Reflecting on the #TakeOutTakeout Challenge: Week 1

January 11, 2017

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Well guys, it’s been one week on the #TakeOutTakeout challenge. (in case you missed my post, check it out here!) To say it would be hard is an understatement. As someone who goes out to eat a lot, not doing this for a whole week has been difficult yet so rewarding. I’m spending more time in our new kitchen, getting used to sticking to a meal plan, and most importantly: saving money.

1. I’ve wanted to buy food every. single. day. Seriously. I get cravings for things all the time. Got a text from Jersey Mike’s saying that it’s Double Points Day? I start craving a sub. See that Wendy’s has been doing some serious trolling on Twitter? Dying for a spicy chicken sandwich. The worst part? This Saturday (1/14) one of my favorite places opens in Charlotte, Potbelly. I have been waiting on a sandwich from them for a year. Guess I’ll be waiting another week. *sobs*

 

2. I cheated. I’ll just put it out there. Only once, but I did. On Monday, it was 12 degrees and my body was dying for a Starbucks hot chocolate. Fortunately I had acquired a reward for a free drink on my account last week so I used it. Technically I didn’t spend any money, but I did cheat. I don’t regret it. *shrug*

3. I really need to find breakfast foods I like. I’ve had a bagel with strawberry cream cheese at least four mornings. It’s fine, but it doesn’t necessarily fill me up nor is it the healthiest option out there. For someone who is very picky about breakfast foods (I don’t like eggs) this is really hard, y’all.

 

4. Dinners have been easier to cope with. I honestly haven’t minded cooking dinner every night. It’s nice to not have to leave the house after I get home from work. On the other hand, doing dishes SUCKS and I hate it. Thankfully Nick has helped me with them but really. I hate doing dishes.

5. Grocery store trips have been more frequent. On Sunday I made a trip to Trader Joe’s and Publix to get the week’s groceries and spent $64.91 and $50.13 respectively. I got all of my produce, canned goods, and a few other things at TJ’s while I saved Publix for my meats and a couple of random things they didn’t have at TJ’s. Also fresh chocolate chip cookies because whatever.

All in all, I’m really proud of us for getting through the first week. After the first couple of days, I wasn’t sure we could do it. I kept trying to make excuses about how I could cheat or work around the system. Even though it’s been really tough, I know that it will be worth it in the end. Just another week to go! Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter for daily updates using the hashtag #TakeOutTakeout.

Have you ever tried a challenge like this? What are your eating habits like?

Spring 2017 TV Preview

January 9, 2017

The Spring TV cycle seems to be stacked with loads of big name celebrities making their first forays into the small screen. Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore and Jude Law all star in shows coming in the next couple of months. At a time when TV seems to be outperforming movies in terms of popularity, this crop of shows seems to be no different. I predict quite a few successes among this group!

spring-2017-tv-preview

The shows listed below are only a selection of the new shows premiering this spring. I’ve only picked what interests me most! They are sorted by network, in no particular order. Let’s get on with it!

NBC 

Emerald City (premiered Jan. 6)

 

Who’s in it? Vincent D’Onofrio (he looks like Mark Ruffalo?) and Adria Arjona (True Detective)

What’s it about? As one might assume, it is Oz-related! It’s a re-imagining of The Land of Oz book series. I’m a big fan of “Once Upon a Time” so I’m open to a new fantasy series.

Initial impression: I meant to catch this when it premiered last week, but didn’t end up watching it. My Twitter feed was lighting up with folks tweeting about it, so I definitely want to give it a try. I just really hope it doesn’t turn into one of those “villian of the week” serials.

Powerless (premieres Feb. 2)


Who’s in it? Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk (YES) and Danny Pudi (Community)

What’s it about? A workplace comedy that focuses on an insurance agency that has to cover damages caused by superheroes.

Initial impression: This show…. it’s definitely one of my top contenders for this new batch of shows. Great cast, interesting premise. DC and NBC, don’t mess it up!

Trial & Error (premieres March 7)


Who’s in it? John Lithgow (Winston Churchill and Barney Stinson’s dad), Nicholas D’Agosto (Gotham, Masters of Sex) and Sherri Shepherd

What’s it about? Set in South Carolina (woop), poetry professor Lithgow is accused of killing his wife and bright-eyed New York lawyer (D’Agosto) comes to his defense.

Initial impression: Oh good, Southern stereotypes on the horizon. In all fairness, this actually looks a little funny. NBC has done well with comedies recently (The Good Place is hilarious) so I have my fingers crossed for this one.

 

Fox

Star (premiered Jan. 4)

 

Who’s in it? Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality), Lenny Kravitz (giving off some serious Cinna vibes)

What’s it about? Capitalizing on the success of “Empire,” this show follows three young singers as they try to break into the Atlanta music scene with the help of Queen Latifah.

Initial impression: I have never watched Empire but I know it’s been a huge success for Fox. This looks pretty interesting, but I haven’t heard many rumblings since its premiere. I’ll check it out.

The Mick (premiered Jan. 1)


Who’s in it? Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Sofia Black-D’Elia (The Night Of) and some precocious children

What’s it about? Rough-around-the-edges Mickey (Olson) moves to Connecticut to take care of her wealth sister’s spoiler children after she and her husband flee the country to avoid a federal indictment.

Initial impression: I have to admit I was wrong about this one. I thought it looked really funny but wouldn’t do well. But I’m wrong! It’s been a huge hit and I can’t wait to watch the first episode.

24: Legacy (premieres Feb. 5)


Who’s in it? Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Walking Dead) and Miranda Otto (Homeland, Lord of the Rings)

What’s it about? Hawkins plays Eric Carter, a military vet and the “new” Jack Bauer, who turns to the CTU to stop a terrorist attack.

Initial impression: I’m getting tired of reboots, prequels and sequels. Other than it being set in the same “universe” I’m not sure how this relates to 24, but it looks interesting enough.

APB (premieres Feb. 6)


Who’s in it? Justin Kirk (who I loved as Uncle Andy in Weeds), Ernie Hudson and a bunch of folks I don’t recognize

What’s it about? A millionaire (Kirk) buys out a precinct of the Chicago PD and brings all kinds of high-tech toys to help find the murderer of his best friend.

Initial impression: I’m totally over crime shows but I love the incorporation of technology that they introduce. Plus anything that has Justin Kirk in it is basically appealing straight to me, so yep I’ll watch this.

 

FX

Taboo (premieres Jan. 10)

 

Who’s in it? Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones) and Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones)

What’s it about? “James Keziah Delaney, a man who has been to the ends of the earth and comes back irrevocably changed. Believed long dead, he returns to London from Africa in 1814 to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire. But when this legacy is revealed to be a poisoned chalice, with enemies in every dark corner, James must navigate complex territories to avoid his own death sentence.” Basically think Pirates of the Caribbean but without Disney.

Initial impression: THIS. LOOKS. SO. GOOD. I love Ridley Scott and I’m really intrigued by the trailers so I definitely plan on tuning in to watch this. I love seeing all of these “movie stars” turning to TV series. I think it’s really going to up the quality of TV shows in the coming years.

Legion (premieres Feb. 8)

 

Who’s in it? Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Downton Abbey), Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), Jean Smart (ICON, yo)

What’s it about? David Haller, a man haunted by visions and voices, comes to find that they may not just be all in his head.

Initial impression: I’m a huge X-Men fan so I’ve been stoked about this series since I first heard about it. Add in Aubrey Plaza and I’m totally there.

 

Netflix

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (premieres Jan. 13)

Who’s in it? Neil. Patrick. Harris. Need I say more? (Okay, Joan Cusack is in it too.)

What’s it about? Based on the beloved book series, the Baudelaire children are forced to lived with their relative Count Olaf after their parents die in a fire. The children try to escape from his custody after they suspect he only wants to keep them for their inheritance.

Initial impression: This looks like so much fun. I love NPH and while I never read this books, this looks like such whimsical fun and I can’t wait to watch it!

Santa Clarita Diet (premieres Feb. 3)


Who’s in it? Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

What’s it about? Honestly we don’t know much about this series, but it has to do with cannibalism. Go figure.

Initial impression: The trailer for this premiered last night during the Golden Globes and it looked really funny. This will definitely be one I watch and I have a suspicion that it will be another hit from Netflix.

 

PBS

Victoria (premieres Jan. 15)

Who’s in it? Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), Rufus Sewell (The Man in the High Castle)

What’s it about? The life of Queen Victoria and her ascension to the throne at the age of 18. Basically if you like “The Crown” on Netflix, this is for you.

Initial impression: Call me biased, but whatever took Jenna Coleman away from Doctor Who better be damn good. Shows like this aren’t exactly my cup of tea but I’ll give it a go.

 

HBO

The Young Pope (premieres Jan. 15)

Who’s in it? Jude Law, Diane Keaton

What’s it about? The fictitious Lenny Belardo becomes Pius XIII, the first American Pope in history.

Initial Impression: I saw the trailer for this while watching a Game of Thrones marathon on HBO and was really intrigued. I love Jude Law and the whole premise of the show is really unique. At first I thought it was a movie and immediately wanted to see it.

Big Little Lies (Feb. 19)


Who’s in it? Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgard, Zoe Kravitz

What’s it about? Three mothers seemingly perfect lives in Monterey, California, start to unravel.

Initial Impression: Talk about an ensemble cast! So many of my favorites are in this series. I have a good feeling this is going to be a show that everyone talks about. HBO continues to pump out high quality, wildly popular shows. Has anyone read the book? I wanted to try to read it before I watch it!

 

Bravo

Imposters (premieres Feb. 7)

Who’s in it? Adam Korson, Megan Park, and I cannot for the life of me find the name of the lead woman. The IMDB page is bare.

What’s it about? A con-artist serially marries and then bankrupts and blackmails unsuspecting victims. Two of her victims decide to pair together and go looking for her.

Initial Impression: I don’t normally watch shows on Bravo, but this one is on my radar because of one of my favorite actors (Aaron Douglas) being on the show. The premise is really interesting, but since I don’t normally watch Bravo, I’m curious if it’ll catch my interest.

 

CBS

Doubt (premieres Feb. 15)


Who’s in it? Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy), Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black) and Dule Hill (Psych, The West Wing)

What’s it about? Heigl is a lawyer that gets involved with her client. That’s about all the info available at the moment.

Initial impression: I’m not into courtroom dramas but the cast looks phenomenal so I’m definitely going to watch.

 

Hulu

The Handmaid’s Tale (premieres April 26)

Who’s in it? Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men, The West Wing), Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black), Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls), Joseph Fiennes

What’s it about? Set in a (not so distant) dystopian future, a woman is forced into a life of sex slavery under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.

Initial Impression: This cast is incredible. I feel like a broken record saying that about so many shows but it’s true! The Handmaid’s Tale was one of my favorite books that I read in school. I remember being so haunted by it. If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest doing so before the series premieres. You have four months. GO.

What shows are you looking forward to the most this spring? Sound off in the comments!

10 Most Popular Posts in 2016

January 5, 2017

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for more than five years now! Over the years I’ve talked about many different subjects on this here blog, and it’s always so interesting what gets the most traffic. It’s also cool to look back on the year and see how the blog has progressed. With a move across the country, this little blog was put on the back burner for quite a while but I want to amp it back up in 2017!

So let’s get on with it! In 2016, these were the most popular posts…

10. Dressing Like a Texan with Splash of Sass Boutique

My last post while living in Texas, I was lucky to work with a boutique located in Cypress, TX called Splash of Sass. I spent two whole hours exploring the boutique and trying on piece after piece. If you live in the area, I highly encourage you to check it out if you’re looking for unique and adorable clothing.

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9. Fall 2016 TV Preview

This post was probably my favorite to create. I loved watching the trailers for all of the new TV shows and giving my thoughts! It’s funny, the ones I was most excited about…. I ended up not even watching! However, This Is Us is a definite hit. I can’t wait to do this for the spring shows. Stay tuned!

8. “Talk Less, Smile More”

My motto for 2016 was inspired by Hamilton, and that’s pretty perfect for the year that I finally got to see the play on Broadway.

7. Cheddar Bacon Ranch Dip

I have to thank Alice for sharing this recipe with me a few years ago. I still love to make this for parties! In fact, I may need to make it for our Golden Globes party on Sunday…

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Dip 2

6. Hello Fresh vs. Blue Apron: How Do They Compare?

Food subscription boxes were one of my favorite discoveries of 2016 and I still love them! We’ve continued ordering Hello Fresh occasionally throughout the year and really enjoy it, but can’t justify the cost every week.

5. Ilvermorny and My Identity Crisis

I think I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m a Slytherin, but it took a minute for me to accept it. I’m so happy that my most geeky post of 2016 made it to the top 10 most popular.

Deathly Hallows Opening Night

4. Stitch Fix June 2016 Review

Getting Stitch Fix boxes to review aren’t great for my budget, but I love trying on clothing that I might not necessarily pick in the store. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to do this in 2017, but since two of my most popular posts are Stitch Fix reviews, I may need to do it sooner rather than later!

3. 7 Things to Know Before Seeing Hamilton on Broadway

By far one of the most exciting things I did this year was see Hamilton on Broadway. In all honesty, I still can’t believe it actually happened! I even had a reader visit the show after reading my post and said the tips were helpful. *hair flip*

7 Things to Know Before You See Hamilton

2. Best Hamilton Gifts

I’m so bummed about this post because while it’s my second most popular, most of the items included are no longer available. I tried to update it over the holidays but some of the info is no longer relevant. Hoping to work on updating this again soon!

1. Stitch Fix May 2016

I cannot believe that my most popular post of 2016 was a Stitch Fix review, but I have to give credit to Stitch Fix for making this happen! The post was featured on stitchfixreviews.com and garnered tons of traffic because of this! Like I said before, I’m not sure how many Stitch Fix reviews I’ll be able to do in 2017 but I’m hoping I can do another soon!

Stitch Fix Review May 2016

 

So there you have it! My ten most popular posts of 2016. Was there a particular post that you loved? What would you like to see more of in 2017?

#TakeOutTakeout Challenge – No Eating Out for Two Weeks!

January 3, 2017

It’s 2017 and that means posts about resolutions, words of the year and ways that people intend to change their habits in the new year. I’ve never been good at resolutions, and let’s be honest, who actually is? Last year I decided that my motto for 2016 would be to “talk less, smile more” and although it took awhile, I do that I ended the year embracing this wholeheartedly.

This post isn’t really a plan for 2017, but instead for the first two weeks. You see, Nick and I go out to eat A LOT. We have this awesome huge new kitchen in our new house but haven’t really taken advantage of it in the first month of living there. Instead, we get take out or go out to eat probably at least 3 nights a week, which is way more than I’d like. And when it comes to lunches? We hardly ever eat at home. In fact, in December 2016 we spent over $900 on eating out. This is not okay.

Last week I stumbled upon an article from Refinery29 about a writer who tried a #TakeOutTakeout challenge for two weeks, meaning that every meal that she consumed came from her kitchen. It inspired me to try this on my own because let’s be real — trying something like this for a whole month is a little daunting. Two weeks might be a little bit more manageable.

So, starting tomorrow, January 4, 2017, Nick and I plan to only eat food we make at home for two whole weeks. I went to the grocery store yesterday with my meal plan and grocery list in hand, hoping to get ready for this challenge. Here’s what I planned to make for the week and some other points about the challenge:

– I planned for meals for Wednesday – Saturday, with another grocery trip planned for Saturday. Meals include burgers, stuffed shells, black bean burrito bowls and chickpea curry.

– Lunches should consist of leftovers and sandwiches (turkey, tuna, and PB&J).

– Snacks I purchased include baby carrots, oranges, and ingredients to make The Pioneer Woman’s homemade salsa (the best recipe).

– We already had cereal for breakfast at home, but I also purchased some croissants to make breakfast sandwiches. I’m not a huge breakfast eater but we will see how this goes…

– This is going to be hard. I’m not going to lie to you and say I haven’t already thought about how I can cheat because I totally have. (For example, the Golden Globes are on Sunday and I really want to order a pizza. Instead, I’m going to make my own!)

So, if you’re interested in following along with me, make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I’ll be using the hashtag #TakeOutTakeout. And heck, if you’re interested in participating in the challenge, I’d love the support! I’ll make sure to follow along on your journey as well.

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Do you think you could resist going to a restaurant for two whole weeks? What do you think would be your biggest weakness?

Dear Santa…

December 19, 2016

I consider myself pretty easy to shop for. I love getting presents (don’t we all? seriously, anyone who says differently is lying) because of the thought behind them, not so much what the actual gift *is*. However, there are folks (*cough* my husband *cough*) who are last minute-gift buyers who might benefit from seeing what’s on my list this year!

Inspired by the many, many events of 2016, here’s my list for this year…

 

dearsanta

 

In Omnia Paratus Sweatshirt – After all of the Gilmore Girls buzz of 2016, I’m more in love with the show than I have ever been. I’m also colder than I’ve ever been, what with this actual winter weather in South Carolina. I can’t think of a better way to stay warm and cute at the same time.

I Rebel Jordandene tank – I’ve shared pieces from Jordandene time and time again on the blog, and this tank inspired by Jyn Erso from “Rogue One” is the perfect reminder for those who want to rebel each day.

Luke’s No Cellphones sign – Not only is this a great tribute to our favorite diner, but this is perfect for a splash of pop culture in our movie room. Because really, who wants to see the glow of cell phones when you’re trying to watch a movie?

Kibble and Co Hamilton Dogs Sticker/Magnet – A friend’s dad actually bought her this a few months ago and they’ve been on my radar ever since. Hamilton, Laurens, Mulligan and Lafayette as adorable doggies? I’m so here for this.

“Scrappy Little Nobody” by Anna Kendrick – My favorite books are memoirs by funny ladies, and this one is no exception. I’m dying to read this book and hope to find it in my stocking on Christmas morning!

Gilmore Girls Cork Coasters – With new furniture filling our new home, we’re being very particular about using coasters. What better way to do that than with these Stars Hollow landmark coasters?

Sonix iPhone 7 Case – Blame it on my temporary Texas citizenship but I love cactus prints. This phone case is super cute AND clear so I can show off my new gold iPhone. Every time I looked at this case, I would remember my time living in the wild wild west.

Pantsuit Nation Water Bottle – If you’re a member of this Facebook group, you’ll understand the impact it’s had on many people in the days leading up to and following the election. I would love to have this water bottle to continue to show my support for such an important group of people.

A Woman’s Place tee – This cheeky tee has been showing up on my Facebook feed time and time again for months and I think it’s time to add it to my collection.

Stranger Things Christmas Lights Sweatshirt – What could be more perfect for Christmas Day than this Stranger Things-inspired sweatshirt? As long as our lights don’t start randomly turning on and off, I think we’ll be safe this holiday season.

 

Is there anything on this list you’d be happy to have in your stocking? What are you wishing for this holiday season?