

HOW DO YOU STAY INSPIRED?

I like traveling a lot. That’s something that definitely inspires me. Just going and having new experiences and seeing new things. And I like to live locally when I travel. I don’t want to stay in the penthouse of a hotel. I’d rather stay in a super cool Airbnb. And I don’t need to go and visit the Top 10 Things to See or that touristy stuff. I’d rather go off the beaten path.

I’m also always looking at Instagram for inspiration, and Pinterest. And different blogs, like DesignLoveFest. I’m also a huge fan of ban.do or whatever Jen Gotch does. I really like those sort of brands because they’re really being true to themselves. They don’t care if you don’t get their sense of humor, they’re just balls to the wall.

Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick Interview with Illustrator/Art Director Mick

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT LIVING IN LOGAN SQUARE?

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in Lincoln Park. I swear we [transplants] all started at the same crossroads: Diversey and Clark. Everybody’s lived in that area. And so I started there and then moved to Bucktown, which is kind of like a Lincoln Park, but more inland.

But my boyfriend, now my husband, had a place in Logan Square. I remember feeling like you could get a lot of space and have some breathing room in that neighborhood. And we’ve been living there for 4 years now. And he was there even longer than I was. Logan Square just feels a bit more like Michigan, or home, in the city without it being like this big urban city sprawl.

 

WANT TO GIVE A SHOUTOUT TO ANY CREATIVE FRIENDS?

I actually have a bunch of friends who are super talented, who inspired me to start illustrating. My friend Rachel, she draws all the time and does a daily drawing thing on Instagram. And my friend Summer, she can just doodle and it looks like a masterpiece. And her husband is this guy who makes flip books for a living. Here are all their handles (and then some) if you want to find them:

Rachal Duggan:  portfolio // @radillustrates

Summer Violett: portfolio // @summerdoodle (private account)

Ben Zurawski: website // @theflippistflipbooks

Ness DellaMorte:@nessienado // Spudnik Class

Shelby Rodeffer: portfolio // @smellby

 

BUBBLER OR WATERFOUNTAIN?

Water fountain because that’s what you call it.

 

THIN CRUST OR DEEP DISH?

Thin crust. I know it’s sacrilege, right?

 

STOP LIGHT OR TRAFFIC LIGHT?

Stop light.

 

WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ONLINE?

Portfolio // @mickchampay (private account)

 

*This interview was edited for clarity.

**All images were borrowed from @mickchampay and are def hers to own.

Local

Game Day with Farm Rich

November 22, 2016

Game Day with Farm RichToday’s a big day because we’re talking about one of my favorite food groups: cheese.

Specifically the cheese curd.

Many of you may be well-versed in this Wisconsin delicacy, but let’s just assume some of you have no effin’ clue what I’m talking about or what you’re looking at. Well, buckle up.

When Farm Rich reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in featuring their new Cheese Curds in a post, it felt like an obvious yes. Not only have I introduced many a Midwestern transplant to the cheese curd (*cough cough* Ryan), but you better believe they’ve also been a mainstay at parties, holidays and many-a game day growing up.

Game Day with Farm RichWhich gave me the brilliant idea to throw a Midwestern game day, reminiscent of my childhood.

And what do you need to do that? Why, I’m so happy you asked.

Here are my go-tos for creating the perfect, slightly stereotypical Midwestern game day:

  • Cheese curds (you saw that coming, I’m sure)
  • Organic ketchup to pair with the cheese curds
  • Bloody Marys or beer, both of which pair SO good with cheese curds (if you don’t believe me, Google: Cheese Curds & Bloody Marys).
  • Pizza or burgers #sorrynotsorry
  • Chips, or cheesy nachos (you’re sensing a theme here, I’m sure)
  • Salad, because you’re going to need some greens
  • Puppy chow or some other easily snackable dessert

Game days are also best when you have a fire going in the fireplace, but if you can’t make that happen – I highly recommend lighting a few candles to get that super cozy feel. We definitely had a pumpkin spice candle going during the entire game, I’ll be honest with you.

Game Day with Farm RichGame Day with Farm RichOh and please don’t judge that we are watching the Chargers and not the Packers! The Packers weren’t on TV when we had our little Game Day (for some blasphemous reason) and the Chargers are Ryan’s team, of course. So I made do with what I had.

Game Day with Farm RichSome true blue parting words on these breaded Cheddar Cheese Curds though? They’re the real deal. Not sure why, but lots of companies and people try to replicate these and fail TERRIBLY.

But these Farm Rich nuggets could easily be placed in any restaurant around here (or Wisco) and no one would be the wiser. I’m guessing it’s because they’re made with actual Wisconsin cheese from LaGrander’s Hillside Dairy and not that crap out-of-state stuff. #justsayingGame Day with Farm RichWorth adding that Ryan also really liked them, which is saying something since can be surprisingly picky (meanwhile I’ll eat anything with cheese in it). And, to me, they taste a little like home, ya know?

Game Day with Farm RichGame Day with Farm RichP.S. I highly recommend signing up for the Farm Rich newsletter to get some perfect-for-game-day recipes and snack ideas sent to you.

Alright now I shared, so it’s your turn: what’s your go-to game day treat?

And more importantly, have you ever tried a cheese curd? Basically, have you ever lived?

Game Day with Farm Rich

P.S. This post is sponsored, but only because it aligns with everything I’m about on this blog. Anndd it helps me continue to bringing content to you all. Thank you!

Digital Reads

Link Love

November 21, 2016
Link Love//image

It’s been a day. Seriously, can’t wait for the end half of this week when I’ll be relaxing by the fire with some turkey and red wine. Cheers to that!

Digital Reads

Link Love

November 14, 2016

Link Love

Ugh, today was a bit of a low-key, exhausting day. Definitely early bed and cleansing week ahead for me. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

*P.S. Want to know how dead I was when I wrote this? So dead that I forgot to press “publish” – sorry!

Digital Reads

Link Love

November 7, 2016

Link LoveHey all and happy Sunday! I *very* much needed a weekend like this. Tres relaxing and v. “do nothing” sort of vibes. That said, I am also dreading this week and all the busyness.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (per usual), journaling and reading. Really giving thought to intention, working with intention and letting go of things that no longer serve you or bring you joy, whether that’s relationships with friends or toxic family members or career-related, with various side projects or other things.

We just seem to have a problem with quitting, or knowing when to quit the right things. Or maybe that’s just me. I’ve been told all my life not to be a quitter, and I pride myself on that. But when do you draw the line? When do you protect yourself and your interests and goals? When is it time to Joy Yee your life and look at the things that bring no longer bring you joy, thank them for their “service,” and then let them go, in order to make room for other things?

I know many people may think there is subtext to this, but I promise you there’s not. It’s just me looking around at people in my life, and myself, and how we all cling to certain things. Sadly, it’s nothing I’ve sorted through myself, but I’m trying. Dammit, I’m trying.

Okay, but on a more rosey note, I had a lovely weekend with my pup and husband. I ate pretty healthy (win!), but still made room for a donut and some caramel and cheese popcorn. I also worked out and went for a v. long walk with Kero on Saturday. Went and saw Doctor Strange (more on this later) and dined on delicious Mexican food (date night!). And I got to read the following links, which made me happy, and will hopefully make you smile as well. Cheers!

Digital Reads

Link Love

November 2, 2016

Link LoveHappy Tuesday guys!

This time I swear I have a semi-good reason for the late post.

Packers game followed by the Cubs game.

I know, when did I get so sportsy?

Well, I’ve always been a ride-or-die Packers fan, but with the Chicago Cubs in the World Series too!? It’s been a bit of an overload, not that I totally mind.

And then, well, Monday is Monday. So…

Yeah. Let’s play catch up. Here are a few of the links I’ve been browsing over the past few days:

  • Some in-depth info on Scorpio’s New Moon, happening tonight.
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about weight loss and fitness and healthy living. And what’s healthy living vs. obsession and *not* living because you’re healthy. Because of this back and forth in my mind, I’ve been frequenting this forum. And by frequenting, I mean hanging out in. Lots of the ladies have recommended this program. Has anyone tried it?
  • Go Tim Gunn!
  • This is a good reminder, especially after these past few weeks.
  • Go Zayn for speaking out.
  • Is this heaven?
  • Don’t let anyone knock your hustle.
Dinner

pesto turkey pasta recipe ( and a few meal prepping tips )

October 27, 2016

turkey pesto pastaDon’t mind me eating with a GIANT ASS spoon, by the way. They were out of forks at work.

So you know how I’m trying to take care of myself, mind, body and soul?

Well part of that whole “better me” journey includes eating right. Especially when I have the SUPER fun digestive issues I do. And the easiest way to eat right? Meal plan.

Now, you know I’m not the best at this. I’ve admitted it. Because sometimes I have one idea of what I want to eat one day, and by the time that day comes around? Meh, hard pass.

But, I have gotten pretty good at it recently. Out of necessity. And I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned thus far:

+ Create a document that helps you track everything. I use Google Spreadsheets to loosely outline my entire month. I break it down by day and meal (shown below). Sometimes I will even section off days when I know I’ll have a work-related event or be out of town.

Meal Plan

+ Pick one day to prep the majority of your meals. For me (and most people, it seems), that’s Sunday.

+ Take a look at your recipes and write out exactly what you need to make. For example, the recipe in this post consists of three main ingredients: ground turkey, brown rice and pesto. All of which need to be prepped before they can be placed together. By breaking down all the ingredients, you can also coordinate what you prep at the same time. For example, because there’s little to no effort that goes into prepping pastas, quinoa or rice, you can whip those up while working on another, more complicated recipe.

 

Alright, so let’s get down to the reason you’ve read this far (I assume). My favorite “meal planned” meal: turkey pesto pasta goodness.

turkey pesto pastaIt’s clean. It’s simple. It’s easy to pack and bring to work and mix up without anything intermixing beforehand and getting gross (any person who brings her lunch to work will understand this struggle).

The recipe (legit not even worth a recipe card peeps, it’s that easy):

You’ll need:

  1. Pesto (mine is homemade, but this recipe is similar. Or you could grab it from the grocery store – I love this Trader Joes pesto).
  2. Brown rice pasta (this is my favorite)
  3. Ground turkey (prepped simply, with salt and pepper; feel free to add additional spices when prepping if it’s your preference).

If you’re making this at home, of course you can throw them all together and sprinkle with some crystallized pink salt. But if you’re bringing it to work (as I often do), you can either keep the ingredients entirely separate and prep them while at work, to maintain freshness, or throw them together the night before or morning of. Super duper simple.

Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

turkey pesto pasta

Digital Reads

Link Love

October 24, 2016

Link LoveHola people.

Another weekend has come and gone way too quickly.

I’ve been hanging out in Wisconsin with the fam these past few days, and it’s been a very sweet change of pace. This morning, I woke up, worked out at the local YMCA and spent the day nibbling on food, reading Marie Claire and working on some side projects. Oh did I mention this was all with the leaves (pictured above) falling outside, football on the flatscreen and a fire blazing in the fireplace? Pure. Magic.

But tomorrow, it’s an early trip back to Chicago tomorrow. Hey, it can’t last forever.

Has your weekend been chill? Hope so. We all need a few days a week to just chill the F out, right? At least I’ve been trying to do that more–put an emphasis on relaxation and self care. Because the stress is seriously getting to me rn.

Basically, I’m going to try and incorporate a bit more meditation and continue to clean up my diet a bit better. Any tips? Seriously, please share.

Any who, if you haven’t chilled yet this weekend, hope reading these articles forces you to carve out a bit of space for yourself. Cheers!

Dessert

#TreatYourself: Karamel Krispies

October 21, 2016

Karamel Krispy Bar RecipeMy lovely, bakerista sister Kimberly is back with a delicious batch of goodies.

No, really.

Fair warning, these are *not* healthy for you. Let’s not even pretend these things are going to clear your arteries or freshen up your skin. Nope, these are total, 100% #treatyourself dessert bars.

But it’s all about balance, right? Or as close to “balance” as humanely possible. Basically, indulge without going overboard. Everything within moderation.

Alright, you were fairly warned.

But really. Look at these things…

Karamel Krispy Bar RecipeUgh I wish I could reach through the screen and just grab one right meow.

Karamel Krispy Bar RecipeSpeaking of healthy eating (ha!), I’ve been doing okay with all of that.

I’ve been sticking to #BBG (week 3!), incorporating yoga once a week and mixing in some strength training and LISS.

However, I’ve also been feeling super low-energy.

For awhile, I was tracking my calorie intake using MyFitnessPal again. I love using it get back on track after I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit. However, when I started upping my workouts, I obviously became hungrier and then it got to a point where I was worried I wasn’t eating enough…but then I don’t want to eat too much…

So now I’m in some weird limbo where I’m not sure how many calories I’m supposed to be eating.

I don’t want to eat too many and gain the wrong sort of weight (I don’t really care about the number on the scale, I just want to tone up and lose overall body fat), but don’t want to eat too little and run low on energy.

I’ve also been pretty bored with my meals, which can’t be helping the cause.

All of which is to say, I’m doing okay…

I’m still trying to get the hang of treating myself (preferably to one of these rice krispie bars), lowering my stress, keeping my energy up, killing my workouts and also eatinging clean most of the time.

Ugh, the elusive “balance” people. Balance.

Karamel Krispy Bar Recipe

Karamel Krispy Bars
 
A decadent take on a crispy classic.
Author:
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 1 pan
Ingredients
  • 2 cups crispy cereal (ie: Rice Krispies)
  • ¾ creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • ½ cup melted chocolate
  • Nuts (optional)
  • Sprinkles (optional)
Instructions
  1. Spray a 7 x 7 pan with a nonstick spray.
  2. Melt the peanut butter in the microwave until it is easy to mix, around 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups of crispy cereal and mix until all the cereal is covered. Press the mixture into the pan and freeze until hard.
  3. In a separate pot, heat up the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and corn syrup until combined and bubbling, continue to mix. Make sure the mixture doesn't burn. After 1 or 2 minutes of stirring while bubbling, take the pot off the heat. After the peanut butter and crispy mixture is frozen, take out of the freezer and pour the caramel mixture on top of the crispy crust.
  4. Let the caramel set until firm. Then take the melted chocolate and spread on top of the caramel layer. Add sprinkles, nuts or leave plain if you prefer. Make sure to keep bars in cool place until served.
  5. Enjoy!