It’s the most magical time of year!!! CHRISTMAS! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. If you have somehow missed this phenomenon in previous years, it’s when the Fall merchandise goes on sale the end of July! So not only do you get a preview of fall trends, but you get amazing deals on the upcoming season, not last season’s sad leftovers (aka the Half Yearly Sale.)
We both were able to shop the sale early access sale with our Nordstrom cards, but it opens up to the public tomorrow (7/21). A lot of the stuff did sell out, but they do restock a good amount before the public sale. There are also a lot of returns that happen, so make sure to bookmark anything you like so that you can keep checking back.
Here’s what we bought:
Kelsey also put together an awesome video on how to style the faux leather Spanx leggings she bought.
Even though I love to bake and even went to culinary school for it; I definitely have more of a salt/carb/cheese tooth than a sweet one. I still love to go out to grab a little treat now and then though.
I have been following Růže Cake House on Instagram for a couple years, back when the mother-daughter duo used to make beautiful cakes and macarons out of their home. Now they’ve opened up an insanely gorgeous storefront in Scottsdale.
Růže Cake House is tucked away in Old Town Scottsdale. They sell boba teas, macarons, and other pastries daily. If you have an event coming up, they also do wedding and special occasion cakes.
My last visit, I stopped in and got a box of 10 macarons and a strawberry lemonade boba. (Their earl grey and prickly pear ones are really good too!) I brough most of them home to split with my husband, and our favorites were the cookie dough and birthday cake ones.
Tracey Dempsey Originals If you’ve eaten at restaurants like Citizen Public House, The Gladly, or Nook; than you have probably already tried some of Tracey’s delicious desserts. She also has a little shop in Tempe where you can get pastries, cookies, and her famous bacon caramel corn
Sweet Republic Ice Cream. This is my absolute FAVORITE for ice cream. The Almond Buttercrunch and the seasonal Sugar and Spice are the best! Alton Brown also named their Toffee Banofee sundae in the show Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network.
The Local Donut. There are so many good local places for donuts (Short Leash, Welcome Chicken + Donuts), but The Local Donut is my favorite. Their donuts are categorized as traditional, fancy, or classy which is the cutest.
Ollie Vaughn’s I haven’t been here in some time, but I used to go here all the time when I lived in Phoenix. My favorites were always their almond croissants and lemon bars.
Ugh, sorry, I already hate myself for saying that. But as hard as I try not to be basic, I can’t help myself sometimes. And let’s face it, rosé is the cool kid drink right now, and frosé (rosé granita, slushy, or snow cone – call it what you’d like) is the drink of summer. I rarely buy expensive bottles of wine, and this was no exception. I used Ferard Bertrand Core des Roses because I had a sad bottle left from Gigi’s party, but any drier rosé would do. I think this also might be pretty delicious with a sauvignon blanc/viognier/ any type of fruity dry white. (Maybe I will need to do a little R&D taste-testing for you on this!)
Plus it takes no time to make, requires no special ingredients or equipment, and you can make it ahead. I think it’s totally impressive to serve at a dinner party, and besides the novelty of an adult snow cone, it tastes delicious! You could tweak my recipe a little bit, but keep in mind that adding too much more alcohol will keep it from freezing.
Rosé Granita Recipe
2 cups dry rosé
1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
juice of half of a lemon
1 Tbsp. pomegranate or cranberry juice for color (optional)
Heat water, sugar, and juice until sugar dissolves, and let cool.
Stir in rosé and pour into a 9×13′ Pyrex (or similar) pan.
Freeze for 2 hours, then stir with a fork, and put back in freezer.
Freeze for another 2 hours (or up to 3 days) and re-stir.
Serve in chilled glasses. Add a rosé float if you’d like, but it will make your rosé granita part melt faster.
I’m just OK in the momming department so I always let my kids go down every toy isle at places like Target or Toys R Us. I already know I’m raising spoiled and entitled children…so theres really nothing to lose. Plus its fun to see what has changed in the world of toys and what has stayed the same. There are toys like Calico Critters, Barbie, And LOL Dolls where, if I’m being honest, I want to buy them all and play right alongside my children….
And then there are those toys that leave me super confused and scared for the future. These are the toys that have me making my ‘WTF’ face:
Instantly deducted points for the super stupid name of these. Right out the gate and I already hate you. I have yet to figure out why there are two names for the same awful product. Its basically a rubbery little figure that should be about 25 cents at a vending machine inside a bowling alley. Someone had the genius idea that we haven’t been paying enough for absolute crap…. so they invented Fashems… or Mashems… whatever.
On the plus side they are super duper attractive:
These are on the list of things I will never buy my children for many, many reasons. I watched a YouTuber play with these. Then I rolled my eyes when she said they were ‘fun’.
You soak these little gel capsules that look like they are from old lady bath sets… then you smash them into little particles to do crafts with. If theres anything moms really love, its products that create things your child will have to keep and cherish forever, and leave strange chemical messes all over your household surfaces. BRAVO Orbeez.
Side note: You can apparently also do this with Orbeez… cause why the hell not?
Easy Bake oven:
I’m sure there are people out there that would rip me a new one for putting this on a worst toys list. they would probably say things like “Its an institution!” or “I love making food that doesn’t taste like its meant for human consumption!”. With all the advances in technology I cannot believe this is still manufactured. For some reason cooking things over a lightbulb makes me think of people making meth. I don’t actually know how meth is made… but easy bake oven sounds plausible.
I remember making a cake and after the first bite realizing how bad it was and that I had to choke it down so I wouldn’t have to admit to my mom she was right about my Easybake oven. Glad to see other kids will get to experience that memory.
I’m confused. Do these have a goal? Besides the obvious one of separating parents from their money? Bottom line: they creep me out and remind me of something a Japanese businessman would get off on.
Let me start out by saying, I am in no way affiliated with Instant Pot. But I say in all seriousness that Instant Pot has changed my life! I’ve never been much for kitchen gadgets, besides my Vitamix and stand mixer. I purchased the Instant Pot during an Amazon Prime Day sale as an impulse buy.
My baby was still pretty new, and I didn’t have time to cook much. We hadn’t got her sleep down yet and thought you had to hold her to get her to nap, and I was still nursing. These 2 activities took up my entire day. In the mornings my husband would make me what he referred to as a “mommy sandwich” (cheesy egg sandwich) before he went to work. Then at about 8 pm I would realize I was ravenously hungry and eat 2 or 3 Hagan Daaz ice cream bars. I did this for weeks and wondered why I hadn’t lost any pregnancy weight.
When my Instant Pot and America’s Test Kitchen pressure cooker book arrived, my life dramatically improved. You can make anything in minutes. A crockpot means you have to plan it out. You also have to brown the meat or saute the onions in a separate pan, which means more dishes (no thank you!). I’ve made tons of stuff like ribs, chicken thighs, pot roast, and pork shoulder, but the real saving grace when I had no time to cook was a whole chicken.
Instant Pot Chicken and Beans / Chicken and Brown Rice
All you do is throw a chicken, chicken stock, garlic, (onion, white wine/lemon/herbs etc. are all great but optional), and short grain brown rice in the pot and set it to 25 minutes. And that’s it. LIFE. CHANGING. Once it’s done, you can take the chicken out and set aside to rest and stir a couple cups of baby spinach or chopped kale into the brothy rice and now you even have a vegetable. If you wanted to get fancy, you could saute your onion and garlic first for a greater depth of flavor, but I find this step unnecessary here. The point is to have something super quick and easy.
I’ve done beans instead of rice, or roasted vegetables instead of greens stirred in, but I really can’t tell you how good it felt having a hot meal after weeks of eating crap. My one and only complaint is that I really like crispy chicken skin, and even if you brown the chicken really well first, it just ends up a little soggy and sad by the time you take it out.
My solution (and I know this is a total fatass thing to do) is to remove the skin. It should all come off pretty neatly in a little sheet with legs and cut it up into a few pieces, so that it bakes evenly. Place it on parchment or aluminum foil for about 20 minutes at 375 until it’s brown and crunchy. I like to put a liberal amount of salt and pepper on it first, and turn it over halfway through. Then you have a delicious crunchy snack or you can set it back on your chicken pieces for a sort of deconstructed look.
1 – 4 lb. chicken
4 cloves garlic, crushed
medium onion, diced
1 cup short or medium grain brown rice
2 cups chicken stock
Optional (juice and zest from 1 lemon or a couple glugs of white wine, fresh herbs, spinach or chopped kale)
Salt and pepper
Stir rice, stock, garlic and onion together in pot. Season with salt and pepper. Place seasoned chicken on top.
Close lid and set to 25 minutes.
When timer goes off, quick release pressure.
Remove chicken. If desired stir in spinach or chopped kale into rice mixture while set to “keep warm.” Stir until it wilts.
My Zara kids haul is not huge, but I love their stuff so much right now, I still had to share. Specifically, their artisan capsule collection has me dead, but I didn’t get too much from it because sometime I think I push my own monochrome style too much on my daughter, and let’s face it – babies are cute in colors!
And when I say I got these, I actually mean I sent my MIL the links for everything and told her this is what Gigi wanted for her birthday.
Holy cow. I really cannot believe that a year has come and gone so quickly. I’ll skip all the cliche mushy feelings, and just skip to the important stuff – her birthday party.
I really don’t have a ton of friends, which sadly cuts into Gigi’s friend circle. (Sorry Georgia; mom’s a loser.) So the party was all adults, but I swear I’m working on some baby friends soon! I had the Pinterest Mom Guilt (it’s real guys!) and have been planning an elaborate party and cake smash for months. I went through several themes from flamingos, swans, zoo, fiesta, to stars, and finally landed on a tea party, because it sounded easiest and cute. And my planning just really went downhill from there. The cake smash? Don’t hold your breath. 2 weeks later and that hasn’t happened yet.
I ordered the cutest tea stuff from this UK company called Party Ark. It was all really cheap, but the shipping was $20. They have the same stuff on Amazon, but it’s WAY more, so it’s still worth it to order directly from them. I mixed and matched stuff, and then bought these cute cups while I was at Target. My mom had pretty silver platters and flatware that we mixed in for serving. I got these cups, these plates, these napkins, and this treat stand.
I cook for a living, so I always feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me, to have decent food. In the end though, I nixed all the recipes I had been pinning, and made a DIY tea sandwich station. Having other people do all the work is pretty genius. I cut up bread with cookie cutters, and had chicken salad, smoked salmon, thinly cut veggies, micro-greens, and spreads. I also put out veggies, fruit, and all the typical party stuff.
The real theme of this party, was probably that I cheated in every way possible. I am slightly ashamed to say that I bought rice crispy treats from the grocery store, and dipped them in candy melts. Palmiers were purchased from Costco, and then I spent way more time than I’d like to admit on her birthday cake, which was topped with puffs and yogurt melts (I’m pretty sure I invented this idea, and I felt really proud of it.)
What I skipped:
Basically, everything. I just ran out of time! I’m in the midst of starting a new business, had family coming into town, and lots of other lame excuses. I nixed basically all decorations. My mom got flowers, and had enough pretty platters and china, that I didn’t think we needed anything else. I ran out of buttercream and time, so the mini cupcakes didn’t get done. I wanted to do a photo booth backdrop which was also neglected. I balanced it out by spending way too long on the cake, and doing ridiculous things like watercoloring signs, and personalizing treat bags of tea that nobody took. In the end though, Gigi had a great time eating tissue paper and flinging her cup, so I’ll call this first birthday partea a success!
First Birthday Partea Inspo
So if I had more money and time, I would have definitely amped it up a little, but really wtf does a one year old care? Below is some Pinterest inspo to make your party cooler than mine!
If you have children and you aren’t a total nazi when it comes to screen time, chances are you and your kids have watched at least one toy unboxing video on youtube. For those of you with social lives, the toy unboxing world is big business on youtube, and people make millions… yes millions, uploading these videos. Side note: why am I not pimping out my children making these videos yet?
Ive become quite the toy video connoisseur and consider myself well versed in all the dumb toy and ‘surprise balls’ that are on the market. Most kids toys are designed by people on acid (I’m assuming here) but there is one toy that really resonated with me. Warning to readers: I’m about to show my crazy here in a major way…
Enter LOL Dolls. “Little Outrageous Littles”….yea I know. I can feel you judging already. Shut up.
The whole idea is this mystery ball with all these layers, each layer revealing a surprise. Each doll comes with shoes, an outfit, and an accessory. They also come with a little ‘bottle’ to feed them water- thus revealing the final surprise… does your doll spit, cry, or pee? Some dolls also change color if you dunk them in cold water. This is the official site for LOL Dolls that goes way more into depth on all the different dolls…
I can feel you rolling your eyes…stop.
Yes, LOL Surprise Dolls are cute, and they have the fun surprise element, but the thing that really got me addicted was how elusive these suckers are. Finding these feels like hitting the lottery and brings me back to being a kid on the hunt for Beanie Babies. Honestly I live for the competition. I was never athletic in any way so I get all my competitive juices out through shopping. Better believe I can outshop anyone.. not joking.
My girls like these but If I’m being completely honest I like them more. I don’t actually want them per se… I just want to find them all and conquer the world of useless plastic items (thats a real title you can win right?) Ive been snagging these dolls whenever I find them and was hoping to use them as potty training incentives. So far no progress has been made on that, but I am the proud owner of an entire box of LOL Dolls I found at Toys R Us! And yes, last week I fought the urge to throw a completely stocked LOL Doll display into my Target cart.
The craziest part of all of this was I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write about this for fear I might inspire others to start looking for these. I need help.
Side note: According to this article the evil genius is planning to unveil new dolls come fall. LORD HELP ME.
Italian Meringue Macarons – I have a love/hate relationship with macarons. Of course, they’re beautiful (and delicious), but they are also touchy to make. Over-mix them, under-mix them, too much moisture, and your macarons are ruined. The perfect macaron should have a smooth, shiny surface, well-developed “feet”, and a moist center. I have had several batches of traditional French meringue macarons fail on me, and each time I was mystified as to what I did wrong. Then I discovered the Italian meringue method, and haven’t looked back since. There is an extra step of cooking your sugar before pouring it into your egg whites, but the results are worth it. The ones pictured here are from a batch I made for my friend’s baby shower. She requested “pink glittery” ones, and they turned out cute. Edible glitter isn’t quite as bad as regular glitter, as far as sticking everywhere.
As you can see from the photos, some of them still had a little bit of a bump from piping them, which means that my batter was a bit too thick and could have stood a few more folds when I was mixing them, but I would rather under-mix then over-mix,
because if you over-mix and knock out too much air and they will end up flat.
Before you start:
Make sure you have everything ready to go. Let your eggs sit out to room temperature, weigh out your ingredients, and pre-heat your oven. Line your baking sheets with a silicon mat or parchment paper. I like parchment for this, because then you can draw circles on the bottom-side to make sure your macarons are the same size, but they do come off silicone a bit easier. Read full directions first, so that you know precisely what you need to do.
2 baking sheets
parchment paper/silicone mats
fine mesh strainer
digital or candy thermometer
Piping bag and tip
150 grams almond flour
150 grams powdered sugar
55 grams + 55 grams egg whites (room temperature)
150 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
gel food coloring (optional)
Sift almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Mix in 55 grams of egg whites until it forms a thick paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Combine granulated sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot, and stir until dissolved. Once it is dissolved and begins to simmer, STOP stirring it. At this point if you continue to stir, it will cause your sugar to crystallize. Cook until the sugar water reaches 244 degrees F (soft ball stage) and take off heat immediately.
When the water is almost to temperature (I usually start at about 215 or so), start whipping the remaining 55 grams of egg whites at medium speed, until they reach soft peaks. If they reach soft peaks before the sugar water hits soft ball stage, turn the speed down to low.
Turn mixer up to high, and slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl, and whip until it forms stiff glossy peaks. If you are going to add color, do it at this time.
Fold the meringue into the almond paste, 1/3 at a time. Mix until it falls off your spatula in ribbons. The ribbons should dissolve into the batter in about 20 seconds.
Pour batter into piping bag, and pipe into small rounds (1.25″-1.5″ in diameter) and hit down on counter top once or twice to knock out some of the air bubbles, and help smooth the tops.
Rest for 30-60 minutes, until the tops dry out and a skin has formed.
Place macarons in oven (only bake one tray at a time) and turn heat down to 300˚. Bake for 15-18 minutes – until the tops don’t move away from the feet when nudged. Carefully transfer parchment paper to cooling racks to cool completely.
Once cooled, match up shells with the closest size mate and fill with your choice of buttercream, ganache, fruit curds, or jams.
That’s it… you’re done! Leave me a comment and let me know how they turned out. And especially for those of you that have had trouble with the French method, let me know how you liked the method for Italian meringue macarons!
Yes, Its risky taking fashion advice from a mom from the midwest… I realize that Minnesota is hardly a hotbed of sartorial action. However I promise you, I do my homework. These are the trends I think will be big this Spring/Summer 2017. Shopping links in pictures.
The western trend is big this year in accessories… shoes and belts with the big buckles. Small or large, I love the look of a big buckle and I think its such a fun way to add hardware and shine that isn’t jewelry to an outfit.
Get the look:
Frills and ruffles are super in right now. I was never big of frills but this year the frills are all across the board which is great since you can find the one perfect for your body type. Frills are definitely going to draw the eye to an area, so be sure that the frill/ruffle is showcasing an area of your body you are confident about.
Get the Look:
We have Gucci to blame for this trend. Floral embroidery is huge… HUGE. If you aren’t ready to slap flowers across your body I think an embroidered bag or shoe is a great way to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe.
Get the look:
This is a big trend with shoes right now, but if you are super adventurous there are some cool ways to wear metallics as well. I think shoes are the most fun way to wear metallics and not feel super conspicuous.
Get the look:
Think SUPER distressed. Some of the new silhouettes are very different so this trend may take some getting used to. One of the major players in the distressed denim game is an old favorite from my college days, the denim skirt. Thankfully its a lot longer than the skirts from back then. Fringe and asymmetry ….you want your distressing to feel haphazard and not ‘cute’. For jeans the silhouette seems to be the mom jean. High waisted, uneven hems, and cropped length are also good bets.
Get the look:
I think this is my favorite trend. The best part about an embellished shoe is its your whole outfit. Jeans, white tee, and cool shoes… BAM.. you’re set. Here are some of my favorite incarnations of the statement shoe:
Get the look:
So stripes aren’t really a new thing…. but they are big this year.
Get the look:
Bonus Trend: Mixing Patterns
This trend is really cool if you are bold enough to try it.
If you are still reading this, you deserve an award! I know my 2017 Spring Fashion Trends report was a long one, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. Coming up soon: another haul, and I review the Dyson Supersonic Dryer.