Monday, August 28, 2017

Before School Morning Routine

You guys!  School is officially in session!  It's hard to believe summer break is officially a thing of the past.  I was kind of dreading the summer because I was apprehensive about the boys being at home so much and fighting...but it seemed to just fly by.  We were able to cram a lot of fun things into the break, but we also had some chill time, which everyone needed.  Now it's back to the grind!  Back to going to bed early, waking up early, and trying our best to get out the door on time!

We always seem to have a struggle in the mornings.  I often joke with Chase that he is King of the Dilly-Dalliers (or however you spell that!) because that boy can dawdle and waste time like no other.  It's amazing actually because he wakes up in plenty of time to do what needs to be done prior to heading out the door, yet every single morning it seems we are scurrying around at the last minute looking for a lost shoe, or frantically brushing teeth.  

Obviously I don't have this morning routine thing down to an exact science, but I do want to share a few things that have seemed to cut down on the stress level.  I'm very open to suggestions too because I'm willing to try anything that will help me avoid having to repeat myself 25 times before someone will listen to what I'm saying!  Can you relate? 

Morning Chart.
I made a chart to show the boys what they need to accomplish before we leave each morning.   I just googled free clip art photos to correlate with their tasks.  I think having a visual reminder is helpful to them.  It also helps me because instead of asking, "did you brush your teeth?", "did you take your breakfast dishes to the sink?", I just ask, "Has everything on your chart been completed?"

No TV or electronics before school.  
We just can't get it together to have time to mess with watching a TV show or playing a video game.  But, even if they did have extra time, I found early on that if I let them start watching something then it just welcomes a meltdown when it's time to turn it off and leave.  So, we just don't even go there.

I get ready before they wake up.  
It took me a while to convince myself that I could live without those extra few minutes of sleep.  I used to sleep until the very last minute, then I'd scramble around trying to simultaneously get myself ready and make them breakfast.  It just caused me a lot of stress.  I started waking up early to workout while they are still asleep, so I now have plenty of time to get a quick shower and put myself together a bit (not every day, but some days I look put together) before they wake up and need help with 100 different things.  I find that I get a better start to my day and I don't feel so frantic when I allow myself some time alone before the chaos begins.

Set Breakfast Menu.
We started this last year and it seemed to work out great.  I was constantly asking what they wanted for breakfast, only to have them hem and haw over the choices, and then they inevitably could not agree on a mutual decision.  My kids have only a handful of breakfast items that they will eat AND that I approve of.  They'd eat donuts every day if they could, but we try and save the sugary treats for the weekends.  So, together with the kids, I went through and came up with 5 breakfast items they agreed to eat, and that has become our fixed menu.  Here's our menu as an example:
Monday: Toast
Tuesday:  Eggs
Wednesday:  Cream of Wheat with cheese and salt
Thursday:  Rice Krispies
Friday:  Granola with milk
They don't mind eating the same things over and over again because that's all they want to eat anyway.  And last year, they got tired of one of the items, so we changed it up a bit.  Totally flexible, but it's nice to have something planned out and it cuts down on the "what do you want for breakfast?" time waster.  

So, how do your mornings go?  Are you super organized and run a mini bootcamp, or are you running around like a chicken with your head cut off looking for the lost sock under the couch and praying the bus doesn't come before you find it?

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Friday, August 25, 2017

Casual Date Night Outfit with my FAVE Jeans

All of the girly fru-fru things are IN right now...lace, ruffles, bows, floral...just to name a few.  I am not a super girly girl, but I do appreciate a feminine accent to spice of an otherwise plain piece.

Fall is always draws up mixed emotions for me.   It means the end of summer, which makes me a little teary eyed.   Bye bye pool, hello school, see ya later late summer nights catching fireflies and eating popsicles.  But, it also means crisp cool air, apple everything, and lots of fun fall colors to play around with in the closet!  This is a great transitional outfit because the white lace lends a summer vibe, while the jeans and booties are leaning towards fall.

Let's talk about these jeans for a moment.  They are like pajamas!  No joke.  I would never joke about something as serious as that.  They truly are so incredibly comfortable.  This brand, Wit & Wisdom, has a line of what they call their Ab-Solution denim, which has a built in elastic waist band, not visible from the outside, but ultra comfy from the inside!  The denim material is soft and stretchy in fact that I would definitely advise sizing down a full size.  If you are between sizes, you may even want to go down 2 sizes because they do stretch out after a while.

I purchased 2 pair of these babies last year, the Itty Bitty Bootcut and also the Skinny, and both were my go-to jeans all fall/winter/spring.  This year, I invested in 2 more pair...another bootcut, and these fun split hem flare leg.  So, I'm not kidding when I say I LURVE them!  And, they come in plus size too!  Yay!

This top is old, but because lace is back with a vengeance, I was able to find some similar options for you 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5.

The booties are also from last year, but here are some similar perforated styles 1 // 2.

What is your favorite season for fashion?

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!  So, thank you for your support!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Freshly Squeezed Lemonade

We like turning lemons into lemonade around here.  Turn that frown upside down!  Actually, I'm speaking in the literal sense.  We have spoiled ourselves by making lemonade with real, freshly squeezed lemons and it's pretty much impossible to buy the carton lemonade anymore.  The sweet and sour taste of fresh lemons is hard to beat!  And the smell!  I just looooooove the smell of lemons.  I usually end up rubbing half of a lemon all over the sink to clean it and freshen it up a bit.

Back to the lemonade.  This recipe is super duper easy and a fun one to make with the kiddos.  I have this juicer, and while it definitely makes juicing the lemons really really easy, it's not required.  You can definitely squeeze them the old fashioned way with your brute strength.  It would be a good arm workout.

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water (to make simple syrup)
2 cups water (to dilute lemonade)
1 cup ice
mint sprigs (optional)

In a small saucepan, stir sugar and 1 cup water over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Mix simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, 2 cups water and 1 cup ice and stir well.  Serve over ice with a sprig of mint if desired and enjoy the wonderful tastes of summer!

Lemonade just screams S U M M E R!  Cheers!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Breaking Your Man Out of an Accessory Rut & A GIVEAWAY!

**This post is in collaboration with Jord Watches.  All opinions and words are my own.  To read my full disclosure please click here

With all of the talk about capsule wardrobes these days, I have to chuckle to myself because I think Adam is the unknowing creator of a capsule wardrobe.  He likes what he likes, and he doesn't branch out much.  He also wears the same clothes pretty consistently, not wavering much on his personal style.  Polos, button up shirts, casual tees and shorts for hanging around the house.  His wardrobe is something you capsule lovers would be jealous of.  But it works for him!  Like I said before, he knows what he likes, and instead of trying to turn himself into something else and follow trends, he has just accepted who he is and what clothes he likes to wear.

It's no different with his accessories.  Or should I say lack of accessories.  Adam has worn the same watch for over 14 years.  No joke!  He bought a watch while we were on our honeymoon and has worn it ever since.  Other than his wedding band, and the occasional ball cap, this watch is his only accessory.  So when Jord Watches reached out and asked me to feature a man's watch, I was very intrigued!  I pulled up the website and hesitantly showed the watches to Adam but to my surprise, he was interested!  He liked how they were modern, unique, and had some personality.  Those were not his words of course.  I highly doubt he would describe a watch as having personality, but I just ad-libbed for him because he is a man of few words and this blog post would be more like a twitter comment if we just went off of his words alone ;)   Point being, he liked them.  And he is pretty darn picky.

So, back to Jord contacting me.  I had previously seen Jord Watches featured on Living in Yellow, and thought they were very pretty.  So, for a company like this to contact someone like Erin seemed totally normal.  She's legit.  How they got my name, I'll never know!  Please, no one tell Jord that I'm the complete opposite of a legit blogger!   It will be our little secret because if they find out, they may make Adam return his watch, and then we'd be back to another 14 years of the same ol, same ol.

Anyway, he would never admit it, but I think he has secretly enjoyed having another option to wear.  I mean, after 14 years, I would want a change too!  Jord has a great selection of men's watches, but the choice was not difficult for Adam.  This one was his favorite, and it definitely looks like his style.  And, obvs I checked the women's pretty!  I'm not gonna lie though, I kind of liked some of the men's styles for myself also.  I am into oversized, chunky watches right now, so Adam better keep his new treasure under lock and key or it just might go missing (onto my wrist).  On second thought, after all of the talk about a 14 year hiatus on watch buying, I will just let him keep this one, but I really do like these watches enough to think about stealing it from my husband.

Ok, ok.  I know what y'all are thinking.  That's great you love these watches so much, but the title of this post said something about a giveaway!  Yes, it did!  I'm excited to be able to share this with you!  You can enter to win a $100 e-gift code to to purchase one of these beautiful watches for yourself or someone you love!  One lucky person will win, but EVERY person who enters will receive a consolation code worth $25 redeemable at once the contest ends on August 20, 2017.  So, it's basically a win-win!  I feel like Oprah...YOU get $25, and YOU get $25, and YOU get $25!

So, be sure to complete the entry form and have a chance at that $100...but even if you aren't the lucky winner, you will still be $25 closer to owning a super cool piece of wooden art for your wrist.   And don't forget to check out the beautiful selection of watches they have available!  Who knew there were so many different kinds of wood!?!?!

Watch Gift Ideas

So, tell me...which watch is your favorite?  Aren't they so unique?  It's hard to pick just one!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Monday, August 14, 2017

Whole 30 / Completion and Reintroduction

Whelp, that's a wrap.  I have officially completed my first Whole 30 challenge, and I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself.  It wasn't easy, especially since I was doing it alone...without any other family members to join in on my journey.  Watching them eat pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches while I munched on yet another kale salad was a tad bit frustrating at times...but I pushed through and am glad I did.

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Friday, August 11, 2017

How About a Threesome With Some Joggers?

Did that get your attention?  You have a dirty mind!  (and that's why we are friends!) I am simply talking about styling some jogger pants 3 different ways.  You know, a threesome.  What did you think I was talking about?

Ahem, anyway, I am all about versatile pieces that I can mix and match, so today I wanted to highlight this pair of black joggers and show you 3 different ways to style them...both casually and a little bit dressier.

As you all are well aware, I have basically lived in my jogger sweatpants for the past 4-5 months (ever since I made that wonderful purchase).  I recently came across another pair, but these were different.  These were joggers, but a little bit fancier!  These joggers could be worn out on a date, to work, to social functions, and also of course, to Target.  Such a versatile piece!  They come in several colors, but I am partial to the black ones.  I do think the other colors have a much more casual vibe, but the black ones are very chic and easy to dress up or down.

Since I wear a muscle tank every other day, I figured it was only fitting to pair one with these joggers.  They will be come fast friends because they will be seeing a lot of each other in the very near future.  These pants are super comfy and they have an elastic waist band, so they are perfect for wearing to your favorite Mexican restaurant!  Just sayin'.

For a dressier vibe, this blue mock turtleneck shirt pairs well with some pointy heels.  This would totally be something I would wear to the office...if I had an office.

And, a chambray shirt goes with everything.  At least, according to my fashion rule book.  I have another one of those must-have muscle tanks underneath!   I wasn't lying when I said I wear them every other day.  You thought I was exaggerating didn't you?  I wasn't!

Since the pants are pretty loose fitting, I think the key to keeping things classy and less MC Hammer-like, is to keep your tops simple.  A long tunic or a puffy sweater would make the pants look sloppy.  It's good to balance out the poofiness of the pants with something slightly more streamlined on the top.  Nobody wants to look like they just got on the train to frump-villa.

I hope you all have a great weekend! We are going to soak it up because this is the last weekend before school starts!  Where did the time go?

Shop the Look:

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Monday, August 7, 2017

Whole 30 / Week 4

Y'all!  I'm almost finished with my Whole 30 challenge!  I am feeling all the feels...anxious to be finished, nervous to start reintroducing forbidden foods, excited to see my measurement and weight results...but also scared at the same time.  

To be honest, I don't feel that these past 28 days have been that life altering for me.  The first two weeks I did notice a difference in how I felt, for the worse.  I was tired, groggy, sluggish, weak.  But, then it seems l like I just went back to normal.  I don't feel any differently now then I did prior to starting Whole 30.  I will give a complete breakdown of the reasons why I decided to take this journey and the outcomes in the next post.  You know, in case something drastic happens in these next few remaining days!

I haven't talked much about what I've been drinking this past month.  I've been sticking to water, but I get sick of drinking water.  I drink a lot of iced tea, both plain and apricot flavor, unsweetened of course.  I have always loved La Croix, so I've been drinking a lot of those, and I've recently tried some other brands of sparkling flavored water that are good.  Dasani Raspberry Lemonade flavor is yum and so are the Simply Balanced ones from Target.  When everyone else is enjoying a cocktail, I'll either grab one of those fizzy waters or I've come to enjoy this Kombucha.  They sell it at Hy-Vee, Sprouts, and I'm sure Whole Foods carries it too.
What I ate:

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls --I know, I know...I am obsessed with these things!  I seriously love them so much!  I have always heard of people getting sick of eating so many eggs on Whole 30, but I've hardly even had eggs because I was constantly baking/blending up sweet potatoes!

Banana Nut Porridge --To break things up from the sweet potatoes, I branched out this week and made this porridge.  It was really good!  I added some crushed pecans and some chunks of fresh banana to mine.  This is another good breakfast to make in advance and then it will feed you for 3-4 mornings!

Kale Salad --This has been my go to salad when I don't have anything else planned.  It's just easy and I usually have the dressing already made in the fridge.

BLTA --Bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado stackers!  My sis-in-law, Sara, inspired me to make these and and since I have been putting bacon on pretty much everything, it seemed only natural that I'd make yet another meal with it.  Another quick, easy lunch.  And with so many fresh garden tomatoes available, this was a popular item at my house this week.

Zuppa Toscana --Thanks to mi amigo Courtney for passing along this recipe!  I couldn't find complaint sausage, so just used ground chicken with some Italian seasonings, and I subbed spinach for the kale.

Potato Skins --I made traditional skins for my fam with cheese, bacon, sour cream and green onions...but for myself, I used seasoned ground beef, compliant bacon, green onions, and then dipped them in the delicious Dump Ranch dressing.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders and roasted green beans --This was an old recipe that was super easy to adapt.  I cooked mine in the oven, but they would also be amazing on the grill!

Tacos / Taco Salad --We ate dinner with family over the weekend and had a taco fiesta.  Despite my strong desire for the cheese dip and chips, I stuck to taco salad and used bell pepper strips to scoop up the guacamole.

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders (Whole 30 Compliant)

Bacon is so good.  So, so good.  It's such a treat and makes any meal even that much more delicious!  During my Whole 30 journey, I was really struggling with meal planning before I was introduced to Whole 30 compliant bacon.  I mean, that was a game changer!  To be able to have bacon was amazing!  It just adds so much flavor to everything from meats to veggies to salads.  So, naturally I included it in 90% of my meals from that point forward.  Don't judge.   Finding meals that will please my whole, a picky husband, and myself who is trying to avoid a lot of food groups at the moment...can be somewhat of a challenge.  But, everyone likes bacon!  So bacon it is!

These Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders are one of those easy meals that is family friendly and easily adaptable to be Whole 30 compliant.  The original recipe, which was a monthly staple around this house, includes brown sugar.  After omitting the sugar and finding Pederson's brand bacon, it was a no brainer.  I'm all about easy meals that please a crowd.  To sit down at the dinner table and not have any complaints is pretty rare around here!  Can I get an amen?

1 lb chicken breast tenders
6-8 slices of sugar free/nitrate free bacon (I used Pederson's brand)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt

Combine all spices in a small bowl and stir together.  Coat both sides of the chicken, reserving a small amount of spice.  Wrap a piece of bacon around each chicken strip, securing the ends (I used toothpicks).  Sprinkle with remaining spice.

Lightly oil a broiling pan with olive oil.  Place the chicken tenders on the pan and bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through (cook time will vary depending on the size of your strips).  To crisp up the bacon, turn the broiler on for just a couple of minutes. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn.  Flip them over to crisp the underneath side.

I served them with a side of roasted garlic green beans.  These babies would also be a good appetizer for a party!  You could make them smaller for just a bite size morsel to pop into your mouth!

Thank you bacon!  For helping me get through Whole 30 with a little more flavor in my meals!  Don't know what I would do without you man!

Print Recipe

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Athleisure for the Win!

A lot of days I ponder why I even bother to get dressed because I take off my pajamas and put on athleisure...which let's be basically pajamas that are acceptable to wear in public.   But, hey, I'm not complaining that I can go to Target in my workout gear and no one even blinks an eye.  It's become the norm to see people in spandex, whether they actually went to the gym that day or not.  And, because it's pretty mainstream to be walking around in your yoga pants, athleisure has upped their game and come out with some really cute things!  The pants are super comfy.  The shirts are thin and soft.  The sports bras are cute with lots of details to make them pretty.  Things you don't want to take off for any reason other than to get back into your pajamas.

If you haven't snagged a pair of Zella leggings from the Nordstrom sale yet, then what in the heck are you waiting for?  Girl, I'm telling you, you're gonna love them!  My faves are the live-in leggings and they are high waisted, so they help a mama out, if you know what I mean.  I also lurve these motto leggings!

The shirt is a recent purchase from Gap.  It's their GapFit Breathe fabric, which is uber soft and lightweight.  You can wear this with the tails down, or I like to tie them in a knot. Oh, and did I mention it has thumbholes!  I don't know what it is about thumbholes, but I love them!  Just don't forget to pull up your sleeves when you go to change a diaper.  #learnedthehardway  If you're brave, this shirt would be super cute with a lace bralette or strappy sports bra peeking out!  I opted for a cami, but a bralette would definitely spice it up!

My tennies are oldies but goodies.  I don't wear these to workout, but they are great for running errands or just playing outside with the boys.  I'm sure they would be fine to wear for a run because sometimes after a day of running errands, it feels like I have run a marathon!  They are very comfy and keep my feet from getting tired, even after chasing little ones all day.  And, they are currently on sale for less than $49!

And, my hat...well, if you have followed me on Instagram or Facebook, then you have already seen this multiple times.  It's pretty much a staple on days I don't feel like doing anything with my hair (and on days I haven't managed to squeeze in a shower).

What's you're favorite athleisure item to wear?

****Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission.  This does not affect the price you pay but it does help me maintain my blog!  So, thank you!  I appreciate your support!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png
Back to Top