When a delicious looking dish totally flops. #CookingFail

Let me be clear: I’m no stranger to cooking fails.

There have been cookies that completely fell apart (but still tasted great crumbled up on top of some coconut milk ice-cream), banana bread that didn’t quite rise and definitely wasn’t sweet enough (but still tasted ok with some almond butter spread on top) and of course, there was the time I was supposed to make a pretty ombre Hanukah cake turned anything else than pretty. (But I was able to salvage them into delicious and festive cake pops.)

Usually, I’m able to salvage the dish and turn in to something edible. But this one? This one was a throw-it-in-the-trash-how-do-I-get-this-taste-out-of-my-mouth-I-could-probably-use-this-to-torture-someone-to-get-information-I-need kind of bad. Continue reading When a delicious looking dish totally flops. #CookingFail

Holiday Hair in 5 Minutes?! Yes! This Braided Updo Is Really That Easy!

Happy holidays, everyone!

I’m currently home in Michigan where It. Is. Freezing. Everyone keeps telling me it’s not that bad and OK, fiiiine, I admittedly have become such a baby since moving to California — but going outside is a real struggle!! I forgot how much of a process it is: the jackets, the boots, the scarves, the gloves, and yet you’re still shivering. Then when you get inside, within 10 seconds you’re sweating profusely from so many layers! I’ve been home for two days and have left the house twice. Embarrassing, I know. It’s been hot chocolate, old photos and good movies on repeat!

I do love that the cold gives me an excuse to be on the lazy side since I don’t get to do that very often. OK, on the very lazy side. Sometimes there’s nothing that feels better than wearing pajamas (with cartoon milk and cookies on them) for an entire day. #noshameinmygame

But the other thing I love about this season? Holiday parties! When I go back to California in a few days, I have a couple of holiday parties to go to and there is nothing l love more than an excuse to dress up. (Yes, even MORE than lying around in pajamas eating cookies for every meal.) This year, I decided to create a new ‘do that takes FAR less time than blowing out my hair (any excuse to extend a blow out for any permissible length of time gets 10 stars in my book) AND looks awesome! Seriously, it’s super simple, super stylish, takes five minutes and includes two of my favorite styles, braids and buns!

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I created this new holiday updo exclusively for the Walgreens Beauty Enthusiast program and if you sign up, you’ll have access to tons of hair, makeup and beauty tips (including from yours truly!), as well as exclusive deals on beauty products! Check it out and sign up here! 

Here is the hair tutorial for the braided updo I’ll be rocking next week. Let me know if you try it! I’d love to see how you rocked it too!

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season that’s filled with BOTH cozy pajamas and perfect holiday hair!

XOJ

 

 

Thank you, Walgreens, for sponsoring this post. It means so much to me to work with brands that I love and who support BeenThereTriedIt!

My Holiday Gift List for The Fitness / Wellness Obsessed!

The holidays are almost here which means the gift giving bonanza is almost upon us!

But what do you get a fitness/wellness loving gal (or guy)? Surely not a basket of sugary Christmas cookies or chemical filled beauty products! If you’re shopping for a fitness fanatic, makeup/beauty product obsessed, chocoholic (refined sugar free of course!) or kitchen/cooking goddess, here are some my favorite go-to gifts for 2016 that will help your bestie/sister/boss/significant other stay healthy and happy this holiday season!

Continue reading My Holiday Gift List for The Fitness / Wellness Obsessed!

Backstreet Boys, Britney, Bread and Being in the Moment

This past weekend, the Husband surprised me with a quick trip up to San Jose to go see the Triple Ho Show (a local radio station concert similar to Jingle Ball)

Why the surprise for this show? Because both Backstreet Boys AND Britney Spears were performing at it and well… it goes with out saying that for my teenybopper loving self, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience (he’s the best!)

And you guys, the show was incredible! I broke out my vintage BSB jacket that I begged my mom for during the Black & Blue Tour circa 2001 (thanks, mom!) majorly fan-girled and spent the night partying like it was (November 8th) 1999 (My first ever Backstreet concert) and it was SO much fun.

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BUT honestly I have to admit something: social media made this concert a bit stressful for me. I was constantly trying to post to my snap story, my instagram story, take iPhone video to send to my mom and bestie, and take pics ALL while trying to still dance and have fun and make sure Jason was dancing and having fun and well… you can’t really do that all at once – and the whole having fun/dancing/bopping around is what suffers.

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(Snapping the night with spectacles!)

The more I thought about it the more I realized that the best thing about jamming out to a really good song while you’re baking, driving, in the shower or cleaning is that you’re actually having a BLAST being present in the moment – soaking up every note and chord of the song. And a concert is supposed to be (and always used to be) that amazing feeling times a million.  But, it’s impossible to really be in the moment if you’re trying to Instagram and Snap the whole thing.

This was an arena of eighteen THOUSAND people  almost all of whom had their phones up in the air as well. And that got me thinking- WHY do we all do this?! To show other people how fun it is?  Isn’t it better to just HAVE fun and tell people about it after the fact? Because we want to watch it later? If I want to see Backstreet Boys sing As Long As You Love Me, all I have to do is go to that trusty little site called YouTube.

At this show, Backstreet Boys only sang 5 songs and I have to say in hindsight, I wish I didn’t spend so much time trying to capture it instead spent the time actually living and experiencing it.

Because this is what I looked like when I WASN’T trying to snap or Instagram or use my phone at all:

and it’s SO much more fun than when I was…

So I’m making a deal with myself – we are going to see Backstreet Boys in vegas (naturally) in March and I have no plans of snapping or instagraming or even video’ing it- I fully intend on spending the full 2 hours of this concert (and every concert after), jumping, dancing, screaming and singing at the top of my lungs just like I did before all of this social media-ness way back when in 1999.

Okay now that I got that off my chest- it’s on to some Seriously GOOD travel eats. First of all lets talk about this bay area Philz Coffee phenomenon. I’ve never seen so many drip coffee options or so many people in line for drip coffee in my entire life! But my usually latte loving self got on the bay area bandwagon and after asking the barista nine million questions, ordered some sort of delicious concoction of coffee, almond milk and cocoa and it was all kinds of yumminess.

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From there we ventured over to Psycho Donuts– it was highly recommended by the lovely man at the front desk of our hotel and the donuts LOOKED amazing and the husband looooves himself  good donut (no really he just ordered a mini make your own donut machine…) but according to the hubs they actually weren’t that great and we would say you could skip.

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While walking around downtown San Jose, we stumbled about this place called Sofa Market and wandered inside and let me just say move over Panda Express and Sbarro! This is like the wellness/healthy eating/local eating lovers dream of a food court! They had pho, an organic burger joint, a cute coffee stand with homemade treats and an AMAZING juice stand, Vitamina, where I got this delicious juice:

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and so much more! It’s so nice to see concepts like this popping up. Big fan and I would love something like this here in LA!

And perhaps the food highlight of this trip… so many bay area bloggers always post about the Gluten Free sourdough bread from Bread Srsly and I’ve had a major case of GF bread fomo! BUT while up in Palo Alto I stumbled upon a cute little market called and there it was! Waiting for Me! I obviously couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try it so we bought a loaf (and a bunch of other random snacks- leave it to me to grocery shop while on a one day trip) put it in the fridge at our hotel and when I got home, I tried this bad boy and it does not disappoint! BUT trust me on this one, listen to the box and TOAST before eating! 🙂

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So there you have it- our short trip to San Jose- we had a great time, ate some great food and of course saw some GREAT boys!

xoJ

You’ll Gobble Up These Grain-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Pumpkin Season seasons seems to be stronger than ever.

Have you set foot inside a Trader Joe’s recently? That entire store got a Pumpkin Makeover. And I’m not talking about that weird Today show horrible slapped together makeover. I’m talking about the back in the day Oprah Winfrey Show circa 2008 ‘there’s NO way that’s the same woman that just walked out there on the stage and now I’m crying tears of joy’ kind of makeover. There are things on those shelves that got Pumpkinified that I wouldn’t even think could be pumpkinified. But nevertheless, I still want it.

What is it with us and pumpkin?! I can’t say for certain why this obsession runs deep but whatever it is, I’m happy to be on the bandwagon and admittedly also spend my mornings from september-january craving something delicious and warm and pumpkin (of course) but as you know by know, I’m also looking for something filling and gluten-free, dairy free and won’t leave me with a carb/ sugar crash like most of the seasonal shelved pumpkin items do.

So… enter these:

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins that don’t have a single ounce of grain/flour in them! You won’t believe how good these are! They taste like the perfect pumpkin treat without the sluggish after effects or breakouts!! And you can’t even tell there’s zero flour in them!

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There you go, Pumpkin- always delivering!

What You’ll need:

1 Cup Almond Butter (I used Justin’s Classic)

2 eggs

½ cup organic pumpkin

1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey or coconut sugar)

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

¼ – ¾ cup Enjoy Life dark chocolate chips (or other dark chocolate of choice) – this is dependant on how much sweetness you want! (You can also omit the chocolate chips all together… that’s your choice. But when given the choice, I always choose chocolate!)

To Make:

Preheat oven to 350, line muffin pan with muffin liners

Combine all ingredients in a bowl

Divide evenly amongst 12 muffins

Bake for 20 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!!

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Let me know if you try these and what you think!

XO!

My Snack Obsessions of the Moment!

I’m a constant snacker – you will find wrappers in my purse, car, desk, bed and anywhere else that a snack can be consumed. I won’t leave the house without at least one emergency snack because in my world,  snacks > meals.

Since I’m always testing and trying out new snacks (often of the gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free and paleo/paleoish variety), I wanted to share three of my new snacks finds with you!

(And by new, I mean I made this over the summer and in typical me fashion, forgot to post it… #oops BUT I still stand by these picks and figured better late than never to spread the snack love)

So here they are! Have a favorite snack to share? Let me know!

DIY Wedding Welcome Bags/How We Made Our Hotel Wedding Welcome Bags Personal!

This past June, I got married!

It was everything I ever dreamed of.  Surrounded by our closest friends and family it was a weekend we will never forget.

One of the most important things to me throughout the whole wedding planning process was how to make our wedding feel personal. I didn’t need my wedding to be “different” or over the top, I just wanted people to walk away from the weekend h  aving 1) danced their booties off 2) ate too much 3) felt our love for each other and 4) felt the personal touches that made our wedding feel like “Us”

So over the next couple of weeks I will share the ways we really strived to make our wedding personal and how you can too! I think a lot of people put focus on how to make their wedding different, but what makes your wedding different is that it’s YOU. There will be no other wedding of You & Your Fiancee so that in and of itself makes it different and special. By focusing on personal elements, you can really let your guests get to know you both as a couple and feel the love between you and to me, that’s the goal!

Continue reading DIY Wedding Welcome Bags/How We Made Our Hotel Wedding Welcome Bags Personal!

I Scream for (Dairy-Free) Ice-Cream!

Some people are cake people. For others it’s cupcakes. Or cheesecake (looking at you, husband) Or pie.

I’m 100% an ice-cream/frozen yogurt (and chocolate chip cookie/scone) kind of girl.

Case in point: during my first summer hiatus at The Oprah Winfrey Show, I got a job working at a frozen yogurt shop. While all of my other co-workers spent their time off traveling & relaxing – I spent my summer spooning mochi balls and fruity pebbles on top of tart yogurt for $11 an hour at Berry Chill (RIP):

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It’s how I first discovered I was allergic to dairy. After consuming fro yo all day everyday for 3 months, my skin looked worse than a 14 year old in the midst of puberty and I felt awful.

So, after my Dr. delivered the devastating news, I cut out dairy and go figure,  my skin cleared up.

Flash forward to 2016.

Continue reading I Scream for (Dairy-Free) Ice-Cream!

Kicking off Pumpkin Season… On My Face!

Is there anything better than the start of pumpkin season? For some reason as soon as August hits, everyone is jonesing for some of the orange stuff.

The annual return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte might as well be a national holiday- there are currently countless articles on the interwebs speculating the release date of  the OG Starbucks beverage, and Dunkin Donuts just announced their PSL will return August 29th! Pumpkin recipes (bars! pies! muffins! scones! soups!) are already flooding your Instagram feed and while every year you TRY to fight off the pumpkin frenzy because, well it’s still SUMMER and like 85 degrees outside, you can’t help but feel the need for some pumpkin.

But since I can’t get my hands on a Pumpkin Spice Latte just yet,  I kicked off pumpkin season in a whole new way. Besides, I’m trying to save that beloved sugary PSL (and the calories that come with it) for the first brisk day of fall. So this year, I started celebrating with pumpkin… on my face.

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Enter the Pumpkin Honey Glycolic Mask from Andalou Naturals ($14.95).

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I’m always looking for something to help tighten and brighten but am always wary of hash chemicals or unnatural products that will make me break out.  I’ve read countless times about the benefits of Pumpkin and Manuka Honey to help kill bacteria and brighten skin but I’ve never tried it!

Until now! The product looks like pumpkin:

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And bonus! It’s goopy, so it’s fun to put on:

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Also, it smells like pumpkin too, sooo you may want to have some pumpkin treats (I love these ooey gooey paleo pumpkin bars)  on hand while your mask dries!

When you put it on, the mask starts to tingle right away.

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You wash it off after ten minutes and I could instantly see the difference in my skin (pardon the crazy hair)

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It DID feel less dull and my skin looked brighter.This was just after one use and I love it as a less harsh way to exfoliate dead skin cells. I especially love that it’s made with ingredients I can pronounce. Mainly with Vitamin C, (which helps with pigmentation, uneven tone and dark spots cause by sun damage!), Pumpkin, (obviously!) (which helps to brighten, smooth and remove the dehydrated skin cells), Manuka Honey (helps to clarify) and Glycolic Acid (which exfoliates dead skin cells and gets rid of impurities)

 

What face masks are you loving right now? and more importantly, if you’ve got a good pumpkin recipe let me know!!! mmm pumpkin

XOJ

Improvised Scones (as inspired by the Jersey Shore)

Ok so Scones aren’t the first thing you thing of when you think Jersey Shore, I know

Drinking, gambling, screen printed touristy t-shirts and Snooki come to mind, sure.  But devouring gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free & Paleo scones? Yeah… not even in the top 250 list of “Things you MUST do when visiting the Jersey Shore”

Unless you’re reading my list. In that case, it’s number one.

I discovered the gem of a coffee shop that is No. 7311 in Ventnor city last year, their almond milk lattes, small batch baking and overall cuteness made a major impact on my soul. (Be warned: You will want all of the things)  So when I returned with the Husband (ah, how weird is THAT to type?!) it was at the top of my list.

The almond milk latte? still delicious.

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But this year they had a new addition.

Be still my beating heart:

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The all-things-free-but-delicious Lemon Blueberry Paleo Scone.

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So after a wonderful trip at the shore and a few of these bad boys tucked away in my belly, I’m back home in LA and since I’m a bit of a Scone fanatic, I decided to try my hand at making my own paleo/gluten free/dairy free scones.  This time with cherries and dairy free extra dark chocolate chips:

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They took exactly 5 minutes to mix and 10 minutes to bake and guess what? Only 60 seconds to eat. (I’m working on that whole slowing down while eating thing) Easy enough to whip up any day of the week and paired perfectly with my homemade almond milk latte.

So in case you too are the type who prefers scones over Snooki, Here’s the recipe – but note these can be totally improvised to what you have on hand. Shredded coconut? Sure! chopped up dried fruit? Why not! Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups? Uh, pretty sure they go great with everything. Have fun and make them yours and of course let me know if you make them and how you improvised!

Improvised Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour (I like this one best for baking)

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup Enjoy Life Extra Dark Chocolate Chips (or chocolate of your choice if you don’t like super dark)

½ cup cherries (I used frozen which made these a little moist, you could easily use dried)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 egg

Steps:

  1. Preheat Oven to 375
  2. Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, & chocolate chips
  3. In a small separate bowl, mix egg and maple syrup
  4. Combine wet & dry ingredients and mix well, add in cherries (mix with hands!)
  5. Form dough into a large circle and cut into little triangles (or circles) about ½ inch thick
  6. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown

EAT. THEM. ALL. (and maybe save one for a friend)

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XOJ