Friday, December 18, 2015

Something's Gotta Give - Holiday Edition

Have you seen the Big Lots commercial airing with the women singing "Christmas doesn't happen without ME!"? Can you relate? The gift shopping, the outfits the family wears, the decorations, the wrapping...we do it all and more.

On top of our regular stuff going on. Kid duties, laundry, dishes, cooking, social events, etc.

There is no way to do it all. Well there is, but something else has to give. Usually, it's a good night's sleep that gets crossed off the list. But, due to a nasty pre-holiday cold I've been fighting, I can't make it past 10pm any night, so I've had to cut back in other areas.

So here's what's taking a back seat around our house:

  • Clean floors - wearing shoes helps me stay oblivious to the amount of dirt and dog hair on the floor.
  • House decorations - just the bigger ones that make more of a visual impact went up this year. I don't think anyone in my family even paid attention to all those little holiday trinkets skillfully arranged on the shelves anyway.
  • Cooking - yeah, we've been eating out a lot. I'll hit the gym hard in January. 
  • Working out - well, technically, it's because I've been feeling under the weather, but...
  • Helping with homework - sorry, kids, ask your dad!
  • Screen time rules - deliberate ignorance...the kids are totally eating this up.

There you go, all out in the open.

I'd rather let the small things go than try to do it all and wind up a mental basket case by Christmas morning. Not that that's ever happened before. So don't feel bad about what's falling by the wayside at your house.

And I'd prefer it no one drops by unexpectedly, mkay?

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Where to Hide Presents

As the kids get older, I have to get sneakier. I remember when I was little, I didn't dare snoop. Okay, maybe I poked around a little. But honestly, I was expecting to find wrapped gifts in a closet somewhere. It never occurred to look for shopping bags.

Something tells me that if my kids decided to go on a gift-finding mission, they'd be looking for bags. And I'm thinking the bottom of the closet's not going to cut it.

The past couple of years I've kept them in our garage cabinets. My plan this year is to stash them in my "empty" box pile in the garage. But, now that I think of it, I may need to up my game.
Way too obvious
When they were little I could keep them in the trunk of the car. Now that we're carting around band equipment and baseball gear, I need to hastily bring in any purchases as soon as I get home. One year, on Christmas Eve, the kids helped themselves to the key to the locked truck bed and found their big gift. And we thought we had a good hiding place!

So, if you're like me and you don't have an extra closet with an empty void available and are looking for a place to stash, here are some ideas.

Clever Hiding Places for Christmas Presents
Nuthin' but empty bins here, kids!
  • Empty holiday decoration bins - once you unpack the decorations, leave the bins in the garage and fill them with gifts
  • Up high - kids usually don't think to look up. The higher the better. Think attic or garage rafters. Closets can be pretty obvious.
  • In boxes or bins, but label the outside "Easter" or "Goodwill"
  • Wrapped under the tree with gift tags for someone else. They won't be too interested in what Aunt Jennifer is getting.
  • An outdoor shed (ideally, locked up). How often to kids ever go there?
    The threat of yard work duty...
  • Empty suitcases - genius!
  • Off-site - think grandma's, a friend's, or a neighbor's house, or at work if you have your own office storage.
The most obvious place? In your room, in a closet, or under the bed.

So good luck, parents!

And be sure to keep your receipts well hidden too.

What other clever hiding places have you found? Have your kids ever found your stash? Post a comment below and let me hear about it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Family Holiday Card Photo Fails

Oh, I'm sure I'll laugh about it someday. The ritual of taking the family holiday card photo.

The husband's grumpy anytime he gets his picture taken, the kids don't want to sit still, and if the dog does sit, she's facing the wrong direction.

This year I decided to go casual to fit our lifestyle and hopefully have everyone feel more comfortable. The kids got to take a mom-approved break from homework, but once they were changed, it was almost impossible to get them to stop running around and come outside for pictures. We were off to a great start (sarcasm).

Luckily, my parents showed up on our doorstep at the most opportune time and I roped my dad into being the photographer. Thanks, Dad!! Otherwise it would've been a drawn out, bumbling photo session with the self-timer.

So here are some snapshots of the ones that won't make it on to the Christmas card, to take you on our complicated journey to getting a good shot (and realize it's not just your family).

Adding a family pet to the mix definitely makes things more complicated, on top of the unwilling participants in the photo frame. A young dog doesn't want to sit when you want it to (much like young children).
Then, people don't look at the camera.
Or they make stupid faces.
Or talk to the dog..."sit!" "stay!" "STAY!"
I think it was our last shot of the afternoon, and this picture perfectly sums up everyone's feelings.
The boys are acting silly, Dad is annoyed, and I'm grinning and bearing it.

Luckily, we did get two useful pictures, making us look like a happy family. And we are a happy family...happy that we're done taking the holiday card photo!

Yes, portrait photographers really do earn their money.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Outfit of the Day (OOTD)

A good friend recently called recently to share a little statistic with me: The average women spends 170 hours a year figuring out what to wear.

I believe it. I feel like I get amnesia the minute I walk into my closet. What goes together? Why do I always wear the same outfits over and over again?

One thing I'm starting to do is snap a picture of my outfit when I put something together I like. Ultimately I hope to be able to scroll through my photos to quickly find an outfit from my "outfit library."

So, in the spirit of sharing. I'll post some of my favorite outfits for inspiration. I know I'm no competition for many of the gorgeously modeled and styled outfits on Pintrest, but you know I'm about real life. So, no pics in front of an urban warehouse or mossy field here. It's pictures around my house for this gal. I'm still figuring this all out and still feel a little weird about taking pictures of myself for the blog. But hey, you've gotta start somewhere and there's only room for improvement from here!
Shirt: 41Hawthorne (Stitch Fix) | Shorts: Calvin Klein | Shoes: Sperry

Anyhoo, this is an outfit I wore to run errands, including getting my hair cut and then a PTA meeting later in the day (oh, the exciting life of a stay-at-home mom).

Although it's November, it still feels like June here in Florida, and we are still wearing shorts even though we are so ready to put them on the back shelf! I've transitioned from light colored shorts to dark. It's the least I can do in the spirit of the season until the weather cools.

I pulled out my "dressier" blouse instead of a cotton shirt and I felt so much more put together than usual! I love this shirt but I usually feel like I need to "save" it for more than just everyday. Of course, there's no reason not to dress it up on an errands day and get more wear out of all the pieces in our closets.

So there it is, friends. Let me know your thoughts and if you want to see more of my outfits.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

My Holiday Pre-game Plan

I have never been an early bird when it comes to planning for the holidays, I'm a wait 'til the last minute type of gal. I work best under pressure. But as I get older, I'm learning things. Like I don't want to repeat the stress and craziness that rises up every year and usurps the fun of Christmas.

This year, is going to be different.

The time between Halloween and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get a head start. There is so much to do and no reason to wait. This year, I hope to spread the preparations out and hopefully enjoy that magic of the season that has escaped me the past few years.

While I usually hate that stores put out Christmas decorations so early, I'm afraid now's the time, as an experienced mom, to come on board.

If you care to join me, in the next three weeks, I'll be tackling my pre-holiday To Do list.

First Week in November
  1. Take our holiday card photos. I usually take a family picture on Thanksgiving when we're wearing something other than bathing suits/athletic clothes/shorts. No reason not to take it now. Maybe we'll plan a dinner out afterwards as long as we're all showered up.
  2. Create a list of gift recipients and start thinking about gift ideas. I have a great, fantastic, can't-live-without-it app called Santa's Bag that helps organize all of this. Get. It. Now.

Second Week in November
  1. Buy teacher gifts. I usually prefer to contribute cash to a class gift, so I'll get in touch with the class mom and see if she's planning to organized a group gift. If not, I'll get a gift card along with smaller gift cards for the secondary teachers. It's one of those errands I put off until the uber busy last week of school. This year, I'm checking it off the list early!
  2. Get gifts for the hair stylist, newspaper delivery, etc. Again, no reason to wait until the last minute for these.
  3. Spend a day researching gifts and ideas online.
  4. Order the holiday cards.
  5.  Figure out our Christmas Eve/Day plans. What are we going to host? How are we going to balance spending time with our families? Better to discuss it now when we don't have extra stress.

Third Week in November
  1. Create wish lists for the kids, myself, and the husband to give to any family members who ask for gift ideas.
  2. Think about holiday outfits and shop the closet. What pieces do I want to pick up for holiday events?
  3. Go Christmas shopping. The stores are pretty empty before Thanksgiving week! Pick up some things from the list and order online.
  4. Buy hostess gifts to have on hand for December.
  5. Buy postage for holiday cards.

Fourth Week in November (Thanksgiving week)
  1. Address the holiday card envelopes. Set them aside to mail in mid-December.
  2. Plan the holiday menu.
  3. Find the advent calendar and get goodies for inside. 
  4. Bookmark items for online Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

And there you have it. A procrastinator's attempt to get a head start on the holidays. On a side note, we're almost done with the first week of November and I haven't tackled anything on the list. But, hey, at least having a list makes me feel somewhat organized and ahead of the game!

What tasks do you check off your holiday prep list before Thanksgiving? 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Eyebrow Tinting!

One of my favorite, easy-to-wear beauty tricks is having my light brown eyelashes tinted black so I can skip applying mascara every day. Now I've discovered something equally as fabulous.

When I was having my lashes darkened, my esthetician asked me if I had ever heard of eyebrow tinting.


She went on to explain that darkening my eyebrows would help frame my face and bring out my features more. She applied eyebrow mascara in a slightly darker shade for me to wear home to try out the look.

She was right on. I really liked it. 

The next time I scheduled my eyelash tinting appointment, I added on the brow tint. It only took a couple of minutes to apply and it cured while she worked on my eyelash color. She gave me a medium-brown color.

I loved it! I had eyebrows!
At first, whenever I saw my reflection in a mirror, it seemed like such a big difference. I felt like having the darker eyebrows balanced out and complemented my hazel eyes.

It's one of those things you can do that subtly changes your look. I mean, someone's not going to walk up to me and say, "Hey, I like what you've done with your eyebrows!" But it definitely makes a difference.
Why yes, I have done something new to my eyebrows!
The tint lasted for about four weeks. And now I'm hooked. No eyebrow penciling for me. I never could make it look right anyway.

So if you have light eyebrows like me, you may want to give it a try. You might be surprised what a difference it can make!

Do you have any beauty secrets that you love? Please share!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Stitch Fix: May 2015

Wow. I had forgotten how much fun it was. It had been a few months since my last Stitch Fix box. The last one was average and I decided to take a break. After having little luck in traditional stores I decided to give it another go. They sure delivered.

So most of you know the deal: you fill out an online profile and their stylists pick out clothes and send them to you. Whatever you don't like you send back and you keep and pay for what you do like.

Being 5 foot 2 inches tall, I have a helluva time finding clothes for my proportions, especially tops that aren't too long. The struggle is real, people. I was encouraged to try them out again when they recently started carrying petite sizes.

I loved the blues and greens and fun patterns that greeted me when I opened the box! Hello, lovelies!

I laid the pieces all out and assessed: one dress, one skirt, and three tops! No accessories this time, by request. I almost didn't want to try them on and risk the disappointment of any of them not fitting. But the package arrived as we got home from school pick-up, and it ended up being later that evening before I could try anything on. Part of the fun of the shopping experience is trying on the clothes, and I didn't want rush through and deprive myself!

The first thing I tried was the Brodie French Terry skirt by LA Made.
LA Made Brodie french terry skirt $68
I normally stay far away from a drawstring waist, but I loved it anyway. The fabric was a very light-weight, terry-like material. And I'm a sucker for stripes.

Perfect for summer and so comfortable. I really wanted it to work, and if it wasn't $78, I probably would have talked myself into it (and ultimately regretted it, because it really wasn't that flattering).
A very "roomy" fit from the side-view
I actually found a similar more flattering skirt at H&M about a week later for under $10 that I picked up because it reminded me of this one. Probably wouldn't have given it another look otherwise.

I am a sucker for anything fuchsia, so I liked the Evan Crochet Yoke shirt from Skies are Blue off the bat.
Skies Are Blue coral Evan crochet yoke top $54

I love when a shirt has unique details like the crochet at the neck.

The stylist suggested pairing the skirt and shirt together.
Although the colors are great together, the loose fit of the two wasn't flattering to my body type.That's when I decided the blouse was too drapey.

The other shirt in the box was the Holden blouse by Papermoon.
Love this Papermoon Holden blouse! $38
See how the fit is so much more flattering?
It's a guazey material and so lightweight. I have another shirt that is similar but a totally different color that I have worn all spring, so adding another one to my wardrobe was a no-brainer. Best of all, it fit!

The cut and style of the Nell dress by Gilli was right on the money.
A cute dress from Gilli
I didn't have time to snap a picture of myself in it, but it's perfect for mindlessly throwing on and looking cute. And you know how I love easy summer style. It fit perfectly! Unfortunately, I used to have a dress that looked almost exactly like it. Hmmm, keep it because it fit so well or not, because it was just recreating something previously had? Ultimately, I didn't keep it although the stylist made a great selection.

The other shirt, the Preston Open-Back by Fun2Fun, was super cute too.
Which shorts go best with the Fun2Fun Preston blouse
Trying to figure out with which shorts I could wear it
It was a fun print and again it fit great. I tried it with several different bottoms and at first it was a definite keep. Buuuut, looking at the pictures I took of myself, I felt like the color washed me out, and it only seemed to go with white. I really wasn't that wowed by it, so I put that in back in the box.

Although I did end up returning a lot, I think they did a great job giving me what I asked for. Yay! It was a good fix, but they can't know what I already have in my closet, and because I'm so discerning about fit, I'm a tough customer. I think most people would be happy with a fix like my last one.

So, if you do decide to give it a go, do me a favor and use this link to sign up so I can get a credit towards my next box, mkay? Thanks, chicas!
Stitch Fix Logo

What do you think about my choices? Have you had a fix yet? What did you think? Comment below!

Other Stitch Fix reviews: June '14, April '14

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Top of the Muffin to You!

Who remembers that Seinfeld episode where Elaine finds a bakery that sells only muffin tops because no one likes the "muffin stumps?" It ends up the store got closed down when they discovered muffin stump disposal scandal. (Or something like that. It was a while ago.)

Well, we've got a bit of a muffin stump scandal going on at our house too. My kids gnaw off the fluffy, delicious, top part like squirrels and leave the bottoms as carcasses. Panera sells the muffin tops and it got me thinking to try it out at home. And guess what: it's super easy, and more than half the calories of a full-size muffin! (haha)

Here are my easy instructions for making muffin tops at home.

Make the batter as directed. Use a box recipe or, if you're Martha friggin Stewart, make it from scratch. (Sorry for the passive-aggressiveness.)

Anyway, when it's time to put the batter in the muffin cups, instead, flatten the muffin papers out and put them on a cookie sheet.

Pour the batter to just fill the bottom of the paper.
Put the trays in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at the temperature indicated in your recipe. When you take them out, they'll look like this.
No more muffin stumps!

Monday, October 5, 2015

My Dressing Room Tip

You know those days when you have good shopping karma and you love everything you try on? It happens like once or twice a year. A few weeks ago I was checking out a new(ish) boutique downtown I've been dying to shop and loved everything: the colors, the fit, the flattering styles. Oh my!

I narrowed it down to a handful of dresses but couldn't pick one. (I know, first-world problems.) Yes, I was only going to get one (for now). I try to be practical.  

The salesperson was telling me, "everything looks great on you!" and I wasn't getting any closer to a decision. I pulled out my trick for when I can't make a decision in the dressing room.

But first, let me take a selfie!

No, that's the trick. I take a mirror selfie and look at the photos of myself. It makes it easier to judge how the clothing looks. You can see the fit and colors more objectively. And then you can easily swipe between outfits and narrow it down.

Normally, I take the pictures myself in the dressing room mirror, but on this day it was a slow time, and I recruited the saleslady to help me out. She kept telling me what a great idea this was, so I figured I might as well share it with you guys.

Here's my fashion montage. What do you think?

The headless mannequin! It's good to get your face in the picture so you can see how the clothing looks with your skin, hair, and eye color. The rest have my face. But what a great summer dress.

I love the fit of this one. It's gathered in the back to give the dress shape and you can't go wrong with a v-neck.

 I like this one because of the colors (go Gators!) and neckline. (Similar dress here.)

Love the blue-green color of this one. I'm trying to get more of this color in my wardrobe. These are all great dresses that are so easy to throw on and perfect for Florida weather.

Tough decision, right? So which one do you like? Comment below on this page and I'll let you know which one I picked!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Do You Go Back Home for Forgotten Homework?

I was standing in the school office with a plastic bag of just-purchased gym clothes in hand. Another mother eyed my bag and gave a knowing little smile. What was she thinking? Was it, "I've been there, rescuing my forgetful child," or "Look at this mom, hand-holding her middle school child!"?

The other morning, as I was dropping off my older son in car line, he realized he forgot his gym clothes for P.E. I'm usually in the Deal with the Consequences camp, so I told him I would not be going home to get it for him.

"I'll get a demerit!" he pled.
"I'll have to do a worksheet while the other kids get to play!" he exclaimed.
"Pleeease go home!" he begged.

But, going home would be a 45 minute round trip. And, selfishly, I had a class at the gym starting in 25 minutes. "I don't have time," I told him.

I pulled away from the school with mixed emotions. I felt like I'm always tough on him and expect a lot from him. And he's still getting used to all the newness of middle school. I felt his disappointment that I wasn't going to save him this time either. But I really didn't want to drive 45 minutes and miss my class.

Then it occurred to me that there was a Walmart down the street, five minutes away. I turned the car that direction and ran in and picked up the cheapest pair of shorts and t-shirt I could find. I was out of there for under $10 (sometimes I actually love Walmart) and I still had 10 minutes before school started.

He would be so surprised that I came through this time! But, I couldn't let him think I'm always going to get him out of his blunders. I was wrestling with these thoughts in the office, waiting for my son to come meet me, when I noticed the other mom.

Not that I really cared what she was thinking. Heck, she could have been looking at me in my gym clothes wondering if I was actually going to the gym or just dressing the part. But in my mind, she was judging me (as I was judging myself) for saving/enabling my son.

My forgetful child came through the door and saw me. He knew I wasn't pleased with having to bail him out, but we exchanged a small smile as he took the bag. "I'm not doing this again," I said. "Okay," he said,  "thanks."

To tell the truth, I felt good about helping him out this time.

And then he said, "You didn't have to come back. My friend was going to loan me his extra gym clothes. Bye!"


Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's My Birthday, And I'll Blog If I Want To

So, today is my birthday! Didn't you used to wonder what you'd be like when you were a real adult? And now, here I am. I couldn't help but do a little reflection on how celebrating my birthday is different now, compared to when I was in my 20s and 30s.

The Length 
Then: Used to be, I'd milk my birthday celebration into a full ten days, also known as Karannukah. Each day was marked with either a celebratory happy hour, lunch or dinner, and a piece of cake.
Now: I'm fine with just a day or two. Really. There's no reason to call a ton of attention to the fact I'm getting older.

The Food
Then: Everyone who knows me, knows how much I love cake. Somehow, I'd end up with a large cake for my birthday. I would then eat the cake for breakfast (it's got eggs! and milk!), and again for dessert everyday, until it was gone. My waist expanded into a food baby for a few hours, and then properly digested and any trace disappeared.
Now: I make sure there's very little left over cake (a.k.a. "temptation") by feeding it to the kids. And my cake baby sticks around until I work my ass off at the gym for 2 hours each day for three weeks. (But it's worth it.)

The Greetings
Then: Do you remember going to the mailbox in the days leading up to your birthday and finding multi-colored envelopes interspersed with the bills and junk mail? How long did you get that check from grandma for $10?
Now: The mailbox is pretty sparse in the greeting card delivery, but, I hear from friends I've known throughout my life from all over in the form of text messages and Facebook posts throughout the day! It's nice to be remembered and read the comments. And the mail I do get, is usually in the form of coupons from stores. Win! 

The Celebration
Then: My birthday was an extra excuse to party with friends! There were many a great night of dancing, drinking, and revelry. A slight headache the next day perhaps, but nothing more. The best part was that the only evidence of debauchery could be destroyed if necessary. (I'm speaking about friends, of course.)
Now: I like to start My Day off with a good workout and treat myself to a massage, a day off from doing chores, perhaps a little paddleboarding, followed by dinner with family (and cake). The perfect day. And no headache.

I'm sure my twenty-year-old self would think the forty-year-old birthday celebration is pretty lame. But, I like my lame, mature birthday celebrations. And if anyone's wondering what to get me, I'll take my fast metabolism back. Now excuse me, while I go get a piece of cake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Hump Days of Summer

Well, here we are in the middle of summer. We've already had some great fun and there are still many adventures and activities left to do. But inevitably, we've reached that point between summer is great, and how much longer until school starts.

Yesterday on the way home from doing the climbing wall at the gym, it was an all-out sibling drama that went something like this:

Kid 1: Stop making that annoying rattling noise!
Kid 2: Rattle, rattle.
Kid 1: STOP!
Kid 2: Rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle. HEYYY! Don't take it! GIVE IT BAAAACK!
Kid 1: Hurls whistle at Kid 2
Kid 2: OWWWW!!!
Kid 2: Stop turning your magazine pages so loud!
Kid 1: Rustle, rustle, rustle.
Kid 2: SSSTTTOP!!!

Well, you get the gist of my 18-minute commute that repeats itself over and over again throughout the day. (And everyday throughout the summer.) I'm thinking to myself, I probably have the two most annoying, worst-behaved kids ever. It becomes a mental will to keep myself calm and from turning into "mean mom." Redirection isn't working. Neither is turning up the music. They just get louder. I want proof of these moments, later, when I'm describing my day to my husband. So he remembers when he leaves for work and I'm sleeping in, that summer for a stay-at-home-mom is not fun and games all day. So I start recording a video of the antics without the kids realizing it. I got a good minute's worth.

Then, at the next stoplight, I played it back for the little monsters so they could see how ridiculous they were being. And I could hardly believe what happened.

They started laughing. At themselves.

At the crazy crying and the drama of it all.

And by the time we pulled into the driveway, the tears were dried up. This time. I can't guarantee it'll work next time, but I'll take the win for that day.

P.S. If you're wondering where the video is, they insisted I delete  it, so I did. No public shaming here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What to Wear to Disney in the Summer

Hi, Friends! Sorry I've been away from the blog for a bit. With the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, it's been non-stop on-the-go. I have so many things on my mind to write about, but never get the chance to sit down to do it!

Anyhoo, we just got back last weekend from a trip to Walt Disney World with our youngest while our older son is on vacation with his grandparents. This is only the third time we've been to see the Mouse in the 11 years we've had kids. Atypical for a Floridian, I know.

I started thinking about what to wear when we booked the trip three months ago. I knew it would be sweltering in central Florida in mid-June and wanted to figure out a cool (temperature) outfit. At first, I thought an athletic dress with a built in bra would be the ticket. 
Athleta Pack Everywear Dress
It's lightweight, non-constricting, and cute. It would be a great choice for walking around while staying cool. But then I thought about climbing in and out of all those rides and decided against it. I surely would have given the people in line more than they bargained for.

I decided to go with cotton shorts in a fun bright color and a lightweight, loose cotton tank.
Me and my happy camper
The tank was thin enough that I stayed cool and the embroidery detail gave it some interest. I debated wearing a dry fit athletic t-shirt, for comfort and sun protection, but fashion won out. Not that I was the fashion plate for Disney or anything. However, I do strongly recommend wearing a jog bra that dries quickly from all the sweating you will inevitably do. I wore no jewelery or accessories because I didn't want anything sticking to my hot skin.

Comfortable running shoes were a good decision as well, with all the walking we did. I usually like to restrict my running shoes to workout clothes, but the exception was warranted. I did not regret it at all. A cute pair of walking sneakers would have worked too.

A hat was a must! Okay, so the visor's not that stylish, but it needed to be something that would stay on during rides and could be stashed in my daypack. A crushable wide-brim hat would have been good too. I also wore my hair back in a fishtail braid to keep it from sticking to my sweaty back. Ahh, so cool. (Again, in the temperature sense. I am in no way suggesting that I am cool.)

The best thing we had was our Camelbak backpack.
My ever-so-chivalrous husband was our camel for the day and carried our supply of water. We dried it up twice and refilled it with cold ice water during lunch. Without it I surely would've had a heat stroke. I had a smaller backpack for some essentials, including:
  • spritz bottles 
  • cooling towels
  • snacks (almonds, cereal bars, Uncrustables) 
  • sunscreen
  • anti-bacterial gel
  • sunglasses
  • cell phones
That was really all we needed. Had there been rain forecast we--okay, I--would've thrown in ponchos. We like to travel light. A cute cross-body bag could have worked too. With the Magicbands, we didn't need our wallets, which was awesome. We also downloaded the Disney app, which was pretty helpful for checking wait times and restrooms, etc.

And to finish up, let me include some things not to wear to a theme park on a hot summer day that I saw:
  • black pants with a sweater
  • work dress with heels (I don't know why this woman was wearing that...maybe she was on break from a conference?)
  • high heel suede sneakers with a white shorts suit with lots of grommet detail (oh, how I wish I'd taken a picture!)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Swimsuit Season Pep-talk

Well, it's that time of year. Time to expose the pale flesh that has been hiding under the safety blanket of our clothes. Are you ready?

Being comfortable in a bathing suit is a mindset.

The main thing to remember is that all those people, whether at the beach, the pool, the water park, or wherever, really don't care that you don't look like you did when you were in your twenties. They didn't even know you.

As a matter of fact, they don't really care how you look today.

Can I repeat that? They don't care!

Most likely, they are too busy worrying about what people are thinking of their own problem areas. Or, the best kind of people, are just having fun and enjoying the moment. That's the type of person I strive to be when I'm out there in my skin-exposing bikini.

Think about strangers you see in bathing suits. Are you really thinking, Her hips are HUGE!! or Holy Moly! I can't believe the belly on her!! I mean, really. It's not as bad as you think it is in your head. You can either sit on a lounge chair and judge and critique other people to make yourself feel better, or you can get in the water and play and enjoy yourself.

And if you have to compare yourself, only think about the awesome things you have going for you. If you have really great feet, go ahead and notice all the ugly feet out there. If you have the best bathing suit getup going on around the pool, own it.

Think about all the guys out there, with their beer bellies and hairy backs. Do any of them seem to care? Noooo! And I'm going to bet you look better than any of those guys.

Don't play the mind games. You can tell when people are not obsessing with how they look. They are the ones having a good time.

Be proud of your body. It does wonderful things. It takes you where you want to go and allows you to do things for yourself and others. If you're a mom, it has given life, and that's pretty awesome. And don't you think in ten years, you'll think the body you have today is youthful? You'll wish you had today's body, so enjoy it now!

Now go get those bathing suits on with confidence, and go have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Easy Summer Style: The T-shirt Dress

So, in my post How do you really look? I talked about how I want to make looking good easy. People. I am about to make getting dressed this summer a snap.

I'm sharing one of my favorite summer outfits: the cotton t-shirt dress. It's cool, comfortable, and requires very little thought. And you know me, I'm all about keeping it easy.
The one I bought last summer has become one of my favorite go-to outfits that I have worn throughout the year. It's so easy to accessorize. I can wear it with my chunky orange necklace, my red bead necklace and it goes great with aqua and yellow accessories too. Same goes with the shoes: colored flats, sandals, or wedge heels all work. For a girls' lunch, I paired it with a great nautical print Spartina scarf that looked pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself. In the cooler months, I wear it with my beloved jean jacket. And I love that I can throw it in my gym bag and it doesn't wrinkle and it's always great for travel (if I actually did a lot of traveling).

So many different looks with one dress. It's like a Super Dress!!

When you figure out what works, you go with it. And you tell your friends about it. I'm looking for similar dresses to add to my closet this summer. My criteria are: it must be washable, wrinkle-free, and of course, cute.

I've rounded up a few below that may even work for you too.

1. Target| 2. J. Crew Factory | 3. LOFT| 4. LOFT

The Target dress is similar to the Super Dress I have in navy. I love the nautical stripes on the J. Crew dress; if you're tall and thin, you can pull this off.  I absolutely love the color blocking of the aqua/blue dress. It looks so comfy, doesn't it? The cinched waist of the chambray dress is great for a straight figure or hourglass shape. Chambray is great to accessorize with anything.

And best of all, I love how all the dresses are loose enough to move around and are forgiving of a post-baby, over-40 body..."mombod," if you will.

I'm thinking this is my new official Messy Casual motto: Although life is messy, we can still look casual & chic with ease.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste at the Grocery Store

The three R's of recycling are refuse, reuse, and recycle. The first R, refuse, is probably the most important. So many things that come in unnecessary and bad-for-the-environment packaging, done in the name of convenience. Don't buy in!

Here are three easy switches you can make:

1. Ban bottles

Yes, it's easy to buy a cases of sports drinks and water and throw them in the refrigerator to grab and go. But think about the repercussions. First, there's the energy it takes trucks to transport the bottles to the store, and then there's the lasting effect of the plastic bottles on our earth (450 years!). Think of all those bottles out there.

Instead: Invest in a good reusable water bottle (the insulated CamelBak is my favorite) and use it all the time. Keep them filled up in the fridge to grab on your way out the door. There are even water bottles with filtration systems if you have a thing about refilling from a water fountain. The water from the tap in the U.S. is clean and safe; there is no need to buy special water. If you really must have specialty water, buy the humongous jugs that you can return to the store. And sports drinks? Buy the canister of mix and do your own bottles. Easy.

2. Pass up Convenience Packaging

When you look at things in a new way, you'll be surprised how much waste there is. Individually wrapped snack packs, cookies, fruit cups, are easy, but get discarded after a one-time use.

Instead: Buy a large can of fruit and portion into reusable cups or take fresh fruit. Prepackage your own snacks and cookies with reusable baggies. Don't buy gum in plastic travel cups or individual packaging; get gum wrapped in foil and put them in your own dispenser (recycle that travel cup).

3. Ban Plastic Shopping Bags

Did you know that each American uses an average of 500 plastic bags per year? Plastic bags are made from petroleum products and natural fuels, which ultimately drive up fuel prices. They don't biodegrade for 15-1,000 years and the cost to recycle them far outweighs their value. (See for more interesting facts.)

Instead: Use those reusable shopping bags already! And use them all the time, not just at the grocery store. Seriously, how many reusable bags do you have sitting in a closet somewhere? I have a bags of bags myself. Keep them in the trunk of your car. Keep them in your purse. ChicoBag and RuMe are two bags that fold up small and are cute. And do you really need a bag to carry your pack of gum out of the store? Refuse them when you can.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How do you really look?

My 11-year old son is a chip off the old block, stylistically speaking. He takes notice of what people wear and carefully picks out his outfits being sure to match the color of the logo on his socks to a stripe in his shirt. He'll emerge from his room and ask me, "How do I look?" because he knows he's done a good job of coordinating his clothing. He "gets" it. Makes mama proud, for some reason.

The other day told me that he likes athletic clothing and decided that is his "style." Then he looked at me and asked, "What's your style?"

As I was thinking in my head, hmmm, casual chic, he answered his own question for me.

"Workout clothes?"



He (and everyone else) does see me in gym clothes 80% of the time. Usually because after my morning workout, like a lot of stay-at-home moms, I stay in them to run errands, do things around the house, and don't get my shower in until the end of the day.

But it got me thinking.

How many of us think of ourselves one way, but live another, therefore not fulfilling our sense of self...our style destiny, if you will?

My son sees me as Workout Mom, which is fine, but I feel it's important to go that extra mile to look more presentable. One of my pet peeves is how casual people have become. And I'm one of them more often than I realize!

I used to take time to lay my outfits out the night before and coordinated jewelery when I worked, before kids. I do still do that for "special" occasions--meeting up with friends, parties, etc.--but not so much for my own family and people around town.

So, now that I'm aware of my style reality, I'm making an effort to get a shower in early in the day and dress a little nicer around the house and out and about. With all the running around we do after school, it really feels better to be more presentable. I want the kids to see me the way I see myself, (somewhat) stylish and cute.

So, if you'd like to join me on my journey to looking more put together with ease, stay tuned! I'm thinking of ways to make figuring out everyday style easy. How to create go-to outfits, organizing your wardrobe, shopping for key pieces to keep up with trends.

Think of people you know who always look great. Don't you want to be one too?

We can do it.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

On Unbelievably Skinny Legs

So an Express catalog came to my house last week, which is a little odd, because I haven't bought anything there from there in probably 8 years. Anyway, I open it up to see what styles they have in this spring.

I stopped when I saw this.
Not only are the midriff tops never gonna happen on my post-40 body, but I can not believe the toothpick skinny legs on the girl in pink!


I don't think my upper arm is as skinny as her thigh. It's like a real-life Barbie doll. That can't be real, can it?

I thought the trend was going toward "real" models with attainable body types. How can this be good for young women out there? Does some poor girl have this picture torn out and posted on her refrigerator as her "summer body" goal?

Personally, I like a more toned body. Think Athleta. Just picture that same pink outfit on a little more shapely model. It would look awesome.
Come on, people out there in fashion world. Let's embrace the strong, shapely bodies of women!

Monday, March 16, 2015

What the Heck is for Dinner?

So, you may or may not know how much I dislike cooking. And I would have to say that a huge percentage of that does not involve the actual food preparation. Half the battle is figuring out what to make. What will be simple, quick, easy to purchase, and palatable to everyone in the family? If you're like me, you find your favorite recipes and do them over and over (and over).

Anyone else in the same boat?

So, I happened to be perusing Pintrest for "command center organization ideas" and stumbled upon a wonderful idea for planning weekly menus.

[Disclaimer: Let me preface by saying, obviously, the Pintrest versions are all crafty and cute, and mine is basic and half-ass. So I'm posting cute ones other people have made.]
Anyhow, the basic idea is the same no matter how you display it.

The first part can be done in a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon or while waiting for your kid's activity. To get started, go through your recipes and write out a card for each. On the front, put the name of the meal, and if you like, what goes with it (sides).

On the back, write the ingredients. Not the recipe directions or even the exact amounts, but what you need to have on hand to make it. The back serves as your shopping list. You can also write down the prep and bake times and the source of the recipe (online, cookbook title & page, recipe file, etc.).

You'll want to color coordinate your cards based on the type of meat, for example, beef, pork, vegetarian, etc. Using different color cards is probably the best way. I didn't feel like going to the store to get them, so I used markers to color them (a la the half-ass way).

Once your have the cards made out, organize them by food type. Then, after all that leg work is done, you are set up for the easy part. Yay! At the beginning of each week, before your next grocery store trip, select dinners for the next few nights. Depending on how you like to vary your meals, you can choose whichever combo you like, for example, 2 poultry, 1 beef, 1 vegetarian, 1 seafood.

Use your cards to check your ingredients on-hand and make your grocery list or simply take them to the store with you. (Guess which one I do. I'm all about easy, people.)

If you're the crafty type, you can place them on a cute, homemade menu board. If you're like me, you can just keep them accessible on the counter for the week. Maybe someday I'll get around to making a board. But I do like to write the dinners on my kitchen wipe board so everyone (including me, because I will forget) knows what we're having.

This is not my wipe board, but I kinda wish it was.

So, I hope this helps those of you out there like me plan your meals a little better. You can always add new dinner cards as you try new recipes. My family was pretty shocked to have a full week of varied home-cooked meals that first week.

And don't forget your cards for pizza night, eating out, and rotisserie chicken. Bon appetit!