Family Fun Friday

A quick look at our family fun this week. Unfortunately the heat is getting to us and keeping us indoors lately but we did catch a bit of relief on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Family Fun Friday

After the gym on Monday we just sat in the grass outside and ate a granola bar together, sang songs and ran around (them, not me– I was wiped from Insanity and Piyo!) It felt so nice to have a break in the humidity if only for a few days!

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Tuesday our activity of choice was the library. I promised Eleanor if she napped well I would take her to rent the Veggie Tales: Penniless Princess. We just listened to The Little Princess audio book together and she had fun watching the Veggie Tales put their spin on this classic novel. We have also watched the other two versions of this movie and the Veggie Tales version is her favorite. While at the library the girls played quietly for over an hour. When they had their fill and started acting wild it was time to go!

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We had a fun swim party on Wednesday with some of our Burn Boot Camp friends.  I have been lazy and not taking the girls to the pool often enough this month so it was great motivation for us to get back in the water. We brought a picnic lunch and stayed all morning until naps.

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Although the heat came back with a vengeance we made it to the playground with our friends on Thursday morning. I love the park but my only struggle is that all the other moms pack snacks and I don’t. I try to teach the girls that other families do things differently than ours but it is always a struggle when my kids beg for snacks and I don’t have any. I don’t mind other moms feeding my kids but I always just feel so bad that my children eat their snacks. Admittedly I did forget to pack waters on Thursday and it was incredibly hot so my kids also drank from our friend’s water bottles. Sorry friends!

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And on Fridays we stay home.

What activities did you and your kids get into this week? I am hoping to have a few more adventures before summer is over but for now our weekly rotation of park, library and swimming will suffice.

Create Your Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Last year I stumbled on the idea of a capsule wardrobe and was immediately excited.  I began to weed through my closet and realized that the clothes I was getting rid of were the ones that hung in the back, never touched anyway. Having a capsule wardrobe is like only wearing your favorite clothes every day. I only wear my favorites anyway so essentially I had a “capsule wardrobe” but with a whole lot of clutter.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe

I narrowed my closet down to just my very favorites. I took stock of what I had and what I felt I needed to add to complete my wardrobe and suddenly shopping was fun! With a plan and a budget I set forth to add quality pieces that would accompany my existing clothes.

When all was said and done I had less than 40 items in my closet. For the first time my side was less crowded than Alex’s! And yet with less clothes, I felt like I had more complete outfits and had more fun getting dressed. Picking out clothes to wear didn’t feel like a chore anymore. I was excited about every single piece. In short, creating a capsule wardrobe was one of the best choices I have made this year.

How to begin your seasonal capsule wardrobe:

Make a list of the ideal wardrobe.

Check Pinterest for more seasonal capsule wardrobe ideas. Or check out my lists below. Yours will likely not be an exact replica of any other wardrobe. But knowing what a complete wardrobe might look like will help you recognize the clothes you want to keep. Here is a suggested list:

  • 5-10 pairs of shoes
  • 10-15 tops
  • 5-10 bottoms (shorts/pants/skirts)
  • 2-3 dresses
  • 3-5 layering pieces (sweaters, jackets, scarves)
  • 4-5 accessories (watch, necklace, earrings)

When creating this list keep in mind the season and your location. Here in North Carolina our fall can sometimes feel like summer so I’ll keep a pair of shorts in the mix as well as light layering pieces. Also consider the roles you play in life. Are you working a mom that needs business casual but also weekend clothes? Do you enjoy nights out and need more fun tops and accessories? I am a SAHM and admittedly I live in jeans and t-shirts. Having jackets and scarves and necklaces helps me mix up my classic mom uniform.

Sort your existing clothes. 

There are many ways to do this. I like taking everything out, sort, and then put back in from my STAY pile. You may find that you can easily choose what is going to leave your closet and just pull it out and leave the rest. This is dangerous however, and you may find yourself going back many times to weed through. It sounds like a ton of work but if you have an afternoon I encourage you to just empty and start from scratch. You will find you are way more discriminating in your choices.

To start sorting you should have four piles: STAY, MAYBE, NEXT SEASON, AND LEAVE. These piles might change as you get through your process. You may put more items in the leave pile that were originally a stay or maybe. But don’t go backwards. If you have already decided it should leave, don’t move it back to maybe. Trust your gut. Keep only clothes that are in good condition and fit you right now.  This is a seasonal wardrobe so if you think your body size may change in the next few months just toss those clothes in your NEXT SEASON pile. Also, only keep the clothes that you love and feel confident wearing.

Pay attention to the colors and styles in your wardrobe. An ideal capsule will have a harmonious style and most of your tops are able to be worn with your bottoms. When having a difficult time deciding what stays and goes consider if the colors and patterns work with the other pieces in your wardrobe.

Get rid of the extras.

Immediately bag your LEAVE pile and get it out the door. Trust me, you don’t need as many clothes as you think you do! Put all your NEXT SEASON clothes in a bin. I don’t get super picky about these clothes. I know that there will be more LEAVE’s out of this pile but I wait until the appropriate season to decide. Some clothes you will keep through all seasons, like a great pair of jeans and your tees, but many will be seasonal. It is important to know that you don’t have to stick to 40 items for an entire year.

Take inventory. Build your wardrobe.

Check out what remains in your STAY pile. Maybe it’s best to lay it out on the bed or go ahead and get it back on hangers and in the closet. What do you have? And what is missing from the list we discussed above? Are there pieces in your MAYBE pile that really fit the bill? Once the clutter is gone, you might find that the MAYBEs are beginning to fit back in. Or maybe now it’s obvious they should go too. Now is the time to start building your wardrobe. When hitting this stage I always start with what I already have. Don’t go shopping until you have found a place for everything that is left. When this is done, if you have any MAYBE’s left it is time for them to go.

GO SHOPPING!

What’s left on your list? Unfortunately for my budget I had a lot of missing pieces my first go around. I needed a great pair of jeans. The kind you want to pull on Every.Single.Day. I needed some plaids, and layering pieces. And I really needed a few new solid tees for everyday wear. I shopped at a local women’s consignment sale and was able to get most of my pieces. But then I took to my favorite stores, waited for sales and ultimately just bit the bullet. A little bit of investment goes a long way on quality clothes. Most of the items I bought last fall I will be repeating in this year’s capsule. If you have the budget splurge just a little on quality items. For me jeans and layers are important to splurge on. I will keep these items for years. I basically ruin t-shirts in a season so I tend to go for cheaper but sustainable options like Everlane.

It sounds wild but get your shopping done quick. Don’t wait around. You will have an incomplete wardrobe and your capsule will fail. You will feel discouraged and hate it and feel like you have nothing to wear. Complete your capsule. Do it once and be done. Do not add along the way. I was so nervous about spending money all at once but I ended up spending less in the long run. Once my capsule was complete I didn’t need to shop for the entire season!

Prepare for next season

But if you do feel like shopping, only buy for the next season. It is actually fun to buy clothes and hide them away. Just like when you were a kid and your mom took you school shopping but you couldn’t wear anything until the first day of school. If you buy throughout the previous season, you will be ready to go for the next. Once my fall capsule was finished last year I would start looking for items I wanted to add to my winter wardrobe like puff vests and a great wool coat.

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Fall Capsule Shoes

Shoes

Shoes are the easiest to start with. I already own all of these except the leopard loafers and am on the hunt.  My flats are both from Target I’ve had for years. I also found my black booties on sale for $9 at Target two years ago and they are most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. My Steve Madden tall brown boots were a Christmas gift two years ago and my nude/blush leather Tom’s were a birthday gift last year. The only other pair I am considering for this year is a great pair of Hunter Boots, a splurge but also an item that I will keep for years to come. These are the only shoes I need, but you may decide to add a few more to your capsule. You may want an additional pair of booties in a more neutral color or need a few pairs of heels for work.

Fall Capsule Layers

Layers

Layering pieces are also pretty straight forward. I am excited that I do not need to add to this list at all this season. I bought my army green jacket last fall when I first did my capsule. I realized it was the one key piece missing. This year I also bought a jean jacket on sale at the beginning of summer and it will be great this fall. I also have a white and black cardigan because these are my go-to items when I need a layer.

Fall Capsule BottomsBottoms

I am sticking with basics on the bottom this fall and keeping only my favorites out. These great black khakis from Gap, a pair of boyfriend jeans from Loft and my beloved Paige skinnys. As I mentioned above, I’ll keep out a pair of shorts for transition into Fall. I am resurrecting my beloved maroon khakis from Gap this Fall and also on the hunt for these amazing moto leggings. I love using a little color on the bottom since I tend to stick to neutrals on the top.

Fall Capsule Tops

Tops

Just 16 pieces for me unless I find something absolutely perfect while out shopping. Many of the shirts above I already own and will reuse from last year or transition from Summer to Fall. I tend to gravitate to Loft and Gap for tops but am looking to purchase from higher quality, more ethical lines. Unfortunately most of my Loft shirts fall apart after just one season. On my list to purchase this year is that amazing black and white striped heavy weight tee from Everlane. I also just purchased my new beloved “Sunday Funday” tee and the pink and gray t-shirt dress from a local boutique.

Fall Capsule Accessories

Last on the list are accessories. I am definitely a less is more gal so feel free to go beyond what I have listed here. A statement necklace would be a great addition and would add a pop of color to a neutral wardrobe. And scarves would also be fun but I personally hate wearing scarves. I currently own all of these pieces except the backpack. I have had the Everlane Mini on my wishlist for a long time!

I am now one full year into using a capsule wardrobe and am a complete convert. I am way more likely on a daily basis to get out of my “athleisure” and into real clothes. Once the real clothes are on I’m also more likely to accessorize and do my hair and make up.

What do you think? Are you ready to create your own capsule wardrobe? What would you add or take from the one I created? If you have questions about sources leave in the comments. I’ll also be happy to do a follow up post with sources.

Why does blogging still feel so weird?

blogging

I started this here blog over a year ago. I wanted to be able to document my second child’s milestones in her first year of life. And I honestly needed an outlet for my newly SAHM status. Slowly a few of my friends and family members stumbled on the blog. I would casually mention it here and there, but I didn’t take it seriously…until recently.

Just last week I finally (finally!!) posted a blog post on my personal Facebook account and immediately began to sweat. I felt so silly and so exposed. I almost felt ashamed. And then I felt ashamed for feeling ashamed. Always as a blogger I have felt that I needed to make apologies for exposing my life on the great big internet. I have felt scrutiny (whether it existed or not) for my choice to blog. It made sense in my early days of blogging, almost 10 years ago. Bloggers were just making a name for themselves and it was hardly seen as a full time job, let alone a respectable career. But in today’s world where bloggers are working hard, creating valuable content, and making an income doing it, I was amazed to find how weary I was at announcing my little blog to my friends and family.

In person I have never directly received criticism for blogging. As I humbly talk about the blog people always respond favorably. I actually think my family and friends enjoy the blog to get a day-to-day look at our lives. Being away from family is difficult and I know I would savor every word and photo if one of my siblings decided to blog. So why did I get all jumbled up announcing to my Facebook world that I do indeed blog?

So I’m curious…do others feel this way about blogging? Like it is a dirty little secret? Like somehow being a blogger is still weird? That saying it is your hobby or career is criticized?

For me, I blog because I really, truly enjoy it. I love writing. I love to recap our lives and look back. I love having a landing place for all the photos we snap every day. And I also like the prospect that maybe I too could make a buck or two doing what I love. I struggle with the idea of going “public.” I talk about not wanting to add to the “noise” (whatever that means) and I want this place to be fun and enjoyable for others, just as I view the blogs I read. Somedays I really want to keep this space all to myself but most days I love the idea of others being able to read and share in my experiences.

Life Lately

I usually write in the evenings when the girls are in bed but I just didn’t have it in me last night. And so now I punch out these words while I allow the girls to make an absolute mess of my living room. Ah such is life.

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I love how well the girls play together. What an amazing gift to have a friend for life. Sisters truly are the best. They don’t always see eye-to-eye but it is just fun to watch them interact and grow together.

A lot of disappointing things happened over the weekend but none that threaten our life or joy, so as the old adage goes: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And that was my plan for our usual weekend catch up post. I wasn’t planning to write one at all. But while surfing through the photos on my phone I wanted to add a few tidbits from the weekend.

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It was disappointing circumstances that brought us to Charlotte Saturday morning, but while we were there we decided to make the best of it and treat it as a date.

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Bagels and juice.

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Saturday night was also fun. I made this great pizza recipe from Daily Garnish and then we headed out for the food trucks in downtown Mooresville to snack. We learned the hard way not to plan our whole dinner around food trucks. We usually end up hangry standing in long lines. So now we just go for snacks. We shared a plate of hand cut potato fries and deep fried Oreos.

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Sunday night we capped off the weekend with a glass of red wine and this amazing dessert. You must run out immediately and make a skillet cookie! I topped ours with coconut milk whip cream.

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Instagram-worthy shot versus how we really ate the thing:

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That’s all folks. Hope you had a great weekend and the stress of back-to-school isn’t getting to you. We were treated with nicer temps yesterday and I can smell Fall in the near future. I know this is a stressful time for many but I’m just excited for the change of seasons and the promise of things to come!

Meal Plan Monday: finding my groove

This week’s meal plan included some incredibly delicious meals! I focused on easy meals that would create lots of leftovers and they turned out amazing.

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Sunday: Zucchini Lasagna

Monday: Chicken Foil Packets

Tuesday: Potato Salad and Hard Boiled Eggs

Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Thursday: Chicken Sausage with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Friday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with roasted broccoli Leftovers

Sunday– this was one of the few meals that took a bit of preparation. Alex was home and helped me slice the zucchini and brown the meat so I could make the tofu ricotta. Once all the components were prepped I assembled this lasagna by layering sliced zucchini, pasta sauce, ground beef and tofu ricotta in layers. This recipe would work, only I used store bought sauce and tofu ricotta instead of cashew ricotta.

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Monday– This was probably one of the easiest meals I have made in a long time. I threw the chicken in the foil packet with artichokes and Italian dressing and prepared brown rice on the side. Let it all cook and voila! Foil Packets for the win.

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Tuesday– I felt like a cheater not making a “main dish” to accompany the potato salad but then I decided I didn’t care and served everyone some of our Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs with the salad. We all loved the pickles in this recipe!

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WednesdayThis recipe took a little work to make the dressing but it was totally worth it. Homemade Caesar dressing > store bought! At the last minute I decided not to toss in the Romaine lettuce and added roasted broccoli instead. Because roasted broccoli is > Romaine! We had tons of leftovers of this meal which is awesome for lunches. And both the girls totally chowed down. Given they haven’t had pasta in months I am not surprised!

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Thursday– Our go to week night meal. I worked an extra shift Thursday night so Alex was on his own to make dinner and feed the girls. Chicken sausage with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts is one of our favorite 30 minute or less meals and the girls love it! We use Aidell’s Chicken Sausage in this meal. The apple flavor is especially good with sweet potatoes.

Friday– I really didn’t want to cook at all but resisted the urge to go out to eat. This is why having a meal plan is so key. Having everything I need in the fridge ready to go helps motivate me to stick to the plan. I pulled myself off the couch and tossed in all the veggies to roast in preparation for these veggie burgers and then my oven malfunctioned. I still have no idea what happened although the landlord claims it is fixed. In 10 minutes in the oven my vegetables looked like this. Not burned so much as smoked with toxic gas and fumes. Dinner fail. So instead we ate all the leftovers and carrots and guac and some pickles on the side. I was upset we wasted food, but even more upset that I wasted the energy to wash, peel and chop all the veggies!

Here is my weekly grocery list for the week including everything I needed to make these meals plus all the extras we use for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

  • 1 lb Organic grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 packages Aidell’s Smoked Apple Chicken Sausage
  • 4 lbs Organic chicken breast (split between two meals)
  • bacon
  • 2 18 pack eggs
  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 6 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • basil
  • Brussels sprouts
  • ~4 lbs broccoli
  • 6 lbs bananas (we eat a ton of bananas!)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • extra light tasting olive oil (for mayo/Caesar dressing)
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Romaine
  • baby carrots (2 lbs)
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • red bell pepper
  • cucumber
  • lemons
  • 3 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • bread and butter pickles
  • dill pickle spears
  • anchovies
  • artichoke hearts quartered
  • walnuts
  • Italian dressing
  • gluten free pasta
  • frozen sweet peas
  • frozen fruit (for smoothies)
  • cashew milk
  • dishwasher soap

Our shopping total this week through Walmart online was $144. I am proud to say that we only ventured into Publix once this week and that was for a box of cereal, more milk, and a bottle of wine. I think staying out of the grocery store is going to be my number one way to stick to the budget in the coming weeks! Especially with fall approaching and all the pumpkin flavored everything!

 

A morning in Charlotte with kids

Want a fun place to play with your tots? We explored ImaginOn yesterday morning and had a blast.

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Getting there was not a blast, however. Dumb 77 traffic gets us every time. I’m incredibly frustrated by this highway and feel like it takes away all the joy of living close to a big(ish) city. Getting to Charlotte is now such an ordeal! It is crazy to think that we are now making life plans that revolve around the traffic on this road and to know that it won’t be any better for a very long time (if ever) is highly disappointing.

Rant over. When we finally got through the traffic that held us up over an hour it was smooth sailing to ImaginOn. This unique library/museum is a haven for toddlers and moms. It is free (!) and incredibly fun. This summer’s open exhibit is The Adventure’s of Mr. Potato Head and my girls absolutely loved it.

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We arrived around 9:30 and walked right into the Mr. Potato Head exhibit. Our friends Amanda and Piper came along too (thank goodness for friends who will brave traffic) and we all got to work creating our own versions of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I think Eleanor could have stayed here all morning playing! I finally peeled her away so we could check out the rest of the exhibit. There were so many fun and interactive stations that a 3-year old could easily be entertained for hours. However, we only had about an hour to play before story time and that was the perfect amount for my 1 1/2 year old.

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Story time in the library wasn’t much different than story time at our local library but the girls had a blast anyway. One of our favorite weekly activities is going to the library so it was awesome we got to do story time twice this week. After about 30 minutes of songs and books and activities we all walked over to 7th Street Public Market for snacks. Amanda and I each enjoyed a cappuccino from Not Just Coffee and we loaded up on muffins, croissants and pretzels (carb loading) from Local Loaf. The market quickly filled up with lunch goers. The public market is so different than anything we have in Mooresville that it was incredibly fun to just sit and people watch.

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Nap time was creeping up so we headed out. I still had a few errands to run on the way home and of course we had traffic to contend with. Still it was an incredibly fun morning out of Mooresville. My stir-crazy ways needed to hit the highway this week even if we were only crawling along it.

 

 

 

The Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

Maybe you know this trick. Maybe I’m late to the game. But in all my google searching I never came across this until my sister-in-law taught me. So for all those wondering, let me share with you the best life hack ever…

perfect hard boiled egg

This process is not mind-blowing or difficult in anyway. Here are the five easy steps to make the perfect hard boiled eggs. The kind that slip right out of the shell and have the perfect yellow inside.

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Step 1: Bring eggs to room temperature. This means setting them out 4-5 hours before you plan to boil them.

Step 2: Bring water to a boil first.

Step 3: Carefully place eggs in boiling water using a slotted spoon.

Step 4: Boil for exactly 11 minutes.

Step 5: Drain and rinse with cold water until completely cool

Done. This process takes a little preparation to set out the eggs well before you need to cook them. I previously made boiled eggs by placing in water first and then bringing water to a boil. Dropping eggs in boiling water can be dangerous and you risk breaking one, but it is made easier by using the spoon to guide the eggs into the water.

The result is a perfectly cooked egg with a yellow center and a shell that slides right off the egg. You are welcome!

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