Workwear Wednesday

work-wear-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

DSC_0146

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

DSC_0151DSC_0152DSC_0153DSC_0150

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

unspecified.jpeg

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

unspecified-1.jpeg

All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography

 

Transitions in Cashmere

DSC_0171

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

DSC_0163DSC_0161DSC_0164DSC_0169

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

DSC_0119DSC_0122DSC_0144

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

DSC_0127DSC_0128DSC_0134DSC_0137

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

image

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.)

IMG_5496.jpg

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

DSC_0121

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

DSC_0124DSC_0123DSC_0128DSC_0130DSC_0122

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

Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

image

I made this salad for Sunday dinner with my sister and her family and it was a HUGE  hit– with the adults, that is. The kids had grilled cheeses, sliced nectarines, sugar snap peas and gobbled up their meal in an instant.

We paired the Chicken and Nectarine Salad from The Scramble with a Green Salad with Pistachios and Goat Cheese and a warm baguette. Heavenly. That’s how it all tasted.

It is fun to have family and friends who enjoy delicious food as much as we do and this really was the perfect summer meal. Today will be a driving day for us as we return home, but it was such a wonderful trip with so many beautiful memories made.

I hope your mid-week comes cruising through with goodness. Many happy returns to you all!

XX, Megan

image

Ingredients

1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 nectarines, pitted and sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced (1 cup)
3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted if desired
3 – 4 scallions, thinly sliced, green parts only (1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 lime, juice only, about 1 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
1 – 2 Tbsp. fresh mint

Directions

Cut each chicken breast crosswise into thin strips. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil, and when it is hot, sauté the chicken, turning occasionally, until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. (Set aside some cooked chicken, sliced nectarines and cucumber for non-salad eaters, if necessary.)

In a large serving bowl, combine the chicken, nectarines, cucumbers, almonds and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. oil, the vinegar, lime juice, honey, curry powder, ginger and salt. (Alternatively, you can shake them all up in a jar to emulsify them.)

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to coat. Gently toss in the mint (optional). Refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 days. (Meanwhile, prepare the baguette slices, if you are serving them.) Season the salad with salt and pepper, to taste, at the table.

*The 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.

Every Day Denim

DSC_0124

We have had such a busy summer that I am still left looking forward to every weekend. Whether it is Tuesday or Saturday this denim look is a summer uniform I repeat over and over throughout the season. Denim on denim, there really is nothing easier. Plus, denim can take wear and tear, sweat and dirty kid-hands, and somehow usually look presentable even at the bitter-end of a long day.

This particular day was spent at Trailside Bike Park with my hubby, boys, sister, and her little girl, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Trailside has the perfect beginner pump track for little mountain bikers, as well as what they call a “skills development area” that looks similar to a skate park for bikers. They also boast intermediate and advanced level tracks so everyone can get their ride on and come away satisfied!

Watching everyone cruise the track and trail, the heavenly smell of sage, the vermillion blooms of the paintbrush flowers, the perfect breezes, and smiles all around made this the perfect family activity. What lies ahead for you this week? I hope you’re all having a beautiful day so far!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0127DSC_0128DSC_0133 - Version 2DSC_0131

Shirt: Madewell, Shorts: Target, Shoes: Vans, Bag: Old Navy, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Ring: Madewell, Earrings: Jax Kelly, Lips: MAC Pure Zen

My Beach Bag Essentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beach Towel 2016

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

XX, Megan

Farm Fresh

DSC_0119

One of our favorite things to do each week during the summer is visit the local Farmer’s Market. Our market is held on Thursdays and there is always a live band, local vendor tents, and lots of delicious food and drink. The kids always beg to go to the bounce houses and the park is adjacent to the pavilion so there are plenty of friends to play and mingle with.

A friend of mine who recently moved to town did point out that there are not any fresh produce stands at our Farmer’s Market this year. There are two or three stands that stay open around town all summer, but I don’t know what kept the actual farmer’s from coming to our market. I’m content to sit on a picnic blanket and enjoy the music while munching on the delicious fare from Lola’s Street Kitchen.

If you do chance to hit our Market you’ll probably find me wearing something casual. Something sort of farmer, meets hippie, meets hipster, meets… I don’t know food truck partaker! Have a fabulous Thursday, friends, whatever your plans.

XX, Megan

DSC_0146DSC_0135DSC_0128DSC_0130 - Version 2

Shortalls: Old Navy, Top: Madewell (similar), Shoes: Birkenstock, Bag: Madewell, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Earrings: J.Crew, Lips: NARS Cruising

Farro with Pan-roasted Brussels Sprouts and Pistachios

DSC_0146

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

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

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

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

This recipe was originally posted on Food and Style.

DSC_0151

Minimal

DSC_0140

This dress is quite a dream. Totally minimal, it has great lines, can be dressed up or down, and has that perfectly crisp poplin feel that makes everything fresh! I accessorized with an oversized belt and clutch, but you could just as easily opt for Birkenstocks and a bikini underneath🙂

It is these type of easy dresses that make summer dressing a breeze. We are driving and driving today, hoping to make it to California this evening, so wish us luck! What are your Tuesday plans? A dip in the pool? Some light reading? Barbecuing in the backyard with friends? Working on an upcoming work project? Wherever this day takes you, I hope you have a good one.

XX, Megan

DSC_0133DSC_0136DSC_0143DSC_0151DSC_0146

Dress: J.Crew, Sweater: J.Crew, Bag: J.Crew (similar), Sandals: J.Crew (similar, similar), Belt: Banana Republic, Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Necklace: Gorjana, Watch: Invicta, Earrings: Madewell, Lips: NARS Cruising

Packing (for the Beach): 5 Real Life Tips

DSC_0133

Packing has never been something I look forward to, per se. But I have to admit that the chance to project forward a few days and style up what I’ll be wearing has become more enjoyable for me as I have traveled more in general.

However, if you’re not keen on packing here are some of my tips for keeping it easy and stress-free! Beach, mountains, plains, metropolitan area, or small town– your trip could be long or short. If you stick these 5 easy tips I think it takes some of the pain out of packing.

  1. Pack in advance. 
  2. Make real outfits. 
  3. Choose a neutral color palate. 
  4. Don’t forget your non-clothing items. 
  5. Always go light on the shoes.

Let’s break some of these tips and tricks down a little further.

Pack in Advance

Sometimes I pack up to a week in advance if I already know what I am going to wear. I understand that you packing this far ahead can lead to clothing wrinkle, so you do have to think about that. But I have found that if I pack in advance then I tend not to forget things.

It is on those trips where I have tried to throw everything into my carry-on late the night before that I wind up forgetting my pajamas, swimsuit, underwear, or my toothbrush! Life is busy, at the very least, pack the day before!

Make Real Outfits

This one is relatively new to me, but it has probably been the biggest packing game-changer for me personally. Have you ever shown up to a business trip and somehow ended up packing casual wear rather than the needed business attire? I have.

Have you ever gone on vacation and realized that all those pretty dresses you brought are simply WAY. TOO. DRESSY for the beach house you rented or the resort you’re staying at? I have. Have you gotten to your parent’s house with a HUGE BAG and somehow the random collection of crap that you shoved into that enormous duffle just doesn’t seem to go together?!? I have.

Solution: make real outfits when you pack. This top with this bottom, etc. This dress with these flats. Mix and match to save space all you want, but really try to image the actual outfit you’ll be wearing.

Choose a Neutral Color Palate

Now my tip here is the choose a neutral color palate because neutrals are so easy to mix and match. I really am going to pack black and white and denim for my trip to California, but if you don’t love neutrals you can CHOOSE ANY COLOR PALATE!!!

Do you love blues and greens? Then pack in primarily those colors. Do you favor red or have an abundance of green in your wardrobe? Pack those colors. Choosing a color palate simply helps you to narrow down your choices beforehand. Check and check!

Don’t Forget Non-clothing Items

I no so very guilty of this, but I have a very close friend who happens to be the wife of a dentist who perpetually forgets her toothbrush! The irony is real. However, I have gotten somewhere and realized that if I had done a little prior planning I would have brought my own sunscreen, or I would have made sure to have facial cleansing wipes.

It is these items you would do well to think about in advance. Plus, don’t forget sunglasses, a good book, jewelry (if you wear any), electronic devices and their chargers, and any bags you might need to have when you arrive at your destination. For example, I am heading to the beach, I am going to bring a beach bag with me because I don’t need to buy one once I get there.

Always Go Light on the Shoes

I love shoes. I have many pairs, but when it comes to packing- EVEN IF YOU ARE ROAD TRIPPING- leave the majority of your shoe closet where it is. The main reason being that shoes are bulky, they take up a lot of space, and really how many shoes do you REALLY wear during a weeks’ time?

Ditch the stilettos, sub in your favorite espadrilles, and don’t forget to bring your running shoes!

There you have it. Five friendly packing tips that have made my experiences packing a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. Wishing you safe travels and happy trails wherever your suitcase, carry-on, duffle, or weekender takes you!

XX, Megan

Links: Sweaters Summerstich Pullover, Black and White Boatneck, Summer Beach Sweater; Leopard Crossbody; Shoes Lace-up Sandals, Espadrilles, Birkenstocks (not pictured); Blouses 1, 2, 3, 4; Tees 1, 2, 3; Shorts 1, 2, 3, 4; Pants 1, 2; Swimsuits 1, 2; Hat 1, 2 (not pictured); Dress 1 (not pictured);

Beach Scene: Everything You Need for a Vacation in the Sand

Beach Scene 2016

One of the best parts of packing for a beach trip is that you can keep your wardrobe elements SUPER simple. Tee shirt, shorts, dress that doubles as a coverup, a classic one-piece, your favorite sunnies, and you are ready to set up your umbrella and relax! I like to choose a color palate, in this case black and white with any denim you like.

I also need to give a shout out to this $20.00 maxi dress from Old Navy. This puppy is a wardrobe ROCK STAR!! I have this dress in blue, and wore it HERE in Palm Springs last year. I also love how Sally from A Piece of Toast styled this same maxi dress, HERE. You might note that her post dates circa 2014, so it’s not as if this style is on the outs as I’ve linked this year’s black version from Old Navy below!

Cheers to Friday, impending weekend, and hanging out with family! Sending all you lovely blog readers good karma and good vibes. (Links below.)

XX, Megan

Maxi DressWhite Tee,  Silk Sundress,  Lace-up SandalsShort-sleeve Jean JacketRay-ban Wayfarers, White Cropped Wide-leg JeansBlack One-piece

P.S. I might throw in this adorable silk one-shoulder dress in for good measure! Never hurts to have something to throw on for an outdoor dinner after your day around the cabana, does it😉 Have a great day!

F2235_BK5209.jpeg

That Beach Life

DSC_0145

I live in a land locked state. Any beach life that exists here takes place along lakes and rivers. For the most part, these “beaches” satisfy my wish for water during the summer months. But sometimes I still find myself dreaming of little cottages on Nantucket, or repeating our trips to Okracoke off the coast of North Carolina when we lived back east, or even a white sand beach in the Bahamas. Ahhhhhh!

For now, I’ll settle for a picture next to this adorable antique store in Midway, Utah, and an upcoming trip to the California coast to visit my sister. When it comes to beach dressing however, my proximity to a beach doesn’t keep me from channeling that laid-back, relaxed vibe you get in most waterfront towns and cities.

An oh-so light tank top, effortless linen pants, and a panama hat will do it! Just copious amounts of sand and salty spray and you’ve made it!! I hope your Thursday is solid, and that you’re looking forward to any weekend plans you have cooked up.

XX, Megan

DSC_0136DSC_0132DSC_0140DSC_0141DSC_0138

Top: J.Crew, Pants: J.Crew (similar), Slides: J.Crew Factory, Clutch: J.Crew (similar, similar, similar), Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Bracelets: J.Crew, Hat: Gap, Lips: NARS Orgasm Lipsgloss

Mango and Black Bean Salad

DSC_0127

The summer months have me craving all things light and flavorful. All of that healthy, delicious goodness is often poached by an after dinner milkshake or other sugar-laden dessert, so please don’t get the impression that we eat clean every meal of every day of every week.

But I do like to keep our food as light and clean as I can. Whole foods are so much more vitamin and nutrient packed than anything you can get from the freezer isle (or the milkshake shack for that matter ;)! We all try, right?

This salad comes from The Six O’Clock Scramble*, and if you haven’t tried their service yet, why not?!? (See details at the end of this post.) This is the side dish I brought to our Thanksgiving in July party at our friends’ home last night.

These friends began this tradition four years ago and it is going strong!!! I have eaten some of the most delicious food of my life at this soirée, including some smoked sausage that is truly amazing!!!

This 4th we also brought spice-rubbed apple wood smoked baby back ribs, and some of my mom’s famous brownies to share. Our plates were full, our bellies were happy, and the fireworks were awesome!

Happy Tuesday, friends!! Here’s to a short week, and getting back on the eat clean wagon!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0120

Ingredients

1 cup quick-cooking brown rice, (about 2 cups prepared)
15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 – 2 fresh mango, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, or use frozen
1/4 sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup scallions or chives, green parts only, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only, about 2 Tbsp.
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
6 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves, separated, rinsed and dried (optional)
6 whole wheat tortillas (use wheat/gluten-free if needed) (optional)

Directions

Thaw the frozen mango, if using it. Cook the rice according to the package directions and when cooked, remove it from the heat. (If you want to serve this salad immediately rather than allowing it to chill for a while, put the rice in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beans, mangos, onions, scallions, lime juice and cilantro. I also added one hot pepper (optional). Add the rice, season it with the salt, and toss gently. Chill it for at least 10 minutes (an hour or more is ideal) and up to 24 hours.

Serve the salad on its own or wrapped in large lettuce leaves, warm tortillas, or both.

DSC_0137

*The 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.

Summer League

DSC_0133

Happy Fourth of July!!! We are celebrating Independence Day by bike riding, river swimming, smoking meats for an epic meal with friends, and lighting fireworks for some very excited kiddos. (We had a preview last night, and happiness was high.)

I hope you are able to enjoy time with friends and family, or are simply enjoying your Monday if you don’t live here in the States.

XX, Megan

DSC_0173DSC_0149DSC_0130DSC_0151

Shirt: J.Crew (similar, similar, similar), Shorts: J.Crew, Bag: J.Crew (I love the weekender version, here), Flip-flops: J.Crew, Hat: Lids, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Cuff: Madewell, Necklace: Nadri, Lips: Troi Olliverrie for J.Crew

Simple Linen Skater Dress FTW

DSC_0149

Coming at you with another summer dress favorite! This dress is on summer repeat, as well. It’s a favorite from Old Navy last year. I wore it here. But I have an almost identical option for you if you are looking for another light linen dress to add to your summer mix!

This linen skater dress from ASOS is really the SAME dress. I also saw it styled up perfectly by Blair over at The Fox and She, here! I got so many compliments on this look on Instagram I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t include this look, plus details, in my post line-up.

I also pinned some of my current favorite summer dresses over on Pinterest, here. If you have a moment, you can check those out, too! May your Saturday be filled with lovely linen dresses and some pure moments of relaxation!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0141DSC_0147DSC_0156DSC_0158DSC_0148

Dress: Old Navy (identical option here from ASOS, similarsimilar), Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Sandals: Splendid (this season’s option, similar, similar, similar), Cuff: Madewell, Necklace: J.Crew (similar)

Love and Hate

81FJla7HTvL._SL1500_.jpg

Image: Banksy; an article about this graffiti artist here.

0b715c2b18dbf66cc3882907b6cc2297.jpgSometimes the hate of one brings out all the scars of the hate that has been with humanity from the beginning as it did in the Orlando shooting earlier this month. The discrimination, the disenfranchisement, the objectification, the religious rifts, the haves and the have nots. All of these age old faults glowed red-hot, hurting, aching, displayed by the senseless terror of one gunman opening fire on an entire frenzy of living, breathing, loving, loved, and beloved human beings.

It’s all buzz right now. The re-ringing in our ears of the recent attack at the airport in Turkey. 42 more human lives gone. The shouting blonde, Tomi Lahren, on The Blaze, telling the President of the United States that he is an idiot for not labeling this act radical Islamic terrorism. The derision and hatred carried in her bitter blue eyes as she excoriated President Obama and Muslims generally parallels the hatred of that act– cold, intolerant, killer.

The southern black writer, Kiese Laymon, who capsules Mateen as a radical American homophobe in his fearless piece about America’s complicity in violence and continued violence by scape-goating radical movements rather than addressing the unique American-ness of this act. The dangerous complications of our time-honored traditional culture of big gun boasting, small gun possession, which allows semi-automatic weapons to be brandished in public places.

Laymon writes, “We need the American media to tell its citizens the truth. Omar Mateen was a 29 year old radical American homophobe with a history of domestic abuse, who likely found some fertile ground for his American homophobia, misogyny and abusiveness in Isis propaganda.”

I understand the direct importance, immediacy, and need for us to find out who this man is– Omar Mateen. To know and to label him. We try to climb inside his mind and parse out all the evil pieces. Maybe Omar Mateen is all of these things– Islamic radical, radical American homophobe, homosexual who found self-loathing in the intolerance he faced on every side– religiously, societally, internally.

Maybe he is every one of them all rolled into one. I do not dismiss the importance of naming his hate, calling on it and calling it out. We may never know the true hybrid of his evil, we are only left with the wake of its bloody hell. But does this mean that we stand by powerless at crimes against all of humanity, crimes filled with the deepest hatred? I believe we are not powerless, we are called upon to love harder, love more deeply, love with vehement care for others, the other.

We live in a time where the faces of those killed– shot down, mowed down, exploded indiscriminately– are juxtaposed directly next to those of their killers. Selfies of a man in NYPD tourist shirts taken in the green light of his home bathroom, or shadowy figures running with a semi-automatic weapon away from a security guard before detonating a suicide bomb. It makes the horror seem that much closer, that much more real.

The horror was real for those in Orlando that night, one son hiding in a bathroom and texting his mother for help. That horror continues for their loved ones, families, and friends left behind in the wake of a hate so raw, enraged, and consuming. The horror was real at the Ataturk airport when gunman opened fire on the entrance and then detonated bombs that killed 42 people and counting, and wounded over 239.

It’s in the eyes. That’s where you see the humanity, the love, the life, the joy, the light, the kindness, the yearning, the family, the friends, the potential, the soul, the heart, the hope. The eyes that are forever closed now. I see it all in the eyes of the victims of Orlando and Istanbul, humanity’s struggle for peace.

Tributes of love, honor, grief, suffering, terror, and utter despondency wrap around us on our Facebook feeds. What will we do with these poems of life and loss? How can we turn their lives into an energy that gives rise to new waves of care and compassion?

We need to reach and grapple with the patterns of love and empathy we find lacking within ourselves. Or we will continue to reach and grasp at straws of understanding trying to grapple with a hate that will never sustain us. “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” There is nothing to understand in hate, we must only fight to keep it from normalizing within us.

In the heart-rending words of Micah Player whose art piece mourning for Turkey is also linked below,

“With so many horrific attacks stacked on top of one another, again and again and again… I confess to the horrible sense that my heart is growing numb. I cannot allow that to happen. This cannot ever be normal. It will never be another day.

Horror, blood, hate, mindlessness. That is not the world I will ever accept as the one I live in. Love and sorrow for the courageous people of Turkey, shattered and murdered yesterday. Peace for us all. Someday.”

13512043_938443732933373_8548970991394596760_n.jpg

These acts of aggression, and hatred, and bloodshed cannot ever be seen as normal– cannot ever cause us to be numbed to the senseless acts of death, destruction, and terror.

Let the tears flow. Let the prayers ascend. Let the fires of remembrance be lit, and never let to rest.

Let the world of loving, understanding, empathetic, charitable, caring, giving, nurturing, uplifting, and enlightened men and women ban together in solidarity against this kind of hatred.

Let us value the beauty of one another and fill up our cups with the reality of each other. May they run over with love– our cups of life. May we let care for our fellow brothers and sisters of every gender, race, creed, sexuality, political persuasion, and religion be alive in us.

Please, let us be advocates for life, for civil discussion, for the pursuit of joy and peace for those around us, for love, for tolerance, and for the end of hatred and bloodshed across our nation and world.

Love. Please, love.

10.jpg

Sundress Spin

DSC_0140

Ah! This dress is all things summer! I cannot say enough about the light layers, beautiful embroidery, or its perfect spin! This particular color was available last season, and I featured it here in the fall.

Fortunately this exact style is back in a variety of colors and I’ve linked them below! If you’re looking for a throw-on-and-feel-fresh dress, this is it. If you’re searching for a beach cover up that will double as dinner wear, this is it. If you are looking for the perfect dress for your backyard soiree, this is it!!

I hope your Thursday is fabulous, and as bright and airy as the perfect sundress!

XX, Megan

DSC_0137DSC_0144DSC_0129DSC_0121DSC_0128DSC_0126

Dress: Free People (similar red from this seasonblue and here, black and here, white here from this season), Shoes: Birkenstock, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Bag: Madewell (on sale!), Cuff: Madewell, Lips: Sonia Kashuk Shine Luxe Pink Lust

Summertime, Reading List, and News

IMG_5408

Well, the heat is on, friends! Seriously, it has been in the 90s here in Mountain Land, and we are MELTING! I feel as though the sunshine, longer days, and way-too-late bedtimes have gone to my head.

Don’t get me wrong– I love summer! Ice cream, swimming pools, lingering sunlight, camping, long bike rides, farmer’s market, dining al fresco, and nights on our back deck under the stars to name a few of my favorites. But for some reason this summer feels as though it has been on steroids! Perhaps this is because my children are getting older and we seem to have an absolute inability to get them into bed at a reasonable hour.

This seems to cause Mom and Dad to stay up even LATER to have some alone time, and then EVERYONE is still slightly tuckered out come morning. It has become a problem cycle. Especially because I’ve been heading out for road rides in the very early morning to avoid the heat!

Not only are the temperatures high, but the heat is also on for me personally as I have accepted a position as a Language Arts Teacher at the High School in our town. This after finding my stride in my post about failure (you can read it HERE). I am over-the-moon about the job, though I will probably have butterflies in my tummy for the rest of the summer in anticipation!!!

That is the breaking news around casa Refined + Rugged. I’ve been busy with a summer reading list (see picture below) that strikingly resembles my High School literature readings. Hint: Seminal works of literature don’t die! They are written with unparalleled prescience, and powerful themes on the human condition that apply regardless of time period.

Alright, getting off of my soap box now. Below are some of the other activities we’ve been up to this summer. We’ve been fortunate to have been fishing, biking, climbing, hiking, gardening, sprinkler hopping, and more! How have you been spending your summer days? I’d love to hear what has kept you going besides the lengthening hours of the day!!🙂

Whatever you summer consists of, I hope that you are able to enjoy some of life’s sweetness– homemade pies, laughter with friends, a nap in a hammock, grooving to good tunes at a concert venue. And don’t forget, there are few things better than a fruit popsicle when the heat is on!

XX, Megan

DSC_0123 - Version 2My summer reading list. Join me in cruising through some classics before your kids (and I) go back to school!🙂IMG_5433All smiles at the Weekly Race Series. We have LOVED this event for three summers strong!IMG_5419If you’re looking for a great kids bike like Mr. P’s you can always hit up our local bike shop, Slim  & Knobby’s, online!!

IMG_5506Ripping up some single track at Soldier Hollow.IMG_5514Dinners al fresco almost every night! This is one of my favorite recipes for a Mediterranean 7 Layer Dip. From The Scramble, of course!😉IMG_5572Wisdom in the bike world. IMG_5764Neon sunrise is a treat for the eyes.IMG_5577Alaska friends!! Check out the engine car on the train at our local burger joint, The Train. Brings back WONDERFUL memories!! Some of our dearest friends still work for the White Pass Yukon Route Railroad. Cheers to another fabulous summer season on the train!IMG_5782Shaved ice, and more shaved ice.IMG_5678Beating the heat with some climbing of the indoor variety. This kid is becoming such a competent climber!!IMG_5771Moonset at sunrise.IMG_5550Fishing at Wasatch Mountian State ParkIMG_5779Local farm sites to oogle.IMG_5746Relaxing with the best of them. We love our daddy! Hammock available from World Market!

Plus, you can check back here tomorrow for another fun, summery, outfit post!❤

Soft Bandit

DSC_0133

I wish that I could claim credit for these beautiful yellow roses, but alas, they are not mine!  My photographer is so good about (read: insists) that we find a variety of places to shoot, and this little house on the corner has become one of our favorite stops.

I don’t know who lives here (I sort of hope not to ever have to meet them in person). But I’m sure we’ll keep snapping away in front of their nice yard all summer!

Have you tried this “wear a bandana” business personally, yet? I wore a red one around my neck a few weeks ago, and some stranger at the grocery store asked if I was going to be starring in Grease Lightning! Lough out loud. No I am not!

The bandana trend is becoming more and more ubiquitous. One of my favorite bloggers, Christine Cameron, of My Style Pill, recently showed a variety of ways to rock the bandana scarf. Her article Three Outfits, One Scarf is worth a read if you want to try this trend.

Here’s the thing, I’m not one to get on the trend train with force, but a $5.00 bandana? I can swing that kind of purchase any day! You can also go luxe! I LOVE this silk version from Aqua. And I do love that it adds a point of interest to my bag, or my blouse, or my neck. Would you ever? Do tell!!

I hope you have a beautiful Thursday. One punctuated with fresh yellow roses if at all possible.

XX, Megan

DSC_0136DSC_0131DSC_0138DSC_0125

Sweater: Old Navy (similarsimilar, similar, similar), Jeans: J.Crew (old, similar), Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell, Bag: Madewell, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Earrings: Vintage, Bracelets: Target (similar), Bandana: Urban Outfitters, Lips: NARS Cruising

Father’s Day (Last Minute) Gift Guide

Father's Day Gift Guide 2016.jpg

Sometimes I’m on my gift giving A game. You know, present at the ready, wrapped neatly and card written. But more often than not I’m that lady racing around Target, the Mall, the Dollar Store for crying out loud! Last minute, searching for the perfect gift for my husband. That’s my reality.

The reality: we live in a world where last minute gifts CAN and DO happen. Yes, it’s Wednesday, friends, and you can still make it happen! In fact, if you’re looking at the Specialized Venge for your baby daddy, I happen to know a SWEET BIKE SHOP you can order it from!!!😉

Here are some of the gift that the father of my children has loved and enjoyed on various occasions.

  1. Specialized Venge
  2. Fendrihan 3 Piece Shave Set
  3. Ray-ban Clubmaster
  4. Body Shop Hemp Moisturizer
  5. Restored Ski Lift Chair
  6. Everlane Zip Tote

I would love to hear some of the favorite Father’s Day gifts you’ve given to the fathers in your life. Have a remarkable Wednesday, wonderful readers, and Happy Father’s Day to you and yours!

XX, Megan

Fringe

DSC_0137

I cannot stop singing James Taylor’s “Country Road” as I look at these outfit photos. “Take to  the highway won’t you lend me your name? Your way and my way seem to be one and the same.”

“I guess my feet know where they want me to go. Walking on a country road.” I tried to listen to the song as I typed up the post, but I just kept singing instead of typing, so I’ll have to cue it up on my iPhone this morning.

My penchant for sweaters doesn’t end in the summer months. This is a new favorite from Madewell (also available here), and it has definitely been on repeat in this summer’s closet lineup. Would you ever entertain the fringe-y trend? I’ve shopped this shirt and several similar options below.

I hope your Tuesday is warm and delightful!

XX, Megan

DSC_0132DSC_0122DSC_0128DSC_0135DSC_0143

Sweater: Madewell (also available here, similar here, here, here, here), Jeans: J.Crew, Sandals: J.Crew (similar, similar), Bag: Madewell, Cuff: Madewell (similar), Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters (this is the exact pair), Watch: Invicta

Maxi Moment

DSC_0127

When it comes to maxi dresses I have to admit that I have had a hard time finding any that I really love.

They are either too short or too long, too billowy or too skin tight. I did borrow a black formal maxi dress from my sister when we sang a duet for an event YEARS ago. But none have caught my eye since.

Enter this fantastic– and easy, and sporty, and ON SALE!!!— maxi dress from Gap. You couldn’t wish for a more flattering or comfortable dress!

I added converse and a signature pop of red and I was ready for anything!! Well, ready for work and errands and a long list of activities. Have a perfect Thurday, peeps!

XX, Megan

DSC_0132 - Version 2DSC_0140DSC_0159DSC_0133DSC_0136

Vest: J.Crew, Dress: Gap, Bag: Rebecca Minkoff, Shoes: Converse, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Necklace: Gorjana, Cuff: Madewell, Bracelet: J.Crew, Lips: Stila Poppy Lip Vinyl

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich Heaven

DSC_0120

About last night… I think I found my summer thing. You know, the “thing”. That little bit of goodness that you just want to keep happening over and over and over again. That little treat at the end of the rainbow, if you will.

This summer my thing is going to be homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Yes. Hands down this is my favorite treat-of-the-moment! Picture a fresh chocolate chip cookie you pulled hot out of the oven. Now picture two of them, perfectly squished around a ball of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Wha?!? I’m telling you. There’s not much better out there!!! I recommend using THIS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE recipe, and this ice cream. So if you’re ever just hanging around, wondering what I’m up to this summer (cause I know that is at the top of your priority list😉, you can find me here (see below).

On my deck, under the lights, cramming yet another Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich between my lips! Happy Summer, and Happy Wednesday, friends!

XX, Megan

DSC_0121

Date Night Drives

DSC_0153

Sometimes when we’re out for a date, or headed to an activity we try to take the scenic route. It feels slightly victorian, like heading out on a Sunday drive (we love those, too). But I never tire of the endless glory of the views around these parts, so I’m sure we’ll keep after these mountain excursions.

This top is quickly becoming a summer favorite. I’ve paired it with shorts and skirts, and now this pair of cropped high rise jeans and heels for our date night. This nod to the 70s bohemian style has really been a wonderful resurgence in fashion in my opinion. Lace details, more forgiving forms and fabrics, along with bell sleeves and bell bottoms. I’m a fan!

I hope you have a marvelous Tuesday. We’re just trying to get into a summer groove before it sweeps us away and is gone!!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0147DSC_0153 - Version 2DSC_0148DSC_0157

Shirt: Love Sam (similar, similar, similar), Jeans: Madewell, Shoes: Nine West (similar), Bag: J.Crew (similar), Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Cuff: Madewell (sold out, similar, similar), Bracelet: J.Crew (similar), Watch: Invicta, Lips: Stila Beso

Graduating Girl: 5 Advices on Life

iStock_000001720206_Large1422476651

A letter to some of the gritty, get-after-it, gorgeous young ladies I know who graduated this year. When heading out into the great wide world remember:

One: Adults don’t have it all figured out.

Two: Don’t let anyone treat you like you are just a woman.

Three: Trust, trust, trust, trust, trust your gut.

Four: Find mentors. Make friends.

Five: Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Beware.

There are some things it just feels necessary to approach with thoughtful words– with your best. Pretending to give life advice is one of those things– a moment wherein you need to carefully asses the lay of the emotional landscape, if you will.

Most Graduating has come and gone. I missed my window to dole out my two cents before your four-corned mortarboards left your hand for the skies. But this letter is one to those who have already Graduated. You are now The Graduate. So I’m still going to send this message out to you as you wend your way onto life’s larger roads.

I’ll Not

Writing advices like these, you also have to be careful not to be cocky. Some pretty incredible Commencement Speeches have hit the history books. I’m most likely not going to say something as profound as Sheryl Sandberg in her commencement address to UC Berkeley this year when she chose to speak, not about life, but about death in the wake of her husband’s passing. A consummate tribute to the power that pain, struggle, challenge, and deep sorrow play in making us stronger, see it here.

I’m not going to say something as compelling as David McCullough Jr. did in 2012 to Wellesley High School when he emphasized that “You Are Not Special”, seen here. That’s right, he told every one of those graduates that contrary to what they might have been told in their Pampered Upper Middle Class Prep-School Enclave that they would NOW have to distinguish themselves as members of the human race to make their mark. That they were NOT the center of the universe.

“Get busy. Have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up. Get out. Explore. Find it yourself. Grab hold with both hands,” McCullough said. This speech is good stuff. It’s definitely worth a listen.

I’m not going to be able to pen something as catchy as Wear Sunscreen. Which was the foremost graduation speech in my day. A commencement speech given in 1997, so good that it was attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, a writer’s cult favorite, even though it was actually written by Mary Schmich. You can read it here.

And I’m certainly not going to be writing a quintessential post-teen punk anthem like Green Day’s Good Riddance. Affectionately subtitled, Time of Your Life. No, that’s not my cup of tea. But I do want to share with a few things I’ve picked up on my journey. A few understandings that have come my way. I hope they’ll help you in some way.

caps

Adults Don’t Have it All Figured Out

I vividly remember a moment last year. I was standing in the kitchen, scooping something into the trash can and I thought something to the effect of, “This is it? This is being an adult? I wanted and wished and hoped to be an adult all of my childhood life, and this is what it turns out to be?!? This stinks!” And I wasn’t referring to the trash in the can.

You see, I was that child. The girl who always wanted to be grown up. I don’t know all of the reasons for this, and I’m glad that I wanted to grow up instead of remaining an over-grown child. But I want you to know that ADULTING is HARD.

It is difficult to be responsible for yourself. Yes, sometimes it sucks. When the rent, and the electric, and the water, and the trash, and the cleaning, and the cooking, and the working, and child rearing are ON YOU. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming.

It can also be overwhelming to move closer into the lives, and hearts, and the emotional presence of the adults around you. I’m talking about parents, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and old friends who will now be (at least partial) peers to you.

You will see more clearly than ever that they do NOT know everything. That they have many questions and patterns that may continue to keep them in pain, and that they seem almost helpless to free themselves from these chains. The same people, so precious to you, who have bathed you, wiped your face, wiped your bottom, picked you up after falls literal and figurate, who are your heroes, your examples, your touch-points– they still have hopes, and dreams, and hurts, and unrealized realities, too.

Don’t be alarmed. Don’t be afraid. As you move closer into their realm, their worlds– watch them, learn from them, try not to be hurt by them. They are still learning to be adults, too. Learn from their mistakes and missteps. Love them. But it is okay to realize that sometimes even the adults around you don’t have it all figured out.

Last but not least, you do not have to take on the entire role of adult right now! Try it on. Move out of the house. Go away to school. Get all of the education you can. Find a trade and become an expert in it. Get a job in a nearby town.

The best part about right now is that you can still be 17, 18, 19, or 20, RIGHT NOW! The time for hard core adulating will come. The marriage, the babies, the career, the bills. You don’t need to pretend to be 25, 35, or 40. What I am saying is enjoy this moment of being. Enjoy this in-betweening. You’re at the end of your teens, on the cusp of your twenties. Enjoy being YOU, RIGHT NOW!

Don’t let anyone treat you like you are just a woman

The longer I live, the more I realize that we are humans. Not just a woman, not just a man, but a HUMAN. Yes, I do believe that there are certain differences between men and women. I am not qualified to suss out in their entirety which are nature and which are nurture. No one is. You will be able to see and discern and decide how you think it all breaks down as you grow and learn.

It is true that you have the ability to bear children and a man does not. It is true that we are also made up of certain chemical and biological differences– this dance of testosterone and estrogen, these X and Y chromosomes. But I do no believe that these differences make women any less qualified or competent to hold any job, work in any capacity, to reason, to make tough decisions, to be the CEO, be the president, or to change the world.

YOU are this infinite, incredible you. Never before existent, and never to be replaced or recreated in this space or time. Intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, emotional, faceted, intricate, YOU. Never let anyone else create a lesser version of you. Especially in your own mind. Please remember that when others try to make you feel small, it is only because they are honoring the deceit of their own smallness.

When you are passed over for a job, a promotion, a handshake, an acknowledgment, or made to feel lesser than your male counterparts for any reason whatsoever, please do not take this as a sign of anything other than what it is– a societal inability to stretch, and reach, and accept, and achieve equality and equanimity in the present. Work for the change.

Along with that, you must learn the VALUE and STRENGTH of ALL THAT YOU POSSESS. You must come to know yourself intimately. You must ask yourself hard questions. You must do and try hard things– succeed or fail. You must never let anyone dismiss you, and most of all you must never DIMINISH yourself or others.

Trust, trust, trust, trust, trust your gut

You are still learning a lot about yourself at this point in life. I know that. You know that. You are still growing into the person you will and can be. That is good. Take that growing in stride. But simply because you are learning, and forming, and molding yourself doesn’t mean that you should throw all that you already know and believe out the window.

In fact, I have it on good authority that there is Someone out there who is looking out for you. I do believe that God– the maker, the creator, the designer, the potter, the omniscient, the omnipotent– loves YOU and has a desire for you to have what is the very best for you in your life. You are His, theirs, really.

This means that you have come equipped with a receiver, a beacon, a radar. It goes both ways. When your conscience tells you that something smells, majorly or minorly, (because sometimes the stink will be covered up by some other tantalizing aroma) something is most likely not good. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, to steal a phrase. So when your gut tells you that something isn’t right– go with your gut– ditch it!

This you trusting you trusting God business is NOT for the birds. The more you seek after the good, the uplifting, the truly beautiful, the sublimely joyful, the sweetest that Life has to offer, the more you will learn that your instincts are not off the mark. The more you will recognize that everyone is endowed with this inalienable ability to choose the good and eschew the evil. Do good! Choose good!

Find Mentors, Make Friends

Because you are transitioning into this young adult phase of your life, please be on the lookout for mentors, teachers, and honest guides. I cannot tell you when you will find them, I cannot tell you where you will find them. I can only tell you that you will.

I was privileged to meet some of my closest and most treasured friends when I was in college. These are relationships and friendships that I carry with me to this day. People who I have been able to celebrate as they have moved on to new phases, and stages, and achievements. People who have celebrated me at my wedding, my graduation from grad school, the birth of my first baby, the career opportunities that have opened up for me.

When one of my oldest and dearest friends walked into my freshman astronomy class and sat down next to me with a soda and bag of penny candy identical to mine the rest was history. A rich history of friendship in the making.

This woman became my running buddy, climbing partner, my adventure seeking associate, my letter of recommendation writer, and I think all we did to deserve this was to be ready for this next friendship with openness and care.

Look for these people, these soul partners. In many ways you find the deepest connections of your entire adult life in this next moment of your life. Be ready! In other ways you may realize that some of the relationships that you took for granted with your parents, grandparents, siblings, and current friendships, are actually some of the most important to you always. Either way, this is a time to build relationships that will last a lifetime.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Beware

As you enter this phase of your life, a phase that potentially presents you with a lot more freedom, I want you to remember that the warnings you received in High School about SEX, DRUGS, and ROCK and ROLL were for a good reason. They still have a purpose.

And if you still don’t know very much about sex, sexuality, sexual activity, and the repercussions and sexual play at an early age, then for the love of all things go and educate yourself. Enroll in a birthing class, for all I care, but make sure that you know more than the basics, and make sure that you are informed about the entire process.

What I mean, to be a bit more blunt, is that abstinence is STILL the only way to be sure that you don’t get pregnant or contract an STD. Practicing sex at this point in your life is still very impractical because your need to create children is most likely at a low, as well.

Playing with sex is not only a recipe for pregnancy, it is emotional fire. Don’t forget that beyond the physical act of love making is an entire host of strong, powerful, purpose driven emotions that are meant to point you to eventual pro-creation. Does that mean you are ready for them? No. Absolutely not.

Sexual activity STILL carries with it the REAL and increasing LIKELY fact that you may contract some kind of sexually transmitted disease from your partner. This is not a statistical insignificance, this is a fact. I know that you have HEARD about crabs, gonorea, hepatitis, genital warts, herpes, HIV, PID, and HPV. You’ve probably laughed about it ALL with your girlfriends.

But none of these are a laughing matter. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) 15-24 year-olds account for HALF of all sexually transmitted diseases that are contracted each year. HALF. That the other half of the STD contractors come from the ages of 25-107. Yes, you’re almost 10 times more likely to contract a STD than the rest of the population COMBINED!!!!!!!

If you are going to choose to be sexually active, because this is a choice within your purview, then you need to practice proper protection for yourself and for your partner. Just because you do it in the dark doesn’t mean that the consequences aren’t always brought to light, and I can assure you that there WILL be consequences. Be smart. Be informed. Be safe.

The same goes for DRUGS and ROCK and ROLL. Both have their purpose. Both can be healing, but you have got to screw your head on straight and wise up to the fact that these decisions will be part of your existence, so to decide your path now will bring you peace now and health later on. Enough said. (There is always more to be said on this subject, but when in doubt, educate yourself MORE.)

Finally

I really do hope that you will live this portion of your life with joy! I hope that you will be happy and let it show. I hope that you will smile, and laugh, and not take yourself or anyone else too seriously.

I hope that you will learn. I hope that you will cram all of the knowledge, and education, and skill into that beautiful brain of yours. Push it in. Pump it in. Fit in as much as you can because some day, and it probably seems far away now but will come so much sooner than you anticipate, you will have the opportunity to pass on that knowledge, and wisdom, and learning to others. I am not JUST talking about being a mother. I am talking about bringing good and wholeness to others because you have taken the time to study them out. You can bring them to the world.

You are in a beautiful budding, buzzing time of life. You have SO MUCH in front of you! Don’t look back. Look forward with hope, and awe, and readiness. Grab on to your future with your hands, your feet, and your teeth. Go with it. Grow with it. And YOU will become YOU. The woman you were always meant to be!

XX, Megan

Sporty Leather

DSC_0120

I’ve worn this skirt for several dates and dressier events this past fall/winter. But it is always exciting to reimagine a piece in your wardrobe and make it perfect for the MOMENT!

I give you, the casual sporty version of a leather skirt. Perfect for errands, car pool, and maybe even a casual Friday depending on your workplace dress code.

Today has a to-do list that feels 7 feet long, so I had better sign off and wish you all a happy weekend! May your Friday be full of fun and joy with your family and friends!

XX, Megan

DSC_0119DSC_0122DSC_0130DSC_0133DSC_0136

Sweatshirt: J.Crew, Skirt: Lucky Brand, Shoes: Nike Air Pegasus 83, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Bag: Old Navy, Watch: Pope Watch Co., Lips: Troi Ollivierrre in George

Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

DSC_0181

I’m already putting this salad on repeat for the summer! Yet another winner from The Scramble. I have made it a handful of times already, and I am just going to keep whipping it up. Especially when my healthy eating habits have been lacking, this is the perfect dietary reset.

A few things to note. I have ALWAYS roasted my sweet potato for 20 minutes. I like them to be a little more on the soft side. I also reduce the honey content in the dressing from 1 Tbsp. to 1-2 tsp. Last but not least, I haven’t ever added cinnamon to the dressing. I really enjoy cinnamon as a general flavor, but in a salad like this I stick to chili powder and cayenne.

With all of that said, I hope you are ALL experiencing, or about to experience a very wonderful Wednesday!

XX, Megan

DSC_0128

20 oz. sweet potatoes, about 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3/4 cup quinoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lime, juice only, about 1/4 cup
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 oz. fresh spinach or other mild greens, coarsely chopped
15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, drained and rinsed, or use 1 1/4 cups cooked beans
2 Tbsp. chives or scallions, finely chopped

DSC_0138

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a large serving bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 1 Tbsp. oil and the paprika. Spread them evenly on the baking sheet and bake them for 10 – 15 minutes, tossing once, until they are fork tender. (Reserve the bowl to serve the salad.)

DSC_0152

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions, adding 1/4 tsp. salt to the water. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, honey, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and the cinnamon.

In the bowl you used to toss the potatoes, combine the potatoes, quinoa, spinach, beans, chives and the dressing. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes, if time allows, and serve, or refrigerate the salad for up to 3 days.

DSC_0180

*The 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.

Red, Red Right

DSC_0131

Ah! These pictures really do look as fresh as today and yesterday have been! I realize that there’s an abundance of red in my outfit posts. It’s simply one of my favorite colors. When you love a color this much you can give it some extra punch by doubling up! Red, red!

Overkill? Perhaps. But I really liked how jazzy this outfit was to wear. I hope you had a fantastic holiday if your are in the States, or a wonderful Monday if you are elsewhere around the world. We’re gearing up for our last week of school, and I’m headed to ride another century this weekend with the ladies!

Take care, and enjoy your Tuesday!

XX, Megan

DSC_0135 - Version 2DSC_0126DSC_0130DSC_0120

Shirt: Madewell (similar, similar), Shorts: J.Crew, Bag: Rebecca Minkoff, Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Bracelets: J.Crew (here, here, here), Earrings: Kate Spade, Shoes: Madewell (similarsimilar, similar), Lips: Clinique Red-y-to-wear

Memorial Day Getaway

Memorial Day Wear 2016

I saw a fabulous post on Alicia’s blog, Cheetah is the New Black, a few days ago regarding her memorial day getaway. I absolutely loved the pieces she chose for her post. While we aren’t getting anywhere further than a back yard barbecue this Memorial Day. I wanted to put together a little outfit inspiration of my own! (Linked below.)

This is what I wish I was wearing this fine Memorial Day! Easy, and polished all at once. My kind of vibe, for sure. What are your Memorial Day plans? Will you be barbecuing with friends? Out on the lake for a boat ride? Holing up in a cool theater to see a new flick?

I am so grateful for the men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces. I am equally grateful for a day to remember any who have departed before us. I know that this is a very special day of remembrance for myself and so many. Life is precious. Enjoy the micro moments.

Whatever your plans, I hope you are able to hold your little ones closer, linger in the arms of a loved one, or hold hands with your partner just a little tighter.

XX, Megan

Jacket, Tee, Shorts, Sunglasses, Espadrilles, Lips

Mom’s Guide to Moab

IMG_5139

We got back from Moab yesterday and you should see the state of my house this moment. MESS!!!! Pure gear drop. It was such a great trip with our friends, the Sorensens, we seriously can’t wait to go back to Moab again! Or see the Sorensens again for that matter, here’s to Alaska 2017!

The day we returned I received a text from a good friend telling me that she and her family were headed to Moab over Memorial Day weekend and that they were looking for recommendations. It was time. I needed to put together a play-by-play for a Mom’s Guide to Moab.

Everything was still so fresh in my mind. On top of that, our little family of four has done Moab in practically every season with growing kiddos for almost five years now. This was the perfect opportunity to put all this information out there.

Don’t forget to check out my Camping with Kids article, either! We spent two nights tent camping this time around, and two nights in a hotel. We camped at Big Bend campground along Highway 128. It was a great mix of getting out there and getting some AC at the end of our long days.

This particular trip to Moab was hatched back in March when Mel and I met in Scottsdale, AZ. We knew this would be the perfect reunion for our kids. A happy-happy-joy-joy on the red rock. The result could not have been more wonderful. Here’s how we managed Moab with 5 kids, ages 7 and under.

IMG_5180

First, we stuck to a routine of sorts during our stay. We got up bright and early every morning, ate breakfast and decided on a hike we would do that day. We would drive out to our hike, hit the trail, and then return to our car and head to an alternate location for lunch. This alone enabled us to see a lot more of Moab than we otherwise would have.

After lunch we let the kids roam free for about an hour. It was good to give them this free-play. Most days this meant that they were lizard hunting. Sometimes it meant they were climbing on some bouldering spots we came across, sometimes we simply went to the city park. Keeping it simple means winning with kids 9 times out of 10.

Once we’d had some time to eat and play, we headed over to swim at the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center. Yes, we swam EVERY DAY. We even had a pool at the hotel, but still went to the Rec for swimming cause the pool is AWESOME!! It was simply the best to cool off from 2-4 p.m. or 3-5 p.m., then hit the showers before dinner. Plus, ice cream every night, how can you beat that as a kid?!?!

Here are some of our favorite HIKES to do with kiddos in the red rock, followed by some great actives in town, and last some food recommendations:

Arches National Park**

Let me say that we spent two out of three days in Arches. There is always more to see, and you could seriously spend your ENTIRE time here. We still have yet to hit every arch, and we have been there upwards of 10 times. Of course, we have favorites that we return to again and again, and there are definitely hikes that are still far beyond the capacity of my kids.

Balanced Rock: This is the easiest sight to view in the park. It is about 7 miles into the park. Parking lot is on the right. You walk up. You jump around. You chase lizards. You walk back. IMPORTANT NOTE: Across the road from Balanced rock is a nice little place to have lunch, or use the restroom. The road begins as pavement, but quickly turns to gravel, nothing too harry. We hit this spot almost every time we are in the park to either go potty or eat lunch. They have picnic tables both covered and uncovered.

IMG_5215

Sand Dune Arch: This is another easy park the car, walk up the path, and you have ARRIVED hike! About 16 miles into the park. Parking lot is on the right. Beware the sand!!!! Some people don’t care, some people, like me, loath sand. My kids throw it on themselves and everyone else. Hence we have only gone to this arch once.

Skyline Arch: This is another quick walk to an awesome sight! (Also visible from the road.) 17 miles from the entrance. Skyline also has the distinction of being an Arch that has cracked during human record in the park. Apparently, in November 1940 a huge chunk fell out of it, doubling its size!!

North and South Window and Turret Arch: This is a fun, easy walk, that is a little longer than going to see Balanced Rock or Sand Dune Arch. 11.5 miles into the park. You can also easily get to Turret Arch, and Double Arch from this parking lot. You can climb right up to the North Window, get right underneath it. Climb behind it (for older kids or with adult supervision), and head around on the primitive trail to get a good view of both windows.

Delicate Arch Overlook: This is the trail we took this past trip to view Delicate Arch. This trail is EASY! It does have some uphill climbs, but it is short and sweet, and you quickly come to a viewpoint of Delicate Arch. We had a three-year-old with us this past trip, and with five kids and two moms we just didn’t want to do the Delicate Arch trail.

That said, I think this overlook is a bit of a disappointment. You get a good look at the arch, but you can see all of the people who have made the trek to the arch itself, and I was bummed we didn’t. Here again, you have to look at the hikers you have with you! If you know that your children will be hot and tired out quickly, this is a good alternative.

Landscape Arch: This is another easy hike. I think it is .8 of a mile in and then .8 back (obviously). The great thing about Landscape Arch is that it is big and bold. This arch also boasts a crumble in recent history when a huge boulder sheared off in 1991. Double O Arch is right next door, and if you’re feeling brave you can do the other arches on the primitive trail in the Devil’s Garden. The trail forms a loop. But with kids, the out and back is perfect. Another great, easy hike for a family.

IMG_5194

Delicate Arch: This trail is actually one of the hardest in the Park, in my opinion. It is long, steep in places, and there is a place at the end that has a sheer cliff on one side. That said, there is no place that is unsafe.

You should have no fear taking kids here, as there are plenty of people who make it there and back who will be far more taxed than you or your children will be. Most children five and older would be fine on Delicate Arch and children four-years-old and younger really can manage you simply have to take your time, go in the morning when it is cool, and bring plenty of water (and snacks if you kids are like mine:).

The point is, this trail is not THAT hard. It is made more difficult by the amount of people who hike it. The fact that there are some “tricky” sections, and the heat can be a real limiting factor. My suggestion is to get to the trailhead by 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. if you can. (You will also then avoid the long lines at the entrance station.**)

DSC_0221

Other Great Hikes

Corona Arch: Highway 279. I love this hike. It is 1.5 miles in to the arch, so 3 miles roundtrip. The view of Corona Arch is AWESOME. The trail is easy to follow. There are some corded sections, but honestly nothing that kids can’t do. The trailhead is 10 miles up 279 almost to the mile, and you can easily google directions to this arch.

Negro Bill Canyon: Highway 128. 2 miles in 4 miles round trip, this is a great hike if the weather is unforgivingly hot. Give yourself 4 hours or more to complete this trail. When you come to the first light in town, take a left and you will drive 3 miles and come to the Negro Bill Trailhead. The parking lot is on the right side of the road.

Morning Glory Natural Bridge is located at the end of the second side canyon on the right. The trail forks just below this canyon. Follow the trail to the right, go across the stream, and head up the steep slope. Morning Glory Bridge is located at the end of the trail about 0.5 miles up the canyon from the stream.

IMG_5144

Fisher Towers: Highway 128. On the same highway you take to get to Negro Bill Canyon, if you keep going 15 more miles or so you will come to Fisher Towers. This is a beautiful place to hike or camp. You don’t have to have an particular route in mind. Simply take a wander through these rock rills. This is also a destination for climbers.

Dead Horse Point State Park: We love to take in the views at Dead Horse Point. There is nothing more breathtaking than looking down on the Colorado River as it meanders through those tiered red canyons. NOTE: there is an additional cost to go to Dead Horse Point State Park. Even if you have a National Parks Pass, this park is NOT covered.

IMG_5043

In Town

Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center: The best thing that ever happened to us is finding the Moab Rec. Just google map your way here. The pool is fantastic, shower facilities are available, and the playground next door is the perfect after-swim activity. There is also a skate park on the grounds. When you need to cool off after a long day of sun-drenched activities this is the place to do it!

IMG_5227

Food

Moab Diner: BEST ICE CREAM! We stopped in at Moab Diner for ICE CREAM after two dinners. That’s how good we thought it was! Their service was FAST. They got our ice cream to us in a SNAP!!

Jailhouse Cafe: Jailhouse has the best Eggs Benedict in town by far! Their other breakfast fare is not far behind and they rate as my favorite classic breakfast spot on main. You better check their hours carefully when you get in to town because we’ve shown up a few times and they were already closed for the day.

Eklectica: My favorite eating spot in all of Moab is Eklectica. A mix of killer breakfast burritos, the most wonderful huevos rancheros I’ve ever eaten, super salads, and to-die-for baked goods. Their service is… chill. But the food is amazing, and my boys ask for a cinnamon roll from here every time we’re in town.

Pasta Jays: I would say that this is the best Itallian in town. We eat here almost every time we go to Moab. Decent prices, and I think their food is much better tasting than Zax’s. (But Zax has pizza by the slice, see below.)

Zax: Pizza by the slice is the highlight of this diner. I’ll be honest, the pizza is not the best I’ve ever had. But it was good, and the kids loved being able to pick out their pizza by the slice. $1.50 per slice, some ate 1 piece, some ate 3!!! Prices are reasonable. (BTW: Nothing else comes with the pizza, so if you have super hungry kids it might be best just to order an entire pizza and a bunch of other sides!)

Twisted Sister: This local food spot has some really unique and delicious dishes. We’ve had some of the most amazing homemade soups here. If you are looking for something a little more off-beat, but always on point in the flavor department, this is the place. And for some reason our kids think that their menu is the best in town.

Peace Tree: If you are looking for a fresh delicious salad this is the place. They have a killer beet salad, and their other salad offerings are so good. This place is a little on the pricier side.

The Spoke: This diner is new in town, but has really good food. The fish and chips are delicious! It is on the pricier side, but they do have good all-American fare, and I can’t wait to try the Fried Mac-and-Cheese Balls with my husband. They sound horribly, calorically delicious!!

Milt’s: BEST BURGER. The best burger in town is at Milt’s. We have actually never been there, but their reviews online are off of the charts. You will have to Google Map this one, because it is off of the main drag. But I am willing to bet that the burgers here are WAY better than the ones at Eddie McStiff’s or The Moab Brewery.

Moab Brewery: Okay, so here’s the truth, my husband loves the Moab Brewery. I do NOT love it as much. I think the food is marginal at best, and overpriced. They DO HAVE delicious gelato. But that is the only reason I would ever send anyone there. The pizza place in the strip mall next door isn’t too bad, either.

IMG_5245

Like all good things, eventually our trip had to come to an end. This is what five wonderful days in Moab will get you– a lung-crushing group hug and memories to last a lifetime!❤ Yes the fifth member of our kids’ party is in there somewhere, you can see the tippy top of his head if you look closely!

I’d love to hear any of your questions, comments, or further recommendations below! Have a Fantastic Friday, and a Fabulous Weekend!!!

XX, Megan

**A NOTE ABOUT LINES: If you’ve heard about the ridiculously long lines at the Arches National Park Entrance you are not being lied to. Lines at the Park Entrance are NO JOKE!! We showed up there on Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. to pick up souvenirs from the Visitor’s Center before heading home. We were third in line to enter the park. By the time we left at 9:30 a.m. the line stretched all the way back to Highway 191. Moral of the story: GET THERE EARLY. You’ll avoid the lines, you’ll avoid the heat.

Night: It is also worth noting that it is beautiful to visit Arches NP just before dusk. The heat of the day will be lingering, not scorching. The lines at the entrance tend to be smaller, and you can get some awesome moonrise or moonset or sunset views surrounded by the grandeur of the Red Rock castles and windows. Simply sublime.

Mountain Wedding

DSC_0126

We had the pleasure of attending our second wedding of the season this past weekend. You know, last year we looked at one another and said, “I believe we have attended the wedding of our last single friend. Wedding season is over for us.”

Partially we felt as thought this was a rite of passage, a growing older, a signpost in maturity. Though we have thoroughly enjoyed attending our nearest and dearests celebrations of matrimony, we felt these moments might be at an end for us.

Partially I think we felt we were mourning our youth, when it felt as though wedding season would roll on forever. Anyway, I am glad to say we are still being invited to share in the joy of union and love of our favorites. This day was no exception.

When deciding what to wear for this mountain shin-dig I had to pay heed to the weather. We’ve been experiencing an especially cold and rainy Spring. The groom kept us all updated on Facebook, and even encouraged us to all wear warm socks!

While I didn’t take his advice on the footwear front, what you don’t see pictured here are the jean jacket, and down puffer that I actually wore in addition to my desired ensemble. On top of that, the resort where the wedding was held handed out blankets and hot drinks to everyone immediately following the ceremony.

So a little cashmere, a little pop of bright color, and MANY layers made for comfortable attire. Happy Wedding season, friends! Don’t forget to check the weather as you head off to your own Summer Wedding Celebrations!!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0124DSC_0127DSC_0140DSC_0125

Dress: J.Crew (vintage, similar, similar, similar), Sweater: J.Crew, Clutch: J.Crew (similar), Belt: J.Crew, Shoes: Splendid (similar), Bracelets: J.Crew and J.Crew Factory, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban, Lips: Sonia Kashuk Pink Lust

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

DSC_0168

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie times 2, that is! I made this meal for a new momma of twins in our neighborhood. It sounded so good that I decided to double the recipe, double the fun and make one for her family and one for our family.

The original recipe for this dish came from Today’s Parent. The one thing that I would amend is the time recipe preparation time. Unless you have ALREADY chopped all your veggies, boiled your potatoes, and maybe even pre-browned your meat, there is NO WAY that the recipe prep time will be 10 minutes as the linked article says.

It took me around 30 minutes to complete recipe prep. On top of that, do note that if you are taking this to new parents, it will also take longer than 20 minutes to cook the dish if it comes out of the refrigerator. I would bake it for 25 minutes, and broil the top for 2-5 minutes for that browned crispy effect.

This meal was savory, filling, and just what I needed on a cold day. Plus, the leftovers were DELICIOUS!!! Hope your Wednesday is brilliant.

XX, Megan

DSC_0133

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup milk
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup peeled, chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
2 tsp chopped garlic
4 tsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sodium-free beef stock
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup fresh or defrosted frozen green peas

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 min or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain. Return potatoes to a pot over low heat for 1 min to evaporate any remaining water. Add 2 tbsp butter and mash until combined and fluffy. Add milk to loosen, season with 1⁄4 tsp salt and stir in half of cheese. Set aside.

Heat remaining 2 tbsp butter in large frying pan over medium. Add carrot, onion and celery and sauté for 5 min or until beginning to soften.
Turn heat to high. Add beef and garlic, and sauté, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 min or until meat begins to brown. Add flour, stirring for 2 min to cook out floury taste.

Add stock, Worcestershire, mustard and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 min or until broth has reduced and thickened and made the meat saucy. Season with remaining 1⁄2 tsp salt and pepper and stir in peas.

Transfer beef mixture to a deep 9-in. ovenproof casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes overtop. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 15 min or until sauce is bubbling. Turn to broil and cook until potatoes are golden.

You can make this well ahead and refrigerate, but it will need more time in the oven to heat through.

DSC_0154DSC_0160DSC_0176

 

Carrots and Peas

DSC_0118

The last of the Austin love here, friends. Wore this casual get-up to one of our (many) breakfasts. There is something quintessentially summer about a flowy lace top. They get me every time. I shopped this one on super sale and I’ve linked a bunch of similar options below.

We’re off on our next adventure, enjoying the red rock and lizard sightings in Moab. Whatever your Tuesday holds, I hope you enjoy it fully!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0121DSC_0125DSC_0119DSC_0141DSC_0124

Shirt: Love Sam (most alikesimilarsimilar, similar, similar, similar, similar, love), Shorts: Old Navy (old, similar, similar, similar), Bag: Rebecca Minkoff, Shoes: Soludos, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster, Cuff: Madewell, Lips: NARS Cruising

Keepin’ it Weird: Austin, TX

IMG_4787

The Turkey Lobbyist’s Travel Guide to Austin, TX (Alternative Title)

Okay, so this post is a LONG one. But if you want the short version, I’ll give it to you quick and dirty. Austin is AWESOME!

The food was superb– I am still dreaming about it. The music scene is alive–it pours on to 6th Street with rich abandon. The bar crowd is uproarious– apparently a flaming Dr. Pepper is the most famous Austin offering. The suburbs of those rolling green hills are well manicured– the wedding we attended was beautiful. The hipsters are myriad– outnumbered only by the food trucks. The State Capital is gorgeous– dwarfed only by Willie Nelson and he’s not an Austinite, just a Texan.

Did I mention the food?!?

As I’ve said before, I often have several working titles for each post. But this alternative is my favorite by far. And true.The alternative title is true! We got a kick-bottom tour of Austin from a friend who really is a lobbyist for turkeys. Or is it Turkey? Anyway, he’s a lobbyist.

Our reason for visiting Austin, other than hearing one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE musicians, Bob Schneider, was to attend the wedding of some dear friends. Bob, however, was not to be found. He happened to be playing in Greenville, or Corpus Christi, or Fort Worth, I don’t remember. Long story short, the King of Austin wasn’t in the Capital City. A bummer, not a deal breaker.

Now to suss out the connection to the turkey lobbyist. The wedding of this particular friend dates back to our days in Washington D.C. The city tour guide bloomed out of our long-ago ties to that rat pack. Virginia based DINKS on the cusp of political stardom, Windy-city freelance writers formerly of Entrepreneur, tech-startup geeks with computer screen gleams in their eye, and coruscating consultants with Price-Waterhouse in their resumes.

In all reality, we can only hold the turkey lobbyist responsible for the viewing of the Flaming Dr. Pepper. As well as the fantastic live music at The Continental. For bulk of this travel diary we toured on our own.

Let’s begin our tour with food, shall we? Because that’s where this tour truly began. And ended, for that matter. An Austin City sandwich.

IMG_4648Bouldin Creek Cafe

That’s where it all started. But not just any sandwich. A VEGAN BARBECUE sandwich called the McFib (see above) at a local vegan hot-spot called Bouldin Creek Cafe. Where the beef was as absent as a shower on the locals.

Let’s not disparage others’ views of personal hygiene. This place was the BOMB. Where else in the world can you get BARBECUE that’s VEGAN, and walk away feeling that you have CHECKED the barbecue box off your Austin City Must-See List?

If you are a vegetarian looking for a mouth riot, or a simply a tourist looking for superb food fare, Bouldin is THE PLACE! If you order the McFib and a Wanna BLT, along with a Raspberry Sour, and pick up a vegan brownie on the way out and you’ll have recreated our meal at Bouldin.

Mellow Johnny’s

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ll know that my husband and I cycle. He’s a cyclist, and I’m a bike rider. Talk to any roadie to be instructed in the difference between these bicycling breeds. Regardless of your spin on bikes, Mellow Johnny’s is an Austin Must-See.

The shop is owned by Lance Armstrong. Now we’ve opened up another interesting discussion point, but here again, regardless of your views on Armstrong, the shop is the bees knees! Almost as good as our home town shop in Heber Valley😉

With bikes as far as the eye can see. Enough swag to sink a small container ship, and internationally renowned pro-performace training at Pedal Hard Training in the basement. Plus you get to see all 7 Yellow Jersey’s on display. What’s the line, “they can’t take that away from me“? Wow! Just WOW!

More Food

If you thought I was finished with food, you’d be mistaken. We woke the next morning with time to kill before the wedding and wandered over to the local Whole Foods Market for one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Here’s my plug for globalism. Isn’t it great to know that you can get that same breakfast sandwich ANYWHERE? I mean, soon, they’ll have one in Italy. #amiright ?

Not only did I pound that breakfast sandwich on ciabatta bread, I treated myself to a post-breakfast croissant. You might be wondering if the croissant constituted it’s own breakfast, and you would be absolutely right if I didn’t abide by the zero calorie vacation philosophy.

Oh, you didn’t know? Food on vacation contains zero calories. Thereby allowing you to consume as much as you’d like! Try it next time. I think you’ll see what I mean.

Congress Avenue Bridge Bats

This experience was so very Gotham like I don’t know how Austin has managed to keep a Bat Light out of its skyline. Maybe in some bat cave recess of my brain I had heard about this nightly bat exodus from under Congress Avenue Bridge, but we really ended up there to meet up with friends to explore the city.

It was an incredible sight. Bat.con international boasts, “Every summer night, hundreds of people gather to see the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas. These 1.5 million bats are fun to watch, but they’re also making our world a better place to live.”

It’s all about bugs, people. Bats eat bugs. Bugs in the 10,000 to 20,000 pounds-per-night range. No wonder Austin’s skyline was so pristine. I don’t know what more to say about this quirky, off-beat, touristy sighting, but I’m glad we got to view the stream of bats exiting the bridge in a furry that looked more like a rushing plume of black cinders than an dusk to dawn feeding frenzy.

 

Music

We went to Austin with the understanding that it is the Live Music Capital of the World, and the offerings did not disappoint. When you’re walking down 6th street and every pub, bar, and eatery has music rippling out onto the street, you know you’ve hit Live-band gold.

We wended our way down the entire length of 6th street and our turkey lobbyist gave us gems and tid-bits of history about some of the joints. Antone’s where Stevie Ray Vaughn was discovered. Frequented by the likes of Fats Domino, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles himself, and our personal fav Bob Schneider plays there, as well.

We took in the tunes of the 24th Street Wailers at The Continental Club. A rock n’ roll n’ group with a killer lead singer/drummer named Lindsay Beaver. Stage name? Perhaps. But their music was jumping it was jiving, it was causing crowds to get of their arses and dance! I loved every minute of the show.

Bars

This subject is out of my realm. If you need an in-person guide to bars in Austin, TX, my recommendation is to ask your local turkey lobbyist.

Breakfast

On our last day in Austin we went in search of our final sandwich, a breakfast sandwich. I’d heard-tell of Hillside Farmacy on the inter webs. I honestly don’t know if it was a friend, or Instagram, or another blog, but my husband was game so we packed our bags and headed out for our final Austin food fare.

He ordered the Fried Egg Sandwich. I ordered the Sunny Coast Croissant, add avocado and eggs, and we were yummming and ummmmmmming all the way through the meal. Somehow I finished my mountainous sandwich and wanted MORE. I really, really wanted one last chocolate croissant. So that is what we did. We ate MORE.

Second Breakfasts

I want to begin this vignette with the statement “Easy Tiger is the best bakery in Austin, TX.” But with no more background than a two day quickie to back me up, I’m pretty sure I’m no authority.

Oh, whatever. Easy Tiger is the best bakery in Austin. After the delicious offering at Hillside Farmacy it was time to get my zero calorie second breakfast on! We actually asked the waiter at Hillside for his recommendation of the “Best Chocolate Croissant in Austin”. He sent us to Easy Tiger, so I’m going use his authority in this matter.

That recommendation and my tastebuds do not lie! That chocolate croissant was flaky-pasterie-perfection heaven. If my gut didn’t have such a low tolerance for breads these days, I’d have ordered seven to take home with me on the spot!

In lieu of the croissants I wanted to pack in my carry-on but thought better, we got a couple loaves of their artisan bread– sour dough and an Italian loaf. Gifts for family and friends who had cared for our kiddos and puppy while we were away. It was the perfect taste of Austin to pass on.

IMG_4867

If you are looking for a city that delights, an city that excites, a city that has a lot to offer midst the rolling green of Texas hill country, Austin is IT! I left wanting more. We’d go back in a heartbeat, and maybe we’ll make this a stop on a winter getaway sometime. I hope your Friday is as flavorful as all of Austin. Have a fabulous day, and a savory weekend.

XX, Megan

Travel Style

DSC_0118

Let’s be honest. Travel can be a hot, cold, long, sloppy, sleepless, exhausting, uncomfortable ordeal. Regional or global, it’s good to have a recipe for travel dressing that takes the stress out of at least that one aspect of the journey.

Whenever I travel I wear some version of this ensemble. Jacket, button-up shirt, jeans, slip-on shoes, and a carry-all tote. I try to leave extras like a watch, belt, and sometimes even jewelry in my carry-on so that I won’t have to hassle with removing them at the security check-point.

I always travel with sunglasses in hand, as I often pop them on during the flight as an easy way to signify the fact that I’m trying to rest, relax, or nap! Not that I can always sleep on flights, but once in a while I can really zonk-out.

What are your favorite travel styles or outfits? Do you have any fail-proof pieces you reach for every time you hit the road or take to the sky? We’re coming up on a little mommas and kiddo adventure and I couldn’t be more stoked. More on that later.

Tomorrow I’lol be publishing a brief Austin, TX city guide. Just sharing some of our favorite sights and eats from our trip! Happy Thursday!!!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0131DSC_0126DSC_0134DSC_0135DSC_0136

Jacket: J.Crew Factory, Shirt: J.Crew (current season, similar, similarlove), Jeans: Madewell, Bag: Madewell, Shoes: J.Crew (similar, similar, similar), Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster, Cuff: Madewell, Necklace: Dogeared, Earrings: Anthropologie, Lips: Topshop Rio Rio

Easy Tiger

DSC_0158

I had the most insatiable hankering for chocolate croissants while we were in Austin. No there is no NEWS, we are not expanding our family. Just expanding my waistline!!!🙂

My unsurpassed search for chocolate croissants led us to the best bakery in Austin– Easy Tiger. The fare did not disappoint. I’ll wax on about this local staple in my Austin City Guide. For now, suffice it to say that I had not one, but two croissants from Easy Tiger and could have gone for a third had I not had to show up in a swimsuit latter that day.

This outfit jives perfectly with yesterday’s inspiration board. Plus, this little dress transitioned seamlessly from day to night, and kept me comfortable and cool all. day. long. Tuesday is gaining speed, and I hope you can rock and roll with it!

XX, Megan

DSC_0155DSC_0149DSC_0161 - Version 2DSC_0163DSC_0165

Jacket: J.Crew Factory, Dress: Who What Wear (Target), Bag: Rebecca Minkoff, Shoes: Soludos, Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Clubmaster, Cuff: Madewell, Necklace: Gorjana, Lips: Sonia Kashuk Pink Lust

God Bless Texas

God Bless Texas Americana

Ya’ll know how much I love a good mix of the red, white, and blue. Americana forever!! I promise that I will recap more of our trip to Austin at the end of the week, but I wanted to start this week off with a little style inspo straight from that great state– Texas!!

These pieces are all easy summer dressing options, and can easily be amended for any inclement summer weather that gets thrown your way. I wore my jean jacket all weekend, as you’ll see in  upcoming posts. When you go from 85 degree and 100% outside humidity to 65 degrees and pure Air Conditioning inside, your need to carry layers becomes very real!

I hope your Monday is off to a wonderful start. Sending good vibes, delicious dinners, and all the Americana your closet can stand!! Shop the exact piece below, and have a great week!

XX, Megan

One Teaspoon Dress, Lou and Grey Shoreline Sweater, Madewell Fringe Sweater, Ray-ban Clubmaster Sunglasses, J.Crew High-rise Jean Shorts, Asos Bold Stripe Dress, LOFT Sangria Dress, Madewell Lace-up Sandals, Tularosa Santa Fe Jacket, Banana Republic Suede Hobo

2000px-Flag_of_Texas.svg

Picnic Perfect

DSC_0251

This bright plaid shirt and retro skirt vibe has me all sorts of happy. Plus, the weather had been glorious over the last few days so bonus! Here’s the great thing about sturdy separates. You can wear them season after season in a variety of ways.

I’m already planning on wearing this skirt come fall with tall suede boots. I’ll wear this shirt layered under a cozy sweater when it’s winter. Choose pieces that you love, regardless of their seasonal designation and they will easily transition into any season you like!

I hope you have a fabulous Thursday. I hope you really do get to picnic with your family, or lie in the sun like a lizard. TGIT!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0231DSC_0225DSC_0253DSC_0250

Shirt: J.Crew, Skirt: J.Crew, Bag: J.Crew, Sunglasses: Ray-ban, Heels: Jeffrey Campbell, Necklace: Gorjana, Earrings: Kate Spade, Lips: MAC Girl About Town

Match that Mood

DSC_0124

Happy Tuesday, friends! This past week-and-a-half has been go, go, go. I mentioned on Instagram that I have taken the opinion that May really is as busy as December without the fudge and presents.

Yesterday we got to go to Hogle Zoo with my son’s school class. Today he is presenting a book report about Harry Potter. This weekend is our first wedding to kick off the season, and we are traveling to Austin to celebrate this beautiful couple. If you have any Austin, TX recommendations, I’d love to hear!!

It will be my first time in Texas and I am excited to get a taste of Austin. Literally, I think our plan is to eat our way through the city. What has May held for you? I hope that all of you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, whether celebrating your mother or being celebrated.

Here’s to go, go, going until June!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0127DSC_0142DSC_0140 - Version 2DSC_0128DSC_0119

Jacket: Gap (similar, similar, great optionlove this one), Sweater: J.Crew, Shorts: Madewell, Bag: Madewell, Shoes: Birkenstock, Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Necklace: Gorjana, Cuff: Madewell, Earrings: Gorjana (similar), Lips: NARS Barbarella

Just White

DSC_0142

I get warm and happy just looking at these pictures. The sun has returned, and this was really the first warm day we’ve had in two weeks! We’re supposed to get more rain and gray this weekend, but those forecasts seem to change even hourly. So maybe we’ll have a little sunshine for Mother’s Day despite the weather report.

Lovin’ an all-white outfit this fine Thursday. I hope you all have a beautiful Cinco de Mayo. My boys will be kite flying and eating as much salsa and chips as their tummies can handle. Tacos for dinner and drinks on the deck. Yay!

Have a fantastic Thursday, friends!

XX, Megan

DSC_0133DSC_0135DSC_0154DSC_0152DSC_0148

Shirt: Banana Republic, Flares: Joe’s Jeans, Cardigan: Splendid, Bag: Madewell, Shoes: Splendid (or here), Sunglasses: Karen Walker Super Duper, Necklace: Gorjana Knox, NARS: Orgasm Lipgloss

Fresh Spring Rolls

DSC_0186

Fresh rolls are one of my all-time favorite eats. I love the pop of the fresh ingredients with sweet and sour sauce or peanut sauce. I love the chew of the rice paper, and how they fill you up but are light and FRESH at the same time!

The other great thing about fresh rolls is that you don’t necessarily have to stick to the same ingredients. You can make them from different stuff each go-round. While the rolls are easy to make, they do take me some time. I am not yet a master of the wrap, and it does take some additional time to soak each rice paper. Just a note, so that you can plan that time into your dinner schedule. With prep, they may take as long as 30-45 minutes.

We ate these Fresh Rolls with the Indonesian Chicken Satay recipe I posted today. These rolls are also the perfect compliment to stir-fry, pad Thai, and any curry soup you feel like concocting. I hope you thoroughly ENJOY!!

XX, Megan

DSC_0177

Ingredients

10 rice paper wraps
1 avodcado
1/2 large red bell pepper julienned
1/2 head purple cabbage (I subbed shredded broccoli this time)
1/2 carrots julienned (1 large or 2 medium)
1 large cucumber julienned
1/4 cup cilantro (you can also use mint, basil, chives or all four!)
1 cup greens (I used spring mix, but romaine also works well)
1 can shrimp (or 20 peel and eat shrimp, cooked, and thinly sliced)

 

DSC_0183

Directions

Cut, slice, and chop all of your ingredients, and lay them out on a cutting board or a baking sheet so they are easily accessible.

Place warm water in a 9 ” round baking pan, or on a 9″ square baking sheet.  I used the latter. Soak each rice paper for 10-15 seconds. Transfer the rice paper to a plate, cutting board, or other flat surface.

Place your ingredients in the far 1/3 of your rice paper. Make sure not to overfill your wrapper. Ingredients may roughly fill 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup. Picking up the end of your rice paper closest to your filling. Wrap it tightly around your ingredients. Try to make the roll shape with this first wrap.

Roll once more around, and then tuck in the sides or edges of your rice paper like a burrito. Once your edge are tucked in, your ingredients should be completely contained. Finish rolling your wrapper to the end of the paper. Set rolls aside on a serving plate.

4 Lessons I Learned from Failure

2010-08-28-The-Crushing-Weight-of-Failure

Image by Pretty Jeff

What happens when we fail?

When the promotion we want at work falls through, the best grade in the class does’t happen, the house of your dreams get snatched up off of the market, the paycheck we think we are worth doesn’t get cut, the business we hoped to grow starves, the acceptance to the school we desire doesn’t come, the medal we thought we would win slips out of our hands, the job we think we are accepting isn’t offered?

 As it turns out, sometimes we can learn a lot.

Failure. That word doesn’t have a very nice ring to it. Rightly so, I suppose, as the connotations of failure inherently bring displeasure, disappointment, dissatisfaction, even heartache.

No, we don’t often sit around and talk about failure around the dinner table. Failure isn’t generally a casual conversation piece. More often than not we’d rather discuss failure’s antithesis– success.

This is also understandable, as miring oneself in the low that often comes after experiencing the bad news, defeat, or let-down of failure isn’t a very pleasant venture either.

Maybe it’s best for me to be as candid as possible as I write this. In fact, I’ll just come out and say it. I failed. I applied for a job this past month. I felt as though I was a qualified, dynamic, enthusiastic, well-prepared candidate. That I brought not only a strong resume to the table, but also a set of personal qualities that aligned brilliantly with this position.

The precursor to this story is that I had already been passed up for this job a year ago. I felt as though applying again, showing up with eager readiness to interview again, emphasizing my desire to succeed in this position, and then being called back for a second interview meant that I had not only shown I was qualified for this position, I felt that it showed I was sticking my neck out there bravely saying, “Yes! I not only want this job, I am committed to it. Here I am again!!” I thought I would get the job.

So when I heard the voice on the other end of the phone saying, “Well… I have some bad news…” It felt exponentially worse this time around than it did last time! And I even laugh as I write that last sentence because it felt pretty bad to be passed over the first time. Let alone twice.

Now there are reasons for the pass. I also understand that. I am over under-qualified. Have any of you ever been there? But the main takeaway from this interview process is that I am under-qualified. So no one think that I am berating myself too harshly for this, or view this failure as a sign of who I am as a person. Although it really is difficult not to view failure as a personal show-and-tell. Yes, it is simply hard not to take failure personally.

Truth. I failed. Again. Yes, not once, but twice. Nothing about that felt good.

But in the midst of this failure (because I can assure that I am still standing in the middle of it right now), I learned some very important, very valuable, even vital lessons. But let’s not forget the proverbial rubble I am looking around at. Those toppled castles in my head– the way things would have looked if I had gotten the job.

The way we would have negotiated carpool for the boys. The way meal planning and prepping, and execution would have changed. The energy level I’d need to adapt to for full-time work and full-time parenting. The way planning, and prepping, and presenting as part of my new job would have looked every day. I asked myself how certain home duties would be handled, and would we be able to get away for vacation, and how could I best stay connected as a mother and wife while being a full-time worker, and on and on and on…

All of that de-materialized in an instant.

What was I left with?

It was here in the newly open space of my failure that it began to serve me. This is where my failure helped me grow.

Unknown-2

1. Your people are your people no matter your success or failure.

I wanted to write about this even during my not-knowing-if-I-got the job phase. Because the support, excitement, well-wishes, championing, enthusiasm, and genuine care for myself and my family were so palpable, so felt, so overwhelming, and so sustaining.

In fact, the day before my second interview I sat in my car outside my four-year-old sons’ preschool and had myself a really good cry. I cried because I felt so vulnerable as a stay-at-home-mom trying to re-enter the work force. I cried because I hated not knowing what the answer would be in a few days time about this job. But mostly, I cried because I was so touched by the love and support of my family and friends.

I cried at the text messages that filled my message inbox sending prayer, good luck, good karma, knock-em-dead, rock-n-roll, and faith in my abilities as a person. I cried because this outpouring had literally, physically uplifted me. I felt as though I could conquer the world, and I hadn’t even made it through the presentation portion of my interview.

I was touched that my mom had driven an hour each way to my house to help me prepare my presentation, that my friends would come over at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night (that’s late for folks with kids, way past bed-time😉 ) to listen to my presentation and give me feedback and constructive criticism, that my husband had full faith in me, and believed in me no matter the outcome of the next days’ interview.

The gratitude washed over me so STRONGLY, so FULLY, that I was clean from fear. I was ready to face anything, and I swore that I would write about this experience as soon as I got the chance. I was totally overcome by the expressions of pure love from my people, my tribe. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

2. Failure can solidify your strengths.

When I left that second interview, I know that I had given my all, my best effort. I was pleased with what I had offered the panel. Of course, at that time, I didn’t know that I wasn’t going to succeed, that the job wasn’t going to be mine.

But one thing that giving that presentation allowed me was to see that I was ready for the job, even if I wasn’t selected. I was confident in my performance, and I don’t mean confident in an over-inflated or heady way. I knew that I had shown my skill, my abilities, my strength to present real-time.

Without going into greater detail, I found that I had proved to myself that I was prepared to take the job, to do my best, and to fly. I was prepared to succeed. Not only had I shown those strengths to the interview panel, I had shown them to myself.

Herein is the unique lesson that failure afforded me. Rather than showing me that I didn’t have what it takes/took, I found that I possessed exactly what I had come to highlight. I was encouraged and enlightened, and for that, this failure possesses a certain measure of success.

3. Failure can help you to understand your weaknesses.

Not surprisingly, failure also allowed me to see some of my weaknesses. I realized through failing that I have a hard time taking risks. I have known this about myself for some time. I simply didn’t realize how risk averse I was until I was turned down a second time for a job that I felt was perfectly suited to me. I realized then that perhaps I hadn’t put myself out there into the world enough.

I realized that sometimes it is hard for me to think outside of the box, meaning, I had ONE possible outcome for this job– that I would be the person given the job. I’m not saying that it was bad that I didn’t think about being passed up for this employment opportunity as an option. I’ve probably always erred on the side of hopeful optimism, but I definitely put all further thoughts of “what if this doesn’t happen” completely aside. Consequently, I think failing may have felt even harder than I’d anticipated!

On top of that, I hadn’t put together a coherent plan B for myself, and I count that as a weakness. So great, that I see myself as a complete success, almost immune to failure. But that didn’t serve me well at the other end of this process. In the future, I think it best to have a direct alternative, something you can go after in the face of let-down.

4. Through failure– opportunity opens again.

This lesson is one of the most important lessons of all. When we fail, the incredible thing is that we then have the unique chance to view failure as a net negative, or we have the opportunity to see that failure may have closed one door, but many, many other doors have become open to us or remained open to us.

In fact, opportunity is WIDE OPEN in the face of failure. We simply have to step up to the realization that the forward motion may not be in the direction that we originally anticipated. We will have to reexamine our goals, our desires, our hopes, our dreams. That can be a daunting, even heavy challenge. But recognize that you can do hard things.

Going after this job was hard. Interviewing for the job was hard. Mentally writing the story of my success was hard. The reality that I had been passed up again was hard. Looking for future opportunities has been hard, but I am seeing now that I have been given another chance. A chance to ask some questions about what I want. A chance to look for answers to my employment status. In failure, I have experienced opportunity. What more could I ask for?

A job, I guess.

The last thing that I have taken away from my failure is an acute awareness of my blessings, my haves, my privileged situation. I am the luckiest. I have had insulation from this fall merely by the luck of my situation. I am beyond blessed, and for that I am also extremely grateful.

XX, Megan

0094fab5cEhZw