My Skincare Routine

It took me over 30 years to finally take care of my skin.  I know, I know, that’s awful, but it’s the truth.  Like straight up, sleep in my makeup, face wash in the shower only, that’s it.  But shortly after turning 30, I decided to make this a priority.  It’s crazy how quickly my skin responded, and I am fully committed to my skincare routine.  I am certainly no expert, but I’m sharing my routine and some of my favorite products here.

Morning (After shower):

  1. Mask (I put this on after the shower and leave it on for 2-3 minutes while I brush my teeth.  Multitasking at its finest!)
  2. Exfoliating Scrub
  3. Daily Cleanser
  4. Toner
  5. Facial Spray
  6. Hydrating Serum
  7. Eye Serum
  8. Hydrating Moisturizer (I also mix tanning drops with my moisturizer.  See this post for details.)
  9. Lip Balm
  10. Hand Cream
  11. Body Lotion (I also mix tanning drops with my lotion.  See this post for details.)

Night (Before bed):

  1. Makeup Wipe
  2. Cleanser
  3. Toner
  4. Facial Spray
  5. Serum
  6. Eye Serum
  7. Moisturizer (I also mix tanning drops with my moisturizer.  See this post for details.)
  8. Night Cream
  9. Lip Balm
  10. Hand Cream
  11. Lash and/or Brow Treatment

Visit my LIKETOKNOW.IT to shop some of my favorite skincare products!

 

What does your routine look like, and what products do you love?  I can’t wait to hear!

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

 

Travel Tip: How to Get Better Sleep on the Road

“Ugh, how do you sleep in hotel rooms?”  Another common question I get about my frequent business travel.  Honestly, I can sleep almost anywhere.  But I have certainly had some restless nights away from home.  Over the past few years, I’ve become more diligent about planning for sleep success, because it is so important to me.  I’ve talked about it before, but I consider sleep to be my number one performance priority–personal, professional, athletic, everything.  Here are a few tips on how to get better sleep on the road.

Before Take Off:

  • Plan ahead.  If you leave town in a rush or with a huge to do list waiting for you, you will already feel anxious and unrested.  Try to take care of as many things as possible before leaving town to prevent those worrisome restless nights.
  • Be prepared.   Pack your ear plugs, eye masks, a portable sound machine, essential oils, hot tea, melatonin, whatever tools you need to get you in the sleepy time mood.
  • Exercise and eat normally.  Before your trip, follow your normal exercise and eating habits to provide your body some sense of normalcy.  (I’ve taken a lot of 6 AM flights, so this isn’t always possible, but I try to do this as much as possible.)
  • Get some sleep.  Don’t start off your trip in a sleep deficit.  Get some good sleep the night before to ensure you’re well rested before take off.
  • Dress for comfort.  Planes aren’t really known for being comfortable, so if at all possible, wear something comfortable, loose-fitting, and layered.  I like to wear a casual dress or yoga pants, with a cardigan or jean jacket.

In the Air:

  • Get comfortable.  If I have a longer flight, I definitely bring along a neck pillow.  Most airlines also have blankets for their passengers.
  • Drink water.  Dehydration is a real thing, and it can seriously disrupt your sleep later and only adds to the feeling of being tired.
  • Nap is you can.  Again, I can sleep just about anywhere, so if you’re like me and are able to sleep on a plane, go for it.  I close my window shade, put on a movie or listen to some music, and drift right off for as long as I can.  Even a short nap can make a huge difference.

At the Hotel:

  • Request a quiet room or a room in a quiet area.  Little unknown tip–a lot of hotels have rooms or whole floors that are explicitly reserved for customers who want a good night’s sleep.  These rooms may be located well off the street, have double-paned windows, soundproofed non-squeaky doors, quiet air-conditioners, are not scheduled near ballrooms or big parties.  Just ask at check in!
  • Request room amenities.  Just because it’s not in the room doesn’t mean you can’t have it.  Extra pillows or blankets, hot tea, ear plugs, even essential oils…all things that I have seen–for free–at some hotels.  Again, just ask!  Sometimes they even have other suggestions.  Remember, travel is their business.

On the Road:

  • Know your peak performance times.  I am a morning person, no matter where I am, so I try to plan accordingly.  Try to plan meetings on your home time, during your preferred hours, so that your body is able to adjust.
  • Get some sun.  During the day and meetings, let as much light into the room as possible and stay active.  Staying inside all day can continue to confuse your body’s sleep schedule.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation.  I’m all about trying a local beer or having a glass of red with dinner, but I’ve had many restless nights after too many cocktails.  Not to mention the morning after effects, the anxiety, the works.  Better to just enjoy one to ensure a good night’s sleep.
  • Relax before bedtime.  Reading, stretching, a bath, hot tea…whatever relaxes you, implement it on the road.
  • Exercise at the right time for you.  Regular exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep.  I am a morning exerciser, because it wakes me up for the day.  Also, if I exercise too close to bedtime, I’m too energized to sleep.  Take your schedule on the road, and don’t switch it up, because your sleep could suffer.

 

I’m always eager to hear what works for my fellow road warriors, so drop any suggestions in the comments.  I hope these help you get a better night’s sleep during your next trip.

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

 

 

Protein Peanut Butter Cups

In my opinion, there is no better combination than chocolate and peanut butter.  Don’t @me.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is the straight up creation of angels.  And the day that I figured out how to make them at home, best day of my life.  Well after marriage, and becoming a mom, and well you get it.  So how about this…Peanut Butter Cups, but make it Protein…?  So easy, so yummy…You’re welcome!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 4 scoops chocolate protein powder (I use Arbonne.)
  • 6 tsp nut butter of choice (I use peanut butter or cashew butter.)

Instructions:

  • Mix coconut oil and protein powder until combined into liquid.
  • Fill cupcake liners or silicone cupcake pan (see pictured), each half full.
  • Freeze 10 minutes.
  • Remove from freezer and top each cup with 1 tsp nut butter.
  • Top with remaining protein liquid.
  • Freeze an additional 10 minutes.
  • Remove from freezer and remove from cups.
  • Store in freezer for up to 3 months.  (But really…?)
  • Optional: Top each cup with a sprinkle of sea salt and thank me later.

 

Enjoy and I love you too.

XOXO,

Molly B.

How to Survive a Friend Breakup

Before Chad and I got married, we broke up. Like a lot. We met when I was 19, him 20; we went to different colleges that were two and a half hours apart; we were growing up.

Each time, it was heart wrenching, but absolutely incomparable to breaking up with a friend. Our friends know us in an intimate and irreplaceable way, often times better than we know ourselves.

Much like a romantic breakup, it feels like you’ll never get through it, that the sadness will never end. And no, you won’t ever completely get over it. But here are a few ways to navigate the breakup and come out on the other side.

1. Is it really over? Was it just a fight? Are you being overly dramatic? Or is this really the end. A little bit of communication can go a long way. So if it was just a fight and a conversation will fix it, just do it. If not, read on…

2. Be a grownup. No name calling. No trashing the other person. No passive aggressive social media posts. If you have mutual friends, leave them out of it. We’re all adults, so let’s act better than our teenage selves. Any contrary actions will only bring more pain.

3. Give yourself some space. Get rid of the constant reminders. Take down the pictures. Unfollow or hide them on social media. Do whatever you need to do to get some distance from your friendship. It’s hard to move on if they’re still in your face all the time.

4. Grieve and reflect. It’s perfectly okay to be sad and to mourn this loss. A breakup is much like a death, so similar reactions are normal and natural. But reflect on the happy times in your friendship. If you’re able to look back with fond thoughts and not solely focus on the cause of the breakup, this can help in moving forward.

5. Be realistic about your role in the breakup. It’s natural to want to point fingers and blame the other person. (Because we’re all perfect, right?) But chances are, you played some role in the demise of the relationship, so own that in order to diminish some of the anger.

6. Crush the loneliness. Fill your time so you’re not sitting alone with your sadness. Go for a run, get lost in a book, take on a new project at work, build a deck on the back of your freaking house! Whatever you need to do to occupy your mind and time.

7. Find new friends. Easier said than done, right? Did you know that I made most of my current dearest friends within the last 5 years? What is something you enjoy doing? Going to the gym? Volunteering? Working? You know there are other people there, right? And you already have something in common! So go to coffee and talk about that thing and grow the friendship from there.

8. Forgive and move on. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the hurt goes away, but it means that we no longer have to shoulder the burden. Even if the other person never repents, forgiving them will free you of the bitterness that is weighing heavy on your heart.

Remember that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Or maybe even a combination of those things. We are a part of every person that we meet, and we can learn from every relationship, even if it’s painful. If you’re in a season of breakup, I’ve been there, sister. I’m praying for you, and I hope these words help your heart.

XOXO,

Molly B.

What I’ve Learned from 4 Years of Orangetheory

On this day, four years ago, I took my first class at Orangetheory Fitness. I had friends in other states that had been going for months, so when it finally opened in Kansas City, I signed right up.

My original goal was to lose weight. I was still pretty deep into a severe exercise addiction and corresponding body dysmorphia, and I saw the results my friends were having, so it seemed like a solid choice.

Since I had been running and working out consistently for a few years, I also thought I would breeze through these classes.

I learned a lot in that first class, and this workout has honestly changed my life.

First of all, that first class (and every class after that) put me in my place. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Olympic athlete, if you do the work, you’re going to be challenged. In four years, it has never gotten easier. And I kinda like it that way…

Next, it changed my heart. I am very competitive, but this workout and its community changed me. Quickly I found that I was more about celebration than competition. Yea, it’s fun to turn to your neighbor and say, “let’s pick it up,” or to see someone’s tread speed and think “daaaaaang” and let it push you. But I get so much joy out of standing behind a treadmill telling my friends to keep going than I ever would being upset that they lift heavier weights than me.

Subsequently, it changed my circle. After many years of living in our new city with very few close friends, I met my best friends at the gym. I am a 5 AMer, and it’s a special squad that can bring it at that hour. Those were, and are, my people. We bonded quick, and easily, and our husbands accused us of joining a cult. (They were kinda right.) These girls that I met while covered in sweat are the same ones that bought me a cake when I got promoted, that prayed with me when I got melanoma, that threw me a last minute baby shower when we found out about Jack.

And finally, it saved my life. That sounds so dramatic, but hang with me. Like I mentioned, I was deep into some pretty dark eating and exercise routines. These coaches taught me that these things were not healthy and not sustainable. I can confidently say that if this workout had not entered my life, I would have continued to delve deeper into unhealthy behaviors, and I fear for where I would be now.

Is it expensive? Compared to my previous gyms, sure. Is it hard? Not gonna lie, yea. But I’ve never looked back. I am stronger, physically, mentally, emotionally. I am faster. I played sports for years and never felt as much like an athlete as I do on this day. These coaches push me, encourage me, and care about me. And these members, they’re my family.

So for the foreseeable future, I’m still burning and adding to the list of studios when I travel. Here’s a list of all the studios I’ve visit the last four years and their placement on the map.

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Orangetheory Studios:

1. Olathe

2. Leawood

3. West Hollywood

4. Chicago Old Town

5. Lexington

6. Ankeny

7. West Omaha

8. West Nashville

9. Edina

10. Arbor Town Austin

11. Reno Southeast

12. Anthem Las Vegas

13. Naples

14. Olathe South

15. Omaha Northwest

16. Minneapolis Uptown

17. Overland Park

18. Chicago South Loop

19. Fargo

20. Salem, OR

21. Tulsa Midtown

22. Lenexa

23. Point Loma San Diego

24. Reno Northwest

25. Omaha Midtown

26. Albuquerque Far Northeast Heights

27. Las Vegas South

28. Minneapolis Eagan

29. Tulsa South

30. Des Moines Clive

31. Denver Tech Center

32. Denver LoDo/Union Station

33. Manhattan East 39th Street

34. North Little Rock

35. Woodbury

36. Lexington Summit

37. Lee’s Summit

38. Arizona—Tempe

39. Evansville, Indiana

40. Hendersonville, Tennessee

41. Austin Downtown

42. Brookside

43. Nall Hills

44. Huntington Beach—Brookhurst

45. Huntington Beach—Bella Terra

46. Corona Del Mar

47. Papillion

48. Lincoln South

49. East Nashville

50. Kansas City Parkville

51. Minneapolis—St. Louis Park

52. St. Charles

53. St. Louis—Creve Coeur

54. Charleston

55. Mount Pleasant, SC

56. West Des Moines

57. Davenport, IA

58. Brookhaven, GA

59. Chastain Park, GA

60. Buckhead, GA

61. Portland—Goat Blocks

62. Eugene, OR

63. Medford, OR

64. Las Vegas Spring Valley

65. Las Vegas Mountains Edge

66. Denver—Cherry Hills

67. Denver—Southglen

68. Springfield, MO

69. Emeryville, CA

70. Vallejo, CA

71. San Francisco—Financial District

72. Richfield, MN

73. Nashville—Midtown

74. Burnsville, MN

75. Eden Prairie, MN

76. Missoula, MT

77. Hyde Park Chicago

78. La Grange, IL

79. Glendale, CO

80. Uptown Denver

81. Las Vegas Summerlin

82. Las Vegas Grand Canyon

83. Austin–Saltillo

84. Austin–South Lamar

85. Austin—Mueller

86. Kansas City Downtown

87. Liberty, MO

Here’s to the next year of splat, Run2Rows, deadlifts, and no palms to elbows.

XOXO,

Molly B.

What’s Inside My Gym Bag: 20 Essentials For Your Sweat Sesh

If you see me at the gym, you’re gonna see me rockin my gym bag each and every day.  (And I don’t even get ready for work at the gym!)  Nothing is worse than getting to the gym and not having everything you need, or being mid-workout and needing something vital.  And in the past, I used a missing item as a reason to call it quits.  So I decided to start bringing things that I may need to complete my workout.  And yes, in the beginning, I WAY over packed and brought things that never found a purpose.  Now I’ve got a pretty solid pack, so I’m sharing it here for you.

First of all, the bag!  Like I said, I don’t get ready at the gym, so I don’t bring enough to warrant a duffle bag.  This is my absolute favorite gym bag!  It comes in two colors, but I have it in black. It has room for all your workout essential. You can unzip the bottom for wet clothes or shoe storage. It has a cell phone zip pocket on back side. And it even has an exterior elastic webbing yoga mat holder on the bottom of the bag!

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, here’s what to pack:

  1. Towel– I am a sweaty, sweaty beast when I workout, so a gym towel is a must!
  2. Water Bottle– These  are my personal favorite, because the squirt top makes it easy to grab a quick sip.
  3. Snack– I like to keep protein bars and protein powder in my bag.  Nothing is worse than being hangry before or after a workout, so I want to be prepared.
  4. Sandals– I am a big fan of letting my feet breathe and rest before and after my workout, especially if I’m running, so I make sure to bring my favorite recovery sandals.
  5. Headphones– Music during my workout is a must!  I always have my Aftershokz in my bag to ensure that I can connect to my playlist when I sweat.  (Get $50 off any Aftershokz bundle with code MOLLYB.)
  6. Deodorant– Need I say more?
  7. Gloves– I honestly don’t mind having calluses, but after a while, they can actually crack, and that is painful!  So now when I row or lift weights, I wear gloves.  I like a full coverage glove like these.
  8. Hair Ties– Look, I know the runner girl emoji runs with her hair down, but not this girl!  I’ve forgotten them, had them break, the works, so I always have an extra.  (Not to mention that I’ve saved the day for some of my sweat sisters too!)  I’m a big fan of the no dent hair ties.
  9. Face Wipes–Okay so we’ve already established that I’m a sweater.  Especially if I’m not going straight home, I like to wipe the sweat and salt off my face.
  10. Safety Pins– This is mainly to ensure I’m prepared for races, but they seem to come in handy quite a bit.  I mean, if your sports bra has ever broken halfway through an Orangetheory class, you might just want one.  Hypothetically…
  11. Sunglasses– If I’m running outside in the daylight, I’m not down with squinting my way through.  I always have my sunglasses for when I need them.
  12. Heart Rate Monitor– Yes, I use this primarily for Orangetheory, but I actually do use it for workouts outside of the gym as well.
  13. Pre-Workout/Intra-Workout/Post-Workout–I use all three of these things, and I’ve convinced myself that I can’t live without them.
  14. Gum– Have you ever been on a treadmill next to someone with coffee or morning breath?  Yea, that won’t be this girl.
  15. Silicone Ring– Number of wedding rings that had to be refinished? One.  Number of times my husband my husband said that I could wear my wedding ring to the gym going forward?  Zero.  These rings are a lifesaver, and they’re actually pretty cute!
  16. Anti Chafe– I could write a whole post about this, but… Chafing is a thing.  Everyone chafes.  It has nothing to do with weight, or size, or fitness level.  It’s a thing.  And it happens to different people, in different places, at different times.  For me, sports bra lines are the worst.  I can’t live without it!
  17. Chapstick– Definitely in cold weather months, but my lips get really dry during workouts from all the mouth breathing.  (I’m really making myself sound attractive in this post…)
  18. Arm Band– I cannot hold or keep track of anything during a workout.  Especially running, but really anything.  I keep an arm band in my bag to ensure that I can stay hands free.
  19. Kleenex– Similar to the Chapstick, especially in cold weather, but my nose runs when I workout.  It’s a thing.  (Just a goddess…)
  20. Watch– My Garmin watch is always in the gym with me.  I’m addicted to the data that it gives me, and I use it for timing and performance during my workouts.

I hope this list helps you pack your bag and prevent any interruptions to your killing your workout.

XOXO,

Molly B.

LikeToKnowIt – What It Is, How To Use It, and How To Follow Me

This post may contain affiliate links.  That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you).  Please see my full  Disclosure Statement  for details.

What is LIKEtoKNOW.it?

RewardStyle is an affiliate network that connects retailers with influencers/bloggers through a shoppable platform called LIKEtoKNOW.it.  When a friend purchases a product through one of my affiliate links, I make a small commission from the purchase. (This is similar to what a sales associate would make should they sell you something in store.) This DOES NOT cost you anything additional. It’s essentially giving me a small amount of credit for referring you to the retailer.

If you go to the retailer’s page after looking at a particular product and find they don’t have your size, you shop around and buy a few other items from the same retailer, I still get credit for any purchases you make on that retailer’s page, because I was the ultimate reason you went to them in the first place.

Also important, if you see me post about an item on your phone and go to your computer, go directly to the retailer’s site without using one of my links, I will not get credit for the sale. Similarly, if you purchase something in store, I will not get the credit because the retailer has no way to track it back to me. So, to give me credit, you always have to purchase through one of my links.

LIKEtoKNOW.it: How to Use It

  1. First you’ll need to sign up: LIKEtoKNOW.it  
  2. Download the App.
  3. Follow me!  (Instructions below.)
  4. Go to my CrowningGloryBlog Instagam page.
  5. After downloading the app and following me, you will then be able to “like” or “screenshot” any of my posts where you see the hashtag “liketkit” in the caption, and all of my outfit details will be sent to your email or the app within 5 minutes. (You have the option to opt out of emails if you prefer!)

It’s really THAT simple!

Here is an example of what it will look like in your LikeToKnow.it account after you screenshot a photo.

You will see the photo, and then underneath you will see small images with the items in the photograph. Simply click those small images to be taken directly to the product pages to shop.

A few other ways to shop via LiketoKnow.it

  1. Login into your account at LiketoKnow.it.com. Head to the “menu” at the top right corner. Click on “My Likes”. All of your liked posts will show up with all the links to shop.
  2. Head to the LikeToKnow.it website but add a specific users name to the end of the URL.  For example, if you want to shop all of MY posts simply head to https://www.liketoknowit.com/crowninggloryblog
  3. After Downloading the App and following me, you will then be able to “like” or “screenshot” any of my posts where you see the hashtag “liketkit” in the caption and all of my outfit details will be sent to your email or the app within 5 minutes (you have the option to opt out of emails if you prefer!)

I personally LOVE the app.  It makes shopping so much easier.  If you happen to come across an item you love but don’t have the time to shop it right then and there, all you have to do is screenshot it and it’s saved for another time. It’s so convenient and best of all FREE!

Just a heads up – not all retailers are partnered with LikeToKnow.it.  So, if you “like” a photo and the exact item isn’t linked, that is likely the reason.  If this is ever the case, I try to link as many similar items as possible so that my friends can still recreate the look.

 

How To Follow Me In The LikeToKnow.It App

Another great feature of LikeToKnow.it is that you can follow your favorite bloggers/influencers in the app and be able to shop their looks without having to scroll through their instagram feed or blog.  Below I will show you step by step how to do so.

  1. Simply open the app on your phone.  On the bottom far right corner you will see a symbol to “Search.”  Click that symbol.

2. Once you’ve clicked that symbol, you will see a search bar come up across the top of your screen.  Start typing in the Instagram handle of the user you’d like to follow.  For me, you would type in “crowninggloryblog”

3. When you start typing in the user name, you will see it pop up under the search bar.  There will be a “Follow” button that also appears next to the users name.  Click the ‘Follow” button and there you go…You are following your favorite user!

If you have any additional questions, feel free to drop a comment or shoot me an email! And of course, you can also always message me on Instagram or email (thecrowninggloryblog@gmail.com), and I can send you direct links to the products I’m sharing.

Again, THANK YOU for all of your support of this blog!  If you ever have blog post ideas or comments, please feel free to email me!  I want this to be a source of joy and inspiration for you, so your feedback is always welcome!

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

 

What I Learned from a “No Spend Month” and How You Can Have One Too!

Our summer was what can only be described as “epic.”  Date Nights, festivals, multiple vacations, shopping, so much fun.  But all of those things come with a price tag, so at the end of July, I was feeling a little uneasy about our spending.  If we’ve been friends for a while, you know I’m not down with diets, or cleanses, or detoxing.  But after a period of indulgence, I decided that a detox was exactly what I needed–a financial detox.

I like to give myself challenges, but this was the first time that I had ever given myself a financial challenge.  So to say that I was nervous would be a severe understatement.  But I resolved, for the month of August, to not spend any money.  Yup.

Okay but like how?  So let’s start with these five steps:

  1. Find your why.  Why do you want to partake in a month of not spending any money?  To add more to your savings, to pay off debt, to hit a certain target?  Just like with any other challenge or goal in your life, it’s important to have a “why” to keep you focused, centered, and grounded.  My why was to add more money to our savings.
  2. Establish Rules and Expectations.  With your own challenge, you can be as strict or lenient as you would like.  For my personal challenge, I wanted to follow a “bare bones budget” and not spend any money outside of that.  Essentially this meant only paying for our bills, groceries, and gas.  Everyone is different, and you have to personally decide what is a non-negotiable in your own life.   But I encourage you to really reflect on what you can give up for a month.  For example, I let go of any beauty treatments (hair, nails, waxing), but I did not give up my gym membership.  (Call it mental health.)
  3. Prep Your Pantry and Plan Your Meals.  This was one of the most challenging ones for me, but so very necessary.  There are a couple of ways to go with this.  You could buy a month’s worth of groceries at the beginning of the month and never grocery shop during the challenge, but this takes a lot of money up front and some seriously masterful planning.  I resolved to create a weekly grocery budget and to not buy anything that was not on the list of necessary groceries.  I knew that this would be my biggest challenge, because I love to grocery shop, and I am constantly buying and trying new items at the store.  But I know that this adds a ton of money to my grocery bill each month.  Enter online grocery ordering and pickup.  Okay, I know that I’m really late to the party, but this was a game changer!  We have a Walmart that is 2 miles from our house, so I downloaded their app, adding only the necessary items to my online cart, and I picked them up.  This prevented me from adding unnecessary things to my shopping cart, and it was so convenient!  I have continued to use this every single week, and I love this new routine.
  4. Find Support.  I told my husband, my friends, my co-workers, any necessary parties that I was completing this challenge.  It was important that those around me knew this so as to support me and not try to entice me with opportunities to spend money.  I got absolutely zero shade from anyone, and most people said, “I need to do that too.”
  5. Set Up Obstacles.  Again, you have to decide what those are, but here are some suggestions:
    1. Delete the shopping apps on your phone.  Bye Bye Target, Etsy, Amazon, anything that triggers you to spend money.
    2. Unsubscribe from emails.  You don’t know that there’s a sale if you don’t get the email.
    3. Hide or Unfollow stores/people on social media.  I always joke that there are people on Instagram that make me spend too much money, but it’s the truth.
    4. Don’t use gift cards during this time either.  That may sound strange since you’re not using your own money.  But if you’re like me, you typically do wind up spending some of your own money, and this is also an exercise in not buying things you don’t need.
    5. Get in the habit of saying no.  Easier said than done, right?  But that’s the importance of having support.  When you tell your friend that your coffee date will have to wait until next month, they will understand.  (Or they’ll buy your coffee for you like one of my sweet friends.)

So guess what, y’all…I did it.  I freaking did it!  I went the whole month and did not spend one unnecessary dime.  But I definitely learned some things from my month.  Here are my three biggest takeaways:

  1. Timing is key.  Do not set yourself up for failure.  If you look at a month and it has a ton of events, or it requires significant home repairs, or it’s Christmas, maybe not the best month.  August actually worked well for me, because I was traveling a lot for work and didn’t have as much idle time to shop or spend money.  One thing that was very helpful was sitting down in mid-July and looking at the August calendar to plan for anything that month that may cost money.  For example, my parents’ anniversary was in August, so I purchased their gift in July so that it didn’t interfere with the challenge.
  2. Track your progress.  I know you’re wanting to know my outcome, and the best I can determine, I saved approximately $1000 in the month of August.  That was staggering to me.  $1000 that I’m spending unnecessarily each month.  And on what?!  And that’s why tracking is crucial–I’m not sure that amount is accurate, so when I do this again, that will be a big component, in order to determine my habits.  (I know that there are a lot of apps that can help with this, so I will be researching those.)
  3. Build in some fun.  Again, I was traveling a lot during my month, but I could see this getting a little bleak.  Remember that there are a ton of free activities!  The library, a park, lots of options.  Just don’t go walk around the mall, because you will only be torturing yourself!  Additionally, if you feel too restricted, you’re likely to go overboard when the month is over.  (Kind of like when you go on a very restrictive diet and eat an entire chocolate cake when it’s over.  Allegedly…)

Overall, I loved this challenge and plan to do it again.  I learned a lot about myself and my spending habits, as well as things I can be doing to improve my behaviors.

I hope this helps you, and if you decide to try it, tell me all about it!

XOXO,

Molly B.

San Fran/Napa/Sonoma Travel Recap

Okay, so I know that running a half marathon isn’t everyone’s idea of a vacation.  But when I saw that there was a race that ran from Napa, CA to Sonoma, CA, I had to do it, right?

The Napa to Sonoma Half is a very popular race, and it sells out quickly every year.  Although, it had already sold out, you could enter a lottery to get a spot.  I entered, and I actually got in!  So Chad, you wanna go to Napa?

We decided to celebrate our June anniversary with a July trip to San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma.  Our flights, hotels, and rental car were covered by my frequent travel points, so we focused on sightseeing and eating everything in sight.  Here is a rundown of our trip and everything we tried and loved.

We flew in to San Francisco on a Thursday afternoon, just in time to check into our hotel and grab some dinner.  Traffic in San Francisco is a little crazy, so we wanted to stay close to our hotel for dinner.  We found the prefect little spot in Honor.  They had a large local beer selection, and we shared some of their small plates, including their mac and cheese, and of course, their Brussels.

I woke up early on Friday morning and got in a workout at the Emeryville Orangetheory to start my day.  When I got back to the hotel and got cleaned up, it was time to explore San Fran.

We started by exploring Pier 39, stopping in some of the little shops, and enjoying the perfect weather.  We walked until we hit Ghiradelli Square, where we picked up some souvenirs.  (Pro tip: They hand out TONS of free chocolate!)  In the same area, we found the cutest Mexican fusion restaurant, Pico, and we sat outside to eat, with a view of the ocean.

Next, we decided to walk around some more, which wound up being my second workout of the day.  San Francisco is HILLY!  (And that is a severe understatement.)  But the neighborhoods are beautiful, and we saw the famous Lombard Street on our walk.  After walking for a bit (with several picture-taking breaks), we decided to hop on a trolley and take it to Chinatown.  We walked around for a bit, taking in all of the culture in the area, and our walk took us straight into downtown.

We spent a short time in downtown, and decided to return later in our trip.  But first, we stopped in at the Museum of Ice Cream to get a sweet treat.  We didn’t take a tour, but the store was cute, and the ice cream was delicious.

Now it was time to get in the car and make the drive to Napa.  Like I mentioned, traffic is a little rough, so it took almost 2 hours to get from San Francisco to our hotel in Napa.  We checked in, freshened up, and immediately headed to downtown Napa to explore and eat.

Our first stop was at Napkins, in downtown Napa, for a drink and some fresh guacamole.  We used this time to check out our Yelp app to decide our next steps.  We decided to head over to the Oxbow Public Market for the rest of the evening.

Oxbow Public Market is a collective of several local restaurants, breweries, bakeries, and shops.  It was the perfect way to kick off our time in Napa.  We found a brewery that we loved, ate some incredible pizza, picked up some cupcakes, and made one more stop at that brewery before heading back to our hotel.

On Saturday, I made a visit to the Orangetheory in Vallejo for a light sweat sesh.  (This was the day before the half marathon, so I didn’t do anything too crazy.)  I got back to the hotel and got cleaned up so we could start our day.

Since this was the day before my race, we needed to drive to Sonoma to pick up my race packet and explore the expo.  After we got the goods, we decided to walk around Sonoma for a bit.  We absolutely fell in love with their downtown.  So many cute shops and boutiques, lots of wine tastings (which I did not partake in the day before my race…), and the flowers everywhere are so vibrant.  We both agreed that we could have spent so much more time in Sonoma.

We were craving a healthy lunch and found Picazo to be just perfect.  The garden entrance and funky set up house the most delicious fresh eats.  My vegetable sandwich was incredible!

After lunch, we drove to Yountville, which is home to some of the more upscale wineries, stores, and restaurants in the region.  But I was on a mission: Bouchon Bakery.  We walked around their downtown for a bit, but I got in the line for my baked goods.  The line moves pretty quick, and it’s well worth the wait.  (And the $40 I spent on bakery items.)

We drove back to our hotel to get cleaned up for a pre-race dinner and an early bedtime.  My favorite dinner on the night before a long run is Thai food.  And we lucked out by finding Mango on Main in downtown Napa.  The restaurant was beautiful, everything was fresh and delicious, and the staff was so friendly.  After this fantastic experience, it was time to put on pajamas and watch reruns of The Office in our hotel room.

On Sunday morning, Chad drove me to the start of the race and hung out in downtown Sonoma while I did a quick jog through the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma.  Seriously, this was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  The scenery was stunning, the spectators were friendly, and I PRed my half marathon time.  This race took the phrase “runners high” to the next level, and when I finished, I was ready to celebrate!

After I finished, I got my medal, my comemerative wine glass, and my celebratory glass of wine (at 9:00 in the morning…), and we went back to our hotel so I could be less disgusting for our day.

Not surprisingly, I was starving, so we stopped at Southside Café for brunch.  This was our favorite meal of our entire trip.  We found a spot on their patio, and we enjoyed some of the most delicious food.  The highlight for us was the Grilled Strawberry Toast!

With full bellies, it was time to explore the wineries.  We started at Madonna in Napa.  The sommelier was very knowledgable and accommodating.  He taught us so much and let us sample more than the tasting menu suggested.  He even let us have a private toast on their ivy-covered patio.

After Madonna, we went to the very popular Domaine Carneros winery, which specializes in sparkling wines.  Hello bubbles!  The grounds of this winery are breathtaking!  We found a table with an exceptional view, and we enjoyed the time together in their picturesque setting.

Most of the wineries are very spread out, so Uber or a private driver are your only options to get between them.  However, Cuvaison is right across the street from Carneros, so we walked right over.  The best thing about this winery is their stunning views!  The tasting room is situated on a hill, so you look out over much of the vineyards.  They also offer wine by the glass, which is very rare in Napa, but at this point was much appreciated.

After a couple of glasses of rosé, we were ready to head into downtown Napa for the remainder of our evening.  We stopped in at a couple of wineries in search of a snack, but we ultimately decided it was time for dinner instead.  We found delicious Mexican food at Gran Electrica!  After a long day, it was as time to head back to our hotel.

On Monday, we slept in and packed up to make the drive back to San Francisco.  We stopped at Sunshine Smoothie on our way out of town to grab me some much-needed green juice and a protein smoothie.

We took a different route back to SF and drove straight through the fog across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I couldn’t think of anything more perfectly San Fran.  We drove straight to our hotel to drop our bags and park our car.  My rewards points afforded us a night at the Downtown Ritz Carlton, which was such a fun experience for the couple that prefers to stay at the most convenient Bonvoy property.  (The hotel had more surprises in store for us, but more to come on that.)

After checking in, we set out on foot to explore downtown San Francisco.  We could not get over the perfect weather and wanted to soak up as much as possible.  Lunch was at Tacolicious, which has been on my list for a long time.  And rightfully so!  The sweetest servers and tastiest tacos!

The afternoon was sweet with shopping, hand holding, and exploring.  We found our way back to the piers, and we found a spot on the patio at Marketbar.  From there, you can watch the water on one side, and watch the world walk by on the other.  It was so enjoyable that we decided to stay there for dinner.  (They had arancini on their menu, so that sealed the deal.)  After dinner, we explored the nearby public market, picked up some final souvenirs (including a loaf of fresh sourdough), and then we went back to our hotel.

When we got back to our room, the team at the Ritz had left an anniversary celebration surprise for us: rose petals on the bed, chocolate-covered strawberries, music, champagne, and a handwritten note.  It was such a perfect ending to our anniversary trip!

On Tuesday morning, I walked to the Financial District to get in one last Orangetheory vacation workout.  After my workout, it was time to pack up and get to the airport and get home to our baby.

We had such a wonderful time on our trip and have been talking about all of the things we want to do next time we visit.  Because there will definitely be a next time!

If you’ve been to any of these places, let me know your suggestions in the comments so we can add them to our list!

 

XOXO,

Molly B.

 

 

 

 

10-Minute Meal: Noodles with Spicy Almond Butter Sauce

This is a very easy, healthy dinner that can easily be made with meat, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, paleo, low carb, the works!  Get creative and let me know what you think!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp cooking oil (I use coconut oil.)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tbsp)
  • 1 bag fresh mixed vegetables (Use whatever you like.  I use a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (Any nut butter will work!)
  • 1-2 tsp Sriracha (Depending on how spicy you want your sauce.)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 package of noodles of choice (For a low carb or paleo option, use Shirataki noodles.)

 

Instructions:

  • Heat the cooking oil in a wok or large saucepan on medium heat.  Add the garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.
  • Add the vegetables, and cook to desired consistency.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, prepare your noodles according to the package directions.
  • Once noodles are finished, add to the vegetables.
  • Add the almond butter, Sriracha, ginger, and soy sauce/coconut aminos.
  • Stir everything together to coat and warm thoroughly.
  • Serve and enjoy!

 

XOXO,

Molly B.