My Favorites: Ashley and The Polkadot Alley Boutique

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Having lived most of my life in Dallas suburbs, I never thought I would be saying, “Yay, I can’t wait to go shopping in Lubbock!”.  I met my wonderful husband while attending Texas Tech in Lubbock, so we travel there often to visit family and attend football games, but I never dreamt I would be itching for a trip to Lubbock so I could go on a shopping spree at The Polkadot Alley Boutique.

My college friend and sorority sister, Ashley, is the founder and let’s-be-frank “mastermind” of a little gem in the West Texas desert called The Polkadot Alley and has been on this journey since 2008.  I’m proud to know and support this woman-owned business because I’ve seen Ashley follow her dream and work tirelessly to support a business that takes time and dedication.  She is also a loving wife and mother with three precious children, so you can say she’s an inspiration and role model to all.  Ashley has been so successful with her online store and storefront boutique that The Polkadot Alley has been featured not only on the local Lubbock news and TTU Alumni magazine, but also in worldwide news publications like The New York Times.  The internet boutique business is booming, and Ashley was there at its inception, helping to bring fashion to young (and not-so-young) ladies all over the states!

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Even though the models featured in The Polkadot Alley are geared towards the college crowd, do not let this deter you from exploring all of the wonderful pieces they have to offer!  And if you are in the Lubbock area, go visit her boutique where you can browse the fabulous store, and maybe she will let you peek at the warehouse in the back where she has tons of racks of shopping heaven!  I’ve been known to get lost back there for hours.  Hehe…

I want to share with you some of my favorite summer and fall looks from my recent shopping sprees at The Polkadot Alley and introduce you to Ashley’s wonderful store:

Blog Summer Outfit
I LOVE Summer!!!

The Pink Romper.  I know what you’re thinking, rompers can be super scary.  I picked this romper out for fellow 3NonBlonde Amanda to try on and she threw it back over the fitting room to me.  I thought, “Why not?” and proceeded to squeeze into this amazingly flattering shorts romper.  I immediately loved this romper because it has a flirty hemline that gives it a little more length so that my booty doesn’t hang out the back.  Ashley’s store has tons of romper selections, but this has been my favorite so far.

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This romper pattern reminds me of fireworks!

The Crop Top.  This is the first legit crop top I have bought and worn in my life!  Ashley carries it in like 5 other colors and I’m regretting not getting one in each.  I have received tons of compliments on this crop top and have worn it with a black pencil skirt and also with shorts.  It’s an easy piece to dress up or dress down and the neckline has a beautiful embroidered pattern on it.  The Polkadot Alley has a store full of crop tops and now that I’ve mastered my confidence in them, I know I’ll be looking for more.

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Crop tops for work? Yes!
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And also appropriate for Cancun!

Two Dresses for Any Season.  One of the many reasons I love The Polkadot Alley is they have many color and length choices.  Sure, I love short minis and dresses, but now that I’m 36(!), I am acutely aware of office and leisure appropriate clothing.  This is exactly what I was thinking when I spotted this delicious coral dress that hits the knee.  Ashley has it in like five different colors and also in a floor length style.  I’m too short for floor length, so I fell in love with this length because I could easily throw a cardigan or blazer on it and dress it up for work.  It’s a great color for any season.  The other dress I feel in love with was this 60’s inspired white dress with flower detail.  I traveled for work recently and wore it on a plane ride and it was pretty comfortable.  It’s a perfect A-line and doesn’t cinch but also doesn’t make you look frumpy.  It’s perfect!

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This color is yummy.
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Why yes! I am auditioning for Madmen!
Blog Fall Outfit
Fierce for fall

The T-shirt Dress(es).  Finding two t-shirt dresses that fit in length and width was a miracle in itself.  I am really thanking the fashion Gods the flared dress look is in this season.  It helps me find pieces that fit without worrying about things being way too small.  Anyway, the plum dress I found has pockets, which I love!  The black t-shirt dress is just so soft I want to live in it.  I bought it this weekend and have already worn in three times.  The week is not over, I may wear it again!  The versatility of the t-shirt dress is the reason I convinced myself to get both of them.  I can already picture throwing on a pair of boots, scarf, and moto jacket to make them fall worthy.

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Comfort, pockets and style…
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I want to live in this dress. It’s super soft.
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Perfect gameday dress!

I hope you enjoyed learning about The Polkadot Alley and find yourselves furiously searching the website for a new outfit!  Let us know if you have previously shopped at any online boutiques or if you have shopped at The Polkadot Alley.  I would love to hear your comments!

Social Media for The Polkadot Alley:

Facebook

Instagram

Blog

Online Store

Happy shopping!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

5 Tips for Smart Packing

We’ve been back from our trip to Italy for three weeks now and I’m still not ready to let it go. So I’ll continue dragging out this blog series by sharing some tips I have on packing for long trips.

Not pictured: The evil black duffel bag
Not pictured: The evil black duffel bag

During our first trip to Italy, we used Blake’s large backpack and then brought a separate duffel bag to hold all of our stuff (and all the things we purchased along the way). By the end of that trip, I wanted to set that duffel bag on fire. It was difficult to carry, especially when crammed full, and it made it hard to maneuver through crowds. As soon as we returned from that trip, we headed straight to REI to buy a smaller backpack for me. If you are planning a multi-city trip, or will be using lots of public transportation and walking to get around, you have to get one of these backpacks. It is no fun to drag one of those more than a few blocks, plus no one wants to hear your wheeled suitcase bumping along cobblestone roads.

His and hers backpacks
His and hers backpacks

Now that we have our bags, deciding what to put in them for a 10 day trip can be the hard part. Here are my five tips for packing for a longer trip.

#1 – check the weather. Hopefully you won’t be going to several different climates during your trip, which makes it easier to narrow down the types of clothing you need. For this trip, we saw some lows in the upper 50s and highs in the upper 70s, just depending on where we were in the country.

#2 – learn about how the local dress. In many places outside the US, locals don’t wear shorts except to the beach or in very hot climates. Meals at restaurants might also be less casual than you are used to, so it can be helpful to do some research ahead of time. You should also consider the places you will be visiting. Many churches request women to cover shoulders and legs before going inside. While it is easy to pack a large scarf for these occasions, impromptu covering of legs can be a challenge.  Plan to wear long skirts or pants on days you will visit conservative locations.

Layering is key - add a scarf and jacket for chilly evenings.
Layering is key – add a scarf and jacket for chilly evenings.

#3 – book an apartment or hotel that has access to a washer/dryer. We typically always use AirBnB and try to strategically book somewhere with a washer halfway through the trip. This makes it easy to do a load or two of laundry and allow for air drying before our next destination. This means less to pack and more room in your bags for new purchases. 😉

#4 – stick with items that you can layer and mix to create several outfits. I try to pack 3-4 pairs of pants and several shirts that go with at least 2 of the pairs of pants. That way if you end up with gelato on something, you haven’t lost an entire outfit until you can do laundry. I also try to stick with one neutral pair of shoes that go with everything since shoes are often the heaviest item in the bag. I’ll pack a day pair of shoes for all the walking around, then a pair of sandals or maybe Tieks for the shorter walks to dinner in the evening.

I packed 3 pairs of pants for this trip - white jeans, blue jeans, and black casual slacks.
I packed 3 pairs of pants for this trip – white jeans, blue jeans, and black casual slacks.

#5 – invest in travel size toiletries for everything you would normally use. They make smaller versions of many products, or you can buy a few sets of travel size bottles and fill with your products. You can also find travel size makeup brush kits, hair straighteners and curling irons. I would avoid the smaller hair dryers. Most hotels and AirBnB hosts have these already and it is very easy to blow up a power converter trying to use your US hairdryer in another country. Plus lugging around a hair dryer in a backpack seems like a horrible plan.

I did pretty well and only packed one shirt that I never wore during the trip. Normally I have at least a few pieces, so maybe I’m finally getting the hang of things. I should probably book another trip so I can practice packing again!

Dresses can be a good option for the daytime, just add some casual shoes for walking.
Dresses can be a good option for the daytime, just add some casual shoes for walking.

These are just a few ideas to help you get organized for a long trip. My sister likes to pack older clothes that she can leave behind or throw away during the trip. This is genius – it makes more room for purchases and means less laundry when you get home! What are your tips for packing?

Kendra Sig

Elisa & Babyzilla Makeup Tutorial!


We’re on YouTube people!!  You know how I recently fell in love with makeup and all things wonderful for face beauty?  Well, now Babyzilla has joined in the fun so we decided to do a beginner’s makeup tutorial and share with you on YouTube how we get ready everyday.  Disclaimer…I don’t let Babyzilla wear makeup everyday, she’s only allowed to “play” makeup with me and sticks to chap sticks and glosses on a regular basis.  After all, she’s only three and I want to keep her that way!

This was such a fun video to make and only afterwards when I was editing did I realize how expressive Babyzilla’s face is.  Sassy pants all the way!  I hope you like our “look” and at your request, we would be happy to do more makeup tutorials or any kind of Mommy and Me videos you may want to see of me and Babyzilla.

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Our completed look…I still think that lipstick looks better on Babyzilla!
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Get out of my spotlight Mama!

Below is the list of our beauty products:

What’s your daily makeup routine?  Do you have any tips and tricks for us?  Do you play “makeup” with your daughter?  Share in the comments section and enjoy the video!

Cheers,

Elisa Sig

Moving is Fun….Said No One Ever!

I am in the process of my second move in about 6 months and the amount of boxes have got me all….

crazy lady shooting gun

We moved into a temporary home while our new home was being built and since we didn’t unpack most of the boxes from the first move I thought the second move would be easier, ha, bullsh!t. It still sucks. I wish I had it in me to be humorous about this move but there is nothing fun or funny about moving. And since the boxes are piling up and the exhaustion is making me feel a little bit like…

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…so this will be a quick post but hopefully a helpful one. If you are in the process of a move or getting ready for one, here are my somewhat helpful tips, hopefully. If you aren’t in the middle of a move, then I don’t like you.

  • Find boxes on a local FB page or Craigslist. Some people will offer them for free, others will charge you but usually it is a very reasonable price. Only buy specialty boxes if you must for large or odd shaped items.
  • Wrap and protect things that you can with towels and sheets. Grab a couple of mattress bag from Amazon.
  • I highly recommend these foam padding sheets, they can be torn super easy and provide good cushion to protect those 4 sets of grandmas china.
  • I picked up these labels, but I think buying regular Avery labels in different colors and printing them yourself to fit your needs might be easier.
  • This wrap stuff helps keep things together so they don’t get separated from each other during transit.
  • Keep a supplies box handy with a box cutter, tape, labels, ziplock bags for small items, an allen wrench set, phillips and flat head screw driver, and a small notepad and pen for making notes of things you need from Home Depot/Target/Grocery Store/The Container Store.
  • A tool belt will help keep all these items handy and on you when you are packing so you aren’t constantly going in circles looking for things.

me and belt

  • Do your homework on moving companies, make sure you find a good one that has good reviews, a good BBB score, and is insured. We like to make sure there are donuts when the movers arrive and cold water or Gatorade, keep em happy and then they will take care of you.
  • Lastly, keep the alcohol out. You will need it, moving is a bitch.

What tips do you have to make moving as painless as possible? Maybe I should have written this before I moved to make life a little easier.

Amanda Sig

 

Trains, Planes and Boats, Oh My! Solving the Travel Puzzle

It started in 2013 on our first trip to Italy.  From the minute we made it out of Rome and into Tuscany, I was completely hooked on all things Italy. The gorgeous rolling hills, scenic tiny towns, delicious food and wine, and friendly people were so amazing on our first trip that I immediately wanted to return. But big trips like that take saving and planning, so it wasn’t until this year that we were able to start booking flights. One of my favorite things about travel is the process of putting together a trip itinerary and figuring out the puzzle pieces of transportation, which cities to visit, and where to stay. Here is the basic outline of how I like to plan an international trip:

  1. Pick the places you want to visit
  2. Using that list of places, figure out the best airport to use for arrival and departure
  3. Using the start and ending airport, fill in the number of days you would like to spend in each location
  4. Grab a Rick Steve’s guide or visit TripAdvisor.com and learn about the best ways to get to and from each city. Once you know the right form of transportation, you can look up schedules and determine the best days for travel between locations.
  5. Start booking on AirBnB!

It’s like a nerdy travel puzzle, and I love it!

The first decision we made was to stick to the southern portion of the country. Since our first trip took us to Rome, Tuscany and Milan, we wanted to head south and see what else we could discover. We did want to avoid Naples if possible, so that eliminated that as a possible airport choice. After going back and forth, we finally decided on the Amalfi Coast and Sicily, eliminating Lecce from our short list due to the amount of travel time it would take to get to Lecce and then back across the country to Sicily. I’m still a bit sad about that, but I guess it just means we will have to go again another time. 🙂

With a list of cities selected, I decided to book flights in and out of Rome. Since our flight landed pretty early in the morning, we decided to book a train from Rome to Salerno the same day, getting us closer to the Amalfi Coast without spending a night in Rome. As it turned out, we had enough time between our flight’s arrival and when our train departed that we were able to wander over to the Trevi Fountain. It has recently been cleaned and was absolutely stunning in the sunlight.

trevi

After arriving in Salerno, I wanted to catch to ferry directly to Amalfi, but my husband is smart and figured that after more than 24 hours of travel, we should probably stay the night in Salerno. As it turns out, we had one of our best meals that night, so I’m glad he talked some sense into me while we were scheduling apartments on AirBnB.

The next morning we headed to Amalfi on a ferry, which is a pretty typical way of transit around the Amalfi Coast. We made Amalfi our homebase and made day trips to Positano, Ravello, and Capri. Of all the places we visited, Amalfi and Ravello were our favorites by far. Our apartment in Amalfi was right next to the Duomo.

That is our laundry hanging outside our window. And duomo just above!
That is our laundry hanging outside our window. And duomo just above!

Our next stop on this tour of Italy was Catania, which is a major city on the island of Sicily. We debated about renting a car and driving, but a coworker from Italy advised against this, due to construction along that road. We booked a train instead, avoiding the hassle of the airport. The best part about this train is that it actually rolls onto a ferry to make the crossing to Sicily. I find this freaking AWESOME. Unfortunately, when I booked the train, I failed to check the ferry schedule as well. There was not a ferry early enough to get us to Salerno to catch our train. So we ended up on a very crowded one hour bus ride from Amalfi to Salerno. One lady even used my shoulder as an armrest for part of the trip. So take a lesson from me – check the ferry schedule. 🙂

This is our train. On a boat. On the ocean!
This is our train. On a boat. On the ocean!

After arriving in Catania, we had a lazy day where we slept in, had a late lunch, and wandered the city before heading back to our apartment for a nap. If you are on a longer trip, I highly recommend you take a day to really do nothing. No museums, no churches. Just eating, laying around, and maybe some people watching with your wine. I’m glad we took a day to relax, because our next three days were jam packed with sightseeing.

We started by picking up our rental car and heading to Valley of the Temples.  It is just over 2 hours from Sicily to Agrigento, but when you aren’t familiar with the signage, and possibly can’t figure out the map your husband downloaded, you make quite a few u-turns and it adds to the trip time. Oops! Fortunately we didn’t have a tight schedule.

 

 

Driving in Italy - a whole new world
Driving in Italy – a whole new world
Valley of the Temples
Valley of the Temples

After Valley of the Temples, we drove about fifteen minutes to the southern coast of Sicily to find the Scala dei Turchi, also known as the Turkish Steps. This amazing seaside rock formation literally looks like white steps on the side of the sea. Even with the haze, the views were beautiful and well worth the side trip.

turchi

The next morning we enjoyed an interesting experience with a parking garage attendant while trying to find a place for our rental car for the day. Fortunately the tiny bit of Italian we knew, plus a very nice stranger helped us limp through that transaction. Pro tip – parking in big cities in any country is a pain. Ask your host or hotel for advice on parking locations and costs.

After storing the car for the day, we met up with a local guide for a food and wine tour in the Mount Etna region. It was wonderful to escape the city and the heat, try some wonderful food and wine from the region, and learn about Italy from a local. Check TripAdvisor and Rick Steve’s guides for reviews and recommendations of local tour guides.

We found the wine!
We found the wine!

On our last full day in Sicily, we headed out in the rental car again for a trip to Ortigia. Fortunately, it was a much easier drive this time and we made it there easily. We spent the day wandering the city, revisiting places the husband remembered from a month he spent there for school, and having a lazy lunch of delicious seafood. In the late afternoon we went a bit further south and spent an hour on the beach, just relaxing and enjoying the sea. Having a car gave us great flexibility, but I think I still prefer using public transportation and walking.

ortigia

After our time in Sicily, we caught a flight back to Rome for one last night before our return trip. We wandered the city, visited the Spanish Steps, and had one last gelato. The last puzzle piece of the trip was complete when we boarded our flight back to the States.

Last gelato
Last gelato

Now, which travel puzzle should we solve next?

Kendra Sig

My Favorite Things: The Microsoft Band II

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Babyzilla and I love practicing bad yoga poses

Now that I have graduated to calling myself a “runner”, I have been dropping subtle hints to my husband Michael that an ideal Birthday present in July would include a fitbit to help me track my runs.  Michael is strategic when it comes to presents, so I was utterly rocked off my seat when he and the kids gifted me with a small box the Friday before Mother’s Day with a little special something that turned out to be the Microsoft Health Band II!!!

MS Band 02

I have to be honest and I had no idea what the MS Band was, but I knew it was something techie and cool that would help me track my workouts.  After having the MS Band for a week, here is my list of reasons why I fell in love with the rubber bracelet that is currently my new obsession.  If you don’t know anything about the MS Band, it’s basically the love child of an apple watch and a fitbit.

#4 Digital presence:  Internet dashboard and MSBand instagram.  I love data and anything that provides me with graphs and statistics.  The dashboard for the MS Band is a numbers geek’s dream.  You can look at information in so many different ways you could literally spend hours looking at your data.  On the other hand, the msband instagram presence feels like it’s in its infancy stage which makes me feel like I’m an early adopter to something badass.  Most of the msband instagram posts include a latin Jon Snow look-a-like that is apparently a body coach that smiles during all of his workouts.  I’ve been a part of the nike+ instagram community for a while, so I am very excited to see where the msband community takes me.

MS Band 06b

#3 MS Band App:  I looooooooove the MS Band app.  It syncs up to your iphone and uploads all of your information so you can view all of the information on your dashboard instantaneously.  You can check your stats immediately and see whether you broke a PR or not.  If you are a runner, you can view the splits, heart rate and elevation data from your run.  With the GPS tracker, you can view your route and create new ones.  You can also search for workouts available through the app that you can download to your MSBand and follow.  It’s freaking amazing!

MS Band 05
so much data to look at!

 

#2 Tracks Everything:  The MSBand tracks sleep, running, walking, golf, biking and all of you activity throughout the day.  There’s so much information that it provides you with that you never even knew you needed.  I’ve always wondered just how restful my sleep is and now I can look at my deep versus light sleep and see how restful my zzz’s really are.  I don’t golf or bike so I don’t really know or care how these functions work.  I do care about setting my step goal that I can track and cross check with my iphone stats to see my progress.  It also does things my iphone doesn’t track like my awesome beginner’s yoga poses with Babyzilla.  I mean, who wants to carry a freaking iphone to track everything when they can be hands-free and wear the awesome MSBand bracelet???

MS Band 04

#1 I’m Emotionally Attached.  I misplaced the charger and almost had a breakdown.  Michael watched me and laughed as I stated how my band “dying” would result in lost data of my steps/run/heart rate.  Also, it’s much more resilient than the Apple products like iphone and ipod.  I used to have an ipod a decade ago and basically broke it when I put it in my sports bra and it couldn’t take all that sweat.  The MSBand is not waterproof but it’s water resistant and definitely holds up to water better than the ipod and iphone.  The last thing I do each evening is set it to “sleep” mode and it tells me “Goodnight”.  By the way, on an average night, it takes me five minutes to fall asleep.

MS Band 03
The MS Band is now an every day accessory

If you want to see other reviews, take a look at this in depth view from another user.  Let me know if you have a fitbit or MSBand and if you love using it to track your daily activity.

Anniversary Date Surprise!

The husband and I are celebrating our nine year anniversary this year with another epic trip to Italy. However, because of timing and my need to hoard vacation days for another vacation later this year, our flight schedule has us landing in Rome on our actual anniversary with massive jet lag and still a full day of travel before we get to our first destination. Since sleeping on planes and trains and dragging our luggage through cities doesn’t scream anniversary, I decided to plan a small surprise before we left town.

I struggled with ideas for the surprise. A fancy dinner didn’t seem appropriate, since we are about to eat our way through all of the delicious Italian food and wine. A movie date didn’t seem right either. Instead, I booked us a time slot at iFLY Dallas. If you haven’t been before, it is basically indoor skydiving. They opened in Frisco about two years ago and we hadn’t tried it out yet. It seemed like a fun way to celebrate nine years of marriage – by doing something completely different!

I booked our appointment online and decided to add on some additional minutes to the package so that we got a bit more flight time in. We had to trek all the way to the suburbs for this, so I wanted to make the trip worth it! On the way there, I played a custom playlist to give him hints to where we were headed.

Blake guessed on the first song. Perhaps I should be a bit more obscure with the lyrics next time.
Blake guessed on the first song. Perhaps I should be a bit more obscure with the lyrics next time.

After we checked in, we had about 15 minutes to watch one of the groups before our safety class. Although I had seen some video online, watching in person was way better. By the time our safety class started, we were both pretty excited.

ifly

Before getting geared up.
Before getting geared up.

After a safety video and some important information from our instructor, we geared up with suits, goggles, earplugs, and helmets. A few pro tips:

  • Don’t wear any jewelry. There are lockers to secure your valuables, so put them there or leave them at home. This includes wedding rings.
  • Wear shoes that lace up tight. Slip on shoes can fly off and no one wants to be in a wind tunnel with your shoe.
  • Go casual – jeans or shorts and a t-shirt is just fine.
  • Your hair will be a disaster after you are done. Just own it. Bring a wide-tooth comb or just plan to rock a crazy style until you get home.

Once we were geared up it was time to start our group’s turn. I have to say it was a pretty awesome experience. You can’t hear anything in there, so it is all hand signals and maybe some lip reading as your instructor sees you are ready to try a few tricks. Blake and I learned how to move forward and back in the tunnel, as well as up and down vertically. We also learned to spin a bit, although mine needs a bit of work. I made good friends with one side of the tunnel wall.  Oops!  For the last 30 seconds of the second round the instructor grabs your suit and takes you for a fun spin up and down vertically. I loved every second of it.

After you are done, the instructor will give you a certificate and go over with you how you did and give you some pointers for the next time. Blake and I happily signed up for another package, then went out for margaritas to celebrate.

 

After! Big smiles.
After! Big smiles.

It was definitely a good choice for our anniversary and I’m glad we did something other than the usual nice dinner and drinks. What are your anniversary traditions? Share with us in the comments – I’m going to need some new ideas for the 10th anniversary next year!

Kendra Sig

Epic Mom Guilt and Embracing A Little Selfishness

#threenager

There’s no such thing as a perfect child and therefore the fairytale that is a perfect Mom does not exist either.  Motherhood is different for everyone and survival is the goal for everyday – not Pinterest perfect, gluten-free muffins for breakfast and not homemade outfits from recycled curtains – let’s just say that Babyzilla is known to have a bag of Cheetos puffs for breakfast.  As a mom, I try to set lofty goals for myself but not too high in order to avoid disappointment later.  After all, my everyday goal is to not lose my temper too badly and avoid causing permanent damage to the kids, and that I’ll make it home with all kids in tow so I can put those little dictators angels to bed and have a bottle glass of wine and possibly catch some Netflix with Michael.

In all Mommy honesty, we have all those days where we hide in the bathroom to get an extra 2 minutes of Facebook viewing while risking a toddler going out the front door.  Just kidding…the seven year-old was watching her.  Oh, I mean, my unicorn was….

Shame Lady GOT

I want to share with you my top not-so-perfect-Mommy practices in order to (hopefully) let you have the honest conversations with fellow mommies.  The point is, the idea that a mommy has to be everything and do everything is not realistic (even with a badass partner like my husband!) and I refuse to emotionally beat myself up based on what some Pinterest mommy board tells me.  If you drop by on any given day, you will find that my house is probably messy, we are eating sandwiches for dinner, and someone may be skipping bath night because I want to relax and maybe run to the gym.  Mommy tip…dry shampoo works on kids too!

I could try harder to “do it all” but that would mean that I would have to be more selfless, and I refuse to give up myself.  Yep, I would rather have an hour at the gym and live with a messy playroom.  I can walk away from that playroom and not look at it all day.  I have to look at myself in the mirror and it will be a constant reminder that I didn’t take care of myself and hit the gym.  As a mom, I have to constantly weigh decisions based on everyone’s needs and sometimes, I am more important.  And, that’s ok.

Behold, my top three shameful Mommy behaviors that I’d like to say I’m going to change but I probably won’t because I accept that I am allowed to be a little bit selfish:

#3.  Daycare Hair.  I’m not capable of mastering simple hair styles.

Isabella Hair copy

I was blessed with a full head of thick, wavy hair that I can straighten, curl, or do anything with.  Unfortunately, I only really learned to do my hair two ways…down, or up in a ponytail.  I used to think that having a daughter would motivate me to learn how to braid and do all of the cool, girly hair styles you see on Pinterest.  Um no.  That did not happen and I struggle with doing anything with Isabella’s long locks besides plopping a bow in it or pulling it up in a ponytail.  Her daycare must see my struggle too because ever since Babyzilla began going there, she comes home with beautiful braids and hairstyles that I could never learn to do on my own.  One morning, she even told me not to mess with her hair because she was going to get it done at school.  Oh my.

#2.  Co-sleeping.  Sometimes, it’s just easier to coral them in one room.

Clones sleeping

Babyzilla and Antonio are both lucky to have their own bedrooms with queen sized beds.  But, they usually end up together in Antonio’s room.  Bedtime is tricky because on a good day, it only takes twenty minutes for people to settle down while on a bad day, this could take hours.  We let the kids sleep in the same room because Antonio is obedient about turning off the lights and following the routine we ask him to do.  Then lately, it never fails that Babyzilla comes crawling into our master bedroom at 5 AM and snuggles in between us.  I’m not getting up at 5 AM to do anything much less fight a threenager on going back to her own room.  I value my precious sleep moments that early in the morning and so I often have a tiny person wrapped around my head like a cat.

#1.  Mommy Doesn’t Cook…My Daddy Only Cooks.  When my son was in Kindergarten, he proudly presented me with an “All About Mom” booklet that he had worked on for Mother’s Day.  The results of the first page sent me through a roller coaster of emotions and made me realize the way my child sees me through his eyes is so much more simpler than how I see myself.  The page read:

Antonio Kindergarten Mothers Day

So, my immediate reaction to the cooking comment was that it is true (kudos to Michael) and then I proceeded to laugh at the squash comment because i don’t even remember the last time I ate squash.  I am a chocolate and bacon type of girl.  Almost three years later and my son will now say that cooking is done 50% by Daddy and 50% by Mommy.  Yay for Blue Apron!

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Healthy eating and an active life style are important things I am trying to teach my kids, but I won’t ban McDonald’s from our diets…only the “chicken” nuggets.  I have slowly in the past couple of years embraced this whole cooking concept and we do cook for about half of the week.  Kitchen is closed on weekends unless someone wants to get fancy and make pancakes.

Guilt, shame and feelings of insecurity are things every mom struggles with on a daily basis.  Instead of focusing on the things I can’t do, I try to accept my faults and focus on the Wins of the Day as Kendra has so eloquently suggested to all of us.  Sometimes, those wins include reading bedtime stories and goodnight hugs and kisses.  Other times, it means celebrating that I squeezed in twenty minutes to workout.  A good litmus test on getting perspective is always hearing my son pray at night.  No matter how much I discipline him or nag him about everyday “stuff”, he always thanks God that I am his mother.  That and the fact that he says I’m sweet as pop tarts.

Antonio Mothers Day K

 

I’m Not Good At Decorating!

I hear this frequently from some of my friends. I don’t think I am that good at decorating either but my friends sometimes say differently. I think what I am good at is copying actual designers. So I thought I would pass on my trade secret. Pinterest and Houzz. Unless you have been living under a rock you already have a Pinterest and possibly a Houzz page. Good, you are half way there to being a semi-professional decorator.

First, gather all your inspiration boards and look over them for similarities in the pictures and why you picked them. For me, I didn’t know I loved white kitchens and baths until I started looking back over the things I had pinned.

baths
Clean, white bathrooms with a Traditional style.
bedrooms
Neutral, calm bedrooms also in Traditional style.
kitchen
Crisp white kitchens. Traditional in style again.

After you figure out what you like you have probably narrowed down a ‘style’. If you want, there is a quiz on Houzz.com that attempts to tackle your design style by asking random questions. It told me I was Transitional which I do think is partially correct although I do tend to sway a little more traditional than modern in my decorating.

If you are decorating a whole house start with a room and work your way through the house. If you are starting with a room, pick the larger items first and then find the little decorating details later. Go to local flea markets, HomeGoods, TJMaxx, Garage Sales or anywhere else you have access to home items, you never know what you will find. Look for items that go with your style or copy exactly what you want from the Pins.

If you want to know what to do and what not to do, here are some links:

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It’s the little things that make a home. These were things we are taking into consideration with the new home we are building.

The question I get asked the most is how to pick a paint color. My suggestion is easy, look through your Pins and catalogs and see what color continually catches your eye for a space. Go to Home Depot, Lowes, or Sherwin Williams and grab a couple color swatches in that color. But here is the trick, what ever color you think you want, ask for a small sample in the color above. Colors on paper never look the same on walls. Your eye will tell you it isn’t too dark until you get it on the wall and it is too dark. So always start with a shade lighter than you would originally pick. Get several samples and then paint the colors in small swatches on your walls in every room you intend on putting that color. Then watch. Every morning, afternoon, and evening the color will change just slightly with the light. At the end of a couple of days (or weeks if you are like me) you will find the color that is just right. If you want to skip this step and go for my favorite gray, may I suggest Sherwin Williams Big Chill. I have many friends and family members who have this color in their home and I think it is THE perfect gray.

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Big Chill – Sherwin Williams

In the end, remember decorating is about you and your likes. Go with what makes you happy and brings you joy. If someone else doesn’t like your style, then they can decorate their space to their liking.

What are your favorite decorating tips and tricks? Any good places to shop for fun decorating items?

Amanda Sig

Delicious Things Lou Told Me About

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I am not a fan of cooking. If a recipe has more than 5 ingredients, the chances are high that I won’t give it a second look. I have a cookbook specifically for 20 minutes or less recipes, and it is probably the only cookbook that has seen any love in our house.

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However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy delicious food. I just prefer when other people prepare it.  🙂  On the occasion that I do want to try a new recipe and spice up our usual kitchen rotation, I turn to my good friend Lou. She always has great ideas for both dinners and lunches.  Below are a few examples of the delicious things Lou has convinced me to make.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

This chicken recipe sees quite a few rotations in our house. The husband likes it, and I like how fast it is to prepare and cook. Easy clean up too as long as you cover the oven pan in foil before you start. One of the best things about this recipe is that most of the ingredients are staples in your pantry, so just pick up some chicken and a vegetable for a side and you have one weekly meal ready to go.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/spicy-honey-brushed-chicken-thighs-0

Solutions for the Larabar Addict

I love Larabars. The ingredients are all things that you have heard of, such as dates, almonds, peanuts, etc. The downside is that I can only find them at Whole Foods. If I want to save any money on the rest of my groceries, that means two grocery stores each weekend, which is not high on my list of fun weekend activities. Enter Lou, who sends me a recipe for how to make my own. She’s a smart woman.

  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup raw almonds or cashews
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons water

Directions:

1. Combine the dates, almonds, peanut butter and water in a food processor and puree until mixture starts to stick together. Add a little more water if necessary to help mixture come together.

2. Pick up the mixture and use your hands to squeeze it together into a big clump. Mash the mixture into a container to form into one even rectangle.

3. Slice into 12 squares. Store in the fridge.

Brussel Sprouts and Kale – get those veggies in!

Lou is also more adventurous with her veggies. I love brussel sprouts, but do not feel the same about kale. Lou introduced me to this recipe and it has been a great make-ahead salad to have as a side or for lunches during the week. I’ll let her blog do the explaining on how to make it.

Easy Autumn Salad Recipe with Kale & Brussels Sprouts

Mason Jar Salads for the Weekday Win

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This picture doesn’t do the salad justice, but I made three of these for lunches last week and did not run into the usual salad burnout. While the recipe calls for putting everything in the mason jar, I prefer warm chicken in the salad, so I kept that and the cooked veggies in a separate container and reheated them before adding to the salad. I cooked and prepped everything on Sunday and when I ate the last one on Friday it was still delicious. Great choice for anyone trying to eat more veggies and save some money on eating out for lunch.

http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/salads/paleo-mason-jar-chicken-taco-salads/

Now, I did skip the roasted cumin seeds business and just used some cumin powder on the chicken. I’m quite sure I’m not missing anything with this substitute.

What are some of your go-to recipes for the family, or for your weekday lunches? Anyone else avoid the kitchen like I do?

Kendra Sig