Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Faves!!!!!!!!!! [link-up bargainistas!]

Didn't we just have a lovely little health kick on The Bargain Blonde this week?  I've been loving all the feedback and support.  We can do this ladies!

In other news, it's Friday Faves timeeeeee!  I was out of town last week so there was no FFs ... sad face.  If you posted anyway, grab the button bellow and link your post from last week up in this post!  

It pretty much goes without saying that the first thing on my list today is the fact that the movie Magic mother freaking Mike opens today!  Yes, I purchased tickets earlier this week and at 10:20 p.m. tonight, I will be in Channing Tatum ab-a-licious heaven.  I have not been this excited for a movie .... ever.  No shame in my game girls.  Bring on the thrusting!

Next up we have TV shows.  Anyone that knows me in real life knows that my obsession with gypsies runs deep.  I won't get into how bad my obsession is because quite frankly, you'd think I was a complete whack job.  So I will just tell you that after Magic Mike premiering today, the thing I'm looking forward to most this weekend is the premiere of The Stanley Sisters on TLC

If you've caught an episode of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, then I'm sure you've seen Mellie Stanley (the wild one of the fam & my personal fave) and the gang.  Mellie and her sisters got their own spin-off show and there is a 2 hour premiere this Sunday.  Can. Not. Wait.

I don't remember how I stumbled across the blog "Moment Junkie", but it's a new favorite of mine.  The blogger posts pictures of you guessed it, moments caught at weddings.  They will melt your heart or make you laugh!  You have to check his blog out.
Photo credit: Sara K Byrne via Moment Junkie
Photo credit: J Wiley Photography via Moment Junkie
Below are 12 of my favorite Stella and Dot bargains from the week.  Right now we have a 4th of July sale and some of our jewels are an extra 20% off!
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12

This is my favorite nail art from the week c/o Pinterest. Do you not love the coral and gold together?  It's my mission to attempt this look.  Wish me luck.

Someecards make my life and I can't get enough of them. I wanted to put all my faves in this post, but I narrowed it down to two that were appropriate for this week considering I've blogged all about health and fitness.
True story 
True Story #2

That's alllll folks!  Every one better see Magic Mike this weekend so we can discuss on Monday!  Please and thank you.  Link-up below.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I've been eating since starting Tone It Up

Today we talk food because honestly, who doesn't love to stuff their face?  If you don't, we can't be friends because I like to get down with some food.  I refuse to starve myself with gross, tasteless food, so I've found some delicious, healthy meals to help me reach my weight loss goals.

This post has all the meals I've eaten so far on this plan and they are all yummy in my tummy!  The name of each recipe links to the recipe video or web page.  As always, let me know if you have questions. I'm happy to answer!

The Tone It Up Protein Pancake with all natural honey drizzled on top.

I normally don't eat the yogurt with the protein pancake (like in the pic above), but on Saturday I just combined my breakfast and my mid-morning snack as one meal.

Normally mid morning I have 1/2 C of non-fat Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup of bluberries.  I measure it the night before so it's easy to grab out of the fridge in the morning to take to work.  If you need a crunch with your yogurt, add a sprinkle of granola or almond slivers. Goodness, granola is good.

This is my absolute favorite Tone It Up (TIU) meal and it's what I've been eating for lunch this week.  What we have here is the TIU member-submitted Black Bean Tostada recipe, but I use the Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas (bake at 350 for 10 minutes, flip over and bake another 10 to get the tortilla crispy).  I also add nitrate-free chicken slices chopped up.

If I don't eat the tostada for lunch, I'll have a big salad with low sodium turkey from my local deli, lots of veggies and balsalmic vinaigrette as the dressing.

The easiest thing for me to do as an afternoon snack is a Luna protein bar and the S'mores variety is my fave flavor!  The ThinkThin and Lara bars are some of the TIU girl's favorites.  I'll drink some Green Tea with it if I'm feeling frisky.

For dinner I've switched between ground turkey and quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), chicken or tilapia with veggies or a side salad.
Mrs. Dash skillet baked chicken and baked green beans flavored with Mrs. Dash.  Mrs. Dash is salt-free and a fave of the TIU girls. 

I grilled chicken kabobs on the grill with veggies last Saturday. I just marinated the chicken with a healthy oil-based dressing for a few hours in the fridge, cut it up and added chicken and sliced veges to kabob sticks.  I also grilled green beans and mushrooms in a foil packed with a little olive oil and Mrs. Dash.  Easy and good!
Zesty Tilapia and mushrooms!  The recipe calls for some dried mushroom I've never heard of and didn't care to look up, so I just use regular button mushrooms and it's deelish.  This tilapia is SO easy and SO GOOD. Seriously, out of this world.  The recipe also calls for butter, so use olive oil instead.  

Quinoa (keen-wa) and ground turkey stuffed tomatoes. I kinda made the recipe up so if you don't love it, sorry!  Preheat oven to 350.  Cut the tops off of 8 to 10 large red tomatoes and scoop the insides out.  Brown 1 lb of lean ground turkey with mushrooms, chopped onion and minced garlic.  Add 2 low-sodium taco seasoning packets to flavor the turkey once it's browned (I used an all-natural seasoning packed I found).  While your ground turkey is browning, cook one cup of quinoa according to package instructions.   Combine the quinoa and ground turkey.  Place the tomatoes in a glass caseerole dish and fill with the mixture. Add about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of the casserole dish (steams the mushrooms while baking).  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. If you want to add cheese to the tops, take out 5 minutes early, sprinkle cheese and bake the last 5 minutes. I don't eat dairy in the evening so I don't use cheese, but it's a good addition. 
If you are like, "What the hizzle is quinoa?", don't fret. I didn't know what it was either, but it is cooked just like rice, but it is actually a seed and not a grain.  It's super healthy for you and the TIU girls highly recommend it on the diet plan.

Your turn.  What are your favorite healthy meals?! Share them below.

p.s. I WILL have Friday Favorites tomorrow and you can link-up.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Become a healthier you with these 5 common sense tips

I have such a happy heart from all the positive feedback I received from my post yesterday. Keep them coming! I can't wait to e-mail you all back, especially those of you with questions.

As I mentioned yesterday, today I'm sharing easy things anyone can incorporate into their daily lives to become healthier.  I said I'd share recipes too, but this post ended up being longer than I thought, so I'll share recipes tomorrow.  It will just be a week of health here on The Bargain Blonde!  (FYI - Friday I will have Friday Favorites)

1. Cut out all artificial sweeteners.  I know this isn't the first time you've heard artificial sweeteners are bad for you and can even cause cancer.  I've heard it for years, but disregarded the advice.  Finally I'm listening and I've switched to using Truvia (brand of Stevia, which is a natural sweetener made from plant derivatives not chemicals) and a splash of skim milk instead of flavored coffee creamers and Splenda. I used to drink a Diet Coke or Coke Zero every afternoon, but now I have Green Tea or water and I am perfectly content. I know some of your love for diet drinks may run deeper than mine, but I promise you can give them up if you really want to. Drink carbonated water if your need the fizzle.  

2. Drink lots of water.  Again, how many times have we heard this?  We all know water is good for our bodies, hair, skin, etc., but a lot of us don't drink enough of it.  The Tone It Up (TIU) girls recommend dividing your body weight (in pounds) in half and drinking that many ounces of water.  So if you weigh 150, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day. 

If you really hate drinking water, flavor it with fresh fruit or lemons.  Keep a big bottle on your desk at work and know how many bottles you need to drink to stay on track with your water intake for the day. 

3. Have fresh fruit and veggies available always. Say bye bye to processed snack foods.  A little bit of prep can make a big difference in choosing healthy options over junk.  I've made sure I have fresh fruit and veges cut up in my fridge in the event I'm hungry but in between meals.   This way I have a smart, healthy option at my disposal.  Pre-cut fruit in your fridge is an easy snack you can grab instead of something like chips. The Tone It Up girls live by the motto, "A piece of fruit never made anyone fat."  So make the right choice!

4. Limit starches and dairy after lunch time.  I'm not saying don't ever have them at night, but if you are trying to slim down, it's best to limit these when you can in the evenings.  On the TIU plan, your evening meal essentially consists of veges, unlimited green veges and lean protein.  I've started do this and feel so much lighter and "cleaner" in the mornings.  

5. Move your booty.  Small changes add up. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Park your car in the farthest spot from the door and walk.  Yes it's summer in Texas it is hot as HELL but a few extra steps aren't going to kill you.  You'll just burn a few extra calories.  Go for a walk with your dog/roomie/lover after dinner instead of just sitting on the couch. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal and walk 15 minutes away from your house, turn around and walk back.   Just be more active!  The more active you are, the less likely you are to be bored and eat out of boredom.  Win-win, right?

Whatever you do, don't give up.  Your body isn't going to change over night just like you didn't gain extra weight over night.  You have to take it one day at a time and if you slip up, it's not the end of the world. We all cheat and we should.  But if you are making smart nutrition decisions the majority of the time, you WILL feel a difference and eventually see a difference.  Trust.

How do you motivate yourself?  Have any "healthier you" tips not included in this post? Share them below!
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The "Tone It Up" plan and me

I first stumbled across the Tone It Up girls, Katrina and Karena, via Pinterest months ago.  Wouldn't these toned bishes catch your eye too?

I followed the link to their Web site and saw that these perfectly sculpted ladies had a blog, nutrition tips, printable workouts, and lots of YouTube work-out and nutritional videos.  A lot of their stuff is free, but it you want their comprehensive diet and fitness plan including recipes, workouts and a 7-day slimdown, you've gots to pay.  You can choose between the original plan, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, gluten-free vegetarian or pescatarian and it will cost you $149.99.  Go to their site to read more about the pricing and what you get for your money.  

I was mesmerized by how perfect they looked, but didn't think much about it again until very recently.  You see, I'm completely out of shape and that's putting it nicely.

Simply put, I'm fat. I'm not saying this so you can tell me, "You are not fat. You are beautiful."  I don't need to hear that. I don't want to hear that.  No, I don't need to be craned lifted from my bed every morning, but I'm unhealthy, it's not cute, I'm not happy with body and it is time to do something about it.

Prior to committing to the Tone It Up plan, I stumbled across another girl on Pinterest named Laura who blogs/vlogs about her weight loss.  I spent hours watching her body transformation videos and started following her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  She is truly an inspiration and has a blog Laura Must Lose Weight if you want to check it out.
Girlfrand is brave because she puts it ALL out there.  We're talking filming a YouTube video in nothing but her bra and panties at her heaviest weight of 195.   As much as I'd love to be able to show you my transformation, you will not be seeing me in my bra and panties. Ever. Laura covered that one for us thank the Lord.  

Anywho ...

What I like most about the TIU girls and Laura is they are all about clean, healthy eating and working-out. None of it is a quick fix. It's not a fad diet.  It's about avoiding processed foods and eating balanced meals of carbs (yes, you eat carbs, but at the right time of day and the right portions), lean proteins and lots of fruits and veges!  You also eat fats, but good fats like fat from olives, olive oil and avocados.  You even can sneak in a few glasses of red wine a couple times a week if you like to hit the bottle.

The plan is so sensible.  It's not an extreme diet that inevitably sets you up to fail (i.e. cabbage soup diet, Atkins, egg white diet, etc.).  On the TIU nutrition plan, you eat five meals a day, you drink lots of water, you work-out and you have an entire online community of TIU members who are there to encourage and hold you accountable.  Hence, if you follow me on Instagram/Twitter, you have seen me blowing up your news feed with pictures of healthy meals.  These are called "check-ins" and that's what every member of the TIU community does on the daily.

Now you know more about the TIU plan and why I've decided to do it.  I am in no way associated with TIU or Laura. I simply stumbled across them and was compelled to make a life change.  With that being said, there are a few changes I've already made that are easy changes any of you can incorporate into your lives if you are looking to become healthier versions of your already fabulous selves.  Tomorrow I'll blog about those and some recipes that are easy to make and yummy!

It's only been a little over a week since I started TIU, but I'm extremely committed and determined.  I lost about 3 lbs last week.  Even if you don't have weight to lose, this plan could still benefit you.  The girls implore you to be TONED, not "skinny soft".  I'm an ex-gymnast so I can co-sign. I have muscles and as much as I'd love to, I'll never have the build of a super model.  Even if I starved myself.

So there you have it; my take on the Tone It Up plan.  I'd love to talk more about it with any of you, just leave your questions in the comments.
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Monday, June 25, 2012

TenList Giveaway Winner + Weekend Wrap-Up!

Last Wednesday, the $75 Visa Gift Card Giveaway that TenList hosted on The Bargain Blonde closed!  I went out of town Thursday, came back Friday and then went to Ft. Worth Sunday. Life has been so hectic lately, but today I'm finally able to blog again and announce the winner! Congratulations to #259, Katelyn ...

And TenList is so awesome that they upped the card to $100 just because.  Enjoy Katelyn!

Like I mentioned above, I went out of town twice this weekend and both times were for Stella and Dot parties!  

Thursday I went to visit my Aunt who lives about 2 hours west of Dallas in a small town and while there, I had a party with blogger Amy from Tales of Small Town Girl.  She was the tiniest, cutest, sweetest little thing ever! Here are a few pics from my time in the country.

Yummy! My Aunt made veggie omlette, turkey sausage and low carb toast for breakfast. Love me some home cookin!
Saw this sign while antiquing and I'm seriously regretting not buying it for my desk at work.
Downtown Decatur, Texas
The most delicious Club Cobb Salad ever!  Sorry, I'm not sorry but I did eat all that cheese.

I drove back to Dallas Friday evening and stayed in that night.  This Bargain Blonde was tired.  Saturday morning I took Reese to gymnastics, then Bear to the dog park, took a nap and then went over to my bestie Courtney's new house for grilling, pool time and a puppy play date.

Bear taking a dip in the pool
Red wine and fresh watermelon!  
Bear is OBSESSED with the water and he swims laps. It is the cutest thing ever. 

Sunday I headed out west to Ft. Worth for another Stella and Dot party blogger Mrs. Lia Joy from life is aMAYESing hosted for moi!  She had the cutest spread, baked a fabulous cake and even had homemade Sangria for us!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake (not on the nutrition plan, but so worth the cals)
The bevys!

The food!
If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter, then you've most likely seen me posting pictures about the Tone It Up nutrition plan.  I started the Tone It Up fitness/nutrition program last week and many of you have asked me to share it with you and post recipes to some of the healthy foods I've cooked.  I will be blogging all about it tomorrow, so stay tuned!!  If you have any fitness/nutrition related questions about Tone It Up or want to know what Tone It Up even is, leave me your question in the comments of this post!

Happy Monday!  Make it a good one! XOXO

p.s. Huge thank you to both Amy and Lia Joy for hosting Stella & Dot parties for me!  We have a fabulous hostess rewards program if any of you readers are from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I'd love to throw a show with y'all and get you hundreds in free Stella and Dot.  Just e-mail me!
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

3 hair products I can't believe I ever lived without

Ever heard of the women's magazine Allure's Best of Beauty Awards?  If you have not, then you should know that according to Wikipedia (Wikipedia is all-knowing), Allure began its "Best of Beauty" awards program 14 years ago to help readers choose among the vast array of makeup, skin-care, and hair-care products on the market.

If I'm ever looking for new products to try, I go online to check-out the Best of Beauty winners, make a list and buy.  That's how this happened during a recent trip to Target:

I'll talk about the Almay make-up eraser sticks and Boots No. 7 Beauty Serum in a separate post because today's post is all about hair. 

The Dove Nourishing Oil Care Detangler, which was actually brought to my attention via my bloggie bestie Raven (not the Best of Beauty), the John Frieda 3-Day straight semi-permanent styling spray and the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner have all been added to my hair care routine. It's true love.

I'm going to talk about these products in the order in which I use them, so first up is the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner.  This stuff is priced right.  Less than $5!  It's a thick cream and it smells so fruity and yummy.
You shampoo as usual, put in the Aussie conditioner and let it sit in your hair for at least 3 minutes while you continue showering.  It made my hair reallllly soft and I use it a few times a week now.  You can read it's Best of Beauty review here.

Next up is the Dove spray.  After towel drying your hair, shake the bottle up to blend the oils and spray generously. For me, that means a lot of sprays.  I have a TON of hair and it's ridiculously long and wavy so it tangles like nobody's business.  Legit, it takes me upwards of 20 minutes to brush my hair. I absolutely hate brushing my hair after a shower. Woe is me. 

After coating your hair with as many sprays as you personally need, comb through. I promise it will not make your hair oily.  I have enough oils in my hair so the last thing I need is more.  The argan oil and almond oil give your hair a great shine and make it much easier to brush through.
As with all Dove beauty products, this is also priced right at around $5. As if I'd be blogging about something that wasn't budget-friendly ... pshhh

Last, but not least, we have the John Frieda Frizz-Ease 3-Day Straight which might be my favorite of the three.  It's a spray with heat protection that blocks frizz out as you blow dry/flat iron. Seriously it works wonders. I have used this several times now and my hair is easier to blow dry straight and actually stays straight, smooth and shiny for at least a few days. Read the Best of Beauty review here.
via (around $8.99)
The Best of Beauty Awards do not lie.  Here is my hair the night before I left for Charleston all natural aka ratty (Reese insisted he brush my hair like Repunzel) and then after using all 3 of these products. Sorry I look creepy and it's not the best picture of my hair, but you get the idea.

What are your favorite straightening products?
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Michelob ULTRA Light Cider

Remember when I witnessed the dude with the bag on his head falling over in Wal-Mart?  This freak:

Well the entire reason I was even in Wal-Mart (on a Friday night, mind you) was to scoop up some of the new Michelob Ultra Light Cider that just launched to test out and review for the BlogHer Michelob ULTRA light cider promotion. It's a tough life being a blogger.  Reviewing booze and stuff.

I didn't know what to to expect because I've never tried any form of a cider beer, so I brought it out on the boat with me Memorial Day weekend for my friends to try as well.

Survey says ...

Everyone loved it; boys and girls!  It was very crisp, light and refreshing and was perfect for a hot summer day on the boat.  I also don't mind that it's only 120 calories per bottle.  A girl's gotta keep her figure.

The cider is naturally sweetened, gluten-free and made from crisp apples. You can definitely taste the apple flavor!  To read more about the cider, which is available in a 6-pack, visit Michelob ULTRA's site by clicking here.

We drank the cider on a boat, but tell me which favorite summer meal or activity do you think would go best with Michelob ULTRA Light Cider?

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Friday, June 15, 2012

[link-up] Friday Faves: Reality TV edition!

First of all,  I want to apologize again for not being able to get Friday Faves posted last week when I was on vacation.  I should have just scheduled the post before I left because the Internet Explorer browsers on the computers in the hotel business center were an old version and didn't support blogger.  With that being said, feel free to link-up your Fri Faves from last week in this post as well.

Moving right along ....

I have a few vices, one of which is reality TV, so this week I decided to "theme" my Friday Faves post and highlight some of my favorite reality TV moments, shows, characters, etc.  I'm only going going to discuss shows currently in season by the way.  Your Friday Faves does not have to be reality themed (obviously), but link-up at the bottom of this post!


The final season of the original (OG) Teen Mom cast premiered this week and it was 2 hours of heart string pulling TV.  Yes, I'm 27 years old and shed several tears listening to Farrah read her letter to Derek's grave, Catelynn and Tyler have their 2-year visitation with Carly and then Tyler admit he wished sometimes that Carly called him, "Daddy."  WAAAH!  I was a mess.

Million Dollar Listing LA is back!  I love me some MDL.  The boys are hot (even though 2 play for the other team) and the drama this season looks fierce. I can't wait to see the feud between Heather and Madison unfold. And while there is something about Josh Altman's cocky attitude that attracts me, I am #TeamMadison all the way. 

The bad bitches of Mob Wives Chicago on VH1.  I got hooked on the Mob Wives from NY/NJ and this spin-off is filling my void  since season 2 of the original wives just ended.  Their lifestyle fascinates me and quotes like"Do you want me to stab you now, or do you want me to stab you later?"  make me laugh out loud.  Because these crays are serious.  They will stab a hoe.

I don't even want to waste my time talking about these two.  Just know I harbor a lot of disdain for them and they both make my skin crawl.
Emily's season of The Bachelorette is starting to bore me except when she told Kalon he could get the f@*% out!  That, I loved.  I'm hoping this season starts to pick up, but I'm not holding my breath.

Heather Dubrow from Real Housewives Orange County.  Home girl was on Love Connection back in the day ... Need I say more?  And have you seen her house? I die. I thought she was going to be super pretentious, but I love her delivery and every thing that comes out of her mouth about Alexis.  I can't get enough of her and her hubs, Terry.

Another RHOC lady makes the list: Gretchen Rossi for best hair and make-up.  I was lusting over this look above in this week's episode.  Seriously, I need my hair and make-up to look like this every day.  Gretchen, come be my bestie and teach me your ways.  

OK, I could go on and on and on picking reality TV faves, but I must stop for today.  I might do a part 2 of this next week.  You're turn ... link-up your Friday Favorites below.  

What would you pick as your selections for my favorite categories this week?

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