Turkey Day + Happy Headlines + A Winning Recipe

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Well, it was a whirlwind holiday and weekend and now it's already the Tuesday after Turkey Day. I hope everyone enjoyed a delicious meal in good company and maybe even scored some great deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Today is Giving Tuesday -- here's how it got started, if you're interested!

We traveled to our hometown to be with family for the holiday and stayed at my brother's house (thanks for welcoming our circus, big bro and sis in law!). I think I've mentioned that my family has a long-standing tradition of eating out (yes, as in, at a restaurant!) and this year was no different, although we did switch up the place. We gathered for a couple of after parties that consisted of lots of cake and pie, presents for the kids, Moana singalongs, and laughter. 

The girls dresses are from Old Navy - $10 today!

On Black Friday my cousin and I hit up Target and the outlets in the morning and everything was eerily quiet at 8am. It felt like a normal Tuesday afternoon at Target! 

Doesn't my cousin do the prettiest wrapping job?

On Saturday we took a walk and let the kids burn some energy at the neighborhood playground, then went to Dutch Wonderland (a small kid-friendly amusement park) for my nephew's birthday! I can't believe he's three. It's so fun to see he and Carrington play and interact now since they're only a year apart.


I wanted to share a couple of happy and local-to-me news stories making national news: woman raises money for homeless man who spent his last $20 to keep her safe, and man pays off over $10k of layaway orders at Toys R Us on Black Friday. I hope they make you smile and restore some faith in humanity, as they did for me. :)


Lastly, what have you made for dinner lately? We've been rotating through some easy, tried and true meals but once a week I like to try something new. I usually go to SkinnyTaste first, since she's never steered me wrong! This week I came across this recipe for one-pot spaghetti and meat sauce and decided to try it last night. It was the easiest thing and so delicious. Just simple, tasty comfort food -- even the girls liked it! We're having the leftovers tonight with caesar salad.

Hope everyone has a great start (now middle!) to the week!

5 Ways to Enjoy Your Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

If you know me IRL or if you've been around this space recently, you're aware of my undying love for Thanksgiving. I understand that for a lot of people, though, this holiday can be stressful. Large family gatherings with lots of different personalities (and political views), difficult and often expensive travel, too many plans and obligations. Let's take back the day, shall we? Here are five easy ways to enjoy your Thanksgiving and the extended weekend:

1. Give back.
Whether that's paying for the coffee of the person in line behind you, including family, friends, or acquaintances in your plans, making a charitable contribution during your Black Friday shopping, or volunteering on Thanksgiving day (I'd love to do this) -- finding a way to give back not only captures the spirit of being grateful, but lessens stress since it forces us to look outside of ourselves. 

2. Find some quiet.
Yes, this is a big holiday often celebrated with extended family, excessive food and fanfare. But, if you can, try to carve (pun intended) out some time for quiet. A walk before or after your meal, a few minutes in the early morning or after everyone goes to sleep. You can use this time to breathe and reflect. Taking some time for just yourself will give you that bit of inner peace you may very well need.

3. Eat the damn pie.
Give yourself a break and enjoy all that the day has to offer guilt free. Life is too short not to eat your aunt's world famous pie or have another scoop of potatoes. Unless you have true health issues, one day will not make or break you!

4. Start a new tradition.
If you're feeling stuck in a holiday rut, driven by old traditions that may drive you crazy, why not start something new? Suggest a new game to your family that will inject a healthy dose of humor into the weekend, or a bake off, or family volunteering, or hosting a brunch instead of dinner at your place.

5. Document it.
Take photos of the people seated at your table, old and young, and perhaps record a clip of funny or meaningful conversation on video. Yes, you want to be present in the moment first and foremost, but a close second is having a few memories recorded to look back on. 

I'll be taking the rest of the week off to try to do all of the above. :) Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I'm so grateful for each of you.

Weekend Links

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It's the weekend! Hooray! Even better, it's the weekend before a holiday week and there's much to look forward to. :) What are you all up to today and tomorrow? This afternoon Steve and I are sneaking away for a low-key lunch date. It's kind of hilarious how much dates have changed: from dressed-up dinners to coffee and Home Depot runs!

Tomorrow our sweet pup has a grooming appointment in the morning so she can get all clean and trimmed up for the winter, and C has her swim lesson. We may throw a grocery shopping trip in there, too. Wild weekend, I tell ya! But these days without any big plans are actually usually my favorite.

I thought I'd gather up some fun links for you to peruse as you drink your cup of coffee (let's be honest, probably your second or third!). 

+ Oprah talks her worst interviews. (Hint: Don't talk about yourself incessantly)

+ These mules are less than $34 and look so comfy. (Grey is such a great neutral)

+ Tis the season for teacher gifts & I love all of these! (If I could live in this store, I would)

+ The top 100 Christmas songs. Where does your favorite fall on the list? (Mine is #2!)

+ I want. (What an interesting job)

+ Kids' chores based on age. (I need to start implementing, stat)

+ 35 easy Thanksgiving side dishes. (Let's face it, the sides are the best part)

+ I identify so much with this. (Summer, I miss you)

Enjoy your weekend!

To the Mom Who's Doing It All Wrong

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hey, momma. You're doing it all wrong.

At least that's how it can feel some days. 

Here's how it usually goes: You're going about your day, loving your family, doing your best. There's a comment here and a comment there, advice from a stranger, side-eye from a parent at the playground.

Breast is best, you know. 
If you'd only give them a bottle, they'd sleep through the night.

We keep toys to a minimum in my house.
You don't have the latest ___ for your kid? 

You stay at home? I don't know how you do it.
You work outside the home? I don't know how you do it.

You'd better be more strict with your kids so they actually learn manners.
You'd better be more lenient with your kids so they can enjoy their childhood.

You only want one? The poor child will miss out on siblings!
You want more than one? The poor child will have just a fraction of your attention!

My kid's a great eater because _____.
My kid's a great sleeper because _____.

I'm so glad I don't have to miss out on one minute of my child's life.
I'm so glad I'm instilling independence in my child by not hovering around them.

There is constant background noise in parenthood, and it's not just from your kids. There are so many opinions coming from so many sources, so much chatter, so many filtered images of perfect-looking parenting that instead of feeling surrounded by support, we can end up feeling just the opposite: lonely. 

Here's what I think can help during this season of unrelenting background noise: Keep your eyes and ears peeled for truly supportive friends, and don't be afraid to reach out to them, lean on them, chat with them daily. Be the same kind of friend, because it goes both ways. Allow yourself to be open to advice (yes, others do have valuable insight to offer) but don't be afraid to filter out the unnecessary or unsolicited kind. Follow your gut: If something is right for everyone else but just doesn't feel right for your family, go with it. Try your best to be authentic because a world obsessed with image desperately needs your authenticity. Be willing to consider the fact that you may not know it all. Be unapologetic in your advocacy for your children. Be kind to yourself.

The truth is: second guessing yourself is part of the job description. It's natural to question your decisions and want to do everything "the right way" for this little person (or people) who you love so much. The very fact that some days you feel like you're doing it all wrong means this: You're doing it right, friend. So very right. 

A Crush on Plush

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shopping is in my blood. Not necessarily buying, but shopping. I have countless memories of weekend afternoons as a kid spent at the mall with my mom, aunt, grandma, and cousins. They'd window shop, browse departments, grab a bite to eat, talk, laugh. To this day, one of the things I like to do to relax is walk aimlessly around a store (I'm looking at you, Target). Of course, I don't get much time for that these days, but when I do -- consider me in my happy place. :) 

All of that to say that one of the things I've done my whole life while shopping is touch things. I used to get into trouble as a kid -- I'd have my hands all over everything, pulling items off of hangers. You know that saying, "Look with your eyes, not with your hands?" That definitely wasn't, and still isn't, me! I need to touch things to appreciate them. It's one reason why I much prefer in-store shopping to online.

With my appreciation for touch, I'm not surprised that I'm gravitating toward everything soft, velvety, and plush this season. Velvet and chenille are two favorites. Here are just a few ways I'm loving these sumptuous (isn't that such a fun word?) fabrics:

Outerwear like Hats, Headbands, and Scarves:



Shoes and Accessories: 

Totally unnecessary and a lust-list item, but those mules remind me of a starry night sky. :) Do you have a favorite?

Monday Musings

Monday, November 13, 2017

Did you enjoy your weekend? Ours was full of fun (and sugar) with two of Carrie's friends' birthday parties -- one at a bowling alley and one at a dance studio. Steve and I were talking about how it's so sweet to see C with her little pals these days. They hold conversations, have inside jokes, and play pretend together. 

We were also noticing how much Haddie is really playing these days. She makes little figurines walk around and even makes her own sound effects, entertaining herself for 30 minutes at a time. 

Anyway. I wanted to share a few thoughts, interesting links, and favorite things to get this week started on the right foot. Enjoy!

+ Today is World Kindness Day. And, man, do we ever need it... am I right? If I could teach my girls to be one thing, it would be kind. Not to be confused with "nice." In fact, when teaching them, I make a point of telling them to be kind instead of "be nice." The definition of the word nice is: pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory. I don't really wish for my girls to be any of those things. But the definition of kind is: having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. I think we could all give and receive more kindness on a daily basis. Here's a short history of the day and some ideas for celebrating it.

+ Ricotta Toast. I would like to go ahead and dub this the new avocado toast. OMG... it's so delicious, friends. I bought some ricotta for a meal we had over the weekend and had leftovers and, well, you've got to try this. A couple of ways I've enjoyed it: 

- Honey wheat toast, ricotta spread on top, a drizzle of honey, sliced almonds or pistachios

- Wheat toast, ricotta spread on top, cracked pepper and a shake of garlic salt

+ The Rockefeller Tree. I think I'll tune in to the tree lighting and festivities on Wednesday, November 29th, will you? This year the tree comes from State College, PA, not too far from where I'm from and somewhere I've visited a few times. When I was growing up, we'd always read this book about the tree at Christmas -- the hardcover is just $1.99 at B&N right now! The perfect stocking stuffer. :)

+ Behind the Scenes. This is the most random thought, but I watched the "behind the scenes" and "making of" clips of Moana with C and H yesterday that come along with the movie and we were all entranced. It bought me a half hour more of entertainment and was educational and fascinating! I have honestly never thought about what goes into making an animated film and since it's mostly the type of movie I watch these days, I have so much more appreciation for them.

+ This Article Had Me in Tears. It just drives home the spirit of giving, not just during the holidays, but every day. I plan to put together an entire post dedicated to opportunities to give this season and beyond.

Have a good rest of your Monday, friends!

Holiday Bucket List

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I'm not sure what it is about this year, but I am already so excited for the holiday season. I think a lot of it has to do with the ages of the girls, knowing that they will delight in the magic of it all more than ever. One of the things I am most looking forward to is taking them to help choose a couple of new toys and books for other children who might not be receiving much, if anything, under the tree. At almost four, C is very into making her list this year, paging through toy catalogs, and dreaming up what "Santa" might bring her. While she does that, I am working to instill the joy of giving, as well.

Several of you mentioned how you enjoyed the Fall Bucket List, so today I'm sharing our Holiday Bucket List so you can get a kick start on the season. :) What are you most looking forward to this year? 

Weekend Scenes + Thankful

Monday, November 6, 2017

Another Monday that I come to this space with a heavy heart. Another mass shooting, more lives ripped away and others irrevocably changed. I know we're all sickened and saddened having to talk about it, but -- I think we need to talk about it. Something is terribly wrong, and the longer we turn our heads, the more it will keep happening. Mental health and gun control are two very different, controversial, difficult topics. But they need to be talked about more, fought for more. If you're feeling helpless, here are some ideas.


How was your weekend? Ours was quick, but productive. On Saturday my in-laws came over and Steve was able to hang our new foyer light! It's the little things. ;) I got out for a bit in the afternoon and checked out a new home store that just opened by us called At Home. Has anyone else been to one? I'm not sure if I'm just spoiled with other home stores, but I wasn't that impressed. I didn't love the warehouse style and I felt the items didn't seem like the greatest quality for the prices. I think I prefer Homegoods or Kirklands. After I left there, I hopped across the street to the mall and picked up two new pairs of lounge pants for myself at, of all places, American Eagle (I got these and these). I needed comfortable pants that I don't mind stretching out and wearing down as I kneel all over the floor with the girls. Plus, Thanksgiving is coming, so... give me all the stretchy waistbands.

Stealing donut holes on Saturday morning. That's my girl.

Our new foyer light (so hard to get a good picture since it's a two story space -- I can't grab a good angle!), and a sleepy golden.

On Sunday Carrie had swim lessons and then we just hung out at home the rest of the day, putting away clothes, doing laundry, power washing outside, etc. A little necessary fall cleaning! 

Today our Hadley girl has been with us for 16 months. It's hard to believe how fast time has gone, and yet impossible to imagine life without her. She is so mischievous and sociable and just full of joy. 


I saw this fun November-themed linkup on Sparkles & Lattes (hi Danielle!) from The Blended Blog and thought it would be a nice way to kick off the week. I'd love to hear your answers to some of these questions! Let me know in the comments. :)

1. A NEW FRIEND: I'm thankful for my mommy friends, who are newer. I truly think every mom needs the support of those who are in the trenches, too -- we text all day about our messy houses, the latest news, questions about what to do in different situations, dinner ideas, and so much more. Not sure what I'd do without them!

2. SOMETHING SHINY: I love my Maya Brenner necklace (this is the one I have). Steve gave it to me for Christmas after Carrington was born and it has a "C" on it. I keep meaning to send it in to add an "H" to it, too. I never take it off!

3. SOMEONE UNEXPECTED: I'm thankful for C's gymnastics teacher. She's been such a great addition to C's life and routine -- she's fun and encouraging.

4. SOMETHING ORDINARY: There are so very many "ordinary" things I say thanks for every day, but today I'll say a warm car on a cool day, the beauty of the leaves changing color, and Christmas music (yes -- I am already in the mood!).

5. A PERSON I'VE KNOWN A LONG TIME: There are too many of these people! Thankful every day for my longtime friends and family.

6. SOMEWHERE YOU GO EVERY DAY: Home. I am so thankful for our comfortable, happy home. Sometimes when I'm coming back from walking Layla at dusk, as we approach the house I think to myself "I can't believe that cozy house with the glowy lights in the bend of the street is mine!"

7. SOMEONE WHO'S TAUGHT YOU SOMETHING: Again, so many of these people to be thankful for. A professor once caught up with me as I walked on the sidewalk and we got to talking. He said something to the effect of, "We are all walking around probably waiting for the first person to say hello, all feeling the same way." I've always carried that with me and now I try to be that person who says hello first.

8. A FAR AWAY PLACE: I'm thankful for the memories Steve and I have made on our vacations to other countries: Mexico, Jamaica, Bermuda.


10. SOMEONE YOU SEE EVERY DAY: My babies! So beyond grateful for my daughters.

11. SOMETHING YOU ENJOY DOING: Writing. I love writing in this space, I love writing articles, I love reaching people through writing. It's so therapeutic for me and maybe even helpful to someone else.

12. SOMEONE FEMALE: My momma. We live a couple of hours apart and there's nothing quite like just chatting with your mom. I can't wait to see her this week.

13. A SPECIAL PLACE: Stone Harbor, NJ. It's our little happy place, not too far away from home.

14. SOMEONE MALE: My husband. I'm so thankful we can talk about everything: from little, everyday stuff to life's big questions. Love him so much.

15. SOMETHING WARM: I've never met a blanket I didn't love!

Friday Favorites

Friday, November 3, 2017

We made it, friends! This week was filled with fun and lots of sugar (insert all of the wide-eyed emojis). Did you have a good Halloween? Did your kids go trick or treating? Our girls really enjoyed it this year. Let's jump into a couple of Friday Favorites, shall we?

+ Yeeeehaw! C and H were Jessie and Jessie Junior ;) for Trick or Treating this year and I must say, they rocked it. Hadley had absolutely no say in her costume, obviously, so Carrington chose for her. I'm sure next year will be a different story! We went around the block in our neighborhood and C even went up to most of the doors all by herself. She'd knock, then say "Yeeehaw! Trick or treat!" and then, most of the time, "Thank you!" She looked like such a big girl, I almost teared up (no surprise there). Hadley went between my hip and the wagon, holding down the fort and hanging out with her candy basket and the Toy Story dolls we brought along for the ride. It was a clear skied, chilly evening that just felt like Halloween.

+ Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings. I've actually really been enjoying meal planning for our dinners every Sunday and on Wednesday of this week I tried a new-to-me crockpot recipe for Chicken & Dumplings. It's such a classic, warm, gooey comfort food and this couldn't have been an easier recipe. In total honesty, it wasn't a hit with every member of the family so I'm not sure it would count as a total win... but I really liked it, so that counts for something. Find it here if you'd like to try it!

+ Nordstrom's Fall Sale. There is some cute stuff, guys. And right in time for holiday shopping. Here are a few things I've been eyeing: Knot Front Mini Skirt (I think I'd order a size up so it wouldn't be so mini, haha), Ruffle Sleeve Sweater, Bell Sleeve Blouse, and Ruffle Neck Shift Dress.

Sorry so short this week! I've got a pumpkin candle burning and a couple of cute kiddos waiting for me to help them make a pizza for Friday night dinner. Then I'm off to see Bad Moms Christmas with some friends tonight! Hope you have a great weekend!

A Dressy Thanksgiving (Under $60)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

When Carrie found out that yesterday was the first day of November, the first thing she said was "Mommy, your favorite holiday Thanksgiving is coming!" My sweet child, you know me too well. I can't pinpoint when my love for Thanksgiving began, but it runs deep. So deep, in fact, that I scheduled the birth of my first child around it. But that's a story for another day. ;)

What do you do for Thanksgiving? Our family tradition is to eat at a family-style restaurant. That's right! We're one of those families... and I love it. We've eaten out for as long as I can remember. Our routine is to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while we get ready, dress up a bit, drive through the countryside counting horse and buggies, go out to dinner (no clean up!), and go back to someone's house for obscene amounts of pie. That's the "after party," when I usually change into leggings, sweats, or pajama pants. But for dinner itself, I like to get a little dressed up.

Because it's only 21 days away (but who's counting?), I've put together some outfit inspo for your dressy Thanksgiving -- everything's under $60. Is your Turkey Day casual? Great! Check back next week for some super comfortable options. :)

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