Five on Friday: Long Weekend

Friday, August 31, 2018

Here we are again: On the cusp of the weekend, and this time a long one -- the best kind! What are your plans? Tonight Steve and I plan to start the new season of Ozark. Yay for the start of fall TV! Tomorrow we have swim lessons and hopefully a relaxing, catch-up kind of day with some fun mixed in there (it looks rainy, so it'll probably be indoor playing). Sunday afternoon Steve's parents are coming to visit and I think we'll be able to sneak away for a date night. Monday we plan to visit the aquarium (we got passes this year because it was less expensive through a Groupon deal for yearly passes vs. one day at regular price!). Hopefully it won't be too crowded.

Here are a handful of thoughts for this Friday:

1. Friends & rides. I got to spend the afternoon with a friend I've had since I was 3, my girls, and her sweet daughter at an amusement park for kids. Childhood friends are so special, aren't they? Her sister and I were inseparable for most of our childhood and our families are just that -- family. C & H were able to go on themselves. I might have teared up watching H blow kisses at me while C sat proudly beside her on a panda bear ride. I hit the jackpot with those babies.

2. Target Dollar Spot Haul. I worked from the Target cafe the other day (I'll be so sad when/if they re-do our Target to match all the new ones -- I hate the new layout and the fact that there's only a Starbucks and no cafe! Anyone else???) and on my way out they were just putting out the fall goodies in the Dollar Spot. Here's what I grabbed: paper straws (always), two big bow hair-ties for a dollar a piece, a gold leaf banner, and unicorn makeup brushes for stocking stuffers for the girls, since they love to play pretend with stuff like that.

3. A new "toy." The girls received their very own bar from their grammy and pop pop this week. They are both major monkeys (definitely their daddy's genes at play there) and climb all over everything, so we're hoping this helps them get some energy out. It's down in our basement right now, and we plan to set up a little play gym area with our other gymnastics mat, mini trampoline, and Steve intends to build a little rock wall for them (I know, I know). It should be great in the winter months!

4. Labor Day weekend sales. I shared a few of my favorite sales here. Here are a few others worth checking out if you're in need of a few things:

Nordstrom: Up to 40% off summer favorites. I love this waterproof tote (perfect as a diaper bag alternative once your kids get just a bit older, like mine) -- and check out this $17 backpack! Hello, back to school.

Gap: 40% off, plus an extra 10% off, with codes YES and MORE.

H&M: Up to 60% off. There are a lot of sweatshirts and fall-appropriate pieces for sale!

Crazy 8: For the kiddos, up to 75% off the whole store and FREE SHIPPING!

Lord & Taylor: 20% off regular and sale price items with code LABORDAY.

5. Enjoy your weekend!

6 Must-Have Fall Accessories + Labor Day Sales Happening Today

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We're midway through the week, friends. Midway through! We can do this! ;) To infuse a little fun into the workweek, I'm sharing some new fall accessories I recently spotted at Nordstrom. Have you found any new goodies you love for the upcoming season? 

Belt  |  Booties Earrings

I thought the belt would be so cute for over all the cozy cardigans I've been seeing, or added to a favorite dress. I have similar booties in black that I have worn countless times over the last 6-7 years. I have been on a bit of an accessory kick lately -- I'm usually not one to accessorize too much, but I'm growing to love the statement that $10 or $20 can make to outfits I already have in my closet (I recently got these and love them!). 

Here are some of my favorite Labor Day sales going on today:

Abercrombie & Fitch - 40% off the whole store (Remember this dress I loved? Now on sale for $40. This one is adorable, too!)

J.Crew Factory - 50% off new fall arrivals 

Old Navy - 40% off everything online (this rarely happens!) -- ends today!

Carters/OshKosh - 50% off everything, plus extra 25% off $40+ -- free shipping today only!

Ballard Designs - 20% off up to $499 (lighting, rugs, decor!)

Weekend Recap + This Week's Menu

Monday, August 27, 2018

How was your weekend? Ours, like all weekends, went too fast. We spent a lot of time with friends outside in the beautiful late-summer weather, which automatically makes it a great couple of days in my book. We also did some laundry, meal planning and grocery pickup, errands, and had swim lessons. 

Yesterday was National Dog Day, so I have to include a shout out to my first (and sometimes favorite) child, Layla. She's just the best.

I'd be remiss not to mention the passing of Senator John McCain over the weekend. While I did not always agree with his politics, he was a man of character and I respected him very much. Read a powerful farewell statement from his book here.

And, finally, this week's menu:

Monday - Pesto pasta with broccoli

Tuesday - Stir fry chicken with veggie mix and rice

Wednesday - Burgers, pasta salad, corn on the cob

Thursday - Crockpot chili and cornbread

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Out

Sunday - Out or leftovers

Hope your week is off to a good start! 

Five on Friday: HELLO, WEEKEND!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Happy Friiiiday! 

Poll: Who else thinks August is crazy underrated? Everybody loves the springtime, mid-summer for the beach, and fall gets a ton of attention. But little old August hangs out somewhere in the middle and, I swear, there is something so beautiful and under-appreciated about this month. The days are still really warm but in the morning and at night there's a coolness, the light is just different (glowy?) and there's this anticipation in the air that lasts long after our own first-days-of-school are over.

What do you have on the agenda for this weekend? We have swim lessons tomorrow, followed by a birthday party for our sweet little friend turning three, and on Sunday we have a family date with our other friends (who just added twin boys to their crew -- can't wait to meet them!). Let's jump into a little Five on Friday before the fun begins!

1. Thank you for the support! Thank you so much for your amazing support of the first feature of the Women Who Inspire series! You guys loved learning more about Shannon! If you missed it, you can check it out here

By the way, I forgot to mention: I am open to nominations! If you know an incredible woman who you think would make a great fit for the Women Who Inspire series, please feel free to email me a short preview/profile at :)

thanks again, Shannon!

2. New show recommendation on Netflix. I just started watching The Sinner on Netflix and... wow. I didn't expect it to be so good! It's really twisted and a little dark (ok, really dark), but the mystery of it keeps you coming back for more. Has anyone else watched? Would love to hear what you think!

3. Floor picnics (buffet style). We've had lots of rain here lately, so we've had to come up with some creative things to do inside. We love to eat picnic lunches in the summertime, so we've been throwing a blanket down on the kitchen floor and having an indoor picnic! I also started putting a bunch of different foods on a big trey and having the girls just go for it. Easy for me, and they love it! Just an idea in case you're in the same boat, looking for a simple way to shake things up.

4. Alert: Target Dollar Spot is on clearance! We made a Target run yesterday and our entire (Five) Dollar Spot was 50% off. I'm sure it's to make room for fall stuff, which will be fun, but in the meantime there is a ton of summer stuff, school-related stuff (flash cards, dry eraser boards, teaching tools), toys, etc. for 50% off! As if you needed another excuse to go to Target today. ;)

5. Have a one-of-a-kind weekend! 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Today may seem like an ordinary Wednesday, but to me it's a big day! 

Today is the day we kick off the Women Who Inspire series, which is something I've envisioned since before The Lucky Lifestyle was officially up-and-running. Each month, beginning today, I'll feature a profile of a woman making a difference: in her own life, in the lives of others, throughout her community and beyond. Each profile will be presented in a Q&A format so we can hear from each woman in her own words. 

So, without further ado, I am completely thrilled to introduce you to Shannon! I met Shannon when she was my supervisor at my very first internship out of college. I was in that position for almost a year, and during that time I not only got to watch Shannon in action professionally, I got to know her personally, as well. To know Shannon is to love her! I am so lucky that all these years later, I can count her as a trusted mentor and dear friend. I'll let Shannon take it from here:

Let's start with the basics! Tell us a little bit about yourself -- where you call home, what you do for a living, and who makes up your family.

I was born and raised and am now simply loving my life in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I hesitate to admit my long-standing roots in one locale; however, my living in the same county for nearly 40 years should not be confused with the traditional notion that I don’t wish to experience the larger world. In fact, I started traveling internationally when I was 21 years old (my first flight ever was to Sweden), and I have a great love for exploring new places. Settling in Lancaster County is a matter of practicality because our families mostly reside here, and we do love the area and its proximity to metropolitan areas, such as Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and NYC.

“We” consists of my wife, Amy, our oldest daughter Vivienne, and our twins, Cora and Jack. By day, I am a Communications Director and by night I am a mom, graduate student, freelance social media maven, and rather new-found fitness enthusiast.

What has your career path looked like? Did you always know you wanted to end up in the field you're in? What was your very first job?

When I graduated from high school, I was undecided in my college major. I started at the University of Pittsburgh but contracted a severe case of mono in my first semester, causing my withdrawal from school. I am a practical person, so after a few months of medical care, I decided to find my path by working. I landed a job in a real estate recruiting office and there was able to identify my love for communications and public relations. That’s when I decided to return to college part-time as a non-traditional student. For eight years, I took classes in the evenings at Elizabethtown College to earn my Bachelors degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations.

Throughout that timeframe, I also found my niche in non-profit work. I served in communications, marketing, and fund development positions for two countywide service organizations before I transitioned to a career at Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. My experience at this international pretzel company proved invaluable as I worked on large-scale PR campaigns and grew the brand’s social media from the ground up. After about five years though, I recognized that I needed to feed my soul’s mission by returning to the non-profit world. For the past five years, I have served in communications with the largest suburban school district in Lancaster County, and it is a position I am enjoying thoroughly.

What are the most challenging -- and most rewarding -- aspects of your current position?

The cadence of working in a school calendar cycle provides respite during the summer months, which offers quality family time. My position is 12 months but the schedule certainly lightens. During the school year, I work long days, averaging about two nights per week for various meetings. That can be very challenging because my kids will sometimes comment to the effect, “Mommy doesn’t know that because she’s never home.” Talk about tearing at my heart strings!

While I would not trade my time at Auntie Anne’s for anything, at the conclusion of my career there, it became “just pretzels.” I needed my working hours to be filled with purpose, and I identify with the purpose of public education in my current role. Education is a shared experience, but today’s educational experiences look different than when I was in school. There is an infusion of technology that will serve our children well as they become career ready. As well, children are coming to school with increasing needs, and it has become the role of the school to serve the whole child – physical, emotional, behavioral. We take this seriously and yet are underfunded to do so.

How do you and Amy find a balance between work, home, kids, activities, other endeavors? Is there a balance to be found or is that just a myth?

Since Vivienne was born nearly 9 years ago, Amy has been the stay-at-home mama. This provides a level of balance for our family. It can also be taxing for Amy given my long working days, as she is the sole caregiver on those days. When needed, I try to identify supports for her, such as asking my mom to help with the kiddos so Amy can attend monthly PTO meetings at our own elementary school. Amy and I strive to plan one date night per month so we have focused time together, whether the outing is a nice meal or a shopping trip to a home improvement store to make selections for our next great home remodel project!

One area where I sorely need to improve in my balance is with my phone. As a PR professional, I am “on call” 24 hours per day so I will often peek at my email throughout the evening to ensure that I don’t miss any pending issues. I also find myself spending mindless energy on social media; it’s a way to decompress, but it takes time away from more important matters.

Over the past several years, I have come to appreciate that there are “seasons” in life and that balance, or the illusion thereof, hinges on that season (i.e. – kids ages, career goals, etc.) I strive to find gratitude in each season and recognize that we’ll be on to the next season soon enough, which will require a rebalancing.

In the past year or so, you have embarked on a wellness journey. Can you tell us what inspired you to do so? What are your biggest accomplishments so far? How has this journey impacted your life?

I grew up as an overweight child and carry a good bit of “scar tissue” related to my self-image and self-confidence. During times of stress, I find that my coping mechanism is food. Having children and wanting to be a role model in all aspects of my life forced me to consider how I handle various circumstance and respond to negative stimuli. I was tired of turning to food and also weary of not being able to keep up with my active family.

It’s been over one and half years since I’ve changed my lifestyle. I focus on protein intake to stay fuller longer, and I also find joy in moving my body. Always lingering in the back of my mind is my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. While this disease has not impacted my daily activities to date (I was diagnosed in 2007), I know that it has the ability to stop my movement. In a way, this inspired me to start moving, simply because I don’t know if there will come a time when I won’t be able to move. We all face that reality to some extent, but my MS inspired me to increase my activity level now.

In this arena of my life, my biggest accomplishment so far is losing 90 pounds. I also like to focus on non-scale victories so this would include: finding joy in exercise, completing four sprint triathlons, training for a 25k trail challenge (coming up in September), and participating in my first long-distance Bike MS event (with my second, 35-mile ride coming up in October).

What would your advice be to others who are looking to make a significant, impactful, and long-lasting change in their health and wellness?

Gratitude, therapy, and a strong support network! When I find myself slipping back into old habits, I try to call to mind how grateful I feel in this moment. I journal these thoughts, share them out loud with someone else, or post them on social media. Also, changing years of deeply grooved patterns in your brain isn’t for the faint of heart. I have been working with a therapist, and I highly recommend it to identify self-destructive patterns and also resources and tools. Awareness is essential to long-lasting change.

I am blessed to have a strong network of people who support me in my efforts, starting with Amy. Despite our busy schedules, we work together to identify times when I can swim, bike, run, attend Sparta or barre. I have a group of gals who register and participate in sprint triathlons together. I work with a nutritionist and exercise physiologist and having these resources and tools to call on, when needed, are also critical to my success. If you are looking to make a significant, impactful, and long-lasting change, identifying and, more importantly, utilizing those supports are crucial.

What would others be surprised to learn about you? 

A few things come to mind right away. Some people are surprised to learn that I have MS given my active lifestyle. Additionally, I am a babyloss mommy. In 2008, Amy and I were pregnant with twins and, for reasons still unknown, Anya and Tegan were born early at almost 24 weeks gestation. They were born breathing but were unable to be saved. Our marriage survived that gut-wrenching pain, we have identified ways to honor and remember their brief but important lives, and we find absolute delight in our living children. Finally, I appreciate the opportunity to explore and travel. While not necessarily surprising, my most memorable trip was to a “surprising” location - the Amazon Rainforest where I spent a week with indigenous tribes learning about the negative impacts of oil production.

What has being a mom taught you about yourself? About life?

I constantly feel torn in various directions. While my family is the most important foundation of my life, sometimes I have to make difficult choices with my time that seem counter to that fact. For example, exercising takes time away from my family but helps my physical and emotional well-being. Being a mom has taught me that it remains important to make time for myself and time with my spouse, even when it feels selfish. I must continually remind myself that taking care of myself and my relationship are keys to being a good mom.

I admire you. Which women do you most admire?
I am honored that you think so highly of me, Jen, and the admiration is mutual!  
This list is truly too numerous to mention folks by name because there are so many admirable women in my life – starting with my wife and those in my immediate family. I admire their parenting, their strength of character, their desire to help others. In my professional life, I admire women who support and mentor other women. In friendships, I admire women who make time to check in with me through a quick text message, email or social media post and those who make time to chat over a cup of coffee, a pedicure or a grueling workout.
Rather than list names, I’ve chosen to highlight characteristics. When these women read this blog post, they will surely know who they are. I thank them and offer my truest admiration for the richness they add to my life!
Let's talk about your ideal day. If you could design it, what would it look like, from start to finish?

Since altering my physical lifestyle, my ideal day involves waking up anytime between 5:15 and 5:45 a.m. I have so much energy to offer this world! I use that quiet time in my house for self-care, and I treasure it. I do this while fueling up with coffee, of course!

If I didn’t have time constraints, as the kids woke up, we would snuggle, eat breakfast together, and read books. Sometime mid-morning, I would exercise and then we would plan to go exploring or volunteering together as a family. Teaching Vivienne, Cora, and Jack to find joy in giving back is part of the fabric of our family. My ideal day would then involve an afternoon Starbucks latte or Frappuccino.

I’d say we’d end the day by having both sets of grandparents (our parents) over for dinner, relax on our deck or sit around a blazing campfire, watch the kids jump on the trampoline and catch fireflies as the day winds down. Perfection!

Thank you so much, Shan, for taking the time to share with us and for being our FIRST Woman of the Month! If you want to connect with Shannon, you can leave any questions in the comments section and I will be sure to pass them along, or follow her on Instagram @ShannonMZimmerman

Five on Monday + This Week's Menu

Monday, August 20, 2018

Happy Monday! I hope your week is off to the very best start.

I had an entire intro to this post written up on Friday morning, but the day became busy  and I never had a chance to hit publish! So we're shaking things up a bit with a Five on Monday instead. 

What did you do this weekend? We kicked off the weekend Friday night with a "family swim" at the pool where the girls take there swimming lessons. The little fishes had a great time and didn't want to get out. Saturday we had a rainy, lazy day together... it was so nice! We made pancakes in the morning, had swim lessons in the afternoon, took naps (well, Hadley and I did, haha), played a bunch in between, and had burgers, truffle fries, and macaroni and cheese (#health) for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We walked over to the bookstore from there and the girls flipped through books between making false alarm bathroom runs, all while Steve and I tried to hide the treats we had bought ourselves at Starbucks. Raise your hand if you also hide from your kids while eating snacks! Yesterday we did grocery pick up, laundry, and C and I went to go see The Incredibles 2 (her second time seeing it, my first!) at the theater during H's nap. Sunday ended with a Target run! A weekend well spent.

Jumping into today's Five on Monday, which includes week's menu:

1. Women Who Inspire, coming THIS WEEK! I'm so excited that the very first Women Who Inspire profile will be coming THIS WEDNESDAY, August 22nd. Stay tuned!

2. Thoughts on parenthood. Cup of Jo recently shared this on IG and I loved it. It can be so easy to get caught up in whether your kids have enough, do enough, the list goes on and on. It can be dizzying and produces the most unnecessary anxiety because, the truth is, it's the simplest things our kids will remember most.

3. Two years in our home. Wednesday of last week marked two years since we closed on our first (non-rented) house. That day, out of the blue, C said "mom, I really love our home." Me too, kiddo! These last two years have flown by and I've really loved making our house a home, as cheesy as that sounds. ;) Throwback pic to us on closing day below! I can't believe we had a newborn! I think I was half asleep through our signing, haha.

4. A good way to think about decorating. Speaking of homes... I was flipping through the new Serena & Lily catalog the other night and had to snap a picture of this page. This decorating philosophy resonates so much with me. I tend to move slooowly when deciding on what to hang where, colors, etc. etc. And I really like to incorporate pieces that actually mean something to us! It's like a big puzzle and it feels so great when a room finally comes together. Is this how you decorate, too?

5. This week's menu:

Monday - Morningstar nuggets with rosemary fries

Tuesday - Crockpot Zuppa Toscana soup with garlic bread

Wednesday - Homemade pizzas and salad

Thursday - Crockpot beef with veggies and potatoes

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Out (birthday party!)

Sunday - Out (date with friends!)

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Girl Chat: Quotes to Live By

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Happy Thursday, friends! 

Today I'm joining the Girl Chat link up with some of my favorite fellow bloggers to share some of the quotes that I live by. If you know me, then you already know I love quotes -- I do, and always have, find these little pieces of advice and wisdom so uplifting, refreshing, and motivating. If you want to check out all of my favorites, you can click over to my Pinterest board "Inspires Me" (and for some funny/blunt quotes, you can also check out my board "So True"). In this space, I'll be sharing some of my very favorites:

On Self-Confidence

I love this one. So often we ask ourselves why me? When the question should really be why not me?

On Letting Go

So simple, yet so profound and healing.


On Staying Grounded

A great reminder when you feel the pressure of the world around you telling you to be this, do that, go there. It helps to recall "the real things."


On Marriage

My very favorite, this one has proven to be true time and time again.


On Being a Good Person, and Good Role Model

Simple, and true. I'm always trying to remember to model what I want my kids to do, to believe, to be.


On True Success

If I could define "success," it would be being kind to others. We can make so much difference simply by being kind.

On Looking Forward

I think one of the vital things we need in life are things -- even just one thing -- to look forward to. It keeps us going, keeps us moving. So trust in that.

What are some quotes that have inspired you? I'd love to know!

Fall Style Secret: Shop Like a Teen

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Well, between this post and my backpack post from last week, it would seem I'm committing to all things fall. And why not? Cooler days are coming (whether I like it or not), so I might as well embrace it. 

So... I have a little secret when it comes to shopping, and I'm ready to share it with you. I still shop at stores meant for teenagers. Like, young teenagers. Like, A&F and American Eagle. I have a few reasons for doing so: 1. I like to pretend I'm not 31 (just kidding, kind of). 2. These stores have continued to evolve their style and always have decent quality (there's a reason I still have a few items from when I was actually a teen). 3. It's usually less expensive than most "grown up" stores. 4. Nobody else you know will likely have what you have (unlike the tunic that everyone bought from the Nordstrom sale, ya know?).

Now that the secret is out, I'm sharing a few of my favorite finds:

Wrap front sweater ($23!)

Tie front shirt dress (obsessed)

Off the shoulder sweatshirt (comfy and cute)

Lace-up sweatshirt (you need to see the back!)

Button front tank (perfect for under cardigans/jackets)

All of these styles are timeless, neutral colors, with unique details which is the perfect recipe for success if you ask me. Have you shopped anywhere that's a flashback for you lately? Any shopping secrets you'd like to share? ;) I'd love to hear!
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