Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday Favorites: Redefining Rich

Today’s Friday Favorites is dedicated to the Redefining Rich blog created by Ashley Klane last January as a New Year’s resolution to “redefine” her interpretation of what it meant to live a “rich” life. Below is a passage from her very first post in which she explained her prerogative for creating the blog:

 The idea for this year’s resolution came to me one night when I finally got sick of hearing myself complain about how broke I am. While it’s true that I’m pretty broke (along with almost everybody else my age), I realized that I was whining about it while eating wild salmon, inside my home, surrounded by some of the people I love most. I wanted to slap myself. I have always known that I am fortunate in infinite ways, but my first stab at being an adult and supporting myself got my views a little twisted. I needed to redefine “rich”. Sure, I may live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches most nights, and I may or may not have let my brunette roots grow down to my ears, but I can eat, I have a job I love, and my 5 month old nephew gives me the biggest smile every single day when I get home from work. So I’m pretty sure I’m f*cking loaded.

And so came the idea for 2013. I want to stop complaining and start helping. As long as I have enough money to survive, I have enough money to help other people. So, this year I want to choose one charity per month to share with my family and friends, raise awareness for, and donate to. While I’ll personally only be able to donate a small amount, I like to believe that even small acts of kindness can create positive outcomes – people helping people, pay it forward, all that good stuff. I would like to admit that I don’t always believe money to be the best way to help. Whenever possible, I support volunteering, as actions speak louder than $$$. However, keeping in mind my goals to include my friends and family in this resolution and to choose a new charity every month, I felt a monetary donation would be an easy way to keep this resolution going. (I’ll also be sharing stories of volunteering and random acts of kindness to supplement throughout the year.)
I have a new nephew as I mentioned earlier, and any little thing I can do to make his world just a little bit better, I’ll find a way to do. My hope is that everyone following this has someone to inspire them, someone to be better for.
Ashley with her nephew Henry, Summer 2013
The Redefining Rich blog has delivered all that it has promised  and a heck of a whole lot more. Over this past year, Ashley has covered a diverse number of charities  including the DJ Henry Dream Fund, the Autism Research Foundation,  and School on Wheels of Massachusetts. Each month, Ashley shares quotes, pictures, heartfelt notes, and information on that particular month’s charity. Her posts are intimate and heartfelt, while leaving you feeling like you have just a little more love left to give that you may have not even  known you had, which is exactly how I feel when spending time with Ashley.

Ashley is one of my very best friends since moving to Easton at the tender age of 15. (Yup, I started high school in a new town!)   Even while growing up, Ashley never ceased to amaze me with her huge heart and endless dedication towards helping others. As much as it might have been tempting to partake in “gossiping with your bestie", I never engaged in such antics with Ashley since she never made you feel like there was any need to. 

While Ashley is always a very positive person, it is not in a "Richard Simmons, over-the-top" sorta way. Rather, Ashley is just so naturally blissful that the conversation never heads towards a negative place. My friend Jimmy always says “You are affected by the 5 people you surround yourself with the most” and I am so lucky that Ashley has been one of those 5.

Last year, during my full-time MBA program, Ashley moved back home and we literally became attached at the hip. With similar "school schedules" (Ash is a teacher), we shared after-school snacks, watched a ton of weekly TV shows such as the Voice, in which we rose from the couch to give standing ovations for our favorite singers, took weekly “field trips” to Hilliard's (our favorite, local ice cream parlor), and went on leisurely drives in Ashley's jeep, while listening to our favorite compilation of “chill” music (which included another one of my favorite Ashleys, Ashley Sofia).

During this stressful time, Ashley was my endless support system; providing rides to the doctors, advice on online shopping purchases, and never hesitated to get excited  over my weird "healthy hippie" food that no one else would dear try or ever refused to try my made-up beauty concoctions and recipes, despite how "strange" they may have been. So needless to say when Ashley told me one day over ice cream at Hilliard's, that she was planning to move to Los Angeles to live with Caitie (another high school best friend), I was in major denial.

 Fast-forward a few months later to her going away dinner and having to say goodbye. I felt like a complete and utter "hot mess." This was my best bud, who lived an easy 5 minutes away, and suddenly my normal routine was screeching to a sudden halt. But I took a deep breath and gave her a big hug goodbye, and told her; “go show LA how you kill it,” and begrudgingly walked away while miraculously remaining composed. However, the second I got to the car, I cried like the big, mushy baby I was.
  Ashley and I at her going away party, Jimmy Plunkett cruise, August 2013

It has now been 3 months since the big move and seriously not a thing has changed with my friendship with Ashley. I still get to catch up with her frequently, have received a “tour” of the new place via iPhone pictures, and continue to receive the same amount of endless support from her as always, its just now over the phone. In fact, Ashley is in part to thank for launching the Creatively Lu blog. 

 As I write my blog posts, I often think “This is something Ashley would love.” Remember that coconut DIY masque or the walnut streusel bread recipe or the gratitude journal entry?... Yup, all those posts I knew Ashley would, in her words; “ be all over.”

Ashley is an incredible role model, aunt (remember that “little bald guy” from my first Wordless Wednesday picture?), blogger, and teacher.  I am so thankful and lucky to call her my lifelong friend.

So please go check out the Redefining Rich blog, you will be glad you did! Below is your daily dose of inspiration, inspired by Ashley. Have a great weekend everyone!
Ashley, alongside her sister, Amanda, and nephew, Henry, at Borderland State Park, Summer 2013.
*Follow Redefining Rich on Tumblr and Twitter

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thrifty Thursdays: An After Thanksgiving Guide- Leftover Madness & Detoxifying Twists

Photo Courtesy of Tory Stone
Follow her on Instagram: @Tory_Elizabeth_

 Its Thrifty Thursday and what's more thrifty then making that Thanksgiving meal last and last?

 I'm someone that can't just reheat leftovers in the microwave. I find them boring and tasting very "blah", and so I wanted to help you add a dash of a little "something, something" to those Turkey Day leftovers. 

Below are 2 brand, spanking new recipes perfect for re-creating your Thanksgiving meal. They are not only popping a lot of flavor, but also a little "healthified" too. And speaking of healthified...

I  have also included links to my favorite 5 free YouTube Detoxifying, Yoga Twist videos below. These videos are great for ringing out the body after that heavy holiday meal and I have made sure there is an option for all levels.

I wish you all a wonderful day filled with lots of memory, great food ( Thanksgiving Recipes), love, laughs, and hopefully a little bit of creativity.

Enjoy the day and try not to sweat the small stuff! Instead, leave the sweating for your detox poses later tonight!

Crispy Mashed Potatoes & Stuffing Latkes-*Printer Friendly Version

*You can leave out the turkey if you’re feeling all “turkeyed” out,
 or sub the turkey for another type of meat such  as chicken.
*Substitute coconut oil for 2 T more olive oil or 2 T. of unsalted butter.

Cranberry and Turkey Leftover Quesadilla-*Printer Friendly Version

My 5 "Go To" Detox YouTube Videos

For 10 min. of Yoga Twists
    Restorative Yoga Sequence by Esther Ekhart of Ekhart Yoga 
    This restorative sequence rebuilds energy and restores balance in your body. 
    (Grab a couple of pillows for this one!)

    Yoga for Holiday Meal Digestion by Tara Stiles of LiveStrongWoman
    This 10 minute heart-opening, total body twist is the perfect detox kickstart. 
    Tara is a fast-talking yoga instructor, yet provides calm, well-guided steps.

    For a 20 min. Everyday Stretching Sequence

    Safe Stretches for Full Body Yoga by Jen Hilman of PsycheTruth
    Jen has a lot of great videos for stretching. 
    She is very easy to follow along, even while watching TV.

    20 min. Intermediate/Advanced Detox Opening Classes

    20 Minute Yoga Class: Lengthening & Opening  by Colleen Saidman of PlumTV
    This  energizing total body yoga sequence gives excellent instructions and provides a beautiful beach view.
    One Hour Yoga Flow Class for All Levels

    This class provides a great balance of stretching the hips, working through sun salutations, and performing detoxifying twists. The instructor is very happy, relaxed, and makes you feel like you can sit into the stretches for a lot longer than you may have originally thought. 

    And now for your daily dose of inspiration...

    Photo Courtesy of: Kelsey J. Andrade

    Wordless Wednesdays: Princess Bella

    Princess Bella, 4 days old
    Courtesy of: her beautiful mother, Krissy Russell

    And now for your daily dose of inspiration...

    Photo Courtesy of: Tory Stone 
    Quote: Unknown
    *Follow Tory's instagram for other amazing photos

    Reminder: Thanksgiving Recipes over on the Creatively Lu Printer Friendly Recipe Page:

    *If you want to see when the post goes up each day with a link to the article, please like the Creatively Lu FB page, and Follow @Creatively Lu on Instagram and Twitter

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Thankful Tuesdays: A Lesson on Weathering the Storm

    Update: In honor of Thanksgiving, I have added a few of my personal recipes to the Creatively Lu Printer-Friendly Recipe Page. Here are the links to my Popover Rolls, Mini, Baked Sweet Potato Latkes , and Turkey Sausage, Apple Challah Stuffing

    Its Part 3 of the Thankful Tuesday series and today I want to expand on last week's post involving the 'upper limit problem' (ULP). As I have discussed in Part 2, we all have at some point in our lives experienced a version of the ULP, in which we control a thermostat for how much love and success we are willing to allow into our life. Therefore, if something really great happens and shifts the dial to a higher setting then we are used to, we subconsciously find ways to turn the dial back down. We put the temperature back to a place that is more in our comfort zone by inviting in all of our "worry thoughts.".

    "Worry thoughts” are similar to that feeling you get in the pit of the stomach just before the drop-off on a roller coaster. As you reach closer to the top of the hill, you feel the butterflies start to set in. But as you know, when you choose to push past those limiting fears and continue on with the ride, you can certainly get through that scary experience. Today I want to help you to begin to view that feeling of butterflies as a reminder that good things are ahead. 

    A time in my life in which the “worry thoughts” really tend to creep  is when I look back at old pictures of myself. I see the photos and begin to feel a sense of sadness waft over me. I wanted to try and expand past those limiting fears in order to reach a higher dial setting.

    Recently, I stumbled across an AIM group conversation from my middle school days. In the conversation, my 5 friends who I had eaten lunch with daily invited me into a chat room. They wanted to tell me that I was no longer able to sit with them at the lunch table and reading the chat more than 11 years later, still made me feel a sense of sadness.

    In the AIM chat, the “ring leader” began by saying; “Alright on behalf of our table I would like to say that you can no longer sit with us at lunch. You can show that all now by saying ‘I do.’” And so one by one... each girl typed “I do.” These girls who had "voted" me out of the lunch table had been my friends since first grade.  I responded simply by saying; “I had no idea anyone felt this way.”

     When I read my response to those girls in the chat, I instantly felt that I was back in that very moment, sitting back in the computer chair in my childhood home and feeling that same shocked, raw emotion all over again. I began thinking; “How had I not known they didn't like me? What was wrong with me?” That’s when it hit me, I associated past photos as a time in which I did not feel worthy.

    After reading the AIM chat, I went and got out my middle school yearbook, where I found that my school picture had been crossed out with sharpie. I had felt bad about myself during this time and knew that I wouldn’t want my future self to have to view the photo. Suddenly, my mind flashed back to going to my grandmother’s house in Indiana. Growing up, I stayed in the guest room which had a shelf in the headboard adorned with a plethora of photos featuring the 7 grandchildren. I remember placing all of the frames containing my picture face down. Suddenly, I realized that there was a pattern of “worry thoughts” tied with having to look at old photos.

    Last Monday, I went through my old, family photo albums looking for a photo that felt paralyzing. A photo in which if I walked into my grandmother’s house, I would surely turn the frame over. I knew that it would be very therapeutic to share the picture and so I posted it on the blog for last week's Thankful Tuesday. However, after I posted the photo, I realized that I did not feel completely like I had conquered the "worry thoughts" connected to it. 

    Writing the blog feels a lot like writing in a personal journal and its easy to feel like I am simply sharing a lesson with a few close friends. And so I knew that if I wanted to work on pushing past those limiting fears, I’d have to take it a step further. That night, I decided to post the photo on my personal Facebook page.

    As each person began to “like” my photo, I felt as though  each “like” was an alert that said; “this person from your life viewed the photo, and this person, and oh yeah, remember him...he saw it too.” I felt those butterflies fill up in my stomach, and I simply wanted to hit the delete button on the photo before the next “alert” could occur. But I knew that the fear was something I could and should push past.

    That photo above no longer holds power over me. The very next day, my best friend came over, looked at the photo, and simply said "Do you remember the movie we watched that night?" I paused and thought to myself, this photo happened more than 5 years ago, yet I still have the same inner circle of friends, who are some of the most kind-hearted and supportive people that I know. I was worthy of their friendship then and I am worthy now...and you better believe we have lunch together often.

    Have you ever listened to a storm on a warm summer night and heard the alarming sound of thunder grow closer and sound louder? Just as you think it couldn't possibly get any worse, there is one more terrifyingly loud, BOOM! sound. Shortly after, however, the clouds begin to part, the sun comes out from its hiding, and things go back to usual. This is exactly what occurs in life.

     I really hope that no matter what type of storm you are currently weathering, you truly believe in yourself and know that it will become a lot less hazy soon. Today I am incredibly grateful to get to share this lesson with you and I hope that you all know how beautiful and special you all are! I hope this post can be your friend at the lunch table, when you need it most. 

    Below is your daily dose of inspiration...
    *If you want to see when the post goes up each day with a link to the article, please like the Creatively Lu FB page, and follow Creatively Lu on Instagram and Twitter

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Make it Mondays: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

    Jump to the Printer Friendly Recipe

    I'm not the biggest fan of the traditional Thanksgiving desserts. They always feel too heavy and after a big ol Thanksgiving meal, its just not my favorite thing. However, I do enjoy a cup of coffee and a little something afterwards with pumpkin and chocolate. And so I have decided to combine the two with the perfect pumpkin chocolate chip coffee cake recipe. Its also pretty convenient that it makes a great breakfast the following day, you're welcome!

    For the chocolate chip streusel:
    1/3 c. flour
    1/3 c. rolled oats
    1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
    1 t. cinnamon
    pinch of salt
    6 T. butter (cold)
    1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips 

    Combine the flours, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and toss in with the dry ingredients. Set aside. Now its time to make the batter...

    For the Pumpkin Coffee Cake Batter:
    1 1/2 c. flour (I used 1 c. all-purpose, 1/2 c. whole wheat flour)
    2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. baking soda
    2 t. cinnamon
    1/4 t. nutmeg
    1/2 t. salt
    1 stick (8 T.) unsalted butter  (melted)
    1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
    2 eggs
    1/2 c. sour cream
    1/2 c. pumpkin puree

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, set aside. In a large bowl, beat the melted butter into the brown sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in one egg at a time. Add in the pumpkin puree and sour cream. Stir in the flour mixture.

    Spread half of the batter into the greased pan. Dollop half of the streusel over the batter. Pour the other half of the batter on top of the streusel. Sprinkle the remainder of the streusel on top. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean of the center, roughly 50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Slide the cake onto a cooling rack. 

    For the Icing Glaze:
    1/2 c. powdered sugar
    1 t. half & half (whole milk/cream work too)
    1 t. vanilla extract

    Whisk together the powdered sugar, cream, and vanilla in a small bowl. With a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the top of the coffee cake. 

    Cut into thick wedges and serve. 

    Don't forget to pick up any crumbs that your clean up crew may have missed...

    I hope you all make it a great Monday! 
    Here is your daily inspiration for today...

    *If you want to see when the post goes up each day with a link to the article, please like the Creatively Lu FB page, and follow Creatively Lu on Instagram and Twitter

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

    Weekend Adventures: Recap

    These past few weekends I've tried a few things for the first time, like Paint Nite where I discovered that painting may not be my strong suit...

    And in case I wasn't completely sure of my skill set, I received some supportive texts from my friends...

    I like to think of myself as a creative, "crafty" person, but painting definitely isn't in my comfort zone. I think its important to try things you aren't very good at, if for nothing else but to provide a good laugh.  And speaking of laughs....

    I really had my heart set on going to Improv Asylum last Saturday night. It is an improv club located in the North End of Boston that I have been to about a dozen times. When I called to order tickets, the show was sold out. Luckily, however, the ticket person suggested that I try their "sister club," Laugh Boston in the Seaport District. While I had no idea what it would be like, we decided to go to the show anyways.

    Greg Proops from "Whose Line is it Anyway" was the headliner. I grew up watching the show and even took an Improv class while in college, so needless to say he was a big deal in my book. Let me tell you, he definitely delivered. My abs literally hurt the today from laughing so hard last night. 

    On our way out of the show we ran into Greg and he was such a nice guy!  This was definitely the highlight of my week, except for maybe our encounter with Valet parking guy we met right after... 

    How could he not be the man when he throws the bunny ears up in a picture? That's my kinda dude right there. I hope this weekend you were surrounded by good people, great times, and a few laughs.
    See you all tomorrow!