Shopping Your Closet + Money Mapping

As I gradually become more adept (and when I say gradually I am serious about the fact that I am making and taking money management baby steps!) at managing my money I have realized that I need to do a MUCH better job of  envisioning where I want my money to go and not simply tracking my money.

This is where money mapping comes in.

Staples: Closet Essentials x 15


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.

Weather aside, I think that there are staples– seasonless, classic, that stand the test of time– which every wardrobe can proudly boast. Plus, closet staples make it much easier to pull together a look in a flash. You simply add in the weather appropriate extras, or subtract the necessary layers and WAH-LAH! The perfect outfit.


Dark Skinny Jeans : Classic Striped Shirt : White Cotton Tee
Navy Buttoned Blazer : Cashmere Scarf : Cashmere Sweater
Leopard Flats : Silk Blouse : Silk Cami
White Pants : Leather Mules : Leather Shoulder Bag
Leather Jacket : Leather Pants : Denim Jacket

So if your weather calls for snow, an outfit combination might include a denim jacket, easy white cotton tee, leather pants, a thick wool overcoat, and scarf. Or if you find yourself in the middle of some uncharacteristically warm weather in December you might don a pair of dark skinny jeans, a striped tee, a leather jacket, and leopard flats for an easy take on these closet essentials.

On the No New Things Challenge front, I have really been grateful for the extra savings I have slowly been building. Our littlest had to have oral surgery this past week and I was able to pay for the procedure up front (which I realize may sound standard). It felt like a major win for me. I would have put the total on a credit card in the past and paid it off over a few months time.

I have wanted to do a more in-depth post about money mapping, but I am still learning about implementing these skills in my own life and move them into the every day. But this medical procedure being paid for was a huge step toward mapping my spending, and being sure to set funds aside each and every month for some of those expenses that are unexpected. We didn’t think that our little guy would have to have this surgery for a few more years.

So there’s my money take away this week. Savings rocks! I hope you have a beautiful Saturday. We’re house cleaning, catching up on favorite TV shows (my boys), and still looking forward to Spring Break (only two weeks away)! Have a happy weekend.

XX, Megan


Turtleneck, Jeans, Boots, Bag, WatchLips, Earrings

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:

1. The Mule- Easy to wear, and endlessly adaptable, this trend is a fun work-wear update that you might try! I have this pair, and this pair, and though I won’t be adding any more to my repertoire, I love this blush pair that I posted above.


Shirt, Pants, Shoes, Earrings

2. Flowers, Floral, and Blooming Patterns- Flowers are ALWAYS on my Spring style radar. Wearing your garden gives you the chance to celebrate playful prints, and the promise of warmer weather to come.


Shirt, Pants, Shoes, Earrings

3. The Edge of Fun Meets Funky- Sometimes it’s nice to mix a little bit of sass and a slightly edgier element into your Spring style cadre. I am smitten with this silk tiger print top from J.Crew, and actually received it as a sweet gift from my husband. I’m excited to wear it for work– paired with cropped seasonless wool pants (as shown), or play– along with a pair of cutoff shorts and some artsy earrings when things warm up.


Shirt, Pants, Shoes, Earrings

4. The Stripe- Long live stripes for any season! I have loved the new lineup of work friendly options that have a touch of distinction that deviates from the standard oxford. This striped wrap top does the trick. It can also double as a casual piece, or dressed up with a more formal skirt for added dimension.


Shirt, Skirt, Shoes, Earrings

5. Denim Extras- Denim is another dynamic Spring staple that morphs and changes with each new season. For Spring, look for details like the sweet ruffle on this skirt, or a darker wash which is also coming back into vogue, another subtle nod to the 90s. If your workplace isn’t converse approved, you could easily swap these out for office appropriate heels, and then grab your tennis shoes for your walk to and from the metro.

I hope you have an awesome Wednesday. Another NNTC coming your way on Friday. I’m stoked to double post this week. Thank you for reading, comments, sharing, and simply stopping by!

XX, Megan

Shopping Your Closet: Winter Boho


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.

The highlights of this week included beginning to read The Hobbit with my boys. Yes, I am a J.R.R. Tolkien geek. Just reading “An Unexpected Party” made me smile so many times, I couldn’t help but be transported to the house Under Hill with the round green door. We had some DELICIOUS family dinners including a Korean Rice Bowl with Kimchi and Cucumbers from The Scramble, and a warm, filling, creamy, clam chowder (I based mine off of these two recipes: Eating Well, and Food Network). My six-year-old requested, “Mom, will you write that recipe down for me so that I can make it when I’m in college?”

Warms my mama-heart to have him ask such things, and I readily agreed to do so. Both boys have been practicing their music daily, and it makes for another highlight. Though there are definitely moments of struggle, for the most part they are enjoying the piano and drum respectively.

My husband has been a champion beyond all others. This week alone he cleaned the house from top to bottom, covered dish duty multiple evenings in a row, made sure that the boys were ready for school with multiple costumes for my first grader whose class celebrated Dr. Seuss this week in anticipation of Seuss’ birthday today. Perry made sure that pajamas, blue hair, and a complete Sam I Am costume were in order. I simply could not be more grateful to him for how much he juggles both in terms of work, home-life, and still manages to take a few ski turns in the back country every weekend!

We have more new snow as of tonight, and I really have appreciated this second gasp that winter has gifted us. It simply felt so… wrong that winter had not yet really come to these mountains. To be honest, there is so much less snow than we have experienced since our move here almost seven years ago it has been a surprise.

In terms of the NNTC I have really enjoyed shopping my closet these past few months. One of the reasons that term has come to mean more to me is that I am trying to learn and to recognize that new does not determine any part of my worth. In other words, I don’t need new things to make me feel good about myself. My worth is not in what I wear. I can still fully enjoy the expression of style and fashion without constant closet updates.

Case in point, this outfit. Yes I realize this rig borders on Indian Jones, but this casual boho look really fit how I felt in this moment. Ripped jeans are a weekend favorite for me, as I try to look more polished and professional in my day job. The silk broderie top is over six years old. Wearing these pieces that have become classic, and timeless, at least for my closet feels like a win! Plus, most of them are still on point, in terms of current fashion.

Try this at home! Take a look at your closet. Are there pieces there that you maybe haven’t combined in the past. Lay out three outfits that you might not have worn (in terms of the specific combination) before. Pick your favorite. Put it on. Rock your day!

I hope that all of you have a wonderful and restful weekend. I’m going to eat my weight in sushi, read more of Bilbo Baggin’s adventures to my littles, and enjoy a date with my sweet man. Sending you love and good vibes wherever you are!

XX, Megan


Jacket: Gap (similar), Shirt: J.Crew (similar), Jeans: Madewell, Boots: J.Crew (similar), Bag: Madewell, Hat: Brixton, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Scarf: Madewell

My Turn: Student Safety and Gun Safety


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.



Four Eyes, New Glasses


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.

Simple, a little bit classic, a little bit funky, they are working for me. I’ve linked the glasses below, along with this outfit which is also working for me as we are finally experiencing a mini-winter. This week it actually snowed, twice!



Glasses, Sweater, Hat, Jeans, Shoes (in the collage)Shoes (in my outfit)

On of my biggest triumphs in terms of my No New Things Challenge this week has been that I feel like I frequent online shopping sites a lot less. When I set out on this challenge, I unsubscribed from updates to these sites so that I wasn’t constantly barraged by email that would tempt me to buy, buy, buy.

I write that last line with an itch to hop over to one now and just peruse. But another goodness of this challenge is the fact that I have been able to really look at my closet and come up with wonderful remixes, repeats, and even some never-before worn combinations. I will have a post about this idea of shopping your closet at some point soon. It has been so worth it for me, thus far, and I expect that this will continue.

I’d also love to know if any of you have or are doing similar things with your spending? Have any of you done a shopping fast? What were your results? Have any of you begun shopping for more responsibly made items? What prompted your switch? In short, I’d love to hear about any of your experiences in this vein. I hope you all have a fantastic day, and that your weekend is filled with those you love most!

XX, Megan


Hearts, Flex Spending, and Real Savings


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!

I’ve linked the details below, along with some other fun heart-celebrating wardrobe items. Note: you never have to wait until February to break out these cute little love extras in your wardrobe! My update to my No New Things Challenge continues below.


Shirt, Jeans, Mules, Bag, Necklace

Sweatshirt, Shirt, Shoes, Sunglasses, Earrings, Striped Shirt

So I have some more exciting updates on my No New Things Challenge today. First up, the  Flexible Spending or Health Savings Account. I always have to smile at myself as I write these posts. I realize that for SO MANY of you this information is neither exciting or groundbreaking. Some of you have had FSA or HSA accounts for years!

That said, please note that I am really opening up these discussions for persons at every stage and every style of spending habit or money consciousness. I’m not even remotely an expert (nor do I intend to put myself out there as such). I am simply sharing some of my baby steps in my money journey as well as some of my experiences, emotions, struggles, and successes.

So this past week I checked in on my FSA. I had signed up at the beginning of last year, and I hadn’t even activated the card to my account. I was pleasantly surprised (read: enthusiastically stoked) to find that I had accrued a nice little nest egg in my account. In fact, I had great reason to celebrate this little savings because I was in dire need of new eye wear.

If you remember my post from two months back about Warby Parker’s eye glasses, I was seriously looking at some of their frames. Fast forward to this month, where I realized that I had some actual savings in my Flex Spending Account. The time was right, the savings was there, and I ordered a pair of Warby Parker glasses. I’ll show you the details of my frame choice next week.

I’ll say again that I realize these are not only baby-steps in money management, but they are steps that many have trod before me. One of the great things about a Flexible Spending Account is that your money is set aside pre-tax, so you have a little bit of savings on both ends of the spectrum— both the fact that you have set it aside, and the fact that it lowers the bottom line of your take-home pay. It also allows you to save for more expensive investments like braces (we haven’t crossed that bridge yet), or larger medical expenses that would otherwise really wreck your budget. I cannot tell you how happy I was to be able to purchase glasses, contact lenses, with enough left over as a cushion for unplanned for medical expenses.

What do you think of these combination posts? Should I have broken this one in half? One post about hearts and Valentine’s Day dressing and another post about the No New Things Challenge? I’m trying to get a feel for what you’d like to read! You can comment on this post, or leave your thoughts on Instagram or Facebook. I hope you have a fabulous Friday and a spectacular weekend!!

XX, Megan


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!

I still think that the lower light of winter is messing with my energy levels. I am chalking it up to a combination of all of these– a little seasonally affected, a little bit sick, a little bit stressed. I did get back on the bike commuting this week as temperatures cooperated, and that helped to smooth out some of the stressed edges.

I also had some personal triumphs on the No New Things Challenge front this week, and some funny lows which I’ll explain in a minute. This past week I opened a savings account. This might be small for some (read: you may be laughing at the simplicity, you’ve had a savings account since you were twelve, you have millions of dollars in the bank, or you are simply just very good at saving so it seems absurd that someone would not know how to do so). But for me it is a major win.

Remember when I talked about my perception of money as the tide— it comes and goes, it is generally needed for life, but the supply may wax and wane without really bothering me. This is why a savings account has always been so hard for me. If the savings was there, it was a nice cushion. If it wasn’t, I was never overly stressed. But there always seemed to be a slow leak between my savings account and my checking account. Let’s just say that this leak out the bottom method of savings doesn’t really work. Shocking, I know.

So with this new savings account there are some ground rules I’ve set for myself. I haven’t started HUGE but small. The one rule is that it doesn’t get to leak into my checking. This is the saving account that I plan to let sit and get fat. At some point I’d like to get fancy with things and invest. But for now, I’ll take the year and see where this savings leads. When I was with my sisters around Christmas, they shared some of their tips for savings and I am incorporating some of those into my own money mindfulness as well.

I also set up account tracking through Mint which has been a big win. I have long needed to set up a way to track what I am spending and look at what I am really spending it on. In The Art of Money, Bari encourages everyone, anyone regardless of income, prosperity level, or wealth to do this. I obviously have known and heard this advice before, but I really had never implemented it!

As I have been more conscious of my money spending habits, it has also brought me to some funny little internal junctures. I don’t know how to frame this other than to try and describe what I think happened, but I believe this was one of my first experiences feeling “cheap.” Let’s actually change that to “frugal.” Let me try to tell this story in three sentences. I called to order a gift basket from a Groupon I’d been gifted. I found out that the shipping would be half as much as the total gift card value. I was flabbergast at the shipping cost, and I was upset at the fact that I had to PAY to have my gift shipped. I was annoyed at their customer service person who didn’t seem to know what they were talking about. I ended up telling them I didn’t want to order and I hung up.

I went home (yes, I realize this is more than three sentences). I had a chance to examine some of my feelings regarding this exchange. Why was I so annoyed at the shipping price? I had the money, it wasn’t about that. Why didn’t I want to pay the cost? I realized that I was feeling overly frugal. This was new for me. I was annoyed at both the feeling, and at myself for feeling “cheap.”

I called my sister. I told her that I was experiencing something new in this money mindfulness journey. I was actually having a feeling when I went to spend money. It wasn’t guilt. It wasn’t sadness. It wasn’t excitement. It was begrudging. I didn’t want to spend the cash to have my package shipped. We laughed. Both of us. Together. Because it was actually an awesome new moment in my money spending experience. I cared. I cared about the money that was leaving my checking account.

I was aware. I was aware of this moment for ME. I got online, used my Groupon voucher, ordered my gift basket, talked my sister through the same process, and went on with my day feeling happy. I felt that I had turned over a very important piece of money mindfulness for myself that day. More to come on this money mindfulness front next week. But for now, I want to thank you for following along on my No New Things Challenge. Oh, and I wore this same outfit from two years ago this week and subbed out a different necklace. Still such a nice transitional combination in the mid-season!

There have been some wonderful moments for me this week, and there have been some lows, as I described. So I want to leave you with this little clip, and a reminder to “stay on your bike” as you move through life’s crazy twists, turns, log jumps, and loops. Yes, above all, “stay on your bike!” And, you know, if you are feeling it, don’t be afraid to do the WHIP! Here’s Danny Hart winning the UCI Downhill World Championship in 2011*. I wish you just as much success, luck, and seamlessly nailing of life’s rough course, as these announcers gave Danny Hart. I’m cheering you on!!

XX, Megan

*This clip may not be for little ears.

Bright Shoes Friday

No New Things Update

Woman and man jumping with shopping bags

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.


My highly fashionable, but extremely socially conscious friend Kevin came to town this weekend. We attended the Sundance Film Festival, ate far too much delicious food, and generally had the chance to hang out and catch up. It was wonderful. Though shopping was not on our schedule, we actually had the chance to pop into some shops in Park City with my husband while Kevin was here.

I was worried that my inner shopper might kick in with Kevin around (no offense, Kev). Not because of Kevin, but because of ME! I have this vivid image, thirteen years ago, a tiny wood-paneled office in the middle of nowhere, scoping out a killer pair of Manolo Blahnik heels that I was drooling over for an upcoming wedding. On this particular day, in Skagway, Alaska, I would find a pair of shoes on my computer and then turn to Kevin for his review of the item online. We simply have always had that kind of exchange over style and fashion. I love it.

Fast forward to now, as we shopped around Park City I paid attention to how I felt looking at clothes, looking at goods. Maybe one of the small breakthroughs for me was that I didn’t feel that persistent need to buy something. It was as if I had released myself from the burden of purchase. I’m not saying that this is how it will feel every time, but it felt really, really good to simply look. To take in the stores, the displays, and even to try on items that are on my “wishlist” like an upgrade on my knee-length puffer jacket without feelings as though that sale was going to allow the “thing” to slip out of my grasp.

Research and Support

One of the other things that has helped me with the emotionality of this no shopping challenge (yes, I realize that I am not even a month in) has been The Art of Money, a book by Bari Tessler that I picked up at my school library. In all honesty I grabbed it because it was one of the books displayed on the top of the shelf, and Bari smiles from the cover with a gorgeous wine lip, the perfect over-sized jade ring, kind eyes, a generous smile, holding an inviting cup of tea. You can almost sense the warmth in it and in her.

There have been two important takeaways for me at this point. One is that I should take the time and space to examine my history with money. Bari talks a lot about how shameful many of us feel about our current relationship with money, but she also suggests that one of the reasons is that many of us don’t trace the roots of our relationship with money back very far.

We look at our present and judge our financial literacy based on where we are right now– “I was given my money through an inheritance, but I don’t deserve it because I didn’t work for it” or “Money is impossible to save, you just need to spend it when you can, as fast as you can” or “I don’t feel safe if I don’t have money so I am going to save as much as I can, I can have experiences later.” But why do we feel this way? Where do these feelings come from? Of course some of our present informs how we interact with money, but there are also many chapters in our history with money that we may not have looked at. I’m looking more at my money history now.

Second, I appreciate Bari’s emphasis on completing some aspect of our relationship with money. This year, along with no new things, I plan to FINALLY set up a way to track my money, get on top of a budget, and release myself from the burden my own perceived money ignorance. There is not better time to start than today! So I’m going to carpe my reality, load Mint onto my phone, track my expenses for a month, set up a savings account that I don’t touch, and generally reorder my finances this year.


The first rule of my year of no shopping is simple– I am not going to buy any clothes. But some questions have already been posed that have allowed me to further define this more general goal. What about consignment? What about replacement items? What about accessories? What about gifts? What about clothing items for my family?

First, I am only limiting my fast on shopping to clothing for myself. If I feel that I have the need to purchase a replacement item I will cross that bridge when I come to it. I honestly don’t think that this problem will arise. When thinking about this challenge, the only thing I could think of that I thought might need to be replaced was my white jeans. They are old, spotted, and sort of worn from my Clorox addiction. But I honestly don’t think they will need to be replaced and I’m not gunning for it.

Clothing for other family members is fair game, though just like replacing any worn out clothing in my own wardrobe, the idea here is not to go nuts shopping for items my boys do not need simply to have the feeling of new. I am limited in giving gifts to others, and I have made it clear to my husband and immediate family members that I can, let me say that again, the I CAN accept gifts.

As far as consignment shopping, thrift shopping, or online purchases of lightly worn clothing, I have removed this from the okay category. I joked with a couple of my friends that I didn’t want them to catch me every weekend at our local thrift store with my reusable grocery bag culling the racks for something, anything that I could BUY. No, thrifting is out for me on this go round. The idea is to use the clothing I have.


At this point, I hope to write weekly updates about my progress. These will be designed to be somewhat short and lively, and combined with other content material. I don’t want to overburden with every detail! In other words, I hope to keep you posted.

The item that really caught my eye this week was a dress from Madewell. It was a beautiful raw umber silk with perfectly placed peacock feathers, and just the right price (read: on sale). I looked at it all week. I put it in my shopping cart, I almost clicked purchase. Then I thought about some of the reasons that I was embarking on this challenge. I do not need to buy a dress simply because it is on sale.

Frankly, I don’t even need to buy the dress simply because it is beautiful. I can appreciate beauty and form in style and fashion, and still not have to be the purchaser. This was another big breakthrough for me. I hope you are finding joy in practicing better habits in 2018, and I hope you have a wonderful Friday and a fabulous weekend!

XX, Megan

Dickson Family 2017-119

The Last Sweater: My Year of No Shopping

Dickson Family 2017-111

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?

I have enough clothes

I have pursued style and fashion for the better part of my life. While I don’t see anything inherently negative about this, I haven’t been as careful about cultivating my personal relationship with money as I have my wardrobe. In short, I have enough clothing. I want to take a year to evaluate my wardrobe.

Shopping mindlessly wastes time and money

I can’t tell you how much time and money I’ve spent shopping, but I can tell you that it has been a lot. One thing that Ann Patchett found during her year of no shopping was that she had time for other more important and even pressing activities. One of the reasons I initially began blogging was to spend more time writing. Yes, I did write more than I otherwise would have in the last two years if I did not run a blog, but I also used the fact that one of my intended focuses was “style” to shop– a lot.

I want to take a break from the online marketing circus. Constant shopping and buying in the realm of clothing drives the machine of wasteful fashion, one of the world’s largest polluters. The industry is all built on the backs of underpaid, often over-worked people in third world countries. I hope to take this year to evaluate my approach to buying, spending. I really need and want to learn to spend more thoughtfully and responsibly.

I want to realign my relationship with my money

In all honesty I have next to no understanding of money. I have jokingly explained my relationship as one where when the water is running (the money is flowing, there is cash in the bank) then I feel free to spend until the water runs dry. Dry would obviously mean that the money has been spent, the cash is gone. I have never used a budget, and I have certainly never examined how my money could be working for me, i.e. in investments, savings, and other forms of return.

I have to say that this is one of the hardest posts I have written. Not because I am not looking forward to the challenge of “no new things”, but because I am a person that does not like to set goals and then fail and I am a bit afraid of failing this challenge!

I’ll have more of my “rules” and some updates on this first month soon! Have a beautiful Thursday!



Dickson Family 2017-367

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.

The first look is linked above, the second look is linked below. In the end, I wore a combination of your comments, suggestions, and votes. I can’t lie, crowd sourcing made dressing for this soiree so much more enjoyable! I didn’t have any qualms choosing my outfit. Do you crowd source your looks? Come on, please tell me that you have called your sister, your best friend, your mother, or even pinged your partner to find out what to wear.

Look 2: Sequin Top, Mid-Rise Jeans, Nude Sandals, Pearl Studs

The winner! This is what I wore to our holiday party– sequin top, dark rinse jeans, leopard heels, black topcoat, pearl earrings, and red cross-body purse. I had so much fun asking you all what I should wear, that I’ll probably do it again!

I posted these looks to share my holiday dressing inspiration– from me to you and you to me. Thank you for liking, sharing, commenting, voting, and following Refined + Rugged. What other content would you like to see in the coming year? I’d love to know, so feel free to comment below or post your thoughts to Instagram or Facebook. Have a wonderful Wednesday and a bright and beautiful holiday season!



Procrastinator’s Gift Guide


Gifts for Her:


Fair Isle Sweater, Dark Rinse Jeans, Sequin Camisole, Black Ankle Boots, Striped Bow Shirt, Velvet Heels, T-shirt, Pink Cashmere Sweater, Down Bomber Jacket, White Sneakers, Velvet Purse, Pearl Earrings, Slippers, Velvet Slides, Velvet Dress, Fleece Pull-over

Gifts for Him:


Plaid Shirt, Dark Rinse Jeans, Danner Boots, Cashmere Crew-neck Sweater, Cologne, Leather Messenger, Lotion, Ultra Light Down Jacket, Slippers, Beanie, Black Hole Duffel, Wool Topcoat, Topo Bracelet

Gifts for Boys:


Fleece Jacket, Beanie, Ski Parka, Ski Pants, Electric Scooter, Watch, Legos, Book Set, Boggs Boots, Wool Ski Socks

Gifts for Girls:


Down Jacket, Fleece Jacket, Ugg Boots, Legos, Lace Dress, Dino Sweater, Jeans, Faux Fur Bolero, Plaid Shirt, Bogg Boots, Robot, Meri Meri Necklace and Braclet

Gifts for Grandma:


Alex and Ani Bracelet, Stadium Cloth Coat, Buffalo Check Throw Pillow, Silver Charger, Slippers, Llama Dishcloth, Jeans, Red Ski Sweater, Star Sweater, Red Slippers, Turtleneck Sweater

Gifts for Grandpa:


Family Tree Portrait, Print and Block Frame, Barbour Classic Bedale Jacket, Shaving Kit, Robe

Gifts for the New Mom:


Baby Book, Cashmere Robe, Cashmere Sweat Pants, Tiffany Necklace, Boppy Pillow

Gifts for the Tech Savvy:


Apple Watch, Bose Wireless Headphones, Bose Micro Bluetooth Speaker, iRobot Roomba, Drone

Gifts for the Gym Goer:


Nike Shoes, Racer-back Tank, Wireless Headphones, Leggings, Gym Duffel, Zella Zip Jacket, iTunes Giftcard, iPhone 8, Swell Water Bottle

Gifts for the Tool Man:

Gerber Mutitool, Klein Tools, Pendleton Crater Lake Throw, Spyderco Tenacious Knife, Dewalt Wireless Drill, Dremel, Best Made Hatchet, Deerskin Insulated Work Gloves, No Bull Bottle Opener

Gifts for Beauty Junkies:

Naked Eye Palette, NARS Lip Gloss, Benefit Mascara, NARS Blush in Orgasm, Clinique Quickliner, NARS Velvet Lip Glide, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Tom Ford Lipstick, NARS Multiple Stick, Tom Ford Lipstick


Bike Commuting: 7 Facts


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.

Even these small moments of meditation have added to the power of my zen. I thank bike commuting for this. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my husband for enabling this great adventure. He chose the perfect bike, got me set with panniers and lights, and has generally championed this enterprise from the very beginning.

After an exciting, and rather frozen, entrance into bike-commuting (my second ride began at 16 degrees), I thought a post about some of the myths and truths of using two wheels as a viable form of transportation was in order. If my skeleton doesn’t end up looking like the Victorian cyclist specimen below, I’m going to be glad I began this journey.

Image via The Victorian Cyclist

True: Bike Commuting Takes Planning

One of the very first and most obvious facts about bike commuting is that it does take additional planning. My planning usually begins every evening when I set out my gear, prep my panniers, and make sure that I have all the things I need for the following work day in their proper place. The reason that planning is the key to success is that once you get where you’re going, you probably won’t have time to return to where you’ve been (ostensibly to pick up something you’ve forgotten).

However, I want to emphasize that planning, in and of itself, isn’t a negative! In fact, I’ve eaten more healthy meals, been more on-time to my job, been more happy to return home to see my kiddos, more active physically, and more balanced emotionally since beginning to bike commute.

There have also been a couple of uncomfortable moments due to my poor planning. Like the day when I forgot my pants at home. Yes, I said pants. Add to this the fact that I was being evaluated by my administrator later that afternoon! (Insert laugh-crying emoji here). The crisp white tuxedo shirt, black thermal biking spandex, and mid-ankle duck boots was a fun look, for sure. But my husband saved me from evaluation embarrassment by bringing my pants to me after first hour class.

Bekka Wright, a long time bike commuter in Boston, MA, sums up what bike planning sometimes looks like at my house below– DO I HAVE IT ALLLLLLL? Her bike comics can be found on her website, , and she’s become a real inspiration as my commuting continues. The important part of planning is that you will get into a groove. You will get better and better at prepping for your day. You WILL remember your pants (most of the time), and you entire day will be better because you rode your bike!


Image via Bikeyface

False: Bike Commuting is Impossibly Difficult

I realize that bike commuting seems fraught with difficulty to the outside observer. There are a lot of working parts to get this baby rolling. First there’s the mechanical aspect of the bike– tires, chain, pedals, seat, derailer, etc. Then there is a fair amount of gear– helmet, shoes, Lycra, gloves, work clothes, panniers, toiletries, etc. But the goal is not to over complicate something that can become a habit, and really just a way of life.

I shrugged bike commuting of as inconvenient, difficult, and even untenable after we moved farther from my work. I let fear of mechanical difficulties keep me from bike commuting for a long, long time. I’m the first to admit that I really don’t do a good job changing a bike tire. Heck, I’ll be honest that I also didn’t want to show up at work a hot sweaty mess, and never be able to recover my composure.

I also have to come clean that in the mechanical realm, I have a fall back– my husband. Any of you who know Perry, know that he is a bicycle guru. If I’m in a bind, I know that I can call on him at any moment. Additionally, I have a co-worker who has agreed to be my emergency contact at work. She has said that she’ll pick me up and get me to my classroom on time.


Image via Bikeyface

True: Bike Commuting Brings You Health

Cruising on the interwebs a few days ago, I saw an article in the New York Times that listed a nine ways to make 2018 your most healthy year-to-date. One of the items listed there was “Bike to Work.” There are scads of articles that support this finding– bike commuting will make you a happier (we’ll talk about that below) and healthier person.

Honestly, how could it not?!? I went from working out sum 0, to instantly incorporating 50 minutes of ride time: read work out time into my day. If you read my article “New Balance” you know that I was really struggling to find the time to work out. Now I am feeling fit and sassy once again. I cannot praise and preach enough about how this one simple change in my life had brought me a new level of health and wellness.

False: Bike Commuting Takes Too Much Time

For me, this was one of the greatest factors that kept me from bike commuting in the first place. I told myself over and over that I was a busy human. I had commitments to fulfill and schedules to keep and things to do, and biking to work was not one of them.

I really felt as though I would be taking way too much time out of my day. But here is the math. It takes me 25 minutes to bike to work. It takes me 10 minutes to drive. BUT it also takes me two minutes to park, plus a couple minutes to warm up the car in the morning. I have to haul all of my stuff out of my car and into my classroom if I drive, and I often don’t take the time to pack a lunch so I am leaving campus to grab food in the middle of the day.

The truth is, it really does take almost as long for me to get to work in my car as it does on my bike. Yes, I have to build in a little extra time to get to work. Yes, I do have to make sure I have time to get dressed when I arrive at work. Yes, there are times when the unforeseen has made being on a bicycle a little bit inconvenient. But I find that driving my car can actually be pretty inconvenient, too!

True: Cars Do Not See You

When I began bike commuting, my sons also began riding their bikes to school more frequently. Partially this grew out of moving a little bit closer to their school, but it also did feel as though our commitment to bike was a family affair!

I’ll never forget the first time I felt like a car was actually going to hit me. I was turning left out of the school parking lot. A driver was turning left into that lot. They didn’t have their blinker on, didn’t move into the turn lane, didn’t see me until my front tire had nearly met theirs. Scared me half to death.

Cars simply don’t see bicycles. Most drivers didn’t grow up accustomed to watching for cyclists, and I would say that only in the last ten years has bike commuting taken off (but I haven’t done a lot of research to this effect, so that may turn into a future post). Every morning that our boys take off for school my husband reminds them, “Be careful. Cars don’t see you.”

The reality is that as a cyclist you need to ride defensively at all times. I’ve caught myself daydreaming more than once on my bike, and then I am pushed back into reality by a car that comes far too close behind me after I’ve crossed an intersection, etc. The point here is that as a cyclist, I try to be hyper-aware of the vehicles around me. I have lights, and bright clothing, and  a really loud orange bike. But sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough. I hope I never have to face a bike accident caused by a car. In fact, one of my constant prayers is that cyclist won’t get hit by cars. Period.


Image via Bike Boom

False: Bike Commuting Is Dangerous

Now beyond the fact that bicyclists are hard to see from larger vehicles, I also have come to the conclusion that bicycling to work is NOT the most dangerous choice you could make. I am pretty sure that you are more likely to be in a car accident than you are a bicycling accident.

Heavens, you’re probably more likely to step off of a curb and spiral fracture your ankle than you are to be in a bicycling accident. Dave Walker’s cartoon really made me smile as he supports this claim. Almost everything we do has an inherent risk. So I’ll take the risks associated with biking if it means I might poke my ear (or even my eye) when putting on my sun glasses (see below).

Practically all of us crazy homo sapiens live, and love, and have joy despite the fact that we will drop dead at some point along our journey. So instead of hiding from death, which not a lot of us are afraid of, let’s live and celebrate life with each breath.


Image via Dave Walker

True: Bike Commuting Makes You Happier

I can speak to the happiness that bike commuting brings like a trumpet! I have absolutely, positively LOVED commuting on bike to work for this past few months. I know that I still have a long way to go to make those 1,000 decisions, properly made, that Specialized Sequoia’s encourage. But I have been uplifted, lightened, zenned by bike commuting.

Image via Bike Radar and Bikeyface

So I don’t have much more to say than, keep bringing on the zen! A huge shout out to my hubby who really gave me the push that got me out on the road, and to our lovely local bike shop– Slim and Knobby’s— who has taken such good care of me every pedal stroke along the way!! I hope you have a fabulous Friday, and a gorgeous weekend. What are your thoughts on bike commuting? I’d love to know! You can comment below, or give me a shout out on Facebook, or head over to Instagram to see more of my pictures and posts.




Image via With All I Have 

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.

One of the things that’s been on my update list for a long time is a new pair of eye glasses. In 2018 I’m going to bite the bullet and get a new pair of specs, and I think Warby Parker is the ideal place to find a new pair! I am very excited to help Warby Parker announce their Winter Core and Resort ’17 Collections.

One fresh way that Warby Parker makes it easy to pick out a pair of new glasses is with their free in-home try on. This is such a bonus for a busy, working professional and mom who doesn’t have much time to break away for a visit to an eye glasses retailer. Instead, I can try them on in the comfort of my own home, make sure I love them before I order them, and the price point won’t break my wallet– see for yourself!

In terms of eye-wear you could call me an 80/20 lady. I wear contacts eighty percent of the time, and glasses around twenty percent of the time. But the reality is that as my eyes have matured, my eye doctor has encouraged me to wear my glasses more frequently. In fact, if you see me some weekend cruising around my neighborhood, chances are I’m wearing glasses.

Here are a couple of new frames I’m considering from Warby Parker’s Winter Core. First up, Violet:


Violet is equal parts quirky and quintessential– perfectly retro-modern. The metal frame is rose gold, and I’ve considered a subtle cat eye like Violet vaunts for YEARS. Maybe now it’s time to pull the trigger. Violet has that cool girl vibe that can be dressed up or down. The look I’ve pulled together is casual with a pretty pink cable-knit sweater, chartreuse beanie, my ALL TIME favorite jeans, and a peachy pair of golden goose sneakers.

My other winter pick from Warby Parker’s Winter Core is Lowry:


Lowry in jet black fade has an edgy, more masculine look that I can really get behind. My outfit would definitely include a cozy, sherpa-lined denim jacket, rockin’ ruffled plaid top, and chewed hem jeans. With Lowry as my outfit topper, I’d add a sweet pair of velvet Mary Jane’s just to lean a little back toward girly, and call it a day!

The other fabulous news about Warby Parker is that they not only have eye glasses, they have a gorgeous collection of sunglasses, too! A few of my new favorites from their Resort ’17 collection are Wyatt and Cleo.


Our post-Christmas plans include more snow, i.e. Tahoe, this year. But if we were headed to the beach I’d be sure that I packed a couple pair of Warby Parker sunnies. You don’t need much to enjoy the sand and the sun so I’d duffle-up this adorable striped romper, a new bright one-piece, some sassy slides, and a packable hat. Paradise, here I come!

Alright, this post has been a really fun one to create. Now I’m headed over to really give Warby Parker’s home try-on a go. I’ll be posting the try-on results in a month or so, but I’m also wondering if any of you have had experience with Warby Parker? Comments, questions, and conversation are always welcome here. Happy Tuesday, fabulous humans!


Caitlin Louise Small Blush Tortoise Warby Parker Winter 17

*This post is in partnership with Warby Parker. All opinions and views expressed are my own. Thank YOU, dear readers, for supporting brands that support Refined + Rugged. The glasses frames pictured above are Lousie in Blush Tortoise.


The First Day of the Rest of My Road


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:

  1. I haven’t been to the gym even one time since my posting about balance.
  2. Time is my most precious resource at this point.
  3. I haven’t changed my position about seeing my boys each morning before work.
  4. I need a way to incorporate movement and exercise into daily life more closely aligned with my every day activities.
  5. I happen to be married to a bike guru who I knew could bring it all together (that’s just what he did). He has become my biggest link to bike commuting success!

Bike Commuting Is the Cat’s Pajamas

Bike commuting will be an entirely new world for me, but I’ve seen its benefits firsthand. When we lived in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside of D.C., my husband commuted by metro for the first year of his job. I could write an entire article about the reasons that he started bike commuting, but the number one reason was that his commute to and from the city generally put him in a terrible state of mind.

He’d come home bummed out, tired beyond belief, and full of depressing tales from his mass transit commute. (Let me state here that metro, subway, bus, and train– all of these are superior to one human getting into one vehicle and burning mass amounts of fuel on their hour-long commute each day.)

There came a moment one Wednesday when Perry showed me a Surly Long Haul Trucker on Craigslist. He said, “I’m going to start bike commuting.” I have vivid memories of that gorgeous green Surly still. Sweet moments when our little P would call down to his daddy from our second story condo window, “Love you daddy! Be safe!” are forever logged in my memory. Off my husband would go on his bi-pedal hoss. I remember thinking then what a great example he was for our son, and how I hoped that we would always honor biking as an important transportation reality.

The change in Perry’s demeanor was dramatic and nearly instantaneous. He had more energy, not less. He looked forward to heading in to work. He loved the challenge of pedaling to his place of employment regardless of the weather. He has plenty of stories that involve snow up to his free hub, being cut off by cars, particularly one crazy taxi cab, near the Jefferson Memorial, and spinning through ankle deep water. Even a less-than-happy story about confronting someone at a stop light who had almost ended his life at a traffic circle was part of his daily bike commuting experience.

On the whole, the entire affair was wonderful for Perry. Plus, the other people in our family who have been consistently bike commuting are my two boys. After our move this summer, we switched elementary schools and the boys have been commuting by bike since school began. I have to be honest that those first few afternoons I waited for them at the top of the driveway– excited and a little nervous. But they have cruised up our road safely every day, and it’s given me an even stronger desire to ride out on my own commute.

Of course, I hope that my commute won’t be fraught with danger. Part of my ride will be on bike path, and the other piece on less-traveled town streets. But I will be commuting in the early-morning half light, and I plan on subbing out my current tires for studded snow tires this winter. I hope I’ll have the presence of mind to stay safe and be aware of motorists and fellow cyclists alike. But beyond some of the cautionary tales I’ve heard, I am more than excited to take on this new mode of daily transportation. With my new transportation adventure happening real-time, there is a chance to talk about some bike commuting essentials.

Here’s the gear that will go with me as I set out on my new adventure:

First, The BIKE

This Specialized Sequoia will be my daily commuter. I really enjoyed reading this review of the Sequoia, though these folks took this gal out for a real, true gravel grinding tour. One aspect of the Sequoia I am looking forward to self-testing is what Sarah Swallows describes, “It feels equally capable with or without a load.” I’m not only planning to use this bike on my commute, but as my weekend pleasure cruiser.


Wear a Helmet, for Cranium’s Sake

This may seem to go without saying. But I’ve seen plenty of commuters who roll on sans skull protector. It only takes one story like the following to change your mind about helmets.

One sunny day last summer, I was riding to work without a helmet. I’d been riding this way for a few weeks, after I got a new bike for my birthday. I was turning off my street, where there is a gas station and a car pulled out of that lot , into the street, without looking. The guy didn’t see me, but I saw he wasn’t stopping with enough time so I swerved. He pulled out far enough that his front bumper knocked me further into the street, but I’d swerved enough that it didn’t knock me over. At 5 mph or less, the force of his car, not to mention his sheer stupidity, were enough to scare the ever living sh*t out of me.
I turned around and grabbed my roommate’s helmet and wore one from that day forward. Two weeks later on that same corner, no less, I took a spill and landed square on my face. Broke my right wrist, dislocated my left shoulder and lost my two front teeth, among others. It was awful, but that helmet saved my life. To anyone getting on a bike, no matter how experienced, please pick up a helmet first. I’d be eating through a tube or worse were it not for that helmet. -wordwithsam from “Gear You Need to Commute By Bike,” Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan

Here’s to not breaking a wrist or especially losing any teeth on my commute (this is actually one of my most longstanding fears– toothless glory). But it should go without saying that a helmet is non-negotiable gear.


Light Your Bike, Like a Diamond

My sweet hubby tricked out my bike with two lights– a headlight in the front, and a Specialized Stix taillight in the back. Technology has advanced in every realm, and bike lights are no exception. Once I’ve reached my destination, I simply plug my lights into my USB to charge them for the next day. Genius!!


Under-seat Pack, a Must

No one wants a flat tire, but it’s bound to happen. This reality is one I must face, and I must sheepishly admit that I’ve been taught to change a flat time more times than I have fingers. I haven’t mastered this skill in all my years as a roadie. Now’s the time to figure it out!! (I also secretly hope my hubby will be within phone’s reach.) This under-seat pack holds everything you need to change a tire successfully.


Multi-tool, Oh My!

Along with changing a flat, a multi-tool will always come in handy. Seat adjustments, chain/cable problems, I got this! Below, the Specialized EMT multi-tool, is a good option for most commuting scenarios.


Fenders, Why Yes

When it comes to all-weather commuting (yes, this is my intention and I’ll keep you posted!) fenders are a must. Rain, snow, mud, you’re going to see it all. If you want to make it to work without having to hose off before beginning your day, you should invest in fenders. Leave it to my partner to source the best-of-the-best. Woody’s Fenders are custom, handmade in Bend, Oregon. You check them out HERE, and HERE.


Panniers, for All Weather

I tend to have a lot of STUFF when I head to work. Depending on the day I may have my laptop, two class texts, a set of student papers I’ve graded, my daily planner, a change of clothes, shoes for work, and breakfast and lunch for the day. I knew that I’d need some roomy panniers and these Ortleib Commuter QL 2.1 bags are a good match for my commuting needs. Water-proof, professional, without screaming bike nerd, I’m excited to pack the crap out of these and roll.



Leave it to me to look into stylish clothes for my bike commute. At this point I plan on alternating between these carpi length Ibex bike shorts, and my Specialized long leggings. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my eye on some new bike bottoms. I’ll keep you posted as update my clothing. For now I really do plan to stick to the standards I listed above. I am also wearing the brightest jacket/topper I could find for greater visibility, the Specialized Women’s Deflect Jacket. It’s light, bright, and sure to catch the eye of motorist and fellow trail blazer alike.

I hope you all have an wonderful Monday. I’d love to hear any of your ideas or experiences bike commuting. I’m completely new to this realm, but really looking forward to the ride!

XX, Megan


Outerwear in October

Early Fall

Adobe Spark (17)

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.

I’ve gathered some of my current outerwear favorites for October from across the web for this latest installment of Refined + Rugged. Take a look, and tell me what your favorite outerwear pieces are for fall. Happy Friday, wonderful humans!

XX, Megan

Late Fall

Adobe Spark (18)

Wool Topcoat, Rustic Puffer, VestBelted Topcoat

Climate Dependent

Adobe Spark (16)

Puffer Parka, Trench Coat, Rain Slicker 

Cold Stoppers

Adobe Spark (19)

Toggle Coat, Extreme Puffer, Insulated Topcoat, Wool Trench Coat

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


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

  1. Working out in smaller chunks
  2. Contacting one of my friends every week
  3. Maintaining some of the positive changes I’ve made to my schedule this past year
  4. Scheduling chores and cleanup in a set timeframe
  5. Meditating

(If you need the quick details, scroll down to the bottom of the post!)

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.

We are involved in soccer, cycling, and a host of other activities associated with work, school and community. We are still recovering from our move. For some, it sounds ridiculous to say that a return to normalcy would be so hard to achieve after moving. In all honesty, moving really threw me out of my groove. Maybe many of these feelings of precariousness come from that uproar. It was a big life change. But I think there is more to this moment in my life than moving, career focus, or realigning my goals.

I need another reset, a re-centering, a restoration of balance and order, in my entire existence. It would be foolish for me to say that simply because I recognize this, I’ve achieved my balance. I feel as though I am entering a new time in my life. I have lived my childhood, my young adulthood, my child bearing years, and we’re into the real thick of the child rearing years, and it has always taken me a while to find my equilibrium.

Now I have reached another new juncture in my life. I am experiencing the need to return to some of the tried and true things that make me who I am, and I now have the opportunity to incorporate some of the good habits I’ve picked up on returning to the workplace. I am excited to see what this part of the journey holds for me and my little family, and I am committed to finding my balance in this new episode.

I have written about balance on the blog, HERE. Perhaps the first post should have covered it for me. When I wrote that first article, I talked mostly about balancing blogging and home-life. As my quest for balance continues, maybe yours does, too. When I say balance I mean the confluence between the things we prioritize in our daily schedules, and perhaps some of the things–activities, practices, time frames– we might want to bring into the daily stream.


One of the hardest transitions for me in returning to work has been that I have really let go of working out. I’d like to say that “I had to let go” of working out, but there are plenty of people who are up at 4:30 am getting their physical activity on. Therefore, I have to place the responsibility for my physical fitness needs and desires solely on my choices.

One of the reasons this shift into zero work outs has been hard is that I find that physical practice has just as imporant mental impact as physical benefit. I truly believe in the mental cleansing that comes from working out.

This entire internal dialogue came to a head one night about a month ago around 8:45 p.m. I had recommitted myself to returning to the gym that very next morning. My intention was to make a morning work-outer of myself. (This has yet to happen in 37 years, but why not try again now when I really need it!!!!?!) My alarm was set for 5:00 a.m., my intention was to head to bed.

But it just didn’t happen. One of the boys got up with a tummy ache, I realized that I still needed to turn off all the lights downstairs and let the dogs out, my husband asked if we were ever going to hang out again. The pressure was on. The other reality is that I absolutely hate going to the gym in the mornings.

Leaving for the gym at 5 a.m. also means an insane amount of preparation: packing lunches, gym bag, work clothes, prepping breakfast, solidifying lesson plans– all things that I usually do in the morning before work. First world problems, I realize this. But stumbling blocks, nonetheless.

More importantly, if I am gone in the mornings I miss out on those precious moments right as I am heading off to work and my boys rise each day. We say our good mornings/goodbyes. I’m able to give squeezes, and kisses, and wishes for a wonderful day. This time is very important to me. So what am I to choose?

I’ve been looking at this problem from many sides for a few months now and it is time to make a change. Something’s gotta give. I understand that part of this conundrum is the “having it all” syndrome. The idea that you can balance the big five: family, work, sleep, working out, and friendships.

The night my plans to make a fresh start in the working out world crashed and burned for maybe the seventh time in as many months, I sat on the couch dejected. My phone buzzed with a text message from my husband upstairs. “Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one who can’t have it all.” He wrote, with a link to an interview by Jessica Stillman with Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Mark). Ms. Zuckerberg explains that if the five pillars of life are family, work, sleep, friends, and working out. A person who wants to be successful (in any of them, to any degree) should choose three.

Wa-wa-wahhhhh. I’m still not stoked on this paradigm. Though I have to admit that I’ve been living it for half-a-year or so. (Or if you ask my close friends, people who I loved, cherished, and treasured before I had a full-time job how I’m doing on the friend front [read POORLY] I’ve probably been struggling with this shift in balance from day one of full-time employment.)


After parleying the merits of this approach– big five, choose three– for some time now I’ve come to believe that perhaps a more nuanced look into each of these– family, work, sleep, friends, working out– might yield more benefit. I read this article by Mallika Chopra, and it encouraged me to be more open to examining my balance, desires, and involvement in all aspects of my life in a more refined way.

Below are the five things I’m doing to realize more balance in my every day:

Working out in smaller chunks

In the past I had time to work out for 60 to 90 minutes a day, no problem. I have always enjoyed working out, so I knew that I wasn’t experiencing an apathy issue. I just simply didn’t/don’t have the luxury of devoting the same amount of time as I did in the past to physical fitness.

One of the mistakes I made was to mislabel the lack of time I had (of course my schedule is tighter) for NO time whatsoever. I DO have time. I simply need to realign my idea how much time a full work out really needs to be effective. My plan is to work out for 30 minutes a day.

If I have more time, great. If not, I’ll take the 30 minutes I can get! I have also had to refresh some of my work out modes. For example, I set my bike up on my trainer at home. I can hop out of bed, into my clothes, and be on my bike in less than five minutes. I also downloaded several workout apps to my phone. This will make it easier to get SOME sort of workout in, no matter the days’ schedule.

Contacting one of my friends every week

I value all my friendships very highly. I may not be able to devote as much time and energy to each of my friends as I did in the past, but I can still make an effort to reach out with sincere love and care. I am going to call one of my friends once a week every week. This includes my sisters, and some of my friends that are very distant from me geographically. There’s no reason I can’t pick up the phone and simply let them know that I am thinking of them.

Maintaining some of the positive changes I’ve made to my schedule this past year

I have established some very good habits this past year, and I don’t want to forget that during this increasingly busy time in my life I have been able to dial in some habits that I want to keep forever.

One of those is a more balanced approach to sleep, i.e. the pure recognition that I am a human that works best if I have eight hours of sleep every night. I function better, I am happier, and I am more productive in every way if I pay attention to getting enough rest.

Another one of the healthy habits I felt stayed consistent during some of these life changes was my commitment to family dinners. A huge thank you to The Six O’clock Scramble, revolutionizing dinnertime one family meal at a time.

I have such a belief in and reverence for family dinner, and I was able to maintain a relatively consistent dinner schedule through the past year-and-a-half. Home cooked meals were and are happening, and I want to make sure that this continues.

Scheduling chores and cleanup in more organized and specific time frame

With the job, and the move, and the increased activity level the struggle to maintain home tidiness has been real! I have to say that we have tried our best to keep every aspect of life clean and good working order. But it is time, time for the chore chart, time for task delegation, and time to set up a rotating system or jobs that benefit our home environment.

We’re dialing in laundry by giving every one a wash day, and have made great strides (read my husband has worked miracles on our home to make it more sound, more pleasant, more functional, and more beautiful) to get this new home in functioning as well as orderly condition.

We’ll get there, so this week will include a long hard look at some of the chores that need to be address on the regular. My fear is that this will become a fight between the parents and other occupants of the household, my hope is that if we get into a true routine with our chores it will move along seamlessly (ha ha, I know). Cheers to trying for balance in chore land!!


Meditation time may also fall under the category of ME TIME. When discussing some of my new approaches to balance with friends, many of them mentioned that it is important to have time for yourself. Time that is not devoted to a particular enterprise or even goal. This meditation time might be spent genuinely meditating. It might be spent reading. It might be spent painting my toenails.

The important thing is that I don’t lose sight of some of the little things that I might need to bring continuity and even free flow to my new practice of balance.

I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the subject of maintaining personal balance. As for me, I need to quit this post so that I can start acting on the steps I’ve outlined!! Have a wonderful Monday, friends.

XX, Megan


Living Room Remodel: Boho Eclectic


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.



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


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 


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.


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!


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


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



  • 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)

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.


*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


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



  • 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


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


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


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


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



  • 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


 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!!

*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




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

Connect the Dots


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


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

J.Crew Wishlist


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!


So Bright Pink


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





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


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



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


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.


Cozy Transitions = Spring Sweaters


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! ❤


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!





I Heart Date Night


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!






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


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!!


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



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


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


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


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


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


All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography


Transitions in Cashmere


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


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


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


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

Milkshake It Off: A July Spin Set


I’ll be up with the sun today (5:30 a.m. where’s the grab your cheeks oh-wow-I-am-not-a-morning-person emoji when you need it?), as some friends and I are headed out on an uber early ride. I had some really wonderful road rides in June and July. True to my summer-self I have let holidays and vacation eating get the best of me.

Sometimes I just don’t want to say no to just one more cookie, or cake, or milkshake!! So the time has come to Shake. It. OFF!!! I’m getting my groove on and spinning it down over here. The workout below can be used on a bicycle trainer at home, a stationary bike or spin bike at your favorite gym, or really any gym equipment where you can easily adjust your exertion levels to suit the workout.

Without further ado. Milkshake It Off–

The entire premise of this workout is that you can find a gear or a setting on your stationary bike that is in the middle to heavy resistance range and then YOU create the contrast or the change in exertion level. The workout is divided into 4  x 9 minute sets each consisting of three, three minute intervals.

The first three minute interval is your seated climb. You should try to keep your RPMs between 65 and 70. This is the three minute lead up to the more heart-pumping sweat inducing second and third intervals in your nine minute set.

The second three minute interval is a standing climb. If you have any back issues or knee and joint pain, you can simply do another seated climb and raise your RPMs by 10 pedal strokes. So your RPMs should reach between 70 and 75.

The third interval is a seated PUSH. I hesitate to call this interval a sprint because a three minute sprint is not conducive to good training practices most of the time. However, you need to really push the RPMs in this set. RPMs could raise to 80 or eve 90 if you have picked a resistance that is not TOO high so that you can really give it what for during this interval.

I hope you feel like the biking fool below when you are finished! ROCK STAR! (Breakdown below.)


Milkshake It Off

5 minute stretch

3 minute pick-ups– 30 seconds push, 30 seconds rest

4 minutes raising your resistance to its highest level (this is not the resistance level you are going to work at). At the end of the 4 minutes readjust your resistance to that which you will ride for the rest of your entire ride.

If you want to, you can do one entire nine minute set at 70% as a warm up. 3, 3, 3.

Or if you’re warm, hit that first 9 minute interval hard.

3 minute seated climb, 3 minute standing climb, 3 minute seated PUSH done four times!

You’re done, home, finished, success! Cool down, then stretch. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.

XX, Megan

*This workout, like any other, should be done under the direction of your doctor or health care professional.


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


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


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