Author Archives: Nicole C. Prins

About Nicole C. Prins

Sales Manager + NFL Fanatic

Homemade Caramel Corn!

 

I’ve had a rough day football wise – got destroyed in fantasy, lost all my point spread tickets, Seattle barely scraped out a win against the 49ers … it’s been a tough day in the Barker-Prins house.

So, to cheer myself up I’ve been thinking of things that I love and this homemade caramel corn is right at the top of that list! I got this recipe from my Aunt Val one year at Christmas. In our family, everyone has food and snacks they always bring to family Christmas and this corn is now on that list. Keep reading for the super easy recipe. It can cheer up even the most dreadful football days.

What you need:

2 cups of packed brown sugar
1 cup of butter or margarine
1/2 cup of corn syrup
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
30 cups of air popped corn (1 1/2 cups of un-popped kernels)
9 tablespoons of vegetable oil (if you’re popping your corn on the stove)
Plus: 3 or 4 large bowls, baking sheets, and tin foil

What you do:

  1. I pop my popcorn on the stove, although I’m sure an air popper is much easier. If you use an air popper, skip to step 4!  To do this, put 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pot with a lid. With the lid slightly ajar to let steam out, add in 3 corn kernels and once they start popping, you know your oil is warm.
  2. From here, add 1/2 a cup of corn kernels, and with the lid ajar, swirl the pot on the stove to keep the kernels from burning and let it pop for about 25-30 seconds or until the popping stops. Remove from the stove and let it sit for a minute or so and wait for the last few kernels to pop. Measure out into a large bowl – you should have 10 cups.
  3. Repeat steps one and two twice more or until you have 30 cups of popped corn. Usually only takes me 3 times in total to get the right amount. Also, I know 30 cups of popped corn sounds like a lot but it’s really not!
  4. In a pot on the stove, turn to medium heat and mix the first four ingredients together (brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt) and heat until it all boils.
  5. Now add your baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. It should become foamy and light brown in colour.
  6. Evenly pour the caramel over the popcorn (I usually separate my popcorn into four bowls to make mixing easier). Mix so all the popcorn is covered.
  7. Pour your caramel corn onto a baking sheets lined with tin foil to avoid it from sticking.

*Tip: I use four baking sheets so the popcorn isn’t piled high. My stove is small so I can only bake two sheets at once making it a longer process, but the final result is better.

  1. Bake at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Stirring is very important or the caramel will settle at the bottom of the tray, the popcorn will stick together, and it will come out sticky.

Store in an airtight container (if it’s not devoured straight out of the oven!)

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Waste of Money or Totally Worth it? The ‘Sweat’ App by Kayla Itsines

I could write this post in three words and be done with it: Waste of money!! But, I want to explain why it’s a waste of money. I have a hate-hate relationship with Kayla Itsines and her ‘BBG’ guide. Hang tight, this will make sense at the end. I tried to give BBG another chance, but they’ve lost me for good.

The “Sweat” app itself is free and offers a 7-day trial, which gives you access to Kayla Itsines’ “Instagram Famous” workout, Bikini Body Guide (#BBG). BBG originally came as a PDF that you could purchase online then download to your phone but Kayla eventually built an app called “Sweat” that would have all of the workouts in it (plus some additional information) and would also be available on your Apple Watch – easier to use than the PDF’s, with videos in the app to show you how to do the exercises, and overall is more interactive (blah blah, whatever the benefits of apps are – I’m not here to sell it).

Once your trial is over, it costs $19.99 a month (AUD) or $54.99 a quarter (AUD) to continue to have access. Keep in mind, you still pay for the app even if you’ve previously paid to download the PDF’s (which I paid a discounted $40 to have).

Here’s where things get weird. I had given up on BBG for a while but was going to try to get back into it once I got my Apple Watch (new toy for the gym, I guess). I received an email from “Kayla Itsines” saying they were giving away “unlimited access” to the app content for $19.99. I figured it was a good deal, so I bought it. I got an email confirmation from kaylaitsinessales@gmail.com (which is the same email I received the original confirmation from a year ago when I bought the PDFs). I was having some issues with the app and getting access so I had emailed them back and forth a few times and they were really quick at getting back to me. I was assured after my 7-day free trial I would have no problem using my “unlimited access” and it would automatically be put on my account.

Fast forward to day 8 and I can no longer access “Sweat” and can’t get a hold of Kayla Itsines’ customer service team. Granted I only paid $20 for the app, I was mad that they weren’t holding up their end of the bargain – they had confirmed I wouldn’t have issues and now bam! Issues. Girl just wants to get her workout on.

After days and days of countless emails, Instagram messages, tweets to Kayla (borderline trolling), I finally got a response from her saying I needed to email teamleader@sweat.com. I did and again waited days for a response. When they did, this is what they said:

This is where I get really annoyed. The part that is confusing to me is that your original PDF guide came from the same email they’re claiming is not associated with the company.

The other thing that really gets me is that this so called “scam” has clearly been emailed out to their customer base yet Kayla herself hasn’t addressed it in social media, warning her 7.3 million Instagram followers that this is a “scam”. That seems really fishy to me. You have millions of loyal women following your business, your workouts, you as a someone they look up to and you’re willingly letting them be scammed and that is your response?

I don’t want my money back from Kayla at this point – $20 is nothing. Whether or not the scam is real or fake, the way Kayla and her company have handled the situation and their lack of acknowledgment are disgusting.

I want to know if any other girls in the BBG Community have experienced this! Either way, I hope you guys read this as a warning to proceed with Kayla Itsines with caution.

Nutrition Guide 101

Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me start off by saying I am not a certified nutritionist, personal trainer, or qualified in giving nutrition advice whatsoever. BUT, I wanted to give a little insight into how I built my meal plan in hopes that it’ll help out people who are like me (aka people with little knowledge on how to do it or where to even begin). Also, this could be a long post so stick with me!

One of the main reasons I’ve avoided making a meal plan is because it’s daunting and seems like a lot of work. I had no idea where to start and wasn’t motivated enough to learn. However, I’ve started going to the gym or have been active every day (it took me a while to find a fitness plan that I like and that I feel works for me, but right now I’ve settled on The Ultimate Full Body Guide) and figured that by not focusing on nutrition, I’m not getting the full benefits. So, here we are.

There are a few things I wanted to know before I started making my meal plan (keep in mind, this is different for everyone based on your weight, goals, etc.):

  1. How many calories should I be eating every day?
  2. What are these ‘macros’ I keep hearing everyone talking about?
  3. Why is protein important?

Protein is important because it helps build muscle and lose fat.

The first thing I did was figure out how many calories I should intake every day. There are a lot of places you can go online to do it, but I like Geoff’s Calorie Calculator (Geoff is the Personal Trainer behind The Ultimate Full Body Guide). Based on my goals, I learned I need to be taking in about 1284 – 1784 calories per day.

From here, I figured out what ‘macros’ are – which are macronutrients, which make up the caloric intake of food. I know how many calories I need to eat but that doesn’t mean I should head to McDonald’s and get a 20 pack of nuggets and a poutine to “get my calories in” – you need to think about the nutrients that make up the calories.

Macros are made up of proteincarbs, and fat.

1g of Protein = 4 calories
1g of Carbs = 4 calories
1g of Fat = 9 calories

Once I knew what made up the calories, I needed to figure out how much protein, carbs, and fat I should be taking in based off of those calories. There are lots of different ratios but I went with the 40/40/20 ratio for now (the most common and easiest). From there, you can play around with your ratios. If you’re always hungry, eat more protein. If you’re lacking energy, increase fats. You’ll have to find the balance that works for you, I’m just writing this to give you a starting point.

So, once I had my ratios of 40 (protein), 40 (carbs), and 20 (fat), I figured out what that equated to based on my total calories:

1284 calories * 0.40 = 514 calories of protein + carbs
1284 calories * 0.20 = 257 calories of fat

1784 calories * 0.40 = 714 calories of protein + carbs
1784 calories * 0.20 = 357 calories of fat

Now I had a range of calories I could intake from protein, carbs, and fat. The hard part was figuring out the meal plan.

I used the “My Fitness Pal” website to figure out the nutritional information for almost everything in my plan. You can find that on their website.

I put together a spreadsheet to plan out my meals and it calculates your macros for each meal. All you have to do is put together the meal and input the macros into the chart and it adds up the totals. You do have to play around with the food and numbers a bit (for example, I found a lot of my meals were exceeding my fat targets so I had to cut out in some areas. I also found I was struggling to get protein throughout the day, so had to up my protein powder scoops in my daily smoothies). I’ve put a template of my meal planner and you can download it here, here, hereHere’s a screenshot of what an average day looks like for me:

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 1.26.32 PM

For now, that’s all I have! I can keep updating the blog with my process and if you have any questions or want help with what I did, leave a comment below.

I hope this helps!!

*As a disclaimer, all information I wrote about was taken from here and here

Killer Ab Workout

I recently strained my foot during a workout (or at least, I think that’s when it happened) so I haven’t been able to follow my regular lower body Alexia Clark workouts lately. In exchange, I’ve been focusing a lot on my upper body (arms and shoulders). Great for improving my arms and shoulders but they’re really tired and need a break! So, I put together some of my favourite ab workouts from Alexia Clark and made my own ab circuit. I last posted my HIIT Skipping Workout, so I thought it was about time I shared this one. It’s all about abs, so I hope you’re ready! (PS: I’ve tried to link example videos for the exercises but whatever isn’t linked can be found on Alexia Clark’s Instagram)

Circuit 1
3 Rounds

Chest Press Leg Raise – 20 Reps
Flutter Kicks – 15 Reps (each leg)
Bench Crunches – 15 Reps (each leg)
Plank Weight Push – 10 Reps (each way)

Circuit 2
3 Rounds

Cable Squat Twist – 10 Reps (each way) 
Cable Wood Chop – 10 Reps (each way)
Cable Hinge Row – 10 Reps (each way)
Bent Over Reach Row – 10 Reps (each way)

Circuit 3
3 Rounds – 40 Seconds On, 20 Seconds Rest

Weighted V Ups – 40 Seconds
Weighted Russian Twists – 40 Seconds
Pull Over Alternating Leg Raises – 40 Seconds
Kettlebell Swings – 40 Seconds

Why I Decided To Join SeneGence

Multi-Level Marketing companies. MLMs. Pyramid Schemes. Scams. Network Marketing. Referral Marketing. Whatever you want to call them, I won’t sugarcoat and try to tell you that SeneGence isn’t one. Because let’s be real, it is. I joined a team of distributors and am part of her “1st downline” – if I have people join my team, they will be on my 1st downline and my upline’s 2nd downline. Yeah, it can get complicated.

There are lots of successful MLMs – Avon, Usana, Arbonne, Scentsy, Pampered Chef, Younique, just to name a few.

If you’ve been following my personal Facebook or Instagram accounts, you’ll know I’ve recently joined a SeneGence team and started promoting LipSense. I’m a lipstick girl – it’s my favourite makeup item! I’m always looking for a long wear, kiss proof, food proof, everything proof lipstick and finally found one that ticks all the boxes. THAT’S why I’m now a “SeneGence Distributor”. I love the product, I use it, and I wanted a nice discount for myself. Does it come with some added benefits? Sure, I guess.

 

I’ll say I never thought I’d be one to join a MLM so I want to explain why I did. (Sorry Jess if you’re reading this! She’s my ‘team leader’)

Here’s what I will do with SeneGence:

  • I will make an Instagram page + Facebook Group and a fun business name to promote what I’m doing (follow me @LipsInTheSix). This is completely free and the only thing it takes is my time. I can post when I want and don’t have to do anything else! Posting is simple.
  • I will update my Instagram + Facebook group page about the products
  • I will suggest and promote the product to friends and family if they ask about it or they want to know what I’m doing but won’t push people to buy it

Here’s what I don’t plan on doing:

  • I don’t plan to actively recruit people to my team. If I have friends and family that are interested in becoming a distributor and want to join my team, great. If not, also great! I didn’t join to start a downline.
  • I don’t plan on front loading on the stock. This is where certain MLMs can be a debt-inducing black hole. Some companies suggest you front load or buy a lot of stock before you have customers so you’re “ready to sell when they’re ready to buy” – while I get the concept, I’m not in this to make a ton of money so going far into the negative seems pointless. Shipping is fast in Canada and I have ways around front loading, such as weekly/monthly orders and only placing orders once I have payment
  • I won’t make this a business or my only source of income – this is great to fill my spare time, a little hobby project, and definitely helps me learn how to ‘grow a business using social media’ without investing a lot of capital into something. J and I would love to open a business one day and this is a great way to learn little things that work for a ‘new venture’

For right now, this is a great product that I personally love to use and the discount is a nice perk. Will it lead to more down the road? Who knows – I don’t think so but you can never be certain! Have you ever tried an MLM? What was your experience?

Lips In The Six.png

A Balcony Oasis

J and I moved into our condo this past January and I couldn’t wait to spruce up the balcony. As soon as the weather was warm enough, I started planning how I was going to make our little 4’ x 10’ balcony a little oasis. Just because you live in a condo doesn’t mean that you can’t make those tiny balconies a miniature paradise. Keep reading for some tips to spruce up and maximize your outdoor space.

Light It Up
I want to say this is my favourite addition to our balcony, but I’m not sure that would be honest (since I love it all) but adding white lights makes a huge difference. They bring a great ambiance to the balcony and brighten it up more than you would think! I bought these lights from Ikea + strung them up with these nearly invisible command hooks (just make sure you get the all-weather or outdoor ones).

A Colourful Rug
Rugs aren’t just meant for indoors, guys. It’s so simple but I love these cotton rag rugs – they’re colourful, comfy for my feet, and each one is different! I tucked the rug under the chairs so that we can take our shoes off while we’re out there.

Compact (but comfortable) Furniture
Because there isn’t a lot of room on most condo balconies, the trick is to find compact and comfortable furniture. I snagged these wooden reclining chairs from IKEA and they are amazing. They’re really durable (stand up to being out in the rain all season and barely look dirty or worn!) and with the addition of these outdoor cushions (which are equally as durable to the elements), it is the perfect seat to relax + soak up the sun in.

Candles
We’re constantly burning candles in our house and being out on the balcony is no different. Although it doesn’t get super buggy out on our balcony yet (well, not yet anyways) citronella candles give off a nice lemony smell and keep the mosquitos away – double bonus. I love a good candle.

Tree Stump Table
Okay, I lied – this is my most prized balcony possession. I desperately wanted a tree stump tables for a long, long time and could never bite the bullet and spend $200 + dollars to buy one. Luckily, my dad had a friend who was cutting down some trees and saved me a stump to use as a side table, which saved me big bucks. The stump is rustic and a great side table between the stools.

Plants, Plants, Plants!
I have a mild obsession with plants. I can’t stop buying them and they’re making our balcony a little jungle oasis. My amazing dad built a tiered plant stand, which I stained to match our furniture, and it holds a ton of plants. I mix it up by using different potters of shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of plants. Some of my favourite additions have been our fig tree (I’ve never had a fig but can’t wait to try a homegrown one) and our mini orange tree. We’re also growing cherry tomatoes, which are like my little babies since I grew them from seeds. Plants bring life to the balcony and tie the whole oasis together. I get my plants from Crown Flora, Dynasty, and the little ‘bodegas’ in my neighbourhood.

Putting a little time and energy into your balcony can make it so enjoyable – I guarantee we wouldn’t ever want to be out there if we just had a couple of cheap plastic lawn chairs!

Money Management Tips

So, if you’ve been following along the past few weeks, you’ll know my ‘bad debt story’ and how I’ve worked on fixing it. Being better with money is something that I’m proud of. I try to share my experience with people so that they don’t have to go through the same stuff I did – please learn from my mistakes!! I know these tips aren’t groundbreaking but they’ve helped me out a lot.

Track Your Spending

I started tracking my spending before I made my budget. It helped me understand how much I was actually spending so I could make a realistic budget. I used an app called ‘Expense 5’, which was really eye-opening – tracking it in real time and being able to look at it at any time was a quick reality check. I’d look and think “wooooah, I’ve spent how much on snacks and Starbucks this week?” – I was quickly able to adjust. Without tracking my spending, I’d have no idea what’s going on.

Use Cash as Much as Possible

I used to watch a money show on TV and the debt counselor always told these people to use cash because it was easier to track. I do try to use cash as often as possible. I find that I am more conscious of my spending if I have to count out the money or I can see it dwindling down in my wallet (when you tap your debit card, you don’t even see your balance go down – is ignorance really bliss?).

Not Using Credit

If you struggle with debt and always being in the red, commit to not using credit. I don’t have credit cards because of my debt repayment program, but I can confidently say I haven’t missed them at all the past two years. I used credit like “free money”, which we all know it’s not. By eliminating credit cards, I get rid of that temptation of spending money I don’t have. I’m much more careful with big purchases now that I don’t use credit – I’m not as impulsive when I know the money is gone instantly.

Make a Realistic Budget

Ugh, if only I knew this when I first started out. Yeah, it’s nice to think you’re not going to spend any money on taxis all month, but let’s be real. Or it’s nice to think you can only eat out once a week, but is that really going to happen? Be realistic! If there are areas where you know you struggle or will have difficulty reducing your spending, is there somewhere else in your budget to cut the slack. This also is true with rent and living expenses. Is your budget realistic to your expenses and income? For example, I was budgeting to move out and realistically, my rent was $1,400 once I factored in utilities. However, I only budgeted $1,200. What was I thinking? Idiot, Nicole. Don’t be like that guys. If you make commission at your job (or have other variable forms of income), don’t factor that into your budget! Think of it like a bonus every month but budget to live without it. Leave wiggle room in your budget, too. If there’s an unexpected expense, you want to be able to afford it without going too far into the hole.