Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It was meant to be...






I was meant to live in a castle-like mansion. I was meant to organize and host the country’s most elite parties. I was meant to have gold wallpaper and see for miles out of my bedroom window. I was meant to stroll through my conservatory at 3pm everyday. I was meant to have an indoor swimming pool.

I was meant to be a Vanderbilt.

Being a Vanderbilt....

This trip to Asheville, NC was unlike any other. Friends welcomed us into their home, we ate like royalty (without paying like one), and we learned what it means to be a Vanderbilt. We may be the couple that always travels on a small budget but that doesn’t mean you have to eat pb&j and sleep in your car. Sure we did sleep on an air mattress at a friend’s house but you don’t always have to have an upscale downtown hotel room to live like a Vanderbilt. I doubt the Vanderbilts ever slept on a floor in their life but they do know how to host friends and show them the finer things in life. Our friends did that for us in Asheville.

Our weekend started with dinner at Chai Pani (a renown Indian street-food restaurant). Oh. My. Gosh. I don’t care who you are...their Matchstick Okra Fries are the stuff. I need some right now. The next time I am in town that is right where I’ll be with my own order so I don’t have to share with anyone. Everything I ate there was fantastic but that is a must buy. Also, if you are into the whole gluten-free thing your options are almost limitless.

Next up, dessert of course. French Broad Chocolates I have not had hot chocolate like Laurie and I savored in Italy until now. They have a European hot chocolate that is heavenly. You can choose a ganache to go on top and I chose the maple and black sea salt I believe it is. Alright...yes ma'am.  How in the world they got me out of the door without buying half of the case of their gourmet chocolates I still don’t know. Sidenote, if you are in the mood to lounge and listen to live music or host a party sometime this is also the place to do it.

If you’re into the whole beer thing...the Thirsty Monk is one of the hot spots. We were a little off on timing and couldn’t get in because everyone else knows it is good too. Don’t worry though...there are plenty of places in town with a build your own six pack to take home.

Can you believe that was just the first five hours of our trip?!

The following day was oh so beautiful. In so many ways. The sun came out after icy weather and we, if for only a few hours, became Vanderbilts.

We started our day antiquing a bit. If you enjoy that at all, there are definitely outlets to appease your cravings. After a little shopping around we headed to lunch at The Village Wayside Bar & Grille. They have a little bit of everything; including some pretty fantastic onion rings. The restaurant is located in the old Biltmore train station. The occasional train passes through and the boy inside of every man has to leave the table to take a peek. We had some Greek and American dishes that were pretty fantastic. The location cannot be beat. There are high end shops nearby to enjoy and the Biltmore is merely minutes away.  

This is where the writing ends and photos begin. Our lovely friends were kind enough to share some free passes and allow me to become a Vanderbilt. Please take the time to become one yourself. Perks of going this time of year are no crowds or lines I am told. Perks of going in the Spring/Summer months are visible in the gardens. Perks of going during the Holiday season are the fireplaces and decor. -Alison McQuain










Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grand Cayman Dreams in an Icy Reality





As I am told of the impending doom of a potential ice storm I sit and ponder on my Grand Cayman Island days. I am not one to wish winter away--and I don’t think I am right now either--but today I dream of days in the hot sun, with the smell of sunscreen and the sounds of that sweet little horn announcing the arrival of the daily popsicle cart. So I thought, if I, the lover of all seasons in the South except Summer, am dreaming of warmer days you Fanciful people might be too. Here is to warmer thoughts. Enjoy. (Oh, and if you ever have the chance, you must visit Grand Cayman.) 
-Alison McQuain








Apparently Alison and I were imagining a little bit of warmth and a lot of bright sunshine because I put together this bright and colorful guide to make you smile warmly in a chilly January. I too love winter...but sometimes I just long for sunshine, waves and sand. 
-Laurie Montgomery





January Summer


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I heart you, V-Day!

Heart You







Hearts galore! I think it's nice that we take one day out of the year to really celebrate love. It doesn't even have to be love love. My dad and grandaddy send me flowers every year. I love that! They are the two men I've loved the longest so it's special. I like that single ladies can have a celebrated girls night on V-day...and that it's ok to consume chocolate because it's the holiday for it.
Lately, I've been trying to find joy in the things I'm not too fond of in hopes that I will like it. It worked with brussels sprouts, hot pink and now hearts as evident above. I used to not even consider brussels sprouts...now I love them (olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic...try it). I used to think hot pink made all blondes Barbie-fied so I didn't wear it. Now I do and it makes me feel empowered (and I love Barbie so who cares). I used to think hearts were incredibly cheesy. So now, I picked some favorite heart things and compiled them above for you. My favorite: that Wildfox sparkly heart shirt. Oh yeah.
By the way, next on my list to make myself like: cardio, reverse push ups and beets.

If you're looking for something fun and special for your lady, whether that is mom, best friend, sister, girlfriend, then I've got some nice ideas for you. It's all pink and a lot of it is Kate Spade so you can't really go wrong there. I have to say, my favorite is probably that black heart Bfrend bracelet though.


Valentine Gift Guide


Monday, January 21, 2013

Announcing Perfect Wedding Guide




I'm now a featured vendor on Perfect Wedding Guide! So, if you are a newly engaged lady, welcome to the site! There are many many more invitations and designs to go up on the gallery section that I am currently working on so stay tuned. I hope you enjoy perusing the site.
If you are a regular Fanciful reader, pass along this info to a bride you know! 
I'm very excited about this endeavor! Visit my PWG page!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Influences




As we wrap up this week of Fanciful Health, Fanciful You, I wanted to share with you the two things that jump started me into a healthier lifestyle. This is what worked for and what I stuck with-it may not be for you. I encourage to you find your health passion and create a well-designed life. 
I first started watching Tone It Up's free workout videos on YouTube. I look back and don't know how I found these ladies, but their hard working attitude and vivacious spirit made me want to get fit. I eventually bought their first DVD (later got the Beach Babe edition which I LOVE) and not long after bought the nutrition plan. The healthy, simple meals that were planned out was what really made me change my eating habits. I crave veggies now and prefer clean foods over a splurge of M&Ms. My body just learned to love real food more. The best thing was that I wasn't watching calories-just eating the right things at the right time of day. Trainers Karena and Katrina are constantly updating the diet plan to fit the season, releasing new FREE workouts on their site, and challenging members with new series. Jump in on the LOVE your Body Series gearing up for Valentine's Day now. 
And no, I was not asked to review their method, I just love it so much I wanted to share!



I had heard the hype about barre classes and finally decided to try it by buying a package of 5 classes through Groupon. I went to the first class and have to admit I was a little confused, but I was challenged, sore and really did feel a change. The next two classes made me feel better-I knew what was coming and started to know where I needed to connect in class. I wasn't going consistently, maybe once a week if even that. Even though I spread out those 5 classes, I could tell a major change in my body. I was more flexible, stronger, my metabolism was changing. I loved that I could go in and shut out the world for an hour and concentrate on my mind and body. I left feeling refreshed even though my muscles were exhausted. As time went on, I went to class more and more frequently, addicted to the way the workouts were reshaping my body simply by working the muscles in small, isometric movements. I finally got to the point where suddenly the fat was gone and in its place was toned muscle. Of course, I'm nowhere near the powerhouse of a lot of women that take these classes and there are still areas of my body I would like to improve but now I feel good. So good that I've stopped doing cardio (even though I should get back into it). Suzanne Bowen's Barre Amped method completely changed my workouts. I would even say it changed my life. I'm now a certified instructor at a new studio and hope that I can influence those that take my class to really love this method and embrace how good it makes you feel inside and out. I can't say enough about it. I'm so proud to be a part of the growth of this method because it yields quick results and boosts confidence. Tip: Suzanne Bowen now has streaming classes on her site if you don't have a studio near you. She. Is. Amazing. 


I encourage you to find what you love to do, stop making excuses and do it! Eat greener and leaner, push yourself to be healthier, don't rely on a scale for how you feel-look at your outward changes and your inward well being. It's just a number (and muscle weighs more than fat so it's not accurate of BMI) and you are far more than that. Start leading a fanciful, healthful well-designed life!



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fanciful Clean Eating


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Feel free to save as your own!




Today's post comes from Alison McQuain:

This entry is short and simple. Clean you could say. There is not a lot of information that needs to be thrown your way. I would suspect that I am just like a lot of you fanciful people. Clean eating? Is there anything to that? I have not been introduced to any steadfast facts or people in my life that adhere to clean eating...or so I thought. As Fanciful Ink continues the Fanciful Health Fanciful You week we thought it appropriate to shed some light on this lifestyle...and really, I wanted to know what Clean eating truly meant. I got some help from fellow-blogger, Tiffany, of The Gracious Pantry 

Clean Eating: A diet of all natural foods that came directly from the earth, bush or tree. This doesn’t mean no meat but avoid pre-packaged products; go directly to the butcher.

This seems pretty simple right? It is! The only hurdle to jump is adjusting your tastebuds and being prepared. I will not ever tell you that I am perfect or that a stop at Chik-fil-a or the occasional bag of chips doesn’t happen but living clean is something that my family is already doing without thinking too hard about it (for the most part of course). Here are a few need to know facts:

Clean eating does not have to be about weight loss. (But you will probably see a change without trying)

Clean eating is a lifestyle change.  You don’t have to go in head first, take little steps toward a clean eating life every day.

When eating out sauces are your worst enemy. Order plain meat and veggies without sauce or seasoning and ask for salads without dressing. Most restaurants will have oil and vinegar or lemons on hand to create your own clean dressing. Food for travel

Your enemies are usually in your pantry. If it didn’t fall or get uprooted it probably means that it will not fall within the lines of your clean eating habits.

Cook from scratch. This can be made very easy with the use of your crock-pot. Learn to be friends. Let it take care of your protein and do a quick saute or salad when you get home. Dinner is done.  

Clean eating does not have to be expensive. Eat seasonally. Enjoy your fresh berries and stone fruits in the summer months and freeze them when you find them on sale. Enjoy your citrus and leafy greens in the colder months. Watch for sales on frozen produce and check the labels for anything you can’t pronounce. (http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/eating-clean-budget/)

Try clean eating for a week or so and see if your energy levels don’t increase and your overall feeling improve. I dare you. For more information, tips or recipes visit The Gracious Pantry.

My favorite clean eating meals/snacks:

Breakfast:
Half an english muffin toasted, ¼- ½ avocado smashed on the muffin with a fried egg on top
Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
Oatmeal with honey and nuts


Lunch:
Mixed green salad with favorite toppings (any of these are good: tuna, grilled chicken, avocado, hard-boiled egg, raw nuts, sweet peppers, cucumber, olives, and many more)
Turkey, avocado and mixed greens wrap


Dinner:
Three bean chili with corn (feel free to add shredded chicken - great for cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot, making homemade stock for the soup broth and using some of the chicken to add to the chili/soup)
Honey garlic baked salmon with fresh steamed veggies
Veggie Lasagna with gluten free noodles (recently tried brown rice noodles and could not tell a difference - amazing.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Out With the Old, In With the New



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       I want to extend a warm welcome to a guest blogger today who is an exceptional human being. She loves fitness and health and all that that entails. She strives to be a healthier person every day and is an inspiration. I have had the privilege to get to know her through my day job as well as going through an apprenticeship as a Barre Amped instructor. We are both teaching at Serenite Fitness and have gotten to know one another quickly. I'm so glad she's there to support and cultivate healthy decisions. She is a long distance runner and offers us some insight on how to start running as well as simply making healthy life decisions starting now. 
May I present to you the lovely Beth Hayes


       As children we are taught to brush our teeth. It is not a habit that we innately arrive with. Throughout childhood and adolescence we may have resisted this practice because it didn’t seem fun, or provide any instant gratification. Yet, over time and through the years we all kept the brush moving over our teeth, every morning and every night (except maybe those late nights where night became morning :-)). Because of the time and consistency invested in brushing our teeth it became a habit, almost second nature. Since the strategy behind developing a tooth brushing habit was successful for most, why not take that same approach to health and fitness? So many messages are conveyed about seeing very fast results through crazy dieting and extreme exercise, yet what enduring habits are being formed through those methods? Likely, none.  Unhealthy eating, emotionally driven eating and habitual lethargy are behaviors that take years to develop. They won’t be sweated away in 90 days or sometimes even a year.  Daily decisions have to be consistently made to choose healthy habits and eventually the food and exercise battle will subside and healthy living will become second nature, just like brushing your teeth. The investment you have to make is a little time, A LOT of patience, and consistent actions taken to make a permanent positive change in your life, no matter how long it takes.
      Exercise, for most, is a cumulative engagement. It is an activity that begins in a small way and eventually evolves into something bigger.  It requires the time, patience and consistency mentioned above.  A perfect example of cumulative exercise is running. There are 500,000 marathon runners in the US each year. Many of us look at the idea of completing a marathon as an impossible aspiration. But, every single marathon finisher was only able to finish their race because of the first steps they took to get to the starting line, and thousands of those first steps involved walking. Again, if we take the concept of repetition and do small actions consistently, those actions will compound into something much greater than we thought ourselves capable of.
     Maybe make your first goal to do a mile. Walk the first quarter, speedwalk the second quarter, jog the 3rd quarter and try to run hard for the last quarter. Perhaps try doing this 4-5 times a week. You will start getting stronger after your first week so when the second week rolls around you may be able to turn your speedwalk segment into a jog. After 3 weeks you should easily be able to run jog/run a mile without stopping and that’s when you add more distance. You have to master a short distance and make it habitual before you attempt longer distances. You will be amazed at the stamina you’ll gain if you stay consistent and you will come to a point where you will want to push yourself a little more than the last run. As always, in everything in life, it’s not about how fast but how far you can go. How long can you maintain your healthy habits? Hopefully if you haven’t started yet, today you are on the starting line of a lifelong course of consciously choosing to be healthy. It’s an ongoing course leading you to the healthiest version of yourself that you can be.



To download the above motivational graphic, right click, save wherever you would like to keep it. It is yours! If you choose to use it elsewhere please credit Fanciful Ink. If you wish to purchase a print, please contact me at fancifulink@gmail.com

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fanciful Health Tips for Fanciful YOU!




This blog began as an exploration of design, then quickly advanced into more of a lifestyle blog. The good design of life was what I focused on because design is all around us-in fashion, interiors, products we are drawn to in the grocery store, the list goes on and on. I like to find inspiration in all of it and surround myself in the beauty of the small things. Those things are what makes us happy and makes us feel good. 
As 2013 is now in full swing, feeling good is top priority. I challenge you to take control of how you feel in a healthful new way. Maybe you already are in shape and eat healthy, so take it to the next level of trying something new and expanding your knowledge. If you have been thinking about eating better, do it! The decision has to be yours though. Once I decided to be healthier, I loved that decision. It led to so many other areas of contentment in my life. I'm not sure where you are in your quest for a fanciful, healthful you but I wanted to share my daily tips with you just to jump start this week's "Fanciful Health, Fanciful You" series. 



Eat foods that are as close to coming from the earth as possible. 

Try to invest in organic produce, because it's as close as farm fresh in a grocery store. If you don't want to pay a little extra for organic, make sure you get an organic fruit and veggie cleaner and clean them thoroughly. If the sticker is a five digit code beginning with a 0 or is a 4 digit code, it is conventionally grown. Just be sure to clean them well before eating. If a sticker has 5 digits beginning with a 9, it is organically grown (clean those too of course). If it has 5 digits beginning with 8, it is genetically modified, so stay away from that one! 

Check the nutrition information and the ingredients. If you can't pronounce an ingredient, hesitate to buy it. If there are may be two ingredients you can't pronounce, it's likely okay. You should know what is going in your body without having to google it. 

Take a trip to the farmer's market. You will be helping out the local economy and eating better at the same time. 

If you have plans for eating out, look at the menu in advance so you know what you want. When you get to the restaurant, you don't have to look at the menu to be tempted to get something not as healthy or be deterred by a friend who is splurging. 

Don't venture into the depths of the grocery store. The healthiest things are on the perimeter…produce, meats, eggs. Go in with a list and a time constraint so you don't shop around aimlessly and you get out of there and on to your next task efficiently. That will save money too if you go in with a plan and get only what you need!

Prepare your own meals. This way you know how it's being done and what goes into it. Lots of veggies don't even need much, just a little olive oil, salt and pepper and some spices to punch it up if you want to. Never heat olive oil higher than medium heat, you lose the nutritional benefits.

Don't deprive yourself of the things you love. Simply don't indulge in it all the time either. You can have cheat meals, just don't have entire cheat days. If a recipe calls for a stick of butter, use the real thing or substitute for an organic butter or coconut oil. If you want cheese dip at the Mexican restaurant, go for it, just make sure your main dish has lots of veggies in it rather than slathered in cheese. 

I try to stick to having dairy in the morning, a piece of fruit mid-morning, a healthy lunch where I can eat healthy chips (LOVE Pop chips or blue corn tortilla chips with flax seed in them). Sometimes I'll allow myself a treat during lunch since I'll have the rest of the day to burn it off. My afternoon snack is usually a good fat like nuts or a protein bar if I'm working out later (Luna, Clif, Think Thin, Kind and Larabars are my faves). Dinner is a good protein like chicken, turkey or fish, sautéed or broiled veggies or sweet potato (sometimes a regular potato but not often, try to avoid starches late in the day). 

Track yourself. Get a Fit Bit or something like that where you can see how many calories you're burning or how far you've gone so you are aware. In the same respect, keep track of what you eat (you can do this on Fit Bit's dashboard) and realize what you have to put out for what you put in to balance it out. 

Find your fitness. Try new things until you find what works for you. I started out with Tone It Up-their workouts are awesome, and their nutrition plan is worth the investment because you get a lifetime of recipes that are good and healthy and don't require a lot from you other than shopping well and sticking to it. Then I found Barre Amped and I was sold. My body changed even more and I love this method so much that I'm now teaching it. I co-taught the other day and wore a heart rate monitor. I didn't go full out in my work out but still burned over 400 calories in one hour. Find something you are passionate about and you will enjoy getting fit, even if it's taking your dog for a longer walk. 


Friday, January 11, 2013

It's Black and White





Black and white, back to basics. Both are equal amounts of elegant while being complete opposites. The opposing, yet perfect, combo can be simple or bold. The pair holds so much power for just two colors. This is across the board too-think of it in a home, on your body, on a billboard, a piece of mail, a lamp, a shoe, a tie...the list goes on and on. As long as it is done right, it is classic and perfect (much like that inspiring and elegant invitation above that just makes me swoon).



Simple and inviting in a dining area.





A black and white wedding done right.





Paired with gold for a stately dinner party.





Anthropologie's beautiful gift card holder adds interest.





Timeless in a bedroom, especially with the black boldness on the wall.

Source: herblog.com via Laurie on Pinterest




...and always stilettos.

 

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