Book Review (2)

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This winter took a toll on my soul. I found myself feeling anxious all the time, and I was having trouble sleeping. Deciding I needed to do something to get out of my funk, I made the conscious effort to read more books and watch less tv. I am absolutely LOVING this change in my life. I am sleeping better, and feel calmer. I honestly don’t miss tv. I can catch up this summer. Right now, I so look forward to climbing into bed with a good book. I am excited to share with you all of the amazing books I have read recently in my “Book Review”.

  1. The Last Mrs. Parrish: Of all the suspense on this list (titles 1 – 4), this was by far my favorite. Amber befriends Daphne in an effort to steal her husband and her life. It had a twist that I loved, and didn’t see coming. It was so hard to put this book down. I stayed up really late finishing it one night. This is a must read!
  2. The Wife Between Us: If you enjoyed The Last Mrs. Parrish, you will love this book! Don’t read them back to back like I did though as they have a similar theme. This one had a twist that I didn’t expect at all, and it shook me a little bit!
  3. The Safest Lies: I enjoyed this book a lot but it gave me nightmares. Didn’t stop me from reading it though 😉 Basically, the mom in this story was kidnapped as a child and, out of fear, has not left her house in 17 years. Her daughter is trying to live a normal life but after coming home late one night discovers that her mother has vanished. I loved the story, and the characters. This book ended kind of abruptly though, and that is one of my pet peeves. I need to know exactly what happens to everyone, and this book didn’t give me that. Still a good book, and I recommend it!
  4. The Marriage Lie: This was another easy read, and I enjoyed this book but it was probably my least favorite out of all the the suspense on this list. The husband “disappears”, and  is presumed dead. The wife spends the book digging up secrets from her husbands past, and trying to discover the truth about what happened to her husband. I liked the story but I didn’t love the characters, and felt it needed more of a conclusion but I still enjoyed reading it!
  5. The Light We Lost: This book was one of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club pics, and it was uh – maiz – ing. I needed a break from all of the thrillers and suspense I was reading, and this book was the perfect choice. It’s your modern day tragic love story but it’s so well written. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I reread it. It was that good! Read this book!

What books have you been reading? I’d love to add some new ones to my list!

Becoming a Morning Person

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Top // Jeans // Shoes // Bag

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If I can become a morning person, anyone can! If you read this previous post, then you already know how much I love sleep. I never thought (before I had kids) that I could be the type of person who wakes up before dawn, especially when the option to hit snooze is still there. Now, don’t get me wrong, I will never fully be a morning person. I just love sleep way too much. Getting out of my warm, cozy bed while it’s still dark outside breaks my heart a little. But with a full time job, and two small children, it is one of the better ways to find balance.

First…

You’ll have to start going to bed earlier. This was really hard for me at first because after the kids go to bed is my only time to veg, hang out with Dean, watch Netflix, wash dishes, put away laundry, etc. But after a few 5:00 am wake ups, your body will be craving bed vs. Netflix much earlier. It only took me two days of waking up an hour early for my body to adjust, and for me to be ready for bed an hour earlier. I had to give up my Netflix watching but honestly, I should probably give up some screen time anyway. I aim to get in bed around 9:00 pm, and then read for a half hour. By then I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. It’s important to go to sleep when you hit this point, and not try to power through it, no matter how good your book is! Then you’ll hit “over tired”, and you’ll actually have trouble sleeping. So get those chores done early, and be ready to relax at least a half hour before you close your eyes. Easier said than done, I know.

Next…

Set a few different alarms for a few different times. I’m not kidding. I set three, each five minutes apart. The first alarm wakes me up. I don’t get up but I become aware that I need to get up soon so I don’t fully fall back to sleep. By the time the second alarm goes off, I’m a little more awake, and start waiting for the third alarm. By the time that one goes off, I’m usually ready to get up. Usually. 😉

Then…

Plan your time wisely. Make sure everything is set out and ready to go. For me, it’s working out so I make sure my clothes are laid out, and that I have an extra water bottle and small snack in my purse ready to go.

Last…

Remind yourself of why you are waking up early. Is to workout? That’s what it is for me. Tell yourself why it is important. There are mornings where I really need to convince myself to get out of bed. It really is a daily struggle. But then I think of all the things I have to do later in the day, and know that if I don’t get up now, my workout will not happen. Plus, I’m not sacrificing any time with the kids.

Are you a morning person? I’d love to hear your tips!

Ten Things About Me

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I love reading fun and quirky facts about people, so I thought today I would share ten (strange) things about me.
  1. I love sleep more than anything in the world but I am also a night owl. I get a burst of energy every night around 9:00. Even if I try to go to sleep early, I just lie there awake for hours. That being said, I could sleep until noon if someone let me.
  2. I love exercising almost as much as I love sleep. I will choose it over any other activity every. single. time.
  3. I am deathly afraid of spiders. Like, I will not enter a room if there is a chance there might be a spider in it. Every night before bed, I check every corner of my bedroom to make sure there aren’t any. I also have an exterminator come every three months to remove any “spider presence”.
  4. I am also terrified of deep water. The thought of water deep enough where you can’t see the bottom makes me sick to my stomach.
  5. I cannot stand the sound of people chomping on their food. Gum chewers are the worst. I literally have to remove myself from a room if someone eats like a cow.
  6. I hate being home alone. And by alone, I mean when my husband is gone overnight. I am such a scaredy cat. He travels for work, and I have called him in tears a few times in the middle of the night sure that someone was trying to break into our house.
  7. I never make my own coffee. I know that makes me sound like a brat but Starbucks just makes it so much better! But in reality, I just always forget to in the throes of getting two children out the door in the morning.
  8. I am a huge germaphobe and hate airplanes because if it. All the recirculated air. Barf. So nasty. It has also led to my fear of flying.
  9. If I didn’t have a full time job, I would never wear regular clothes. As soon as I’m home, the pajamas come on. My husband claims he has never seen me in anything other than sweats. 😉
  10. I love reading books backwards. I read the ending to find out what happens, and then I go back and read the whole thing from the beginning. I just can’t stand the suspense.
So how weird do you think I am?
Are you ready to unfollow me yet? 😉

The perfect jeans for spring

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Sweater // Jeans (on sale) // Booties // Bag // Bralette

If you are looking for the perfect jeans for spring, these are it! They fit TTS, and have that loose, mom-jean look while still being tailored to the body. They are also a perfect ankle length for anyone over 5’1″. I had to get my hem taken in slightly to give them the look that I wanted. I love that you can wear these jeans with boots or flats, and still have some ankle exposed. I am always drawn towards distressed denim in the spring and summer since I tend to be more casual as the weather warms up. And the best news, these jeans just went on sale! I am shocked they haven’t sold out although they do look much cuter on than in the stock photos, so don’t let that deter you.

What are your go-to jeans?

Stocking Up For Spring

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Spring is in sight. Can I get a whoop whoop?! Living in Chicago, I know that most likely we will have two more months of winter weather, and then warm temps will start one day out of nowhere. We have three seasons here in the midwest – winter, sort of winter, and summer but not necessarily in that order.

I like to stock up on spring and summer clothes for the kids this time of year so that we are prepared when the warm temperatures hit. I don’t want them to be high and dry without a few pairs of shorts or short sleeve tees that fit. One day it may be 40 degrees, and the next day 75. It’s best to be prepared for anything.

For Ryan, I tend to buy most of his clothes from Old Navy. The fit of Old Navy’s clothes are perfect for his tall, skinny body. They fit him better than Gap does which tends to run wider. Ryan also tends to destroy his clothing much faster than Chloe, and Old Navy’s prices are great so I don’t feel guilty if I have to throw something of his away and replace it.

Ryan’s Spring Stock Ups

I get most of Chloe’s clothes from Nordstrom and Gap. Gap fits Chloe’s body well, and I’ll stock up on tops there. I also love Nordstrom for Chloe because they have some of my favorite children’s brands like Tucker and Tate and Tea Collection. I hoard Tea Collection leggings for Chloe because they are THE BEST. They are the only leggings she owns that never get holes. They tend to be pricer but you can usually find some pairs on sale. When I do, I buy ALL the colors.

We actually went shopping at Nordstrom last weekend, and Chloe picked out all of her clothes and tried them on in the dressing room just like a big girl. I am creating a monster. My poor husband 😉

Chloe’s Spring Stock Ups

I always pick up a few new pairs of shoes for the kids for school. I recently bought these and these. I also grabbed a pair of Native shoes for each kiddo which go from pool to school and everything in between.

What are you stocking up on this spring for your kids?

Photos by Melissa Zimmer Photography.

Looking for a new blog to follow. Check out my friend Elle at La Beaute.

Everyday Jewelry

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Necklace c/o // Watch // Sweater // Jeans // Boots

If you are a mom like me, you probably don’t wear a ton of expensive jewelry. You’ve got small children pulling at you all day long, and toddlers going through your jewelry box to play dress up. Most of my “expensive” jewelry, I’ve tucked away for safe keeping. I can get away wearing this necklace and this necklace daily mainly because they are almost choker length but somedays I miss wearing something with a little more pizazz.

Even though having kids makes it difficult to wear jewelry, I do still like to pull out a fun piece of jewelry every now and again. I recently discovered Tiny Lumber, and I am so excited that I did. It looks expensive bit it ISN’T! Tiny Lumber makes jewelry entirely out of WOOD. Everything is handmade in the US, and you can even have custom pieces made. Everything is so reasonably priced, and looks much more expensive than it is. The designs are also durable so I am not worried about wearing them around the kids. They have statement pieces like this one, and then other designs like this and this that you could wear everyday.

Tiny Lumber would make a great gift for a girlfriend, teacher, sister, mom, grandma – the list goes on. I hope you will check out their website, and unique pieces!

In Collaboration with Tiny Lumber

Photos by Melissa Zimmer Photography

Lizzie in Lace

Valentine’s Day photos

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On Chloe: Top // Skirt 

On Ryan: Sweater // Jeans

On Sara: Sweater (on sale!) // Similar Jeans

Happy Valentines Day!

I have been trying to be better about taking more photos of the kids, and decided that I wanted to shoot some fun Valentine’s Day photos with them. We went to Melissa Zimmer’s Photography Studio in Downtown Hinsdale, IL. I have been wanting to see her new studio, and I figured this would be the perfect opportunity. I am so glad that we did!

Melissa’s studio is such a beautiful reflection of herself. If you’ve never worked with her before – you need to! She is so easy going, and really makes you feel comfortable. The kids were more than at ease with her. Because of this, her pictures turn out so natural and beautifully authentic. I am not a fan of pictures that are overly posed so her style works really well for my taste. While I do love my fall photos taken outside, I think that studio photos are so timeless. They are the photos that you will have on your gallery wall for years to come.

Melissa’s studio itself has such great, natural light. There is a waiting area with coloring things for the kids. She also had treats and fun things (bubbles, confetti, etc.) in her studio which was the highlight for my sugar loving kiddos ;).

If you live in a western suburb of Chicago, I highly recommend that you check out her studio for your next family photos!

Photos by Melissa Zimmer Photography

Gym to Street Style

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I don’t know about you, but this winter has sucked every ounce of life from my soul. In the last six weeks, our household has been hit with the Norovirus, Bronchitis, ear infections, random, no-named cold and fever viruses, and now, Influenza A. And it’s only the beginning of February. I am ready to pack up and move to warmer climates, and that is something that this homebody doesn’t say often. In fact, as I write this post, I’m pretty sure I am coming down with the “I got the flu shot” version of the flu. I mean, that’s what happens when you sleep next to your sick kiddo. #momlife

Any who, I’ve worn this outfit pictured almost too many times to admit. It transitions so well from gym to street. You can easily get away running errands in it, or even out to a casual brunch. I wore it to the gym on Thursday, and then to dinner afterwards. I spent the weekend in it (I did wash it 😉 ) since I was cooped up nursing a sick kid, and it is super cozy. This fleece is so warm, and it is roomy enough that you can layer it.

I am also AH-bsessed with my new shoes. I bought them to be just a casual shoe but they are so comfortable that I can definitely run in them. And how cute is the pink color for spring? They come in about 8 different colors if pink isn’t your thing. I love the gray ones as well.

Are you over this winter like me?

What are you doing to combat the winter blues?

3 different treadmill workouts and a playlist

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I frequently post my treadmill workouts to my stories. Running on the treadmill can be tedious and boring. I try to change either my speed or incline every minute to help alleviate that. Below I’ve complied a few of my favorites that I come back to time and time again. I’ve also added my current favorite songs from my running playlist. Some are old (but good!), and some are new but they have all helped keep me motivated and moving during my treadmill workouts.

Treadmill workout #1

Treadmill workout #2

Treadmill Workout #3

Playlist to get you motivated and keep you moving:

What songs do you listen to while you workout to keep you motivated? Send me your favorites!

XO

Easy Weeknight Meatball Recipe

This is my go-to meatball recipe. It is so simple, and the meatballs turn out really moist and delicious. The prep is usually only about 5 minutes, and cook time is 20-25 making them the perfect weeknight meal. We also usually have plenty of meatballs to freeze or save for leftovers the next day. I always have the ingredients for these meatballs in my house so they are really easy to throw together on the fly. My meatballs are mild and perfect for kiddos but you could always add a little spice!

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces of bread (any kind including GF) I keep a loaf of cheap white bread in the freezer specifically for these.
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Tear bread into small pieces and place in medium mixing bowl. Add water. Mix such that the bread becomes more of a mushy mixture. Add ALL other ingredients at this time EXCEPT beef. Combine. Add beef and combine with bread mixture thoroughly (I use my (clean) hands). Once the meat and bread mixture is combined, roll into balls (I usually make about 20 golf ball size) and place on a greased (Pam works) baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 mins. Toss with your choice of pasta, favorite sauce (mine is Rao’s), and grated parm on top. Voila!

Enjoy!