Friday, November 27, 2015

DIY Gift Ideas

My family used to have a rule that you could only give gifts that were homemade. We would draw names and everyone made something for someone else. It's my favorite thing we've ever done! Thanks to the heavenly goodness that is Pinterest, finding DIY gifts is super easy. But searching through Pinterest can be exhausting. So I pulled together some of my favorite DIY gifts that I've found. Some I've actually made, some I haven't but plan to one day!

Marbled Jewelry Dish


How cute are these? And they are so easy to make! Just some clay, bowls, and an oven. The great thing about these is that you can tailor the colors to fit the person you're giving them to. She loves pink? Use different shades of pink clay. More of a neutral gal? Just use white, black, and greys. It may be a little pricey to buy the clay and the gold gilding but you could make so many dishes from the supplies you buy! 

I actually made these for two of my guy friends for their birthdays last year. They were insanely easy to make too! I slowly collected the beer boxes from their favorite beers over the course of a few months. I would have bought the beer myself and just drank it but I'm not a huge fan of all their favorites. If beer isn't their thing, use some pretty stationary instead!

For the tea or coffee lover in your life! All of the supplies for this can be bought at the dollar store. Just some white mugs, nail polish, and water. That's it! The colors are endless too because goodness knows there's nail polish available in every color imaginable. You could also use a Sharpie and write the person's favorite verse or saying on it too!



This is perfect for as a gift for a family. I can see this being something my mom would love! Just some scrap wood, a wooden letter, picture frame and some stain/paint. So easy!



These are perfect for ladies that have cold hands (but a warm heart). You could easily make a bunch of these. They'd be perfect for either a stocking stuff or if you have a bunch of people to give gifts to.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Gift Ideas for the Working Gal




[If you've been following me you know I don't post every day...I'm too busy for that. I've actually written these gift idea posts wayyyy earlier but figured I would post one a day leading up to the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday! Happy shopping y'all!]

I'm all about organization. If I'm not organized, I would go crazy! But just because I like to be organized doesn't mean I want my desk to be bland. I love color! So for the ladies in your life who love colorful organization, here's some ideas:

17-Month Large Agenda from Kate Spade, $36
I would die without my agenda. And this Kate Spade agenda is so pretty while being incredibly functional! There's plenty of room to write everything down without cramming letters together. It's definitely worth the splurge!

Tray, Tape Dispenser, and Pen Cup from Poppin, $12, $12, $6

I came across Poppin not too long ago. It's a dream come true! Everything comes in so many different colors, not just white! Also, check out this Dream Desk set ($100). It's a great deal for everything pictured!


Monogrammed Notebook from May Designs, $20-23
This isn't the only print you can get notebooks in! They have so many options that are all adorable. Plus, the inside can be almost anything you want. From blank notebook, to a wedding diary, to a budget journal, to an address book, to an agenda, there are so many options.


If you're like me, you rarely know what the date is without checking your phone or asking someone first. With a desk calendar, it's super easy to glance up and know the date. Plus, this calendar will match your agenda!

Even the most organized ladies need their caffeine fix every now and then! Whether she's on the run or spending the day at her desk, this mug is perfect and so cute.

This dish is perfect for holding little trinkets on a desk. Or you can be creative and make your own! Here's a great link to some super cute DIY marbled dishes if you're feeling creative.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gift Ideas for the Beauty Girl


The older I get, the more I love all things beauty. New makeup, new hairstyles, all of it. I've recently become a huge fan of Sephora and Ulta. They have everything!! Here's some of my favorites from the stores, plus some gift sets:

Eye masks, Sephora, $25 for a set of 3
I've heard so many good things about these little guys! They're small so they would make great stocking stuffers!!

I recently bought a trial size of this stuff from Ulta (they only sell it in stores) and I'm in love. My skin looks so great and it doesn't make my skin oily!! It's lightweight but moisturizes really well. I use it every morning and evening.
I've only every heard good things about Philosophy. I've tried other products from them, but never the hope in a jar (which was recently an Allure beauty pick!).

I can't recommend this stuff enough!! I have so much hair and it used to take 15-20 minutes to dry it. Using this stuff it takes roughly 5 minutes. Less if I'm not trying to straighten my hair as it dries. It's so good for any ladies in your life with a lot of hair or just busy ladies in general!

This stuff has been on my wish list for a long time, but I usually forget to ask for it (sorry mom). A lot of my friends use this and are obsessed! There's also a Naked2 and Naked3 palette to choose from. It's kinda pricey, but think of all the combinations you can make!

I have a slight obsession with lipstick. I love these because they're glossy lip pencils, so they don't smear or run as easily. And all of the options make me so happy!!

This set is definitely a little pricey, but I'm a firm believer that you get what you pay for. And makeup brushes can make a huge difference in the way your makeup looks. Plus, you'd end up paying so much more by buying these brushes individually!

Because what is she supposed to put all of her new makeup in? This is an adorable bag and would be great as a stocking stuffer!

Of course I had to include nail polish - it's my weakness! I love OPI. It's probably my favorite brand right next to Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure. These colors are perfect for the holidays too!


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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gift Ideas from Etsy


I'm a huge Etsy fan! I remember finding it in college and I was immediately obsessed. There's so many cute handmade items on there! Here's some of my favorite things I've found that would make excellent gift ideas:

Mugs from Chalk Full of Love
They're donating a dollar from every mug bought during the months of November and December to orphanages in Haiti. How awesome!! 
Seriously how cute is this? Really the entire store is adorable. I suggest this print for the coffee and Jesus lover in your life.

Prints from Peach and Gold
I love this shop because it really plays on the girly girl in me! So many of the prints would go so well in a bedroom by a vanity or in the bathroom. I also love the soft colors so much!
Some of these are instant download. You get a file with the picture then you can take it to be printed at your local print shop (which happens to be Walgreens or Wal-Mart for me!). Or if you prefer to have it already printed for you, you can buy them like that too!

Scarves from Love That Monogram
Blanket scarves are in right now! And for good reason: they're warm, cozy, cute, and double as an actual blanket. I recently bought this scarf below from this shop (that's me in the picture!).
They also come in other colors and there's more than just scarves in the shop! Here's a blanket scarf in a yellow/brown mix.

Rings from Silver Canyon Jewelry
I wear a set of rings I bought from this shop every single day. They're thin and dainty and so cute. I have this exact set. I also bought a knot ring to go with it.

Anything mongrammed from PineappleProper
This shop I found thanks to laurenconrad.com. I'm especially in love with the monogrammed Camelbaks! You just really can't go wrong with a monogram!

I highly suggest Etsy if you're looking for unique gifts. It definitely takes some patience searching through all of the different shops but once you find that one that's just what you need, all that time searching was worth it! Just keep in mind that since the shop owners hand make their items, it takes extra time to ship to you so order as early as you can! Happy shopping!!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Outfit Ideas

One of my favorite but most stressful things for me is picking out what I want to wear while I'm home for Thanksgiving. I usually end up spending a few days at home. In college this wasn't a huge deal because I kept some clothes at home just in case I changed my mind about what to wear. Since I moved to Ohio, I have all of my clothes with me. Therefore careful planning is involved to make sure I have outfits that I love to wear. Here's a few of my favorites that will most likely be making an appearance this week!
Thanksgiving Day, option 1:

Traveling for turkey day? I highly suggest a blanket scarf! They're cozy, so warm, and so cute. Plus, it doubles as a blanket for long car rides or naps after eating!
Here's some of my favorite pieces:
Sweater: here, here (this one is lightweight and I love it), and here
Jeans: my favorites are here, but any skinny jeans you love work!
Boots: here (wide calf), here (also wide calf), and here
Blanket Scarf: here (I have this exact one), here, and here
Bag: here, here, and here

Thanksgiving Day, option 2:


Feeling a little fancier? Try a jewel tone sweater, gold necklace, and black accessories!
Here's some links to similar items:
Sweater: here, here (I know I already linked it but there's just so many colors), and here (they're on super sale right now)
Jeans: my favorites are here
Booties: here, here, and here
Bag: here, here, and here

Black Friday Shopping:

Y'all know by now this my favorite outfit ever. That's because it's so comfy! And so incredibly easy!! Plus, for Black Friday shopping, I want to stay warm while walking from the car to the mall, but I don't want to be sweating while making my way to Bath and Body Works. My solution: layers for days!!
Here's some links to similar items:
Jacket: here, here, and here
Top: here, here, and here
Jeans: my favorites are here
Booties: here, here, and here, also check out your local TJ Maxx - I recently found a pair I wear all the time!
Bag: here, here, and here, again check out TJ Maxx!

If you're ever unsure of what to wear, I love jewel tones for the holidays (emeralds, purples, reds). If your top is a bright color, the rest of your outfit can be neutral. Or keep your top neutral and throw on a chunky and colorful necklace or a scarf. If you're in a place where it's pretty chilly, layer up! Jackets and vests make great layering pieces that are still cute. Also, if your family doesn't wear shoes in the house, I highly recommend wearing socks that will still look good with your outfit. The last thing you want is to be wearing a purple sweater with bright orange and green socks! Black or brown socks work super well to avoid this!

I hope y'all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Jumpstart Week 3

I'm starting my last week today!! Isn't that crazy?? It is to me! Thankfully the third week was much better than the second week.

How good was the third week you ask? Well I had to tighten my belt...again. That's one notch a week. Can I make it three notches by next Sunday? That'd be cool, but if I don't I won't cry. Mostly because I gave in to ice cream last night and it was so worth it.

I liked the food so much more this week! Everything was so colorful and so full of flavor! My favorite food this week was the "Growed-Up Girl Cheese." It's so much more than your average grilled cheese - the 'cheese' part is an artichoke, cheesey, gooey goodness. It was heaven in your mouth!!

For my last week I already know I'm switching out one of the dinners because it has polenta and I do not like polenta. At all. So I'm going to sub in my favorite dinner from the entire program: sweet potato tacos. Y'all my mouth is watering just thinking about them!

One of my favorite things about this whole thing has been the new recipes I've learned. Other than week 2, I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've made. It's crazy how much better everything tastes when you're not eating a bunch of sugars and fats and salt! It's also so great to learn new ways of mixing food so it brings out the intense flavor in everything. I just love food, but in a much healthier way!

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(Disclaimer: I'm going to start talking about female things. If you would rather not read about my womanly issues, you can stop reading. I'm glad you stopped by though!)

Here's a picture of dogs playing in a pile a leaves before you leave/keep reading!


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So this last little section is an update on something I posted about a long time ago (aka June). I told y'all that I have PCOS and I went back to the gyno and had stuff checked out. Well I never heard from my doctor so I'm assuming nothing is wrong. I also kept forgetting to call her and follow up on all of that. My bad. I should probably do that.

Since my visit, I haven't been taking birth control. Which is so weird because I've taken it every day since high school. For the first couple months nothing happened. No period, nothing. This was pretty discouraging because the whole idea behind me going on birth control was that it would regulate my body enough that I wouldn't need it. If you talked to me in August I would have said that's a load of horse crap. My body wouldn't regulate itself without that little pill.

Until October. Then Aunt Flo came for a visit. It was a short one, but she was there. I thought maybe it was a fluke, like it wasn't real. But then November came and she came again! One month after she came the first time (because that's what's supposed to happen)! You guys...I had a period. Two months in a row! (I know some of you are like "why is this good news? I would love to not have a period" and I hear you. It does suck. I'm not excited about having to deal with it, but I want to have kids one day. If I'm not having a period, my uterus isn't shedding and it's getting thicker and thicker each month. This causes problems when you want to get pregnant. See my problem here?) So yeah I was excited.

I firmly believe it's because of my change in eating that brought this on. One cause of PCOS is being overweight. And I am. I'll admit it. Now I'm no where near being skinny (nor will I ever be skinny - I love food too much #icecreamfordays), but I'm for sure healthier! All I keep thinking about is how hangry I was the first week and how much I wanted to throw in the towel after the second week, but all of that was so worth it!! I think I always felt a little hopeless when it came to losing enough weight to not need birth control for a period, but seeing that it's possible just spurs me on!

If you share my struggle, I encourage you to take a look at your eating habits. Try the 28-Day Jumpstart! It's only 4 weeks and I promise it's so easy. Everything is laid out for you. It's fool-proof. What do you have to lose? (Of course, you might want to talk to your doctor. They usually have some good insight too!) 

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Friday, November 13, 2015

November Birchbox: Unboxed

I just love when my Birchbox comes!! It's so exciting to open it and try new things!

I loved the colors of this month's box. Mostly the color of the tissue paper. (It's the little things in life!)

The inside of my box. That brown square box had two small things in it - no worries I still got my five items!


1. Dr. Jart+ Water Replenishment Mask ($7.50) // This was another one of those cotton masks (similar to one I had last month). I still felt so silly with it on but I really loved this one! I think I actually like this one more than the one I got last month. It made my skin look amazing afterwards!!

2. AYRES Body Polish - Pampas Sunrise ($25) // I've only used this on my hands because I wanted to make the sample last, but it's pretty amazing. My hands were so soft after using it! It's really similar to the Satin Hands line from Mary Kay, but you can use it on your entire body.

3. Davines This Is A Relaxing Moisturizing Fluid ($26) // I'm going to be very honest: I couldn't tell if this even did anything. It smelled pretty good, kinda lemon-y. It's supposed to add shine and moisturize your hair while also eliminating frizz and humidity-proofing it. Considering my hair didn't look or feel any different, I'm not sure I would actually use this stuff.

4. theBalm cosmetics FratBoy ($21) // This is blush. I was so confused when I first saw it. But that's just it. It's just blush. I didn't think was special or anything. It says you can use it as a shadow, but I was not a fan of pink shadow on me! I looked like I was sleep-deprived. I think I'll stick to my tried and true blush!

5. LOC One & Done Shadow Stick - On Point ($10) // I LOVE this stuff!! First, it's a beautiful light shimmery shade of cream/tan. Second, it goes on so smooth. It's a cream, not a powder. Third, it doesn't crease!! I have really oily skin so my eyeshadow tends to crease easily but this stuff is tough! It stayed put all day. It's waterproof but comes off with my makeup remover that isn't made for waterproof makeup which is nice! This is a Birchbox exclusive too! I would absolutely buy more of this!

October Update: I ended up super loving the Oribe texturizing spray. I used it with my dry shampoo to give my roots some lift and hold. I haven't bought a full size bottle yet, but my sample bottle was gone within a week or two so I'll be ordering it soon!

I realized as I was typing out this post that next month will be my one-year anniversary with Birchbox! I definitely do not regret starting a subscription. Let me know if you're interested in trying it out - especially because you can get $5 off your first box!!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Jumpstart Week 2

Wow this is so late. I'm going to be super honest: I thought I had just finished week one this week. Last week flew by!! But now that I'm adjusted, here's my update on the quickest week 2 ever!

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Well y'all I'm halfway through this whole Jumpstart. I so wish I could say it's still going well buuuuuut....

I totally bombed last week.

I ate out three nights last week! Don't get me wrong I loved who I got to eat out with (shoutout to Dr. Jen!!) but it is so hard to eat well when endless chips and salsa are sitting in front of you, amiright?!

On top of falling off the wagon a little, the food was not my favorite. It just wasn't my taste. That definitely didn't help either. I found I'm not a fan of polenta or potatoes without butter. This week's food was just too bland and I wasn't creative enough to spice it up.

Even though last week was kind of a bust, I'm still not discouraged! My belt needed to be tightened one notch this morning! This is coming after my jeans had been feeling tight even without a belt before I started. Also, I ordered a few tops from Old Navy in my normal size and they were too big! 

If I learned one thing from Week 2 it's this:
You cannot beat yourself up for mistakes. I was so tempted to not eat the day after I ate out thinking the calories would average out over a few days. That's a really dumb idea. After eating a teeny tiny breakfast, I was hangry by the time lunch came around. So I learned that even if I eat out and make poor choices, I just have to continue the next day like I normally would. Each morning is a clean slate! 

So that's pretty much it from Week 2. Since I'm well into Week 3, I'll let you know that it's going much better! And hopefully I'll remember when the week has ended this time.

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Quality Over Quantity

I was talking to my mom yesterday about clothes because I had just left the mall in Cincinnati. The idea of a capsule wardrobe came up. (If you're unfamiliar with what a capsule wardrobe is, check this out.) Now I'm not ready to actually make a capsule wardrobe and I'm not sure I ever will (major props to those of you who do!). But the idea of simplifying my closet and buying quality pieces was the idea of the conversation. I will never stop buy super cheap t-shirts from Old Navy, but I have started investing in higher quality items!
In today's society quality typically means pricey. Y'all know I'm a poor grad student so shelling out $50 for a top just isn't practical. So how do I do it? Here's some of my tips:
1. Hit up sales!!!! I cannot stress this enough. I very very very rarely pay full price for anything. Even when grocery shopping I'm less likely to buy something if it isn't on sale. So how do I find these sales?
Sign up for e-mails from your favorite stores. Yes your inbox will be cluttered but if you use Gmail, there's a Promotions folder that all of your store e-mails will go to. This is great because it keeps it out of your main inbox. Getting these e-mails clues you in to sales going on. Every now and then you'll get a coupon just for being subscribed! Some of my favorite stores to get e-mails from is:
Old Navy
J.Crew
Gap
The Limited
Dick's Sporting Goods
Nordstrom
Kohl's
2. Clean out your closet! I use the following rule: if I haven't worn it in the last year or if I didn't wear it last season, it goes. Of course I have a few items that are special occasion items that usually stay tucked away to one side or in the back. I actually cleaned my closet out last night. I got rid of everything I didn't wear this spring/summer. I'm amazed at how many pieces of clothing I keep because I think "well I may wear this one day." NO! If I didn't wear it this season, what makes me think I'll wear it next season? I also usually clean my closet out in rounds where I think thoughts like this:
Round 1: "I still have that? I thought I said I hate it last year?"
Round 2: "Yeah I didn't wear that last season. Buh-bye."
Round 3. "That's still pretty cute. Did I wear it though? Will I wear it? Oh my gosh I don't even know what I'm eating for dinner! Maybe I'll leave it in here because maybe I'll have a reason to wear it."
Round 4. "Okay no I won't ever have a reason to wear that. If I haven't worn it yet I will never wear it. Stop lying to yourself."
Cleaning out my closet involves a lot of lying to myself then rationalizing with myself and finally getting rid of that one top my mom bought me that I said I like but I really don't but I feel bad getting rid of it because she bought it for me and I don't want to be a terrible daughter but yeah I'll never wear it. Sorry mom. I'm sure if someone were to watch me do this it would be very entertaining.
3. Don't go shopping just for the sake of shopping. You'll end up buying things you don't need (every woman's story of a "quick trip to Target" amiright?) Wait until you know exactly what you need. It's like grocery shopping - you should always get your groceries when you have a list. If I don't take a list to the store with me, I end up forgetting to buy things I need and end up buying things I don't need.
4. Check out flash sale websites. These websites have heavily discounted sales that last for a short amount of time (think a few days). You can find almost anything in these sales! From clothing to kitchen gadgets to stationary and everything in between. My favorite is Zulily! They organize their sales by the brand being sold. They even have Vera Bradley every now and then! Another great one is Jane. Just keep in mind that you usually can't return things you buy on these sites.
5. Buy items during the off season. Think buying Christmas decorations after Christmas, buying Halloween candy on November 1, and so on. The same applies to clothes! Buy summer clothes at the end of the summer. Just make sure they're clothes you're positive you'll wear! I bought a few sweaters from J.Crew Factory in August because they were so heavily discounted (because who wears sweaters in August?!). Check out this great infographic for some ideas.
6. Here are some of my favorite places to get quality items:
J.Crew Factory: J.Crew always has higher quality pieces that I love! But they're so expensive!! I'm sorry but I will not pay $90 for a sweater. On J.Crew Factory everything is discounted. It's amazing. Then if you check out their clearance it's a sale on top of a sale! (PS You can take an extra 35% off your online order today!)
DSW: Because every woman needs shoes! I'm a fan of DSW because they carry high quality shoes but at a discount. You can currently take an extra 25% off clearance shoes.
Zulily: This is my favorite place to buy dresses. You can frequently find items that are 60% off.
Old Navy/Gap: Typically if one store is having a sale, the other is having a similar sale as well. Old Navy (as I've said before) is great for basic items like t-shirts but they also have great pants. I'm a fan of the Pixie Chinos - they're great pants that work well in the business casual area. They're currently having a flash sale with most items up to 60% off. Gap has a lot of great tops. Gap is a little higher quality when compared to Old Navy. They're also offering 40% off your online order right now!
Nordstrom: This is another place where I only buy something if it's on sale. Luckily right now they're having their fall clearance sale until 11/15 where you can save up to 40%!
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I'm slowly trying to shift my wardrobe from college/grad student to young professional so that when the time comes for me to get a big girl job, I won't have to totally revamp my closet right before starting my job. I'd much rather buy a new piece or two every now and then than buy a whole new wardrobe at once. I feel like I'm much more likely to buy pieces I love because I was patient when shopping!

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Jumpstart Week 1!

(The tacos I ate four days this week - so so so yummy!!)

I'm done with my first week of the Fit Girls 28 Day Jumpstart! It's been a rollercoaster so far but a good one. The Fit Girl community is amazing. I made a separate Instagram account to connect with other women participating in this lifestyle (fitgirlchemist is my account name) and everyone is so encouraging!!

Here's some of my thoughts so far:

1. It's not that bad (insert praise hands emoji). The fact that you get a grocery list and every recipe you'll need made it so much easier! I'm not that creative with food so having someone tell me exactly how to cook was wonderful. The workouts aren't awful. I mean they're hard (obvi) but they don't have workouts that I've never seen before. Also I had pizza and tacos for dinner this week. How great is that?!

2. My taste buds have definitely changed. Never in my life have I been a person that would put peppers and mushrooms on her pizza or onions on her tacos. Ever!! Ask my mom - I've always been pretty picky about what goes in my food. But y'all the times have changed! I could put onions in almost every dish. (Hey family, this means we don't have to order cheese pizza when I'm home!)

3. I can only have the same thing for lunch so many days in a row before I go crazy. I can eat the same thing for breakfast every day. I do that anyway. But lunch and dinner need to change. This program has the same thing for lunch every day. Thankfully the next three weeks have more variations on the lunches than the first week. The dinners alternate nights and I'm totally down with that. I can handle the same lunch or dinner two maybe three days in a row but then I need a change! Praise the Lord this program allows for flexibility.

4. I eat out of boredom more than any other emotion. This week I was an emotional wreck. But all that emotion didn't drive me to reach for ice cream or carbs. Only boredom did that. Especially when I'm just sitting at my desk reading articles. I'm a snacker. Or when I'm sitting on my couch at home binging on Empire. Rather than get upset because I eat when I'm bored, I look at this as an opportunity to become more active to keep from being bored. (I said that last sentence with Chris Traeger enthusiasm hoping it would help. It literally made me feel better. Shoutout to everyone who got that Parks and Rec reference!)

5. I quickly go from not hungry to hangry. I've always been a person who gets hangry easily. If my stomach is growling, so am I. This mostly stems from the fact that I've never been a person who lets themselves feel hungry. I'm more inclined to each three full meals a day with snacks in between. Meaning I'm never hungry! Unless I'm crazy busy in which case I sometimes forget to eat (no joke I've gone to teach in the afternoon and realized "oh my gosh I forgot to eat lunch"). That being said, I've had to feel hungry this week. That's been the biggest adjustment. But it's been a good one! Because I'm actually sitting down to each meal hungry, I get to enjoy all of the wonderful food I just cooked. Before all of this, I would only eat part of my meal because I wasn't that hungry from snacking all day. Not the best when you're making amazing tacos and pizza that you want to savor.

6. I can almost drink coffee black. If you know me this is quite a shocker! I like coffee with my creamer. But this jumpstart has gotten rid of my creamer!! Instead I can put a splash of almond milk in my coffee and that's about it. Knowing that I went on a rampage trying to find a coffee I can drink black (or with a splash of milk). I like my Dunkin Donuts caramel coffee, but only with cream. I drank it black and nearly spit it out - it was no bueno. Then I tried this coffee at the Oxford farmer's market and fell in love. I drank it black and was hesitant to put any milk in it because it was so good ( still put milk in it because I like how it kind of thickens it up and cools it off)! It's a bean from Guatemala and I love it so much I bought a bag of it. My mother would be so proud of me.

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This has been a great journey so far. I told myself the first week would probably be the hardest. If that's true, the next three weeks are going to be great!

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