Black Friday

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Top: Forever 21 / Denim: AG Jeans – similar / Booties: H&M – similar / Coat: H&M – similar / Shades: Brickyard Buffalo / Earrings: Gifted / Bracelet: Mantraband

On Nico – Sweater: Chaps – similar / Pants: Cat + Jack for Target / Shoes: Saucony

Hope you all had a FABULOUS Thanksgiving yesterday!!! We had a wonderful day and meal with family, and I splurged on not one…but TWO pieces of pumpkin pie. Yup, that sweet tooth just took over! Eeeps! It was just so darn good, and it only comes around once a year! Luckily, I have a plan in place to get back on track with a cleanse and a new program come Monday!!

Today is Black Friday, and apparently all the stores were open even EARLIER this year for the holiday sales. I stopped going to the stores on Black Friday a long time ago. I just can’t deal with the pushing and pulling and crowds…no thank you! I will just do my shopping from the comfort of my own home on my laptop! OR since I do love the spirit and energy of in person holiday shopping, I do enjoy a trip when the crowds have died down a bit. For those of you who ARE looking for some Black Friday fashion steals, check out Macy’s, Kohl’s, H&M, Target, Dick’s, Urban Outfitters, The Dreslyn, and Bailey44. For electronics, Target, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, and Walmart seem to be where it’s at. And my favorites for online steals are Brickyard Buffalo + ASOS.

Good luck, and Happy Shopping!!! Or if you are like me…enjoy the weekend with family and friends, and then snag those Cyber Monday steals😉

XO,

Gina

Fall Farm Birthday

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Earlier this fall, we celebrated my nephews 3rd Birthday on the farm down at Clark’s Elioak in the heart of Howard County, Maryland. If you live near this area, but haven’t taken a trip here yet, you absolutely MUST! What an amazing experience for the whole family! Starting with the horse/pony rides, petting the goats, seeing all the animals, the magical feel of Mother Goose and the Old Woman’s shoe, slides, tractor rides, hay rides, pizza, cake, + more. The kids had a blast, and not gonna lie…so did the parents! Coming from Brooklyn, it’s so nice to get outdoors and get down on a farm this time of year. Happy 3rd Birthday to my little nephew, and cheers to my bro and sis-in law for hosting a really fun event!

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Speaking of family…we are heading down to Maryland late tonight (as soon as I clean my house, do laundry, and pack for the whole family…whew!). It’s going to be a long day, but we are excited for another adventure down in Maryland this week to celebrate Thanksgiving and catch up with family and friends. Hoping to avoid traffic (and screaming children), so we plan to leave around bedtime. Wish us luck!

And Happy Thanksgiving Week to all!🙂

XO,

Gina

Cheers to 12 Years

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Holy cow. Sometimes you get so busy that the days blur together and you blow right past your 12 year dating anniversary without acknowledging it! Back then we never would have missed this day, but with the craziness of work, two kids, a new anniversary, etc. we honestly both forgot! (It was on Tuesday, btw, so we are 3 days late) LOL! Though we both have been mindful to spend some extra time together this week for whatever reason. Maybe it was our subconscious coming through!

Looking back at this photo (which wasn’t even quite 12 years ago, but I didn’t have FB back then haha), we were just kids! He was a recent graduate from college and I was still in school when we met. We didn’t really know what we wanted in life and we were trying to figure ourselves out. However, we did know that whenever we were together we had a great time and that we could talk about anything. Even if it kept us up all night.

I will be forever grateful that he decided to move to New York with me and we started our own journey together discovering our joint love for culture, food, art, and big city energy. He has always been incredibly supportive with anything I have ever been passionate about, even if it’s something he could care less about. Not many husbands would be incredibly enthusiastic to take photos for their wife’s “fashion blog,” but he still does it to this day.

We both love to travel, and he is the perfect vacation partner because we always want to do the same things. We call it our “vacation magic.”

We have had our ups and downs throughout the past 12 years, and it hasn’t always been easy, but we have grown so much both individually and as a couple. We know that together we can get through anything, and he has given me two of the most precious boys I could ever imagine. Watching him with our boys just melts my heart, and they are so lucky to have such an incredible father.

Cheers to the past 12 years Zack Notes and to continuing to love and grow with each other as the years go on.❤❤❤

XO,

Gina

Do You Believe in Yourself?

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***Do you believe in yourself?*** (APPLICATION BELOW)
 
I have always been a confident person on the outside, and I was raised to always believe that I was capable of achieving anything I set my mind to. My parents always believed in me and instilled that confidence in myself. And somewhere inside I did believe that.
 
Regardless, as I moved through life and chased dreams…sometimes along the way you start to doubt yourself. Well, can I REALLY become an actress, or REALLY be a news reporter? (Yes, I wanted to do those things). Can I REALLY build my dream house? Can I REALLY feel completely fulfilled? Am I REALLY worth it?
 
There have been times where I have been stuck in old habits because they were comfortable…because I was afraid of the unknown…because I feared change. Because I had to try something new and get out of my comfort zone.
 
When my company folded, I was very sad, because I enjoyed what I did and I had the best co-workers. I had an amazing situation of supportive people who made me laugh on a daily basis. But it was also a chance to start fresh. A chance to figure out who I was now that I was a mom. A chance to discover my true potential. I was already uncomfortable and jobless, so I had nothing to lose at this point right? Sometimes life forces you to reexamine things and which direction you want to go.
 
Having kids definitely changed a lot of my priorities in life and the 9-6 grind with an hour and 15 min subway commute each way just wasn’t working for me anymore. I wanted to be around more for my boys.
 
When I discovered coaching, I had no idea if it would be something that I would love or hate. I just knew I wanted to get back in shape again, I enjoyed helping people, I could work from home, and I could be my own boss.
 
And while I have been able to help change so many lives throughout this process, what I have gained is even more incredible. Through this experience, I have been challenged to look deep within myself and find out my true passion, to discover what I REALLY truly want in life, WHY I want it, and a plan of action to actually GO FOR IT.
 
Through personal development, I have been able to grow and change into a person who really believes that she can achieve more in life. And I have gained a network of like-minded #bosses who push me to be the best person I can be. They say you are ultimately a portrait of the people who are around you, and I could not have found a better group of positive, inspirational people to surround myself with.
 
This WEDNESDAY night at 8:30pm, I will be hosting an online event to showcase what coaching is all about, why we love it so much, and how you can fit it into your already busy life. If you want to believe in yourself and go after your true potential or you are just curious to learn more, I hope you will join me!
 
Please fill out the application below, and I will be in touch!
 
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Hope you are staying dry on this rainy Tuesday!
XO,
Gina

Sweater Weather

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Sweater: Forever 21 (last season) / Top: J. Crew Factory – multiple colors / Denim: Rag & Bone – similar / Boots: Target / Sunglasses: Vintage / Tassel Necklace: Gifted – similar / Heart Necklace: Love, Lori Michelle / Lip: Mix of Kat Von D Homegirl + Lancome All Done Up

On Nico: Top: Genuine Kids from Oshkosh / Pants: GAP Kids / Shoes: Saucony

It’s feeling like fall around here and the fall foliage is in full force. The sun has been shining and it’s been pretty nice for the start of November. Generally the holidays are one of the most fun times of the year, but they can also be really stressful with all the shopping and parties and traveling and more. All the more reason for me to take on the 3 Week Yoga Retreat this month for my Namaste November Challenge Group (which officially started yesterday)! Many of my coaches and challengers will be doing the new kickboxing program…and I WILL be joining them soon…but I thought it was important to give my body a bit of a rest after Hammering + Chiseling for the past two months. I am MORE than excited for 21 days of ZEN if I do say so myself.

My little guys are both on the move now and the playground is more fun than ever with both of them running around, sliding together, walking around holding hands, and more. They get stir crazy at home, so I need to keep getting them out of the house as much as possible before it gets frigid around here and I come running to you all in need of more ideas for indoor activities!

Enjoyed a few much needed movie nights with the hubs over the weekend (we NEVER watch movies these days), but caught up with Dope + Whiplash. Both awesome and I would recommend! Though most of you are probably all, been there done that! Haha.

Hope you are all having a great week so far! I’m off to the polls to get my vote on.

XO,

Gina

One Year Later

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This afternoon I shared my results from my recent Hammer + Chisel program with my Challenge Group, and I came across my first “Before” photo that I took at 6 weeks post partum. Whew! Hard to look at for someone who has always been an athlete and in shape in the past. I am proud that with my body I was able to give life to two awesome little dudes, but I was eager to look and feel like my old self again. My mindset was much different than after my first pregnancy.

After my first pregnancy, I never really tried to get back to myself for a long time…18 months long. To be fair, I had to figure out who I was at a person since becoming a mom and I just didn’t understand how exercise could still fit into my lifestyle. I had many excuses…many of them were legit excuses…work, time, travel, gym commute, etc….but they were still excuses. I finally found a way to find that time for myself again when my son was 18 months old. I started the original P90X at home, and was SO pumped to start!!! …and then 2 days in I found out I was pregnant again with Baby #2. So while I did start my path of healthy eating, exercise, and “me” time, my journey was a little different than planned. ;-)

After having my 2nd son, I was SO eager to finally get back to my daily routine and finally get in real shape again. My mindset had completely shifted and I had made that decision to go after some goals. I whipped out that 21 Day Fix and did 3 rounds in 3 months. My journey continued this past year with P90X3, 21 Day Fix Extreme, CIZE, 22 Minute Hard Corps, Country Heat, and lastly Hammer + Chisel. I honestly cannot believe I have been able to stick to so many programs over the past year, and this is the longest I have stuck to a routine in YEARS. I feel amazing, strong, my endurance is up, and even with little sleep and two little ones, I somehow have energy. With my busy schedule, I now cannot even imagine spending an extra time commuting to a gym or classes. These 30 minute home workouts + healthy eating (with treats of course!) + daily Shakeology have truly been a godsend for which I am so thankful!

Looking forward to rounding out my year with the 3 Week Yoga Retreat and the new kickboxing/MMA program, Core de Force. I love knowing what I have coming up, because it keeps me on track and helps me stick to a daily routine. Knowing how I felt after having my first son and then knowing how I feel now, there is no way I could ever go back!

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Hope you all had a great weekend, and you are enjoying this lovely Sunday evening!

XO,

Gina

P.S. The Country Heat Giveway winner was announced on my Facebook page, so head on over there if you want to hear more details about the package and who won the prize!

Easy Soups for Fall

 

I recently ran a Crockpots + Squats health and fitness challenge, and it had me experimenting a little more in the kitchen! I posted a few photos which had a lot of people asking for recipes, so I decided to put this together to share. I took these recipes from my cookbook called The Italian Slowcooker by Michele Sciolone, but I added a few of my own twists to them as well to make them my own.

First up:

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 large butternut squash, about 1.5 pounds, peeled, seeded, and cut (Mom tip: buy this pre-cut! More expensive, but WORTH saving the time!)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

3 fresh sage leaves or 1 tsp dried

4 cups chicken broth

Salt and fresh ground pepper

olive oil for drizzling

*I also added a can of coconut milk and lots of cinnamon!)*

In medium skillet, cook the oinion in the oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, but not browned, about 10 minutes. If the onion starts to color, add a tablespoon or two of water and lower the heat slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the squash, potatoes, sage, and broth. I also added cinnamon here. If necessary, add water so that the vegetables are covered with liquid (I did not add water, FYI. I just added coconut milk or more broth until it was covered with liquid).

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly, then puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I actually added cinnamon on top of mine, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Voila!

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The next soup I made last week was:

Creamy Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Serves 8

2 heads cauliflower, about 1.25 pounds each, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups water

*I replaced some of the water with canned coconut milk instead)*

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used Romano because that’s my jam)

In a large slow cooker, combine the cauliflower, potatoes, oil, garlic, broth, water, coconut milk, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the vegetables are very soft.

Let the soup cool slightly, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with a sprinkle of cheese. Boom!

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And there you have it!!!!

Two delicious soups for fall!!!

The entire family ate all of this right up. Mom tip: If it’s difficult to feed younger children a pureed soup like this, you can also give them the chunks of veggies before you puree! My little guy devoured them!

Enjoy, and please share below any of your favorite easy soup recipes for fall!

Reminder: TOMORROW I will be announcing the WINNER for the Country Heat Giveaway!!! For your last chance to enter, please visit popcorn and pandas on Facebook before the end of the day!

Make it a great day everyone!!

Country HEAT Giveaway + More!

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Happy MONDAY!!!! I used to get a “case of the Mondays” every now and then, but not so much anymore…and especially not today. Today I am announcing the BIGGEST popcorn and pandas giveaway of the year!

Most of you know by now that I became an online health + fitness coach almost 2 years ago (Jan will be my 2 year anniversary), and trust me when I say being able to get results doing 30 minute workouts AT home while having two children has been a complete game changer. After having my 1st son, it was near impossible for me to get back into shape and to feel like my old self again. I took a different approach the 2nd time around as a coach, and it’s been life changing, for realz.

In an effort to pay it forward and show someone else that it is indeed possible to feel like yourself again and get into a routine with only 30 minutes a day, I’m giving away a COUNTRY HEAT Package on my Facebook page this week! Here’s what you’ll get:

-Country Heat DVD Workout Program

-Nutrition Guide

-Portion Control Container System (this is KEY!)

-A 7 Day Supply of Shakeology in all 7 Flavors

-A Shakeology Cup

-A Spot in My Monthly Challenge Support Group for the Month of November (the support is MAJOR!)

HUGE!!!! Not only does this program guarantee you an amazing cardio dance workout, but it’s FUN! You’re so busy movin’ and shakin’ that you don’t realize how hard you are working until you are done and in full sweat. Not a dancer? No worries. The best part about this is that you’re in your living room! LOL. So you don’t have to stress about looking silly dancing in front of others😉

“Okay, enough already. What do I have do to WIN this program, Gina?”

Alright, here you go. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Go to my Popcorn and Pandas Facebook page and click LIKE.
  2. Comment on the Country Heat Giveaway post which will be pinned to the top.
  3. In the comment TAG 3 friends to let them know about this giveaway, and let me know WHY you want to win this program! (do you need something fun to mix things up, do you love to dance, are you stuck in a rut, do you want to work off the baby weight, etc.?)

That’s it!!! Simple as that.

Winner will be announced on my Facebook page this FRIDAY.

For more details on Country Heat, check out this link here.

In other news…our new KICKBOXING program, Core de Force will launch on Halloween! Today (and for the next 3 days) we are opening up a FREE sneak peek of the program if you want to check it out! Sign up here if you want to try it out. I have personally tried it out, and it’s awesome!! I will be the first one buying that complete program on Monday!!!

Okay, hope this little post and giveaway has officially cured your Monday blues today. Can’t wait to draw a winner on Friday for this amazing Country Heat giveaway!!

Make it a great day!

XO,

Gina

Feeling Like Fall

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Top: J. Crew Factory – sold out but other colors here / Hat: J. Crew Factory / Denim: AG Jeans / Booties: Target / Lip: MAC Rebel

Friday night post whoooo! Maybe some of you are as lame as me and able to read this tonight…maybe not😉 Either way, hopefully you get a chance to check it out at some point over the weekend haha.

I took these photos last weekend when it was truly starting to feel like fall and then we had a week of 80 degree weather!!!! LOL! Go figure! I scored this J. Crew top and hat over at the Factory outlet on summer vacation, and was excited to finally bust them out.

You may have gotten a glimpse of my crazy week over on Facebook, but things are looking up and trying to focus on the positive. Last weekend we had good friends in town and took them up to Bear Mountain for an awesome fall hike. We made it to the top, and I was incredibly impressed that my 3 year old did 95% of the hike himself! I carried the baby on my back which was an extra workout, and we had a great time catching up while enjoying the great outdoors. Tomorrow we are on the road to Maryland to reunite and celebrate a dear friend who has a baby on the way.

In other news, I have the BIGGEST popcorn and pandas giveaway of the YEAR coming up which I will announce here on MONDAY!!!! So make sure you come on back to see what it’s all about!🙂

Happy Weekend!

XO,

Gina

P.S. I need a haircut. Any good ideas? Throw them my way!😉

Dare to Dream

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When you look at this photo here, you see a smiling, happy, fun-loving, positive, fitness crazy group of friends.

But what you don’t see in this photo:

-One of these women suffered from eating disorder in her past
-One rarely sees her husband because he is in the military
-One never had a group of close girlfriends growing up
-One always felt like a social outcast
-One recently struggled through divorce
-One is struggling financially to get her family back on their feet
-One was drowning in the day to day of motherhood
-One was overweight and lost over 80 pounds to get healthy
-One struggles with a chronic illness
-One has a stressful full time job

People often comment or tell me that what I am doing is amazing, but they don’t have that kind of motivation, or they don’t have the dedication that I do. I think sometimes they believe I am this fitness machine and that this is just easy for me. But I am human. All of these women here are human. We have our struggles. We have our past. We have the daily grind of life that can sometimes be difficult.

But the difference here is that this group of women have made a DECISION. They have decided that THEY are in CHARGE of their own lives. That their circumstances will not define them. That they are WORTH it. That they will work toward a life they have always wanted, and won’t let anything stand in their way.

This is the type of job where you determine your own destiny. Especially in a country right now where women are still underpaid compared to men…this company has given everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. There is no cap to your potential…as long as you are willing to put in the work. If you believe in other people…in helping other people…that is the key. The ladies here are not in this business for a quick rise to the top or some get rich quick scheme. That’s just not real life. But they are here to help people, to grow and enrich themselves, to learn, to FACE their daily struggles, to conquer them, and to go after what they truly deserve.

I am hosting a “What is Coaching?” Happy Hour online THIS Thursday night at 8:30pm ET to give you an inside scoop on what it REALLY means to be a coach and how you can start to face those fears and go after those dreams in your life. Everyone has the potential to be the best person you can be. It’s all about making that decision. So if nothing else other than pure curiosity, I would love to see you there on Thursday for this info-only event! No pressure to join in this opportunity…only the information to see if just maybe this is the thing you’ve been waiting for.  

COMMENT, drop me an email, or fill out this application below, and I can’t wait to chat more on Thurs!!!

https://pandpfitness.wufoo.com/forms/team-spark/

Make it a great day everyone!

XO,

Gina