Sunday, July 31, 2016

Snack Easy Series #3

You didn't think I forgot about you, did you? Of course, not! I had to bring you July's Snack Easy round up. I planned to get this in earlier, but this month has been super hectic and virtually nonexistent. Yesterday it was the 4th of July and today it's July 31st. I'm convinced the weeks in between didn't actually happen. Why is time moving so fast?? 

Anyway, I had to come through for you this month because I've got some really good stuff on the list to share. For this month's round up, we've got a fiber-packed granola bar, a string cheese, fig crisps, a Chobani flip yogurt, and an almond butter. Check out my thoughts on each below:

Trader Joe's Rolled Oats & Chocolate Chips Fiberful Granola Bars
Bought at: Trader Joe's
Price: $2.69
Repeat Purchase: (Yes, many, many, many, many, many times)
These are my bread and butter as far as breakfast staples go and I realized they could also make a great snack. My immediate older sister put me on to these a few years ago and I've been hooked ever since. I remember the first time she told me about them. I scrunched my face up when I saw the box. You want me to try a chocolate fiber bar?? Isn't that like eating chocolate covered cardboard? No thanks. But eventually I caved and was almost instantly a fan. On the mornings that I do have my Kashi cereal for breakfast, I always have one of these bars with it. I end up looking like a hoarder whenever I go to Trader Joes because I always buy like 5 or 6 boxes at a time (I live between 20-25 minutes away from the nearest TJs so I  go once a month and stock up). God help me if Trader Joes decides to discontinue these. As you can tell from the name these have a huge amount of fiber, they're chocolate covered, and really tasty. What more could you ask for?! One of these and you're already a third of the way toward meeting your daily fiber requirement. Gotta keep things moving and grooving:) I've probably bought well over 100 boxes since my sis introduced me to them.

Wisconsin Pepperjack String Cheese
Bought at: Walmart

Price: $2.98
Repeat purchase: Yes
It's hard to believe I have a string cheese on the list. As a kid, the only time you could even think about getting me to eat cheese was when it came melted on top of nachos or with macaroni and cheese. I've definitely come to the dark side! This pepper jack string cheese is really good. One stick has five grams of protein and only 80 calories. I've purchased this several time since I first bought it because it tastes quite good, it's well-priced, and it's a pretty healthy snack. Bonus points for string cheese being fun to eat.

Big Spoon Roasters Almond Ginger Butter
Repeat Purchase: Yes
Purchased at: Whole Foods

Price: $13.99
I hate peanut butter but almond butter is my jam. I love my AB & J sandwiches as another breakfast option when I want to switch things up. Some months ago, I found out about this local nut butter company based in Durham and when I saw they had an almond ginger butter I knew I needed to try it. I spotted it in Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and quickly scooped it up. This was delicious with sliced bananas and a drizzle of honey as a healthier sweet treat (try it!). Also, for any fellow AB&J sandwich lovers out there, these help to elevate them to next level status. I had it with a peach pepper ginger jam and it was really good. Compared to other nut butters like Justin's (which I love) this is not as sweet, but it does have these crystallized chunks of ginger throughout though that provide little bursts of sweetness. It's not the cheapest of jars but almond butter tends to last me a while because I'm usually only using one tablespoon at a time on toast or with fruit. Nutritionally, I love the ingredient list. It's simple with things I recognize and love - ginger, almonds, and sea salt. If you're in North Carolina, you may be able to find one of these in your local Whole Foods. If not, they are available for purchase online. 

Chobani Flip Pear & Honey
Bought at: Harris Teeter
Price: $1
Repeat Purchase: Nope
Typically Chobani flips have all of these crazy mix ins, which are great, but the simplicity of this one caught my eye - pear and honey. How can you go wrong with that combo? Unfortunately, this one missed the mark. I was pretty surprised by it too because Chobani usually always comes through. Even with the pear and honey add-ins this was way too bland. I got these for one dollar at Harris Teeter, but I'm pretty sure that was the sale price. You could probably doctor this up by adding some jams but at that point you might as well just buy the plain version. Nutritionally, it's a solid snack though. One serving has 11 grams of protein and only 140 calories. Even with the good price and nutritional deets I just can't get past its blandness. I definitely won't be buying this one again.

Bonus opinion: Yesterday, I had a practice writing session for my comprehensive exams and my writing partner had just bought some of these. She was about to try them for the first time, and I told her I wanted to hear her thoughts first before I colored her expectations. After one bite, she agreed that it was too bland. Back to the drawing board Chobani.

Kii Naturals Fig & Black Sesame Crisps with Golden Flax Seeds
Bought at: World Market
Price: $4.99
Repeat purchase: Yes
Sometime last year I stumbled across these fig crisps at World Market and fell in love. They're awesome on their own, but they're also badass with either a jam or a pepper jelly and some goat cheese or brie. Nutritionally, these are neutral. They don't have much of the good stuff (protein or fiber), but they also don't have much of the bad stuff (saturated fat, sodium, or added sugar) either. These would make a great party appetizer, snack, or a side to soups or sandwiches. I love a versatile purchase. Price wise they're middle of the road - not cheap but not terribly expensive either. As a result, I would (and have) bought these again, but I don't get them often.

Happy Sunday!

See you guys next month (which is like tomorrow).

P.S. Today I can officially say my comps start next week!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Cocktail Dress and Chicken Wings

When I packed for Clearwater my suitcase was full. I had no plans or need to do any shopping. When we get there, my sister told me she didn't have a bathing suit and you can't very well come to a beach town without one. Well, we ended up at Ross and long story short, I think you no where this is going. I ended up buying two tops, a pair of shorts, a maxi dress, and a really cute cocktail dress for a total of about $50. Crazyyyy! In fact, I've already posted outfit pics of the gray maxi dress.

Together the shorts and the top in these pictures were about $16. You just can't beat those prices.
The combo was so cute that I opted to wear it instead of one of the other outfits I packed.

I loved wearing this. I'm always down for a little print mixing:) Plus it was super lightweight which was my top priority for anything I wore in Clearwater.

While I loved everything I bought, it definitely presented a challenge when it came time to leave and pack my suitcase. You should have seen me at the airport! Between the extra clothes and some of the leftover food, my bags were stuffed. I survived though. With my chicken wings and the new cocktail dress I got at Ross in tow!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I Spot a Lavender Wall

I couldn't very well leave Clearwater without finding some colorful wall or backdrop to take some outfit shots against. As we were driving around town we spotted this beautiful lavender wall, and my sis was kind enough to put on her photographer hat and snap some shots:)

Shades: Target, Dress: Macy's, Bangle: Thrifted, Shoes: Steve Madden

My comprehensive exams are two weeks from tomorrow. Ahhhh! I'm nervous but it's an excited kind of nervous. I'm feeling pretty good at this stage. There's still more articles to read and more practice writing sessions to complete, but I feel like I'll be prepared come August 8th. Pray for me though!

Hope you're having a sunny Sunday wherever you are:)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"Snapchat" Beach Chic in Clearwater

I spotted this headband at Walmart in Clearwater and gravitated toward it for some reason. When my sister saw it she said it looks like the Snapchat filter. Now that I've finally caved and joined Snapchat (check me out: abitofchi), I must say I agree.
It fit perfectly with my bathing suit and cover up. I loved this look. I felt like the ultimate 70's beach, flower child. All that was missing was a tambourine:)
Cover up: Nordstrom, Bikin: Asos, Headband: Walmart
It was so relaxing watching the sunset. There was a nice breeze, the temperature was perfect, and there weren't many people out there at all. It was so hard to pull ourselves away.
Take me back!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Clearwater Outfit Day 1

To say Clearwater was humid would be an understatement! I've never done bikram yoga before, but I think I'm much better prepared for it after having gone to Clearwater. The air was dense. Fortunately when I was packing I figured as much and opted for loose, flowy, and breathable clothing.
For the first day, I wore this sheer leopard dress that I got from TJ Maxx a few years ago. Usually I wear the dress buttoned up with the belt it came with around the waist and a black bodysuit underneath. Well this time I forgot to pack the belt. I didn't like it as much without the belt, so I opted to leave it open. I ended up loving the look. Happy fashion accident.

I felt so beachy!

Check back throughout the week to see what else I wore:)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Clearwater Food Fest - A Diner, Brick Oven Pizza, & Jamaican Eats

I had some really (really) good food in Clearwater. Check out some of the food highlights below:)

Maggie Mae's
Thanks to Comedians in Cars Getting coffee (if you haven't heard of it check it out, it's genius), my sister had a hankering for some good ol' fashioned diner breakfast food. Since I am by default always game for breakfast food, diner food it was. Maggie Mae's fit the bill. It's waterfront location meant we could enjoy the view as we dined on pancakes, sausages, eggs, and biscuits.

Any restaurant that has several people waiting outside is typically a good sign, so by all accounts our expectations were high. It took us about 45 minutes to get a table. In the end, the food was yummy and super affordable. About $20 for all the food pictured (minus tip). They only serve pancakes until 12 though (don't ask me why), so if you have a hankering for some hotcakes you need to get there early!

Cristino's Coal Brick Oven Pizza
For dinner one night we ended up trying this pizza spot called Cristino's. Everything about this place was perfect - from the decor and vibe, to the service, and best of all the food.
Oh my goodness. Best pizza I've had to date. We'll get there in a second though. Let's talk about appetizers first. My sister ordered the calamari because she'd been having a hankering for some and I got the pan tossed crispy garlic wings served with a bed of carmelized onions on top and a blue "cheesy" type dressing.
For the main meal we got a large pizza and did half Quattro Formaggio and half Bianca. The Quattro Formaggio was my favorite. PHEnomenal. The Bianca pizza was really good as well.
They bring out samples of some of their gelato for everyone, which was a great marketing ploy because as soon as we tasted it, we knew we had to get some. I got the cheesecake and almond gelato and my sister got strawberry and almond.

Rumba Island Grill

My food was delicious at Rumba Island Grill (although the service left much to be desired). Usually when you tell your server you need a minute to decide, oh I don't know, they actually give you a minute to decide. Every 30 seconds he kept popping back over to our table asking us if we knew what we wanted. Really? Maybe we would be further along in deciding if you didn't interrupt our thought process every two seconds.
Anyhow, I knew of at least one thing for sure that I was getting. In fact, I had known before we even got to the restaurant. It was their Jamaican jerk grilled chicken wings with cranberry jerk and mango bbq sauces. Those sauces had me sold. The real question was what sides was I going to get.
I ended up going for their cranberry cornbread stuffing and the crab mac n cheese. While I had high hopes for the mac n cheese, it wasn't my favorite. The cranberry cornbread stuffing was delicious though.
Typically if I have leftovers when I travel and I don't finish them before I leave, I'll just throw them away, but the wings were too good to waste. I traveled back with them and had them for dinner the next evening. That's commitment.

Clearwater outfits coming next!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Chi Travels to Clearwater

A few weeks back I was in Clearwater, Florida for a social marketing conference. Can we pause for a moment and celebrate the genius of choosing a beach front location for a conference? Why isn't everybody doing this?? I must admit though that it made it hard to focus on the presentations knowing that the beach was literally just a few steps away. As I caught a shuttle to the hotel on the first day, I saw a sign that said Clearwater is the #1 beach in the US. Whether it still holds that title I don't know, but the gorgeous views are undeniable.

My sister met me there so once my presentation was done, we made a mini vacay out of it and it was exactly what I needed. We had such a good time laughing, eating good food, and hanging out by the beach. Comps preparation have been extremely stressful and I was feeling so burned out. This trip really helped me recharge. Ever since I got back I've been much more productive, more focused, and more optimistic. Note to self: beach trips are good for your health. I ended up taking tons of pics of the views, the delicious food we ate, and some of my outfits.

Check out some of the beautiful views below.

This was the view from our hotel...take me back!
Stay tuned for shots of the food and outfits:)