a quick hello.


I'm just popping in to say a quick hello and let you know that with this shortened, hectic week, I'll be a little MIA through the weekend. The bachelorette party was a blast but now we're off to Dallas and Austin on Friday. I hope you're enjoying the sun and the start of summer. See you in June!

the ruffle crop top bikini


I'm headed to the beach this weekend for a bachelorette party for my sweet friend and I'm ready to get some sun on my pasty white skin. This weekend snuck up on me a little bit so I had to scramble to pick up a few new swimsuits. While browsing, I noticed this crop top ruffle thing is all the rage. I'm stoked because I think this style looks adorable and especially helps to enhance us "less fortunate" ladies. 


Luckily, Zappos saved the day with their awesome 1 business day shipping policy. I was able to scoop up a few suits from my current favorite brand, Splendid, which quickly arrived on my doorstep. I was thrilled try on this suit and matching bottoms as well as this one which offers two different top styles (this and this). I ended up settling on the both styles but had to forgo the second crop top (overkill). This style is definitely a winner in my opinion. Excited to rock these suits this weekend. While I'm at it, I'll also mention I'm loving this style from VS as well as the ever popular bustier style as well. 

monday musings.


>> This week marks my fourth year of blogging! It's honestly pretty crazy to think I started this little slice of the internet while sitting in my mostly empty apartment back in Dallas just weeks after graduating from college. So much has changed since May 2010 - 3 different jobs, 4 different apartments, 2 new cars, 3 bikes, 2 half marathons, 5 triathlons, a cross-country move, a wedding, a husband! It's been a wild ride, thanks for bearing with me through it all! 

>> Thank you SO much to everyone who took the survey. Your feedback was awesome and will definitely help shape this space. In case you were wondering, the majority of you said that Fall was your favorite season and 1 crazy person said winter was their favorite. They must not live in the Northeast! 

>> I had so much fun posting over on Thyme Is Honey last week. It was so neat to connect with a blogger and see my content shared with a new audience. Thanks again Dani! 

>> As far as weekend updates go, this past weekend was kinda nuts. We kicked off Saturday with a bike purchase for yours truly (it's seriously adorable) and then spent a wonderful day in the city shopping, seeing a dear friend, lounging by the river. Sadly, we ended the even with a stolen iPhone. Ladies, don't go setting your phones down in public restrooms! Thieves!! 

>> I'm headed to Bethany Beach, DE this weekend to celebrate my sorority little sis for her bachelorette party! I'm so excited for all the festivities and to soak up some sun. Check back later this week for a round up on swimsuits!

>> Thanks to a brutal winter, I'm nice and pasty white...perfect for a weekend where I'll be half naked lying on the beach. I've been slathering myself up with self-tanner which can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, I scooped up this amazing gradual tanning lotion and I'm loving it. I like that it's fool-proof because you use it daily over a week or so. I've only used it twice but I'm already seeing some color. 

>> I've got beaches on my mind which means I've been lusting over all kinds of adorable sandals. I'm currently coveting these and these (on sale!). 

Just for fun:
about 1 year ago...
about 2 years ago...
about 3 years ago...

{recipe} the best smoothie


Before I talk about this smoothie, I just want to take a hot minute to direct you to this adorable blog where I'm guest posting today! Dani and I just "virtually" became friends (hi Dani!) and I'm enamored with her blog. Spend a little time over there today and then come back and make this smoothie! Thanks for having me, Dani!

I don't really like fruit. It's a textural thing for me. Too many fruits have skins, seeds, veins and just overall weird textures that I can't deal with. Smoothies, however, are my jam. I used to only get the Peanut Butter Moo'd smoothie from Jamba Juice because I was basically afraid of all fruit except for bananas. I've since grown up a little and started to brand out. Now I'm all about different fruits in my smoothies, even veggies too!

This concoction below has been my go-to for awhile now. I'm always changing it up based on my mood but I've found this combination to be pretty awesome. I like this smoothie because it seems to have the right balance of flavors and keeps me full for a LONG time thanks to healthy fats like coconut milk and nut butter. The fruit provides the sugary jolt I need to wake up and the Amazing Meal provides the "green" part.

The Best Smoothie

1 cup almond milk
1 scoop Cafe Mocha Amazing Meal
1/2 frozen banana
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen pineapple
heaping spoonful of peanut butter or almond butter
1/4 cup coconut milk (the real stuff that comes in a can, shake well)

Blend to oblivion. Add a little more almond milk if things are getting stuck.

monday musings.


>> You can still take my quick reader survey for a little longer. Thanks to everyone who's already taken the time to fill it out! 

>> This weekend was basically spent eating our way through all the best restaurants. We had dinner with C's parents at Caseus on Friday night, brunch at The Pantry on Saturday and then dinner at Mory's. We then had a wonderful Mother's Day brunch at Mama's Boy that included my mom and sister too. Lots. of. eating. But I'm happy to report that we stuck to our guns and passed on all alcoholic beverages. Victory #1!

>> The weather was finally nice in these parts! We hiked (I actually started sweating) and even pulled out the corn hole boards (amazing wedding gift) for a quick game. Cheers to summer in the Northeast.

>> Really excited to make this cold brew a whole lot over the summer. I need to get my hands on one of these contraptions! Also, pretty sure we'll be making this for an upcoming dinner party.

>> Not going to lie here, getting pretty bummed out about C being gone for the summer. Looking forward to fun trips in Austin and lots of girl time back in New Haven. 

>> I've been reading up on all sorts of blogger resources and I'm excited to spend some time digging into this post and this one. There is so much to know about photography and dSLR cameras! I've had mine for 4 years and I feel like I still barely know all the things it does. Definitely considering taking a class this summer.

>> I kinda want to start biking to work this summer. Time to start browsing craigslist for an adorable & affordable cruiser! 

>> Used a whole bunch of stored up Birchbox points to snag this face oil and I could not be more excited. I've heard amazing things and love the benefits face oil provides. Thinking about doing a round up post of all my favorites. Would you be interested? Also, definitely need to post about my favorites self-tanners. 

>> I've been on the hunt for some new nude pumps for awhile now. They must have a pointy toe and be comfortable. Why, oh why, are all the best shoes so expensive? Hopefully these will go on sale sometime soon. 

>> Did you catch last week's post about my favorite face masks? Get your skin summer-ready!

favorites // face masks


This weather has been reaching havoc on my skin. With the extra cold days still lingering, but the humidity creeping up (so much rain!), my skin is having a hard time finding a balance. It's slick and oily one day and then flaky and dry the next! My usual face wash and moisturizer routine hasn't been doing all the work. I've turned to some of my favorite face masks to help.

I love a good facial as much as the next girl but I'm super picky. I'm always hypersensitive to the products they are choosing to use because I feel like my skin does not like to be introduced to new things. But, let's be real. I do not have the time or money to be getting a weekly facial right now. 

Enter face masks - the at-home spa!

This baby is every beauty bloggers best kept secret. This Bentonite clay is mixed with apple cider vinegar to make a delicious green paste. You layer it on thick and leave it for up to 30 minutes depending on your skin. Within seconds, you'll feel your skin start to pulsate and tingle! Magic is happening! The clay draws all the impurities out of your skin while the apple cider vinegar acts as an antiseptic making sure none of that gunk goes back in. When I wash if off, my skin is a little red but it goes away within minutes. It's sooooo soft and smooth. Kind of amazing. The huge tub of clay is only $8 and you can find all-natural Bragg's apple cider vinegar at stores like Whole Foods (this is the only ACV they recommend using on your skin).

I've been using a lot of Origins products for about a year now. I came across this face mask last time I was in my local store and new it would be a winner. The mask basically soaks up oil and sloughs away dead, flaky skin to leave a smooth canvas behind. I like using it once or even twice a week. It quick and easy to use. Just spread the white mask on, leave for 10 minutes and rinse. It's so easy, in fact, that I don't feel like I have to block off my whole day or evening to use it. I just wash my face at night and then throw this mask on. It's definitely my favorite right now and totally helps to balance my confused skin, 

Full disclosure, I got this mask as part of a set last time I refilled my moisturizer. I probably never would have picked it up because I typically shy away from anything that is super moisturizing since that's typically what I'm trying to avoid. However, like I said, this winter has been harsh and my skin was in all sorts of states. I found myself reaching for this mask once a week and would wake up with baby smooth and soft skin that wasn't broken out at all. I use a Clarisonic daily and while it's great for sloughing off rough skin, sometimes I need a little extra moisture. This mask does the trick. It's hardly a mask though since you just put it on like lotion and sleep the night away.

GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment
This baby is a showstopper. And to be honest, I haven't even tried it yet. However, literally every single blog, beauty website, magazine...has been talking about Glam Glow. I've heard only amazing things about this cleaning treatment and I'm just waiting for the right time to take the plunge. A 1.2oz container comes in at $70 which is basically the cost of a facial. But I mean, I'll get more uses out of this, right? I recently found it on Amazon and it didn't look sketchy (aka the seller had 5 stars) and it's only $40 sooooooo this might just have been the push I needed to purchase!

(I was not compensated for this post. I love skincare and sharing things I find with you! Some of the links above are Amazon Affiliate links of which I receive a percentage of purchases.)

{recipe} chicken broccoli mac & cheese


I love carbs. I could literally live off pasta forever. But honestly, I'll take a carb any way I can get it.

However, as I mentioned yesterday, this is posing a problem for my waistline. There is a Dunkin' Donuts within walking distance from our apartment. Seriously? Do you know how easy it is for me to pop in and get a chocolate frosted donut with sprinkles? Too easy.

Also, quick tip, next time you're at DD picking up an iced coffee, ask for one pump of coconut and one pump of caramel. Life changed. It's my new (now) monthly treat.

But back to this mac & cheese. You'll never guess that this stuff is heal-thy! The addition of a pinch of turmeric make the whole thing look cheesier and yummier. It all basically comes together in one pan which is great for my live-in dishwasher otherwise known as C. I mean, you can't go wrong with browning chicken in bacon grease. Even better, we found uncured bacon at Trader Joe's - score! I don't need sugar in my bacon and the uncured stuff is really the way to go. 

Also, mustard powder. It's my mac & cheese secret ingredient. It gives the sauce that extra tangy bite that I love in cheesy dishes. 

I recently signed up for a subscription to Cooking Light. I still love following food blogs but I'm also a sucker for magazines. This recipe was adapted from a recent issue and I've been finding a lot of inspiration in there. 

Chicken Broccoli Mac & Cheese
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

This "light" recipe will make you forget this is good for you! The key is you use a very sharp cheddar to impart more flavor with less quantity. The turmeric also helps it look cheesier than it is.

  • 8 oz uncooked macaroni 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cups broccoli florets, chopped 
  • 3 bacon slices, chopped 
  • 12 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced 
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 cups 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat broiler to high. Cook pasta to al dente, adding broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.
  2. While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic and turmeric; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
  3. Combine remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, milk, stock, and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan with ground mustard; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add pasta mixture and 3 ounces cheese; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 3 ounces cheese and bacon. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.

the month without sugar.


So here's the thing, ever since we moved in New Haven and left our "healthy" lifestyle in Dallas...we've essentially been packing on the pounds. I say "we" here but let's be honest, I'm really just focused on myself. Since we were part of a triathlon team, we worked out regularly especially thanks to basically 10-11 months of good weather. We were also pretty close to Whole Foods as well as plenty of healthier options in the Dallas restaurant scene. 

In New Haven, it's completely different. The closest grocery store is Stop & Shop and the produce section is pathetic. It was below 30 degrees for 5 months...seriously. It's already May and the temps just rose about 55. We also lost our triathlon network. I know, I'm making a lot of excuses here. But when there is 2 feet of snow on the ground and it's 5 degrees outside and it's dark at's pretty  much near impossible to get me into a gym. 

On top of all that, the lack of early morning workouts has also meant more justified evenings of dining out and drinking, something else we did less frequently in Dallas. And now, that's all catching up with us. I pulled out several dresses to try on for last weekend's formal only to find they were quite a big snug in the middle section...not to mention my pasty white skin.

So it's decided. With summer around the corner and several trips to Austin in my future (queue a lot less clothing), it's time to get my act together. I'm not really a "diet girl". It just doesn't work for me. So I'm setting a goal (you heard it here first!) to cut out sugar for the month of May. I started on Sunday. This isn't just about desserts but about trying to cut back on all those sneaky sources of sugar like Truvia in my coffee. I have a serious sweet-tooth and working in an office where there is always some kind of free baked good has been wreaking havoc on my body. Honestly, I'm starting to think this pattern of headaches has something to do with my sugar intake. Gross. 

With this, I'm going to cut out alcohol as well since the "drinking just because" ritual is becoming all too common. I think it would do my body good to take a month off. This will all conveniently end in time for Jessie & Brian's wedding on May 31st. PARTY! 

I'm setting another goal to go to yoga once a week and run twice a week (at least 30 minutes). Small goals here people. I've really been loving yoga because it makes me feel good and hurt in all the right places. I like the calming atmosphere and I'm definitely getting a workout. I also need to get back to running. Even though I honestly don't love it while I'm doing it, I always feel so much better afterwards. The days are getting longer and the temps are just right for a 30 minute jog around our neighborhood. I managed to sneak in 2 lazy miles after work today and while it was painful, I feel much better having done it.

Wish me luck faithful readers! Look out for some fun, healthy recipes for this next month!

monday musings + a reader survey!


>> Thank you to those of you who have already filled out my blog reader survey. I really appreciate the feedback and will definitely taking note of your comments. If you haven't already, please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey.

>> Saturday evening was the Spring Formal for Yale SOM. C and I were pretty excited to go since we weren't able to attend the Winter Formal. The evening was so much fun...maybe a little too fun. Sunday morning was definitely a bit of a struggle.

>> I rented two dresses from Rent The Runway for formal and unfortunately they were both a total bust. I picked out this purple one and it arrived on Friday. I tried it on and it just looked horrible. I promptly called RTR and a stylist helped me pick out a new dress which they overnighted to me to arrive on Saturday. Unfortunately, this one didn't fit which was a bummer because I did think I would like the style. I sent both the dresses back and I'll get a credit to my account since they didn't work out. Overall, their customer service is amazing and I so appreciate them accommodating me. I've had a mixture of experiences with dresses just totally not fitting and other dresses being just right. 
The Rent The Runway link above is a referral link so I'll get credit if you sign up. Opinions are all my own.

>> I'm excited to try this new recipe this week. I'm also planning to make a batch of these snacks which are the perfect healthy treat. May has been deemed the "get healthy" month so this is a step in that direction. More on this topic coming soon but let's just say, Saturday was the last time I'll be doing any drinking for the month of May.

>> I wanted to participate in #TheMayChallenge with Thyme is Honey but didn't know about it until it was too late. Either way, I'm following along on her blog and I'm excited to see the variety of things she posts. Right now, I'm doing the push up challenge to try to challenge myself to be able to do 10 real pushups by the end of the month. 

>> I've been really into self-tanners lately and I've been reading a plethora of reviews and info on the best ones. I have the Kiehl's Sun Free Self-Tanning lotion from last season and used it on Saturday before Formal. I like to mix it with a bit of lotion so that it goes on a little smoother. I like that it's lightweight but it definitely smells like tanning lotion and doesn't give me the best color with one application (might also have to do with the fact that I'm so pasty white from the winter). I prefer the ease of a gradual tanning lotion though because I feel like it's less risky and more stress-free application. I've heard wonderful things about the St. Tropez line so I'm excited to try out their gradual tanning lotion.

{featured friday} harper's den headbands


{featured friday} highlights some of my favorite blogs, shops, and websites that I want to share with all of you! These are things that consistently blow me away with amazing content or products and I know you’ll fall in love with them too!

I could have easily written about my sweet friend, Roxy's, new headband business in my Monday Musings but honestly, this new mama deserves a whole post to herself. Roxy and I went to undergrad together and made some great memories as members of the same business fraternity...#nerds. Mark and Roxy had their first daughter, baby Harper, four months ago. Somehow, along the way, Roxy became a crafting queen and now makes adorable baby & toddler headbands as well as a variety of accessories. 

She's currently taking custom orders for all colors, sizes, and styles. Can we just talk about how amazing it is to see my friend and new mama carving out time in her day to...craft?! Rockstar status. I recently ordered a few to give as a gift to a friend's new baby and I mean, they are just adorable. The range in price from $4-$7 depending on the style. 

Hopefully, Roxy will open an Etsy shop and she'll hire a bunch of elves to make more headbands for her. In the meantime, you can email her at shopharpersden [at] gmail [dot] com. You can also follow Harper's Den on Insta to get some ideas for what you'd like to order. A little birdie told me that she'll be making headbands for adults soon too, score!

Disclaimer: Roxy did not ask me to post this. I paid for the headbands I purchased fair and square. I just love her and want you to know how awesome she is.

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