moto monday [ed 39]

motivation monday | ed39

hello darkness monday, my old friend.

ah, we meet again.

how was your weekend? do anything interesting?

I planned on just relaxing and doing nothing. And…I was very successful at that. Sunday was especially dreary and I swear the weather pressure messes with me, emotionally. I know, I know. I’m a grandma–“Oh the weather did it!” Guess if the shoes fits…

Luckily for my mood wings, this week will be slightly shorter (by a 1/2 day) because of Easter. It also means I’m going home to be with family for a bit, which is always uber refreshing–to just get out of the city and be in the comfort and quiet of Northern Wisconsin.

Plus, on an exciting note (like I mentioned last Friday), Ryan’s home from New York today and we’re hoping to go for a walk by the lake tonight (it’s supposed to be 58º!), followed by…

picking up the keys to our new apartment! Woohoo!

I’ll probs do a bit of a snapchat (username: midwestlovefest, in case you wondered) video tour around the place since it will be my FIRST time ever seeing it.

Yes you read that right, first time ever visiting the apartment we are about to rent for a year. But, like I said before, Chicago real estate will do that to you. I also trust my husband a pretty crazy amount, so that helps too.

Hopefully, taking this next step forward–into leasing own apartment as a married couple–is just the start of other positive life changes (…and no, not kids). Because I could use a few happy change-ups.

Okay okay, enough of my blabbering. Just ignore my nonsense and enjoy these random links I found for you:

+this video made me cry. Some humans can be so mean, but other humans make life worth living.

+I’ve really been into healthy sandwiches recently and need to try this ASAP.

+THE CUTEST thing you will see all week.

+holy cow…this. Reminds me of WILD by Cheryl Strayed. More here.

+beautiful photo. #loveyobody

+too adorable. PS #onwisconsin

+one of my favorite talks by one of my favorite people. Never gets old (and NEED to get her book).

+let’s never be so mature that we can’t enjoy jumping on beds.

+for all you stress balls like me.

+missed SNL on Saturday, but this makes me wish I hadn’t.

healthy enchiladas recipe

a healthy enchiladas recipe | midwestlovefest I am so ridiculously happy it’s Friday. It’s been a pretty rough (read: frustrating) week. Just one of those weeks when not much seems to go right–the amazon delivery I was so excited for is somehow stuck at the postal facility (even though it says it was delivered), I’ve continued battling this cold, which halted my strength training workouts, I haven’t been eating the best (mainly because the cold’s throwing off my appetite) and I’ve been waiting to hear from a few people for awhile now, and still haven’t heard from them. SO. FRUSTRATING.

a healthy enchiladas recipe | midwestlovefest Okay, vent sesh basically over.

On the flippity-dippity side, I spent last weekend bedridden, so I’m planning on making this an “inspiring” weekend.

Hopefully Amazon will deliver my books (or I’ll just pick up the The Goldfinch again), and I can just read, take long walks and do this two day juice cleanse. Sunday, I’m hoping to meet up with a friend who I haven’t seen since my wedding (and now she’s getting married!). Then Ryan comes back Monday and we’re picking up the keys to our new place.

Good things, good things.

Just need to get through today.

a healthy enchiladas recipe | midwestlovefest It’s probably a little odd that I’m sharing this delicious homemade enchiladas recipe while I’m in the midst of a juice cleanse, but how could I not share? These enchiladas are insane.

My mom used to make them for us when we were little. And recently, randomly, I started craving them again. So, I got her to email me the recipe and then I altered a few of the ingredients to make them a tad healthier.

a healthy enchiladas recipe | midwestlovefest For someone who has little to no experience cooking ground beef, I’d say I did a pretty damn good job. Which means, you can do a pretty damn good job.

A few random notes: I recommend using lean, grass-fed beef to make the healthiest possible enchiladas. But, remember to cook the lean beef in a bit of olive oil (because it’s so lean, it might be lacking in the fats and oils that help it naturally cook).

a healthy enchiladas recipe | midwestlovefest Also, add more enchilada sauce if you want softer enchiladas (and less sauce if you want them a bit crispier). And finally, I highly recommend Ezekiel tortillas (found mine at Whole Foods). Definitely made me feel guiltless about chowing down.


a healthy enchiladas recipe | midwestlovefest

healthy enchiladas recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Homemade enchiladas made with lean beef, healthy tortillas and refried beans.
Serves: 6 enchiladas
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (Old ElPaso - medium)
  • 1 can refried beans (I use fat free)
  • 1 pound hamburger (I use 90% lean, grass-fed beef)
  • tortillas (10-small or 6 large)
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped onions
  • 1½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to at 350°.
  2. Brown hamburger (if you're using lean beef, brown in a bit of olive oil).
  3. Drain.
  4. Mix salt, pepper, cumin, onion and refried beans to hamburger.
  5. Warm tortillas in oven or microwave.
  6. Divide hamburger mixture into 10 (or 6) sections.
  7. Fill tortillas with hamburger mixture.
  8. Add cheese if preferred.
  9. Lay folded tortillas, folded side down, in dish or cake pan.
  10. Pour enchilada sauce over top of enchiladas (more enchilada sauce means softer tacos).
  11. Sprinkle 1 cup cheddar cheese over tortillas.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes.

Hope you all have a wonderfully inspiring weekend <3

bikini body tips: homemade protein bars

tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest When you’re trying to tone up, everyone always advises you consume more protein. While, I believe it’s up for debate how much protein is healthy to consume (honestly, how much is too much?), protein is an important part of toning up and shedding pounds. Not only does it keep you full longer, so you’re not randomly snacking on junk, but it helps repair and rebuild the muscle that’s broken down during an intense workout.

So great. Protein is awesome. Except I’m not one to gobble chicken breast on the daily. Sure, it’s a versatile protein (bake it, shake it, cook it etc.), but really…I need some variety.

bikini body tips: homemade protien bar Enter this wonderful recipe (originally posted on Fitnessita).

Now, I’m already pretty damn picky about the snack bars I pick up from the store. I mean, have you ever checked the label on the backs of those things? It’s like a mini dictionary, all those wacko ingredients. But I admittedly don’t enjoy making my own bars at home. Every blogger is like, “Blah, blah. They’re SO easy! Granola and coconut and yum!” But I’ve never had them turn out as good as those bloggers claim.

But…I swear to you, this recipe is different. This has become my go-to bar. tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest The ingredients are simple, pure and delicious and the recipe is super-duper simple. I’m talking 5 minute simple. Plus, I’ve discovered it’s a difficult recipe to screw up. And, trust me, I’d know.

There’s no baking involved, so all you need to do is nab the right ingredients, mix them together, throw them in the fridge and cut them into individual bars. You can also add an “optional” chocolate drizzle on top. I did this for my first batch, but discovered (on my second batch) that it wasn’t even necessary. The bars were perfectly decadent all on their own. Though, it’s ultimately your call if you want the added sweetness.

tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest I do recommend the Trader Joe’s chocolate hemp protein powder I used.

I’m not a huge fan of whey powders (just a personal preference), but I also have difficulty with a lot of the additives of most vegan protein powders. So I took a gamble and won out on this tasty, plant-based alternative.

tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest As far as making the bars, you can either use parchment paper or plastic wrap. I preferred the plastic wrap because it conformed more easily to the glassware.

Once you’ve laid out the plastic wrap and poured the mixture in, throw the whole thing in the fridge for an hour or more (I just went for a walk while I waited). Then, slice them into bars and boom! Dunzo.

Store them in the fridge (in little plastic baggies or wrapped in plastic wrap) and grab them on the go.

I figure they would keep for about a week or so, but I devour them so quickly I’ve never made it through a full week to actually know.

protein-two tips to getting your body bikini ready! | midwestlovefest Another plus side to these bars, they are extremely filling. Just make sure you don’t leave them out of the fridge too long. They will melt and literally look like poop (I found this out when I left one in my purse).

In non-related-to-protein-bar news, Ryan returned from Portland Monday and left for New York this morning. SUCH a jet-setter. Makes me want to travel SO bad (I know you care about these random things in my life (ha), so I thought I’d mention it).

Okay, back on track.

What’s your go-to protein bar? Aside from this homemade one, I’m obsessed with the snack brand KIND since their ingredients are a bit more on the pure side. Have any other recos?


moto monday [ed 38]

#motivationmonday on #midwestlovefest

I realized while sitting down to write this that I’ve never explained why I write these motivation monday posts. So I thought I’d give you a quick idea, in case you’re new to the blog (and if you are – welcome!).

Basically, I want midwestlovefest to be a happy, aspirational and inspirational space. To show the world that the “meat” of America is more than hicks and ignorant dicks. This my small voice in taking back that stereotype.

Basically, this blog celebrates expectance and positivity. Every time I see a negative topic “trending,” it makes me feel like the world is a dark place and it’s impossible to make a difference. I don’t entirely believe that’s true, but when you’re bombarded with those kind of messages it can be a bummer. So these #motivationmonday posts are my little uplifting dent in the universe.

Okay, now that we got the definition figured out, let’s get down to the monday biz-ness::

+One of my favorite lady bosses interviewing one of my favorite bloggers.

+I’ve stumbled on this video a few times over the years, but it still warms my heart.

+This is just one more reason I want to go to sxsw someday.

+So excited for this movie (I love John Green), I just might go buy the book too.

+This man always makes me laugh. So random.

+How to be happy.

+The sweetest story.

+What an inspirational young woman. #makinmoves

reading & read // watching & watched (04)


You know how Spring welcomed me? With a bug. Yep, I woke up with a terrible stomachache, head and throat feeling gross and now I have the chills. I’ve been wondering all week why I’ve had no appetite and now I’m thinking I found the culprit.

I was planning on doing a juice cleanse this weekend, but I guess that will have to wait for … next weekend maybe? Blah. Just feeling so nauseous (and no, it’s not a surprise pregnancy).

I also realized February flew by so fast I never shared my reading/read + watching/watched post with you. WTH. No wonder I was so proud of myself, thinking “Yeah, Nicole. You’re really flying through these books this month.” Um, no.

So I might share a few extras with you and I’d love any advice on what to read next. I feel stuck in a book rut right now, trying to get out. what I'm reading & watching this month | midwestlovefest READING

Sharp Objects: I’m obviously a huge fan of Gillian Flynn, so I might as well give her 3rd book a look. Haven’t started yet, but hoping to finish by next month. Will keep you updated.

The Goldfinch: You know how I was talking about being in a book rut? Yeah, that’s what this is about. I still can’t seem to finish this book. Maybe it’s because the size is so intimidating (there’s nearly 1000 pages), but I guess I also lost interest. I’ve heard it’s SUCH a good read after you get past a certain point, so I’ll keep plugging away. Maybe I’ll read it while trying to get over this flu/cold this weekend.

Tinkers: I legit forgot I was reading this book. So…I’ll get back to you. Hopefully once I’ve read it.


The Girl on the Train: Fantastic book. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this. And it’s an oddly quick read.

Blood, Bones & Butter: One of my friends, who knows I’m a huge Anthony Bourdain fan, recommended I read this book. She said it was similar to Kitchen Confidential. I agree the first half is very Kitchen Confidential-esque, but after that it strays a bit and becomes more about her life, husband and family than the food. Which, oddly, I was fine with. I didn’t want a Kitchen Confidential twin. While, I don’t agree with a few of the author’s decisions, the book is well-written and interesting. I also don’t recommend reading it on an empty stomach. Ohmygosh, the food she describes sounds SO good!

In the Woods: I know I mentioned this in January, so I figured I’d let you know what I thought of it. First, it’s a series. Did NOT know that. Second, if you love The Killing, you will love this book. It almost feels like I’m just watching a long episode. Very, very well written and intriguing. I looked forward to reading it every night.


Better Call Saul: Ryan and I were obsessed with Breaking Bad, so naturally we had to start watching Better Call Saul. The season has been pretty laid back thus far, until two Sundays ago where things started getting pretty interesting. Guess only time will tell if it can live up to Breaking Bad.

Broad City: Favorite. Show. Ever. Seriously. I tell everyone to watch this show, it’s so genius. I was once at a bar, and me and Ry (who also loves this show) were trying to convince our friend Ashley to give it a watch. As we’re talking, the bartender chimed in and said, “Are you talking about Broad City? Or..the best show ever made!?” I’ve also gotten a few people at work into it. Needless to say, you need to go watch it NOW!

The Fall: A friend of mine knows how much I loved The Killing and recommended I give this a try. Same hottie from 50 Shades, Jaime Dordnon, and apparently his acting is actually good in this series. Haven’t started it yet, but basically this show = weekend plans (and reading The Goldfinch, obviously).


50 Shades of Grey: Did you know I read these books? Yeah, good times. I had to read them because they were being hyped so much, it felt like a pop culture thing I should know. WELP, some of the worst writing, ever. The plot was interesting, but I spent half the time wanting most of the characters dead because they were so annoying. Anyway, of course the movie was hyped up just like the books. So, I took a gander last night. Sure enough, the acting felt extremely awkward (or maybe that’s just my frustration with the characters reappearing), the way it was filmed, or what was filmed, made the movie seem empty somehow and I couldn’t get it out of my head how much the media says the actors hate each other. However, the plot is interesting enough that I am intrigued to see what the sequel holds.

Whiplash: Just watched this movie with Ry (finally!) and loved it. Amazing acting, gripping and unexpected plot-line. Terrific film altogether.

Foxcatcher: Another incredible film I watched to and from NYC. First off, highly recommend as a travel movie–really takes you away and makes you forget you’re stuck on a plane. That said, while the acting was incredible and the story was interesting, the climax seemed to come out of no where and the movie itself felt stupidly slow.

BONUS: Birdman: I had to mention this movie. Holy crap was it good. The whole movie felt like a continuous shot (intentional), which made it feel really fast paced. The acting was insanely good (I love Edward Norton and Emma Stone in it, and of course the amazing Michael Keaton) and the whole movie was interesting, unexpected and had oddly funny parts. One of my favorite movies ever, I think.

Please tell me you have a good reco for what to read next?


gettin’ your bikini body on, planner-style

tips on getting a bikini body Alright, so quick back story on this bikini body challenge:

When I was getting ready for my wedding, I was probably in the best shape of my life (grade school obviously excluded). I wasn’t 100% what my goal “look” was, but my weight was perfect and I could tell I lost a good amount of body fat. Fast forward a few months later and…I’ve regressed a little. I’m not back to square one, but I’m not as fit or toned as I’d prefer to be.

After the wedding, there was a lot of hoopla with adjusting back to normal life and then the holidays came and by the time January/February rolled around, I was exhausted. I tried going to the gym–and succeeded–but couldn’t push myself to put in the type of work that would get me the results I wanted. So, I took a few weeks off, which actually helped (and I sort of recommend to people who are feeling low on energy–take a short breather, adjust what’s not working and let your body rest). But now that some of my energy has come back, it’s time to stay on track for summer time. And not only for that loverly bikini I bought for my honeymoon, but for the wedding I’m in in October AND the Laguna Beach visit we are planning to make this Christmas. Plus, let’s be real, I just feel better when I’m leaner and healthy.

That’s why I wanted to start this weekly little blog post. Sharing one tip, recipe or tool that would help you get into bikini body shape too. Of course, you can just follow my journey, but I also want you to share your #OBB (operation bikini body) journey too! Let me know what you’re struggling with or want to learn. Otherwise, this is an accountability post and hopefully a support system to anyone who needs it.

Okay, now that we are all caught up on what the eff I’m talking about with “operation bikini body,” let’s get down to business…

Fitness and food planners.

tips on getting a bikini body For a long time I used MyFitnessPal to track my workouts and food. I HIGHLY recommend that tool if you are an avid phone user and are looking to really get down to the nitty gritty on calorie intake. It’s by far the best app I’ve used and has a huge database of food (meaning, you could go to a Wendy’s and get a baked potato with sour cream and I guarantee that exact food item is in MyFitnessPal). It also syncs to various fitness trackers and even other active iPhone apps (like Runtastic).

tips on getting a bikini body However, it’s not the best meal planner. And if there’s one thing I am, it’s a planner. So much so that I’m made fun of for dragging around my daily planner. But I’m sorry, it’s from ABeautifulMess, it’s gorgeous and it helps me stay focused. Plus, I get a real sense of relief when I cross off items in my planner, you know what I mean?

Well, I started looking for a strictly fitness planner, to help me better plan out my meals and keep track of the different workouts I’m doing. I kept that info in my regular planner for awhile, but it got to take up too much space. After a bit of looking around, I found PlumPaperDesigns.

The planner isn’t made by a brand or a blogger (which I preferred, because I’m following Kayla Itsine’s guide + my own workouts). The planner cost $31 + shipping, which ended up being around $40 total. And…I love it so far.

tips on getting a bikini body tips on getting a bikini body I got to pick the month the planner started on (I chose March, since I’m clearly starting a bit later in the season), so it goes till end of February 2016.

It has tabs that open to a notes section for the start of each month. After that, there is a full monthly calendar spread over two pages, followed by the individual weeks.

In the individual week spreads, each day is broken down by morning, afternoon and evening, where you can plan your meals and even calculate calories if you want. Below that is a little section labeled “fitness,” where you can track the calories burned and the workout(s) you’re doing that day. To the left of the week breakdown is space for your fitness goals, weekly list (I assume food?) and more space for notes.

At the end of the planner, there is special dates section, contacts page, holidays page (that details holidays for the next 3 years), complete yearly calendar and a page that acts as a folder for any inspirational images you might want to store.

tips on getting a bikini body tips on getting a bikini body tips on getting a bikini body I highly recommend this, or something like this, for starting out. It helps you plan your meals and your workouts. Plus, writing things down allows you to move things around (if your workouts need to be switched), while staying accountable to the things you consume and the calories you burn during your workouts (if you are really taking it to that level).

Gah, I love organization!

Do you have any planner-like tools you swear by for getting fit? Please, please, do share!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day / 1 Year Blogiversary

a sweet fruit smoothie stuffed with greens First off Happy St. Patty’s Day! I hope you are all having a lovely, safe and luck-filled holiday. Second, I wanted to stop in to thank you for reading this blog. If the title wasn’t a dead giveaway, today marks one year of writing for this beautiful space. And though it hasn’t always been consistent at times (I’m sorry times a million, guys!) it’s been such an amazing creative outlet for me, and I am SO extremely thankful for that.

a sweet fruit smoothie stuffed with greens It’s been an insane year looking back at it.

I started with a green-themed St. Patrick’s Day post. After a lot of struggle over the years, I adopted a pretty permanent healthy lifestyle and found a remedy to my stomach issues. I started writing for and conquered some intense DIY projects. I married my best friend and traveled through Italy for two weeks. And, I survived another Midwest winter.

Now, I’m moving on to the next chapter. I’m a wife, moving into a new apartment (in the next month!) with my husband. Hoping to finally decorate and DIY (and share it all with you guys!) and maybe even adopt a puppy (insert EXTREME happy giggles).

green-stuffed sweet smoothie And for this blog, I hope to write better posts, take prettier photos, maybe record a few videos (something I’m seriously looking into right now) and give you guys more of the good stuff you’re looking for. Of course, if you ever have any ideas on posts or topics or things you want to know, please feel free to email me, drop an idea in the comments section or post on my facebook page.

a sweet fruit smoothie stuffed with greens Obviously no blog birthday would be complete without sweetness…but let’s get real, cake’s off the table with beach season right around the corner. So I’ll share a healthy smoothie recipe to help you get your St. Patrick’s Day greens instead!

fruit smoothie stuffed with greens
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Get your veggies in your breakfast.
Serves: 1 serving
  • 6 fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup spinach (or as much as you can stuff into your blender)
  • ¼ cup frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup almond milk
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 banana
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth(ie). Enjoy!

a sweet fruit smoothie stuffed with greens

moto monday [ed 37] + some pretty big news

mot moday ed. 37 (happy links to start your week off on the right foot!) Good morning Monday-goers!

I haven’t been this happy on a Monday in awhile. Why, you ask? Um, if you live in Chicago you might have an inkling, but…there’s supposed to be a high of 68 today! What, what!? I am super duper excited (said in a She’s the Man voice – anyone else obsessed with that movie?).

Plus, I had a relaxing weekend for once. Literally, the first relaxing weekend I’ve had in awhile, where I just sat around and shuffled through my bloglovin and pinterest. Complete perfection.

But, I will miss Ry. He’s headed out for work for (basically) 3 weeks today. Such a jet-setter. Guess that leaves me to clean up the condo and start packing…

Oh, wait. Did I not tell you!?

*dramatic pause*


Move in is April 1st, but with everything going on (Easter, Ryan being away and then both of us traveling to SanFran for a few days for a wedding) we thought we would take the whole month of April to move. Very thankful for that flexibility.

Okay, and now some #motomonday ::

+Life hacks of highly successful people.

+This is everything to me.

+Great discussion and tips on owning a biz with your better half

+Very odd video compilation, but adorable friendship.

+Call me a nerd, but I am fer sure seeing this movie when it comes out.

+I get that this is basically an ad, but I love it anyway.

+Smiles for days with this one.

+I’m all about these life tips.

+Insanely in love with whales. How peaceful.

+This is the idea I live by.

+This girl is gewd.

+This makes me really want to get back into throwing. Also, there’s something crazy soothing about watching a potter at work.

+I’m not 100% sure how this is possible, but it sure is beautiful.

+One of my fave memes. Such a Monday feeling (but with a laugh).

+Loving these tips on how to freshen up your home for spring.

+This documentary is for sure going on my future to-watch list. #girlpower

+Everything this man stands for is ah-mazing.

+This biz + what it stands for is too cool. More travel please!

+Caring about the work you do.

+Don’t know how I feel about a brand doing this…but the message was very touching.


online hang outs

Blogging can sometimes feel like such a one way street. So, today, I wanted to share a few of the places I frequent online (besides here). And please, PLEASE share your accounts (insta, twitter, whatever!) in the comments below. I’d love to check out all your stuff too!


Visit nicole / midwestlovefest’s profile on Pinterest.


Print Out These 6 Charts for Perfect Easter Eggs // 13 Lucky Manis for St. Patty’s Day // 16 Mac & Cheese Recipes That Won’t Derail Your Resolutions // 20 Faux Fur DIYs



Aphoto posted by Nicole Regan (Jahns) (@midwestlovefest) on

moto monday [ed 36]

#motomonday - ed36

Happy Monday, ya’ll!

Today is crazy, insanely busy for me. Does it feel that way for you? Or are you just fighting the feeling because it’s Monday…again?

This past weekend also felt too busy and flew by too fast. I mean, you know you’re cramming too much into your life when you write “paint nails” in your planner for over a week straight…and you have yet to actually paint your nails.

Definitely one of those weekends where I tried to fit way too much (going out, supporting friends, working, cleaning, trying to make moves) into two days. After Wednesday, things should settle down a little bit for me. But until then, I hope these lighthearted links keep you company…

+Have you seen/heard this yet?

+This video is beautiful. Gosh, I love art (and artists).

+I miss beautiful, long exchanges, like these emails. Oddly, makes me want to pick up a card and pen a note to a friend.

+I love this because I love food and thoughtful people. And kind business owners.

+This lady used to be my favorite fashion designer. I love her use of bold color and quirky, carefree attitude.

+This whole thing makes my heart happy.

+I like Adam Levine more now because of this (also because this boy is too cute).