Cupcakes and Sunshine: August 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oprah's The Life You Want Tour (GIVEAWAY!)

You guys! I have such a big giveaway that I am SO excited about today! I was recently contacted about giving away a pair of tickets to Oprah's The Life You Want Tour in Atlanta September 5th-6th. (Yes! Oprah!!) And of course, I said yes! I remember getting off the bus and running home to watch Oprah at 4 O'clock each day when I was younger. I felt so inspired by her love of life and willingness to help others. Her infectious love and generosity has left such a mark on the world and her story and positive attitude has encouraged so many.

And now, she is coming to Atlanta! At the Philip's Arena on Friday the 5th, Oprah will be telling her life story, how she finds empowerment where others find failure, and why she feels it is important to live her "best possible life" in everything she does. At the tour, you will get to experience an intimate evening with the woman the world fell in love with during 25 years of the “Oprah” show and who founded OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network!! (I'm trying not to use so many exclamation marks, but it's real hard y'all!)

On Saturday, Oprah has hand-picked some amazing speakers that will be talking about their lives and living it to the fullest. I'm most excited about hearing Elizabeth Gearing, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, speak since I fell in LOVE with the book and movie. Other speakers include Deepak Chopra, Rob Bell and Iyanla Vanzant. Also on Saturday, paralympian and “Dancing With the Stars” finalist Amy Purdy will take the stage to acknowledge one of Georgia’s most amazing women with the Toyota Standing O-Vation.

This event is going to be absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to give these tickets away! Simply enter the rafflecopter below and a randomly selected winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 2nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

                                                         Good luck! And happy, happy Friday!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

5 Ways to Get Up and Going in the Morning

Happy Thursday friends! It is now the time of year where everyone is getting back into the swing of things. The scheduling of the to-do's is back in action, you have to remember what day of the week it is again, and...the alarm clock now goes off a bit (maybe a BIG bit) earlier than it was over those nice, relaxing summer days.

I've compiled a list of a few things that get me up and going and off to a good start during this season of scheduling and to-do's:

1. Start with a good breakfast: I know, I know. It's in all the books. It's in all the magazines. It's all over the Today Show. But I really don't think this can't be iterated enough! If I don't start my morning off with a healthy breakfast, I am a grouchy grouch all day! I love starting each day with a Luna Bar and an Honest Green Tea. (I'm OBSESSED with Honest Honey Green Tea, y'all) Since I wake up around 6 AM each morning, I'm not exactly starving. So this mini breakfast is perfect for me!

2. Quiet time: I can't start my day off without quiet time with the Lord each morning. I used to struggle so much with finding time to spend with God. And I felt so disorganized and all over the place when I tried to focus. I read this "Organization in my Spiritual Life" blogpost by Nancy Ray and it helped SO much! I'll read the Bible, journal, start a new book. I feel it is so important for me to relax each morning and to become closer to God each and everyday through quiet time.

3. Make your Bed: I've learned in my 20 years (almost 21 years) of life that disorganization is not my friend. It makes me frazzled. It is confusing. It overwhelms me. And I have found that making my bed is the quickest way to organize my room each morning. If your bed is made, your space seems 100times less cluttered automatically. I'm pretty sure this has to be a proven fact in Real Simple Magazine or somewhere because THIS LITTLE TIP KEEPS ME SANE. 

4. Quick Work Out: True story- I sleep with my gym clothes on. Each night, I wear what I am going to wear to the gym the next morning TO BED. This way, all I have to do each morning is tie on my tennies, jump in the car, and walk right into the gym doors. It is SUCH a motivator. I really have no excuses not to work out if I am already ready to go! and once I get to the gym, my endorphins go crazy and my day is amazing. it's one of my favorite ways to get up and go!

5. Write in your Agenda: I know I've said it probably a million times...but I love my Erin Condren planner. If I don't write down what needs to be done each day, then those thoughts just swirl in my head for hours and then I hop on the disorganized-train-to-I'mSoFrazzledville and then the art of self control and cool, calm, and collectiveness are out the window. Write it, label it, calendar it, and then don't forget to cross things off your list! Because that's the best feeling ever.

What are some of your tips for getting up and going?

Hope your Thursday is fabulous, friends!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mixed Thoughts on Hot Yoga with a Side of Cookies

You know that hot, steamy, miserable feeling as soon as you hop into your car on a summery Georgia day? The heat is somewhat choking as a blanket of warm air permeates around you. Cue the windows down, AC to the max, and whatever you not lean back against your car seat or else you will end up with a sticky, sweaty back. (don't deny it. you know it happens)

Photos from Bikram Yoga Athens

Well, hot yoga just so happens to be just like that car experience. Hot...warm...and you really REALLY feel like escaping the entire time. I tried my first hot yoga class yesterday with my good friend- Ellie- that I met my freshman year at Georgia.

And I'm not going to was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life!

The first ten minutes was full of breathing and stretching and literal "warming up." I had NEVER sweat so much so fast. And only ten minutes had passed in that 110 degree room! I still had 80 MORE minutes to go!

I had heard to drink lots and lots of water on hot yoga days. So I prepared myself throughout the day by sipping iced water with every meal before the class began. I also brought lots and lots of water with me.

Pictures from Bikram Yoga Facebook Page

Upon arriving, since it was our first class, we were told to "take it easy" and to just rest if we needed to throughout the 26 different yoga poses. We were also told that if we felt like leaving, that just resting and staying in the 110 degree room would better our bodies and be good for us.

Here is where the mixed feelings part comes in: I HATED IT AND I LOVED IT. Throughout the class, I really thought I was going to die. I really did.

 While all the yogis and pros were doing poses the entire 90 minutes, I laid on my back on the floor praying that I could just make it through the class. (this is an actual yoga pose called "savasana." I took FULL advantage of that pose throughout the class.) It was HOT y'all. REAL HOT. The instructor kept saying, "You are going to feel fantastic after this class and want to keep coming back for more afterwards!" I thought she was crazy. For real y'all. In the moment, I felt like there was NO way I'd EVER go back to another hot yoga class.

But THEN I stepped out of that class after it was over...and felt SO great. I had SO much energy. I felt SO present. My mind was SO clear. I couldn't believe it. I got so much done after that hot yoga class because my mind was so clear and I really did feel like a flexible yoga noodle too! I felt relaxed and calm and energetic. It was great.

Although I might not do it again, it was a good first-time experience and I loved trying out the class. The studio was amazing! And so were all of the encouraging and knowledgeable employees. It was an experience, that's for sure!

And of course...I promised you a side of cookies in the blog title, didn't I?! I had to make cookies after class Sunday afternoon. Sally's Cake Batter Chocolate Chip cookies are my FAVORITE in the world.

And I made lots and lots of them for a CRU leadership cookout Sunday afternoon. These are my favorite, favorite cookies EVER. And you should bake some up ASAP. I promise you...they will make your week!

I hope your Monday has been fantastic! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Kickboxing Class!

As you know, we just planted our first garden a few days ago and tonight, we took our first KICKBOXING class. It's been a great week of firsts.

I loved it!

At first I was a bit nervous. I mean...kickboxing is a rough sort of sport, ya know? But since it is free class week at our gym, I decided to give it go! Plus all of my roommates were the positive peer pressure played into it a bit too.

It was a GREAT workout. I really had not sweat so much since competitive cheer in highschool. And the best part was, you didn't even FEEL like it was a workout! It was just fun. The cool hiphop/dubstep music, the red gloves that made you feel like a total rockstar, and wonderful roommates laughing with you the whole time.

Now we're watching So You Think You can Dance and then catching up on Big Brother episodes. I hope your humpday has been awesome!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our first Garden!

Happy Wednesday friends!

My sweet Grandma Anne and Great Aunt Sandra came in a few days ago to assist me in moving some furniture, setting up a new desk area from Ikea and to meet my roommates. (we have officially nominated Grandma Anne as our house grandmother). And we have been completely spoiled by her house-grandma duties!

Not only did she bring us cookies, take us out to lunch at Zoe's Kitchen, and install and move my furniture, but she helped us plant our first garden! Due to the fact that most of us have black thumbs, this is a big deal y'all. And "water flowers" has been added to our daily chore rotation so we can't neglect them. Also, we now have a basil plant for all of our future Italian-cooking pasta parties.

Speaking of Italian, this past weekend we had our first roommate house dinner of the new year...

(Mary Cate's aunt brought us spaghetti and meatballs! hooray!)

and of course, Brinkley had to be included in our pictures too.

Love these girls and LOVING this year. Hope you have a happy humpday!

PS. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you happen to go to Mellow Mushroom today, all cheese pizzas are $2.50 and Cokes are $.30 cents. Yes, you are welcome.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Exploring Athens, Georgia

Hello, hello! Happy Wednesday! During the summer I really have no idea what day of the week it is. (i just had to check my calendar to see that it is in fact wednesday) I think I woke up thinking today was Thursday. And then I thought that yesterday was Saturday a bit later on in the day. I have 5 more days until classes start back and until then, I'm taking full advantage of not knowing what the day is, ya know?

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day in Athens, so I took full advantage of that too. I have heard so much about Avid Bookshop, a local bookstore, and we stopped in to have a look around.

Flipping through unique finds, laughing over funny reads, the sweet smell of new crisp pages...I could have stayed there all day.

I love their hand-picked staff favorites and recommendations that are scattered throughout the shelves...

and I was really just wanting to sit in their children's reading nook for hours.

So sweet!

Afterwards, we popped next door to the Athen's Daily Co-op- a specialty foods store with a preponderance of organic goods and prepared meals.

We made it out with a couple of freshly baked baguettes.

It was a fun day of exploring in Athens, Georgia. I recommend these two local spots if you are visiting the city!

I hope you Wednesday is full of sunshine, friends!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Letters

Dear school year, this is the first year I've ever been excited about starting you. I'm excited about the new classes you will introduce me to, adventures that will take place, people that I meet, and opportunities that you will hold.

Dear homemade macaroons, I wish I still had some more of you to snack on. Your dainty ways have my heart.

Dear Target, usually you are my favorite... but with all the hustle and bustle this time of year, you are a hot mess. I know, I know. We'll get back to our previous relations in a few weeks. Until then, I'm staying far from you.

My Dear Erin Condren planner, I still love you to pieces. And don't know how I'd start my year off without you. It's nice having you around. I'd be lost without you.

Dear new neighbors, get ready to be showered with cookies. I've needed an excuse to make these, these, these, and these. And guess what? You are the lucky recipients!

Dear roommates, I love y'all to pieces. Thanks for your encouraging words, hugs, and prayers. It's so nice to wake up in a house full of love each day.

Dear Mama's Boy Athens, Ike and Jane, and Big City Bread, we're back and hungry for you and your delicious fares. I think I will be consulting my roommates soon about a breakfast date. What time works best for you?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Do as the French Do...

This past week I started a fabulous read called French Woman Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. As of recently, I have been obsessed with all things French related. I even purchased two French journals embellished with Eiffel Tower images and French quotes. Maybe it is the lazy days of summer that have given me the time to start dreaming of travel adventures... or the fact that I love these lazy days so much that I am feeling the need to visit a country where rushing and busyness are looked down upon. Either way, I am wanderlusting for a trip to France ASAP.

In this book, Guiliano describes her life growing up in France, memories she shared with her family, and of course...French food. Although not really a "diet" book, French Woman Don't Get Fat does detail that taking the time to stop and smell the roses really could lead to a more pleasure-filled life, and therefore decrease the need for you to overeat. Guiliano has great tips for eating for pleasure including taking the time to prepare delicious homemade meals, skipping past the fast food restaurants, eating whole foods (aka nothing from a box or artificial!), drinking more water, and walking more.

Feeling inspired by the French lifestyle and also seeking a sweet dessert, I decided to do as the French do...and whip up some macaroons. I am currently visiting my grandmother's house and when she asked me what dessert we should bake up, I quickly replied with macaroons. The wanderlust for France is real strong, y'all.

I used THIS easy recipe that I found on Pinterest. But I made all kinds of fillings and used whatever was in my grandmother's pantry to do so.

I made vanilla buttercream macaroons...

Chocolate buttercream macaroons...

 and strawberry and orange marmalade macaroons...

They are THE daintiest, lightest, most incredible delights you will ever taste!

Please take a moment and whip these up. You won't be sorry! Especially since you are doing as the French do. and the French don't get fat. :)

I hope you are having a wonderful Thursday!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tips for Selling More at Plato's Closet

Alright y''s almost that time of year again. Time to start packing up your summer shorts and to be getting ready for cooler fall weather coming this way. (A cool breeze blew today and I started craving a pumpkin spice latte. too early? eh...maybe) This also means it is time to start shopping for a new fall wardrobe to cover up those somber feelings that the summer is almost over! (Shopping therapy. It's real. It works.)

Problem is: no extra spending money for new clothes.

I, in fact, happen to be an expert on not having much spending money for new clothes.  But today I would like to share with you a few quick tips for making quick cash at Plato's Closet so that you can go ahead and buy that new sweater. (or get a manicure. or a latte. or an ice-cream cone with sprinkles. ice-cream cones with sprinkles go hand-in-hand with extra spending money.)

For those who do not know much about Plato's Closet, it is a shop that buys and sells gently used clothing. You simply bring in the clothes you no longer need and if Plato's Closet likes what they see, they'll buy 'em from you! QUICK CASH! Just like that. (I can already taste that sweet sprinkled scoop of Ben & Jerry's right now.)

I've heard the..."UGH! I cleaned out my entire closet and Plato's only bought a pair of shorts from me!" and the "WHAT! I brought in 32 items and not a single one of them was purchased!" from a few of my good friends. But I have a few tricks up my sleeve that work like a charm for selling more items. Which guessed it...more sprinkled ice-cream cones. (OH YEAH! And more new sweaters too!)

1. Wash and Fold Your Clothes. Seems easy-peazy right? But sometimes when you are going through your closet trying to quickly find clothing items to toss into your "Sell at Plato's" pile, it becomes just that...a pile. And the workers at Plato's see piles after piles of clothing each day.

Clean your clothes, fold them nicely, and the workers will pay more attention to the items you bring in to sell.

2. Place Your Clothes in a Pretty Bag. In the beginning of my Plato's runs, I would place my clothes that I was selling in a regular ol' plastic Walmart bag. This is a no-no. The first impression the workers receive of your clothing (that you are wanting to seem stylish and nice enough for others to buy 2nd time around) is Hi-I'm-frumpy and Hey-I-just-tossed-this-in-here-for-convenience.

The workers have your quick cash in their hands! The decision to buy your clothes is up to them! Make sorting through your clothes a little more fresh and exciting to them by placing your clothes in a nice cloth bag, a cute over-the-shoulder beach bag, or a light tote. First impressions are always important. Put your clothes to sell in a pretty bag.

3. Don't Sell on Saturdays. You walk into the store...and the line to sell your clothes is a mile long. There is no way that your bag of clothes to sell is going to get as much attention as it would on a day when you are the only clothes seller. It is best to avoid the weekends.

On Saturdays, the lines are busy. Everyone wants to sell clothes on Saturdays it seems. I have been most successful selling my clothing items early morning (right when the store opens is best! First seller of the day means they haven't even come close to their purchase quota) on weekdays. Selling on Tuesday mornings means you can avoid the Saturday shopping crowd and make more quick cash than you normally would.

4. Dress Nice When You Drop Off the Clothes. Okay...I know this sounds a bit superficial. I mean, shouldn't the workers treat all bags of clothes that they are sorting through equally? Yes, but we are only human and remember...first impressions matter. If you walk into the store in your old t-shirt and a pair of shorts that you have been sporting for the past two days because you had to finish up your Netflix marathon of all-of-the-shows, then how can you expect the clothing buyers to think that the clothes that they are about to sort through are stylish and ready to be re-sold?

Put on a cute top and a trendy maxi skirt. If you look like a rockstar when you walk in, they'll think that the bag of clothes you are coming in to sell is gold.

5. If all else fails, Try A Different Plato's. We like to call this...Plato's hopping. So the first Plato's you visited didn't buy nada.

but I brought in all the trendy clothes I had!

Yes, yes. This happens. Sometimes Plato's are saturated in jeans, tops, and dresses for the season. This is where you get everyone together and have a Plato's hopping day. Visit new cities, new parts of town, grab lunch, and drop off your clothes at multiple Plato's throughout the day. Make a day out of it, make memories with friends, make cash. It's a good time y'all.

Selling at Plato's is one of the easiest ways to make quick cash for little things here and there. It also means that you get to purge your closet of items that you no longer need or wear. Plato's is pretty much a win-win-win. They get money from re-selling your clothes, you get money from selling your clothes to them, your closet becomes less crowded and more organized, and HEY! You might even make enough to get that sprinkled ice-cream cone at Ben and Jerry's.

Let me know if you try out these tips the next time you're at Plato's! Happy, happy Tuesday, friends!


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