Cheery & Charming Traveler’s Guide: 8 NEW Places to Visit in New York City

As always, New York was a whirlwind! Up and back in 2-days, via the Vermonter & Acela Express made for a jam-packed, fun and exciting adventure for our Valentine’s Day this year. Aside from my first time at Madison Square Gardens + seeing Billy Joel live, we covered a TON of ground and visited a slew of new spots!

Whenever I find fun, new spots, I’m always pressed to share! So, I’m quickly jotting down my top 7 favorite places we visited for any of you who may be looking for a cool, trendy or cozy new spot to check out next time you’re in the area!

  1. Hanoi House
    We had dinner here Thursday night and let me tell you – it was I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. Placed appropriately on the historical, adventure seeking, 119 St. Mark’s Place, you’ll arrive in a (not-so-surprisingly-small), delicately quaint, romantically dimmed, intimate spot in East Village. But – don’t let the size fool you. Hanoi House is known for “The Absolute Best Pho in New York,” “The Absolute Best Octopus in New York,” “The Absolute Best Vietnamese Restaurants in New York,” and more. I mean . . . WOW!!! Once you’ve had a moment to take in the eloquent details, brace yourself as you’re about to be spoiled with a breathtaking, unbelievable, well-cultured, imaginative display of Vietnamese cuisine! From the Crispy Crab & Pork Spring rolls (Nem Ran), to the Spicy Octopus (Bach Tuoc Ca Ri) – delightfully displayed over roasted sweet potatoes, coconut curry, charred scallion and shishito peppers, to the Hanoi Style Beef Pho Soup (Pho Bac), – a classic 16-hr broth with heritage Black Angus filet mignon, brisket & rice noodles AND an add-on option of bone marrow (must have!) on the side, our dinner was simply divine. The only thing that will leave you feeling disappointed after this visit, is the wish that you could fit everything on the menu in your belly!
    P.S. make sure you get there early!! They don’t take reservations and the place was nearly filled upon our arrival, 15-minutes post their opening at 5:30.
    P.S.S. our dear friends own this place, so go. check. it. out. !!!
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  2. Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria NYC
    I don’t know about you, but I know that when I visit New York City, I’m not leaving until I’ve had a proper slize of za 😉
    Joe & Pat’s Pizzeria is more formally known in the Staten Island area of New York. Wanting to break in and make their presence known in the Manhattan area, they opened their NEW location at 168 1st Avenue. Priding themselves on a secret Neapolitan recipe for a special thin crust pizza that has made their restaurant famous, I was so glad to have enjoyed this gem during our trip! We sat at the antiquely pounded copper counter top on the corner of the bar and enjoyed catching up with friends and admiring the original, characteristic stained glass windows before, quite literally, demolishing our pizza. Looking for the perfect NY fold? You found it!! Can’t decide which kind to try when you visit? Psst… if you order a large, they allow you to do half and half! But, they also have a smaller, personal 10” option as well. Not to mention – the bartender and staff were  amazingly warm and welcoming, making for a fun, social lunch break on Friday!
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  3. C&B – East Village, Thompson Square Park
    I’ll keep this one short and sweet, just like this shop! Seriously one of the cutest little coffee shops in East Village! We stopped in for a quick espresso (always needed!) and loved seeing the kitchen staff live, in action, flipping, kneading and pounding their homemade dough!! I mean, you just can’t get that just anywhere in Baltimore! Plus, you can take your coffee/espresso/latte and enjoy a casual stroll around Thompson Square Park after, which is right across the street!
  4. Tacombi
    SALT! SALT! SALT! LOVED this Mexican spot we found on 267 Elizabeth Street. And come on … a old school, authentic Volkswagen Bus as the taco-making station?! We only stopped in for a quick taco (or two…) and kept on our exploring, but the atmosphere was so traditional and genuine, it’s definitely worth a visit and some cliché photos! P.S. the tacos were awesome too!
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  5. L’AMICO
    This is probably one of my favorite spots in NYC – although a little more ‘commercial,’ in feel, the atmosphere is to die for and this is going to sound weird, but I love their bathrooms! Haha! While separate male and female, the hand-washing station connects the two via a shared wash-sink area with a reflective, stained glass like mirror for separation. It’s a great spot for a casual happy hour, quick bite at the bar (they have amazing selection of appetizers, wood-burning pizzas, fresh pastas, and selections of charcuterie), or in our circumstance, a late night cap for topping off Saturday evening after the concert. We stayed in the hotel above it – The EVENTI, which I would TOTALLY recommend if you’re ever seeing a show at Madison Square Gardens. It was about a 5 minute walk from the concert!
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  6. BUA Bar
    Cute and friendly spot to stop to get a snack or drink beforehand if you try our Hanoi House! It’s right across the street and felt so intimate. The space is decorated with countless lit candles that grace spaces in the walls where bricks have intentionally been removed. Candles also delicately and artfully line random fashion behind the bar liquor bottles, shelving, and pretty much anywhere you look!
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  7. Westside Market
    Talk about a local food market!! I WISH we had something like this in our small town, Federal Hill! Then again, I get we may not have the same volume to sustain this type of operation 🙂 It felt like I had walked into the Costco-version of a market! Never-ending, colorful supply and variety of fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, deli meats, cheeses, traditional grocery, flowers and more! Super cool spot to stop by, take in the colorful spreads and patronize a local business (with some salty and sweet snacks while you’re there!)
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  8. The Pennsy Food Hall
    Last, but not least – and definitely not a big secret as it’s right above Penn Station, but this is a great, vibrant and convenient spot to grab-and-go a snack before you catch the train ride home. It’s more of an incubator-type feel with a variety of small eateries, so there’s a little something for everyone. From sushi, to tacos, to bar food, to sweet treats, ice cream and more! Plus, they sometimes have a DJ that slings throwback songs and top beats to get you boppin’ and grovin’!

Do you have any favorite spots or gems to share? I’d love to hear! Ping me in the comments below!

Talk soon!

xoxox
Brittany

I Did It All for the Cookies… NEW: Keto Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Being on a diet, a NEW diet at that – it’s natural for your sweet tooth to perk up! Especiallyyyyy when you’re telling yourself something is off limits. You just want it EVEN MORE. Amiright?!

Well. Say goodbye to those nasty cravings, because I have a 100% Keto approved chocolate chip cookie recipe for you to try! That’s right folks – I said C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E  C-H-I-P  C-O-O-K-I-E-S !! You don’t have to deprive yourself on every diet! These  cookies contain all the Keto necessities: coconut oil, butter, almond flour and . . . you guessed it . . . chocolate!!

For the purposes of the Keto diet, we’re choosing a 100% cacao baking chocolate bar, unsweetened. NOTE: By itself it’s extremely bitter, but mixed in with the other ingredients, it creates the perfect balance!

Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup golden monk fruit sweetener OR sticky sweetener of choice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 3 oz. 100% cacao baking chocolate bar

Directions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together coconut oil and butter.
  3. Next, add eggs and vanilla extract
  4. Add sticky sweetener of choice, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt
  5. Slowly, while mixing, add almond flour to cookie mix
  6. In a separate bowl, microwave chocolate pieces until just barely soft. Use a utensil to separate chocolate pieces into smaller bits before transitioning to mix
  7. Pour chocolate pieces into bowl of dough and mix until combined
  8. Form dough into balls and place on cookie parchment paper
    REMEMBER: Allow room in between cookies for cookies to spread during baking
  9. Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.
  11. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 191  Fat: 18g  Carbohydrates: 11.5g (Net: 1.9g)  Protein: 4.3g

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Mamma Mia! NEW: Keto Italian Stuffed Meatball Recipe for the Books

For some, odd, I can’t-explain-it reason, I was so intimidated by the idea of making meatballs. I know . . . call me weird. But, it felt like everyone had their own “special” or “secret” recipe, sometimes dating back generations of family. BUT – it turns out, most of those recipes don’t fall within Keto diet guidelines anyway!

While traditional meatballs are not keto, I’m here to help you with an awesome, SUPER easy, Italian Stuffed Keto Meatball alternative.

Typically, meatballs contain bread/crumbs as their main ingredient. This helps the balls maintain their shape. The presence of bread is a direct keto violation, but here’s a solution! (don’t be scared away by the number of ingredients – you just end up combining everything together! 🙂 )

Servings: 4

Split equally into 4 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tsp Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 3 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 3 tbsp Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Large Egg
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper Sprinkled for Seasoning

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Mix meat and all other ingredients together
  • Form into meatballs
  • Lay on a foil covered baking sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Serve over spinach with sprinkled mozzarella cheese on top
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition
Calories            594
Fats (g)              44.8
Protein (g)        36.8
Net Carbs (g)    3.8

Seriously… HOW FLIPPING SIMPLE?! Great for lunches on the go, hearty dinners and for satisfying your favorite Italian food cravings! And these are delicious . . . I PROMISE you!

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Give them a try and post your review/comments below 🙂

Talk soon!
xoxox
Brittany

 

What Did the Buffalo Say When His Son Left for College? . . . “Bison.” NEW Keto Recipe: Brown Butter Buffalo Bites

Okay, okay, okay, so there’s technically no “buffalo” in this recipe outside of the sauce (although there mayyyy be a recipe on that coming soon . . .  😉 ) BUT – in the meantime, who says you have to dine out to enjoy delicious cauli buffalo bites?! Now, you make them in 30 minutes – right from home!!

They’re the perfect 30-minute prep snack you can grab and go all week long, OR an awesome munchable addition to your Super Bowl spread in the coming weeks!

I’ve grown to LOVE  what some call the “ghost” version of broccoli, see hilarious meme below. There’s so many ways to get creative using this low carb potato substitute – even in place of noodles/rice. There are only 2.9 grams of net carbs in an entire cup of this clean veggie, making it a clear winner on a Keto diet!

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Keto Brown Butter Buffalo Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (approx. 3 cups of florets)
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 2 garlic cloves OR the equivalent minced
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
  2. Melt butter in a small skillet on medium heat
  3. Bring to a simmer until browned. Meanwhile, cut your cauliflower into florets.
  4. Pour florets into a large bowl
  5. Add minced garlic to your melted butter and let simmer
  6. Remove the butter and garlic mixture and pour it over the cauliflower
  7. Add in the hot sauce and gently toss to coat thoroughly throughout
  8. Move the florets to a sheet pan
  9. Bake the cauliflower for 20 minutes
  10. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with remaining sauce.
  11. Garnish with crispy bacon and serve with ranch or accompanying sauce of your choice for dunking
  12. Enjoy!

Nutrition
Calories: 175  Fat: 11  Carbohydrates: 10  Protein: 4

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Did you like this recipe? I’d love to hear!
Email or tag a friend and share the Keto loveeee!

Talk soon!

xoxox
Brittany

Cozy Snow Day Work Outfit

If you’ve been watching the news, you might have similar snow day flurries in your tummy as I do! According to the weather, Winter Storm Harper is on the horizon for the Northeast! Actually, I think New York and further north is getting the bulk of it, so maybe not much here for us in Baltimore, but no reason not to get a little giddy and excited for a snow day, amiright!?

I remember when I was a kid and we wanted a snow day, we would place spoons under our pillow (it signifies that maybe *hopefully* there will be so much snow you will have to dig your way out) and demand upon wearing our pajamas inside AND backwards to bed for snow day good luck!

Plus, recital of:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord lays the snow down deep.
Please give me a snow day before I wake,
So I can have big snowmen to make.

Did anyone else have these quirky, crazy traditions?! Or other ones I haven’t heard of? Pretty please with snowy sugarplums on top, post your childhood traditions below! I’d love to hear them 🙂

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white furry vest // white top // high waisted j brand jeans // ralph lauren riding boots // gucci leather belt

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . .

xoxox
Brittany

NAILS: One Thing You Can Get In Shape Without Exercise

Back in the day, I was THAT girl with the French, fake, acrylic tips. While they may have looked completely flawless to strangers, one thing’s for sure that I grew to quickly hate was how broken, brittle and quite honestly, painful my fingernails had become. I couldn’t bare to show them in public not ‘done,’ (they looked horribly paper thin) and they had been so grinned down that they physically hurt. OUCH!!

Fast forward, I decided to revamp my nails. First, by going cold turkey on the whole ‘getting my nails done,’ and second, I started researching healthier ways to keep my nails strong and happy. That’s when I found gel nails! Gel nails have a more natural look with a glossy finish. And, unlike acrylics, if the nails are primed correctly, there is no damage to the nail bed! I absolutely love Gel nails. I’ve had them and kept up with them since I’ve been about 20/21 and have the healthiest nails I’ve ever had since.

However, gel nails are also more flexible than acrylic nails. And let me tell you . . . I’m no delicate daisy when it comes to my nails. One thing I found most frustrating was that if I was rough on them, they chipped and sometimes broke; many times unreasonably early from the last time I had them done at a salon. I found myself having to check-in or have them re-done every 2 weeks, which wore on me over time. I found myself not making the time to get them done, doing DIY removal myself (which P.S. is the WORST for your nails) and just plain allowing them to look less than average for what I was paying out of pocket. #byeeemoney

Most recently, a dear friend of mine told me about her love for the trendy SNS, or “Dip Powder,” nails. Being skeptical, I naturally had a MILLION questions. Taking the leap, I decided to try it out for myself! Here’s my verdict:

  • The process was pretty upfront and simple. I don’t know why I was so nervous – then, again I’m nervous with anything new! The nail tech primed my nails, just as if I was having a standard gel manicure done – which I really appreciated! No abrasive grinding or shaving – just simple cuticle trim up, shaping and buffing before the powder application began. This part I found most intriguing! It’s like an art! She carefully painted an adhesive on each nail before dipping individually into the colored powder of my choice. And – my favorite part – NO UV rays!! She continued with three layers of powder before finishing out with a final shaping, buff, and –layered top coat, which took only 2 minutes to air dry with no fan.
  • This new manicure lasts longer than gel polish and doesn’t use UV light. The dip powder treatments have lasted me a month on average versus gel, which typically lasts me few weeks.
  • Many have asked me if it’s “thick” or “too fake” feeling: it’s definitely something to keep in mind as I’ve heard some women experience/feel this way. But, if you do your research, and mention it to your nail tech upon arrival, I’ve had experience with techs who have been very careful to paint the adhesive on in staggered layers away from the cuticle. This way, it grows out smoothly and naturally. Not with a huge ridge, similar to what you’re probably envisioning from acrylic nails.
  • Of course, the thing that makes gel or dip powder more desirable is how well they stay on. BUT – remember the small drawback that anything intended to last thing long will resultantly be rather difficult to remove. In my best advice – DO NOT do yourself/at HOME!!
  • The removal process is crucial. Getting the polish properly removed is just as important as the application. In my experience, most issues occur and and stem from attempts at a DIY home removal. OUCH!! It is always safest to go back to your salon and have a licensed professional remove/update any product for you.

All in all, I love the new process! It saves me time, money and lasts significantly longer, no matter how much I beat them up. As with any nail applique, remember to take care of your nails by taking breaks. Having anything on your nail for an extended length of time without proper removal and rejuvenation can be harmful, whether it be acrylic, gel, or powder.

What’s your typical nail routine? I’d love to hear! As well as your thoughts on dip powder if you’ve tried, or are planning to try?!

Talk soon!

Xoxox
Brittany

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Eat Your Veggies . . . with ELK!

Today’s new, fun and easy Keto recipe comes to you via Keto Elk Stuffed Peppers With Cauliflower Rice!

If you’ve always been one who is curious to try a more “gamey” meat, this is DEFINITELY your opportunity! Plus, you can be extra healthy while experimenting.

Elk meat is a nutrient-dense food, meaning that it’s low in calories but contains a concentrated amount of many vitamins and minerals. It’s low in carbohydrates and fat but high in protein, zinc, vitamin B12, niacin and vitamin B6. If you are on the keto diet, or just like to experiment with low carb recipes, this keto stuffed bell peppers recipe is for you.

So, let me reiterate in saying I am NO great cook, that these are SUPER easy, and take little to no-prep time (don’t be scared away by the list of ingredients! you just end up mixing everything together):

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers, red, yellow, or green
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup ground/diced cauliflower (this replaces the need for rice!)
  • shredded mild Cheddar cheese, about 1/2 cup

Directions:

  1. Cut top off of peppers, remove seeds and membranes. Rinse peppers under cold water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.
  4. Saute chopped onion, cauliflower and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently stir to blend; add ground elk, cooked onion & cauliflower.
  6. Divide & stuff all peppers with meat mixture and place in a baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Top stuffed peppers with a little shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese just before peppers are done and bake until cheese is melted.
  8. Once peppers are complete, top with a little basil, or any other spice you’d like.
  9. Enjoy!

Nutrition:

Calories: est. 387, Fat: 26g, Carbohydrates: 9g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 7g, Protein: 22g

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We made (4) at one time so I could plan on taking one to work with me the next day. For those wondering how it weathered/tasted the next day . . .

I just indulged and it was deeeee-licious!

I hope you enjoyed peeking at this recipe and bookmark it to try it at home yourself! Let me know how it goes!

Stay tuned for more . . .  🙂

xoxo
Brittany

If You’re Struggling, You’re Progressing

If you’ve arrived here today, WELCOME!! Today, I’ll be promoting my NEWEST & BIGGEST challenges for January. Every New Year, I like to take on a fresh new challenge, hopefully healthy, and ideally something that will push me to be a better version of me. Plus, I need a way to keep myself distracted from my #1 of the 2 challenges I’ll be tackling:

  1. No drinking for the month of January
  2. A Keto Lifestyle

That’s right folks, I said NOOOO drinking. Are. You. Kidding Me. Relaxxxxx, it’s not as hard as it seems! For those that are close to me, know I LOVE my W.I.N.E., but after the hustle and bustle of the holidays it’s a great time to kick start getting back on the right fitness track. And, what better way than to keep myself distracted by learning an entirely new diet/eating régime!?

I’ve officially been doing Keto for (1) whole week. And to be honest, I’m SUPER impressed with myself! No cheating, just straight up Keto. It was super tough at first – I was one of the few to experience what they call “the Keto flu” known as the period when your body learns to transition over from using carbohydrates for energy to using fat for energy. It. Was. Rough. I could barely move from the couch.

BUT – don’t let that deter you! The way I feel now, there’s no turning back. I have even more energy than I ever have before (I barely even need coffee anymore in the AM) and I feel super focused, motivated and driven at work!

Outside of the traditional cheese, avocado, no-prep needed snacks, I’m going to take you along in my journey of cooking, baking, prepping and taste testing (and trust me – those who know me know I am NO COOK), in the world of Keto recipes.

Keep scrolling for a sneak peek into this week’s (easiest EVER) prepped snack menu:

Keto Cheese Crisps

Ingredients:

  • Cheddar Cheese Slices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Arrange Cheddar cheese in 24 small squares on the prepared baking sheets. (I folded each slice into quarters)
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before removing from baking sheets.
  4. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

Per Serving: 60 calories; 3.0 g fat; 6.0 g protein; 0.0 net carbs
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Pizza Keto Chips

(Pepperoni and cheese are great keto snacks. To turn them into a chip, is absolutely brilliant. A simple recipe that the kids are absolutely going to love without question. It is impossible to eat just one.)

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz Pepperoni
  • 5 ¼ Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Take out some cookie sheets. You may need 2-3.
  2. Arrange pepperoni’s – don’t worry, they’re not going to expand like cookies. They can be close together!
  3. Bake them for about 5 minutes until they are semi-crispy and the grease is coming out of them. If they move out of place just arrange them back together.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake for another 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and a little crisp.
  5. Lay the chips onto paper towels to soak up any excess grease.
  6. Let sit for 3-4 minutes to cool off and crisp up even more.
  7. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts:

Per Serving: 61.3 calories; 5.3 g fat; 3.0 g protein; 0.2 net carbs
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No-Bake Keto Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 100% Bakers Chocolate Bar
    (For dark chocolate lovers, you can use a 100% bakers chocolate bar. It is extremely bitter, but when used in these peanut butter balls, they’re perfect, as they pair with the sweet and salty peanut butter filling)
  • 2 Cups Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ¾ Cup Coconut Flour
  • ½ Cup Sticky Sweetener of Choice
    (The sticky sweetener is necessary to not only add a tad of sweetness but also to help the dough have a soft and chewy texture. Unfortunately, using a granulated sweetener will not yield the same result. The article I found suggested using a monk fruit sweetened maple syrup, which is 100% sugar free, keto-approved and low carb. Since I couldn’t find this, I used the next closest, sugar-free, low carb syrup)

Directions:

  1. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients, except for chocolate bar, and mix until fully combined. If the batter is too thick and crumbly, add some liquid (water or milk) slowly until a thick, formable batter remains.
  3. Using your hands, form small balls and place on the lined plate or tray. Freeze for 10 minutes.
  4. While the peanut butter balls are firming up, melt your sugar-free chocolate bar. Remove the peanut butter protein balls from the freezer and dip each ball in the melted chocolate until completely covered. Repeat until all the balls are covered in chocolate.
  5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until the chocolate coating has firmed up.

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I hope you all enjoyed my first Keto recipe spill!
Check back for more as I continue eating my way through Keto!

 

xoxo
Brittany

A Birthday Getaway to Napa Valley

It’s been a week since we returned from Napa and I can’t tell you how much I’m still missing it everyday!

Let’s be honest – – who wouldn’t want to ring in their birthday with a 5-day span, consisting of waking up and eating your body weight in cheese & wine?!

. . . Just me?

Alrite then…. 🙂

To me, there was no place quite like it – incredible views, breathtaking landscapes, endless rolling hills, relaxing spas, delectable pairings & tastings on every corner, indescribable restaurants with wine lists longer than I’ve ever seen, consisting of wine types I’d never even heard of, and the list goes on…

Day 1 of our trip (was my birthday – WOO HOO!!!) began with a first quick stop at Rodney Strong Vineyards and a tour, tasting and pairing at J Vineyards & Winery.

First plus – they’re right next to each other. And, when I say “right next to each other,” I don’t mean the Napa version of, “right next to each other, which we learned could mean quite literally 40+ minutes apart – haha! These two are about a 2-3 minute walk from tasting room door to tasting room door. Could it get much easier than that?!

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We learned all about Judy Jordan, the founder of J Vineyards & Winery, and her road to fruition in the world of sparkling wines, beginning at just 25 years old !!! Can you even imagine starting your own winery and vineyard at 25 years old…? Insanity. We had a wonderful wine ambassador & tour guide named Taylor who guided us through the storytelling of all the successes and challenges July encountered – including losing her entire crop in her early years due to flooding from the Russian River Valley. Judy had to start. all. over. from. scratch. BUT – check out the photos below to see the beauty that exists today!

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I love wine.

I love touring the uniquely built facilities, filled to the ceilings with wine varieties that will be aged well beyond even some folks’ lifetimes.

I love learning the intricacy and process behind each carefully crafted ‘wine-recipe.’

I love the warmth and intimacy a bottle of wine brings to friends who enjoy it together.

I love the complicated analysis of stressing the vines juuuuust the right amount, in time for harvesting in order to get more boldness and flavor from the fruit.

It’s literally the coolest thing to me!

Moving on from our tour at J, we ventured out to Healdsburg to explore a private tour of MacMurray Estate Vineyards! Traditionally not open to the public, I felt extra special as we had the privilege of walking their gorgeous 284-acre ranch, in the heart of the Russian River Valley. And, super cool – we were also able to tour the home on-site, previously owned by a once movie legend – Fred MacMurray! The home has since been pristinely restored to the state it was when he and his family lived there. I felt like I stepped back in time 60 years – old school refrigerator and all!

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Leading to the most incredible part of our day – a tasting atop the highest hill at the vineyard, overlooking the entire winery and Russian River Valley.

What. An. Incredible. Day.

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BUT – – it doesn’t end there! Birthday dinner was still in store!

Having stayed in the quaint surrounding of Sonoma Square, where, “It’s sweet to be slow,” we had the convenience of a leisurely stroll through the park to the 21-year-famous, farm-to-table, longtime favorite – the girl & the fig. They had an awesome, seasonal menu with vegetables and herbs from their very own farm right in Sonoma! Rated one of the top ten best restaurants in the United States by Bon Appetit, I’ll end here on saying I truly felt like the most special, most spoiled, and luckiest birthday girl in town.

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However… our adventure didn’t end here. Can you believe this was  O N E  D A Y ?!

Stay tuned for more following our journey of eating and drinking our way through Napa!

xoxo
Brittany

P.S. Here’s a video of all the fun in action 🙂

Cheery and Charming_Brittany Leonard

An Empire State of Mind

CheeryandCharming_NYC_EmpireStateBuilding1What. A. Trip! Just getting back from an awesomely inspiring and motivational annual M2M (Marketing to Moms) Conference in NYC and I couldn’t be more wiped – physically, mentally and emotionally.

From the first day, I knew I was in for an incredible learning experience. With a focus on finding  new, relevant and compelling ways to connect with moms today, I was surrounded by strong, independent, driven Moms. While you may be thinking…  marketing to Moms… what….?

Let me share a few fun facts from my findings.
Did you know…

U.S. moms control 85% of household purchases.

U.S. moms spending power is $2.4 trillion.

U.S. moms annually spend over $25,000 per toddler and $13,000 per child.

Moms are the primary source of income in 40% of US households, and 67% of those moms are single.

Moms are the decision maker. Period. And, the most interesting part… they will ALWAYS buy; not necessarily out of want or desire, but ALWAYS, always, always out of need.

And the REAL kicker…

83% of new moms are Millennials.

Eighty-three-p-p-percent. That’s REAL power. As a Millennial myself, I soaked up everything like a sponge. It truly felt like each carefully crafted speaker’s presentation specifically spoke to me and my generation.

I was in awe, to say the least. The very impressive generation of business leaders & speakers ranged from the founder and inventor of the Owlet Baby Care Monitor, a innovative sock-like device that tracks baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels while they sleep (seriously – – how cool?!?), to the co-founder of Dear Mom Oregon wine,  to the co-founder of STATE bags (which have partnered with JayZ, Beyonce and Obama – – JUST to name a few…), a special, heart-strung keynote from Save the Children and more.

Truly an incredible and amazing forum to learn about not only the evolution of women, but also the progression of traditional marketing, and the evolved marketing trends to incredible women – – the decision makers; the powerhouses; the movers and shakers of today’s world.

By no means do I intend this to be some sort of stereotypical post, but let’s be real in saying – – take a moment to think of your Momma. Then… try looking me in the face and telling me she isn’t a real-life boss lady that doesn’t take no for an answer and kicks some serious tail on the regular.

Not only did I walk away with a fresh, newfound wealth of knowledge and perspectives, but also with these the mindset that if there’s anything I learned, or had reinforced from the strong, relentless, fearless female leaders who spoke, it’s similar to what I’ve always preached: Be authentic. Be genuine. Be resourceful. Never, ever take yourself too seriously, and most importantly… be YOU. 

Your creativity, your thoughts, your dreams, your beliefs and YOUR innovation is real. It’s valued and it’s one-of-a-kind. It’s unique. And it belongs to YOU. Own it. Always, always remember that YOU can do anything – – with the right mindset.

#AnEmpireStateOfMind

xoxox chat soon!
Brittany

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