A Trip to Stella’s Lounge

One of the last weekend’s of May, the boyfriend came to Michigan for a long weekend. It was my grandma’s 80th birthday party and my entire family was getting together to be with her. We had some extra time and I wanted to show D a little bit more of Michigan as he hasn’t seen too much. So we decided to go out to Grand Rapids for a night. A good friend of mine from college lives out there, so we met him and his girlfriend at a place called Stella’s Lounge.

I did some research before heading out to Grand Rapids and saw that Stella’s Lounge has been voted the best burger in Michigan. As I am a sucker for burgers and french fries, I knew we had to go here.

By the time D and I had gotten there, we had already drank a lot of beer (for him) and cider (for me). And we were starving. We ordered as soon as we could, and devoured our food. Although, I wanted to eat the entire burger, it was so big and the cider filled me up so much that I couldn’t actually eat it all. And then D went to the bathroom and put his napkin on his plate (which I thought was the sign for ‘I’m finished’) and I told the waiter he could take it away. Apparently he wasn’t done….. Oops!

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But just look at this ginormous burger. It’s no wonder I couldn’t eat it all. But it was amazing. Even though I was decently drunk and probably would have eaten anything at this point, it was delicious. And I miss it terribly. Yes I am allowed to feel these things about food. Whatever.

Anyone ever been here? Comment below and let me know how you felt about these burgers. I’m interested in sober thoughts as well!

 

Much Love

xxx

My Top Ten Favorite Foods

Day 21 – 31 Day Blog Challenge

For Day 21, I have to write about my top 10 favorite foods, which makes me equal parts happy and hungry. Some are specific, some are not. But the below are generally all my favorite foods. Quite a weird arrangement, I know!

  1. McDonald’s French Fries
  2. Crumpets with English Breakfast Tea (from the actual UK)
  3. Dark Chocolate Toblerone
  4. My boyfriend’s famous Spaghetti Bolognese
  5. Sushi
  6. Avocados, on anything really
  7. Smoked Salmon appetizers
  8. Bread (love sourdough)
  9. Fried Chicken
  10. Crab, lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, calamari, etc. etc.

Any of you share the same favorite foods as me? Comment below!

 

Much Love

xxx

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things…

Hi guys, so yesterday I posted Day 10 (a day late). So today, I will be posting yesterday’s Day 11 and then today’s Day 12. You still with me?

Day 11’s topic is about 15 of my favorite things. And I like this because this week was so bad that I need one of two things: lots of alcohol and to think about the good things in my life. Therefore, I have made a list of my 15 favorite things:

  1. My boyfriend: my best friend and the love of my life. My life has simultaneously gotten much more difficult and infinitely better since I met him over a year ago. And every second has been worth it and will continue to be. Long-distance is not easy. We work really hard at our relationship and I know we’re stronger for it. He’s my absolute favorite thing about my day, my week, month, and year. Always.
  2. My family and friends. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I wouldn’t be where I am without the support and love of my family and friends. And I’m lucky to say that I truly love my family. We’ve got our issues (and boy, do we have many) but we all have one commonality: we love to drink and laugh. And my friends, well, same. We just get to say more inappropriate things and talk about things your family would never want to hear.
  3. Cosmo. No not the drink. Nor am I talking about space. I’m talking about the puppy that I will always claim to be mine because I can. My dad got her for my mom 8 years ago, and she’s actually the best dog on the planet. My dad took me with him to pick her up as a puppy. It was a surprise for everyone but I was the first one to hold her and play with her and feed her so that’s why she’s mine 😛 She brings everyone so much joy as she is just the most lovable creature, and has a forever puppy face. Even friends of mine who don’t like little dogs, or dogs in general, love her. You can’t help it.
  4. This blog. Since I launched this blog in January, I have become so much happier as a person. Knowing that I have a place to be creative and explore my abilities all on my own has been an amazing feeling. I have so many ideas and plans for the future of this blog and I can’t wait to share it all with you. These next few months will be insanely busy, but at the end of summer, I’ll have a lot more time and opportunity to devote to it.
  5. Travelling. I haven’t been to too many places yet, but my future will be full of new adventures. I never really appreciated travel until recently. And it makes me really sad that I’ve been to the Caribbean without really seeing it. Regardless, I know the importance of travel now and I can’t wait to find out where my future will take me!
  6. Food. I think you could say I’m a foodie. I used to be so unbelievably picky as a kid. I am so happy I grew out of that. I love going to new restaurants and trying new dishes. This is probably why I love New York so much. I eat really well there. Cooking on the other hand is a love/hate thing. I hate it because I never feel like I really have time to cook a full meal, I’m always so exhausted. When I had a lot more time, I always tried to make new recipes I saw online. And baking, ooooooooh. I love baking. Christmas time is my favorite because I’m always baking up something new.
  7. Shopping. I’ve always been a shopper and I’ve always loved spending money. This is something that’ll never change. Recently, I’ve become more interested in home decor and get excited about kitchen utensils and organization boxes. Being an adult is weird.
  8. Beauty Days. Have you ever had a day where you’ve gotten a massage, your nails done, hair done, eyebrows waxed, eyelashes done, makeup done, etc? These days are amazing. Not only do you feel like a princess, but being pampered can truly have wonderful effects on your mood and stress levels. At least for me. Every once in awhile, I like to treat myself to a nice day of getting put together.
  9. Reading a good book. This is one of my favorite things about winter because I am just constantly in the mood for sitting by a fire and diving into a good book. This year, I’ve made it a mission to spend more of my free time reading versus watching TV and movies. Having the Knackered Book Club Blog Series has helped keep me accountable to this as well. But I’ve always loved reading, it’s one of my favorite activities.
  10. Scenic drinks with people on a nice summer day. Ok so this one is pretty specific. But I love going somewhere with friends or family or the boyfriend and just having some drinks and a good time. Think: a rooftop in NYC, high rise in London, boat on a lake, a beach bar, etc. Just some simple chatter, alcohol, and laughter. Honestly, I could be so happy with that.
  11. Autumn. It’s my absolute favorite season. I love the pretty colors, pumpkin everything, flannels, oversized sweaters, bonfires, etc. I love everything about it. It doesn’t hurt that my birthday and second favorite holiday (Thanksgiving) falls in Autumn. It’s just all around a good time.
  12. Laughter. I came out of the womb giggling. I’ve always loved laughing and I laugh at everything. Luckily enough, D and I have the exact same twisted sense of humor, which is actually one of the main reasons our relationship works so well. We spend all our time laughing together and we both consider it a personal win if we make the other one laugh really hard. I’m surprised we haven’t been approached for our own television show yet. All in good time, though.
  13. French fries. This gets its own line item because they’re they best food ever and they deserve it. I don’t know what it is about potatoes that I like so much, but I do. In any style, except sweet. Sweet potatoes are gross.
  14. Helping people. I love being able to give advice to people. I always have. Once upon a time, I wanted to have an advice column, but never did. Maybe another day…
  15. Babies! I don’t necessarily have “baby fever” as I need to enjoy life with the boyfriend for a couple years before spitting some children out. But I do love that I am at the age where our friends and family members are all having children so I can have access to babies to play with. They’re so cute and sweet and fun. And man, do I miss being a nanny! So if you have a baby and want a babysitter, I am actually volunteering. You can pay me in Prosecco, or food.

This list was actually quite hard to write as I’ve been in such a negative head space this week. It was definitely needed though. 🙂

Any of you have any of the same favorites as me? Comment below!

 

Much Love

xxx

 

 

Where to Stay in New York City: FiDi Vs. Tribeca

Chances are that if you’re reading this post you’re thinking of taking a trip to the Big Apple for some reason. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, where you stay can really make a big difference. The city is so big. And it’s really nice when you have bars, restaurants, and shopping near you. Not to mention, you want to be in a good location to see some sights. So that’s why I’ve decided to write this post.

I’ve been to NYC three times in my life. The first time, I stayed with a friend who lived in the Financial District. And we had a lot of fun and I remember liking the area. So when my boyfriend and I scheduled a long weekend to meet in the city, I found us a hotel in FiDi (short for Financial District – pronounced like WiFi). At that time, I had a ton of hotel points with SPG saved up from all the traveling I had done with work, so we only looked at SPG hotels in the city.

Aloft – Financial District

We ended up at the Aloft. If you’re not too familiar with the city, FiDi is pretty much at the tip of Manhattan. It takes forever to get there, especially if your plane lands during rush hour on a Thursday night. There was already a strike against it just for that reason. The hotel was very modern looking, and nice. The room was clean and equipped with what we needed. But it was tiny. I mean maybe 200 sq ft? Ok I just looked it up. Yes, the rooms are 210-230 sq ft. If you have more than one person in it, you feel a bit claustrophobic.

We did, however, try to find quick bites to eat nearby when we first got in as we were hungry. We walked for a mile until it started raining and had yet to find any kind of bar that was still serving food and drinks. We were in a dead town. In NYC! We ended up walking back to the hotel, and ordering from Seamless. We went to grab some wine for the room to save money for the rest of the weekend, and when I called down to the front desk to ask if they could send a corkscrew up, they said that they don’t do that and I had to go down to the front desk for them to open it for me. Which was really really weird…. (And that actually inspired me to buy a travel corkscrew so I no longer had to rely on other people to drink my wine.)

When I came back up to the room afterwards, my boyfriend was hiding behind the door and jumped out at me as I walked through the doorway. I screamed BLOODY MURDER. And no one came to see if I had been murdered or not. So I feel like that says a lot about the people on that floor. I’m not advocating murder or anything, but it seems as if you could get away with it if you’re on the top floor of the Aloft. Just saying.

All in all, I’d give the hotel 4 stars in general, but about 1 for convenience if you’re there for pleasure. If it’s a work trip and you’re traveling solo, it’s actually quite perfect. It’s right near Wall Street and the room would be fine for one person. We did have a pretty awesome view, though.

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Sheraton Suites – Tribeca

The second time we went to NYC was for my birthday week in November. As I stated above, we had to stick to using SPG hotels because of all the points I had so we stayed at the Sheraton in Tribeca. It was AMAZING. The hotel was in a prime location near a lot of shopping, bars, sights, and a wine store right across the road that we became very good friends with. We would have been better off buying a whole case of Prosecco considering how much of it we drank during this trip…

The hotel had been renovated so it was in very good shape. The bathroom was much more open, as was the room. We didn’t feel so claustrophobic in this one. And the view? Oh. My. God.

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Above are the birthday mimosas D poured for us as soon as I woke up in the morning. It was lovely. We couldn’t get enough of this view. And the best part is that because I am an SPG Platinum member, we got access to the lounge on the top floor, which had a rooftop terrace. We would go get our free drinks and sit outside and stare at this every single night.

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They actually gave me a complimentary breakfast coupon, but we never used it, which is quite silly now that I think about it.

As you can probably tell, I liked this hotel much better. The location was great. We were right around the corner from the subway. We had a wine store across the street. Shopping was only a couple streets over. LOTS of very good restaurants nearby. And the hotel staff was very nice and friendly and cleaned our room exactly as they should have. Not to mention, Sarabeth’s was right around the corner. And I can’t even express how much I loved to go to Sarabeth’s for brunch.

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We really didn’t have many complaints. And nothing beats that view and the rooftop.

I’d give this hotel 5 stars. I think if we ever go back to Manhattan, we would stay there again. We enjoyed it very much!

 

Any other hotels or placed you’ve stayed at in NYC that you absolutely loved? Comment below!

 

Much Love

xxx

Being An Adult Ain’t So Bad

When you’re growing up as a teenager, all you can think about is how much you want to move out of the house and be able to do whatever the hell you want. And I’ll admit, it is awesome. I feel that mostly everyone just complains about all the responsibilities we inherit as we become older and we never really take the time to remember how great it actually is. So for those of you who have forgotten, and for those of you are wondering if it really is all it is cracked up to be, read below. Because we could all use a bit more positivity in our lives.

Below are the five biggest reasons I love being an adult.

You can eat what you want. You are no longer forced or have regulations around what you ingest. It is solely your decision and the freedom of that is amazing. You no longer are told that you can’t have ice cream for dinner or you can’t just go through the McDonald’s drive thru for french fries.

And when you do make the decision to eat healthy and feel good about yourself, you can be proud, as it was solely your idea and your hard work that got you there.

You have to pay for everything yourself. I know that this may seem like I meant it as a joke, but I actually love the fact that I don’t have to ask my parents for money anymore. Remember the days when you had to ask for $20 to go to the movies and your parents would only give you $10? And you sighed because you now had to choose between an ICEE or a popcorn??

As an adult, you can go to the movies and buy whatever the hell you want. Or you can make the decision to save money and sneak a water bottle in and just buy the ticket. It’s totally your choice. But the difference is, you know have one.

You can exercise your wanderlust. All those vacations and holidays you told yourself you’d one day go on? Done. You have no excuses now. Go out in the world and see things. Save your money and travel. If your friends don’t have the money to go with you, go on a solo trip. It’s a scary scary thing to travel far away from your comfort zone alone, but it is so rewarding. And you won’t be able to stop once you start, trust me.

This is by far the best part about growing older. I have been to England and the Netherlands and made many NYC and Chicago visits since I moved out of the house two years ago. I love that I get to choose when and where I am going next and the satisfaction that comes with knowing that I made it happen. I made the money that took me where I wanted to go; I went to a new place all by myself. I did it. Being away from mom and dad’s wallet has never felt so liberating than when you get to travel on your own dime.

You have realized the truly important things in life. And it is not money. Money gets you to where you want to go, and yes it helps. I will never deny that. But you learn new things because you want to and not because you need to get a good grade on an exam. You start to prioritize your sleep, health, relationships, and passions. You start to realize what truly makes you happy, which brings me to…

You choose your own happiness. Now that you’re on your own, you have no one else to depend upon. That concept can be terrifying to think about, but I find it empowering. You can’t blame anything on anyone else. It is in your hands. And once you grasp that, nothing can get you down. If you don’t like your job, change it. If you don’t like where you live, move. If your friends don’t treat you the way they should, find new ones. You begin to become the best person you can be once you start to put your happiness first. As soon as I made the conscious decision to do that, I met the love of my life. I’m not saying that that is the reason I was able to fall in love, but I also don’t think it was a total coincidence… 😉

These past couple of years have been the time of my life. I have learned who I really am as a person. I’ve learned what my true passions are. I have been able to realize how intelligent I am, without relying on a school system to measure what my “knowledge” is worth. I have found ways to work on myself because I want to be a better person. I have been able to make my own decisions and learn from the mistakes I have made. I have been able to fall in love. And the best part about all of this is that I’ve only just begun. I have so much further to go. That excites me.

There is so much more to look forward to. Being an adult isn’t just about going to work and paying the bills. It’s so much more than that. Look at the positive side of things. Look at what you’re accomplishing. And if you’re not there – if you’re not accomplishing what you think you should – you have every opportunity to do something about it. No excuses. Just go. Live.

 

What are your favorite aspects of being an adult? Comment below or write me on Twitter -@knackeredchaos!

 

Much love

xxx

Simple 7 Green Smoothie Challenge

I stumbled upon the Simple Green Smoothie blog and saw that they have a free “Simple 7” program. When you sign up, they send you a PDF file with everything you need to know. It tells you the 7 ingredients you need and how much to buy at the grocery store for a week’s worth of smoothie making. It gives you a new daily recipe for every morning, and they even tell you how to prep it to save time in the mornings. I bought a bunch of mason jars, measured out my portions and put everything into the mason jars. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, just leave it out on the counter for about 10 minutes to thaw and then follow the directions on the recipe to blend.

The name of the program explains itself. It is very simple. And if you prep it all ahead of time, you have no excuses. It actually becomes a perfect on-the-go breakfast. And most of them tasted amazing.

I posted a picture of the smoothies on my Instagram every morning. You can see below for a more in depth analysis and opinions on the smoothies, but be sure to check out my IG account as well!

 

Day 1 – Beginner’s Luck

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For some reason, I do not like banana flavoring in things. I can eat a banana itself (sometimes) but banana bread is the only banana flavored thing I will eat. Therefore, if I can taste a bit of banana in a smoothie, I won’t be able to stop thinking about it. For Beginner’s Luck, that’s all I could think about. It was very creamy and full of all my favorite ingredients, but I couldn’t get past the banana flavor. One thing in the PDF file they send you when you sign up are suggestions for substitutions for those who have allergies or want more choices. Therefore, I began to replace banana with avocado. The rest of the smoothies went way better. I need to try this one again with avocado instead. But if you’re a banana person, you’d probably like it.

Day 2 – Oh Kale Yeah

 

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This one was tiny. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. I must have measured the ingredients wrong, but there wasn’t much of it to taste, which bummed me out because I really did like the flavor. I don’t seem to have a problem with kale, like a lot of other people do. On the contrary, I actually quite like it. I need to try making this one again as the flavor was mild – not too sweet – so my first thoughts were that it would make a fabulous early morning breakfast.

Day 3 – The Green Goblin

 

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From all the research I did, I saw that this was one of the most popular recipes among all the other Simple 7ers. Obviously, I substituted banana for avocado. It was a really thick smoothie and I actually had to add a bit more water so that it would blend better, but I really enjoyed this one. As you can tell, it made a good amount of smoothie and filled me up for the morning.

Day 4 – Simple Strawberry

 

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Now as the name suggests, this one had dominantly strawberries thrown into it which is why it looks brownish red. But don’t let the color fool you – this one was very good. And for those of you who get scared of green smoothies – that they’ll taste like you’re eating grass – this is a perfect one for you. For the challenge, this was the first one that introduced oranges into the mix and the flavor was a bit too much for me.

Ok I feel like this is where I should tell you that I have a really weird relationship with oranges. It’s supposed to be a happy color, and yet I hate it. Everyone seems to love orange juice – I don’t. (I will only drink orange juice so long as there is a LOT of champagne mixed with it). And the smell makes me sick to my stomach. It’s weird. I get it. Let’s move on.

Anyway, this smoothie was hard for me because of the orange flavor. Normal people would like this and it wouldn’t be a problem. I promise.

Day 5 – Takes Two to Mango

 

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Love love love love love love. Ok? I love the mango flavor in my smoothies. I will never not choose that. And this one was perfect. And the name is adorable. I’ve got nothing else to say. If you like mangos, you’ll love this one.

Day 6 – Kalifornia Sunshine

 

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I messed this one up a bit as I forgot to freeze all the ingredients so it actually was a bit more liquidy than I usually like my smoothies, so that was a rather unfortunate situation. And that’s also why the spinach didn’t blend very well – because it wasn’t frozen ahead of time. But we cannot be mad at the smoothie for my mistakes can we? No we can’t! The taste was great. I enjoyed it muy much.

I’m trying to be funny. Laugh with me.

Day 7 – Citrus Breeze

 

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I took a really artsy photo with this one didn’t I??

Ended the 7-day challenge perfectly with this one. Fabulous! I didn’t want it to end! I was very sad when I guzzled this one down because I wanted more of it. And it’s pretty isn’t it? The bright green smoothies just look SO APPETIZING to me. Same with you? Yeah, thought so.

I ended this on a Sunday. And I went a day or two without a smoothie in the morning and immediately noticed how tired I was!! I did the same exact thing as the week before, was getting enough sleep, and yet I was very sleepy throughout the day. So I tried something. I had a green smoothie for breakfast the next day and immediately felt more energized. Coincidence? Placebo effect? I think not. Because I had no idea this was happening. Now I won’t pretend to know how this made sense. Probably because I was beginning my day with healthy nutrient-filled food and not a bagel. My skin was glowing. Even my boyfriend noticed a difference.

There was a lot gained from this experience. And it feels a lot less like a sacrifice and lot more like a positive way to improve my overall health and wellness. I plan to continue with a green smoothie for breakfast every day when I can as I see no reason not to.

I highly suggest you try this out. Whether you try the Simple 7 program, or do something else on your own, there are a lot of benefits and you don’t have anything to lose.

Have you guys had successful results with green smoothies? Comment below or write me on Twitter @knackeredchaos!

P.S. Send me any recipes you have with your Instagram username – I love to try new ones and I’ll s/o to you if I do! My email is samb@knackeredbychaos.com.

 

Much Love

xxx

Mmh Turkey Chili

In the Fall, I decided to look online for some soup and chili recipes as the weather was getting cooler and I really wanted to start cooking more. I ended up stumbling upon the most amazing Turkey Chili recipe on Pinterest. It looked amazing and was advertised as healthy and under 400 calories per serving, so I had to try it.

Since then, I have made this recipe countless times – on the stove and in the Crockpot. It is so simple and so very delicious.

I generally make it on Sundays and then will pack it in a Tupperware container in the morning while preparing my lunch. I actually have to actively stop myself from emptying the entire pot into the Tupperware – no joke. The last time I made this recipe, I took pictures of every step. Look below to see how it gets put together. And then go to Ambitious Kitchen (link here) to read the actual recipe and thank Monique for bringing this into our lives.

First, you cut up the vegetables. I added green peppers, even though the recipe only calls out for red. I love love love green peppers so I add them to everything I can.

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Then you cook the vegetables. See how easy this is?

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Then you add the spices. The recipe will tell you exactly how and what, but this intuitive picture does as well. It’s the 21st Century, look how cool the internet can be!

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So you mix it into the cooked ground Turkey with the vegetables and it’ll look something like this…

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Next you have to add all chicken broth, diced tomatoes, corn, and dark red kidney beans! The recipe calls out for 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, but the cans I buy are 14 oz. As I don’t like my chili to be watery and cooked tomatoes kinda weird me out, I just use the one can…

I realize the picture below is misleading as I accidentally opened two without realizing that I only use one. My sincerest apologies.

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So then I threw it all into the Crock Pot and put it on high for three hours. And this is the end result. How amazing does that look???

 

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When I eat this, I just put it in a bowl, add some cheddar cheese and oyster crackers and shovel it in my mouth.

No, I really do shovel it. It’s very attractive – I promise you.

 

Let me know your thoughts once you’ve made this yourself! Click here for the recipe if you didn’t already click on it above. Just make it. Do it. And thank Monique from Ambitious Kitchen after you do… 🙂

 

Much Love

xxx