Fall/ Fashion
July 13, 2017

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks #NSale 2017

Yeah, it’s my favorite day – the first day of the Nordstrom Anniversary sale! I was lucky enough to get to Nordstrom today to shop the sale with early access.  It has been a tradition for many years now that I am there on the first day of the sale. I blame my mom for this. Ha! Anyway, it was fun to be there today. I really do love the energy in the store the first few days and the rush from getting all these new clothes in 1 day. There’s nothing like it! Oh, it doesn’t hurt either that my birthday is a week away. #birthdaypresents

That being said, let’s get to the good stuff. I like to preface my shopping habits by saying that I really try to be AS practical as possible when deciding what I buy because otherwise the spending can get totally out of control. Especially when you’re shopping for kids and/or a husband as well as yourself. I always think of the saying “There’s only so much to go around” when I can’t decide whether to get an item or not.

So, once the kids were settled and off to camp, I got my coffee and headed to the mall. Full disclosure today – I need to wash my hair but who has time to straighten your hair when there is shopping to be done?! Just in case you’re looking at the pics below thinking, what is going on with her hair? 😉

Without further ado….below are my initial picks from my first day of shopping in the store:

Jeans – there are quite a few to pick from. Last year I wasn’t really in the market for any but over this past year, I’ve decided I’ve grown tired of some of my old ones so new jeans were first on my mind. And shockingly, I got 2 pairs! The first pair I bought online were by AG and picked them up in the store because I knew they’d be perfect (which they were).  A good blue with slight distressing but no holes. What I didn’t expect was to like this pair by Current/Elliott as much as I did. They are a high rise, while a favorite of many, just not usually mine.  Got them, too, though because the high rise wasn’t too tight for this short-waisted girl with an occasional bad back, and I liked the cut off bottoms. Otherwise, I’m considering this rag & bone pair to replace an old pair of dark wash jeans I have. They’re also high rise so we’ll see. Not sure I need THREE new pairs of jeans in one sale though. FYI, all of these I got in my regular denim size.

I know some people don’t have the budget for the jeans above and rave about the Articles of Society brand so if that’s more your budget, check these out instead, this pair by Vigoss, or this pair by Blanknyc (I do love Blanknyc jeans).

Tops –  First, I headed to the TBD department (where I got the jeans above, by the way, and proceeded to wear them both in pics below). If you don’t already own one of the drapey jackets by Blanknyc, then this version by Cupcakes and Cashmere is perfect (it shows up as much more purple in the photo online then it is, very odd). It’s super soft, a pretty dark gray and fits almost identical to the Blanknyc version.  Other items I tried on were this faintly sparkly tee and this adorable Madewell tee (got them both, the latter was totally unexpected for my usual style), this top (eh), this sweater (got it in blue, tried on XS, bought S!), and this cold shoulder top (didn’t love, it was tight in the arms), this sweater (too much!) and this amazing Rails top (still debating but the fit was great). Everything I tried on was an XS except where I noted above. By the way, pretty sure this top by Free People will be a big seller but I didn’t try it on because the long back doesn’t work for my petite frame.

Other tops I saw were in the Point of View department. I didn’t try any on here but I saw a bunch that seem like good options like this Pleione cold shoulder top, this one (love the combo of ruffles and sweatshirt), this Gibson cozy top and this Halogen one, too. Love this cashmere sweater for its sweet side detail but for now, I put it in my cart online to think about. I’ll make it to BP and Top Shop tomorrow, hopefully.

A few designer tops I liked were by Vince like this sweater (classic and simple) and this cold shoulder version.

Dresses – I rarely wear dresses except for the Jewish holidays in the Fall so it’s not often that I buy one but I did love the cut out shoulder on this one.  And this sheath style seems like an easy YES.

Active – It’s been a few years since I’ve bought a jacket during the Anniversary sale so it seemed like a good time to remedy that. I went for this one by The North Face because I don’t have a white jacket and I think the weight of it seems perfect for Fall and wearing to the gym and in general. And I love the detailing in the back at the waist. I also decided to grab this simple black tank (it seems I’m always stocking up on on black and white exercise tops). This Zella tee my mom and I both agreed was really cute with the sheer mesh shoulder. If you’re a big Adidas fan, then I’d try these classic leggings. And for all those Zella lovers out there, hopefully you grabbed a cool pair like this one or this one.  I ordered this pair of Alo “Elevate” legging online this morning but was also considering this ‘Airbrushed’ version. I’ve never owned a pair of Alo before so I guessed about my size and went up one size from my usual since they seem really tight. I’ve read a lot of good reviews about this brand out there so I figured this was a good time to grab one of these expensive leggings.

The North Face jacket

Shoes –  Shoes are always a hard category to narrow down choices for because there are so many different categories to consider. For heels, I loved this Sam Edelman pair. I’m in between sizes with Sam Edelman so the strap is perfect for me. Plus, I find the d’Orsay style to be comfortable and universally flattering. I went ahead and bought them. Louise et Cie had this pair of velvet heels that could be a good update to a wardrobe since it’s a classic style. So sad this pair of Kate Spade shoes doesn’t come in my size but it is the perfect combination of cute meets casual and I believe they were selling out!  If you’re in the market for sneakers, I can’t say enough about the Nike Juevante. This style is perfect for Fall/Winter since its a thicker material then the regular version. I have 2 pairs and love the sock style without the tongue. This ankle wrap flat or this ballet flat with grommets by AGL were my main picks for flats. If bows are your thing, go for this pair of Sam Edelman flats. For booties, consider this pair by Hinge, this pair by Sarto by Franco Sarto, or this pair by Sam Edelman, which are touted as “convertible.” They also still have the popular ‘Margo fringe bootie’ by rag & bone available. Hunter updated their shorter rain boot and the taller version by adding some back straps. If casual slip on sneakers are your got to, (and if Vince actually fit me), I’d try this pair in blue for fun (assuming you already have black shoes in a similar style) or for something different, this embroidered by pair by Rebecca Minkoff. And I was oddly drawn to this pair of shoes by Gentle Souls. The velvet is intriguing but I’d go for a regular version instead for practicality (sadly, these don’t come small enough for my baby feet. Ugh!!). As for boots, not too much new out there but I do like this pair by Ugg that aren’t the usual Ugg style.

I am running out of steam for the night to highlight more items so I’ll try to do another post over the weekend with handbags, the lingerie/lounge department, beauty and more.

Food
July 7, 2017

HelloFresh Trial and Meal #1

HelloFresh is just one of the well known companies out there that offers a meal kit subscription service. After recently having the opportunity to do a trial with the company, I am finally sharing my thoughts about it and whether I found it worthwhile for my family. Read on to see how the first recipe in my trial was.

While I’m not usually in need of a meal kit delivery service, there are occasionally times that it is ideal to have everything ready to go and to just follow a recipe. When I went to go pick out my 3 meals for the week, I found it interesting that they offered a “FIT” line of meals, described as “Quick and nutritious meals under or around 650 calories per serving.” Since I aim to make and eat healthier dinners for my husband and I, this was a perfect option to me, i.e. no need to sacrifice health for ease. I went ahead and created my account, updated my food preferences under my profile, and then, selected the 3 meals for the week:

  1. Lean Green Steak Machine
  2. Chicken Sausage Pizzas
  3. Presto Pesto Panko Chicken.

Presentation: When the box came, I have to say that the way it was came was so well done. Very neat, organized, clear packaging, and big recipe cards with pictures and easy to follow directions.

Each meal had its own box with ingredients, minus the chicken and steak

Below the top 3 boxes was this divider – pretty clever, right?

Everything that was inside the big box

Today I am just reviewing my first of the 3 meals, Lean Green Steak Machine. Here’s the recipe card for it:

Ok, on to the ingredients and the recipe…..

All the ingredients that were inside the smaller box

Here’s an abbreviated version of the recipe I followed:

Step 1 – Prep the vegetables for the succotash. That’s red onion, zucchini, asparagus, and lemon zest.

Step 2 – Chop the chives and mint for the herb dressing for the steak

the finished dressing

Step 3 – Start cooking the succotash

Step 4 – Move on to the steak

Step 5 – All done, plate the food!

Verdict on the Recipe: The ingredients seemed fresh and the taste of the steak and sauce were delicious. But the quantity of steak was just not enough for 2 people at all. I wasn’t in love with the succotash because I don’t love peas and neither does my husband. To be honest, he ended up eating something else entirely and I ate what you see on the plate above. Hard to say whether I’d pick this recipe again, or at least I’d make sure I had extra steak at the very least. Also, I wish the succotash came with a vegetable other then peas but oh well. But, keep in mind, there are so many recipe options to choose from, especially if you aren’t choosing from the ‘Fit’ menu like I was. Plenty of them sound delicious!

What I loved was the Recipe Card because:

  1. How well it spelled out, along the side of the recipe card, what items you’ll need to go with the recipe, i.e. zester, small bowl, 2 large pans, paper towel and olive oil, so you can prep before the prep. 🙂
  2. Quantity of each ingredient listed along the side as well.
  3. Wine suggestion that pairs well with the recipe.
  4. Clear directions to follow, ie. SUPER IMPORTANT!

Worthwhile for my family: Unfortunately, I don’t think so. The cheapest plan, called the ‘Classic’ costs, for 2 people, 3 meals a week about $60/month. For our family and my current schedule where I am often home enough to pre-plan dinner or am home around dinner time to make a meal for my husband and I before it gets too late, it just doesn’t make sense. Sadly, I can’t factor my kids in because they just don’t eat enough of the foods offered in the recipes.

I’ll be posting my review of another one of the recipes in the next week or so.

Have you tried a meal delivery company before and if so, which one? Let me know which ones you’ve had success with since I may think about trying another company at some time. Meanwhile, if you want to try HelloFresh, click here to try it for free like I did!

Happy eating!

Food
June 30, 2017

Semi Homemade Chicken Enchiladas

This semi homemade chicken enchiladas recipe is easy (duh!), tasty, doesn’t involve too much prep and I’m going to wage a guess and say it’s on the healthier side. Or least it is healthier then the real version of chicken enchiladas you’d get in a Mexican restaurant.

While I use a store bought enchilada sauce (mainly this one) you can always make your own. Recipes for the sauce are all over Pinterest (here’s the one I have saved on my own board that I have made before and it tasted like the real thing – I’m just too lazy to make it every time). Since this is a semi homemade recipe, go ahead and use a store bought version, just make sure it’s a version that doesn’t have too much sodium.

enchilada ingredients

The big key here to this recipe is to use prepared shredded chicken. You can use store bought shredded chicken but personally, I just do a little prep the day before, or earlier in the day. I stick 2 chicken breasts in a crock pot with lemon and salt. Cover the chicken in water and turn it on low for 3 hours. Let the chicken cool, then shred the chicken and refrigerate until it’s time to prepare the enchiladas.

prepped chicken

Otherwise, I generally follow the recipe on the back of the sauce but here are the directions I use:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wrap tortillas in plastic wrap. Microwave on high until steamy hot, about 30 seconds.
  3. Smear on some of the enchilada sauce on one side of the tortilla. Then, add a little cheese, chicken, and vegetables and roll it upenchilada prepenchilada prep 2
  4. Place side by side in an 8 by 8-inch baking dish or 9-inch pie dish, seam-side down
  5. Completely cover tortillas with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheeseenchilada going in to oven
  6. Put into oven right away and bake until bubbly hot, about 15 min.Enchilada done

Note: The recipe does call for corn tortillas, which I personally like, but since my family isn’t a big fan of the corn tortillas, I keep whole wheat around and used those instead. Also, you can adjust amounts based on the number of people you are feeding but know this recipe was for 2, just my husband and I.

Then, I served with side of roasted broccoli and that’s it!

Happy eating!

Semi Homemade Chicken Enchiladas

4

Semi Homemade Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 4 - 6 corn tortillas (or I substitute with 4 whole wheat)
  • 8 ounces, or about 1-1/2 cups, shredded monterey jack or mild cheddar cheese (I use reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese)
  • 1/2 cup sauteed peppers
  • 1 package of Frontera Red Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • Optional: sauteed onion, about 1/4 cup

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wrap tortillas in plastic wrap. Microwave on high until steamy hot, about 30 seconds.
  3. Smear on some of the enchilada sauce on one side of the tortilla. Then, add a little cheese, chicken, and vegetables and roll it up
  4. Place side by side in an 8 by 8-inch baking dish or 9-inch pie dish, seam-side down
  5. Completely cover tortillas with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese
  6. Put into oven right away and bake until bubbly hot, about 15 min.
http://lattesandlipgloss.com/semi-homemade-chicken-enchiladas/

Beauty
June 28, 2017

Latest Beauty Purchases

Every so often, I find myself buying a bunch of new beauty products. This time, it was all over the map. I was out of a few products at once, which prompted me to try some different ones. And another product I just decided to try for fun. So, keep on reading to find out what these new products are and if I’d even try them again.

#1 Charlotte Tilbury Skin Perfecting Micro Powder – Medium ($45) – I have been using Laura Mercier Mineral Sheer Pressed Powder in Tender Rose for a really long time now. But, when I recently found myself just about out of it and kept seeing and reading a lot about Charlotte Tilbury’s beauty line (which is now at Nordstrom), I decided to make the switch and try the Airbrush Flawless Finish powder instead (this product has multiple names by the way, ha!). The product description is: “Air Brush Flawless Finish is a super-luxe microfine powder with soft-focus nanoparticles that blur away lines and imperfections for effortlessly flawless skin. What it does: Its breathable technology acts like the finest cashmere veil on top of your skin for a bright, illuminating finish.”

This all came about when I was at Nordstrom at Tyson’s Corner in Virginia, aka not my usual Nordstrom, and I literally could not find the product counter for Charlotte Tilbury. I ended up asking the woman at Laura Mercier and she was able to answer my questions about the Charlotte Tilbury powder and then basically gave me a make over, mainly using Laura Mercier products of course. (#2 is from this makeover). What I found is that the Charlotte Tilbury powder is really similar to the Laura Mercier one I’ve used but it doesn’t come with a sponge applicator so you have to either use a brush you already have (I have this one) or buy one to apply it (like this one, which may be better then one I have). How am I liking it? It’s ok. I don’t actually love applying it with the brush (or maybe it’s the brush I have) so I think that when I’m done with it, I will go back to my Laura Mercier powder and try a different Charlotte Tilbury product for next time. Their blushes, like this one, look amazing.

Post Make Over (the breeze was all natural ha!)

#2 Laura Mercier Candleglow Concealer and Highlighter – .5 ($32) – From the makeover I got that day, I ended up buying the concealer. I love the brush applicator and the way it goes on so smoothly and you use a sponge or concealer brush to blend it in. Overall, I’ve been quite happy with it. My only concern is if the shade is right to offer the best coverage for the dark circles I have. I’m sticking with it for now but it is making me think about doing a separate post to compare all the under eye concealers I’ve tried and maybe even a few more. My under eye circles are my least favorite part of my face.

powder and concealer

Note: One item I wanted to buy from this makeover but couldn’t justify was this Flawless Skin’ Infusion de Rose Nourishing Oil ($65). I am a HUGE sucker for anything that smells like roses (see my post here about the rose perfume I bought this year) but it just didn’t seem to make sense to buy this  that day.

#3 Bella Serata Face Cream, 1 oz ($4.95 for a sample) – Anyone else a huge fan of the show Shark Tank? My husband and I watch the show together so it was kind of funny one day when he forwarded me this email about a face cream that was on the show with a link to try it. According to the main product site, it claims “Bella Serata Skin Cream is a formula that is designed as a topical solution to aging signs. It is a lightweight cream and can be used directly on your face that can  reduce and reverse aging signs. Daily use of this magical cream eliminates dark circles, puffiness, aging spots and wrinkles.”

moisturizer

How I feel about this face cream, though, is quite complicated. If you read the reviews through the link, (this is the one my husband forwarded to me), it raves about it. This is actually how I came to try it – it cost $4.95 for the shipping so I figured why not?? So I got the product a few weeks later and took a “before” picture of myself that is too embarrassingly awful to share. Ha! Then, I proceeded to use the product day and night for a few weeks. Honestly, the results weren’t very noticeable which is why I decided not to share any pictures. And what I came to discover is that there was a fine print on the “order” I placed that day where I agreed to have the product shipped to me again for $89 after 2 weeks. WHAT!? I was none too pleased when I saw this charge on my credit card so I immediately did a little investigating and found out that there are bunch of complaints about this issue on the internet. I contacted the company and they agreed to reverse the charge. Therefore, that really affected how I felt about the product in the end. Also, I learned in my research you can get it through Amazon for a lot less money, $39.97 to be exact, and there is a serum, too. For now, I’m using up what I have but only at night time.

Do I actually like it? Well, it feels good and goes on nicely. It’s not too thick and there isn’t a noticeable smell. But, I don’t see any “magic” happening so definitely not worth trying in my opinion for the hassle I dealt with.

#4 Nu Skin AP-24 Whitening Fluroide Toothpaste ($17.95) – So this is another interesting product I have tried recently. I learned about it from social media and did my own little investigating. Like the face cream, it almost seems to be good to be true. There are raves about it out there, particularly on social media, but it’s true effectiveness and safeness are unclear since the product is not FDA approved or ADA approved. And let’s not ignore the fact that $18 for a tube of toothpaste is kind of steep (there are individual reps out there selling them for $20/tube). But, I was game to try it and my husband has been using it with me as well.

My opinion is that it started off feeling normal and minty in a pleasant way and that it possibly whitened my teeth for a day or two. But, now that it’s been a few weeks, it tastes less minty to me each time I use it and my teeth don’t actually seem any whiter. Maybe I’ve grown used to the flavor??

I actually went to the dentist the other day and asked about it. They didn’t know about this specific product but when then dentist saw that it was by the NuSkin company, he kind of chuckled. Not a good sign in my opinion. Interestingly enough, the dentist’s office has a very similar toothpaste they offer to patients to go along with the a teeth whitening system and it is half the cost! It’s called Opalescence Toothpaste. I actually compared the ingredients and there are a lot of the same ones. For now, I think we’ll finish up this AP-24 and call it a day on trying new toothpastes.

toothpaste

#5 Honest Beauty Everything Primer ($27) – When Target started carrying this line of beauty products in their store, I actually got a little giddy. And since I was just about out of my primer (Smashbox Photo Finish – Light), I was totally game to try it. The price tag though, made me hesitate a bit but I figured I should just try it or I’d always wonder. It goes on smoothly and there is a bit of this “luminous” color in the product itself but once it’s on my face, I see no luminosity. haha. And there is a bit of a faint smell that I don’t love. In the end, I will keep using it but I think I was happier with my Smashbox Primer.

primer

So, that’s a wrap on my latest beauty products. Let me know if you have any products you’ve tried recently that you would recommend.

Fashion
June 21, 2017

Summer Chambray Dress

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a big trend this summer, it’s called a Chambray Dress or what I’m reffering to as #summerchambray. These chambray dresses are everywhere in a bunch of different versions…..off the shoulder, one shoulder, shirt dress, tent style, you name it! And the price range is also all over the map. So, I pulled together some of the favorites I’ve seen online and in stores, including the one I decided to buy for myself.

Starting with the highest price, check these out:


Mid Range:

 
Least Expensive:

So, which did I end up with? Actually the one from Old Navy that is almost identical to the Soft Joie one!

Honestly, the tent style isn’t THE most flattering on me. But, I tried on the XS in the store and it just looked, well, “eh.” But I went home and decided to order the petite version and wow, does it fit me SO much better! It is a lot less tent-ish, so still loose but just has the right amount of shape to it. If that’s possible in a tent dress. Ha!

I plan to style it this summer both casual and a bit dressier which is one of the reasons I love it, versatility = key.

Sorry it’s wrinkled, this was after lunch with a girlfriend and the service where we ate was terrible – like enough to get a free meal (ha!) so I was sitting longer then expected making the dress look quite bad. Oh well. Wrinkles happen. My shoes are these, FYI.

 Happy shopping!

PS, here’s an outtake of the above picture. I’m smiling more but there is also my daughter in the back round.

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