Tuesday, August 23, 2016

how to have a {cost effective} iced coffee addiction

I used to say I had a coffee 1-2 times a week. And I did. And then last Winter rolled around and I couldn't hardly stand to drive to work without a warm coffee in hand. And then Summer. I love a good iced coffee. So, before I knew it, I was an everyday coffee kind of person. It's refreshing and tasty and just the kick I need to get my day going! 

It's also insanely expensive. 

I didn't want to do the math. I couldn't bring myself to. We've all heard it!  On average you are paying about $4 for a coffee. At the most, I would buy up to four times a week. So… $16 a week. That's $832 a year. WHAT! I cannot justify that. I simply cannot. When I finally came to terms with this massive (unnecessary) expenditure, I decided to do something about it. 

I tossed around the idea of buying a toddy maker. Of course we have a regular coffee pot, but hot coffee doesn't do it for me in the Summer. And anyone who loves iced coffee knows that adding ice to regular coffee just does not compare. Way back when, a reader recommended trying Grady's Cold Brew. I tracked it down at my local World Market and brought it home to try. And (with the exception of my occasional coffee purchase) I've been going strong… and saving lots of money in the process!

Step 1: Buy Grady's Cold Brew
The only place I am aware of that I can buy locally from is World Market. It is $9.99 and has 4 bags in it. Each bag makes 3 suggested servings. I'm not telling you what to do, but I can get more than 3 servings out of each bag. But either way, that's 12 cups of coffee for $9.99. High five to savings!

Step 2: Prepare coffee. 
The bags are basically like giant bags of tea. Slowly pull the center bag out the first time. I didn't follow the directions and of course ripped the bag. Thats not good. Put the bag in a pitcher with the directed amount of cold water. I like to use my giant glass measuring cup because I just leave it in there!

Step 3: Brew coffee. 
Let the coffee brew in the fridge for 12 hours. I always throw a bag in the pitcher when I run out in the evening and in the AM… ready to go!

Step 4: Pull bag out of coffee. 
Leave the coffee in the pitcher or transfer it to something you would like to store it in in the fridge. I can get a pitcher to last me almost a week!

Step 5: Prepare a glass of iced coffee. 
This step is modifiable to your personal preference. I know some people drink straight cold brew and I am like… no thanks. My favorite combo is mixing 3/4 cup concentrated brew with 1/4 cup milk of your choice. I then add a splash of cream and french vanilla coffee syrup. Sometimes I add ice, sometimes I don't. It's really not necessary considering it's already ice cold.

I know you can cold brew regular coffee overnight, and I have, but I personally think it is such a hassle to strain it and all of that business! With Grady's, you throw the bag in and it's done for the week (or longer). Plus, it tastes seriously delicious. 

How easy is that?! It is ready to go in the morning AND you are saving so much money!
If you REALLY want to get ahead of the game, you could prepare the night before (without ice) and sit a glass in the fridge to grab on your way out the door. 

Yum. My mouth is actually watering just thinking about it. 
Save yourself a dollar and try your own version of iced coffee at home!

Does anyone else have any great ideas to cut back on coffee costs? Please do tell! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

cool weather is coming {chrissy's socks}

I simply cannot believe that August is almost over! School is back in session and all of the fun Summer activities we look forward to every year have come and gone. I'm not complaining though…. I LOVE Fall. And no, not because of football (obviously). 

Fall means flow-y sweaters, jackets, boots and layering. And I am all about it. All I have to say is Nebraska… PLEASE let us have a real Fall! Last year we basically went from 75 to -5 degrees and the "Fall" went so quickly because of it. 

So, speaking of Fall, I have always been a very "cold" person. Not in the way you are thinking! I mean I am simply always cold! My husband keeps our house quite chilly, and while I have adapted considerably, you can still find me sporting a sweatshirt in the Summer to stay comfortable in here!

Another favorite way to stay comfortable? Knee socks! 

Tell me it isn't the perfect way to stay warm when you are wanting to be cozy at home? And what's better than being warm? How about being warm AND stylin' all in one?! Enter: Chrissy's Socks! 

You guys, I had an absolute blast browsing through their selection and it was incredibly hard to pick a few pairs without buying their whole inventory. For instance… check these out. How fun would these be to wear with boots this Fall? And they are even on sale right now! 

I love throwing on my knee socks after I shower and shave. What better say to stay warm and cozy and enjoy a little downtime? Even my dog loves Chrissy's Socks

If you are in the market for knee or thigh high socks, you must check them out. Chrissy's Socks are made in the USA, super high quality and always free shipping! And did I mention they do custom orders? You can even get your own logo or a team name printed on them. 

All of that being said, there is simply no shortage of variety. 

There's a style out there for everyone! 

You can also check them out on:

A big thanks to Chrissy's Socks for hooking me up with the cutest pairs of socks to get cozy in this Fall! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

bananas make me gag

What a cute picture, right? 
Wrong. At least, not to me. Sometimes just seeing a banana makes me gag. Because of this "thing" I am going to talk about today. 

This is not necessarily an interesting topic. And it’s certainly not something that I am passionate about. I wrote this originally so that if even one person could relate, or figure out their intolerance, that would be SO worth it! Because believe me I understand the pain. 

Around three years ago I was gearing up on a Sunday afternoon to go play on my sand volleyball league. I knew I had to set out on the road in the next 20 minutes and I needed something light and healthy to get me through until dinnertime. I had recently purchased a few bananas and figured I would choke one down.

I say “choke one down” because, to be honest, I have never liked bananas. The consistency always made me gag and eating more than a bite or so was typically all I could muster. But on this particular day I prevailed…because bananas are healthy. Right? And due to being an adult, it was time to stop gagging on foods.

Within 10 minutes, I was curled up in fetal position in bed, writhing in pain. I had become accustomed to this severe abdominal cramping over the past few years. It always came out of nowhere, unexpected and unexplained. The best coping method I had come up with was to curl up into a ball and pray that the pain would go away. To be honest, I would have done anything to relieve it. The nausea from the pain often made me feel like throwing up, but the intense abdominal cramping would continue. Sometimes this would go on for up to seven hours. 

So, on this day, I knew I couldn’t let my team down. I drove in my car (partially keeled over – smart, I know) hoping that somehow, someway, this would fix itself. I tried to drink some gingerale, and then lemon juice. I even took Ibuprofen. With no relief, I suffered through a few hours of volleyball, and by the time I drove home my pain was starting to lessen. I remember thinking on that drive home that this was getting really old. I had no idea when these sharp pains were going to hit, and it was not the first time it had ruined a perfectly good day.

Fast forward to the next day. I was heading off to my office job and again, grabbed a banana to quell my hunger on the drive in. After a few minutes at work, I could barely function. My stomach was cramping in intense pain and I was doing deep breathing exercises in the back just to be able to sit upright.

And suddenly, a light bulb went off. Didn’t this exact thing happen yesterday? I could only assume it must have been a bad bunch of bananas and decided to immediately dispose of the rest. But I still found the occurrence odd. Keep in mind that bananas were not something I preferred and did not buy regularly, so this incident sort of stuck out in my mind.

A few days later I randomly started googling things like “getting sick from bananas” and “bananas and stomach pain.” At the time of my search, I didn’t find very much information aside from other people asking why bananas were causing them “intense stomach pain and nausea.”

But then I found this.

A random, short blurb under the title “the latex fruit syndrome.”

When I read “This association of latex allergy and allergy to plant-derived foods is called latex-fruit syndrome. An increasing number of plant sources, such as avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, peach, tomato, potato and bell pepper, have been associated with this syndrome…” I felt like jumping up and screaming!

Not because I was so happy about my new found “syndrome,” but because I was easily able to identify all of the times my day or evening had been completely ruined in the last few months. And all of those incidences involved me eating an avocado or banana or tomato.

Now, you might be thinking… um, wasn’t that pretty obvious? And the answer is no. No it wasn’t!

I wasn’t thinking of the banana that was in the smoothie that I frequently purchased from a local smoothie shop. After all, it mostly tasted like peanut butter.

I wasn’t remembering that most sushi rolls had a layer of avocado in them.

I never thought for a second that the fresh salsa at the Mexican restaurant with raw, unprocessed tomatoes could have been the culprit.

None of these things occurred to me over the course of several years. With every recent incident, I could match that I had eaten a banana, tomato or an avocado within the hour of my horrible stomach pain.

All of that to say this discovery has been life changing for me. As soon as I had the information, I googled more about “latex fruit syndrome and latex fruit allergies.” To be honest, there isn’t a ton of information out there. However there is a list of “suspected vegetables” (and fruits) on this interesting web page. http://dmd.nihs.go.jp/latex/cross-e.html
I have mentioned this “allergy” at routine doctor visits, and so far every doctor has told me they are unfamiliar with it.

To my knowledge, I do not have an actual latex allergy (as far as skin contact goes) and so I did not see this as a link to be concerned about.

Since my discovery, I have tried to look up more information and from what I can understand, fruits and veggies that carry this protein also have varying levels of latex. So, some of the fruits on the list I can eat and have no reaction to, while others, such as bananas, cause an immediate reaction.

By coming to this realization, I essentially diagnosed myself with this “syndrome” and have since completely avoided these foods.  And I can say that I no longer experience these (what I thought were) random, debilitating, stomach pain episodes.

I hope that if someone reading this has accepted that horrible stomach aches are just a part of your weekly schedule, you will check the latex linked fruit and vegetable list and see if you can make any connections.  I had never heard of this allergy prior to my research and so there may be many others who are not aware. Simply making this discovery has had a huge impact on my well being…and it could for you as well!

*I would like to note that I have no background in science and am not claiming to be a medical expert. I simply made the connection between these foods and my stomach pain and have done a little bit of research in order to be aware of foods to avoid. I have also made other discoveries and realizations surrounding my “latex-fruit syndrome” that I did not get into here, so please feel free to comment or email me with any questions

Article originally appeared on Her View From Home.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

only one | Q & A

It's almost the end of the week… and I'm ready for a staycation! We have tons going on this weekend and I have a long weekend in the works that I am thrilled about. On top of that, we have family coming to town and I could not be more excited!

That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed fellow bloggers doing a little q & a lately, and I thought it would be fun to mix things up and share a little more about me! 

This quiz is The Only One quiz… if you could choose only one….

to wear one outfit | A cute top, soft skinny jeans and a pair of neutral wedges! 
have one style icon | Um.. is it bad that I don't have a style icon? Possibly that speaks for my lack of style. 
shop at one store | Well, that would be incredibly hard. But I can think of one store that seems to carry nearly every brand and product I like… Nordstroms! 

carry one bag | Oh lordy, I have talked before about how I don't care about bags. I guess I would just pick a neutral one that goes with everything and roll with it!
use one skincare product | Um… that's crazy talk. You can't use just one skin care product. I will not answer that question. I WILL say that I would insist on using my TAO wash and toner, Paula's Skin Perfecting Liquid, and a vitamin C cream. Among other things. (Can you tell I don't do the one thing well when it comes to products?!) 

wear one scent | Tough, again, but I would go with Viva La Juicy
indulge in one spa treatment | It would have to be a deep tissue massage. 
apply one lipstick color | Oh, again, this is hard. What if you aren't feeling that color that day? :) I would have to pick a favorite neutral… MAC "Modest"
order one drink | Whiskey & diet 

pick one flower | I love carnations. 
apply one mascara | Loreal Carbon Black 

do one workout | Easy! Jazzercise. I will always prefer to dance my body into shape! {read more about my love for Jazzercise here!}
read one author | sorry, this is impossible. Plus, wouldn't that take the joy out of reading?!

live by one quote | I don't know if bible verses count as quotes, but this is absolutely a verse to live by! "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear some of your "ones" in the comments! Have a great weekend. :) 

Linking up with Amanda! Check out her page as well as the other amazing link ups! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

lash length: the easy and affordable way

Hey ladies!

 As far as I know, everyone wants longer, thicker lashes. It opens up your eyes and ups the glamour factor! What's not to love? 

Granted, there are a lot of mascaras that can dramatically increase your lash length on their own - but so far, nothing compares to the product up for discussion today. 

Of course, there are other alternatives. 

Semi permanent lash extensions. 
Single false lashes. 

Don't get me wrong, these are all great options. I, for one, have a love/hate relationship with falsies. No matter how much I practice, I never get them on very well. Also… the time. It takes me SO LONG! Lash extensions? Absolutely amazing. I have been dying to try them, and will… eventually. The price tag is a little steep, and that doesn't include weekly to bi weekly fills, which really adds up. 

So how can you get that dramatic lash length WITHOUT wasting time and breaking the bank? 

I'm so glad you asked. 

Let me introduce you to your new best friend !

I ended up buying this product because I had previous experience using Too Faced fiber mascara. I liked it, but it always got flaky and in my eye and ended up not being worth the pain. On a random Ulta browse, I found the Tarte Faux fiber. It is black fibers, as opposed to white (Too Faced) which I definitely prefer. 

And my favorite part? 

It is $20 vs $35!!

YESSSS!!! That's a pretty dramatic price difference. 

1. Apply a coat of regular mascara. ( I use my own, normal Loreal Carbon Black, because it's the bomb)
2. Pat in/comb up the fibers before your mascara dries. You will see the fibers clinging to your lashes. Start on the outside of your eye, at the base of your lashes and move up and in. 
3. Apply another coat of mascara to seal the deal. 


I have a few photos to speak to this product….

One coat regular mascara  VS Tarte Faux Fiber
PS- Scary, no make up selfie :)

Tarte/Makeup application complete!

Final… lashes + makeup+ hair!

I can see a dramatic difference in the length of my lashes from when I use a regular mascara compared to the addition of Tarte Faux Fiber. 

So, ladies, what do you think? It's a one minute addition to your routine with a HUGE payoff for long, thick lashes. I am ALWAYS up for that! :)

Linking up with Biana to weekend! 

Maskcara Beauty 
Moonlight + Ash + Desert Sunset + Honey + Vanilla Dust 

Naked palette 
Virgin + Half Baked + Smog + Darkhorse

MAC "Modesty" 

Friday, July 29, 2016

bumble&bumble + lark beauty and blow dry studio

Hi ladies!

What a week it's been… I am so happy we've arrived at the weekend! But that's every week, right? On to the good stuff.

Lark is a local blow bar here in Omaha. We are SO lucky to have them and they were the first blow bar  to pop up in the area. I, for one, was ecstatic when I learned they opened, and blogged about my very first experience there a few years ago. Spoiler alert: it was awesome.

I still love to come in as often as possible (though I keep moving further and further away from them ;) ) so I was genuinely thrilled when they mentioned doing some product testing. I LOVE product testing (hello my entire blog!)

Lark is exclusively a Bumble and Bumble salon. I have to be honest and say my ONLY experience with Bumble and Bumble has been at Lark. I have never used any products at home,  but I am always so pleased with my hair when I leave there.

Bumble and Bumble is introducing a new product called Bb Hairdresser's Balm to Oil Pre Shampoo Masque. Here's the deal (per Bb):

WHAT: A silicone free, highly concentrated and transformative masque that liquefies in hands to release 6 transformative oils - leaving parched strands silky, soft and ultra manageable. 

WHY: 6 highly oils are packed into a dense balm for maximum concentration and moisture, then they emulsify to saturate hair at its driest points. 

WHO: Dry to very dry hair that wants moisture, healthy shine, softness and manageability. 

WHEN: Weekly, before shampooing, for optimal penetration. 

So… I love hair masques! It makes me feel like I am doing a little extra for the care of my hair. But I have to admit, I've kind of gotten away from them! About 6 months ago I had a bout with my hair (again) where it went through an insanely dry, crunchy stage. I am finally on the mend (after some intense TLC) but I was excited to see what this mask would do. The only issue? Oil. UGH! Oil + hair is typically not my friend. I understand the benefits, but have never had luck in the past. If you search "coconut oil" here, you will find about the time that I could not get coconut oil out of my hair and had to go to work with my ultra greasy new 'do. Eye roll. 

Anyways, in all of my experience, my hair always wound up extra greasy and weighed down. NOT COOL. Regardless, Ally at Lark and I chatted and she explained to me that the oil would penetrate my hair shaft while it was dry and prior to a regular shampoo. So off we went. 

Ally is amazing and kindly showed me everything she was doing. I watched as she spooned the product into her palms and then let it emulsify before rubbing it into the lower portion of my hair. When she finished, this was the result!

How adorable is Lark Studio? I love being there! 

Next, Ally washed my hair with shampoo. She ended up doing two  rinses (which is pretty typical with a lot of oil type products!) …. and this did the trick. 

As soon as Ally started combing my hair out she could see that my hair shaft was smoothed down! Ummmm BONUS! However, I still wasn't convinced. As she started the blow out, I was still slightly concerned that my hair would have that shiny but oily look. Ally rough dried my hair to about 90% dry and then started round brushing…. and STILL! I kept looking for that heavy "is your hair wet or greasy….?" look and it simply wasn't. 

So… um...I was wrong. 

This stuff is amazing. My hair was gleaming.. literally. And it was not greasy, heavy, sticky, wet looking or any of the other things you may have experienced with oil in the past. It is truly INVISIBLE oil. I am so impressed and will absolutely be buying this to add to my arsenal of favorite hair products ( PS - stay tuned for an upcoming post on my complete hair regimen) !

So, I wanted to show you my hair immediately following the blow out and treatment….

Ah, a fresh blowout! 

and about 24 hours later..

Yep, still not weighed down! 

I have NEVER been able to use oil product AND keep my hair style intact. Ladies (guys, whoever) I am sold! 

If you are Omaha local, stop in and ask about this amazing product! And while you are at it, get a blowout. If you haven't had a straight blowout yet, it's time. It's a pedicure for your hair. It's relaxing, educational, and you feel oh so pretty when you leave! Trust me. 

A big THANK YOU to Ally & the Lark team for introducing me to this fantastic product + your crazy good hair tips and girl chat ;). I enjoyed every second! And now.. it's time to enjoy your weekend! 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

guest post: how to practice gratitude

Hi everyone! It is my absolute pleasure to feature Abigail from Acreage of Grace on the blog today. She is a fellow Nebraskan and small town gal, and someone I have enjoyed getting to know through the wonderful world of blogging. I know so many of us have a list of blogs that we frequent… Acreage of Grace is one of those for me! 

How to Practice Gratitude In Order to Truly Appreciate Blogging

I very recently started a blog (May 10) and I have read so many “How To’s” about gaining success as a blogger.  How to reach 1,000 Followers on Instagram, How to Utilize Pinterest to Increase Pageviews, How to Use Automated Social Media Apps To Increase “Interaction” with Followers. I appreciate EVERY SINGLE ONE of these articles and continue to seek guidance and tools to help me be successful. I would not say my blog is a “success story” just yet, but I am proud of the articles I write and the social media presence that I have. So here is my “How To” article.

Maintaining a blog is hard work people! Deciding to start a blog and then actually DOING IT was a 3-5 year process for me. Which is saying something because I usually just go at things on a whim and see what happens. But for me, my writing is very personal, so it took a lot of encouragement from my friends and family as well as a total lifestyle change for my family before I was comfortable following through on this dream (click HERE to learn more about that process).

“I can write,” I thought. “I love to take pictures.” “I can totally start a blog.” Though it is helpful to enjoy writing and taking photos, blogging is SO much more than that. I have a degree in Public Relations/Advertising and have worked my entire professional career to promote other companies and products. But the amount of promotion I have done for my blog over the last two months has seemed much more time consuming and so much more foreign than what I am used to. Being a “newbie” blogger, there is so much I still don’t know. Because of this I have made some mistakes along the way (I posted a #FollowFriday on a Thursday….embarrassing).

One of my blogging mentors Chrystie V. over at www.livingfornaptime.com lives by the 80/20 rule. You should spend 20% of your time creating content for your blog and 80% of your time promoting it. I am a full-time stay at home mama and a majorly part-time blogger. Finding time to write and promote has taken a great deal of planning on my end and also a great deal of grace from my husband and children. After blogging for only a couple of weeks I got VERY wrapped up in the numbers game. How many pageviews did I have that day? How many new Instagram followers did I have? How many new Instagram UNFOLLOWERS did I have (totally didn’t know this was a thing until I started blogging :( ).

But then, per usual in my life, I had a great discussion with one of my best friends. She said “Abigail, you need to remember why you started blogging in the first place. What were your goals and objectives? With those goals and objectives, do these numbers you are worrying about really matter?” Wow, talk about some straight truth to knock you back into place. Oh my goodness I have great friends (thanks Laura)! I am not going to lie and say I don’t get excited when I have a great pageview day, or I don’t love seeing new social media followers. But I also am not going to get wrapped up in the comparison game and believe that I am any less of a person because I don’t have the type of “following” that other bloggers may have. We are all different and have wonderful things to offer the blogosphere.

So here is a list of the items I have purchased for my blog in chronological order:

-Blog Design: I know a lot of people would tell you not to waste money on paying a designer. And I know there are a lot of nice templates out there. But I started from 0% knowledge about blogging and knew the only way I would truly do this is if someone made it simple for me, and if I was super proud of the design of my blog. It was going to be really hard for me to promote something I wasn’t really proud of.

-New Laptop: We went from a laptop to a desktop family computer a couple of years ago, and I knew with spending more time “working” from home, I would need a laptop to move from one room to another. I also enjoy the laptop because I am able to go downtown to our local Christian Coffeeshop and write every now and again.

-Thank you cards: This is the third and final thing on my list folks and honestly probably the most important. I had my blog logo printed on shimmery white cardstock and I write personal cards to family and friends who have been supporting me through this journey. I started out doing this as something nice for the recipient, but it has ended up being so gratifying for me. With every single card that I write I find myself remembering WHY I decided to start blogging and WHY I am so grateful to have a blog and WHY the time and effort I put into something that brings me no revenue is so so SO good for my soul. I don’t know a person in the world who doesn’t enjoy a good old fashioned thank you every now and again. Rather you decide to physically write thank you cards, or maybe you decide to send an email or a text or give someone a call or take them out for coffee. However you decide to thank the people in your lives for their support is up to you. It has been so great for me to sit down and identify the people that I want to thank and exactly what I want to thank them for. The cards take so little time and effort, but I have been given numerous compliments from the people I have sent them to.

In summary, here are the three key points in How to Practice Gratitude in Order to Truly Appreciate Blogging:

-Remember your WHY. Striving for and/or reaching your goals and objectives gauges your success, not your numbers.

-”Comparison is the thief of joy”- Theodore Roosevelt said that one and I think Theo had the right idea.

-”There is always ALWAYS something to be thankful for”- Ann Voskamp. Ann is my writing inspiration. Check out her blog over at www.aholyexperience.com and also read her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are- I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but really her writing is food for the soul. Write thank you cards, make gratitude lists, count your blessings. Make sure to remember the benefits and blessings your blog is bringing to your life or the lives of others.

Thanks so much for reading my article. I truly appreciate it! If you would like to read more, please check out my blog Acreage of Grace at www.acreageofgrace.blogspot.com. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!