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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Aunt Flo Wasn't Invited (Plus a Free Sample!)

Happy Wednesday Girls!  I am on the road for work this week but wanted to stop in for a little Wedding Wednesday action!  But there's a catch.  Since I'm not at home {and was almost hotel-less last night! A story I will share another day...} I decided I would do a Wildcard Wedding Wednesday post rather than just simply dragging you down good ole memory lane, recollecting my day full of love and glitter.
So today, I'm letting you in on a little secret:  
Me, the crazy, OCD wedding planner that I am... I was even concerned with *GASP* my undies (!!) on my wedding day!  
But seriously?!  Who isn't!? 
Of all days in your life... you may really want to put some thought into your wedding undies.
I know, I know.  TMI right?  But let's be real.  There's a lot of planning that goes into your wedding day... And we can't forget what to wear, under there!  I was super thankful that my bachelorette gals threw me a mini lingerie bash.  I stocked up and I didn't even have to go shopping!  {Because bra and underwear shopping is almost as bad as spending the day at the DMV.  Am I right?}
Target Bridal Underwear
Cute and Comfy, via Target. 
Bride Boxers from Target
Getting ready, Lounge Worthy.  Via Target.
Wedding Underwear from Target
Or something lacy and sexy?  Again, via Target.
The whole point {other than saying our i do's and marrying the man we love, of course} is that we want to look our finest, feel the prettiest we can possibly feel, and spend our wedding day on cloud nine as a confident, married lady, who is ready to party!  That doesn't just happen with the gown.  It includes the earrings, the veil, the garter, and the undies.  


Kotex Save the Undies 3D Capture

I would like to introduce you to the new U by Kotex® Ultra Thin Pads with 3D Capture Core. What does all that mean?!  It means that these pads have a one-of-a-kind center that locks away wetness to help stop leaks. They are perfect for protecting your wedding white undies, not to mention your wedding gown!  They allow you to spend your day having fun and tying the knot without worrying about your crazy ole Aunt Flo crashing the reception.

   Kotex in Bridal Bag
U by Kotex® would like to help you SAVE YOUR {wedding} UNDIES!  So how about a free sample to toss into your bridal bag?  Just click over here: Free Sample of U by Kotex Pads

New Kotex Pads #Savetheundies

And as a social media junkie, I can't wrap up this blog post without mentioning that I'm pretty obsessed with their witty hashtag:  #savetheundies
So gals, answer me this - what did you, or what will you be wearing {under there} on your wedding day?  
{Or do I not want to know?!}
I promise I will be back next Wednesday with some of my favorite reception photos for you!  If you want to catch up on some of the past, glitter filled, Wedding Wednesday Posts you can see them here.
As always, I'm linking up with these lovely gals:
Wedding Wednesday
NC Belle In Boots
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Many thanks to U by Kotex for sponsoring today's post.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Whole30 Approved Taco Seasoning (and Salad!)

As the #2catsWhole30 Train pushes through Day 2, I really wanted to try to get some of my favorite recipes out here for y'all.  I can't wait to show everyone how GOOD clean eating really can be.  

Mexican-American food {i.e. TexMex} is unfortunately an extreme comfort food of mine.  Give me some chips, salsa and guacamole and I'm a happy girl.  97% of our date nights revolve around Chipotle.  And when it comes to spicy food, the hotter the better.

Now, just because you've jumped head first into the paleo world with the Whole30 doesn't mean you have to give up your Mexican food.  {Well, those chips, tortillas, and queso sauces - yes. But give me this one recipe to convince you that you can still enjoy a good Taco Salad (minus the chips) and eat clean at the same time!}

2 Cats & Chloe:  Whole30, Paleo Taco Salad

Whole30 Approved Taco Seasoning


For the Seasoning:

1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
3/4 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

1 pound of Grass-Fed Ground Beef (you could always do ground turkey or chicken also)
1/2 Cup of Water

For the Salad Fixings I use:

Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
Lettuce (Iceberg or Romaine are the best for a Taco Salad, but I just use whatever we have in the fridge)
Peppers and Onions (I use frozen ones from Trader Joes)
Salsa (no added sugar)

Feel free to add any other taco salad essentials that you love - but to keep it whole30 and paleo, stay away from the chips, cheese, and salsa with added sugar.

Paleo and Whole30 Taco Salad Seasoning

This is going to be one of the easiest paleo meals you will ever make.  Basically you need to collect the necessary seasonings and brown the meat.  Once the meat is browned, you are going to pour the seasoning blend onto the meat.  Add the 1/2 cup of water.  Mix everything up really well so that the seasoning is blended throughout.  Put the seasoned taco meat on low and let the water simmer out.  Continue to check in on it though, stirring and mixing it every couple of minutes.

Paleo Taco Salad Peppers and Onions

At the same time, in a different skillet, it's time to start cooking the peppers and onions!  Like I said - this is a go-to easy meal for me.  To help keep it simple, I use the frozen Trader Joe's Fire Roasted Peppers and Onions.  Toss them in the pan and let them cook right up.  Again, flip them around every now and then until they are not frozen and appear soft.  (You could definitely use fresh peppers and onions as well!  This bag of tricks is much quicker and less expensive than fresh peppers are right now though.)

Taco Salad that is Whole30 Approved

I like to put my lettuce on the bottom of the plate.  For Taco Salad, I prefer iceberg or romaine lettuce.  But we had neither.  So I used whatever was in the fridge.  On top of the lettuce went my peppers and onions.  On top of that the beef and any other "taco toppings of choice."  

Homemade Paleo Whole30 Taco Salad

I always wonder if pro-foodie bloggers' kitchens end up as messy as mine does... Don't let the pretty food pictures fool you.  My kitchen is a hot mess!

Taco Seasoning that is Whole30 approved!

To me, the salsa and guacamole are the cherry on top of this taco sundae.  Pop a few spoonfuls of each on top of your taco salad creation and then dig in!

Whole30 and Paleo Approved Taco Salad and Seasoning

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!  What taco toppings do you love? 

Happy clean-eating!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hampton Virginia, Wedding Ceremony

Last week was quite a bit befuddling for me.  Secretly trying to escape the east coast and head to Vegas without it hitting the social media fan was tough.  I made it.  There AND back.  But it absolutely positively debunked my entire blog schedule (not to mention sleep schedule! - Look out Sunday morning because I'm sleeping through you!) 
Let's not forget that the #2catsWhole30 has started!  And we have about 45 people on board!  To keep my mind off of the fact that all I want right now, on Day One, is inhale a Snickers, a glass of wine, and a poptart - let's just keep up with the fun that had been: it's Wedding Wednesday!
It has taken everything in me to not share the fun reception pictures with you.  My wedding reception was my masterpiece.  To be quite frank, I didn't even plan a darn thing for the ceremony until the week prior.  But - we can't have a reception if we don't have a ceremony first right? Same is true in blogland. 
So here we have it - our wedding ceremony!
DIY Wedding Program Printed at Home

I decided to not spend an arm and a leg on our stationary.  My sister helped me design our invitations, while I created programs on my own.  I used the best shimmery card stock and simply printed them on my own computer (two per page, then cut them in half.)  We also wanted to keep things fun, so I added one fun fact about each of our wedding party members.  

The Chapel of the Centurion was not my first choice.  I had planned on having the ceremony at the same location as our reception but my family nixed that idea.  This chapel was quant and more importantly, close by.  I didn't want our guests driving a far distance in between the wedding ceremony and the reception.  The coolest part about The Chapel of the Centurion was that it was located behind the Fort Monroe walls.  You literally have to go through an old, historic fort's walls to get there!

Chapel of the Centurion, Fort Monroe, Hampton Virginia Wedding

Hampton Roads Virginia, My Wedding Violinist, Steve Campbell

My good friend Steve Campbell of My Wedding Violinist played before and after our ceremony.  Months later and my grandmother is still raving about how perfect it was to have him play.  (And he plays all over Virginia if you are looking for a violinist!)

I wish I could've been a fly on the wall for whatever conversation was going on between our two dads (below.)  They clean up well though, don't they?!

Father of the Bride and Father of the Groom before Wedding ceremony, Hampton VA

Hampton, Virginia - Fort Monroe Wedding - Chapel of Centurion

We didn't have a flower girl, but we did have two ring security guards.  The bow ties and t-shirts were all DIY between me and a couple bridesmaids.  How stinkin' cute are these kiddos?!  Benjamin (dark hair) came all the way from Switzerland to fulfill his duties, while Anthony (the blonde) traveled from New Mexico.  They boys took their job very seriously, can't you tell?!

Ring Security Ring Bearers!  DIY Shirts and Bow Ties for Ring Bearer

Bridesmaids in Eggplant Purple Dresses, Virginia Weddings

Wedding Ring Security, Ring Bearers with Glittery boxes!

For some strange reason, my dad and I all-out sprinted down the aisle.  Afterwards, so many guests kept asking why we were walking so fast.  Honestly, it's all a blur to me!  I guess we were just in a hurry to get the show on the road!  

Father walks bride down aisle, augusta jones bobbi wedding gown

Wedding Ceremony in Hampton Virginia

What the camera missed here was my dad "showing" Michael that he would be watching him!  If you didn't know my dad, it would've easily been mistaken as a threat.  I love the look he has on his face as he is walking back to the pew... almost the same look Jack Bauer has as he takes down the bad guys and narrowly escapes trouble.  #badass

Funny wedding ceremony moments

Hampton Roads Weddings, Chamberlin Wedding

Apparently something funny happened.

Bride and Groom funny wedding ceremony moments

And then things got real.

Virginia Wedding, Chapel of the Centurion on Fort Monroe

And then we got married!

Bride and Groom Kissing!  Hampton, Virginia Wedding

Then we had a singing flash mob in the church to sing us out...  Two of my good friends randomly stood up, for no good reason, other than to sing "Oh Happy Day!"  Then the bridesmaids, grooomsmen, and parents all joined in with singing and clapping.  No big deal or anything.  It's not like we are rockstars, that's just how we roll.

Singing Flash Mob at Wedding Ceremony

Husband and Wife Wedding Ceremony Exit
So there you have it friends!  We are officially married!  Did you do anything fun or unique for your wedding ceremony?  How much time did you put into the ceremony planning?
As always, I'm linking up with these two gals today:

Wedding Wednesday
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Leslie!

Happy Birthday to my not-so-much-a-kid sister today!

HRVA Blogger - 26th Birthday Celebration

I cannot believe you're already 26... Where has the time gone?

Newport News Blogger - Happy birthday Leslie!

Wedding Photobooth by Echard Wheeler

Silly Sisters in Wedding Photobooth - Virginia Blogger

Happy Birthday to my not-a-twin!  I hope you have a wonderful day, and a terrific year ahead of you.  Sorry to miss your party tonight!  I will be on my side of the water, eating a gluten free cuppie and sipping some red wine in honor of your 26 years!

#2catswhole30 Update - Whole30 starts tomorrow friends! Woot!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Whole30 Questions and Essentials!

Guys - it is taking every single ounce of motivation and alertness that is still remaining in my body today, to sit at my desk and work.  Why am I so absolutely drained?  Because I just spent the last four days of my life in Vegas with some of my greatest friends.  Oh, and let us not forget that I basically want to spend today driving around town.  Again, you're asking why?  Only because my husband is a rockstar.

On Friday, while I was busy putzing around the Strip, then getting my hair and makeup done, I got a text from my hubby with this picture:

2014 Mazda3 Hatchback

So yeah, I'd say three-ish days of vacation and returning home to a brand spanking new car isn't that bad of a life.  Can someone please pinch me?

Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas Rehab Cost of Drinks

I would love to share a bit about my beyond awesome, whirl wind trip to Vegas with you - however, we have some business to cover today.

Whole30 Challenge for a Group #2catswhole30

As most of y'all know, I am a HUGE proponent of the Whole30.  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we are starting another group challenge THIS WEDNESDAY.  There are about 30 people right now who have committed to spend 30 days eating clean, getting healthy, and supporting each other throughout the process.  And we would LOVE for you to join us in this!

I have already sent out a few business-y emails with links and explanations.  If you want to join, let me know ASAP and I can get you added to the list, and I will forward you the previously sent emails.

I wanted to spend a few minutes today, publicly answering a few of your Whole30 questions, purely based on my past experiences.  Please keep in mind that I am NOT a nutritionist.  I am just sharing what I have read and learned from experience.  And most importantly what works for me and makes me feel GOOD.

Q:  No grains, No added sugar, No dairy, No beans or soy or legumes, No booze?  
Are you serious?

Yes.  Very much so.  And you can do it.  It's just 30 days.  You will quickly discover and love how much you CAN eat.  Yes, you will miss the cheese pizza.  Yes, you will have dreams about talking bowls of ice cream that are battling it out with stalks of celery.  Yes, you will be exhausting every single sweet potato option that is available.  But like I said, it's only 30 days.  And I promise you will feel good and be absolutely proud of yourself when you wrap this puppy up.

Q:  If I can't drink wine, beer, soda, boxed juice, monster drinks, frappicinos, or sweet tea - won't I be thirsty?!

Friends, I would be lying if I said you won't be oh so tired of drinking water.  But unfortunately, it is, by far, the best thing you can do for yourself.  I am personally not a huge fan of plain-jane water.  I have become obsessed with bubbly mineral water.  {It makes me feel like I am drinking soda without all the crap and sugar!}  Pop some lemon, fruit or mint into your water.  Mix it up some!

And believe it or not - you can still drink your morning cup of joe.  A cup of coffee is okay.  I would limit the amount the amount of caffiene you are taking in, but if you need your morning coffee - have it!  BUT - remember you either have to have it black or add some coconut cream to it.  No added sugar of any sort.  {You want the coconut cream or milk that is found in the can.  The heavy stuff from Trader Joes is by far my fave, and must less expensive than that link above, when in store.  You can typically find the cans of this milk or cream in the asian food section of your grocery store.}

Tea is also another great option.  Seriously.  Hot or Cold.  When I am on a Whole30, I stick with tea in the morning because I just cannot handle my coffee without stevia.  And just your luck, I know of a girl who sells Loose Leaf Tea!  And she will be offering a Whole30 discount!  {It's me if you haven't caught on yet!}  Head over to my shop and check out the few teas I have listed.  I also have about 15 other flavors I could hook you up with if none of these strike your fancy.  Use the Coupon Code: Whole30 for 10% off!  {Expires Sept 1, 2014}

Whole30 What to Drink Mocktail

Lastly, as far as drinks go, I am going to reference booze.  You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be spending tonight and tomorrow night drinking my beloved wine.  As you are out with your friends it can be tough to not partake in a glass or two.  I know it's not the same, but I have found that my Whole30 Mocktails are the perfect beverage when I am craving a drink with friends.  

My Whole30 Results and Success

Q:  How much weight will I lose?

Let me point out, that the Whole30 was not created as a weight lose plan.  It is a way to kick your butt into gear; a way to reboot your eating habits and get healthy.  That being said, a lot of us will lose weight when doing this.  In three months (2 whole30s and 1 month of paleo) I lost 20 pounds.  It is possible, you just cannot use your weight as a way to judge your success with a whole30.  If you feel good, you make it through the 30 days, your clothes fit better, and you learn a few new healthy recipes - you've done well. 

Q: I don't care what you say.  I'm going to weigh myself daily.

Remember!  You ARE NOT ALLOWED to weigh yourself throughout the whole30.  Just don't do it.  Your weight fluctuates so much, don't let this be something to determine your mood.  Hop on the scale on day one and on day 31.  Take pictures on day one and on day 31 also!

Q:  What about exercise?  Can I still hit the gym?  What if I'm not that fit?

Look, I am definitely not an expert in this field, but I can tell you what does and doesn't work for me.  I lost 9 pounds on my first whole30 and I only exercised once or twice a week.  If you are not an active person, I would recommend adding some physical activity to your regimen.  Even just walking.  A little at a time is a good start.  If you are currently active, there is no reason why you cannot continue your routine.  My goal is to work out at least 5 times a week for this whole30.  {I'm currently lucky if I workout twice.}  I think you should set a fitness goal for yourself too!  Goals are great, and you have the support of this group to stay on track and keep you motivated!

Q:  There are certain foods that I cannot live without.  There are certain foods that are whole30 that I cannot stand.  What do I do?

Unless you will die without your {fill in the blank} you can live without it.  I struggled with giving up my wine and cheese.  Seriously, y'all.  I thought life was going to suck without them both, so why even give them up?  Because you don't know until you try AND it's just 30 days.  If you dwell on the fact that you will be going 30 days without {fill in the blank} you are letting that food/drink/object control you.  Prove to yourself that wine/cheese/bread/yogurt/snickers/ice cream/chocolate doesn't have control over your life!

If there is a food you swear you hate, but it's all over the meal plan as a whole30 approved item {i.e. sweet potatoes} all I have to say is TRY THEM.  I had people calling me up last time raving about how they hated sweet potatoes.  Then they tried the sweet potato fries and were hooked.  

Q:  What can I use to replace some of my go-to cooking items? 

Here are a few things that we cannot live without that I highly recommend you get your paws on immediately.

Ghee - This is clarified butter and is whole30 approved. It's a necessity in our house as I use it for sautéing veggies, for eggs, and sometimes on sweet potatoes.  

Coconut Aminos - The absolute best replacement for soy sauce I have been able to find.  It has no crap in it and it allows me to enjoy "Asian" dishes!  I even take this with me into sushi places (when I'm not on a whole30, of course!)  I use this for my Paleo "Lo Mein."

Coconut Oil - Use this in your cooking instead of oils like Vegetable oil or Canola oil.  I use this for basically everything I cook in a pot or pan.  

Coconut Cream - Like I said above, this is a GREAT option for coffee and even tea.  I started using it after my first whole30 and have never been able to go back to traditional milk or creamer.

There are also a couple kitchen tools that I use all the time, that make the whole30 a bit easier.

1.  My Spiral Noodle Slicer aka my Zoodle Maker.  If you are joining us, we will have recipes using this tool starting in week two.  There are definitely ways around having one, but not only does it make cooking fun, it is also quick and great when you are craving noodles!

2.  A Mandolin - this is great for cutting up veggies.  I specifically use it for my sweet potato chips and my sweet potato hash.  

3.  I HIGHLY recommend that you get yourself a copy of It Starts with Food.  While their website is terrific, and you can ask me anything (and I will try to answer or find the answer for you) this book is packed with awesome information to help you through your journey.  And it's prime eligible on Amazon!

Wow this turned into one incredibly long post!  I hope you find some or all of this helpful.  If you have Whole30 or paleo questions for me as we begin this journey together, please do not hesitate to comment below, or shoot me an email, or find me on Instagram, or even on our #2catswhole30 facebook group!

Hit me up if you need anything!  I'm super excited to get started with y'all on Wednesday!

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