September 21, 2017

Autumn Accents

Autumn Accents



I love to add seasonal decor elements to the house, but I'm not into large scale, overtly 'holiday' themed merchandise (the kind that lights up and blares a song at you when you walk past, and is more reminiscent of a trip to Chuck E Cheese than anything else). I also don't want to spend a bundle on things that are on display for a few weeks out of the year. 

My 6 year old shares his mother's home decor genes, and loves to accompany me to Pier 1, Michael's and my other top stops for choosing (tasteful, budget-friendly) seasonal items. A few new candles in subtle fall scents set the mood (I love this one from Pier 1), and swapping my summer silver and white vases for some deeper, golden tones is a nice start. Sunflowers are an amazing and local choice for me, and another convenient excuse to hit the farm stand on my lunch jog with Wells. Adding a throw pillow cover in fall hues is simple and wallet-friendly, and easy enough to do in one main living space.

And there is no such thing as too much pumpkin!

September 19, 2017

5 (ish) Ingredient Crock Pot Meals




I grew up in an Italian home (my dad being Italian only by marriage to mom at a young age, where her family influenced his ways before true adulthood). Food was always a production, weekend meals would be cooked all day (by my dad!) and a grilled cheese cooked on the stove top (with butter and real cheese) fixed everything from a cold to a breakup. My In-Laws don't cook. They love good food, but preparing, chopping, cutting, heating, it's just not their thing. And rather than see them eat prepared dinners from the market when I'm not making our weekly Sunday dinners, I sent them some of my super easy, no cooking involved recipes (and a link to a new crock pot. This one is about $30 from target). Genetic high-cholesterol is also an issue for my family and many others, so I generally lean toward vegetable heavy, lean meat options using whole foods when possible and minimal 'processed' ingredients. Several friends have also asked me to send meal ideas their way, so I'm going to start sharing my top 5 (ish) ingredient or less crock pot meals where you can literally throw it in, and press 'on'.

Crock Pot Puttanesca


you'll need:

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (get a natural kind, no hormones, etc)
  • 1 jar strained plum tomatoes or low sodium/low sugar pasta sauce (I like to make my own but this version is supposed to be for the cooking adverse)
  • 1/2 cup diced organic olives
  • 1/3 cup capers
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
Put it all into the crock, heat on low for 7 hours. Take out the chicken and shred it with utensils or your hands, put it back and stir it around and you're done. If you're not watching your waistline try it over pasta, or add the leftovers on top of mixed greens for lunch the next day.


September 15, 2017

4 Years Without Dad





Hard to think that Sunday marks 4 years since my dad passed so suddenly, 48 hours after he sat on my couch drinking a glass of wine with me and Tom. Tuck was just 2 and a half, and his memories of my dad live now only in my accounts of past stories, pictures, and his precious model ships displayed proudly in Tuck's room. He has missed my biggest promotion at work, our move out of New York, and Wells. Each wedding anniversary, which occurs just days after his passing, is piercing in my chest as I think about how much joy he felt on September 26, 2009. After all, my dad is the one who chose Oheka Castle for our wedding, picked the champagne to serve, the wine list, and organized the jazz club and cigar bar after hours party in the library.

He would LOVE the enthusiastic, little history buff Tucker is at age 6, and marvel over how much Wells looks like his older brother. He would have been my first call as I opened the letter congratulating me on my acceptance to the Connecticut Bar last fall, and he'd be disappointed that I ever doubted myself as I worked these last few years. He'd be proud of how much both Tom and I have accomplished collectively as we mire through the weeds 24 hours a day lately, and he'd surely have bought us some better wine than the bottles we squeezed in on our (measly) budget recently. Sunday we will drink something he'd approve of, worthy of a toast to a magnificent man.

September 12, 2017

Where to Shop on a Budget



Part of the impetus for our move from Long Island to CT last summer was the ever expanding cost of living. Simplifying everything was a top 5 on the priority list, and its been a work in progress. Inevitably there are months where we go over what we budgeted, and some things seem impossible to cut out. So with the invigorating fresh fall air comes a renewed sense of paring down to the essentials, so there is something leftover for the 'wants' after the needs are accounted for.

I love clothing, wine, food, home decor, and coffee. Yes, we all know this. So I've narrowed down the list of where I get these necessary items without busting the budget by the first week of the month.

Clothing

I love Nordstrom for everything possible, from clothing and my athleisure to skincare to holiday candles. The free shipping with zero minimum is not to be understated- this saves a lot of money when you are forced to do so much online shopping (#suburbs and #workingmomlife). I have also given up my Lululemon addiction in favor of more reasonably priced and super functional brands like Zella and Athleta.

I get the other half of my wardrobe from J.Crew, and I only do so from the sale section. If you watch the items you like, they will generally become sale merchandise within 4-6 weeks of their initial appearance on the shelves. Then they run POS (percentage off sale) and that's when you can score huge. (Starting my career as a buyer for Ann Taylor in 2005 still has its advantages.) The Factory diffusion line of J.Crew's classics is not my favorite, as the quality is definitely not the same, and I'd rather have one amazing pair of jeans than 3 mediocre pairs that won't withstand afternoons filled with kneeling for tummy time or 200 hundred trips and up and down the stairs a day.

I buy most of the boys' clothing from Gap Kids and Baby Gap, which costs more than Old Navy or Gymboree, but lasts much longer. Now that I save Tucker's things for Wells, I care about longevity. Gap runs constant promotions on line so its pretty easy to wait for one to make a purchase.



Wine

One of our favorite times each month is when the door bell rings and the friendly FedEx delivery man hands over our box of wine from Winc. We have belonged to this California based wine club for several years, and with many bottles priced around $13 and free shipping with 5 bottles, its the most convenient and wallet-friendly way to try new wines. Give it a try, there is also no fee or monthly minimum.

Home Decor

So this is admittedly a money pit of sports for me, since I rarely can leave a store without something new for the house (yes, even in the grocery store- did you know Stop and Shop sells the cutest woven storage baskets?) But when I'm being judicious with my spending, I stick to places that run specials and seasonal deals, and for this you really can't beat Pier 1 or Michael's (behind the oodles of crafts there are actually super cute home items). Larger stores like Home Goods are fun, but I find the mass amount of items and unorganized shelf displays to be too chaotic when I'm tight on time, and things sold in sets are often missing their pair (I still feel deeply sad when I think of the anchor bookend I found in my local Home Goods last yer with no mate- one bookend I tried so hard to make work but they are called 'bookends' for a reason. #firstworldproblems).





September 7, 2017

Fall!

Fall




Labor day has come and gone, which means its time for sweaters, hot drinks, jeans and scarves. I like to add something like a bright lip or fun purse to update an otherwise casual weekend look come fall. Am I too old for ripped denim? I certainly hope not because It's my favorite thing. Can anyone else smell the pumpkin lattes? 

September 6, 2017

Do You Promise This Too Shall Pass?






Its 9 am and I'm on my 4th cup. Last night, thanks in part to back to school colds, teething, pink eye, deadlines, the anxiety of the approaching 4th quarter at work, and a variety of other soul-sucking factors, I slept for 45 minutes. In total. I have read all the blogs, comments and self-help books on colicky babies. The thing is, I don't have a colicky baby. I have an amazing baby who smiles, laughs, crawls, and babbles all day long. He just does. Not. Sleep.

Not in the crib, not in my arms, not in the rocking chair, not in the bed on top of me, not in the bed next to me. He will fall asleep at 9pm in the crib giving me false hope that maybe, just maybe this will be the night he sleeps. I'd praise the lord for even a solid 3 hours stretch. But like an egg timer, by 9:31 he is up. We have tried the rigid day schedule, 4 hour feedings, reducing night bottles, withholding night bottles, freely giving night bottles. He does. Not. Sleep.

Last night I reached the pinnacle of despair, as pink eye set in (for me, not him), and I fought the urge to rub my face as I walked circles around his large nursery, patting, rubbing, singing to him as he restlessly thrashed against my neck. Not crying, just thrashing. Surely this cant go on all night, right? But as the clock tauntingly crept from 1 am to 2, then 3 and 4, it continued. I may have shed a silent tear as I pleaded with him to sleep, feeling instantly sour with guilt because he is such a good boy. But as the unread email count climbs to 50 before 6 am I am in a hole of anguish thinking about the day ahead, and another night like this might break me. Or it might push me over our allotted wine budget for the entire month on the 6th day.



September 5, 2017

Warby Parker Does it Again





Among the most timeless, chic accessories most adults own are a fabulous pair of spectacles. If you are like my hubby Tom and need glasses to navigate the world, they are more than a accessory and are an actual lifeline. For me, I like to change my sunnies on the daily depending on my schedule and mood.

Long gone are the days of visiting the optometrist and dropping $600 on a  pair of mundane, commonplace frames that lack any aesthetic appeal. With the rise of e-commerce and the price-savvy consumer, it was only a matter of time before industries like eye wear were transformed from expensive and plain to frugal and fashionable.

Enter Warby Parker. My first click for glasses of all kinds. The right frames can completely change your face and your entire look. The home try-on is also a must, since who can tell what will look good on them from images of models with angular jaws and symmetrical noses? Certainly not me.

My favorites from Warby Parker's new Concentric Collection launched this month are the Durand in blue and the Laurel in tortoise above. What could be more chic for fall than a new pair of frames to compliment a puffer vest and gauzy plaid scarf?




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