a lovely living

Monthly Archives for June 2016

Mix and Match

(click images above for details)

I was in JCrew Factory over the weekend where I found some adorable summer pieces. As I was looking through the handful of things that came home with me, I realized how perfectly they all coordinated with one another. Granted, it didn’t happen on purpose, but it proves to be much more beneficial when it does, allowing me to create multiple outfits out of just a few things. To prove this point, and give you some ideas, I gathered 9 pieces from JCrew Factory (a few of which came home with me) and turned them into 8 different outfits below. They are currently offering 50% most items in the store and online, so it’s worth checking out! These denim cut-offs are my new favorite, the orange lace skirt is amazing and who doesn’t love a pineapple tank?? Which they were all out of in my size at the store (boo), but fully stocked online!




When it comes to trends, I’m not one to typically jump on them right away. I like to see if they’ll stick around for more than a season to begin with, but then I also need to make sure that it fits my personal style. Not every trend is for every person…so don’t feel pressured ;) Overalls have grown on me and the updated, fitted styles are a far cry from those from my grade school days.  Once I was set on getting a pair, I narrowed down my options and was set on this pair from Madewell (although I love this cropped version as well). I already knew I loved their denim and this wash and the slim fit had me. Any slight reservations I still had disappeared after I got the ‘you look hot’ comment from my husband :) I think I’ll keep them!







Details: Madewell overalls (also love this version) / Free People tee (here and here) / Necklace (similar) / Keds sneakers / Michael Kors watch

Festive Fourth

The 4th of July creeps up on me every single year. Just as I begin getting a handle on summer schedules/routines, I turn around and it’s time for fireworks! I enjoy dressing festive, but not so much over-the top/in your face red, white and blue. I prefer more of a subtle but intentional patriotic ensemble. I’ve searched and gathered and put together some of my picks that you could mix and match for a cute 4th of July outfit. Any pieces in particular stand out to you??


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*From June 27-28 SheIn will be offering Free Shipping with no minimum, so you’ll get an even better deal on their already great prices!


Stuffed peppers have been a favorite of mine since I was little. My mom always used green peppers and stuffed them with a beef/rice mixture, topped with marinara sauce and served over a bed of rice, yum! I continue to make those every so often for my family and when I came across this Santa Fe Stuffed Pepper recipe I immediately wanted to try it. They were every bit as fantastic as I hoped they would be! Bursting with flavor and full of protein and fiber, this meal is healthy and satisfying at the same time. A new hit for sure in the Zerby house!



Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers via Skinny Taste:


For the filling:
1/2 lb 99% lean ground turkey (I used a full pound)
3/4 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cups frozen corn
1 hot pickled serrano pepper, chopped (or jalepeño) more to taste
1 large diced tomato
1 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 tsp cumin
kosher salt to taste

For the peppers:
3 red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth
9 tbsp shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1 tbsp chopped scallions, for garnish


In a large skillet brown the turkey and season with salt. When the turkey is browned, add onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro, serrano pepper, diced tomatoes, and cumin. Mix well and simmer on low, covered for 20 minutes. Remove lid, add corn and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until all the liquid reduces.

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, removing seeds and stem.

Place peppers, cut side up in an oven-proof dish. Fill each pepper with 1/2 cup turkey mixture. Pour about 1/3 cup water or chicken broth on the bottom of the dish. Cover tight with foil. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until the peppers become soft.

Remove foil, top each with 1 1/2 tbsp of cheese and bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes. Top with scallions and serve with reduced-fat sour cream if desired (optional).



Hope you guys had a great weekend! We hosted Father’s Day and cooked out at our place yesterday which was just a picture perfect day around here. Grilling and s’mores by the fire had everyone smiling…especially Audrey who finally got to sink her little teeth into that marshmallowy/melted chocolate goodness :) I wore this outfit to church yesterday morning and just as I shared about my t-shirt dress last week, I pulled out yet another timeless staple in my wardrobe. Having a striped dress (or two) in your closet is a great idea, in case you don’t happen to own any (see below for lots of ideas!). I’ve had this one for a few years and have found myself wearing it alone, with vests, with jackets and with cardigans….it’s such an easy, and versatile piece that’s never boring. I’d love this outfit with a cute saddle bag, but let’s be honest, with three little ones, it’s nearly impossible for me to get away from my tote bags!!









Details: Dress old (see options below) / Vest (option) / LOFT necklace / Tote / Kate Spade sunglasses / Shoes (similar)

Navy + Turquoise


I’ve had this basic t-shirt dress for a few years now and I continue to wear it at least a few times each year. I should let you in on a little secret…even as a blogger, I don’t replace my entire wardrobe with each new season, shocking right? ;) So it’s just as important that I share items that will withstand the trends and continue to be staples that you keep in rotation for years to come (and don’t worry, there’s a very similar version linked below!). One piece that is new to me however, is this pretty little turquoise bar necklace. My girlfriend Becky has been a stylist for Robyn Rhodes and hence introduced me to her line. Each piece is handcrafted and unique. You can check it all out for yourself here.

Also, totally off topic, but I’m finally on the SnapChat train! To my 25 year old brother’s complete surprise, his ancient 34 year old sister finally has the thing figured out ;) I won’t lie, it took me a bit. But it’s all so raw and real and hilarious as I watch others, so I’m sharing a much more personal look into my life and sharing away! You can follow me @mczerby!






Details: Joe Fresh dress (similar) / Robyn Rhodes necklace / Tote / Wedges (similar and under $45!) / Hat (similar)

Father’s Day is nearly upon us, so for those of you that may be on the hunt for a little something for your father or husband, I’ve got you covered. I worked with Jack to put together an array of gifts that are right up his alley and hopefully your father/husband’s as well! Read on to see why this particular selection made the cut…

Sperrys: Jack has worn Sperry’s for the past few summers and he (and I) love them. They are laid back and comfortable but still keep him looking put together and like he cares (a bit) about how he’s dressed ;)

Impact Driver Combo: Being our first year in our own home, this has been Jack’s year to  start his collection of tools. When I first asked him what I should have on this gift guide, this was the first thing he mentioned without hesitation. I can’t give you many more details other than they are ‘power tools’ haha, but if yours doesn’t have one, I bet they’d like it!

Bluetooth Tracking Tag: Such a great idea for the guy that may happen to misplace things (ie keys). Could prove to be quite the time-saver ;)

Father/Son Razor’s: This is just the cutest. A top notch razor for him and a pretend razor for the little guys….so stinkin’ cute!

iPhone case/wallet: Jack has basically given up wallets. He is a minimalist and carries as little as possible, basically his phone, license and a credit card. Hence the reason this item would be perfect for someone like him!

HyperChiller: This is quite the hot item lately. Jack had been reading about the HyperChiller and ended up getting one for his iced-coffee loving mother last month. We’ve only heard rave reviews since then! It chill’s coffee to perfection in 1 minute! And if coffee isn’t his thing, it can be used for whiskey, wine, tea etc, whatever his drink of choice may be this summer!

Popcorn Popper: Jack loves his popcorn and the microwave bags just don’t cut it. We have friends who make theirs on the stove every time they have get togethers and it’s a huge hit with everyone.

Summer Peplum


We visited the Penn State Arboretum, one of our favorite places on campus, over the weekend. I love seeing everything in bloom and I found myself paying closer attention to things now that I have a slight interest in landscaping…or at least I’m making myself have an interest so that I can learn to manage what we have going on around our house, haha! I absolutely love our home but boy did we have it easy living in condos/apartments for the past ten years!

You know I love peplum year round, and summer is certainly no exception. I love how this t-shirt can be worn quite casually, perfect for any number of outdoor summer activities!






Details: SheIn top c/o / JCrew shorts / Sandals (similar) / Le Specs Sunglasses / Necklace (similar)


I’ve been in a bit of a food rut lately. Being that my husband and children expect to have dinner every single night, I’ve been turning to the same handful of recipes over and over again. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t always love the planning and prep work that needs to happen ahead of time. With a newly finished pantry (courtesy of my husband’s handiwork) I’m able to stock up on canned goods, broths, pastas etc. with the hope that I can be in and out of the grocery store much quicker, picking up mainly fresh produce….a girl can hope! With the warmer weather here, I’m on the hunt for some fresh new meals. Although taco salads aren’t new around here, the addition of this Zesty Avocado Buttermilk Dressing to our Chicken Taco Salad totally took it to a new level. One my husband kept raving about! The chicken is taken care of in the crock pot, so all you’re left to do is whip up the delicious dressing and you’re set!



Easy Crock Pot Chicken and Black Bean Taco Salad
 via Skinny Taste

2 (16 oz total) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon reduced sodium taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup chunky salsa

For the Salad:
6 cups chopped romaine or red leaf
1/4 cup reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup zesty avocado cilantro buttermilk dressing


*Place the chicken in the slow cooker and season with taco seasoning and cumin. Pour the beans over the chicken and top with salsa.
*Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender and easily shreds with 2 forks. Shred the chicken and combine with the beans and sauce, keep warm until ready to eat. Makes 3 1/2 cups.
*To make the salad, place 1 1/2 cups lettuce on each plate, top with 3/4 cup chicken and bean mixture, 1 tbsp cheese and 2 tablespoons zesty avocado buttermilk dressing (See below).

Zesty Avocado Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing via Skinny Taste

*I recommend making ahead of time so that it has time to chill


3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used closer to 1 cup)
1 small jalapeno, seeds removed, leave them in if you want it spicy
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
1 medium haas avocado
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp chopped scallion
juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt


*Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For a thinner dressing add more buttermilk, for a thicker dip use less.

Beach Bag

With three kids home all summer, the pool is a hot spot for us! I’m assuming a few of you may be visiting the beach/pool as well, so I’ve rounded up some of my picks in the tote bag department. Whether you’re throwing in a towel/book/sunglasses for yourself or water toys/snacks/sun lotion/diapers/change of clothes/water/bandaids/more snacks etc for your little ones, I’ve got you covered…..and in style! There are honestly a ton of options for you to choose from, but I did my best to narrow them down. Straw, pom poms, stripes and bright, bold colors, it’s too hard to just pick one!


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