Groovy Stripes: Outfit Repeats and a NNTC Update

Remix Spring 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XX, Megan

*This clip may not be for little ears.

Bright Shoes Friday

Work it! Power Red

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

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

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

Adobe Spark (6)

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

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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.

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