a lovely living

Monthly Archives for May 2014

Date Night Ensemble

printtop2My husband and I do our best to get out for a date as often as we can (you can read that as hopefully once/month!) and when we do it’s nice to have some easy outfits to turn to. I love the ease of this bright printed top. It’s light and airy so it’ll be great as we go through summer. I plan on pairing it with my pink pants as well as some white denim for a nice crisp look.

And let’s talk accessories for a moment. My overall shopping mantra continues to be if you find something you love, buy it. Guaranteed you won’t be able to find whatever it is when you need it. At least that always holds true for me! I found this clutch at TJMaxx and didn’t have any immediate plans for it, but when we were ready to head out to meet friends it was the exact accessory I needed.

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printtop3Details: Kohl’s top / DL1961 jeans / shoes (similar) / clutch via TJMaxx (similar) /  Stella & Dot necklace and ring / Marc by Marc Jacobs watch

 

Chickpea Blondies

bars7When it comes to dessert, I typically go all in. If you’re going to indulge, I say just do it (but don’t over do it!). However, I’m also always looking for new ways to sneak in healthy foods for my children. Overall they eat pretty well, but extra nutrients can never hurt! I came across this recipe and had it marked to try out. I finally got around to making them this week and am glad I did. We aren’t vegan or gluten free but for those that are, you’re going to love these. They are flour-free and butter-less but are full of flavor and have a soft, chewy consistency. And thanks to the chickpeas and peanut butter you’ll get a nice dose of fiber and protein!

If you have a food processor, this will be a snap. If you don’t, like me (it’s on my ‘need’ list), a blender will manage to do the trick. You’ll just need to get in there with a spoon and mix it up a few times. You literally blend/process and bake. Super simple and as healthy as a dessert comes in my book!

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Here’s the recipe which I found via Spokane Dinner Club:

Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cans (15 oz ea.) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup all natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips plus 1/4 c
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray 9×13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a food processor or good blender, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and process until batter is smooth. Add in 2/3 cup of chocolate chips.
  3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then sprinkle and lightly press 1/4 c chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are starting to brown.
  4. Cool for AT LEAST 20 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt then cut into squares.

 

A Summer Maxi

maxi1As you may have seen in yesterday’s post, this was the outfit I wore to church and brunch on Mother’s Day. Throwing on a maxi dress makes getting dressed effortless yet I often find I receive many compliments when wearing them. The most important coming from my husband who complimented me a number of times on this one! The best part is that it came from Old Navy for $30 some dollars on sale a few weeks ago (they always seem to be having a sale, don’t they?!). The hardest decision was deciding between the navy or baby blue. No right or wrong there!

I carried along my new favorite summer tote with me. I’m a huge fan of all the perforated detail in shoes, bags and other accessories lately and I knew this would be my perfect sidekick for the summer.

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maxi2Details: Old Navy dress / Stella & Dot tote / belt (similar) / Anthropologie sandals (similar) / Kate Spade earrings (similar) / Kate Spade sunglasses / bracelet (old) / Stella & Dot ring

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MD2What a whirlwind weekend we just had! I honestly don’t know how it’s Monday already. Our weekend was jam packed with family, friends and beautiful weather. If I could have squeezed in just one nap, it probably would have been perfect. But I suppose sleep is over-rated anyway ;)

I didn’t have much time to prepare anything else, so here are some shots from Mother’s Day 2014.

Jack’s school hosted a Mother’s Day pancake breakfast. I love when I get to spend some one on one time with either of my children and this lovely morning was no exception.

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You may remember me mentioning the one thing I wanted for Mother’s Day was a Mother’s Day journal such as the one I had seen here. Well my husband did not let me down. He found the most beautiful journal and filled it with pictures and colorings from our kids. From this year forward, we’ll continue to fill it with drawings, photos and messages so everything is held in one place. I can’t wait to look back over the years as time goes on!!

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MD10 We were able to enjoy brunch with my husband’s parents who came up for the afternoon. I’ve said numerous times that I couldn’t have fallen into a better family. You don’t get to pick your in-laws, but I don’t think I could have chosen better myself! In addition to loving her son/my husband, my mother in law and I share so many common interests. I hear many nightmare MIL stories, but I honestly don’t know what I’d do without mine!

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This picture totally cracks me up. I love that the camera auto-focused on my son, the photo-bomber!

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We then moved on to my son’s soccer game where we had members of both sides of our family in attendance. We were probably the most obnoxious crowd cheering for one kid, but it must have worked because he scored two goals and could not have been more proud! This is him walking back to the car, completely exhausted, with my grandmother. Thanks to my sister, Sarah, for capturing this!MD7

We finished off the day with my family enjoying pizza and salad. I don’t think life would be possible without each and every one of these women. My mother, grandmother and sister add so much to my life in so many different ways. I’m so very thankful for them all.

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I hope you enjoyed your Mother’s Day being celebrated and/or celebrating that very special woman that raised you and loves you like none other!

As a final note, today is the last day to vote for me in the Redbook Real Women’s Style Awards. If you have a moment I’d really appreciate your vote! Thanks all!! 

High Five for Friday

It’s funny to think that I started this blog in an attempt to help you, my readers. This week you showed me you’re actually the ones here for me! I can see a huge weight lifted off of my husband’s shoulders simply knowing that it’s all out in the open. Jack has Lyme disease and now the world is aware. For years friends and family knew he was struggling with headaches and or allergies, but that’s really because we didn’t have any specific answers or a label for what was really wrong with him. To clarify a bit more, Jack was officially diagnosed 3 months ago and has been on antibiotics since then. Although there is no set timeline or guarantee to when he’ll begin to feel better, his best guess is that he’ll start to have some good days by the end of the summer.

Again, I thank you all for everything you’ve been offering, from love, support and prayers, to offering to take our children and provide any specific help that’s needed. I admit, we’re not the best at asking for help, but I promise to try to get better at it ;)

You’ll also note that our lives look fairly normal through the eyes of my blog and that’s no lie. We are living our lives to the best of our ability. Typically Jack will be feeling awful during it, but making every effort to keep his life normal also helps to maintain his sanity. He’s on the road to recovery and we’ll be smiling along the way!

It’s been a busy week, here’s what’s been going on…

1) Today is the last day to enter the Rodan & Fields giveaway. 5 people are going to receive a mini facial kit and you could be one of them! Click here to enter!

R&F12 copy2) It’s teacher appreciation week. You can’t go wrong with flowers, right?

H54F5933) We are down to the final 4 days of voting for the Redbook Real Women Style Awards! It only takes a second to click the star by my picture and I appreciate each and every vote! Click here to vote! Thanks guys!

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 8.57.51 PM4) I get crazy excited when I discover new healthy foods my kids will eat. As I was prepping a salad this week I caught this one popping in broccoli florets. Typically they’ll eat steamed broccoli, but raw is another story. Yay Maddie!!

H54F5925) I know there’s been a lot of talk around my husband and our family this week, but what’s just as important is getting the word out and creating an awareness of this awful disease. Prior to his diagnosis we knew very little about Lyme. Had we known more it never would have gotten as bad as it has.

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For all of the mothers out there, I wish you the happiest of Mother’s Days! Enjoy your weekend and don’t do any dishes! I’m going to try not to ;)

 

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Shades of Denim

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First off, let me start my thanking you all for your total outpouring of love and support yesterday! I’m not joking when I say it felt like a full-time job keeping up with all of your comments, messages and texts….the best full-time job I could ever ask for! From sending your love, prayers, advice and resources it was totally overwhelming, in a good way. I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated and in turn please keep yourself aware of this disease. If not for yourself, you just may be the one to bring it to someone else’s attention and save them from months or years of suffering. Our prayer network took on a ton of new members yesterday and we couldn’t be more thankful.

Now, on to the less important things like fashion that keep my mind pre-occupied while we get through all this heavy stuff!!

Over the past few years, my rainbow of denim has drastically increased. I own bright colors, soft colors, white, off-white, and then the obvious floral from last years craze. Now the popularity of the chambray top offers a perfect pairing to any of the aforementioned denim bottoms. You could really end up with dozens of different outfits by simply mixing all of the denims in your closet, or is that only me?

This is the first baseball cap that I’ve ever owned. I do have one for running, but until now I never found one that really struck me for an everyday cap. When I saw this one at JCrew, I knew for sure that I’d get my wear out of it through the summer. Plus, the more sun off of my face, the fewer wrinkles later on! (I need to keep repeating this to myself!)

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Details: JCrew top / LOFT denim, old (similar) / Gap belt / JCrew hat / Converse shoes / JCrew Factory necklace (similar) / Tiffany bow necklace

 

My husband has Lyme Disease and I hate it. Jack is (and has always been) a driven, motivated and ambitious man. Nothing could stop this guy until Lyme finally took over his body. A horrible disease passed on by ticks, has totally changed our lives. There aren’t many people that are aware of this, in part because he’s not looking to receive any sympathy, but also because he does not have a happy ending to talk about…yet.easterday12

Over the past decade, Jack has been dealing with ailments including vision problems, allergic reactions, dizzy spells, heart palpitations and migraines to name a few. He’s seen, optometrists, neurologists, allergists, nutritionists, chiropractors and migraine specialists all in addition to his GP. None of them ever mentioned Lyme. He’s also had numerous tests including CAT scans and MRI’s and we’ve spent countless dollars in an attempt to figure out what exactly was wrong with him.

As things were progressively getting worse over the past two years, we’ve had more and more people praying for him. Without a doubt I know that’s what led us down the path of starting to get answers. A good friend of mine mentioned Lyme to me in January as I was venting about what he’d been going through and how hard it was to handle as a family. Actually, she was throwing out a bunch of thoughts, but this one stuck with me even though I really had no clue what it was. During this same period of time, my Mother in law also came in contact with someone who was in the process of battling Lyme Disease. After we had both unknowingly brought this to Jack’s attention simultaneously, he started to research it a bit more. As he did, things began to piece together. He found a specialist only a few hours away from us and immediately got an appointment (in large part because they could hear the desperation in his voice). By this point, he was having trouble focusing, couldn’t concentrate and would find it necessary to lay down multiple times a day just to keep the stamina he needed to continue working.

As Jack drove to his appointment, we had a network of people praying that he would in fact have Lyme Disease (as crazy as that sounds). We were running out of options and honestly didn’t know where we were going to turn next. Of course it took nearly two weeks for the blood work to come back, but when it did he tested 100% positive for Lyme.

Hallelujah!! Right? So we thought…

The tests are only able to show that he has had the disease for 4+ years, no further back. From our best guess, and without ever having seen a bite, he’s most likely had it for at least a decade. That being said, the longer one has had the disease the more imbedded it is and the longer the antibiotics take to attack it. Oh and let me not forget to mention that as the disease is being attacked, my husband’s body suffers….tremendously.

This is the part where I do my best to stay strong…for him and for our kids. Yet, I sit here sobbing while I type and he lies in bed suffering from another Herx reaction as his body continues to fight. Each day is a battle for him. He does his best to push it aside and put on a good face for those he comes into contact with, but if you came into our home you’d see him sitting with an ice-pack on his head, curled up on the couch. It’s heartbreaking for my son who understands that his dad is sick, but not the gravity of it. He’s always asking questions and wondering when his dad will be able to do normal things like go out and kick the soccer ball around or go to the park to play. He asks, “will you be better when I’m 5? Or maybe 6?” It crushes us both.

We’ve been dealing with this with our family and some close friends, but I am reaching out to this blogging network and asking for your prayers. Prayers that my husband will stay strong as he battles Lyme. Prayers that I can continue to pull the slack and fulfill any and all duties that need taken care of. Prayers for our children, that there will be a day that they’ll have their dad back. We have the faith that he will heal, but when you’re in the thick of it day in and day out it can often be hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel. And just as importantly, please, PLEASE check yourselves, your kids and your pets as the tick season kicks into high gear. From what I am hearing, ticks are to be abundant this year and as minuscule as they are, they can wreck havoc on ones’ life. Lyme is certainly an up and coming epidemic and I’m sure we’re only going to be hearing more and more about this terrible disease.

Thanks for reading and letting me vent. This little blog serves as great therapy for me.

Striped Linen

stripes7Linen is one of those fabrics that I have a love/hate relationship with. It’s ideal in the summer for it’s ability to keep one cool, but boy do the wrinkles drive me crazy! I’m just going to have to get over it this summer, because I’m loving the loose, summery feel and look of these pants. I grabbed them a few weeks ago when LOFT was doing a 50% off sale and plan on wearing them a bit dressed up as I did here as well as with a casual t-shirt and flip-flops….wrinkles and all. And let’s just talk stripes for a minute. I happen to love the pattern worn a multitude of ways, but if you’re looking to elongate, you can’t go wrong with vertical stripes. A little illusion if you will ;)

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stripes2Details: Francesca’s top (similar) / LOFT pants / Lucky sandals / necklace (gifted) / Marc by Marc Jacobs watch / Nine West hat

Don’t forget to enter the Rodan & Fields giveaway if you haven’t yet done so!

Today I’m linking up with Rebecca at Mommy in Heels for the What She Wears: Stripes link-up and Style Sessions.

 

Skincare isn’t always something that I put first and foremost. I have fairly normal skin without very many issues and as long as I cleanse and have some SPF in my moisturizer, I feel like I’m doing alright. It wasn’t until recently that I that I began thinking about the whole anti-aging process. As happy as I am in my 30’s, I don’t necessarily want the lines that are slowly creeping in to take over. When my girlfriend, Saskia contacted me letting me know she had become an independent consultant for Rodan & Fields, I was intrigued. I’m at the point where I’m ready to start investing in the health of my skin. We all know I invest in my wardrobe, so there’s no reason my skin should take a back seat!

Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields are the creators of Proactive Solution, which you have likely heard of. They wanted to extend their skincare solutions to everyone and as a result created Rodan & Fields skincare products.

Saskia was sweet enough to send me a mini-facial sample to try out and after using the products one time, my face felt brand new. I eagerly ordered their Redefine Regime which included a cleansing mask, toner and moisturizers for day and night. I have now been using the products for over a month and can’t say enough about them. I do notice that some of those invading lines aren’t as visible any longer, but the biggest change has been the smoothness and firmness of my skin. I notice this particularly when I’m applying my make-up. My make-up routine hasn’t changed, yet it goes on much smoother than it ever did before.

Here’s the routine that I’ve been following:

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I begin by cleansing on my dry or slightly damp face.

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After rinsing, I apply toner gently over my face and neck.

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I then finish by using my day or night cream.

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When I mentioned to Saskia how much I was enjoying using the products she said, ” I look forward to my morning and evening routine all the time now- it’s ‘me’ time”. And it totally is. 5 minutes of ‘me’ time every morning and evening is totally worth it.

I only started with the basics, but they have so many other products that would be worth checking out including some exfoliating products that I’m eyeing up! You can check it all out here. I’m sure you could pick out a nice little Mother’s Day gift while you’re at it ;)

Before jumping into the crazy fun stuff for YOU, I have to also mention one other Rodan & Field product that I am in love with! That would be their foaming sunless tan. I’ve tried a few lotions before and always end up with a slightly off color and too much tan around my knees and ankles. Well, I have only used this product twice and after two uses I was completely happy with the glow that I had. It was even and left no marks other than the look of beautiful sun-kissed skin! This product will certainly be keeping me out of the direct sun a bit more this summer!

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Ok, now it’s the fun part for you! Saskia is giving away mini-facial kits to 5 (yes, 5!!) A Lovely Living readers!! Each kit includes a sample packet of the microdermabrasion paste, the redefine night serum and redefine lip serum. It’s quite the treat, you’re going to love being pampered!! You can enter below until the end of the day Friday at which point 5 people will be chosen at random. Good luck to you all and take care of that skin!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

For any questions or for a comprehensive skin consultation you can email or call Saskia at saskiavalentine@yahoo.com / 917-770-8800.

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m so excited to finally see May on my calendar. May means that summer is just around the corner which is thrilling. On the down side, it means my baby will turn 2 at the end of the month. And then just around the corner in June my bigger baby will turn 5. Yikes. That being said, we enjoyed lots of time together this week both outside when the sun was shining and inside when the rain was falling (and I dealt with a stomach bug, or a food that didn’t agree with me, ugh). But we made it!

Here’s a peek at my week:

1) This girl’s strength surprises me sometimes.

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2) Once in a while my husband visits my Pinterest board and surprises me :) A shame they run big, so size down!

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3) I may not have a mini-van, but after standing in 40 degree rain for an hour during my son’s soccer practice, I sure feel like a soccer mom.

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4) My girlfriend recently started selling Stella & Dot jewelry. As if I weren’t already obsessed with jewelry and accessories ;)

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5) Mesmerized by a caterpillar….the poor thing.

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 Have a great weekend!

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