Category Archives: Everything Else

Wool& Camellia & Axis Cropped Leggings Review & Photo Shoot

I waited so long for this dress by Wool&! I was looking for a classic, basic, soft, and comfortable black tank dress that would really stand up to my busy summer lifestyle and the Camellia by Wool& turned out to be the perfect solution. Besides the comfort factor, this dress relies on a blend of merino wool & nylon which means it has all the MAGIC of wool including durability, odor-resistance, temperature-regulating, and sustainable awesomeness! I truly love my Mara dress, so I couldn’t wait to try a warm-weather option.

If you’d like to check these products out in detail, I appreciate you using my affiliate links:

Click here to check out the whole selection from Wool& (Wooland). 
Want to jump right to the Camellia? Click here!
Don’t forget to grab your Wool& Axis Cropped Leggings. 

If you make a purchase, I might receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I loved this dress from the moment I tried it on! I am 5’5.5″ and about 160 lbs. I decided to size DOWN and go with a Small Long. I wanted this dress comfortably long and it fits me just how I hoped!

Let’s get the elephant out of the room. For some one who typically shops at thrift stores, this dress is quite an investment at $128, I admit it. Here are my reasons for sharing a product that is on the high end with my followers:

  1. Durability. Did you know that hundreds of women have worn Wool& dresses for 100 days in a row? It’s such a cool challenge and really proves that these dresses are super durable. If you are going to invest in a pricier clothing item, make sure it will last!
  2. Versatility. Many of us stick to lower end purchases for every day wear, but might “splash out” on a special occasion dress or outfit for a night out. I’m starting to think the exact opposite! Let’s invest in versatile pieces that can fit into our daily lifestyle year round and find deals on the one-wear items that we won’t be re-wearing again and again.
  3. Wonderful Woolly-ness. Back to the first paragraph in this post, remember all those features that make wool magical? Sustainability, Temperature-regulating, Easy-care, Odor-resistant, breathable and soft? Yes, those features are what make wool worth the investment and will make these items last so much longer!

I love the way the Camellia fits, looks, and feels! It’s a great every day look for my closet, and I think I could safely dress it up for a night out with some heals and the right accessories! Want to see it a little better? Check out my video review here. 

The best part about this dress is that I know it can be worn all year round! I plan to layer it up with sweaters, and boots, but for now I love pairing it with my favorite jean jacket. 

Many thanks to Wool& for sending me the dress and leggings for my review. I love working with small companies and this one is truly a gem!


Have you tried Wool yet? I’d love to hear your experience!

Stella Tee Review: https://youtu.be/AeU1rzWVw88
Wool& Mara Dress Review: https://youtu.be/4Kutkja7KHw

My outfits include Birkenstock Mayari, Birkenstock Pappillio Namica, and Buffalo Jean Jacket. My blue kimono and druzy necklace were thrifted. My fedora hat is from Shoppe 3130.

Thanks for shopping with me!

Shhhhh! (A Skeptic Spills Stitch Fix Secrets!) How I built an almost-free customized wardrobe plus maxxed out my yearly credit in January!

I’ve been working on this post for SO long, you guys! Thank your lucky stars that you stumbled onto this blog, because I’m about to share ALL of my Stitch Fix Secrets with you, from getting the best possible boxes from your Stylist to earning the max credit (which means totally free clothes!). Grab a coffee, a cozy blanket, and a pencil because you may just want to take some notes on all these tips together in one place!

I admit it, I was a Stitch Fix Skeptic. I always enjoyed shopping and felt pretty good about making clothing choices in the store, so why would I need a shopping service? Also, I just knew the options would be pricey, and I was used to thrift store prices maxxing out at $10 for a “splurge”. I also considered myself an expert bargain shopper, so there was no way I would be interested in an online stylist at a premium price. I know going with Stitch Fix would be a paradigm shift for me and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.

However, a friend shared an awesome $100 code with me so I figured, “What do I have to lose?” That was in the winter of 2020 and in the last 12 months I have earned a total of $1300 in free clothing! I have spent a little “real money” here and there but I’m about to share my very best tips and strategies for getting awesome boxes that will work for you, maximizing your spending by being smart with purchases, and sharing your code with others to earn the MOST possible credit! I’ve discovered these tips through scouring tons of YouTube vidoes, online forums, facebook groups and blogs plus experimenting myself with trial and error. I honestly think you will love the results if you approach Stitch Fix with careful strategy! Let’s break it down:

Get the Most from Every Stitch Fix Box:

First and foremost, be sure to sign up with a generous coupon code, ideally $100. Here are a few places you can find those codes: Reddit, YouTube, and Facebook Groups, such as Stitch Fix Referral Codes. Like I said, I have maxxed out my referral credit, so I don’t have a code to share! The codes are generally good for 48 hours, so just keep searching until you find one that is fresh. All you’ll do is click through one of those links and create your profile. I recommend downloading the Stitch Fix app for the most convenient accessibility. You will then want to build your profile and set up your first Stitch Fix. Don’t rush through this step! Make sure you give as many details as possible on your size, shape, and style preferences. Think about what you are hoping to achieve through using the service, and be sure to specify items you DON’T want as well. For me, I knew I have very picky feet and don’t like standard shoes in general, so I specified “No shoes” in my profile. Also, I feel it’s easy to find nice costume jewelry pretty much anywhere (with no size constraints) so I also added, “No Jewelry”. I mentioned that I rarely need office ware, typically wear casual outfits, frequently need  “night out” attire, and rarely have reasons to dress up for special events (it is what it is, am I right?)

Here’s an example of some more details I added to help my stylist get to know me: “I don’t like cropped shirts, but do like ruffles, texture, & patterns. I am a winter with very dark hair, brown eyes and pale skin. My style is more casual, soft, and feminine NOT tailored or overly-structured. I do not like menswear (no button-up shirts, please, they look terrible on me). No hand wash, dry clean only or high maintenance items, no jewelry and no shoes.”

You can also leave your stylist a Note for each fix, with special requests, feedback from past fixes, or any general ideas you might have, ie “I’m going on a business trip, any smart casual pieces would be appreciated” or “I have a big anniversary, can you send me some options for date night?” or “I’m ready for SPRING, can you send some warm-weather options my way?”

If you are really thorough filling out your details, you’ll have a MUCH better chance at getting a box full of items that will really blow you away! But sometimes you will still get a “dud” box. If that happens, don’t hesitate to change stylists and be sure to add specific feedback on items that you are returning. Sometimes they just aren’t a good fit, and there’s no problem in trying someone new.  Don’t forget to play the “Style Shuffle”. It just takes maybe 2 minutes a day and involves giving items a “Thumb’s up” or Thumb’s Down” to further clarify your preferences. I play the style shuffle almost every day and it’s a fun quick way of upping your chance at great Stitch Fix boxes. Stitch Fix bases your boxes on an online algorithm, an actual stylist’s choices for you, and the stock available in your size, so the more info the stylist and computer have about you, the better.

Note: If you aren’t sure how Stitch Fix works with the styling fee and credits, here is a link for more details.

Maximize your Spending
My first tip for Stitch Fix in regard to really maximizing your dollars (whether they are virtual or actual) is to teach yourself to be a little pickier. Make sure you REALLY love items in your fix before keeping them. Don’t be tempted to say “yes” just because the item is in your home and it’s too easy to pop those tags! Try them on, mix them with other items in your wardrobe, take selfies (this REALLY helps) and ask yourself some “tough” questions. “Where will I wear this?” “When will I wear this?” “Is it filling a true wardrobe hole for me?” “Will it be a significant upgrade for my closet?” and “Am I excited to put it on RIGHT NOW?” Some of those questions have really helped me make the hard choices even when it means sending back something super gorgeous that I actually really loved (but realistically wasn’t going to wear).

Note: Stitch Fix has an invite only program called Style Pass which costs $49 per year and waives ALL styling fees for 12 months! In addition, the $49 goes RIGHT back into your account and can be spent immediately on clothes from your fix or Shop Your Looks items, so if you ask me, it’s a no-brainer. Since you aren’t paying the styling fee, you can have no qualms about sending all of your items back and trying agin. So if you get an invite, I highly recommend it. It makes it easy to be “picky” like we talked about above.

Rack up TONS of Credit

I have racked up nearly $1300 worth of credit in only about a year, and this January I maxxed out my 2021 credit limit ($599 per year). When you checkout with Stitch Fix (after you receive your box, you choose what you want to keep and “check out” via the app or website) you might receive a $100 code (or even $75 or $50). Supposedly, it’s random but people have been getting them a LOT lately. If you do get one, share it immediately on Reddit in the Stich Fix group on the Referral Megathread, on your own Facebook page, and in this facebook group (ask to join now because it takes awhile to be approved). Also feel free to share your $100 code in the comments here! Remember, your code will only be active for 48 hours so it’s helpful to have a plan in place before you even get it. For example, I create Stitch Fix unboxing videos for YouTube and even go so far as to create graphics with “Free $100 code” for the video….it’s all prepped and ready to go before I checkout with my fix. Then, if I get that golden $100 code, I have a click-baity video ready to post. After posting my $100 code a few weeks ago, I got at least 18 people joining, easily racking up the max credit within days of posting. I can’t help thinking that this influx of $100 codes won’t last for long, so definitely take advantage of it if you receive one! A few other ideas for sharing your link is creating outfit pins for pinterest with your link, sharing try-ons to Instagram, or asking for feedback on items (keep or don’t keep) on your personal Facebook feed.

That’s just about it for now! I have really enjoyed my Stitch Fix boxes and I hope you have fun with Stitch Fix also!

Wooland (Wool&) Mara Dress Review & Styling Tips

I’m really excited to bring you this honest review of the Mara Dress by Wool&. First of all, I am so grateful when a brand is willing to work with me as a small influencer; it truly means a lot. As you know, I choose my affiliate partnerships very carefully, since it’s very important to me that I only represent brands I use and love myself. I want my followers to trust that I’ll always be honest and only share links for products that I’m 100% using myself in my own home. Wool& sent me this dress as a gift for my review, so thank you so much, Wool&!

Look at this lovely minimal packaging! No plastic to be found. 

This post contains affiliate links. I may make a commission on purchases with no additional cost to you. Thanks for shopping with me!

Outfit #1 (see footnotes for outfit details)

In my last post, I talked about Sustainable Fashion. It’s something I have really wanted to learn more about for awhile. Wool& works hard to make sustainability a core value of their brand. In fact the company’s motto is: live simply, consume carefully, do good. I absolutey love that!

Outfit #2 (see footnotes for outfit details)

I have never worn wool in my South Carolina climate and honestly didn’t know much about  its benefits. I’m actually blown away to learn how versatile this fabric is (yes, even for a Southern girl like me)! The Mara dress is a Merino Wool blend ( 75% merino wool / 22% nylon / 3% spandex, a midweight french terry fabric) and is super soft and comfy (not itchy in the slightest, and my skin is extremely picky about texture). It does seem to warm up to your body and become even softer after a couple wears!

Outfit #3 (see footnotes for outfit details)

Did you know that Wool is naturally antimicrobial, moisture wicking, and temperature regulating? I had a vague idea about some “magical” properties of Wool based on recommendations I had read for SmartWool socks, but the extent of the benefits really surprised and impressed me. The most appealing feature of this dress for me is that it can be washed very infrequently! As someone who is CONSTANTLY doing laundry (three kids + two adults + puppy), the idea of a garment that rarely needs to be washed is pretty much the best idea ever. In fact, I’m already wondering how we can fit more wool into the laundry rotation to keep washing to a minimum. Want to learn more about Wool& clothing? Click here!

Outfit #4 (see footnotes for outfit details)

Let’s get to the specifics of the Mara dress. It’s a soft French terry fabric with patch pockets, a funnel neck (I’d call it a mock neck) and drop shoulders. This dress retails for $158. (See the footnotes for my size info). The fabric on the neck and wrists is double-thick, giving it a chunky, comfy feel. It also adds a little visual interest to the design along with the seam across the pockets. I don’t usually prefer the tightness of turtlenecks but this style gives a similar look without the constricting neckline. The fabric is soft but not thick like a sweatshirt, more of a substantial, sturdy jersey.

Outfit #5 (see footnotes for outfit details)

I have worn it four days in a row and I am in love with how comfortable the Mara style is! So far, I’ve worn it while cleaning, cooking, shopping, walking the dog and I can’t help thinking it would be a great work-from-home uniform for anyone with Zoom meetings to participate in. At first I was nervous about wearing it to teach preschool, but I think next week I will give it a try. The benefits definitely outweigh my fear that it will get a little stray paint or playdough on it. I have read that the best way to treat stains on wool is to spot clean immediately, which shouldn’t be a problem.

Outfit #6 (see footnotes for outfit details)

A Wool& dress would be the perfect item to take traveling. In fact, I imagine my bag will be a lot lighter on my next trip since this dress can make it through days of wear without washing. Now that I have tried it, I think this dress would safely be a three season staple for me since it is temperature-regulating and I won’t get too hot in our temperature-erratic Springs and Falls.  I would love to try a few of the other Wool& styles like the Brooklyn Wrap Dress or the Sierra Tank Dress. There are also several new styles coming in the Spring! I am sure I’ll be wearing my Mara dress for years to come.

Is a wool a part of your wardrobe? Let me know in the comments!


Outfit Details
Outfit #1:
My Wool& Mara dress is size Medium (my true size). For your reference, I am a hair under 5’6” and a hair over 150 lbs. I’ve paired this with my favorite black flats by Fitflop. My scarf is from a previous season by Alison & Aubrey, but here is a similar style that is currently available on Amazon.

Outfit #2:
For this look, I’m wearing my favorite Jean Jacket that I blogged about here. I love that the trim sleeves of the dress work great for layers (so many of my cold-weather dresses are too thick for layering, which is inconvenient!). I’ve paired it with some of my Favorite boots from Target from years and years ago (Kamischel style), but I found a couple similar links to share for boots: Option 1, Option 2, or Option 3. Finally, I’m wearing a retired necklace from Bauble Bar, but here is a really pretty one that would stand out beautifully against the neckline of this dress!

Outfit #3:
I love this combo! I’m wearing the same boots from Outfit #2, but I threw on this drapey Olive vest from Time & Tru. It’s currently OOS, but here is another option from Amazon. My necklace is a gifted bird’s nest style that looks just like this.

Outfit #4:
I thrifted this Lucky Brand wool pullover poncho (such a fun find), but you might find a similar style here. My Frye Melissa Boots are an old favorite that work with so many outfits.

Outfit #5:
Checkout how comfy those big pockets are! You can easily fit keys, phone, and even a wallet in there in a pinch! This outfit is just showing the Mara on it’s own with my Frye boots. I love it! I also wore it with my Target boots and some purple knee high socks. I had never found a good use for those socks before, but I thought was a fun look to go shopping. I don’t usually go barelegged in the winter but I think it works with Mara’s silhouette.

Outfit #6
Mara works great for walking the dog also! For this outfit, I wore my trusty Naturalizer Carly Sneakers, favorite Columbia Women’s Mighty Lite Hooded Coat, Tortoiseshell Sunglasses, and Furtalk Beanie. For the cutest pet ever, I have to recommend a Bernedoodle!

Thank you for shopping through my affiliate links! Please subscribe for more product reviews and upcoming posts featuring Wool&!

Building a Sustainable Wardrobe

You guys know that I’m a thrifter at heart. I was raised by thrifty parents and I just love the thrill of the hunt when it comes to shopping.  I’m a pretty easy size to fit (right in the middle of the road) so I tend to build my wardrobe with new pieces almost from scratch each year (with some exceptions of course). It’s worked well for me, but I have been wanting to be more deliberate about my wardrobe and choose pieces that will stand the test of time rather than serving me for just a season. In addition, I have been learning more about sustainable brands and have really wanted to focus on a middle ground between sustainability/quality/affordability. That spot will often fall at the thrift store for me, but I’m also exploring brands that stand out with sustainability as a core value.

Before we go any further, let’s define sustainability! What is it and why should we use it as a guide when buying clothing?

In my own words, sustainable fashion focuses on measured and deliberate movement towards more eco-friendly and socially-responsible practices within the entire framework of the business, from manufacturing, to production, to distribution and sales. Want more ideas on moving towards sustainability in your closet? Click here to read up on the topic!

Fast fashion hurts the earth and hurts people. There’s really no two ways about it. Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, seeks to right those wrongs and take the process in a more positive sustainable direction. So we should all be happy to see more steps taken in that direction, right? The problem is, sometimes we aren’t quite willing (or able) to pay for it, which I 100% understand since our budget for clothing is pretty low. Which is why shopping second hand kills about three birds with one stone (without bringing animal cruelty into the mix). You are saving money, saving the earth, and preventing over-consumption by not feeding the fast fashion monster.

At the same time, second-hand shopping can be hit-or-miss, time-consuming or simply unavailable depending on location. I’m also aware that many sizes are difficult if not impossible to purchase second hand. Online options for second hand clothing are becoming more and more prevalent (thredup, poshmark, ebay), but second-hand shopping still won’t solve all of our clothing needs all the time.

Fortunately, there are more sustainable brands stepping into the clothing arena, giving us more options for high quality clothing that won’t wind up in the landfill (at least any time soon). Higher standards for materials, packaging, labor and advertising will give us better options going forward. My next post will be a review of one of those brands that I’m really excited to share about! (Click here to read it!)

 

My Favorites for February: Part 1

I don’t know about you, but I am happy to say goodbye to January and get going with the rest of 2021. This month has been a doozy for our family (Click here for our COVID experience)  and I’m pretty much ready for Spring. Heck, I’m already ready for summer for that matter (yesterday I was looking at summer pool memberships).  Anyone else?

I thought I would create this post with a bit of a life-update and also share my current favorites, becuase it’s been awhile since I’ve done a “Friday Favorites” post. These are some of my favorite posts to write (although they take forever) because, minimalist or not, I still really love sharing favorite products with my followers!

Thank you for shopping through my links! Some of them are affiliate links, so I might get a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Family Addition
My first favorite may be a surprise (it certainly surprises me) but we have had such an incredible experience with our Bernedoodle, Elphie! I didn’t know much about the breed but she has exceeded our expectations. She is really calm and mellow for a doodle and she sheds less than me….really! She is just really sweet and the perfect addition to our family. We brought her home last March and it has made our year so much more joyful. The kids adore her! I’m so glad we got to surprise them with a puppy. Here are some of my recs for puppy essentials!


Kitchen Stuff
This year we haven’t added much to our kitchen which totally makes me happy! However, we have had our Air Fryer/Toaster Oven combo for a year now and really love it. The best part about it was that it replaced our microwave and does SO much more than a microwave ever could. I honestly haven’t even scratched the surface of what it can do, but I love the convenience and speed. You also aren’t heating up the whole kitchen!

Another nice upgrade from this year, is switching to Duralex Picardie for all of our glassware. I love these glasses! None of them have chipped or cracked and we are pretty rough on them. They feel great in your hand, can handle hot beverages, are dishwasher and microwave safe and best of all are LEAD FREE! Here’s my video review for more specifics. Did I mention they are stackable?

Early this year my coffeemaker died and we replaced it with this Cuisinart 14 Cup Brew Central , I’ve been really happy with it. We got ours from Costco, but there are similar models on Amazon. One of the features I was looking for (and couldn’t seem to find) was the ability to set the coffeemaker ahead of time but TURN OFF the beep function because it kept waking up my son! This is the only coffeemaker I have found where you can turn off the sound. It also makes good coffee and has all the features I wanted (programmable, large capacity, auto shut off) and looks great on our cart.

The last kitchen item we added was this Trinity Kitchen Cart that we made into a beverage station, also from Costco (have I mentioned how much we love Costco). Our exact cart seems to be OOS, but here is a similar model from Amazon.  We have still loved our Alexapure water filter and recently replaced the filters with Berkey brand replacements. I’m happy to share that they work perfectly, so this was a more affordable way for us to get Berkey-quality water at a discounted price! (When I bought my Alexapure, it was about $100 on Amazon. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it discounted recently).


I can’t wrap up the kitchen topic without mentioning some of the things I *still* love even after owning them for years! My Instant Pots still get used nearly daily! If you haven’t quite gotten into using yours, just push through the intimidation and I really think you will love it!

I guess the next category is one that gets used in our kitchen a ton also, so it’s time to talk about…

Cleaning

It’s been awesome to have a cleaning product I can trust without worrying about toxins, respiratory risk, or low stock. I still use Force of Nature all over my home and I absolutely love it. I also use it in my preschool classroom. Right now, you can save BIG on Force of Nature’s Extra Value Bundle, just click here and use coupon code BUNDLEUP30.

Along with Force of Nature, I absolutely love ecloth for all of my cleaning ALL over my home. Here’s my video review where I talk about some of my favorite ecloth products. This is probably a whole post on its own, but some of my favorite items are the Home Cleaning Set, the Mini Mop,  the Cleaning Pad, the Kitchen Dynamo, and the Window Genie. 

Finally, I have upgraded my spray bottles to these Flairosol bottles and I LOVE them. They spray a nice even light mist and they look so much nicer than any I have owned in the past. The mist is so fine that I really don’t have to wipe up the droplets which is nice for disinfecting with Force of Nature.

 

It’s nice to NEVER have to pick up cleaning items at the store, because the above items cover all of our cleaning needs!

Closet

This year has been my first year to try Stitch Fix. I’ve really had fun with it and found some pieces I really love! I signed up for the Style Pass, so I don’t have to pay for my boxes for the rest of the year and I have racked up tons of referral credit which means FREE CLOTHES. If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix for the first time, my friend has a $75 credit that should work for another day or so. If you want to check out some of the clothes I’ve gotten from Stitch Fix, I have a playlist on my channel with some of my unboxings + try ons. Of course, thrifting is still my main jam, so if you are interested in some of my Thrifted Finds, click here!Oh yes, and if you haven’t checked out my post on the Magical Barefoot Dreams Knock-off sweaters, I wear them ALL the time. SOOO COMFY and comfy is my holy grail when it comes to clothing.

Shoes
Not much to share here, but I still wear Fitflops 90% of the time, unless I am home when I wear Oofos clogs (too ugly for the real world). This combo seems to be the best for my picky feet. When I am cold or going out in the cold, I still wear my Uggs. No one can stop me. I don’t care.

Purse
I never thought I would stick with one brand and style of Purse, but here I am years later, still wearing my Sash bags every day, every where. I haven’t looked at any other purse since I first tried them, I could not possibly love them more. This is one of my favorite products of all time, so if you haven’t checked out the Sash Bag, you are missing out, for real. Want more details? Check out this video review or this one!

Makeup & Hair

When I started watching my own YouTube channel, I realized it was time to get some new Makeup. I’ve kept my collection pretty minimal, but I have found a few new products that I have LOVED.

I found a whole line of minimal makeup called Subtl Beauty. It’s really amazing and I absolutely love the design of it, so easy to travel or grab and go. The quality is excellent and it blends beautifully!

The rest of the time, I still wear Bare Minerals because it’s just so dang easy for someone who isn’t necessarily gifted at applying makeup (I’m just not interested in spending more than a couple minutes on my face).

This year’s favorite lip gloss is this natural shade by Pacifica.

I‘m really excited to have found a mascara that doesn’t irritate my EXTREMELY sensitive eyes, and that is Physicians Formula Organic Wear Natural Origin Mascara. The coverage is just ok, but my eyes can tolerate it, so that’s a win!

For hair, I’ve become completely obsessed with the Revlon One Step Dryer & Volumizer. I only wash my hair about once a week, then let it mostly air dry, then dry it with the Revlon Dryer. I love it so much I got rid of my regular hair dryer! The rest of the week, I just style it with a little bit of Batiste Dry Shampoo (this is basically my only toxic indulgence at this point…if you have a natural alternative please let me know. Not cocoa powder with cornstarch. Nuh uh.). Also, my friend introduced me to Large Hairpins (weird that these make me happy but they are SO much easier and more comfortable), so that’s what I use for styling my hair up.

Looks like this is going to be followed up with Part 2, because I’m not done sharing my favorites!

 

Cook Once Eat All Week Cookbook Review: Week One!

 

This post was created using Amazon Affiliate links. I appreciate every click as it helps to make my work-from-home dream a reality (at no extra cost to you). So, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

A week ago, I could’ve sworn I would never buy another cookbook again. After 17 years of cooking, I’ve streamlined my recipe collection, simplified my routine, and gotten into a reasonable grove. My problem is, I am super disorganized and still haven’t figured out a great meal-planning method! And, even more frustrating, it’s so hard to manage the perishables and I absolutely hate when food is wasted due to my disorganized cooking style. So I enjoy cooking, but I find kitchen-management rather stressful and exhausting.

So when I heard about this cookbook, Cook Once Eat All Week, I thought it was too good to be true. It contains 26 weeks of recipes including organized grocery lists and utilizes the same major ingredients for each week, plus it is Instant Pot-friendly, Gluten Free, and adaptable for paleo, dairy-free, and low-carb…..doesn’t that sound unbelievable???

Although I could have sworn I would never purchase another cookbook, I ordered this one from Amazon the first day I heard about it (shout out to the Minimal Mom, whose vidoes are absolutely always helpful).

This was my first week using the cookbook, so I don’t have a ton of feedback yet, but I wanted to go ahead and create this review so that I could share photos and feedback on the meals as we eat them. First of all, here’s a peek at a couple pages to show you how it is laid out.
I realy love the minimalist illustrations. It’s extremely straight forward and contains detailed step-by-step instructions for each part of cooking. I actually think the layout will be great for my teens who have a lot of basic cooking skills and are great at following recipes. This book is really not about batch cooking and reheating, but about shopping and prepping ahead for several meals at a time. Which is totally what I was hoping it would be!



Week One Prep

Week one prep involved cooking and shredding chicken, cooking bacon, chopping various veggies and ricing broccoli. A few notes from our experience. I would have gotten very tired of this process without my instant pot. Cooking the chicken and rice was a breeze and if you do not have an Instant Pot, I cannot rave enough. You won’t regret it!

In addition, I do not have a food processor, so I was ricing my broccoli in tiny batches in my teeny-tiny food chopper, which was not ideal. I’ll check the necessary tools in the future before I jump into prepping! This doesn’t seem to be a batch cooking and reheating book at all, so I’m very happy about that. Instead you are planning and prepping for three unique recipes per week, and then doing the last few (quick) steps when it’s time to cook and serve.

Meal One: BBQ Broccoli & Rice
Last night’s meal was a success. My husband didn’t love it but he ate it. The rest of the family really liked it. I think he was less of a fan because the BBQ sauce I chose was a little on the sweeter side than he prefers. Next time, I’ll go with a milder sauce and maybe he can spice his up on his plate to taste. It was amazing to me how much broccoli was packed into this dish, so I was really happy with the health quotient of this meal.

I am (like I have said) kind of a messy cook and tend to measure less often than advised. So I’m not sure what happened here, probably from years of doubling subconsciously, I ended up with a massive amount of this dish. I may or may not run out of chicken and rice for the next two meals! I’m not too worried about the other two dishes, because I’m sure they can be adapted. I just find it tiresome to measure, but apparently I’m terrible at guessing.

I really wanted to learn some new healthy cooking techniques so I am excited that I now know how to rice broccoli (and am seriously considering investing in a food processor). Also, I am thrilled to have learned to shred my chicken with a hand mixer. I know lots of people like to use their stand mixer for shredding chicken, but I didn’t realize the hand mixer would work. It turns out, it was incredibly easy and quick. I will absolutely utilize this method in the future!

Meal 2: White Chicken Chili

This was easy to throw together with all of the prep done ahead of time. I’ve never made White Chili but I will absolutely make this recipe again. I loved the savory bacon, beans, and chicken but it was the fresh cilantro, lime, avocado, and green onions on top that really made this recipe cravable. It wasn’t as spicy as expected but we added some lime cilantro hot sauce for those who wanted a little extra kick. My husband loved this soup, in contrast to recipe 1 which wasn’t his favorite. Everyone enjoyed it! Recipe 1 and Recipe 2 felt totally different and really didn’t feel like a repeat at all; so far, so good!

Meal 3: Chicken & Broccoli Fried Rice

This meal was also quite easy to put together which was great because I walked into the house about 5:15. Everyone ate it but it was not the hit that the soup was and was probably my least favorite of the three meals this week. However, it could certainly be easily tweaked to taste and throwing leftovers into a stir fry is definitely right up my alley, cooking style-wise. So I think this week is certainly repeatedable because it’s got a lot of flexibility.

I’ll continue to update this post as I work my way through the Cook Once Eat All Week Cookbook. Let me know if you have tried it!

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Holiday Deals on Amazon!

Thank you so much for shopping through my affiliate links. I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

I’m loving Amazon’s latest Epic Daily Deal pages! There are some pretty great prices and some awesome gift ideas popping up each day! Today’s batch is totally tempting for every member of the family.

Ultimate Mom gift (at least in my mind) , the iRobot Roomba i6+ (6550) $599.99 today only!
Thanks for shopping through my affiliate links!

I’ve never really gotten into bread making, but this looks like the way to do it!
Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic $49.99 today. This thing does EVERYTHING. #affiliatelink

And……the Ultimate Guy Gift, Kamado Joe KJ23RHC Classic II Charcoal Grill, 18 inch, Blaze Red!
This is pricey but I can’t help imagining all the cooking I WOULDN’T have to do with this baby!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf (my kids love this one) is only $16.99. 

Finally, save up to 40% off Fisher-Price toys!

This Fisher-Price Little People Nativity is only $17.99 and it is SO PRECIOUS! (These kinds of things make me sad my kids are so big now).

The Revlon One Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer is only $29.39 right now. This is one of my favorite items! 

Thanks for shopping with me! Let me know what items are on your Christmas list and I’ll keep my eyes open for deals!

25% off E-cloth entire site! Clean with Water!

Head’s up, ya’ll! E-cloth is doing a 25% off their WHOLE SITE right now. I’m so glad I have already stocked up or I would really be breaking my No-Shop November. ? (Want to hear about my No Shop November Challenge? Click here).
If you haven’t tried the e-magic, this would be a great time to jump in. Let me know if you’d like any recommendations. Thank you for shopping through my affiliate link; if you make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What makes e-cloth special? Well, to put it frankly, it’s the magic of Norwex without the mess of multi-level marketing at a fraction of the price. And it works wonderfully, holds up beautifully, without any fussy laundry routines or special soaps to keep it going. If you want to learn more, click here for my review! 

Stitch Fix Review, Tips, and Coupon Code!

I was excited to try Stitch Fix for the first time a few months ago when a friend passed along an awesome $75 credit. It seems like that kind of discount is fairly rare (and they expire quickly), so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to try an online Stylist.

Want to try Stitch Fix? Here’s a $25 credit to get you started! It will give me $25 too, so thanks in advance for helping me earn free clothes!

I have received two boxes so far, and for the most part I have really been impressed with them. Of the 10 items I’ve received, everything has been something that fits well, flatters me, and is a style I like and would choose for myself (keep in mind that one was a necklace, as I discuss in my video).

Click here for my video review of my recent box, along with tips on getting clothes you love from Stitch Fix!

In my first Stitch Fix box, I received a dress, a cardigan, a necklace, jeans and a jean jacket. I liked every single item in the box. I decided the jean jacket and the cardigan were too similar to items in my closet and I didn’t really need any jewelry, so I kept the jeans and the dress. I really love both of those items and was amazed at how great they fit me!

For my second box, I received a pair of herringbone jeggings, a floral swing tank, a purple tank, a long kimono, and a cap sleeve mixed media floral shirt. I liked all of the items but decided to stick with keeping only the pants and the mixed media floral shirt. If I really needed to build a wardrobe, I would probably have kept 4/5 or even all 5 pieces. Since I am really just looking for a few boosts to my closet, I chose the two items that I liked the very best from the bunch, shown in the top photo on this post!

I’m including photos of the other items I was sent. I really did like everything! Another fun thing about Stitch Fix is that now you can order different colors in the items that you end up loving. I’m considering ordering another dress like the one I received because it fit me really well.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Your Future Self & Travel

When I first heard the phrase “take care of your future self” I thought it was a little strange. I had never thought about self-care in that context. (And honestly, the whole self-care thing gets a little old). However, I have found this idea extremely helpful as I plan out my schedule and work towards simplicity. A little work now takes away stress in the future, and I need all the help I can get with my future stress!

A great example of how this has worked for my family is when we travel. Can you imagine the luxury of having a maid or butler to take care of your home while you are away? This idea is so far removed from my life situation, that it truly is a great reach….however I do have a good imagination!

Picture arriving home after traveling. Whether you were traveling for business or pleasure, chances are you are coming home at least a little tired, right? Imagine walking through the front door and being greeted by freshly scented air, vacuumed floors, fresh towels and sheets, and everything neat as a pin? It would literally be a breath of fresh air right?

This might sound a little unrealistic. Travel is after all a frantically busy time for most families. No matter how hard you plan ahead, there always seem to be last minute details to take care of. But if you can work one hour of time into your schedule to take care of your pre-travel reset, you will find the rewards will be incredibly enjoyable and well worth the time and effort. If you can get your home into a routine of neat and clean, then the following steps truly will be quick and easy to take, leaving you with a beautiful clean space to come home to!

Remember, as I’ve said so many times, organization and cleaning are really not something that come easy for me. Believe me! I have to put a lot of effort in which is why I know that you can do this too. If this isn’t something you can manage yet, it might be that you still need to pare down the stuff to make your job easier. Click here for some of my other posts on Minimalism! 

The best way to tackle this Pre-Travel Reset is after you’ve packed your car, one hour before you plan to leave.

One Hour Pre-Travel Reset!

  • Kitchen:

    1) Quick fridge clean out. This is just a chance to quickly throw out food that won’t last and maybe wipe down the shelves quickly. Also deal with produce & baked goods. For example this week before leaving, I tossed some bagels into the freezer and threw away a couple of stale pieces of bread. One lone banana also got the chop.
    (5 minutes)

    2) Quick Clean up. Wipe down all the counters, rinse coffee pot (don’t forget to toss the old grounds…..they will mold if left behind!). I’m not including dishes in this reset because hopefully you’ve gotten in the habit of taking care of these after each meal!
    (5 minutes)

  • Trash: This really doesn’t need any clarity, right? Don’t forget to gather trash from all over the house and put it in the dumpster so that you won’t be greeted with any unpleasant odors when you return home!
    (5 minutes)
  • Plants: If you have any house plants, you definitely want to water them before you take off. If you have difficulty keeping houseplants alive, I totally recommend  these self-watering planters! They have made plant care possible for me.
    (5 minutes)
  • Vacuum: Quickly vacuum all the rooms. It might seem like a huge pain right now, but when you walk back through those doors you will be LOVING it. It’s so worth the effort, believe me.
    (10 minutes)

  • Surfaces: I don’t take time to do any scrubbing or serious cleaning (we’re on the clock, here). However, I do spritz Force of Nature Cleaner on all my counters, sinks and showers before leaving. This means that everything has been sanitized and any hard-core stains gets a nice long soak while I’m gone. Killing germs while you are traveling seems like a great plan to me.
    (5 minutes)
  • Towels. Put out fresh towels in the kitchen and bathroom. You’ll feel like you’re walking into a posh hotel room that’s ready for relaxation and rest!
    (5 minutes)
  • Diffuse. If you are into Essential Oils (and in my opinion, you should be) add some oils to your diffuser and set it on intermittent so that your house will be getting some lovely aromatherapy while you are away. It will kill germs and keep things smelling lovely. 9 times out of 10 I’ll choose Relax by Plant Therapy but another great option for killing germs is Germ Destroyer.  Both are Kid-Safe!
    (5 minutes)
  • Details. Make one last walk-through and close closet doors and dresser drawers, open all the bedroom doors, make the beds and neaten up throw pillows.  Check the thermostat. Turn off lights and leave on a couple of lamps. Be sure none of the toilets are running or faucets are dripping!
    (5 minutes)
Total minutes: 50 (let’s say with any minor distractions you still come in under an hour).

Have an awesome trip and enjoy the knowledge that a clean home is ready and waiting for your return!

BAREFOOT DREAMS KNOCK-OFF CARDIGAN 2020 Update

This post contains amazon referral links for your convenience.

WAIT? There is an EVEN NEWER 2020 Update to this post! That’s right, click here for the latest and NEW pics!

The Barefoot Dreams Knock-off Cardigan has been one of my most popular posts, which is why I’m super excited to update it!  I have had three of these cardigans since last year and wear them all the time! In my opinion, these are an excellent dupe for the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan and I would definitely consider them a wardrobe must-have. Click here to check out this awesome copycat Cardigan by Max & Mia. 

Interested in another awesome budget topper? Click here for more World’s Best Jean Jacket post!

A couple years ago, I read about the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan from a blog. They are pretty pricey (click here for the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan) but I was able to hunt down a gently used one on Ebay and I absolutely loved it. Until I ruined it in an unfortunate laundry disaster (not my first one, either). So sad.

Ever since then, I had been watching for a deal on the real thing, but it was just really out of my budget (although having owned one, I do kind of think they are worth it). I had recently even been googling “Barefoot Dreams knock-off cardigan” hoping to find something similar at a lower price point. I never got lucky enough to find it, but this week I stumbled across exactly what I was looking for completely by accident!

The newest version of the Barefoot Dreams Cardigan is the Circle Cardi and I found a very similar knock-off for only $25! I couldn’t believe how similar they are! Check out the two stock photos; they are identical!

Last year, I found a Costco version, the Max & Mia Travel Cardigan but it sold out pretty quickly. It’s no longer available at Costco but it’s now sold on Amazon! YES!!! Click here for the Max & Mia Travel Cardigan starting at $38.99. 

I have had three of these cardigans for a year and I absolutely love them!  I do feel that the sizing is a little inconsistent across the colors. The black runs a little small and I would recommend sizing up to get the fit that is shown on the model. I ordered the Medium Size in black and here are photos of me wearing it. For reference I’m 5’6″ and 150 lbs. Yes I just shared my real weight on my blog. Seems like a mistake, but we’ll go with it for now. I think I would like to try a large but unfortunately they are out of stock at this moment. Hopefully they will restock because this is a newer item and I’m sure it will be very popular.

The only difference I want to point out is that the Costco cardigan is recommended to be hand wash rather than machine wash. That’s kind of a bummer, if you ask me, but not a deal breaker. I will most likely just wash it cold gentle and lay flat to dry. Indeed, I did machine wash these cardigans and hang dry and they seem to be holding up just fine!

Here’s a pic so you can see how long it is in the back. I would prefer a little more length, I think. The sleeves are also pretty tight but I believe that is similar to the Barefoot Dreams cardigan and they aren’t too bad for me. It wouldn’t work for layering over a thicker shirt. I hope this was helpful for you! If you happen to have a Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardi or the Max & Mia Cardigan please let us know what you think!

Awesome Find: Hybrid Planner!

Leave it to me to find the perfect planner in the middle of February when everyone has already purchased their calendars and books for 2019!

I had been looking for a new planner for awhile. For the last couple years I have been using the Happy Planner plus my bullet journal, but I really was only utilizing the calendar piece of the Happy Planner. I thought about refilling it, but the options were really overwhelming and I was still hoping to find a book that would combine my calendar and bullet journal without me having to jump through a lot of artistic hoops.

I’m creative when the need arises, but I am not naturally artistic and I don’t have any interest in making my planner pretty. For me, it’s just utilitarian and the main function is keeping my anxiety under control. Brain dumps help me stay on top of the crazy in my head while accomplishing at least a few of the tasks that are hanging over me! Which is why I love my bullet journal. If you aren’t totally sure what a bullet journal is, here’s a post I wrote on the topic.

After some fruitless searching, I finally came across this little gem that seemed to meet most of my criteria: undated calendar, undated weekly layouts, empty pages in the back, pen holder, bookmarks, stitched cover so it will lay flat. This will solve my problem of combining my calendar with my bullet journal lists in the back!

Now that I’ve handled and tried the Perfect Planner by Bullet Keeper, I’m super happy with all of its features! It’s smaller than my previous planners so it will be a little less bulky to carry around.

One last feature: I am happy to relay that the pages in the Perfect Planner are quite thick and the ink does not bleed through using my Papermate Flair pens!

Awesome right? If you are interested in seeing a video of the book in person, I will be doing a review on my Facebook page later today and will post on youtube for anyone who is interested!

✔ STRUCTURE YOUR LIFE, YOUR WAY! This personal organizer features flexible structures that allow you to keep track of daily tasks. Use it as a planner, organizer, academic agenda or note pad.

✔ UNDATED DAILY, WEEKLY, MONTHLY CALENDARS. This planner is a fit for daily and long-term goal setting and tracking

✔ VEGAN LEATHER HARDCOVER. Luxury and stylish thanks to its leather hardcover soft to the touch. We’ve sourced the materials meticulously to make sure the cover is eco-friendly and long-lasting.

✔ ELASTIC CLOSURE & PEN HOLDER LOOP. This compact A5 notebook planner comes with an elastic band closure and pen holder loop on the side.

✔ BONUS FEATURES! To assist with organizing bringing productivity to your life. We’ve included some additional items: a 6” ruler, 2 bookmarks and a back pocket along with 2019-20 calendars for reference on the back page.

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