a few goals and my winter essentials

so, the holiday season is over.  wah, wah.  but i do love a fresh start, and that my friends, is what we have.  we actually didn’t start all that fresh over here, with everyone taking turns being sick for several weeks and news that chloe needs tubes for her ears.  BUT, i am determined to start fresh this week.  in fact, i’m treating this week as my new year.  so if that’s what you need too, i’m giving you permission for a late start as well.  as chloe has been saying lately, let’s do this!

i haven’t done resolutions in a long time, but i took a shot at making some goals for myself for 2017, and i’m sharing a few today.  my over-arching theme is self-care.  sounds a little selfish, i know, but quite honestly, i have put myself completely on the back burner since becoming a mother, and i have been pretty happy to be there.  but i feel myself coming out of the baby phase, i’m 100% good with it, and i feel like i can take charge of me for the first time in a loooooong time.  and i think the better i take care of me, the better i can take care of this family.  that means a) being even more conscientious about food – planning, what we eat, and less sugar for everyone, b) taking time for just me sometimes, and being ok with it (forever grappling with that mom guilt!), and c) working out consistently.  i have been on and off the wagon so many times with exercise, and it’s time i jump on for good.  i’m not doing this just for swimsuit season. for the first time in my life, i feel weak, and i don’t like it.  i was on a big kick with BBG last spring – it’s manageable and time-effective (under 30 minutes!), not to mention, i saw the fastest results i’ve ever seen with my body – so that’s what i plan to get back to and mix in some yoga as well.

now, to the good stuff – a few winter essentials….


first, the midwest weather is so unpredictable – last week, it was 60 one day!  but we still have our fair share of freezing days, and i. do. not. like. to. be. cold.  so i have a few favorites i thought i’d share with you.

fleece-lined leggings.  oh my gosh, these are game-changing when you still want to throw on some leggings, but it’s freezing outside.  they make such a huge difference.  mine are from target a few years ago, but i found similar ones here, here, and here.

cute winter coat. i feel like everyone needs a coat you can throw on with anything.  i can wear this with work-out wear to feel more put-together and just as easily put it on for a winter night out.  i bought it last year and i’m still obsessed with it.  my mom loved it so much that she got one in navy.    mine is j. crew.  a few other fun options here and here.

sneakers.  ok, mom-life is so much easier in comfy shoes.  i’m in constant motion chasing hudson, who is a tiny wrecking ball on feet, and my days usually consist of running a few errands in addition to running after kids.  i got these for christmas, and i LOVE them.  they’re a dusty pink, and they seem to go with just about everything.  these and these are great too.  and these and these are on sale!

beanie – for those days when you just can’t with your hair.  cute, cute, and cuuuuuute!

tell me, what are you doing this year that’s just for you?  and the more important question, how are you staying motivated to do it?

 

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life lately

well, sheesh.  i really didn’t expect to be completely absent here for almost a month.  the last few weeks have been fast and furious and long and full, and well, exhausting. christmas was amazing this year with the excitement level we had over here – definitely the best yet!  we rang in the new year with sweet friends, and watched our kids go bonkers – which quite frankly, is very typical.  and we tried every trick in the book to keep the kids entertained over christmas break.  good lord, i love them, but the energy level that they maintain all day leaves me both tired and in awe.

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here’s the million dollar question – what do you do to burn your kids energy when you’re stuck at home?  none of my kids know how to sit still.

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festive for the holidays, part deux

put on your red lips, ladies!  it’s time to get dressed up for those christmas parties!

the formula for this outfit is simple – plaid shirt + flirty skirt + sparkly necklace.  i added a fur vest just for fun, but hung it up when i got to the party.  what really makes it work, in my opinion, is the plaid and the sparkles.  they seem like opposites, but put them together and it just works.  i find that a lot when i’m getting dressed actually – mix opposites (denim and sequins, high and low, leather and ruffles) and they will usually play well together.

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shirt (old) similar – skirt (old) similar, this one would be fun! – faux fur vest (old) similar – booties (old) similar, these are awesome – clutch (cw boutique) – necklace (old) similar

this next one i wore to our neighborhood party, which was a dressier affair.  i’ve had this dress for probably 10 years, and it still feels relevant.  i love when i accidentally buy a piece that works for the long haul!  the faux fur snood has worked into so many outfits lately.  it feels festive and fun, not to mention super warm.

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dress (old) similar, similar, similar – faux fur snood – clutch (old) similar – shoes (old) similarlipstick

happy party hopping, and enjoy this last weekend before christmas!

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2 killer treat recipes and my favorite accidental christmas decoration

i brought this toffee to a party recently, and at least three people asked for the recipe that night. thought I’d share the love since it’s just that good, and also ridiculously easy!

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baked toffee

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (i used semi-sweet)

preheat oven to 375 degrees.  line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper, leaving ‘tabs’ on two sides so you can pull it out of the dish after it cools.  combine butter and brown sugar, bring to boil over medium heat, stir.  boil for 3 minutes.  stir in 2 c of the pecans, and pour mixture into the baking dish.  bake for 15 minutes.  remove from the oven and sprinkle entire surface with chocolate chips.  let them melt a bit, and they will spread out easily (i used a silicone spatula for this).  sprinkle with remaining nuts (forgot this part this time, and it was still great, next time i might sprinkle with a little sea salt instead of nuts).  let it cool completely in the refrigerator.  lift the ‘slab’ out of the dish and cut into small pieces.  i think about 2×2 pieces work well since it’s pretty rich.

baking note: you have to be pretty exact when you’re making candy, so watch your times on boiling and baking or it won’t turn out just right.

now, these.  its just not christmas without them, and the ladies seem to like them a whole lot more than the men.  kinda funny.  if you make them, you’ll have to let me know if the same is true at your house!  they’re pretty, light, and super yummy.

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christmas kisses (meringues)

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 3 1/2 T raspberry jello powder
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips

preheat oven to 250 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  beat egg whites with salt until foamy.  mix jello and sugar in a separate bowl, then gradually add to the egg whites.  beat until the mixture stands in peaks.  add vinegar and chocolate chips.  drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper.  bake for 35 minutes.  after all batches are baked, turn off the oven and put cookies back in overnight.  this will help them dry out and become really crispy.  store in an airtight container with no other cookies.  they will get chewy if they take in any moisture.

baking notes: make sure your mixing bowl is really clean.  any oils can throw off the recipe.  also, make these small so you can eat them in one bite.  they’re crumbly!

let my cute assistant show you how it’s done.  first, sing a song to the mixer.

img_0695 here’s what the mixture should look like before you spoon it onto your baking sheet. img_0703 think she snuck a few chocolate chips??  img_0705

and if you’re not bored to tears, let me show you my favorite little christmas decoration that happened by accident.  i had been looking for a himmeli wreath for this spot for months, and who came through?  the target of course.  i threw in some of those teeny led lights just for fun, and it provides the prettiest little glow.  i just might leave them up year round.

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festive for the holidays

tis the season for about eleventy billion holiday events!  i’m not complaining, because it means being social and dressing up – two things that i’m always happy to do!  in the past week, we’ve been to jared’s office party, a musical, a neighborhood party, and a friend’s annual party…these were back-to-back nights and we were so whipped by sunday, but it’s a great problem to have!  this week, i’m going to share a few fun holiday outfits that got me through the aforementioned event explosion.  the first look is for something on the more casual side, but you could easily dress up this top with black pants, a pencil skirt, or maybe some sequins??   let me say that this top is so. flipping. cute. that you’ll want to wear it all the time.  i’ve already worn it to two holiday events, and i don’t plan to stop.  it always gets a compliment, and the plaid is on point for the christmas season and beyond.

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enjoy the golden glow of the post-baby hair fall-out/grow-back-again flyaways.

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also, these jeans, they’re like buttah.  they are high-waist, super stretch, and come in petites for stubby people like me!  the jacket is from my favorite things post.

not a great picture below, but this does the best job of showing the top.

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ok, i’m outta time.  the kids are raiding the pantry and the baby is hollering for me to come get him up from his nap.

topjeansjacketbracelet – earrings (old) similar similar – shoes (old) similar

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i digress, and a diy

last week I had a nasty cold and just felt rather dull all around. i kind of felt like the universe was telling me to hit the pause button and look inward. weird, i know, but that’s what I did. i was more thoughtful about my day, spent more one on one time with the kids – lunch at school with b, 2 hrs straight of play-doh with c, and up and down the stairs more times than i can count with h (just following that boy around is an exercise program). writing here felt trivial so I didn’t force it, and honestly, it felt good to let go of some of that pressure (that I put on myself) and just be. now, all that said, i still don’t have it all together this week, but it was a nice little refresher and reminded me that it’s ok to slow down sometimes.  and this still applies:
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yep, i mostly feel like i’m running around like a crazy person all day.  it doesn’t help that i can’t seem to focus on any one thing and bring it to completion.  i start something in the kitchen, go get something in the pantry to finish it, discover that stack of magazines i’ve been hoarding and flip thru one, think of an outfit idea and run upstairs to pull it before i forget about it, and find an old sweater that needs to go to goodwill.  that spurs a closet clean out, and before i know it, hudson is awake, and i can’t remember where i started  (please tell me i’m not the only one who does this).  and that’s basically what was happening when i did this little diy.  i started it, and in between coats of paint, i was trying to cram as much into nap time as i could.  i finally came back and finished it at 4pm after having started it at 10am.  one day, i will learn the art of focus.  i think.  i hope.
so, let’s get to the point here.  i wanted to make a few frames a little more festive for the holidays by adding some sparkle.  all i did was use painters’ tape to mark where i wanted the gold to go, and i hopped to it.  i’m not one to do a lot of measuring (sorry dad), so i totally eyeballed this, and decided to go asymmetrical so that anything would look ok.  i’m super happy with the way it turned out, and i might just add gold accents to every frame in the house. or, little fluorescent accents would be cute in a kid’s room.  or black and white stripes would be fun too.  or a rainbow.  really, the options are infinite!  and, who doesn’t love a project where perfection isn’t necessary?!?
tape it, paint it (a few coats), pull the tape.
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voila!
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these are a few of my favorite things

we put up our christmas tree over the weekend – is there anything better than that golden glow of white lights at night!?! – and our elf ‘eddie’ has returned!  the poor guy isn’t very creative – he must be tired.  i really hate to steam roll through thanksgiving, but i’ve really had christmas on the brain and i’ve made a good dent in my shopping.  the plan is to keep the momentum going so i can just do the fun christmasy stuff thru the month of december.  today, i thought i’d let you in on a few of my favorite things that you might want need to add to your own christmas list!  these are things i own and love and can give a hefty stamp of approval to.  everything is linked up below.

bralette – ok, i have given up on legit bras because i am done being uncomfortable.  these are pretty, feel like you aren’t even wearing a bra, and are pretty inexpensive as far as bras go.  sold.

leather jacket –  well, it’s faux leather, but looks and feels like real leather.  i had been searching for about a year for the perfect moto jacket (that wouldn’t break the bank), and this. is. it.

patagonia – this pullover is so warm, it feels sorta like wearing a blanket, which is basically my idea of heaven.  i have it in white, which i was worried about, but i’ve managed to keep it white for about a year, and that’s sayin’ something.

dutch oven – i have had this one for about 8 years, and it’s great.  it’s a less expensive version of this, and it has performed so well.  i use it at least a few times a week, especially in the winter when soups are on the menu more frequently.

hydroflask – ok, this is silly, but it’s practically my fourth child with as much as it gets carried around.  i am trying to be better about drinking more water, and this thing is great, keeping it cold for hours.  make sure you get the straw top, because water just tastes better out of a straw.  ;)

copper mugs – the moscow mule has quickly become a favorite at our house, so copper mugs to serve them seemed just right.

tote – this thing has taken a beating, and the more it gets used the better it looks.  one downfall is that it just has one small pocket inside, but it hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me.  they have it in a cross body version that would be great too.
wallet – ok, this is pretty big for a wallet, but it holds everything and then some and can double as a clutch.  it’s on major sale with kate spade’s early black friday sale.
zella leggings – i had heard from a few people that these are THE leggings.  i finally bought mine at the nordstrom anniversary sale, and they were so worth it.  they are mid-rise,  reversible (one side is matte and one side is more shiny (but not too much)), and so comfortable.
now, quick!  start that wish list!
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