summertime cocktails

if you follow me in instagram, you know we enjoyed some blueberry mojitos this past weekend.  they were light and refreshing, and not too strong, which honestly, is my favorite combo.  i just can’t deal with a headache the next day, which is often what happens if i have more than one drink.  #lightweight problems.  jared jokes that i’m like goldilocks – i have to be hydrated and fed just the right amount or i am not a happy gal….and while it pains me to admit it, he’s right.  you couldn’t see the entire recipe on my post, and i got a few questions about it, so thought i’d share the whole thing and a few other favorite summertime drinks with you here!

blueberry mojitos_________________________________________________________

muddle 8 – 10 mint leaves and 6 – 8 blueberries in a glass.  squeeze the juice of 1/4 of a lime into glass and throw in the piece of lime.  add two tablespoons of simple syrup (<—- some fun ideas for infusing it too!).  now fill glass with ice, then add one shot of light rum (i think vodka would work too), and top off with club soda.

prickly pear san pellegrino and vodka__________________________________________

as simple as it sounds.  one can of the prickly pear san pell and one shot of vodka over crushed ice.

IMG_1738pretty-up your booze using my diy decanters here

moscow mule________________________________________________________________

this is one of my very favorite cocktails, and i love it any time of year!  fill glass with crushed ice, squeeze 1/4 of a lime over ice and drop in.  add one shot of vodka, and fill glass with ginger beer (i love trader joe’s version).  extra points for the copper mug!


also, any of these are great if you leave out the booze!  bottoms up!

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strawberry pickin’

this has been on my list for while now, so when gieringer’s posted that wednesday would be the last day to pick, i decided it was now or never…..well, not really never.  but i didn’t want to wait another year!  i let beckett play hooky on the first day of summer school (which, thankfully, they are suuuuper casual about), and loaded up and made the hour trek.  i have such sweet memories of peach picking with beckett and chloe when she was even smaller than hudson, and blueberry picking when i was super pregnant with hudson (and almost passed out, but that’s another story), so i knew strawberry picking would be fabulous if i could get us there.  welllllll, the actual picking was not that great, but we didn’t expect a lot on the very last day.  still it was fun to be with nature, and there’s something so cool about seeing and showing the kids where food comes from.  no, it does not grow on a tree in a package.  the kids loved it too.  there was plenty to do, and the strawberry donuts and slushes will have me daydreaming for a year!

how cute is this strawberry shed!?!  considering this paint-job for our house.  what do you think my neighbors would think? ;)  IMG_1664

h wasted no time picking and eating.  like, within a minute of getting there.  IMG_1668







cheers to these amazing strawberry donuts!  i should have bought them out!IMG_1729

will definitely be trying to replicate this strawberry lemonade slush!IMG_1731

this boy, and anything with wheels and a motor.  IMG_1735


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current love: the backpack

love it or don’t.  i get it.  but recently, i’ve been really loving the backpack.  particularly for summertime and doing lots of adventuring with the kids, keeping my hands free to chase after hudson, push a stroller, deal with snacks, but mainly chase after hudson (there’s a reason his hashtag is #hudsonthewild!), is key.  it’s got to be big enough to hold the necessities, but not scream MOOOOOM (my kids do enough of that)!  i’ve graduated a small level in mom-bag land, in that i only need to carry a couple diapers and wipes and maybe a snack.  gone are the days of carrying burp cloths, bibs, baby food, changes of clothing (can i get a hallelujah!?!).  looking back, i think i was way too over-prepared on a daily basis, and i actually look forward to the day that my bag is aaaaallllllllll miiiiiiiiine!  but i digress.

back to the backpacks.  lucky for us, they are on trend and there are tons of cute options out there – i’ve rounded up a handful that are all under $150.  i’m particularly loving options 1, 4, 5, and 9 since they look like they could be carried in multiple ways.

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1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9


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date night and cold shoulders



date nights are few and far between these days, but this look got me to a fun dinner with jared and friends and to up/down (an 80s arcade).  it was chock full of the good stuff – duck hunt, pinball, super mario bros, and of course, skee ball.  it was such a fun night, and brought back memories of staying up too late trying to save the princess.

there’s really no good way to transition from that, soooooo…..the cold shoulder trend is still hot.  ok, even i know that was a bad one, but i just had to!  i looked and looked for an off-shoulder/cold-shoulder top last summer and didn’t find anything that worked for me, but i stumbled onto this one at tj maxx of all places.  i love the thrill of the hunt in there.  it’s totally hit or miss, but sometimes, ya just hit.

i think the top says a lot so i kept accessories a little more streamlined, and while they ‘say something’ too, everything else is neutral so it doesn’t all compete.  while i’m a jeans and t-shirt girl at heart, i’m trying to up my game a little, and this top will be great for daytime this summer too – i’m thinking with shorts and birks or nude sandals, and since it’s not totally off the shoulder, i can still ‘mom’ in it.  i love it when something can pull double duty!

all photographs taken by meredith gutshall 17.2.14_Brooner21





top: similar, similar // denim // clutch: similar // shoes: shoe post here

sunnies // earrings: similar

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the blush bomber

well, today feels like summer.  for one, it’s hot!  hudson and i did some errand running and wandering around outside this morning, topped off by him dumping his smoothie all over himself and his carseat right before we went in to get chloe from school.  this led to him going pantless and me getting some odd stares from adults and kids alike.  lucky for them, he and i have no shame.  its all documented in my instagram stories (@carabrooner and @chasingshinyobjects) if you want to check it out.  it’s is always an adventure with kids, am i right!?!  sheesh.

i will freely admit that this bomber was a complete impulse purchase a while back.  it fit into the color palette i had been working with and i loved the floral details, so i thought i’d bring it home on ‘probation’ and see how many things i could make it work with.  i quickly realized it works with a lot, and somehow, this blush color can kind of go with anything, so you could even consider it somewhat of a neutral.  my favorite way to style it is what you’ll see here – denim and stripes – but i’ve also worn it with a dress and even my favorite black leggings to feel a little more put-together while running around in my athleisure.

 all photos by the uber-talented meredith gutshall17.2.14_Brooner04





jacket: similar, similar // denim: similar, similar // choker // bag (vintage) similar // shoes

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a few favorites

a few little things have made it to my favorites list lately, and everything is under $14!  let’s get to it.

first, the pop socket.  it’s a weird little pop-out thingy that attaches to the back of your phone, and it solves a problem i didn’t even know i had.  you’re probably holding your phone now, do you feel how tense your hand is?  this thing let’s you relax your hand because it slips between your fingers to help you keep your phone steady, making it easier to both read your phone and take pics.  it also works to prop your phone up…say, to let your kid watch a show so you can say two words to your spouse at your dinner out….not that i’ve done it.  anyway, i barely use my phone without it now.

this green bb cream might scare you because it’s green, but since green and red are opposites on the color wheel, it softens any redness in your skin.  i bought it for a few small areas on my face, but it even works well for all-over if you don’t want to use two different products.  it fades right away from green to, what they call, a ‘universally-flattering’ color as you rub it in.  it’s a pretty decent bb cream on the cheap.

ok, i do love a la croix straight up, but drop a few of these vanilla creme stevia drops in and it takes it to the next level.  my favorite combo is the stevia drops + orange la croix = you’ve got yourself a drinkable creamsicle with basically no calories!  i could drink them all day long.  also, the bottle lasts foreeevvveeeerrrr.  like, i think almost a year.

i’m sure you’ve seen the sign at starbucks for the new coconut cold brew.  i’m here to tell ya it’s good, and wayyyyy lower in calories than a latte, which is what i really want, but i’m trying to cut back on.  it’s a lot less sweet, but still hits the spot.

and i saved the best for last, because this muscle tee plus shorts, jeans, skirt, whatever, will be my uniform for spring and summer.  wear it with birkenstocks and studs for day, dress it up with some statement earrings and heeled booties for evening.  i just really love a good, simple tee, and i went one size up for a little looser fit.  it comes in 6 solids and one stripe, and i just don’t think you could go wrong in buying one of each.

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i’m dreaming of a white kitchen

y’all.  i have dreamed of a white kitchen for close to a decade now, and i think it’s finally on the horizon.  we moved into this house 4 years ago (when b was 2 1/2) with the thought that it would be one of our first projects, but we had a kid and then another kid, and quickly our project list fell off the cliff of stuff you don’t worry about when you have three kids 6 and under.  we used to be project people before all these kids, and i so miss that sense of accomplishment after a day of hard work.  we are not afraid to get our hands dirty (we actually really like it) but, we will not be doing this particular project ourselves….because i’m scared to death of messing it up.  so it will be left to the professionals, and we can blame them if something goes wrong.  ;)  all that said, it’s time to revisit the 267 white kitchens i’ve filed away on pinterest to determine how we’ll finish it all off.  we still need to choose a white for the cabinets, new backsplash, and don’t tell jared yet, a new faucet and drawer handles and pulls.  here’s where my head’s at…

kitchen story board

a few things are already in place.  the cabinets, while not what i would choose if i were building, are great quality and totally workable.  the countertops, again, while they’re not my favorite – they are a mostly-black granite, totally fine, and it’s not in the budget to change them.  the pendants over the island were one of the first things we changed here.  light fixtures can totally change the look of a room for not a ton of money!  and the runner is already here as well.

mom, i’m totally eating my words from all those years ago that i would ‘NEVER HAVE BRASS IN MY HOUSE.’  things really do come full circle.  actually, it’s brushed brass.  ;)  we did marble subway tile in our last house, and i think we might do the exact same thing again.  i love the subway look, but the marble takes it up a notch, and it’s a pretty classic look – i mean, the grecians were using the heck out of marble thousands of years ago.  it’s not going anywhere.  i’ve considered painting the island a more fun color – like navy or a soft green-blue – but with dark granite, i think it would look weird.  and i REALLY REALLY wish new countertops were in the budget, but sadly they are not, so we’ll roll with what we have until we can level off the counter (we have a bar now) and put in something in the white family.

here are a few other kitchens where i’m loving the vibe…and seem to pin them over and over again.

probably my very favorite at the moment…whitegreenkitchen







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spring to summer transition 

the weather has been so weird here lately!  a few weeks ago, i thought we were skipping spring and going straight for summer, and this week had us breaking out coats (and umbrellas!) again.  it’s that weird transition from one season to the next, where you’re wearing clothes for a range of temps, mornings in the 40s or 50s and afternoons that run up to the 60s or 70s.  a leather jacket is one of those great transition pieces that lets you wear a summery pieces without it looking too summery.  something you can throw on in the morning or in the evening to bridge the gap.  i have been wearing mine with anything from yoga pants to dresses the last few weeks –  it adds just the right amount of edge and makes me feel a little more pulled together without a lot any effort.  personally, i like to play with proportion, and wear something a little more flowy and feminine under mine to keep it from looking too ‘hard’.  enter the loose-fitting t-shirt, white lace top, and of course, the sundress.

all photographs taken by the one and only meredith gutshall.  she is gracious, comforting, a genius with the camera, and most importantly, a dear friend.


meet mere’s sweet assistant derby blair.  isn’t she the cutest!?!  we were having a moment.17.2.14_Brooner4517.2.14_Brooner34

jacket / dress (old) similar, similar / shoes – similar, see shoe post / sunniessimilar

steal // splurge // light // suede 

steal // splurge // long-sleeved // what dreams are made of 

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quick and healthy bites for the gal on the go

i have a bad eating habit during the day.  i almost never sit down to eat a meal.  i usually look at the time the kids are eating as an opportunity to get something done, which leaves me eating ‘lunch’ standing at the counter 90% of the time.  is it any wonder my kids don’t sit still for meals!?!  i don’t know why i’m constantly surprised by this.  then 1, 2, or even 3 rolls around and i’m HANGRY.  i am a known hangry person.  when i was in college and would get a burst of energy and do handstands in the middle of our room at 10 pm, my roommate would be like, ‘oh, you just ate something, didn’t you?’  when i married jared, my mom advised him to always carry a snack for his toddler new wife.  and even to this day, i can feel myself get edgy if i don’t eat.  it’s just the way i am.

so, i’ve found some random but delicious combinations that will fill you up in a hurry.  i use these as snacks and even meals sometimes, and they’re all kid-approved too!

banana + almond butter || i love justin’s maple almond butter, but any almond or peanut butter would do!

carrots + pistachios ||  my favorite are the bagged ‘petite’ carrots

yogurt + quinoa + berries || this is my favorite breakfast and hudson is always trying to steal it!  you could sub the quinoa for brown rice if you like, and top with any fruit you have handy.

carrots + pepperoni || we favor applegate turkey pepperoni around here, and the kids love making these ‘tacos’

i’m always looking for new ideas, and i’d love to hear yours!

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spring 10×10 wrap-up

hello may!!  how the heck did we get here so fast?  school is quickly winding down, and summer is a-comin’!

so, the 10×10.  i’m finally sharing my experience with the whole thing!

first, i was a little apprehensive because i thought being so restricted would be SUPER boring, but guess what?  I LOVED IT.  and i plan to do it again and again.  the simplicity of getting ready was amazing, and i found myself putting together outfits i never would have considered if not for this experiment.  i liked the challenge of making each outfit interesting, and i think the fact that you can mix in accessories makes it so easy and fun to do.

as a refresher, here was my line-up for the 10 days.  

two pants, one skirt, four tops, and three layering pieces.  i did give this some thought as i planned it and made sure i could come up with several outfits easily.  i think the mixing in of pattern and texture helped to keep things interesting.  it also helped that the weather cooperated almost completely, so i only had to add a sweater one of the days.  i was pretty compliant, although i would have broken the rules more had i needed to!  i was able to ‘mom’ in everything, and the only real annoyance was wearing the skirt on a windy day, but i made it work.  i did skip a day because i stayed in gym clothes, but guess what, i do that a few times a week, so the fact that it only happened once makes me want to pat myself on the back. ;)

these got me through a night out (top middle), a visit to beckett’s school (middle left), dinner out with the family (bottom middle), a brunch/easter egg hunt (bottom left), and a presentation i gave to a MOPS group (middle middle), and every little thing in-between.

– find these photos and more details of what i did each day via #cso10x10 on instagram –

so, here are a few questions i wanted to answer for myself as i reflect back on this.

was there anything that didn’t work?  i really felt good about my choices.  might have been beginners luck, but all the pieces just worked.  you might notice that i didn’t wear the blush bomber jacket at all.  i had 100% planned on it, but the weather was pretty warm that week, and the material just felt kind of hot, so i opted out. so, really i worked with just 9 pieces!  the only look i didn’t feel totally confident in was the blush tee/black skirt/denim vest.  i wore the tee tucked in, but it has a knot at the hem, which is great when untucked, but made it feel rather bulky.  no big deal, i just didn’t love the outfit.

what look was your favorite?  i felt the most ‘me’ in the olive pants/black & white tee (bottom right) and the unexpected favorite was the skirt/blue & white button up (bottom left).  not sure i would have put these outfits together looking at my entire closet, but when looking at limited options, i loved how these came together.  and the little knots to add more personality!


what did you learn?  working with a color palette that all flows together was key.  i really felt like every single piece could have worked with all the others, and i liked having the layering pieces to make things a little more interesting each day.

will you do this again? 100% yes!!  loved it, totally recommend it!

what would you do differently for the next 10×10? next time, i’ll work a dress in.  otherwise, i felt like i had plenty of options and was able to dress things up or down dependent on the days events.


this experience really opened my eyes to how little i actually need, and i think it will affect how i shop and look at my closet from here on out.  it also helped me pack for our trip this past week.  we had limited space in our car, with the stroller and pack&play also coming along, so i wanted to get the kids and myself into one carry-on-sized suitcase.  i thought carefully as i packed for myself and each of the kids, included a few tops and bottoms for each of us that all went together, and it was no problem at all.

i didn’t photograph, well anything, very well, but here are a couple little peeks at what kinds of accessories i worked in.  for me, the fact that accessories can come and go as you please made this so easy and a fun challenge to make each outfit look different in subtle ways.

still pretty dang awkward with selfies – someone please give me a lesson


olive moto leggings (i purchsed at CW boutique)

denim (old gap, distressed myself) – similar

black skirt (old banana republic) – similar, more casual option

blush tee (random find at tj maxx) – similar, similar

black and white striped tee (old) (fit note: i sized up 2 sized so i could tie it)- similar, similar

cream lace top (old) – similar, similar

white and blue striped button-up (abercrombie, can no longer find this online) – similar

denim vest (old j. crew) – similar

blush bomber (old) – similar, similar

camo jacket

so, whaddya think!?!  are you up for doing a 10×10?  i’ll definitely let you know the next time i do it so you can play along too!

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