Book Review x 6

My heart is happy when I am all consumed by a great book.

Traveling for ten months automatically disconnects you from time sucking activities like television and reconnects you with exploring, whether it be a city, literature, or history. We have attempted to maintain our detachment from TV (aided by our lack of cable) and our attachment to reading and exploring by allowing ourselves full nights dedicated to playtime at the park with the girls, long walks, and time spent cuddled up in a mound of blankets engrossed in our current books. Last night was one of those nights (I finished this and immediately started this). Here are some of my latest reads that had me reflecting on the past, future and my morals, while others were the perfect lighthearted escape from life. Have you read anything great lately? I am in dire need of some great book recommendations!!

20140423-145343.jpg The New American Road Trip Mixtape: Post breakup, Brendan hits the open road searching for healing and the meaning of life. Recommended to me by Justin, this book made me want to pack everything back up again and hit the road searching for the greater purpose of my life. A great book to get you thinking about your heart’s deeper desires and the purpose and destination of the road you are traveling on.

Orange is the New Black: Piper’s past catches up to her and lands her fifteen months in jail where she shares her attempts at navigating her new world behind bars. An easy, quick read that made me want to stay on this side of that barbed wire fence.

The Husband’s Secret: Imagine stumbling upon a letter written to you by your husband in the case of his death confessing his deepest, darkest secret that will change everything in everyone’s lives. That’s what happens to Cecelia while her husband is still alive…I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I’m a sucker for books featuring chapters from multiple character perspectives, each giving you a little more detail into the past, present, and future. You will not regret picking up this book as it is incredibly well written, keeps you engaged, and makes you reflect on how you would handle similar situations. Read it NOW.

Unbroken: A World War II Story: This story has sat on my Kindle since it gained popularity but for some unknown reason I never chose to start it, however, once I finally did, I was hooked. The unfathomable story of survival Louis Zamperini endured during World War II was heartwrenching, unbelievable, and powerful. Although I wish I wouldn’t have read this during my five flights to/from Nashville, I’m so glad I finally sat down to learn this story of such an incredible man.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette: Bernadette, a wife and mother, suddenly disappears and her daughter, Bee, is determined to find out just where she went. Lighthearted, witty, and page turning.

Cartwheel: Based off the Amanda Knox trial, I was hoping this book would throw some curveballs and perhaps even end with the reader knowing for sure what happened, but in the end it was just like the real-life trial: no answers, lots of acquittals. At best I grudged through it, just trying to finish, hoping for something, anything. Definitely not one I would recommend.

Recipe // Loaded BLT Sandwiches

LoadedBLTSandwichesClassic BLT’s get even better with the addition of avocado, pepper jack cheese, and spicy Ranch dressing in these Loaded BLT Sandwiches. A great and easy way to update a favorite.

BLT-4 BLT-1 BLT-2Loaded BLT Sandwich (via):

2 pieces of sourdough or bread of your choice
mayo
spicy ranch dressing
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 an avocado, sliced
3 or 4 leafs of iceberg lettuce
2 slices of pepper jack cheese
6 pieces of bacon
ground black pepper

Cover a baking sheet in aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place bacon on the baking sheet, sprinkle with black pepper, and place into a cold oven. Cook the bacon until the oven is preheated to 400 degrees, continue baking until desired crispiness. Blot the bacon with paper towels to remove grease before adding to the sandwich.

While bacon is cooking, slice the tomatoes, avocado, lettuce and pepper jack cheese. Coat one side of each slice of bread first with a thin layer of mayo followed by a thicker layer of spicy ranch. Assemble the sandwich in this order, bottom to top: bread, lettuce, avocado, hot bacon, pepper jack cheese, tomato, and the final slice of bread. Serve immediately.

Fancy Pants

FancyPants-7A special work event followed by a date night called for some fancy pants last Friday and these did just the trick. The material of these pants is extremely wrinkle resistant and comfortable, which was perfect for a day full of sitting at a desk followed by leisurely lounging at a dinner table.

As it was my first full weekend off from work in what seems like forever, Justin and I had a fully packed weekend of fly fishing, adventures at terrifying heights, attempting new recipes, and lots of cuddling with our pups. Oh what I would give to have two whole days off together every weekend. Hope everyone had a fabulous Easter counting their blessings and cherishing time spent with family and friends!

Loft Printed Paisley Pants (last seen here) | H&M Blazer (recent find in stores for only $7!!) |
Express Tank (old, similar) | Prism Necklace | Madewell Stacking Rings (on sale!) |
Heels (old, seen here) | Michael Kors Watch

FancyPants-3 FancyPants-6 FancyPants-1 FancyPants-5 FancyPants-4 FancyPants-8 FancyPants-2

Outfit // Bright Menswear

Menswear-4 Menswear-3 Menswear-7 Menswear-10Menswear-2 Menswear-8 Menswear-5 Menswear-11 Old Navy Denim | Rachel Roy Heels via Hautelook (love these, similar) | Everlane V Tee | Menswear Coat (similar here/here) | French Connection Clutch (seen here, similar here/here)

Days off from work are occupied by errands, cleaning, and blogging (although not as frequently as I’d like) so I rarely, if ever, venture out of my pajamas or put effort into my hair and makeup (claiming I’m doing it for the greater good of my skin and hair when in reality it is pure laziness). However, it seems that lately we generally end up naturally having plans the nights I don’t work which forces me to put on actual clothes not adorned by road race advertisements or having one too many stains. This outfit seemed like the perfect compromise between pajamas and “real” clothes for a double date night out last weekend at my new favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant. The distressed jeans and simple tee are comfortable and laid back while the added bright clutch and pumps dress it up and make the look feel fun and feminine in contrast to the menswear inspired overcoat. What is your favorite way to dress up your tee and denim?

Menswear-12

What I Want // Stripes

Just like florals in spring, stripes are hardly a trend (thank goodness) and lately my shopping radar has been drawn to anything and everything adorned in stripes – including this blazer, this blouse, and these shoes – which is completely justified by the fact that stripes will never get old or go out of style. Worn as a neutral and paired with other prints (think: florals, polka dots, and even camo), these striped pieces below will keep your closet fun and functional. Are you planning on adding any more stripes to your wardrobe for spring and summer? In what form? I think the hat pictured below which comes in navy/white too would be perfect for sipping wine in Sonoma on our San Francisco trip next month. Might have to pick that one up…

stripeseditedone | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve | thirteen | fourteen

Happy Hump Day and a very special Happy Birthday to my bestie!

Outfit // Trend Trials

Turtleneck-3 Turtleneck-5 Turtleneck-4 Turtleneck-7 Turtleneck-6

Zara Slip Dress (similar) | H&M Turtleneck (only $3.50 in stores) | DKNY Tights | Target Booties | H&M Crossbody (similar) | Ray Ban Sunnies

Blazers, handbags, denim, and pumps are all worthy investment pieces for their timeless appeal and versatility. Turtlenecks and lace slip dresses? Not so much. Although items qualifying of investment status vary from person to person the underlying factor remains the same: wearablily from season to season year after year. The unsureness and self-conscious level associated with a turtleneck and a slip dress kept me from wanting to pay much so I was thrilled when I stumbled across a $19 slip dress from Zara and a $3.50 turtleneck from H&M! Who could have predicted I would pair them together? I love how the turtleneck downplays the potential sexiness of the slip dress and the lace hem of the dress keeps the look from being too dowdy. Plus this black and blue combination pairs perfectly with the dark, stormy Seattle weather we had a few weeks back and the consequential mood I was feeling at the time. What do you think of this combination? Do you consider turtlenecks an investment piece? I’m looking forward to styling both these pieces for warmer weather, any suggestions? Hope you had a great weekend! :)

Recipe // Creamy Tomato Pasta

TomatoPasta-1We eat a lot of meat. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, we eat it. There is no discrimination in this household. With my dislike of fish, seafood, and the majority of vegetarian meat substitutes we have been at a loss for ideas for meatless meals that will still taste delicious and keep us full throughout the night. That left us with mainly pasta heavy options (aka carb loading, aka weight gain inducing) like this one. Unlike our usual boring meatless spaghetti nights, this one-pan dish felt straight from the streets of Italy with the addition of tomatoes, spinach, and creamy flavors.

TomatoPasta-2Creamy Tomato & Spinach Pasta (via):

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
pinch red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 lb penne pasta
1/2 of a 9 ounce bag fresh spinach

(for step by step photos check out Budget Bytes here)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander. While waiting for the pasta to cook, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-low heat until softened and transparent (about 5 minutes). Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and a ½ cup of water to the skillet and stir until the tomato paste is dissolved into the sauce.

Turn the heat down to low. Cut the cream cheese into a few pieces and then add them to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Use a whisk to stir the sauce until the cream cheese has fully melted in and the sauce is creamy. Add half of the Parmesan to the skillet and whisk until it is melted in. Add the remainder of the Parmesan and whisk until melted in again. Add the fresh spinach and gently stir it into the sauce until it has wilted (3-5 minutes). Add the pasta and stir until it is well coated in the creamy tomato sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

Outfit // Blushed

Loft-4 Loft-1 Loft-6 Loft-2 Loft-3 Loft-5Loft Top (not online but in stores) | Gap Black Denim | BaubleBar (similar) | Zara Shopper and Coat

A great purchase is one where you (a) want to wear it immediately (b) can think of at least three ways to wear it (c) fall instantly in love. After trying on this blouse on my lunch break, I knew I had to add this feminine and unique top to my wardrobe. I mean it would just be wrong to pass up flirty peplum pleats, subtle button details, and a blush toned trifecta. Right?

I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! J and I stuck to our guns and were super productive all weekend with days filled with potting plants, finishing scrapbooks, work, and running errands and nights spent leisurely dining with new friends and watching a couple of classic movies. Life is all about balance. What was your favorite part of your weekend? Have a happy Monday!

March Highlights + April Goals

dontsucceed

Where does the time seriously go? No. Seriously. It is April people. Reflecting on my monthly goals has not been as uplifting as I first envisioned, but I am determined that will all change this month. I absolutely refuse to put any of these goals on May’s goal list so consider all the eleven goals below done and this will be me come April 30th otherwise I’m just giving up and going shopping and you’ll find me drowned in a pile of new clothes (not the worst way to go). What is on your April to-dosies list? Who wants to help keep each other accountable?

successApril Goals:
1. Send in my teaching application for the State of Washington and study for the West-E
2. Clean out my closet and organize jewelry, sunglasses, and handbags
3. Attend hot yoga at least three times (redo from Feb AND March – getting ridiculous) (1/3)
4. Finish Australia and New Zealand and update 2014 scrapbook pages
5. Bake a second recipe from this book (first one here)
6. Get sweaty at least three times a week (San Fran trip in 50 days) (7/12)
7. Participate in #100DaysHappy Instagram project (0/30) follow along here
8. Invest in a cute pair of non-running tennis shoes (would love suggestions)
9. Send one just because care package (#38 from this list)
10. Blog post at least twelve times this month (8/12)
11. Record all birthdays and anniversaries for the month of April and May

20140331-234758.jpgMarch Highlights:
1. With my mama at the Grand Ole Opry for our family vacation in Nashville
2. You have a puppy in a bar? You better believe it! Love how dog friendly Seattle is
3. Traveling to new places is always amazing, but being home is always sweeter
4. The epitome of cool I long to be
5. Family race day in Nashville for St. Patrick’s Day (did I mention my bro won?)
6. I have a weak spot for pretty things on sale
7. This wolf lecture from National Geographic changed my outlook on wolves forever
8. A cinnamon roll the size of my head is my fave
9. Can’t stop thinking about this mint wallet on a chain from here

What I Want // Florals

Outfitting yourself in florals for spring is obviously not a revolutionary idea, however, this season they are gracing anything and everything from your feet to your head and everything in between. How will you wear your florals this year? In small (nails, belt, sunnies) or big doses?

florals2one | two | three | four | five | six
seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve

PS check out this blush worthy trend here