January 30, 2017

Sugar Free since 2016


That title might be a little deceiving, but I love when things rhyme... or kind of rhyme. Let me explain. In the middle of December, we realized that we were eating sugar in giant quantities. Who doesn't during the holidays? We have had this book sitting on our counter for a long time, but we had never actually signed up to do the detox. We just made a few recipes out of it and said we'd do it eventually.

We got back from our New Years trip and jumped right in. The detox is 8 weeks, but it's more gradual. The first week is about cutting back and learning how to figure out how much sugar you are actually eating. Once you cut back, you end up almost completely cutting it out for weeks 3-5. It gets added back in the last few weeks little by little.

This wasn't a weight loss thing for us. We wanted to learn how to be more aware of the amount of sugar we are eating and force ourselves to try some new recipes that involve more veggies (a constant theme in this household.)

It actually grossed me out when I started doing the math on each nutrition label. It works out that each gram of sugar is 4 calories. The rule for the first few weeks is to keep your sugar intake to under 10% of your total calories. Companies aren't required to show you the percentages, but if you just multiply the grams of sugar by 4 and compare that number to the total, you'll know how much sugar you're eating.

The things I've struggled with so far or don't like:

1. Coffee creamer. This unsweetened almond milk creamer is not good. I like a hint of caramel or vanilla. 

2. Donut pictures on Instagram.

3. FRUIT. I miss fruit. I miss berry smoothies.

4. Fake sugar. I don't love that the author suggests using Stevia or Brown Rice Syrup for things. We have avoided any of that for the last 4 weeks. 

The things I've learned and enjoyed:

1. English muffins have little to no sugar in them.

2. Justin learned how to make a perfect poached egg. It's amazing.

3. Cheese. She says to eat cheese. I will never say no to that. It has become our dessert when we want dessert.

4. My 2 favorite red wines have the least amount of sugar. Even though we've cut it down drastically, I still knock back a glass once or twice a week.

The book that we are using is a good outline. She doesn't give you meal plans or strict rules - just some facts and suggestions and then a whole bunch of recipes. Like I said before, we have avoided the recipes that use brown rice syrup or stevia - but we may try them after the 8 weeks are up. She has a whole website and a program you can purchase that gives you meal plans and all the extra, but I think the book gives you plenty to work with.

I will do another update at the end of our 8 weeks. In the meantime, if you could all keep your Instagram filled with vegetables and puppies and less of beautiful, colorful donuts - I would really appreciate it.

Also, a friendly reminder that the Beautycounter promo ends tomorrow night, so if you want to take advantage, visit the site or refresh yourself on my top 5 favorite products
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January 27, 2017

Friday Favorites: Safer Beauty Edition

This last week, I made the decision to start a brand new adventure. Ever since I set out on a mission to clean up my life in 2014 (read more about that here), I have been learning about chemicals in the products in our house. That includes cleaning products, but more importantly, the stuff we put on our skin and faces every day. I'm sure it's not news to a lot of you that the beauty industry in the US doesn't have many regulations, so you have to be really careful what brands you are shopping to keep the bad stuff to a minimum.

It's not the easiest journey. I have read a lot of books and talked with lots of people. I have had a few major fails (like Tom's deodorant) but I've had lots of awesome discoveries. One of those is a company called Beautycounter. You may have seen them during one of their collaborations with Target, J. Crew or Goop.

I have been using some of their products for about a year and a half now and I keep expanding my collection as they keep coming out with more stuff. I made the leap this week to sign up to help spread the word on their mission and introduce even more people to this responsible and super awesome brand. I love that they share and promote "The Never List" which is a quick reference to questionable or harmful chemicals that they never use in their ingredients.

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In honor of Friday Favorites, I want to share with you my five favorite products from them.

1. Body Oil in Citrus Rosemary - I don't know how my skin survived the winter before using some kind of oil. I ordered this because so many of my friends raved about it and it's a staple in our bathroom now. It just takes a little bit after the shower and it smells really good.

2. Cleansing Balm - I got a tiny sample of this when I first started using Beautycounter and then I bought some and forgot about it. When we moved, we pulled it out and put it in the rotation and I love it. We both put in on a few minutes before we hop in the shower or in place of face wash at the end of the day. A little goes a long way with this. We've been on the same jar for a few months now and still have quite a bit left.

3. Purifying Charcoal Mask - I don't know about anyone else, but I like to do a face mask once a week at least. It makes me feel fancy, plus I'm hoping it makes up for the lack of skincare in my early twenties. This was something I picked up during the Target collaboration and I rotate it in with others. It's easy and effective and takes 10 minutes. They have a charcoal cleansing bar that lots of people rave about too, but I haven't used it yet.

4. Sugar Body Scrub in Lemongrass - I'm a big fan of scrubs ever since I got suckered into one of those mall kiosks where they were selling real Dead Sea Salt for what felt like one million dollars but you save two million dollars. Once I ran out of that stuff, I looked around for something that wasn't too girly smelling so we could share. This stuff wins for me. I still rotate in a few others, but I love the lemongrass smell.

5. The Desert Sunrise Palette - I'm going to be honest. I'm not a huge makeup person. I wear mascara and eye liner when I'm "trying." I bought this because the colors were so pretty and it's pretty much all I have for eye shadow and that works for me. There are 6 shades of earthy tones and then 3 blush tones which I don't use on my cheeks - they are rosy enough already. This is just a limited release, but they do have a few other palette options if you are into that.

Also, I wanted to let you all know that this weekend, they are running a few really good promotions, but the best one includes one of my favorite items.

If you spend $200, you get the Winter Hydration Duo for FREE. It is the two items shown above which is a $97 value. Go visit the site and check it out.


And if you want a little more background on Beautycounter, I've included the video I watched recently when I was doing more research before joining them.


If you have any questions, want to host a social, learn more about the company or you want to sample something, comment below or email me - steph@insertclassyhere.com and I'd be happy to help! I'm pretty excited to share some of my favorite stuff and help this company continue to fight in Washington DC for safer products for everyone. Let me know if you've tried anything from them and what you thought.



Hope you have a wonderful weekend. If you haven't already done so, check out the action items from the Women's March and share your postcard pics with me. Here is the link for the 10 actions in 100 days.

January 26, 2017

Need a distraction?


This post has absolutely nothing political in it. I like to keep a running list in a draft of things that I find interesting or funny. Some of these have been stored in my drafts for months. I could use a distraction today, so I figured I might not be alone.

Who needs a house with this much space? 74,000 square foot main house. What?

I love Instagram - it's my favorite form of social media. This story about an anonymous account really made me feel good about the next generation. Read it here.

Speaking of Instagram, I read this wonderful post from Wit&Delight on the reactions we get from scrolling through the app. I'm guilty of eye rolling at other people's pictures sometimes. I like Kate's voice and I appreciate the reminder, plus she's back to writing a lot more so I've been clicking on her feed a lot more lately.

Staying on the social media topic, this blogger poked every single one of her 615 friends on Facebook. Read her discovery here. I kind of love this idea.

Married too young? I could totally relate to this article.

Because sometimes you just need to smile, Dad's Daycare Wardrobe Fail

Could you stand wearing the same outfit 31 days in a row? This woman did and I think I would have similar thoughts.

I'm a huge fan of Epic Rap Battles of History on YouTube and then I found this... It's fantastic.


Hope your Thursday is filled with happy distractions, lots of coffee and maybe a little twitter break.

January 23, 2017

The State of Steph 2017

In the past, I've taken a second to give you a quick overview of the State of me. Even though we have recently had a transition in the White House, there has been no transition here - I'm always in charge. If you need to catch up on previous years, you can see 2015 and 2016. Otherwise, let's get down to business.


The Last 12 Months:

I became a resident of New York.

I helped remodel our MN house in a week and then we sold it.

I voted for a woman for president and then she lost.

I watched an election season that no one could even predict in their wildest dreams.

I got another new stamp on my passport.

I found a love for cooking. I thought it was a skill you either had or you didn't, but it turns out, you just have to practice and keep learning.

I learned to make a latte at home with my stovetop espresso gadget. It makes my wallet happier.

I decided to let my love of Flamingos shine through. They were trendy this year and I embraced it.

The Next 12 Months:

In a few minutes, I plan to celebrate the Rangers win over the LA Kings.

In a few days, I will be boarding a plane to Atlanta for a work meeting.

In a few weeks, I will be skiing in Vermont for our annual Katie trip. It's been far too long since I've hit the slopes.

In four months, I will be turning 32 and hopefully planning an epic vacation that involves another new stamp in the passport.

In eight months, I will not be playing the broker dance of NYC. I have already decided that will never happen again, so I'm staying here in this wonderful apartment until my days in the concrete jungle have come to an end.

Throughout the next year, I'll be trying to figure out why there is snapchat and instagram stories, blogging when I feel like it, adventuring as much as possible, continuing the choose-your-own-adventure walks and Sunday strolls around the neighborhood, watching all the real housewives unapologetically, reading books, drinking coffee, suffering from cute aggression over all dogs, getting angry over things happening in D.C. and remaining as classy as possible while doing it. I love run-on sentences.

Cheers to you all. Thanks for tuning in.

January 22, 2017

The Best Cure

I've been a bit quiet the last week. I was going to write an entire post about the shitty week I had, but instead, I'll tell you what made it better.

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I started out the week with an infection in my tooth. Normally, that means a trip to the dentist, but mine was more complicated. Between wrong antibiotics, severe swelling in my face and having to track down a specialist. It was hell.

What made it better? 

My husband. He walked the dogs, he drove me to my appointments, he scoured Manhattan for a 24 hour pharmacy and let me lay on the couch sleeping and watching Bravo. I was down completely for 2 full days and it took a while to get back to close to normal. I'm not quite there yet, but I have a follow up this week and have to keep taking my antibiotics, but I can open my eye and feel my cheekbone again.

I lost 5 lbs. It wasn't the healthiest way to do it, but when you can't eat anything and you have no appetite, I guess it's to be expected. I don't hate the number that was on the scale.

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There was the inauguration of our 45th president. There were tears all week watching Obama's "lasts" and listening to the CSPAN coverage of the senate hearings on the cabinet. There was that speech on Friday morning. I read a lot that day on the internet from all kinds of sources. The rain was falling outside and it just felt sad.

What made it better?

Harry Potter. Since I wasn't feeling that great yet, we started a Harry Potter marathon. I only made it through the first movie and part of the second, but I was already happier.

SATURDAY. I woke up feeling at least 80% normal and I knew we had to get to the march. The whole day was so amazing. The subway was filled with signs and families and friends ready to march. The sun was shining. The energy was like nothing I could describe. We met friends afterwards and talked it out. When I got home, the good energy just kept coming when I logged into social media and saw pictures from all over the country from friends that had marched and shared their support. Plus, I had the best conversation (via text) with my sissy about the day. I'm still sorting through my feelings and I'd like to write more about this in the future, but I couldn't write about this weekend without at least mentioning it.

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I think this is my payback for complaining about 2016. You can't blame the day of the week or an unlucky number, you have to just deal with it. Point taken world. I'm glad this week is out of the way.  I've got some super exciting things to share on the blog soon. Chin up friends.

January 13, 2017

5 Favorites this Week

It's Friday, my favorite day starting with F. I don't really care too much about Friday the 13th although there was a giant full moon last night, so there's that. I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite things this week.

FYI, there are affiliate links on some of these items which gets me a few extra pennies.

1. Toms Slippers. I bought a pair of these and I'm completely obsessed. They are so comfortable. I love them because they are warm and they have real bottoms so I can run down to the basement of our building or the mailbox.

2. The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. I might be a little behind on this, but we have watched the first six episodes and we are hooked. I remember being in my 3rd grade classroom watching the verdict get read, but all the details of the case are new to me. It's like my new Making a Murderer. It's so interesting learning about how these things happen and getting so many of the details. The Kardashian kids making a cameo is way weird for me though.

3. Board games. We have been spending more evenings screen free and it's been wonderful. I've already read two books this year, but my favorite has been game night. We have been playing this old school game and this uber nerdy and complicated card game. Plus, we got Scrabble for Christmas this year and we are playing until someone reaches 100,000 points.

cocktail_forest_feast

4. Our Urban Outfitters cocktail glasses. These ones are on super sale right now and are the same size as our New York ones. We just wanted something like a low ball glass, but a different shape. I might add these ones to our collection next.

5. Last, but not least, I leave you with this picture from our walk late yesterday afternoon. The temps were in the high 60's so we shut our laptops promptly at 4:00 and headed outside. We ended up walking to the East River to catch the sunset and it was perfection. I love winter lots, but it is nice to have a surprise warm day every few weeks to recharge.

Brooklyn_Bridge_Park

Happy weekending everyone. Hope you have something fun planned. Mine includes a birthday celebration, dog grooming, reading lots and some more OJ watching. Tell me what you're up to.

January 12, 2017

#trendingontwitter: a Princess, a Polar Bear and a President

Alright friends, I'm back with another round up of things trending on Twitter in the recent days. I like to keep track of some of the trends I see and then share my two cents. It's like current events in elementary school with a little more sarcasm. With the upcoming presidential transition, there has been quite a bit of noise in the Twitland about politics so that kind of steals the show today. Feel free to jump in and share your thoughts on these.


#CarrieForever - Christmas break was filled with sad stories in the news about some celebrities that we grew up with. Carrie Fisher was the saddest for me. She is witty, smart and amazingly talented. She is one of my favorite characters in the Star Wars movies. We went to see Rogue One a few days after Christmas and if you haven't seen it, be prepared to shed a few tears. She will be missed.


#MerylStreep - This woman used her acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award to remind everyone what is about to happen in this country. I thought it was a great speech. Being a celebrity, you really can never win. If you don't speak up, then people accuse you of wasting your platform and if you do speak up, then people point out that you are rich and you don't understand the perspective of most people. I think she's a total bad ass.

#ThingsTrumpThinksAreOverrated - So this hashtag includes some humor, but most of it is terrifying and realistic.

#rkelly - I just can't even believe that this was a real life news story, but it would be kind of funny if R. Kelly is the performer at Trump's Inauguration. The whole golden showers stuff is just too much for me.

#farewellObama - Did you watch the speech? He never disappoints for me. Plus, his acknowledgement of his brother, Joe Biden, made me cry almost as much as his thank you to Michelle and his daughters. I'm confident that the Obamas will remain active in our country - even if not in office ever again.

#arctic - This was trending yesterday during the Rex Tillerson show on CSPAN. It's no secret that I enjoy a little CSPAN every once in a while, but between the press conference and a busy work day, I wasn't able to tune in to any of the coverage yesterday. That said, I will be watching for any climate change discussion because apparently, people don't seem to think it matters in the present day and that's horrifying to me. You can get a little more on Tillerson and environmental policy here. How can you not love a Polar Bear?


#TrumpPressConference - You know the big news conference yesterday where Trump stacked 200 manila folders on a table and talked about emoluments. He also yelled at CNN and called them fake news and didn't really give answers to the questions. Then, he spent at least 3 minutes telling us how much talent will be at his inauguration (see R. Kelly above.)

Finally, in case you haven't already seen it, Seth Meyers was trending on Twitter yesterday thanks to his interview with Miss Kellyanne Conway. I thought it went great, but I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how he did.


So that wraps up my thoughts on the current trending hashtags. Hope you are staying sane and clear in the craziness that is the news this week.
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January 5, 2017

Staycation Holiday

We made a tough decision to not go home to Minnesota for the holidays. It's definitely not easy being alone as two humans and two dogs for Christmas, but I think we did everything we could to have the best possible Christmas.

We decided to use up some of our vacation time and take the week between Christmas and New Year's off. I think most people consider it kind of a "bye" week. Christmas Eve, we made a reservation at one of the Kimpton Hotels in Manhattan. They are the best hotel chain of all time and they are super dog friendly, so we packed up the pups and headed into the heart of the city. Before this, of course, we finished our last minute Christmas Eve stocking shopping. We don't get each other big gifts - instead we just stuff each other's stocking and we always shop on Christmas Eve. It's one of my favorite traditions. I finally went to the new Oculus and it was so clean and pretty.



Once checked in, we ordered Seamless delivery of some of the best mac & cheese in the city, watched the Empire State Building's light show from the most amazing view ever, FaceTimed with the family and watched the kids open presents, took the dogs for a long walk to see the Christmas lights on the quiet streets and then we fell asleep watching Love Actually. If you are going to spend Christmas Eve away from family, I think we've cracked the code.





We woke up Christmas Day to the sunrise over the city. We took the dogs for an early morning walk and grabbed some coffee and spent the next few hours having a little champagne (thanks to the wonderful hotel) and a giant omelette. We read books and sat in the quiet.



We dropped the pups off at home and headed to Connecticut to have Christmas Dinner with our friend, Jen. We got to meet her new dog, Oliver, and stuff our faces. We even snuck in a little Bob Ross and pie.


On our way home, we stopped at the best Christmas house in all of New York City and then made it home in time to watch Christmas Vacation.



The rest of the week was spent going to sleep and waking up whenever it felt right. We drank slow cups of coffee and read lots of books. We drank at our local bar and sang George Michael songs with our neighbors. We went and saw Rogue One while Lola was at the Vet and made a trip to Costco that resulted in a huge box of almond milk and so much cheese.




On Friday morning, we headed north, but more about that next time. In summary, this was the best decision we made all year. We have a budget for January, we felt well rested, we didn't leave Brooklyn (except for Lola's appointment and Christmas) and I don't know why we aren't all required to take off this bye week.

January 4, 2017

2017: It's Like a Sunrise


A New Year to me is like the most epic sunrise. This picture is from my favorite sunrise of 2016 in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Those silhouettes are two of our favorite people in the universe and they are having a baby this year. It's one of my favorite photos ever. Sunrises are magical and totally underrated. I highly recommend taking them in whenever you can.

I think it's clear that I love New Year's Day and everything that comes with it. I think I have 100 version of Auld Lang Syne on my Spotify playlists. Resolutions are something I like... but they aren't my favorite part. I was a big fan of the one word for the year thing, until I realized that I picked one last year and then I didn't remember what it was. I wrote a whole post about it and even though I did a lot more of the things I talked about, it wasn't because I had made it my "word." My favorite year was the one that I picked four words - one for each season. You can read that whole post here. I think that worked for me. Shorter time periods with specific goals. That's my jam.

That being said, I do have a couple year long goals that I want to share. I wrote this on my planner too, so there will not be a concern that I will forget.

Goals for the year:

Log 1500 miles on FitBit

Read 40 books

Cook all the way through this cookbook (it's the prettiest one I've ever seen)

Get 2 new stamps on my passport

Send 52 pieces of handwritten mail

Keep documenting every day life - those are the moments that end up being my favorite

All things Hygge (more to come on this soon)

Nothing too crazy. Mostly measurable. On top of these, I'm going to continue to work on my Winter goals and check those all off the list.

I hope you were all able to catch a sunrise and some fresh air for New Years. It's all about new beginnings if you need them and if you don't, I hope you were able to clink glasses or give lots of hugs to your people to ring in the brand new year. Lots of weird shit is going to happen in the country and we all have to stick together and love lots.

January 2, 2017

Currently...


I just love New Years. I love seeing the words that people are focusing on and the lists of goals. I love the feeling of a fresh start. We just spent the last few days in the woods with friends and dogs. There was no TV and no cell service. It was pretty magical and I'm definitely feeling refreshed. Here are some of the things happening right now for me.

Reading so many books at the same time. Five. They are all really different, but with my library timelines, I had to jump around a little bit. I set a goal of 40 books again this year with the hopes that I actually will hit it this year.

Smelling the last of our Fresh Balsam candle from B&BW. It is one of our favorites and it burned out  right after we put away the few Christmas decorations we had out.

Enjoying the homemade Irish Cream that we made off a recipe my mom sent over. We shared it as Christmas gifts, but we definitely had to make a trial batch to test. 

Wishing that we had another vacation on the books already so I had something to count down to. This time last year, we were getting ready for Costa Rica. Maybe it's time to start looking around online.

Beginning an 8 week sugar detox. It's not a huge crazy program, we are just slowly cutting out sugar to let our bodies reset. There was so much indulgence in the last few weeks and we've both been feeling a little sluggish. Stay tuned to see if this lasts. I'm not a person that does diets or anything like them because I don't like strict meal plans or being hangry. This seems doable and necessary, so I'm hoping it goes well.

Needing to clean my desk. We went through the whole apartment and cleaned things up last week while we were off, but my desk is a little out of control. I'm hoping to use this week to get ahead on the new year.

Wearing giant sweaters and fleece lined leggings. We did finally turn the heat on in our apartment, so I'm not constantly wrapped up in a giant blanket while at my computer. I know there will be some brutal cold streaks in my future, so I have to enjoy the 40 degree days while I can.

Working on a blanket. I pulled out the knitting needles and started making a blanket. I'm about halfway done and I'm loving it so far. I just wish that I could make a blanket for the same price that I can buy one at Target. Oh well, it gives me something to do with my hands while watching TV. I'll share a picture of it once it's done.

That's all I've got to update you on now. I'll be back to share some pictures of our amazing staycation and weekend in the woods, plus my new years "goals," later this week. Happy New Year!

Linking up with Anne for this months update.