Spring Fashion Trend: Ruffles

Ruffles…not just for the bums of baby tights anymore! Ruffles are everywhere right now and are huge for spring fashion. But as an adult how do you incorporate a ruffle without looking like a 3 year old? I bought this amazing faux leather jacket from Zara recently that has just a hint of ruffle on the shoulders. It’s just enough to add a little drama and interest to the jacket, and it inspired me to dust off the ‘ol keyboard and put a blog post together.

Some tips on wearing ruffles as a grown woman:
– When you’re an adult wearing ruffles, stick to one ruffled item at a time.
– You want to pair your ruffled item with something a little edgy to balance it out…distressed denim, ankle boots, a (non-ruffled) bomber, denim, or leather jacket.
– Have fun! It’s always fun to try a new trend, dive in and experiment the next time you’re in a dressing room!

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  1. Here’s the Leather Effect Frilled Jacket from Zara I mentioned above. It’s so cute on and the ruffle at the wrist and waist is just enough.
  2. I’m always looking for a way to elevate my jeans and a t-shirt mom uniform and this Bobeau Poplin Ruffle Tee from Nordstrom certainly does the trick! This would great with white jeans (obviously) but also with a pair of light distressed jeans.
  3. These Loeffler Randall Vera Ruffle Slide Sandals are gorgeous! I love the delicate ruffle in suede.
  4. I love this Willow and Paige Ribbed sweater from ASOS! The ruffled shoulders are totally adorable. I have the sweater in purple and white stripes and usually wear with dark denim and black ankle boots but it also comes in pink and beige.
  5. J. Crew is doing ruffles on a bathing suit! This Ruffle Bandeau One-piece is adorable and a little bust ruffle is always a nice way to flatter anyone with a smaller top.
  6. These Tory Burch Ruffle Sneakers are the cutest. Sneakers. Ever! Perfect for spring/summer.

Are you wearing ruffles yet?!

How I Removed Added Sugar From My Diet and Lived to Tell About it…

Ok, the title of this post is dramatic, but so is removing added sugar from your diet, right? Let me back up… Towards the end of last year as M turned 18 months I was feeling blah and blubby and lost as to how I could lose the rest of the weight and the pot “mom” belly I gained when I was pregnant with him. My workout routine was strong, exercising 3 to 4 times/week, so it was clearly my diet that was an issue. In January some mom friends of mine signed up to do the 21 Day Fix with Beachbody so I decided to join them. Honestly, it’s such a scam but the program does work. I (barely) completed my 21 days and it was the jump-start I needed for changing my diet.

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We always eat relatively healthy – with meals full of veggies and protein, light in carbs, low in sodium, etc…  So at the end of the 21 Day fix it was easy to figure out what my biggest issues were: eating too much, not having healthy choices prepared and easy to find, and mindless (afternoon, always in the afternoon!) snacking. I ended my relationship with Beachbody (which was hard! They were so quick to charge my credit card endlessly!!) and switched to drinking Vega One shakes (I love the mocha flavor) in place of their Shakeology. The shake replaces breakfast 4x/week and I eat toast the other 3 days.

The rest of the edits to my diet included snacking on fruit alllll day and eating mostly veggies and lean protein for lunch and dinner. I’d also have one more substantial snack per day like hummus and pretzels, avocado toast, or almonds. But I think the true reason why I was able to ultimately lose 19 pounds and keep it off (9 months later!!!) is because I (for the most part, more on this later) removed all added sugar from my food. How does one do that? I decided to write a post about it because when I was losing the weight and it was becoming noticeable (pants were literally falling off my bum) so many people asked how I did it and I started talking about it all the time. And now, 9 months later I’ve learned even more, found even more products that are helpful and delicious, and I feel like this is just the new way I eat and I was ready to share. I started removing added sugar cold turkey with the 21 day fix. The 21 days were so hard for me in general (you eat SO little) that when it was over I was so relieved to be eating more that it wasn’t hard to continue with the sugar free diet. I was very strict with myself January through April/May and then over the summer I eased up a little, had a few treats, etc… and realized that I was able to balance better and still maintain the weight loss. And honestly, more than the weight loss my body just feels better. What does that mean? No bloating, no blubby tummy, and I’m very regular (yes, I went there).

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When you remove added sugar from your diet you’re not left with almost anything processed so you’re eating a mostly whole foods diet (and why I always eat tons of fruit, veggies, and protein). But for the love of God, you need a crunchy, salty snack once in a while, right? And I love toast SO MUCH! And I sort of loathe making my own salad dressing. And having peanut butter every so often is sort of a must. So with research, recommendations and trial and error I thought I’d share my favorite sugar free processed foods with you, photos of which are sprinkled throughout this (very wordy) post (a few of the items are considered gluten free so that’s an easy way to find processed foods without added sugar)…

Ezekiel Bread (considered gluten free) for toast and the occasional sandwich.
Sugar Free Peanut Butter sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, really anywhere. It’s a little shocking at first that it tastes like creamed peanuts but it’s good.
Annie’s Salad Dressings – my sister and mother were talking about the Goddess dressing and I checked the label and was thrilled to find it has no added sugar! There are tons of sugar free dressing options at Whole Foods, too but they’re pretty pricey.
Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pretzels, my kids and I can’t get enough of these.
RX bars, these are a recent find and have changed my life. We’re always on the go and I used to carry a protein bar with me in case I got hungry and I missed that when I first started this whole thing. Well these RX bars (sold on Amazon, Trader Joe’s, on their website) have no added sugar and are EXCELLENT! I love that coconut chocolate flavor.
Riced Cauliflower, I found this while I was doing the 21 Day fix. It’s a great substitute for rice or pasta and is just another serving of veggies. You can make it yourself by just food processing the cauliflower but you can buy it everywhere pre-made these days (Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods) just watch the ingredients. I get it frozen from Trader Joe’s and organic cauliflower and rosemary are the only ingredients.
Cold Brew Coffee – we’ve been making our own for over a year now and it’s so good! I use part skim, part 2% milk in mine, it’s a smoother brew of coffee and less acidic so sugar isn’t even necessary.

Are you sugar free? Any tips to add? Products you love?

*Before I forget; my “for the most part” sugar removal means since I started this 9 months ago I still eat cake on my kids birthdays, had a couple ice cream cones this summer, a donut, a cookie or 2, and I will always and forever put ketchup on a hamburger. It’s tricky to be sugar free when you’re dining out – but personally, once I was over the hurdle of a very strict sugar free diet in the winter into spring, I let overall smart choices at restaurants win and if they use sugar in a marinade of the salmon I’m eating, so be it. I also bake again but find recipes using honey, not white sugar (and my kids still gobble them up!). Oh, and I still drink wine and beer. By now you’re thinking I’m a nut and not sugar free at all, but daily consistency with occasional splurges just works!

 

I am not a nutritionist or medical professional in any way, these are just ideas and products that have worked for me to lose weight and keep it off for 9 months. Consult your doctor before changing your diet at all!

Lately…

As summer is winding down I thought I’d pull together a post of a few things we’ve been up to and a few finds I’d love to share with you.

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I totally love the look of Karen Walker sunglasses but loathe the price point. I spent a pretty penny on my every day Maui Jim sunglasses and don’t feel like dropping another $300 on fad-sunglasses. So! I did tons of research and found some pretty great cheap-o sunglasses (and on Amazon Prime no less!) that fit the bill of the Karen Walker look. I got the beige and they’re a really great knock-off – sorry Karen Walker but you’re welcome to anyone who was looking for a faux pair.

raspberry-picking

The much awaited u-pick raspberry season has begun at the farm around the corner from our house! We went opening day with some little friends.

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I was wanting more from my concealer than my $8 tube of Cover Girl concealer was giving me so I went on the hunt! I saw this post by Kallie and happened to be headed to Nordstrom that day to return something. I went over to the Nars counter (I use their foundation so just knew their concealer would be a good fit for me) and got some help from the technician deciding which color of the Radiant Creamy Concealer would be best for my coloring. We were in and out (yes I had the kids and thankfully the technician was quick AND they had those high make-up counter seats that the kids were obsessed with sitting on) and I was on my way to better concealing the darker circles under my eyes. I tell you – even my husband noticed a brightening of my eyes the next day when I  was wearing it (and he doesn’t notice much, ha!). I am so sold. Buy this concealer. It goes on well, lasts the day, and doesn’t seem to settle into creases (ok, wrinkles!) at all. Worth the more than 3x the amount I’m paying over my old Cover Girl tube.

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I’ve been addicted to the $1.99 tulips at Trader Joe’s and I love when they get droopy!

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Z has been particularly into necklaces lately so I’ve been trying my hand at a few DIY ones. Here’s the little pink flamingo necklace I made her. I won’t bore you with the DIY but if you want one let me know, it came out so cute! She’s asked for a giraffe next…

Peach Cherry Salsa

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The plan was to have a pork roast for dinner last week (technically grilled, but the same concept). I think of roast pork as a fall/winter meal and I was totally dreading this for a summertime dinner, plus it was just. sounded. boring. I went about my way of seasoning the pork and tossing it on the grill all the while lamenting our dinner choice, why hadn’t we thought ahead and made our grilled peach salsa? When I came back inside to the kitchen with peaches on the brain a trifecta of ingredients were staring me down: peaches, cherries, cilantro. Hmmm, I think I’ll make a peach cherry salsa and rescue my boring pork! Let me tell you it was delicious, the pork was rescued and turned into a meal we actually enjoyed! Here’s what I did…

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1 small peach, chopped
10 cherries, pitted and chopped
small handful of cilantro chopped
1/4 of an onion finely chopped (red onion would work well here or a shallot)
small douse of olive oil
juice from 1/4 of a lemon or lime
s&p to taste

Mix together and serve.

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You have to try this one – would be great on any grilled meat for a refreshing summertime salsa! Enjoy!

Make Your Own Lobster Roll

Have you ever made your own lobster roll or wanted to try? Yes? Keep reading. Are you not sure what recipe to use and don’t want to waste your precious lobster on a not perfect recipe? Yes? Keep reading. Are you not sure if you want a mayonnaise-based lobster roll OR a butter-based lobster roll? Yes? Keep reading…

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It all started Saturday when we visited my Uncle Paul on his new boat and he generously shared some fresh caught lobster – that’s heaven on Earth right there! We feasted on them Sunday evening and actually had some left over. So, tonight, we made lobster rolls for dinner. We’d made them at home before but weren’t impressed with any recipe we’d followed in the past. We could never decide: butter OR mayo: an all butter lobster roll is too much and an all mayonnaise lobster roll takes away too much of the flavor of the lobster. So, why not both?

I came across this recipe from Food Network and it was a WINNER! I thought I’d snap some photos and share the link and our recipe edits. We mixed the meat from 2, 1 1/4 pound lobsters with just over a Tbs of mayo, 1 Tbs melted butter, dash of salt, dash of celery salt, and 1 Tbs finely chopped onion greens (we didn’t have celery greens on hand and this worked well. Note, we omitted the lemon). Incorporate thoroughly and stuff inside a buttered and grilled basic hot dog roll. We served with our homemade cole slaw on the side. YUM – ENJOY!

Fourth of July Watermelon

Maybe you do this already, but I had a fun brainstorm for patriotic Fourth of July watermelon today! Let me back up… this afternoon we were making some sugar cookies shaped as stars decorated with red, white, and blue sprinkles for a fairly simple afternoon activity in preparation for the Fourth of July weekend coming up. As we were setting the dough to chill in the fridge I saw our giant untouched watermelon waiting to be cut up for a play date tomorrow. Bing! Use the star cookie cutter to make a super festive fruit dessert! It almost doesn’t even warrant a dedicated blog post because there is so little effort involved here. But I decided to pull out the camera anyway, take a few shots, and share my simple idea with you. I mean, what easier way to bring something festive-looking to any Fourth of July soiree you’re attending this weekend, right?

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Cut watermelon in slices, at least an inch thick. Use star shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes.

4th-of-July-Watermelon-1Place on a white tray/plate/serving platter and sprinkle with blueberries for a pop of blue and voila – bringing this Fourth of July watermelon will make you star of the party (see what I did there?).

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Ps. You’ll have lots of random pieces leftover, perfect for snacking. Enjoy!

Batman Cupcake Decorations

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Our little M just turned 2! And since he’s been obsessed with Batman since my sister gave him a Batman board book for his first birthday, the party theme was sort of a no brainer. Per usual I did a mix of store (and etsy) bought and handmade decorations for the little backyard birthday party we had for him (one of the perks of being born in June is being able to have your birthday party outside!). I know doing all this crafting makes some people just roll their eyes “why???” so I decided to document just one, easy, fun thing that ANYONE can do to help customize a party to your theme!

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To make even the most simple cupcakes or cake on-theme for your party, all you have to do is create a little chocolate topper! First, find an image that fits with your party theme, for this it was, of course, the batman symbol. Print out the image numerous times, place your print-out on a cookie sheet, and cover with wax paper.

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Melt your chocolate (I used chocolate chips because I needed brown but you could also use those colorful chocolate melts from a craft store).  Transfer the chocolate into a piping bag, squeeze bottle, or heavy duty Ziploc with the tip snipped and trace and fill in each shape with the melted chocolate. Let harden in the fridge for an hour or better yet, overnight.

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Decorate your cupcakes putting the flat side showing (the side you pipe won’t be as smooth) and voila!

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PS. Other cute handmade batman decor! Fun party, here’s a quick glimpse of how the backyard was decorated…

PPS. I did this trick for Z’s first and third birthday parties too but felt it was time to post again!

A Day in the Life

I thought it would be fun to document a day in our life. How narcissistic you’re (maybe) thinking that I would think you would think reading about our day would be interesting. But! When other bloggers do these posts I always find them intriguing (maybe it’s a mom thing, wondering how others spend their days) and I always get the casual question from people who aren’t home with their kids (or maybe they don’t have kids) as a genuine curiosity “what do you DO all day?” So, I thought I’d go about our random mid-week day, take some notes, and write a post about it.

A Day In The Life

5:10am We hear M crying through the monitor. We’ve just been away for the long weekend where he slept in our room and was used to waking up early, seeing us, and screaming until we got him up, which we did so no one else would wake up. Since we’re home we ignore his mild cries and he sleeps for another hour and a half.

7am Everyone is up! My husband is dressed for work and on toast and milk duty downstairs as I change M’s diaper, encourage Z to only bring a few stuffed animals downstairs, and generally try and wake up.

7:10am Husband is off to work, kids are eating toast and milk and watching Doc McStuffins, their latest obsession. I pour coffee and go about packing snacks, waters, etc… for a full morning out of the house.

7:55am Sneak in a few work emails before we have to go upstairs and get sunscreen (first) and clothes on (second) on the kids and me.

9:00am Out the door! Miracle. It only took about 50 mins today to get everyone covered in sunscreen, dressed, and shoes on and we’re off to Baby Boot Camp class that’s about 22 minutes away so we’ll have just enough time to load up the stroller and wheel over to where class starts at 9:30.

10:40am BBC is over and the kids are playing with their friends for a couple minutes while I load the car. Z has to use the bathroom so thank goodness I still have her travel potty in my trunk because there are no bathrooms at this BBC location. Make mental note to clean travel potty, yuck…

11:00am On time for Z’s weekly speech session. She goes with her pathologist to work on s, sh, ch words while M and I hang in the lobby. We each do our own thing for a good 40 minutes (me on my phone, he plays with the fun toys in the waiting area). Suddenly he needs a snack and notice he needs a new diaper (stinkaroo). Luckily I thought that would happen and brought a spare diaper and my travel wipes in with us.

12:15pm Back in the car to come home (always takes longer than I think it should to get out of the office, walk to the car, strap each kid in their seat).

12:30pm Lunch prep, the kids are starving. Z wants raviolis (frozen from Trader Joe’s, you just cook the amount you want, they’re great…and filled with spinach) but we’re out so she settles on….soup. And it’s like 90 degrees out, ha!

1pm M neeeeds his nap so I bring him up to his room. He’s wild until the last minute then gets a paci in his mouth and collapses – and gets snuggly, one of the best moments of the day while I sing him a little lullaby, lay him down, and he waves through the slats of his crib saying”buh-byeee” in a tired yell.

3pm I’ve spent the last couple hours working while Z does her best version of “quiet time,” which means she periodically does her own thing while chit chatting away, asking questions, making conversation (aka, not very quiet). I finally allow some iPad time so I can get some actual quiet, she is thrilled. So am I.

4pm M is still sleeping.

4:15pm We want to meet a friend at the next town’s weekly farmer’s market but she already left. I decide to wake M and hop in the car anyway. I let my husband know and he decides to meet us on his way home from work. Z is oddly quiet as we leave the house. We swing by the pick-up spot and grab our first CSA box of the season!

4:25pm Z falls asleep in the car. For a girl who doesn’t want to take naps anymore she sure does need the sleep! We drive around with the windows down for 20 minutes so she can sleep and then meet my husband when he arrives after fighting through traffic to get there. I realize I have not mentally transitioned to summer yet – it’s so hot and I’m wearing shorts on leather seats (very sweaty).

5:15pm The farmer’s market is a bit of a bust (too early in the season for them to be selling much beyond kale and lettuce) but we snag a loaf of bread to eat with our steak tip salad for dinner. And take the only photo of the day (see above).

5:30pm Dinner prep is a nightmare. M screams and cries for “uppies” the entire time if I am making dinner (as opposed to my husband, he never screams at his ankles). This is the case tonight and I cannot stand it one more second. He always calms down once I can hold him and then, finally eat dinner. He’d prefer to do dinner at 5pm every night but we usually aim for 5:30 because 5 is just. too. early. Poor M.

6:15pm Dinner is done and now we’re on to baths and bed, honestly one of the wildest moments of the day. M splashes around like a mad man and Z just wants to lounge and play with bath toys for hours. We finally get them out, dried, in jammies, hair de-tangled, teeth brushed, 15 minute show watched, 2 books read, and…..in bed! It always feels like running a marathon while doing serious negotiation. I hate bath night.

7:15pm I work for an hour more and then collapse on the couch to watch the new season of Bloodline and scroll through Instagram. In bed by 10:15.

Five Fabulous Finds

I’m always calling these blog post series a new thing (most recently “on the hunt”). So here a five recent finds that I’d love to share with you:

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Waterproof Birkenstocks for kids. I’ve always been a devotee to Saltwater Sandals for my kids but for this summer they just weren’t cutting it for my little guy so I hunted and researched for new options. I wanted something practical, waterproof, comfortable, and stylish. There are SO many options that fit every bill but the stylish one, ha! Although I guess that’s the only subjective quality I listed so to each his own. But, I love the look of these Birks. I’m a fan of them for myself if you recall, so I knew they’d be good for his feet and since they’re plastic they’re totally waterproof for spray parks, puddles, and the like. They’re hard to find for kids but I found them at Famous Footwear (and linked to them above).

2. Tan Towel Self Tanner. With shorts season suddenly upon us I thought it was time I find a good self tanner (nothing worse than legs in shorts that haven’t seen the light of day in months!).I found these Tan Towels had great reviews raving about the fact that they exfoliate as you self tan. It’s essentially a wet nap wipe that you use on whatever you want to have a bit of color and in an hour or so the tan shows up. It’s just a hint so you don’t look orange or anything. I wash my hands immediately following application and have no odd-color-hand problem either. Get these!

3. Minimal Off Shoulder Top in Crepe from ASOS. Off the shoulder tops are just SO in season right now and if you have any nights out planned for the summer I suggest you get one! I bought this one and just love it. The fit is a little boxy but that makes it pair well with a pair of skinny jeans or white pants. Here it is in blue and it comes in plus size, too.

4. Shoes by Dune London. Anything you can get on Amazon Prime is a friend of mine. I always need things at the last minute urgently. I was looking for sandals for M (see #1 on this list) and somehow came upon these fabulous Dune London Lemins Espadrille Sandal that were reminiscent of the J. Crew bejeweled sandals from a couple summers ago that were super pricey and sold out super quickly.

5. Nike Lightweight No-Show Socks. I love these socks! I had been looking for good no-show socks forever that actually stayed on my foot and these are just the best. I usually get them in white but this bright, colorful image was more fun to share!

Healthier Banana Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins

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As I wrote about last week, I’ve eliminated all added sugar (for the most part) from what I eat but occasionally you just need a muffin, right? And if I want something sweet like a muffin, I might as well bake them using an all natural sweetener like honey instead of white sugar so at least I’m on the healthy side of a treat…plus there’s only 1/4C honey in this entire recipe making 12 regular size and 4 mini muffins.

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I headed out of town with a couple friends over the weekend for a little girls bachelorette party weekend. I decided to make some muffins for not only us to eat while we were away but as a little leave-behind treat for my kiddos. After some recipe research, I came across this great recipe for Skinny Banana Chocolate Muffins on Ambitious Kitchen and decided to try it. I liked the use of honey in place of white sugar, the use of Greek yogurt for added protein, and of course using whole wheat flour instead of white flour – all much smarter options to make these a healthier muffin choice in place of your standard banana muffin.

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I followed the recipe for the most part but did have a few edits:
– I only had regular whole wheat flour so I used that in place of the whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour the recipe calls for.
– The recipe calls for almond milk but I didn’t have that on hand so I used regular cow’s whole milk.
– I thought dark chocolate would be better in the muffins and used large dark chocolate chips.
– Also, just make sure to use ripened or even better over-ripe bananas to add to the natural sweetness.
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My kids gobbled them up (and so did my friends, actually). These were so good there was only one left by the time I wanted to take another photo for the blog.