Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds


Memorial Day has come and gone so Friday has snuck up on us (hallelujah!). Here are our fab finds for this week!


Lori's picks:


Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza: Roasted Cauliflower

Maybe you've heard of Anthony's, maybe you haven't. If you fall in the latter category, go here and put your zip code in to find out the nearest location. Call them up and order a large Roasted Cauliflower, bring it into your closet and eat it there. Alone. It's slathered in vegetables so it actually shouldn't even be considered pizza.



Dubsmash

If you are bored or easily entertained, download this app. It's hilarious, fun, and ridiculous. You can do songs, sound clips, movie clips, etc. The possibilities are endless!




Tarte Brazilliance Self Tanner

My friend gave me this self tanner to try and I really loved the result. I only used it on my legs because I'm really f'ing lazy and couldn't envision trying to evenly apply it on my arms because then I'd have to try to get it on my back and ain't nobody got time for that. It comes with a glove you're supposed to use but I just used a latex glove I had. It's really dark lotion so I was kind of scared to use it but it came out great once I rubbed it in. I loved that the scent wasn't overpowering or self tanner-y. You can get it here.



Latex glove and leg on the right with Brazilliance


Leg on right with the tanner. You can definitely tell a difference immediately!


Both legs with tanner


Kristin's picks:

Boots Botanics All Bright Micellar 3 in 1 Cleansing Solution

I've got two finds this week, both from my favorite Tar-jhay. The first is this Boots micellar cleansing water. I've heard a lot about micellar cleansers (don't even ask me what micellar means because I don't F'ing know) in magazines/blogs. They're all the rage overseas so I had to try it out. And of course, being the Anglophile I am I do have a soft spot for Boots. 

Well, let me tell you this stuff is ideal for lazy people because all you have to do is soak a cotton ball or toilet paper or whatever you feel like using and wipe your face down, and that's it - no rinsing required. It removes makeup, brightens, unclogs pores, etc. It says it feels "just like water" but my eyes disagree so I won't be using this for eye makeup. Other than that I'm loving this stuff for summer when I have 1,000 layers of sunscreen and need to get my face extra clean or just don't feel like taking the extra steps to do my usual routine.



Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray
I grabbed this spray the day after Memorial Day when I was still sporting some beachy waves, aka I didn't brush or wash my hair in ??? and it had been blown all over the place down the shore. It was about six bucks, maybe even less, so I figured if it didn't work, no big loss. There's a long, humid summer ahead, so instead of fighting it, I'm trying to embrace my hair's natural texture. Okay ... I'm lazy and I don't feel like using a flat iron. Either way, you can see the results below! I do admit the product feels slightly sticky, but not enough to turn me off from using it. Bonus: the beachy, coconut-esque scent is awesome!


Have a great weekend!! 
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fab Fiction: May 2015


This month was on the slow side for me reading wise, only because I had so much work to do with my own book. I approved the final pages and got to hold the advance reader copy in my hands, which was super exciting (want to win a copy? head over to my author Facebook page where I'll be holding a contest soon!)

But reading three books isn't bad considering - and I LOVED the three I did get to read - so I'll take it. Here are my picks for May:

The Heir by Kiera Cass

So we all know how much Lori and I love The Bachelor/ette, so it seems appropriate the first book I read this month is basically about a dystopian version of The Bachelorette. This is the fourth book in The Selection series, but if you didn't read the first three books it doesn't really matter, because this could easily stand on its own. The first three books follow the main character's parents, so The Heir takes place twenty years after the third book ends.

As heir to the throne, Princess Eadlyn's parents think it's a great idea for her to have a Selection to meet her future husband - and give the country something exciting to get wrapped up in, instead of protests. Similar to The Bachelorette, a bunch of guys come to live at the palace and she has dates/eliminations, the whole thing is shown on TV and ends up in all the tabloids, you get the picture. Eadlyn pretty much wants no part in the whole fiasco (meanwhile I'm like who WOULDN'T want a ton of eligible bachelors showing up to their palace??) Not shockingly, she ends up developing feelings for not just one, but multiple suitors ... exactly like the real Bachelorette. My only problem with the book was Eadlyn's attitude. This character is a spoiled F'ing brat. But I think it takes a fantastic writer to make you keep reading (and enjoy reading) a book about a character you really don't like. Also, I actually have no idea who she's going to end up with, even though it seemed predictable at the beginning. Can't wait for the next one!



The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall 

I've been following Susie's blog for a long time, where she interviews successful women about balance. The Balance Project series inspired her new book of the same name, and it's definitely a must-read if you're a woman trying to juggle it all and wondering how the hell anyone pulls it off. The story follows Lucy, the assistant to Katherine, a high-level executive at a health and green living company and author of a book called (you guessed it) The Balance Project. And while Katherine supposedly is America's most pulled together woman, the woman who "has it all," her life is secretly falling apart ... along with her assistant's.

While this novel might be compared to The Devil Wears Prada, the difference is Katherine is actually incredibly nice to her assistant ... well, until she sabotages her. But stay with me here. Even if you're not COO of a company, you can understand Katherine's struggle to balance a job, family, husband, social life, etc. And Lucy is one of those characters who starts out as a doormat, but grows into her own along the way. I think a lot of women can relate to that feeling of being young and unsure of what you want, and instead of Lucy chasing her dream, she sits around thinking she has to "pay her dues" as an assistant ... waiting for something to happen to her instead of actually doing something about it. This is a great book club read that's sure to raise some interesting discussions about work/life balance, and how women are doing themselves a disservice by thinking they can "have it all." Definitely a must-have for the beach bag this summer!

In the spirit of balance, this is what it looks like when I try to stage a nice book picture when my kid's awake.


The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

This was a highly anticipated read for me in more ways than one. I loved Lisa Jewell's last book, Before I Met You, and when I saw she had a new book coming out in paperback I pre-ordered it right away. Also, I'm working on a manuscript about a woman who's a hoarder, and had never read another book with a character who suffered from hoarding disorder, so I was interested to see how another writer handled it. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed, and if you think your family is messed up, I can guarantee you this book will make you feel A LOT better.

The House We Grew Up In follows the members of the Bird family, going between past and present to show you how the mother, Lorelei, ended up living in the Worst House in Britain and eventually dying because of it. I loved how the story was told from so many different points of view, which is difficult to pull off without getting confusing. It really helped to get into the mind of each member of the family and understand their motivations.

I started this book at 7 a.m. on Memorial Day and finished it a few minutes before 11 p.m. that night. I read it on the beach (and by "read" I mean read a few paragraphs, threw it down, chased my kid, read another page or so, repeat). I even read it the entire car ride home that night, and during the Bachelorette *gasp*. Needless to say, I loved this book. Lisa Jewell is F'ing brilliant, the characters are brilliant, go buy this now. The end.



What was on your May reading list? Any new books I should check out?
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Bachelorette Season 11 Recap: Week 2



Not gonna lie, this episode wasn't the most exciting. But to be fair, I was trying to finish my book before bed and was only half paying attention ... and had to rewatch it today to even take any notes. Anyone else? Luckily, Nick comes back soon (hopefully) and we'll have some exciting drama on the way!

In any case, here we go with our favorite (and what the F??) moments of the episode:

What the F's:

Although we're happy she's found someone, the Britt/Brady thing looked so staged. She didn't look surprised whatsoever...were they even dating beforehand and this was all set up? HMMM.

Jared's fluorescent pink/yellow ensemble with black converse could best be described as "interesting." Is he color blind? Or just doesn't care? Although, we should probably give him a break considering he'd just gotten out of the hospital after being punched in the face. Poor Jared.

Had no idea "underwater conceptual photographer" was a profession. Also, can someone hook that photographer up with Tony the healer? Something tells me they would vibe. On that note, very confused about the logistics of making out underwater.

Kaitlyn is Amy Schumer's favorite person that's ever been on The Bachelor/ette? Really?

Is Joshua the welder really Travis Stork reincarnated?

Leave it to ABC to do some shameless promotion. In this case it's these no name comedians.

Tony in general is a what the F, but that "stand up comedy routine" was CRINGE WORTHY. And yes, stand up comedy has to be in quotes because he never told a single F'ing joke. Is this guy actually for real? Did ABC plant him? So many questions!

For the rose ceremony, Kaitlyn again chose a disco ball dress. Except this time, it had a slit so high we were nervous when she sat down, and it looked like someone had slashed the sides out with a pair of scissors.

F-Yeahs:

Laila Ali was pretty badass and pretty sure she could beat the crap out of 100% of those guys.

Quote of the night: "My idea of going to the gym is sitting in the steam room for 30 minutes" - Tanner. A-F'ing-MEN.

Tony used the word "fisticuffs" in a sentence and was one hundred percent serious about it.

Amy Schumer! Enough said.

Kaitlyn's black-and-white sleeveless top during the stand up date was super cute. Hoping Possessionista will ID that one!

Chris the dentist, aka the guy who drove in a cupcake mobile, looked like he was going to bomb but ended up being pretty endearing in that toothpaste mint shirt. Take it off, cupcake!

So F'ing glad Kaitlyn kicked Kupah off before the rose ceremony. Ignoring her at the boxing date was already not cool. But then saying something about being a minority to fill a quota was really not cool. Also, instead of convincing her he was "there for her" (drink!) he said he was "totally committed to the process." Aka, "I want to be on TV." NEXT!

What were your F-yeahs and What the F's this week?


Friday, May 22, 2015

Fridays Fab Finds: Confession Edition


So lately we've been seeing a lot of articles about how social media distorts people's perception of how their friends live. Like, you see a picture of a smiling family at the beach, but little did you know the kids were hysterically screaming and throwing sand for the half hour prior to that one happy shot. All you think is: Wow, I wish I was at the beach having fun. Look how well-behaved their kids are! Why can't my kid sit still for two seconds and not throw sand in my face? 

When it comes to blogging, it's almost worse, because we sit here like HOW do these women manage to take magazine-style photos, dress their kids in perfectly coordinated designer clothing, cook gourmet meals, read and review five-plus books a month, go on fabulous vacations, work a day job and have a gajillion followers?

Trust us, we're guilty of filtering our lives through Rise and Valencia just like everyone else, but it can definitely make you feel lousy when it seems like everyone else can "do it all" and you're struggling to find time to even go to the bathroom. (More on this in the next Fab Fiction post!)

As you know, we're all about keeping it real, so this Friday, we're bringing you an abbreviated version of Friday Finds ... confession style.

Kristin's Find:

Confession: I'm not the most organized person on the planet. I like organizing IN THEORY, aka going to The Container Store and buying cute products to organize thing into. I'll go on sprees where I color code, print labels and whatnot, but then in a few months it all goes to hell again. My closets are pretty much a disaster and I need an intervention ... or Lori's book (see below).

Anyway, I was looking for a specific necklace today and couldn't find it, so I went into this little three drawer plastic container (again, with the organizing products). I keep a bunch of costume jewelry I don't wear super often in there, and I thought maybe this necklace had been shoved in by accident. Let me also note I don't wear any of these things because they're in said container in a closet. Out of sight, out of mind gets me every time.

Well, while I was searching I pulled out this Towne & Reese Hematite friendship bracelet. Tags still on, still in the packaging. What the F!

I vaguely remember buying it from Zulily a few years ago and I have no idea why I never wore it. I became a fan of Towne & Reese after Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette, when she wore a lot of their pieces. They're definitely more affordable than say, Kendra Scott, and you can find tons of cool, trendy jewelry. Anyway, I'm mildly ashamed I managed to buy something and forget about it for years, but on the bright side, it's the perfect summer bracelet and matches with everything. F yeah for new jewelry without spending any money!


Lori's Find: 

Confession: I haven't read a book (other than an Emily Giffin chick lit book here and there) in oh about 10/15 years. I'm just guesstimating here but I'm definitely not exaggerating. You might recall last week I had a fresh copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in my possession. The fact that I had an actual book in my hands is an f-ing miracle in and of itself but the fact that I read it (read: skimmed heavily), well I was looking out the window to see if pigs were out there flying. I'm happy to report I filled a thredup clean out bag, two full donation bags and a huge garbage bag of crap that was just sitting in my closet. Reading the book inspired me to try to pare down to the bare minimum and really be honest with myself about what to keep. I actually cheated and didn't follow the author's rules to a T but I wanted to go through at least my closet before our garbage went out today. We are having a spring cleaning day tomorrow and plan to fill even more bags. The tough part will be convincing my husband to part with the 500 t-shirts he has.



To even further blow the lid off this reading drought, I will definitely be hitting a record this year by reading a SECOND book. My co-blogger Kristin is officially a published author. Her premiere book debuts August 18 and she got the first hardcopy the other day. You can read more about her debut novel here. If you'd like to pre-order, you can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I will actually read this book, so I will have already broken my one book per year max by August!


Want to win a special advance reader copy for yourself? Stay tuned for more news on that next week! Happy Memorial Day weekend!



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Most Dramatic Season Premiere of The Bachelorette EVER (no, really)



So this is a bit delayed considering I thought it was on at 9:00 last night, and it turned out it was on at 8 (which I found out from our friend Amy while I was in the dressing room at Target ... at 8:20. I almost cried. Not even joking). Now that we're both all caught up, let the games begin!

First off, we'd like to say the preview of the season at the end of last night's episode was pretty much the best and "MOST DRAMATIC" (drink!) preview ever. We're super psyched for the rest of this season to get underway. Can you say Nick??? And a sex scandal! Oh. My. F'ing. God.


We were also both Team Kaitlyn, so we're thrilled to see her as The Bachelorette over Britt. So here we go, our F Yeah's and What the F's for this week's two-part premiere:



What the F's:



The dresses! This is only a semi what the F, because while we actually both liked their gowns, Britt was ready to walk down the aisle, and Kaitlyn looked like a disco ball. Her dress was so sparkly it was actually distracting (but still super pretty. Love ya, Kaitlyn!)


Jared! In his intro scene he was staring at the ocean talking about love, boring boring boring... and then he rips open his button-up to reveal a heart t-shirt and says he’s going to be LOVE MAN to rescue the bachelorette. What. The. F.

Tony the "healer!" We don't even know where to start on this one. Let's just leave it with "he talks to plants." 

Amateur Sex Coach! Enough said. 

The stripper! If you lived in the Philly area in the late 90s/early 2000s you might have been to a place called The Cave for someone's 21st birthday/bachelorette/divorce party. Yeah, this is guy is totally like a Cave dancer. Well, law school IS expensive...

Drunken ass grabbing! Not cool, Ryan. "Clearly he's not here for the right reasons," as the wise Chris Harrison said. CLEARLY. 


F Yeah's:


The accessories! Statement ring central. Loving it. And the earrings were sweet, too.

Side eye! Kaitlyn, your side eye game is strong! Don't blame her, considering it was a totally awkward situation.


Welded rose! The welder was so cute and we loved the rose he made. Hey, it's way better than getting one of those gold-dipped ones from Stephen Singer. He seemed a lot like Chris aka Prince Farming in terms of the "middle of nowhere town" aspect and good old farm values. We'll give him a pass even though he made a "sparks are gonna fly" comment. 


Brady! Leaving to go find Britt was cool. He could have stayed like the other guys who voted for Britt, but he was the only one with the balls to do something about it. You go, Brady!


RYAN GOSLING! Oh wait, we mean Shawn, who got the first impression rose and also had an epic makeout session. We're sorry, but he's Ryan Gosling's twin. And he gave Kaitlyn a picture his nephew drew. So F'ing cute!


Joe from Kentucky!  He brought some moonshine in a bottle with XXX written on it. Having been to a moonshine distillery, I can assure you that stuff is no joke. But he was pretty cute about it and I think it made him stand out. 


Chris Harrison riding a triceratops! Can we get a copy of this print? PLEASE?

Who's your favorite Bachelor so far? We'll be back next week for more F'ing excitement. Can't wait! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Momma Mondays: What the F kind of Stroller Should I Buy?


If you're an expecting mom, everything is confusing but maybe the most confusing subject is strollers. There are so many different types, brands and uses that it probably seems overwhelming what kind you should get. Here are some things to think about when you're registering or buying a stroller. I have 5 strollers so I would consider myself pretty well-versed in this arena (much to my husband's dismay).

Your lifestyle
Do you live in the city or suburbs? Are you a runner or walker? Do you have a small or large car? All of these factors are important when you're narrowing down your stroller search. Take a long, hard, honest look at your lifestyle and the decision should be fairly easy.

Your budget
Strollers, like cars, range from inexpensive to exorbitant. You can get an umbrella stroller for $9.99 or a Stokke for over $1,000. It all depends on what you feel comfortable with paying or registering for.

Your home's entrance method
If you live in a walk-up building, you'll want to consider how you will transport the stroller up and down stairs. If you can leave it in a vestibule of some sort, does it fold down out of the way for others to get past it easily? If you live in an elevator building, is it too long or wide to fit comfortably (or at all) in said elevator? If you live in a house with a front stoop, will you be able to bring the stroller up and down stairs easily? Your living situation, if not conventional, will help dictate what kind of stroller you will get. Kristin would like to add if you live in the suburbs, none of these are probably much of an issue because your stroller will probably permanently reside in your trunk!

Versatility
If you'd like to have the option of having baby facing toward you or looking out, you will need to look for stroller that has a seat that can turn around. If you are planning on expanding your family in a short amount of time but don't really want a double stroller from the get-go, there are options that allow you to add extra seating or glider board.

Storage space
If your main method of transportation is walking, once your baby comes, chances are you'll want to walk everywhere as well. Babies come with a lot of crap so if you need to pick up a few groceries, you'll want to make sure that you not only have room for your groceries, but your kid's diaper bag. If you plan on going on a casual walk around your neighborhood every once in a while, basket storage probably won't be a priority.

Here's a rundown of a few different strollers we have that we can speak to from personal experience.

Graco Modes Click Connect 
Pros: Many seating options, can accommodate an infant car seat, parent console accessories included, huge storage basket
Cons: smaller wheels, bulky when folded, wobbly on rough terrain
I registered for this as the travel system, which includes the infant car seat. While I thought this would be my forever stroller, it just didn't work well with my lifestyle. It took up a lot of trunk space in the car and steering it was a nightmare. Needless to say, this is taking up space in my closet because I never use it and can't foresee myself using it anytime soon.

Britax B-Nimble Umbrella Stroller
Pros: lightweight, reclines, great for flights, comes with a raincover, has a shoulder strap
Cons: sunshade is pretty flimsy, basket is extremely small and hard to access, need both hands to steer, included cup holder snaps off when you try folding the stroller
I got this stroller for a trip to Florida. I was traveling alone and needed a stroller that I would be able to gate check and I read that there was a weigh limit for gate checked strollers so got this one. I think it's discontinued now, but if you can find it it's a great umbrella stroller option. It's sturdier than most and has more reclining options (if any) than most out there.

City Mini
Pros: Easy to fold, fully reclines, doesn't take up much trunk space in a car
Cons: hard to steer with one hand, small storage basket, low to ground, straps are hard to adjust
I still love the City Mini but instead of keeping it in our house, it is our car stroller now. It's great because it takes up much less space in our trunk than the Graco but is still great on most terrains.

Uppababy Vista
Pros: multiple seating options, large sunshade, HUMONGOUS storage basket, easy to maneuver with one hand, huge rear wheels (if you need to drag up or down stairs), high seat which is great when you go out to eat
Cons: bulky when folded, wide (if you're in and out of a lot of narrow doorways)
This stroller was never on my radar when I was registering and pregnant because it's on the high end of the price spectrum. I actually got a steal on craigslist on it which is the only reason I have it. I've coveted this stroller for some time and I have to say I really love it and would 100% recommend it to anyone. The ride is really smooth and it comes in really handy when we are out to eat because my son can just sit in it and eat off the tray. The main reason I love this stroller is its storage basket. Since we live in the city, I probably use the stroller more than the car and always have a ton of things with me and usually acquire more on the way. This stroller can handle it all. If you plan on using a stroller everyday, I would say spring for this one and you won't be sorry.

Britax B-Agile
Pros: extremely smooth ride, easy to maneuver with one hand, large rear wheels, oversized sunshade, super easy to fold
Cons: not much storage space underneath, difficult to adjust the recline
Kristin has this stroller and registered for the travel system. This is the only stroller she has other than a cheap umbrella stroller to keep in her husband's car, and it does it all. She likes it so much two of our friends registered for the same travel system. Pretty much the only downside, other than the annoying method of adjusting how far it reclines, is the basket underneath isn't huge. It's big enough to handle day-to-day errands, and if you don't live in the city and walk everywhere, it's not a big deal. The only time it really became annoying was at Disney World, when you want to shove a ton of stuff under there. Another bonus is it's under $300.

The most important thing to remember is that the stroller is for you, not your child. A baby will sleep, lay down or sit just about anywhere you put them (until they have a very vocal opinion) so as long as you are comfortable with the stroller you ultimately choose, you will be ok. Hopefully this gave you some other factors to think about when you finally pick a stroller.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds

Lori's picks:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Our friend Dana first introduced us to this little gem giving us some tips and tricks from this book and much to my surprise I got some mail the other day - my very own copy! We played the "pay it forward" game on Facebook at the beginning of the year and I was paid forward with my very own copy from her. I dove right in and feel super inspired. One of the first points that the author makes is that you need to tidy up by category. Well, I kind of cheated and just purged a bunch of stuff in our guest room closet that has been collecting dust to kick off my mission to declutter. The fact that it's out on our sidewalk waiting to get picked up by the garbage truck this afternoon makes me feel so much better. I set aside a spring cleaning weekend (exciting I know) so I hope to have the book finished by then and put the author's tips into practice. Check to see if your library has a copy or get one here.


Kids Keens
Kristin snagged me a pair of these for my son at the consignment sale presale this year and have been the perfect warm weather footwear.  My son even has tan lines already from them. They are sturdy and have a great grip on them so if we're walking around or splashing at the sprayground, they won't slip around. I'm just happy that I don't have to try and find matching socks and he can wear these with bare feet. It also has reminded me how much I love velcro and how I'll never buy another pair of shoes with laces no matter how f'ing cute they are. You can find a whole bunch of different styles here.



Wire bow headwrap
With summer on the horizon, I become even lazier when it comes to my hair. We're going to be outside a lot and ain't nobody got time to dry or straighten their hair only to have it frizz up minutes later. I've been beefing up my headwrap collection and the perfect place to go is Forever 21. They have cute hair accessories for dirt cheap. My current fave is this one but they have a ton to choose from. Just throw some mousse or serum in your hair, let it air dry and throw a headwrap on.

Headwrap in action. Perfect little accessory to keep hair out of your face while you're chasing your little f-er around.

Kristin's picks:

It's Only a Play on Broadway
I went to this play with my mom on Saturday and it was fantastic! I've been wanting to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick together on Broadway for years, so this was definitely super exciting for me as a theatre geek (even though neither of them came out to sign autographs, womp womp). I was laughing so hard I was crying at points, especially at T.R. Knight's performance. Who knew George from Grey's would steal the show? Speaking of, he was the only cast member to come out after the show, and was so nice. We chatted about McDreamy kicking the bucket, ha! The show ends in June, I believe, so hurry up and get tickets ASAP if you can. Definitely an F-yeah in my book!

Loved T.R.! 

Xfinity Voice Remote
Okay, this is a fairly big jump from a Broadway show, but bear with me. This new remote just randomly showed up at our house last week, and I never knew I needed it until now. Press the blue microphone button and say "Watch Daniel Tiger" (or, you know, something more entertaining when the kids aren't around) and it automatically changes to that station if it's on live TV, or else it brings up the On Demand episodes. Genius!



Ariana Capri Breeze Plastic Planter
These colorful planters caught my eye at Home Depot a couple of months ago, and not only were they really cheap (from $1.88 depending on the size) but they have a self-watering tray inside. This was the biggest selling point for me because I kill any kind of plant that I come into contact with, no matter how much I say I'm going to remember to water it. Well, these flowers (and I have no idea what kind they are, but we also bought them at Home Depot) have stuck around since the end of March or so. Knock on wood!














Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stitch Fix Review: May 2015


{This post contains affiliate links}

Chances are, you've heard your friends talking about Stitch Fix, especially if you're a mom. When you spend every waking second taking care of a family, house, work, etc. it can be hard to find time to shop for yourself, let alone run from store to store (or website to website) finding the perfect pieces that not every other thirty-something is wearing. 

Basically, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that sends hand-picked outfits and accessories to your front door. You fill out a simple profile answering questions about your style, what types of things you're looking for, your measurements and so forth, and then schedule the date when you'd like a shipment. Easy peasy! Keep what you like, and send the rest back in a prepaid mailing bag; all you pay is a $20 styling fee, which they subtract from any of your purchases. If you don't keep anything, you do lose the $20, though.

Exactly a year ago, I tried Stitch Fix for the first time when we were headed to Disney. In my note, I requested clothes I could wear on our vacation. Well, I got black pants, a sweater ... you get the picture. Not stuff I could wear in 90-degree Florida weather, let alone May in Philly. They were really nice about crediting my account for the $20 styling fee to use toward a second box, and I did end up keeping the black pants because I liked them. I figured my note with the style request might have been lost, so I tried to keep an open mind for my next fix.

Then in June, I decided to use my styling credit for some outfits to wear on a trip to NYC.  I loved one of the dresses and would have kept it, but it had snags all over it, the other dress had a tiny hole, and there was a really unflattering top and a basic necklace that cost way too much for what it was. Again, I was super bummed (and had to go shopping last-minute for my trip) but I did keep an awesome pair of denim boyfriend shorts I wore a million times last summer. At $60ish, they were more than I have ever spent on shorts, but I wear them so often they were 100% worth the investment.

So, feeling slightly apprehensive, I decided to try again this month. Even though not everything worked for me, I thought this stylist did a better job and took the time to look at my Pinterest boards and our blog to see what kind of things I liked. 

Here's a rundown of the pieces I received, prices, and my reviews on what I kept/sent back:

The styling cards you get with your fix
All 5 pieces. I never claimed to be a photo stylist!

Gilli Keli Maxi Dress: $78 ... or $54?
I asked for a short-sleeve maxi, so I was excited when I first pulled this out of the box. The fit of the dress was great, I liked the drawstring waist, and the material was a nice quality. Something just felt off to me, though. Not that I wear super revealing clothing, but this felt like something I would have brought to India a few years ago when I had to dress super modestly. I would've liked a v-neck better. I might have kept it if I'd received it in September, ready to wear with a scarf and denim jacket (I tried it on with that combo and it looked really cute), but on its own this didn't look quite right, and I didn't feel like I'd get enough use out of it if I could only wear it a couple of months a year. I also thought $78 was way too expensive, but when I logged in to submit my order, it said the dress was $54. Weird. Either way... Verdict: F-it! 



Gentle Fawn Orlana Space Dye Tank: $34
This was a totally see-through, tissue thin top that I felt would snag super easily. It's more the type of top I'd wear for workout clothing vs. actual life, and I didn't think it was flattering AT ALL, so it wasn't a keeper. Verdict: F-it! 



Papermoon Clift Crochet Hem Top: $38 
I love the color of this top, and the material is a nice, semi crinkly, flowy summer weight (excuse the wrinkles in the pic). The shape is loose and really forgiving, and it looks perfect with the aforementioned jean shorts from my last fix - I also loved that my Stitch Fix stylist mentioned the shorts in her note to me, and said this tank would be great paired with them. I appreciated her looking into the things I've bought in the past and finding a top to match! This is the type of top you could wear for a ton of different occasions and look totally appropriate whether it's a BBQ with shorts or something a little more dressy with a blazer. Verdict: F-yeah!


Le Lis Nammi Pintuck Detail Knit Top: $44
I wasn't a huge fan of the odd striped pattern on this top, although maybe it might have looked okay on a short dress. It had this gathered thing in the back which reminded me of a maternity shirt, and I felt like it made me look pregnant on top of it. Also, material-wise, it felt like a top I could get at Target for 15 bucks, so the price was outrageous. Verdict: F-it! 




Pixley Ellie Elephant Print Blouse: $48
My stylist had noticed I pinned an elephant-print top, so she included this in the box, which was cool. This was the one item I was very on the fence about, because I instantly loved the print, but I didn't feel like I really needed a 3/4 sleeve blouse at this stage in the season when it's already been in the high 80s. However, since it's so lightweight and flowy, it's one of those tops you can wear for a date/going out with friends on a summer night with shorts. Ultimately I decided to keep it because it's not like anything else in my wardrobe and I think I'll get a lot of use out of it. I actually wore this outfit yesterday since the weather was in the 60s here, and I was super comfortable. It also looks cute with a vest over it! Verdict: F-yeah!




Overall verdict: F-yeah! 
I'm pleased with the things I kept, and it's a fun surprise to see what they've sent you and to try it all on, but this isn't something I'd do every single month. I like shopping and picking things out myself, and personally, I think it's too expensive to receive regular fixes. You get a 25% discount if you keep all five items, but you're looking at about $200+ a month if you keep everything, depending on the cost of the pieces. My "buy 5" price would have been $166.50, to give you an idea, but for the other boxes I received, it was more like $225-$250.

It's definitely a fun thing to do every so often, especially at the start of a new season, or if you're on the hunt for a specific event and don't know what to wear/don't have time to track something down. I have several author events and conferences to attend this summer, so I'll be receiving my next Stitch Fix delivery in late July and hopefully get some cool outfits to wear.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? Sign up here and let us know what you think! 



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Try-it Tuesday: Mandarin Orange Chicken


I swear we aren't affiliated or sponsored in any way by Trader Joe's, but it just so happens that we are fiercely loyal to them that it really would seem like we are. It couldn't be that they have amazing food, reasonable prices, and a killer frozen food section. True story...last week I was there and I was unloading my cart and the cashier said to me, "WOW you really hit the frozen food aisle HARD." F yeah I did buddy. And if you judge me I don't even care. I mean have you had their Mandarin Orange Chicken? If you don't hit their frozen food aisle hard, then good for you, but I do. Every. Time.

For this week's TIT (Try-it Tuesday ha), I'm going to make an already lazy, simple meal even easier and a smidge healthier. I've been a fan of TJ's Mandarin Orange Chicken for years and if you come over I usually have at least 1 bag in my freezer on standby. I throw some frozen broccoli in, throw a bag of TJ's microwaveable rice in the microwave (although this time I made their scallion pancakes) and VOILA, dinner is served.



The package of chicken comes with 2 packets of sauce. When I make it I usually put both packets in and it comes out really saucy so I figured cutting back to 1 wouldn't hurt. Then I was looking at the nutritional facts and thought 'hey, what if I only used 1 packet." I fancy myself somewhat of a carb expert* since my bout with gestational diabetes and while a serving of this chicken doesn't have *that* many carbs in the grand scheme of things, the sauce is where I'm guessing the majority of them lie and if I can prevent taking in fewer carbs, I'm f'ing going to. If you prefer more sauce, by all means put both packets in and drizzle some over your rice or dip your scallion pancakes in it.

(*I'm in no way certified or trained in nutrition, health, etc. These are just my opinions in trying to cut some carb corners!)

Next thing I did was not use oil to cook the chicken in. The instructions say to use 1/4 cup of oil but I said F it, I'm going to defrost ONE sauce packet directly in the skillet and cook the chicken and broccoli in that.

Half melted sauce packet


This brings me to my only gripe with Trader Joe's food: their instructions. I buy frozen meals so I don't have to mess up a ton of plates, bowls, etc. I don't want to heat up a packet of sauce separately or microwave a burrito at 50% for 4 minutes, then take it out and reheat it at full power for another 2 minutes. I want concise, simple, 1 step instructions and 1 pan to clean up. Is that too much to ask? It's like they try to make it complicated. Well, just so you know I rarely follow their instructions because they're asinine. Next time you're in the frozen aisle, take a look. Betcha say to yourself  "What the F!?"

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

After the sauce melted, I dumped the back of chicken in and a few handfuls of broccoli and cooked for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. One packet of sauce lightly coated all the chicken and broccoli nicely so this confirmed my decision to only use 1 packet.



Verdict: F Yeah! Since I'm already a fan of this meal, knocking back to 1 sauce packet and no oil is an even bigger bonus. My husband actually said to me that it wasn't as saucy as when we've had it in the past but agreed it was better.

If you've never had their scallion pancakes, give them a try. They make a great side that you just throw in the oven and bake. They come out crispy and delicious. You can also fry them too. My son is a huge fan, as are my husband and I.

NOTE: Next week, Try-It Tuesday will be moving to Thursdays for a special reason: IT'S BACHELORETTE SEASON! Join us every Tuesday for our thoughts on the "most dramatic season ever" of the Bachelorette!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds: Princess Charlotte, Shoes & A Giveaway Winner


TGIF, everyone! It's pretty much gone from winter to summer here in Philly and of course since we said we'd never complain again after the winter we just had, we're already kind of moaning! Is it too much to wear our spring jackets and cute three-quarter sleeve tops more than twice all season?

Here's what we're loving this week:

Lori's picks:

My finds this week are an homage to all you moms out there. Whenever you're around your kid, you're always on your feet (most likely running around) so why not give yourself something pretty to look at while you're chasing your kid?

Bean Boots 
I bought these last year and they just got delivered a few weeks ago. They are handmade in Maine which is why they take so long, but they were worth the wait. I got the 8" ones with Thinsulate because I plan on wearing them in cold weather. I have Sorel boots but they are pretty bulky. I wanted the Bean boots with Thinsulate to just give me an extra layer of warmth without the bulk. They are good for rainy days too. I bought them with a coupon and through ebates. If you're not familiar with ebates, go here and sign up for an account. It's completely legit and my lifetime cash back total is $421.67 and counting.

They are classic and have a lifetime guarantee. If you want them in time for winter 2015, keep your eyes peeled for a coupon, go on ebates and go to llbean.com and order them before the end of summer. I know it'll feel weird to order insulated boots when it's 95 degrees out, but these babies take a while to make and you can have something to look forward to when everyone starts complaining it's cold outside.


Reef Star Cushion Glitter Flip Flop

I bought these at Nordstrom Rack and they are super comfy and glittery making them winners in my book. I've been flipping (pun intended) between these and my Fit Flops and have been comfortable since the warm weather has started.


Dr. Scholl's Maeve Wedge Sandal

A little piece of my soul died when I bought these but they were super comfy (for shoes that aren't slippers) and cheap ($29.99 at Marshalls). I always thought Dr. Scholl made wart removers and shoe inserts. Well, apparently he/she delved into the world of shoes and they aren't as hideous as one would think. I had to get new wedges recently since my favorite pair broke last summer. I ran into Marshalls and found these and have gotten some great use out of them. They're cute, practical and give me a few extra inches without hobbling around the next day. I know each location has different stuff but maybe your local Marshalls or TJ Maxx has these. I'd highly recommend them and the price is right. Just don't admit to anyone you're wearing Dr. Scholl's...like I just did.

Kristin's picks:


Last weekend I was super excited to celebrate the new princess, and I may or may not have made my writer friends watch the live feed of the royals leaving the hospital at lunch on Saturday, whilst busting into the restaurant like "KATE IS LEAVING THE HOSPITAL IN TEN MINUTES!" Important stuff, people. A few of my royal baby-related finds:

I'm all about the royal souvenirs and I will definitely be adding this to my collection when they become available later this month. I always order my Royal Collection items from my favorite U.S.-based English catalogue, Old Durham Road, so I can avoid the international shipping from the palace's website. I love the animal design on this one, although I got a gorgeous blue cup from when George was born, and I really wish the Royal Collection had made one to match in pink ... either way, it's super cute. 




Emma Bridgewater Ladybird Mug
On the topic of Princess Charlotte mugs, I saw Emma Bridgewater made the cutest one (but I really don't need two royal baby mugs, do I? DO I??)  I recently bought their Ladybird Mug, and absolutely love it. Earlier this year, the Duchess of Cambridge went to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England to see how their products are made, and also to view the new line, which benefits EACH (East Anglia Children's Hospices), which is one of her patronages. A proceed of sales from these mugs goes to help children in hospice care in the UK, so it's a wonderful cause. These are super high-quality mugs that will hold up to years of wear, and the handpainted designs are so pretty!

Also, the people from The Bee's Knees British Imports, where I bought the mug, are so nice. I tweeted them and asked if they'd be carrying these mugs, and they didn't know at the time, but then remembered to let me know when the mug came in stock weeks later. A+ for customer service!

(And in case you're wondering, ladybird = ladybug in British English)



I was on the hunt for a natural body butter last year and came across this one from my favorite UK beauty site, Lookfantastic. Love Boo is a natural brand of skincare and other products for babies, pregnant women and "mums," but anyone can use them really. It's made in Britain, and has no parabens, no animal testing, etc.  I have to admit I didn't like the scent at first, but then I got used to it and now I love it. It's almost kind of baby powdery, perhaps a little flowery, but not. It's hard to explain. The body butter has got a nice, super thick texture, but it's not greasy, and apparently it's supposed to help with collagen production and cellulite, although I just bought it for your everyday moisturizing. I like that it's got a luxurious feel, which is lacking in a lot of natural beauty products. 

Anyway, I finally used the entire container, which NEVER happens with me and lotion. I seriously can't remember the last time I used a whole bottle of moisturizer. In fact, I recently threw away a bottle of Victoria's Secret lotion that I'd had since right after college (not even joking). 

I could totally see Kate using this, because clearly I am an expert on her beauty routine. 


And now, drumroll please ... 

THE FAR END OF HAPPY GIVEAWAY WINNER:

*JENNIFER MATUSIK INGMAN*

Jennifer, check your inbox for details. Thanks to everyone who entered!


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Try-it Tuesday: Meal Planning Confessions & Trader Joe's Frozen Turkey Meatballs


Okay, this week's Try It Tuesday is going to be a bit different, but bear with us here! Most of our readers are busy moms just like us, and in the spirit of keeping it real, instead of a new, cool recipe, we're bringing you a slice of everyday life today...

So, confession time: More often than not, I have no idea what we're having for dinner that day (and I'm talking like, it's 6 p.m. and I haven't an F'ing clue what we're eating). I try to plan ahead, but between raising a toddler, working full-time, getting ready to launch my first book (and write new ones), attempting to have some sort of social life ... well, meal planning isn't at the top of my priority list, to be honest. And once the weather gets nice, we're often busy all weekend, and sometimes we don't have time to get to the grocery store. Then Monday rolls around and I realize I didn't write out a meal plan (again) or defrost any meat (we buy in bulk from Costco) AGAIN and then I end up having to throw something together at the last second. We almost never eat out/get takeout during the week, so this means concocting a meal out of what I have at home (crapshoot), running out to the store to buy something and dragging said toddler with me, or calling my husband to grab stuff on the way home. In any case, it makes my evenings more stressful than they need to be.

This is something I need to work on, since we're having our kitchen renovated this year and I'm going to have to really plan ahead for meals since we won't have an oven or sink *freaking out* for a few weeks. Let's just say I'll be giving the Crock Pot a workout.

Meal planning is probably one of the things that stresses me out the most because A) I'm just not a fan of cooking B) My kid is a crazy person, which makes preparing any meal a challenge and C) While I love organizing and planning in theory, I don't always follow through in practice.

Well, yesterday was one of those Mondays. We were out and about all day Saturday and Sunday, and by Sunday evening, we were way too tired to go food shopping and got California Pizza Kitchen takeout for dinner. Of course, I didn't give any thought to what we'd eat during the week, because I was too busy writing/chasing the kid/trying not to pass out on the sofa at 8 p.m. because I had way too much work to do. Note: drinking mimosas at brunch is not the best idea when you need to be productive later in the day.

Monday morning, I met Lori at the Please Touch Museum, and me being naive thought that after hours of running around like a maniac, my kid would go down for a long nap when we got home. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Not only did he not nap, he was 10x crazier than usual, jumping off furniture, throwing everything in sight, screaming so loudly I thought glass was going to break ... keep in mind I still had tons of work to do, calls to make, some family issues to deal with ... in short, it was not the best afternoon for him to go insane.

Enter Trader Joe's.

If those flowers look familiar, you'll remember them from my Friday Finds weeks ago.
Yes, the flowers we bought for EASTER. Way to go, Costco!

I'd forgotten about the turkey meatballs in our freezer, and by some stroke of luck, we actually had rolls in the house since we ate pulled chicken sandwiches on Friday (Costco shout out!) All you've got to do is pop these babies in the microwave for 4 minutes, and dinner is served. You can heat them in the oven as well, but ain't nobody got 20 minutes for that. We put them on rolls with BBQ sauce and they turned out to be a pretty decent, quick and cheap dinner. I'll definitely be keeping these on hand from now on in case of emergency.

So thank you TJ's for saving my Monday night. Today? That's another question.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Momma Mondays: Mother's Day Wish List


Mother's Day is this weekend and we thought it'd be fun to compile a list of wish list items. Dads/partners keep this list in mind and do with it what you will. Hint, hint.

A peaceful, stress-free, kid-free adult meal out
We love to eat out but it's not without sprouting a few gray hairs, getting some dirty looks from other customers, (yes 22-year-old couple judging us with our whiney kid ... we were you once and know you think we're F-ing a-holes for bringing our kid out to dinner with us) and profusely sweating by the time the check comes. We'd love a scheduled babysitter, a reservation and a bottle glass of wine waiting when we get there.

Pictures
I'm the worst offender of overgramming but it's rare that I get to actually be in the picture with our son. A great gift idea is a family portrait session that Mom doesn't have to coordinate. It doesn't have to be with a fancy, expensive photographer. Maybe you have a neighbor, coworker or kid down the street who is into photography that would be willing to snap a few shots of your family, especially mom and kid.

Some new threads
In a past life, before I was a stay-at-home mom, I was one of those people who judged the mom who called out sick with their kid, came in late and blamed their kid and definitely the mom who would buy things for herself. While I do my fair share of shopping, it's not without feeling guilty about it (sometimes). What would be better than getting a gift card for the mom in your life's favorite store that she has no choice but to spend it solely on herself? It doesn't matter the amount, but the fact that you know what store your wife/partner/mom would run to in the event she won the lottery that counts. If you're wondering, in both Kristin and Lori's case, it would be Anthropologie.

A nap
This one is easy and free. If our kid(s) left the house for a few hours we could get a few uninterrupted hours of sleep without anyone screaming for Daniel Tiger, milk, or a snack.

Spa day
On that note, peace and relaxation is even better when it's at the spa. Have you ever tried to do any kind of beauty treatment at home while your kid's awake? F that! Whether it's a gift certificate for a massage, facial, or something as simple as a mani/pedi, a bit of pampering goes a long way for your favorite mom.

Anything personalized
Both of us are suckers for anything monogrammed or personalized, and most moms we know would love any kind of personalized items with their kids' names, initials, etc. Especially jewelry! Etsy is a great resource for this kind of stuff.

What would you love to get this Mother's Day?
Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds


It's Friday once again, and we're definitely ready to toast to the weekend. This Sunday is the Broad Street Run here in Philly, and many of our friends will be participating. Good luck to everyone! We'll be cheering you on with a drink, because running (at least for us) equals F that!

Here's what we're loving this week:

Lori's picks:


Ear Jackets
I'm completely obsessed with Never Too Spoiled, a cute, affordable, unique little boutique in Old City. I've gotten a bunch of cute stuff there but my latest obsession are these ear jackets. They step up the regular earring game. I like to think of them as the mullet of earrings (business in the front, party in the back!). They sell them everywhere from Forever 21 to Nordstrom so check 'em out!



Baconesque Popcorn
It wouldn't be a trip to Trader Joe's without picking up something completely indulgent. Their Baconesque Popcorn was the most recent victim. It's described as white cheddar popcorn with a hint of bacon and it really is. It sounds like it could be realllllly gross or reallllly awesome and in my opinion, it's the latter.



Weight Watchers Peanut Butter Caramel Ice Cream Candy Bars
These little bars of heaven were introduced to me a few weeks ago and we blew through a box in less than a week. They're eerily similar to Snickers that you'll have to double check the box a few times to make sure you're not eating one. You can buy these in any grocery store but don't tell your kids or husband they're in the house so you can enjoy them all your own. As good as these are, I'd venture to guess all of the WW frozen goods are equally delish.

Kristin's picks:


Chillout Mini Tower Fan
I've been wanting one of those super cool Dyson fans for a while, but who the F has $400 to spend on a fan?! I spotted this at Target the other day and thought it would be an okay substitute, and if not ... well, it cost less than 20 bucks. Despite having central air, our bedroom is always stifling no matter what, and the ceiling fan doesn't really do much. Even though this fan is really small, I was able to sleep comfortably without throwing blankets off or waking up in a sweat, so I would definitely recommend it! I wouldn't think it would work on a large room, but if you're just looking for something to use on a nightstand, in an office or other smaller space, it does the trick. The fan also comes in a few other fun colors, like pink and a rainbow confetti print.




Forever 21 tank top
I'm all about layering, and in spring you never know if it's going to be 59 degrees or 78. More often than not, I'm wearing some kind of tank or short sleeve top with a cardigan. I walked past Forever 21 a couple of weeks ago after a stressful appointment at the Genius Bar (again), and decided to pop in and have a look. I couldn't even tell you the last time I bought something in that store, but they had a display of these basic tanks for $1.90 so I was definitely on board! Lori and I are both obsessed with mustard yellow since it matches with pretty much anything, so I grabbed this one and a nude-colored tank. Despite being under $2, I really like this top, and it's a nice length to wear under shirts that might be a little shorter than you'd care to wear. It's available in 20+ colors, so you really can't go wrong. And if it shrinks or you get a stain on it, buy another one (or three) at that price!




Gymboree seersucker shorts
I've got some Gymbucks and a gift card from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket, so I've been looking on the Gymboree site to see what I can get the little dude for summer. Definitely buying these shorts {affiliate link} since I'm a sucker for seersucker! Last year, Lori found a pair of seersucker shorts for us at a consignment sale, and I'm pretty sad they don't fit this year. The Gymboree pair looks pretty similar, so I'll be running out this weekend to grab a pair. If you shop online, they've got a great 20% off code this week (BONUS20) as well, good through May 3. 


Have a great weekend! Don't forget to check out our book giveaway ... we'll announce the winner in next week's Friday Finds!