8 Easter Gift Ideas to DIY or BIY

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Every holiday has its themes and colors and Easter brings to mind pastels and bunnies and baskets. I have been thinking about what to get for my loved ones for this upcoming holiday (yes, still thinking about it even though it is only 5 days away) and have been browsing the world wide web for some inspiration. While there are the usual go-to gifts, such as candies and flowers, I was searching for things that were not candy related or too obvious. Here are a few of my favorite ideas. Do you celebrate Easter? What are some of your favorite gifts to give or get?

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These painted branches look like a fun project to recreate. You can hang them on a wall and perhaps add some nails to them so you can use them as jewelry holders to hang pretty necklaces and other trinkets.

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How adorable are these bunny DIY crayons? They would be so fun to gift and would look pretty in a bowl as decor.

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These hot air balloon animals in a bag are so cute. I would add confetti inside the balloons as an extra surprise.

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I have never attempted to make bath bombs at home, but these DIY egg-shaped ones are tempting me to try them out.

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These popsicle sidewalk chalks look good enough to eat!

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I’ve been seeing these dipped painted wooden spoons around the blogosphere and would love to try to make them myself.

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I cannot have enough bowls around the house as they are so useful, not just in the kitchen, but in every room in my home. I may have to take a trip to the thrift store to see if there are any wooden bowls so I can try to recreate these.

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My fascination with miniature things runs deep and I just about gasped when I saw these mini pastel locks.

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10 Healthy Movie Theater Snack Options

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I fell off the wagon last weekend when I went to the movies and reverted back to my teenager self who just had to have popcorn and candy and soda. UGH! I mean, really, what is it about movie theater popcorn that is just so appealing? I’m not an at-home popcorn eater, but when I step into a movie theater, it’s like I turn into a popcorn savage beast.

Despite trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I failed big time. I know one of the major reasons I turned to unhealthy snacking options is because I did not have a plan. I decided after feeling so guilty that I would come up with healthier alternatives to my movie snacking. Here are some some snack options that I will be bringing along with me in the event a snack attack sneeks up on me at the movie theater again. Perhaps, in the future, I can be more evolved and not even feel the need to snack at the movies (HA!). Do you like to eat at the movies? What are your go-to snack options?

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Grapes and Babybel cheese – I love the combination of grapes and cheese. These Babybel mini cheese rounds are easy to pack and unwrap. They are a great snack to have around. cinalmonds

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds – I have a huge bag of almonds that need to be used. One of my plans is to roast some of them to have as snacks. This recipe looks easy and seems like they would keep for awhile. Almonds satiate easily and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time without having to consume too much.

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Low Carb Popcorn – I just came across this recipe, but I am willing to try it out. Hopefully it is a good substitute for my movie popcorn obsession. Paleo-Nut-Butter-Cups-Reeses-Peanut-Butter-Cup-Substitute

Paleo Peanut Butter Cups – I cannot wait to try this recipe out. I love to freeze my peanut butter cups. I think they are so much tastier that way.

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Low Carb Gummy Bears – I’ve been having a love affair with gummy bears since forever, so you can guess how excited I was to come across this recipe. I cannot wait to try these out!

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Spiced Paleo Raisinets – Raisinets are another of my go-to candy choices at movie theaters. This recipe looks really yummy and will probably taste good frozen.

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Low Carb + Gluten-Free Maple Walnut Candy – Candied nuts usually remind me of holidays (though I like to eat them year-round). This recipe looks like something that I can eat year-round without feeling guilty.

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Brussels Sprouts Chips – I inadvertently made these before as one tends to do when roasting brussels sprouts. You can’t help from having some pesky leaves from falling apart. It was a happy accident. Here’s a great recipe if you want to make them on purpose.

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Baked Kale Chips – When it comes to veggie chips, it can’t hurt to have more than one kind. For variety, here’s a recipe for kale chips. I can only imagine it will do more good than harm to eat one too many of these.

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Tangerines – I love having these around because they taste good, but they also freshen up a space. I can’t imagine anyone complaining if you peel one of these open and the nice citrus smell wafts across the room.

One Romper to Wear to Ten Outings

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Rompers, like dresses, have a certain easiness to them in that they are a complete outfit. As much as I like to play dress up, there are days where I prefer to keep things simple. I like this particular romper because it’s chambray and I’ve had a long-standing committed relationship with chambray (one I suspect is for life), it’s casual, but can be dressed up and it has great details, like the drawstrings in the front and back. When choosing a pricier item, I always think about the uses and years I will have a particular item. Here are 10 different occasions I would wear this to.

  1. An afternoon picnic date
  2. Brunch with girlfriends
  3. Weekend errands-running
  4. A day at the farmers’ market
  5. A BBQ gathering
  6. A casual birthday party
  7. A music festival
  8. On a bike ride
  9. A movie outing
  10. Stepping out for ice cream

Do you like rompers? Do you wear them for only specific events or places?

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{Madewell romper found here}

Lourdes Loves Lately

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{Window shopping inspiration}

TGIF! How was your week? It’s been a good one, despite the change (for the worse) in weather. I’m looking forward to some down time this weekend. My sister keeps insisting I need to watch Empire. Anyone else tuned in? Thoughts? I want to catch the new Cinderella movie. What are your plans? Here are some things I’ve been loving this week. Have a good one!

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{Pretty donuts from Stan’s}

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{Little beauty getting her first haircut}

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{Pretty painting I saw at an office}

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{My mom getting a little help with her cake for an early birthday celebration}

Fitness: Bikram 30 Day Challenge – Day 30 Update

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I completed my 30 day Bikram Yoga challenge on Saturday, March 14. I started this journey because I wanted to add fitness as a daily habit and thought yoga would be a good place to start. And, that 30 days of Bikram yoga would be challenging as well as attainable. Now, here I am, happy to have accomplished my goal, but even happier to have gone through my journey. It wasn’t always easy, but it was worth it.

As I’ve said before, Bikram yoga is a 2.5 – 3 hour daily commitment. I started when I did because I knew that I could make the time for it. Sad to say, but it is not something I can keep up every day now. This is the only negative thing I’ve found with it.

When I started the journey, I was way out of shape. I had not worked out in a really long time and desperately wanted to make it a daily habit. But the thought of it was just too daunting (I hit a major wall after I completed my one and only marathon a few years ago). However, I committed and I made it. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along my journey.

It’s mind over matter – During class and during a particular pose, you will often hear a teacher say “Make up your mind and just do it.” This is so true. When I decided to commit to 30 days, I made up my mind that I was going to do it. I also posted daily on Instagram. During class, if I started to think too long about a pose, I would go back to this mantra of mind over matter and just do it. I think this could apply to life as well.

You will find time for the things that you make a priority – You know that saying, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse?” Well, this is so true. Before Bikram, I would tell myself I had no time for exercise (not even 30 minutes), yet I managed to find 2.5 hours a day every day for 30 days for Bikram. Why? Because I made it a priority. I had to juggle some days, but I always made it to class. I even made it to class when I was feeling so ill that I had to spend almost the entire day in bed, except for when I went to class.

I am a happier person when I exercise – There is scientific evidence that endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. I have always felt better after every class. On days that I was feeling lazy, this is one of the things I would remember to tell myself to get to class and it usually worked.

Small steps can lead to big things – I started my yoga journey on a mission to accomplish doing it for 30 days straight. Now I am on a mission to do it for 90 days straight. And, it has given me the confidence to start my running again as well as try other forms of exercise. Like they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Since I’ve completed my 30 days of Bikram, I’ve started to practice at another studio. While I really did love hot yoga, I wanted to learn other forms as well. My new yoga studio has classes ranging from Vinyasa to Ashtanga to Forrest, as well as other forms. So far, I’ve tried Vinyasa and Yin yoga and have enjoyed both. I want to keep a daily practice so I am seeing what works best for me. This journey to health is a lifelong one in which I will continue to challenge myself. It may not always be easy, but I will make sure to always make it worthy.

Do you practice yoga? Do you workout regularly? What keeps you motivated?

Five Favorite Kitchen Items

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When I got married, I did not have a “traditional” wedding shower. J and I lived together prior to our wedding, so we had already accumulated the usual wedding registry items. Throughout the years, I’ve bought some kitchen/home goods items that I found to be extremely useful and very good investments (and others not so much). Here are some of my favorite items.

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All-Clad Stainless Steel Pots and Pans – Though my husband would beg to differ, I’ve found that stainless steel pots and pans are the way to go for cooking anything. They are easy to clean and maintain. They were recommended to me by a cooking teacher and I absolutely love them.

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Wedgwood White Bone China – I adore my white china. I love the clean and simple design and the shade of white is absolutely gorgeous. Although these are a bit more expensive than other white china, they have proven to be a very good investment. Instead of using them only on “special” occasions, I use them every day. I did not get the bowls because I think it’s fun to mix them up with other dishware that have color or pattern.

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KitchenAid Mixer – I have a purple one and I think it is one of the best inventions ever. While I have not used it outside of baking, I know that it can be used for many other things. Bonus, it’s pretty enough to leave on the counter as décor!

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Mixing Bowls – I think it’s important to have multiple bowls for every occasion. Bowls are so useful for everything, whether you are cooking or baking; or you just need them for eating or holding fruits/vegetables and most anything and everything you can think of.

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Global Knives – I think this is one of the best knives I have ever used. I purchased a chef’s knife many years ago and it still looks brand new. It has maintained it’s durability and has proven it’s effectiveness time and time again (with a sharpening here and there).

Do you have any favorite items for your kitchen or home that you’ve found to be great investments and use all the time?

Stan’s Donuts

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When I lived in LA, one of the things I noticed and thought was so odd was that there were no Dunkin’ Donuts shops around. While I enjoyed going to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (wish we had one in Chicago) and the local bakery, Porto’s (Oh.Em.Gee! Soooooo delicious!), I was perplexed as to why there were no Dunkin’ Donuts anywhere.

But then, I noticed all of the local donut shops around. I tried a few, but wasn’t too impressed (not that Dunkin’ Donuts is impressive at all, nor was I comparing them to DD). I guess because Porto’s was so extraordinary that it really beat out any other place (they are not really known for their donuts, but they are a local bakery and serve bakery goods as well as other food). Of course, I probably should have sought locals’ advice, but did not. And, not to name any names, but I’ve been burned one too many times by a certain website with “real people reviews” to trust anything on there. I haven’t been back to LA since moving from there in 2011, but next time I go, I have a list of donut shops to hit up.

So, that brings us to Stan’s Donuts. My hubby told me about Stan’s as he was working nearby. It’s in our neighborhood, so we decided to give it a try. (Disclosure: We had not gone before because there is an amazing donut shop near us and because I’m trying to be more healthy and donuts and health really don’t go hand-in-hand. LolSob.). Here are a few pics from our visit and some of my thoughts on Stan’s, which, btw, is from Westwood, California. Circle complete.

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I was really excited to try it because look at how cute this place is. I was impressed with the color palette and the retro, yet mid-century modern decor. It was nice and clean and very welcoming.

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I loved the subway tiles and their curated collection of KitchenAid mixers as decor.

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The pink and white stripes packaging is adorable, as you can see. The coffee was nothing extraordinary. Let’s just say, I would not stop in just for coffee.

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We ordered the Nutella (left) and glazed (right) donuts. I really love nutella, but wasn’t too impressed with the donut. The glazed was tasty, light and fluffy.

Overall, I think my other beloved donut shop is more superior in comparison, but it wouldn’t stop me from trying a different kind of donut if I were within close proximity to Stan’s again.

Are you a donut person? Are you a doughnut or donut person? What’s your favorite type of donut? Where is the best donut you’ve ever had?

Now back to that healthy thing…

Fashion Favorites From New York Fashion Week F/W 2015

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Despite the first day of spring that occurred last Friday, it’s snowing once again reminding me how bipolar my city is and bringing me back to days of winter and slush which I was optimistically hoping were far behind us. New York Fashion Week F/W 2015 Collections recently passed, but the designs are still fresh on my mind. Here are a few of my favorites from the runways. What do you think of the collections?

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{All photos via Style.com}

Soul {Food For Thought} Sunday

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{Lake Michigan}

There are always going to be people who will try to bring you down, even those who are closest to you. Just remember that it’s not about you, but a reflection on their own thoughts. If it gets to be too much, then know you have the power to step away. It’s not worth having negative people in your life. Have faith in yourself and follow your guts, more than likely it will lead you in the right direction. Even if you can’t see the forest for the trees. You are enough and your dreams matter. As someone once told me, “It’s none of your business what other people think of you.” Word.

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity.

It’s your place in the world; it’s your life.

Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

{Mae Jemison ~ Physician, astronaut and the first black woman to travel in space}

Fashion: The Best of All Things Yellow

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As much as I love the color yellow for its cheeriness and optimistic outlook, I find that it’s a color I have trouble fitting in my wardrobe. I’d like to wear more of it without looking like Big Bird. So far, I’ve found that mustard is the only shade of yellow that looks good on me. But mustard looks good on everyone. That said, I would like to try to find another yellow shade that would look good on me, but have yet to do so. Here are some of my favorite yellow things coming up for spring. Do you wear yellow? If you have an olive skin tone, have you found any yellow shades (other than mustard) that look good? Please share!

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{All items and photos from Zara.com}