Tips For Hosting A Dinner Party

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Sharing my top tips for hosting an awesome dinner party + some of my favorite cooking hacks.

Hi hi! How’s the morning going? I’m off to mass with the kids and then hitting an F45 class. I hope you have a great day, too.

For today’s post, I thought we could talk a bit about dinner party tips and cooking hacks. Please keep in mind that I’m NOT a professional (even though we have some people in my family who are professional cooks and others who cook like they’re professionals). I’m just a home cook who enjoys it and also happens to LOVE feeding people. When the Pilot and I first got married, a friend said I needed a kitchen sign that said, “Never leave hungry” because that seemed to my motto. It brings me so much joy to enjoy awesome meals with the people we love, so we love having friends and family members over whenever we can.

Over time, I’ve learned some good dinner party tips and cooking hacks, so I wanted to share with ya this morning. If you have any you can add to the list, please chime in in the comments section so we can help each other out! (* = ones that were submitted from Instagram! Thank you to those of you who chimed in)Dinner party tips and cooking hacks

15 Tips For Hosting A Dinner Party

Make anything you can in advance

I learned this one from my nana, who will make and freeze as many meal components as possible before a family get-together. She used to own a catering company, so she’s pretty used to making large quantities of amazing food. Anything you can make before a party, do it. This means things like dips, desserts, side dishes, anything. I usually try to pre-make anything I can, so I’m not cooking as people are arriving.

I learned this one the hard way. We invited friends over the first time we lived in Valdosta, and I hadn’t prepared a single thing. They all sat at the kitchen table as I ran around the kitchen, stressed, and sweating from the hot stove and burners. Learn from my mistake, friends.

Never try a new recipe the night of a dinner party

It can be tempting to want to try a cool new recipe you see on social media or a website, but always give it a test run before serving it to another group of people. I’ve had a handful of Pinterest fails and I’m so glad I took the time to try them out in advance. Serve options that you can cook easily and that you know are a hit.

Set the menu strategically

Check in with guests to see if there are any dietary restrictions. Plan out the menu in advance depending on the occasion and them

Lift & Tone Your Booty in 4 Weeks

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grow your booty

Get ready to wake up your glutes! The 2022 Booty Challenge is going to help you lift, tone, and build your best butt in 3 weeks. We start September 26th!

We’ll be working out daily together using my 3:1 method in my training app MOVE by Love Sweat Fitness and I’ll be giving you a FREE eBook with brand new booty building recipes + pre & post workout nutrition tips just for signing up! Not only that, there’s a chance to win some amazing prizes! I can’t wait for you to join us!

I know getting and staying motivated can be tough, so I’ll also be sending you weekly emails and texts sharing tips and lots of inspiration to help you reach your goals!

Your Daily Sweat

On September 26th you will find your Booty Challenge workouts in the challenge section of MOVE

Your Workouts

You will see you three-part challenge designed to strengthen and tone your glutes.

Here’s the breakdown of what to expect each day to help grow your booty in 3 weeks!

1: Sweat Sesh

This is your main workout that is personalized for you, based on your fitness level (beginner, intermediate or advanced)

2: Daily 10

10 min workout that is great as a dynamic warm-up or a quick workout anytime, anywhere!

3: Bonus Move

This is the Booty Bonus Move that will target your glutes every day!

The Grand Prize

As if that new booty wasn’t enough, you could win a grand prize package valued at over $400 just for committing to yourself for the next 3 weeks!

How do I win?

  • Take your “before” photos on day 1, so you’ll have an amazing transformation story to share with us at the end! Find all the pro tips here.
  • Create an LSF Instagram account to engage with the #TeamLSF

I can’t afford therapy – What do I do now?

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If you're looking for help but can't afford private support, you still have options. Here we look at some alternative routes you can take

I can’t afford therapy – What do I do now?

At the time of writing, we’re existing in a very strained time. More people are struggling financially as the cost of living crisis escalates. This in itself is taking a toll on mental health for many.

Even without this crisis in the picture, it’s important to recognise that paying for private therapy is inaccessible for some.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have options though. Here we want to talk through the different routes you can take to look after your mental health without spending more than you can afford.


Look into counselling on the NHS

This is the first route a lot of us go down. If you’re registered with a GP, you can access therapy for free through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme. The types of therapies you can access in this way will depend on your individual needs, but include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), guided self-help (where a therapist supports you as you complete a self-help course, using a workbook or online) and counselling for depression (a specific type of counselling for those with depression).

There are several different ways your therapy may be delivered, from one-to-one and group sessions, to over-the-phone therapy and self-help courses. Going to your GP in the first instance can be helpful as they often suggest a therapy type and refer you. You don’t however need a referral from your doctor to access these therapies.

You can easily self-refer directly to a therapy provider in your area. Depending on where you live, you will need to be over the age of 16, 17 or 18 to do this. If you’re younger than this, you can get support from your local child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS).

If you do self-refer, you’ll need to contact the therapy provider and they’ll come back to you within a few weeks to give you an assessment (usually done over the phone). This is where they’ll ask you for some more details of what you’ve been experiencing so they can understand how best to support you. They will then let you know when your first appointment will be.

What can be a barrier for some people on this route is the waiting time. The amount of time you’ll have to wait to get treatment will depend on a number of factors, including where you live. If the wait is long and you need help sooner, you may want to look into the other options below.


Consider low-cost therapy

There are some private practices and organisations that offer low-cost therapy. This may be a blanket fee for everyone, or they may offer concessions for those on benefits or low-income households. Never be afraid to ask about these when researching private therapists, while some will advertise them, others will work on a case by case basis.

You may also want to think about reaching out to therapy-training providers to see if trainee counsellors offer reduced rates. Trainee counsellors will need to complete at least 200 hours of therapy work before graduating, s

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Caramel Banana Trail Mix

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Sweet and Salty Chocolate Caramel Banana Trail Mix

A little bit of sweet, a little bit of salty and the yummy banana chips you remember from your childhood! This trail mix recipe is perfect for hiking, the holidays or game day!

I was chatting with friend the other day about school lunches, aka the worst part about back-to-school ever and she mentioned that she was so tired of the snack rut. I totally am the same but one little thing has been helping me the past two years- snack mixes and trail mix!

All you do is throw together snacks that hit a few notes like sweet and salty, crunchy and soft and bam, you’ve got a brand new snack for lunch or after school! Sometimes I even mix together cereals and dried fruits, the kids love it!

 

a photo of a black bowl full of banana trail mix with dark chocolate chipes, pretzels rounds, and caramel bits.

Ingredients for Banana Trail Mix

One of the best things about a trail mix is that it can totally be flexible to what you have and what you love. This is our favorite combination but feel free to customize it to your liking.

  • Dark Chocolate Chips – creamy and chewy
  • Pretzels – salty and crunchy
  • Caramel Bits – sweet and chewy
  • Salted Almonds – salty and crunchy
  • Banana Chips – sweet and crunchy

The measurements for each ingredients is listed in the recipe card below.

How to Make Banana Trail Mix

It almost seems silly to even have a section to explain this, but you would be surprised! Dump all the ingredients from the bags into a large bowl and toss together. Now that’s a recipe that anyone can handle!

 

a photo of a large metal mixing bowl full of banana chips trail mix with caramel bits, pretzel rounds, almonds and dark chocolate chips.Read more

Women in sport: How can we tackle the negative ‘strong woman’ stereotype?

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Former England rugby player Kat Merchant shares her experience of ‘fit shaming’ and how she deals with it

Women in sport: How can we tackle the negative ‘strong woman’ stereotype?

As a former England rugby player, I have always been a ‘strong woman’. It was my job to be the strongest and fittest I could be to win, and that meant being physically muscular to be at peak performance every time I stepped onto the pitch.

Elite women in the sporting spotlight face a huge amount of pressure to perform and look a certain way, which also means our bodies often get judged harshly – particularly in my line of sport. Women rugby players have consistently had to deal with labels like ‘manly’ and ‘unfeminine’. Critics have placed more value in the way we look rather than the way we play, without realising the negative effect this has on our mental health and body confidence.

I’ve received a torrent of online abuse over the years, criticising my muscular appearance as a woman. Society still associates muscle and strength with masculinity – a harmful, outdated stereotype that stops young girls and women from getting into sports and having confidence in their own skin.

Women in sport: How can we tackle the negative ‘strong woman’ stereotype?
Kat Merchant

The first time I received online hate about my appearance was in response to a video of me doing a bicep curl I had uploaded to Instagram. As a personal trainer, it’s important in my line of work to demonstrate the exercise, and to show the right technique for others to follow. That’s the positive side of social media, it makes training skills accessible to a wide audience wanting to better their fitness. But someone decided to respond very negatively, sending a video of them retching at me. At first, seeing that reaction really knocked my confidence. I couldn’t understand why someone felt it necessary to be so hurtful – it even made me consider coming off of social media completely.

I discussed it with my partner, who suggested that I turn it around and show people strength in responding and not letting it affect me. Out of a negative experience, I had been given the opportunity to make female strength more standardised. I could use my platform to actually raise awareness about the abuse strong women get, and hopefully make a difference in a positive way.

It has taken time for me to get to a point where I am less affected mentally, because it is something that can chip away at your confidence and you do get sick of it. But for me, it was almost like doubling down on the hate. Now, if someone comments ‘you look like a man’ on any of my pictures, I respond with another picture where I look really muscular, just to show that not only are they wrong, but there are also consequences for somebody saying something insensitive that can negatively affect someone’s mental health.

Lots of people feel a certain sense of anonymity on social media, where they can

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