Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge

As a college student I do a lot of reading, but it’s mostly textbooks, PowerPoints, and other school-related articles. With graduation coming up in a few months, I am very much looking forward to being done with school so that I can enjoy reading for leisure again. However, there’s no reason why I can’t start reading now…I have the free time, I just need some motivation.

My bus ride to and from campus each day is about 45 minutes. I usually listen to music, read blogs, and waste that time on social media…not the best use of time. I recently found out that our local library AND state library each offer a free eBook database so I’m going to give that a try. This way, I can use those 45 minutes to read a book and get lost in another world…one of my favorite things about books and movies!

I came across Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge last week and thought it was a genius idea! The goal is to read 50 books but branch out to other authors and genres that you wouldn’t normally reach for. I’ve completed 3 of the 50 so far and will be updating this list as the year continues! If you’re a Goodreads member, feel free to follow or friend me to keep up with my progress.

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge | framedfrosting.com

1) A book with more than 500 pages

2) A classic romance

3) A book that became a movie

4) A book published this year

5) A book with a number in the title

6) A book written by someone under 30

7) A book with non-human characters

8) A funny book

9) A book by a female author

10) A mystery or a thriller

11) A book with a one-word title

12) A book of short stories

13) A book set in a different country

14) A nonfiction book

15) A popular author’s first book

16) A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

17) A book a friend recommended

18) A Pulitzer Prize-winning book

19) A book based on a true story

20) A book at the bottom of your to-read list

21) A book your Mom loves

22) A book that scares you

23) A book more than 100 years old

24) A book based entirely on it’s cover

25) A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

26) A memoir

27) A book you can finish in a day
50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

28) A book with antonyms in the title

29) A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit

30) A book that came out the year you were born

31) A book with bad reviews

32) A trilogy
50 Shades by E.L. James

33) A book from your childhood

34) A book with a love triangle

35) A book set in the future

36) A book set in high school

37) A book with a color in the title

38) A book that made you cry

39) A book with magic

40) A graphic novel

41) A book by an author you’ve never read before

42) A book you own but have never read

43) A book that takes place in your hometown

44) A book that was originally written in a different language

45) A book set during Christmas

46) A book written by an author with your same initials

47) A play

48) A banned book

49) A book based on or turned into a TV show

50) A book you started but never finished

What books have you read recently and loved?
Are you participating in this challenge?

Clean Eating: The Items I Threw Out

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Clean eating can mean something different for everyone, but it usually means committing to natural and organic ingredients and steering clear of overly processed foods. As a college student, I own a fair share of processed foods because they’re quick, convenient, and cheap. However, I’m slowly learning that the old saying, “you are what you eat” is in fact true and I need to start reading labels more carefully.

Last week I joined the Tone It Up community and after reading through their nutrition plan and doing a LOT of research on my own,  I threw out 8 items in an effort to eat ‘cleaner’. Most of these items contained enriched flour, too much sugar, HFCS, or were overly processed.

The Items I Threw Out | framedfrosting.com

1. Margarine
Reason Why: Hydrogenated Oil
Replacing It With: Unsalted Butter (in moderation)
Up until this point, I was using unsalted butter for baking and cooking and then margarine to spread on toast, waffles, and pancakes. I think I was holding onto the margarine because it was easier to spread and because I didn’t have a butter dish. With that said, I now eat toast with almond butter (instead of peanut butter) and I actually enjoy that a lot more. Who knew?

2. Maple Syrup
Reason Why: Contains HFCS
Replacing It With: Organic 100% Maple Syrup
The first ingredient in my ALDI maple syrup was high fructose corn syrup so I immediately threw it out. Last year I did a sweep for products containing HFCS, like Hershey’s chocolate syrup (I use Nesquik instead) and apparently I missed this bottle of maple syrup when doing that sweep. I’m not going to lie, buying organic maple syrup was a tough thing for me to do. I don’t use it often so spending $12 on a bottle seemed pretty outrageous but it will last me awhile and end up being well-worth the money.

3. Mac & Cheese
Reason Why: Too many processed ingredients.
Replacing It With: Annie’s Shells & Cheese
I have never been a huge fan of Kraft so I’m totally okay with letting this go. I’ve always been a big fan of mac & cheese made with white cheese though (Panera mac & cheese, anyone?) so I was excited to see that Annie’s makes an organic Shells & White Cheddar as well as Alfredo Shells & Cheddar. I have already tried both flavors and they’re delicious! I won’t make it a habit of eating these, but it’s nice to know that I have a healthier option for those times when I crave mac & cheese.

4. Vegetable Oil
Reason Why: Contains GMO’s
Replacing It With: Applesauce
I only use vegetable oil when I bake cupcakes, muffins, and cakes so I have no problem getting rid of it. In most baking recipes, you can replace any oil with unsweetened applesauce so I’ll be experimenting with that. I’ve also heard that mashed bananas are a good alternative so I might give that a try. (Speaking of oils…I’ll be using organic coconut oil, organic peanut oil, and EVOO for cooking. Click here for more clean eating oils.)

5. Agave
Reason Why: Contains more fructose than HFCS.
Replacing It With: Organic Honey
I bought a small bottle of agave last year to make PB2 chocolate cookie bites and I haven’t used it since. I read an article stating, “Most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener — ranging from 55 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is FAR HIGHER than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.” Yep, that was enough for me to say buh-bye to agave. Plus, I wasn’t a huge fan of the taste. It may have something to do with the fact that I hate tequila and tequila is made from agave. Therefore, I associate the two as being the same.

6. Frozen Blueberry Waffles
Reason Why: Contains Enriched Flour
Replacing It With: Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes pancake & waffle mix
I’ve loved frozen blueberry waffles for as long as I can remember. In high school, I used to toast two waffles and slab peanut butter in between and make a waffle-wich for breakfast. YUM! I still love eating them with peanut butter on top so I’ll be swapping my Eggo’s out for a healthier alternative that doesn’t contain enriched flour and instead is packed with whey protein. Andrea explains that “enriched white flour has been stripped of all its nutrients, and therefore the nutrients are enriched back in.”

7. Coffee Creamer
Reason Why: Too much sugar and fat.
Replacing It With: Unsweetened Almond Milk
I absolutely LOVE the Coldstone Sweet Cream coffee creamer so this was a hard one to do! However, I’ve been using almond milk for the past few days and I don’t totally hate it. It will take some time to grow on me, but it’s not the end of the world.

8. Salad Dressings
Reason Why: Too many calories and fat.
Replacing It With: Homemade Dressings
I don’t eat salads often so this isn’t a big deal, but I do think it’s important. The bottled dressings contain a lot of calories and fat that you can avoid by making dressings at home. When we were in Napa Valley in January, I picked up some olive oils & vinegars from Round Pond Estate and am using those to make homemade dressings. The combinations are endless and very simple to whip up!

Do you eat clean?
If so, what are your favorite substitutions?

Recap of Our Day in San Francisco

Disclaimer: Our hotel stay and dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco were complimentary. However, all opinions are my own. 

Last month, Q and I took a much-needed vacation to Napa Valley. Neither Q nor I had ever been to California before so we decided to fly into the SFO Airport and spend the day in San Francisco before heading to Napa. We arrived on a Tuesday morning, picked up our rental car at the airport, and headed into the city.

Recap of Our Day In San Francisco | framedfrosting.com

Our hotel check-in wasn’t until 3pm so we planned to grab lunch, walk the streets, and do some shopping. Then a wrench in our plans occurred when the parking garage told us we couldn’t leave anything in our vehicle. I definitely didn’t want to lug around two suitcases and my carry-on bag while we walked the streets. I called the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco and they graciously said we could store our bags with them until check-in. Phew – crisis averted.

We arrived at the hotel shortly after and to our surprise, they had worked their butts off to get our room ready! Now THAT is what I call AMAZING customer service. We were provided with some city maps (so helpful!) upon check-in and then headed up to our room. Our room was on the 17th floor and the floor-to-ceiling curtains revealed a gorgeous view of the city streets.

Four Seasons San Francisco Room | framedfrosting.com

Then there was a knock on our door and another surprise had arrived! The staff had put together a dessert platter for us that featured my blog header, photos from my blog, and in the dead center…a picture of Q and I that I posted when we touched down in San Fran. Oh, and that’s not all…there was also a handwritten letter from the General Manager. We were both absolutely blown away by their hospitality and munched on the treats while deciding on a place for lunch.

Four Seasons San Francisco Dessert Platter | framedfrosting.com

I wanted to check out the Ferry Building and Q wanted to explore Pier 39 so of course, we did both! First, we picked up a mocha and iced coffee from the famous Blue Bottle Coffee Co. then began to explore the rest of the marketplace. If you’re not familiar with San Francisco, the Ferry Building is a large marketplace with boutiques that sell everything from cupcakes and gourmet cheese to mushrooms and infused olive oils.

Ferry Building | framedfrosting.com Blue Bottle Coffee Co. | framedfrosting.com

After exploring the Ferry Building, we continued walking down to Fisherman’s Warf and Pier 39. We explored the pier a little bit and then walked a few more blocks to grab lunch…gosh, we must have walked 10 miles from our hotel to our lunch spot, The Buena Vista Cafe. One of Q’s co-workers had recommended that we stop in there and grab an Irish coffee. Yes, this was our second coffee stop for the day and it was 1,000 times better than Blue Bottle.

The Buena Vista Cafe | framedfrosting.com

The Irish coffees were delicious and unlike anything we had ever tried before! Q ordered the regular which is hot coffee, sugar, whiskey, and a layer of cream on top. I opted for a sweeter route known as the Nutty Irishman, which was made with all of the above plus Bailey’s Irish Cream and Frangelico’s Hazelnut Liqueur – soooo good! The fish & chips that I ordered were also delicious…probably the best fish & chips I’ve ever had!!

The Buena Vista Cafe Irish Coffee | framedfrosting.com

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city and all the shopping it had to offer! We also enjoyed some great food, like cannolis at Stella Pastry and delicious ice cream at Smitten. Then we decided to take a cable car back to our hotel. After all, you can’t go to San Francisco without riding one and Q had never done that before. I may or may not have bought a cute, cable car ornament to remember the moment.

Once we returned to our hotel, we had dinner at the MKT restaurant and decided to head to bed early. After all, we needed to be up around 9am the next morning in order to have enough time to grab breakfast, drive up to Napa Valley, and make it in time for our first wine tasting at 12pm.

I’m so glad we decided to spend a day in San Fran before heading to Napa Valley! I know there are a ton of things to do in San Francisco and we didn’t even come close to doing them all (ahem, Alcatraz), but we felt like it was just enough time for us. When we planned this trip, we wanted to spend the majority of our time in Napa where the traffic would be less busy and the overall environment would be more relaxing.

Have you ever been to San Francisco?
If so, what were your favorite places to eat?