Rachel Awtrey

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Spaghetti Squash Boat
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The spaghetti squash boat - a family fave around the Awtrey household.

It’s the simple, super cheap and “healthy” version of your typical spaghetti dish. It’s also a great meal if you live by yourself, or one other person because it makes two simple portions so easily!

I like this low-carb meal and often result to it when we have busy days because it takes little tending to *cue the kitchen dance parties*!

Here’s all you’ll need:

Ground Turkey (or beef, your preference)
Your favorite jar of marinara
One spaghetti squash

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 for a quick cook

  2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half long ways so that the spaghetti squash takes an ovular shape*

  3. Pour olive oil and add salt to the inside of the spaghetti squash

  4. Lay the spaghetti squash flat side down on a sheet and place in preheated oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the edges are brown**

  5. While the spaghetti squash is cooking, brown your ground meat in sauce pan on medium-high heat

  6. Once meat is cooked thoroughly, add your jar of marinara and reduce heat to a simmer

  7. When spaghetti squash is finished cooking, remove the sheet from the oven, flip the spaghetti squash over and remove the seeds from the pit of the squash with a spoon or tongs.

  8. Once pitted, you’ll see that the spaghetti squash takes a “bowl” shape and there is now room to add your desired amount of marinara and meat.

  9. Garnish with parmesan cheese, oregano or any of your favorite toppings

  10. Serve and enjoy!


Here are my tips + tricks

*Heat the entire spaghetti squash in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds to soften the shell + inside for an easier time cutting

**I remove the seeds after it has cooked in the oven because, rather than it being like scraping the inside of the pumpkin, the seeds are now softer and come out more easily.

I also decided to serve my spaghetti squash as a “boat” or “bowl” because the dish stays warmer longer. I’ve found that when I scrap out the squash, it cools quickly leaving my guests (and husband) with a cold meal.

Enjoy!!

Egg Roll in a Bowl | One Skillet Dinner

This one may be our favorite to make for a few reasons:

1. So super cheap
2. It's fail-proof - it's really hard to mess this one up
3. You can make the whole dish in one skillet so it's a super easy cleanup
4. It's gluten free + dairy free SO if you're on a diet or need these restrictions (or even if not) it's a yummy yummy option!
5. It takes 15 minutes until dinner is on the table

I buy most of my ingredients from Trader Joes just because they're already prepared for me (the carrots are chopped, the cabbage is shredded, the ginger is grated) and I'm all about cutting corners.

 
 

What you'll need:


Large Skillet
Knives to cut your vegetables (or this veggie chopper that I swear by + I use this scooper for getting the veggies off of the cutting board and into the skillet)

Ground Beef (or substitute ground turkey, ground chuck)
Garlic (I use these garlic cubes from Trader Joes *see notes at the bottom)
Ginger (1 tsp of powdered ginger or 4 tbsp of fresh ginger)
2 cups of shredded carrots
2 large onions diced
One bag of shredded cabbage (or 1 1/4 cup)

For the sauce:
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Soy Sauce (I use 1 tbsp soy sauce + 1 tbsp coconut amino just to cut out the amount of soy I'm using)
1 tbsp Sriracha Sauce

Optional topping:
Shelled Edamame Beans

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Directions

1. Start browning your ground beef over medium-high heat in the skillet we'll use for the entire recipe
2. Add the ginger and blend into the ground beef
3. Once browned turn down the heat to medium and add garlic, onions, carrots and let the veggies saute for about 8 minutes.
4. While the meat + veggies are sizzling, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
5. Slowly add cabbage (it will start out most likely overflowing from the skillet but allow it to wilt by mixing the veggies, meat and cabbage together). Continue adding cabbage slowly until it all has been added.
6. While cabbage is being added, heat up the edamame beans if you are choosing to add these to your bowl at the end.
7.  Pour the sauce over the entire mixture and mix together until blended well.
8. Serve + enjoy!

 
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We eat these out of regular bowls and top off the meal with the edamame beans and a few more drops of sriracha and coconut amino!

If you're a newlywed or claim to "not know how to cook" or just don't have much time on your hands, this is FOR YOU. 

Enjoy!!

NOTES:

*The garlic cubes are great because they're already packaged into cubes that equal one clove and they're easy to pop out of the package so you don't have to mess around with the smelly garlic

15 Practical Ways to Not Break Your NY Resolution Already

If you're like me, you can come up with an excuse for anything so quickly. Especially when something is challenging. This can be the worst mid-January - when you trying to stay committed to your resolution but routine and life has already begun to get in the way. That's why I invited my friend, Sam Baker of Wellness Watered to give her two cents and share a few ways she's been able to keep her resolutions. A few weeks ago, Sam interviewed me about goal setting + dreaming (read the interview here) and that's where I first learned that she is the best at helping people live their best life through food, fitness and fun stuff in between. I just needed to share a little bit of her with you!


Ahh, January. The start of “the year you’ll actually get fit” or reach that goal that’s slipped through your fingers in years past.  The month where the crowds at the gym look a little more like a flea-market than a place to workout. When the hashtags #fitspo and #cleaneats break the internet.

Motivation is running high and you’re determined:” THIS. IS. MY. YEAR.”

And I bet I could even guess a few of your resolutions for 2018.

  1. Lose X amount lbs/get in better shape

  2. Start that job/career/dream you’ve always wanted to pursue

  3. Save X amount of money

  4. Be more present

  5. Improve relationships

  6. Learn something new

  7. Travel/adventure more

  8. Stop a bad habit (cussing, smoking, drinking, biting nails or… QUITTING?)

Well, you’re not alone… It’s nearly impossible to avoid TV, social media, the radio or even conversations with friends without hearing about some sort of New Year's resolution being chased.

Honestly, I’ve regretted not taking stock in Planners and highlighters.

But guess what? Only about 8% of those people actually FINISH what they set out to do. (source: huffingtonpost)

By the time Spring rolls around 92% of the “goal diggers” are back to their old ways pretending they’re not disappointed with giving up so soon and wondering where they went wrong.

But what if I told you that it wasn’t anything THEY did wrong - and that it was just a flaw in their system?

And that I have several tried & true practical ways to actually reach those goals this year?

Not to brag, but I’ve had the best life coaches to teach me their ways: Mr. Failure & Mrs. Defeat.

I was THE QUEEN of making 20 “resolutions” every year and then getting too overwhelmed come February, leaving me feeling guilty and defeated for the 11 months leading up to next January.

Through my glorious screw-ups, I crafted the perfect recipe of secret sauce to make your goals happen this year.

Do you want in on the recipe?

Comin’ right up!

Sam’s Secret Sauce To
Just “Get ‘Er Done"

1. Make A Plan

Write out actual ways to reach your goal

If it’s to start your dream job - research companies to reach out to

If it’s to run a 5k - make a training plan

2. Stop waiting for motivation

Don’t let feelings & emotion dictate what you do

Let your actions stem from dedication to this new goal

If you wait until you “feel like it” - odds are, it’ll never happen.

Form new habits that will eventually develop into a lifestyle

3. The Buddy System

Have someone to hold you accountable to your resolution

Have a partner that is striving for the same goal

4. Get Real

Make sure your goal is realistic

Do you have/can you obtain the time, money, resources to make it happen?

Do you have too many goals?

Don’t make goals out of your control

Finding a husband, becoming a CEO, etc.

Make goals that you know you have the means to conquer.

5. Slow and steady

Make small changes that you can conquer 1 at a time in order to reach the ultimate goal.

Take it one day at a time - don’t have a set finish line that you have to reach said goal by.

6. Stay in your own lane

Stop looking to others as the example for what your journey/outcome should look like

Don’t compare your progress to others

Simply try YOUR best for YOUR life (some people work from home or don’t have as far as a commute - figure out how you can give it your all depending on the demands in your life).

7. Have Grace

Don’t expect perfection - you’re human and YOU WILL screw up.

Talk to yourself - don’t listen to yourself

When you hear the voices in your head tell you that you’re not good enough, replace those lies with true affirmations of confidence and self love.

8. Pick Up Where You Left Off

Don’t “scrap today, this week, this month” from a few mistakes, it takes a long time to form a new habit.

So stay consistent.

Keep showing up for your goal even if it means you give it the best you can that day.

If your goal is to get in shape and all you have time for is a 10 minute walk - then do what you can TODAY.

9. Live a Posture of Success

Act as if you’ve already succeeded.

Live in the mindset that you’re already a champion of this goal.

Visualize yourself reaching this goal.

10. Realize your worth

Understand that you’re already worthy of love & happiness RIGHT NOW - even before you complete your resolutions.

Recognize that reaching this goal won’t increase your worth or change your value as a person.

11. Stop fearing success

Allow yourself to cross that threshold that you never allow yourself to cross.

Allow yourself to evolve into a new person & redefine who you are.

12. Don’t let results be your end all be all

It’s all about how you show up & how you get up when you’ve fallen

Sometimes circumstances are out of our control (sickness, loss of job, other people not cooperating) - so don’t measure your success by an expectation you had for how your goal would look.

13. Don’t have a timeline

It may take longer than THIS YEAR to reach that goal or it may only take half the year - so don’t put a deadline on your goal.. Just give it your best and let it happen organically.

14. Keep Your Standards high

Don’t lower your standards to make others more comfortable or to avoid sticking out

If your friends pressure/guilt you into breaking your resolution to “bond” with them - hold your ground and pretty soon they’ll recognize your new habit is here to stay.

15. Realize it’s okay to change your mind

But not to make excuses.

If you find that “I don’t want to lose weight anymore - I’m happy with my body”, it’s okay to shift your goal to “being healthy” rather than “weight loss”.


These are my fool-proof secrets to finishing not only your resolutions for this year, but to reach in goal you have in your life.

And I know half of you are Type-A and super ecstatic over a list of things to conquer - but the other half of you are more type B, C, or D and you’re probably like “Woah, Sam. 15?! There’s no way I can remember all of these!”

But don’t worry, sister, I’ve picked my TOP 3 to keep in your pocket for when you're on the brink of throwing in the towel.

The Holy Grail of Goal-Reaching

1. Don’t run off of motivation/emotion - but determination/truth

2. Have Grace on yourself/Don’t expect perfection  

3. Live a posture of success/triumph

We weren’t created to live in a constant cycle of defeat.

Go after the goals that will make you the BEST version of yourself.

Whenever I set a goal for myself I always have a little heart to heart first and I ask myself these 2 things:

  1. Do these goals make me feel stressed/anxious at the beginning of the day - and depressed/defeated come the end of the day? (Aka they’re unrealistic/unnecessary)
  2. Or do these goals make me feel motivated/excited at the beginning of the day - and content/fulfilled come the end of the day? (Aka they’re helping you become your best self).

Don’t set yourself up for failure - if you know you’re only setting a goal to appease somebody else or to try and be what others tell you you should be, I’ll let you in on a little secret: you’ll never succeed - because even if you ever see “physical success”, you’ll always feel unfulfilled.

But girl, 2018 is your year.

Your year to have grace on yourself and ask yourself: “What is actually necessary and what do I actually want out of my life this year?”.

Lasting outward change stems from healthy intentions and a strong sense of self worth.

If deep down you don’t think you’re worth the happiness of reaching a goal, you’ll always stop yourself from passing that threshold.

So make a plan. Make the necessary sacrifices. And let this be the year you shed the shackles of failure.

XO,
Sam

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Sam loves thinking, researching, writing, and creating (whether that’s words, recipes, workouts, or even a to-do list). She's a firm believer in “dessert always," loves Weiner dogs and loves to get people out of their comfort zone and into their dream.

An enthusiast for helping people live their best life, Sam shares recipes, secret to success, a candid look into her life and fun fitness goals that everyone can live by. 

Read more about Sam here!

Gourmet At-Home Coffee Recipes
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Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Chai Tea Lattes, Carmel Macchiato. You know the drill. You get in your car when you have that caffeinated sweet tooth, drive to the closest Starbucks or gourmet coffee shop. Order your craving, swipe your card and sip. What if I told you that you didn't have to leave your house to suit your cravings? Maybe you could make them at home? Thoughts?

I've created some of my favorite drinks at home, half the cost and in bulk so Thomas and I could both have one! Plus, these recipes have cut out the sugar load that others may have! YAS!

Chai Tea Latte

1 cup Milk (almond, soy, regular, you choose)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 bag of Chai Tea (I use Tazo tea)

Add milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a microwave-safe mug. Heat for 2 minutes in the microwave and place the Chai tea bag in the mug. Let it steep for 3 minutes. Top with a pinch of cinnamon for extra flavor!

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 cups Milk (almond, soy, regular, you choose)
2 1/2 tbs Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (or cinnamon + nutmeg)
3 tbs Maple Syrup (pure maple syrup is preferred, none of that fake stuff)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Strongly Brewed Coffee (or espresso if you're fancy)

Add the milk and pumpkin puree to a small pot. Heat milk and pumpkin puree over medium heat in a small pot. Make sure to stir with a whisk to avoid burning. Warm for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon + nutmeg), maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture until it becomes frothy and all the ingredients are combined.

Pour ingredients into a mug with the coffee. Garnish and top with whipped cream, cinnamon or a cinnamon stick for an extra fun flare if you're hosting!

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Carmel Macchiato

2 tbsp caramel
1 cup milk (almond, soy, regular, you choose)
3 cups of coffee

Mix the milk and caramel in a microwave-safe mug. Heat for 2 minutes in the microwave and add brewed coffee to the mixture. Garnish with frothed milk and caramel drizzle on top.

 
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You actually may not be "cleaning" your house

Recently, I've found that there are thousands of products that sit on the shelves, of some of my favorite stores, that are toxic and poisoning our environment. Whether that's skin care products or cleaning supplies. Tons of these products have chemicals in them that get rid of bacteria, sure, but are causing harm to other parts of our body.

Our immune system is important but other systems in our body are equally as important. So, why do we compromise our overall health for anti-bacterial soap, spray or wipes? Good news is, I've found a company that cares for both our overall health and getting rid of bacteria. Grab Green is a company that sells home cleaning supplies and I've been using it in my home. These are a few of their products that I've been able to use!

 
 

I love being able to find non-toxic alternates to what I've been using so these products are a refresher for sure!  You can purchase these products on the Grab Green website and even get 25% off of your first purchase using the code FIRST25!

You all are seriously the best and I am so so thankful for each and every one of you!

 
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Let's Talk Toxins

I've always been told to "check the ingredients" when grocery shopping. Normally I do, and then chose to not look and be ignorant when I want my favorite candy bar or salty snack added to the buggy. Why do we check the ingredients? Because, we don't want to put those "nasty," "unhealthy," and "harmful" chemicals in our body. Yet, when was the last time you checked the ingredients in your lotion, soap, shampoo or makeup....

...yeah, me neither.

I started to realize that the "nasty," "unhealthy" and "harmful" chemicals that we're so use to putting in our body are like ninjas and get into our system more than just through our mouth. They also creep in through our skin.

Anything you put on your body absorbs into your blood stream in 26 seconds. Oh s***! I don't know about you but I have used the same makeup, body + face wash for years. I wasn't sure what kind of "nasty," "unhealthy" and "harmful" chemicals were in these products so I started looking them up using this super helpful website and here's what I found. They rate products that we use in our everyday makeup and skincare routine on a scale 1-10. 10 containing high amounts of toxins and 1 containing low amounts. Here's what I found...

This got my attention. I'm using shampoo and conditioner that soaks into my scalp, affecting my hair growth, that has a rating of 8 on a scale 1-10 for toxins. And the face wash that I'm using that suppose to remove harsh chemicals from my face after makeup use is an 8 as well. Something's got to change. 

I researched my booty off to find face + skin products that aren't only eliminating the harmful ingredients but also giving my skin back what these terrible products had taken away. I found out that makeup ingredients and what's "legal" to put inside of these products has not been reformed since 1938! This means that companies and brands can throw in whatever ingredient they want in their product and call it "organic" if they want because makeup isn't being regulated by the FDA. What the....

On a good note, I also found a makeup brand that's mission is to put healthy makeup + skincare products in the hands of all people and educate them how to eliminate harmful toxins in their everyday routine. It's called Beautycounter. I believed in their products and the results so much after replacing my moisturizer, face wash and shampoo with theirs that I became a consultant and now am out to educate you about replacing what's killing you with what will provide you (and your family) a safe skincare routine. Beauty counter isn't the only "healthy" makeup and products out there, there's other great ones as well. I'm not asking you to dump your makeup bag in the garbage, I'm just asking you to be smart, friend. Let's care about our largest organ, our body and one another. 

Health isn't just about eating smart, it's about wearing smart, too.

If you have any questions, any recommendations on being healthy or want to chat, comment below and I'd love to grab coffee with ya!

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5 Things Every Bride-to-Be Should Be Doing

The build up to the wedding day - sheesh. There's the venue planning, the caterer, the dress alterations, seat planning, making sure you won't run out of food, etc. But, if you're anything like me, you're an organizer and you want to make sure that there is not a thing that will get overlooked. Although, that's a silly expectation (because nothing really goes seamlessly) there are a few things that I found important throughout my engagement season that all brides should know about.

1. Perfume

Sounds crazy, but this was one thing that I did that I am so so thankful I remembered to do. Find a scent that you love and buy it. Don't use it until the wedding day, let it sit in the box (patience) or have your groom give it to you as a gift. Bring it out on your wedding day and spritz some on the morning of and then again before you walk down the isle. Bring it on your honeymoon and continue to use it on special and fun occasions afterwards. 

It's such a sweet concept: every time you spritz some on, you'll remember your special day, all the romance, all the love and your incredible adventures in the few days after your wedding day you spent in paradise. Whenever I go to put mine on, it's impossible for me to not remember the memories attached to that fragrance. 

2. Box of sentimentals you want photographed

Your photographer should set up these expectations with you. But, incase she hasn't: put together a box of valuable items that you'd want photographed. Your dress, the wedding party, the reception is all great and fun to look through when the album comes back but don't forget to cherish the details. This is why the box is so important. Stuff it with your invitation suite, his ring, your ring, anything you're carrying down the isle, ribbon, etc. 

Hand this over and designate this responsibility to someone else that can get this special box to your photographer before the chaos begins.

3. Writing letters

It's so sweet to receive letters that are delayed. Write letters throughout your engagement season. Write him what you're looking forward to, what you love about him, what's been difficult, what's been easy and hand them over the day of! You may not have time to read them then and there but those letters are something you can both work your way through and read in the weeks after.

4. Date! Date! Date!

Go on dates with your fiancé. This anticipation feeling and eagerness to finally call each other "husband" and "wife" makes date nights all the more fun. They include dreaming with each other about careers, houses, children, family, etc. So, soak it up! Don't forget to treat each other to a date night: dinner and a movie, mini golf, dessert and coffee, but please date! When you do go on the dates, the wedding and planning and such is off limits.

5. Block out the haters!

You'll get a lot of people that disagree with you about your decision to get married. My mom told me during my season of engagement, "if you wait until everyone's approval, you'll never get married." So, trust yourself, trust your fiancé, and block out the discouraging noise. Don't let their tainted view of marriage taint yours. 

People see marriage as a "lock down" as "you'll never be free again" but in my opinion, I've never felt more free. Marriage is really great and has challenges but anything worth it is worth fighting for. My marriage is not dead and yours will not be either as long as you continually serve one another and seek God's will for your family first. 

Enjoy this season - it doesn't last forever.

 

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

Photography by Jessi Nichols Photoraphy

What's in my bag?

"I like big bags and I cannot lie" It's true! You can't fit anything in a medium/small size bag. Ugh. I have no shame carrying around my canvas/leather bag with me pretty much everywhere. It's big enough to even fit my dog, Remi, if I wanted too.

A few things I always have and why:

 

I always carry around my Tarte blush stick. It's simple, easy to put on and doubles as lipstick, too. I dab it onto my cheeks if I feel like my makeup isn't going to last throughout the day. It's pretty simple because there's no need for a brush, I apply it using the stick and then continue to dab with my fingers until blended.

I always always always have my journal. I write everything down: inspirations, todo lists, grocery lists, "oh I can't forget this" moments. My favorite journal I've found that goes with me everywhere was actually $5 in the Target dollar section. HALLA!

Not only do I pretty much always have my camera, I normally always have my adapter as well. It's a cute little thing that plugs into my phone and has a slot for my SD card so I can upload and go when I'm on the move -- a bloggers dream come true.

I have the perfect "carry" size Bible that I love to have on me. I love to be able to pull it out and read it, be able to find something if I need encouragement or maybe even one day I'll give it away.

Sunglasses are a must. I have a few pair but my favorite are my retro mirrored lenses by RayBan. They're fun and funky and I always look forward to putting them on. 

Girls gotta eat, am I right? I normally like to carry some granola bars or chocolate covered power berries from Trader Joes.

My Sharpie. I always gotta have a sharpie, for doodling with the thick side or writing with the thin side, I love my Sharpie. 

Hair clip. Don't you hate it when you're really getting something done and your hair keeps falling in your face? That's why I keep my butterfly hair clip on my pretty much at all times. I just throw it on up there. 

I also hate it when I have dry hands or I've been running errands all day and I can feel my skin start to dry out. I carry my Capri Blue hand cream and it's a lifesaver. It's cute and petite so it fits in any bag!

What's in your bag?

How to: Stock A Bar Cart

Stocking our bar cart was one of my favorite "move-in" projects because it has potential to be so inviting, it fills my craving for organization and design and it makes wine nights super fun and easy for the girls or me and my husband. 

We've been on the hunt for a great bar cart for several months and Santa got us one for Christmas from Target! It has the wooden texture mixed with rose gold/copper -- matches our kitchen/dining room aesthetic perfectly. 

There are a few "must haves" when it comes to decorating a bar cart and this is what made mine juuuuust right for our space. 

1. Flowers + a fun vase

I normally always stick with eucalyptus. It's clean looking, fresh and loopy and adds a whimsical feel to something that tends to be a little more structured. For the vase, I used a white ceramic pitcher from Williams Sonoma and it was exactly what the eucalyptus needed. It's a curvy pitcher that adds some movement and curves to the linear design. Because it's not a traditional "vase" it adds some fun flavor to the overall idea.

2. Fruit/something edible

I love macaroons and love to keep those on my bar cart to pair when I occasionally sip some Rosé. Let's be honest, that never happens. When I do have macaroons on the bar cart they don't stay long...

Instead, I keep lemons, limes or oranges to add a pop of color and citrus. I put a handful of them in a martini glass. 

3. Glasses + rack

Our bar cart didn't come with a glass rack so we bought one from Bed Bath and Beyond and it holds 9 glasses. Thomas installed it underneath the top shelf of the bar cart and it's easy access to glasses when you want to pour a quick drink. 

4. Wine bottles

There are some funky fun decorated wine bottles that better be displayed. They add some fun color and style to the bar cart -- make sure to have those flaunted, out and about. 

5. Mixers

Gin and tonic is a great drink that a lot of people use as their "go to" so we like to have sparkling water available to our guests. Coke and run is another that's highly demanded so keeping cute glass bottles of coke or Perrier sparkling water is a great idea.

 

6. Colored serving wear

Along with the fruit, you'll want another fun pop of color. For me, it's always going to be copper or rose gold. We have a few Moscow Mule glasses that we paired with some corks and cheese knives and bottle openers, all the accessories we have are are copper. It's an obsession. 

7. Mixing Equipment

If you're going to use your bar cart to host, you've got to have your mixing utensils: a shaker, strainer, stirrers, etc. Make sure that's at easy access (probably top shelf material).

8. Something personalized

Thomas and I received a few personalized wedding gifts -- one of our favorites was a cutting board with our anniversary date and our family's name. It adds a familial touch that makes something so fun also so special. 

9. A tray + something organizational

It helps to have all of these fun materials organized in a less overwhelming fashion. To have a few trays or fun tin boxes, something to help organize definitely makes your bar cart more pleasing to they eye.  We found an antique "Johnny Walker" tray in Columbia, South Carolina and use that holding our "miscellaneous" items. 

 

10. Alcohol, duh. 

We always have Johnny Walker, a few different other favorites and of course, they're top shelf material as well. 

It's always fun to display the fun so bar carts are a great way to decorate a wall, corner or space in your dining room/kitchen!


START STOCKING

How to Run an Instagram Closet Sale

I just hosted by 3rd Instagram sale and I just have to share all bout what it has done for me (in my closet, in my wallet, in my life). The feeling of getting rid of the clothes that stare back at you every morning is by far one of the greatest feelings. I like to give them a new home and have someone else wear them and not be a waste. 

Instagram shops are the easiest way to get this done, in my opinion. Poshmark or those type of platforms are great for higher end products but overall, I have found such ease creating a shop on Instagram. 

1. THE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

I used @ShopAwtrey and it's pretty straight to the point, that's what you want. I pointed people to it using my Instagram Story on my personal account and that's how I got the following!

Put in your bio the way that you're going to do things. How are people going to pay? What is the shipping costs? Do people need to comment anything for them to claim it? Do you have any other limitations (example: local pick up only)? Are you going to have people bid or is it first come first serve?

I highly suggest, if this is one of your firsts, sell them by first come first serve to gain basic interest. Starting adding the bidding feature when you have more people interested and commenting on one item many different times. 

2. POSTING PICTURES

The pictures you post will either sell the item or destroy it. Make sure that your pictures are well lit with a basic background. Lay/hang the clothes so that the collar is straightened, the shirt is buttoned, the pants lay the way they would in a store. The image says it all - it is their first impression of your closet, ya know. Make sure that the items look appealing. 

In the comments section put the size, the price and if anything is wrong with the item. (If you're hosting a bid, add the starting bidding price). You want the price to be fair, appealing and make people snatch it up quickly. So make it a little lower than you would have wanted. Selling an item at a lower price is better than selling no items at all because the $ is too high...

Try to keep the caption small so that all it takes is a quick glance.

I use Snapseed (an app) to make my pictures a little more bright if my walls make the image look yellow. 

However, make sure not to over-edit the picture so that the color of the clothing is not longer true to real-life. 

3. THE SELLING/DELIVERY PROCESS

Once my items sell (or most of them) I DM the buyers and ask for the payment info and their address. I also confirm what they bought to make sure that we are both in agreeance on what they commented on saying they "want it." For payment, I use Venmo and Paypal. Those are the best ways I've found to send invoices. 

When I ship these items, I go to the Dollar Store and grab plenty of padded manilla envelopes. I get a sharpie and write their addresses, stuff the item and a little gift (like a lollipop, something that won't melt), seal it and send it off. This is when you want to make sure that the shipping price that you stated in your bio is spot on because you could be actually losing money. 

4. STAYING ORGANIZED

When your sell is over or someone claims your item, make sure that you're recording it all down so you don't sell it twice on accident (oops). I use a google spreadsheet with the name, Instagram username, the item, the price and then their venmo, Paypal information as well as their address for delivery. This helps me keep things organized. When they have paid, I highlight them green and when columns are green, I know it's ready to ship.

5. AFTERWARDS

Make sure that you still post on your shop's Instagram to inform people when the next sale it, when you're shipping, all that info! I use Bitmojis and it keeps things super fun. 

After all of this, you don't feel so bad going shopping for your replacement wardrobe because you put some skin in the game!

Go, you!

How To: Chalk Paint

If you're looking for something easy, inexpensive to hype up your favorite area, call chalk paint a "super hero." No sanding, no priming, no nothing. All you do is take a paint brush to your furniture, add as many coats until you're heart is content and wax it. That's it. 

They'll try and sell you the name brand chalk paint and wax with the name brand painting brush and name brand waxing brush but it's not needed. So, save yourself and your wallet. We bought the chalk paint from Home Depot and a regular thick bristled, shorter brush with the wax and lent-free cloths for waxing. We used styrofoam plates (left over from the move) and poured the paint, a little goes a long way. Put the paint brush in the paint and apply to the furniture. We used probably three coats per project. Feel free to use cotton swabs or any other tool to get into any crevices that your piece might have. 

If you accidentally spill paint or find splatters anywhere, it's a quick and easy clean up with a wet cloth and a little elbow grease. 

If you just can't get your top coat "perfect" try adding a small bit of water, mixing it together with the brush and applying it. It goes on more smoothly, it's more runny though so be careful. It takes care of any of the left over brush strokes. 

If there's any parts of the pieces that look a little worn, I embraced it because you are, in fact, painting with chalk paint which is normally used for the antique look. Do not distress until fter  applying rthe wax. Weird huh? You can apply distress using sandpaper and such. 

The wax should be a good thick coat to avoid any quick wear. However, if it's tacky feeling, you'll need to buff it because you used a little too much. As they say, "wax on, wax off."

Happy paining, friends!

xoxo

Holiday Gift Guide

Ugh, if you're with me you're just stuck with gifts. I always get to this part of the season where I'm frustrated beyond belief because I know that I know my friends but sometimes it's hard to make gifts seem like it. 

I'm here to help. I asked Thomas and myself what we would want for Christmas or something that would make life a little easier and shabam! This is what we got! There's something for everyone: the fashionista/fashionister, the gadget gizmo lover, the photographer, the creative, the on-the-go student or mom, I mean everyone

Whether you're stumped about what to get your roommate + mom + gal friends, here ya go.

1. A BAR NECKLACE

Bar necklaces are great because they go with anything! You can toss it on with a tee, a cute outfit or for you on the go outfit. The greatest part is, you can personalize these bars according to your relationship. If you're a guy, get the coordinates to your favorite date spot. If you're a daughter, get your mom coordinates to your home or the initial of each family member. Encourage your girlfriends with a verse that they find affirming. Endless opportunities!

2. RIFLE PAPER COMPANY CALENDAR

I love Rifle Paper Company, I mean love. I have a calendar hanging on my fridge right now as a matter of fact. I love it because it's clean and simple and more decorative and trendy than your regular office calendar. Hang it on a wall, mark your dates and stare at the beauty. Great for gals with big girl jobs or busy moms that need a little organization boost.  

3. HYDROFLASK 

Drink coffee? Drink water?  Who doesn't. Hydroflasks are lifesavers for us ladies that are always moving. It keeps temperatures constant for a looooong time. Keep ice cold water cold after your workout. Keep your coffee hot throughout the work morning or your 8am class. You iz welcome. 

4. COPPER MEASURING TOOLS

I love it when my kitchen utensils make kitchen decor as well. Copper is my favorite color for the kitchen, it reminds me of my Mimi's copper pot collection that hung in her last home. 

These beauties are great for the everyday baker or cook, newlywed that doesn't know how to eyeball measurements (*cough me *cough) or for the cutie patootie that likes a little pizazz on their counter. 

5. TOCCA CLEOPATRA PERFUME

Okay, so there's a myth that you're never suppose to give perfume as a gift. Wrong. Especially here. Yes, some individual's noses are more sensitive than others. However, this scent, Cleopatra by Tocca, is amazing and dainty and so feminine. You can't go wrong with this one (or the entire collection, really).

6. FOREST FEAST COOKBOOK

I'll be honest. I like the look of cookbooks and the pictures inside but I rarely actually read the recipes when I need to cook. I like to glance and gather inspiration. I'll tell you what though, The Forest Feast makes healthy eating fun. It's a beautiful cookbook to display on your counter, bookshelf and it includes the most gorgeous watercolors. Yes please!

7. OPI NAIL POLISH

"Nail polish for Christmas is so basic." Maybe, but if you ask me, I could never have too many colors (specifically the color 'Raisin' the bar').

8. DECORATIVE BASKET

I love organization-especially when it's pretty. This makes a great gift and gift wrapping. Throw some stocking stuffers in this puppy with some cute ribbon or tissue paper and call it a day! No wasting paper or having to find a reason to recycle the tacky Christmas bag. 

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Honestly, this is the hardest for me. What the freak do I get Thomas or my brothers? I mean, dads are the most difficult because if they're anything like mine, they just go and get what they need when they need it. What's something that I could get them and think "aha!"?

1. DANIEL WELLINGTON WATCH

Mmm I love my man with a good watch. This one is leather, minimalist and simplistic. It goes great with any outfit (black or navy blue). The leather band is classic and timeless and will surely never go out of style. Although this is a steeper gift (financially) than the rest, it's a great investment. We're talking about a watch here!

2. HYDROFLASK

Yes, it's on the men's list too. It's just that great! It keeps their drinks cool as well. Whether it's their ice cold water on the golf course, after their workout or it's their coffee on a cold morning, they'll love you for getting this for them. 

3. CREDIT CARD SURVIVAL TOOL

Thomas is raving about this! It's a tool for your wallet that's the size of a credit card and acts as a survival tool. It includes a bottle opener, ruler, screwdriver, can opener, saw blade, knife edge + more. It easily slips in his wallet. Uh, hello!

4. BLUETOOTH EARPHONES

Another really great gift that is an investment but oh so worth it. Forget the cord, the guy in your life will adore you for getting these for him. It's a wireless bluetooth headphone set for when he cuts the grass, goes on a run (or helps you vacuum?) He can jam without all the tangles!

5. J.CREW SOCKS

Can't go wrong with some good socks, can I get a "hallelujah!" J.Crew sells the most cozy socks that you wouldn't be embarrassed if they made a peak appearance out from underneath his light wash dad jeans. I'm sorry but those Nike sport socks have got to go. 

6. HARRYS SHAVING KIT

This is a "treat yo'self" gift for him. This luxurious set of shaving equipment is great for his toiletry collection. Thomas says the shaving cream is extremely smooth, the razor is precise and the other utensils are always good to have around when you need it. Plus, the packaging is beautiful. 

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Lots of options! You can't go wrong with any of these! Happy shopping!

xoxo,

Rachel

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