Saturday, February 25, 2017

Naturebox: Snack Subscription Box that's actually worth it!

Does anyone else find a subscription, a new product, a new place that they are so excited about they can barely contain themselves? This is absolutely me and that is exactly what I want to do today. FYI – Everything said is my own opinion; I am not being compensated in any way with what I write today so hopefully that appeases any thoughts of a biased opinion!
In general, I am always looking for quick, easy, healthy alternatives to curb my mid-afternoon munchies. Last month, a friend introduced me to NatureBox, a subscription snack box that gets delivered directly to your door. I checked out the website and immediately wanted to order one of everything since it looked so good! 
© 2017 NatureBox. All Rights Reserved. Privacy & Terms.
Before I dive in to our personal experience, I want to give a little background information on how Naturebox works. Although this is a subscription box, there is no commitment, meaning you can cancel anytime. The monthly membership costs $5 but goes directly to any order you make that month. Don’t want to order that month? Then that will just roll over to the next month. The account credits expire after 12 months so there is no rush to make sure they get used right away. Ordered something, took one bite, & hated it? Tell them! They will credit your account if you don’t like a snack you received. Want to know more? Check out their website!
Okay so let’s get going with my experience! My friend sent me a link to use for $20 off your first order, you can get yours HERE! I was pretty excited & consulted Stephen about what we wanted to order first (really I was going to get whatever I wanted but you know you have to be like a “team player” when you’re in a relationship, ughhh eye roll lol). Below is our first order! I tried to get a good mixture salty and sweet snacks but I tend to always lean more toward sweet :)
As you can see from our list, we got a good range of items and I couldn’t wait to try them all. When I initially ordered, a week went by and the tracking had still not been updated. I was discouraged but contacted customer service through the chat feature on their website. **Disclaimer: I despise, yes despise, contacting any customer service department because I know this means I will get transferred half a million times & will be dealing with the situation for at least an hour, so I avoid doing such things like the plague** But to my surprise within about 10 minutes of “chatting”, they apologized and were sending me email confirmation of a replacement box order (no charge to me). One of the items I had originally ordered was out of stock so I got to pick a different snack to replace it AND they credited my account for the full price of the item (not just the sale price that I had paid)! This was personally one of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever had and would have no problem contacting them again if an issue arose.
We received our snacks about 4 business days later, & everything looked so fresh. I opened a few right then & we sampled them. I was very pleased with the choices we made but we definitely had favorites and not so favorites. Stephen’s favorite was "hands down" the Peanut Butter Nom Noms (basically just super yummy no bakes), which surprised me since I thought he would love the jerky! He did love the jerky but the nom noms were just so ooey gooey that they won him over!
My absolute favorite was the Crispy Coconut Squares. I love coconut so I opened those first and was not at all surprised when I looked down and only had 3 left (hehe oops). They are exactly what their name eludes to, crispy toasted coconut. The flavor is perfectly sweet but not too much so. I will definitely order these again on our next order.
If you want a starting point other than what I mentioned above then I would say these would be round out my top five after the two favorites mentioned above.
Crème Brulee Peanuts: This was the perfect pairing of sweetness for a peanut. The flavor is great and they are crunchy & sweet making them the ultimate afternoon snack!
Hickory Smoked Turkey Jerky: We tried both beef & turkey jerky but the turkey won me over! It was so tender and the hickory smoke flavor was perfect! We will be ordering the larger amount next time!
Dried Mango: I will admit that I was skeptical about this one because as much as I love the flavor of mango, I’m not actually a huge fan of the texture. It was chewy and delicious though! Don’t think “dehydrated” aka crunchy “chips” like I did because this is what I would consider fruit “leather” aka a fruit roll up texture.
What didn’t we like? The Sea Salt Pop Pops. It isn’t that they weren't good, but they were just a little too much sea salt for me. If you love salty treats, these may be perfect for you though. Don't forget about the "worry free" ordering; if you don't like them, get a credit for something else to try!
We will definitely be ordering again and what’s on my list? These suckers right here just to name a few!
I'm sure you are curious about how much this all costs. You get a glimpse above but for my entire first order, taxes, & shipping, I only paid $16 and change! That did include my credit but I got a lot of goodies that would have cost much more at a store even without the credit. I suggest giving it a try at least once since you don't pay membership the first month either! 
Have any other questions about any of the snacks that were part of my order that I didn’t detail? Feel free to ask! I would love talk about what I liked or didn’t like and hopefully give some insight if you are thinking about making an order. If you want to just try it out for a month, use this LINK to get $20 off your first order! Can’t beat that for a first try!
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Simple Date Night Outfit: Valentine's Day

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! I enjoyed a relaxing evening at home on the actual night of and made dinner for us. Don’t worry though, I did get to have my night out in celebration with a cute little date night outfit! We had dinner at Benihana – an amazing Hibachi restaurant & enjoyed a movie (John Wick: Chapter 2 – which did not disappoint, action packed start to finish)! When it comes to date night outfits for me, I am more of a comfy casual gal with the exception of my shoes. My shoes are the one piece of my outfit that is always chosen on appearance and not comfort. That’s just the price we pay for fashion ladies! I don’t always know what S is going to have in store for me when he plans a date night out so I have to be prepared for practically anything.
For obvious reasons, I chose a shade of red for the centerpiece of my look. This dress from Old Navy is one of my favorites! I am always looking for simple, comfortable pieces that can be paired with both Toms & Louboutins (currently swooning over these wedges)! That is priority one when finding staple pieces for my wardrobe. I like this particular dress so much because of the longer, elbow length sleeves. Old Navy also has a super cute midi-dress that is more form fitting & very flattering that I love pairing with booties.
I honestly could not recall where I picked up the pretty lace blazer but I found a similar one here. I wear this blazer ALL the time. It’s my favorite piece to throw on with a simple shirt, jeans, & top knot. I live in top knots, which is probably one reason why my hair never grows :/
I completely forgot to snap a good pic the day of but rocked them at work this week :)
My favorite piece of this outfit are these Caged Animal Print Pumps. They are my favorite not only because they are adorable & comfortable – I love a good animal print accessory – but because I paid a whopping $5 on them! I love Christian Siriano’s line for Payless. All the pieces are higher fashion looks but at extremely affordable prices. On top of the already low prices, Payless seems to always be having some kind of sale. I got this pair along with another great staple pair of gray pumps for only $20 during a BOGO including clearance sale (these were on clearance for $10 but are currently just $15).
I'm weird so you will probably never see a "normal" selfie of me LOL
Lips | Mascara | Cheeks | Face
Last but definitely not least are all my jewelry picks! I love Kendra Scott & the fact that the necklaces are so stackable. Both necklaces were Christmas gifts. The arrowhead was from my SIL & the longer necklace was from S. The Danielle earrings I wear constantly, I just love them so much. The pearl white is my favorite and goes with everything! The rose gold watch is a simple (and fairly cheap) BKE watch that picked up a few years ago.
Hope everyone had a lovely LOVE day & every day that is. I'm going to get better at these outfit posts but this will do for now! XOXO
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Strawberries & Cream Cookie Bars: Valentine's Day Treat

Happy Valentine’s (Galentine’s) Day to all of you!! I wanted to share a quick recipe that I whipped together last minute for a delicious V-day dessert! I love strawberries, & this recipe is so good. Since we do not typically celebrate/go out for dinner on the actual holiday, I like to cook a meal and dessert for us to enjoy together on the actual holiday. A lot of the time, we will cook and bake our meal together. For this dessert since I was experimenting and relatively had no plan in place, I let him enjoy some quality time with his other love, his PS4 Pro (a new addition to the family – eye roll).
Let’s be honest, I told him I made this for “us” but I really made it for me and decided it would be rude not to share. The idea for this dessert came from my love of all sweets – haha – said every girl ever. This recipe is easy and simple even for an inexperienced baker, perfect for impressing that special somebody – or even taking it along for your Galentine’s night! I want to jump right in to this recipe so you can enjoy your day of love!

Strawberry Cream Cookie Bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes                   Cook Time: 10 minutes                  Yields: about 24 bars

1 roll of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
¾ cup of powdered sugar
¾ cup of Cool Whip
6 oz cream cheese
1lb fresh strawberries, diced
10 oz of strawberry glaze

1. In an ungreased 12 x 9 baking sheet/pan, press the cookie dough.  Create a small lip around the sides of the pan. Bake per the directions cookie dough directions. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
2. Blend cream cheese, powdered sugar, & cool whip until smooth. I used a hand mixer for about 1 minute & that worked perfectly.
3. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the cookie crust, using the entire mixture.
4. Layer the diced strawberries over the cream cheese mixture.
**This step can be done numerous ways. The strawberries can be large slices or diced as I have shown above. Also, the amount of strawberries is up to you. We love strawberries so I used a full pound minus 2 strawberries for the garnish.
5. Spread the glaze over the top using a spatula to evenly distribute.
6. ENJOY with your love!

                Once again, I really hope you have a wonderful day with your loved ones, your gal pals, your pups, or even your independent self! This day is about love, so love yourself & enjoy a delicious treat!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Basically Shrimp Pasta - Quick & Easy Dinner for Two

I swear this year is flying by! One of the goals that I had for myself this year was to cook more meals at home. I am REALLY good about baking treats, like really good, but cooking meals is a whole other story! Since I am a lover of seafood, I thought I’d make a dish I made for myself quite often while I was single & living in Oklahoma City. Once I moved cities after graduating, I started dating S and like any new relationship, or an explorer of a new city, you go out to eat and try new things together.  The amount of me cooking at home dropped drastically and now it is time to dust off some old recipes and see what he thinks of them!
This recipe is relatively basic & doesn’t require a whole lot of skill! Since it is a basic pasta dish, you can add so many more things such as veggies or spices to give it some pizazz! I’m going to give you the nitty gritty of the recipe but make it your own, that is what cooking is all about! I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I “followed” a recipe. I typically look at it and think okay, I’m going to add less of that, more of that, and add this instead of that. I encourage you to do the same! That’s enough of me jabbering on, let’s get to the recipe!

Basically Shrimp Pasta <--See what I did there *wink*
Prep Time: 2-3 minutes                 Cook time: 15-20 minutes            
Serves: 2 (Perfect for Valentine’s Day!)
10 oz pasta (Spaghetti, fettucine, linguini)
10 oz shrimp – peeled, deveined, & tails off (I used “extra small” frozen but you can also use raw)
1 cup sour cream (I use light to cut down on fat)
1.5 tbsp butter (Country Crock is my preference)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
Optional – 1 tbsp gorgonzola cheese

1. Since I used frozen shrimp this time, you’ll need to thaw the shrimp. You can do this as an overnight thaw but I don’t plan ahead like that. If you’re like me then place the shrimp in a strainer & run underneath cool water for about 3 minutes, rotating the shrimp to reach all sides, & set aside.
2. Cook the pasta according to the instructions. I used Barilla Spaghetti and boiled it for 11 minutes; I like softer pasta more so than al dente.
3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on medium until the butter is melted and mixed well with the oil, about 2 minutes. I started this step about 3 minutes after adding my pasta to the boiling water.
4. Add the shrimp to the oil & butter mixture, cook for about one minute then add Tony Chachere’s. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes.
5. Stir in garlic, salt, & pepper. Gradually add the sour cream until blended.
6. Add the parmesan cheese (& gorgonzola if desired – I love the flavor it brings, but gorgonzola is an acquired taste) & stir until everything is well blended. Remove from heat.
7. Serve sauce over pasta and garnish with chives or parsley if desired.
*Serve quickly as the sauce does separate some after sitting.

                If you wanted to do so, it would be quite easy to add some precooked veggies to the mix after step 5.  The next time I make this recipe I will add carrots and broccoli to add some color!  This was a hit last night in our house & S said he would definitely want me to make it again for him, which is a huge win! Let me know if you try this and like it! 
For those cooking for your Valentine, good luck! I hope everything goes off without a hitch for you. XOXO

Friday, February 3, 2017

Time sure flys, let's catch up: Instagram Style

February, really? I cannot believe that January has come and gone. Mean Mr. Punxsutawney Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow yesterday morning, which I’m pretty sure puts him on the naughty list for Christmas this year. I mean yeah, it’s early to be on the naughty list, but that was just rude! Surely I am not the only one ready for summer time, vacations, boats, & relaxation, right? Didn’t think so! Travel plans for 2017 are almost finalized and I’m ready to jump into some fun! Any big travel plans for you this year?
I feel like my last post back in January started out similar to this but I was seriously MIA from the blog last month and I’m very sorry everyone! Sometimes life has other plans & those plans kept me extremely busy with work, play, and everything in between! Since I was so absent recently from the blog, I really wanted to check in with everyone & give them a Basically Joy update. You know the usual stuff i.e. have an IG roundup, let you know what is coming up this month on Basically Joy, & just to say hey girl heeyyyyy!
                A large majority of my time this last month has been spent getting my rear handed to me with the workouts my friend/personal trainer, Delani, designed for me. If you haven’t yet, go check out her YouTube channel or Instagram for some great fitness tips, workouts, etc! In conjunction with Delani’s workouts, I am also finishing up the Dietbet hosted by Brandi Laughlin this upcoming week.  It has been so much fun & I always love the support I get from everyone that joins her Dietbets! My work outs have been going great but I really need to kick my diet into high gear this month – and that is the plan! Round 2 of “Delani Kicks my Butt” starts on Monday & strangely, I am looking forward to it! At the beginning of next month (MY BIRTHDAY MONTH), I am hoping to give my first update/results of how everything is going. I am excited and nervous to see what progress I’ve made with my body since I haven’t checked my body inches since I began the process! Fingers crossed everyone!
               This month on Basically Joy, I am planning on keeping up with all that life entails which also means several upcoming posts!  And what all will I be sharing this month you ask? Excellent question! A little bit of what will be happening this month includes some great recipes, some healthy & some maybe not so much, great deals on fashion, beauty reviews  from my January & February Ipsy glambags, & so much more! I do hope that January treated everyone well and that February does as well! Until we chat again, check out my IG roundup below & follow along with me on IG to stay up to date with all my fun! 

BCBGeneration Pumps, Old Navy Jeans, Kate Spade Purse, Rip Curl Sweater

DSW Boots, Old Navy Dress

Delicious English Muffins with Dark Chocolate Almond Butter, Strawberries, & Coconut

UA Running Shoes, Bp.Leggings

Plaid heels, Old Navy Pants, Similar top, Fitbit

Christian Siriano Heels, Old Navy Jeans, Similar Nordstrom Top, Kate Spade Purse

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quick & Easy Bacon & Egg Muffins: Breakfast on the Run!

Hey you guuuuyyyysss!! If you don’t get that Goonies reference, I’m not sure that we can be friends – go watch it right now people! Anyway – can you believe that we are practically halfway through January already?! Like what?!?! One of my New Year resolutions, or more so goals, for myself this year was to focus on making my life all around healthier.  That means not only physically but financially, emotionally, and spiritually.  I took the last week or so to get everything in order for me to complete those goals. Big things will be happening for me this year and how do I know that? I am going to MAKE them happen and that’s how I know!

                On the healthy goal of things, I joined a Dietbet that Brandi Laughlin aka “Mama Laughlin” is hosting.  I have been following here for years on IG and she is inspirational, giving, and fun!  For her dietbet, she is giving away so many prizes including a couple of Fitbits!  If you were considering ever doing a Dietbet, the bet she is hosting is definitely the way to go – you can sign up HERE! As I mentioned previously I have begun working with a friend/personal trainer to achieve my fitness goals, but you can’t eat crap and make up for it in the gym! I wanted to share a hearty, yet quick and easy go to recipe of mine.

                First, let me start off by saying that I LOVE BACON. I am not picky about what brand, flavor, or how it is cooked. Bacon is also very paleo friendly, yummy for me! The recipe that I have for you today is a very easy Bacon & Egg Muffin recipe. You can honestly add anything to these that you want but I typically just do the down and dirty basics while occasionally adding cheese for the mister. Adding spinach, peppers, onions, etc will just add to the amazing flavor but I know some picky eaters (like possibly the individual that wrote this) that don’t necessarily like all the extras!

I first made this recipe as a birthday breakfast for my boyfriend.  I wanted bacon and eggs but bacon is such a beast to make and usually causes the entire house to smell “fatty” for the rest of the day, or next two, as well as a mess to clean up with all the grease. I now make these quite often and enjoy them for meals over the following days with just a pop in the microwave! Okay, okay, let’s make these already!

Bacon & Egg Muffins
Prep Time: 5 mins            Cook time: 25 mins          Yields: 11 muffins
8 eggs
1 tbs Almond/Coconut Milk – optional
1 package Bacon – Hormel Applewood Thick Slices
½ tbs Parsley, finely chopped
Vegetable oil spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Very lightly spray the inside of the muffin tin with vegetable oil spray, or whatever type you prefer to use. I have made these without any spray and they were just a hair more difficult to remove from the pan.  The oil/fat from the bacon tends to help prevent any sticking.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs & parsley and whisk together. Add the salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly.
4. This is when you could add anything else that you want! Examples: mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, sausage, bacon crumbles etc.
5. Next, add the almond milk to the egg mixture and set aside. This step is optional but I love the extra fluffiness that comes when I add a little almond milk to my eggs but you don’t have to add it or you can use dairy milk if you’d like!
6. Line the muffin tin with the bacon strips.  They will overlap some but that is A Okay!
7. Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tins about halfway – 2/3 full. Make sure to evenly distribute your eggs so that you don’t run out before you fill all your tins! Go back and add any extra egg mixture to the muffins after all have been filled.
8. Place on middle rack of the oven for 25-27 minutes. Exactly 25 minutes seems to work perfectly for how I like my bacon but make it your own and adjust the time depending on how soft or crispy you like your bacon to be.
9. Remove from oven and enjoy!

                These are perfect for mornings you are in a rush and have them premade, which is what I did this morning actually! Pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and you can enjoy them on the go! I hope you enjoy these and you put your own spin on them with the ingredients.  Let me know what you tried in them and loved because I would love to hear it! I also pin my recipes on Pinterest, I'd love for you to follow along on pinning journey haha :)
Friday, December 30, 2016

NYE: My Plans for a Wild & Crazy Night (In)

Happy last Friday of 2016!  Can you believe how fast this year flew by? I am ready to conquer 2017 with some new goals to accomplish and dreams to make a reality. So since NYE is upon us… (tomorrow!!) I thought that I would share the gorgeous, classy outfit that I will be wearing this NYE and the exciting event that I will be attending.
Yeah, those are leggings, Star Wars socks, and my pup, Maverick, snuggling with me in bed. Be jealous. Haha okay, so maybe I’m not doing anything “fancy” for NYE but I’m fine with it. I have NYE traditions that I feel like I enjoy more than going out.  Maybe this is a sign of an old soul, but I believe I’ve only been out for NYE one time and it was enh, so I will stick with my NYE in. I imagine tomorrow night will consist of hot chocolate, popcorn, puppy snuggles, & TV show marathons! I will enjoy all of those in the comfort of my home in leggings (or sweats depending on how chilly are house is), some tall socks, an oversized sweater, not a single drop of makeup and completed with a messy bun. Is it bad that just thinking about it makes me want to leave work and drive home to start my celebration early?
One of my very favorite NYE traditions that I have since I can remember is watching The Twilight Zone marathon with my mother. Yes, I’m talking the cheesy 1950’s/60’s TV series. I’m not saying this is best show ever made and you should stay up for days binge watching, but for the time it was pretty innovative! Actually, no, you should binge watch it, it’s great! Part of my love for the show probably stems from the fun conversation that I would have with my mother either joking about the show or just talking about life.  I now live about 6 hours from my parents (the furthest I’ve been from them) and so now we just text about the show all night and watch it together apart.
The picture above is a shot of one of the most memorable episodes to me. I’m not going to ruin it by telling you what happens but the premise is essentially Murphy’s Law.  This is Season 1, episode 8 “Time Enough At Last” if you want to watch just one for a taste of the amazingness that is The Twilight Zone (dun dun duuunnnn)!

My most favorite thing about New Year’s Eve is it was the first time the mister said “I love you”. (AWWWW – I know right? He’s so super cute.) I am lucky to have found a homebody like myself to spend my NYE looking a hot mess. That makes it even more special to me. I’m not going to lie, I was so stunned when the words came out of his mouth that I just let out a nervous little giggle and walked away…… Can you believe he stuck around after that? Lol – I am blessed for sure.
No matter what your plans are for NYE, I hope you have a wonderful evening. I hope that 2016 was a great year for you and that 2017 is an even better year with new hopes, aspirations, and goals to accomplish! 
And with that, I finish my very last post of 2016 – wow.  Thanks everyone, I have thoroughly enjoyed beginning this new journey into blogging and have adored all of the support that I have been shown.  YOU are wonderful and I appreciate you! Happy New Year loves :)