Oregon: Road Trip Part II

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To the Coast

Portland to Crater Lake, Crater Lake to Bend the beginning of our road trip is posted in Oregon Road Trip: Part I (here). After a few days in Bend it was time to move on in our journey. We packed up the van and headed to the coast where we planned to spend the rest of our trip.

The Oregon coast is one of the most breathtaking places to visit. Rocky and craggy, moody and weather beaten, the weather can be warm (rarely), but it is almost always characterized by hoary morning hazes and sometimes torrents of rain even in the summer months. Our first stop was Wax Myrtle State Park (pictured above and below).

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Oregon: Road Trip Part I

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Embracing Van Life

This summer we headed out on an epic Oregon road trip in Olive, our 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia Weekender. Over the life of Refined + Rugged I’ve shared some of our other camping, hiking, biking adventures, and road trips,  and I wanted to add this trip to the list of fabulous vacations that practically anyone could re-create. This entire trip could also be scheduled for fall through this gorgeous state. Hint, hint, get behind the wheel and live!

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Spring Style in the City

Smile Sunglasses Stripes Spring 2018

I’m throwing it back to this outfit from Spring 2016 for part of this post. Why? Because I still LOVE each one of these pieces, I still wear each of them, and this rig is the perfect example of Spring layering at its finest! It’s also an outfit that is perfect for travel to your favorite city during Spring.

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Travel Essentials: 9 Carry-On Must Haves

 

Water Bottle, Sneakers, Snack, Headphones, Breath Freshener, Book, Luggage, Travel Wrap, Face Mist.

This past week I traveled with my mom and sisters, and my sweet Aunt Paula to Chicago! It was such a wonderful trip. My travel companions were the highlight of my trip, but Chicago put on a beautiful show. Seriously, I could rave about Chicago all day. I really didn’t expect to love the city as much as I did.

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Staples: Closet Essentials x 15

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Is it possible to have staples that span every season? I live in a pretty well defined climate that boasts four robust seasons. We’re really in the thick of Spring right now which means that it snowed seven inches last weekend, and then slid into this beautiful lull of sunny and 60s. Now this weekend we’re back to Winter-like conditions with flying sleet and another warm spell in the coming week.

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Work Wardrobe: 5 Outfits for Spring

 

Shirt, Pants, Shoes, Earrings

As Spring approaches I often look at ways that I can add some happy notes to my wardrobe. To me, Spring style means an infusion of wardrobe options that have a more playful, whimsical, and flirtatious appeal. Here are a few Spring trends that I am digging:

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Shopping Your Closet: Winter Boho

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I hope this post won’t come across as overly light. Especially as compared to the one that I wrote at the beginning of this week. It has been another hard week. There have been more hardships at school, but I am going to return to this topic when I have renewed energy and time to go about giving the topic of school safety the effort and investment it deserves.

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My Turn: Student Safety and Gun Safety

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Image: Ginger Williams Cook

I want to take you all with me on my journey last week. It is a road that I should have foreseen when I took a job as a teacher, when I turned my education into educating. But I have to be frank, and tell you that I did not clearly see that I would one day be communicating a classroom plan to each and every one of my students as to how we would “Run, Hide, Fight”– the mantra of school shooting safety.

I want you as fellow parents, and grandparents, and citizens, and teachers, and administrators, and police officers, and lobbyists, and politicians to know what it felt like to stand in front of a classroom of students and tell them that what I want most for them when they come to school is their safety and their continued ability to earn an education that will carry them into the world as thoughtful, hard-working, problem-solving, critical reasoning, readers, writers, thinkers, and speakers who are career and college ready.

I want you to know that I saw both depth of understanding and depth of fear, both depth of care and depth of concern, both the need to be loved and the need to show love, both the desire to be safe and the desire to ensure the safety of others in my students’ eyes as we spoke. If you were standing next to me in my classroom this week, your faith in humanity would have grown three sizes those days.

I hope it won’t surprise you that not one of my students rolled their eyes when we talked about our classroom safety plan. Not one of them asked why we had to engage in such a boring assignment, or if they could take a nap, or if we could talk about something else. None of the usual millennial stereotypes we place on this generation of youth. Yes, I get all of these non-plused reactions to the daily English concepts, learning assignments, creative activities, and formative assessments I give in my classroom. I’m not offended by this in the least. I teach high school English. It’s not everyone’s favorite subject, and six hours in a school desk could put anyone on the verge of a needing a nap. But not one mention of an out, an alternative, an apathetic reply shows you how important this topic is to our youth.

My students were keenly listening, hyper aware, compellingly conversational, profoundly questioning, solution creating, statistic gathering. I know one thing for sure– after this week-and-a-half spent discussing the ways we could best hide in silence, with cell-phones off, not a word uttered, backpacks filled with computers and books placed over our hearts as a best defense against bullets– my students want to live.

But listening to the rhetoric and the maligning of the essential questions about gun control, mental health, and school safety in our country I really have had to ask myself, “Do we want the same thing for them? Do we want my students to live?” Your faith in humanity may have shrunk a bit too at the apathetic responses from representatives, politicians, and spokespersons who upheld the status quo so unmoved by the honest expressions and questions of grief from our youth and their parents.

Why can my students see that the conversation does not logically need go to the extreme of revoking the Second Amendment, but that it would be reasonable for us to speak about universal background checks, and cooling-off periods, and training for the opportunity to buy a firearm? Why does the conversation become the fact that more people die in cars than by gun-shot wounds before we talk about banning assault weapons and making bump stocks illegal?

Why does the conversation become the idea that if guns are regulated they will no longer be available to citizens but only to criminals rather than discussing common sense methods of mental health screenings for those who want to purchase firearms? Why does the conversation become arming teachers and other militant policies that include more guns rather than examining societal support of those who struggle with conditions of mental illness? Do we worship the Second Amendment and its economic and political gains more than the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Because from my vantage point this week, we do.

Because if all I have in my tool-kit is to continue to train students to duck low and move swiftly to the back of the room. That I will look out into the hall to bring passing students into our classroom the way Scott Beigel did when he was shot. That I will lock and barricade the door with a tall wooden pallet that ironically bears a peace sign. That we will break the glass in the window, hurling desks at it if need be, and exit out as swiftly as we can toward the street. That they need to run as fast as they can to the road without stopping. It feels akin to telling students to “duck and cover” in the event of an atomic bomb, with the full knowledge that all that will be left is their nuclear shadow as a reminder of their existence.

I want you to know these details because I want you to know that I want each and every child in my classroom to live. We talked in specifics. But are we as a society going to work together to ensure that safety? Now is the time that will tell. “Would you carry a gun, Mrs. Dickson?” my students asked, his hazel eyes serious, his mouth poised in a firm straight line once the question exited his mouth. He wanted to know if I would carry a weapon at school, if I would get a concealed carry permit to bring a weapon into my classroom. He didn’t ask in rancor or in pleading. He simply wanted to know what I would do to save him and his classmates in the event of a mass shooting.

What would I do? I had already asked myself this question many, many, many times from the day that the massacre happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to the day that a student threatened the school I teach in on social media. What would I do to keep my students safe?

It was one of those moments where time took on an eternal quality– still, gaping, telescoping toward my need to answer him. “I didn’t take this job to be in law enforcement, or to carry a gun,” I replied. “You have asked me a deep and philosophical question. I do not believe in guns for the taking of human life. You want to know if I would carry a gun to protect you, but I want to know why [a teacher] carrying a gun would be our first line of defense on your behalf?”

Perhaps it felt like a dodging, ducking, pivot, a non-answer like the many politicians and spokespersons we’ve heard from this week.  Maybe it felt to him like I fractured that student’s trust. My students, who will have to trust in my coping mechanisms in the event that a deleterious person plans our death, deserve answers. But I do know my answer to his question. “No.” No, I will not carry a weapon on a high school campus.

The words Alfonso Calderon, survivor of Parkland’s school shooting, rang in my ears, “That’s a terrible idea… As far as I am aware, teachers are meant to be educators. They are meant to teach young minds how to work in the real world. They are not meant to know how to carry AR 15s, they are not meant to know how to put on kevlar vests for other students or for themselves. This is not what we stand for. We stand for small policy changes, and possibly big ones in the future. Because right now I am pretty sick of talking about teachers being armed. That is not even a possibility in my mind. I would never want to see that and neither do they want to do that.”

I care about each and every one of my students deeply. Yet when an administrator asks me “How are your kids?” like Rebecca Berlin Field, I immediately jump into my role as mother to two young boys at an elementary school that seems impossibly far, and feels unpredictably vulnerable and reply, “I was so grateful for the Principal and over thirty staff and faculty who welcomed each and every student to school today. They were standing on the curb in six degree weather when my husband dropped my boys off.” Then realizing my mistake, I quickly say, “Oh, you mean my students. They are scared.” Because this question reaches further than the doors of my high school onto elementary campuses where tiny humans go to learn and to be safe, too.

How will we protect those young students like those in Sandy Hook? I realized this week that it is my turn. If I believe that laws should change, or that monies should be appropriated in a different or particular way, or that students should be protected it is my turn to step up and voice these opinions.

It is my turn to stand beside these brave students from my high school who are looking for real and actionable change to come from the debates surrounding the Parkland, FL shooting. Small changes in national policy can lead to big changes in the safety that exists (or doesn’t) in our schools. It is my turn to be part of solutions that keep my children safe every day at school. The debate doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive, citizens can and do have the right to bear arms, alongside more reasonable regulation of these weapons. We can allocate funds for more sustained support of the mentally ill. We don’t have to throw our hands up in defeat simply because we’ve been asked to do something difficult. If I tell my students every day that they can do hard things, then I should be able to do hard things too. I hope as a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, an administrator or a concerned citizen you’ll consider speaking out on these matters.

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Four Eyes, New Glasses

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Oh yes, friends, it’s Friday! I have really enjoyed publishing theses posts each week because it means that the weekend is always in sight! Speaking of sight, how do you like my new specs? I decided to go with Warby Parker’s Blair.

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Hearts, Flex Spending, and Real Savings

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The day of hearts and love is upon us. I don’t really care whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, I hope you still take a moment for some self-reflection and self-love sometime this month. This top adds the perfect amount of be-hearted spice to my wardrobe. I actually bought it last year in anticipation of V-day before I began my No New Things Challenge. Bonus, it’s now on sale!

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Groovy Stripes: Outfit Repeats and a NNTC Update

Remix Spring 2018

This week was an absolute bear. Work was pressing. We had a sick little babe at our house. I have to give thanks and praise to my husband and my mom and dad for helping our sick kiddo to have time to heal and get back on his feet. We found out on Thursday night he had step throat, now with antibiotics he is finally getting better!

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No New Things Update

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First, let me say thank you for the words of support, encouragement, interest and excitement in my year of no shopping challenge. I will need all of the good karma out there to nail this. (Big wry smile on my face.) That said, I had some really wonderful breakthroughs this weekend in terms of my “No New Things” challenge.

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The Last Sweater: My Year of No Shopping

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Wherever you stand on resolutions (you love them, you pooh-pooh them, you think they may be an impetus for change, you don’t subscribe because you don’t see any value), I think that there is merit in examining your life periodically, and setting goals and intentions which move you forward as an individual.

This year I have one main goal I am focusing on. I am setting out on a year of not buying clothing. There are many who have trod this path before me: Colleen Bordeaux, Ann Patchett, James Clear, Cait Flanders, and more. Each one of these individuals had their own structure and set of rules for their shopping furlough. For me, this quest is one I’ve toyed with for a very long time. So why now?

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Holiday Party Wear: Your Vote!

Look 1 : Velvet Camisole, Black Denim, Gray Cardigan, Leopard Flats, Gold Drop Hoops

This may have been one of my most fun social media interactions to date. On Thursday I asked my friends and followers on Instagram and Facebook which outfit they would choose for an upcoming holiday party I was dressing for.

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Bike Commuting: 7 Facts

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Image by LL Creative

Twenty-five days. This is the number of days I’ve commuted by bike. Far fewer than some, and perhaps more than most. This journey has been a cleansing one for me. Each morning I get the chance to send my gratitude out into the world as I roll along. Each afternoon, I have a moment to reflect on my work day and prepare for a good evening at home.

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Eye Spy: Warby Parker Winter Core and Resort ’17 Collection

Warby Parker Winter Core

As winter’s shadows lengthen and the days grow shorter (at least until mid-December), it’s not too early to think about welcoming the New Year. In 2017, I tried to maintain a better balance– both mind and body. I’ve taken to bike commuting to get (and keep) me outside and moving, I’ve focused on making sure that we’re eating whole and healthy meals here at home, and I’m making sure that I take care of each aspect of me so that I am more prepared to be a strength to my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my students, and the world at large.

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The First Day of the Rest of My Road

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1,000 decisions, properly made -Specialized Sequoia

The day has come! Today is the first day of the rest of my bike commuting journey. After writing a recent post about finding a new balance, moving into my second year of full time work, I realized that it was going to take even more focused planning to realize some of the goals and balance points I set for myself. An even more deliberate change of lifestyle was necessary if I wanted to reincorporate exercise, healthy movement, and cycling miles into my life. Here are a few factors motivating me to bike commute:

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Outerwear in October

Early Fall

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Jean Jacket, FleeceLeather Jacket

Not all climates are created for layering, but I live in one that requires it. I still contend that even in a temperate climate, layering is possible if you evaluate your options. A jean jacket, blazer, leather bomber, or even trench coat are universal style staples sea to shining sea.

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New Balance: Five Things I’m Doing To Renew Daily Equilibrium

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With the beginning of my second year of teaching I’ve encountered the reoccurring matter of balance. We have on-boarded a lot of activities and obligations to our family life. In addition to working full-time I will also be taking college courses as part of professional development for my teaching licensure over the next two years.

Here are five things I’m doing to renew balance in the eternal quest for equilibrium.

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Living Room Remodel: Boho Eclectic

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When we moved into our new home I wanted to bring some added warmth and texture into our living spaces, especially the living room. Our previous home had a smallish living room that also served as the TV room (more on this later, as we haven’t even unpacked our TV and it has made me so very happy!).

One of the things I disliked about the previous space is that it seemed to serve as more of a walkway to the kitchen and dining room than it did as a living space. The furniture was nice, in fact we have only really added a few pieces in this new home. But it lacked a certain cozy comfortability I hoped to bring to this new abode.

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The first thing we updated in our living room was the flooring. The house originally had carpet in all of the rooms except the kitchen. We replaced the living room carpet with laminate flooring. We decided to go away from the dark, dark wood we had in our previous house and instead go with a more natural walnut colored floor. I couldn’t be more happy with our choice. The floor is the perfect warm neutral tone I was looking for, it shows much less dirt and wear (hello two dogs), and I feel as though we’ll be happy with our choice for years to come!

I’ve already explained that one of the updates in our house was the new rug  top right in the picture above. It was a happy mistake because I originally purchased for the dining room but it was WAY too big for that room. In all honesty, we got the rug, realized it wouldn’t fit, rolled it out in the living room, and it hasn’t moved since! In fact, it was really the first piece that we put into our new home post new paint and flooring.

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NEUTRAL BASICS

I’ve put together some mood boards of the process we went through to pick the rest of the decor. I started with some of the neutral basics I already had and added a few I wanted. One big addition for us was also a coffee table. Because of the size of our last living room, we had never pulled the trigger on a coffee table. We love our pick (we actually bought two coffee tables, but one acts as more of a side table), it is affordable, functional, and just the right size for the space. Unfortunately this couch is sold out online, but I’ve shopped some worthy alternatives at similar price points.

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Mirror, Side Table, Tray, Shelf, Couch (1, 2, 3), Coffee Table, Coffee Table, Lamp, Throw

BRIGHTS and TEXTURE

After the basic neutrals, I decided that I wanted to add some touches of pink throughout the living room. I picked up the pillows and throw on sale at Anthropologie. My husband has given me plenty of grief about the price, but the rest of the pillows are a combination of old favorites from Ikea, and some refreshed cream basics from target.

We also picked up two of the Eve Buttoned Chairs from West Elm. I was adamant that we switch out my two woven fabric chairs for this microfiber because of the way that dog hair gets trapped in the woven fabric of our yellow chairs. I actually kept both yellow chairs because there is plenty of space for extra seating in this living room.

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Rug, Pillow, Throw, Runner, Pillow, Chair 

LITTLE EXTRAS

Last, I wanted to have some decor in this room that was simply for looks! Now that my children are older, I don’t have to worry about whether or not someone will throw the small gold starburst sculpture, or if they will pluck a succulent out of the terrarium, or try to climb the ladder that is only meant for blankets.

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Picture, Starburst, Succulent, Terrarium, Wall Weaving, Ladder

Fall Cozy: Splurge or Save

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SPLURGE: Sweater, Jeans, Booties, Earrings

Fall– undoubtedly my favorite time of year– favorite as far as weather, favorite as far as food, and of course, favorite as far as fashion is concerned. One of my friends said it best when she wished for fall to span six months a year, and the other three seasons could fight over the other half!

One reason I love fall style so much is that it that it allows such cozy dressing. There is nothing more comfy or relaxing than slipping into a cashmere sweater to cuddle up next to the fire with a good book after work. (Yes, this sometimes still happens!)

I’ve put together two outfits, nearly identical in look, but one that is full of closet splurges and one that is easy on the wallet. I don’t actually own any of the items on the splurge list. I’m a first believer that as far as fashion is concerned, you don’t need to break the bank. I’ve put together another set of this same look to save you some dough.

The other thing you don’t have to sacrifice when you walk on the cozy side is style. In love with that slouchy sweatshirt you’ve had since college? Great! Add a pair of bold, gold, geometric earrings to spice it up. Still holding on to that perfect pair of distressed Levi’s you picked up at the thrift store three years ago? Awesome! Simply invest in a pair of killer booties– extra credit if you find some with rivets or embellishment.

Below is the same look as above but for less! What are some of your favorite fall fashion finds? I’d love to know what you think, and as always, I’m wishing you a wonderful day!

XX, Megan

SAVE: Sweater, Jeans, Booties, Earrings

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Work it! Power Red

Scarlet, papaya, crimson, fiery sunset– all things RED! Have any of you ever been bold enough to layer yourself in this punchy color? One of the most iconic blogger-gals Blair (below), of Atlantic-Pacific, has rocked many head-to-toe red looks over the years.

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While I don’t hide my passion for red, sometimes a simple coat or accessory is enough to bring that bright pop to your daily dress. Perhaps drenching yourself in vermilion hues isn’t your style speed. So while red is definitely on my style radar this fall for both work and weekend, I probably won’t be rocking any head-to-toe ensembles of this vibrant shade.

Instead, I plan to add some red on the accessory level. Here are a few of my favorite red outfit additions. Coat, earrings, pants, bag (on sale!), shoes.

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Just one more look from Blair because I simply can’t resist!

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Wearing This Weekend: Labor Day Edition

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Shirt, Jeans, Sandals

It has been an interesting sartorial journey for me as I’ve return to the workplace. Before I was working full time, I often fell into the overdressed category. One of the reasons I clung to my style was that it was a way for me to set the tone for my day. I simply did not want to fall into a permanently casual vibe.

No judgement here. I understand that a lot of primary parents want and need to be comfortable as they wrangle small humans, schlep snacks and sunscreen, go from playground to carpool. In short, I get it. Active wear is important.

Now that I’m working my respect for weekend and lounge wear has increased 100 fold. I can’t wait to get home from work and throw on my Birkenstock sandals. Alleluia. I’ve pulled together a batch of looks from Madewell this fine Friday. Consider this some inspiration for your Labor Day Weekend wearing.

If you find yourself in the little town of Midway, Utah this weekend, be sure to stop by the pie and ice cream booth. I’ll be happy to serve you up some sweetness on a plate as Swiss Days are in full swing! Happy Friday, friends!!

XX, Megan

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Shirt, Jeans, Mules

Shirt: The ruffles on this top are irresistible! This top also transitions easily from weekend to work week with a simple pant switch. Jeans: I have a fair number of black jeans in my closet, but I’d add this raw hem pair to the pack as a subtle, fun change. Mules: I am jonsing on these low-heeled shoes. These are also an easy weekend to work week addition to any closet.

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Shirt, Overalls, Shoes

Shirt: Chambray is still one of my weekend go-tos. It’s comfortable, stain resistant, and pairs well with most bottoms. This top will be perfect for serving pie and ice cream at Swiss Days or spending the morning at your kiddos favorite playground. Overalls: If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know that I can’t resist a good pair of overalls, see HERE and HERE. Shoes: If I could justify another pair of sneakers these would be the ones. I love the cognac suede. These kicks are as comfortable as they are cute. If you haven’t jumped on the sneaker band wagon these might be just the pair to take you there.

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Watch, Earrings, Sunglasses, Bandana

What’s a good outfit without complimentary accessories? Here are a few of my current favorites. Watch: I’ve been looking for a super simple every day watch. I’ll be wearing this for the work week and weekend. Earrings: Sometimes adding edgy extras brings just the right point-of-interest to an outfit. These earrings are an easy addition to any ensemble. Sunglasses: This pair of sunnies is still in my weekly rotation. Sometimes the classics– reach Ray-Ban Clubmaster– with a twist– meaning the crazy tortoise patters– are just the right amount of pop.

Cheat Sheet: Packing My Carry On to NYC

When prepping to pack for New York City I wanted to be sure I ended up with carry on luggage only. No need to tote your entire wardrobe across the country. Plus, I knew that part of our trip would definitely include some shopping; so if I went light, I’d be able to have room for some fun NYC finds.

 

Here’s what I ended up packing for five nights and six days in the Big Apple!!

Let’s start with the contents of my personal item. I opted for this medium sized Louis Vuitton tote— the sweetest “first year of teaching” gift from my husband. I really only need my wallet, sunglasses, makeup, and most importantly reading material! For my trip to NYC I’m taking along a digital copy of Holl and Lane Magazine.

Holl and Lane is a magazine dedicated to sharing stories that enrich our understanding of one another. This month’s issue focuses on mental health and destigmatizing aspects of mental illness that have often caused a gulf or separation between those suffering from mental illnesses and those who have a hard time understanding the reality of these diseases and disorders. It has been a refreshing read so far. Check them out HERE!

In terms of what to wear, I packed four easy outfits and one perfect party dress. I plan on wearing this plaid frock to Hamilton, and honestly cannot wait for the chance to take in a Broadway show. It’s been a few years (like almost eight years since I saw Wicked on Broadway). Below are my outfit picks for this trip (all linked below).

Instagram overload may be in order this time around, and I’ll be linking these travel outfit ideas on Pinterest, as well! Happy Wednesday, humans.

XX, Megan

T-shirt, Skirt, White Shorts, Dress, Shoes, Eyelet Top, Dress, Shorts, Ruffle Shirt

 

Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes

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This reciep posted last week, and I admit that it went to press completely unedited– no pictures, no commentary, nothing other than the recipe. I am updating it now because it really is SUCH a wonderful meal. I thought about taking the post down. I’ve never let anything publish on my blog that wasn’t written and edited before.

But this time I thought, “You know what, this is real life. Real time.” I.e. NO TIME! 🙂 And I let the article stay put. Now, a week later, I am showing up to add the appropriate photos, links, and this little blurb about my whoops!

This dinner was another Six O’clock Scramble* win? It was enjoyed by one and all. If I were to make it again, I might try it with the parmesan, as that would take it to a whole new delicious level. Beyond this dinner, thank you for reading, following, commenting, and supporting my little blog. I am still very much enjoying my tiny corner of the internet! Have a great Monday!!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (preferably US or Canadian farmed or wild shrimp), peeled and deveined, thoroughly dried
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic, (4 – 6 cloves)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved and seeded (poke out seeds with your thumb after halving)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, or use basil
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
 Directions:

In a large heavy skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the shrimp in a single layer and sauté them for about 2 minutes per side until they are pink and opaque throughout. (Meanwhile, prepare the green beans, if you are serving them.)

Add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook everything for 2 – 3 more minutes, until the tomatoes start to soften. Stir in the parsley (or basil), Parmesan cheese (optional), and toss until the shrimp and tomatoes are nicely coated. Serve immediately.

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*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Celebrating Stripes! #nationalstripesday

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Who has two bell sleeves and is excited about National Stripes Day?!? This gal! You didn’t think I would let #nationalstripesday pass me by, did you?!? I’m fully on board with this made-up holiday. Beyond the STRIPES, I hope you have a BEAUTIFUL Friday!!

XX, MeganDSC_0428.JPGDSC_0430.JPGDSC_0445.JPGDSC_0446.JPGDSC_0429.JPGShirt, Jeans (similar), ShoesShoes, Bag, Sunglasses, Lips

Meatloaf Muffins

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I read an article today titled “The home-cooked family dinner: Yes, it’s a burden for moms but is it worthwhile?” from the Washington Post. The article isn’t new, dated 2014, but all of the questions may still be asked contemporarily. Do we really need family dinner? Is family dinner a burden that we, primarily women, should carry? Do the benefits outweigh the inherent struggle?

For me, the answer is undoubtedly yes, to all three. The takeaway, and I realize that I may be preaching to the choir here, was that family dinner is an integral part of working toward increasing the health of your family– not just physically, but mentally as well. Research shows that kids who eat family dinner five or more times a week are proven to do better in school, to be more adverse to drug and alcohol abuse, less prone to depression, and more likely to avoid eating disorders.

The more I learn about and experience family dinner, the more sold I’ve become. I really do need to give credit where credit is due and recognize Aviva Goldfarb and her meal planning service The Six O’clock Scramble because she and her team are the reason that our family dinners have succeeded.

I’ve written about The Scramble, and sung its praises here on Refined + Rugged more than once, but I really do credit the simple, straigtforward menus, easy grocery lists, and customizable meal plans that The Scramble offers for keeping us on the family dinner wagon for SO LONG- going on seven years now, I believe. You know it’s good when you’ll recommend it to every person you meet, call a radio talk show just to drop the name, and write Instagram love letters to the founder because you life has been so changed! 🙂

To my mother and close friends I’ve joked that it only took me eight years of being home to figure out how to make a home-cooked meal, but the reality is that there will be some trial and error if you do decide to jump on the train and begin family dinners.

However, an equally important reality offered in the article was that of dinnertime flexibility. Anne Kruger, former editor-in-chief at Parenting magazine explains, “I remember as a working mom dragging my kids to Arby’s after picking them up from day-care and kindergarten because I was just too tired to cook when my husband was out of town.” She continues, “I’d let them watch ‘The Simpsons’ in Arby’s and pray that nobody I knew would see me because of [my position] I should have been ‘doing better.’ Which is ridiculous, because we’re all doing the best we can.”

That is the ultimate truism. So this Thursday, friends, I hope you find yourselves in the kitchen, or find yourselves grabbing dinner at some fast food joint. I hope that you feel good about it either way! If you’re home, this meal was SIMPLE, DELICIOUS, and HEALTHY. All things I’ve come to expect from The Six O’clock Scramble which is still the biggest family dinner silver bullet I’ve found.

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic, (1 – 2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef, turkey or chicken, or use 24 oz. meatless crumbles
  • 3/4 cup ketchup, or use tomato sauce
  • 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs (use wheat/gluten-free if needed),  I used almond flour with 1 1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning added
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, oregano and garlic for 3 – 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender (if using meatless crumbles, add them now too and cook for 3 – 4 extra minutes).  Remove them from the heat and let them cool for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, then add the onion and carrot mixture, and stir thoroughly.

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon the meat mixture into the cups, dividing evenly — each mini meatloaf should completely fill a muffin cup but won’t go much over the top of it.  Bake the meatloaf muffins for 30 minutes.  (Meanwhile, prepare the carrots and the potatoes, if you are serving them.)  Remove the muffins from the oven and let them sit for 5 minutes before serving, or refrigerate them for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.

*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Double Leopard Blush

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Woo-weeee! I have to admit that this full-time working-mom business is NOT for the faint of heart. Forgive my little moment(s), sisters of the human race who have been doing this since their children arrived on the scene. Now, more than ever, I salute incredible women everywhere. Because WOW, sometimes it is not easy to be a woman.

You know, I know it is not easy to be a man, either, but do we always have to talk of ONE as if it undermines the particulars and hardships of the OTHER? Anyway, we’ve only gotten through Monday, and this week has already felt like a whirlwind. With dentist appointments, department meetings, and my hubby falling victim to some yucky bug– and I though last week was busy!

I truly hope that wherever you are, your week is off to a good start, even if it has been or is projected to become a whirlwind. I’m over here making lists, and finishing lesson plans, and doesn’t that title sound like an ice cream flavor– Double Leopard Blush? Maybe after this week has run its course I’ll treat myself to something yummy involving ice cream.

Happy Tuesday, beautiful people!

XX, Megan

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Sweater (sold out but $, $$, $$$), Jeans, Bag, Shoes (similar, love these, cute update), Sunglasses, Necklace, Earrings, Lips

Eyelet on a Country Road

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The sun is out! Or at least it has been for the past few days. Yes, this gorgeous weather has me all sorts of happy (as evidenced by that first picture). With sun, warmth, and signs of Spring everywhere I pulled out this perfect little white eyelet dress.

The blush touches also add a little bit of Spring. What I’m really hoping for is the weather to hold long enough to get some first road miles on my road bike this season this weekend! What are your plans for the weekend? Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a wonderful one.

XX, Megan

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Dress, Jacket, Shoes, Purse, Sunglasses, Watch, Earrings, Lips

Wearing: 7 Spring Style Staples

Leather Jacket, Eyelet Dress, Striped Tee, Distressed Boyfriend Jeans, Off-the-shoulder Top, Anorak, Sporty Kicks, Similar Earrings

A quick look at what I’ve been wearing lately. I love the opportunity Spring affords to layer pieces that may be stand-alone come Summer. Perhpas the most fun/outrageous/talked about item on this list are these earrings that I picked up on an after-Christmas sale at J.Crew. The first time I wore them, with exaggerated flares, patent cobalt pumps, and a cropped sweatshirt, I believe my husbands exact words were, “Wow. Those are a point of interest, aren’t they!?”

My oldest calls them my Mardi Gras earrings, and I did wear them to the Mardi Gras school fundraiser. My youngest, however, took a different bent, “Are those tic-tacs, Mom?” Beyond the conversation-inducing ear wear, I’m sticking to a mix of classic meets current in my wardrobe mix this Spring. Always stripes, layering with this brilliant leather jacket, and a touch of eyelet to honor the change of season. Though you better believe I’ll be sporting the leather jacket over the eyelet dress as temps change.

This pair of distressed boyfriend jeans has been my weekend jam. In fact, many days I come home from teaching and throw them on with an easy top to start homework and dinner with my littles. Though they are the epitome of casual, I’ll dress them up for a date night, no doubt. I love to counter rips with the most sleek high heels I have. If you’ve never given the combination a try, I dare you to see if you don’t feel sexy and comfortable all at once!

Have a wonderful Monday, friends!

XX, Megan

Oh, and this sweet frock! Because whimsical florals should always have a seat at the Srping style table, and I really have gotten so much wear out of this dress. I plan to wear it gobs through the Spring and into Summer.

Floral Maxi Dress

 

Chicken Pesto Vegetable Soup

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The following post is a bit lengthy, as I describe my experience on the Whole 30 this time around. If you didn’t come here for insight into the aforementioned diet, skip to the bottom of the post for the DELICIOUS recipe details for Chicken Pesto Vegetable Soup which I got from The Scramble*!!!

Whole 30 complete! In full disclosure. I did not accomplish the Whole 30. I had far too many slip-ups to call it such. The rules of the Whole 30 are that if you have a “mistake”– any sugar, any grain, any dairy– and you are to restart your 30 day countdown. That’s right, back to zero.

I didn’t restart. I just kept going. If I were to quantify how much clean eating I accomplished versus how many taboo ingredients I consumed, I’d say I ate clean 98% of the time. So the 2% was my downfall. These “mistakes” were all on the weekend, all with friends, all social missteps from my diet. I don’t intend to justify my fall off the wagon on the weekend.

The triumph for me in my not-a-Whole-30 has been that during what has been a super-busy, super-stressful, super-time scarce moment in my life I was STILL ABLE TO EAT CLEAN. I was still able to meal prep every day. I was still able prove to myself that it is possible to set and keep healthy eating habits even during times when food may not have normally been the focus. For that reality, I AM STOKED!

So the following are some of my take-aways from this round of the Whole 30. First of all, I am always so glad that clean eating shows me the quiet dietary extras I sometimes allow to get out of hand. It starts with breakfast. When I’m not Whole 30ing I almost always have Greek yogurt and a few tablespoons of granola for breakfast. These are my go-tos out of ease. It’s easy to grab a packaged container of yogurt and store a bag of granola in my desk at school.

But what is the nutritional value of yogurt and granola? If I am honest with myself, it isn’t very high. 150 calories with 13 grams of sugar and 12 grams of protein. Augmented by 230 milligrams of potassium. However, the calcium is minimal, the vitamin content nonexistent. Don’t stop eating Greek yogurt on my account. I’m sure I won’t. But there are better choices for breakfast.

On the Whole 30 I ate half of a roasted sweet potato, two eggs, and one sausage most mornings. I haven’t calculated the nutritional content, but I know for a fact that the sugar content in that meal is WAY lower in my Whole 30 breakfast meals than it is in a pile of yogurt and granola.

The Whole 30 also helps me to evaluate my snacking. I am prone to pick up handfuls of high carb, low nutritional content munch several times a day. While those bites might not add up to much in one palm-full, they do equate to more empty calories overall, everyday. Over time, those bites and bits at times become binges, and herein is where the problem really lies.

Whole 30 always reminds me that WHOLE food, REAL food, has the ability to satiate not only my appetite, but actually all of my body’s cravings. If a donut and an avocado had the same affect on my body, I could eat a donut a day for the rest of my days. The reality is that constant intake of processed sugars and fats equates to unwanted after-effects on my body each time I consume them. This reminder is key to eating clean and staying clean. It doesn’t mean I’ll never eat a donut again, but it does mean that I’d rather eat an avocado. Truth!

I always see the positive affects of the Whole 30, not only in my diet, but the eating habits of my entire family. My kiddos end up eating a whole lot LESS of the processed crap I sometimes allow to sneak up on the table and into their mouths (yes, this is the stuff they are eating whilst I am being apathetic). I love that we dispense with desert in favor of a piece of fruit. I love that the treats that sometimes linger on the shelves are absent because I’m not buying the for myself or for anyone else. I am pleased when my chicken little tells me that the pesto soup I made (the recipe below) ROCKED his socks off.

To me, these are all positive affects of the Whole 30. Including things like increased intake of ALL vegetables. Learning and remembering that flavor can come from herbs, spices, garlic, and the like is a dream come true for my taste buds. And speaking of taste buds, I feel as though my mouth always undergoes this shift where at some point in the Whole 30 I start to notice that my taste buds are really alive again, as I have previously saturated them with so much sugar that they fail to respond properly to whole foods!

So while my Whole 30 cannot rightfully be called a Whole 30 this time around, it is most certainly they way that I want to continue to eat on a daily basis. In fact, that is another thing that I was reminded of during this not-a-Whole-30. As I neared day 30 for the second time, I remembered my first Whole 30– how excited I was to eat a sandwich, how I couldn’t wait to bite into an ice cream cone, how tempting a donut sounded until the bitter end. This time I started to think about how I didn’t want my diet to change and shift and morph into something else. I still want to eat sweet potato hash and eggs. I still want to consume more vegetables and lean protein. I still want to be able to say that I went the entire week without desert. Not because I forced or convinced myself I didn’t need sugar, but because I didn’t even WANT it!

One indulgent meal once and a while will not keep me from my health goals, but allowing myself simple sugars, and over-processed food day-in and day-out will eventually derail my health and fitness goals. My plan is to complete a mistake-free Whole 30 when we return from vacation in April. At this point, I feel confident in my ability to stay on the train without looking back! On with the recipe! (And your day, if you really hung in here for the entire play-by-play!) Happy Thursday!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 15 oz. extra-firm tofu, drained and diced, or use 1 lb. chicken breast, diced
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 32 oz. reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. basil pesto, or more to taste

Directions:

 Heat a large saucepan or stockpot over medium to medium-high heat, and add the oil. When it is hot, add the carrots, celery and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tofu (if using chicken add it about 6 – 8 minutes before the soup is done), tomatoes and broth, cover it and bring it to a boil.
Remove the cover and simmer the soup for 15 – 20 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Stir in the parsley and pesto and let the flavors meld for about 1 minute before removing from the heat. Serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
This recipe’s original side was a loaf of Italian bread. Instead of bread, I opted for Roasted Spicy Sweet Potato Bites.
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into one, two, or even three inch cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp rosemary (or you can use thyme or basil or parsley)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat your oven to 450. Chop the sweet potatoes and put them into a medium sized bowl. Add the olive oil. Mix the dry ingredients together. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and herbs. Bake for 35-45 minutes turning once halfway through baking. Enjoy!!
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*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Delicate Floral and Edgy Leather

DSC_0333There are MANY wonderful reasons to love maxi dresses/skirts. Maxies make your legs look miles long, especially in heels. Your gams can go unshaved and untanned without undue attention, and elongated hems are perfect in bluster and wind which might make dresses of lesser length blow sky high!

For all of my Maxi love, I don’t own many. But when I saw this gem on a recent shopping trip I knew I had to have it for Spring. I’ve already worn it a handful of times– once to a fancy dinner, and another to a friend’s housewarming party. I love that a maxi dress is easy to layer, making it more wearable as the weather takes its Lion-and-Lamb way with us this March.

I’d go on about this leather jacket, too, because it is soft and buttery and adds just the right amount of edge to any look. But I’ll save that for another day. I’m sure I’ll be wearing it again and again and again. Have a beautiful Tuesday, friends.

XX, Megan

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Dress (short version, here), Leather Jacket (also here), Heels (similarsimilar, and here), Purse, Earrings, Lips

Connect the Dots

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The addage work hard, play hard has new meaning as a full-time working mom. Sometimes I come home so exhausted on Fridays that I wonder if I remember my own name! But truly, by the time the weekend rolls around it is hard for me to balance my desire and need for relaxation with my desire to play and step out of the working world for a moment. To shake it off, just like Taylor Swift.

This past weekend we went to the annual fundraising dinner for out boys’ school. The theme was Mardi Gras so we donned masks, black tie attire, picked up some of our dearest friends, and went out on the town! We had the BEST time! We owe a huge thank you to the organizers, our awesome PTA president, the faculty and staff at Soldier Hollow. I mean when you get to learn a new line  dance to “Uptown Funk” from your kids’ secretary, you know it’s been a night to remember.

Today, the grind continues. But here is some polka-dot love for your Tuesday. I hope you have a wonderful week, and that your weekend is filled with some “Uptown Funk!”

XX, Megan

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Shirt (J.Crew, similar), Jeans (J.Crew), Shoes (J.Crew), Bag (J.Crew, similar), Sunglasses (Prada), Ring (Madewell), Lips (Stilla)

J.Crew Wishlist

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Do any of you save items you are thinking about purchasing to a wishlist or favorites application on your prime shopping sites? Truth be told, I often fill shopping carts up across the web. Things I like, things I’m lusting after, even things that I will never, ever buy. These items include anything I find interesting, unique, novel, or simply out of my budget. (Hello, simple Gucci slides of my dreams.)

Today I’m sharing some of the loot on my wishlist. Whether or not this stuff really makes it into the cart doesn’t matter. Sometimes it’s just fun to share style inspiration you’re playing with.

Happy Thursday, friends!

XX, Megan

Here goes! (Linked Left to Right, Top to Bottom)

Silk cami, Off-the-shoulder top, Lips sweater, Striped shirt, Dressy top

Casual turtleneck, Leather jacket, Jean jacket, Red coverup, Flowery pjs (sold out, similar)

Black bandeau, Lip stain, Spring jeans, Perfect sandals, Bikini bottoms

Black carry-all, Not-your-average hoops, Simple sunnies, Locket, Polka-dot pouch

Oh, and just one more because!

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So Bright Pink

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I wore this top to school last week and these were some of the comments I got, “WOW! You’re just… so bright!” “Are you over there? I can’t see you.” “My eyes! I think you’re the brightest thing I’ve seen all day.”

All the talk made me smile. I love wearing brights in the winter. Almost as much as I love wearing bright lip stick :). I’ve found that color saturation gives me a little boost of energy on what otherwise might be a monocolor day– white and gray.

I shopped this shirt (now 40% off!) below, as well as the skirt version of this print. I’m half tempted to buy the skirt and wear them together in a shockingly pink combo!! Have a happy Tuesday, peeps!

XX, Megan

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Top (J.Crew (40% off!), skirt version), Jeans (Madewell), Shoes (J.Crew, similar), Bag (J.Crew), Coat (J.Crew), Sunglasses (Karen Walker), Bracelet (Kate Spade)

 

Eggs Florentine for Two

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The only thing I regret about this meal is cracking my poached egg! 🙂 It was perfectly cooked, but when I went to plate that baby it just kept rolling off– first one way and then the next. That egg did not want to stay put, and I ended up puncturing it with my spoon. Woops!

The idea for this meal came when I was left with two perfect handfuls of spinach that were not enough to constitute two full salads, too much to put into two omlets, and not quite enough to justify cooking up a quiche.

This breakfast, which could just as easily serve as brunch, also came about because of our sweet potato hash burnout. We’ve been munching on sweet potato hash for nearly every breakfast since we began the Whole30, but have needed to come up with some more creative, i.e. different forms of breakfast now that we’re nearly two weeks in.

The results were truly scrumptions. You can make this dish for 4 by simply doubling the recipe but as I knew it wouldn’t be a hit with my kiddos, I simply made it for my husband and me. As with all recipes here on Refined + Rugged, I’d love to know what YOU think!

XX, Megan

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Ingredients

4 slices turkey bacon (or prosciutto)

1 tbs. coconut oil

1/4 onion diced small

1 clove garlic

2 cups baby spinach

Dash of nutmeg

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup of grape tomatoes halved

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil. Lay the bacon on a baking sheet and bake until crispy 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the coconut oil and saute 1/4 of an onion stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the spinach and nutmeg and cook until the spinch is wlited, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stirring occasionally, cook for an additional 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove pan from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Fill a small saucepan with 3 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Crack an egg into a small bowl, be careful not to break the yolk. Slide the egg into the water, then stir carefully for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes until the white is set and the yolk is still soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg and drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining egg.

Place 1/2 cup tomatoes on each salad plate and season with salt and pepper. Place two strips of bacon over the tomatoes. Spoon 1/2 of the spinach sauce over the bacon (or proscuitto). Top with a poached egg and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

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Cozy Transitions = Spring Sweaters

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On Tuesday, I posted a laid-back date night look for my Valentine’s night out featuring a classic cashmere sweater. And last week on Instagram I featured this cozy lace-up sweater from Target’s Who What Wear collection that I styled with leopard flats and ripped skinnies for the perfect after-work ensemble.

Today, in the spirit of seasonal transitions, I’ve shopped some sweaters that are perfect for the Winter to Spring thaw in kissy combinations of red, pink, white, and stripe!! Enjoy! ❤

spring-sweaters

Linked left to right, top to bottom:

Lightweight wool bow, Side-slit with ties, Striped V-neck, Lace-back window pane jacquard, Tassel pullover, Merino wool cardigan, Tippi with embroidered lips, Lace-back pullover, Textured with anchor buttons, Structured stripe in orange motif, Winter whisper in ivory, Barnemme tiered pullover

Happy Valentine’s Day!

XX,

Megan

 

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I Heart Date Night

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Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. What are your plans. Not that this day need be spent differently from any other. I mean, buck the consumer based heart-sickness that is today.

Or revel in it! Buy yourself flowers, gift your partner some alone time, make homemade cards with your small humans.

For me, tonight is date night. We are headed to a favorite spot– Communal. I am excited about the prix fixe menu, and even more delighted to spend time with my love.

This unfussy outfit is what I’ll be wearing tonight. A night out that calls for a sit-down dinner also calls for some killer heels and these have been wardrobe workhorses through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and now on to the day of love, and hearts, and too much candy. (Outfit links below.)

Have a beautiful Tuesday!

XX,

Megan

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Sweater (J.Crew), Jeans (J.Crew), Heels (WhoWhatWear for Target), Bag (Madewell), Sunglasses (Karen Walker), Bracelet (Kate Spade Monogram), Lips (Mac Viva Glam)

Psycho Monkey Smoothie

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Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that we started the Whole30 this past Monday. My husband almost instantly hit his low, and has been on a steady crescendo back to energy, feeling fabulous, and taking on the Whole30 like never before (last time he lasted 24 hours, this time he is reading food labels and abstaining from all things Whole30 taboo).

On the other hand, I felt GREAT when I started Whole30, and then proceeded to tank a little bit at the end of the week. This could also be the result of a demanding schedule. I’m teaching two cycling classes right now. One indoor cycling class at the gym, and a class at our local bike shop Slim & Knobby’s.

All of this to celebrate the fact that we have found the perfect Whole30 approved treat! Now when I say treat, I mean this loosely. Because everything inside the Psycho Monkey Smoothie from The Scramble is Whole30 approved. I have made sure that I don’t use this delicious drink to cheat myself. The Whole30 recommends eating three set meals, and encourages participants to move away from snacking.

Thursday night after my spin class, however, I was severely in need of a pick-me-up. Something that would give me a little boost, but leave my sugar levels alone. This smoothie is it!!

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1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup ice
1/2 cup filtered water, or use tap water
2 bananas, frozen
2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter or other nut or seed butter
1/4 cup cocoa nibs (also called raw chocolate or cacao), or use 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. chia seeds

Blend!

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Only after seeing these pictures did I realize that I left out the unsweetened shredded coconut. I don’t recommend doing this, but our smoothie was delicious, nonetheless.

*The Six O’Clock Scramble is a meal planning service to which you can subscribe here. For a fantastic price you will receive 8 weekly meals which means 8 recipes (main course plus a side dish), complete grocery list, the ability to tweak the number of people you are making for, and full nutrition facts.

PLUS tips as to how best to PREP your meal beforehand, add a punch of FLAVOR, and how to SLOW COOK almost every recipe if you’re especially slammed that night. This wonderful service really does live up to it’s name. You can come home at 6 p.m. and be sitting down to a DELICIOUS, HEALTHY, HOME COOKED meal by 6:30 p.m. most nights.

Workwear Wednesday

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Friends, readers, blog followers, HELLO! What a month it has been, and maybe even a little longer than that since I last posted. The beginning of my school year has been a whirlwind– equal parts exciting and overwhelming. I am really loving my time in the classroom. It has been a joy to be able to teach, listen, read, discuss, and see my students growing already!!

I have yet to figure out how this blog will play out in the shape of my current life. The real kicker at this point is TIME. Time for it all. I am sure that many of you can relate to having so much to do, and seemingly so little time to do it all! I am also trying to be conscious of balance! Does that even exist? I posted about BALANCE in the past, and I am echoing my past thoughts when I say that finding that groove, that perfect mix-of-it all is nearly impossible.

However, I also want to eschew BUSINESS or saying that I am busy for the sake of begin busy! I really loath the word busy. I think it has become an excuse for EVERYTHING. Perhaps I will succeed in my effort to label my life and my work inside the home and outside as ENGAGED. At this point it feels as though we are ENGAGED in working on something AT. ALL. TIMES.

I told a close friend that I have felt that if I am sitting down at any point in the day, twiddling my thumbs, I am most definitely missing the point because the TO-DO list is longer than the good folks on Santa’s scrolls!!! 🙂

In this spirit of hanging on to my little piece of the inter-webs, I wanted to give you a little look at my Work Wardrobe. Some of these items are in my closet, some of them are on my wish list, some of them are simply pieces that I think are great in a capsule workwear collection.

I’ve linked all of them below for your shopping pleasure, and I hope to see you back here in the next week or so with some more daily lifestyle inspiration!! Wishing you a Happy Wednesday, and a wonderful rest of your week!

XX, Megan

Toppers: jacket, cardigan, scarf, leather jacket, long cardigan

Shirts: ballet, ruffles, stripe, peplum, swiss dot

Pants: wide leg, leather, pencil skirt, ankle length, straight leg

Bags: burgundy satchel, transport tote, leopard cross-body, backpack, cross-body saddle bag

Shoes: mules, brogues, wedges, flats, boots

Back to School Stripes

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With all of the back to school excitement happening around our house– mom going to school, little brother going to school, big brother going to school– I couldn’t help but post my Back to School outfit.

I don’t know that I’ll be wearing this on my first day back with students, but gosh I love a good stripe, and this dress is just about as perfect as they come! I’ve shopped a few similar striped dresses below.

The addition of a leopard accessory, oversized sunnies, and a red lip only serve to increase outfit interest. If you’re in a wardrobe bind or stuck in an outfit rut, I’m telling you, pick up a striped dress in your favorite silhouette and you’ll have many happy returns.

Have a rad Wednesday, friends!

XX, Megan

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Dress: Kate Spade (this season’s version on sale!, similarsteal, splurge, love), Bag: J.Crew, Shoes: J.Crew, Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Necklace: Nadri, Lips: Troi Olivvierre in George

The Greatest (Unlooked For) Endeavor of my Life

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Change. Change is not a concept I am ever fond of or comfortable with. I’d generalize and say that “no one likes change”, but my partner seems to thrive on the stuff so I can’t pen sweeping falsities as per a marriage to a living, breathing human who jams on just that– change. If I have learned anything from my time on planet earth it is that CHANGE is a near constant and there is no perfect, or un-messy, or manageable way to transition with every change.

We are about to experience some real CHANGE around these parts as I go to work full-time. This change has me feeling all of the feels– I’m up, I’m down, I’m excited, I’m sad. There are reasonable explanations and scenarios for every one of these emotions, and then there is the reality that this transition is simply emotional for me. I have spent the last eight years at home with my babies. It has been this golden, magical, building, difficult, taxing, head-tripping, sanity-questioning, constantly self-examining experience. In the end, it has been the hardest, best thing I have ever done.

I have wanted to write a magnum opus to motherhood, if you will, since realizing the enormity of the changecomingatuslikeafreighttrain. A celebration of the JOY, the LIGHT, the LOVE I have found in this job called Mom that I did not look for when I planned my life. A space and a time that I didn’t know I wanted, or needed, or would treasure so deeply. I have wanted to share the gift, the fulfillment, and the hardship of primary parenting for a while now on the blog. But I haven’t found a profound, or extraordinary way to do it.

Of course there are already beautiful things written about the goodness and the difficulty of trying to be a stay-at-home parent and juggle career and creativity. One of the best was penned by Rufi Thorpe for Vela Mag, “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid”. I could not say AMEN enough times as I read this piece. The struggle to create, to think, to ponder, to write, to reach into those deep wells of art and creativity– it seems almost impossible to tap those beautiful places as a mother and home-front warrior.

Let me rewind for a moment. If you had asked me 10 years ago what my life goals were– parenting, child rearing, mothering– would not, not have likely made the list or crossed my lips. Let me be clear that I did want to have children “someday”. I did want to get married “someday”. I always hoped to find another human who would journey this life with me, and that our love would bring children into that journey, that life.

But I felt as though wishing, and hoping, and dreaming of becoming a wife and mother was a waste of precious time. After all, I only had one life to live, I only had one opportunity to enrich and and educate and increase my understanding of the entire universe this ONE precious time– my life. And no one could give me a time, or a date, or a place, or description of how this would all happen or take place. And so I felt that I would do best to put goals that were tangible, concrete, and achievable in my scope. It doesn’t bode well in my book to put “Get Married” on a to-do list.

However, I was never closed to finding my person. I was never opposed to having children. I wasn’t numb to being in love. In fact, on the precipice of my transition to graduate school I met THE ONE. He was dark and dashing, and I fell hard. When my life story– my goals, and decisions, and career framework– met the river of my love story– my care, my heart, my deep desire for companionship, and the person I had hoped for– the confluence brought me such elation and excitement.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have found my husband, my partner. That confluence quickly brought us our fist child. The I, me, my became we, us, ours. I’ve often felt as though that meeting of my rivers, the joining of my two stories came at the PERFECT moment. Don’t misread, we were still young, broke, and clinging to finishing a master’s degree and finding gainful employment in economically hard times– it was the height of the housing and banking crises in 2008 when we said I do.

The gift of our hardship, at the time, was that when we found out we were pregnant we knew we didn’t have the means to afford day care. If I had already been working rather than going to school, I am certain I would have stayed in the work-force as my children were born. Instead, because we lived in a very expensive area, it made sense for me to stay at home. Let me also be clear that I understand very clearly that financial hardship can cause a family and partnership to make the decision that BOTH parents MUST work. In other words. I also realize my relative privilege in staying home.

That gift– the gift of my being able to stay home– is one that has rolled forward into our home and family life for eight years now. My greatest endeavor, my greatest work has become this thing called family. If you could hear me weeping NOW at the opportunity to meal plan, and clean toilets, and BE with my children during their formative years, you’d think I had longed, and yearned, and KNOWN that I wanted to be a MOM for my entire existence.

Instead I can now sweetly, tenderly celebrate the opportunity to be a mother. I can see the greatness, the privilege, the importance and being with my children and family in this roll. I can say that it has been the greatest calling of my life.

However, as with all gifts there was a cost. The cost was the burden of our financial care and providing fell squarely and solely on the shoulders of my partner. My husband found a good job. He is the type of individual that poured time, and effort, and constant energy into making his work great. But that didn’t mean that every day he felt like smiling like Ward Cleaver as he went off to work. Our world looked very traditional, but there were costs that he bore directly.

The burden of providing is no small weight. It is stressful, and care-fraught, and tiresome, and endless. I know this because I have SEEN the gray hairs on my husband’s head multiply, I have sat in an emergency room while he vomited because of the skull crushing migraines he was afflicted with, I have watched as he has navigated and negotiated the corporate world for nearly 9 years now and it has proven to be unending, exhausting, often thankless, stress-filled work– day after day, year after year. I honor and reverence his sacrifice.

There were also these wildly frenzied moments of what-the-hell-have-I-done, I’ve thrown my career to the wind and I will never be able to recover it. There were flashes when I saw myself as the counter-feminist trope I so loathed: barefoot, pregnant, jobless, taken care of by my man. My mirror image did nothing to impress me, or convince me that I was undertaking greatness.

Here’s where the confluence of motherhood (or primary parenting because it is not always the woman who stays home with infant and toddler children) and career path hit some Class Five rapids for for me and for every other woman who has fought against the reality of a glass ceiling including unequal pay, lower promotional chances, and diminished leadership opportunities in the work force.

My sacrifice was also real. There is NO WAY to do both– to be at home with your children and continue to rise in your career. The two are almost completely conflicting goals. I hope there is no mistake that I am not advocating one way or another in this sacrifice. How could I choose for someone else what is right for them and for their family? I cannot.

And I have seen the reality of so many of these situations– both parents working full-time, single mother working two jobs, mother as the primary provider, families whose children are enrolled in all-day day care, couples who can afford a live-in caregiver, and so many more! But here, now, in this moment on the day I begin my job, I know that FOR US we did what we felt was right. It is that choice to stay home (that I also realize many people do not have) that I am deeply grateful for RIGHT NOW. I would not trade that time for the world.

Last night the tears flowed. Long and hard and sobbing, I mourned all that this change means for me. Maybe that was selfish but I am going to miss my boys SO MUCH. My husband held me, and told me that everything would be alright. I know it will. But there will be some things now that I won’t be a part of, some moments I will never have.

I will miss morning conversations over breakfast, and taking my baby to his first day of kindergarten. I will miss being a homeroom mom and volunteering at my boys’ school. I will miss being the one they need to call if a tooth is lost, or an owie needs tending, or one of them throws up at school. I will miss being the parent on point. I will miss being THE ONE.

My partner has never been on the outskirts of raising our boys, he is present and prepared. But he has been the sole provider for the past eight years and our roles were very firm. Now there will be more flexibility, now I pray to be malleable. I pray for life to delicately throw a bubble over my babies, but I know that doesn’t really happen. It will still be me.

I will still be their mother, no matter what. Maybe more tears will fall, but today I am ready to begin this new adventure as a working mom. I will still be their mom. I will still need to kiss their owie, and check on the status of their school day, and help out with homework, and pack lunches, and kiss cheeks, and be their mom. And I guess this change is teaching me that I really can do BOTH.

XX, Megan

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All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography

 

Transitions in Cashmere

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That’s me relaxing, just kicking back and doing nothing before I begin work on Monday. NOT!!! As my husband quipped, “Aw, you’re nesting!” And he is right. I’m reverse nesting. I have gone nuts on cleaning my house at the prospect of taking flight into the work world. I am preening and plucking and rearranging every stick and bundle of dry grass in my nest before I leave.

Another task on my to-do list is to bring up my winter boxes of clothing from the basement. Yep, it’s time to pull out the fall and winter wear. Normally I wouldn’t do this until late September, but I need to tap into long pants and long sleeves for my new job. So transition we will.

The truth is that all of these seasonal transitions take time. Sometimes they take a very long time! Going from Spring to Summer this year seemed to take FOREVER. So while you’re waiting for and anticipating fall, or praying for more warm weather and hoping that summer will linger it’s always fun to pull together some unlikely wardrobe mixes. A cashmere sweater and shorts, for example.

This is something I’m sure I’ll find myself wearing after school on the daily. Decorum and air-conditioning will keep me from wearing anything nearly this short in the classroom, but it’s always good to remember that there is no rule that your summer and winter separates can’t meet in the middle for a bit!

Not only are we trying to pack in all of the cleaning of things here at casa Refined + Rugged, we’re also trying to take advantage of the last vestiges of Summer fun! Today we’re heading to the river, tomorrow our favorite night-spot the local farmer’s market, and the rodeo on Friday. I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday!

XX, Megan

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Sweater: J.Crew, Shorts: Old Navy, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Earrings: J.Crew, Ring: Madewell, Sandals: J.Crew Factory, Bag: Madewell (not pictured), Lips: Mac Angel

Romping Around: Meet Juneau

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I’m sure many of you have heard the old adage often parroted to mother’s upon the arrival of their chid to “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Well, friends, this applies to more than human infants, and instead of blogging I should be sleeping because this little fur baby is sleeping!

Friends, family, and inter-web community, meet Juneau! Juneau is our (now) eight-week-old chocolate labrador. We got her when she was a wee six-week-old puppy and have spent nearly every waking (and many nearly sleep walking) minute with her over the last two weeks. She is sweet, rambunctious, vivacious, and generally full of spark and spunk (and bodily fluids) which has kept us double and triple busy.

I did not plan my outfit to match her leash and collar, but the combination worked out perfectly for her “formal” introduction on the blog. In reality, I wanted to share this faux romper with you for quite a while. I’ve been searching for a romper I love for… years! Literally, I have searched, and shopped, and watched others come into this trend with class. But alas, I have yet to find the perfect romper for me.

But you know what? You don’t necessarily need a romper to work an outfit like it IS a romper. Just find a matching top and bottom and wear them together! Enter this top and shorts duo I picked up a few seasons ago from J.Crew. I was smitten with the print and couldn’t decide which piece I’d get more wear out of so I scooped up both on an end-of-season sale.

Now the great thing is that I can wear BOTH. Together, separate the print still has me all heart eyes so I’m sure I’ll be wearing them for seasons to come! I’ve shopped some separates that can be done up romper-style below, as well as some actual rompers I’ve had my eye on for quite some time!! Have a fabulous Friday, friends!

XX, Megan

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Tank: J.Crew (similar), Shorts: J.Crew (similar), Romper Options: herehere, here, here, Sandals: Madewell (on sale!!), Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Bag: Kate Spade (similar, similar, similar on sale), Cuff: Madewell (similar), Ring: Madewell, Lips: NARS Schiap

Hot 5 from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Fall 2016 Nordstrom Sale

That’s right, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale has arrived. Early Access ended last night and today you can shop the Sale! I’ve done a tight edit and chosen the five pieces I’d use to create a perfect fall outfit.

The linke to all items are below, and the link to the sale is right HERE! Have a Happy Friday, friends!

XX, Megan

Bag, Jeans, Boots, Coat, Blouse

Bell (Sleeve) Of the Ball

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Hello! And Happy Thursday! We’ve had the best time in CA so thank you for all of your care and comments. I’ll be posting a little Island guide to Alameda next week, so stay tuned.

As summer winds down I find myself reaching for two types of clothing. First is the “beat the heat” variety. These last few weeks of summer can be really unbearable, depending on where you live. So I opt for the lightest things in my closet. Second, now is the time of year when I am looking toward fall, so sometimes I try our pieces that can be worn now in the heat, and later when the leaves turn and the crisp air picks up.

This shirt is one of those perfect transition pieces. Easily worn with shorts and sandals, nicely transitions into fall with jeans or pants.

What are your Thursday plans? Any weekend adventures you’re excited about? Thank you for making Refined + Rugged a stop on your “errands” on the inter-webs! 🙂

XX, Megan

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Shirt: J.Crew (current version) Shorts: Gap (similar, similar, similar), Sandals: Madewell, Crossbody: J.Crew (similar, similar, swoon worthy), Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Earrings: Jax Kelly, Cuffs: Vintage, Watch: DKNY, Lips: NARS Heat Wave

My Beach Bag Essentials

Beach Bag Essentials 2016Pouch, Hat, Aloe, Body Oil, Spritz, Lip Balm, Sunscreen, Water Bottle, SunglassesBronzer

When headed to the beach, especially with kids, it’s important to keep your stuff to a minimum. Well, mostly to a minimum, because it is also important that you carry the all the essentials with you so that you won’t have to pack up and leave the moment your people get thirsty, hungry, or have some extended time in the sunshine.

So the first tip I can offer you when it comes to beach days is to bring an oversized bag. Let’s be honest, this bag can also double as an everyday adventure keeper if you’re headed to the mountains, lake, skate park, etc.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Above is a collection of some of the actual items in my beach bag. We are all fair-skinned in this family, so sunscreen is a must. I always bring a hat and sunglasses to beat the rays, and I always carry plenty of water. A bottle for each of us, if we’re keeping tabs.

I’ve also found that packing cards, money, or your entire wallet and other valuables in a pouch or a clutch is very practical. That way you can pull them out of the never-ending recesses of your bag more easily, and hit up that street vendor for an icee!

My all-time favorite day bag is this weekender from Baggu. Yes, it’s true, it’s takes a weekender to hold our daytime activity gear, but this particular canvas beauty is sturdy, wicks sand, and can hold everything.WKB2_BLCK_0000_01_PROD_0000_ce4fe2a0-d8fa-4541-953e-8feafa7b8afe_1024x1024Then you are going to need to remember towels. You can shop a variety HERE in my post from my trip Scottsdale, AZ. These are still some of my very favorites.

Beach Towel 2016

Whether you are hitting the beach this fine  Friday, settling in for some good family time, headed out on a date with your love, or exploring another piece of this beautiful globe, I hope you have a glorious weekend!!!

XX, Megan

Farro with Pan-roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pistachios

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A mouthful of delicious, that’s what this meal was. Even little Chicken Nugget, my picky eater, took a sniff, took a bite, and declared, “Mom, this is so good!”

I wanted to make this as a main course (which I did), and have Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint and Lime (which I did not) for a side but I ran out of time so we settled for watermelon and cherries straight up.

I should not that this salad is meant to be served warm, so if you are experiencing a heat wave, you might do well to wait until temps cool off a bit.

I hope your Wednesday is full of watermelon and other deliciousness!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0122For the Farro
6 cups spring water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large garlic cloves – skinned and left whole
1 fresh bay leaf
1 cup farro (semi-pearled or pearled barley is a good substitute)
For the Brussels Sprouts
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
12 oz (340 g) Brussels sprouts – trimmed, halved and cut lengthwise in 1/8″ slices
1 shallot – skinned, halved lengthwise and cut in 1/8″ slices
2 garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup salted shelled pistachios
1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid from the farro

Place the water in a medium heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt, garlic, bay leaf and grains. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until tender but still al dente. Drain well, remove the garlic and bay leaf and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter. As soon as the butter has melted, add the olive oil and syrup. Stir well and add the Brussels sprouts. Sauté for 6 to 7 minutes until golden-brown, stirring only from time to time.

Add the shallots and sauté for 2 more minutes until softened. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and sauté for an additional 30 seconds until the garlic has released its flavor, but don’t let it brown. Add the pistachios, farro and reserved cooking liquid. Toss well and sauté for a few seconds only. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

This recipe was originally posted on Food and Style.

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