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courtneyg

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Crafty for Christmas

I always love giving personalized gifts for Christmas. This year I am loving the finished products of these mason jar fragrances.

I loved this idea because you could really get creative and it smells amazing. I scoured Michaels and Kirkland’s for the perfect additions and filled the mason jar with a mixture of pine cones, cinnamon sticks, floral and decorative accents.

After all decor was added into the jar, I poured in spices from Kirkland’s “All Through the House” sachet in to add a scent to it.

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My first attempt, I glued tissue paper to the mason jar lid. I think it came out so cute!

3AE4AAE2-06B6-45A0-883B-816AF243A0C2My boyfriend suggested material you could hole punch, which was an idea I loved, but when searching through my crafty bin, I found burlap. I have a huge burlap obsession and the cool part is, burlap material has tiny little openings that would work perfectly for keeping the lid on while allowing the scent to escape through the house!

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So, with my hot glue gun, I glued the perfect size circle to the top of the mason jar lid, let it dry and screwed it on and voila! I can’t wait to give these out as gifts this holiday season.

 


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I left my heart in Venice

I’ve waited more than 3 decades to visit Italy. I knew that I would love it once I was given the chance, but I never imagined loving a place as much as I love Venice.

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I’m not sure if it was the Gondolas, the fact that everyone got around by boat or the amazing historical architecture. Maybe it was a little of all of them, but when our cruise ship sailed away down the Adriatic Sea, I found myself counting the days until I could return again.

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We sipped coffee in San Marco, dipped our toes in the sea in Lido and tried our first Italian pizza in Murano. I thought that San Marco was exquisite. The Basilica was stunning and standing over the water watching the gondolas ride through was a dream come true.

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Of each island in the Venetian Lagoon, Lido was my favorite. It was a bit quieter with a small town Main Street feel and had its own beach area off the beaten path.

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Everywhere I turned, my heart grew fonder. Venice must have been the place Belinda Carlisle had in mind when she released “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

Someday Venice, we will meet again. Someday…

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Buddy the Elf Morning Smoothie

Does anyone else love starting their mornings off with a freshly made smoothie? Knowing I packed them up with lots of nutrients makes me feel better and tends to keep me on a healthy eating kick for the rest of the day.

This week I decided to get creative! With the holidays in full swing and Elf being one of my favorite Christmas movies, I am introducing the “Buddy the Elf” morning smoothie! IMG_7511

 

I have an old Ninja pulse blender that comes with single serving blending cups, so I used 2 of them for this recipe. One to make the yellow portion and one to make the green. I placed all ingredients for each portion into their blending cup, blended them all up and then poured the yellow on the bottom to represent Buddy’s yellow tights and the green portion on top to represent his green jacket.

I forgot unsweetened coconut flakes, so I used coconut chunks and cut them up for his white collar. I recommend though not to forget the flakes, because they would’ve been better :)  All ingredients listed below!

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Yellow Smoothie Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 banana frozen
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp Tumeric
  • 1 small chunk of ginger

Green Smoothie Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 banana frozen
  • 2 kiwis frozen and chopped
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/2 avocado

I put the kiwi and banana in the freezer the night before and sliced them frozen in the morning right before I put them in the blender. I’m not a fan of ice in my smoothies, so I try to replace that addition with frozen fruit. The pineapples I got at the store already pre-cut in the frozen fruit aisle.

I also tried to dice the kale up a little smaller because I can NEVER get the leafy greens to fully blend and I think it helps a little so you’re not chewing it as you sip.

I thought it was pretty tasty the way it was, but if you like your smoothies on the sweeter side, feel free to add in some honey or a tsp of vanilla.

And obviously I put it in a mason jar, because it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t!

 

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DIY Christmas Door Decor

Christmas decorating has officially begun! I wanted something different for our door this year. Originally I thought of making a new wreath, but instead I got creative and transformed this old wood frame into a little holiday cheer. All materials cost less than $25. It took about an hour and a little bit of hot glue. My apartment is now nicely decorated in sparkles, but I just love the way it came out!

P.S. – I’ve linked all decor pieces at the bottom of this post.

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All decor is from Michaels and At Home, except the adorable bow which was a handmade gift for Sam and I!

Read more by Courtney here!

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

Meal Planning for Two

Let’s be real today. I haven’t lived with someone in over 5 years. In those past 5 years I’ve settled into my own routine, especially with health and fitness. I made meal plans every week, cooked everything I needed on Sunday and it was way easier to stick to the plan when it was just me solo.

Now I’m grocery shopping, cooking and meal planning for two and let’s face it, there’s so many times when “hey, do you want to eat out tonight” rolls off both of our tongues. Does this sound familiar to anyone else? 

For the most part, the transition from just me to me and my cat, dog and boyfriend has been pretty seamless, but the first couple of months fitness and healthy eating has been on the back burner for both of us. To be honest though, I enjoy going out to eat and trying new places in Nashville with my other half. I enjoy our date nights out, getting dressed up and ordering a glass of wine before the meal comes. About a month ago though, we both sat down and had a come to Jesus meeting with ourselves about how it was time.

It was time to start budgeting a little bit better so we could save for our big travel plans and time to start getting back into the fueling our body with the right kinds of foods. Sam is starting to focus more on his marathon training for 2019 which means checking more U.S. destinations off our bucket list. Me, I’m not running any marathons anytime soon, but I will be at the finish line when he crosses it. Mostly, I just want to feel strong again, less tired when I wake up and have more energy throughout the day that doesn’t come from a daily dose of coffee.

Now that doesn’t mean we can’t eat out ever or splurge on some dessert, because we totally do. What that means is, we focus a lot more on what we eat at home and I have to say, we’ve made some pretty delicious meals. We’re still going strong on getting creative in the kitchen, so today I’m sharing a few of my favorites below.

 Blueberry Oatmeal Cups

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This isn’t an original recipe. I followed this one from Confessions of a Fit Foodie. Only difference is that I actually forgot the almond milk and ground my oats before mixing them. These were SO SO good! I had 2 of them for breakfast and the recipe was enough to last an entire week! I kept 2 days worth in the fridge and put the rest in the freezer. Perfect for on-the-go!

Green Pepper Nachos

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This is what happens when you’re trying to get rid of everything in the fridge at the end of the week before it goes bad. A little slice of random genius because these were a hit and so quick and easy! Slice a pepper the long way into skinny pieces, cook until soft, then top with your favorites like: shredded cheese, salsa, beans, guacamole and sour cream. For you meat eaters, shredded chicken or pork or ground beef would be amazing on this too!

Rice Bowls

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Rice bowls have been our go to most nights when we want something fast, full of substance and healthy. We’ve done all different combinations, but this was our most recent one. There’s wild brown rice under all the tasty toppings. Confession: We use the 90 second rice. I also sauteed our shrimp in Trader Joes’s sweet chili sauce for extra flavor. I took this picture before Sam put the egg on top!

All of these took a total of about 15 minutes from start to finish (besides the oatmeal cups which needed about 25 minutes in the oven, but the preparation was about 5).

Even though I still love our nights out, I absolutely adore our mornings and evenings cooking together in the kitchen seeing what we can come up with next!

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Unlocking the Magic of France

If you truly believe in what lies on the other side

Do not give up because it’s locked

Sometimes the greatest opportunities are missed

Because one couldn’t find the courage to knock


Travel Destination: French Riviera 


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So many cities, just a train ride away. There were so many photo opportunities at the Villa France port alone, but thanks to public transportation, we were able to discover so much more of the French Riviera’s exquisite architecture, ocean views and history. I tried hard to use my French education and although there were a few things I did understand, I’m so grateful for the kind locals who pointed us in the right direction and helped us make the most out of our time here.

Read more by Courtney here!

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Painted Skies of Montenegro

 I am a dreamer, both in darkness and in light

With eyes wide open, my own story I write

To live vivid and bold like the skies above me

Soar as profoundly as the mountains that surround me

And immerse in the beauty of nature’s endless treasures

Every day without measure


Travel Destination: Kotor, Montenegro


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IMG_6984I don’t think I’ve truthfully encountered scenery like that of Kotor, Montenegro. It was like an over sized canvas stretched across the sky and someone hand-painted every detail. We spent the entire day just exploring the city limits. Each and every inch was breathtaking and if you’re up for a climb, you’ll get quite the view from the top of Kotor’s Castle.

Read more by Courtney here!

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Exploring the French Riviera

It’s amazing what you can discover over a glass of iced coffee while sitting in a cafe in the French Riviera.

For those of you who don’t know, I grew up spending my summer in the 1000 Islands. Every year I remember French Festival weekend. My parents would get up early and sneak out while my brother and I were still sleeping to bring home fresh pastries for breakfast. I had always hoped to make it to France someday for an authentic experience.

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Villefranche-sur-Mer

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The first stop on our Mediterranean cruise was France! We anchored in Villefranche-sur-Mer which is a day of gorgeous adventure in itself. Jessica and I climbed way too many stairs while huffing and puffing our way to a Pâtisserie where I ordered my favorite French pastry, a napoleon. Then we snuck into a cute little coffee shop where I sat sipping an iced coffee while chatting with the locals. This is where we learned the inside scoop of making the most of our day.

It turns out the train station is just a 5 minute walk from where we anchored. Our coffee shop tour guide told us there were 3 must see places only a train ride away: Monaco, Nice and Antibes. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for all 3, but we were able to hop on the train to Monaco and then Nice for about 10 Euro.

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Everything about the French Riviera was breathtaking. The architecture was beyond gorgeous and so were the views. The Villefranche-sur-Mer town itself was incredibly charming and well worth the leg workout the 9 miles of stairs and hills gave us.

For this stop in particular I recommend doing your own thing instead of an excursion only because you can do so much more for relatively cheap. I believe the excursion we were looking at was $70 for a bus to take us to Nice and Cannes. The train route was pretty easy to understand and allows you to do more for less.

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