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courtneyg

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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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Villefranche-sur-Mer

 

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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Royal Caribbean Cruise Recap

I am back on land from an AMAZING 12 day Mediterranean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas. We set sail out of Barcelona and took an overnight flight with United. They had USB ports to charge your phone and TV’s at each seat so I watched quite a few movies to help pass the time.

Jessica and I got incredibly lucky by having our airline rows to ourselves, so we were able to lay down and get a few hours of sleep. I didn’t end up buying a sleep mask, but I’ll tell ya if I take a long flight again, I would absolutely get one.

We arrived in Barcelona at around 7:55am. At the airport we dropped our luggage off with Bags & Go. I’m not going to lie, we were very very nervous about leaving our bags with them, but they had great reviews. They take your luggage directly to the cruise ship so we weren’t going to see it again for another 10 or so hours. Since we had the whole day to explore Barcelona though we didn’t want to have to roll our luggage along everywhere.

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For about 6 Euros we hopped on the Aerobus from the airport for a 20 minute ride to city center. From there we walked over 10 miles, sipped some fresh squeezed orange juice in a local cafe and eyed the amazing architecture of things like the Sagrada Família Basilica and Casa Mila. Around 4pm we made our way to the cruise port. The check in process was so easy and very organized. It took less than 10 minutes to get onto the boat and into our cabin where we were still crossing our fingers our baggage would follow. 

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Barcelona 2This was my 3rd Royal Caribbean Cruise and again, I really enjoyed it. Our captain was awesome at keeping us informed and even participating in nightly events to meet guests. With activities such as beach volleyball, rock climbing, a comedy show, movies, cake decorating, dance lessons and more, there was never a dull moment.

The first night on the ship is the only night we ate in the dining room. Every other meal we ate at the Windjammer which is a buffet. The dining room food was great, but it was just nice to be able to eat whenever we wanted and not have to make a reservation. It was also nice not to have to choose off a menu. Options at the Windjammer ranged from an omelet station to a crepe bar and a sandwich station to make your own pasta. We did NOT go hungry. Oh, and did I mention the self-serve ice cream station at the pool? That was a daily stop for me.

Jessica and I enjoyed ourselves so much, we were already looking for our next cruise before we even got off the ship. And for those of you wondering, our luggage made it to our cabin safe and sound!

Are you thinking of taking a cruise? Where do you want to go? What questions do you have? Comment below!

And stay tuned next week for a recap of our first stop. Can you guess where? 

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Surviving Long Nights and Red Eye Flights

The countdown has begun. Jessica and I booked our annual girls trip months in advance and it’s crazy to think there’s less than one week left until we’re sailing the Mediterranean! She’s way more worldly than I am, so although I’m a tad bit anxious to travel into the unfamiliar, I’m beyond excited for the experience.

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My checklist is slowly shrinking, but my carry on is filling up. With an 8 hour overnight flight to Barcelona, I want to make sure I have everything I need to make it through. My longest direct flight was about 6 hours from New York to California and even though it wasn’t too bad watching the in flight movies, I certainly could’ve prepared a little better. So, this time I did my research and I’ve detailed all the goodies in my carry on.

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Refillable Water Bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated during travel and I think having a water bottle on hand may help remind me to drink up. I’m going to fill it up at the airport before I board and top it off during in flight beverage service.

Kindle and Notebook

I’m bringing one for a little inspiration and the other to hopefully spill more of my novel out between the covers of my journal. I figured the plane is really the perfect place to write. There really isn’t room for many distractions.

Netflix

My last flight to Myrtle Beach, I was on a Heartland addiction and I figured out that you can actually download some shows from Netflix to watch offline. You will have to download them prior to takeoff though as you do need internet access to do so.

Portable Charger

Another really important tool I have on hand is a portable phone charger. Not all airlines have outlets, so I want to be prepared. Watching Netflix may help pass the time, but it will also drains my battery.

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Pashmina

I read somewhere online to make sure I pack a Pashmina. This wasn’t even on my radar, but I think it’s genius. Not only can the pashmina be used as a blanket if I get chilly, but I can also twist it and place around my neck for a pillow. On top of that, I also watched some YouTube videos of ways to wear them while on the ship. I bought 2 of them off Amazon and am ready to put them to use.

Snacks

I pretty much eat every 2 hours, so 8 hours on a plane with no food would make this girl hangry. That’s why I plan on packing some granola bars, a banana, crackers and nut packets for when my stomach starts growling.

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Beauty Products

Lots of travel bloggers have talked about how important it is to stick with your nighttime routine while on an overnight flight. I don’t want my skin to freak out, so I packed a few of my nighttime items. Along with my toothpaste and toothbrush, I have my face wash, face mask and lavender face mist for when it’s time to sleep.

I also have eye mask on my list, but haven’t actually bought one yet. What do you guys think? Should I or shouldn’t I?

Have you ever flown on a red eye? What are your favorite carry on must haves? 

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more travel tips and recaps!

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