Serena - Movie

I thought spring was here, but the weather this weekend proved otherwise. But it was good weather for the kite festival I went to, nice and windy! I also went to brunch with a couple friends and their moms who were in town. I made my lunch for the week with this kale recipe.

Then I went to the movies and saw the historical drama Serena, since I read the book earlier this year. It's only showing at one theater in my area, I guess instead of going straight to video they did a token theater run. See this movie was finished 3 years ago yet they are just now releasing it. Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, this is their third movie together after Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. The author of the book, Ron Rash, also wrote The World Made Straight which came out as a movie earlier this year which I thought it was a dark but an interesting movie starring Noah Wyle set in Appalachia

Serena is set in the North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s with newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton who build a timber empire. Serena soon proves herself to be equal to any man: overseeing loggers, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving a man's life in the wilderness. With power and influence now in their hands, the Pembertons refuse to let anyone stand in the way of their inflated love and ambitions. However, once Serena discovers George's hidden past and faces an unchangeable fate of her own, the Pemberton's passionate marriage begins to unravel. The movie only had one set location but costumes were really nice period style. As with all books made into movies, you really need to read the book first because the movie glossed over so many scenes. I knew the back story to a 5 second scene but someone else would not get the relevance of it all. The movie has a completely different ending from the book. I was surprised the movie got poor reviews, I really enjoyed watching it but highly recommend you read the book first.

Hip-Hop Running Playlist

Standing on the Sun (Remix) (Feat. Mr. Vegas) by Beyonce on Grooveshark
 Here's some songs that will make you want to workout! Make sure you download the remixed versions. Since I love reggae music you'll hear a little of that in this mix.

Chris Brown - New Flame (feat Usher) [Dave Aude Remix]
Gwen Stefani - Baby Don't Lie [Kaskade & KillaGraham remix]
Beyonce - Standing on the Sun (remix feat Mr. Vegas)
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando english version feat Sean Paul
Nicki Minaj - Truffle Butter (feat Drake &Lil Wayne)
Beyonce - Ring Off
Deorro & Chris Brown - Five More Hours
Eve - Tambourine
Fetty Wap - Trap Queen

To see my previous playlists click here.

Quinoa & White Bean Casserole

Quinoa is a great alternative to rice. It has all 9 essential amino acids, it's high in protein and fiber. I love caramelized onions so if you don't mind putting in the time to caramelize your onions, this is a delicious recipe! The casserole makes 8 servings so I put 5 into containers for lunch with some carrots on top.


  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)
  • 2 cans of canellini beans
  • 3 large onions
  • 4 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ts fresh rosemary
  • ¼ ts red pepper flakes
  • ½ ts salt and pepper

  • Directions: 

    1. In a large pot add chopped onions and salt and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes. Add wine and cook for one minute. 
    2. Preheat over to 400 degrees and spray a casserole dish.
    3. Add the cannellini beans, quinoa, vegetable broth and rosemary to the pot with the onions. Bring to a simmer and stir in cheeses. Mix until combined and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Pour into casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

    Nutritional Analysis:
    8 servings
    433 calories, 65g carbs, 9g fiber, 18g protein

    Recipe source: cookingquinoa

    Audible review

    My favorite quote from the book Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore - Robin Sloan is when Clay buys a walkman off ebay to listen to an old book on cassette tape and he says:
     "I've never listened to an audiobook before, and I have to say it's a totally different experience. When you read a book, the story definitely happens inside your head. When you listen, it seems to happen in a little cloud all around it, like a fuzzy knit cap pulled down over your eye." 

    This is exactly how I felt when I listened to the next two books on my phone via the Audible app. I normally borrow all my books from the library but since the following two books are new releases, the top two books on the New York Times best sellers list and in the top 10 of Amazon's best sellers (ahead of them were American Sniper and 50 Shades of Grey), they each had either a 300 or 500 person wait at the library. I went to Barnes and Nobles book store and one of the hardcovers retailed for $27!  So I got a livingsocial deal in February to get 2 months of Audible free, it's a part of amazon that sells audiobooks. 

    Normally Audible is $15 a month for which you get one credit for a book each month, so it makes sense to only get new releases that cost more than that. Sometimes the Kindle version of the book plus the add-on Audible version together are less than the full price audible version so be sure to look for Whispersync matches. Since I don't have a commute to work, I found it was easiest to listen to at the gym on the bike, while cooking or while I finished my photobook of my last vacation. I've found that I can't listen to them before going to bed because I fall asleep and thus lose my place in the book. lol  If you ask if listening has the same effect as sitting down and reading book, I'd say with the first book I didn't retain as much while listening but that may have just been my adjustment period. I will say that the narrators reading the books gave an amazing performance and really drew me into the story.

    Thankfully the audible app does not drain my iphone battery but it does take up a lot of storage space on my phone, more than any other app I have. Well it's not the app that takes up space, it's the book I downloaded so as soon as I was finished I had to immediately delete it. 

    All the Light We Cannot See -  Anthony Doerr 544 pages 2014
    The book tells two parallel stories about a blind French girl and a German boy and their wartime experience during World War II in occupied France and Germany. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable diamond that Hilter is looking for, so he conceals it in a model he makes of Saint-Malo for Marie-Laure.

    In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister and becomes an expert at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge. The light in its title is, among other things, a topic that Werner hears discussed on a late-1930s radio broadcast by Marie-Laure's grandfather about the brain’s power to create light in darkness (radio waves). This book is very lyrically written, which took the author a decade to write and Amazon ran out of stock of it at Christmas. Having listened to this book, I still want to go back and slowly read the book so that I could soak in every detail of the vivid images, puzzles and metaphors. I read the questions and answers readers posted to goodreads and got a bigger appreciation for the mysteries of the book. 
    "In August 1944 the historic walled city of Saint-Malo, the brightest jewel of the Emerald Coast of Brittany, France was almost destroyed by fire....Of the 865 buildings within the walls, only 182 remained standing and all were damaged to some degree." -Philip Beck 

    Girl on the Train  by Paula Hawkins 336 pages 2015
    If you liked Gone Girl, you'll love this psychological thriller. 
    This book is totally worth all the hype of the library wait list being hundreds of people deep, even Amazon had gone out of stock of it once. The best part about the book is that no one can be trusted, including the three female narrators who share the storytelling of this book. Between an alcoholic, a liar and a cheat, who can you trust? This book is just full of secrets. Rachel is divorced, gained weight and lost her job due to alcoholism. She spies on her ex and his beautiful new wife and kid. She gets up every morning and takes the train to London, pretending she's still employed, to watch people from the train, especially one couple who seem to have the life she has always wanted, they are both attractive and loving to each other, and live houses down from her ex. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. I couldn't figure out the mystery until the very end and listening to this book kept me on my toes the whole time! 

    See the rest of my books I've read here.

    Spring Fashion Trends 2015

    The Pantone color of the year is Marsala, a beautiful red wine shade. I haven't seen it yet in stores but you can wear it on your nails with Zoya's Marney shade.  Of the spring colors above and I will focus on the bottom three colors Tangerine, Custard and Marsala. As a blonde I love wearing yellow, it looks great with my hair. Orange to me is the new black because I rarely wear black clothing, don't even own a black dress, pumps or purse.

    Have you heard of the Third Piece Rule? If you shirt and pants are your first and second pieces, then you add a third piece to your outfit (not counting shoes). Both the Banana Republic and Nordstom require their employees to follow the third piece rule to ensure that they look stylish at work. Your third piece can be a cardigan, vest, belt, or statement necklace. That third piece adds the finishing touch to any outfit to transform it from boring to fab. I think it's a fabulous idea that really makes sense to me now that I think about it, the outfits I've pinned on pinterest have all followed that rule as did my fall fashion challenge. It's a pretty simple idea that makes your outfit more put together and polished. I'm definitely going to start implementing that in my outfits! 

    Aztec Healing Clay Mask

    Clay has been used for centuries to beautify skin so  I ordered the Aztec Indian Healing Clay, a Bentonite clay, from Amazon for $5. The healing clay absorbs impurities while the apple cider vinegar is a great natural toner and antiseptic, balances the skin's pH and dries any blemishes. Unfiltered Apple cider vinegar  contains natural alpha-hydroxy acids that, over time, aid in stimulating your skin to gently exfoliate. It works at the cellular level by encouraging cells to slough off on their own.  The mix will fizz a little when you add the apple cider vinegar. As the mask starts to dry on your skin, you will start to feel your skin tighten. The apple cider vinegar will temporarily cause your skin to be red temporarily after the mask is removed.  If you make too much, simply store any excess in the fridge for up to a week. The next day your skin will be much clearer and soft. This can be done weekly for a deep pore cleansing treatment.


  • 2 tsp of Indian Healing Clay 
  • 1 TB Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar 
  • Mask brush 

  • Directions:
    1. In a glass bowl, mix the clay with the apple cider vinegar until you have a smooth mask consistency. If it is too runny add more clay.  
    2. Apply to skin and leave on for 15 minutes.
    3. Rinse off with warm water. I use a sea sponge to first wet my skin to make it easier to remove. 
    4. Follow up with a moisturizer.

    Lucky Charms

    Today's post is all about green stuff for St. Patty's Day.
    A couple weeks ago I woke up early to compete in a St. Patrick's Day run but when I looked at the weather report, and saw the cold weather and hail, unfortunately I decided to skip it and was really bummed. So instead I made my Match Green Tea facial mask.

    I'm on the social committee at work and created a fun celebration for St. Patrick's Day including door prizes, Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, Guinness and green jelly beans! We had a meeting scheduled for St. Patty's day, but someone suggested we be "culturally sensitive" and not book a 4pm meeting on St. Patrick's Day out of respect for Irish Americans who may want to celebrate. lol Check out my St Patrick's themed nails from last year.

    If you want a healthy green food snack idea try a pot of green with grapes, kiwi and honeydew or kiwi chia pudding.

    Chobani yogurt just released their new limited edition flavor - green tea. I love green tea ice cream and this yogurt has a very subtle taste.

    I made Green Overnight Oats.

    • 1 large handful fresh spinach 
    • large ripe banana
    • 1.5 tbsp chia seeds (necessary for thickening)
    • 1 cup almond milk
    • 1/3 cup rolled oats

    1. In a blender, blend together the spinach, banana, chia seeds, and almond milk until smooth.
    2. In a bowl, add the oats and then pour the smoothie on top. Stir well until combined.
    3. Place in fridge overnight. Give it a good stir in the morning and then enjoy it cold, straight from the fridge. Add desired toppings as you wish such coconut.

    Raspberry Pear Mocktail

    I've seen the Bai bottles everywhere at Safeway, CVS, Walgreens and Whole Foods but I never thought to try it until I saw this blog post. The bottle has only 5 calories and the ingredients of the Congo Pear flavor are: 
    Filtered water, Bai® Natural Sweetener Blend™ (erythritol, organic stevia extract), pear juice concentrate, natural flavors, citric acid, organic coffeefruit, white tea extract.  
    I've always avoided splenda in my yogurt or anything I eat because I think its a poisonous artificial sweetener so I was excited to see Bai uses erythritol and stevia to sweeten their product. Here's the super simple recipe to make yourself a delicious sparkling drink! 

     1 ½ cups of sparkling water
    ½ bottle of Bai’s Congo Pear
    5 raspberries, smashed
    Chia seeds/hemp seeds/flaxseeds
    Lemon, squeezed

    Add sparkling water over ice. Then add the Congo Pear. Muddle 5-10 raspberries with your choice of seeds. Mix into sparkling pear concoction and then squeeze lemon on top. 

    MAC Flat Out Fabulous

    If you know me, you'd be shocked to see this color on me. About 95% of the time I wear nude lipstick, occasionally orange lipstick, then I branched out a couple years ago and got my first bold red lipstick. Ever since middle school I've hated the color fuchsia, I don't own a single clothing item in that color and wouldn't have been caught dead with it on my lips. But I was watching the Bachelor because they had an episode in Bali where I vacationed last year and Kaitlyn was wearing this stunning lip color that I just had to have!

    I love bold color and was really inspired by her look! So I googled the color and saw pictures of other people wearing it, but they were all brunettes so I wasn't sure if it would look good on me? I went to the MAC store to try it on and ending up coming home with it. Flat Out Fabulous is from the Retro Matte MAC line inspired by Ruby Woo’s overwhelming popularity (which is the same as the Rihanna shade I have). It's definitely an eye-catching color that creates a fiercely feminine look. It's a bright fuchsia matte with strong plum undertones. This vivid and bright shade really impressed me with it rich, intense and opaque color coverage that stays on for the whole day! In fact I literally had to scrub my lips to remove it when I went to bed. Here it is with and without flash, what do you think?

    If you ever need to fix a broken lipstick, check out my tutorial on how to do so.  

    DIY Glitter Champagne Bottles

    I've seen these glitter champagne bottles all over pinterest and knew immediately that I wanted to try it! I like my champagne sweet and used the same ones I had at my Golden Globes party. Then I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up all of my supplies: Copper Spray Paint, Spray Adhesive, Glitter and Modge Podge Sealer. For fun I also sprayed a mason jar to create a nice vase. 

    Step 1: I went outside and used Krylon's copper foil metallic to do a base layer on my bottles. I did this so that in case the glitter doesn't coat evenly or if it sheds at some point, that background color will show through instead of the bottle itself.

    I week later I had a snow day on Saturday and got very productive at home since I had a touch of cabin fever and continued on my fun DIY project. You can cover your bottle with just one color of glitter or do a multi color ombre.

    Step 3: Shake up your spray adhesive and spray your bottle in sections according to how many colors you're using. I started spraying the top third of the bottle, keeping clear of the cork because you need it as a handle.

    Step 4: While rotating the bottle, sprinkle glitter over it. Give the bottle a little shake to shed any excess. Then repeat, spraying sections with a tiny overlap as you continue to shake your progressive shades all over that bottle.

    Step 5: The final step is to seal the glitter on the bottle so it doesn't shed later. I did two layers with 10 minutes drying time in between. The Modge Podge acrylic spray is non-yellowing and doesn't dull the sparkle and shine.

    Voila you're done!

    2 Year Anniversary!

    I'm celebrating two years of having this blog!!! There's been lots of changes, for instance I've cut back from posting daily to just three times a week. While this started out as a fitness blog, it has transformed into a lifestyle blog. I think it's okay to change with your blog. I have lots of interests that I enjoy exploring and never run out of things to write about as I am truly passionate about my blog. I also consider it my online diary for living as I refer back to it to find my favorite recipes or book reviews. In the last year I've spent time networking with other local bloggers and the StyleMeBloggers from whom I've learned a lot and formed a community with people who do the same thing I do.

    My most popular posts in the past year have been:

    My book posts:
    Winter Reading List                          Why I Joined a Book Club             Chelsea Handler

    Stylebook app - I love this app and use it daily! It shows me what in my closet I don't wear so I can toss. And it organizes what I wear on the calendar so I do no repeats at work in a month because I think we all have that favorite sweater we might wear too much. The other day I went to the Limited and the saleswoman showed me a shirt I might like and I said "hold on a minute, let me check my closet to see if I have anything similar." She was blown away that I could look at my entire closet on my phone!

    My fashion posts:

    Fall Fashion Challenge                               Leggings Love                              Cami Organizer

    I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it. I love reading comments from my readers! The easiest way to keep up with your favorite blogs is to use Bloglovin. It's like pinterest but for blogs! You'll get a daily email with a summary of all the new posts from the blogs that you follow so you never miss anything! Bloglovin makes reading blogs fun and easy! It's takes 30 seconds to sign up, it's easy, no ads, there's no catch. There's even a free App for iphones. So be sure to subscribe to my blog so you never miss a post!