Jan 30, 2015

Utrecht, Netherlands: Castle De Haar


Back in early spring of last year, D and I took a trip through various parts of Belgium and the Netherlands with another couple. We did a handful of beer tours/tastings (more on those to come), wandered around some gorgeous Dutch towns (Utrecht & Tilburg, to be exact), and experienced one of Europe's best-kept castles…Castle De Haar. If you've ever Google searched fairytale castles in Europe, you'll likely come across and aerial view of Castle De Haar, the Netherlands largest and most famous castle. It's…in one word…marvelous. Aside from the outside of Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle, I'd say it's the 2nd most impressive castle I've seen through all my European travels.

The castle itself was entirely restored and partially rebuilt in the 19th century, but historical records of a building at this location date all the way back to 1391. Castle De Haar is special because it's one of the only few castle across Europe with the same paramount image of a medieval fortress--towers, canals, ramparts, and drawbridges, just to name a few charming qualities. It's literally the exact image I had in my head of what a true castle would look like, if I were living a few centuries back in time. There were even swans swimming in the ponds. Total fairytale castle if I ever saw one.


The only way to see the inside of the castle is to purchase a guided tour, but we were short on time and, honestly, with as many castle interiors we'd seen over the years, we were fine skipping the tour. The real star of the show is always the castle façade, for me at least. I would also recommend wandering around the gardens surrounding the castle. The smell of blooming flowers was unbelievably strong and made our walk even more pleasant.


If you ever find yourself with an hour to spare around Utrecht, don't hesitate to hunt down this beautiful reminder of Netherlands history!

Castle De Haar- Kasteellaan 1, 3455 RR Haarzuilens
Castle open daily 11am-5pm (guided tour required for entry)
Guided Tour: €14
Entrance to park/gardens: €4
Parking fee: €4
Tours start on the hour with 2 English tours daily. 
English audio tours available as well.

Jan 28, 2015

That Crazy Wrap Thing: It Works! [WRAP GIVEAWAY!]

Like clockwork, January 1st rolls in and a new year full of resolutions blasts into the forefront of our minds. Just like most Americans, I make resolutions based on whatever goals I have for myself. Lose weight, drink more water, sleep at least 8 hours a night, exercise 4 times a week, try new foods, see new destinations...the list goes on a on! Also like clockwork, the second February 1st hits the calendar, I give up on all my resolutions because they're just too darn much. And I like my fro-yo, let's be real. 

This year, D and I resolved to do all those things above, except unlike year's past, we actually made a plan to achieve those goals. And we've got an arsenal of new products to help us get there! I've been reading and hearing about It Works (that crazy wrap thing) for months. In fact, I've got a handful of friends who are distributors...but none as ON FIRE for the It Works products and company as my friend and fellow MilSpouse Tessa! I met Tessa through Jessica (of Jessica Lynn Writes blog) during my week-long trip to Italy back in the fall of 2012. Our meeting was brief, but we've kept in touch...and just a few weeks ago she approached me about advertising her booming It Works biz on my blog. Because I've been intrigued about the body wraps for so long (and a bit of a skeptic because of my nutrition background), I jumped at the chance to work with Tessa!



Within a week, Tessa had hooked me up with lots of It Works products to try, including body wraps, Greens, Thermofit, Confianza, and FatFighter. I was most excited to try the wraps (who doesn't want to smooth and tone up that belly?) and the Greens (because everyone sings their praises). Here's a quick review of the products I tried:

Body Wrap Review: I decided to try the wrap in the typical fashion it's used by most...the belly! I knew I probably wouldn't see huge results only wearing the wrap for the suggested 45 minutes (time recommended for first-timers to make sure you don't react negatively to the product), so I checked my skin after the 45 min and left it on for another 2.25 hours. I will tell you, the sensation you get on your skin after putting on the wrap and it starts to work its magic was a little off-putting at first. Your skin tingles a bit, like you've got some sort of peppermint scrub on from the spa. It smells like that, too! I had to text Tessa and double check that this warm/cold feeling was normal and she assured me it was. Whew! As time rolled by, I hardly noticed the sensation anymore. She also recommended I drink lots of water before, during, and especially after wrapping, so while I sat and watched a movie with my wrap, I had a large bottle of water close by. After 3 hours wearing my first body wrap, I could definitely tell a difference in the way my skin felt. It felt tighter, more taut and less jiggly. WOO! From the before & after photos that I took (which will never see the light of day...sorry), I could tell I had a smoother mid-section, but I couldn't visibly see any inches lost. I wasn't really expecting to see any major changes with my first wrap, but I was excited that my mid-section felt tighter. I didn't feel the need to hold anything in! 3 days later, my tummy still felt tight, smooth, and less jiggly. That in itself was worth it.

A few weeks later after I ordered a full box of wraps, D and I wrapped our mid-sections and experienced the exact same results...tighter, taut tummies! D was hilarious, though...asking a million questions and constantly wanting to peek at his tummy before time was up. Like a little kid, that man! A few days later, I wrapped my arm fat (you know, the "batwings") and, again, the smoothness and tightness was obvious. 3 days later, still tight and they look to me, less hangy (for the lack of a better word). Next time I wrap them I'll take measurements, because I really feel like they're a smidge smaller.

Throughout our wrapping trials, D and I both ate normally and worked out at least 2 times a week. Nothing over the top, but I imagine if we wrapped, ate super healthy and did 4+ times a week workouts, our results would be doubled. I recently started taking the FatFighter supplement samples Tessa sent me after I ate fatty/carb heavy meals and the Thermofit before workouts. I can tell I have a bit more energy to power through my runs and extend my workouts a bit longer with Thermofit, so that exciting! I'm curious to see how that paired with the FatFighter helps facilitate weight loss with continued use...only time will tell. I have a problem swallowing pills, so the FatFighters and Thermofit supplements I have to break in half and take. No biggie!

Greens Chews Review: I really, really liked how these bad boys tasted. They're like eating a small bite of berry Laffy Taffy...no, really! The fact that they're chock full of antioxidants and prebotic support really sold me. I'm a big fan and plan to order more soon.

Confianza Supplement Review: I'm not sure on this one. I've taken it 3 times and I really can't tell that I'm less stressed or more focused like it claims to help with. Granted, I'm super in tune to what my most common stressors are and how my body reacts to them, so I often use other techniques to de-stress and focus. That being said, I did feel less tired on the days I took Confianza. Not sure if I was well rested or if the supplement helped. Not sure I'll keep this one in my repertoire. Too many variables for me.

Greens On-the-Go Review: I'm not a huge fan of adding anything to my water. Plain water always tastes better to me. But, I honestly didn't mind the Greens taste. Tessa sent me the Berry flavor to try and it was subtle in an 8 oz. glass of water. It turns your water into a greenish-grey color and it does add a slightly thicker consistency to the water, but it's not off-putting. If you don't add it to a water bottle and drink it from a glass, you'll have to stir it from time to time or the greens will settle to the bottom of the glass. I'd recommend adding it to a water bottle or a shaker bottle so you can shake to mix it freely. As for how it made me feel...I could definitely tell I had more energy, even on the day I drank it and skipped my workout. Would I keep up with drinking Greens? I think so. I feel like if I combined with with wrapping and the FatFighters/Thermofit supplements, it could only increase my energy and results. I'm also interested to feel those detoxing effects over continued use.

FINAL REVIEW: I've already purchased a bottle of FatFighters and Thermofit as well as 3 more boxes of wraps...so I guess that means I'm sold! Well, I'm still testing, really. I feel like with extended use, I could potentially see some great results. I'll keep you all updated! And if the results are really awesome, I just might share my photos. That's not a scary thought AT ALL. [eye-rolls] We will see! Now, here's a little story from Tessa, the Wrap Queen herself!! Take it away, girl!

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First and foremost, I am SO grateful to Casey for giving me the opportunity to talk with her HUGE, amazing network of women and bloggers about the phenomenal company that is It Works Global. I became an independent distributor with IWG back in August 2013 just before my husband and I were moving from Aviano Air Base to Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. I was finishing up my Masters degree and knew that I would be interning full time with a high school in SC and wouldn't be able to contribute financially to our family as I had been doing while I was at Aviano. A few months after our move, I realized how much of a financial hit we took when we moved back stateside. I contacted one of my uplines and asked her to help me make my business explode. 

Everything from that point on is history! Since then, I've invested my spare time (sometimes 15 minutes a day, sometimes hours a day) into developing my business and now have a team of 40 distributors and countless clients! Everyone that It Works has introduced me to has been dedicated to their health and wellness as well as taking control of their own finances and every day I meet someone else who inspires me to stay on the same path! I've never met a group of more motivating and inspirational people in my life and am so honored to be a part of this community of successful men and women.


That being said, what IS It Works? You may have heard of "that crazy wrap thing." We're all over Instagram and other social media outlets and yet still the majority of the world hasn't heard about the Ultimate Body Applicator that tighten, tones, and firms your skin in just 45 minutes! Everyone from fitness models to moms with extra skin on their bellies are loving our wraps and the results they are seeing. I tried my first wrap back in the summer of 2013 and when I woke up a size smaller (my under belly was GONE), I knew I needed to be a part of this company!


In addition to that crazy wrap thing, It Works has an incredible supplement and skincare line - all of which are 100% all natural. Talk about holistic health! A few of my favorite products include the Greens, a non-GMO powder that you mix with juice or water and it has 8+ servings of fruits and vegetables. After my first month of drinking Greens, I lost 13lbs. After months of drinking Greens, my immune system has NEVER been better... I can't believe I've made it through this winter without getting even a sniffle! If people are interested in wrapping, I always suggest drinking Greens which detox your body daily and help your wrap results.


Another perk to It Works is they are ALL about Customer Service. The Loyal Customer program is specifically set up for VIP members who enjoy trying new products, want to improve their health or the way they look, and love saving money! As soon as you sign up as a Loyal Customer, you get up to 40% off all of the products and instantly get $10 in perks points (cash back you use toward a future purchase!). AND when you sign up and a friend signs up because of you, you get $35 or a free box of wraps! There are plenty more perks where that came from, but those are my most favorite.

No matter what your health or beauty goals are, It Works has you covered! I so look forward to meeting you and again, thank you to Miss Casey for introducing us!

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

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So, you interested in trying that crazy wrap thing yet?! Don't waste another minute! If you're curious for more info about It Works products, wanting to become a distributor yourself ($500 BONUS FOR NEW DISTRIBUTORS), or you're just ready to take the plunge and wrap your way to a better you, email Tessa or contact her on any one of the social media pages listed above (make sure to tell her Casey sent ya!). Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a FREE BODY WRAP! Tessa is giving away 4 wraps, so 4 lucky people will get to see what all the fuss is about! GOOD LUCK and get wrapping!

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