Saturday, March 19, 2016


So I wanted to use this post to quickly check-in with you guys and update you on my life.  February 26th I made the very tough decision to quit my job.  And no this is not going in the direction of “And now I’m a full-time blogger!”…I wish.  I was at a place in my life where it felt like everything was becoming monotonous and while everyone thought I was absolutely insane for quitting “an amazing job” it just didn’t feel right to stay.  This old-fashioned idea that you get a good job and work there, and only there, until you die scared me to my core.  I know in true millennial mindset I believe I’m “special” and have high expectations for EVERYTHING but there are so many things I want to see, and do, and experience that the thought of being stuck in Tampa at a job that wasn’t going anywhere gave me night terrors.  I do want to backtrack briefly and say I do not regret moving to Tampa at all.  I moved there by myself in August 2014 from NY and met so many amazing people and learned so much working with some phenomenal clinicians so this decision was not a product of my environment it came from me.  And then when I heard about some issues going on with my family last October I knew it was the right decision to quit my job and move back to NY.  I’ve been back in Syracuse for about two weeks now and it feels so great to be surrounded by my friends and family again and this really feels like the right move at this moment for the trajectory I want my life to go in.  I am so lucky to have such supportive friends and family who have helped me move and pack boxes, and drive 19 hours from Tampa to Syracuse in a car with my slobbery dog (Lise, I am forever indebted.)  Even when they thought I was crazy and couldn’t really see this “vision” and “plan” I kept talking about they supported and believed in me anyway and I am eternally grateful for that.  And I’m proud of myself for making it happen.  It would have been much easier to stay in Tampa and do the same old thing in a comfortable job and lifestyle and while many may see moving back to your hometown as a step backward I see it as a step forward in where I want to go.  When I finally made the decision back in January that I was going to do this and submitted my resignation it felt like there were a million things to do and a hundred things that had to fall into place to get me back to NY with a new job.  But it happened, it seriously all fell into place.  And getting in my car with one of my best friends and dog and passing that Florida state line brought on such a feeling of accomplishment.  It felt like I listened to my heart and my voice, instead of listening to what everyone else wanted me to do, and that’s really what this year is all about for me.  (You can check out my new year’s post HERE.)  So sorry for the long blabbering post, but I wanted to check-in with you guys to let you know what was going on and I hope this post encourages you to listen to your own voice and go after what you want.  Have a fabulous weekend!!

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’  Then they put the box away and bring it out once in awhile to look in it, and yep, they’re still there.”
-Emma Bobeck

xoxo Nicole

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


So I’m sure none of you have heard of this little publication titled The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Oh, you have?  I kid.  The wildly successful best-seller by Marie Kondo has inspired every woman from here to Timbuktu to hop on the de-cluttering train and tidy up their home.  And I admit, I’ve caught the bug.  With this year being “My Year of Choosing The Bigger Life” I’ve tackled finances in month 1, detoxing my diet in month 2, and now I’m ready for the big guns.  It’s time to clean out the closet.

Published in 2014 The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up follows Japanese principles of organizing and de-cluttering along with the authors signature Kon-Mari method to ensure your environment will become a place of tranquility and joy.  With a 3 month waiting list for Kondo’s services and over 8,500 five-star reviews on Amazon I thought hey, it’s worth a shot. 

Here's a sneak peak of the current situation.  It's not pretty. 

I wouldn’t say I’m full on TLC, hiding newspapers in toaster ovens, hoarder status, but I do have a lot of stuff and I don’t like to throw things away.  I remember growing up my mother, who is the organization queen, would plead with me to throw out my menagerie of beanie babies and clothes that don’t fit to which I would reply the eBay market for beanie babies just hasn’t sparked yet.  I recently tried to clean out my closet on my own and two reoccurring excuses I told myself were, “This would be great for a Halloween costume,”  and “I should definitely save this for when I get pregnant, very flowy.”  I know I have a problem.  So I’m hoping by biting the bullet and with some tough love Japanese advice I can become a zen minimalist.  And while I love my “stuff” it is no fun to have a closet so bursting with items I can’t find anything, drawers that won’t close, and a makeup vanity so overflowing I use the same things everday for feeling overwhelmed.  I would rather have a few things I really love than a bunch of stuff I kind of like.  And a lot of this goes back to the concept of fast fashion I discussed in this post and the climate of consumerism we’re living in that is shouting buy! buy! buy!  I can’t wait to delve into this de-cluttering tome and report back at the end of this month to let you guys know how it goes.  Have you tried the KonMari method?  If you’ve read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up what did you think?  Any organization tips?  Let me know in the comments below!!

xoxo Nicole

Monday, March 14, 2016


detox cleanse alcohol caffeine diet

So if you tuned in at the beginning of last month I was quite the ambitious lass and cut out all the junk from my diet.  (You can check out that original post HERE.)  Let’s review what I signed myself up for…

For the next 30 days I will consume:
-No Alcohol
-No Caffeine
-No Animal Products
-No preservatives (My golden rule is the product needs to have five ingredients or less.)
-Organic Produce Only
-A green smoothie every morning for breakfast

And I made it!  I’m here on the flip side of thirty days and feeling great.  I have cooked more than I have ever cooked in my life, tried out oodles of new recipes, and am feeling very zen.  Ahhhhhh….  My new eating habits didn’t cost me anymore and in fact I saved money since the bulk of my diet was fresh produce.  Despite all the positive benefits one thing I was surprised about was that I didn’t lose any weight!  Not that I had much weight to lose, but still I thought I would drop at least 5 lbs and look like Gigi Hadid VS show ready. (Maybe my expectations were a little high, but a girl can dream.)  Nevertheless I thought I would share the most prominent seven changes I noticed from cutting junk, alcohol, and caffeine out of my diet.  So keep reading to see if this lifestyle may be for you…
  • You will go out with your friends and everyone will think you’re weird.  DD for life!  Drinking is a very social thing, thus when you go out socially and everyone is getting hammered you will hear the classic, “You’re boring, have some fun!”, “But really, why are you not drinking?” and “Oh you’re driving my drunken ass home?? Ok you’re cool.”
  • You will save oodles of cash money.  Those lattes aren’t cheap and the extra $15 I was saving on my grocery bill each week sans my bottle of pinot noir was a welcome surprise.
  • Your digestive system will love you.  Not to get all TMI here, but let me tell you it was smooth sailing in the brazen brunette digestive arena.  If you suffer from IBS, constipation, really any stomach aliment at all, then cutting out the acidity that comes from alcohol and coffee will make a world of difference.
  • Your blood sugar levels will stabilize.  Without the acidity from alcohol and caffeine pumping through your body your ph balance will become more stabilized and in turn your blood sugar.  If you have experienced a blood sugar crash it’s not fun, feeling balanced throughout the day is definitely preferable.
  • You get off the roller coaster.  Ok, so you know how you wake up feeling like a creature from the deep, then you get your first cup of joe in you and the skies open and you see unicorns and petunias…then let’s fast forward to the afternoon when we begin to crash pondering “How can I go on?????” and treat ourselves to a $5 latte...then we get home and after dinner guess what time it is? oh yeah pop that pinot.  And as we all know alcohol is a depressant and the smooth liquid coddles us off to sleep dreaming of our cup of coffee we’ll have the next morning.  Yeah not the best.  Hence if you cut out alcohol and coffee from your diet you just feel pretty good all the time.  It takes some time for your body to recalibrate itself, but after a few weeks the mood swings and energy dips are gone.
  • You realize this “need” to have coffee and alcohol on the reg is pretty much just psychological.  Your body does not need alcohol and caffeine to function.  Even though it can feel like it really really really does.  Before I started this cleanse I had not gone a day without coffee in five years.  FIVE YEARS PEOPLE.  I really thought I was going to die, I’m not kidding.  I asked a friend if I should consult a medical professional before embarking on a lifestyle sans caffeine, to which she laughed and informed me I would in fact not die.
  • If you are an anxious person you’re anxiety will go way down.  So I have this medical condition called neurocardiogenic syncope which basically means there is a messenger missing in my brain that controls how my heart works and sometimes I pass out.  It’s a blast, let me tell ya.  And the things that can aggravate it are dehydration, standing for long periods of time, low blood sugar, and anxiety.  But long story short I have felt as calm as Buddha this month and these lifestyle changes have definitely helped with my neurocardiogenic syncope symptoms.  Removing caffeine and alcohol from my diet has greatly decreased my anxiety levels and if you are someone who suffers from anxiety I would highly consider cutting back on the alcohol and caffeine. 

Now that my month is over I have pondered what I’m going to stick with and what was too stringent for my lifestyle.   Overall I have enjoyed the positive benefits of removing caffeine and alcohol from my lifestyle, but homegirl has to get her party on every once in awhile.  I think a good compromise for me would be to stick to caffeine free tea during the week and treat myself to coffee and drinks with the girls on the weekend.  I also enjoyed my daily green smoothie, but it was a pain in the butt to make every day and I’m not sure if this is something I would stick with moving forward as I feel I get so much produce in my daily diet as it is.  And while I love consuming a 100% vegan diet sometimes a girls gotta cheat and I will allow myself the occasional sushi roll or organic egg from time to time.  So all in all I am so happy I challenged myself this past month and was successful in something that at the beginning really sounded impossible to me.  Have you ever done a cleanse similar to this?  What are your tips for a healthy lifestyle?  Please share in the comments below!

xoxo Nicole

Monday, February 22, 2016


amazing vegan recipes
Picture via Minimalist Baker

Ever since switching to a mostly plant-based diet five years ago it has been tough at times to find delicious vegan recipes.  It can be difficult at first to transition your whole way of eating…navigating the bevy of meat and dairy substitutions, trying to find recipes that are easy and simple to make, and locating recipes that aren’t filled with preservatives and junk.  Believe or not some vegan food can actually be unhealthy!  So through five years of trial and tribulation I bring you my top 10 sources for wonderful vegan recipes. Get excited to have more energy, acquire clear & glowing skin, and lose weight easily; all benefits of incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet. After checking out the selections below you will be running to your grocery store bursting with vegan recipe inspiration!

best healthy food vegan blogs


Cookie & KateKate and her delicious recipes can do no wrong.  I seriously have yet to make anything from her site that I didn’t love! The photographer and cook based in Kansas City features vegetarian recipes highlighting whole foods. 

Oh She GlowsOh She Glows was the first vegan blog I found as I embarked on my plant-based journey.  And let me tell you, it was love at first bite.  Angela Liddon started Oh She Glows in 2008 when she was amidst recovering from an eating disorder and wanted to share her journey to health and the amazing transformation food had in her life. I have loved being a loyal reader of her blog for years and following Angela along in her successes and now accompanying best-selling cookbook.  Her indulgent recipes are to die for!!

Minimalist BakerOk, talk about food porn…Dana Shultz has some of best food photography I’ve ever seen.  I just drool reading her blog posts.  Her simplistic approach to plant-based eating is presented in her easy to make recipes all featuring 10 ingredients or less and prepared in 30 minutes.  You will be transitioning to veganism pronto after scrolling through her pages.

Love & LemonsAdore this blog for featuring vegetarian recipes that are sure to impress a dinner party.  (I used a couple of Jeanine’s recipes for my annual cookie party last Christmas and even the carnivores were impressed.)  This Austin based blog started in 2011 and with such overwhelming success they’re launching their Love & Lemons cookbook this March!   

best vegan cookbooks


The Kind DietThis book holds such a special place in my heart.  It was the first book I read when I was thinking about transitioning to a vegan diet and Alicia Silverstone’s relatable and easy to read thoughts on living a plant-based lifestyle drew me in.  Not to mention how delicious her recipes are in this book!  Any time anyone questions me about my vegan diet or expresses interest in eating more meat free dishes I direct them straight to this text. 

Moosewood Restaurant FavoritesThe infamous Moosewood restaurant based in Ithaca, NY is only an hour away from my hometown and trust it lives up to it’s reputation.  This comprehensive tome on farm to table eating features 250 easy to make and delicious recipes that are staples at the thriving restaurant.  This is a great comprehensive cookbook for anyone looking to eat healthier and features a lot of education on basic culinary techniques.

If It Makes You HealthySo you may be thinking a cookbook by Sheryl Crow?!?  But hear me out on this one…although this cookbook features recipes for all diet types there are so many vegan standouts that it’s definitely worth a read.  The rockstar pairs up with her personal chef Chuck White in this one and shares the changes she made in her diet and lifestyle after being diagnosed with breast cancer.  There are so many delicious finds in here (the vegan chili is amazing!!) and the book focuses on using seasonally fresh produce.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The WorldYou need this cookbook in your life.  Like yesterday.  If you are looking to expand your baking repertoire to delights sans animal products you will love this, probably just as much as the over 500 five star reviews it has warranted on Amazon.  Featuring over 50 mouthwatering cupcake recipes this cookbook is easy to follow and the recipes include ingredients you will already have on hand.  There is nothing worse that trying to make a vegan recipe and have it splattered with hard to find ingredients!

healthy magazines vegan


Women’s HealthI know most people skim through magazines and never try out the recipes (I used to be one of these people) but you could be missing out on some amazing finds!  I am a loyal subscriber of Women’s Health and have found so many amazing vegan recipes in it’s pages. With a mission statement of helping women to improve their lives and achieve health I am eternally grateful for my favorite Thai basil curry recipe I found nestled inside.

VegNewsWhat can probably be called the mecca of vegan monthly publications, if you are serious about this whole plant-based thing than VegNews will be your jam.  Featuring thought provoking articles, organic beauty reviews, eco-friendly travel, and most importantly savory recipes.  Each month is jam packed with vegan recipes, many of which have become staples in my cooking repertoire.

xoxo Nicole