Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Favorites

Hey all!  Happy Friday!  This week seemed like a long one - so glad the weekend is here!

1.  This was a favorite last week, but it is still a favorite this week - the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  I received my purchases this week, and while I had some misses, I also kept a lot of good stuff!  I shared my haul yesterday - both what I am keeping and what I will be returning!  Fall / winter are my favorite seasons to dress for, and I am already ready for some of that cooler weather so I can wear some new things!  The fact that it has been in the 100's this week hasn't help with that, either!

2.  My work schedule is very unpredictable these days - some days are late, some days I leave early, and some days just feel long.  When things get like this, it's so easy not to want to make dinner, so when I was at the store earlier this week, I picked up a Stouffer's lasagna in the frozen section.  My mom made these occasionally while growing up, and I really loved them.  Not only do I think it's really yummy, it's so easy to just pop in the oven and have a good meal without all the prep work (especially the prep work that normally comes with lasagna).  They have a really big size and a smaller size that has 5 portions, which is the one I picked up.  Leftovers make perfect lunches or dinners!  It's not something I think about getting very often, but that may change seeing as how it was so easy.  The only downfall is they take a good amount of time to cook - 75 minutes all together, so you just need to be aware of that.  Anyways, it was a favorite of mine this week and I wanted to share!

3.  I have been listening to podcasts lately at work, specifically Off the Vine with Kristin Bristowe.  I didn't watch her season of The Bachelorette, but I do follow her on instagram and enjoy her Insta stories.  I was looking for something to listen to at work that was not music, and I gave this a try.  She is pretty funny, and at an hour each, the episodes help to pass the time quickly!  The best one I have listened to lately was the episode with Erin Treloar.  They speak about body image and social media - it's really interesting to hear some of the statistics they share!  If you are a podcast person, I would definitely give hers a listen.  If you have any podcasts you love, please share in the comments below! 

4.  If you have been reading awhile, you may have remember me mentioning this older gentleman I see most days on my way to work.  He lives in a neighborhood close by and always seems to be out for a walk when I head to work.  He used to walk earlier enough that I would see him when I was getting into my car so we would exchange pleasantries, but lately I just see him on the sidewalk and wave.  Yesterday when I was heading to work, he was rounding the corner into my apartment parking lot as I was stopped there to turn on the main road.  I rolled down my window and we had a nice little chat before heading our respective ways.  It just really brightened my morning!  I think that is something we all should make a conscious effort to do more - take the time to make a little small talk with others and always smile and say hi.  I know that is something I can definitely improve on myself and even though it is something so small, you never know who day it could brighten!      

5.  Erica over at Whimsical September has been doing a series called The Saturday Sit-Down.  Every Saturday, she shares a new blogger, and you get to know a little bit about them through her Q&A.  One thing I love about this series that Erica is doing, is the fact that she tailors each Q&A to that specific blogger.  This Saturday I will be featured in her series - I would absolutely love it if you would all stop by and check it out!  

Linking up with AndreaApril, and Katie. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#NSale 2017 Haul

I got all my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale items in last night, and wanted to share my purchases, both what worked and what is going back.  I have listed the item, then put the color I bought next to it (if there were multiple colors).  First for the fun stuff - what worked!

These shoes were by far my very favorite purchases of the sale.  I love them both so much.  I ordered my regular size and they fit like a glove.  I just really, really love the way they look on.  The heel gives height, but it's not too much and with both being the more stacked / block heel they are very comfortable.  If you are in the market for some new shoes, I would highly suggest either of these!

I have yet to use either of these, so I don't have any type of review to share, but they were both must-buys on my list.  I have wanted a Clarisonic for a few years now, and finally decided to get one.  I opted for the Mia Fit for the smaller size.  Also, the Kiehl's lotion is one that I have heard is really, really great on dry skin, which I definitely need when the weather starts to get cooler.  While the lotion is still expensive in my opinion, the bottle is large and I have heard lasts almost the whole year until the next sale.  If that is the case, you definitely get your moneys worth!

Caslon Knit Blazer (Burgundy Stem)
I ordered this on a whim, and am SO glad I did.  My original thought when I ordered this was that I could wear it to work on Fridays.  Lately I feel like I need to step up my 'casual Friday' game.  I thought this would be a good option since it is knit, so a little more casual, but still very pulled together.  Again, I am so glad I ordered this, because it is so cute on!!!  I feel like it's very flattering, giving the look of a cinched waist almost, while being so comfy.  It can be dressed up, too, so I plan on wearing it any day of the week.  Just a great piece!  For sizing, I did order one size down per the fit information on the website, and that worked perfectly for me.

Leith Easy Circle Cardigan (Gray Medium Charcoal Heather)
If I could buy this in all the colors, I totally would.  I wasn't sure what to expect, because I wasn't familiar with the brand, but it is so soft!!!  I chose the gray and it's a really pretty dark charcoal color.  I ordered in my regular size, and felt that it fit pretty true to size.  I feel like there is enough room that you can layer a long sleeve shirt under it, but not so much room that you would need to size down.  I also love that it has pockets!  Just so very comfy and cozy - I can't wait for it to cool down a bit so I can wear this!  I know there are a lot of cardigans out there, but if you had to only choose one, this one has my recommendation!

I lusted after this coat last year in tan, but by the time I decided I want to go ahead and get it, my size was out of stock.  I have been looking for a light gray coat for what seems like forever, and this one fit the bill.  Take note, though, that it is more of a gray and white pattern, rather than just solid gray (as the color says).  Still very pretty though.  It's a great, classic piece and one I know I will have forever.  For sizing, I went with my regular size.

I like to use the sale as an opportunity to build out my work wardrobe a bit, and always look for a new dress or two.  I was sold on this one because it was fit and flare, came in navy and had longer sleeves!  It's always so cold in the office, and this will keep me from having to add a jacket or cardigan, just to stay warm.  It's a nice thick material and I don't think the picture does the dress justice on how cute the little ruffle is at the bottom.  I found the dress to fit true to size.

PAIGE Hoxton High Waist Ankle Skinny Jeans 
These are a maybe.  Originally when I first tried them on, they seemed too small.  However, I tried them on again last night and they worked.  I like that they are higher waisted and the length is better than most jeans on me.  Still a bit longer than ankle length (I am 5'3"), but terrible.  I have to think on them!

Now for my returns.  As you can see from the list above and below, I find over purchasing key here, because you never know what will or will not work!

I was excited about this skirt, but it just didn't fit right.  It was a little snug around the waist, but I think a size larger would be too big and long.

I ordered this in white and while it was cute, it was a bit see through.  I didn't want to have to wear a cami under, so to the return pile it went.

I found this dress to be a little tight through the shoulders, but even if it wasn't, I just don't think the coloring / pattern worked on me.  It was a bit blah.

This was a very nice sweater, but I didn't love it on me.  I thought the scallop edge would be so cute, but the neck line didn't really work for me.  The fabric was thicker, which was nice, because it felt more substantial, but I just wasn't crazy about it.

Another dress that was a little tight in the shoulder area.  I'm not sure if is just me, but I sometimes have troubles with structured shirts dresses that don't have much stretch to them.  They tend to pull a bit in the shoulders / back.  Such was the case with this dress.  I am hoping this comes back in stock, because I would love to try the larger size to see if it works, although my concern is then the sleeves might be a bit long, since those were the perfect length.  It was super cute, though!

Lush Ruffle Sleeve T-Shirt Dress (not online anymore)
Guys, I cannot express to you how absolutely terrible this dress looked on me.  You'd think I was wearing a sack - so bad!  I think it made me look twice my size.  While I love a dress with pockets, this is one I think should not have them.  They kind of wing out and make you look hippy, in addition to it just being a looser fitted dress.  I have seen it on others and thought it looked cute, so I think it is one you need to try on before you make a decision, but it was not for me.

BP. Plaid Cotton Blend Shirt (Blue Twilight Schy Plaid)
I actually really liked this shirt at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn't think it was something I needed.  It's crazy soft and the blue plaid I ordered was so pretty, but it's so dang long.  Honestly, it looks like a dress (until you turn to the side where it goes up).  I think if you plan to wear it with leggings, rather than with jeans, it would be cute, but I was hoping to wear with jeans.  If I attempted the half tuck, the back part would be all the way over my bottom still, and then some.  And if I wanted to tuck it all in a bit, then I just think of alllll that fabric bunching.  I just felt this one was better returned to the store!

I've really enjoyed reading what others have found.  I'd love it if you would share your favorite purchase in the comments below!

Linking up with Annie.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Michigan 2017

I am really excited about this post, because I am writing it, I feel like I am getting to relive my Michigan trip a bit...and boy, was it a good time!

A little background - almost every year since I was little (and before I was even born, I think!), we have been taking family trips to Michigan with my mom's side of the family.  It's always the best time, although I definitely didn't appreciate it as much when I was younger (those darn teenage years!).  The trip looks a bit different these days, with people coming and going as schedules allow, but one thing that doesn't change is just how special it is!

To start off the trip, I drove to my parents', then hopped in their car to drive up to Michigan.  We have stayed in Union Pier, MI for the last 19-20 years, and while it is definitely becoming more developed, it still holds that little beach town charm.  There isn't much in town, so for meals and shopping, we head to New Buffalo, which is great in itself!  The traffic was pretty terrible this year (thanks, construction), but we finally made it and got to the house safely.  We did things a bit differently this year, by getting two cottages next door.  With my nephew, it just seemed like a good idea to have a separate space where he can rest and get in his naps, without us all being loud and disturbing him.  My family stayed in once house, while my grandma, aunt, uncle and cousins were in the other.  It worked out really well for us!  

The first afternoon / night we were there was pretty low key.  We got unpacked, checked out what had changed from years past and then got started on our puzzle.  My mom always gets us a new puzzle to put together on vacation.  Everyone does a little bit and it stays out the whole time, so whenever you have some free time or need something to do, you can search for a few pieces.  We had our signature 'first night' meal, which is breaded pork that my grandma makes.  Always SO good.  After dinner, we headed down to watch the sunset and were amazed at how small the beach was!  It was a chillier night, but any night on the beach watching the sunset is a good one.  We headed back up to the cottages and played cards (Blitz) before bed.

Sunday was the perfect beach day.  I headed out for a run first thing, and then after breakfast, headed down to the beach with my brother, sister in law and nephew.  The water was a bit cool, but once you got in it, it felt very refreshing!  Jack absolutely LOVED the water.  He would run in and out and in and out - it was so fun!  After a bit, he needed to dry off because it was a bit chilly, so we all moved to play in the sand.  I have to admit, it was fun having a little one around because I enjoyed playing with his sand toys, too!  My dad and I stayed down at the beach while everyone went back up for a bit.  The big surprise I mentioned on Friday came next.  My aunt, uncle and cousin were all coming this day, but we weren't sure what time.  Fun fact - those of us that are already at the house always bet on times and this year I won!  My brother came back down to the beach and told us they were here, but he left out one minor detail - my cousin from Arizona came in and surprised us!  So you can imagine how flabbergasted I was when I see her walking down the steps to the beach.  And you better believe my brother got a big splash of water in his face for not telling me, haha!  It's been a long time since all of us cousins have been together, so it was SO awesome.  I also had to give my other cousin some trouble, because I had emailed him the week before to see if Lisa was coming, and he totally ignored my email.  A little part of me thought maybe it was a surprise, but really he just started a new position not too long ago, so I thought the fact that he was probably very busy was more likely.  Anyways, it was just a great surprise.  Unfortunately, my dad had to head back that afternoon for work, so he left shortly after they arrived.  My brother finished the puzzle (already!!!) that afternoon, so I had to snap a picture before putting it away.  My mom has gotten us some really neat puzzles, a lot of which have all these small little pictures to make up the whole.  I always love those because they keep things interesting and can be a bit easier to put together.  That evening we went to one of our favorites, Redamak's (they put velveeta cheese on their burgers!) , for dinner and then Oink's for ice cream.  My very favorite ice cream flavor is Blue Moon and I cannot find it anywhere near here, so it's always such a special treat.  The night ended with more card games.

Unfortunately, we woke up to rain on Monday morning.  We decided it was the perfect day to head into town for some shopping, and the rain actually had stopped by then, so it made a little more enjoyable walking around.  New Buffalo has some really cute shops.  I went the touristy route and got a light weight New Buffalo sweatshirt.  The weather was a bit cloudy and spitting on and off, so my brother, sister in law and I headed to a distillery in Three Oaks called Journeyman Distillery.  They had been there before and really liked it.  There is a bar, tasting room and restaurant located in an old factory - just very cool.  We decided to share a bunch of apps, all of which were so delicious.  It was a great lunch and I picked up a few small bottles of their liquor to bring home with me.  Three Oaks was a super cute little town, too, one I think would be fun to walk around and explore, had we had more time.  Once we got back, my mom and I headed to the beach since the weather wasn't all that bad.  My aunt's family was down there, but we stayed in our regular clothes and just stayed for a little bit, then walked down the beach and back to the house.  Since I was leaving the next day, as were my cousins, we decided to do another dinner out at an old favorite, Clementine's, so we all got ready.  It's right on a dock area, so it was perfect to keep my nephew occupied with all the boats!  We had a bit of a snafu at dinner - the waiter ended up spilling wine and water all down my back, but luckily it was all light colored stuff so nothing stained.  I just had a wet back and bottom for a bit, haha.  Their onion rings are by far the very best thing there, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.  We headed back to New Buffalo for some more ice cream, which was delicious as always.  We had more rain on the way and during dinner, but luckily it cleared up for the sunset.  Just my aunt, cousin, mom and I went down, and while it wasn't super vibrant, the pinks and blues were so pretty.  We were basically the only ones on the beach, too, which made it even nicer!  It was funny, on the way there, we saw this one deer who was so close to the road - like literally you probably could have take a step or two and been right there with her.  She definitely surprised us a bit, but I imagine they are quite used to all the people there.  Another round of cards ended the night.

I had a rough time getting out of bed on Tuesday.  I thought maybe if I stayed in bed, then it would mean I didn't have to leave!  I ran, then basically got ready for the beach to go there as soon as we were done with breakfast.  My dad was kind enough to drive up to get me and take me back home that day.  My nephew had no interest in the little sandcastle I made the first day down at the beach, but he was loving smashing all the towers and stars my cousin and I made this day.  It was really fun!  I stayed at the beach as long as I could, just enjoy the water and time with family, then headed up, ate lunch and got ready to go.  

One fun thing to add.  The cottage my grandma and other family stayed at had these squirrel statues...they would mysteriously make their way all over the place and between the two houses.  You never knew where they would pop up!  Just kind of a fun little thing to do while we were all there.

Until next year...

Linking up with Jenn and Jessi.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Recipe Round Up: June 2017

Time for another recipe round up!

Pork Chops with Garlic and Wine from The Pioneer Woman.  One of my June goals was to make 2 cookbook recipes (from the Dinnertime cookbook) and this was one of them!  It was a success overall, even though it didn't turn out quite right.  The pork chops were cooked perfectly and very flavorful, but I think I burnt the sauce a bit and it reduced a whole lot.  That may have been because I cut down the recipe to just two servings, or maybe I just needed to cook it less.  Or because I was trying to make it a bit healthier and didn't include the butter.  Regardless, it was good!  Definitely one I will make again.

3-Ingredient Protein Pancakes
3-Ingredient Protein Pancakes from Southern Curls & Pearls.  I love pancakes.  It's kind of funny, because growing up, pancakes were my brother's favorite, but I always asked my mom to make French toast.  Lately, though, I have been loving pancakes (although nothing can replace my mom's French toast).  I wanted to try this recipe out because it seemed super easy and it was healthy!  Well, I have to say my first attempt wasn't that successful.  The banana flavor is a little more pronounced than I thought it would be (not a bad thing, just not what I was expecting), and I probably should have used a little bit more chia seeds...not to mention I burnt most of them.  Whoops!  On the plus side, I ate them (I wasn't going to let them go to waste!) and they really filled me up!  While the execution wasn't necessarily there for me the first go around, I do plan on trying them again!

SKINNY BAKED SHEET PAN CHICKEN FAJITAS are our favorite healthy dinner! Such an easy recipe that everyone will love. Made with greek yogurt instead of sour cream! Perfection.
Skinny Baked Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas from the Cookie Rookie.  I actually got this recipe from Southern Curls & Pearls (post here), too.  I love Mexican and the fact that this was so easy and healthy, it was a must try.  Overall, it was pretty good, although I think next time I may marinate the chicken for a little bit prior to cooking.  And add a bit of salt and pepper to the peppers and onions.  Also, I didn't include the tomatos as the recipe called for, with the thought that I would just get salsa to top it off.  Well, I forgot to grab that from the store, so next time I will be sure to do that!  It's just too easy, though, so I definitely will be making it again, with some little tweaks.

What have you been cooking lately?

Linking up with ErikaAshleyLindsay and Whitney.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekend Recap: A Winery, Trampoline Park & Hibachi Grill!

Guys, weekends just really need one more day!  Saturday was a full day, and I feel like I am still recovering.

Friday was only a little later at the office, which I was really happy about.  When things are busy, I just never really know my schedule.  We started off the weekend with a cheese and meat plate - my favorite!  I ended up doing a little work later in the evening, and then got caught in the dark hole of YouTube videos.  Sarah told me about Mallory Ervin's channel awhile ago and I finally got around to checking it out.  She has such a big personality and I love her accent!  My favorites were her rapid weight loss videos, and then just her life updates.  Very neat!

Saturday I was up and early to get a few things done before a birthday celebration.  We headed to Cedar Lake Cellars to start the day and I have to tell you, for any locals, this winery is the coolest!  It's basically in the middle of nowhere and is absolutely huge!  They had a main tasting area with seating inside, a big patio, and then another super large building with another bar, and lots more seating - in and out.  There is a huge grassy area, as well, where picnic tables are set, and they also have just random tables and stacks of chairs that you can grab and make your own table area.  I thought that was such a great idea.  It's on a little lake, which is so peaceful.  Really, I cannot say enough good things about it.  Definitely a place to go!  And if you are looking for an event space, it has additional barns / spaces for that, too!  The wine was good, as was the food, but really the wine slushies take the cake.  The perfect thing to have on a hot day!  Even non-wine fans enjoyed them, too!  The day kept going, and we headed home to a trampoline park.  Kind of cracked me up, because those are quite the extremes, but we headed to Flying Spider for an hour of jumping.  They had regular trampoline areas, this really crazy obstable course, basketball, dodgeball, a zipline like area, and so much more.  It was really neat and we all had a blast.  We may have been the oldest ones there jumping, but it's good to always keep yourself young and let your inner kid out!  We continued the celebrations with dinner - the original plan was to go to a local casino for their all you can eat crab legs buffet, but when we got there, holy cow, the line was insane.  We ended up going to hibachi, which was just as delicious!  All in all it was a GREAT day.

I am writing this early Sunday afternoon, and I have to tell you not much has been done today!  I have been working on laundry, and just catching up on some shows.  My plan for the afternoon is to run some errands, and maybe even get in some pool time.  A movie may be in the works for the afternoon, too, but really it is all up in the air.  Beef and noodles is in the crockpot, and I am just looking forward to enjoying a relaxing day!

Hope everyone had the best weekend!

Linking up with Biana.