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Is New York at Christmas Worth the Hype?

The crowds are insane, every flight out is fully booked, prices are outrageous and all to experience the magic that is New York at Christmas. Before I went to New York in December for the first time I found myself in a conversation with one of THOSE people, you know the ones where everything they say is laced with cynicism. Probably your uncle or something. I was telling him that we were going to the big city on December 10th and I was so ready to hear how horrible the crowds were and how crazy expensive everything was and how, “He’d rather light himself on fire than go there.” but to my dismay, he stopped and looked at us and said…”It’s magical, you’re going to LOVE It!” I was SHOOK. But that’s when I knew, if HE said It was good…it’s gotta be good.

That was five years ago, and I’ve been every year since then…it’s a non-negotiable in the Page household. So here I am, sitting in a coffee shop and planning out our next trip to New York at Christmas. I can confidently say that I know how to plan this trip like a pro, I’ll help with what to do and what not might be worth the hype. This trip is similar to the one here where I walked through how to tackle the city in three days, anytime of the year. But this one has a few more things that will get you into the holiday spirit, STAT. I’ll share our itinerary below for five days in the city so you’re sure to not miss a beat.

Booking + Arrival

We always book an early flight into the city and a late flight out of it. We leave out of Atlanta and fly into LGA and there are flights going about every hour. We like to get into the city before lunch so that we have a mostly full day to see all the things! We ALWAYS stay at the Lotte New York Palace ESPECIALLY at Christmas. They are famous for their beautifully decorated lobby and the HUGE tree in the courtyard, it’s magic every time you walk downstairs. Book through Expedia, they price match and if you aren’t using Skymiles or reward tickets you can get some good flight + hotel bundle deals. With an early flight, we get to the hotel at around 10:30. When we get to the hotel we will check in and drop our bags off for holding until our room is ready–sometimes we can get in our room right away, and sometimes we have to wait.

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DAY ONE – Thursday

Lunch @ Melt Shop – We go here because it’s close to the hotel AND you get to walk by Rockefeller Center and see THE TREE! Ugh, it’s the best.

Bryant Park + New York Public Library – Bryant Park has the most adorable shops set up and there’s another Christmas Tree there that is photo worthy with an ice skating rink.

Check-In

Car to Washington Square Park

  • Greenwich Village
  • Coffee at Stumptown

Dinner @ John’s on Bleecker Street – I have on good word from a friend that grew up in the city that John’s is the best pizza. We thought no better way to ring in the first day with a slice or two.

Dress: Casual

Resveration: Not available.

Top of the Rock – I always say this, but it’s my favorite view as far as tourist attractions are concerned. We book our tickets with the Sun & Stars add-on, meaning you can go twice in 24 hours.

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DAY TWO – Friday

Breakfast @ Sarabeth’s Central Park

Dress: Business Casual

Reservation: Required, especially around the holidays. At least three weeks in advance.

Central Park

  • Boathouse – If the weather is nice, rent a canoe and take a little ride!
  • Bethesda – Cue every iconic movie ever filmed in NY. Blair and Chuck’s wedding, anyone?
  • Bridges – There are quite a few and the architecture on ALL is worthy of the walk. Stroll through the mall and see the artists and musicians, it’s so whimsy.

Upper East Side + Laduree – If you go from Bethesda and cut over to Upper East, It will put you right by some beautiful residential areas to walk through. Cut over to Laudree for the BEST macarons of your life, guaranteed.

We had plenty of time before dinner so we explored more on the Upper East Side before taking a cab back to the hotel to freshen up.

Dinner @ Carmine’s

Dress: Casual

Reservation: Required at least a week in advance. Can book up to 30 days in advance.

– This is your chance to see the charm of the Upper West Side. This is my best recommendation for family style Italian food. After we ate (too much) we walked through UWS down to Magnolia Bakery, PLEASE get the banana pudding, they’re famous for It. This location is especially charming because it’s not nearly as crowded as Rockefeller is, but equally as delicious. From here we grabbed a cab back to the hotel and called It a night. Try hailing a cab, know your cross streets and destination and use cash, cool points go up almost immediately.

DAY THREE – Saturday

Soho – We had a meeting at The Real Real and they have a cafe where we had pastries and coffee for breakfast. I wasn’t into dealing with the Saturday morning brunch crew. We walked in and out of all the shops in SOHO, walked the cobblestone streets and stopped (again) in Laduree for more macarons, because we have our priorities in order.

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Lunch @ Shake Shack – This is the original location in Madison Square Park so obviously It tastes better. We sat and ate in the park (they have heaters outside) and then walked a few feet over to the Flatiron Building. This is a must for a photo, so iconic!

We left this afternoon wide open and ended up doing a little shopping before heading to The Polo Bar for a late dinner, because Shake Shack will fill you up for days.

Dinner @ The Polo Bar

Dress: Business Casual

Reservation: Required in advance. Call 30 days before you want your reservation at 10AM to secure one.

I recommend getting here early and having drinks. They will seat you in an adorable little lounge and bring out snacks, you can sit and drink in front of a fireplace until your table is ready. It’s such a fun experience.

DAY FOUR – Sunday 

DUMBO + Brooklyn Bridge – There are a lot of fun things to see in this area! Dumbo is a cool view of the Manhattan bridge and from Dumbo you can get on the Brooklyn Bridge and walk the whole thing across to Manhattan. After that, it’s the perfect time to check out Chinatown, Financial District and One World Trade.

Tea at The Plaza – This is a MUST! I look forward to getting dressed up and heading to The Plaza for afternoon tea. The iconic backdrop of this afternoon adventure is so magical and creates the best memories. Plus, get all the Home Alone vibes and trespass throughout the first few floors of the Plaza…it’s worth It. We sat and talked for hours and It was just the sweetest time.

Dress: Fancy!

Reservation: Required, at least three weeks in advance.

Shopping on 5th Avenue – Once we were done with tea, It was the perfect time to stroll down this shopping destination and see the beautiful window displays and flagship stores. Then we headed back to the hotel to change for dinner.

Dinner @ Fig + Olive  – This was the perfect dinner spot after an afternoon tea. The portions are perfect for splitting so we went with apps and It was perfect. The food here is SO GOOD.

DAY FIVE – Monday 

Breakfast @ The Smith – There a couple of different locations you can go to, any of them are amazing. We chose the Upper West Side location so we could see that part of the city during the day. We walked back to the hotel to take in just a little bit more of the city and packed up our things.

Dress: Casual

Reservation: Probably a good idea.

Lunch @ The Plaza Food Hall – We went to the Food Hall in the basement of The Plaza for a quick bite, shopped some more and then headed back to the hotel to catch a cab to LGA.

There were a few things we did that are not included in the above, because let’s be real this was four months ago and my memory just isn’t that good. Because of our amazing location, we made Saks Fifth Avenue a frequent stop. The light show is so fun and I could stand and stare at that tree for hours! The fun thing about NYC at Christmas is that anything you do will feel festive because the decorations are everywhere and errybody in the Christmas spirit.

Here is a list of options for eats, drinks and things to do for any spare time you might have!

Food:

  • The Polo Bar
  • Salon De Ning (Drinks)
  • Fig + Olive
  • The Smith
  • Shake Shack
  • John’s Pizza Carmine’s
  • The Melt Shop
  • The Plaza Food Hall
  • Sarabeth’s
  • While We Were Young
  • Magnolia Bakery
  • Laduree

Sights:

  • Bryant Park
  • New York Public Library
  • DUMBO + Brooklyn Bridge
  • Central Park
  • The Met
  • The High Line
  • SOHO
  • Chinatown
  • Greenwich
  • Washington Square Park
  • Flatiron District
  • Madison Square Park
  • Grand Central Station
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How To Do NYC In Three Days

One of my favorite past times has become planning trips. It was kind of an accident due to the fact that the first time we ever went to NYC and decided to “wing it”, we realized that doesn’t really work. In a place like New York making sure all of the details match up so that everything is done as efficiently as possible is a MAJOR key! If you are going for a week, things are naturally more spread out, but I love a good challenge of a three or four day trip (including travel days)! I wanted to share our recent trip itineraries for those who may be considering a weekend NYC trip of their own. Some may think I’m craaazy for how specific it is, but I know I can enjoy a fun city if I don’t have to think about what’s next. When planning, I always calculate how long a walk from one point to the next will be, and this will be easiest when you know where you are staying. Below is based off where we always stay, and where I would highly recommend staying as far as accommodations and location are concerned!

BOOKING:

We always book an early flight into the city and a late flight out of it. We leave out of Atlanta and fly into LGA and there are flights going about every hour. We like to get into the city before lunch so that we have a mostly full day to see all the things! We ALWAYS stay at the Lotte New York Palace. Not only is it iconic, but it is also a stunning hotel with the comfiest beds (very important with such a busy few days). Book through Expedia, they price match and if you aren’t using Skymiles or reward tickets you can get some good flight + hotel bundle deals. The cheapest day to travel is Saturday so try to book a Saturday to Monday or Tuesday trip.

 

ARRIVAL:

With an early flight, we get to the hotel at around 10:30. When we get to the hotel we will check in and drop our bags off for holding until our room is ready–sometimes we can get in our room right away, and sometimes we have to wait.

This probably won’t be a huge surprise to most, but I don’t travel to New York very traditionally. I hate Times Square and am not into the Big Bus tours! If you do want to do that, there are easy spots to throw those kinds of things in.

Here we go with an easy way to see a lot in three days in New York. Whenever I plan a trip I always give myself plenty of time in between stops for the unexpected as far as getting a car, traffic or let’s be honest…getting lost, so you will notice that as well!

DAY ONE

10:30 Check-In – Most hotels will hold your bags for you until your room is ready, drop them there and don’t waste a minute at the hotel!
11:00 Lunch at Shake Shack – Best burger ever AND it originated in New York!
12:30-4:00 Explore – We chose the following spots because if you take a taxi to Washington Square Park, the first fews spots will be within walking distance and then catch a cab for the last few if you’re feeling weak early.
– Washington Square Park – See the arch, see the fountain and see the abundance of NYU students, it’s basically their campus.
– Stumptown Coffee – Grab a latte for your walk, they’re amazing here!
– Greenwich Village – Perfect time to see some iconic brownstones and walk-ups.
– SOHO – Shop, shop, shop. Any brand worth mentioning has a store in SOHO. The cobblestone streets and refreshingly bright buildings are a sight for sore eyes, too!
– Flatiron Building


4:45-7:00 Sunset Cruise – We did a sunset cruise on a small yacht and it was the coolest way to see the city! You get a lot accomplished as far as sights are concerned since it includes a view of all sides of Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Statue of Liberty!


7:00 Dinner at Chelsea Market – This is walking distance of the Chelsea Pier, and it is more casual, but there is something for everyone.
9:30 Top of the Rock – Ok, this place is so touristy but I love it. Rockefeller is one of my buildings in New York because of the history and how iconic it is. The view from here is better (in my not-so-humble opinion) than the Empire State Building, so if you only do one, I would pick this one! Buy your tickets in advance, and when you get to the top, go all the way up where there is no glass between you and the view. There are some hidden stairs and signs that say “upper deck” that will get you there. We got the “Sun and Stars” pass so we could see it during the day and night, you’ll get a discount that way by going twice as long as it’s within 24 hours.

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10:30 Magnolia Bakery – There is one next to Rockefeller, and you won’t regret grabbing a late night dessert here. They are known for their banana pudding, but the cupcakes are also AMAZE.

DAY TWO

9:00 Breakfast at SaraBeth’s Central Park – Make these reservations pretty far in advance, as they book up fast. I would recommend the fat and fluffy french toast with a mimosa. It’s a heavenly combination.


10:00-3:00 Central Park and Upper East Side – We walk through Central Park up to Bethesda Terrace/Fountain, and while you might be tempted to take a pedicab, don’t… unless you’re willing to give up your first born child for it, so just wear comfortable shoes and walk! Along the way you’ll see bridges, ponds and even ice skating. It is the most beautiful scenery, and you’re sure to find some amazing jazz music to serenade your walk. After Central Park, we will walk back through the park and get to the Upper East Side. Walking through the residential part of UES is reason enough to go there, but you will also find The Met Museum and the best macarons you’ll ever have at Laduree, guaranteed! There are beautiful store fronts and A LOT less tourists to deal with as well! After we have strolled through UES, we love to make our way back to Fifth Avenue. You’ll find iconic flagships stores and some really cool shops, so if you’re into shopping, this is a must.


3:00-4:00 Top Of The Rock – Yes, we saw this twice. We wanted to see it in the daytime and at night since you can see Central Park during the day (and in the Fall, this view is unbeatable). TOTR never seems too crowded because they are so strategic in how they do everything!


4:00-5:30 Grand Central Station – Another beautiful spot that you will want to just relish in. This one doesn’t take long but is a must see.
6:00 Dinner at The Polo Bar – We ate at The Polo Bar, which is Ralph Lauren’s restaurant and the hype was TOTALLY worth it. PRO TIP: If you are interested in making a reservation here, be sure to call them 30 days in advance at 10:00am and do not book on Open Table even though that is what the website says. They only put really early and really late reservations on Open Table so if you want to eat at a normal time, give them a call! It felt like such an exclusive place considering you couldn’t even walk in the door without a reservation! The interior is exquisite, complete with mahogany, cognac leather + plaid. It’s so RL! It is upscale American food so I got the burger, Nathan got the steak and both were phenomenal!

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After dinner we were determined to find a rooftop bar with a great view. NYC is known for the pretension of their rooftop bars, but once you find one…the view is totally worth the hassle. A nicer and more private option is Salon De Ning at the top of The Peninsula Hotel. Lucky for us, it is just across the street from The Polo Bar. If you walk past the main entrance to the hotel you will see a door that says “SN”, enter there and walk all the way back until you find an elevator. Take it all the way to the top and enjoy the beautiful views of Fifth Avenue.

DAY THREE

9:00-10:00 DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge – Head to Water St. first to see the official view of DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and grab a croissant and coffee from Almondine before walking the Brooklyn Bridge. From Water St., you will walk in the opposite direction of DUMBO and walk up a hill to see signs for stairs to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge. Once you’re there just enjoy the views but be sure to walk on the left side and stay out of the bikers lane…they WILL run you over.


10:00-12:00 Exploring
– Chinatown or Little Italy if you’re into the sketchiness of either. I kind of dig the adrenaline rush that Chinatown gives.
– Financial District
– One World Trade
12:00 Check-Out – Again, when you check out just drop your luggage to do some last minute exploring before leaving.
12:30 Lunch – The Plaza hotel is dreamy just to walk in and if you need an excuse to do it, then lunch can be just that! In the basement of the hotel they have a Food Hall that has options from sub sandwiches to sushi. You get to see the hotel and grab a quick bite of really good food. Before you go, grab some donuts from Doughnuttery to snack on!


1:30 Upper West Side – You will stroll along Central Park South to Columbus Circle and head up the west side. For how many wealthy people live at Central Park South, it has always been so ironic that it smells like horse crap. Here you can see Lincoln Center, The Museum of Natural History and obviously all of the You’ve Got Mail spots.
3:00 Hotel to Airport

PRO-TIPS:

  1. I don’t do the Subway…rats go underground, not Page’s. If you are leaving your hotel, a bellman will hail a cab for you. If you’re not comfortable hailing one on your own, Uber and Lyft are heavily available everywhere. Taxis are not as boujee but they will definitely get you to wherever you’re going and FASTER than the other options. I am also still not convinced that there is a huge price difference between the two. Try walking everywhere though, it’s the best way to see the city! Remember that comfortable shoes are SO necessary. I’m not saying to rock your Sketchers, but make the investment into shoe inserts.
  2. It’s a grid system! The Streets are numbered, the Avenues have names and numbers. Numbers go north and south, avenues go east to west.
  3. Please, do not eat the street meat. It’s…just gross.
  4. Google maps will be your best friend but don’t start walking somewhere until you know where you’re going and if you’re trying to figure it out stand to the side. If not, you’re asking to be bumped or yelled at by a local…or potentially me.
  5. Most restaurants in New York (or at least the good ones) will require reservations at least 30 days in advance so set your alarms to make sure you get the best time slot.

Other food options:
The Bagel Store in Brooklyn (rainbow bagel, google that ish)
The Smith
Fig + Olive
Butter
Le Pain
The Melt Shop
Bryant Park Cafe
John’s Pizza for “New York Pizza”
Carmine’s
ABC Kitchen

This is what has worked for Nathan and I and if you hustle, it’s totally possible to leave feeling satisfied! An entirely different post is being reserved for New York at Christmas, because, of course, it is a completely different trip! Happy traveling!

Xx,

AP

#Nsale Round One

The OTS continues…

I swore against any more off the shoulder tops…I think I might have mentioned no more chambray as well, but i mean…who’s keeping count! As much as I am ready for Fall, I couldn’t pass up this ADORABLE off-the-shoulder top!


It generally has a strapless top feel, and a little bit of an open back. I think i have a slight fear of open backs because I’m a little too practical for it…I just gotta feel like I can indulge in Mexican at ANY moment. Also, the bra situation kind of gets out of control too. What I loved about this top was that even though it had an open back concept it still covered my bra in the back where the zipper was! Anything that looks fussy but is really manageable is a win in my book.

The crop of this top was my FAVORITE! I’m 5’10” so finding anything that has a cropped look but won’t show my stomach is SO difficult. It fell just at the top my jeans making it easy to wear anywhere. Again with the practicality! It’s a curse, y’all!


I’m planning on taking this top with me to the beach next week to pair with a bold maxi skirt and I am so excited about it’s versatility. Thanks for following along, loves!

XOXO,

AP

Summer Staples: The White Button-Up 

I found an old picture of myself when I was about 10 years old…and I look like I’m going to an interview. I had black slacks on, a red handbag and a blue button-up…top shelf (what my husband calls all the way buttoned up). Anyone else look at old pictures and think, “WHY did my parents let me wear that?!”. But all things considered, I think that’s when the love for button ups was birthed. 


Plaid, denim, flannel, chambray or classic, it’s hard to go wrong with this timeless style. They’re easy to throw and look put together without having to put a ton of effort into…and all the working girls said amen! I got this one from Old Navy, they always have a great fit.


I’ve never met a front tuck I didn’t like…but to change up that game I did a half tuck. And let me be honest, it was inspired by when Kaitlyn was The Bachelorette and she wore it, what a babe. I really like the messy tuck to make it more casual! 


In an effort to look less like 10 year old me, I paired this with some of my FAVORITE espadrilles that are just the comfiest. This is the first pair I’ve ever had and let me just say, I’m obsessed. Sometimes it’s just good to get away from the sandals or flats epidemic, and espadrilles do just that! 


There’s something so preppy and clean about this look that I love! In a top like this, it’s easy to feel put together and casual at the same time. Thanks for reading, friends! 

XOXO, 

AP

Photos: Kelsey Butcher Photography | Shoes + Top: Old Navy | Shorts | Belt: H&M | Sunnies: Ray Ban

White on White

The week after having a three day weekend is the BEST! I missed being at work; call me crazy, but I really did! I’ve got a busy week ahead, but I’m pumped for it. I’ve been wanting to tackle the “white on white” trend for a really long time, and was finally inspired enough to figure it out over Memorial Day weekend. So here are a couple of tips to rocking white on white!

The absolute most important thing is to make sure both pieces you are wearing are a true white! I took these pieces into natural lighting, because few things are worse than white and ivory. If you want to do ivory on ivory…do it! But white against ivory just looks like one piece is dirty.

If you’re nervous to go full on Kim K, start with a piece that has a white base with a pattern on it. It’s a little on the safer side! If you ARE going full on, be sure to add some texture to the top or bottom! I found this top at Old Navy (not available online, but I have seen it in stores). The little pom poms and embroidered detail adds a little bit of dimension to break up the very monochromatic look! This top also comes in black, but that’s not super helpful for the purposes of this post!

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I loved pairing this denim jacket with it! You can tie one around your waist to break up the colors, or you could just wear it normally (don’t tell the hipsters I said that).

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As far as shoes go, stay in the neutral family! Something too bold will stick out and honestly, the outfit sticks out enough on its own! These are currently my FAVORITE heels from Old Navy (again, in stores).

Lastly, add a soft color via accessories like these fun tassel earrings!

Any white on white outfit is a guaranteed showstopper, and very on trend! Be bold enough to try it! Happy Wednesday, friends!

XOXO,

AP

Photos: Kelsey Butcher Photography | Top: Old Navy | Denim Jacket: Old Navy | White Denim: Dress Up |  Purse: Kate Spade (similar) | Shoes: Old Navy | Earrings: H&M | Watch: Fossil | Bracelet: Dress Up

The Cold Shoulder 

Happy Hump Day! It’s half way through the week (of a holiday weekend) and I ended this day the best way I knew how, with a pedicure! At work, the end of the week is just FUN. I get to visit one of our stores on Wednesday, Thursdays are for photo shoots and Fridays are for bloggers! I mean, they pay me to do this kind of thing, sometimes it doesn’t even feel fair…but hey, I’ll take it!


If you can’t yet tell by my Instagram, I’m obsessing a little bit over the off the shoulder trend. Nathan is about to cut me off from buying anymore! Another fun fact about me: I LOVE chambray/denim. My favorite color is pink, but my favorite color to WEAR is blue. Sky blue, to be exact. If someone gave me a laundry bag made out of chambray, I would pull it off the shoulder and throw on a statement necklace.

With ALL of that said: I bring to you an off the shoulder chambray top. I bet you weren’t expecting that! I found this top at Old Navy and they have it in a DRESS too! It was perfect for church on Sunday with white, distressed denim that I got at Dress Up (they’re my fav) and some nude heels…also from Dress Up! One of my favorite color combos is sky blue, white and light pink. I typically don’t wear pink, but I always throw it in with my accessories. Whether it’s a Kendra Scott necklace or a cute little cross-body! It’s just so girly and sweet.



We are gearing up for Memorial Day weekend around the Page household, and it can’t get here fast enough!

XOXO,

AP

Mini Vacay + New Swimwear

You’ve got friends that you can go to dinner and drinks with, and then you have friends that you can travel with. There’s a HUGE difference. Spending four days straight with people that aren’t family can be tough, but once you find those friends, KEEP THEM FOREVER. Chelsea and Travis are those friends for us.

In Januaray we decided that a beach trip was in order. At the time, May seemed like forever away and then it just showed up like “Hey Anna, you need to pack we are leaving in like five hours.”



We headed out Thursday morning for Perdido Key and came back Sunday afternoon and man, it was just what we needed. The beach is just therapeutic, isn’t it? I don’t know if it’s the sun, the sand, the sea or the combo of all three (that rhymed) but it just WORKS.

Besties for the resties.

Our sweet husbands drove about 30 minutes to get us Starbucks, can you say #goals?


About a week before we left, I found this swimsuit at H&M for $10. I was SO skeptical because I typically live by “you get what you pay for” when shopping. But. This. Suit. Y’all. It fits so well! It held up perfectly fine in the water and on the beach all day and I still just couldn’t believe that it was $10 for the top and bottom!


I found this cover up at Old Navy for $8! They ALWAYS have swim on sale and the quality is great. I also love this one, too!


I also found these sandals that were great for the beach, because I never want to take nice sandals onto the beach and get them ruined. They are the perfect dupe for this pair I saw at Nordstrom, but couldn’t quite justify spending that much on a pair of sandals.

I loved this beachy combo and can’t wait to put it to good use the rest of the summer!

XOXO,

AP

I’m Cheating On Chick-Fil-A

Well I’ll admit, Nathan and I attempted Whole30/Paleo in the past…and it was more of a Whole5 situation if I’m being honest. We didn’t eat horribly (we both grew up eating clean, good food) but once we were in college and started making our own eating choices…we discovered that the Christian Chicken (and other combinations of bread and cheese) made more appearances than they should have. Plus, Nathan and I both work full time, so I don’t have the ability to come home and cook an extravagant, full meal without us both starving to death!

Fast forward to Nathan’s birthday at the end of March. He started having some pain and pressure in his stomach. His birthday was on Saturday, he went to the doctor on Monday, and on Tuesday his blood work came back with results of Pancreatitis. Immediately I started looking up ways to get rid of this thing. I’m pretty crunchy when it comes to doctors and medicine, and I try to avoid both at all costs. From all of the research I did…everything was diet based. I went home, threw away basically everything in our pantry and put us both on a strict diet. One week of gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, no processed or fried foods and the pain was gone for Nathan. The following week he had a CT Scan scheduled to assure us that there was nothing more than just the Pancreatitis. The results came back from that, and everything looked great! #praisehands With this condition, once it’s gone, it’s gone. It typically doesn’t flare up or anything.

We started talking more and more about how (surprisingly) easy it was for us to eat clean. Granted, it was at the risk of his well-being and that definitely factored into it. Knowing that my husbands health was on the line made me never want to look at fried chicken again. However, we noticed that any other time we had tried to eat clean, there was a HUGE mental battle. For anyone who doesn’t have this problem…props. But for me, it felt like a war between my stomach and my mind. Once you let that mental block go…it’s smooth sailing. Food is just food. It’s purpose entirely is just fuel for you body, fuel to do the things in life that REALLY matter. But that concept got lost somewhere between GMO and government cheese. Viewing it as just fuel and not revolving our days around it was a game changer for us.

Nathan and I found a few tips that I wanted to share with anyone who is potentially trying to eat well:

1. Make it the new normal. Eating clean didn’t mean we didn’t go on date nights or couldn’t have desserts. We now FREQUENT El Felix and split fajitas, followed by a our absolute favorite new ice cream and a movie at home. Side note: coming from the girl who ate ColdStone EVERY WEEK for six years, this ice cream is GOOD! It’s the only one we’ve found that we now prefer over others.


2. Snack, snacks, snacks. We are both huge snackers. If it were up to me, I would snack the whole day and instead of eating full meals. We found a few of our favorite crackers, macaroons, chips and so on that make it feel more normal than eating Kale chips and pretending like they’re good. If you can’t do any dairy, this brand has other flavors that are delicious as well.

3. Try new foods you didn’t like before. This whole thing completely cleansed my palette. I essentially ate so much processed crap that I never even tasted flavors of real food. Food I hated before, I love now because I can actually taste it! Y’all…that’s how bad it was.

4. CHOICE MEALS. I can’t stress this one enough. I got this term from my sister and love it so much. I hate the idea of a “cheat meal” because cheating is the worst, and who wants to feel that way? She says, “If you’re eating 21 meals a week and 3 of those meals are “cheat meals”, then you’re still eating about 85% clean.” Which is GOOD! Now that Nathan’s health is no longer at risk, we could technically eat whatever, we are just choosing not to.

5. Think about what you eat. Make a smart decision instead of just pulling up to a drive thru and ordering a number 5, 8 count with a large sweet tea because you’re too lazy to think of a better alternative, and it’s what you’re used to. That’s where we were. #preach

6. Last but not least, find alternatives. For some reason I thought I was going to DIE without bread, so i got Ezekial bread english muffins (cinnamon raisin) for breakfast, which are YUM by the way. We also found this gluten free, dairy free pizza…because who doesn’t love to cozy up with some Netflix and a pizza? I know I do.


I switched out coffee for green tea, so i still had caffeine (can’t do black coffee…I’m weak). And most importantly I started realizing that most of what Nathan and I did revolved around food, so we started finding other ways to plan our days than around what we ate. And, although we still enjoy food, it forced us to get more creative with dates and ways we spent our time.

Gracious, this is long and if you got to the end then you are the real MVP. I could probably go on for days about clean eating and how much it has changed our lives, but I won’t bore you with the details. But take it from the girl who was in tears on Day 4 of Whole30 – if I can do it, literally…ANYONE can.

XOXO,

AP

Mother’s Day

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Celebrating my mom is EASY. She is the most incredible woman I have ever known. Not only did she devote over 20 years of her life to raising 8 children, but she also stayed patient, kind and humble the whole way through. My dad was in ministry for a long time, and Mom was telling us today that Mother’s Days used to look very different than it does now. Apart from coffee in bed, she pretty much got the kids out the door and to church by herself. ANY ounce of celebration she gets these days is very well-deserved.

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This Mother’s Day looked a little different than most, because now most of my sister’s are mothers as well…and they deserve celebrating! We skipped church (#grace) and instead of doing a BIG lunch with everybody, we opted to do brunch at Seed in Marietta with those who live close. After enjoying all of the joys that brunch has to offer, we were ready to chill for the rest of the afternoon. We went back to my Mom and Dad’s house and put together an array of snacks to graze on, got a dessert in the fridge and hung around for a few hours. Once my oldest sisters got there with their families we naturally tried to recreate an Easter picture from 15 years ago (these are the things you do when all 8 kids are together at one time). The rest of the afternoon was a breeze: opening gifts, telling little ones to be quiet because babies were asleep…the normal things that happen when 25+ people are together.

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I love my family…and I am so incredibly proud to be related to them. They are the smartest, kindest, most loyal humans I know, and together I think we could conquer the world. But the best part is thinking that we wouldn’t be where we are without the sweet, soft-spoken, warrior that raised us.

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XOXO,

AP