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8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis 

This blog post is sponsored by Planet Fitness. In exchange for this post, I may receive perks and/or compensation; however, all opinions are my own. Click here to view our disclosure policy.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

1) Get the go-ahead from your physician

First and foremost, if you have any sort of temporary or chronic health issue, always get the go-ahead from your doctor(s). They can recommend the best plan of action for your fitness plan, including how often, at what intensity and the types of exercises that will fit your body best now and in the future.

For someone dealing with arthritis, low-impact exercises like yoga, light weights and machines like the elliptical are perfect ways to get started in the gym.

2) Work with your physical therapist or personal trainer

Much like working with your doctor, if you have a physical therapist, they can recommend great exercises for you to take part in at the gym. They’ll also give you handy stretches that you can use before and after your workout!

It never, ever hurts to bring a personal trainer into the mix, either. They can help you learn the ropes if you’re new to the gym, the machines or even fitness classes, suggest workout plans that fit your medical team’s suggestions and your lifestyle. Plus, having a personal trainer is like having a personal cheerleader, pushing you and cheering you on along the way!

Planet Fitness gyms in the United States offer free fitness training with their memberships. It’s amazing, since working with certified trainers can get eeeeeexpensive! Learn more about their personal training here.

3) Take it one step at a time, don’t push it!

After working with your doctors, physical therapist and even a personal trainer, you should have a good idea of how often you should work out, the types of exercises you should do and at what intensity. Trust your team and stick to it! Pushing yourself further can bring upon injury – temporary or permanent – and with that, can ruin the fun of building up to your fitness goals.

Start with shorter, less intense sessions and work your way up with supervision from your medical and fitness team. Trust me, having patience in this area is well worth it when you meet your goals and stay healthy the entire time.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

4) Find a time that works for you

Finding the time is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when trying to make it to the gym on a regular basis. Personally, I love Planet Fitness because of the number of locations across the United States and they’re staffed 24 hours a day.

I’ve been a member of 24/7 gyms before, but was always totally weary going in the early, early mornings or late evenings due to the fact they aren’t actually staffed. Planet Fitness is key on safety and makes sure they always have someone in the building at all times to keep you safe, answer questions and help you meet your goals.

And even better, if you’re a PF Black Card member, you can visit any Planet Fitness location in the United States – at any time! – which makes it a perfect little companion whether you’re traveling for work, visiting family in other states or want to get a little workout in on vacation. In the Tulsa-area alone, there are six Planet Fitness locations, which makes it easy to stop in for a workout when out and about or running errands.

Pssst, check out the bottom of this post for current Planet Fitness specials — you could save big right now on a membership!

5) Bring a workout buddy

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but I’ll add it because it’s true: Find a workout buddy. Not only will they help hold you accountable – and vice versa! – it’s nice to have someone to chat with while you’re working out. Plus, they can give you a few pointers on your form, right? And here’s something fun: If you’re a Planet Fitness Black Card member, you can bring a guest for free as many times as you want. Goodbye, gym boredom… hello, endless exercise pals!

6) Try a fitness class

I love fitness classes for the fact that I can find a time that works for me, pop it in my calendar and I am way more likely to show up than if I were just going to do a regular workout on my own. It’s like a little can’t-miss-date in my calendar!

For those of us with chronic pain, yoga classes are a great way to stretch out those muscles and loosen up those joints. Most places that offer yoga classes offer a variety of levels. Start with the beginning classes, let your instructor know of any injuries or pain you currently have, and they’ll help walk you through the rest!

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

7) Find a gym or facility that’s judgement-free

For those of us with chronic illnesses, especially those that can impede our physical capability, we can sometimes be a little self-conscious. Have you ever been to a gym where everyone looked like a supermodel and folks were lifting hundreds of pounds with muscles bulging? While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it can be incredibly intimidating for those of us who are just getting back in the swing of things or aren’t there to win awards.

I’ve had memberships at many other gyms and frankly, Planet Fitness has been my favorite. They pride themselves on being a Judgement Free Zone® (no, really! It’s even their tagline!). You’ll find folks of all ages and abilities working out at any time with staff that is there to encourage and support your goals and success.

8) Take advantage of those end-of-year and new-year sales!

This is the time of year that people are making New Year’s resolutions to get fit. Why not join in at a great price?

Gym memberships can be expensive, but if you keep an eye out for special promotions and sales, you can join a gym that suits your needs best for a fraction of the cost. That means you can save a little (or a lot ofmoney and put it toward cute new exercise clothes and comfy tennis shoes, right?

Right now, Planet Fitness locations in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area are offering a year membership for new members for just $99 until Dec. 14 (when paid in full) and $0 enrollment fee and then $21.99 a month for Black Card membership through Dec. 31. Use code DaltonPF to activate your Black Card membership for 2018 with no enrollment fee when you sign up here!

Black Card memberships cover all of the basics, plus you’ll get access to more than 1,400+ clubs in the United States, guest (aka bring a friend!) privileges no matter what club you’re visiting, unlimited use of HydroMassage chairs, half-price cooler drinks and so much more. Learn more about Black Card perks at Tulsa Planet Fitness locations here.

8 Tips for Hitting the Gym with Arthritis, Chronic Illness Autoimmune Disease - Sponsored by Planet Fitness - brendadalton.com

This promotion is available for Tulsa, Oklahoma-area Planet Fitness locations only, including:

Broken Arrow | Claremore | South Tulsa | Tulsa (Admiral) | Tulsa (Riverside) | Tulsa (Memorial)

Click here or one of the locations above and use promo code DaltonPF to activate your Planet Fitness Black Card membership for 2018 with $0 enrollment fee!

How to Make Hosting Stress-Free & Easy During Holidays

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.

How to Make Hosting Stress Free This Holiday Season

As with most, the holidays often include hosting at least one event, whether it is at your house or helping others prepare a glorious meal or fun little event to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and everything in between.

Unfortunately, for those of us with chronic illnesses, hosting can be a daunting cloud, filled with worry as to how everything will actually get done.

Before I was diagnosed with chronic illnesses, I loooooooved hosting get togethers and entertaining friends and family. Whether it was a holiday, shower or just a fun little party, I loved every aspect: The planning, the mood boards, the shopping, the prepping, the celebrating – everything!

However, now that my energy levels have decreased and I have to choose wisely on how I expend energy, I’ve come up with lots of shortcuts to make hosting stress-free and easy during the holidays.

Make lists

I’m the over-preparer in my family and lists are an absolute lifesaver for me when I’m hosting any sort of get-together. For example, for Thanksgiving, I have several lists:

  • Menu
    • By appetizers, main dishes, sides and desserts and who is bringing
  • Shopping lists
    • Broken down by perishables, freezer items and non-perishables
    • Broken down by store, if applicable
    • This makes it easy to break shopping into several trips over the course of a month!
  • Preparation timelines
    • I make my timeline over the course of the week or two (see the next section on preparing in advance!)
    • Timelines include food prep and cooking, plus things that will need to be done around the house, like cleaning, organizing, pulling items from storage and so on

Prepare in advance

Just as I mentioned in my baby shower post: prepare, prepare, prepare! When you have limited energy, this is key. The week before, I start pulling out utensils, platters, crockpots and store them in a corner of my dining room. Wash table linens early and store in a clean area.

Take advantage of shortcuts

Over the years — and thanks to technology, too! — I’ve found a number of shortcuts that have saved my life:

You don’t have to make each dish from scratch. This is by far the easiest time saver. Pick up a frozen pie or two, add a can of whipped cream and I guarantee your guests will be just as happy as if it was homemade! Frozen vegetables can easily be put on the stove with your choice of seasonings. And of course, frozen rolls, biscuits or bread can be ready in the oven in a matter of minutes.

Try online grocery shopping or delivery. Our local (and my favorite) grocery store in northeast Oklahoma, Reasor’s, offers online shopping and pickup at the curb.

When I have an especially large load of groceries, heavy items or I’m short on time and energy, I take full advantage of placing my grocery order online or through their app. I pull up to a designated parking spot, call the store and they bring my groceries out and load them into the car. This is such an energy (and pain) saver, especially when my arthritis flares up.

Most services have a small fee per order (Reasor’s is $5 for orders under $100) or charge a monthly or annual fee. I just got started with Shipt, a grocery delivery service, and can’t wait to report back on the experience! And a bonus: you can get $10 off your first order with Shipt when you click this link.

Start cooking early

You would be surprised at how many things you can cook or prepare in advance and/or freeze! This is such a lifesaver, because who wants to be mashing potatoes and slaving over a stove over relaxing and enjoying time with guests?

For our family, we make the cranberry sauce and applesauce as far as two weeks in advance and both freeze beautifully. Pull them out 48 hours before guests arrive and it tastes like it was made that morning.

Many folks like the presentation of a beautifully cooked bird and carve right at the table. I like to make it a bit easier and cook and carve the turkey the day before. About 30-45 minutes before serving, pull the oven-safe platter with your turkey out, pour a little stock on top and reheat until warm. Place on a beautiful platter and you’re ready!

I also like to prepare any sides in advance, a day or two before, then place all of the ingredients in plastic bags. For example, the bacon is cooked a day or two early, placed in a large bag with green beans. I then place any seasonings in a smaller plastic bag and ta-da, everything is ready to be dumped into a Crockpot or slow cooker to cook the day of.

Slow cookers are a miracle!

Speaking of green beans in a slow cooker, this is a major thing for me for any gathering, holiday or not. From appetizers to reheating main dishes, slow cookers can save you time, hassle and space in the oven.

Slow cookers may technically take longer, but it cuts prep time and worrying in half when you don’t have to check on items in the oven or worry something might boil over on the stove.

All in all, thanks to my shortcuts I’ve mastered over the years, holiday dinner prep comes to about one hour per day the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas and with the help of guests, less than an hour of prep and active work the day of!

Tell me in the comments: How do you make hosting or preparing for the holidays easier?

A Rustic Farm Baby Shower

Please note: I received products or promotional items mentioned in this post for free as part of the HP Millennial Influencer Panel. Links in this post may be affiliate. All opinions are my own.


A Rustic Farm Baby Shower

A Rustic Farm Baby Shower, complete with bundt cakes, rustic decor, farm animals, baby shower games and popcorn bar.

Over the weekend, we hosted a co-ed baby shower (more appropriately, a sprinkle!) for my sister and their new arrival. Rustic farm and barnyard is the theme of his nursery, so I wanted to pull together a simple party that surrounded that theme.

We focused on farm-fresh vegetables, cheeses and meats for light snacks, “pigs in a blanket” as a cute nod to the theme, and more bundt cakes than you could shake a stick at! We also incorporated flavored popcorns from a local vendor in Tulsa, which was also a feature at their wedding three years ago. Everything comes full circle!

Typically, the guest lists for baby sprinkles are small, so we kept games to a minimum with baby Pictionary and little activities like writing a wish for the baby and guessing his due date.

I created all of the printed items from the baby shower like the food and drink cards, welcome sign and more with InDesign and printed with the HP AMP 100. It was my first test drive using this HP printer as part of the HP Millennial Influencer Panel for the next year.

And the AMP isn’t your everyday printer. Not only is the quality of printing perfect for at-home printing for things like parties, showers and other get-togethers, the printer has bluetooth capability and a speaker. Yes, a speaker!

I’ll be honest: I was a bit skeptical of a bluetooth speaker in a printer. I didn’t think I would ever find it useful; however, when testing the speaker out by launching Spotify on my iPhone and connecting effortlessly to the printer, I was blown away by the quality of sound. Even my husband walked into the office and asked, “Is that coming from the printer?!” 

It has much better sound than my MacBook Air, which is what I usually listen to music on while I’m working. The tones are great and unlike other Bluetooth speakers that are smaller and/or cheaper, it has a nice, full sound. I wouldn’t mind using the HP printer‘s speakers during a party!

Tips for hosting parties when your energy level is low

As a reader of this blog, you probably know I have autoimmune diseases, arthritis and I’m pregnant! So to say I had boundless energy was far from the truth.

Prep in advance. I began designing the printed materials weeks in advance. By the week of the party, they were ready to print and be cut! The day before the shower, we began setting up the tablescapes and decor and arranging the flowers so we weren’t rushing around the day of the event.

Enlist help. It’s okay to ask for help! Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you can’t have an army behind you making things a little easier and more organized. I sent my husband on errands, my mother to the grocery store and by the time everyone chipped in, it took a major load off my shoulders. All hands were on deck after the shower was over, too.

Have a seat. A good host greets their guests and makes sure they have a good time, but you, too, deserve a good time! Due to arthritis, it’s difficult for me to stand for too long, but I made sure there were plenty of places to sit and socialize during the shower. In fact, chairs are a top priority for any event I plan and host! Another tip: Make sure your seat is in a central location so you can keep an eye on things.

Who are your favorite people to enlist help from when it’s your time to host?

Fall Decor Finds on a Budget

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.


Fall decor finds on a budget

The best fall decor on a budget

 

1 Round Metal Wire Storage Basket  | 2 Pumpkin Gourd Garland | 3 Distressed Wood Lantern | 4 Set of Six White Pumpkins | 5 Metal Filigree Pumpkin Tealight Holder | 6 Round Metal Filigree Pumpkin Tealight Holder | 7 Autumn Wooden Sign | 8 Harvest Candle | 9 Large Distressed Pumpkin | 10 Burlap Jute Acorns

While most people go all-out for their holiday decor in December, I’m a little partial to the warm tones and coziness of what autumn brings! Bright orange pumpkins don’t have to be the main event when decorating for fall on a budget.

Throw in some warm colors like deep oranges and reds for a traditional focus on the season. For more of a glam, or even relaxed farmhouse feel, add some distressed whites and grays to your mantle to showcase those gorgeous white and neutral pumpkins this time of year!

There is often a debate as to how early is too early to decorate for fall. For some, it’s when the air starts to chill and even when the leaves start to turn. Being in Oklahoma, my guideline is just after Labor Day, the official end of summer since it can still be relatively hot even in October.

The gorgeous natural tones and the thought of cooler weather makes me want to turn on the fireplace and curl up with a good book and a warm drink!

Airplane Essentials | Travel Tips

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation if you choose to purchase any products linked below at no extra charge to you! Click here to view our disclosure policy.


Airplane essentials for the modern woman. What to pack in your carry-on for easy and stylish traveling by air for arthritis and autoimmune disease. Read more from brendadalton.com!

For some people – like myself! – half the fun of traveling is packing and over the years, I’ve perfected my airplane essentials list. I’ve figured out the things I can’t live without while traveling by plane and the things that make my life with arthritis, a gluten-free diet, and autoimmune disease much easier. Most importantly, I’ve figured out the things that aren’t worth bringing because they never get used. I’ve even figured out the items that help me speed through security without an additional bag check, because that can slow down your race to the gate by a few minutes to half an hour!

First, it’s important to start with what’s on your body before you get out the door.

Things I never wear to the airport:

  • Statement jewelry
  • Dresses – especially maxi dresses – you’re more likely to be stopped by TSA for additional screening
  • Flip flops or strappy sandals – Mostly because you don’t want your bare feet touching the floor where thousands of others’ have, especially if you have autoimmune disease
  • Layers that are difficult to remove, like over-the-head sweatshirts and jackets
  • Belts
  • Hairstyles that require lots of bobby pins or metal hair accessories
  • Outfits that would work well in hot weather – because airplanes can be cold!

Things I do wear to the airport:

  • Sneakers, Sperrys or slip-on Keds
  • Socks (and if not, I have them ready to slip on at security/TSA Checkpoint)
  • Leggings or stretchy jeans
  • Tank top or plain tee
  • Oversized cardigan, preferably with pockets!
  • Simple necklace and earrings (these go in my carry-on until I’ve passed security)
  • Crossbody purse as a personal item

The number of items you may wear or pack depends on your ultimate destination, but here are my can’t-leave-home-without-’em airplane essentials that make traveling a breeze!

Travel Pillow & Blanket

This guy is a lifesaver. Not only is it easy to strap to your carry-on, but I also put some of the items that appear in this list in it: nose spray, facial spray, earbuds, a spare pen, Kindle, eye mask. What I love about this travel set is the pillow inflates when you take the blanket out, so you can control the firmness.

It works great as a lumbar pillow, regular pillow or just something to rest your hands on when tray tables are in their upright position. Shoutout to my arthritis friends! It’s also nice to have a little pillow and blanket in unfamiliar hotel rooms, too.

Lavender Mini Towelettes 

One time while traveling, I realized I was down to only one of these and still had a flight left before I was home. It was not pleasant. These delicious-smelling towelettes are a lifesaver on dirty planes, in not-so-clean hotel rooms and a great way to take makeup off or refresh your face at the end of a long travel day or a mid-flight nap. The lavender scent is also a great way to naturally ease any jitters before takeoff.

Since they’re antibacterial, I use these to wipe down the tray table, seat belt and everything around me when I board a plane. These are also great to do a little extra cleaning when you get to your hotel room, because trust me, it’s not as clean as you think!

Evian Mineral Water Facial Spray

My husband teases me about this one when I remember to bring it, but especially when we’re traveling early morning or late night, this is a lifesaver. It’s a great way to restore moisture to your face when you’re in a rush. And this spray lasts forever. Once you’ve stepped off the plane, spritz this facial spray under or over makeup. It’s especially lovely whether you’re on your way to your destination or back home to the real world.

Filtered Water Bottle

I do not travel anywhere without this thing. Seriously, it’s such a life saver. As someone with autoimmune issues, I’m not keen on drinking out of the tap or water fountains. I bring this empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up before I get on my flight.

This water bottle is also a big money saver! Ever notice how water bottles can get pretty expensive in hotels? The filter in this water bottle removes all the gunk and leaves you with delicious water even from your hotel bathroom. The ounces markings also make it easy for me to track how much water I’ve had for the day. Gotta stay hydrated!

Kindle & Kindle Unlimited

If I had the time, I would read three books a week, minimum. While I use my Kindle at home, it gets the most use when I’m traveling. I’m a fast reader and once I start a good book, it is impossible for me to put it down. This is especially true when on planes and in airports where the wifi is spotty, expensive or non-existent. Plus, it feels a little better to pass the time reading a book than it does to mindlessly play games on your phone or scroll through Facebook, right?

My favorite thing about my Kindle – besides the fact I got it half-price through a Black Friday sale – is Kindle Unlimited. For anyone who reads more than one book a month, it is 100% worth it. For $10 a month, you have access to over a million books on your Kindle.

Considering Kindle books can be anywhere from $5 to $15+, if you read one or two a month, you get your money’s worth. They even have super popular books, like the Harry Potter series and The Handmaid’s Tale.

With Kindle Unlimited, you also get access to thousands of audiobooks and magazines in addition to the massive library of regular e-books. Double win!

Portable Electronics Charger

It’s hard to imagine traveling without a smart phone, laptop, tablet, and ahem, Kindle! Even on short flights, I bring a portable charger. This thing has saved many a situation and is at the top of my airplane essentials list. You never know when you might have to bust out the navigation on your phone, which is a total battery suck, or research gluten-free restaurants near your hotel without access to an outlet.

This particular charger from Anker has been my favorite. I’ve gone through a few, but the Anker PowerCore has lasted me a few years. It holds a charge for a long time (fully charges an iPhone from 0%), is so small it can fit anywhere – even a pocket! – and recharges itself quickly. As of June 2017, it’s on sale for 50% off (under $20!).

Smith’s Rosebud Salve

I’ve mentioned this staple in blog posts before, but it bears repeating: This stuff is amazing. It’s on the list for airplane essentials and life essentials. This sweet little balm goes beyond a simple lip balm: Calm cuticles, patches of dry skin, smooth flyaways, keep brows in place, and even as an emergency makeup remover.  It’s perfect for ladies with psoriasis to help soothe skin! It’s soft, gentle, and the little tin gives it a luxurious feel and makes it incredibly durable for travel.

Saline Nose Spray

This is a pretty recent addition to the carry-on essentials list and not super glamorous. About two years ago, I started to get incredibly painful headaches and facial pain upon descent on airplanes, no matter what. My husband’s grandmother recommended a simple saline spray… and it works like a charm. About 30 minutes before landing, I pop this guy out, spray twice and relax.

I later learned this headache actually has a name: Aerosinusitis or an airplane headache, as it is commonly known. What happens is some folks are unable to equalize the change in barometric pressure when a plane begins to land, and that causes pain around the eyes and face. It typically clears up within 30 minutes of landing.

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks

Airplane snacks and meals can be expensive and if you have food allergies, finding gluten free or dairy free food can be a challenge! Some of my favorite travel snacks are nut mixes, oatmeal, popcorn, jerky and dried veggies and fruit. For morning flights, I love to bring a banana (or two!) from home with some of Justin’s individual nut butters; however, but bananas don’t always travel well in a purse or bag. Check out my full list of favorite traveling snacks and where to buy them in this blog post.

Overnight Essentials

Knock on wood, I’ve never had my checked luggage lost, delayed, or stolen, but I am always prepared just in case. In my carry-on, I pack the necessities that will last me overnight once I get to my destination. These overnight airplane essentials include: A comfortable tee (for pajamas or another outfit), linen shorts or leggings, underwear, bra, swimsuit, travel toothbrush, makeup and skincare basics, comb, hair ties, flip flops, mini first aid kit, and so on. And for my spoonies: Always, always, always carry all of your medications (even over-the-counter meds) in your carryon or personal item.

Backpack

For the longest time, I only traveled with “cute” or designer bags. After I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, my doctors suggested I stop carrying heavy bags on my shoulders. I love fashion, so I was devastated. …Until I realized the joy in traveling with an adorable backpack. Backpacks – or bookbags – are 100% in now. They make travel so. much. easier. And so much less painful!

I picked up a Herschel backpack in a gorgeous gray and can fit all of the airplane essentials on this list, plus a few other essentials like my laptop, notebooks, and more with room to spare. I typically check my larger luggage because arthritis can make it difficult for me to lift and carry for hours on end, so having an easy-to-transport piece of luggage as my carryon has changed airplane travel for me.

What are some of your favorite airplane essentials?

Home Office Inspiration

Home Office Inspiration for the modern woman from Brenda Dalton - brendadalton.com

When we were house hunting a year ago, the thing that sold me on our house we eventually bought was the little home office set away from all the action of the living areas. However, ten months later, I still haven’t done much in terms of decorating. Things are getting a little out of control, guys. I need some major home office inspiration.

I run my graphic design and digital marketing business, 835 Creative, out of my home office. Over the last year, it has grown (yay!) but the paperwork, inspiration pieces and more are piling up with nowhere to be stored. Plus, my office has no straight theme. Not even a hint of a vibe. I know, it’s sad, and most days I end up working in other parts of the house because of the disorganized mess.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting inspiration and all the steps I’m taking to give my home office a major makeover, making it a serene and beautiful place to work every day! I’m so excited to share this journey with you.

Before we can even dive into even thinking about buying furniture and decor though, home office inspiration is a must. Who better to gain home office inspiration from than my fellow bloggers and boss ladies?

Home office inspiration for the modern woman

Home Office Inspiration from Polished Habitat - polishedhabitat.com

Functional & Fabulous Office from Polished Habitat

Melissa from Polished Habitat transformed her shared office into a beautiful space for her to work, create and prepare orders for her Etsy shop. This classic, feminine design is beautiful, well-organized and functional! Check out more from her office reveal by visiting her website.

 

Craft Room and Office Space from Thrifty Decor Chick

Sarah’s craft room went through several transformations before turning into this farmhouse-inspired, cleanly decorated multi-purpose room. It features space to work, craft, wrap gifts with enough room for two people, plus a dreamy window seat to relax.

 

Meet Interior Designer Laura Burleson on SarahSarna.com | Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck

Light, Bright Office by Laura Burleson

This gorgeous, light-filled office was featured by Sarah Sarna. The light fixture reflects the gorgeous gold accents to give the room a pop of color. Having enough desk space to spread your work out is ideal for makers and creatives. And a cute little window doesn’t hurt either!

 

How to Make a Small Office Space Work from The Fashionista's Diary | thefashionistasdiary.com

How to Make a Small Office Space Work from The Fashionista’s Diary

Lauren from The Fashionista’s Diary nailed her small office space. Carved out of a corner of her bedroom, this airy, feminine space packs a punch in storage, yet still allows her personality to shine through.

 

Historic Ivy Flat Designed by Alice Lane Home

Show N’ Tell Historic Ivy Flat from Alice Lane Home

Despite working with a tiny area, this precious office from Alice Lane Home features the trending “millennial pink” on the walls, a vintage light fixture and a statement mirror to reflect light around the room. This gorgeous interior design proves that you can make even the smallest of office spaces glam and functional!

Old Millennial Playlist | Spotify

This Old Millennial playlist is part of our series of Spotify playlists for every occasion.
View the whole series here!

Old Millennial Playlist - Spotify Music - Brendadaltoncom

 

Those of us on the early end of the millennial spectrum – ahem, old millennials – can get a lot of flack. We grew up without cell phones, can remember when AOL launched, and probably didn’t have social media until college (or later). As a lovely little throwback, here you have the old millennial playlist.

For those of us in our thirties, you can remember when these songs came out. Perhaps you even recorded them onto a cassette from the radio… because we hadn’t been blessed with Spotify quite yet.

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me to send them this playlist after hearing it, I’d have enough to buy a couple of outfits from Delia*s.

Download the old millennial playlist!

This old millennial playlist is perfect for rolling the windows down manually in your car and getting lost because we didn’t have navigation or a printout from MapQuest (or Google Maps, I guess).

Add this playlist to your faves and let the reminiscing begin! This playlist has pop favorites, one-hit-wonders, ’90s rock and a few early 2000s gems. Featuring Oasis, Beastie Boys, Mariah Carey, Dixie Chickens, *NSYNC, Hanson, Jewel, Missy Elliott, Britney Spears, Train, and many more.

 

Rosemary Beach, Florida | City Guide | 30A

Where to dine, shop and play in Rosemary Beach, Florida

This is the final post in a City Guide series on Florida’s 30A. This post: Rosemary Beach, Florida. View previous posts in the series: Seaside, Alys Beach

City Guide to Rosemary Beach Florida 30A - Places to eat Where to Shop BrendaDaltoncom

Rosemary Beach is a lovely mix of locals, weekenders and vacationers and could possibly be the quietest, most peaceful community on Florida’s 30A. The folks are friendly, happy to give recommendations whether you’re walking the sidewalks beneath the beautiful canopied trees or chatting with a sommelier at Wild Olives Market & Cafe.

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A
It’s a beautifully idealistic community on either side of 30A, designated by the Gulf side or the Park side and like Alys Beach, is the home of a number of breathtaking pools and parks. A morning walk around the Park Side of Rosemary Beach will lead you to a butterfly garden, fountains that make you feel like you’re on an adventure in a little Italian town and even a community garden with fresh veggies.
With a fitness and tennis center located within the community for residents and guests, you could spend weeks in Rosemary without ever having to hop in a car. In fact, one trip we spent four nights in Rosemary Beach and never once used our rental car until we were heading back to the airport!
Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide
When we first arrived at Rosemary Beach, we stopped by the Rosemary Beach Cottage Rental Company to pick up our keys to our adorable little carriage house nestled in the park side of the community. Just a block from the town center, it was a convenient location – just like all rental properties offered in Rosemary Beach – and was well-decorated and well-stocked with essentials. It even had an adorable balcony that overlooked the community. They offer a wide variety of carriage houses and larger homes, whether it’s a girls getaway, a romantic weekend or a big multi-family vacation and have top-notch customer service (and free movie rentals and bicycles!).

Our carriage house just a two minute walk from a number of shops on the park side. Some not-to-miss places are the Rosemary Beach Trading Company, Hissyfits Boutique for the littles, The Hidden Lantern Bookstore and Vivo Spa & Salon. It was especially convenient in the morning to take a short walk to Amavida Coffee & Tea!

And y’all, if you’re in Rosemary Beach on Saturdays, you must visit the Farmers Market. We had just finished brunch when we walked through the dozens of vendors and even though I wasn’t hungry, I walked away with countless number of gluten-free goodies. Blueberry hand pies, macarons, infused vinegars and oils and more fresh fruits and vegetables than you could wave a stick at!

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide

Havana Beach Bar & Grill

One of the most recognizable buildings on Rosemary Beach’s gulf side is The Pearl Hotel with its black and white striped canopies. The hotel is nestled closest to the Gulf of Mexico on Main Street, which is the home of Havana Beach Bar & Grill.

Havana Beach is incredibly accommodating when it comes to food allergies. Not only does it have an incredibly view of the Western Green and Gulf of Mexico from the covered patio, but the decor is luxurious and furniture plush. The staff was so friendly and absolutely on point; however, I’d highly recommend reservations for brunch, especially on weekends.

When dining out, especially anywhere but home, there is always a teeny-tiny (or sometimes HUGE) worry that we’ll walk into a restaurant that has stated gluten-free options, but the staff or servers aren’t up-to-date on the safety behind it. This is definitely not the case at Havana Beach. Once I asked for gluten-free options, our sweet server knew them off the top of his head, then mentioned he would speak to the chef to triple check. They even have a gluten-free bread!

And y’all, this was one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. On top of having a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar, delicious mimosas and fresh squeezed juice, the food itself was five-star. They pride themselves on farm-to-table ingredients, from the eggs and meat to even the honey.

Their menus feature a Cuban and Spanish flare, no matter the season. I had the huevos revueltos con chorizo, which essentially translates to a chorizo omelet. The chorizo was deliciously spicy and the onions and peppers mixed in had a slight crunch that made it even more savory.

If the patio is packed, head up to the rooftop for a brunch cocktail and food. The views are just as lovely and the atmosphere a little more casual.

Havana Beach Bar & Grill gluten-free musts: Ask your server what’s available for the season. Their menu rotates quite often, but you can’t go wrong with your server’s suggestion. The Bloody Mary bar is a can’t-miss.

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate at Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

 

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate

It’s something wonderful when a restaurant is not only knowledgable about gluten-free, but has a gluten-free menu, especially with more items than just salads! La Crema Tapas & Chocolate’s gluten-free menu is quite expansive. Tapas (smaller bites), Grand Tapas (entrees), desserts, and a kid-friendly menu. The only problem was choosing what to have for dinner. In fact, anytime we visit Rosemary Beach, Florida, the trip isn’t complete without a dinner at La Crema.

If you’ve never had tapas before, it’s a shareable affair – they recommend sharing several appetizers and entrees with the table, which makes it a fun experience because you don’t have to choose just one. We split several small tapas before enjoying our own appetizer; however, the entree could have easily been split, too!

The serrano-wrapped figs are definitely something to write home about! It’s perfectly sweet, savory and a hint of spice (but not too much spice). The La Crema salad was perfectly fresh with a light balsamic vinaigrette with sweet walnuts, goat cheese and cranberries. Both tapas were small enough not to fill two of us up, but large enough to cull our appetites before the main course.

Both tapas paired perfectly with their red sangria. It was fresh, fruity and not too sweet, a perfect complement to the warm spring evening. Since you’ll be dining for a while, I recommend sharing a carafe!

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

The wonderful thing about La Crema is that they don’t rush you as you enjoy dinner in the cozy, patio seating. It’s the perfect place to people watch on Main Street in Rosemary Beach. When dining at La Crema, plan to give yourself at least an hour and a half to two hours to fully enjoy the experience. Tapas are meant to be savored, with life moving a little bit slower in the best way possible.

In terms of  entrees, the paellas are gluten-free, filling and, wonderfully spicy and savory. As a lighter entree, the lamb lollipops are not to be missed either, especially with the red wine reduction. As for the non-gluten-free diners, the lobster was a winner. Overall, the Grand Tapas servings are quite large and meant to be shared. Our plates weren’t eaten clean because… hello, chocolate fondue.

Yes, us gluten-free folks can have fondue here! You absolutely cannot eat at La Crema without having the chocolate fondue – it’s what they’re known for. We went with the classic milk chocolate, which – as a gluten-free option – came with apples, bananas and strawberries and marshmallows, which replaced the typical poundcake.

By the time we finished our meal at 7:30, there were plenty of folks waiting for a table. They do have a waiting list, which makes it easy to put your name on the list and jump down to another shop, take a quick walk on the beach just down the street or stop for a drink elsewhere while you wait.

All in all, La Crema is definitely a can’t-miss for any gluten-free diners in Rosemary Beach!

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate gluten-free musts: Sangria, serrano-wrapped figs, lamb lollipops, chocolate fondue.

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

Last minute tips for a perfect stay on 30A in Rosemary Beach:

  • Get to the beach early: Take advantage of the beach chair rentals when you stay with Rosemary Beach, but bring a credit card – they don’t take cash!
  • Rent a carriage house for a romantic getaway for two and enjoy the pools, fitness center, tennis facility and beach access
  • Check out the weekly wine tastings at Wild Olives every Friday from 5-7 p.m.

Disclaimer: Always contact restaurants in advance for their current gluten-free options and alert the restaurants you’re dining at if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Reviews on brendadalton.com do not guarantee a cross contamination-free zone and complete safety from gluten or wheat.

Best Gluten-Free Snacks for Traveling

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Despite the fact that I work in my home office, I have been traveling a ton which means access to gluten-free snacks can be a major challenge.

The Best On The Go Gluten-Free Snacks - brendadaltoncom - Brendadalton.com

 

You’ll find a minimum of three snacks on me at any given time, no matter the size of my purse, mostly because you can’t let that blood sugar get too low!

I’ve learned which gluten-free snacks travel incredibly well and which snacks… well, don’t look like anything edible after two hours in my bag.

Almonds & Mixed Nuts

This snack is a given. For those without a nut allergy, almonds are most likely the easiest to transport – in a bag! in a can! in your hand! – and they won’t freeze, melt or get crushed. Lately, I’ve become obsessed with Target’s Raw Mixed Nuts in individual packets. They’re incredibly easy to throw a few in my handbag when I’m out and about running errands.

Oatmeal

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily a snack, but when traveling, one of the hardest things to find sometimes can be a gluten-free breakfast! With most coffee shops and airports only offering pastries and breakfast sandwiches, it’s hard to know what’s safe to eat first thing in the morning. And who wants to start the morning getting glutened? Bakery on Main’s Gluten Free Oatmeal has outperformed every other gluten-free oatmeal I’ve tried over the years, in taste and texture. The peach and strawberry flavors are my favorite and aren’t as sugar-filled as some other flavored oatmeal; however, you can never beat a plain oatmeal with a drizzle of maple syrup and berries mixed in.

Popcorn

Is popcorn easily transportable? Yes! Grab individually wrapped SkinnyPop bags and you’re good to go. They can easily fit in a tote or backpack for the day and I’ve even traveled all day on several planes and found the popcorn miraculously doesn’t get squished. One of life’s great mysteries is how SkinnyPop can make such perfectly delicious popcorn with so few calories.

Jerky

One of the easy snacks I missed once I developed my gluten allergy was beef jerky. Did you know that smoke flavoring and/or soy sauce are in a majority of jerky brands and isn’t safe if you’re celiac or have a severe allergy? Yeah, I know, total bummer. It took me a long time to find gluten-free beef jerky, period, and it took even longer to find my favorites: Duke’s and Lorissa’s Kitchen. Both brands are gluten-free, low sugar and much healthier than your regular convenience store jerky, plus they offer unique flavors like Hatch Green Chili, Cajun and Andouille sausage (Duke’s) and Szechuan Peppercorn (Lorissa’s). Bonus: Duke’s comes in big bags and single servings!

Harvest Snaps

Secret confession: I never liked peas until I tried Harvest Snaps. Seriously, guys. They’re a life changer. For those of you with an addiction to chips of any kind, swap them out for Harvest Snaps for a healthy alternative to knock out those salty, savory cravings. They’re low carb, high protein, and low sugar and are tasty on their own or paired with hummus, dip or even salsa. At this point, they have at least a bazillion flavors covering three categories: Lentil, Snapea (my personal favorite!), and black bean.


Tell me: What are YOUR must-have gluten-free snacks when you’re out and about?

Alys Beach, Florida | City Guide | 30A

This post is the first in a series featuring several towns along Florida’s famous Highway 30A. This post: Alys Beach, Florida. Next up: Rosemary Beach. 
City Guide to Alys Beach Florida 30A - Places to eat Where to Shop BrendaDaltoncom
When it time for gettin’ a little fancy on 30A, head to Alys Beach (pronounced like Alice!). Alys Beach is one of the newest communities along 30A and is coming along nicely over the last five years – new shops and quick eats are popping up all the time, plus they host a number of fabulous festivals and events.
Stop by the Alys Shoppe to pick up Alys Beach-branded tees, Tervis cups, beach towels and more, plus unique boutique items for men, women and children. A number of parks, pools and green spaces are thoughtfully placed throughout the community and while you need a code to access the beach and pools, the stunning New Urbanism plan in the community encourages you to wander and admire.
Fonville Press is the perfect way to start and end your day in Alys Beach. This multi-purpose storefront serves coffee and newspapers in the morning and cocktails, iced tea and lunch bites in the afternoon, and cocktails and conversation in the evenings. With charming little tables outside to enjoy the gulf breeze, it’s hard to be in a rush in this quiet, luxurious community.
Alys Beach City Guide | 30A Florida City Guide by brendadalton.com
George’s at Alys Beach‘s gluten-free selection has been raved about, especially for GF fine dining. Disclaimer: Fine dining on the beach is not the same as the rest of the world. Yes, the food is beautiful and delicious, but a sundress, capris or a nice top will do you just dandy. After all, we made our way to Alys Beach from Rosemary Beach on bikes for dinner!
George’s hosts a great number of indoor, covered and outdoor seating. With an expansive covered deck, you can duck out of the sun on those hot days or get a front row seat to the sunset on their patio.
This Alys Beach gem is the perfect spot for gluten-free diners. With half the menu with that lovely “GF” next to the items, there are plenty of options to choose from. Keep in mind their menu changes seasonally, so what might be mentioned here in the blog might not be what’s currently on the menu. Either way, don’t fret because it is alllllll delicious.

George's at Alys Beach offers great options for gluten-free dining to please every palate.

George’s at Alys Beach gluten-free musts: Jerk-crusted gulf snapper with forbidden black rice, pineapple salsa, plantains, and a coconut rum molasses

Last minute tips for a perfect stay on 30A in Alys Beach:

  • Arrive at George’s soon after they open for prime seating: They don’t take reservations
  • Rent a vacation home for a night or two to enjoy the pools, fitness center, and beach access
  • Stop for ice cream or a quick, casual bite to eat at one of the many food trucks and trailers situated near the amphitheater and Town Center

Disclaimer: Always contact restaurants in advance for their current gluten-free options and alert the restaurants you’re dining at if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Reviews on brendadalton.com do not guarantee a cross contamination-free zone and complete safety from gluten or wheat.