Saturday, December 7, 2013

Weekend Adventures: Unwind Edition

Weekends during December  are often reserved for stressful holiday shopping, but it is even more  important during all this chaos to reserve a little "me" time. 

Sometimes unwinding can mean reserving a Sunday night to do nothing. Finding the time to slowly relish your mug of hot cocoa by sipping it slowly and lazily flipping through a magazine, enjoying your favorite novel, or maybe even just "pinning" on Pinterest like a BOSS.

By "reserving" a spot in your house, or even at the local coffee shop or yoga class, where you know you can go to relax, you can consciously make an effort to take time out for you. Recently, I have begun taking baths for my me-time. And by lighting a special candle reserved for bath time, putting 10 drops of lavendar into the tub, and having a "go to" Pandora playlist, I can consciously create a little nest specific to relaxing.

So find an hour or so out of your weekend to do something that is relaxing for you, create your little relaxing nest, and get on with doing nothing. I have aso made you a Spotify "Unwind" playlist that you can access by "following" it on my Spotify account Lindsay Opper (1244030766).

Candle picture: courtesy of the Wellness Warrior. 
. Below is your weekend dose of inspiration. Create a great weekend everyone!

Photo Courtesy of the beautiful Tory Stone

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Friday Favorites: Tyler "Reis"

It's not hard to play You Don't Know Me on repeat. In fact, if you've been in my car in the past few months, there's a good chance you've heard it and also maybe a few others on the road have too....

The track begins with a soft entrancing sound, when suddenly the first verse drops. The words start to flow with ease and it continues to stay on point from there.  Everyone who I've played the track for has recognized a similar, deeply rich quality to that of Drake. 

Tyler Reismiller, who goes by Reis, grew up in the Indianapolis area, and has a voice that's smooth and deep, yet very crisp. Reis writes his own verses and his lyrics punch at you over heart-thumping beats, while still managing to tell a story that is so clear and precise. 

Reis's "Power  Moves" mixtape will be released on Thursday, December 19th. However,  lucky for you all, the tracklist is already up on his YouTube channel: ReesieMusic. I have to say, the songs are definitely on point. From the big-sounding, "bump this in your car" Ball So Hard to the very real/ softer ballad Break Down or Come Up; there is definitely a little something for everyone. 

At only 18, Tyler has already undergone quite the journey to finding himself as an artist. During his senior year of highschool, Tyler woke up one day, determined to make a healthy lifestyle change. He simply decided to begin working out and eating healthier. A year and a half later at 130lbs lighter, Tyler has never looked back. 
Tyler is my cousin on my mom's side and I cannot believe the transformation he has undergone. In my mind, he is still so young and adorable like in this photo with his brother Andrew below. 
But Tyler is definitely all grown up now. When listening to his music, I can't help but beam with pride, while refraining myself from chasing strangers down the street to listen to his music. And so it should come as no surprise that I am very excited to utilize the "Friday Favorites" section of the Creatively Lu blog as an easier/safer outlet to introduce Tyler's music to others.  

When I asked Tyler what it is about music that has changed his life so much, he provided me with such a profound answer that I couldn't believe just how wise beyond his years he  is:

"Music has really changed my life. I was never the type who was outgoing or outspoken about anything really. Then my senior year (of highschool) came along and I got pretty serious about music. And it's been a 360 turnaround ever since. I'm not afraid at all to show my flaws. I make music that reflects on my life and what has happened. Every song I have written has a past to it. I've lived every lyric, every word, every chorus, every hook. And that's why people can connect with my music, because it is so relatable."

So please check out the incredibly talented Tyler "Reis", if for no other reason but to find a song to bump on your ride home tonight. Below is your daily dose of inspiration, inspired by Tyler. 

Create a great Friday everyone! 

*You can follow Tyler "Reis"  on his YouTube channel,  Instagram & Twitter

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thrifty Thursdays: Melted Crayon Art

Whether you're looking for a way to give a personalized gift this holiday season without breaking the bank or just looking for a craft day with your bestie, this melting crayon art is the "bee's knees." All you need are a few things from the local craft store, your hairdryer, and you are ready to roll...

Supplies Needed: A canvas, mini glue gun with glue sticks, Magic scotch tape (if you want to leave blank canvas anywhere), and a box of crayons. Also be sure to have some extra newspaper on hand, as things do tend to get a little bit messy.

*Prior to gluing, you can choose to unwrap the crayons for  a more natural, finished look.

*The longer you blowdry, the more the crayons will get that "drippy look," and so it is up to you when to stop.

*Once dry, you can draw on a favorite quote or name. If you want to leave a clean space to do this, just tape off the section with the Magic tape and remove once the crayons have dried.

Finally, whatever you do, have fun with it. My best friend, Jackie, had the day off on Monday and so I went over to her house with my box of crafts,  sandwiches, and Mary Lou's coffees. We had a blast making our crafts. She also gave me my Christmas gift a little bit early, which was a "Creatively Lu" necklace! And of-course, I found  time to try out her new hair products and makeup. Not trying out Jackie's new beauty products is similar to going to your Grandmother's house when you are little and not having a snack. In other words, its just something that you can't refuse! 

Create a wonderful day everyone! Below is your daily dose of inspiration.

Wordless Wednesdays: The Magic of Christmas Time

"Magic is Something that you make"
Photo Courtesy of: Liz McDonald

*If you would like to share a Wordless Wednesday photo, contact Creatively Lu via

And now for Wednesday's daily dose of inspiration....

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Takeout Tuesdays: Chinese edition

Today is the first Tuesday of December, which means that the Takeout Tuesday series has begun! With the stress of the holidays, we tend to go overboard. Overboard with our emotions, spending, stress, drinking, and eating. With long days spent at work or even just the many stressful hours stuck in the mall parking lot, we find ourselves running out of time and energy to cook.

  1. Start with a broth-based soup or a light appetizerSoups like hot & sour or egg-drop soup can help to fill you up before your meal. They are some of the lowest calorie items on the menu and help you to avoid loading up on the heavier entrees. If you are looking for a lighter appetizer, try steamed dumplings or edamame (hold the salt and put it on yourself).
  1. Avoid the fried food optionsMake sure to avoid anything with the word "fried" in the description like egg rolls or Peking ravioli. Also, avoid any foods described as  "breaded," such as Sesame chicken or Chicken wings. Instead, order foods that have been cooked in healthier ways. Look for key words such as "steamed." (If the name of the dish is in Chinese, look for healthy dishes that start with words like "jum" (poached), "kow" (roasted),  or "chu" (broiled).
  1. Beware of the saucesSauces such as sweet & sour or Genral Tso's chicken pack lots of SUGAR and calories! Order the sauce on the side and dip your fork in the sauce between bites.Oyster, hoisin, black bean and mustard sauce are all good sauces to order.  Also, avoid dousing on the soy sauce, which has lots of sodium and will leave you feeling bloated. Buy a low sodium soy sauce from your local grocery store to keep on hand and when at restaurants, ask the server for the low sodium version if it's not already on the table. 
  1. Portion, Portion, Portion: Even with a healthy meal in front of you, it is still possible to exceed your daily caloric intake due to the amount of servings in one dish. When you get home, make sure to spoon out your meal onto a small plate, rather than just directly eat it from the take out box. When out to eat,  take at least half of your meal to go. If your willpower is not so great, ask for a "to go" box at the start of the meal.  
  1. Treat your sides RIGHT: Order a side order of veggies and load up your plate. Avoid noodle dishes and rice dishes as sides when possible. (A cup of fried rice has approximately 363 calories and 14 grams of fat*). If you really want a side of rice, load it with veggies or look for entrees with veggies in the name, such as steamed chicken & broccoli. And you know that little tea cup found on the table at the restaurant? That's equivalent to the correct portion size of rice.

 It is just so tempting to have the food ready at our beckon call, with no mess to clean up afterwards. And so takeout happens. But I'm here to tell you to forget any of the guilt you feel when ordering out. There's no reason to fear that suddenly  you will go on some major downward binge spiral.

I don't blame you for wanting a night off from cooking, I order takeout often. And guess what, I don't instantly balloon up when I do. There are plenty of healthy takeout options available. If you read the 5 tips for the next 3 Tuesdays,  you'll do just fine and be ready to order anywhere like a pro. So use that extra hour or so you would of cooking spent elsewhere and enjoy the takeout dinners every once in awhile.
Today's first post covers Chinese. Chinese is one of the most comforting, crave-worthy meals out there and I definitely have a few Chinese takeout places permanently installed in my phone. Below are the essential tips to remember when ordering Chinese food, along with my regular Takeout order from Alice's Mandarain Taste

...and go ahead and eat that fortune cookie if you really want it. Its only 35 calories and 3g of sugar. I  was always told that you have to eat your fortune cookie in order for it to come true, and so I always take a bite out of mine. 

Please take the Take Out Survey to let me know what kind of Take Out you'd like me to cover next. Would you like to learn tips for ordering pizza, breakfast Drive thru in the morning.. its up to you guys!

 Below is your daily dose of inspiration. See you all tomorrow! 

*Calories from

Monday, December 2, 2013

Vote for your Favorite Take Out Tuesday Choice

With the start of December, November's Thankful Tuesday series is coming to an end. December's Take Out Tuesday series launches tomorrow (12/3/13) featuring healthy tips for ordering takeout during the crazy holiday season. It is up to you all to vote which food you'd like featured! Take the survey now to determine tomorrow's post topic.

Make It Mondays: Crockpot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Subs

Recently, my friend Lauren went to Philadelphia for the weekend. When she returned, she described to me in detail the ooey-gooey, deliciousness of the Philly Cheesesteak that she enjoyed while visiting there. And so I found myself with a serious case of food envy. And unfortunately, I'm not headed to Philly any time soon.

  I knew that there was only one way to kill this food craving. I would have to re-create that classic Philly Cheesesteak for myself... in my Boston kitchen. I wanted to pack this thing with the same major flavor as the original, while "healthifying" it a bit. That's when I came up with the idea to substitute the steak for chicken and throw in a can of beer. By cooking the chicken in the crockpot, the flavors could really set in.

I am a firm believer that little touches really do make a major difference between enjoying just an ordinary ol' dinner and experiencing a very special meal. The "extra touches" for this dish included finding a block of white cheddar cheese from the specialty cheese section of the grocery store and toasting the bread in the oven prior to serving. However, these final touches don't need to cost a lot of extra money. In fact, the white cheddar cheese was priced only $1 dollar than a grocery-store brand bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

Chicken Philly Cheese Steak, Makes 6 large subs

  •  1 diced ,large yellow onion
  • 1 diced, yellow pepper
  • 1  diced, green pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 1 t. sea salt 
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 8 oz of your favorite beer 
  • 8 oz of freshly grated cheddar cheese 
  • 6 soft sub rolls
  • 1 T. melted butter
  • Sliced provolone cheese

  1.  Mix together the paprika, sea salt, and pepper. Rub onto the chicken breasts and set aside.
  2. In the bottom of the crockpot, layer the onions and peppers. Add garlic evenly on top. Place chicken on top and pour a can of beer over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
  3. Prior to 15 minutes before serving, shred the chicken in the crockpot using a fork or tongs. Mix and toss the chicken together with the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook for the additional 15 more minutes.
  4. Turn the crockpot to the warm or off setting. Stir in the grated white cheddar cheese and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. To toast bread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush each sub roll with butter and layer with slices of provolone cheese. Place open sub rolls on a baking sheet and toast for 12 minutes (or until the cheese is browned and bubbly). 
  6. Place your Chicken mixture onto each toasted sub and add whatever condiments you like. (I like mine with banana peppers.)

I am really glad that I experimented with this recipe.The chicken was very flavorful, left the whole house smelling delicious, and was certainly a lot cheaper way of fulfilling my craving than the cost for a plane ticket to Philly. 

If there's a   food dish that you are longing for, let me help you re-create it! Leave a comment below or email me at and you can be a part of the Make it Monday series!

 As always, make it a great Monday everyone! Below is your  daily dose of inspiration. 
Photo Courtesy of: Liz McDonald

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