Most Popular Christmas Candy By State

It may not seem like a huge sweets holiday, but the Christmas candy season really is. Think about all the baking and decorating and making fun crafts with kids that happens in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

For more state by state fun candy facts click here:

https://www.candystore.com/blog/holidays/christmas-candy-popular-state

Christmas Candy List by State
Christmas candy list by state by CandyStore.comSource: CandyStore.com

 

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Holiday shopping season is officially on! For your picky family members to the difficult secret Santa, I got you covered with a few  unique and practical gifts all under $100. I was given some of these  sample products to review in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own.
 

Gifts under $50

Luxe Pocket Planners

These are beautiful and glamorous! Make a plan and stay on schedule with these Luxe Pocket Planner from Galison. This conveniently sized planner (4.5 x 5.75″) fits in your handbag or backpack and allows you to easily plan your weekly and monthly activities.  They feature an embossed foil cover as well as 192 gilded page edges. Planners are undated. ($9.99)

 

Galison Pocket Planners

Christian Lacroix Maison de Jeu Collection

Christian Lacroix Maison de Jeu features art depicting the atmosphere of vintage French gambling houses.  This collection includes a playing card set, porcelain tray, pencil pot, and 500-piece two-side puzzle. ($25-$50)

Christian Lacroix Maison de Jeu CollectionChristian Lacroix Maison de Jeu 500-Piece Two-Sided Puzzle

Porcelain Trays

Galison’s porcelain tray collection includes designs from Patch NYC, The Berkley Bestiary, Frank Lloyd Wright and more.  Packaged in sturdy gift boxes, these trays are perfect for keys, jewelry, change, and other trinkets or desktop items.

($12.99 – $50)

Galison Porcelain

 

William Morris Gift Collection

William Morris is well known for his unmistakable tapestries, fabrics, wall paper and even stained glass. His work has been used for over 150 years on decorative as well as functional products. The William Morris Celandine and Dove & Rose patterns are used for these handmade embroidered journals, cotton zipper pouches and playing card set. ($13.00-$15.99)

William Morris Gift Collection

Practical Gifts under $99

Ninja® Precision Processor™ with Auto-Spiralizer™ powers through tough ingredients with its unique stacked blade design. Its dough blade makes up to one pound of dough, while its auto-spiralizer easily transforms ordinary fruits and vegetables into fun noodle styles. Its stainless steel chopping blade mixes, chops, puree’s and more.

I used this at Thanksgiving to do my sweet potatoes. Powerful and came out creamy and smooth!Available at retailers nationwide at an MSRP of $99.99.

The Shark® Steam Mop effortlessly cleans sealed hard floors with the power of steam, cutting through grease and grime while keeping floors clear of unwanted film and residue.

S1000_SeafoamPOPfront

Available at online retailers at an MSRP of $79.99.

WalletHub Thanksgiving and Holiday Reports

The countdown to holiday shopping is here! Check out WalletHub’s recent holiday studies and reports, highlights of which you can find below.

holiday shopping, black friday, gift guide, holidays

Pearls & Plaid of Old Saybrook Sip & Shop

Pearls and Plaid in Old Saybrook is a hidden gem! CT Blogger Babes were invited to small bites, sips and shopping for the CT Blogger Babes Sip & Shop!  Sounds like a match made in blogger heaven. And it was!

It was my first visit to Pearls & Plaid https://www.shoppearlsandplaid.com/but I know I have driven by the store several times saying.. I gotta get in there! Store owner Caroline gifted us with 20% off anything in the store so you know that was not going unused! I bought a very cute mantra band and a much-needed beanie for those cold Connecticut winters that are approaching quickly. The store has dresses, shirts, sweaters, gift items and jewelry!

Besides shopping we were treated to some fantastic food by Primrose Party Planning and beautiful decor and flowers  by Mar Floral. I had not met any of the bloggers that attended before, but knew them from social media so it was so awesome to meet face to face, exchange cards and strengthen the blogging community.

Pearls & Plaid is all decked out for the holidays so stop in and get that special gift for that special someone! Pearls and Plaid is located at 1330 Boston Post Road Old Saybrook, CT 06475.

Special thanks to Caroline at Pearls & Plaid and Nonne of @noneesworld &  CT Blogger Collective for organizing this event.

 

 

Gym Motivation in 3 Easy Steps

If you workout at the gym, you undoubtedly have had mornings or after work experiences just not having the get go to find the motivation to get out the door and make it. Guilty!

gym, motivation, health, goals, fitness goalsIt always feels worse when you skip a workout and feel guilty you did not go. Or you are now stressed with finding the day or time to get in the missed workout. That is the pits. So why put yourself through the guilt? Studies have shown that it takes 21 days to break a habit.  If you have 27 dedicated successful attended workouts you will set yourself up with a good fitness regime from the start. Check out this article for more information on habits at https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/02/how-long-it-takes-to-form-a-new-habit/

With 3 simple tips, you can set yourself up for success and keep your fitness goals in check.

  • Layout your workout gear the night before. Sounds simple right? It is. However if you don’t you might find excuses like not having clean socks to wear or not finding your earbuds and so on to keep you from going to the gym. Trust me this works!
  • Fill up your water bottle or coffee maker. Sometimes just knowing I can have a cup of coffee waiting for me when I get ready is motivation enough! Fill your water bottle the night before so you can grab and go in the morning.
  • Have an accountability partner. Yes. This person does not have to workout with you ( although that is even better) but someone who will check in and be sure you are out the door and encourage your fitness goals.

I know once I actually get there I am so much more motivated and ready to get it done and always feel more ready to start the day once it is over.

gym, motivation, health, fitness, goals, exerciseThat being said, we all have days when skipping the gym is a good idea. Those would be when you haven’t had enough sleep, you are emotionally drained from a personal issue or experience or when you don’t feel like you will have enough time to make it obviously. Self care should always go above your ab workout!

Having a back up plan is also good. I have some pieces of equipment at home such as free weights and a heavy bag for days when I don’t have as much time or prefer just not to leave the house. Whichever kind of day you have, keeping good habits and utilizing tips as I have shared can help you stick to your fitness goals and reap benefits.

These are just 3 quick ways to help get you to the gym but I know their are many more! What tips do you use to motivate yourself to get to the gym?

Old Sturbridge Village offers FREE admission in November!

Fall is moving fast! Connecticut leaves have not been that impressive this year with the warmer than normal and recent rainfall giving way to leaves falling faster than expected.

Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA, 1800's, History, New England, FamilyI decided to try to push in some last minute fall fun and visit Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachussets. As a Connecticut resident, you can enjoy this historical place FREE every Saturday in November. Yes, wiith ID you and your family can enjoy Old Sturbridge Village free thanks to the generosity of The Knowlton Family generosity. Click to read more here. Knowlton Family Free Days

Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA, New England, Connecticut, CT

Printing House, Tin House and General Store!

Old Sturbridge Village always brings me back to my elementary school days. It was everyone’s field trip experience for social studies at some point. I am sad that more field trips do not take place farther from our schools. With budget cuts and not wanting families to have to put out much money, it is understandable why. I just feel sometimes right over the boarder there are some many enriching places to see! By all means, take your family before the weather gets too cold.

We enjoyed the Printing House, demonstrations in the Tin House and Blacksmith House. Clydesdales were bringing visitors all around the venue as a tour guide gave historical information about each area. Of course my son found the general store and old fashioned candy pretty fast! We also saw a wedding party and the tavern was getting ready for their reception. Plenty of boy and girl scouts groups were their and families learning about life in the 1800’s.

Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA, New England, CT, Connecticut, Family

The Mill and Tin House Demo

The one demonstration they did have ( they posted it several places so visitors were aware if they did not want to view it) and we missed was the slaughtering of a sheep. Kinda glad we missed it! We were able to join in afterwards in the kitchen and hear how the women during this era prepared and utilized every inch of the carcass. All the animals and food grown in the gardens on the property are used for hearth cooking demonstrations and classes so nothing goes to waste and it is all done in a humane manner.

I wanted my son to be able to visit while he is still young and would be interested. He enjoyed watching the demonstrations and exploring the property. So you have 3 more Saturday’s to take advantage of the free admission. Just be sure you have ID that proves you are a Connecticut resident.  Enjoy!

MUSEUM ADDRESS

1 Old Sturbridge Village Road
Sturbridge, MA 01566
(800) 733-1830

MUSEUM HOURS

October 29 – November 26
CLOSED Mondays & Tuesdays

Open Wednesdays – Sundays
9:30 am – 4:00 pm

November 27 – December 1
CLOSED

December 2 – 23
Open evenings for Christmas by Candlelight only:
December 2 & 3, 8 – 10, 15 – 17, 21- 23 | 3:00 – 8:00 pm

Hours Vary Seasonally

 

Ketosis and IF. My Body Reset!

My Ketosis journey was a slow start. Anyone over 40 might be able to relate to the quirky things your body starts doing. Well, for me it was after 41!

I noticed major changes in my eyesight. For the first time in what seemed 8 years, my prescription for my eyes changed. I also noticed some difficulty seeing up close which was never an issue. Awe man!

Secondly, I noticed that the fat was not moving. That’s right. What once came right off skipping the bread and watching calories was doing nothing. Not to mention I work out 3-4 x a week and moderately hard. I box, run, weight train… it’s ridiculous that I would have fat hanging over my bra, a gut if I let it hang completely and a muffin top. It did not seem fair. I also was bloated a lot and had gastrointestinal upset often. You can fill in the blanks there. 🙂

I know what you all must be thinking. But you’re so fit! Sorta. Fit, but with no definition. Fit, but with a muffin top. Fit, but can’t run more than 3 miles without dying. It just never seemed fair. I am also getting married in 3 months and want to look my best in my dress and for pictures. Can’t argue with that right?

So I kept hearing a lot about low-carb diets. I always watched my carbs so I thought! Skipping the bun on my burgers and trying to eat more fruit and vegetables which I quickly learned what I was eating was exactly what was making my stomach hang over my pants.

I decided to start Intermittent Fasting or IF. I was reading a lot about this style of eating and how it has helped so many people reset their bodies. To break this down quickly, you are fasting for a period of time and keeping a smaller eating window. You fast everyday when you to go bed. For most people its only 10-11 hours that you are not eating. It’s after the 12 hour mark that your body starts utilizing fat for energy. You know when you are stomach sick for a few days and literally look like you lost 5 lbs? Because you likely did. Your body used its own fat for energy since you were not eating while being sick. I saw results pretty quick and was already losing some fat.

Your body also scans it for dead or harmful cells and absorbs them during this time. This is called autophagy. Because we are always eating, our body never gets to this important stage of to renew itself. I was never aware of how much I was eating and how frequent until I started this.

There is a ton of studies that suggest this could be a key component to helping those with inflammatory diseases, dementia and even cancer. Pretty exciting. What I learned the most from this is that I was eating all the time! Early in the morning, snacking all day and late at night. It was no wonder my stomach was always upside down. It never got a break. Literally.

Typically Intermittent Fasting( IF) is done up to 16 hours but many people do more or less. The key is to go longer than 12 hours so it is really flexible. I am a 14-15 hour girl so I stop eating at 7pm and then do not eat again until 9:30-10:00am. Sometimes it is longer at 16-17 hours if I am not hungry. On weekends, I will usually give myself a break one day or if I am going out to eat. IF and Keto go hand in hand nicely as it aids your body to use ketones for energy and gets you into ketosis quicker ( more on that in the next paragraph) , but many people have excellent benefits just doing IF and not even dieting during their eating window. The fasting window is enough alone to generate fat and weight loss.

Everyone has different results and what I found is that people do what works for them. During your fast, you are only drinking water, tea, coffee with teeny bit of cream if you need it or black and no calorie drinks such as flavored seltzer. And yes, no sugar. Eating anything or drinking anything over 10 calories will break your fast and raise insulin causing the body to utilize what it just consumed for energy other than utilizing fat.

I also decided to start a Ketogenic diet and get my body into ketosis! A what? I’ll briefly explain because this post can turn into a much longer one if I don’t. A  Ketogenic diet is mostly fat, moderate protein and very little carbs. Its grain free, sugar-free other than what you get from food and makes your body fat adaptive and puts you into ketosis. That’s right! Your body is using its own fat and using ketones produced from your liver for energy. Genius! Sounds wild right? I know. My first meal of eggs, bacon and butter was anxiety ridden. It goes against everything you ever learned about dieting. But that is just it. It is not a diet, but a lifestyle. It’s no different from anything else. If I started eating KIND Bars ( which by the way is a sugar sh**t storm) and bagels again I no doubt would gain fat again.

keto diet, ketosis, low carb, fat loss, blogger, CT

My Keto pantry staples

I can only tell you what I have experienced. I have lost 8 pounds in 2 months and significant fat loss. I was not concerned with weight as much as fat loss and feeling better. The bloating is gone and my stomach is calm and quite. I am not hungry and can eat less. I also have  increased my muscle and have definition I never had because the layer of fat is gone.  My skin is glowing. Cravings for anything sweet or a grain are gone which was the most amazing thing about it . The diet is very satisfying.  So what am I eating? Eggs, seeds, avocado, cheeses, bacon, fatty meats, nut butters, grass-fed butter, dark chocolate, berries, spinach, lettuce, celery, cucumbers to name a few. The food I choose is all organic or grass-fed which is an important component to Keto because when your body is in ketosis, it is more sensitive to toxins.

I have amazing clarity and my energy is through the roof. Almost to the point I feel like I do not need as much sleep! It came at a price however. When I started Keto I experienced some crazy side effects. I suggest always speaking to your physician before starting any diet. I had heart palpitations because of the change in eating and because of my electrolytes, potassium and magnesium were off. You will read this is very common so I was not worried. It is called Keto Flu and symptoms can vary. It was very uncomfortable. My period was also wacky. Using an electrolyte supplement and getting my diet right with the ( fat, protein, carb ratio) macronutrients solved the issues. I also had mad irritability for a good 8 weeks. Not fun or for those around me!  I also had a few periods of extreme exhaustion as my body became fat adaptive. I would say in 2 1/2 weeks those symptoms slowly went away and I felt amazing other than the irritability that stuck around a bit longer.

keto, ketosis, low carb

Keton supplements can help get your body into ketosis faster and aid in utilizing your natural ketones after eating carbs

Just so you all know, I also saw my doctor and had blood work done 2 months into it and was deemed healthy. I will continue to monitor my health with her oversight. If you are going to give this lifestyle a try, I highly suggest doing a lot of research so you have less side effects when you start and giving it at least 6 weeks to see benefits emotionally and physically. Although many people will lose weight fast which is mostly water. An important factor of this lifestyle is also working out. Exercise and specifically weight training inhibits your body into staying into ketosis. It also ensures your body is not losing muscle which can happen if you are in ketosis and not working out.

Will I be in ketosis forever? Likely not. But what I have learned about the health benefits and how I feel has been fascinating! There are a ton of online communities on social media and websites to get recipes, support and learn more about the benefits. I choose not to post any links to anything specific as I am not endorsing any particular lifestyle or websites, but if you would like specific links I used as resources  I am happy to email you by request. Just drop me a line.

What works for one might not work another and Keto and IF are not the answer for everything. Do your research, consult your physician and do what works for you.

All in all I think we all have to have a healthy relationship with our bodies. I think reaching to be the best version of you is always a good idea , whatever that means to you! I was never a dieter and I still feel this is a lifestyle change more than anything. I always embraced my body and all its imperfections, and that will never change.

If you have tried either of these lifestyles, let me know about your experience!

Fireplace Whitewash DIY

So we moved into our home New Years Eve day. It has a fireplace and since I bought it I have been wanting to whitewash it.

The room has beautiful built-in shelves with squared off molding and the fireplace itself has a mantel and more molding surrounding it. The previous owner did not use it, but prior to her the owners did, leaving the brick with black spots. After months of other renovations and updates, it was time.

DIY, Whitewashing, fireplace, milk paint, miss mustard seeds, chalk merchantile

BEFORE

DIY, Whitewashing, fireplace, milk paint, miss mustard seeds, chalk merchantile

AFTER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I reached out to my fellow CT Blogger and store owner Jayne at Chalk Merchantile in Old Saybrook. She directed me to a wonderful tutorial that outlined how to do it. And really… there was not that much to learn! The woman from Restore Stuff  in the video posted gave me every confidence I could do it as well as Jayne! 🙂 You can also check out the Chalk site for workshops on painting and all things creative at the above link.

So I picked up some Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint at Chalk Mercantile. Jayne had a ton of shades and we picked out the perfect shade of white.  I used Farmhouse White. The paint itself is non GMO, environmentally friendly and comes as a powder. I actually prefer the powder! So much less messy and you control the amount easier. The paint is equal part powder and equal part  water.chalk merchantile, white washing, destressing, furniture, DIY

DIY, Whitewashing, fireplace, milk paint, miss mustard seeds, chalk merchantile

Supplies and prepping

First thing that is a must is to do the all mighty prep. It is what I loathe the most when painting! Make sure the surface is clean and dry.  I used a tape that had the plastic already on it which was a big time saver. So much easier and I highly recommend getting it if you paint anything. Kept the stone and my floor free from paint.

After that I started from the top and worked my way down using left and right swipes with the paint. It is important to stay in the same direction so you don’t have paint marks going in all directions when it dries. You will see very quickly the paint will get absorbed a bit and separate. But that is the whitewash look magic! If you want a more solid look than rustic, paint an additional coat. I only did one coat and liked the distressed look that emerged.

DIY, Whitewashing, fireplace, milk paint, miss mustard seeds, chalk merchantile

Just keep painting!

I am hoping to use this paint again on furniture or a piece of decor once inspiration hits again. For now, I will be enjoying the furniture getting delivered this week to finish off the room. The room has a whole new feel and I feel the brick looks much more cohesive with the white molding and shelves.

Has anyone used Milk Paint or whitewashed brick or furniture before? Please share!

Low- Carb Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower Pizza

Today it is easier than ever to eat low-carb for those looking to shed some weight or just rid yourself of the carbohydrate bloat that often comes with eating too much sugar or carbs.

low carb, cauliflower pizza, buffalo chickenPizza has got to be the one thing that you could miss on a low-carb lifestyle. It is the go-to food at football games, kids parties and an easy pick up dinner on a Friday night, so thankfully cauliflower rice makes having pizza a bit easier.

I recently started a low-carb eating regime. Although at first it was a bit daunting, I easily found a wealth of information on the web in regard to recipes, tips and hacks on how to do it properly and reap the health and fitness benefits.

Now I am not saying making this is easy. It will take you an hour for sure between cooking the rice in the pan and getting all the moisture out and baking the crust on both sides. However, the more you make it, the easier it will come to getting it done quicker and more efficiently. This is a recipe I would only really make on a weekend when I had extra time.

It is also a much more cost effective way to make cauliflower pizza. Some of the frozen versions are $15 each for the crust alone. For the same cost in making this version, you can have the whole pizza made.

I find that taking your time cooking the rice to dry it out is key. Don’t rush it! A good 15 minutes of stirring and cooking the rice will be important to having your crust stay together and firm up after cooking off.

Low-Carb Buffalo Chicken Cauliflower Pizza

 low carb, cauliflower pizza,

  • 2 cups cauliflower rice
  • 1 TBSP oregano
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil or ghee
  • 3 TBSP your favorite buffalo chicken sauce
  • 2 ounces of blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup cooked chicken cubed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • Parchment paper
  • baking sheet

Mix cauliflower rice with salt and pepper. Add coconut butter and oregano. On the stove top on medium to light heat, constantly stir and cook rice for 15 minutes. Rice should brown just a little and this will help get the moisture out of the cauliflower so that it will firm up in the oven.cauliflower pizza, buffalo chicken, low carb, keto

Once mixed, spread on several paper towels, fold over rice and press down blotting all the water out. Be careful as it will be hot. Do this several times until much of the moisture is out.

In a medium size bowl, add egg white, mozzarella and Parmesan. Add rice and mix well. This should form a dough.

Put the rice on parchment paper and using your hands flatten to shape a circle. Diameter should be 1/2 inch thick. Brush lightly with more coconut oil.

Bake 15-20 minutes until puffy and golden

Take pie out and using another sheet or parchment to lay over the pizza, flip the pie onto the keto, buffalo chicken, low carb, cauliflower pizzabaking sheet. Brush with coconut oil. Cook this side for another 10 minutes.

In a small bowl mix chicken and buffalo sauce. Crumble blue cheese onto pizza and put chicken on top. Add some extra Parmesan if you like.

Bake for another 5 minutes until melted.

Cool for 5 minutes on cutting board. Slice and enjoy!

“The Big Life”- A badass book review!

I love to read but am horribly slow at it! I wish I could carve out more time to do so. When I do get into a book, I love to share the ones I enjoy the most. Many are self-help, inspirational or teach me something. Once in a while I will get into a good non-fiction novel but I tend to gravitate more to the books that I can learn from.

Ann Shoket, hustle, big life, determination, blogger, CT, books, reading

The Big Life by Ann Shoket (photo by Charging You Up)

This one hit me straight on at the library. Author Ann Shoket, The Good Life. What a title? As if no one wants that right? Ann goes right into her busy 20 something life years ago as a wanna be editor in NYC working a menial job at an attorney’s office. That menial job ended up teaching her a lot about what kind of life she didn’t want and catapulted her to where she is now as Chief Editor of Seventeen Magazine and inspiring millennial woman everywhere.

As I look back on the many  of the first jobs I had, I totally learned what I wanted next and what I know I never wanted to do again. Our experiences shape us. Pain, agony, stress and determination are sometimes necessary to getting to where we belong in life. Says me, not Ann. 🙂

Ann tells countless tales of young woman going beyond the grain to get what they want in life. And by no mean does this mean they are missing out on life! If anything this book outlines that you can go for what you want professionally and still have a valuable social life and romantic life. It is about going against the norm and being consistent and persistent in your beliefs and dreams. Not letting others get in your way and carving out the new norm for professional woman on your way to the top.

Much of what I like about this book is that it inspires young woman to not settle. Have a hustle! Do something on the side that is inline with your passion. And this does not even mean it has to earn you money. This spoke to me greatly as a blogger. I am no famous author, but by all means use blogging to share my thoughts, inspiration and life hiccups with the world. It’s my side hustle. My little passion and my happy place.

I wish I had this book in my twenties. However, I feel like I did a pretty good job finding my own grit and confidence as I got older with the experiences I took chances at and a role model professional for a mother who instilled in me confidence to create my own path. Great recommendation for a new female grad or a young female setting off on her first big move!

If you want to learn more, you can find Ann Shoket at http://annshoket.com/   

Click  on the link to join the Badass Babes community and carve out your own path!