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We are already 18 days into the new year, so it's perfectly acceptable to still be thinking about goals for the year right?? Well I've been thinking and here is what I've come up with regarding my thoughts on 2017. I'm not making any official resolutions. I'm not going to come up with a "word" for the year. I'm barely wanting to make any official goals. All of those things are great things to do, but I'm just not into that this year. Last year was incredibly challenging and full of so much change. Change is good, but quite honestly I'm exhausted from so much of it. However, I know that change is always good. I learned a lot of new things about life and about myself. And in ways, I feel like I became a somewhat of a different person - a better one. I'm more relaxed in many ways, I'm more willing to just go with the flow, and am really coming to a place where I'm secure with my imperfections and comfortable with who I am. So this year, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to make any one specific CHANGE or word happen. Of course I want to do things like maintain my health, continue to grow as a person, learn new things, etc. But those are goals that I have every single day.

But I wouldn't be human if I didn't have a list of things that I wanted to accomplish outside of my everyday goals. So this year decided to come up with a simple list of "intentions" - kind of like a to-do list of sorts. They are simply things that I intend to do this year. They are simple and might not seem super exciting, but that's ok. If they happen - fabulous. If they don't happen, well that's fabulous, too. No pressure - because I think it's the pressure that we put on ourselves that can sometimes keep things from happening. Here goes...

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1. Update this blog. - It's very long overdue, I know. My life has changed a lot since I first started this blog and even since the last re-design, so I'm really thinking about the future direction of this blog and how the new design will reflect that. That's honestly been the holdup...  One thing I know for sure is that no matter what, the new design will have a peaceful, clean aesthetic, and will be easy to navigate. That's what I love and what I think most of you appreciate, too. Any feedback on what types of content you would like to see more of here would be a big help in the process, so let me know!

2. Start doing yoga consistently - at home. Pilates and long walks are my favorite workouts, but it's always good to mix things up. One thing that I've learned about myself is that attending a 1 hr workout class for anything here in the city can take about 2 or more hours of time to do when you include getting ready, traffic, parking, etc... That is enough time to talk myself out of going to do something new. Yoga is something I've started doing at home, usually at night before bed, and I want to get more intentional and consistent with it this year. I'm liking this YouTube channel, but let me know if you have any favorites!

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3. Update my kitchen. If there was a bed in my kitchen, I might sleep in there a few nights a week. That's just how much time I spend in there. Since I'm quite acquainted with my kitchen - and will be a lot going forward - then I want some nice non-builder grade stuff ya know? No oak cabinets, no boring backsplash, no faux granite countertops, no poor lighting, no poor storage, etc. I just got an AMAZING dishwasher, so just that alone has me excited to update everything else. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then this is probably the 3rd time you've heard me mention a kitchen update (remember this post??). Sorry! Life keeps getting in the freaking way, but fingers crossed that it will happen this year.

4. Continue to make my spiritual practice a priority. I have/had health issues, and can get anxious, easily overwhelmed, impatient, and easily irritated by others. I'm far from perfect. Just being real... The only thing that has provided consistent relief of those things is having a daily spiritual practice. I learned that last year thanks to all of the changes... :) I've always been spiritual, (i.e. church, praying, and random reads of the Bible), but never spent time with God on a daily basis until last year. But now I meditate every morning, listen to spiritual podcasts in the car every day (Joyce Meyer's podcast is my fave) and do my own bible study every night (including weekends!!). All of those things have worked wonders in terms of calming me down, and shutting my mind off with things get crazy - which in turn has made me a happier, healthier person, and has reduced my anxiety. I for sure plan to stay on top of that this year!

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5. Increase my 401(k) contribution by 1%. One of the best things I've learned from my parents is to save. And then save some more. So I do. It's really hard sometimes, but it must be done. Saving in general for emergencies is important, but saving for retirement is even more important- especially these days. I'm seeing firsthand with some of my older family members how expensive things like healthcare becomes with age. It's quite alarming and I don't foresee things getting easier or cheaper. Even though I'm a long way from that, I want to stay on top of things. So I have actually already increased my 401(k) contribution by 1% - and plan to keep doing that each January for the next few years in addition to contributing to my Roth IRA. One percent doesn't seem like a lot, but in the grand scheme of things it will make a huge difference.

6. Find a new charity to support. Since I don't always have the time to volunteer, I try to make it a point to contribute financially to an organization on a consistent basis. Each January, I research a new charity to support during the year. I keep a list of causes that are important to me. I pick a cause from the list, research different charities that support that cause (I use Charity Navigator), then pick one or two to donate to each month during the year. If I ever have kids, this will be something we do together as my way of teaching them how to give back. Last year, I chose St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which will honestly keep getting my support. The work they do is incredible...

Pictured: Coat: Banana Republic (old), similar versions on sale here | Sweater: Banana Republic (old), similar here and here | Jeans: Banana Republic | Booties: Zara (old), just got these, though and LOVE them! | Clutch: Clare V. | Lips: Nars "Fire Down Below"

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Effective Winter Beauty Products | Savor Home
Well, the cold weather is definitely here! Did any of you get snow this weekend? We got a little snow, but enough ice to warrant a cozy day inside, so I was happy with that! Anyway, my skin has taken certainly taken notice of this colder and dryer air. If I had to think of two words that describe my body and skin this winter, those words would be CHANGE and DRY. I'm getting older and my body is changing, which means I'm taking more time to hone in on what my body needs to maintain and be fresh. I've also noticed that my skin requires a lot more moisture these days. So this winter I have had to beef up my beauty routine to address and accommodate the changes. Here are few things that are really working for me this winter... 

Effective Winter Beauty Products | Savor Home
Sunday Riley JUNO Face Oil, also here

This face oil is probably the most effective beauty product that I've ever purchased. That is huge statement I know, but it is so true. Once the weather was consistently cooler and dryer, I started to notice that my nighttime moisturizer just wasn't cutting it. I felt like my face was dry again a few minutes after application. It would also be super dry in the mornings. I took that as a sign that my face needed more. I'd heard so many good things about face oils, but shied away from them because the thought of putting any type of oil on my face just kinda scared me. But I did some research and decided to try this oil by Sunday Riley. I read tons of good reviews on it and was comfortable about the all-natural ingredients, so I felt good about purchasing it. The first night I used it, I massaged 4-5 drops of it on my face before applying my moisturizer. It absorbed quickly, so my face didn't feel oily at all - it just felt fresh and moisturized. I woke up the next day with the SOFTEST skin! It wasn't dry either! It just felt so good and it was cool to see benefits after just one use. I haven't experienced any breakouts either. For now I am only using the oil at night, when my face tends to be dryer. Yes, the oil is pricey, but a little goes a really long way, so this bottle should last quite some time. I'm also making an investment in my skin. Thinking of it that way helps justify the cost, too.

Effective Winter Beauty Products | Savor Home

Actually Organic Pure Argan Oil , c/o (also here)

Argan oil is not new to me, but using it is. I have always heard that it works really well on dry skin, hair and nails - all of which I had once the weather was cooler. Luckily, the sweet people at Actually Organic sent me a bottle of their oil to try out. I am SO glad they did!! I had a small eczema flair on my hand that had been lingering for a while. I started putting a little dab of this oil on the area at night - and within about a week, it had completely cleared up. The skin on that area of my hand was noticeably softer, too. Even though my battles with eczema are thankfully small these days, it's always amazing to find an all-natural product that helps- and helps quickly! I've also been using it to condition my fingernails and toenails, which had become quite dry as well. It takes a little time for the oil to absorb, so I apply it mostly at night when I'm done with my day. It's worked like a charm...

Effective Winter Beauty Products | Savor Home

Whole Foods Essential Oil Diffuser (similar here and here), Young Living Peppermint Oil, NOW Lavender Oil

Good sleep equals beauty and these next products have helped tons with achieving relaxation and good sleep. Many people, including my naturopath, have told me about the benefits of using essential oils. I've always believed them, but never used them - up until about two months ago. And now I'm hooked. I was in Whole Foods a few months ago when I saw one of their diffusers. I honestly just loved the way it looked. It was ceramic and looked like more like an accessory as opposed to a diffuser. Most diffusers I'd seen just looked plastic-y and kind of cheap looking, so I just wasn't inspired. But the diffuser in Whole Foods ($50) got my attention. So I bought it along with a decently priced, but good-quality bottle of lavender oil. I already had a bottle of peppermint oil that a friend gave to me that I had never used. So I put it on my bedroom nightstand, loaded it up with a mix of lavender (2 drops) and peppermint oil (3 drops), and my sleep hasn't been the same since. The mix of those oils for me makes me so relaxed - and sleepy!! I typically just turn it on at night when I start my bedtime routine. Once I turn out the lights for bed, I set it to automatically turn off in an hour. I'm usually fast asleep in 10 minutes tops. The scent - and honestly the light sound of the diffuser - gets me more relaxed and in turn I feel like my sleep is deeper and more quality. So I get the hype now. Diffusers and essential oils are obviously effective and worth it. I'll never be without them again - especially if they help me sleep better! I look forward to learning more about them and how they help other issues...

Effective Winter Beauty Products | Savor Home

Aura Cacia Vanilla Oil

Speaking of oils, I started using a new oil to alleviate some of the dryness of the skin on my body. I've always moisturized with coconut oil mixed with a small amount of natural body lotion. But on some days, especially really cold days, I felt like a needed a little more moisture. So I scoped out the essential oil section of Whole Foods and ran across this vanilla oil and it is AMAZING. It's pure vanilla oil mixed with jojoba oil, which means it smells fabulous and is really moisturizing. After my showers on really cold days, I mix about a tablespoon and a half of coconut oil with one drop of this oil (just one!), and it does the trick! And I don't have to apply my perfume oil since the delicious smell of the vanilla oil pretty much covers that. It's good stuff...

Effective Winter Beauty Products | Savor Home

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Toothpaste, Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Electric Toothbrush

These last few products aren't so much "winter" beauty products, but effective new-to-me products that I just need to tell you about... So I've always been obsessive about brushing my teeth and flossing, but since I've gotten older and have been diagnosed with my autoimmune disease, dental health has become even more important. Changing my toothpaste has been on my agenda since my diagnosis. Most regular toothpastes contain fluoride. Fluoride is known to hinder the operations of the thyroid and it can disrupt hormones. Ugh... So I recently switched Dr. Bronner's Peppermint toothpaste and I really like it! It honestly took some getting used to at first. While it doesn't produce a nice sud-sy lather in your mouth as you brush, my teeth feel much, much cleaner after I use it as opposed to a regular toothpaste. I'll take that...

I've also noticed that I produce more plaque as I get older - regardless of the fact that I brush and floss twice a day. To address that issue, my dentist suggested I use an electric toothbrush. Oh my gosh! Where has this thing been all my life??!! This toothbrush has five different modes that specifically address things like deep cleaning, gums, plaque, and whitening. It has a timer on it that reminds you when to brush the sides, fronts, and backs of the teeth (sort of like the Clarisonic does for your face). I thought I was thorough when I used a regular toothbrush, but this thing quickly reminded me that I was not. Each cleaning is only 2-3 minutes and I can tell you that it gets the job done in just that short period of time. Totally worth it!

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Maple-Dijon Roasted Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner  - via Savor Home
So during my little break I took after Thanksgiving, I pretty much lived in my kitchen. I haven't shared many food related things here lately, so it may not seem like it, but I have. My kitchen and I are quite tight these days. Having a really limited diet for a period of time can really make you get to know food I guess... I'm staring to seriously develop my own recipes and get really, really acquainted with food - which is fun for me, but very time consuming! I'm hoping to be able to share more with you this year. BTW, if you are new here, I have the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's Thyroidis, which I've kept under control through the Autoimmune Protocol Diet (which is stricter than Whole 30 if you can imagine!!) and lifestyle changes. You can read more about my journey here, here, and here... 

Anyway, I'm slowly starting to add foods and certain ingredients back into my diet (so excited!!), but the base of my diet is still somewhat the same for now. The good thing is that I've been able to find and make a ton of good recipes that anyone would like, irrespective of their diet. This sheet pan dinner is the perfect example. Quick and easy healthy recipes, dinner recipes especially, are like gold these days and this one is DELISH! The chicken is incredibly flavorful and not dry at all - as most chicken breasts tend to be. The vegetables cook to perfection and are full of flavor as well. I actually made this, chopped up the chicken and put the chicken and vegetables over salad greens to make the perfect salad. So not only is the recipe really good and quick, it's versatile! The leftovers are also quite tasty... :)

Maple-Dijon Roasted Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner  - via Savor Home
Maple-Dijon Roasted Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner  - via Savor Home

Here is what you need and what to do:

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Gluten Free, Dairy Free
Prep Time: 20 minutes, Cook Time: 40 minutes
Serves 2


2 tsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsp good Dijon mustard
2 tsp pure maple syrup
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (organic if possible - they are more flavorful and juicy!)
2 cups butternut squash, about 1in cubed
1 medium red onion or 2 medium shallots, peeled & quartered
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper

1. Place a large, rimmed sheet pan in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine the sage, mustard, and syrup in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Once the oven comes up to temperature, carefully remove the sheet pan. Add the chicken to the pan (you should hear a good sizzle!) and evenly brush the chicken with the maple-mustard mixture. Place the chicken in the oven and bake it for 20 minutes.

3. While the chicken is cooking, add the squash, onion, and Brussels sprouts to a bowl. Season the vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to make sure the vegetable are evenly coated.

4. After the chicken has baked for 20 minutes, carefully drain the excess juices (from the chicken) from the sheet pan. The vegetables will brown and crisp up better if drain the juices. Distribute the vegetable evenly in the pan. Also, season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Quick Tip: If you like a more crispy Brussels sprout, then be sure to place each Brussels sprout flat side down on the sheet pan before returning it to the oven. Doing this will create a good crispy crust!

5. Bake for an additional 20 minutes at 425 degrees or until the chicken is done and browned on top. Remove the breasts from the bones before serving.

Enjoy and maybe make something like this for dessert!.

Images by me
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{These stools made their way around my home during the holidays... Love them! c/o Serena & Lily}

Hi there! Happy New Year!! I swear I'm still here. I promise. I left off here after Thanksgiving telling you that I wasn't feeling well. Well once I felt better, I made the decision to just REALLY enjoy the holidays. By "really enjoy" I mean not get all wrapped up in gift guides and spending the little free time I had on my phone or computer putting blog posts together. I really soaked in my time with my friends and family - so much so that I didn't really even take that many photos during my time off. I really checked out. And you know what?? It was so worth it. I was feeling good before Thanksgiving and now I feel even better than I felt before Thanksgiving. I'm so thankful...

Here are a few photos I took during the holidays. And keep scrolling because there are also some links at the bottom of the post! I promise you there is more coming your way on the blog in the next few days - starting with a delicious, SUPER easy and healthy dinner that I'll show and tell you about later this week. I'll also be mapping out my goals for the year, which I'm honestly still working on. Last year was tough, so this year I'm certainly putting more thought and effort into what I want to accomplish... 

Anyway, if you are still here with me, thanks so much!! I really appreciate you hanging around and bearing with me!

{If you like to be challenged and currently need something that will get your mind off of everything, then put a puzzle together. I put this puzzle together during Christmas and it was fun! I think this company makes the cutest puzzles I must say...}

{My first read of 2017 is "The Alchemist." Why it's taken me so long to read this international best-seller is beyond me! It's the first book I've read this year and I can say with certainty that it is one of the best books I've ever read. EVER. If you need a some inspiration, direction, and just some good, simple explanations as to why life is what it is, then read this book. }

{I finally have a consistent amount of energy, so I got back in the Pilates studio over the break for the first time in 4 months. I'm still sore and my workout was several days ago. Eek... But it feels so good! Now if I can just keep it up...}

A few links...

My favorite holiday home tour... Such a beauty!!

If you love food and like to physically see the accomplishment of one's dreams, then watch this documentary on Netflix... So good!

I watched this movie over the holidays and I can see why it received so many accolades. It's good, too...

Why I love Ina (the Barefoot Contessa) and Jeffrey - their relationship specifically...

I got this for Christmas. If you love photography, it's a total game changer and totally worth it. 

I also got these as additional motivation for me to hit the studio more this year. So comfy!!

This stuff has literally been magic in a bottle for me during these winter days. I'll explain more in an upcoming post!
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