Garlic Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrating Stripes! #nationalstripesday

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

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

Meatloaf Muffins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

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

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

Double Leopard Blush

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

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

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

Happy Tuesday, beautiful people!

XX, Megan

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

Eyelet on a Country Road

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

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

XX, Megan

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

Wearing: 7 Spring Style Staples

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful Monday, friends!

XX, Megan

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

Floral Maxi Dress

 

Chicken Pesto Vegetable Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

Delicate Floral and Edgy Leather

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

Connect the Dots

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

J.Crew Wishlist

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

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

Happy Thursday, friends!

XX, Megan

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and just one more because!

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So Bright Pink

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

 

Eggs Florentine for Two

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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Ingredients

4 slices turkey bacon (or prosciutto)

1 tbs. coconut oil

1/4 onion diced small

1 clove garlic

2 cups baby spinach

Dash of nutmeg

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup of grape tomatoes halved

Directions

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

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

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

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

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Cozy Transitions = Spring Sweaters

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

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

spring-sweaters

Linked left to right, top to bottom:

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

Happy Valentine’s Day!

XX,

Megan

 

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I Heart Date Night

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

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

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

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

Have a beautiful Tuesday!

XX,

Megan

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

Psycho Monkey Smoothie

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

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

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

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

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

Blend!

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

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

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

Workwear Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

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

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

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

Shoes: mules, brogues, wedges, flats, boots

Back to School Stripes

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

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

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

Have a rad Wednesday, friends!

XX, Megan

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

The Greatest (Unlooked For) Endeavor of my Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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All images via Aubreigh Parks Photography

 

Transitions in Cashmere

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

Romping Around: Meet Juneau

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

Milkshake It Off: A July Spin Set

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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.)

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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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

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

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

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

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

This recipe was originally posted on Food and Style.

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Minimal

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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That Beach Life

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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*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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.”

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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.

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Sundress Spin

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Date Night Drives

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.**)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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