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My favorite Coconut products

Saturday, April 1, 2017
An article in the Wall Street Journal recently caught my eye, because it was about the surge in popularity of coconut products. As a lifelong coconut lover (definitely in my top three favorite 'flavors'), I had to laugh because I pictured my own fridge full of coconut-flavored items.

I have always loved coconut - when I was little I used to make virgin Pina Coladas all the time in the summer. I'll never forget when I was in the fourth grade on a cruise with my family, and I was allowed to go out to a tiki bar and show with my older cousins who were in high school and college. I was given a small sip of one of their real Pina Coladas, and, oh man, I was hooked. 

Key West Pina Colada circa 2010

The largest Pina Coladas EVER at The Mirage in Vegas.
Thank goodness I married someone
 in the pro-coconut camp.

I know coconut is a divisive flavor and scent. You either love it or you hate it. I have plenty of friends who say it tastes like sunscreen or 'eating a vacation.' Fair enough, but I love it.

Here are my favorite products that I'm 'nuts about-

Noosa Coconut Yogurt

I have expressed my love for Noosa yogurt before -
but I've got to give another shout out because of this flavor. 

So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer

I love that this new surge of non-dairy milks and creamers has filled the grocery stores with so many non-dairy options. I've been a non-dairy milk drinker since 1986. When I was born I couldn't drink dairy milk so I was fed Prosobee (soy milk formula). I've dabbled with dairy milk throughout the years but I prefer the taste of non-dairy products, and feel better when drinking them. I've been using this coconut milk creamer for about three years now, and I am addicted.

Luna Bar's Chocolate Dipped Coconut

Tastes like a tropical dessert....that you can eat for breakfast! 

Coconut La Croix

I still have no idea how to pronounce the stuff, but I guzzle a TON of it. La Croix is great on evenings when we're trying to cut back on wine, and the coconut version kind of tricks my brain into thinking I'm enjoying a tropical cocktail.....kind of.

Coola Pina Colada Sunscreen Spray

This sunscreen is definitely a splurge. Google it and you'll see what I mean. But! I think it's so worth it if you spend a lot of time in the sun during the summer. It's easy to spray on, it's SPF 30, it leaves a slight shimmer, and it smells ABSOLUTELY heavenly. I often gift it to friends who have summer birthdays. It feels a little luxurious when you spray some on by the pool or on the boat. If you are not on team coconut, they have other delicious flavors like mimosa, cucumber, and guava mango. 

 Also, this is best Pina Colada recipe I've found out there. I like to add in frozen pineapple sometimes for a smooth, icy consistency though. I'm VERY picky about my Pina Coladas. I get super annoyed if they're too melted. I don't enjoy lapping up warm coconut juice. I prefer a really icy, creamy version that almost has a milkshake consistency.

I've tried the 'skinny' versions with coconut water, etc. They're really not worth it. I say if you're going to have a Pina Colada you're probably in a vacation mood, and you really just need to go all in. After all coconut is a good fat, right?

Gold stars and a James Bond movie update

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Happy Wednesday! In true "Happier" fashion, here's a few gold stars for the week....and finally, a James Bond movie update! (Cue theme music)

Ok, so gold stars....

Missing Richard Simmons
Is anyone else OBSESSED with this podcast? I became immediately hooked on this, called my mom to recommend it, and listened to the next three episodes. It is FASCINATING. I find it particularly interesting having grown up knowing and loving Richard Simmons. I spent many a summer evening doing jazz hands to 'Sweatin' with the Oldies' with my mom, and my Nana went on a Richard Simmons cruise one year. Give it a listen - I promise you too will want to know the answer to the question, "What happened to Richard Simmons?"

This book
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck is everything I've needed to hear lately. I've been feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and this book provided a great reality check delivered in a humorous way. I listened to the author talk about this book on a Real Simple podcast, and finally got my hands on a copy. If the title sounds familiar, it's a parody of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. (The author read this book and became inspired by it, too.)

Author Sarah Knight's story is pretty interesting - not sure we could all do what she did (quit job, move to the Caribbean) but her book provides a lot of great food for thought if you're tired of going 90 mph all the time. It definitely will help you prioritize and take care of you.

Almond butter and frozen blueberries
These have been staples in my smoothies lately. I went on this no processed food kick for a bit (let's be honest I lasted three days) The only thing that really stuck was almond butter - I am now in love with the stuff. Almond butter and the frozen blueberries give smoothies a milkshake-like texture that Kelis would be proud of, and a really pretty, bright purple tint.

My childhood!

In my second grade school photo I'm rocking an awesome black choker and floral spaghetti strap dress over a white tee. (So 1994) Well, my second grade self would be so proud to see that I've jumped on the choker trend again. I didn't think I would, but I gave in and it's been so much fun. If you're nervous about diving into this trend, give this Wall Street Journal article a read.

New episodes of The Mindy Project
I have faithfully been watching and loving The Mindy Project since its debut in 2012 and I look forward to every new episode. I think its even better now that its on episodes are out...and I couldn't be happier! And Jeremy made an appearance...even better.

Wichita Brewing Co. Marathon

Team Orange Mocha Frappuccinos participated in the second annual Wichita Brewing Co. marathon this past weekend. Multiple gold stars go to this event - it's so well-run and so much fun. We were a bit slower (we must be thirty) this year and didn't win (WOMP WOMP) but we placed 10th overall so we were pretty happy. And, to be honest, we love just hanging out together, and running towards our beer and pizza reward at the end.

Instead of pouring rain this year, we were treated to freezing cold weather. Still can't decided which I prefer....

Team Orange Mocha Frappuccino!

Last year we got a lot of laughs out of Eric eating a Braum's breakfast burrito RIGHT before his leg of the relay. We decided it was only appropriate to buy him a burrito and surprise him with it at the end of his leg this year. This may have to become a tradition.

A Braums burrito/baton hand off....

And last but not least, a long-awaited James Bond movie update! Mike and I are on #15 of 25 James Bond films. Some weeks we've been really good about watching them, and some weeks we've been so busy that it just hasn't happened...and some of them, well, We've arrived in the '80s and the films definitely reflect that. I'm convinced  women in the '80s did not do squats and couldn't ever find a clean bra to wear. I may have been born in the decade, but I don't know if I'll ever understand it. Also, if you watch 1985's "A View to a Kill," the theme song, "Dance into the Fire," by Duran, Duran, will be in your head for the next seven days.

We're also super excited to add to our Bond-a-thon by going to Bond and Beyond at the KC Symphony with family Easter weekend. Maybe we can have all our James Bond movies watched by April 15!

Have a great rest of your week, friends!

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I've always relied on quotes to make me laugh, calm me down, and reassure me when I'm feeling any emotion from #blessed to stressed.

Quotes have always been a great source of comfort to me - I guess it's just a nice reminder that I'm not the only one who's ever felt that way. Growing up I had quotes taped up everywhere - on my mirror, in my notebooks, on my piano music, etc. Today it's really not much different. When I need a pick-me-up, or simply a daily reminder to be thankful or laugh, I look to my quotations around my house, on my phone and yes, I even have one in my car. Here's just a sample of my favorites around the house -

Love these quotation magnets - 
I always seem to find them in bookstores and at the airport. 

A little more fridge-spiration... not brought to you by Whirlpool.

This fun basket holds bath and beauty items by my sink in our master bath.
 It's a great way to start and end each day. 


These are posted by my side of the bathroom mirror. The top quote was from an interior designer in a Better Homes & Garden magazine - never would have guessed that, huh?! As a chronic worrier and overthinker, it's a good one for me. The list on the bottom is from none other than the amazing Gretchen Rubin. (insert praise hands emoji)

Mindy knows best...

 And, another Mindy from my office bulletin board.

A good reminder to make time for other things besides work in life.

I've always loved this one from author Stephen Covey.
 Looks like Mike is trying to sneak into this blog, too. 

So true.

Simple yet powerful one. Good goals to set each day.

Wall of quotes in my office. 

Love, love, love this book!
 Full of short and sweet pieces of 'karma' for your day. 

Never at a loss for quotes...

Of course I have the Secrets of Adulthood on my fridge. These run through my brain daily. 

What are your favorite quotes, or words of wisdom that help you get through the day? As you can see, I'm always on the look out for more inspiration. 

Happy Wednesday friends! 

Hilton Garden Inn - Milwaukee

Monday, January 30, 2017
Earlier this month I traveled to Milwaukee for work. Isn't Milwaukee the tropical destination we all dream of being sent to in early January?

The trip overall was one to forget. Anything that could go wrong on my flight to Milwaukee did, and being completely, miserably sick didn't help either. Nothing like being wrapped up in a blanket with a 100 degree plus temperature on a plane, right?

I arrived in Milwaukee cold, sick, and really just wanting the plane to send me straight back home, but there was definitely one shining moment of the trip that I must rave about - the hotel!

I booked the Hilton Garden Inn downtown because it was super close to the event I was working on Saturday evening, and I've always enjoyed Hilton Garden Inn hotels. This hotel was definitely not your typical Hilton Garden Inn though. It was one of the prettiest hotels I've stayed in.

The hotel is in the historic Loyalty Building in downtown Milwaukee. The Loyalty Building was built in 1886 for Northwestern Mutual Insurance by architect Solon Beman, who also built several well-known buildings in Chicago. It's Romanesque style is so ornate and beautiful. Inside the building has a huge, gorgeous marble staircase, old cage elevators, and lovely tile floors.

When I walked in the lobby I literally gasped at its beauty. As I walked up the stairs to my room, I was blown away by the most incredible part - the atrium roof- which filled the stairwell with bright light.

One of the neatest hotels I've stayed in - so much history and beauty!

Isn't this atrium incredible? Photo doesn't even do it justice! 

I seriously couldn't get over these floors - aren't they gorgeous?
 Think of the shoes who've walked over these tiles...

The building is on the National Historic Registry and is one of four important 19th Century commercial structures in Milwaukee today. It's quite the building. My room was just as gorgeous with ornate features, and a floor to ceiling window. They just don't design buildings like they used to. (Old person comment?)

 The hotel also had beautiful photographs on the walls, and really interesting, art gallery-like descriptions to accompany the photos. Any history nerds like myself, would enjoy how much you could learn just by walking through the floors of the hotel. Here's another great post (in much more detail) about how amazing this hotel is.

If Milwaukee is a part of your travel plans anytime soon, I recommend checking this hotel out. And, preferably going when you're not sick and during the summer.

Happy travels, friends!

Cheers to Friday!

Friday, January 20, 2017
Happy Friday all! We've almost made it through cold, dreary cheers to that!

This is a fun, fizzy drink Mike and I've enjoyed lately. It's kind of a tangy version of a mimosa, and it's such a bright, jewel tone ruby red. We found it in a Dr. Oz magazine this winter, and it's a really delicious weekend cocktail. Pderfect for a brunch!

It's a quarter cup pomegranate juice, then a splash of orange juice, and a splash of cranberry juice, topped off with champagne or prosecco. Not a bad way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C during cold season either.

Happy weekend!

Flower Power

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A huge guilty pleasure for me is a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers. I've always loved flowers, and grew up gardening alongside my mom. I loved to work in the yard with her and learn the names of each unique little bloom. Chrysanthemums, gaillardias, peonies - I could name them all. I remember as a little girl sitting for hours in the winter with my great-grandmother Della's Gurney's flower and seed catalogs daydreaming of summer's warmth and the grand gardens I could create.

I always have a bouquet of flowers in our home. They make me happy, and bring a little life and color to our house - especially this time of year. Thankfully, I'm lucky enough to live close to a Dillon's where you can buy beautiful flowers for really cheap - like $5 for a bouquet! I love picking up a bunch of flowers when I'm shopping for groceries. It's a lot of fun to see what colors and types of plants you can find and turn into a flower shop worthy bouquet.

I wanted something soft, yet still wintry this weekend. I'm kind of tired of the bold red and burgundy shades of Christmas but wanted something that still looked like January. I was excited to find these soft blush colored spider mums and peaches and cream hypericum berries. They were also selling bunches of these bright green leaves which I thought would give the arrangement a little depth. The little berries give it some wintry texture.

As I look out my window to trees coated in ice, it's nice to look at these bright blooms on my table. If you need a little pick-me-up on this cold, icy Sunday, grab yourself some flowers. I promise they'll do the trick. 

My winter companions? James Bond and Laura Ingalls Wilder

Monday, January 2, 2017
Did the title of this blog leave you wanting to know more?

I know seeing these two names together is a bit odd but I'm spending a lot of time with both Bond and Laura this winter.

Mike and I really do not like winter. I get blue, and he gets crazy cabin fever. We're charming to be around I'm sure. We both really need good distractions, lots of work, hobbies, or whatever you want to throw our way, to keep us busy and engaged until sunshine and warm weather triumphantly return in April.

I've never enjoyed winter, and know I need to keep myself inspired and interested in something this time of year.  I recently remembered in high school one winter AMC was showing a Hitchcock movie every Sunday night. My parents and I became hooked on this weekly ritual that kept us entertained and looking forward to the next Sunday's movie. I loved it! I learned so much about Alfred Hitchcock films, but also anticipated my weekly movie date with my family. Instead of dreading the week ahead in the cold winter months, I actually looked forward to Sunday evenings.

So in late October I decided that Mike and I needed our own little winter challenge. I quickly settled on the idea that we needed to watch all the James Bond movies in order this winter. It seemed like the perfect winter challenge - I love old movies, Mike loves James Bond. And with 25 movies total I knew it would take us through winter, even if winter lasted through the end of March as it sometimes does.

We're currently eight movies in, and I have to say I'm really enjoying them. All the Bond films have a certain elegance about them that just makes them seem like an indulgence, and the perfect opportunity to sip a martini. Shaken not stirred, of course. The opening sequences are so fun, the Bond girls are glamorous, and it's always exciting to see how Bond will pull it off in the end.

The first Bond film is still one of my favorites.

My favorite Bond movies so far as been "Dr. No" (#1) and "You Only Live Twice" (#5). My favorite Bond girl so far? Honey Rider. But I'm definitely ready to see the Bond girls evolve as we get further into our challenge. A little more girl power and gumption is a good thing. 

Honey Rider - the first Bond girl - in that iconic bikini! 

In a complete change of subject, I've decided to re-read all the "Little House on the Prairie" books this winter. I have such fond memories of my mother reading me the books before bed one winter. I never wanted it to be time to put the book away, and go to bed. I'd beg her to keep reading! I just started the first book "Little House in the Big Woods" and I immediately remember why I loved this series so much. They're seriously like the book form of a comfort food for me! 

A childhood staple!

So my companions this winter will be James Bond and Laura Ingalls Wilder but I'm willing to add more. Have you done any little challenges like this to get you through the winter blues? Have you re-visited a favorite TV, book, or movie series? I'd love to hear your suggestions!

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