Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekend Adventures: Creatively Lu Community

Monday marks one month since the creation of Creatively Lu...

On the weekend prior to launching Creatively Lu, I attended a technology conference as a way to sharpen my blogging skills. During one of the workshops,  I learned the somewhat, frightening statistic that on average, it takes a daily blog over a year to reach 4,000 views each month.

 While, I was surprised to find that most daily blogs receive only a handful of views during the fist few months, I decided to set a Crazy, BIG goal...

I wanted to try and reach 4,000 blog views in my first month.I set this goal to ensure that Creatively Lu had created a community. in which blog readers were continued to come back each day to feel inspired. I wanted to make sure that the blog content was an authentic fit with readers. And so, I am happy to report...

We did it! We reached 4,000 views! 

I am so ecstatic that you guys have been enjoying the blog, you have been making the recipes, have empathized with the stories, are submitting in photos and quotes, saving money with Thrifty Thursday, and adding the Friday Favorites to your list of favorites. You guys couldn't rock more! And while I set out to help to inspire you all to create a beautiful life each day, the amount you all have affected my life is not even possible to put into words...which is rare for a blog writer.

So, in order to ensure that the Creatively Lu blog is all about you all, I encourage you to please continue to share! 

Have a great recipe for Make it Mondays or want a recipe for a certain food? Maybe you'd like a family favorite healthified?

 Want a specific type of food covered for December's Take Out Tuesday series, take the Take Out Survey!

Have a picture you'd like to submit for Wordless Wednesday, message Creatively Lu over on  the FB page.

Have an idea for a Thrifty Thursdays posts? Or maybe you want a specific beauty, style, deal, DIY project...
Have a favorite person, book, store, etc. you'd like to share for Friday Favorites, or maybe you would like to be a part of the series?

Do you know of a good weekend spot that you'd like to go to, or maybe you'd like a review of one. Whatever you'd like covered in Weekend Adventures, I want to hear from you!

So go ahead and "like" the Creatively Lu FB page and follow @Creatively Lu on TwitterPinterest, and Instagram. Just make sure you message me your entries somehow!

I thank you again for being a part of the Creatively Lu community and can't wait for many more months to come! I promise to aspire to create the best Creatively Lu blog each day.

And now for your weekend dose of inspiration...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Favorites- Fashion edition: Threads & Mane

Photo Courtesy of: Threads and Mane
I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been on Pinterest, "pinning" amazing fashion outfits and have thought to myself: I would of never thought to have paired "that" with "that".  I always wonder who  those cool, fashion chicks are who can pull off mixing styles, such as leopard & flannel, and really make an outfit WORK. Well recently, I stumbled across the fashion blog- Threads and Mane, and the two ladies behind this blog are "those chicks" that make it "work."

 The Girls Behind Threads and Mane

The "threads" of Threads and Mane, is fashion/accessories lover and expert Ashley Thomas, while the girl behind the "mane" is hair/beauty/jewelry lover and expert Danielle Lareau. Ashley and Danielle started Threads and Mane as a creative fashion outlet to explore after work hours. Living just a block away from one another in South Boston, Ashley and Danielle had been spending the majority of their free time together, discussing all things beauty and fashion. As they constantly turned to one another when planning their outfits...down to their nail polish, to discus new beauty finds, and discover new places around the Boston area; they realized they should launch a blog to inspire others. 

Why I love Threads and Mane

I absolutely adore fashion, but when I walk into my closet, I often find myself overwhelmed by the idea of having to put an outfit together. Therefore, I tend to stick with a few "go to" items such as a pair of leggings and a chunky sweater. So to me, Danielle and Ashley are awe-inspiring fashionistas that I would love to be able to "call up" everyday, asking them how to "amp up" my basics. Luckily, however, their blog feels a lot like having them on speed-dial.

When I see their beautiful fashion shoots taken on the streets of Boston, I feel inspired to go back into my closet and choose something a little more daring like a sparkly necklace and leopard booties to pair with that sweater and leggings. 

Aside from the style section of Threads and Mane, I also really enjoy their "Beauty" section of the blog which features easy hair tutorials (like the DIY bun tutorial below) and time and money saving, makeup product reviews. Their "Life" section features local area reviews, in which I discovered there is a blowout bar down the street from me!

Since reading the Threads and Mane blog and pinning their pins (they have the best fashion pins), I have definitely created a keener eye for fashion and learned a heck of a lot more about beauty. 

So on this edition of Friday Favorites, I am saying "cheers" to these two fashion-rocking, "make-it-work" ladies! Thank you both for launching a blog that covers all the bases of beauty and fashion. I look forward to reading for many years to come and encourage all of you to do the same.  

Below are a couple of Ashley and Danielle's favorite things, along with Friday's dose of inspiration, inspired by Threads and Mane, of course.

 Create a great Friday, and I hope that Ashley and Danielle have inspired you all to go  into your closets and choose a bolder outfit that you can "work" this weekend. 

Photo Courtesy of: Threads and Mane
*Check out Threads and Mane on their website, & follow them on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and  Instagram.

*To follow the Creatively Lu posts daily,  "like" the FB page 
 Follow @Creatively Lu on InstagramPinterest, and Twitter.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thrifty Thursdays: Afternoon "Pick-Me-Ups"

I am so excited to have finally found a substitute to that heavily desired, Starbucks latte I crave around 2pm each day. Its not only 1/4th  the cost, its also 1/4th  the calories.
Creatively Lu
This homemade coffee is easy to make, costs nearly nothing, and despite the lack of calories it certainly does not lack any of the flavor. 

So How do you Make this Beautiful, Frothy Coffee? 

Creatively Lu
Ingredients for Wellness Mama's Healthy Coffee Recipe:
  • 1 cup of coffee (keurig or brewed), or an herbal tea
  • 1 T. of coconut oil  (feel free to use more, especially if you choose to leave out the butter)
  • 1 t. of unsalted butter (preferably organic)
  • ½ t. of vanilla extract
  • ½-1 packet of Truvia*
*I also really like Sugar in the Raw or a few drops of honey

Brew Your Coffee (or tea)

I like to buy my Keurig pods at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.
There is a large selection of flavors, and they are offered in bulk at a steep discount. (I got my pack of 18 ct.Breakfast Blend Kerug pods  for $12.99).
If you do not have a Keurig, brew a pot of regular coffee or boil some hot water for a comforting mug of tea.
I  really enjoy this recipe with green tea. It tastes similar to a chai latte, while stimulating your metabolism and energizing your mind. Not to mention, green tea  is an excellent antioxidant, which is perfect for the Winter flu season ahead. 

Blend it all together 

  • Pour your mug of coffee or tea into a blender. Add in the coconut oil, butter, Truvia, and vanilla.
  • Turn Blender to the "whip" setting & whip for 20 seconds or until frothy (or any high speed settingworks).
  • A Single Serve Blender like the Magic Bullet or Oster, My Blend Personal 20 oz blender that my friend Amanda gave me last Christmas works great and provides an ever easier clean up. 

Feel Energized and Renewed

With this afternoon pick-me-up you will feel renewed and ready to  lead a  more productive day. It may even make you kinder to co-workers, and whoever else you have the pleasure of gracing with your presence that day. And if nothing else, it'll get you one step closer to that holy weekend.

Coffee Shop Talk 

I think that coffee shops are a great place to go once or twice a week as a treat. I go there most Sundays to work on the blog and always enjoy a latte or tea, while I'm there. However, the recipe above tastes just as good and will save you lots of money and calories. Use it as a "most days" cup of joe, and save the coffee shop for special occasions. 

Sleeping Beauty

If you still feel that you hit that afternoon rut this may have a lot to do with your sleeping habits.No matter what you got going on, it is essential to make rest your priority:
  • Stick with a routine: Try, as best as you can, to keep a steady bedtime and wake-up time. You can even set a daily reminder in your phone that it's time to start to wind down. 
    • The idea is that you're creating a habit that the body then wants to stick to, so it tells you that it's tired at the chosen time- Huffington Post
  • Keep technology out of the bed.:Those lit up screens found on your iPhone, laptop, and even Kindle will keep your mind stimulated and suppresses the sleep-producing hormone melatonin, keeping you wide-awake for hours to come. 
  • "Pencil in" your exercise just like any other appointment in your calendar.
    •  Find a time to exercise that makes you feel re-energized, and in which you can continue to block out in your calendar. 
      • I find that working out between 5:30-6:30pm gives me the best night's sleep; any later, and I'm wide awake all night. I listen to my body; if I haven't worked out yet and its already past 6:30 that night, I know that it is better to choose sleep over a workout.

An Energizing Playlist

 Below is a heart-pumping, energizing playlist that you can listen to on my Spotify account (Lindsay Opper) when working out or simply when you need an afternoon pick-me-up.
Photo Courtesy of: Amanda Bucci
Pretty Lights Concert, Fall 2013
As a spinning instructor and personal trainer with over 4 years of experience, I am excited to share my music playlists with you. I have thousands of songs that I have tested out on both and clients, along with myself, and I know which really push you to perform better.

If you guys are looking for similar health posts, along with full, workout plans, get ready for "Tone it Tuesday's" s debuting in January! Below is your daily dose of inspiration...

Photo Courtesy of Caitie Sprague
Grand Canyon, Fall 2013
I hope you all create an energized-filled Thursday! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Wally the Bull Mastif enjoying his sub
Photo Courtesy of his Aunt: Courtney Laporte

And now for Wednesday's Daily Dose of Inspiration....

Photo Courtesy of:  Jaclyn Tillinghast, Jaclyn. Photography

*To follow the Creatively Lu posts daily,  "like" the FB page 
 Follow @Creatively Lu on InstagramPinterest, and Twitter.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Take Out Tuesdays: Pizza Edition

On the second day of takeout, my true love gave to me....Pizza!

Since the time in which the Dominos commercial came on the radio  during your morning commute, pizza has been on your mind. Around lunch time, you hear the Dominos announcer's words re-play in your head..”Try our new hot, pan pizza made with hand-pressed golden crust, sprinkled with not one…but two layers of cheese.” As you stare down at your painstakingly bland lunch, you grow angry at your yogurt…furious that is not pizza.
And so your day revolves around keeping your “eye on the prize”… with your prize being a big ol’ pizza pie after work. The next two hours on the clock tick by painstakingly slow, until finally, its 5pm and you can go home for the day! And so you stroll out the doors with a feeling of sheer glee, much like this..
Your fingers begin dialing instinctively as you reach your car, and you hurriedly recite your take-out order to the teenager on the phone.  Driving home, you instinctively you automatically reach your hand into the piping hot bag of cinnamon breadsticks and pull off bite-sized pieces to snack on during your 5-minute ride home.

When you enter your house, the rest becomes a blur. Your keys and wallet are thrown in some place in which they will be difficult to find tomorrow, while you leave your coat on and lazily sink into the couch cushions. You flip on the TV, place the pizza box in your lap, and for lack of better phrasing, "stuff yo dam face."Suddenly, after watching a 2 hour episode of the Voice, you wake up from your transfixed food coma; looking down at the left over crumbs as a reminder of the work you did.
And so you make a silent promise to yourself that you will cook a healthy dinner tomorrow and wake up early to workout. But, I’m here to tell you tips for not living in fear of the “takeout monster”. Takeouts gonna happen, and you know what I think it should happen.

I think a huge part of living a healthy life, is the “living life” part. I don’t like to spend time beating myself up for what I “coulda shoulda woulda” done. I just don’t have the time to make a healthy green juice for breakfast, pack the perfect lunch, and steam salmon served alongside perfectly  portioned brown rice and freshly picked vegetables for dinner. What I find is that when I become fixated on meal planning, I become completely fearful of living life. For instance, if my friend calls to go get dinner and we haven’t caught up in awhile, I’m not going to be scared of going out to eat. I’d much rather follow my rules (without announcing them to the world…besides on the blog ofcourse) and enjoy a fun filled night. I sure as heck, am not going to waste the valued time for conversation by spending time complaining “I can’t believe I just ate that.” If I did, I wouldn’t be surprised that I was no longer on their rolodex. In fact, I have taken a few people out of mine for those exact reasons.

Your free time is your free time so it should be spent enjoying a night off from cooking every once in awhile. You guys voted for Pizza and so here are your 5 tips for ordering healthy Pizza takeout, along with my 3 go-to takeout orders.   
Soup pic: Carabas, Salad pic: Olive Branch, Veggie Pizza:, Wrap pic: Reluctant Entertainer

*For more take out tips, see last week's Take Out Tuesday: Chinese food edition

Below is your daily dose of inspiration inspired by my best friend Kim. She is a “go-to” phone call I make each day. Often we make last minute plans to hangout on a Weekday night we both have free, and very often these nights include take-out pizza. She recently had engagement photos taken with her fiancĂ© EJ, and I love how they came out! 
Courtesy of Brittany Taylor, Borderland State Park 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Make it Mondays: Sea Salt Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodles

Printer Friendly Recipe
The moment for me when in which it starts to feel like Christmas has nothing to do with the time in which Christmas commercials begin debuting on TV,or when the lights go up on the neighboring houses, or  even when the Santa pictures begin  at the mall. But rather it finally feels like Christmas to me when my family takes out the boxes of ornaments and decorates our tree.
As a child, I remember placing a significant meaning behind going to pick out our tree. It meant that I was the brink of a couple of exciting weeks ahead. Picking up the tree felt like finally cutting the ribbon for a store opening. I could now "head on in" to the holiday season. When the tree was decorated, I knew I would soon start school vacation, which meant flying to Indiana to spend Christmas with my mom's whole side of the family.
Each year, someone is chosen as the person responsible for handing out our gifts. My mom is wearing the Santa hat in the right corner , because that happened to be her year in which she was chosen. The couples along the far left are the married "kids" of the family.
I remember one year in particular in which we set out to get our tree.  I was roughly 8 years old and I was sitting in the back seat of my mom's car on a drizzly and particularly cold December night. We had just picked out our tree at a local tree farm, and I had insisted on getting the more "mangled" tree in the back of the lot because I was worried that no one would want to buy it. On the way home, we pulled up to the gas station and my mom ran into the mini-mart, as my dad pumped our gas. As she got back in the car, I could tell by the smack of her lips that she was chewing on a candy.  She placed her seatbelt on and leaned over the back of her seat to hand me a Rolo. I wondered what this unfamiliar candy was and if I would like the taste of it. Well, it turns out... I did. And from then on, each year I would make sure to get a roll of Rolos for our car ride home to get our tree. Rolos became a snack, in which I only consumed during the holidays. 
For my mom, her holiday snack of choice was Snickerdoodles. My grandmother knew this and so when we would fly there for Christmas, she would have a fresh batch of Snickerdoodles laid out upon our arrival. 
Grocery shopping with my Mamaw and cousin Kristin

 This is the first year I will not be going to Indiana along with my mom and so I decided to try and bake the Snickerdoodles at home in Boston. As I searched for a Snickerdoodle recipe, it occurred to me that I could combine the two holiday traditions..why not combine the Boston holiday tradition of Rolos with the Indiana holiday tradition of Snickerdoodles? And so I did...and believe me, you're welcome! 

This year, I encourage you to create a tradition that makes you feel like the holiday season is upon you. And if you choose to make these cookies as part of your holiday traditions, I would be more than honored to have my recipe included in your kitchens. Below is the Sea Salt Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodle recipe.

Create not only a great Monday, but a wonderful holiday season! Below is Monday's dose of inspiration. 

*To follow the Creatively Lu posts daily,  "like" the FB page 
 Follow @Creatively Lu on InstagramPinterest, and Twitter.