Thursday, November 27, 2014

Bits from Behind the Scenes: Turkey Edition

On a recent trip to Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) upon picking up a turkey to check the price:

Melinda: #$@%*! ....$85.12?!?!?!? For a turkey?  Did the #$@%*! thing lay golden eggs before it died?

~long pause to hightail it to the car and head to Safeway for their 88 cent a lb special~

Waiting for the arrival of a perfectly cooked and reasonably priced turkey.
Also waiting for all the wrinkles to naturally fall out of the tablecloth as I despise ironing round ones.  Despise.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our wonderful Posh Purpose readers!  I hope you are filling up on something yummy and spending time with your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Say No to Holiday Fluff!

Ah...the holidays.  Beautiful trees, spending time with loved ones, and going to Christmas church service...and hoping that those extra scoops of holiday food goodness somehow magically disappeared with Santa on his sleigh instead of taking up residence on your backside for the long winter.  Since the season of eating begins tomorrow, I think it's best I revisit last year's article on maintaining your weight through the holiday season.  My least favorite diet tip that aaaaall the magazines like to put out there is still the one about eating your dinner before you go to a party so you don't eat while you're at the party.  Um, news flash...I don't have to be hungry to eat a cookie or drink a pint of egg nog.  It's like jello...there's always room.  Plus, who wants to be the person who deprives themselves of all Christmas treats?  Um, not this Posh Purpose girl.  So!  Here we go!  Most of these tips are about planning and making minor changes to make up for a few extra calories here and there:

Posh Purpose's Kindly Suggestions on How to Still Fit in Your Pants Come January

1. Religious calorie counting on days you don't have parties/events - 1600 calories* and no more (I use an Android app called Fat Secret...horrible name, but decent app).  Weigh in daily to keep yourself honest.

2. Eat something healthy before a party - soup and salad if you have time or yogurt and nuts are both good options.  Although I don't believe in eating before you go to a party in order to not eat at the party is a good idea, I also don't think I want to have my blood sugar drop and find myself face first in a cheese platter either.  Been there, done that.  Also, your tummy and waistline will thank you if you go to a corporate with nothing but dried out chicken and greasy (but tasteless) sides.  Those items just aren't worth the calories, but you would probably devour them if you went on an empty stomach.

3. Eat 3-4 small servings of things you truly want to eat at the party - things that are special for Christmas time or you know are a specialty of the hosts....then don't eat them again at any other parties.  For example, I love egg nog, rum balls, and peppermint bark.  I could have a small cup of egg nog, 2-3 rum balls, and a piece of peppermint bark at a party.  At the next party, I would bypass these items and perhaps choose a scoop of hot crab dip, a small cup of apple cider, and a slice of pie.  Then bypass all of those items at any other parties.  Fill up on veggies and lean protein for the rest of your food selection.  Cold shrimp is a very good choice that you will often find this time of year.  My theory on this tip is that I will get to have all my favorite things without overloading my plate at each and every party.

4. Cut back on your everyday treats -  ex. if you are putting half and half in your coffee, switch to 2% for the next month.

5. Eat seafood at corporate events - My nutritionist once said that if you have to go into an event blind or without any ability to customize your food, go for fish.  Even if the fish is deep fried or sauteed in butter, the calorie count for fish starting out is lower than any of the other proteins.

6. Stick to wine or hard cider - Lots of taste, less calories than a mixed drink, classier than a shot, and no fat.

7. Plan out where you can eat when you are running errands or Christmas shopping now - For me, I know the meal combinations I can have at Chick-Fil-A (grilled chicken nuggets and small fry or spicy chicken sandwich - no bun - and small fry) and Panera Bread (bacon turkey bravo half sandwich and half salad or bowl of soup) which are readily accessible.  Other options for a sit down meal, are Olive Garden (soup, salad, and bread sticks) and Seasons 52 (no item on the menu is over 475 calories).  I would suggest looking at your local area where you plan on doing the most shopping and coming up with a game plan.  My nutritionist told me successful dieters have plans and people tend to gain weight the most when they are rushed for time and don't have a plan set in place.  That's how you wind up pulling through the Taco Bell line and ordering a burrito and two tacos with extra nacho sauce.  This goes the same for traveling!  Have a plan of where you can stop on the road or in the airport.  Bring snacks with you so you aren't tempted!

8. Add on 15 mins to your work out time or another workout a week.  This one can be super hard!  If you can't add it to your work out or you have no extra days for a workout, try to go for a walk at lunch during your work days.  Also, try and have a nice walk (so relaxing!) or jog (if you feel so inclined, I rarely do) on the major holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's.  It will help you digest post-meal and it's a nice way to either spend time with family or get away from them (depending on your situation).  I'm going to try to hit up zumba tomorrow morning right after the turkey goes in the oven!  I'd also like to add in a post-church zumba class or a spin class on Sundays.

9. Take none and leave all - If you are having a party or hosting Christmas dinner, stock up on to-go containers.  If it's not healthy, it must go.  If you are attending a party, refuse to take anything.  You can "accidentally" leave it behind.  Whoopsies.

10. Plan a non-meal event for your girlfriend get togethers -  I suggest coffee.  You can get a small drink (latte with cinnamon on top - caffeine & protein!) and if you can't stay away from the bakery case, split something with your friends. You'll save money and calories.  More active options would be to go bowling or ice skating. 

11. Eat what you want on the main days - Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day.  Chances are you probably won't be eating more than one big meal each of those days.  Even if you are eating 2,500 calories, you are doing it all at once and not three times that day.  You should also be able to rebound from 1-3 days of poor eating spread out over several's the week long time frame of Thanksgiving and in between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day that I've noticed really make an impact.  I also don't see the point in eating low-cal versions of traditional foods - pumpkin pie with splenda is just not the same and cranberries flavored with agave sounds nasty.  If you must exercise some sort of self control or you are attending multiple meals in one day - fill up on whatever main protein there is (ham, turkey, etc.) and the healthiest side (usually green beans).  You can have one small scoop each of all your favorite things and only eat the best offerings at each meal if you are going to multiple places (i.e. if your Aunt Gertrude's sweet potatoes are better than your granny's...don't tell, but don't eat either).

12. Get back to your regular groove as soon as possible and don't beat yourself up - You may still gain 1-3 lbs between now and the New Year...but that's much less to beat myself up about and far fewer pounds to work off compared to the 20 billion people who join the gym and take all the parking spots/machines post-holiday 15 lb. binge.  I'll just go back to my regular schedule - I hope without having to buy new pants.

If you've got any other tips, let me know!  I'm always open to suggestions.

* I'm not a licensed professional, so you should consult your doctor before starting any nutrition plan or exercise program.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fall Decorations

Even though it is almost time to switch over to Christmas decorations, I wanted to share Mom's fall decor. I am thrilled that she is putting up so many great decorations because I have not been in the mood to decorate my own teeny tiny apartment. It is far more fun to enjoy her beautiful house.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thrift Store Finds

Happy week of Thanksgiving! J and I spent the weekend thrifting, organizing, and cleaning. As you can imagine, I only enjoyed one of those activities despite the necessity of the other two. The teeny tiny apartment was slowly being invaded by fabric and thrift store glassware.

This table is really beat up but Mom bought it anyway for either $5 or $10. She is redoing it and putting it on her back porch. Things don't last forever out in the Florida humidity so you either have to go really cheap or really high end with your outdoor furniture.

There were five of these chairs for $20 each. There were all in good shape and the fabric did not need to be replaced. However, I would still ask for a discount if I were to buy the whole set.

This kitchenette set is cute and $95. Pretty good good deal and you wouldn't have to refinish/reupholster if the colors suited you.

These chairs have character with the swan arms. They were priced at $25 each and probably need reupholstering. I actually think one of my sisters bought these chairs a few weeks later.

This fun end table was only $20. The glass on top probably costs more than that to buy new. Again, this piece was in great shape. It was a good day at Habitat if you couldn't tell.

Want to see more thrift store finds? We have a whole category just for that! We would love to see your finds, so feel free to share in the comments section. Or holler at us on twitter or instagram and hashtag it #ThriftStoreFinds.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Well Traveled Cakes

I didn't want to have a store bought menu for my cross country baby shower but I also didn't want to spend my time in Boston cooking or baking. I needed food that could be made ahead of time and travel well in a suitcase. Oh and I also wanted it to be pretty.

I decided to bake three bundt cakes because they freeze well and are dense enough to handle a bit of shaking. They can also sit on a counter for a few days without becoming stale if you keep them wrapped.You can also serve them with or without frosting, depending on if you need to hide any cracks.

 Mother helped me bake all three cakes a week before the baby shower. It took us all afternoon, but there is no way I could have been as efficient in my small kitchen. We had plenty of room to spread out at her house. Mom wrapped them in freezer paper after they were cooled and stored them in her freezer until right before I left for the airport. I transported them in individual cake carriers padded with shredded paper. Fortunately my cakes survived the flight in my checked bag without any issue!

The recipes I used are perfect if you need to bake ahead. They lived in the freezer for four days and then on a countertop in Boston for two days before the shower. None of the cakes dried out or crumbled. All three recipes turned out delicious, but the most popular was the apple cream cheese cake. The chocolate cherry cake had a funny texture on the outside, but still tasted good. I also mistakenly bought cherry juice infused dried cranberries instead of dried cherries. And the sour cream pumpkin cake is super easy to make and is perfect for any occasion this season.

We had plenty of food with the three cakes, two bags of grapes, and a double batch of brownies for the 25ish guests who attended. There was enough variety that everyone found something to enjoy, but not so much variety that I (or the food table) was overwhelmed.

What do y'all like to serve at showers? This isn't the first event at which we have served bundt cakes. They are just so pretty!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hosting a Baby Shower Across the Country

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a baby shower with my sister-in-law for our cousin and her wife. However, this wasn't your typical baby shower; it took place in Boston, with most of the planning happening in New Hampshire and Florida. The theme of this baby shower was "easy going decor that travels well."

The mothers to be decided wait to find out the baby's gender, so we went with fall purple and green. I couldn't help myself so I threw in a bit of champagne glitter as well. Considering only one part of the shower was glittery, I think I showed great restraint. I doubt the carpet where all the excess glitter landed agrees.

Since the shower was being held in our cousin's apartment in Boston (which was actually quite spacious!), I knew space would be more limited than what I am used to when planning showers. I decided to stick to a festive food table and a paper banner for where the gifts would be opened. I didn't want to deal with buying craft supplies in Boston so everything had to fit into checked luggage without breaking.

The flowers were sent by a wonderful friend who couldn't make it, considering she had recently moved to Australia. I can't take credit for how beautiful the arrangement looks as my only contribution was sharing the color scheme of the table.

The cakes, chargers, napkins, forks, and plates traveled with me in my suitcase. My sister-in-law provided the brownies and the serving bowl and platter were part of our cousin's collection. I added in grapes at the last minute in case people wanted something slightly less sugary.

My sister-in-law organized the onesie decorating as a way to entertain the guests. She provided onesies of various sizes, paint pens, and cardboard rectangles to keep the paint from bleeding through. She also framed a cute sign explaining the project, but I forgot to get a picture of it! The was actually very popular with most of the guests, so I definitely recommend this idea for anyone hosting a shower with men and women.

The banner turned out really cute, if I do say so myself. It doesn't exactly go with the table decor, but the colors are complimentary and the rooms were somewhat separate. I almost went with a peacock feather and sparkly purple theme but changed my mind at the last minute. The nursery has a western theme and I wanted the banner to coordinate in case they wanted to keep it.

I have a few tips for anyone who finds themselves hosting an event across the country. First, ask for help! I could not have done it without my sister-in-law. She was able to take care of all the heavy beverages since she lives within driving distance of the city. And it made a huge difference in the planning that I could count on her to figure out all the details for the onesie decorating activity.

It is also more economical to host the event at someone's home; I don't think anyone thought our choice of location was odd or tacky due to out of town hosts. However, this is not the time to leave who is hosting off the invitation. The invitation clearly stated that we were hosting so nobody thought the mothers to be were having their own party.

I am so happy I decided to keep the decor and menu simple. I was able to do all the DIY in Florida, which made set up super easy. I think I worked for maybe three hours total setting everything up over the course of two days. That left a lot of time for visiting, which is far more important than Pinterest worthy tablescapes. Not having to place food orders over the phone and then either relying on delivery or trying to pick up the order in an unfamiliar location also kept the event low stress. And everyone loves homemade desserts! The theme of the week is baby shower, so stay tuned for more info.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Boston Restoration Hardware Store

While in Boston last month, J and I visited the new Restoration Hardware store. The company renovated a very old building in my favorite part of Boston that I used to walk past all the time while attending MIT. I always wondered what was going on inside as I scurried to H&M. **Note: scurrying is necessary because Boston is perpetually frozen**

Here is a video if you want to learn more about the Boston store, but if you are like me and prefer pictures, just keep reading this page. I have been into plenty of Restoration Hardware stores and own a few things myself, but this was the first time their largest pieces actually fit the scale of the space. You should definitely visit if you have the opportunity.

figuring out how it was made
kids' section is in the basement

this is the only furniture that looks small compared to him

the famous ridiculously deep couch

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Outer Banks Thrift Store Finds

This past weekend, my friend Amy and I hit up the thrift stores and antique stores in Nags Head.  Overall, I found the thrift stores to be a bit lacking.  I saw a lot of plastic and a lot of things in really bad repair.  HOWEVER, I would highly recommend hitting up Class and Trash if you are in Kill Devil Hills  (there is a sister store in Richmond that I would also love to check out!.  The prices are a bit higher (more on par with a consignment store), but the selection was excellent!  Most of the photos below are from Class and Trash.  First up, this fantastic lamp!  Now y'all know I can standing spending a ton of money on lamps, but the crystals on this item make it worth the price...think of it as a tabletop chandelier.

Beautiful Lamp - $225 or $275 (I can't remember!)

I love love love this coffee table.  You would need a moody sort of room to pull it off with lots of floor space as the coffee table is quite large.  Think Restoration Hardware moody:

Beautiful & Unique Coffee Table - $145

Here's a wider view of the store as a whole.  I love how organized the space is.  These beds caught my eye right away.  Wouldn't they be perfect for a little girls room?  Also, that ottoman could work in a lot of homes and it was in great condition!  I thought the prices were also very fair considering you could easily pay $300 for just one twin bed frame and most ottomans cost hundreds of dollars.

Ottoman - $165 and Pair of Twin Beds - $225

The cane backed chairs have a wonderful shape despite their unfortunate color choice (I feel like they were going for a Ronald McDonald throne room look).  Although only four are pictured, the total price was for six chairs!  Cane backed chairs are definitely not cheap when bought brand new and these were in excellent condition with no damage to the caning.

6 Chairs Total - $120

This chair was freshly upholstered and would be super sweet in a nursery!  I'm not a huge fan of the ric rac along the bottom, but the piping and button covers more than make up for the ric rac (which could probably be removed).

Cute Chair! $185

Class and Trash also had bins of well organized iron hooks, door knockers, and bottle openers.  It can be really difficult to find matching items at a thrift store, so it was great to see such large quantities at fairly reasonable prices.

Mermaid hooks - $8

Assorted hooks and door knockers - all $20 or less

Love these two chairs!  They were so comfortable!  The chairs were solidly built and besides the minor damage to the fabric on the chair on the left, they were in excellent condition.  I would love to see these recovered in a deep blue or green velvet.

$180 for the pair

While shopping, Briana sent me a text message with picture saying she had found a fireplace screen at the flea market in Florida for $45.  I literally turned the corner at the antique store I was shopping in and I found the exact same one for $75!  I'd say she got a great deal!

Fireplace Screen - $75
Creepy Baby Dolls and Odd Door Knocker - Price Unknown, but they should be free...or put out of their misery.
Which find is your favorite?  Anyone ever been to Class and Trash or explored any of the other stores in the Outer Banks?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Posh Purpose Review: The Cottage Shop in Nags Head, NC

When we went to Nags Head last year, I came across a super cute shop called The Cottage Shop that sells home decor, Christmas decorations, entertaining essentials, and small gifts.  I bought our yearly ornament from The Cottage Shop last year and I decided to go back to look for another this past weekend.  I also got a bunch of great Christmas decorating ideas for my first Christmas tree that I was able to put together using cheaper sources such as Michael's.  The store is creatively decorated with at least six Christmas trees, but doesn't feel too crowded or overdone.  The sales ladies are all wonderfully helpful and sweet.  Here's a couple of the displays that I thought were especially this inverted white Christmas tree designed to look like underwater sea life:

I also really like the more natural look to this red and burlap woodland tree.  I love the frilly bow at the top.  The faux poinsettias are really pretty pops of color!  Using faux florals on my tree is one of the ideas I got from this store last year.

These beautiful hanging ornaments would look great in the windows, hanging from the banisters or mantels, or even from certain chandeliers.

Unfortunately, I couldn't limit myself to just one ornament this year!  All the ornaments are so pretty and well-made, that I wound up buying four, but luckily they were only $11.99-$13.99 each aaaaaand the super sweet sales lady gave me a discount.

I'm super excited to put these on my tree in a few weeks!  If you are in the Outer Banks, I highly recommend that you stop by The Cottage Shop at one of their three locations for some decorating inspiration and gift ideas. There will be another sale on Black Friday if you are lucky enough to be spending Thanksgiving at the beach!

1201 Duck Road
Kitty Hawk, NC 27949

Nags Head
5000 South Croatan Highway
Nags Head, NC 27959

Timbuck II Shopping Village
790 North Ocean Trail
Unit G
Corolla, NC 27927