The Grove Collaborative

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Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission or credit to the Grove.co to fund my addiction to sustainable and healthy cleaning and household products if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll help me to keep my house clean (plus there’s a free gift after your first purchase)! It’s a win for everyone, really!

If you haven’t heard of the Grove Collaborative I am here to tell you about all the wonderful things that it has to offer, and no I am not getting paid to write this post – though read my disclaimer above, I may be credited if you check out using my link that I’ve provided below (SPOILER: There’s a free gift set in it for you once you check out)!

So what is the Grove Collaborative? Well in layman terms, if you sign up to be a VIP member you receive recurring shipments (that you schedule – it could be once a year if you preferred) of sustainable household products from brands that seek to have the cleanest ingredients and ethical supply chains! If you are a VIP member you receive your own personal guide that will suggest different products to you that you may not have though of or sought out.

Some of my favorite brands are the Mrs. Meyer’s household cleaning products – these have not failed me yet! They smell fantastic and get the job done. Another brand is the Grove’s personal brand which comes out with new products quite often! One of their newest products that I received is the toilet paper (I know, who knew I’d be talking about TP) and tissue paper, the twist is that it is made from Bamboo rather than trees! Plus every time I buy a cube it goes towards restoration efforts here in the U.S., which I love knowing that when I buy products that I’m doing what I can for the environment.

There isn’t just household products either on the website they have household products, personal care products (you can see the coffee facial scrub in the left of my photo above, the brown stick with the word YES on it, or even my hand sanitizer on the right – they have a pump bottle and travel sprays which make it convenient!),  products for kids and pets!

Some of the products I receive monthly are coconut oil (so many uses), sponges, hand sanitizer, dish soap, candles, essential oils, I mean the variety of products that I can get from the Grove Collaborative and feel good about is amazing! I have been receiving shipments from them since February of this year and haven’t bought a single cleaning product from another store. I’ll have to admit I’m a fan of the convenience that it is delivered to your door and they email you a few days before asking you to check your cart and make any last minute changes.

So if you’d like to see what I’m raving about or what your free gift may be after your first purchase, go over to the Grove Collaborative and check them out! If you use this link: https://www.grove.co/referrer/7618640/ you’ll receive a 5-piece gift set after your first purchase!

Have you used a subscription service before? What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Cookies made easy!

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I like cookies, like I REALLY enjoy them. However I don’t always want to mix up a fresh batch on a Wednesday after a long day at work and other errands. So on days that I have the time to mix up a batch I do BUT I don’t bake them… except for maybe one or two, gotta reward myself with a warm cookie! So what’s the process of making them and keeping them fresh to bake whenever I want one or two?

First you gotta make the cookies… scroll down for my chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve been making for years and is a favorite of my families.

Then it’s quite simple all you do is scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet in a single layer, I didn’t have a cookie scoop so I aimed for about 2 tbsp scoops with spoons.

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You’ll then want to throw this sheet into the freezer for about 30 minutes, you may have heard the term flash freezing. This is just freezing the cookie dough slightly so that you when you transfer them into a freezer friendly storage bag they won’t become one big cookie! I would recommend flash freezing anything you bulk freeze from fresh goods.

Then once you’re ready to have a cookie or you have guests coming over plus have the amazing smell in your house that happens when you bake fresh cookies, you just take however many cookies you want, preheat your oven to 375°F and bake for about 12 minutes. You can use this trick of flash freezing for most drop cookies!

So next time you have a few free hours on a weekend, whip up a fresh batch of cookie dough and freeze them up!


CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH
Makes roughly 36 cookies, depending on how much dough you eat 😉

2 1/3 C. Flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 Sticks unsalted Butter – Softened to room temp.
3/4 C. Granulated Sugar
3/4 C. Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1-2 C. Semi-Sweet Choc. Chips (amount varies on preference)

Preheat your oven to 375°F. In a bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside. Then in another bowl cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer (you can do this with a spoon, but it’ll take a little more elbow grease!). Add the eggs 1 at a time incorporating each fully. Then add the flour mixture in about a cup at a time until incorporated, then add the desired amount of chocolate chips, walnuts or anything else you may like in your chocolate chip cookies! Place on a baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. [If your cookies are straight from the freezer they will need 12 minutes].


 

4 Replacements for those cravings you just can’t drive off.

Let’s talk about replacing not so good for you cravings with healthier options. I’m not going to sit here and say that these work 100% of the time but I will say 3 out of the 4 replacements do 99% of the time! I’ve been working on having a healthier lifestyle rather than just dieting and these are a few of the replacements that I use to help me with that!

I don’t deny myself of ice cream, or chocolate or having a full blow 1,500 calorie meal, I’ve accepted that every once in awhile it’s okay to do that!

Replacement tip #1Hot Lemon Water. Coffee is good for you in moderation if you drink it black without all of the added sugar and cream, or milk. I am not one of those people, if I’m going to drink coffee I’m guaranteed to get a 500 cal coffee from a coffee shop or I’m adding cream and sugar to my coffee at home., which isn’t that great for you, especially every day. So one thing I do is drink hot lemon water first thing in the morning when I get up. I squeeze half a lemon into some hot water and sip on that throughout the morning as I get ready.

Now I will say this: the first day you decide to cut out coffee, okay the first week, you will still want coffee to some degree…. if you can push through that first week that craving for coffee will subside substantially. For me personally how I knew this was working is I stopped having coffee last Monday, on Sunday (day 7) I was working on photos for the blog and had  a coffee, now it was great and divine, HOWEVER, my body hated me the rest of the day for it and because of that reaction I knew the lemon water was working. So you just have to give this one some time (as little as 3-4 days)!

Replacement tip #2: Sparkling Water. Do you crave soda? I use to all the time! It didn’t matter what flavor it was because I didn’t crave any soda in particular I really just like the carbonation and wanted something other than just flat water. I didn’t have any trouble cutting out soda but I still had the craving so my first attempt to cut down on soda was only drink it when I went out to dinner, this didn’t work so well. I then recently (a few months ago) have found that whenever I’m craving a soda (or anything besides water really) that I reach for a sparkling water. It gives you the carbonation you’re looking for and when you find the right flavor (this is important because not all of them taste great to me), you’ll be reaching for a sparkling water over a lemonade or soda!

Side tip: If you like a margarita and are looking for a skinny version try 1 oz. tequila, 1 tbsp. agave, fresh squeezed lime juice and add lime flavored sparkling water to top it off! Tastes great and gives you a little fizz action!

Replacement tip #3: Chocolate No Bake Cookies. I am a chocolate lover and this craving is almost everyday! Now chocolate is good for you in moderation, especially dark chocolate it has some health benefits to it so I’m not saying you need to cut anything out of what you eat. In fact you just have to accept that having a chocolate bar every once in awhile is okay and that it’s not something to be disappointed with yourself about! This cookie recipe was a life save when I was on the 21 day fix diet and honestly I would rather eat these then the fat filled version! If you have a strong aversion to coconut I wouldn’t suggest these as they do have a coconut flavor added! Just one of these will fill your chocolate craving for the day, they are moist and chewy, just yum!

All your gonna do is melt 1 c. natural peanut butter (I use almond butter), 3/4 c. honey, 1/2 c. coconut oil in a sauce pan making sure to stir so it all gets incorporated and nothing sticks to the bottom, I would suggest doing this on medium heat. Once everything is melted remove from the heat and add 2 tsp. vanilla, 6 tbsp. cocoa powder, and 2 1/4 c. oatmeal (I use the quick 1-minute oats to ensure the oats will be cooked), combine everything together and just drop the spoonful on parchment paper. You will need to place these in the fridge to harden and keep them in the fridge when storing or they won’t necessarily stay together well! This will make about 25-30 cookies depending on how big your spoons are! I find that an ice cream scoop helps with size consistency.

Replacement #4: Veggie Chips or Carrots. Now this replacement may be a bit of a stretch but it’s helped in times when I want something crunchy or I’m just craving something unhealthy, doesn’t matter what it is. This actually happened to me last night, I was just hungry and wanted something crunchy but crunchy in the sense of a piece of pie or chips, get my drift? So I made the conscious decision to grab the bag of carrots and eat those instead, I was SHOCKED with how well this worked. By the time I had finished one serving (bout a cup) of them I was full and was no longer craving anything!

Another thing you can grab are pea crisps or veggie chips, these are definitely good if you are craving chips because you’ll get the chip crunch as well as the salt. I would be careful as to which veggie chips you buy because there are some out there that are just as bad as some chips are and I would stick to the serving size!

These are the main replacement I use everyday to help me have a healthier lifestyle. I think it’s important to remember when you are eating healthy it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge on the foods that aren’t healthy. For me this last week I didn’t indulge in one thing and then Saturday came around and I ate out twice in one day – definitely not the best but I didn’t get down on myself for having a meal that I enjoyed. When this happens I just tell myself that it’s okay and that having an indulgent meal once in awhile is okay! It’s important not to get down on yourself for not being perfect while choosing a healthier lifestyle because some days it’s just not easy, especially if you’ve had a stressful day at work and just want to come home and have chocolate cake – have that cake, just have a smaller piece than you normally would and move on.

I hope that you find these helpful to you and if you have any healthy food replacement tips that you use I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Vacation!

Recently I took a vacation from work, an entire week off, it was grand and quiet and wonderful. I stress a lot on vacation about work because I have this mentality of “oh I could be doing this at work instead of absolutely nothing” and it can get bad. So this vacation I decided I wouldn’t check my email (I did once… this was progress from the last vacation I took) and I wouldn’t think about work. This made my vacation so much more enjoyable that I was glad I had that mentality going into the week off.

I flew to Idaho, to see my brother, his wife, and my niece and nephew who are 2 years and 3 months old respectively. I lived in Idaho for 12 years before I left, went to high school in Meridian and College in Caldwell, I loved it when I lived there but after living in the South I will continue to only visit!

Day 1 – I had to leave at 3 a.m. for a 2 hour drive to get to the airport on time for my flight at 7 a.m. I love an early flight because you land earlier and it doesn’t necessarily take your entire day away from you. This was not the case today. My first flight was from Raleigh to San Francisco and ended up being roughly 6 hours due in the air instead of 5 because we were flying around thunderstorms. I thought this would lead to my benefit to cut my layover in half… then my second flight got delayed and doubled my original layover. So I ended up landing in Idaho at 4:30 getting the my brother’s house at 5:15ish. To put it in perspective for eastern time I was traveling from 3 a.m. until 7:15 p.m. That’s a 16 hour day, you could say I was wiped by the time I got there not to mention that Idaho is 2 hours behind my bodies time!

Day 2 – I was shocked that my body woke up me up about 8:30 a.m. considering how tired I was the previous night. I hung out with my brother who was home from his day job, and the family for the morning. My niece calls me Aunt Mow and every morning I came out of my bedroom to a 2 year old yelling “AUNT MOWWW”, cutest wake up call ever. That afternoon my best friend, Taylor, came to pick me up. Now this was a reunion! We hadn’t seen each other in 2 years, and it was so great to see her and catch up. We had a pool day that afternoon since the weather was in the 100’s and then we went back to her place had some good food and drinks, watched criminal minds and just caught up.

Day 3, 4, & 5 – These days were a LOT of lazing around which I was grateful for because my mind wasn’t on work rather just hanging with the family. I was able to go get Costa Vida which is my favorite Tex Mex restaurant in the area (the sweet pork enchiladas are my go to!), my brother made me his egg rolls which are to die for and we were able to go to a Mexican restaurant in town because the Mexican food in Idaho is way different than here in Virginia and frankly Idaho does it better. I was introduced to the game Fortnite, both playing and watching others who stream playing it which was surprisingly entertaining. You can play on your phone or a gaming console, because I don’t have a gaming console at the house I play on my phone which is not easy, I definitely do better on an Xbox or PlayStation…so might have to invest in one of those!

Day 6 – Final day before I had to travel back to Virginia and while I love vacation I could tell I was ready to go back home. Taylor picked me up from the house so we could have one more night together before I had to leave, we went to a new burger joint in town which was so good and then just hung out for the rest of the evening.

Day 7 – This was an interesting travel day to say the least. We had to leave the house at 5 a.m. to get to the airport on time, my flight was leaving at 7 a.m. My flights all day were on time no real delays, the second fight they did a mechanical check which I was grateful for considering the turbulence we ended up flying into. It just so happened that there was a giant thunderstorm right over Raleigh, flash floods were in progress it was nasty. We had about an hour of turbulence and I like turbulence, but this was the most extreme turbulence I’ve ever experienced. We ended flying around Raleigh for about 10-15 minutes trying to find a pocket to fly down through the storm to land which we did but then the ramp was closed. So we had to sit on the plane while our gate was 50 feet away for an HOUR due to lightening. I understand why they don’t let the employees out on the ramp and I want everyone to be safe but by that hour mark I was glad to be off the plane. Unfortunately it made the car ride back almost twice the amount of time due to rush hour. So my travel time in eastern time was 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. which was only 11 hours compared to the 16, but man did it feel long!

Overall I had an amazing time in Idaho though it really made me see the differences in the cultures where I live now in Virginia and where I did in Idaho. I live in a town now of 12-13,000 ppl when the college students are here and 8,000 when they aren’t. It’s much slower of a lifestyle, everyone knows everyone and definitely a southern way of living. While I love Idaho and everything that it has to offer, with the amount of people and fast pace lifestyle I don’t know that I could ever live there again, and if I did it was take a few months to get back into the swing of things there.

A few of my favorite parts were being able to cuddle my niece and nephew, seeing my brother, the turbulence on the air plane and the food! What are a few of your favorite things when you go on vacation to see your family? 

 

 

Crossfit Craze

I have failed when it comes to home workouts, the motivation for working out at home doing the same workouts over and over, has completely ended for me. I think the hardest part about working out at home for me is that I have to come up with the workout that I plan to do. Yes you can get memberships to online videos but that will cost you a pretty penny and even then it’s the same routine every week, and that gets a little old and boring. If you don’t have an online membership you have to scroll through Pinterest or Instagram to figure out what the workout is going to be, and by the time I’ve figured that out my motivation for the workout that day is gone and I’m ready for some cake.

Recently I’ve been feeling really down about working out and the fitness journey that I’ve talked about being on in previous posts. I haven’t worked out in a few weeks and I honestly don’t have any excuses besides the fact that I have no motivation and just haven’t cared until I stepped on a scale early last week and realized I was at my heaviest weight I’ve been at in my ENTIRE life. My eyes literally bugged out of my face, and I knew it was time to lose some weight and get back to having a fit life. I knew that I couldn’t go back to doing home workouts because it fails after 1-2 months every time. So I went on the internet to find the other options in the area.

Now I knew that I needed somewhere that I could have the workouts already figured out for me, or classes I could take that are not the same routine every week. This way I wouldn’t get bored, and I didn’t have to think about what the workout was going to be. I also was being cost aware because if I was going to buy some supplements as well I didn’t want to spend more than $100.00 on a membership a months. The first option that came up was the university gym that’s in town, while it was very cost efficient it nixed the idea of having the workouts already figured out.

The second option that came up was Crossfit. I’ve heard so much about Crossfit, both good and bad, about how it’s not good for your body but there are SO many success stories and those that are involved with Crossfit rave about it on every platform they can. So I decided to look up a Crossfit box in my area and I went to try it out. The first thing I noticed was the sense of comradery that the box (this is what the gym is called)had, it was welcoming and they were so open to answering any questions that I had. So I decided to give it a try.

Before I could become an official member they have you go through on-ramp classes which teach you the fundamentals, the vocabulary and basic moves. You do this to see if you joining is something that you actually want to do and so that if you do become a member that you know the basics of the workouts that you are doing. They talk about nutrition and taking care of your body so that you know when you need to rest and aren’t overworking your muscles, which could lead to injury.

I finished the on-ramp classes last week and I will tell you it was not easy but it was fulfilling. After the first class I went home and said what have I decided to get myself into, my legs were hurting that night even though the workout was 6 minutes, an INTENSE 6 minutes. It wasn’t easy because I hadn’t worked out in a few weeks and was out of shape, I’ve been eating like crap and of course that doesn’t help your energy levels before you work out. But I was excited about how I was feeling cause while my legs were in pain I was so energized and felt so much better that I was actually doing some sort of physical activity rather than just lazing around all day in my free time.

I decided that I definitely wanted to pay for a membership because it was reasonable prices but mainly because the atmosphere of the box is so encouraging and non-judgmental. I was hesitant to join a gym because I haven’t worked out in front of other people in a long time and am self-conscious about whether they are judging me because I’m not as fit as they are, etc. But this atmosphere is completely opposite they care where you are in your fitness level but they also are encouraging you to get stronger in a positive way.

I have my first class today that is not on-ramp, it is a full WOD (Workout of the Day) and I’m slightly nervous because I know it’s gonna be killer but I’m also excited. I’ll check back in about how my first week went next Monday! I am going to the lake this week so I’ll only have 4 days that I do Crossfit but again it’s so much better than not doing anything!

Are you a part of a gym? If so, what’s your favorite part of being a member??