Happy girls are the prettiest girls

6.24.2014

Going Texas, y'all

Since moving to Texas, I have been on a quest to assimilate. I will forever be a California girl, but when in Rome, or in this case, Texas, you do as the Texans.

Tacos for every meal? Check. A quest to find the best BBQ in the Austin area? Check. Big a** donuts? Check. And then it got away from the food sector.

It started simply enough with settling on a country station every now and again while in the car while the other stations were on commercial or playing annoying songs. That turned into knowing a few of the more pop country artists and songs enough to download an album(Cole Swindell, anyone?), or to put a pop country Pandora station on in the house. I figured it was pretty innocent, even though the 18 year old music snob version of me is rolling in her indie-loving grave.

This this past weekend, I upped my game and went all in.

Friday night, one of Billy's coworkers invited me out with her girls for dinner, drinks, and to hit up the country bar in town, Wild West. I've never been to a country bar, or even watched country dancing other than at weddings when the Cupid Shuffle or some other "line dance" is played. This was a whole new world for me. People were dancing, like almost ballroom style. it was called two-stepping, and everyone, young and old, knew the steps. How do you learn how to do this? Is it a Texas thing that you have to be born into? Much observing was done on my part. Thankfully Wild West plays more than country music, so I made it onto the dance floor to do my signature shake the hips and wave my hands around moves. I have some real smooth moves. Later I was asked to dance, and when I said I didn't know how, the guy said he'd teach me, it was easy. Actually, it was! I made it through an entire song, with a few spins, without falling on my booty or looking like a complete fool. I'm just guessing about that last part, I never know exactly what I look like.
 
Saturday, I went even bigger. I ran with the bulls. Yup, you read that right. Real, big, 1500lb bulls running alongside me. It was the Texas Bull Run. I heard about it thanks to a Meet Up group I'm a part of, and originally had signed up to chase the baby bulls in an all girls run that ended up being canceled. So I woman'd up and ran with the big boys, in my Batman tank, no less. Twice. To say it was terrifying is an understatement. I played it safe and stayed near the front of the pack, and real close to the gates to be able to hop up on the fence when the bulls rushed past. "Bull rush" has so much more meaning to me now. Those suckers are fast and don't mess around. My only injury is a small bruise on my arm from where another runner shoved me into the fence in order to get in front of me. Not cool, bro.
I totally photo bombed my new friend Ben here. He was part of the group I floated with, so it's cool.
No joke, y'all. These suckers were scary.
After the bull run, I did another very Texas thing, and floated the San Marcos river. Floating is a new concept to me, so I'll explain it in case it is for you also. From the ranch, you are driven by school bus up the river, dropped off, then you float for four hours all the way back to the ranch. It's basically a floating party. Coolers full of beer get their own tubes, and you hook yourself together around them. Then you just...float. It was actually quite fun. I'm pretty sure it had a lot to do with the fun group I was with, but know it would be nice even in a different group. I would definitely do it again. No photos were taken, to preserve my phone from taking a dip in the river, but I'm sure you get the idea.

So there you go, I am going full on Texas, y'all. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Oh wait, that's just Friday Night Lights ;)

6.23.2014

8 weeks later

Happy summer!!
8 weeks ago, I started my very first Tone It Up bikini series. I had known about the TIU girls for years, and have been following them on social media and even watched their Bravo reality show. One time, I even signed up for a challenge and got all the emails, but never did a single workout. I knew I needed extra accountability, so I created a FB group, and a new instagram account just for my food and workout check ins. Both would go on to be invaluable to me.
Little did I know, this series would really change so much more than I expected.
Sure, the workouts were tough, but I was able to fit them in the majority of the time, or make up for a missed workout the next day. The weekly schedule was perfect for always giving me something to do. I loved that I was motivated to get a cardio session in every day by the #150bysummer goal, and the workouts themselves were usually under 30 minutes, so I could easily fit them into my day. Don't mistake a short workout as being easy--they usually kicked my booty and had me dripping sweat. I loved that they packed a big effort into a short amount of time.
The thing that surprised me the most, was the community. Other TIU girls were so incredibly supportive during every day of this series. People from all over the world were liking and commenting on my check in photos, and I even got together with some of the TIU Austin girls for a stand up paddle boarding meet up. There were so many mornings that I didn't want to get up to run or do my daily work out, but scrolling through my Instagram feed gave me the happy motivation I needed to get out bed and out the door. Without those girls who were so awesomely doing their own bikini series, I don't think I would have successfully completed the series.

And successfully complete it I did. I didn't take measurements at the start of the series, but I did track my weight every day, just to keep an eye on what would make me retain water (hint: it's sugar and carbs, or eating a lot late at night). In the end, I lost 14.5lbs! That's pretty awesome for 8 weeks.

I still feel like I have a ways to go, so I am going to continue following the TIU schedule that is out every Sunday, or restart the bikini series today for another go at 8 weeks of booty kicking. If you want to join me, I would love it!

Here are my progress photos. I've definitely been smaller in the past, but I am happy with this for what I have done and what I have planned.

6.17.2014

Tasty Tuesday: almond butter yogurt bowl

Here's a delicious, filling, protein packed treat that pretty much anyone can enjoy. You can change ingredients to suit your tastes and needs, so feel free to make this your own. It's super easy to throw together when a sweets craving hits, or when you just want a healthy snack.
Happy Girl Yogurt Bowl
Ingredients
1/2 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt, I used plain Fage
1 tbsp almond or peanut butter
1 dash cinnamon
1 tsp agave syrup
1 banana
4 strawberries, sliced

Directions: Place yogurt, nut butter, cinnamon, and agave into a small bowl and mix together. Top with sliced bananas and strawberries. Enjoy the heck out of your delicious treat.

My bowl ended up being just over 300 calories, with 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Not bad! You can use coconut or soy yogurt, any nut butter you like, and any fruit that sounds like a good addition. You can skip the agave, or use honey or stevia as your sweetener instead. Pumpkin pie spice would probably be a fantastic trade off for the cinnamon. It's an extremely versatile dish that can be changed so many ways, so feel free to experiment and find what works for you.

6.07.2014

I ate Dallas

This is the story of how I ate all the things this week. Just kidding. I really wanted to eat even more things, but this TIU bikini series has given me a small measure of self control that was bent a lot, but not broken.

If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, and haven't been deterred by my less than stellar posting habits, you may remember that I lived with my friend Kate for a month before moving to Austin. Well, it turns out that Kate and her husband, and her precious little baby bump, will be following my lead and moving to Texas next month! Unfortunately not to Austin, but close enough in Dallas.

I met up with Kate in Dallas on Monday for a few days of apartment hunting and girl time. We spent our first few hours following a Realtor around, checking out some townhouses and being less than impressed with his professionalism, but it was a good start. Kate introduced me to one of her favorite chicken places, Zaxby's, that is plentiful in Atlanta where she is from, but is scarce elsewhere. I really, really wanted to just get all sorts of yummy fried chicken, but I opted for a grilled chicken salad and knew I was missing out.

A short siesta at the hotel followed, and then excitement happened! Amber, of Brunch with Amber blog fame, showed up to get a hair cut from me. Yup, if I am in your city, you better believe I am willing to meet up and do a little hair. Amber is so sweet and wanted to donate hair to the Children with Hair Loss Foundation, and I am all about helping people donate to charities, especially when it benefits those who have lost hair for some reason. Amber's hair was long. Like looooong. Minimum donation is 8 inches, but we got 10 inches and still had plenty of length to achieve the style she wanted.
Seriously, how cute is Amber? And how awesome is she for donating her hair to such a great cause! I highly recommend looking into great charities like CWHL if you would like to donate your own hair.

Much chatting, good belly laughs, and fun was had by Amber, Kate and I, until Amber had to head home. Kate and I decided to check out Northpark Mall, where there is a Kate Spade store that my own Kate, who works for KS back in CA, wanted to visit. I should have been smart and stayed away. I went in blindly, having no previous knowledge of Kate Spade goodness.

Y'all. My eyes have been opened.

I need more Kate Spade in my life. It's an expensive new addiction, and it won't be completely scratched. Ever.

We found ourselves at the Kona Grill happy hour, where we enjoyed all sorts of goodies before calling it a night.

Day 2 had me up early, using the hotel gym to get 3 miles in on the treadmill and a Tone It Up workout before we started our day. Which was visiting a local ENT to check out Kate. It was sad folks. Poor Kate's ears never cleared after her flight to Dallas, having had to pressurize twice from a layover. Turns out that 5 months preggo Kate had a double ear infection, sinus infection, and bronchitis. Serious trooper, right there. She had to have a double myringotomy, which is a fancy way of saying the doctor poked holes in her ear drums to relieve pressure and help them drain. Ouch. Some antibiotics and a change to her return flight, and on she went. Total badass right there.

We met up with an apartment locator, Beverly of Dallas Apartment Locators, and toured a few properties and had the best time. I highly recommend using Beverly if you are looking for a place to live in Dallas. She was a breath of fresh air after our previous day's experience with a Realtor. I will end my review there, or else this will feel like a Yelp review, and you better believe I am going to give her a glowing review!

We grabbed Pinkberry, took a little nap, then ventured out to Trinity Groves to have dinner at LUCK (Local Urban Craft Kitchen) thanks to a Yelp scan.The food was amazing. We started with tempura battered fried green tomatoes with chili aioli and Texas caviar (get in my belly), and Kate had pot roast and brussel sprout hash, while I got pan seared mahi mahi with quinoa tabbouleh. The service was a little slow for an unknown reason, so while we got our appetizer before our drinks, it took another 45 minutes to get our entrees. Our server was very friendly and quite chatty, so he felt bad our food took forever and gave us free dessert--apple fritter funnel cake for Kate, and chocolate chip brownie for me. Free dessert? Of course I ate it, even though it was in no way Tone It Up approved! I was super sugar high after eating just half that dessert, my heart hammering well into the night haha
Wednesday I again hit the gym for 4 miles on the treadmill and a few TIU workouts. We had plans to head to the super cute Konx street so Kate could meet up with the Kate Spade store manager of that neighborhood store for a little meet and greet-- or so we thought. Knox reminded me a lot of Campbell, where my CA salon is located, so I loved hanging out. Turns out Kate pretty much got herself a job at that store, and a promotion, to boot. It's not quite clear to us, and maybe not even official if it's true, but we both got the impression that our meet up turned into an unofficial interview. Funny that Kate had thought she would not be working when she got to Dallas, and now it looks like she will be the visual merchandising supervisor for Kate Spade on Knox!
We got a lunch recommendation for Sissy's Southern Kitchen, which we were more than happy to try. Another round of fried green tomatoes was had. What can I say? I'm totally in love with them. Fried okra also made it to our table, and became a new obsession as well. I opted for the purple hull pea patties, while Kate ordered the renowned fried chicken. We were both pleased, and quite full, from our delicious lunch. Definitely a must have if you are in Dallas. Sissy's has the cutest decor, from a china plate installation around mounted deer heads, to the coolest light fixtures and a side room that is all Victorian and amazing.
 Kate had changed her early Wednesday flight from Dallas, to a Thursday flight from Austin because of her ears, so I had a road trip buddy to accompany me back home. Kate was a great DJ, playing a fun mix of music ranging from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, to Kacey Musgraves. We even stopped in Waco to visit my friend Stephanie of the Vintage Modern Wife blog. I finally got to meet her cute puppy Pearl, and it was fantastic to catch up and introduce the two preggos while we were at it.

We made it back to Austin without incident, which is excellent in my opinion, and headed to dinner at Jack Allen's Kitchen in Round Rock, because obviously I needed more delicious food! We met up with some mutual friends of ours for a fantastic dinner and great conversation.

I was sad to see Kate leave early Thursday morning, but I am excited that she gets to be a permanent Texas resident in about a month's time! Now if only I can convince more friends and family to move out this way...

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