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!