Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Show and Tell Tuesday: Favorite Blog Posts




Today I'm linking up with Momfessionals for Show and Tell Tuesday to share my favorite blog posts!

They're definitely not my most popular posts, but they're my favorite blog posts of others' to read, so it makes sense that they're my favorite of my own blog posts as well - I LOVE Day in the Life posts!  They are a pain to write because of keeping track of all the times and the photos, but I love being able to look back and see what a typical day in my life was like at various points in time (and ESPECIALLY with C at various ages!)  


My first Day in the Life post was while I was still on maternity leave with an 11-week-old baby.  Where has the time gone?! While I don't miss the days of seeing 3:14 AM on my phone, I miss those squishy baby cheeks and the wonderful days of maternity leave being home with my newborn all day everyday!!


My long-walk-and-Starbucks frequency has also gone way downhill since those days :)



My second Day in the Life post was when C was 15 months old. It feels like so long since I've had a sweet paci baby waking up from a nap!



That was also back when I was seriously addicted to this granola and making a batch almost every week.  




The one accomplishment I can claim is that Blair and I are eating SLIGHTLY more "real" dinners these days than we were back when we had a 15-month-old....ha!!  




Looking back at these past posts, I realize I haven't done a Day in the Life in a while (almost a year?!) - that needs to change soon!!

Am I the only one that loves reading Day in the Life posts?!  Maybe I am just nosy to see how other people spend their days, but I love them!!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Trip to the Magnolia Silos



 A few weeks ago, I went to Waco with my two soon-to-be sisters-in-law to pay a visit to the Magnolia Silos!  I am a huge fan of Fixer Upper and Chip and Joanna Gaines!  They seem like the most hard-working, down to earth people, and I love that they have had so much success -- they seem like they really deserve it!

We left Dallas around 8:15 AM on a Saturday morning and made it to Magnolia around 9:45 AM - which was great timing; the Silos weren't too hot or crowded yet.  I've heard of people having to wait outside just to get INTO the store, but we had no problems -- and the store wasn't as packed with people as friends have mentioned in the past.  So, I would definitely go early again (the Silos open at 9).  




I was so impressed with the grounds surrounding the store!  There was a huge faux-grass lawn with all kinds of yard games, bean bag chairs, and people just hanging around; a huge area of picnic tables with shade awnings for enjoying food from all the food trucks that line the Magnolia property; pretty gardens near the Magnolia Seed & Supply Store; an adorable patio outside the Silos bakery; and, of course, the main attraction - the Magnolia store itself!

We hit up the store first, loving the way the Magnolia brand is carried throughout the whole store - it's not just stuff on a shelf; the entire store is styled beautifully and appropriately for the season of the year.  There were so many beautiful items that I wished I had room (and the budget) for more new decor in our house!  

We all ended up purchasing a few things...most of which don't appear to be available in their online store, so I can't grab photos!  I hadn't realized that the selection online vs. in store was so different - another reason to visit the Silos!  We all got one of the #shiplap t-shirts, which are the softest shirts ever, and one of Joanna's Signature Scent candles, which smell like clean linen :)

Magnolia Signature Candle Collection#shiplap T-Shirt

One future-SIL and I both bought a set of little ceramic bowls, which are the perfect size for nuts, hummus, or dips!  My other future-SIL bought a black-and-white striped marble cheese board which was GORGEOUS (and super heavy).  

We made a trip back to our car (which we just parked on the street about a block away - easy peasy) to drop off our purchases, and returned to check out the Seed & Supply Store.  None of us are huge gardeners, and the store is much smaller than the main Magnolia market (with all the decor)...I bought a couple of cute weathered buckets, which were meant to be planters, but they sit on C's little table holding his markers and crayons.




The bakery was in its soft-open stage when we were there, which meant they were handing out free cookies and cupcakes!  They all looked DELICIOUS.  I had a lemon lavender cupcake that was AMAZING - I don't know how they made the buttercream SO light and fluffy, but it was seriously the best cupcake frosting I've ever had!

I've already been back!  We made another stop by the Silos on the way to Horseshoe Bay for my soon-to-be SIL's bachelorette party!  I was hoping that the selection would have changed to full-on fall decor, but it was largely the same as it had been over the summer.  Bummer!  I still left with their signature Fall candle (it's not too sweet smelling, like many fall candles!) and another of their super-soft Tshirts...this time, Texas Forever.


Image result for magnolia texas forever

I can't wait to make another trip later in the year - I bet the Magnolia Christmas game is STRONG :)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Woohoo, it's Friday!!  I'm linking up with MomfessionalsGrace and Love, and A Little Bit of Everything to share my Friday favorites!  

Italy Reunion This Weekend

Tomorrow I get to hang out with some of my favorite people from college -- the crew that I went with a 3-week leadership seminar in Italy before our freshman year at A&M.  There were about 30 of us incoming freshmen who went on this trip, and it was truly life-changing - both the friendships and the experience of "living abroad" for 3 weeks (my first trip without my parents and my first time to Europe!)  We stayed in the adorable Tuscan town of Castiglion Fiorentino and took lots of day trips to other cities around Italy!  This is the only digital pic I could find of some of the group, since that was pre-digital camera days and I'm too lazy to scan a hard copy....but it will be so fun to catch up!



My Little Helper in the Kitchen


For the past couple of weeks we've gotten Hello Fresh (a meal delivery service), which mean I'm actually cooking real dinners (woo!)  Working, picking up C, and trying to get dinner on the table is a CHALLENGE, and we had defaulted way too much to feeding C dinner on his own and then figuring something out for ourselves (aka Jimmy John's) after he went to bed.  No more excuses, since the ingredients are in my fridge and the instructions spelled out for me!   C is SO sweet when I'm cooking dinner -- he drags a chair across the kitchen from our table and climbs up to "help" me.....he loves to add pepper and salt and help me "stir" (insisting on having his own spoon/spatula).  I will cherish this memory and hopes he always wants to help me cook!

If you're interested - check out my full (unbiased!) review of Hello Fresh here.

My New Diffuser


InnoGear 100ml Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser Portable Ultrasonic Diffusers with Color LED Lights Changing and Waterless Auto Shut-off Function for Home Office Bedroom Room

I'm very much a novice when it comes to essential oils -- I'm not sure yet that I believe in their medicinal qualities, but I love diffusing oils as an alternative to scented candles, and I do think that scent can have a psychological effect (calming, energizing, etc.)  I have a few essential oils that I'd been using with my steam mop (not in the water - just a few drops sprinkled on the mop pad), but until recently hadn't bit the bullet on a diffuser, mostly due to the cost.  This diffuser is less than $20 and seems to do the trick!  C loves the option to have the changing colors, although it can stay one solid color or not be lit at all.  It's on the small side, which I like - it's not another big thing sitting on my counter.  

Maybe this cold and flu season I'll venture out and test out some more oils!  Right now, I've been sticking to lavender and this affordable set of 6 essential oil blends I bought on Amazon (don't even get me started on multi-level marketing essential oil companies!)  So far, we like the Health Shield (similar to "Thieves"), Breathe, and Good Night.  I'm super careful what I diffuse around C, since rosemary, eucalyptus, and peppermint are not recommended for young children -- one of the chemicals in these oils can slow the respiratory system of young children, causing them to slow their breathing significantly.  I like those scents (and these oils are included in many blends!) so I limit diffusing them to when C's not home, or in a different room while he's asleep.  Anyhow, experimenting with this new toy is a favorite this week!

Naptime Pedicures!


Image result for opi kerry blossom
Via
(Not a picture of my feet - you're welcome!)

Last Saturday I ventured out with a few girlfriends for pedicures during our kiddos' naptimes!  Why haven't we done this before?!  The husbands are all home, probably watching football -- perfect opportunity for a little girl time!  I tried out the new fall/winter 2016 OPI color Kerry Blossom on my toes, which is a perfect dark purple (with a slight maroon color) for fall!  It's still 95 degrees in Dallas, but my toes are ready for fall!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hello Fresh Meal Delivery Review

Note: this review was not sponsored by Hello Fresh -- all opinions are my own.



When a friend of mine said she had 4 free boxes of Hello Fresh to give away to friends, I jumped on the chance!  I had been interested in trying a meal delivery service for a while, but hadn't bit the bullet - so a free box was just what I needed!

Hello Fresh is a meal delivery service that delivers a refrigerated box of ingredients to your home with everything you need to make 2-5 (based on the plan) meals! They offer a Classic Box, a Veggie Box, and a Family Box. You can choose from a 2-serving or a 4-serving size for the Classic and Veggie Box, and the Family Box serves 4 and has "child-friendly" meals.  The 2-serving Classic Box can be ordered in 3 ($69), 4 ($84.90), or 5 ($99) meals per week; the 4-serving Classic Box ($129), the 2-serving Veggie Box ($59), and the 4-serving Veggie Box ($109) are only available with 3 meals per week, and the Family Box can be ordered for 2 ($79.95) or 3 ($105) meals per week.   I opted for 3 meals of the Classic Box in the 2-serving size (regularly $69).


For the week I selected, there were 6 menu options, from which I chose 3: Chicken Gyro Salad with Tzatziki Dressing, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Cucumber; Steak Fajitas with Kiwi Salsa and Crispy Beans; and Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Shallot Thyme Pan Sauce, Peach Arugula Salad, and Couscous.


The box was scheduled to arrive between 8 AM and 8 PM on Monday, August 22.  At 9 PM on Monday, when my box still hadn't arrived, I called Hello Fresh customer service.  They showed that the box had been delivered at 4:52 PM, but I told them it had not.  They credited my account for a replacement box.  Then, on Tuesday, I got home from work and the box was on my porch.  Not sure what happened there, but I was frustrated that the box hadn't come the day it was supposed to, leaving me with a night without dinner planned!


The box was well packed with insulating pads, 3 boxes with all of the ingredients (except meat) for each meal, 2 giant ice packs, and the meat separately packed on the bottom of the box so it wouldn't leak on everything else if it got punctured.  Given the mix-up with the delivery, I have no idea how long the food had been sitting on my porch, but the ice packs were still frozen and the food plenty cold.






I liked that the ingredients for each meal came in their own, labeled, cardboard box, so I didn't have to sort through the ingredients to figure out what went with each meal.  I did feel guilty, however, about all of the packaging waste -- I can't imagine creating this much waste on a weekly basis!  Luckily, one of my neighbors wanted the ice packs (for what, I have no idea), so at least I didn't have to throw those out, and most of the rest was recycleable.









My first meal was the Chicken Gyro Salad.  Here's what came in the box for this meal:





The instructions were super clear and well-ordered in order to maximize efficiency of the meal prep time -- getting the couscous on the stove and the chicken in the oven upfront, so that I could chop the veggies and make the tzatziki dressing while they cooked.  



The instructions said that it would take 30 minutes to cook, and I found that to be accurate - although that was a full 30 minutes of hands-on, non-stop cooking/prep time, not waiting around for something to finish baking.  This is definitely more "active" cooking time than I would normally spend on a weeknight meal, but the result was also a little more impressive.

We thought the meal was delicious -- the chicken was perfectly cooked, and it seemed pretty healthy.  The portion was large enough for my husband and I, along with our 2-year-old, to eat for dinner, which was a bonus.  Normally, if I spent this long cooking, I would make extra so we'd have leftovers for the following night, and that was not the case here -- the 3 of us ate the full serving.  (To be fair, it is only meant to be 2 servings -- it's just longer than I would normally spend for a single night worth of food).





The next meal was Steak Fajitas with Kiwi Salsa and Crispy Beans.  




This was also a winner!  I don't know what was in the Southwest Seasoning mix (a bummer for trying to recreate it), but this had a great flavor - and kiwi is not an ingredient I would ever have put in salsa!  This one did take me longer than 30 minutes due to all the chopping for the salsa.




Our third meal was Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Shallot Thyme Pan Sauce, Peach Arugula Salad, and Couscous:





This was our favorite of the 3 meals - everything about it was flavorful!  Pork chops were something I'd always steered away from because I didn't really know how to cook them without being dry and tough, so this was a good excuse to learn to cook something I'd been avoiding!




Although I loved the ease of the meal prep and the result, this is probably not something I would do on a regular basis.  Since 3 meals per week runs $60, this averages $20 per meal for 2 people -- for that, we could have gotten takeout, and certainly cooking at home with ingredients purchased at the grocery store would have been MUCH less expensive.  However, it was fun to try new recipes and not have to meal plan or grocery shop.  This would have been a great option for us pre-kids -- when we were both busy working professionals who had the disposable income for this kind of convenience.  I will probably recreate some of the recipes on my own in the future.  (As a bonus, they include the recipes for all 6 meals for the week - not just the 3 you select in your box - so you can try to recreate those recipes on your own as well!)  

Interested in trying Hello Fresh?  Use my referral code to receive $40 off your first box: 

222525HR2Y44


I'm curious to try other meal delivery services too - we're getting our first Blue Apron box next week, and Green Chef (which is all organic) the following week.  What's your favorite service?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Favorites: Trader Joe's Edition (Party Favorites!)

Friday Favorites

I'm linking up with MomfessionalsGrace and Love, and A Little Bit of Everything to share my Friday favorites!  

I can't believe it has been 2 years since they opened Trader Joe's in Dallas and I discovered all the wonderful things they sell there!  In my previous Trader Joe's favorites post, I was all about the basics - coconut oil, frozen brown rice, and pizza dough.  


While I only shop at Trader Joe's once or twice a month, I have discovered several go-to items for parties or get togethers.  Since I can also buy beer or wine there, it is a one-stop shop for hosting people in our home!  Here are my party favorites:

Blueberry Vanilla Goat Cheese

Image result for trader joe's blueberry goat cheese
Via


This is a go-to for anytime I need a quick appetizer!  It definitely perks up a cheese board through the sweet-and-tangy combination of blueberries and goat cheese!  


Savory Thins Crackers

Image result for trader joe's savory thins

These crackers go great with the goat cheese above - they are super thin, crispy, and (randomly) gluten free!  I always have a few packages of these crackers in my pantry for unexpected guests!


Rosemary Asiago Cheese

Image result for rosemary cheese trader joe

This cheese is amazing - a salty, semi-dry asiago with rosemary!  The rosemary on one side of the wedge makes this cheese look extra fancy on a cheese board, but the price is SO much better than you'd pay at Central Market or Whole Foods!  

Kettle Corn

Image result for trader joe's kettle corn


A little sweet, a little salty - this kettle corn is delicious! It's perfect for casual get-togethers to have for people to snack on!  Or to eat for dinner when your husband is out of town!  Whatever!


Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip

Image result for trader joe's kale dip
This dip is similar to a classic spinach/artichoke dip but lighter in calories and fat!  It is another quick go-to for parties - just grab a bag of tortilla chips and you're set!

What am I missing?  I get so stuck on my favorites that I don't branch out and try new things at Trader Joe's!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Woohoo!  It's Friday, and a 3-day weekend at that!  We'll be spending Sunday poolside with all our friends and littles from church - I can't wait!  Sadly, I think this will be only the 2nd time this summer that I've been in/near a pool.  25-year-old me would have cringed at the thought!

I'm linking up with MomfessionalsGrace and Love, and A Little Bit of Everything to share my Friday favorites!  Here's what I'm loving this week...

1.  Dreft Blissfuls

Dreft Blissfuls In-Wash Scent Booster, 19.5 oz

I am ADDICTED to this Dreft Blissful stuff.  I didn't even use Dreft on baby clothes, but I discovered this stuff and it. smells. amazing!!!!  A little goes a long way - I only use a tablespoon or so in each load - but this makes our laundry smell SO good.  It really does last longer than detergent or dryer sheet scent; I can pull something out of the closet or drawer and definitely tell if it was washed with this in the load! 

2.  Votivo candles

Image result for votivo red currant

I love a good candle and get so frustrated when I try a new brand or scent and the throw is weak!  What is the point if I can't smell it across the room (or even better, the house)?!  I found out about Votivo candles after smelling it in someone else's house and asking what the scent was....and then didn't buy one for another 3 years because they are kinda pricey for a candle.  When they showed up in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year, I took advantage of the discounted price to try it out - and it was SO worth it!  I got the Red Currant scent, which is the one I had admired in my friend's house!  The scent fills my entire house and even though the candle is small, it says it has a 65-hour burn time.  Considering that similarly-sized candles from Bath & Body Works have a 30-40 hour burn time (and a much weaker throw), the Votivo candle is almost double - which makes the price tag easier to justify.

3.  Blue Bell Cookie Two Step

Image result for cookie two step

Cookie dough ice cream meets cookies and cream?  YES.  I love an ice cream with a ton of "stuff" in it!  This ice cream is amazing, and I am embarrassed to recall how long we spent scouring every grocery store in town trying to find it (as it is a new flavor and in high demand!)  It was worth it!

4.  Crazy socks for little boys

Jefferies Socks Big Boys' Funky Stripe Crew Socks (3 Pair Pack)

C is the ring bearer in my sister's upcoming wedding, and she said he could wear fun socks underneath his little black suit.  I found these socks on Amazon and loved the pattern - like a mini version of men's socks, rather than cutesy kids' socks.  I think they will be a fun pop of color to go with his suit!

5.  Our Roomba


It's been about 5 months since we bought our Roomba, and I haven't broken out the regular vacuum ONCE.  I absolutely love coming home everyday to clean floors - who would have thought a machine that vacuums while you're at work would make someone this happy?!  It's still doing a great job, despite our varied flooring surfaces (carpet, hardwood, area rugs, tile).  I have come to appreciate the "spot" feature that vacuums in an outward spiral from its starting location to clean up a localized mess (i.e., toddler-crushed Cheerios).  I recommend this to EVERYONE I know, but especially all the moms of young kids!!!  Check out the link above for my full review - we have the iRobot Roomba 650.