family, friends, holidays, reviews, thankful, thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, wine, friends & family time

Over the last few years Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. As a child I looked forward to my birthday, Christmas Eve, and trying to stay up until midnight on New Years Eve. Sure, Thanksgiving had pumpkin pie but it didn’t hold much excitement until I went away to college and it was the first holiday home. Getting to sit around the table with all my family, fighting over the last of my grandmother’s infamous stuffing, waiting for coffee to be poured, biscotti to be dipped, and stories to be told, there really was no place like home.

When Joey and I first started living together, Thanksgiving was the first holiday we hosted, really making the house into our home. Now we deep fry our turkey every year, I make my grandmother’s stuffing, and the dogs hope food falls on the floor. We make all the food at our house and then transport it to my Mom’s. This way we don’t have to do a crazy family style deep cleaning of the house or worry about setting the table and all the clean up. I get to do what I love (cook) and my Mom can clean (which she loves) and host.

my grandma’s stuffing ready to bake!

traditional antipasto tray
Let’s be real though. While this is all sweet and warm like a nice hot toddy, it definitely can be a stressful and crazy time trying to get everything ready. This year we did a Friendsgiving along with our normal Thursday meal so it was double the prep. Joey ended up going back to the store about three times because of things I forgot. So what got me to relax and enjoy it all?

Wine. Lot’s of wine.


I was lucky enough to have some Little Black Dress wine to share with my girlfriends and a charcuterie board. LBD sent me a complimentary Diva Red and the Pinot Grigio to try and we all loved them!! I loved the Diva Red’s flavor, with hints of cinnamon and chocolate. My girlfriends finished the Pinto Grigio in no time, loving the crisp citrus taste of tangerine, apple, melon, and lemongrass. Honestly, I loved the wine, the name, and how fun it was to drink with my girlfriends. I love how it really adds to the atmosphere of whatever we’re doing. Each bottle is $11.99, an excellent price point, especially when you’re buying 3-4 bottles.

So all in all, it was an amazing Thanksgiving with family and friends. Tons of foods, family, love, laughter, and craziness. I really wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus, Barbara and my Grandmother wearing matching pearl outfits?

Priceless.

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body, health, healthy, paleo, thankful, yoga

The best is yet to come: my 2015 goals!

Well, so much for blogging more during the holidays! Really though, like everyone else, there was just so much going on. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t have any children and work normal hours and still don’t seem to have time for everything I want to do. Thinking about all the things I want to do and need to make time for naturally got me thinking about the upcoming year and the goals I am setting for myself. Since accountability is a grand thing indeed (and sometimes the devil), I am going to post my goals and hope you all can help keep me on track in the upcoming year!

The Goal: Invest in My Health
Normally I might just say I’d like to lose another 20lbs and be done with it but that is not the goal I have anymore. My goal is really and truly to be healthy. To invest in my health. To look at what I am eating and really care about what I am putting in my body and how it will affect my future. So how can I consciously and consistently invest in my health? How much am I willing to give, of myself, of my finances, and of my time? Because that’s really what it comes down to,  the changes that will effect where I go, how I shop, how I feel about myself and so much more.
Step 1: Live 80/20 
One of my favorite things about eating healthy and following a Paleo diet is that it is 80/20. So you try to eat 80% of your meals following the guidelines and then 20% of your meals are whatever you want. By allowing a few meals that aren’t paleo and working with moderation, I am able to be realistic about my food intake and goals. I love the above quote from Bobby Flay because it’s simple but to the point. I don’t need to eat fast food; there is nothing good about it for my body and quite frankly, I don’t enjoy the taste at all. That doesn’t mean I am not going to eat a decadent desert but at least if I am going to eat decadent I will use better quality ingredients than just junk. I want to be able to not let food control my life and over the last two years I have made that change sucessfully. 
Step 2: Don’t beat myself up when I am not perfect. 

Eating moderately helps me maintain a healthy relationship with food. I don’t break down if I have a brownie, I just make sure I don’t have one with every meal or make sure I hit the gym a little harder. I am not going to be perfect and I am more than okay with that. Perfect means that nothing needs to change and I always want to change, grow, and keep learning. So I am going to recognize there are moments I will fail and will eat something awful. I will not always make it to the gym for as many days as I would like that week. It’s inevitable. What I will strive for is accepting these moments and remembering that Scarlett O’Hara was a badass who never quit and always knew that “after all…tomorrow is another day”. This doesn’t mean that I will think my excuses are valid but it allows me to look at why I made a mistake and learn from it. Maybe I didn’t got to the gym because I was so tired and had to listen to my body. Maybe the reason I am so tired is because of lack of sleep. That lack of sleep causes my body to not function as well as it could and leads to overeating as well. So what I learn is to get more sleep and listen to my body.
Step 3: Be consistent with Paleo
I made mention above about following a Paleo diet. A Paleo diet means not having grains, dairy, or artificial sugar. There are a lot of nuances about it and different people follow different levels, much like there are pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans and so on. I have been pretty bad about following this lately so I need to get back on track. So starting January 2nd I will resume my 80/20 Paleo lifestyle which means: no dairy, processed foods including sugar, no legumes, starches or grains and no alcohol. Instead you eat lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and healthy fats, You can check out Nom Nom Paleo for more info! Cooking at home and meal prep is the best tool to stay on track and eat paleo. It also saves money so it’s a triple threat. Plus, watching JoeyWaffles cook, grill, and try new recipes is pretty hot. When I followed Paleo consistently I was leaner, had more energy, and really just overall felt better. It’s little changes that can make a big difference: making my own maple bacon instead of buying the Oscar Meyer version; reading the back of everything I buy so I know what I’m putting in my body; and just staying away from unnecessary foods like Doritos, fast food, and such. I still will have a Reese’s or enjoy a Coke Slurpee but it might be once a week or every few weeks. It makes me feel better when I know I am giving my body good fuel and investing in a better future.

Step 4: Control my food portions 
Sometimes I think like the girl who weighed 80lbs more and feel a compulsion to order a ton of food. I usually remember I am not and start to order like a normal, average, adult. Usually after the fact when it’s too late to change my mind, I remember I have lap band and need to only eat a kids size portion. It’s kind of crazy to think that often, especially going out, a kid’s size portion is really more appropriate for an adult and that we really have huge over sized meals. It’s not even about over eating, it’s really about wasting food and money because I never eat what I think I’m going to and end up wasting it or giving it to JoeyWaffles. That doesn’t work because it means he ends up eating a meal and a half which isn’t good for him either and I want his health to be optimal as well (total Rick word!) So I resolve to order more appropriate sized meals when I do go out and when I am home, use a smaller plate and grab smaller sizes.
Step 5: Use more Young Living Essential Oils in my life
Since getting more into oils and learning a lot from Kristen @ Naturally (un)Balanced, I really want to use more essential oils in my life. There are a lot of oils out there and feel free to do research but this is a great video about the difference between companies and the oils they produce. Thanks to Kristen, I have replaced my toothpaste with Thieves AromaBrite toothepaste, clean my house with a Thieves spray, use lemon oil to get anything stuck with adhesive off, diffuse with eucalyptus and purification for Joey’s asthma, and more. I am just learning and the more that I can replace toxic products with essential, all natural, and organic oils I am all for it. So this year I strive to replace more products, educate myself more on the oils and share my knowledge. Diffusing is so great when I sleep and the epsom salt and Oils baths Kristen recommends are amazing! I also have a roller ball of Stress away that I use when I am feeling…stressed lol
Step 6: Take more Yoga classes
Yoga is amazing. I am so lucky the company I work for offers it once a week thanks to our amazing CEO. Without my work offering it I would have never tried it and found out how truly amazing it is. Everyone is all about weights and I think they have their place but simply adding yoga into my routine has made a huge difference in my muscle definition. Yoga makes your body flexible, stretching alone has so many great benefits and when you add in the peace of mind, it really is something special. Being able to take an hour out of your day and connect with your body and mind is special and often something we neglect. I have a great CorePower Yoga near my house and my goal is go there there a few times a month in addition to my practice at work. The first month of two or even three of doing it I was still unsure if I was doing it right of some of the moves but the great thing about yoga is no one is judging you because they are all in their own state of mind and thinking about themselves (in a good way). I can’t believe how much more flexible I am and how much I enjoy my body after yoga. So treating my body better doesn’t just involve the food I do or don’t put it, but how I use my body as well. As White from America’s Next Top Model once said, “my body is a temple…and my temple wants cheesecake” Mine too girl but sometimes it wants yoga as well so I feed it both!

Steps 7, 8, and 9: Stay Organized, Buy a Meat Cooler, and Keep on smiling!
These are really simple little odds and ends I would like to accomplish. I strive to always stay organized and keep the house clean (enough) and not become a pack rat. JoeyWaffles hates throwing things out but has gotten a lot better so the house is coming together. Along with cleaning I would love to be able to buy into a meat CSA and have a cooler for meat so we only use that. It would be great to know exactly where our meat comes from and have access to quality food all year round. This also includes hitting up the Evanston farmer’s market more. Along with these changes I just want to keep having a happy and positive attitude and keep on keeping on. Life is what you make it and I want to keep on living, loving, laughing, and learning.
I can’t wait to make one of these for 2015!!
So, what are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish in 2015?
beauty products, bella, dante, dry shampoo, duh, holiday, holidays, joeywaffles, love, mom, not your mother, pteri, thankful, thanksgiving, turkey, winston, work

North Shore Thankful

(Thanksgiving 2013, hosted by JoeyWaffles and I)
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it’s all about the love and happy and warmth and most importantly, about family. Maybe your families blended or all over the country (like mine is), maybe you live with them or they’re right down the street, maybe it’s a friendsgiving, but it’s the time of year time to be thankful for the people and things in our lives. Of course, we should be thankful everyday but it doesn’t hurt to have a day to officially celebrate. Plus, the history of Thanksgiving is a bit awful so turning into a day of being grateful, well as Martha Stewart used to say, “now that’s a good thing”. So without further adieu, here is what I am thankful for this year, in no particular order. Obviously it should go without saying that my family, friends, and health are the duh, of course ones.

My job-Getting to love what I do and where I work and who I work with is a blessing. I always quote Charlotte from Sex and The City when she is asked about being happy in her marriage and she says “Not all day, every day but yes, every day”. That is how I feel about work. I love driving there and have never dreaded a Monday. I actually look forward to my job, my boss, my co-workers, and just loving the work. I get to grow and learn and laugh and it can’t get better than that. Work is where you spend most of your time so you might as well make the best of it, enjoy it, and find something that combines a passion with paying the bills. Plus with the PR girls, Alex, Paul, JBeast, Sara, and more, I work with the best, funniest, goofy, most amazing group of people who like to laugh about everything and snort, especially about T-Ruddy Rex ya see.(work joke duh)

My Mom-She is the strongest, funniest, most hardworking, goofy, and kind person I know. She is the definition of selfless and she also can share celebrity gossip with me. The older I get the more I look/act like her and I am proud of it. She is a huge source of health tips, working out, eating well, and just being my biggest cheerleader. My Mom is absolutely without a doubt the person who loves me the most and who would do anything for me. She can make anything better no matter what and she can drive me crazy at times. The older I get the more and more I really get to appreciate her. Plus she loves movies like Booty Call and Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy. She’s a classic.

Heated Car  Seats-I mean seriously, my butt feels so warm and toasty when I drive, especially when it’s so cold out. Every time I get in the car and turn them on, I’m happy. Joey has them in the Mini and the Wrangler so our butts are always warm like our Starbucks. I am lucky to have a car, let alone a wonderful car like Taylor. I pretty much don’t want to own anything but another Land Rover and it’s the North Shore in me but no matter the car, heated seats have become a must.

JoeyWaffles- I don’t always publicly gush about him, I mean I post our photos or some of the sweet things he does or even just how cute he is, because he really really is. The thing is though, he makes me a better person. I love him more than I love being right which is HUGE because I love being right. I am Italian after all. He makes me sharper, smarter, kinder, funnier, think more, he challenges my mind and shows me a whole new way of thinking. He encourages me to be myself and learns from who I am. I love that we both have stayed ourselves as much as we have become a team. When I take a two week vacation every year without, all he wants is for me to have fun while he gets to stay home and hang out with his friends, take care of all the pets and watch comedy central in his boxers. Whatever floats his boat really. Every night I get to fall asleep feeling safe and loved and at peace. Knowing that we bring out the best in each other and not just encourage each others bad habits is something I cherish. You might be thinking “duh Tiffany, that’s what’s supposed to happen” but a lot of people can be in love and not have that. So I am thankful that I do. I am thankful he chooses me and I choose him and that we play Tetris Attack at 2am and watch New Girl together.

Dry Shampoo-Seriously, this is life saver. I use Not Your Mother’s or Bed Head Rockaholic and they are AMAZING. For someone who has thick hair and a lot of it, shampooing my hair everyday is not an option or even every other day. I don’t have the 45min to an hour prep time. This is a great solution and I recommend everyone keep some at work or in their car for an emergency.

My Dad-Hands down, he’s the best guy and I am so lucky Joey has so many of his traits. He is thoughtful, funny, kind, smart, tells corny jokes, and always lets me ramble on. He deserves the best and I am so excited to meet his new bf because I think he finally found a man who deserves him. So I am really thankful for Andre as well because he makes my Dad so happy. I am thankful that they are happy in California and I get to see them in less than a month!!

Duh-Apparently I am trying to bring this back or it never really left my vocabulary but I am thankful this word is still fairly relevant and fun to use. It’s nice then a swear word and really gets the snark of course without offending everyone. Try it out. Feels like a guilty pleasure right? Just go with it, trust me and now I sound like a sleazy guy at a bar. Hmm.

My animals-Bella, Dante, Winston, and Pteri are the silliest, goofiest, sweetest, goofiest little pack of furbabies. Winston is at the vet and has been, battling a urinary blockage and infection and $1500 we know he;s worth every penny we’ve spent and will continue to spend. He’s the sweetest little grey jerk ever and while it’s nice not to be woken up at 6am by a hungry cat, I can’t wait til he comes home. Pteri is the cutest most unladylike cat ever and got me to like cats after years of indifference. Bella is my babygirl, babychubs, fat little loyal sausage who loves Joey better but knows I will always protect her from anything and then there’s Dante. My sweet sweet baby boy who has the biggest heart, the best personality; he would protect me from anything and curls up next to me with his big brown eyes and sweet face and I melt. He makes the funniest noises and has the worst breathe sometimes but he’s my little guy.

What are you thankful for? What makes Thanksgiving for you? Are you shopping on Black Friday? Whatever you’re doing, have a safe, happy, and wonderful Thanksgiving.