Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's For Dinner? | Italian Turkey Sausage Soup with Garlic Parmesan Croutons

A quick and hearty Italian sausage soup loaded with vegetables and served up with cheesy garlic croutons! Perfect for dipping into your soup. NOM NOM!
Oh the weather outside is frightful. But this hearty soup is so delightful.  (See what I did there?)
But seriously, folks. Although we don't get snow, it has been chilly and rainy. Perfect weather for comfort foods and soups. So I decided to whip up a flavorful soup to warm the tummy.

As this was simmering, my entire house smelled like Tuscany... and my belly was growling something fierce. Good thing this meal doesn't take long to whip up!

Eating soup makes me want to curl up in a blankie. It is the just right, make-you-feel-good meal that I would happily eat every chance I get.
Turkey Italian sausage is one of my personal favorites. We don't eat pork in our home and this sausage has just the right amount of seasonings to add a little excitement to any dish I use it in. By adding a little spice, your tastebuds will be kicked into a wild ride that take it from subtle sweet to a little bit sassy and spicy. Just like it does in this soup. Mmm mmm good!
I made this soup on the stovetop. It was super quick and easy. Taking just about an hour from prep to finish, we were ready to set the table and chow down in no time.

And then there are the croutons. I have three words... OH EM GEE! Just four simple ingredients. Slice a french baguette, spread with butter, sprinkle with garlic salt and top with shredded parmesan. Not your average garlic toast, the butter finds its way into the nooks and crannies on the bread. Together the butter, garlic and parmesan melt into a cheesy goodness that take just minutes to whip together. SOOOO GOOD!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Click this downloadable recipe card and enjoy! xoxo

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Capsule Wardrobe Project

Have you ever opened your closet, looked inside and then instantly felt depressed over the fact that you have nothing to wear? I mean, you could wear those cool black and brown oxfords you just got but you aren't sure you like how they fit (but they're like, totally in. and you wanted to still be cool) and you don't have a good outfit to go with them. Or you could wear that cute blouse you've had forever but you aren't fan of the length and the fabric is a little itchy. What actually ends up happening is you throw on your usual skinny jeans and plain t-shirt and call it a day. And then, if you are like me, you curse yourself for not wearing your other clothes more often.

This is the story of my life. Up until I read the No Brainer Wardrobe, I had a closet full of things that I really love in theory but then never end up wearing because I don't have pieces that fit with them in a way I'm comfortable with. Or I buy things that I kind of like, or are just ok simply because they're on sale and I feel like I don't have anything in my closet already. BOO!

I'm so over it dot com. My friend Sherries and I have been discussing the idea of a capsule wardrobe. Basically, it's a limited number of basic essentials, usually between 25-40 pieces, (including bottoms, tops, dresses, jackets, shoes) that you mix and match together and wear for an entire season. When the next season begins, you pack up your current season and get the new one out of storage, carrying some items over that can be transitioned. The goal is to have 4 solid "capsule wardrobes" that you can open up and wear each season, replacing 3-4 items each season as you need to.

What is the appeal of this to me? I love the simplicity of it and the idea that you have a closet full of things to wear just by having less. I like the thought of having a closet full of clothes I love rather than mediocre pieces that I bought without a real purpose in mind.

In light of this new discovery, I decided to create a completely new wardrobe for myself. I got rid of every item that I wasn't crazy about. I packed away specialty items, like my sequin party dress. I also stored away my summer clothes and will go through the process curating that at the end of next spring.

Right now this is the plan:

15 TOPS:
+ 1 white graphic tee (already own)
+ 1 white long sleeve tee (need to purchase) - Old Navy
+ 1 ivory circle top (need to purchase) - Urban Outfitters
+ 1 ivory cable knit cardigan (need to purchase) Urban Outfitters
+ 1 light heather grey boyfriend cardigan (need to purchase) - Old Navy
+ 1 grey long sleeve thermal (need to purchase) - Old Navy
+ 1 grey lightweight waterfall cardigan (already own)
+ 1 heather grey "Adore" crew neck sweater (need to purchase) - Old Navy
+ 1 charcoal zipper cardigan (need to purchase) - Old Navy
+ 1 black graphic tee (need to purchase)
+ 1 black mesh detail sleeveless top (thanks to Stitch Fix)
+ 1 striped long sleeve tee (need to purchase) - Urban Outfitters
+ 1 chambray button up (already own)
+ 1 navy maxi cardigan (need to purchase) Urban Outfitters
+ 1 red and black buffalo check shirt (need to purchase) - Old Navy
+ 1 plaid flannel (need to purchase)

+ 1 pair of destroyed skinny jeans (already own)
+ 1 pair distressed boyfriend jeans (need to purchase) - Asos
+ 1 pair black distressed skinny jeans (need to purchase) - Asos
+ 1 pair of black ponte skinny jeans (already own)
+ 1 pair of black zippered skinny pants (already own)
+ 1 pair black faux leather leggings (need to purchase) - Asos

+ 1 dark heather grey short sleeve dress (thanks to Stitch Fix!)
+ 1 black skater dress with short sleeves (Urban Outfitters)

+ 1 black blazer (already own)
+ 1 vintage brown leather jacket (already own)
+ 1 green hooded cargo jacket (need to purchase) - Asos

+ black booties (need to purchase) - Zappos
+ brown booties (need to purchase) - Zappos
+ grey Vans hi tops (need to purchase) - Zappos
+ black Chucks (already own)
+ Ralph Lauren neutral python ballet flats
+ black BCBG strappy heels
+ tan nubuck Timberland boots
+ black moccasin booties (need to purchase) - Zappos

35 items total

As you can see, I don't have to buy a ton of stuff. I am hoping to pick up some of items through Stitch Fix. The rest are easy to find through local stores and online. I'm not counting my work out clothes or undergarments, which I also went through. I know I have a lot of shoes but I just really love all of them and I believe shoes can make or break your outfit. What I'm lacking are basics.

Now what to do? I need to ramp up my shoe game because I have mostly sandals right now and that is no bueno for the chilly weather.

Because I am on a journey and starting from scratch, I decided to focus on building this capsule wardrobe in time for Spring.

The craziest thing happened after I decided to do this; I looked inside my closet and I immediately felt like I had a lot to wear and a good game plan. You would think with more choices in a jam-packed closet you'd feel you had more to wear and by taking everything out I'd feel the exact opposite. I've gotten rid of all of the background noise, and see only the things I truly love. I'm really excited for this new journey in my own style. I'm hoping that by finding and creating a small collection of pieces I love that I'll spend less time deciding what to wear and less time hating what I'm wearing.

The first step of this little experience has been completely eye opening. I honestly believe EVERYONE could benefit from at least the very first step: taking every thing out of your closet and with a very critical and honest mind, only put back the things you really love.

 What do you think? Would you be willing to drastically reduce your wardrobe like this and create a small array of basics you can mix and match for an entire season?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving in Oakland 2014

This Thanksgiving my babygirl I had the opportunity to visit my one and only sister and nephew in Oakland. She moved there two years ago and I hadn't been up to see her. Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect time for a reunion at her place.

All that I have ever heard about Oakland has been filled with negativity. I seemed like a downright frightening place to visit. Just across the bay from it's affluent neighbor San Francisco, Oakland always seemed to be a cast off with it's violent reputation for rioting and crime. I learned that the media does a fantastic job of only showing the negative and not expounding on the positive at all.

My sister lives in a quaint area just a couple of blocks away from Lake Merritt. Filled with quaint shops and eateries, a local farmer's market, a botanical gardens and a gorgeous old school movie theater, I felt a strong sense of community and was right at home. Here are some of my favorite memories of our time there.

Photo credit: Tami Briggs and Tamia Dolley

The No Brainer Wardrobe

*DISCLAIMER: I am not being paid for this review. All opinions are my own.

Hi friends, I just came across something super exciting. It's this e-book called The No Brainer Wardobe. (insert cheers and yippees!)
There are so many things i love about The No Brainer Wardrobe. For  just $7.99 you can read and learn about how to discern and dress your specific body type. This makes me so happy. Especially since my body has changed a bit in the last 5 years and now that I am working out regularly, I can't fit some of the things I own. Many days I am super unhappy with my everyday clothing selection because of the limited selection I now have. I don't always know how to best mix and match things and I am horrible at accessorizing.

I am firm believer in still loving your shape and size, and dressing well even if you are not at your goal size or weight. Embrace your body and express yourself. In this book, Hayley will teach you how to better do just that. She walks us through our closets, purging them, growing them on a budget, discerning our own style, and so much more.
"It really is about realizing that looking perfect everyday isn't the aim. Looking good and put together, feeling proud and confident -- now that is what it's about." - The No Brainer Wardrobe
Three of my favorite things about The No Brainer Wardrobe are:

  1. Hayley teaches us how to build a look book. I LOVE this! I love her examples and I love the idea that I can look at a picture of myself and be like, "Oh yeah! I can wear this with that and I already know that I love how it looks". So often I forget how much I already have and the combinations I can create with my clothes. 
  2. How to dress for your body type. Um, yes please. And... 
  3. How to shop a thrift store. This really is an art. I used to do this all of the time. I was realyl good at it. But alas, it has been many year and I really need to get back into practice. There are so many amazing vintage thrift stores in Los Angeles. So I am learning to regain my confidence in this area, thanks to The No Brainer Wardrobe.

Here is an excerpt from the book description:
The No Brainer Wardrobe is a book to help women learn to love the clothes they have, lose the clothes they hate, and shop for items to fill the gaps. The book contains over 80 pages of content, including images outlining outfit selections, how to shop, and how to build a lookbook.
She has a lot of great tips for uncovering your style, working with your body type and creating outfits that look + feel great. The visuals in the book are a big help. Overall it is a great reference.

The hardest part of going through this process is the parting. You know, saying goodbye to the stuff I never wear for one reason or another but looks really good hanging in my closet. Because I am serious about turning my walk in closet into a boutique closet, I really need to ramp up my wardrobe game. I am really pleased that I decided to do this. YAY!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Stitchfix | Box 1

YAY! It came ! It came! My first StitchFix box arrived last week and I couldn't be more excited!

If you haven't heard of Stitchfix here are the deets:

1) Go the link, sign up and fill out all the info they ask for about your personal tastes, they will hook you up with a stylist who will send you a box with 5 items that they think will look great on you, based on what you tell them.
2) Pay a $20 styling fee which includes the box shipped to you and goes toward your purchase should you choose to keep anything in the box.
3) Get your box (which you can set up on auto for once a month or schedule them as you wish) and try on your items! You have 3 days to decide and there's a free shipping bag included to send back what you don't want.

Easy as 1-2-3!

Oh yeah, where were we? Clothes! YAY!!!!!
Now, you'll have to excuse my pics. I totally left my Canon Rebel at a friends house so until I get it back I am stuck taking pics with my iPhone. BOO!

In the box there are 5 things for you to try on. As you can see they even include with each item outfit suggestions/style cards, so you have some ideas on how to wear it all. They really know we need help, friends.

I really think my stylist Nancy did a great job of listening to my requests and viewing my Pinterest board because most of what she sent was right in line with what I asked for. I have a strange style of rocker girl meets bohemeian. I love black and greys and hardware. But I also love a flowy maxi dresses, silver and turquoise and a 1970s retro vibe. Seems to me that Nancy tapped right into my style. Here is what she selected for me:


I told Nancy that I love bold accessories but didn't have many and she sent me this. I actually fell in love with it immediately. I love statement necklaces. This one has the perfect balance of girly and rocker, which is totally my zoosh. It has a nice weight to it so it falls nicely on the neck. Much better quality than similar ones found at Charming Charlies or Forever 21.

VERDICT: Kept it!

When this first came out of the box, I was a bit excited. It was black and it had mesh! YAY for my inner rocker girl. I saw where another blogger mentioned that the fabric was low quality. But in actuality, it's a really nice crepe de chine. Maybe what that blogger meant is she didn't like that it was lightweight. I find it to be quite lovely and incredibly comfortable.

VERDICT: Kept it!

Once again, Nancy came through for me. I told her I owned two pair of completely destroyed jeans and really needed to replace them. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the buttery softness of these jeans. Loved the color and the distressed details. But I am a McShorty and these cropped jeans were more ankle on me. This could have been resolved by folding the hem. Also for these to be skinny jeans they were pretty loose in the legs and the other issue was the gap between the waist and the small of my back. I think this is more of a fit issue than anything. I totally need to adjust my sizes in my profile.

VERDICT: Sadly... sent back

This blouse is made really well and the fabric is high quality. A little heavier than the other, which makes it a nice sleeveless top under a blazer in cooler weather. However, I am not a fan of the cut of this blouse. It's boxy and I am not big on lace. Plus, as soon as babygirl saw me in this she said "Mom, it looks like an old lady... Ummm... yeah that would be a huge NO!" 

VERDICT: Sent back


When I first tried this one on, I was torn between liking it and hating it. It's super comfy and it fits well. But I wasn't sure if I liked that it had little form. Maybe with a pair of leggings and booties it could be adorbs. Love that it has pockets. Babygirl saw this one on me and immediately and excitedly nodded her head yes.

VERDICT: Kept it and will be wearing it in Oakland for Thanksgiving at my sister's place with a pair of leggings, a long sleeve thermal top underneath and booties.


I really want to take pics of myself with the items on but until I renovate my wardrobe a bit more and add more things, I will probably hold off on it. In the meantime, I decided to use my Stylebook App to style and showcase the items.

One of the things I love about Stitch Fix is that it introduces new brands to me that probably would have never come across. And I also love that my stylist sent both things that I love and things I may not have selected for myself but that I may end up liking. Both the dress and the statement necklace are things I probably wouldn't have picked up for myself but ended up liking.

Overall I really liked the experience. It is fun. Plus, I really liked the style suggestions. They were really helpful when I was trying to put things together with what I already had. I decided to ramp up my efforts to increase my wardrobe by having a new Stitch Fix box arrive every 2-3 weeks. Plus, it will be fun to have a package like this arrive at my door. You can schedule your boxes to come less frequently or manage your shipments by prompting for one only when you are ready. Gotta love having that option!

So what do you think? Which items do you like best on me?

Want to give StitchFix a try? There's nothing to lose, even if you only do it once, it's a super fun experience. GO HERE to read more and sign up!

(And a little FYI- this is totally not a sponsored post. I just really love the service/experience and want to share it with you all!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Stylebook App Review

*My post does not contain a referral link.  This post is not sponsored by Stylebook App and all opinions are my own.

DILEMMA: When it's time to go somewhere, I enter my closet and then stare at everything. Then I try on item after item in front of the mirror, mixing things up to see what looks best. This is such a time suck! There has to be an easier way! What's a girl to do?

SOLUTION: There is an app for that!

Enter Stylebook ($3.99), an iPhone app I’d read about and been too lazy to try. (Taking pictures of every piece of clothing I owned seemed exhausting.) But the inconvenience of cataloging my closet seemed less frustrating than the hours I spend trying to find an outfit, so I dug in my heels and got busy. As I began the painstaking process of photographing my clothing, I realized that I actually did have a definable style but I was also keeping things that I didn't love so much... for what? UGH! So I made a decision: if I couldn't motivate myself to photograph and catalog the item, it went in the donation pile.
Stylebook has over 90 features that helps you organize your clothes completely, including a virtual calendar, packing list, style stats and inspiration. The first step is to add all your clothes to the app. This can get quite tedious and may take a while if your wardrobe is large, but it's a one-time thing. And besides, who says you have to do it all at once? I preferred to get it out of the way and just took an afternoon one Saturday and made it happen. After you're done, you can just add new clothes as you buy them. (I have some tips for this stage at the end of the post.)
The app has different categories: Closet, Looks, Inspiration, Calendar, etc. You take pictures and sort them into the different Categories/Sub-Categories. You can also search for them on your favorite shopping sites, right within the app. You can add or remove Categories and Sub-Categories to fit your needs. For example, I've added sub-categories under Tops for tanks, long sleeves and short sleeves.
From your closet you can then create various looks, very similar to Polyvore. You can then add the look to a calendar. Admittedly, this is one of my FAVORITE parts.

The calendar allows you to keep track of what you've worn and when. These looks can be added to the calendar so you can see exactly how often you are wearing one item of clothing, or exactly what you wore on x day. Another part of this app called 'style stats' allows you to see what you wear the most, what you've never wore, what clothing was the best value and more. And you can see if you frequently repeat certain items. I'm the type of person that prefers not to wear the same combination of items very often, so this is great for helping me pace out when I will wear a certain outfit again and in what situation I want to be seen in it.

You can shop or save items to a wish list from your favorite sites (all powered by ShopStyle).

Two of my other FAVORITE things about this App is that you can:

1) Add information about your closet item, including size, color, brand and price and
2) See your Cost Per Wear for your item! Oh I love that part.

There is also a packing list feature in this app. This allows you to add looks and items of clothing to trips which can really help with packing! This is perfect to aid with minimal packing. YAY! I travel often and I notoriously over pack!

You simply tap the “packing” icon and you’ll find four lists — New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London — though you can create your own by tapping “+ packing list.” To use a list, open it, tap “+clothing” or “+look,” and begin adding items from your virtual closet, which is divided into categories  (like tops, bottoms, shoes, bags) as well as types of looks (work, evening, formal, vacation). I prefer to use the “looks” section, because it allows me to group my clothes and accessories into outfits, creating combinations that save space in my bag yet allow me to still look great on my trip.

Could I do this by laying clothes out on my bed and trying them on? Obviously. But the app enables me to do so on the subway or when I'm waiting for the TV commercial breaks to end on Shonda Rhimes night. I can share my edits with friends and see clothes that may otherwise be hidden in my closet or storage without pulling them off hangers and shelves.

I have been adding items each time I make a purchase. I usually try to save the stock photo of every item I purchase. Then I'll add the details for each item. I know that my CPW will be lower than is shown because I have some items that I've worn in the past but won't be able to account for on the Calendar. But being able to keep track of that now is so awesome!

I really love this app. I have it on my iPad and iPhone; I mostly use it on iPad simply because of the bigger screen. The 'wifi accept' feature allows you to transfer items of clothing between devices so you can use more than one device, however I think having an online account and wireless and automatic syncing would be a more efficient way of doing this.

Overall I would say this is a really great app and definitely worth having. The only improvement I think this app could benefit from is better syncing, but other than that its near perfect! The features of this app are great and there are no similar apps of the same quality. Fantastic app, easy to use and nice design.

Tips for adding clothes on the app:

+ Find basics in the shop section of the app, as the photos will be better and it's easier to add them in. I added jeans, t-shirts, tanks and other basic clothes this way.

+ When photographing your own clothes, use a better quality camera if you can, then import the photos to your device because your clothes will look better. Use good lighting.

+ Use a contrasting background to your clothes so adding them is quicker as the background is removed instantly.

+ If you have an iPad, use this when adding clothes because it's so much easier with a bigger screen!

+ For new clothes, try and find a picture online and import that. Polyvore.com can be useful for this.

I have been looking for something like this for a while. I can't believe it took me so long to find but YAY! Stylebook is my new bestie!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

(Stitch) Fix My Wardrobe, Please!

*DISCLAIMER: I was not compensated to give this review. All opinions are my own.

It all started one day whilst socializing on Facebook when my friend and colleague Sasha posted about receiving Stitch Fix. At first I was all “Nope! That is totally not for me!” because while the idea of a box of clothes hand picked for you by a personal stylist arriving on my doorstep felt very glamorous and fun, I am a bit of a control freak. And by “a bit” I mean, MAJOR CONTROL FREAK ACTION.

Anyhow, I had seen others post about Stitch Fix and kept seeing cute outfits being shared by my peeps so I bit the bullet and decided to just be adventurous, darn it.
The way Stitch Fix works is that you fill out a pretty extensive online style profile. You can also link up your Pinterest board and other social media accounts so they can get a good idea of your personal style. Then they send you a box of clothes handpicked for you. You can keep what you like and send back what you don’t.

I tend to only pin for business, so creating a Pinterest style board just for me was new to me and totally fun!

On the list of my home design projects (that is taking me FOREVER to work through) is to transform my walk in closet into a closet boutique. A place where I can curate my favorite clothing items, dress and primp in fabulous style. But I have to be honest... although I have some really cool things in my wardrobe, there isn't much to choose from. I don't enjoy browsing through stores as much as I used to so I was looking for a way to add cool items to my closet without dealing with the stress of shopping for hours on end.

Then I came across this book, The No Brainer Wardrobe. Since reading this book, I've been in the process of re-working my closet. My goal is a diverse wardrobe that I can mix and match easily with a good array of things for a variety of occasions. So when I completed my Stitch Fix style profile, I was pretty detailed in specifying my likes, dislikes and needs to them.
It costs $20 to be styled (free shipping!) with Stitch Fix and then that goes towards whatever you keep. Stay tuned because I plan to share the goods as soon as they arrive!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

DIY Juice Cleanse: Day 2 Thoughts

Just started reading? Check out my first 3 Day DIY Juice Cleanse post and Day 1 recap.

* Having gone to bed with a massive headache at 9:30pm, I slept horribly. Upon waking I my headache was still going full force.

*Mother Nature paid me a visit a week early. (Ladies, you know what I am talking about). Pretty sure this contributed to my body going all out of whack. This was unexpected and certainly this is not a good time to juice.

*MISSION FAIL: I have done everything short of cutting out my eyeballs and the headache persisted into the night. I decided to halt the juicing until my body levels out.

*Still, the juices were delicious. I will return tomorrow to share recipes and pics and final thoughts.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

DIY Juice Cleanse: Day 1 Thoughts

Just started reading? Check out my first 3 Day DIY Juice Cleanse post.

* Having juiced the night before, I woke up really excited to get started! Most mornings I’m not hungry until around 9 or 10am, but my stomach was actually growling by 8am. I started to worry that I was going to be hungry all day…and then I gulped down my first juice. There is an insane amount of produce that goes into each juice recipe, probably more than a lot of people eat in an entire day. It tasted bright and sunshine-y (if that makes sense). I actually enjoyed it a lot and felt more energized with every sip.

 * I had my first feeling of slight dread last night when I was washing the juicer after creating drink #1, Glow. Am I really going to have to do this five more times tonight and every night for the next couple of nights? Yes, yes I am. Washing the juicer after each juice flavor and repeating it again the next evening is a mini job in itself. If I had to get up and leave to work in an office or studio, I’d definitely need to schedule this for the weekend. And if my work-from-home schedule were super busy with lots of conference calls, this would be tricky. Thankfully my busy season is winding down!

* I feel a little weird. I’m not hungry, but my stomach also feels kind of empty? It’s tough to put into words. As suspected, I also got slightly shaky around lunchtime, so I ate a small salad. More than I anticipated but at least that's the only solid food I had all day and at least it's healthy for me.

* I did something new this time around...I continued with my exercise regime at mid-morning. It felt good to exercise  but I am not sure it was the best idea. About two hours later I had a massive headache because I burned off more energy than the fuel reserves in my body could handle. Perhaps this wasn't the week to pump up the volume...

* I hit a giant wall around 2pm, after I got sucked into a work project and missed my “lunch” by almost two hours. BIG MISTAKE. My head started pounding and I could not down that red juice fast enough. Unfortunately, the juice did little to alleviate my headache and it actually made me kind of nauseated.

* I tried to take a nap a little later (didn't happen – I am a very bad napper) and I waited it out for another hour, but my headache turned into what felt like a migraine. That’s where my juice cleanse took a detour. I ate a cheese tamale from Trader Joe's and took a 500mg ibuprofen, which I normally try to avoid but this headache was that bad. For a moment I felt like I disappointed myself, but you know what? My purpose in doing this juice cleanse is to feel good not sick. I think this is a really important takeaway, and there’s no reason to feel physically ill for the sake of saying I stuck to juicing exclusively for three days.

* I crashed across my bed after a nice hot shower with a cold compress across my eyes in my very dark bedroom at 9:30pm...  BOO!

I feel pumped and excited so far, even with my head on blast and despite the cleaning and preparing that I have to face tonight.

Let the Day 2 fun begin!