Style File /// Twice Fashion Show

twice

I’m back talking about Twice today! It has become my new Pinterest … the perfect thing to mindlessly scroll when your mama brain needs a break :)

From my first order, I kept both pairs of shoes – the top was too short on me though, so it was returned. Returns with Twice are soooo easy making buying secondhand online way less scary than normal.

And now and bona fide, albeit very relaxed, fashion show from my second Twice order! Below is everything I ordered … my total for it ALL was only $138! That’s less than what one pair of the pants would have cost retail!

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Daniel Rainn blouse and Paige Denim

Fashion Show Verdict /// I adored the colors of the blouse, but didn’t love how the shoulders fit. It was in my return pile until my mama decided to try it on and now she’s keeping it! The jeans are one, and amazing! I’ve been crushing on Paige for quite some time, BUT … too snug for daily movement :( They’re being returned and I think once they’re processed you should be able to view/buy them here if they tickle your fancy!

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LOFT blouse and Paige Denim

Fashion Show Verdict /// Loved the blouse — keeper! This style of Paige fit better, but not good enough. My sister snagged them though so technically both of these pieces turned into keepers!

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Banana Republic dress and ASOS tunic

Fashion Show Verdict /// Both were ok. Banana Republic dress was a potential for Easter, but you’ll see what I chose below instead :) ASOS tunic was a last minute add because I thought I could pull it off, but the orange and higher neckline just didn’t jive me with. You should be able to view them soon here and here

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J Crew dress and Rachel Roy tunic

Fashion Show Verdict /// Why yes! I will look like a beautiful bouquet for Easter in this little J Crew number! I LOVE it! The Rachel Roy piece was comfy cozy, but let’s face it, I’ve got enough lounge wear these days. It will be available here.

Ready to give Twice a try? I’m browsing again this evening and think it’s just fabulous that they post new things every day! I can even sort by size so only things that will fit me show up as I scroll :) It just gets better and better. Really. Oh, and they have menswear too!

Sign up with my referral link here and get $10 off your first purchase! Plus, get an extra 15% off when you like Twice’s Facebook page. Just hover over “More” in the header and you’ll see what to do :)

You can learn all about buying, selling and returning with Twice in this lil’ video. It’s helpful, so give it a go.

Yay! That’s it for my fashion show – let me know what you find!

Here’s a few favorites I just found this evening … this, this, this, this and 100% this!


How To Say No

Near the end of last year I felt such a burden on my heart.

That sounds cliche and so momentous, so feel free to roll your eyes. I’m rolling my eyes! But I don’t really know any other way to put it. It was this strong and forthright tug that said, “say no”.

Say no.

And say it more. More often than you say yes. 

I harshly responded to myself … as I often talk do in my daily banter in Gretchen vs G Boss, “But I don’t WANT to!” and “I don’t have to say no, it’s easy for me to just say yes and do it!” or “It would be good experience!” or, the real kicker for my perfectionist self, “What will they think if I say no?”. A thousand other little reasons ensued as to why saying no didn’t fit what my mind was telling me to do.

But I tried it.

I said no. I said no to some big, awesome things. I said no to some small, menial things. I looked at each situation, said a little prayer, weighed its’ merits and called in a vote – yes or no? HOW TO SAY NO

Sometimes it took guts. I hate disappointing people. And on occasion some explaining. But I started saying no. To events, to purchases, to activities, to things consuming my time that weren’t edifying to my purpose. 

And it felt really, really good. It felt good to look at my calendar and see emptiness. To chronicle my to do list and have time for long forgotten projects. To allot space in my day to do random things just because. I could do all that because I had said no to things formerly exhausting my efforts. 

Saying no doesn’t come naturally to me, not one bit. I want to say yes – every time. I want to join all the clubs, attend all the classes, and take Jemma and Max on every possible adventure. I like being busy. A day of nothing is boring and stressful to me. 

Last year, I learned how to say no. And I’m applying it liberally and often. When I feel conflicted  or sense that God-given hesitancy – no. If I can’t find a benefit for my family – no. If it doesn’t encourage my dreams or align with my personal calling – no. If it contradicts my previously established time, space or relationship boundaries  – no. 

And it can be as simple as that. Just say – no. I’ve found that rarely do people ask for an explanation. I feel compelled to give one, but its been only a few occasions where I’ve actually been asked to explain my no answer.

When I do need to muster an explanation I’ll say something like “It’s just not for me” or “I’ve spoke with Dominic and we’ve decided to pass”. I love the Dominic card because who’s gonna argue with a buff Italian? Another goodie is “My calendar won’t allow”. Or, if someone gets pushy with my no response, I’ll say, “Saying yes would be a detriment to my family” – argue that and I’ll sick the whole Italian mob on ya. Lastly, my personal favorite because in most cases this is truly my reason, “I can’t say yes and give it my all, so its wise of me to say no”.  Done and done. 

Have you found yourself wanting to say yes, but needing to say no? You’re not alone. I get it. Every single freakin’ day, I have to think hard about what I commit to. Little things, big things – they all eat up my time. This year, I’m aiming to put my learning to say no into frequent practice. I’m responsible to properly allot my yeses and nos so I can do the very best with each of my days. My kids deserve it, my husband deserves it, and guess what? I deserve it too. 

So, I’d encourage you this week to find something to say no to. Just say no and be done with it. It’s a practice that gets easier every time you give it a go. I promise.


Twelve Books For 2015

Every year I aim to read “x” amount of books. I love reading, always have, but with little ones roaming about and minimal solo time it’s not like you’ll find me plopped on the couch too often with a book in hand. Well, at least not for a few years until I can establish a bona fide SSR. That’s silent, sustained reading for those of you who may have forgotten from your elementary days.

With kids, I seem to have fallen on the golden number of twelve. Twelve books each year, one a month. It’s achievable and if I’m a real speed reader one month, even a goal I can surpass. And let’s face it, in the realm of motherhood when most things seem to be on the brink of caving in, it’s nice to have a goal that could potentially be overachieved. 

Here’s the line up for 2015 …

12 BOOKS FOR 2015

Truth & Beauty /// This Is The Story Of a Happy Marriage /// All The Lights We Cannot See /// Beautiful Ruins /// If You Could See Me Now /// Just One Day /// Big Little Lies /// The Opposite of Loneliness /// The Lace Reader /// Atlantia /// The Nesting Place /// Wonder

I’ve got the popular ones (I’m #99 for All The Light We Cannot See!) already reserved at the library and plan to balance out the reading list with some audio book versions. We’re in the car for about an hour everyday thanks to school pick up for our international high school students so I can drive and listen … and live someone else’s life while I drive that minivan like a boss.

What’s on your reading list this year? I’d love to pick your brain and add some runners up for the lucky chance I hit my twelve mark before December!


Lavender Cosmos and Chit Chat

GFXTRA.COM!

source

Tonight I met with two amazing women (you can check them out here). They’re those kind of mamas that made my heart swell and remind me that I’m not alone. I repeat, I’m not alone. And although I always know that. Sometimes I drift, and get lost, and feel very, very alone in this thing called parenting. Theses women get those feelings of distress, of wonder, of impatience. They are in the river of parenting and are willing to share what makes them thrive and what failures they’ve encountered. Sometimes catching that rock mid-stream and settling in for a breather is all any of us need. To take a deep breath while we gather our oars, adjust our life vest and begin paddling once more.

I left our sit on the floor and sip cocktails meet up with a smile lasting miles. To know you’re not alone means the world.

We talked about our marriages. And how it sucks for things to be different than those beginning lovey dovey days we all once knew. Which leads me to think I should really blog Dominic and I’s story! We also talked about our intentionality to return to us – to that couple who, is still in love deep down, but different than we were before; most likely better if we peel back the layers and give our relationship the energy it deserves. 

We talked about boys and girls and the joys and wild moments of raising both. We swapped birth stories – opposite, amazing and miraculous stories of how we played a role in bringing life into the world. 

And we sipped and laughed and drove home to kiss our sleeping children and slip into bed next to our spouses. For two hours we relished in us – who we are as women, wives, and mothers. We found commonality in our lives that are both very much the same and very different. It was beautiful, and it was refreshing. It was just what I needed – cocktails and chit chat tend to fill me up like that :)


This + That

IMG_4051I’m in total nesting mode. The pre-travel kind of nesting. I haven’t been on a plane since Jemma was one and now, with 2 kids and a longer trip, I’m busy as a bee with prep.

So far today, I’ve deep cleaned the kitchen counters – granite tile instead of granite slab calls for that on more occasions than not. And reorganized said counters … gotta trick up the hubs with where the toaster is every once in awhile! I’ve also assessed the contents of our travel toiletries, made a list of what I need and double-checked my kiddo plane activity stash. So far I’ve got an I Spy book, coloring, portable CD player, snacks and a few other small toys. Plus iPads, because, duh. What else would you recommend? My mama is making me some darling zippered pouches so surprises are easily hidden, while also acting as a storage space.

I’m really behind in folding laundry – so lame because I had this wild 2015 goal of folding laundry as soon as it came out of the dryer. On the flip side, I have managed to pack the kid’s vacation outfits in gallon size bags. Each one containers a complete outfit minus shoes – unders, top, bottom, socks, and hair accessories. This way, they (or Daddy), can easily get dressed while I run solo on our vacation mornings. I cannot wait to run 100 pound stroller free. Like, CANNOT WAIT.

Speaking of running – two 5Ks are on the calendar! One while we’re on vacation, more of a fun jaunt with my mama and sisters and then a real deal one in March where I’m going to try and have a good time. Last weekend I ran a little over 2 miles with a 12:18 average and am very proud of my non-athletic self. This was sans stroller. But still! Improvement!

As far as vacation prep for me fine self, I snagged this sturdy gem to make traveling with kids fun (bahaha!) and as covertly displayed by the photo above, I went bra shopping. Gotta love a fresh base layer before vacation; especially when it’s on sale! Also found the most darling cosmetic bag at TJ Maxx; that place is just about as bad as Target when it comes to sucking up all my personal money. Am I alone?

Ok, now a little this + that … they’re goodies, enjoy!

Downloaded this freebie for airplane entertainment 

Just what us crunchy mamas need :)

Sign up today, share with friends, get $20! (If you sign up tomorrow, that’s ok too … the bonus is just $10 then).

Swooning over these

These are just soooo yummy, plus also I’ve been aiming to learn more about photography and I feel really good about these photos! 

Ship everything straight to me!

You can’t miss this, just don’t – uber inspirational! And yes, I’m lucky enough to know her in real life!

What do you like best … A or B?

GRACE

Made it to IKEA for frames to make this

Golden Grahams are a crappy food favorite of mine

Read her book, want to be besties

Essential oil food for thought, especially in the comments

And these 


Tuna Veggie Cakes


When Dominic and I started dating he had one request of me … and I paraphrase, “Please learn how to make tuna melts like, um, the girl before you.”

Yes, in our early dating days he thought it would be a good pointer to guide my cooking to be more like his former girlfriend. At least in the tuna department. Brilliant, right? But, here’s the thing, I didn’t know how to make ANYTHING with tuna. I had it in my mind that I didn’t like it and so, had written off any recipe calling for tuna. Well, at that time in my life I really only ate chicken when it came to meat, so I’ve come a really long way.

That was the end of “making tuna melts like her”. I said, “no thanks”, he made tuna melts solo and we moved on … surprisingly, together :) I figured I’d find my own desirable recipe and we could leave tuna and its melts in the past.

Fast forward 8 years (yes, 8!) and I’ve given tuna another chance. But not just any tuna – Bumble Bee chunk albacore. The real deal. We kicked off this year, like most, with goals to eat healthier. I even attempted Whole30 … which flopped and if I wasn’t so embarrassed about that I might write about my experience. Regardless, I’m still pursuing a more vegetables, less donuts style of meal planning and from that, Tuna Veggie Cakes were born.

tuna veggie cakes with bumble bee

TUNA VEGGIE CAKES

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, minced
  • Salt + pepper
  • 2 cans Bumble Bee chunk white Albacore tuna
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • Olive oil for frying

Directions

First, prep your veggies. That’s the most annoying part of this recipe, I promise. I use this for mincing. It’s the best.

Once chopped, squeeze with your hands and them press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Place them in a mixing bowl and add the rest of your ingredients. Blend well.

Brush a large frying pan or skillet with olive oil and heat. With clean hands create circle patties with your tuna mixture. Place on the hot skillet and allow to cook on each side for 3 minutes. When you flip, press it flat with a spatula.

Serve immediately. 

DSC_0054 DSC_0057 DSC_0061 tuna veggie cakes cookingDSC_0075DSC_0086

We had these for dinner last night and I made a large batch so I can easily warm leftovers and run when I need a meal on the go. Tuna veggie cakes suffice for a savory breakfast, a boost of protein after a run or a late night snack when I’d normally want to reach for said donut. Drizzle them with sour cream, and I’m pretty much in heaven. Dom prefers ketchup. I think a garlic aoli might be nice too, but I haven’t mastered that yet.

Bottom line, this recipe made me fall in love with tuna. And now that I have a fabulous tuna recipe up my sleeve, Dominic can fall fully in love with me too :)

What’s your favorite Bumble Bee tuna recipe? I’d love to experiment with these little cans of deliciousness again soon!


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


The Power of Choice

Motherhood can be quite overwhelming … can I get an “amen”?

The sweet moments on Instagram and the memories we force our minds to recall are quite different than the loud banter and emotional battles we experience each and every day. So, how do we channel the peace? How do we, as parents, encourage our little ones to grow and learn and become calm, happy people?

If I had a thorough answer I’d be writing a book, not a blog post. So, no, I don’t have a cure for demanding two year olds or their negotiating counterpart, the unyielding four year old. What I do have is a simple tip; something I’ve found to work wonders with my toddler and preschooler.

It’s how to best give the power of choice. the power of choice

I’m the mom, I want control of situations and in some cases, I even need control to keep everyone safe. My son, who is two, also wants control. This is usually in the form of unlimited bananas, movies and anything with the volume of loud. Every day we’ve got a third player, my four year old daughter who teeters on an emotional balance beam in regard to control. Can you feel the chaos and tension? Three, wild spirits all vying for top dog. 

That’s where the power of choice comes in. As the mom I ultimately have control, but more than control – I have been given the responsibility to teach my children how to appropriately interact with others and respond to situations they may not like. It’s my job to lead by example and every day I’m given countless opportunities to put this into practice. So, when a potential argument arises I hand over the power. This is what it looks like …

Max: Bananas! Big bananas! More! More! All mine!

Me: I hear that you would like a banana – of course you can have one for breakfast. You also need some protein so would you like a banana and scrambled eggs or a banana and peanut butter toast?

Rather than fighting, I propose two options that are both acceptable to me. Max, in turn, feels like he has all the power because he gets to choose what he has for breakfast. Everyone wins!

It’s a little more conversational with my four year old …

Jemma: You can’t return my ballerina library book! I love it so much! I’m keeping it! FOREVER!

Mom: That ballerina book is the best story, isn’t it? I know you love it and the great thing about the library is that we can check it out again on another day. Today, do you want to look for a new book about princesses or dinosaurs? Once you choose a new one, we can make a plan to read it together on the couch or snuggled in your bed. You pick! Princesses or dinosaurs? Reading on the couch or in bed?

Again, I do my best to affirm their request and the accompanying feelings. Then, I present two options (or sometimes three or four if the situation warrants that) and allow them to choose. They get to be the leader, making the choice and directing what happens next. 

The power of choice is a beautiful thing and one I’m honored to give to my children as often as I can. It’s my hope that by practicing day in and day out we’ll curb emotional explosions and learn to communicate our wants and desires in a coherent way. And that will leave us all calmer and happier! Yay!

Now, a little postscript … scenarios don’t go like this 100% of the time. Maybe 60%, 70% if we’re rolling in a really good week. This is the goal though. I figure if we hit this more often than not, we’re on the right path :)

Have you found success in sharing the power with your little ones?


You’re Gonna Like Twice!

Dominic has been gone all week. On vacation with work. Well, at least that’s what I like to call it – meals cooked by someone else, fancy drinks, someone else cleaning, etcetera etcetera etcetera. That’s a vacation, right? The selfies he has sent (because he is a good husband like that) would also entail vacation mode. I’d share, because I think he is dashing, but he’s not one to post his selfies all over the interwebs. I suppose I do that enough for our marital duo. 

Anyways, the point of Dominic’s “vacation” (it’s really a work trip full of meetings and networking and lots of other important things) is that I have been left at home – not taking selfies because no one wants to see what a week at home with 2 sickly children looks like. Not pretty. I’ve also managed to quite Whole30 (failure!), run 3 times (even in the rain!), and drink a 1/2 bottle of wine (also known as survival juice). Oh, and shop. Not excessively or anything. Just the casual online sale perusal that all non-vacationing moms need to debrief after a day of snot, tears and fighting over who gets to pick the next movie and suffocate their mom with snuggling germs.

So, this week I fell in love with Twice. You could even say I fell in love with them twice – once when I discovered them and once when my shipment arrived :)

twice collage

Pretty much, you sign up and when you do you get $10 to spend on your first order (I get $10 too so a super thank you if you use my link) … I think you get 40% off one item as well. At least my mom did when she signed up. Let me know what happens once you get set up – I’m curious if that was promotion or if that’s all the time.

Then, you shop! You can search by clothing category or size or brand. You can even create a style profile so Twice sorts things for you. When all was said and done, my first Twice shipment cost me $55 (free shipping over $50 … and you all know how I love free shipping!) and I got a pair of J Crew penny loafer style pumps (adore!), a darling American Eagle floral blouse and Frye (yes! Frye!) wedges.

As you browse you can add things to a wish list for easy review and best of all, once your items arrive you have 30 days to return anything that doesn’t fit. That’s so rare with second hand clothing! It definitely put me at ease though, that I could shop and try on at home before making my final decision. Especially with shoes.

Did I mention you can sell your clothes to Twice too? Yep, so many perks and options! Pretty much, when you need a mom break next – get set up with Twice and take a breather. Nothing like a little virtual shopping while wearing sweats, right?

Sign up here!

P.S. Hubs! If you’re reading this, just think, you went on “vacation” for 6 days, have returned to a decently clean house and 2 almost healthy children and it only cost you $55 and a mercy trip to Starbucks! That is such a deal. SUCH. A. DEAL. 


This post was not sponsored by Twice, I just really really like them and wanted to share! I do earn a credit if you sign up through my link, so please, feel free to do that :)

 


The Beauty of Books

baby litbaby lit 3baby lit 5baby lit 6baby lit 7

This year we’ve resolved to read more and screen less. Jem is thrilled, Max … not so much. Don’t get me wrong, Max loves books too, just not his top pick when put up against a movie. Jemma and I though – books4life!

I love that she loves books. And not just any books, she’s truly a connoisseur of beautiful ones. She’s drawn to quaint stories and fancy illustrations, like a moth to the light. Jemma talks about learning to read all the time and is actually making great strides thanks to this. She seems to have grasped very well that learning to read takes practice and thus, I often find her sitting alone, turning pages and sounding things out; using the pictures as a guide to stories from another world.

Books are truly a beautiful thing. They open up doors and worlds and imaginations. I’ve seen it first hand. Jemma’s eyes light up when she meets a new character and she laughs at funny scenes. She also asks questions – question after question after question. I love that about 4 year olds … never a dull moment, never a minute without a question. 

Baby Lit books embody so much of what we love about books – gorgeous artwork, classic stories and an opportunity for learning. Each one has a focus on a new learning element so us mamas and dads can introduce our little ones to classic stories and classic concepts. Jungle Book introduces animals; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, colors; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn covers camping; Moby Dick delves into the ocean; and Sense & Sensibility, opposites. 

There are 18 books in the Baby Lit family and a few extra treasures! Shop all the Baby Lit’s titles here!

Oh, and before you fill your cart, comment with a classic title you’d like to see Baby Lit put their spin on … I’m crossing my fingers for a Anne of Green Gables soon!


I recently became an affiliate with Baby Lit and was provided a few books to review. As an affiliate I earn a small percentage of any purchase made through my link. The cost to you stays the same.

 


Lemon Meringue with doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon has been an acquired taste for me as I’ve become an adult. I’ve always been one to get that crazy pucker face at a hint of lemon, but now, I embrace the pucker! Dominic has always loved lemon. For years he’d ask me to attempt lemon bars and such, and I did … from boxes and Pinterest recipes, but nothing was dubbed “a keeper”. 

Then, thanks to my cooking with essential oils bug, I decided to try my hand at a meringue. And this recipe fell into the keeper category – hooray! Dominic had never had a meringue so no point of reference, other than “serve me up another slice, honey!” But when my mama tried it she said this recipe is more custard-y than a normal meringue … a wonderful, divine twist.  

lemon meringueLEMON MERINGUE

Inspired by this recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 graham cracker pie shell
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 5 drops doTERRA Lemon essential oil
  • 3 egg, separated into 3 yolks and 3 whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

Directions

In a kitchen mixer blend sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, essential oil and egg yolks. Pour batter into pie shell. 

Rinse our your mixing bowl, dry well and beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. I used my whisk attachment and this process took about 10 minutes of medium-high beating. Once white peaks form, begin adding sugar, slowly. Very slowly. You want your end product to look like this …

meringue

If you want more detailed instructions for meringue – this is the tutorial I read up on :) Once you’ve achieved perfect peaks, spoon your meringue topping over the lemon filling and bake at 325 for 15 minutes. lemon meringue 2 lemon meringue close up


Cooking with essential oils ought to be reserved for oils approved for ingestion, doTERRA lemon is which is why I chose that oil for this recipe. 

Learn more about my essential oil journey here!