December 19, 2014

Wishing You a Magical Weekend!

This morning I woke up thinking it was Saturday.
Ugh, what a cruel trick when I was all snuggled in my jammers under piles of cozy blankets.

Well, praise the Great Lion of Judah, the weekend is finally here. The countdown to 5 o'clock is on and I can't wait for fun weekend plans and a whole lot of relaxing. Here's what's happening...


Friday //
Tonight, my dear friend Karen and I have a lady date! We are planning to order a boat of sushi, grab some drinks, and hit the gorgeous Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts for a magical performance of The Nutcracker by the Kansas City Ballet. We bought these tickets MONTHS ago and have been counting down ever since.




Saturday //
I am going to sleep in and then grab coffee with my friend Kate, who is in town from Princeton, NJ where she is being an Ivy League smarty pants. Looking forward to catching up over good food and coffee, and of course snuggling Miss Piper Grace, her sweet little babe.

On Saturday night I am hitting the town with my hunky hubby for a date night out on the town. Good grief, I love that man and can't wait to hang!


Sunday //
Our church, Heartland Community Church, isn't holding any services so that groups can serve other instead (love this!). So we will be packing away meals for families in need that morning, and then we are going to hop over to my parents house for a festive early Christmas with everyone before we leave for Hawaii with Adam's side of the fam!

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.

I hope your weekend is more magical than snowflakes falling over a sparkly snow princess in tights.
Let's catch up for Mingle Monday and share our adventures, okay?


See you there, brave ones.


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A Very Hawaiian Christmas

Mele Kalikimaka, y'all!
 I can't believe I haven't told you about our impending holiday adventure!

 The Evans family is heading to Maui for a very tropical Christmas!
I can hardly handle the anticipation. Here's a little glimpse into the excitement...

We are looking forward to staying at the gorgeous West Maui Resort & Spa in Ka'anapali. I've been there once before and it was the most incredible place I've ever stayed. The hotel itself is a mini 
paradise!


While the 6 of us (my MIL, FIL, SIL, BIL, hubby, and me) are in Maui, we've planned some pretty epic adventures with lots of exploring to be had.

Early morning guided hike up Haleakala volcano to see the sunrise. Best moment of our vacation.
✯ Colorful cinder cones within Haleakala Crater on Maui, Hawaii - Amazing and Beautiful!

We can't wait to hike up Haleakala volcano to see the deserted crater and watch the sunrise. Then bike our way down until we run into the famous bakery + donut shop at the bottom! ;)

Seven Sacred Pools, Maui, Hawaii
Black Sand Beach Hana Maui Hawaii. Maui. Wai‘anapanapa State Park, Maui, Hawaii.  Love this place!  Heck of a drive to get there but a beautiful one :) and worth it...
Hana Highway Bamboo Forest, Maui
The Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii.This was the scarest car ride I have ever been on but it was WELL WORTH the stress..Beautiful waterfalls all the way through the rain forest..
The rainbow eucalyptus, which grows throughout the South Pacific, is prized for both the colorful patches left by its shedding bark and for its pulpwood, which is used to make paper.

I am counting down the minutes until we get to drive the Road to Hana around Maui's north edge. The terrain changes from volcano black sand beaches to bamboo forrests and rainbow eucalyptus trees along the windy road that takes all day to conquer. At the end is the Sever Sacred Pools that are crystal clear pebble lined natural pools overlooking a lush forest and beach.

Along the way there are mile markers, tons of places to hike and explore, gorgeous waterfalls, and famous fresh fruit and banana bread stands. Holy heck, I am so ready!

Molokini, Maui, Hawaii ( Or the Mermaid's Secret Lagoon ) need to go back some day!
Maui lavender farm is on my list of things to do.
Maui Whale Watching Tours | Humpback Whale Watch Cruises

Other highlights will include a boating/snorkeling trip, a visit to the luscious lavender farm, attend a luau, and hopefully spotting a few humpback whales along the way. We can't wait to relax daily on the beaches, sip tropical drinks, and spend time together.

At first I was so excited to go on such an incredible trip, but thought it might feel weird to do Christmas in Hawaii. The more I think about it, what better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus and God's gift to us than by surrounded and in awe of His amazing creation! So thankful for this gift.


Have you ever been to Maui?
What were your favorite must-do things?


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December 18, 2014

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ever since I posted a few photos on my Instagram, I've received tons of messages and e-mails asking when I will be posting my Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies recipe.

Well, today's your lucky day, my friends! Ever since I found this recipe from Six Sisters and tinkered with it a bit, I knew this would be a staple in my Christmas cookie repertoire. I took these little babies to a cookie exchange and they got rave reviews... can you imagine my excitement?

All the flavors of Christmas without the hard as a brick typical molasses cookie crunch. The edges are slightly toasted and the middles are so soft, chewy and melt right in your mouth. Give this recipe a try and I know you will be glad you did!


Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/4 c molasses
3-4 Tbsp sugar (I like coarse decorative sugar like THIS)

Directions:
1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2)  Using your stand mixer, cream together the softened butter and the sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Now beat in the egg until just combined and slowly stir in the water and molasses until well blended on low speed. 

3)  Begin slowly adding the flour mixture to the other combined ingredients until the dough is blended together well.  Roll dough into golf ball sized balls and roll in the decorative sugar. Place dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat (non-stick silicone baking sheet) about 2 inches apart.


4)  Bake for 8-10 minutes making sure you don't overbake. Cookies will not quite seem set but will continue to bake on the sheet after removed from the oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Bon Appetit!

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December 16, 2014

5 Reasons to Work Out This Week (that have nothing to do with the scale)

If any of you are like me, it's quite hard to stay motivated to work out and eat healthy in the winter, especially around the holidays. For me, it's way easier to through my measly will-power out the window for that second Christmas cookies, or snooze my morning alarm to skip my workout.

Thankfully, my dear friend Mariah Secrest-Comer is here to lend us a hand and some renewed motivation! Mariah and I used to work together at the American Cancer Society where she would offer her personal training skills by leading lunchtime yoga. No she is the owner of Elevate Fitness, which specializes in personal training (in select locations), virtual coaching, and educational articles for busy professionals like you and me!


Her blog is full of helpful tips and coaching (check it out!), and she currently has a FREE "Slim and Social Guide to Happy Hour" available for download! Check it out - full of tips, charts, and resource lists for having fun night out on the town without undoing your fitness progress!

So without further adieu...


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Hello. My name is Mariah, and I am a Pinterest addict. (The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?) - recipes, DIY projects, hairstyles, my dream homes, etc. and, of course, fitspiration!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve done your share of browsing “inspirational” snippets on Pinterest (or your social media drug of choice), only to find that they provide rush of motivation that lasts only as long as it takes to scroll down to the next pin showcasing Triple Mocha Fudge Lava Cupcakes. (Abs or chocolate…that is the question.)

As a fitness professional, I try to strike a balance between image and mindset. I think we’d be lying if we said that women aren’t hardwired to want to look our best. When we’re proud of the way we look, we portray that confidence to the world! We can do anything with the right shade of lipstick and that dress that fits just right.

 But on the other hand, I can tell you with assurance that those who focus exclusively on the mirror usually have the most trouble staying on track and, ironically, may shortchange their long-term results. It’s easy to feel motivated for a hot second when you have a swimsuit to debut at your upcoming beach vacation.

It’s another thing to be rushing between your triple-booked meetings in the dead of winter, buried under three layers in a freezing cubicle and scrounging up leftover office cookies because you didn’t have lunch. Somehow your abs aren’t really a top priority anymore. So if the fitspo has worn off, shift your mindset and dig into these exercise benefits to boost your mojo. 



1// Better Rapport

Oxford University found that the endorphin levels of study participants who exercised together were higher than those who exercised alone. They concluded that this effect could spill over to a stronger network at the office when you set aside time to move your muscles with coworkers. Suggest lunchtime yoga for the group instead of a heavy lunch—you’ll find each other more likeable after! (To learn more, pick up the December issue of Self magazine.)


2// Increased Romance 

Couples who keep their stress under check through exercise are scientifically proven to be kinder and more patient with their partners on the days that they work out according to a 2008 study by Neff and Karney (more info HERE). Not to mention the boost in physical intimacy when both couples are active! Lower stress plus higher circulation and endorphin levels equals a good thing! (wink, wink!)


3// Easier Concentration 

Your ability to ace that tough project may lie in how often you lace up your running shoes. Aerobic exercise increases oxygen in your brain, which helps feed your toughest mental to-do’s!


4// More Confidence 

You don’t need to fit into your high-school sized jeans in order to get a confidence boost from exercise. In as little as one gym session, you’ll walk out with your head held a little higher.


5// Better Sleep 

Sleep and exercise are direct correlates. Do well with one and you’re more likely to improve the other! And it becomes a virtuous cycle. Those who sleep better (i.e. longer) experience fewer cravings due to optimization of the hunger hormone ghrelin.


.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.


One good turn deserves another! I challenge you for one whole week to judge the worth of your workout not by how you look, but by how you feel.

And the ironic thing is you'll be more likely to get those crave-worthy curves you once focused on--this time as a fringe benefit!

Thanks for letting me stop by, Meg!

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Pretty awesome motivation right? 
I think so - thanks Mariah for sharing these tips!

Definitely go download Mariah's "Slim & Social Happy Hour Guide" and visit her blog for more awesome coaching!


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December 14, 2014

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up!

How was your weekend, y'all?
After how crazy busy last week was, I gladly welcomed a much more relaxed weekend with open arms. We went to a musical, spent time with family, went to Zumba, ate at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, and did a lot of lounging. Let me just tell you... it was heaven.

Last week all of you were a part of a record breaking Mingle Monday with more participants than we've ever had. I can't thank each and every one of you who posted, tweeted, and sent up smoke signals inviting friends to join us. Please keep it up - it means the world! Let's get to some blog networking action going shall we?

Coming up this week...

+ my chewy ginger molasses cookies recipe
+ an inside scoop on our upcoming Christmas adventure (!!!)
+ a guest post from my favorite health/wellness guru
+ so much more!

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What is your favorite holiday movie? **

(Mine is a toss up between The Grinch (Jim Carey) or Love Actually!)


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I am so excited to be well-rested and full of motivation.
A better me means back to inspired posts & blog happiness.

I can't wait!

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December 12, 2014

Pamper Yo'Self Giveaway Winner!

And now for the moment you all have been waiting for...

One lucky person was drawn at random to win the Pamper Yo'Self Giveaway brought to you by Thistle & Finn!  Can I get a drum roll, please? And the winner is...

Cindy Gaarder! 


 Congrats, lady! I will e-mail you about how to claim your prize.




Thanks all for entering! Don't forget that you still have a special 20% off promo code at Thistle & Finn! Just type in "MEG20" at checkout to receive the awesome discount and FREE SHIPPING!

Shop 'til you drop!


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December 8, 2014

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up!

Welcome back to the work week, my friends!
I don't know if you're feeling the post-weekend strain, but I made sure to grab an extra dose of caffeine this morning to make it through the day... wowza.

It was a great weekend filled with festive holiday activities, 3 Christmas parties, and lots of work for my first every Cozy Couture Handmade retail sale. I'm exhausted!

Don't forget to enter my Pamper Yo'self Giveaway featuring amazing products by Thistle & Finn!! The big giveaway ends tomorrow, so make sure you get a few entries in! Thanks so much for stopping by for some awesome blog networking action. I hope you find lots of great creative spaces and people that inspire you to continue doing what you love.

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What's your favorite holiday tradition? **


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One more reminder to drop by and check out the Pamper Yo'self Giveaway!
Have a wonderful caffeine laced day! #cheers

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December 4, 2014

Big Announcement + Sneak Peek!

I couldn't be more thrilled to announce my brand new endeavor. My Cozy Couture Handmade shop on Etsy is now moving to retail! That's right folks, RETAIL!

 (Read: What the heck am I doing?)

Here in Kansas City, we have "Warehouse Weekends", which is a monthly shopping event just west of downtown. It happens the first weekend of every month where cool old warehouse buildings come alive with vendors selling unique home decor, antiques, handmade items, and LOTS of great finds.

So of course I was completely humbled and excited when the lovely Geri Wurth, owner of Top Hat Mercantileinvited me to join her esteemed West Bottoms vendor team and sell my headwraps and handmade products.

And guess what? The big sale starts TOMORROW! Here's a sneak peek...



So in case any of my lovely KC gal pals want to drop by and check it out, I would love to see you! I will be on-site with the vendor team working the event for the Saturday afternoon portion, so please come say hi! 

I've been down setting up my space the last few nights and let me tell you, this holiday sale is going to be incredible. They have completely transformed this space into a creative wonderland. Everyone at Top Hat is so talented (and so gosh darn friendly!) - I already have my eye on some favorite finds to purchase ASAP!


In case you aren't in the KC area, please check-out my extensive handmade items up on my Etsy shop. Everything is handcrafted with love by your truly, so I would love to send something special your way! I will be posting lots of holiday baby items soon - stay tuned!

If you are looking for the perfect stocking stuffer or holiday gift, the headwraps usually sell out during the month of December - so go check them out! I LOVE making these cozy accessories! :)

A very special thanks to the many of you who have supported and encouraged what I love to do, and I can't thank you enough for your many purchases, well wishes, and love. You make my world go 'round!

.:::.:::.:::.:::.:::.


Hope to see YOU this Saturday or drop by to shop anytime Friday (9-7 PM), Saturday (9-7 PM) & Sunday (11-3 PM):

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Top Hat Mercantile
1285 Hickory St.
KC, MO 64102
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xoxoxox!

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December 1, 2014

Mingle Monday Blog Link-Up + Giveaway Alert!

Did everyone have a fantastic Turkey Day o' Thanks?
Hope you had a fun-filled holiday weekend with lots of family and pumpkin pie! 

I am so thrilled you decided to stop by the ol' blog for a little blogger networking. Not only can I promise you a great link-up featuring creative bloggers and addictive blogs to read, I can also sweeten the deal by mentioning my Pamper Yo'self Giveaway featuring amazing products by Thistle & Finn!! 

That's right, after you link up your blog, be sure to check out this awesome giveaway! I know you will love it, because they are all products I can't get enough of!

Lots of great things coming your way this week (including Pacific Northwest Trip - Part 2), so stay tuned!

   

HOW TO MINGLE

 ** Only 3 easy rules - that's all I ask! **


1) Link-up your blog below.

2) You must share a link to Mingle Monday on your post or the Mingle Monday photo.
 
3) Answer the weekly question in the comments section below and have FUN!
 
** What's your favorite way to pamper yourself? **


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Don't forget to drop by and check out the Pamper Yo'self Giveaway!
Wishing you a butt-kicking work week!

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November 30, 2014

Thistle & Finn + Pamper Yo'Self Giveaway!

I could not be more excited to introduce you to a spectacular new business, Thistle & Finn, which showcases curated goods for the stylishly modern. What a prefect place to find the most special gifts for your friends and family this holiday season (and let's face it, a little shopping for yourself along the way won't hurt!).


When Marcy Miller, CEO and founder of Thistle & Finn, came to me about a wonderful partnership idea, I jumped on the opportunity immediately because I love her products and mission. Marcy melted together her passion for product design and development with her love for finding special pieces that bring inspiration to others.

Aside from hand selecting beautiful home furnishings, gifts, and accessories, I completely love her goal of supporting creative artists. Marcy continues to scout out other creatives and features their unique products so that you can express your unique style with these treasured gems. You absolutely need to stop by to browse the incredible variety of gifts that Thistle & Finn has to offer!

Thanks to Marcy's generosity, we have the most wonderful, pampering giveaway for you today! The winner of this giveaway will be taking home Barr Co. Bath Soak + Lemon Verbana Soap + Cream Beaded Soap Dish combo (a $60 value!), and I seriously cannot tell you enough about how much I swear by this delicious smelling, wonderfully smoothing bath soak and lemon verbana soap. If you want soft and silky winter-proof skin, that bath soak is right up your alley. The perfect stocking stuffer or for you to have a little at home spa night after a long day of holiday festivities - pamper yo'self!




The giveaway will be open until NEXT Tuesday, December 9th at 12AM! There are even a few entries that you can do daily, so get after it, sister!

In the meantime, enjoy this special treat for Life of Meg readers... 20% off everything at Thistle & Finn + free shipping. Use code MEG20 at checkout!

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November 25, 2014

Pacific Northwest Trip in Photos: Part 1

It's been 3 weeks since we ventured into the Pacific Northwest, and I am already missing that delicious pine scented mountain air.

Our trip to Spokane, Washington and Couer d'Alene, Idaho couldn't possibly have been more fun and I'm reliving our adventures through looking at these photos.


The Thursday we left, we both worked the whole day, so we didn't get into Spokane until late. We checked into the historic, gorgeous Davenport Hotel, nestled into bed with our belated dinner, and indulged in a Scandal marathon.

The next morning was Halloween, and we admired the pumpkin carving contest in the lobby. They were so incredibly intricate!





After breakfast, we did some shopping at some cute stores on Lincoln Street (kiddo store - French Toast - so cute!) before heading to the Riverfront Park area. We had WAY too much fun sliding down the Radio Flyer wagon slide and seeing how beautiful Spokane is in the fall.



Before heading East to gorgeous check-in at the gorgeous Couer d'Alene Resort, we happened to stumble along Atticus Coffee & Gifts - the most charming little store and chill place to grab a cup of joe. The barista was so friendly and talented - she capped of my pumpkin latte with skull latte art in lieu of the holiday!

We finally hit the road sipping coffee and listening to my favorite folky hipster music. The mountains were misty and the scenery was gorgeous. While in the lobby checking in we noticed that the main street in town was full of tricker treaters, We headed that way, and once we realized that all of the businesses and restaurants pass out candy, we grabbed a window seat at a cute little bar and sipped seasonal brews while watching the adorable kiddos pass by in their costumes.



The next morning we woke up early and my hubby ordered us a rose petal breakfast in bed for 2, complete with huckleberry mimosas. Lawd have mercy!

For some reason, after downing big fluffy pancakes, we thought it would be a good idea to go hike Tubbs Hill. Thanks to the recommendation of my blogger friends, Samantha, who is local to the CDA area, we had a great time, only got lost 3 times, and caught some gorgeous views of the lake.





Don't worry, I'm already looking at airline tickets to go back... ;)

Stay tuned, I have lots more photos and fun stories to share, and then you can get a hankering to travel the Pac Northwest too!


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