Classic Cocktail Series Day 11: Bourbon on the Rocks

Listen, today was HARD for me. The kind of hard day that comes from within, which is to say my outer circumstances didn’t contribute to how I’m feeling (much… I mean we do have a puppy and 3 kids running around here, each with their own needs and ideas). 11 days of staying socially distant and staying home – I think it’s safe to say I’m an extrovert. I would not survive prison. And when the time comes, do NOT sign me up to live on Mars.

That said, I needed something easy. Therefore, today’s “cocktail” is bourbon. On the rocks. Well, just 1 rock actually – I’ll show you in a second.

Bourbon is my fav. I’m not quite sure how this happened. Maybe it’s when I had an Old Fashioned for the first time and wondered what the bourbon would taste like on its own. Maybe it’s when I was too lazy to make my Kentucky Mule and decided to go no further than the bourbon over ice. Maybe it’s when I was out of all the other ingredients and just wanted a DRINK. It’s hard to say.

Today’s bourbon is Four Roses. Some friends gave it to my husband for Christmas. They know what’s up. It’s good to have friends that know what’s up. I’ve made Manhattans and Old Fashioneds with it. Yum.

When you’re having liquor straight up/on the rocks, you’ll want to go with a higher quality that what you’d use to mix in with other ingredients. Just like you wouldn’t use stew beef as that steak you’re going to grill and eat on its own. And you wouldn’t listen to every song by Nickelback – one song on a playlist is already pushing it, but you might just get away with it. Same with liquor – quality matters. Splurge a little if you’re planning to slowly sip and enjoy.

So, my Secret Santa this past holiday season got me some bourbon (Koval) and these ice molds that make one large sphere of ice for my glass. This keeps your drink cold, but not watered down. I like that.

The best part about this whole situation is it takes me about 30 seconds to make my drink. Provided that I’ve already made the ice. I suppose it does take some planning ahead. But you can do this, people. YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.

Bourbon on the Rocks
  • Bourbon of your choice (I’m drinking Four Roses. I also recommend Koval and Basil Hayden’s, if you need a recommendation. This is all personal preference and totally up to you.)
  • Ice, cubes or sphere, or Whiskey Stones
  • A nice glass will add to the enjoyment. I promise.
  • Place ice in bottom of glass. Pour bourbon over ice.
  • Smell. Sip. Close your eyes, think happy thoughts.

You may be taking care if others at this time. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. One easy way to do that is to notice what you have. Sometimes it’s as easy as removing all the extras and recognizing what’s left.

Classic Cocktail Series Day 12: Whiskey Sour

If it wasn’t for this series, I certainly wouldn’t know how many days I’ve been home from work. The days are blurring together. Saturday looks a lot like Tuesday. But I can look forward to a different cocktail every day. And that is GOOD.

Today’s cocktail is the Whiskey Sour. My memory of this drink is of my 10 year high school reunion. It was open bar. I’m not a big drinker, so I had no idea what to order (and to go with beer or wine would be silly because we all know open bar = a world of possibilities and no one needs to experience FOMO over that). One of my besties from HS said she chooses one drink and sticks with it the whole night and in situations like there she chooses Whiskey Sours. And so it was. Good times.

You’ll need simple syrup for this. The good news is you can make simple syrup. It’s, well, simple.

Whiskey Sour
  • 4 oz blended whiskey
  • 1 oz lemon juice (fresh would be ideal)
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • Orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish

Shake liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled glass. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.

A little bit sweet, a little bit sour. A lot good. Kinda like life, right?

Next time you don’t know what to order, give this a go. If you love it, let me know. If you hate it, feel free to blame my HS bestie.

Classic Cocktail Series Day 10: Sangria Mule

Yes, I know the Sangria Mule is not a classic cocktail. Yes, I know I haven’t exhausted the classics yet. However, the blackberries in my refrigerator need to be eaten and the red wine needs to be used up, so this is happening.

And given our current set of circumstances, we are using what we have and we won’t be wasting anything – not a single blackberry, and certainly not wine… the very thought!

I’ll start by saying I don’t gravitate toward tequila drinks. But this… this I could gravitate toward.

And it’s pretty. I like pretty.

Sangria Mule

Makes one cocktail

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce red wine (I use Pinot Noir), chilled
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 4 ounces ginger beer, chilled
  • blackberries and lime slices for garnish
  • fresh mint leaf for garnish (optional)

Fill glass 1/2 full with ice. Add tequila, wine and lime juice. Stir gently. Top with ginger beer. Add blackberries, lime and mint for garnish.

It’s good, people. You can sip this, close your eyes and envision yourself on a beach in Mexico with the sunshine and the waves and the heat. See… you can travel anytime with the right drink.

Now, go make yourself one and turn on a tropical beach screensaver. Play some island music. Enjoy your little escape.

Classic Cocktail Series Day 9: Tom Collins

It was SUNNY today. And I wanted something that tasted like sunshine for today’s cocktail.

Since lemon juice flavors a Tom Collins, it seemed appropriate. It’s like grown up lemonade… less sugar, more tart, and trust me, the sunshine is not far behind.

Once again, use what you have at home as far as ingredients. I once had a friend that made Vodka Collins and Whiskey Collins – taste preferences (and they were tasty). I’m sure those will show up in future posts. You’ll see I garnished mine with an orange and a lime. It’s what’s here. And it’s colorful. I’m all about the sunshine today – literal and figurative.

Tom Collins
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 oz chilled club soda
  • Lemon Slice (I used orange and lime)
  • Maraschino cherry (I omitted this)

Pour the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into an ice filled glass. Top with soda and stir gently (don’t want to lose all that fizz). Add garnishes.

Here’s to future sunny days, friends. Cheers!

Classic Cocktail Series Day 8: The Sidecar

Well, we find ourselves in interesting times.

Interesting, indeed.

I don’t know about you, but when the history books write about us hoarding toilet paper and social distancing, I’m gonna be like, “Yeah. Well, check my blog. I drank. And I drank some good stuff.”

Ok, maybe that’s a bit extreme. I literally made one cocktail a night. It was good. And that was all. Sometimes I shared with my husband. Sometimes.

And truth be told, I started this on my first night of “social distancing”. OMG – my predictive text fills in “social distancing” now. That’s messed up. Anyway… the evening of March 16, 2020 was the first night of my classic cocktail making. I figured, I have the booze, I have the time, and I have the internet. It’s the only responsible thing to do. I’ll add in all of those days later, but right now, it’s day 8.

And Day 8 is The Sidecar.

If you don’t like citrus, this is NOT for you. Lemon juice and Cointreau put this drink solidly in the citrus category.

I’ve read many variations on this recipe. It calls for congac or brandy. If you don’t have that, then bourbon. Apparently brown liquor is in the ingredient list.

I used bourbon because I don’t have brandy. And I can’t say I recommend doing that. I firmly believe that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you should stick strictly to the instructions. HOWEVER, these are interesting times, and that trumps (and I VERY much hesitate to use that word, but it’s what the English language affords me) having the perfect ingredients. We use what we have, so bourbon (my fav) it is. But I do fear I’ve adulterated my bourbon, and the recipe. So unfortunate.

Sidecar

Ingredients: 1 1/2 oz congac (or brandy) (or bourbon), 3/4 oz Cointreau, 3/4 oz lemon juice, ice, lemon peel

Pour all liquid ingredients and ice into cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over top of glass and place in glass.

That said, it’s a fun little cocktail. I’d love to don a “fit n’ flair“ fruit printed cocktail dress and have all my friends over and serve them sidecars from a perfectly shaped glass from my sideboard. Maybe when these interesting times are a memory.

I’ll be sharing Classic Cocktails days 1-7 as the spirit(s) move(s) me. People, there’s a lot going on from day to day. I have children e-learning, a doggo that suddenly thinks we’re here for her undivided attention, laundry piling up, stresses I didn’t know existed mounting. There’s a lot to process. I’m sure you more than understand. You, as they say, “get it”. Stay sane and well, my people.

to resolve or not to resolve – my answer to that question

For the past decade I’ve made a new year’s resolution. There were health resolutions, financial ones, a word chosen for the year, the decision to find joy every day. One year I resolved to try a new recipe every week (that was actually a really good resolution that resulted in some staple meals around my house). By looking at how long it’s been since my last blog post, my resolution should probably be to blog more regularly. 😳

But this year I’m skipping the resolution making.

I’d like to skip it just to go against the grain. A little rebellion of my own, if you will. But to chalk my choice solely up to standing up to current trends would be a lie. Truth is, I’m just not up for it this year.

2017 is going to bring massive changes to my family’s daily life. I started working again at the end of last year, and my husband experienced a (positive) change in his job. All awesome and exciting, but we’re all feeling the effects in some major ways. So to have another self-inflicted task/goal/ideal to live up to sounds overwhelming and like a recipe for certain failure. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t have goals or things I want to accomplish this year. I most certainly do. (I’m coming for you, cluttered utility room!) But I’m keeping my expectations of myself real. There’s nothing more upsetting than letting yourself down. There’s also nothing wrong with knowing your current limitations and living wisely within them. 

If you’ve also decided to skip the resolution making, you have a friend in me. Let me know in the comments! Let’s proudly stand together, focused on what’s in front of us, knowing we’re doing what’s in our best interests. 

Mom Guilt: End of Summer Edition

Summer is winding down – some of you have already sent your kids back to school. My big kids go back after Labor Day, so we have a week left of summer fun. But guess what… end of summer panic is creeping in and has me wondering if we did enough this summer. We made two lists at the beginning of the summer of rainy day and sunny day activities. Did we do the things on our lists? Did we go to the park enough? Did they read enough and practice enough math to avoid the “summer slide”?

summer activity list, summer bucket list, mommy blog, mom guilt, stay at home mom, chicago blogger
we do this every summer to help us when we’re out of ideas

At the same time I’m trying to savor summer with my kids and pack every last fun thing into our remaining days, I’M SO DONE WITH SUMMER. The fighting over who gets to use the red blanket to build their fort in the basement, or whose turn it is with the only working train for our train track, or who is supposed to brush their teeth first, or whose turn it is to open the car door, or the constant pushing and shoving and crying when they don’t get their way – it’s all SUPER OLD. They clearly need to go back to school and be among civilization so they can have the mirror held up to their crazy behavior and have someone else tell them IT’S NOT OK. (BTW, all you teachers out there, THANK YOU for being that “someone else” – you have a way of making our children listen and believe what you say that we parents simply do not!)

And then with those thoughts I’m thrown into the abyss of mom guilt. How on earth could I be so negative about these people I love to the moon and back and smother with kisses at bed time? Don’t I stay home, forsaking a paycheck and, let’s face it, life among adults, to be with them? The mini-humans I would LITERALLY die for – these people who CAME FROM MY BODY?! 

Oh, Mom Guilt, you need to GO AWAY. Everyone needs a break. Everyone needs some quiet. Everyone needs some peace. And right now I’m part of that everyone. But how can I kick you to the curb, Mom Guilt? How can I convince you that I’ve done enough, I am enough, and you have no place here?

I know… I will make a list! 

Wait… Didn’t a list set off my end of summer panic? Whatever. I’m going with it. 

Below is a list of what we did this summer. I’ve typed this all out for the same reason I make an “all done” list instead of a “to do” list. Because somehow our memories are short and we tend to focus on the things that remain undone rather than the things we accomplished. Here goes…

  1.  On the last day of preschool (which was about 2 weeks before the end of school for my big kids), we attended the Preschool Celebration followed by the Preschool Picnic. Tiny (the youngest) and I went out for a celebratory lunch of pancakes. 
    preschool, memory book, mom guilt, precious moments, growing up, chicago blogger, mommy blog
    going through the preschool memory book
  2. Tiny and I rode the train and had lunch with Daddy while he was at work (and the big kids were STILL at school). There was also a trip to the Disney store, which resulted in Star Wars pjs for the boy and Elsa and Anna shoes for the girls. (Thank you Twice-Upon-A-Year-Sale!)
  3.  Tiny and I rode the train (we like the train) to have lunch (we also like lunch) with my cousin who works outside the Loop. 10 extra minutes on the train and walking 4 blocks proved to be more than Tiny was willing to handle, so that part was suuuuuuuper fun. There was playing at the park for her and coffee for me and time with our cousin and lunch (obviously), so, worth it.
  4. We all road tripped to a family wedding, got ourselves all dressed up for the occasion, too! We played with “The Cousins”, took turns on Mimi and Papa’s super swing in the back yard and swam in the pool.
    dressed up, mommy blog, mom guilt, target, targetstyle, banana republic, stella dot
    all dressed up
  5. We went to Peanut’s (the middle child) Kindergarten Celebration, then took her out to lunch (also for pancakes – we LOVE pancakes). 
    mommy blog, mom guilt, family, kids, chicago blogger, kindergarten
    peanut hasn’t willingly smiled in a picture since she was 3 – why would her kindergarten celebration be any different?
  6. On Bubby’s (the oldest) last day of school, we played at the park, signed up for the library’s summer reading challenge, and celebrated the beginning of summer with a sleepover where everyone slept in the girls room and switched beds.
    sleepover in the girls room – it really is the little things
  7. Went to the zoo AND nature museum in one day (a word of advice – pace yourselves)! We spent most of our time in the Farm part of the zoo, met up with our cousin Ryan, then made sure we saw everyone’s favorite animals (zebra and giraffe),  checked out the nature museum, then made the long rush hour drive home. 
    lincoln park zoo, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt, tractor, john deere
    yes, the zoo has a tractor, and it took me forever to get them out of it
  8. Attended not one, not two, not three, but FOUR birthday parties. What can I say? We like to celebrate!
  9. Girls attended Drama Camp (FYI: they need no lessons in dramatics – just how to channel the drama for good) and everyone did a couple days at Day Camp before we…
  10. Road tripped to visit Mimi and Papa over the weekend and week of the 4th of July. While there we:
  • Had lots of fun at the family fish fry, complete with swimming and playing with cousins, being teased by Great Grandpa (we call him Grandpa Nix-Nux which I think is translated “Grandpa Troublemaker”), and fireworks.
    it isn’t summer without sparklers
  • Took a trip in Papa’s boat to Kelley’s Island, rode around the Island in a golf cart, saw the Glacial Grooves, and ate dinner on the Island, then boat ride back in time to see more fireworks with the cousins.
    little mariners
    glacial grooves, glacier grooves, northwest ohio, kelleys island, mommy blog, mom guilt,
    glacial grooves
  • Visited African Safari (you drive on a path and feed animals that come up to your car window) – people, I have only 3 words for this experience – WATER BUFFALO SLIME.
    african safari, northwest ohio, mommy blog, mom guilt, chicago blogger
    on Bubby’s face you’ll find the look of excitement mixed with a dash of fear
  • Swam in Mimi and Papa’s pool almost every day. And some days our beloved cousins were able to join us.
  • Saw Finding Dory at the drive-in (first drive-in experience for the kids).
    drive in movie, finding dory, mommy blog, mom guilt, chicago blog, northwest ohio
    chillin before movie time
  • Mimi took the big kids to the Science Museum. This was the ONLY thing Bubby wanted to do during our visit – he loves him some mad science.
  • And if weren’t swimming or running around town, there was fishing in the neighbor’s pond, riding bikes, catching fireflies, swinging, sliding, going on “nature walks” through the pine trees, coloring with sidewalk chalk, digging in the sand box and playing in the tree house. 
    i almost fell over from all the cuteness

Now, that right there seems like a full summer, doesn’t it?! But, my friends, that’s only the first half! After we got home we:

  1. Returned to two full days a week at Day Camp (so mom could grocery shop in silence and clean the house uninterrupted – so glamorous, I know).
  2. Attended Camp Creativity at our local Michael’s. (BTW, this is a great option for your little crafters, and inexpensive!)
  3. Attended a week of VBS. The kids LOVED it and I got 3 hours every morning to get some things done. We call that a win-win.
  4. More days of Day Camp – they ran around, played with their friends, made crafts, and ran some more. Bubby said he was getting good at basketball, which isn’t something he can practice at our house, so that’s awesome.
  5. Took a trip downtown to play in the Millennium Park Crown Fountain, see The Bean, then have dinner with Daddy.
    crown fountain, millennium park, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt, summer
    waiting for the face fountain to “spit” at them
    cloudgate, the bean, chicago, chicagoblogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    at the bean
    selfie, funny boy, the bean, cloudgate, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    bubby laying under the bean for a selfie – he clearly thinks he’s hilarious
  6. Dad and Bubby went to Starved Rock State Park with the Cub Scouts (tent camping, hiking, swimming, games, etc.) while the girls and I spent the weekend at my cousin’s and visited the Chicago Riverwalk, the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum (you can see the gears that raise and lower the bridges!), ate gelato, went to the Disney Store, ate pizza (because, Chicago) – the next day had brunch, Doodle’s Donuts (they have donuts that come with a frosting packet so kids can decorate their own donut – so cute! I had a maple bacon one – because DUH.) then rode the train home. FYI – this was all done on the HOTTEST weekend of the summer.
    mccormick bridgehouse museum, chicago river, chicago, chicagoblogger, chitown, chicago riverwalk, riverwalk, mommy blog, mom guilt
    the gears that do all the work on the chicago bridges!
  7. doodles donuts, doodle, donut, doughnut, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
    doodling on her donut
    mommy blog, chicago blogger, mom guilt
    so hot waiting for the train, so bummed the fun is over
  8. Went to the beach no less than 5 times. My kids can dig in the sand for hours on end. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.
    hours upon hours spent digging in the sand
  9. Dad took the kids to the pool one day without mom – much fun was had by all.
  10. Got in all our annual physicals, saw the optometrist (turns out Peanut needs glasses to read), dentist and hair cut appointments.
    peanut sporting her new glasses
  11. Went to the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Spent most of the time at the Tinker Lab. As you can see, SAFETY FIRST!
    chicago childrens museum, safety first, chicago blog, mommy blogger, mom guilt
    real tools, real objective to make something that rolls, real imaginations at work
  12. Attended an authentic Chicago Block Party. And no block party is complete without a visit from the fire truck, a bounce house, bike riding and dancing in the street. 
    chicago blogger, chicago block party, mommy blog, mom guilt, fire truck
    back of fire truck photo op
  13. Celebrated a friend’s birthday at Six Flags Great America. If you talk to my kids, you’d think this is the only thing they did this summer because it’s the only thing they talk about. I mean, what’s better than going upside down on a roller coaster for the first time?! 
    can’t you see the excitement on that face?! and that’s just about riding the carousel!
  14. Saw The Secret Life of Pets – cute, silly, and a nice break from the heat and humidity.
  15. Took a little trip to Maggie Daley Park. 
    she found herself a perch and watched the activity
  16. And in between all of that there were play dates, park visits, bike riding, fort building, movies almost every night, reading (my big kids read over 3000 minutes each this summer – thank you Chicago Public Library for making my kids want to win a Kindle Fire enough to have something to report EVERY WEEK), jumping on our trampoline, “swimming” in our inflatable pool, coloring, crafts, trips to Target complete with a Monster Cookie, visits from friends, popsicles, building with Legos, folding paper airplanes, scavenger hunts around the neighborhood, countless games of checkers, Candy Land, and the Matching Game (why is it that my 4 year old SLAYS me at that game?!), light saber fights, and MANY viewings of Zootopia (among other movies). 
    blueberry pie ice cream in a waffle bowl dipped in chocolate then covered in sprinkles – YUM

waiting for the bus to take us on an adventure
she learned to swing by herself this summer
chicago riverwalk, balloon animal, face paint, mom guilt, mommy blog, chicago blogger
stumbled upon this opportunity down at the riverwalk
lake michigan, you are our favorite
chicago public library, rahms readers, summer reading program, library, reading program, chicago, chicago blogger, mommy blog, mom guilt
we were told we were the first sibling group to complete the reading challenge at our branch – so a pic was necessary
this is probably the thing we did most this summer- back yard fun
So, Mom Guilt, you clearly have no place here. I have given (more like orchestrated) a fun and eventful summer full of new experiences and memories, and now that it is in black and white and SO MUCH LONGER than I thought it would be, there is no disputing what took place from the end of school until now.

Dearest readers, please know, I didn’t create this list for comparative reasons or as any kind of standard to measure yourself against (or for you to judge – positively or negatively) my efforts. I wrote it out for myself in an effort to combat my own Mom Guilt, and to see truly how much we’ve done. But I also put it out on the Internet for you to see that you can do something similar to encourage yourself and recount the fun things you and your kids have done this summer. It’s truly not the number of activities done that matter – it’s the memories made, skills gained and fun had that matters. 

Your list may be longer than mine. Or maybe it’s more exciting with international vacations or simulated skydiving. Good for you and your kids – I hope you had a blast! 

Maybe your list simply reads “Day Camp” – the one you meticulously chose for your children so they would be well cared for while you worked to provide for your family. Good for you, mama! You’re making the best choices for your kiddos.

Or maybe you created fun at home day in and day out because that’s what you were able to do this summer. I’m proud of you, mama. You made memories for you and your little tribe.

I hope you realize that my point is that it doesn’t matter what is on your list – how long the list or how exciting the activities or how similar every day seemed. Your intent is what matters – to give your children what you can with what you have. Maybe that was one weekend vacation. Maybe it was digging holes in the back yard to create mud puddles because that’s your child’s favorite thing ever. Maybe it was summer school or tutoring or many different therapies because you know your child needs that. Maybe it was lots of cuddles because right now, that’s all you have to give.

And, mama, I know you gave what you had, but YOU need to know you did. 

So, go on and make that list. Write down the events from this summer along with the memories and feelings that go with them. Use my list as a guide if you need to. Read them over with your kids, look through the pictures you took, and talk about the fun you had this summer. Watch your kids smile and listen to them laugh as they recount the memories of their childhood while you pat yourself on the back for ending the end of summer bickering for a good 20 minutes. 

Then be sure tell your Mom Guilt to move along, because she doesn’t belong among your best efforts and the love you have for your kids.

*This blog post includes links to information and attractions we visited – none are affiliate links. They are for informational purposes only. Photos were not perfectly edited because ain’t nobody got time for that during a summer like this.

**We are so thankful for the friends and family that included us in their summer plans and for their hospitality! 

Six Week Summer Remix

Every year around this time I think to myself, “Man, I have a lot of summer clothes and now that summer is half over, I need to make sure I’m wearing them ALL.” Because clothes that don’t get worn have to go to the donate pile at the end of the season. I know Marie Kondo wouldn’t approve of doing it that way, but I think she’d be mostly pleased that I’m passing on things that clearly didn’t spark enough joy to be worn. 

Enter the #sixweeksummerremix. This is to ensure I’m wearing all of my summer wardrobe that I L-O-V-E without spending a single cent. 

  1. NO MORE SHOPPING UNTIL THE LABOR DAY SALES HIT. That’s right. No shopping. No new tank tops or swing dresses or sandals or t-shirts or swimsuits or cover-ups or thin sweaters or maxi skirts or… oh my, I love clothes. But in all seriousness, I know I don’t NEED anything. I can certainly go the next six weeks without a new item of clothing. Who am I kidding? I could probably do 4 summers of no shopping on what I own and never repeat an outfit. Therefore, no more shopping. 
  2. I will remix my wardrobe to create outfit combos I haven’t worn before. This is for sure a personal goal (and wouldn’t necessarily need to be your goal) because I can certainly repeat outfits from last year, but for an extra 3 minutes a day, I can come up with something new. I find it’s always worth the time and creative brain power to remix my wardrobe because my creativity + my clothes = cute outfit + personal satisfaction. That’s a math equation I can get behind! 
  3. I post my outfits on Instagram and in my Facebook group specifically for remix challenges. It’s great for me to do these two steps because A. Instagram gives me a visual diary of what I wore. It’s fabulous. If I need a little inspiration from my own closet, I can scroll through my feed to see what I have and what I’ve already done. And I can, of course, find other people doing the same thing and get inspiration from them. B. The Facebook group is awesome because you can post your outfit or a specific piece of clothing and ask for style suggestions from the group, and there’s no pressure to have a perfect, pretty picture to post. 
  4. This may be the most important part of the success of a closet remix: PLAN YOUR OUTFIT THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU WILL WEAR IT. Sorry for yelling, but I find that women that skip this step experience 78% more frustration and 82% more anxiety than women who do plan what they will wear the night before. Ok, those numbers are totally made up, but I promise you will feel less stress over getting dressed in the morning if you PLAN AHEAD.

Now, before you go thinking this is all work and no play, there are many benefits to remixing your closet. If you choose to join in the remix fun (please come play with us!!), you can expect these benefits when you join the challenge:

  1. Maybe the most obvious is the monetary benefit – You won’t be spending money on clothes. Therefore, the money you would have spent can be spent on other things (hello, summer fun and back to school purchases!) or saved for those Labor Day sales and the purchase of your fall wardrobe completers (there are definitely some cognac colored booties in my future). I think Dave Ramsey would approve. There have been times in the past when I just needed some room in the budget. This is a great way to not feel bad about not spending. You can always say, “I’m using what I have right now,” and feel good about it because it’s a challenge that you CHOSE instead of feeling like it’s a restriction imposed upon you.
  2. Your brain will be creatively challenged. Exercising your creativity is good for your mind, and if you’re like me, you need a creative outlet anyway. Creating a different outfit every day serves to meet that creative need, and let’s face it, you have to get dressed anyway. 
  3. Joining the F-R-E-E Facebook group will give you access to a community of women just like you, doing the same thing, who will encourage you in your remixing journey. They’ll tell you they love what you’re wearing and, if you ask them for help styling an item, they will give their ideas, which is fabulous because it takes the guesswork out of styling the piece and you’ll probably get 3-5 different ideas for the one item! 
  4. Probably the best benefit of doing this six week remix is you’ll know what’s in your closet, you’ll have a better sense of your style and what you really love, and you’ll be more inclined to purchase and wear items you LOVE rather than things you think will work. You’ll also identify what no longer works for you and can send it on to the thrift store guilt free!

You may have noticed that there are now only 5 weeks until Labor Day. That’s because I started this blog post early this week and I’m finishing it now. But that just means you if you join you have only 5 weeks to remix! 

Here are my looks from this past week…

gap ikat dress, dsw lace up sandals, stella and dot bracelets, armparty, stella, dot, ootd, blogger, fashion, style, fashion blogger
gap ikat dress, dsw lace up sandals, stella and dot bracelets

gap asymmetrical dress and cropped tee, old navy sandals, stella and dot armparty, maxi dress, edgy, fashion, blogger, style, fashion blogger, bracelets, howlite, gladiator sandal
gap asymmetrical dress and cropped tee, old navy sandals, stella and dot armparty

old navy tank swing dress, stella and dot totem tassel necklace, armparty and sunnies, target wedge sandals, targetstyle,  fashion blogger, style blogger, fashionista, closet remix, restyle
old navy tank swing dress, stella and dot totem tassel necklace, armparty and sunnies, target wedge sandals

joe fresh swing dress, steve madden studded sandals, stella and dot jewelry, necklace, bracelet, coffee, starbucks, thrift, thrifted, thrift find
joe fresh swing dress, steve madden studded sandals, stella and dot jewelry
target swing tank and wide leg pants, st. john's bay wedge sandals, stella and dot jewelry and tote, fashion blogger, style blogger, targetstyle, jcpenney, preppy, boho, quill, armparty
target swing tank and wide leg pants, st. john’s bay wedge sandals, stella and dot jewelry and tote

Ok, who’s in?! Tell me in the comments if you’ll be doing the challenge. Please join the Facebook group (invite friends to join, too!) and use the tag #sixweeksummerremix on Instagram to make the most of it! 

I’m posting my outfit each day in both the Facebook group and on Instagram with an explanation of what I’m wearing, and two other styling options for my outfit using my style mantra “dress it up, dress it down, wear it straightforward.” Follow me to watch me maximize my wardrobe and get some style inspiration for your own!

Breaking the Silence

“Hey! Long time no post!” you say. It’s true. Lots of reasons for that… one being LIFE. The other, and quite honestly, the largest contributor to my hiatus was that I had much I wanted to say, but didn’t know where to start. And because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I want everything to be thought out and neat and tidy and, well, perfect. So in that situation, I tend to say nothing.

Not the best course of action, I know.

All those drafts of blog posts may be reworked and published someday. But today I’m breaking the silence and starting with right now. So let’s pretend I just bumped into you on the street and we’re talking summer fashion, shall we?

old navy swing dress dressed up stella dot necklace crossbody aviator sunglasses target sandals accessories
dressed up Old Navy swing dress
Two words for you this summer: SWING DRESSES. They are flowy and flattering and SO COMFY! Also very easy to style – throw on a statement necklace and some sandals and you’re good to go.

fashion blogger wearing stella dot aviator sunglasses, nomad statement necklace, black old navy swing dress
Stella & Dot Aviator Sunglasses in White and Nomad Statement Necklace, Old Navy Swing Dress
stella dot aviators, goofy, old navy swing dress, silly,
no, I cannot take this seriously
 

When you want a dress to be versatile (remember my style mantra: Dress it Up, Dress it Down, Wear it Straightforward), consider color and pattern. Neutrals tend to look dressier, with black being the easiest to pull off as dressy. Patterns tend to dress down an article of clothing, so if you’re hoping to wear your dress to something a little fancy, stick with a solid color.
Don’t get me wrong, a pattern can be fancy, too. Like my Stella & Dot scarf.

dress up, tassel scarf, fashion blogger, style blogger, summer style
Stella & Dot Destination Scarf, Mirage Necklace and Bungalow Hoop Earrings with Old Navy Swing Dress
If she wasn’t so darn cute!

stella dot nomad necklace destination scarf bunglaow hoops on fashion blogger old navy swing tank dress
would you look at that beautiful print
 

There’s only one item you need to own to dress down any piece of clothing: Denim Jacket You can use other methods, too, but if you don’t have this wardrobe staple, you need to buy one.

fashion blogger drinking coffee old navy denim jacket swing dress stella dot necklace
must caffeinate
trust me, you couldn’t tell her no
 

Food for thought: Have you ever had to start up a conversation with someone after a period of silence? It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in months or years. It’s weird. And sometimes hard. And we tend to allow the voices in our heads to tell us to stay quiet. That the relationship is broken and can’t be fixed.

That we have no good reason to get in contact. That the other person will ask what took you so long, get angry, or not answer/text back, or hang up if they do answer, scream obscenities, spit in our faces, or any of a zillion other goofy things we come up with. The truth is, the other person will probably just be happy to hear from you. Take a deep breath and tell the voices in your head to hush up, because you have something you want to say, and you’re going to say it even if you’re a little nervous or scared. ❤️ 

Direct Links for Clothing and Accessories:

Old Navy: Swing Dress, Ghillie-Tie Gladiator Sandals

Stella & Dot: Destination Scarf, Mirage Pendant Necklace, Nomad Statement Necklace, Bungalow Hoops, Quinn Cuff, Nomad Stretch Bracelets, Nolita Crossbody in cork, Aviator Sunglasses

Target: Merona Eve Quarter Strap Sandals

Do you use ebates.com to get cash back on all your online shopping? You should – it’s free! Follow this link, sign up and start earning! I average $15-20 back every quarter, and about $100 after Christmas! 

A huge thank you to Amanda for being my photog for this post! You can find her fashionable self on Instagram @amalynstyle.

ShopPinkBlush Boutique Review and Giveaway 

I know, I know. There are ZILLIONS of trendy boutiques online. But when I find a good one, I can’t help but share it with you!  ShopPinkBlush.com entered my life and oh, happy day! It’s a Women’s Online Boutique with on-trend styles. Maybe more importantly, the clothing is modeled by women with REAL BODIES. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to imagine wearing something modeled by a woman with legit thighs. They also have plus sizes, maternity and nursing, a baby goodies section, and accessories. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. Their service is great and their selection is WIDE – lace up flats, cute dresses for women, adorable tunics – and it’s all ridiculously affordable! And P.S. If you’re loving lace or fringe accents on your clothing these days, you need to check them out – like right now. 

I’m a sucker for anything cozy, drapey, and striped, so I got a striped open front cardigan. It’s a lightweight knit, has a little bit of stretch to it, and it’s perfect for spring. I love how it can be dressed up or down fairly effortlessly. And the colors are perfect for this season. (hello pink and grey!) 

I dressed up my jeans and tee with the cardigan and added some style personality with my accessories. The perfect any day look. pink blush boutique striped cardigan casual trendy stella dot fashion blogger  

 pink blush trendy casual  pattern mix spring fashion blogger 
Dressed down with a graphic tee and my absolute favorite jogger pants. (Casual weekend? Yes, please!) In order to keep this from looking like I left the house in my pjs, I paired it with heeled booties, and a big tote bag that says, “I know what I’m doing.” pink blush botique casual weekend trendy striped cardigan plus size fashion blogger 

  pink blush boutique weekend casual trendy plus size 

Want to win something for yourself from ShopPinkBlush? Like this blog post and tell me how you’d style this cardigan or what you’d love to have from Pink Blush Boutique in the comments below for your chance to win a $50 shop credit from PinkBlush! A winner will be drawn on Friday, March 18th. 

UPDATE: Congratulations to Tina H. On winning the $50 shop credit! Can’t wait to hear what you get!