Wellness Wednesday || Avoiding The Perfection Trap

“She was BEAUTIFUL, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the SPARKLE in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald 

I had a general concept of what I wanted to write about today, but was having a hard time formulating exactly what I wanted to say. I occasionally save quotes I come across on instagram, and when I was perusing through them this afternoon, I came across this one and the ideas started to come together…..

Lately, I’ve been chatting with TJ about the “perfection” that seems to be everywhere…. and to be honest, it’s sometimes hard not to compare… and then inevitably feel like crap. So when I posted a photo, and was criticized by several people for not having a fresh new pedicure, it stung. At one point in the evening, I had to excuse myself from the table (we were out with my parents) to have a small cry in the bathroom. When I returned, and chatted a little about my frustrations, everyone had something to add to the conversation that had nothing to do with physical beauty….

 I get asked all the time about how to manage bodily insecurities, or if I have any of my own. My answer to the latter is, “yes, of course!” I was too afraid to get my wisdom teeth removed (hate needles), so they overcrowd my bottom gum line which makes my bottom teeth slightly crooked…. you can always see it on my instastories…. I have very visible veins on the side of my head (I used to get made fun of for them), which is why I rarely wear my hair up in photos…. I have obvious dark circles under my eyes….  I sometimes go several months without changing my pedicure color (sue me…)… I still have a little pooch in my lower ab area from carrying a baby…. and sometimes I find that my nose is a little too pointy (thanks dad….)….

But here’s the thing. They most certainly don’t define who I am as a person… and I have no intention of doing anything about them. They are what make me who I am. And someday, as the quote says, they won’t matter because they will all be covered by wrinkles. Physical beauty is temporary…..

And while I care about how I present myself (which is why I pretty much follow the same basic make-up routine daily and follow this same hair routine) and love to feel put together in casual and practical ways (which is what I try to share in my fashion posts), what really makes someone beautiful is much deeper than that. It’s how they make others feel. What they’re passionate about. What makes them cry. What makes them laugh. What sets their soul on fire…. all the meaningful aspects of life create true beauty within a person…..

I love my family and friends fiercely…  I’d rather have a small handful of meaningful relationships than loads of acquaintances… so I give those relationships all I have. Watching the joy on my daughter’s face is one of the easiest ways to turn a bad day around….  A good glass (or two) of wine, stretchy pants, John Mayor Pandora station, and an evening spent on the couch with TJ make any stressful week better… I am passionate about encouraging others to live their life in balanced ways… to take care of themselves… and to feel their best… Running can set my mind straight every time (#RunnersHigh)…. I love being surprised, but can’t handle the wait (which is why it’s almost impossible to surprise me…), I’m slightly pessimistic (I call it realistic…. TJ calls it pessimistic….), and I’m stubborn. I can pretty much cry at anything… I’m super sensitive… which also makes me pretty attune to how others are feeling too….

We all have a list like that. A list that makes them much more than the the number on the scale (which I encourage you to stay away from!), the bag that they carry, the size of their jeans, color of their hair, and the smoothness of their skin. A list like that is the antidote to feeling the need to appear perfect. I encourage you to put one together. Memorize it, and own it!

Today I chose to share one photo in this blog post. It was taken yesterday, immediately after a SoulCycle date with TJ, and after I devoured some avocado toast. No makeup, sweaty hair, and definitely not “perfect” by certain terms… and what most might even deem “not up to par for a blog post.” You know what though, it was right after one of my favorite workouts (SoulCycle always sets a good tone to the day) and I was alone with TJ (something that doesn’t happen often). I was happy…. and in the end, that’s the message I hope to convey to little miss one day. To live her life, embrace herself, and own her list of what makes her uniquely, beautifully, herself.

(jacket above)



Everyday Dressing || Comfy Kicks + High Waisted Leggings

I’m not a spontaneous person. I’m a planner. I like to be prepared. In the summer months, if we have a beach day, I like to prep snacks and lunches, pack up the bags, and put the towels + toys in the car the evening before. So, I’m not really sure what came over me yesterday morning when I decided, on a whim, to take Harper, by myself, to Disneyland. I guess this weekend’s past trip gave me a little boost of confidence….

I asked people on stories if they thought I was “brave” or just plain “cray.” The response was mixed. You see, Harper is a runner. As in “don’t even try to make me stand in that line, my legs need to move” kind of toddler. So, the thought of being three quarters of the way through a line and having her bolt, without help, made me kinda nervous…. In the end, she did great. We had a few running instances, but all in all, I can’t complain… and she took a long afternoon nap… even better…..

So, given my new found sense of spontaneity, and my toddler who just loves to move her legs, I needed toss on something comfortable + practical, in a hurry. As always, I reached for my go-to basic black leggings (added benefit because they’re high waisted) and distressed denim jacket as a top layer. I knew my feet needed something comfortable, so I tossed on these new kicks… and let me tell you, they’re 100% in the comfort department. Buuuut, I wouldn’t expect anything less from them, since they’re UGG. Which, up until recently, I honestly didn’t know made everyday sneaks. Nordstrom has a great selection of their sneaker line and I love this perforated pair (comes in tons of colors, but the quartz color is my fav) and cute little slip on pair. They also have a wide selection of UGG’s cozy wear that can easily be worn with above mentioned shoes. A few that I have my eye on include this zip hoodie (which is a great transitional piece) or this basic black pullover, paired with these gray leggings.

I was just glad I had them in my closet for my solo Disney adventure with little miss…. I mean, the last thing people needed to see was a mom running, after her toddler, with a limp because of shoes that give her a blister……

(Outfit Details || Sneakers (come in gold too) | Leggings | Pullover (comes in 3 color options) | Denim Jacket | Hat | Gold BraceletBag)

Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post


Weekend Recap || Small Moments Of Joy

We headed into the weekend with nothing planned. Something that hadn’t happened in a several weeks…. So, on Friday night, as TJ and I sat sipping a little vino + chatting about the past week, we decided to head to Disneyland for the morning (part of our family gifts for Christmas were Disneyland passes)…. Harper has taken a recent liking obsession to “Mimmie” Mouse so we thought it would be a fun family morning…

To see Harper’s excitement and joy when she laid eyes on Minnie Mouse (a star struck toddler)… and demanded that we all kneel down in a photo with her…. was absolutely priceless. Which was a reminder to me that we all need a little bit of that in our lives. Not that we all need to be star struck, but that we all need to have something in our life that brings those huge smiles to our faces…. They don’t have to be grandiose demonstrations…. a quiet moment alone with your significant other, a phone call with a friend that ends in you laughing until your belly hurts, or a tickle match with your little one that results in squeals of delight…. finding joy in our everyday lives. Sometimes it’s not always easy to see, and other times it is… but my intention for the week ahead is to seek out those small moments everyday, no matter how stressful or frustrating it was…..

Hope you all have a good one friends! xx

(Casual Friday in my favorite basics…. joggers, tee, jacket)

(Family time at Disney…. enjoyed the treats, friends, and amazement through the eyes of a toddler…. my sweater, jeans, sneakers, Harper’s jacket)

(When you survive Disney with a strong willed toddler…..)

(Kept it casual for Saturday evening HH in my favorite blush sweater)

(Sunday funday…. her expressions kill me…. vest, tee, jeggings, sneakers)

After taking almost a week off from working out, it felt good to get back into the swing of things. I woke up a little earlier on Friday and squeezed in a 7 mile run… the longest I’ve done in a while, which felt so good! I’m going to make some of these egg muffins this week, as well as these chicken verde tacos!

I found the perfect pair of high waisted, light wash, non-distressed denim jeans, and I love them. They’re under $100 too! I have so many Levi’s jeans that I’ve been loving and those add to it… more favorite jeans here.

A few other recent favorites (my mind is already on spring) include this gorgeous white eyelet blouse, flare sleeve utility jacket, ruffle sweatshirt (size up 1 for a looser fit),  comfortable glitter kicks, and this cozy pullover. I also found these gorgeous black and white slides, which I think would be perfect in the spring and summer months paired with the light wash jeans from above. I’m also loving these rose colored flats.

Free People also has some gorgeous new arrivals that I can’t get enough of! I love this button-up stripe tee (would be cute as is, or front tied), crochet sweater (super cute paired with denim shorts in the warmer months), white eyelet jacket, lace sweater, v-neck pullover (comes in 5 colors, I love the gray and sienna color). I’m also eyeing this belt-bag for days spent at the park or out with little miss. Having my hands free makes things so much easier!

I’m also loving this soft and cozy blush cardigan, perfect for spring.

Annnd, a few warm weather getaway pieces that I had to save to my favorites cart include this adorable floral skort (I used to own a ton of those in the 90’s….), white studded slide, and pink cut-out swimsuit (that I’ve had my eye on since last year!)…. pretty much anything from this Vacation Shop!


Champagne Chatting || Monthly Q+A

Happy Friday friends! I hope you all had a great week…. we’re laying low this weekend, and I can’t wait. We’ve been go, go, go for the past few weeks, so having nothing planned sounds amazing. I hope you all have a great weekend…. below you’ll find all the answers to some frequently asked questions this month!…..

1. We are going to Hawaii this summer and I know you have been often. How do you handle the time change with your little one? 

The past two times we had different experiences with Harper adapting, even though we followed the same process each time. Since by the time 7pm comes around in Hawaii, it’s 10pm at home. So, we put her down at the normal bedtime, and then wait to see what time she wakes up. The first time she woke up at 4am (which is CA time 7am). The second time she slept until 6:30am, which was glorious. When that happened, we were able to maintain the regular schedule we had at home. The time she woke up at 4am, I reverted back to her double nap schedule (9am-11am + then 2:30pm-4pm) and then put her down at the regular bedtime. She slowly adapted after about 2 full days. Hope that helps!

2. What are some of your spring fashion go-to’s that are really easy? I find myself always going towards a plain v-neck tee and ankle jeans. I’m looking to change it up a bit this year!

I think henleys are a great way to go. You get the same basic feel of a tee, but the cute buttons make it look a little different. My favorite is this flowy option, along with this one with a ruffle detail (which I’ve worn a couple times on instagram), and this one with a tassel tie (I own in gray). I also love a relaxed boyfriend jean…. finding the perfect fit on these can be tricky… you don’t want them super baggy. I think they look super cute with flats, a cute tee, and some gold accessories. Toss on a lightweight cardigan, or kimono (super big this spring and I like to wear this dress like one), and you’re good to go.

3. What is your favorite brand of v and scoop neck tees?

I love this raw hem v-neck tee (I own it in a couple of colors) and it’s under $20. Such a great basic to own. I also love Make + Model tees and own a few colors of those as well. And, of course, you can count of Free People to make a great oversized basic tee.

4. What are your favorite Orange County restaurants and coffee spots, along with your go-to orders? Favorite Soul Cycle instructor? 

KIT is great for the avocado toast + tea/coffee (I like the white peony tea and TJ gets the cold brew). Cannery Seafood has amazing sushi (upstairs) and I love the spicy tuna roll, shrimp tempura roll, and pretty much anything else…. Babette’s in Newport Coast is great too (I’ve only been for breakfast and got their bowl with kale, quinoa, and an egg…). Driftwood kitchen in Laguna is a beautiful spot. Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen in The Orange Circle is delish too (they change their menu often, so I can’t say wha I get every time). Cucina Enoteca has delicious pizza + an arugula salad I love. We usually get the brussels sprouts and prosciutto pizza. The Lost Bean is my favorite spot for my daily iced teas. Urth Cafe has a great breakfast too (I get something different each time though…).

My favorite instructors are Josh, Alexa, Daniella, Jeff, and Jasmine!

5. Where are your favorite places to stay in Hawaii and what are your favorite places to eat, do, etc….? We’re going to Maui in June and would love any suggestions. 

We love both the Westin Kaanapali Villas + The Marriott Ocean Club. Since we have a toddler, we love the ability to make a costco/grocery store run and make some of our meals. We also love the extra space that it affords us when she is napping and down for the evening. If that’s not your thing, I think the Hyatt + The Westin (non-villas) are both gorgeous properties on Maui.

These are our favorite restaurants: Mamma’s Fish House, Cheeseburger In Paradise (yes, totally tourist, but so good), Monkey Pod for a great Mai Tai (and food!), Duke’s for a beautiful oceanfront dining experience, The Fish Market Maui for great tacos (the lobster tacos were delish!), Choice Health Bar for delish acai bowls and healthy selects, Mala/Honu for dinner and drinks (the ahi toast!), Sansei Sushi (some of the best I’ve ever had), Maui Brew Co, Kaana Kitchen (super cute and trendy), + Down The Hatch for an indulgent breakfast. The Westin has a great buffet brunch as well. There are also tons of spots for delicious Acai Bowls.

Favorite Things to Do: Makena state beach “big beach” on the Wailea side. Also just past Makena beach is La Perouse which is a lava fields. Pretty to walk and explore. Nakalele blowhole and heart shaped rock. Catch a beautiful sunrise in Haleakala.  

6. I am pregnant with my second, and I was wondering if you could suggest some good pregnancy style ideas for 2018. I want to buy some stuff that work for pregnancy and postpartum. One thing that made me feel good during my first pregnancy was dressing well – I didn’t love being in my pregnant body, and it helped a lot. I was pregnant in 2016, and your pregnancy fashion posts from when you were pregnant with Harper were really helpful to me. 🙂 I was going to get a dress or two from Isabella Oliver again because they look gorgeous during pregnancy and beyond, but I was wondering what else you might suggest that is more current.

I completely understand what you mean! Dressing for your body in pregnancy can make you feel so good. My all time favorite dress, non-maternity, was this body hugging option (long sleeve). I always thought it showed off the belly so well, and was able to grow with my other expanding body parts. Since we’re heading into the spring/summer months (no sure how far along you are) I am obsessed with this white bodycon maternity dress (I actually put it in my favorites in case I get pregnant sometime this year!). Susana Monaco has a few on trend, gorgeous dresses, around the same price point of the IsabelIa Oliver. I also love love maxi dresses too. I love this stripe one and think it would be so cute with kicks, flats, and some gold accessories. I also swore by the bellaband so I could wear my regular shorts/jeans throughout. I loved pairing them with gorgeous free people flowy tops (which I still wear to this day). A few good FP tops, that would be great post as well, include this basic oversized tunic, thermal tunic, sleeveless tunic, gorgeous printed tunic, and this embroidered tunic. I also wore this embroidered tunic dress while I was pregnant, and still wear it to this day!

7. I have been getting more into working out and love carrying the work out wear throughout the day. I really like your style but some pieces are pricey do you have any suggestions for lower priced items (under $50)? 

Yes! My all time favorite perforated tank is under $40… the other day I wore it to the gym and then tossed a denim jacket and slides on with it and headed out for some errands. Beyond Yoga makes some of the softest pieces ever, and this cute crossover tank is currently on sale and would be super cute in the same way I recommended the tank above. I’ve also been working out in this camo tee lately and love it too. Onzie has some of my favorite items, and their sports bras are great too… and under $50. For the top layer, this hoodie from Zella (that I own in black and a light grayish blue color) just went on sale for under $50. It easily layers underneath a denim jacket, or is great solo. As far as leggings go, these high waisted crops (they’re one of my favs in the longer version) are an excellent, basic, option. I’ve also heard excellent things about this brand, and these joggers are great for a brisk walk and then lounging after (I own them in a couple colors). Target also has a great selection of activewear… I own and love this sports bra, this zip-up hoodie jacket comes in tons of color options, and these tri-colored leggings are super cute. I also recommend Old Navy, as they have a great activewear selection as well… like this stripe sports bra, mesh stripe top (great for a run), sweater knit moto jacket, and mesh leggings.

8. We will be spending Christmas at a resort in Phoenix, AZ and I am at a loss for what type of outfits to pack! Do you have some winter time, warm weather outfit go-tos? We will have a mix of relaxing by the pool and evenings out. The weather forecast looks like highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s. This Kansas girl only knows how to pack for snow at Christmas time.  Any ideas are appreciated!

My suggestions would be jeans and cute top for the evening. I think this bodysuit and this blush silk top are gorgeous. I also love this floral tunic top over a pair of skinny jeans with OTK boots or booties. I also just purchased this wrap sweater and it’s perfect for the evenings paired with a pair of mules. A suede or leather jacket is a perfect evening layer.
For the daytime, maxi dresses with a suede or denim jacket would be super cute. This embroidered maxi is one of my all time favorites, and super casual t-shirt dress would be great with some cute slides or sandals.  If you’re looking to lounge by the pool, a cute cover up (or cut-off shorts + an open knit… one of my fav combos) with a suit is perfect. Sandals for the day will be warm enough if it’s in the 70’s.
Overall I just recommend layering. Sometimes mornings are cool, afternoons are warm, and the evenings cool off again. A lightweight cardigan is always a great option too.
9. How did you build your instagram following? Can you create a step by step on how to start a blog? 
I’ve built my instagram following very slowly over the past 5 years. I know that there are a lot of opportunities to build with loop giveaways, yet, I have found that they typically result in a small number of people who actually engage with you and your content (which is why I’ve only done a handful). It’s important to remember that an engaged following is much more important than a large following. That being said, working with brands and having them share your content helps, regrams from brands, as well as doing “follows” with other bloggers are all great ways to gain an authentic and engaged following.
As far as a step by step guide, there are tons of great tutorials on the web that can help with that! I can share what my sister and I did when we started (yes, this blog began with my sister!). We brainstormed names, researched hosting platforms (we ultimately decided on wordpress), purchased our domaine name, and picked a design. Each bloggers journey and evolution of their blog is unique and part of the process. This blog has been through 3 site re-designs, and has improved over the years.
10. Did you ever struggle with your weight/dieting? If so, what did you do? Any tips? 
I think everyone deals with some sort of body insecurity at one point or another in their life, and I’m not immune to that at all. I think the hardest struggle I had was after I gave birth to Harper. I was overwhelmed with the changes to my body, and had never had to “loose weight” so I wasn’t sure where to start. What worked for me was to remember that eating clean and nutritious foods + watching portion sizes was the best way to feel good about myself and fuel my body in the way it needed to be. It was also important for me to remember why I work out… for clarity of mind, the endorphins it releases, and the amazing feeling I have once I am done. I haven’t specifically dealt with weight/dieting issues, but I do believe that it’s so important to see your body as much more than a number. What does your body do for you on a daily basis? What has it done for you in the past? While I don’t like everything about my body, there are specific parts that I think are pretty great… and we should all be able to identify those parts we love about it! When I look at my body I see legs that are muscular and have gotten me through several half marathons, a belly (ok, uterus, but the belly shows it more) that carried my sweet Harper, + arms that carry her when she’s tired or needs comforting.
11. When did you know your husband was the one? 
I can’t say there was one ah-ha moment that made me know that TJ was the one. After dating a few people, I confidently knew what I didn’t want and knew how I wanted to feel in a relationship. As the months and years (we dated for 5 years before we got married) went on I realized that TJ was someone who I could always be myself with, who I could talk to about anything with, who, despite disagreements and arguments, we were always able to come back and work through the disagreements, and someone who I genuinely enjoyed spending time with. Someone I had fun with and missed when we were apart. Knowing that we could effectively solve problems together, have fun together, and genuinely loved each other made me confident that we would be able to handle all the ups and downs of marriage.
12. Where did you shop for clothing in your 20s that you’ve since stopped, or still do? 
In my 20’s I did (and still do) a lot of shopping at LOFT for my work clothes. They were (and still are) very reasonably priced, especially when they would have their sales (which is what I waited for). I was able to purchase a lot of work appropriate clothing for a great deal. For example, right now they are having a 50% off sale and I would be able to purchase a pair of pants, cardigan, and blouse (that could be worn at the office or out at night) for around $100. I also found J. Crew factory to have a lot of great items for work as well. For trendier items I think H&M is an excellent choice! This flounce top, satin lace top, and dotted chiffon blouse are always gorgeous, budget friendly, and perfect for a night out with friends! Also, BP brand at Nordstrom is still one of my favorites. 
13. Will you share some spring outfit looks for a trip to Sonoma in March? Going on our first real vacation post baby with some friends and I hate all my clothes! 
So jealous of your  trip! You’re going to have a blast! I love pairing distressed jeans with cute mules and a pretty top. I wore this top last weekend and it was perfect for the day spent wine tasting! I also love this gorgeous white ruffle lace top (just purchased it)… pair it with cute white mules (or this pair in blush, they’re sitting in my cart) and some gold accessories and you’ll look perfect for an afternoon in Napa/Sonoma. If it’s on the more mild side, I love this crochet sweater. A few cute dresses include this ribbed button up dress (which can double as a cardigan), adorable floral tie front dress (with cute espadrilles), and this gorgeous maxi dress. I think bringing along a cute wide brimmed hat would be a perfect accessory to any of the above mentioned pieces. Distressed white denim jeans (high waisted) and this tie front stripe top would be super cute as well.
14. How many kids do you want? I’m secretly hoping you’re knocked up soon bc I just found out we are having a third and I loved seeing your maternity fashion, not to mention seeing champagne on your feed will be hard. LOL! Just kidding!
This cracks me up… the champagne part! We want two kiddos. We were lucky enough to be blessed with Harper and hope we will be blessed again with another little one. I always say I can plan out my life, there is no guarantee that it will unfold that way. All that to say, hopefully sometime this year!
15. I wanted to ask more about your experiences with Tone It Up. My concern with their program is that they have to make “cookies” and all sorts of things with protein powder…. to sell products. What are your thoughts. Also, what nutrition plan would you recommend, where you are eating “real foods” not engineered food? 
Great question! I actually don’t follow their meal plans, I only do the workouts (which I do love). I followed the detox meal plan out of curiosity, and enjoyed it! I don’t use their protein powders and instead use Vega when, and if, I incorporate a plant based protein (typically in smoothies). I’ve seen Skinny Taste’s meal plans and they look delicious… I haven’t used them though, so I can’t recommend it on a “as tried” basis. For me personally, I just stick with correct portion sizes, clean ingredients (foods that have ingredients I can pronounce, or minimal ingredients in them), and a balanced portion of proteins, carbs, and fats.
As far as their workouts go, some are free and some have to be purchased. I don’t mind, as I have found them to be very effective in helping me tone up.
16. I’m visiting my sister in April (she lives in Irvine) and wondered what your favorite places were for coffee, tacos, and bubbles… I mean, does one NEED anything more?? 
 Love it! I recommend KIT coffee (great atmosphere, avocado toast, and TJ loves their cold brew… I only drink tea), Wild Taco for delish tacos (such a great menu), and Orange Hill has gorgeous views and an outdoor patio for bubbles (service is typically hit or miss though)… or if you’re wanting somewhere down by the beach I recommend Pacific Edge Hotel for a gorgeous water front libation! Or 180 Blu at The Ritz (probably not cheap though!) has gorgeous views as well! Hope you have a great time!
17. Do you have any tips on being dairy free?
My biggest tip would be to find good alternatIves that you like. For me, it wasn’t that hard, since I wasn’t a huge dairy fan to start with…. but cheese on my pizza was something I didn’t want to give up, and I do like yogurt now and then. I’ve been able to find some good cheese/yogurt alternatives (mainly Kite Hill) which make the transition really easy! If you’re worried about calcium, you can get that from spinach, seafood, legumes, and some fruits. When I was pregnant, my doctor had me take a vitamin D supplement.
18. Any tips for surviving with a traveling spouse? 
Having a husband who travels for work, with kiddos at home, is challenging. Whenever TJ  goes out of town (which isn’t super often) I am always left wondering how single moms do it all with such grace! All that to say, when he does travel, I try to line up a babysitter to help out during the days so I can get some work, errands, and a workout in….  I think being able to escape for a couple hours makes managing everything on your own a bit more manageable. I also try to plan fun activities out with friends during this time, since it’s a great sense of support and community being around friends. I wish I could be more help in this area, but since he only travels a couple times a year I don’t have a ton of advice.
19. Would love to know your favorite workout clothes! Not athleisure, but clothes you actually workout in. Also, why don’t you ever wear Lululemon? Just curious because I have tried other brands before and keep coming back to Lulu as it just seems to fit me! 
All the items I feature on my instagram account I actually workout in, unless it’s a heavy top layer, then I toss that on after the workout. Aside from what you see on instagram, my favorite tank is this lightweight option, sports bra, and I’ve been loving these crops. I spin in this crop top all the time as well.
As far as Lululemon goes, I have a few of their items, namely this tank (which I’ve had for years). I think I started to explore other brands a couple of years ago and have just liked what other’s offer just as well. I still love their products, but recently have found other items that I’ve been liking just as much!
20. How do you always make everything look so easy and delicious? I’m a working momma (teacher) and the hubby also teaches and on top of that is a varsity b-ball coach. Any suggestions on how to get a handle on cooking healthy and delish for the familia? 
I swear by the crock pot or pressure cooker when we’ll be gone all day and won’t have a ton of time to prepare meals in the evening. Skinny Taste has great crock pot recipes that are healthy for the entire family, and we’ve tried so many and have loved them. The pressure cooker is great because it can cook chicken or soups in less than 30  minutes… perfect if you forgot to plan something but can swing by the store on the way home. I also recommend meal planning at the beginning of the week (Sunday). I follow this grocery store list and am able to make really simple dinners (less than 20 minutes) based on all those ingredients (with some recent modifications). We make super easy meals too…. and I don’t shy away from the microwave for certain foods (easy way to steam broccoli in a bag in less than 3 minutes). Skinnytaste also has free 7 day meal plans that she includes a grocery shopping list with as well (and nutritional information as well).
21. How do you find a local therapist. I love all your mental health/strength insights, but for those of us that would find personal care helpful what would be your insider tips on how to go about finding a therapist? 
Great question! I highly recommend starting with your General Practitioner. If you like them, they should be a good resource for referrals of therapists who might have a similar disposition. You can also start your search on Psychology Today. Look for someone who specializes in what you’re looking for (i.e. depression, anxiety woman’s issues…. etc…), read their bio… does it resonate with you? As far as experience goes, I don’t necessarily believe that more experience equates to a better therapist. Make sure you feel heard and that they do a thorough assessment. I always like to add that some of the best therapist will confront you on the hard issues, called “care-frontation,” to help you realize things that maybe you have never thought of. Therapy is a process and a journey that takes time and work, but if you see it through, it can be so very powerful! Hope that helps a little.

Family Style || Traveling With A Toddler

As I’ve mentioned several times this week, we headed up to the Solvang/Los Olivos area this past weekend…. it’s a place we visit several times a year, yet, we’ve been going at this same time for the past several years (when Harper was just a little one…). And while traveling with a toddler isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s for sure doable if you modify your expectations and go in with a game plan…. and it really can be a wonderful time had by all. So, today, TJ and I decided to share a few tips and tricks we’ve gleaned along the way…. just in case you’re looking to make that trek with your little tike(s)……

1. Look At The Room: Before traveling as parents, TJ and I never really examined the layout of a room…. I mean, we literally study the floor plan and square footage now. Harper goes down at 7pm… and naps for about 2 hours in the afternoon… so being hotel bound during those hours makes it critical that the room is family friendly. When possible (on the pocketbook) we book a large suite, that way, Harper can be in one area sleeping, and we can have our evening too. If not, we make sure there is an outdoor sitting area (patio or balcony), or start her off in the bathroom (if it’s large enough… and yes, we walk out to the lobby restroom if we need to… you gotta do what you gotta do….) and move her out when we go to bed.

2. Plan You Day: We don’t “wing” a day anymore. That’s typically a recipe for disaster. So, we take some time in the morning to loosely lay out what the day will look like (I use the term loosely since there are so many unpredictable variables with a toddler…). If we’re somewhere more “adult” oriented, like last weekend’s wine tasting adventures, we try to incorporate a fun “kid” friendly activity in the morning (i.e. Ostrich Land USA… okay, maybe that was for me too….) and then tasting spots that are open and allow her space to run around.

3. Dress Accordingly: I have to laugh here… our suitcases look slightly different now than they did several years ago… but we’re not mad about it. Since we have an extra traveler adding to the luggage load, one of us has to pack smarter (…. and can you guess who that has to be??….). While I still toss in loads of unnecessary things,  TJ has become much more practical in his packing. He opts for pieces that transition well between day and night, toddler activity to adult activity, and cold to warm. It makes him pretty much up for anything. For this past trip, he packed this slim fitting puffer vest which was perfect for walking to breakfast and coffee in the morning (when temps were in the 40’s)… he layered it over this lightweight stripe sweater which was the perfect solo piece when the temps warmed. He always brings a pair of the Paige Transcend jeans with him everywhere he goes…. a work trip or vacation with the family.  The fit is so perfect that they look dressy enough for a business casual meeting, and casual enough for a day running around after little miss. Nordstrom has the widest selection of Paige jeans for men, with a variety of color options, making it easy to find the right pair for whatever occasion. A few other layering options he brought include this super soft fleece pullover, half zip sweater, slim fit henley (one of his favorite ways to layer), and this casual button-up shirt (this one comes with us everywhere). He also brings these joggers (styled here) for lounging in the room after little miss goes down.

4. Snacks + Activities: We are loaded up with both when we travel…. her favorite snacks, novel toys, and an iPad when all else fails…. it’s the only way we’ve survived the long drives and flights.

5. Extra Time: Everything takes more time with a toddler. Plan accordingly. We leave an extra 30 minutes for the airport, knowing we might have to change a diaper, deal with a melt down, and unload/check-in our abnormal amount of luggage. Also, we highly recommend wearing your little one in a carrier(it they’re still small enough) through security lines…. saves a lot of stress. Trust me.

6. Relax, Have Patience, Lower Expectations: It won’t be perfect. You’ll loose your patience with each other now and again (we do)…. and don’t expect things to be like they are/were when you travel/ed solo. If you can remember all three of those things, I promise you’ll have a good time…. you’ll eventually laugh at the stressful moments….all while making memories with your entire family.

(Outfit Details || TJ’s Pullover | TJ’s Vest | TJ’s Jeans | TJ’s Shoes | TJ’s Hat | My Pullover | My Jeans | My Shoes | My Bag | Sunglasses | Harper’s Jeans | Harper’s Jacket | Harper’s Shoes)

Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. 


Wellness Wednesday || A Quick, Healthy, + Delicious Weeknight Meal For The Family…. Loaded Sweet Potatoes

On NYE, when we headed down to a friend’s house in San Diego, where we had loaded potatoes for a festive evening in spent celebrating. TJ and I loved the idea so much, that we decided to make it a regular occurrence in our home. It’s a hearty meal, full of clean ingredients, and super easy to whip up on a busy weeknight (especially if you pre-prepare some of the ingredients, like the cauliflower rice, on a Sunday evening… just re-heat and it’s good to go…). Annnd, with little miss’ sense of independence at an all time high, it’s also a meal that we can get her in on the action with. She loves picking our her toppings (and maybe taking a few samples along the way) and I love that it creates a sense of community in the evening hours, when they can often be a hectic time of the night…. It’s a nutritious, clean, and fun meal that we can all enjoy together.

I often get asked what my favorite food brands are. I’ve been a huge fan of Foster Farm’s Organic Ground Turkey ever since I was introduced to it a year ago (I love buying it in bulk on my Costco runs… such a great price). It’s California grown, raised free range on organic land, lean, moist, and full of flavor. If I’m meal prepping over the weekend, it’s easy to make a few turkey burgers for the week on Sunday night, and cook the rest up as an easy “toss in the salad” protein. It helps me stay on track to eat lean + clean throughout the week. Annnnd, it’s especially good on our loaded sweet potato nights (or lunches… depending on how we’re feeling….). So, today, I’m sharing with you our ingredients for a “Loaded Sweet Potato” evening… easily doubled, tripled, or enjoyed solo too.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes: 

Ingredients For Turkey:
1 Package Foster Farms Organic Turkey
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Olive Oil/Avocado Oil Spray (for cooking)

Topping Ingredients:
2-3 Bell Peppers, Diced
1 Red Onion, Diced
1 Green Onion, Diced
1 Avocado
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes
1 Package Riced Cauliflower
1 Can Black Beans, Drained, Cooked
Salsa Verde
1 Garlic Cube (I use frozen cubes)
Pico De Gallo

Directions For Turkey:
Mix the spices in a bowl with the ground turkey and mix all ingredients together. Spray a pan and cook turkey, stirring and breaking it up frequently until completely cooked.

Directions For Cauliflower Rice:
Spray another pan and heat garlic for about 1-2 minutes. Toss in the bag of riced cauliflower along with 12oz of salsa verde. Stir to combine, cover, and allow it to cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Be sure to stir frequently.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes: 
Cook sweet potatoes in your preferred way (oven or microwave….). When soft and cooked through, slice open and top with some salsa verde, ground turkey, black beans, bell peppers (sautéed if you prefer….), guacamole/smashed avocado, cauliflower rice, pico de gallo, and green onions.

Hope you enjoy!

Thank you to Foster Farms for sponsoring this post + allowing me to bring you clean and nutritious meals. 


Everyday Living || Elevated Loungewear

I vividly recall my very first pair of UGG boots. I was a sophomore in college (only a mere 15 years ago….) and it was parent’s weekend. We went out for a shopping trip and I came home with these ankle booties. I proceeded to wear them in every “fashion no” way possible over the early years… namely, with jean shorts + a college hoodie, on my way to an early morning, post late night, breakfast with girlfriends. I still own them to this day (that’s how well they hold up….) and they bring back those memories every time I slip them on my feet….

Maybe it’s because I had such fond memories wearing my first pair, or maybe it’s just because they’re that comfortable, but I’ve never been able to quit the UGG trend. Slippers for Christmas (for myself and TJ), a cozy boot for a winter getaway, or a comfortable kick to take me from point A to point B… I’m always guaranteed comfort when I slip them on my feet. Which is why, last weekend, when I knew we would be heading up to wine country, I slipped this cozy flip flop pair into my suitcase (I can’t stand walking around barefoot, especially in hotel rooms). With little miss going to bed at 7pm, that left TJ and I with some vino, comfy clothes, a warm throw, and the outdoor fire-pit on our patio…. and when little miss decided to wake up at 5:30am the following morning, they were the perfect slippers to wear while playing blocks on the hotel floor (we moved a little slower that morning….)….

Nordstrom has a phenomenal selection of UGG products, for the home, kiddos (these booties were Harper’s first pair), and men (these are TJ’s favorite slippers, and I think these high top kicks are pretty on point) in your life, all in varying price ranges and styles. A few other favorite cozy items from the UGG line for women include this shorts pajama set, cozy robe, fleece lined socks, mule slipper, and cozy sleep shirt. UGG is pretty much the quintessential cozy item, perfect for any day spent lounging around…. and something you’ll have for a long time…..

(Outfit Details || Joggers | Top | Slippers (4 color options) | Blanket

Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post. 


Weekend Recap || In The End…..

(Such a beautiful weekend up in Los Olivos…..)

We had this trip to the Los Olivos/Solvang area planned for the last month…. so, when the tragic mudslides happened we considered rescheduling and opting for a later date. Yet, when TJ arrived home late Wednesday night from a work trip, we decided to take the longer route (due to freeway closures) and make the trek. In talking with those in the hospitality industry, we were made more keenly aware of the devastation that occurred to the area, and to so many families….

On the drive up, I read two articles, one a letter from Steve Jobs right before he passed, and another letter from a 27 year old before she passed as well. Sounds depressing, I know, but in summary, they both said the same thing. When faced with our immortality, the only thing that ended up mattering in life was the love of family and friends and the memories made with them…..

Which was exactly what I tried to remember this weekend. Life isn’t about everything being “perfect.” It can’t be. It’s not authentic. It isn’t about never making mistakes…. or how much money you make. It isn’t about where you live, how big your house is, the car you drive, or the bag you carry. None of those things come with you at the end….

And, while TJ and I had a deep conversation about this one of the evenings this past weekend… we both decided that after all is said and done, it all boils down to love, family/friends, and cherished memories…. If you have those things, it can carry you through tough times, make the sweet times that much sweeter, and make life that much more rich. I hope you all have a wonderful week friends! xx

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” MLK Jr. 

(Friday mornin’ slows with my little love…. Harper’s t-shirt, my joggers)

(Pretty much my morning uniform for the trip….. joggers(Honeydew has the most comfortable options), sweatshirt, sneakers)

(It was a spring day up in Los Olivos…. top, mules, sunglasses (more from Illesteva))

(Day 2 we headed to Ostrich Land USA… seriously was on my bucket list and is actually quite fascinating…. and then to a winery for the early afternoon. Opted for a favorite lace cami + cozy cardi when the temps cooled in the evening…)

(Our daily lunch…. rosé + sandwiches…..)

(The look your 2 year old gives you when they wake up a whole hour early from their nap….)

(Keeping a 2 year old occupied….)

I came down with a nasty cold on Wednesday, so I’ve taken the past few days off from working out…. looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with some longer runs and strength training. My goal is to cross that post-pregnancy (I know, it’s been 2 years) half marathon off my list this year….

With it being a holiday weekend, there are so many great sales! LOFT is having 50% off all full priced items and just featured a lot of new items. I’m currently loving this wrap bodysuit (perfect with high waist jeans + shorts….), textured boatneck sweater (in this white… of course… but comes in 4 color options), tasseled open hoodie, faux sherpa bomber jacket, striped blush + white boatneck sweater (so pretty for spring…), white blouson coat, and swiss dotted blouse (so so gorgeous for a date night of GNO).

I was also recently asked about some resort wear suggestions and have stumbled across so many cute options I thought I would share them here…. I’m obsessed with this little ruffle one piece (50% off), white ruffle key hole suit,  blue and white stripe jumpsuitgorgeous maxi floral wrap dress (Faithful The Brand has the best resort pieces), yellow floral dress, tie front white dress (seriously so adorable), and Sol Sana has some of my favorite slides like this peal embellished pair. I also think these ocean blue and white white leg pants are adorable, or this matching maxi.

Annnd, of you’re kinda into V-day things like I am, I love this “mom” tank + baby “Be Mine” tee… and this heartbreaker denim jacket is perfect too! I also just recently purchased this cap with the cutest little heart embroidery. Perfect for those dirty hair days! Oh, and how adorable is this little blush ruffle bralette?


Motherhood Update || 2 Years…. What??

The saying “The days are long, but the years are short….” is so true. Not that I have many years under my belt, but it’s hard for me to believe that two years have gone by since that evening I went into labor. I never thought I would, but I’m totally going to be that mom that says “I remember the night you were born like it was yesterday…” because, I do. I mean, how can I forget the night/day that made me a mother. Kinda impossible if you ask me (although, there are moments from that process I wouldn’t mind forgetting…). I shared Harper’s little birthday celebration here, but it was a small get together with immediate family. Yet it wasn’t short on love. Annnd, in writing today’s post, I couldn’t help but look back on my first motherhood post ever…. so, without rambling on any further, I bring you my 2 year motherhood update…. 

(Joggers, Sweater, Sandals, Harper’s outfit is sold out)

General Thoughts: Sometimes I don’t even know where to begin with my “general thoughts…” since I typically have so many. I read somewhere that “Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is… and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.” And while I don’t believe you should ever neglect yourself in motherhood (it’s not good for anyone) it’s a daily choice, to make conscious decisions, throughout the day, for the well being of your little ones… and sometimes I get it wrong, and sometimes I get it right… and I guess that’s the entire journey of parenthood…. especially as we enter into this stage of “two-dom” (yes, I know that’s not a word… but it feels like it just fits…). She tests limits daily (sometimes with a little smirk on her face….) has an ever growing curiosity, strives for independence in everything she does, and is finding her little voice in our family (mostly with the word “no….”). I am challenged daily, my patience is pushed to the limit… and then she goes and does something cute beyond words and it’s as if everything else washes away…. 

I also had my first major freak out moment as a mom. TJ was out of town this past week for work, and as I was  finishing dinner, Harper jumped on the couch (again, testing limits), landed on a cushion, which propelled her forward into the coffee table. I watched as it all unfolded within seconds… I immediately freaked out, knowing the outcome wasn’t going to be good based on the sound I head. I scooped her up and scanned her face. Sure enough, blood in the mouth and a knot in her forehead…. I immediately called TJ and my mom…. between tears (I hate blood… and the mouth, I learned, is a very bloody area). We eventually got the bleeding to subside, and after consulting with the pediatrician, determined that she was going to be just fine. The doctor ordered popsicles to numb the mouth, so my mom raced some over.  Needless to say, I am sure that was my induction into that “heart dropping” fear that parents witness as they see their child in danger… I also think we’ll be frequent fliers of the ER and doctor’s office… little miss is literally fearless (although, she hasn’t jumped on the couch again since…..). 

All that to say, the more and more I talk with (honest) moms, I realize that we are all doing our best to survive… to do what’s best for our little ones… all while balancing marriage, jobs, friendships, and a desire to cultivate our inner interests. We have to cut ourselves slack, look to one another for support, and at the end of the day know that tomorrow is always a fresh start….

(My cardigan, tee, jeans, mules, Harper’s sweatshirt, jeans)

Sleeping: We experienced a major sleep regression the week of Christmas. She was up several times throughout the evening, sometimes just chatting, and other times screaming for us (which is when we went in to get her). A few evenings we had to have her sleep on our chest, on the couch, just so she could get in some sleep. I, of course, had a catastrophic thought that we were reverting back to the early days…. but, as usual…. everything returned to normal after about a week and a half, and for that, I am grateful. 

She’s still sleeping in her crib. There was a brief moment when I thought she was ready to make the transition, when she started to climb out, but it seemed to just be a phase and hasn’t happened since…. Now that I write this it’ll likely happen again next week……

Eating: This girl loves to eat. We lucked out that she likes a wide variety of foods, so she is able to eat 90% of the foods we eat (some she just isn’t a huge fan of… like zucchini….). She refuses to sit in her high chair anymore… and really doesn’t want to sit in a booster. She prefers to sit in the “Big Girl” chair…. which is pretty much a regular chair at this point (as in, don’t even try anything other than that…). 

As far as snacks go, she loves Purely Elizabeth granola, Annie’s snacks (I may or may not sneak a few bites of those here and there….), apple slices, bananas, dried cranberries and banana chips, Love Grown O’s, grapes, and Naturally Clean Eats Bars

Limit Setting + Consequences: I haven’t had this section in here before, but figured that since this is “that stage” it might be good to share some of the techniques I am personally using. They might not be for everyone, but they seem to work pretty well for us. I use a lot of contingency statements such as “When, then” + “If, then” statements (“When you put your shoes on, then we can go to the park…”) which I find is typically a good way of helping her to feel like she is in charge of making the choice. If she doesn’t put her shoes on, she doesn’t get to go to the park. She knows what is expected, her choice. I also provide her with choices. We’ve been having issues with changing her diaper… so instead of battling her on it, I tell her that she has to have her diaper changed, but she can choose where we change it. Again, makes her feel as if she has more of a say in the process, which is pretty much what this age wants (based on my education….). Another example is when she refuses to wear shoes. I tell her she has to wear them, but can pick out whatever pair she wants. Doesn’t always match, but if it gets us out of the house without a tantrum, I don’t care. I give her countdowns too, since I’ve realized that immediately ending any activity is not a good idea. I start with 5 minutes (even though she doesn’t fully understand time, it’s a warning that I’m going for) and then remind her every minute after that. When it’s transition time, I might get a little protest, but when I remind her that we can do it again another time, it’s usually fairly easy (note the word usually….)

As far as consequences go, we will be starting time-outs over the next few weeks (just need to get a specific chair) and start with 1 minute for behaviors such as throwing…. I do a lot of redirecting for other behaviors that are easy to redirect. When I tell her “no” I also like to tell her what I prefer to see (i.e. We don’t throw food, we eat food and it stays on our plate). If she’s in the middle of a tantrum I try to distract her with something else…. or make a game out of something to change the mood around…. 

Annnd, when there is a tantrum in a public place I simply get out of there as fast as I can… whether that means I’m holding her like a football while she kicks and screams. We. Leave. Done.

Note…. all of this comes from my training as a therapist. I made none of this up on my own and don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t had it. 

Favorite Products: With Harper’s birthday and Christmas coming one after the other, we have a lot of new “things” that she is currently obsessed with. She love, loves these blocks, train and train tracks, trampoline (this is great for getting out all that excess energy), Minnie Mouse purse, this cute little stuffed animal, and doll. For bath time these crayons + letters have been a real hit (so much so it’s almost impossible to get her out….). A few clothing items she recently received include these glitter kicks, pink sparkle kicks, heart bomber jacket (baby size), peplum tee, and cute LOVE tee

What I’m Looking Froward To: As challenging as I’m anticipating this next year to be, there are so many things I am looking forward to…. she loves dancing, so I am going to enroll her in some dance classes. I’m also loving her language development and look forward to seeing that flourish. Pre-school is on the horizon (I can’t believe we’ll be looking at them next month) and with that comes some many new experiences… 

She has the biggest heart… when she sees that someone is sad, she comes up to them and gives a big hug and says “awww….” she also loves making expressions in the mirror… and has this never ending bounty of energy that I wish I cold bottle up. She is one determined, unstoppable force and I can’t wait to see where this takes her in this next year of life! 


Everyday Dressing || Layering A T-Shirt Dress

I used to buy dresses like it was no one’s business. I was in my 20’s, and there were so many different occasions for them…. weddings, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, wild birthday celebrations…. Yet, having moved out of that phase of our lives, the need for a dress is pretty much on an as needed basis. And with that, my criteria for picking out a dress has changed. Dramatically. Now, I opt for dresses that are more on the functional side…. comfortable, practical, long enough that bending over to pick up my little one won’t give someone an unwanted show…. and they have to easily dress up and down (and by “up” I’m not meaning any of the above mentioned occasions…. think happy hour… date night….). With that being said, I stumbled across this t-shirt material cutie a couple months ago and fell in love. Easily pairs with cute kicks, OTK boots for a more dressed up look, or sandals in the spring months. My mom even picked one up for herself and was sold the moment she put it on…. even asked herself if she needed another color (#LikeMotherLikeDaughter….).

We’re heading up to wine country this coming weekend, where the temps will be in the mid 70’s and I plan on bringing this dress, as well as this pink one and this cozier one to wear for the day with some cute booties (I will obviously need to decide which to wear….). Annnd, after the week that we’ve had (if you follow along on instastories you’ll know Harper had a bad fall… and then we needed a plumber….) a little vino in a cute dress sounds pretty nice.

(Outfit Details || Dress (own in two colors, under $25) | Cardigan (comes in 3 colors) | Similar Boots | Sunglasses | Short Necklace | Bag