Week In Review – Parenting With Gorillas

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IMG_0916 Last week while Hayden and I were at Target shopping for groceries/home decor/shoes and candles, Hayden fell in love with some colorful stuffed gorillas, meant for Valentine’s Day gift giving. He ran over to them and picked up one, the pink one first, and ran over to me, stuffed it in the cart and said “mine!” He ran back and got the black colored one, came back over, threw it in the cart and yelled “Bubba’s!” A third time, he ran back over, picked up a brown gorilla, shoved it in the cart again and said “Tay Tay’s!” And that was that.

As you can see, we have plenty of stuffed animals, more than we can count really, although the kids do keep surprisingly accurate inventory, and the last thing we needed were more stuffed animals. But it’s hard to refuse Hayden, and it was Valentine’s Day after all. So I acquiesced and we took all three home. The kids fell in love immediately and named them appropriately; Bubble Gum, Blackberry, and Cocoa. In fact every single one of their stuffed animals has a name and the older two can recount how each of them came to be in their possession. IMG_0921

I really should start a stuffed animal toy drive and get rid of 99% of these animals, but when I watch them snuggle up and play with these guys, it allows me to think they’re still very little and are far far away from the perils of growing up. Of course they’re no longer babies and after experiencing our fair amount of school drama these past few weeks, which has thankfully settled down, I’m content to stay in my naive bubble and let them get lost in pretend childish play for as long as possible. I figure they’ll want to toss the stuffed animals soon enough.

But seriously, it would be a tragic day if we ever got a case of lice in this house.

Good reads around the web:

1980’s Teen Movies Mashup – I love this so very much, and if you’re a child of the 80’s, I bet you will too. Every single memorable teen movie of the decade is included. And after you watch that, get a bit more nostalgic with my 80’s fashion post.

I still don’t know what to think about this woman who makes close to a million dollars a year, selling on Etsy, but my gut tells me I think it’s shady.

10 Types of Odd Friendships You’re Probably Part Of - I’m definitley part of 1, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10. What about you?

How One Stupid Tweet Ruined Justine Sacco’s Life – I remember still, when all this went down, and even before we knew the full story, I have to admit I felt bad for Justine Sacco. The people of Twitter can be abnormally abhorrent, and she went to the electric chair, the gallows and lethal injection for her stupid tweet. And a follow up worth reading, if you find the story interesting, is the public apology the instigator eventually gave her, after experiencing his own Twitter nightmare when he too tweeted something stupid. All this adds up to, why I’m never on Twitter. I hate that place.

Currently reading:

I am about half way into listening to the audio book version of All the Light We Cannot See. I’m still not sure if I like it as much as I thought I would; I’ll keep you posted.

I’m also reading Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell and so far it’s interesting, although I still like Outliers more.

And tonight I’m cooking from the new ATK Slow Cooker book – The Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution

In other news:

I finally placed an order from Fabletics and I love the fit and feel of my first outfit! I’m wearing it to hot yoga tomorrow, and will keep you updated as I wash and wear it a few times. I’m hoping it holds up well.

Kate Spade Saturday is 40% off site wide! I grabbed one of these initial sweatshirts

In case you missed it:

I published the recipe for Cashew Cream, and last week, I also posted the recipe for Kick-Ass Bone Broth.



Spring 2015 Looks I Love

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Spring is always a busy time for our family, with multiple birthdays (mine and Taylor’s are just a week apart), our anniversary (this year we celebrate 16 years!), and of course the lots of other special occasions that come along in Spring including Easter and the inevitable baby/bridal shower or two. This year I’m also excited to have a couple of business meetings and conferences that I’ll have to dress up for. I spent some time the other night looking through Nordstrom’s site for outfit inspiration. I found so many looks I loved, and plenty of inspiration to shop my own closet too. Here are a few of my favorite looks for Spring 2015.
Spring-looks-I-love This gorgeous pleated maxi dress is a great price point at just under $100, and I love that it can be worn fairly casual, as they styled it here, or can easily be dressed up even more with a higher heel and a pretty evening clutch.

Moto jackets continue to be huge in Spring, and I love the unstructured look of this oversized version in a cotton twill. The Paige Denim distressed jeans in the lighter wash are fab too, although I’d love to find a more affordable option, like this pair and this pair.

I can’t tell whether I’m going to love this Foxiedox feather printed dress or not, once it arrives in person, but from the looks of it I think it will be beautiful. You know how some prints can appear much different online versus real life? Well that’s how I feel about this one, but I love the high slit and paired with the belt, I think this will be a great look for a big birthday party we have coming up in April. The price is fantastic too, at $79.

You guys know I love midi skirts, and from the feedback from many of you on my last midi skirt post, you do too. This bold mix of the bright red textured shell along with the crisp white midi skirt is going to be the perfect outfit for a conference I’ll be attending, and maybe even to wear on my 39th birthday. Both pieces are from Nordstrom’s own brand Trouve, and are priced right at $48 and $78.
Spring-accessories-I-love Accessories and shoes are what really complete the above looks, and these are a few of my favorites affordably priced options.

The House of Harlow sunburst drop necklace makes a statement with gold and black enamel contrast, and has infinite uses.

The Steve Madden Fringly suede high heel sandal may be a bit of a stretch for me, but still love the way it makes the moto jacket outfit look a bit sexier and less masculine.

I ordered this crystal and gold chain stretch belt because it will work well with so many skirt/top outfits I already own, and of course to define the waist line for many dresses too.  Can’t beat the price!

I already own the Birkenstock Gizeh in black, and it was my shoe of summer last year. I’m thinking I’ll have to add white to my mix this year though, and not sure if I’ll keep the Gizeh, or go with the Arizona.



Easy Vegan Cashew Cream

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FTLO-78 Cashews have seem to become an all-purpose nut these days, and I’m kind of loving it. Mild in flavor, softer in texture and full of essential nutrients, including a healthy dose of protein and healthy fats, you may find cashews transformed into grain-free crusts, as a simple add-in for protein packed smoothies, and here, as a non-dairy, non-legume alternative to sour cream and hummus. Lindsey introduced us to cashew cream earlier last month, as a topping to this yummy cauliflower rice and sweet potato dish, and most recently, I used it in place of ricotta in my zucchini rolls. Since the original recipe was sort of buried within another recipe, I decided to separate it out and showcase this beautifully versatile dip on its own. FTLO-39 FTLO-40 You begin by soaking your raw cashews  in some warm water, for at least an hour. If you soak them longer, say, overnight, they will absorb even more water and yield a creamier texture, so if you have the time, allow them a nice long soak. FTLO-43  in some warm water, for at least an hour. If you soak them longer, say, overnight, they will absorb even more water and yield a creamier texture, so if you have the time, allow them a nice long soak.  FTLO-46 To balance out the inherent sweetness of the cashews, you’ll want to add some citrus, in the form of lemons and/or limes. I like both, but use what you have on hand. This will give the cream some bite.
FTLO-49 Add your cashews, along with your water, into the food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Now note here, if you’ve left your cashews soak for a long time, they’ll be more watery, therefore you’ll need to use less water. A safe place to start is with 1/4 cup, and go from there. Just like when you make hummus, you’ll add olive oil as you go, to suit your liking. FTLO-53 fitted with the chopping blade. Now note here, if you’ve left your cashews soak for a long time, they’ll be more watery, therefore you’ll need to use less water. A safe place to start is with 1/4 cup, and go from there. Just like when you make hummus, you’ll add olive oil as you go, to suit your liking.  Add in your citrus, as well as a heavy pinch of salt, at least 1/4 tsp, and pulse till nice and smooth, scraping the sides to fully incorporate, as needed.  FTLO-62 Store your cashew cream in the fridge for up to 10 days, and use it as a topping for sweet potatoes, as a dip for fresh veggies, as a smear in lasagnas or fresh veggie rolls, as a filling for wraps, and on and on. The possibilities are endless really. My favorite way is to saute up some spinach, fill a roasted sweet potato with spinach, and then top with cashew cream and some slivered almonds.  FTLO-65 FTLO-67 FTLO-68 FTLO-71 FTLO-74 Let me know if you give this a try, and what you thought. As with some other healthier swaps, like gluten-free alternatives and lettuce wrapped burgers, I’m often left feeling a bit of longing for the “real deal.” With this cashew cream though, I can honestly say that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, and I hope you feel the same way too.

All photos by the lovely Mary Yung of Yung Bean Photography

Cashew Cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Make this easy dairy alternative for sour cream and other dips, with raw cashews and some citrus fruit.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1.5 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 1-2 hours
  • Juice of ½ lime and ½ lemon
  • ¼ tsp salt to taste
  • ¼-1/2 cup filtered water
Instructions
  1. Drain cashews, and place in food processor or high speed blender, with the chopping blade attachment. Add remaining ingredients, and pulse till cashews are nice and creamy, adding more water and juice of lemon and lime till desired consistency and taste.
  2. Note that if you soak your cashews longer, like overnight, they will retain a lot more water and will therefore require less water to make smooth. The cashews will also blend up finer if you soak them longer. Also, depending on the juiciness of your citrus, you may need to add more or less than ½ of each lemon or lime. This recipe isn't a perfect science, but rather one you can tailor to your own tastes and preferences, just like some enjoy a thicker hummus and some enjoy one more runny, the same is true here. You can use either all lime or all lemon as well, however I prefer the tang of combining the two, and think it settles out the sweetness of the cashews very nicely.

 



Week In Review – Growing Pains

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Valentine's-Day-Nails You know those children who don’t seem to have a filter, and who can talk your ear off for hours at a time, filling even the smallest fraction of a second of quiet time with jibber jabber? Well, I don’t have those children. I have children who contently ride in the car in silence, only talking when someone infringes on their personal space or prompted to speak, but sometimes not even then. They’re not apt to butt in to adult conversations, although sometimes they do, and they’re not one to seek attention from visitors with elaborate stories and endless questions. For years we figured this was a relatively good thing. With us, they’d open up and of course talk, but when in the company of others, they were often mutes, and car rides were always relatively peaceful. But now, especially with Taylor, that ongoing silence has proven to be at times detrimental.

We’ve had various bouts of school drama the past couple of months, no doubt brought on by the simple fact that Taylor isn’t much of a talker, and it only seems to be getting worse, where the important stuff is concerned. We’re working hard with her, trying to get her to open up, reassuring her that she can talk to us about anything, and reassuring her that she can and most certainly must, stand up for herself when she’s out in the big bad world on her own, aka, school. It’s been a learning process, especially the last few weeks. Learning not so much in how exactly to get her to open up, but learning when we need to be alert and at full attention, when we need to back off, and when we need to step in. As she nears 10 years old, I know this is only going to get harder and so we’re trying our best to develop some tools for all of us, so that we can deal better as we head into 5th grade, and eventually the dreaded middle school days. I use to always get so irked at those “Just wait” parents, who were always warning of impending doom and harder days ahead as our children grow and mature. But now, I all too often see how right they are. Of course it’s not all doom and gloom, but as they get older, I can definitely see how the stakes are greater and the challenges become more complicated. The last few days I feel as though there’s almost no room for error, but of course I know I’m being overly dramatic and during those moments of self doubt and anxiety, I remind myself to breathe, just so I can think more clearly.

I’ve toyed with the idea of having her go see the school counselor, just so she knows she is safe to be open and honest with the events and pressures at school, but after a positive visit to the principal’s office this week, where some girl drama seems to finally be sorted out, she’s assured me that she’s doing okay and a visit to the counselor isn’t necessary. I drove by at lunch time today, something I often do since we live right across the street, and she was laughing and playing happily with her friends, so I do hope she’s being honest and is feeling better. I’m on high alert though, and I’ve gone ahead and ordered this mother-daughter journal called Just Between Us, which will hopefully provide a pathway to better communication between the two of us. Lord knows I’m trying here, and will continue to do so. As I try to achieve the ever-delicate balance between hands-off mom and helicopter parent, I take some minor comfort in the fact that she’s got a hell of a better support system at home and at school than I ever did, and even still, I turned out okay.

Interesting reads around the web:

Death to the Chicken Finger (I wonder if the author of this piece ever caught wind of my hashtag #nomoreeffingchickenfingers?)

This video of the making of a Dior bag is fantabulous!

I shared this article, How To Become a Morning Person, with Art. I think our marriage could only improve if he and I were both on the same page with regards to our nocturnal schedule.

Current obsessions:

I completed the The Lunar Chronicles last night, and I can’t believe I have to wait till November to see how the series ends!

I need to dedicate an entire post to my new-found love for my brows, thanks to the Tarte Volumizing Brow Powder. Seriously, my brows have never looked better.

What I’m pinning and making this week in the kitchen:

For Valentine’s Day I’m making this raw cheesecake, which gets ridiculously good reviews.

And just because, I’m also going to try this life changing bread.

I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Follow me along on Pinterest to see all the recipes and other stuff I’m obsessing over.

In the mean time, please let me know anything new and exciting you’ve stumbled across, and if you have any suggestions for good books to read on the subject of daughters and the approaching tween/teen years, I’m all ears!



Kick-Ass Chicken Bone Broth, aka Stock

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Homemade-Chicken-Bone-Broth It seems that currently, you can’t gain access to the healthy living club, unless you know how to make your own bone broth, or as our ancestors referred to it, stock. At first when all this talk started forming about “bone broth”, I figured it was some different magic elixir than the one people have been making for centuries, but it seems it’s one in the same. Sure, some recipes suggest you add vinegar to help extract the marrow from the bones, and some insist the broth must cook for days to evoke the medicinal properties. Still, some others insist any stock/broth worth its weight, must be made using beef bones. I won’t get caught up in the many nuances of making broth/stock these days, but as far as I’m concerned, as long as your stock turns out a rich deep color, has a consistency that’s thicker than water, and gels up nice and firm when refrigerated and allowed to sit for a few days, you’ve done a bang up job. Now, to make it taste good so that you can actually make soup out of it, or even drink it straight without having to add tons of salt and seasoning, as I’ve learned, requires a bit more attention to detail. And by the way, there is no secret membership to the healthy living club, and you certainly don’t need to make stock to belong to it. Anyone can join and membership is free, but knowing how to make a few good staples will definitely go a long way towards saving you money and making your healthy food taste really good.   IMG_9690 IMG_9682 To get started, you want to gather some veggies you have on hand. Older sad wilty veggies are fine, and making stock out of them is usually a good way to salvage them before they go in the trash. You usually want a few carrots, some celery stalks, at least one whole onion, and whatever fresh herbs you have on hand, although the heartier kinds like bay leaves, rosemary and thyme are best. The key to making really flavorful stock I recently discovered by a fluke, is to roast your chicken pieces first. If you’re taking a whole chicken you’ve already eaten and picked clean, go ahead and season with salt, pepper and any other favorite dried herbs you have on hand. Roast for 10-15 minutes or so in a 375 degree oven. This will enhance the flavor before you cook it. If you don’t have time for this step, fine, but I suggest you make time ha! Doing this has taken my stock from a taste level just above that of grocery store boxed stock, to kick-ass stock that tastes so good you can slurp it up all on its own.  IMG_9692 IMG_9695 After you’ve roasted your chicken pieces, which look lovely after being picked clean, add them to your crockpot, and then place your cut up veggies on top. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper, at least 1 tbsp salt and 1/2 tbsp pepper, and cover with water. Place the lid on top and cook on low for hours and hours. Overnight, for a minimum of 8 hours is ideal, but don’t be shy going for 12 hours too. Turn off your crockpot when the broth is done cooking, and I always like to let it come to room temperature before I start straining it. Don’t be afraid to let it sit out on the counter for a few hours while it does this. IMG_9836 IMG_9930 Ideally, you want to have some Cheese Cloth on hand, as this will make quicker work of the straining process.  Assuming you have cheesecloth on hand, grab a sheet of it, a fine mesh strainer, a big bowl and a super large 4 cup measuring cup. You can make your job a bit easier by scooping out the largest pieces of veggies and bones from the broth, setting aside in the trash or wherever you want to dispose them. I like to scoop out huge ladles full of stock along with all the bits and pieces, and feed it right through the strainer into the large measuring cup. Work in batches, transferring the measuring cup full of stock to your large bowl as you go. Keep scooping and straining till all your liquid has been worked through. IMG_9927 on hand, as this will make quicker work of the straining process.  Assuming you have cheesecloth on hand, grab a sheet of it, a fine mesh strainer, a big bowl and a super large 4 cup measuring cup. You can make your job a bit easier by scooping out the largest pieces of veggies and bones from the broth, setting aside in the trash or wherever you want to dispose them. I like to scoop out huge ladles full of stock along with all the bits and pieces, and feed it right through the strainer into the large measuring cup. Work in batches, transferring the measuring cup full of stock to your large bowl as you go. Keep scooping and straining till all your liquid has been worked through.  If you want to get really thorough, you can grab another large bowl and strain through again, but if you are using cheesecloth and a strainer, you shouldn’t really have to.  You can see how much is really held through with just one pass.

Out of a typical batch of stock, I usually get anywhere from 10-12 cups of broth. I like to store it in 3 cup increments, but store according to your own needs. You can freeze in glass mason jars, leaving a bit of room on top for expansion, or store in quart size freezer Ziploc bags. It can be stored in your fridge for a couple of weeks, and in the freezer for about 6 months, but it shouldn’t even last you that long.

I use stock to cook my grains in, making a killer white rice by sauteing up some diced onion and then swapping out water for stock, and cooking as usual. Makes really nice and flavorful rice this way. Also does a great job elevating the rather bland taste of quinoa. Really to add more flavor to a number of dishes, you can swap out stock where the recipe calls for cooking in water. Of course you can use it to make a wide range of soups, including a simple vegetable soup, by simply boiling hearty vegetables in the stock, including broccoli, carrots, cabbage and mushrooms.

Now, does stock have magical healing properties beyond helping to ease the symptoms and duration of the common cold? Well that’s up for debate, and is one that has recently been challenged. Hence, I won’t extol the virtues of bone broth/stock beyond the simple fact that it enhances the flavor of food, and is quite comforting. Making it yourself is also a great exercise in thriftiness and resourcefulness. Sure, store-bought broth isn’t all that expensive, but if you already have chicken bones lying around, why not use them and your cost is therefore zero dollars? kick-ass-chicken-bone-broth I hope I’ve helped to demystify the process of making broth/stock. I think I sometimes take for granted that everyone knows how to do these things, so why share the recipe or tips here? But it seems every time I post my stock-making adventures, I always get plenty of questions, so why not share the process?  Let me know if you have any questions, and please, go forth and make some kick-ass stock for yourself!

*Edited to add answers to a couple of questions I’ve already received on Instagram – I use bones from at least one whole chicken, or if I’ve made chicken pieces, I save enough until I have at least 6 good size bone remnants. If you don’t make bone-in chicken that often, go ahead and save them in a freezer bag as you go, and add to the bag. When you have enough bones, toss them in a crockpot and get cooking. You can do the same freezer trick with vegetable scraps too, to make veggie stock!

Kick-Ass Chicken Bone Broth, aka Stock
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An easy way to make this commonly used kitchen staple
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10-12 cups
Ingredients
  • Various chicken bone-in chicken pieces
  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 3-4 carrots, cubed
  • 2-3 celery stalks, cubed
  • Hearty fresh herbs including bay leaf, rosemary or thyme
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by seasoning your chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and roasting them on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes until browned, in a 375 degree oven.
  2. Remove chicken pieces from baking sheet and place in slow cooker.
  3. Add in vegetables and fresh herbs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with water.
  4. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for a minimum of 8 hours.
  5. Allow to come to room temperature, then strain broth through a cheesecloth lined fine mesh sieve.
  6. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months and in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

 



What I Think About My Fitbit Surge

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Fitbit-Surge For Christmas, Art got me the Fitbit Charge. At $129, it was a step up from the basic model, and probably would have suited my needs just fine. I was so excited for this unexpected gift that I ran to the computer on Christmas morning, eager to get it all set up, only to find out that Fitbit’s newer models were due out in March. Fancy new models which sounded like they could do amazing incredible things. I’m not one who gets caught up in having the latest and greatest, especially where technology is involved, as you’ll find me still happily chatting away on my old iPhone. But after reading the descriptions on these newer models, I’ll admit I was impressed and suddenly my new gift didn’t feel quite so cool.

So I returned the Fitbit Charge, along with the new Uggs I really could have used (I know they’re ugly, but just like Birkenstocks, once you get a pair, you forsake all statements of fashion in the name of comfort, amiright?), in order to have enough money for the new Surge that would soon be released. Originally estimated to hit store shelves in mid March, it actually came out last month, and I’ve been using it for a solid 4 weeks now. The new Fitbit Surge is a Fitbit on crack because it is not just a pedometer, but a GPS tracker as well, which means you can track mileage with almost pinpoint accuracy, and even record splits and pace. These are very important things for a serious runner. I’ll state now that while I used to run track and cross country, and even completed a half marathon in my late twenties, my days of runs over 4 miles are long gone, thereby knocking me out of contention for the title of “serious runner.” Never mind all that though, I was pretty darn sure I needed a gadget that could make me feel like a very serious runner on my 3 mile jaunts, one who knows her pace at all times and even records her splits.

Besides the GPS factor, the Surge was also equipped with a heart rate monitor, which is a cool feature I guess, and just like the base models, the Surge can track your sleep, calories burned and of course your steps taken. It can also link to your mobile device so you can receive, but not send, texts, and can sync to your music library. Like the other models, there are various exercise modes so you can track estimated calories burned for a certain period of time.

After wearing and using the Surge for just about a month now, I can tell you that I have a bit of buyers remorse. The biggest drawback is that the Surge is huge, so huge in fact that I hate wearing it to bed, so that I can’t even use one of its coolest features. I religiously wore it to bed for over a week, in hopes that I’d get used to it, but I never did get used to it and it just caused me a lot of restlessness. It also looks clunky on my wrist and sticks out like a sore thumb in photos.

While the Fitbit Surgeis proving to be more muscle than I previously thought I needed, I do love having a step counter for the simple fact that it serves as a reminder to move more than I normally would. I workout consistently, a minimum of 3-4 days a week, and even still, I find that most days I don’t come close to making the standard step count goal of 10,000. On days where I do bootcamp, which regularly involves a very active game of ultimate frisbee, I make the step count goal fairly easily. On days where I do some other form of exercise, like yoga or pop physique which doesn’t involve a lot of “steps”, I have to really strive to even come close to 8,000 steps, finding that adding in a 30 minute walk first thing in the morning before the house wakes up, isn’t even enough. Bottom line, I’ve learned that 10,000 steps is a lot of mileage, about 4.5 miles to be exact, and unless you’re getting a solid run or a brisk 45-60 minute walk in each day, our otherwise sedentary lifestyle of driving all over town, computer screen time, with some quick walks around the block, just don’t cut it.

Do steps taken really make a difference in a person’s overall health though? I’d say for an elite athlete in training, probably not, but for those who are just relatively active and especially older folks who tend to be more sedentary, increasing your mileage each day can absolutely bolster your health. A study a couple of years back in fact linked walking to lower breast cancer risk; finding that 7 hours of walking each week helped lower a woman’s risk by 14%. Walking of course has other benefits including an increase in heart health, and mental health. The bottom line, in today’s fitness crazed culture of heavy lifting, crossfitting, soul cycling and other strenuous exercises, we often downplay the simple and clear benefits of just walking. I can tell you with the utmost sincerity that since getting the Fitbit, I may only reach my steps goal 3-4 days of the week, but I have adopted a daily walking practice, and I feel so much better for it. I could really care less about making the goal, although it is nice to feel the little buzz on my wrist each time I do, I’m more appreciative of just how much more mindful having this thing on is making me. Plus, I’ve managed to listen to some pretty cool books and podcasts in the last month, because of my newly adopted exercise routine.

The Bottom Line & My Recommendation To You:

I would absolutely recommend getting a Fitbit for the simple fact that you’re more apt to be mindful of your daily movement.

But, unless you’re a serious distance runner, I would skip getting the fancy Fitbit Surge, and settle for the Fitbit Chargeor Fitbit Charge HRif you want the added benefit of the heart rate monitor.

The smaller models are more sleek and feel better on, and I’m sure much easier to sleep with. They may not have GPS, but unless you really care about tracking mileage, they can do pretty much everything else the Surge can do. The text and music functionality is cool I guess, but I personally found the text option annoying and turned it off. When I don’t have my phone near, it means I don’t want to be bothered with it, so being buzzed each time I get a text even when I purposely put my phone aside, feels like an infringement on my personal time.

If you’re like me and are just interested in tracking your steps so you can move more, than save your money and stick with the lower-end models, they’ll suit you just fine.

 



Daily Style – Nice Dress Ma’am

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IMG_9815 I saw the dress in the window of a local boutique and instantly loved it. Its breezy feeling, loose structure and updated polka dot pattern made it the perfect wear everywhere dress for Spring and even Summer. I thought about this dress for 2 weeks before I went in and tried it on, only to discover that it was more of a shirt than an actual dress. Still though, I was not deterred, and the salesgirl offered I wear a short slip underneath. It took a bit of convincing, but I brought the 2 pieces home and it has sat in my closet for the last couple of weeks, while I waited to wear it to the Chartreuse event this past Saturday.  IMG_9810

Dress – Free People (also available on Zappos); Bodysuit – Free People; Booties - Sole Society Perin; Modern Skinny Jeans – Loft; Bangles – Alex & Ani Because I Love You & Initial

When I got dressed Saturday morning, I felt a bit exposed, but didn’t feel weird about it. Until I went to the market, on my way to the event to pick up a bag of ice, and the meat guy stopped to acknowledge said dress. As he was restocking the shelves with freshly ground beef, pork butts and chicken breasts, he paused and said very matter of factly, “That’s a real nice dress, ma’am.”

Alrighty then. IMG_9785

I rushed out of the store, immediately called up Art and asked if I looked like a hussy. He assured me that I did not look like a hussy, but should instead appreciate the fact that I did in fact look nice and not like a hussy. I felt a bit better, and at least settled in to the fact that I’d mainly be surrounded by woman during the event, and they would most likely not make mention of my very “nice dress.”  IMG_9788

As I settled into the busyness of the event, several women did in fact comment on how cute the dress was, and a couple of close friends made a couple of jokes, but all in all I still love the dress, and think that wearing it with some cute flat sandals or flip-flops come summer time, will work better with the dress, and give off more of a casual beachy California vibe, rather than a “hot” vibe. Not that I’m saying I look hot. I just think the higher heel, the sheerness of the fabric along with the slits up to here, make it more of a provocative look. Or I may just be over thinking it.

I decided to wear the dress on Sunday to church, but added the jeans because church. I actually love the look both ways, and despite my grocery store encounter, foresee me getting a lot of use out of this dress. IMG_9749 IMG_9734

At any rate, this is the perfect day to night look – as I wore the shorts bodysuit most of the day, right underneath the jeans, and it didn’t bother me one bit. Later, as I went to take off the jeans to show the dress on its own, I quickly wiggled right out of them and I had a whole new look. IMG_9716

I realize this dress wouldn’t work for everyone, but stand by the other pieces of this look, and confirm that they will work for virtually anyone. The jeans I picked up at Loft a couple of weeks back are in constant rotation, and the Sole Society Perin boots are fab! I’ve worn them everyday since they arrived last week. They fit perfectly true to size, the suede is rather nice, and the heel height is good enough to add some height, but not cause one to break their neck. Overall, they’re very comfortable. I also love this bodysuit and think it will work really well for the warmer months, as it will slip under short and airy dresses just perfectly, preventing any underwear exposure. It’s also easy to wiggle out of in a public restroom. I tested it just to make sure. Have a good day folks!



Week In Review

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Sole-Society-Shoes It’s been an emotional week at home, with various bits of school drama happening and news that one of my mom’s close friends has breast cancer. It was a heavy week, even though we had a lot of good teaching and talking moments each day. I feel a bit fried though, and am looking forward to a glass of wine tonight, as I make lots of yummy juices for tomorrow’s event at Chartreuse. Anyone coming? 11 am – 2 pm? I hope so!!  A few things to share this week –

Newest obsession – my Sole Society Perin booties in Tan arrived yesterday, and they are adorable. Perfect heel height, fit, and the suede is pretty nice for a $79 pair of boots. I’ll wear these a lot as we transition into Spring.

What I read in January – Thanks to finally downloading the Overdrive app, which allows you to borrow books from the library straight to your Kindle or other reading device, I deveroued several books. Most of them were Young Adult, which tend to be quicker reads anyhow, but it felt good to start off the year reading more and scrolling through my iPhone less. The Lunar Chronicles are fantastic and fun, about a cyborg princess and the future of Earth, it sounds wacky but for a non sci-fi girl like myself, I’m really digging them. I’m already on the third book, Scarlet, and loving it as well. Start from the beginning though and read book by book, as the series are closely connected. Cinder – The Lunar Chronicles Book 1  and Scarlet – The Lunar Chronicles Book 2

Lunar-Chronicles I also read this beautiful book about ballet, love and life, titled Astonish Me. I couldn’t put it down.

When You Reach Me was another fun young adult book about time travel. A great quick read when you want something to get engrossed in this weekend.

I also finally started the Serial podcast and am only 3 episodes in, so no spoilers, but am I the only one who feels a little weirded out that so many are being entertained by this true crime “story?”

A few interesting reads I came across this week –

Can binge watching your favorite TV shows make you depressed? I’d say it can for a short period of time. Art and I both felt a little empty after we binged on House of Cards and Breaking Bad last year. Interesting phenomenon.

Big government control, or a much needed measure for the good of public health? Things are heating up in California over the measles outbreak.

And what I’ve been cooking up, or dreaming of cooking up in the near future –

This sounds like a Cosmo I can get behind, thanks to Ina of course. I can’t imagine hers being sickly sweet or tangy, like so many bartender concoctions or premixes are.

This Chipotle copycat lime cilantro rice is spot on, and I’ve whipped up a batch twice in the last week. A unique cooking technique I’ve never used for rice makes the texture fantastic.



Local Meet & Greet, Sip & Savor at Chartreuse

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Lee-Loves-Local_Feb2015_2 Hey guys, how are you doing this week? Me, I feel still like I’m easing into it, but since hump day is almost over, I figure I better try to swing into things and get a few points of business out of the way. First off, thanks for all your encouraging comments on Monday’s post, about closing old doors so that new ones may open. I look forward to 2015 as a year to relax and grow a bit more, and I’m grateful to have your support.

One way I’d like to continue to grow and branch out, is to continue to meet new faces and get myself out there. With that in mind, I’m thrilled to be partnering with a local business I’ve been a fan and customer of, for years, Chartreuse Home Furnishings. My friends at Chartreuse contacted me a few weeks ago about a possible event, and after hearing the details, I was more than eager to jump on board. In partnership with Lee Industries, they are putting on a small event to help support local, women-owned businesses in the neighborhood, and I’m honored that they thought of me. How does what I do as a blogger, tie in with a home furnishings store? Well, as a lifestyle blogger I cover a range of topics from style to food and wellness, and since a lot of what I talk about and support involves sustainability, and supporting small, local businesses, this seemed like a good fit.

Lee Industries, the company that Chartreuse has partnered with, is an US based company, dedicated to creating sustainably produced home furnishings. You can read all about their practices here, but a couple of great points that I wanted to mention is their use of 100% recycled fibers made from clear and white plastic bottles to fill all their back and throw pillows. Wood for the frames used by LEE comes from certified sustainable forests and are bonded with a soy-based resin and their springs are 80% recycled metal. Pretty cool, right? Beyond that, they make a beautiful designer level product, and for the event, all their custom made throw pillows and poufs are two for one.

I’ll be on hand to answer questions, sample some of my favorite fresh, cold-pressed juices, and even help you shop. Since a good portion of my home furnishings are from this store, including both couches, my pillows, the kid’s bedroom sets and dining room chairs, artwork and countless other things, I know my way around the store pretty well. Actual design professionals will be on hand to help you shop too though. You guys, this store is amazing! Think of all your favorite big-box furniture stores including Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, West Elm and even Ballard Designs, all under one roof, at much better prices! This is Chartreuse! Everything from their furniture to their accessories are on point, and the store overall is just immaculately curated. If I don’t want to spend money, I steer clear of Chartreuse!

Megan and Mindy from Spoon and Skillet, another woman-owned local small business, will also be on hand offering small bites from their delivery meal kits. Their business is simple, they prep and provide you with all the food, deliver it to your doorstep, and then you just have to cook it. Meals are guaranteed to be ready and on the table in 30 minutes or less. I can’t wait to taste what they have to offer.

To recap, here’s a rundown of the deets:

  • Meet and greet with me, answering questions and offering up my favorite fresh cold-pressed juices. This Saturday 2/7 from 11-2.
  • Spoon and Skillet will also be on hand to offer small bite taste samples from their meal kits.
  • Lee Industries, leading the way in sustainable furniture manufacturing, is offering a 2 for 1 sale on their poofs and pillows, which are gorgeous!
  • Chartreuse is basically your home furnishing dream store – so much inspiration and all under one roof.
  • Event supports small, local, woman-owned businesses!

I really hope I’ll see some of you there! No need to RSVP, just come on by open-house style.



Open Possibilities in 2015

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d9a2a64b0b577942c770dc4d451df9c5 This morning I woke up without the tethers of a regular, steady job, and instead of feeling enthusiastically excited about open possibilities, I felt unsettled and anxious. After writing for Disney Baby and then Babble (both Disney subsidiaries) for the past 3 years, I felt it was time to move on. I am staying on as a freelance writer in their bureau team, and am able to pitch and possibly publish up to 3 articles a month for them. While this amount of flexibility is ideal, the thought of no longer having a steady paycheck make me nervous, as it always has. Art is the ever-supportive husband and is always encouraging me to have faith and believe in myself, and my ability to weave together opportunities for myself, seemingly out of thin-air, but the security of steady work is something I have always found comfort in. It is what has always drawn me back to working for someone else, even if I wasn’t personally invested or thrilled with the work.

I learned so much in my time writing for Disney, and grew a lot not only as a writer, but as an online writer in such a public space, which I came to find out is a completely different animal than just writing a personal blog. I did not come to this decision lightly, but I did try to come to this decision differently than how I usually make my decisions about work, since becoming a mother. For too long I have been unable to be objective about the way work and mothering intersect, and while they are of course interminably related once a woman gives birth, for once I tried to separate the two and just look at the work I was doing there, as a separate entity than my work as a mother. What I came to acknowledge, finally, was that I was burnt out. While my role at Babble had only been for the past 18 months, I had been writing at that pace and producing that type of content for almost 3 years now, writing upwards of 20 articles a month at one point, and 8 at the minimum, without ceasing. At the end, especially as I tried to get my health in order these past few months, I felt like there was little space left to do much else other than churn out content and try my best to run my family. Countless texts and emails from friends and family began with, “I know you have so much going on…but.” I needed to clear some space for myself, my family and friends again, and my blog here, and that meant letting Babble go. I tried to cut my workload in half, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option. I’m happy to have the opportunity to stay on in their bureau team.  ce830959e0e208ce965546c300a46494

So now what? Well, I would love to post more here, and add more meaningful content. That’s a big priority for me. I feel like finally, after doing this blogging thing for almost 7 years, I have some things figured out, and have a clearer idea of the direction I’d like to try. I’m not making any grand proclamations, but I have some ideas which I hope I can make work out. I hope I can have the confidence and stamina to make them work out, is what I should say. I’m also thinking that maybe I’ll become one of those people who have their drawers and cabinets neatly organized, I may get back to keeping a check register as well as a balanced checkbook. I may volunteer at the school more, as the kids love having me there. I may even clip coupons and go through our cable, phone and insurance plans, seeing where I can cut back and tighten things up. All the things we say we’ll do and try to do, but never seem to have enough time to do. I wasn’t making a ton of money atBabble, but I’ve always been set into a tizzy when income is decreased, as I’m sure 99.9% of the American population is. I already let our babysitter go as well, a decision I was sad to make, since she’s been with us for almost 8 years now. She’s pretty much a part of our family though, so we will keep in touch and I’m sure use her for the occasional date night.  2cef84afb00b1070ec25df95697c88a4

I’ll be 39 this year, and some days I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing with my life, other than trying to be a good mother and wife. Since all the women in my family who preceded me never really had the opportunity to at minimum, figure out their true purpose or calling in life, nor did they have any chance to actually pursue their dreams, the thought seems like an almost indulgent luxury. Something only afforded to women with trust accounts and authors with big book advances, encouraged to eat, pray and love their way towards enlightenment. Most days lately I just want to live simply, other days I want to create and leave my mark. Perhaps 2015 will be about discovering what I really want and can reasonably achieve, without all the mind clutter of having to continuously pump out words. I’m going to try my best not to jump into creating an Etsy shop or start any new businesses, something I’ve been infamous for when I start to get nervous about income and filling my constant need for busyness. I want to continue to do things but in a much more calculated and thoughtful way, not because I’m afraid to say no, afraid of missing out, afraid of getting left behind, afraid of not being busy. Can anyone else relate? I hope so, and I hope I don’t sound like some spoiled flatulent boob. I guess I should also stop worrying about what others will think, as I’m sure someone will think I’m a boob no matter what, and I should not care so much. Clementine-Daily_quotes25-1024x607

So here’s to new beginnings, endings and all that other stuff. This year, may I discover what I really want to be when I grow up, may I be there for my family in all the most important ways, and may I be the kind of woman okay with not being constantly busy.

What would you be if you could do or be anything? Are you doing what you dreamed of doing when you were little?

Image credit: 2 & 4 Clementine Daily, 1 & 3 From Up North