Cleaning Out My Closet.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

There is little I love more in life than a good purge.  Around this time, every year, I methodically go through every closet in our house, trashing or donating everything that has gone unused or unworn.  I usually save the best for last, that being my own closet.  Like clockwork, my sister will come to stay with us, one rainy day in April, and together we will take out every piece, one by one.  I will think about the last time I wore it, question whether it will happen anytime in the near future, and then toss it to her happily awaiting arms (where she quickly stuffs it in a shopping bag before I can change my mind.)  You'd think that having a few bags of clothing leave my life, would leave me wanting more, but in fact I find it to be just the opposite; a more edited closet/ life makes me long for less.  Less clutter, less noise, fewer choices.  For the few months after my purge, getting dressed every day is such a breeze, and I find myself feeling more confident because I know that I am loving what I'm wearing.  Trust me, that goes a long way, in a long day. 

When decluttering, I have a few personal "rules" for my closet.

  1. Always, always, always use wood hangers.  If your closet looks like a store, you will be a lot less likely to go in one.  Target sells my favorite for $1 each, but Ikea also has some great ones that I think come out to about .30 cents.  
  2. Don't separate in seasons, but rather by color.  By storing things away, you are less likely to wear them throughout the year.  Besides, most things, with/ or without layers can be worn year round. 
  3. I separate by color, so I can see what I absolutely do NOT need.  From this picture it's obvious, I should be dragged in the street and shot if I buy 1) another cream/ white blouse, 2) black blazer, 3) pair of jeans, and 4) patterned blouse. 
  4. I like to keep shoes in their original boxes, it keeps them from getting dusty, and always makes them feel "new."
  5. This is probably pretty obvious, but I keep pants with pants, jackets with jackets, sweaters with sweaters... again, just to make sure I know what I DON'T need, which always comes in handy when you find the sale of the century, on something that is similar to what you already have.  Walk away, just walk away. 
  6. Shelves, storage, more shelves.  The container store has some great setups, if you can't/ don't have built-ins.  It gives you so much more space, and allows for your clothes to be treated more gently, which means they will last longer. 
  7. If you can, find a loved one to give your "on the fence" items to.  A sister, baby sitter, neighbor. I find that I am much more likely to let something go, if I know it will go to a good home.  I always think how much better it is for my sister to have something she will wear 60 times a year, than for me to keep it and maybe wear it once or twice.  Plus, you know you can always get it back if you are desperately missing something.  This I may have done once or twice. 
With those rules in mind, this is the current state of my closet. I hope she can stay like this until fall! (Yes, she's her own person ;)

That my friends, is cleaning out your closet!

Our 6 Favorite Fish Recipes.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Most of you regular readers know that the grown-ups in this house are not traditional meat eaters. Since one can only eat so much tofu, and tofu substitutes, we tend to eat a lot of fish around here. Some nights, I just throw a pice of tilapia, cod, or flounder under the broiler with some lime, cilantro, and olive oil, but most nights, I try to come up with something a little more creative. Since we eat fish about two to three times a week, it's not that hard to scrounge up a new recipe here and there, but these six are the ones we keep coming back. Like most recipes in this house, these are definitely a little Gwyneth Paltrow heavy (please don't consciously uncouple with me over that), but what can I say... the girl knows her way around a kitchen!

I think you all will love most of these recipes, even if you aren't a huge fish eater. I would say that these are all 20 minutes or less, and except for the Cioppino, my kids love them too! 

Bon appetite!

(Note: I substitute Vegenaise for mayonaise)

Steamed Fish with Soy and Sesame Oil

(Note: I use regular Panko bread crumbs)

And this week I'm dying to try this recipe, sans the bacon of course!

What Are you Reading... and a New Book Nook!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

  Yesterday, I took the boys up to Harvard Square, since they had the day off for the Marathon. We rode our bikes, on what turned out to be a perfect Spring day and while waiting for Shake Shack to open, we made a stop at their favorite store,Curious George. Immediately, the LM went over to the chapter books, and started telling me about how he "loved" this Jack and Annie series, and how we had to get one because it is "so awesome." Loved! Awesome! To hear my kid say this about reading was just about as good as it gets for me. While we were waiting to check out, he cuddled up with his little brother in the cutest little book nook, built under the shelves, and together they looked at a picture book. After pulling myself up from the puddle I melted in to, I began to think of a way to get our own little reading nook for him. On our way home, I remembered the teepee that had been stowed away, and figured that I could fashion a little reading nook out of that and a few things that had outlived their day. I dug out some pillows that used to be on our bed, a small bookshelf I could never find use for, an old crib quilt, and viola! we had our new little reading area. This morning I picked up some wire, and as soon as the LM gets home I'm going to dig out the Christmas lights and hang a strand from the inside to give it more of a magical feel. I'm sure he won't always be this excited about reading, so for now I'd like to bottle it for as long as I can!

Last night we cuddled up inside, while I read him the first 5 chapters. So far it has most definitely been a hit!

Speaking of reading, have you all read any good books lately? My daily reading isn't exactly what you would call highbrow, but during our trip I found myself unable to tear myself away from a few books I downloaded before we left. If any of you are looking for a light page turner, I highly recommend the following!

This book is most definitely my favorite of the bunch. Set in Australia, it follows the story of three women who are all connected through, you guessed it, the husband's secret. Loved, loved, loved. 

Labor day, is the story of a tragically depressed woman, her son, and a convict on the run. It follows the three over a Labor Day weekend, and is expertly told through the eyes of the child. It's sappy, and a little over the top, but I loved it all, especially the ending!

I just finished this one, and like most Jane Green novels, I couldn't put it down. While reading it in bed, my husband was getting annoyed with me because I just kept saying, NO! over and over. I don't want to give too much away, but it's the story of a aging housewife, who meets a handsome younger man. uh huh... it's a good one. 

I'm a sucker for a sequel, I need to know what happens to my characters, so there wasn't a question whether or not I was going to read the new Bridget Jones. While this one is probably the worst of the three, I thought it was cute and although the ending was predictable, I like knowing how it all ends for Bridge. If you liked the others, you will like this one. 

Now I'm at a loss for books! I keep putting of reading The Goldfinch (mostly because it's 800 pages) but unless I can find something else, I think that's my next move. 

Weekend Links.

Friday, April 18, 2014


Happy Easter weekend! Wait, wasn't it just Christmas a few weeks ago?  Seriously, where has the time gone?  Since we are not followers of any religion, we don't have a whole lot planned this weekend, but the kids are very much looking forward to their baskets on Sunday, and tonight we are going to decorate eggs!  Gray is in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle phase right now, so we have adopted it as this years "theme."  What that has to do with Easter, I'm not sure, but we are going with it.  Other than that we are just going to be hanging around our hood, trying to take advantage of any sunshine that would like to come our way.  You know, the usual. ;)

I hope you all have a wonderful, egg and candy filled weekend. Here are a few fun links from around the web that caught my eye this week. xo

Tis the season of the hard boiled egg.  Did you all know that they come out 100 times better if you bake them instead of boiling them?  It's true! I'll never go back after trying it!  The best part is that they don't smell when you put them in the fridge.  Seriously, trust me on this one.

Speaking of eggs, how a genius makes an egg sandwich.

My husband and I are super in to this new show.  Are any of you watching?  P.S. I've slowly started Scandal, and yes I'm hooked. Kerry Washington drives me crazy though, and I feel like I'm the only one who thinks that way!

The cuteness of these little Easter bags is too much.  Someday I will be this crafty.

Did you guys see the pictures of Michelle Pfeiffer at Coachella? She's 55 years old, and may be my new idol. Damn girl, I'll take 10 of whatever she is having!

What your home movies look like when your dad works for DreamWorks.

My girlfriend turned me on to these little 100 calorie chia bars, and I'm obsessed.  I get really cranky when I'm hungry, and these are definitely great to have on hand!

I think we are going to steal this idea, and have a French macaron cake at my sister's wedding!  I'm pretty sure it is going to be a hit, I mean, who doesn't love macarons?

I made this for dinner on Tuesday and it was INCREDIBLE!  I served it over red quinoa, instead of rice, and I've been dreaming about it ever since.  This one is definitely in the weekly rotation!

This home slays me... and really makes me want to move to California. Standing ovation for this couple!

My favorite new polish for Spring.  This is the perfect alternative to white!

My hunt for the perfect baby blue shirt ended the second I tried this one on.  Yes, I plan on wearing it every day for the rest of my life.

Last but not least, the tutorial for that adorable cake pictured above! Next year I am all over this one!

My Favorite New Beauty Products.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My daily beauty routine is one that pretty much never changes, consisting of my tried-and-true skincare regime, and not a whole lot more.  Honestly, most days I run out of the house with wet hair, a moisturized face, and if I'm lucky a swipe of chap stick on my lips.  After years of struggling with, and finally overcoming cystic acne, I consider this to be my dream "made up" face, so you won't really get that many complaints from me.  Of course, this doesn't mean that I don't love to play with makeup, and lately I've had a bit of a renewed social life outside of the boys, so I was in desperate need of some new products.  I've been bookmarking a few things I would read about in magazines, and yesterday my best friend and I hit up Sephora to try them out.  Sephora really is like Target, where you go in for paper towels, and 2 hours and $300 later you come out, so while I went in for eyeliner, we both left with new routine of some great new products (to us) mixing in some of the more recent finds that I've been loving for the past few months.  Now all we need is the next girl's night so we have a reason to try it all out!

Behold, my new favorite beauty products. 

Stila Liquid Eyeliner in Black
 Last week, I mentioned that I was dying to try out a thick cat eye (a la Nicole Richie) and I was told that this is the best foolproof liner.  After a tutorial, I have to say it definitely does the trick, but I would have had no idea how to master the look without a demo.  The liner itself is great, once you get the hang of it and it lasts forever without smudging. 

Benefit They're Real Mascara
 I have a hate/ hate relationship with mascara, meaning I hate wearing it, and I hate wearing it.  I was dying to get my lashes tinted in hopes of avoiding this product forever, but since I've found out that's actually illegal here (oops) I'm back on the mascara train.  This one came highly recommended by the artist at Sephora, and so far I have to admit I'm loving it.  The key seems to be the brush, which gives seriously thick lashes, without the clumps. 

Urban Decay eyeliner in Chaos
 It's Spring, which means I need to get some color in my life.  I don't wear a whole lot of it on my body, so I figured why not put a little on my face.  Colored eyeliner is a huge trend this season, and after trying on this perfect shade of blue, I can see why.  This is one thing that I plan to add to my daily routine immediately. The best part is that I actually like the look more without mascara, which for reasons I mentioned above makes me very happy.

Benefit gimmeBrow
You know those women with thick eyebrows, that are constantly complaining about how often they have to get their brows waxed?  Yes?  Well, I hate those women, because despite my best efforts I can pretty much grow hair anywhere on my body except for my eyebrows.  I feel like I have spent the last 20 years of my life trying products to make them seem fuller, and this one most definitely is the best.  You just swipe it on, and somehow it picks up those itty bitty hairs, that you can't see on their own, but make for a fuller brow when colored.  I really shouldn't ever leave the house without this; note to self. 

Benefit Big Easy Beauty Creme
This is another awesome product that my sister and I have been using for a while now.  After my battle with my skin, I'm not a huge foundation person, and I would find that some of the BB and CC cremes would make me too shiny, and too red.  This BB creme is light, and goes on liquid, but then magically changes to a perfect powder finish, that absorbs oil with no red undertones.  It goes on evenly and provides great coverage.  Oh, and it has SPF 35 in it.  I would buy stock in this if I could... it's that good. 

Neutrogena Deep Recovery Hair Mask
 Another product I've been loving, especially since I went platinum blonde, is this inexpensive hair mask.  Once a week I use this in the shower, and it really has saved my hair from all the damage I've done to it.  When I got back from Costa last month, my hair was like straw, but after 5 minutes of this on it, it was silky smooth. 

GlamGlow Youthmud Mask
Finally, who doesn't love a good mask?  Right now I'm beyond obsessed with this GlamGlow brand, and after using this I swear it feels like I've had a professional facial!  A few weeks back my girlfriend asked me if I had microdermabrasion done, but it really was just the after effect from using the mask the night before.  That's what I call a ringing endorsement!

So, there you have it... my new favorite beauty products. I don't know why I haven't tried Benefit cosmetics that much before, the brand really seems to be killing it! I would love to know if there is anything new or old that you are loving right now. Do tell!

A Little Insane.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

 Running, running, running!

Sorry guys, I'm a bit over scheduled this week and can't seem to find the time to get here. I'll be back tomorrow!

P.S. I think I'm entering my "(baby) blue phase." I simply cannot get enough!

Weekend Links.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Saturday!!!! What are you all up to this beautiful, sunny, and WARM weekend? The kids and I are planning on spending every second of it outside, starting with an easter egg hunt in our local park today, and a skate session at an outdoor park tomorrow. After over a decade in this part of the world, I have learned that you do not mess around on the first springlike weekend of the year... you never know when you are going to get another!

I hope that whatever your plans are, you have a great one! Here are a few fun things that caught my eye this week! xo

Note to self: Buy a blue button down shirt!

An easy way to use up those rotisserie chickens.

It's almost bathing suit season! I am still a big fan of the one piece, but this suit, and this one are adorable.

I'm on the hunt for a desk for the boy's room, so the LM has a quiet place for homework. This one is leading the pack.

Also for the kids, a great journal that is made to be destroyed. This might be my new go-to birthday party gift.

A great sconce roundup. I've been looking for our bedroom, and I'm learning that the perfect one, with a reasonable budget, can be really hard to find.

Oh, and I am completely obsessed with everything in Blair Harris' portfolio. So insanely perfect, all of it.

Star Wars eggs. My boys would die!

We are at a standstill waiting on the location of my sister's wedding, so right now my only job is to go on BHLDN twice a day and make my mental shopping cart. Not a bad job, if you can get it!

This is on my weekend to-do list for the boy's bathroom. Cute!

Parents in New York are starting to really push back against standardized tests. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

Safe trek is a genius app, and would be great if you have kids who walk home alone.

My sister made these healthy(ish) cupcakes for the boys and I and they were incredible! I think I will have to make them the next time I bring a snack in to school.

Can you imagine a cameo on GIRLS?

I've decided I might be grown up enough to try a cat eye, but can't seem to find the perfect applicator. This list of 10 is a great place to start. I'll report back if I get lucky and find a fool proof liner.

Spring pasta. Yes please!

Finally, on a more serious note, I can't believe it's almost been a year since the marathon bombing. Yesterday, Gray and I were near the finish line as preparations were beginning, and the whole space felt so heavy with grief for me, I am now sure that we will be steering clear of the festivities all together. This photo series, by Runners World brought me to tears, but also makes me feel so much pride for my fellow Bostonians. There were so many people we knew, who were down there that day, and I still really feel like it could have been any of us, who just happened to stand near one of those backpacks. This week we will all be thinking of those who lost so much that day.

The Weekly Dinner Drag.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do your kids eat the same meal at dinner as the adults do? 

Mine don't and a few years back it was really driving me crazy, trying to get everyone fed at the end of the day. Unlike most situations, our problem lies more with the adults than it does with the kids. My kids are both really good eaters, and are great at trying new things, but my husband and I pretty much eat a vegan diet, and we LOVE spicy food, so there isn't really a chance that we are going to be eating the same thing at night... for at least a few years. 

For a while, before Gray was born, I would just make the LM a dinner that somewhat resembled ours. Basically pulling out the things he would like, and giving him a somewhat deconstructed version of our dinner. Once Gray entered the picture, I found myself completely overwhelmed once he started eating solids, and I was basically making three meals from scratch each night because his would need to be pureed, and as you know, you can only introduce so many new foods at once. One night, I completely broke down, complaining to my husband that I felt like all my babysitting time was going towards making food, and what I really needed was someone to make the food, so I could spend time with my baby. - I blame the hormones. After spinning my wheels for a few more weeks, I took a cue from my incredibly organized girlfriends, and I basically started making everything in advance, so that way we are all actually eating when everyone is cranky and tired, versus waiting on me to finish dinner. Seriously, this was life changing!

Obviously, I'm not making pureed food anymore, but I still am spending as much, if not more, time in the kitchen as I used.  Over the years my culinary skills have improved, and us spoiled grown ups seem to want better and better diners each night. We aren't big take-out people, and we really don't go out all that much, so I think this is how we really treat ourselves each day, and I have to say it is really nice to sit down with my husband (and sometimes sister) to a great home cooked meal... even if I'm the one making it. Because we are usually getting home pretty late from school pickup, the key for me is still preparing everything in advance. Trust me, once you make this part of your schedule, you won't go back!

Usually on Sunday afternoon, or Monday morning, I'll do a huge grocery shop. At this point I've pretty much got it down to a science, but typically I'll just load up on a ton of veggies, a couple of boxes of pasta, a few cheeses, a couple of pieces of fish, and some chicken or meat for the kids. When I get home, right as I'm unpacking the groceries, I fire up the stove and will start right away steaming or roasting a vegetable, boiling a box of pasta, and making chicken cutlets or something of that nature for the kids. While it's cooking, I typically chop up a container of fruit, marinate one or two of the fishes, and freeze the rest. Our typical (adult) dinner consists of a piece of fish or pasta, and 2 of these salads, with a vegetable on the side (like a sweet potato, or corn, or some of the roasted/ steamed veggies I made for the kids) so I will also make up two or three salad dressings in a jar, that I know we will also need for the rest of the week. When you already have everything out, cutting board, oils, vinegars, onions, garlic... etc, I find that whipping up a few dressings only takes about 5 minutes, and it really makes things so much simpler when it comes to the nightly grind. 

Once everything is done, the dressings, pasta, veggies, proteins I put everything in these incredible containers (the BEST), and throw them in the fridge. You only have to clean up once, and really for the rest of the week all I have to do is reach in the fridge, and basically mix up the ingredients enough that the kids get a variety, but really it's the same few things for the rest of week. For example night one: it's chicken, broccoli pasta, night two: chicken quesadillas, with a veg on the side, night three: mixed veggie pasta, with a side of fruit, night four: chicken tacos... you get the idea. Having everything already cut up and ready to assemble makes it so easy, and effortless, it is always worth the labor up front. Usually my husband comes home right when the kids start eating, and he sits with them while I finish up our dinner, and then the boys have dessert while we eat our dinner. Since I've already made the dressings, all I have to do is re-heat a vegetable and saute or bake our fish. Sometimes I'll make a pasta or soup from scratch, but I always make plenty so the leftovers will be used as part of the next day's dinner! 

A few other shortcuts I've adopted include:
  • Pre-bagged kale. We eat so much of it that it is such a time saver just to be able to throw it in the bowl and massage it with one of the pre-made dressings. 
  • Pre-steamed lentils, beets, and peeled garlic. Same deal, you really are able just to throw it in the salad and call it a day.
  • Half a rotisserie chicken. Certainly most families will eat a whole, but did you know if you ask most stores to half one for you, they will? Most weeks instead of making chicken at the beginning of the week, I will get one of these guys and break it down when I get home. The kids seem to love it in almost everything, and there is no cooking required. 
This system has really worked for us, and I really can't imagine going back to making things to order. It was something that I don't think I would have thought up on my own, so I figured I share what works for us, in case some of you are struggling with the weekly dinner drag. I'd love to hear what time savers you all employ, so please share what works for you in the comments!

Wardrobe Essentials: Save, Crave, Investment #8

Monday, April 7, 2014

 It's official, Spring is finally here! For us North-Easterners, that means very little this time of year except that we are now swapping snow for rain.  Sure, sure, there are a few nice days that get thrown in the mix, but really it's just a lot of hope, crushed by warmer temperatures that are always followed by never ending rainy days.*  The upside to all the rain, is that dressing for the day could not be any easier!  For me, it's basically jeans, a sweater/ sweatshirt/ t-shirt and a trench!  Viola!  Instant chic, that is actually functional. 

A few years back, I purchased a black Burberry trench, and I can say there is absolutely nothing I have in my closet that I wear more.  From a night out (which in my life is rare) to the school run (which is daily) I cannot find enough places to wear my coat.  Let's be honest, this one piece of clothing has so much style in it, that you could pretty much wear it over your sweatpants every afternoon, and no one would even know.  Don't ask me how I know that... haha.

If you have been holding out, do yourself a favor and pick up a great trench this season.  I can promise that you will not regret it! Here is a little inspiration to prove my point. 

Of course, the ultimate investment item is the real deal, traditional Burberry coat. 


But this "save" version for $85  sure fits the bill nicely. P.S. (use promo code Hurry60)


The only tricky thing about a trench is finding one that is the perfect length.  I prefer mine to skim the top of my knees, which I know is somewhat controversial in the trench world.  Remember, you can always get them cut to the perfect length for a very reasonable price at the tailor if you find a great coat you love.  I speak from experience here, it's an easy fix!

Previous wardrobe essentials can be found here. 

*Man, I really make this part of the world seem desirable, don't I? ;)