Friday, January 30, 2015

Printable Weekly Meal Plan and Shopping List | #FitnessFriday

I've never been one to go to the grocery store without a list, but I was constantly finding myself throwing out forgotten produce or hidden in the back of the pantry expired items. I felt wasteful. I was literally throwing money in the trash. I talked to my neighbor about it and she introduced me to meal planning. I loved the idea of only buying the items that I needed for the week. I loved the idea of not having to wonder at 5pm "what am I going to cook for dinner." Most of all, I loved not having to run to the store for last minute items. After about a month, I was hooked! Here's how I started:
  1. Inventory: Take inventory of what you already have on hand in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry each week. Add these items to your planner first. For example, if you already have fresh broccoli or a package of frozen chicken thighs, add it as an meat or side dish in your planner first. The idea here is to use what you have on hand before you plan to buy anything else. No more produce going bad or meat getting freezer burnt.
  2. Factor in Leftovers: I have two children and a hungry hungry hubby but I don't cook a full course dinner every night. Why? Because I factor in leftovers. I usually cook Sunday-Tuesday, make something in the crock pot on Wednesday, so Thursday is our leftover night. It saves me time and prevents us from being wasteful.
  3. Fill in your menu: Fill in your planner to make complete meals. By using what you already have on hand, you shouldn't have much more to add.
  4. Make your shopping list: Add what you don't have in your kitchen to your shopping list. Take it with you to the grocery store and stick to your list!
Viola! It's that simple. And of course I can't share these awesome tips without giving you the opportunity to download my FREE Printable Weekly Meal Plan and Shopping List!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

[Hairstyle] Wash Day | Bantu Knots on Natural Hair

I have a confession. Are you ready for it?

I didn't deep condition my hair this week.

*Sits in awkward silence*

Well, see, what had happened was...I swear that this is the truth tho...

  1. Co-wash- I detangled my hair, applied Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner then layered a bit of extra virgin coconut oil. I let it sit for a while.
  2. Air dry- After rinsing the conditioner, I blotted my hair with a cotton t-shirt, applied a little extra virgin coconut oil in sections then wrapped it in the t-shirt to dry a bit more.
  3. Leave-ins- I applied a little Jessicurl Too Shea Conditioner and a dab of my hair butter then set my hair on about 6 bantu knots overnight.

The Results:
When I rinsed the Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner from my hair, I didn't expect my hair to be that soft, that fluffy, or that moisturized. I thought to myself in the shower. "How wrong would it be to just stop right here." Don't look at me funny, girl. You know that you've had thoughts like that before! So I channeled my inner lazy and went with it!

So far incorporating a light/medium protein each week to help define my curls and encourage my curl pattern is working well. I honestly can't remember a time when my hair felt this moisturized for this long.

I had no intention on wearing a curly set this week. But my goodness, I was pretty siced about how much curl I got for only 6 bantu knots! And look at how well it stretches my hair! I just had to show you guys! My bantu knot situation before my chop was a mess. I had more unprocessed hair than relaxed hair, my roots would look thick and lush while my ends looked thin and limp.

The universe is always hating on my good hair days. It was SNOWING of allll things the morning that I unraveled my knots. So I twisted my hair up into this half halo crown updo and when outside to build a snowman. (our poor snowman melted by the afternoon tho...the universe was out to get him too...) Want a full tutorial on this style? Let me know!

Thanks for reading my #washdayexperience! Now share yours!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Juicing vs Blending? #FitnessFriday

So everybody and they mama---including me!---are on this crazy juice/smoothie bandwagon. I love my smoothies and I love my juice. I was blessed enough to get both as gifts last year and I use them both constantly! If you are anything like me, you probably wondered, which one is better? While debating the health benefits is waaaayyyyy above my pay grade, I can tell you from experience which one required less time, was cheaper, easier to clean, and has a better taste. Then you can decide for yourself if you should juice or blend!

Clean up:
The Jack LeLanne juicer isn't difficult to clean, but it's not super easy or super fast either. You must clean it thoroughly as soon as you use it because the pulp and fibers will get hard making it even harder to clean (trust me---I know from experience). The pusher, the pulp collector, the filter, the blade, the lid, the receptacle plus the juice catching container all have to be washed by hand with warm soapy water. It doesn't take long---but its tedious. Whereas with your Nutribullet, you wash the cup and the blade then you're done.

The Nutribullet definitely wins the clean up race.

Juicing takes time so I'd make my juices in bulk twice a week. I had to make time to prep the veggies, make/store the juices, and then time to clean up. It's not hard, just a bit tedious especially if  you're already pressed for time, like me. The Nutribullet on the other hand, has been much easier for me to handle. I don't have to make my smoothies in bulk because the machine takes less than 2 minutes to clean up. My kids eat fresh veggies and fruits at each meal, so whatever is left over, I throw into the Nutribullet cup, add some spinach or kale, then store it overnight in the fridge. In the morning, I add the blade, I little water or ice, blitz, rinse the blade then take my smoothie to go. I most certainly can't image making the time to juice daily.

Nutribullet for the win.

This only made enough juice for 3 days...
No explanation needed: Quality juicers like the Jack LeLanne Power juicer are crazy expensive. I received mine as a gift but it retails for something like $100 without the accessories. And honestly, I can't really imagine using my juicer without the overflow platform, filter brush, juicer platform and measuring cup. The Nutribullet was $80. Nutribullet +1.

A weeks worth of produce when I was juicing daily, was about $40 (during the summer months). A weeks worth of produce for my smoothies is about $8/week. Why the crazy difference? Well it takes probably 4 or 5 times the amount of produce to make a cup of juice from the juicer than with a smoothie.

Nutribullet hands down wins the price race.

This is tricky. The taste of both your juices and smoothies will certainly depend on how you balance the sweetness of your fruits to the bitterness of your veggies, the freshness of your produce, and of course it's ripeness. I love the taste of juices because they are incredibly light, clean, refreshing and pure on the palate. If you've never had a fresh juice before, then you probably have no clue what I'm trying to say but trust me there is a HUGE difference between the apple juice that you buy in the store and juicing a real apple! With smoothies, you have to be very careful with your proportions of veggie to fruit. Too much dark leafy super fibrous veggie (Think: kale) will leave your smoothie tasting like you pulled it from the lawn mower. I find that my smoothies taste muddled because of all of the extra fiber. The good thing is that smoothies leave you feeling fuller longer.

The best taste award definitely goes to the Jack LeLanne Power Juicer.

The final verdict: During the winter---I'll be all about that green smoothie life. Once the spring and summer hits---I'll throw some fresh juice back into the mix. If you have to choose between one or the other, go for the Nutribullet and I bet that you won't regret it!

Which one would you chose?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[Hairstyle] Floral Crown Updo | Wash Day

I've been keeping it low key and ridiculously simple lately. My hair has been on a high bun, low bun, halo braid rotation for the last few days and I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. I don't know if its just me or not, but the cold weather makes me want to put my hair into hibernation until the spring! Here's how my #washdayexperience went:

  1. Pre-shampoo- I started by gently detangling using my fingers and slathering each section with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner.
  2. Shampoo- Next, I hopped into the shower for 5 minutes to rinse the conditioner completely. I clarified with KeraCare 1st Lather Shampoo to remove the sweat and grime that has accumulated on my scalp and then once more shampoo with KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo to get my hair squeaky clean. 
  3. Protein Treatment- Next, I applied Redken Extreme Strength Builder Plus from root to tip, covered with a plastic cap and sat under my heat cap for 20 minutes.
  4. Extreme Deep Condition- Then, I deep conditioned with Matrix Biolage Ultra Hydrating Balm then put my hair into 6 loose bantu knots, covered with a plastic cap and got comfortable under my heat cap again for about an hour.
  5. Air dry- After rinsing the deep conditioner, I blotted my hair with a cotton t-shirt, applied a little extra virgin coconut oil in sections then wrapped it in the tshirt to dry a bit more.
  6. Leave-ins- I applied a little Jessicurl Too Shea Conditioner and a dab of my hair butter then set my hair on about 20 perm rods using end papers overnight.

The Results:
Why I'm using shampoo again:
My marathon training schedule has me running over 30 miles a week. Needless to say, the daily sweat + weekly grime is making my scalp and hair pretty gross. So until race day, you can expect to see shampoo back in the mix. I've also noticed that all of the stuff that I used to hate about shampoo---isn't so bad since I ditched my texlaxed ends. My hair doesn't tangle in the shower nor does it feel matted. Now, I won't give the cut all of the credit, I definitely think that pre-shampooing with conditioner is helping me win the tangle war too. 

Why I'm using protein again:
If it ain't broke then don't fix it right? Protein layering was AMAZING before my cut so, I want to keep a little protein in the mix while I get to know more about my curls. I also noticed that my hair has been crazy moisturized (so fluffy and soft that I don't bother moisturizing and sealing nightly). I picked up a tub of Redken Extreme Strength Builder Plus plus during Ulta's liter sale a few weeks ago in hopes that it will replace *insert shocking gasp here* my beloved yet impossible to find Nexxus Emergencee. I promise to give you guys the scoop once this tub is done. So far, I like it!

Why I'm using perm rods again:
I learned (the intensely painful) hard way that my hair is more respectful when it's stretched and that's exactly what perm rods do for me. I mean, doesn't it look like I straightened my hair? I promise y'all that I didn't! This is just how amazing these rods are at stretching and smoothing my hair. I'm so in love that I invested a whooping $10 in another set of smaller sized magenta and white rods! I see a big fluffy curl set in my near future honey!

Floral Crown Updo:
I forgot to snap a pic of my curls fresh out of the rollers, but to style, I pulled my hair into a variation of my allllll time favorite updo that I affectionately call my Faithful 30 Second Style and adorned with a flower crown. (I was feeling fancy plus the boss aka my 5 year old daughter insisted that I wear it!)  Here's how I did it:
  1. Split hair into two sections.
  2. Bring your hair from one section to the front. Begin twisting, instead of twisting to the back, twist to the front. (If this doesn't make sense at first, watch and re-watch this video.) Continue your twist to the end of your length.
  3. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Take one of the twists and cross it over the back of your head. Secure with a bobby pin. Repeat with the other side.
  5. Tuck in all of the loose ends.
You can find variations of this style here, here, here, and here. Told you---I'm obsessed with this updo!

How was your #washdayexperience?


Friday, January 16, 2015

My Cheap and Easy Winter Green Nutribullet Smoothie | #FitnessFriday

Committing to drinking one green smoothie a day is a habit that I made in 2014 and intend on keeping for 2015. I love my Jack Lelane juicer to death, but let me tell y'all, juicing in the winter time is tough. It's harder to find fresh (juicy) fruits. Plus the amount of fruits and veggies that you need just to make one cup of juice is uber pricey. So, for Christmas, I asked my super hero hubby for a NutriBullet. Because he's simply amazing, he gifted it to me early and I stepped up my green smoothie game asap. Here's my recipe for the best winter produce friendly and inexpensive Nutribullet green smoothie:

Apples- Affordable fiber

The key to any green smoothie recipe is finding the right balance of sweetness and bitterness while keeping the calories down. Apples are rich in fiber, sweet, and super affordable.

Spinach and Kale- Dark Leafy Vegetables

I, like many chicas struggle with iron deficiencies that can lead to anemia. Research has shown that low iron levels play a role in hair loss. Eating dark leafy veggies is one way to increase your iron levels, keep your body feeling energized and your hair follicles healthy.

Cucumber- Light and Refreshing anti-oxidants

As one of my favorite veggies, I use cucumber in everything. Cucumbers are high in potassium, manganese, silica and sulfur. Plus they are mostly water, so they add the right amount of liquid to keep the texture from being gritty or pasty.

Green grapes- Sweet nutrients

Chocked full of vitamins C and K, green grapes are available year round in most places. Because it's incredibly difficult to get pesticide residue off of grapes, this is the one fruit that I try to buy organic.

I loved the clean crisp taste of my Jack LeLane juices, but I kinda felt like I was missing out on all of the good fiber from the skins of my fruits and veggies. The Nutribullet solves that issue completely! Plus I use much less produce per smoothie. and it only costs me about $8/week in extra groceries.

How do you get your veggies in during the winter?


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

[Hairstyle] Wash Day | Top Knot on Natural Hair

After wearing my hair straight for two weeks and not washing---my scalp felt pretty darn disgusting. I wish that I could promise that I won't do it again. But...I probably will whenever I straighten my hair again. One week is just not long enough after putting in that much work to get it straight. LOL.Here's how my first natural hair #WashDayExperience went:

  1. Pre-shampoo- I started by gently detangling using my fingers and slathering each section with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner.
  2. Shampoo- Next, I hopped into the shower for 5 minutes to rinse the conditioner completely. I clarified with KeraCare 1st Lather Shampoo to remove the icky build up that has accumuated on my scalp and then once more shampoo with KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo to get my hair squeaky clean. 
  3. Protein Treatment- Next, I applied Joico K-PAK RevitaLuxe from root to tip, covered with a plastic cap and sat under my heat cap for 20 minutes.
  4. Extreme Deep Condition- Then, I deep conditioned with Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Conditioner then put my hair into 6 loose bantu knots, covered with a plastic cap and got comfortable under my heat cap again for about an hour.
  5. Air dry- After rinsing the deep conditioner, I blotted my hair with a cotton t-shirt, applied a little extra virgin coconut oil in sections then wrapped it in the tshirt to dry a bit more.
  6. Leave-ins- I applied a little Jessicurl Too Shea Conditioner and a dab of my hair butter then bantu knotted my hair in about 10 sections.

The Results
I have no clue why or when I stopped pre-shampooing with conditioner but omgosh I love it! My hair absorbed the conditioner in like 0.1 seconds and instantly reverted into curls. And by reverted, I mean shrunk from shoulder length to neck length. Shrinkage is real y'all. So so real. 

It will take a few months (and a few mini-trims) before my curl pattern reveals itself. So in the meantime to encourage, define, and strengthen my curls, I'm sticking with my go to protein conditioner Joico K-PAK RevitaLuxe. I'm not sure yet how often I'll use it. But at the least, you can expect to see it once a month. 

My hair felt like butter as I rinsed the Matrix Hydratherapie deep conditioner from my hair. Ultra smooth, silky and super curly. I was surprised at how elongated my hair felt in the shower. But the biggest surprise was---NO TANGLES.  Not one. Let me tell you this---I would have chopped my hair sooner if I knew that it would get rid of the tanlges like this. I honestly can not remember a #washdayexperience were I had not one tangle in my hair after rinising. 

Another plus- much much much less shed hair. On the right is my lost hair from a few wash days ago pre-chop and on the left, post-chop. The difference is actually shocking to me. 

Because this week is going to be hectic, I went for a low maintenance yet super stylish high top knot. I'll have to give y'all a full tutorial on this style soon. It's super simple. I just pull my hair into a high puff, twist it into 4 sections then wrap them around to form a bun. I hope that made sense...

How was your #washdayexperience?


Friday, January 09, 2015

3 Ways To Workout With Your Kids

Finding time to workout is my biggest challenge. As most of you know, I have two kids under 5 and I'm a military spouse. My superhero hubby is very supportive of my half-marathon training but his schedule is straight up all over the place. Which usually means that I don't have a lot of time away from the minions. Instead of letting this prevent me from getting my workout on---I've came up with 3 ways to workout with my kiddos when things just don't go as planned:

Zumba for Kids

Y'all know that I'm a self-proclaimed cardio-queen and Zumba fanatic. So are my kids! They always tired to join in with me while I did Zumba DVDs but the moves were a little bit too advanced from them---then I found this Zumba Kids for XBOX connect. Can you say perfecto?!? They get a chance to dance (aka wear themselves out) and I get my cardio fix too. Win-Win.

24 Hours of Happy

Everyday for at least 3 months, my kids begged to turn on before dinner so that they could dance and sing. No matter what kind of crazy hectic day I was having---there was no way that would deny them happy! Ha-ha. We play "follow the leader"---where you have to mirror one person's dance moves for a song. Let me tell you---after playing that for 30 minutes---is just like being in Spin class for an hour! These kids have too much energy!


On warmer than normal winter days, I take my kiddos outside for a bike ride run either in our neighborhood or at our local park. My oldest is really good on her training wheels and whilst she bikes, I jog behind with the youngest in a jogging stroller. Believe it or not---at the end of our fun, I've usually run about 3 miles---and they are exhausted. (which is the BEST part!)

How do you workout with your kiddos?


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

[Hairstyle] Styles For Straightened Natural Hair | #WashDayExperience

I'm not proud of my actions---or rather inaction. I haven't washed my hair in two weeks. I really don't have a good reason---I'm just loving the ease of straight hair. Detangling is super fast. I can actually use a comb. Styling is uber easy. But just because my hair is straight---it doesn't mean that I'm wearing it down everyday. Here are 3 of my favorite updos on my straightened (newly) natural hair:

The Headband Tuck-

I totally love this look because it literally takes NO TIME to pull together. Plus all you need is a cute headband!

How To:
  1. Detangle, moisturize, and seal your hair.
  2. Create a side or center part.
  3. Put on a headband.
  4. Pull your hair back in sections and tuck into the band covering the elastic. Repeat on reminaing sections.
  5. Pick apart and fluff.

High Bun with a Side Swept Bang-

Perfect for a little after-the-gym-glam. I'm actually excited that my bun is still full after the chop. 

How To:

  1. Detangle, moisturize, and seal your hair.
  2. Create a heavy center part for the bangs. Section off.
  3. Pull the rest of your hair up into a super high pony tail. Secure with an elastic.
  4. Wrap the ends of the pony tail around the base of the elastic. Secure with hair pins.
  5. Swoop bangs over to one side and secure ends with a hair pin.

Dutch Braid Pin Up

I wore this style for 2-3 days. The older that it got the more romantic and causal it started to look. 

How To:
  1. Detangle and moisturize your hair.
  2. Split from ear to ear then create a side part. Create a large dutch braid on each side braiding to the end of each section. 
  3. Tease the crown of your hair for volume. 
  4. Using small sections, create finger curls, rolling up instead of under, then use a hair pin to secure.
  5. Repeat until all of hair is pinned up.
I'm deep conditioning my hair as I type this! I promise that you'll get a "real" shampoo-condition-style report next week!

How was your #washdayexperience?


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Happy Birthday SavingOurStrands + Top Stories of 2014

We're two years old!

What started as a way for Keyda and I to share our hair obsessed babble with each other has quickly turned into a force of the world's best followers, friends in our head, and fiercely fabulous hair junky partners in crime. We never---even in our wildest dreams---expected our pitiful little hair journeys to attract hundred's of followers or grab over 315,000+ page views from 10 countries across the global. Real talk---y'all are some serious ROCKSTARS. Thanks for allowing us to have a peek into your hair journeys and teeny tiny spot in your hearts.

We took a look back over the last 365 days and compiled a list of your favorite reads. Oh gosh, I can't wait to see what 2015 holds for #teampositivepixiedust!

Prospero Año y Felicidad!
KLP & Keyda

Friday, January 02, 2015

My #FitnessFriday 2014 Accomplishments

Committing to #FitnessFriday was one of my proudest accomplishments in 2014. I adore the #FitnessFriday gang! (Shout out to Ebony, Britt, Dani, and Lexi!) I'm not a naturally thin girl. I am addicted to chocolate. I have to put in sweat equity workouts every week if I want to stay in my skinny jeans. I didn't have official #FitnessFriday goals; I just wanted to stay motivated and try new things. Here are a few of the coolest #FitnessFriday things that I did in 2014:

Realizing how working out AND eating well helps my hair grow longer:

In all honesty, I'd rather sweat like a sinner in church while running 10 miles then deny myself good food. But good food doesn't have to be unhealthy food. I'm most certainly still a chocoholic, but knowing that there are foods that will keep my body strong and my hair healthy, encourages me to eat more of the good stuff and just a little of the bad stuff!

See Related: Foods That Shrink Your Waist and Grow Your Hair

I failed a juice detox:

I know...doesn't sound like an accomplishment right? Gimme a sec to explain. My first juice detox was an uttttterrr fail. I didn't own a juicer, I worked out too much, I just tried to do quit coffee and sweets at the same time. It was a miserable week for sure. I also learned what it felt like to be full, that I actually DO have will power, and how food affects my energy levels. Failing my detox + being gifted a juicer, inspired me to drink one green smoothie a day---a habit that I've kept for months!

See related: 5 Ways to Fail on a Juice Detox

I got a FitBit Zip:

I'm addicted to my FitBit Zip. I'm so addicted that I purchased one for my father in law and uncle so that I wouldn't be the only one addicted. Then we convinced 3 other family members to get one. These people are crazy competitive. I get text messages asking what my problem is when I don't nail my 10k a day step goal. As a family, we've lost a ton of weight. And last--but not least---I have a tangible way to track my all of my workout related activities, food, water intake, and weight. My FitBit definitely encouraged me to keep moving---even on vacation! If I lost my FitBit today---I'd buy another one ON.THE.SPOT. #dontjudgeme

See Related: How I Lost Weight On Vacation

Figuring out what to eat before...

AND after my workouts:

Eating too heavily before my workouts lead to an upset tummy. But when I don't plan appropriately, eating after my workouts completely undoes the hard work that I just put in. With the help of a trainer---and you guys--- I finally discovered a few mini-snacks that I could have that kept me full and focused!

See Related: What to eat before and after your workout

I'm super stoked for the possibilities that 2015 holds for us and #FitnessFriday! May we all remain committed and focused on being the best that we can be mentally, physically, and emotionally. If you haven't already joined the #FitnessFriday movement, we'd love to have you, support you, and sprinkle positive pixie dust on your goals!

KLP and the rest of the #FitnessFriday Fam!