Saturday, August 31, 2019

Cooking Simplified: Potato Leek Soup


This is a recipe that I first tried out in September of 2014, and it was actually the first time ever that I have even tried a leek. One of the vegetable vendors at our local farmer's market had been growing absolutely gorgeous ones that month, so I had decided it was time to finally give them a try, and purchased several. The vendor had made potato leek soup that previous weekend and suggested it for one of my first recipes to try using the leeks.

Now I always love a good bowl of soup, and the weather had cooled down a bit, so it was the perfect time to give it a try. It was much easier to make than I had initially thought, and the soup was absolutely delicious. Since leeks are about to be in season again, and the weather is soon to be perfect for a good bowl of soup, I thought I would once again share the recipe with you. 😊


Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients:

8 cups chicken stock (I used my own from the recipe I shared here)
6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Put the chicken stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf, and thyme in a large pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil until the potatoes are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth. (I used my Vitamix.) Pour the soup into a medium pot; add the cream and simmer until the soup has thickened, about 20 minutes.

That's it...simple cooking, and oh so delicious!
Let me know what you think if you decide to give it a try!



Friday, August 30, 2019

Sale Shopping Simplified: Labor Day Weekend Promos @ Madewell, J.Crew, Anthropologie, L.L. Bean, & Boden


The Labor Day Weekend is here, and the sale shopping is good. 😎
Promos and deals are aplenty... will you be shopping?
Here are a handful of promos taking place at my fave retailers, & my picks from their sales. πŸ’•



Madewell - Save an extra 20% off sale styles, and an extra 50% off final sale styles
with code SEEYA at checkout.

My picks...




J.Crew - Extra 50% off sale styles & 40% off regular price with code SUNSET at checkout.

My picks...




Anthropologie - Save an extra 50% off sale items, plus 20% off furniture, dΓ©cor & select bedding.

My picks...



L.L. Bean - Save up to 70% off summer clearance,
PLUS get an extra 20% off your order with code GREAT20 at checkout.

My picks...



Boden - Save an extra 20% off with code R8W3 at checkout. (Save an extra 25% off for mini.)

My picks...


Enjoy your day, and Happy Sale Shopping! πŸ’•πŸ˜Š

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Love This...

Understated. Effortless. Casual Chic.

Shop It.

The Sky's the Limit:

On a Budget:
Sweater in birch white
Handbag in black
Shoes in black


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Shop It: The Real Deal or The Real Steal...

Shop the Look for Less.

The Real Deal - Frame Double-Breasted Plaid Boyfriend Blazer




The Real Steal - H&M Double-Breasted Jacket in Grey



Quite similar AND a savings of $560... that is indeed a real steal, if I do say so myself. 😎


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Shopping Simplified @ L.L. Bean - Take a Peek at What I'm Loving...


As I mentioned in this post last week,
L.L. Bean is one of the retailers I frequent when online shopping. I've ordered from them many times over the years, and have been very pleased with the quality of everything I have received.
I also love that they guarantee their merchandise 100%, so returns are never a hassle.




I feel like many times there is this sort of negative connotation about the women's clothing at
L.L. Bean, and that the fit and style are a bit to the frumpy side, but honestly...
this hasn't been the case in my experience.
There are many cute, stylish, classic pieces to choose from.
Take a peek at what I'm loving...


*Signature Print Poplin Dress - I own three of these from 2013...solid navy blue, tan & white polka-dot, and black & white sailboat print. The prints available now are adorable, too. I cannot believe some of them are marked down to $29.99...that is an excellent deal!

What are your thoughts about L.L. Bean? Do you ever shop there?
If so, what are some of your favorite items? Do tell! 😊

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday Musings...Playing Favorites


I think we all have those certain items in our wardrobes that we turn to time and again...
the pieces that make us feel comfortable, confident, & ready to tackle anything that life throws our way. The pieces that we don't really have to think too much about.
We just know that they continue to work for us.



Today I'm sharing several of my 'go-to' items for fall, some of which I have had for many, many years, and continue to reach for on a regular, if not daily basis. πŸ’•




Free People 'Not Your Brother's' Utility Jacket in camo. I absolutely adore this jacket...
so much so that I also own it in grey and army/olive green. It's one of my absolute faves, so very comfortable to wear, and goes with just about anything. I normally wear an XSmall in Free People, but sized up to a small in this jacket for more roominess in the shoulders, and the ability to wear more layers underneath.





One of my most favorite denim jackets ever! So much so that after losing mine downtown one Sunday a couple years ago, I scoured the internet to find an original replacement, and thankfully after a lot of time searching I finally did. 😊 If you're still looking for a denim jacket to love, Madewell has a similar one.





I considered this jacket to be a bit spendy at the time I purchased it many years ago, but it has gotten so much repeated wear over the years, that it has more than surpassed its CPW.
Similar available here and here.






Love these. So very soft, and the added touch of cashmere does make them more warm & cozy than my other jeans during the colder weather months.






Another love for me...I own this one in both gunmetal grey. and navy. I would happily purchase in other colors if they offer them this year. The sweater is excellent quality and soft against the skin. Sizing may run a tad large, although I ordered my normal XSmall, as I do with most items at L.L. Bean, and it fits perfectly through the shoulders, with just a touch of slouch through the body for a comfy, relaxed vibe.






One of my favorite local 'Made in Montana' retailers. This sweatshirt is SO incredibly soft and super comfortable to wear. Love all of their items, actually.





I purchased this on sale a few years ago, and had I known they were not offering it again, I would have bought the other color. This is hands down my absolute favorite vest.
I love the length, the cinched waist, and it's incredibly warm, too.
They currently have a similar option available here.





UGG Bailey Button Boot in Black Suede.
I know that UGGS get a bad wrap, but I happen to love this pair! They are so incredibly comfy, plus they keep your feet snuggly warm.




Not your 'average' UGGs...I own this one in both black and chestnut. They are like walking on pillows, and keep your feet toasty warm...plus they are super cute!

So there you have it, a few of my Favorite Things for fall...
what are some of yours? Do tell! πŸ’•πŸ˜Š


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Shopping Simplified: Planning Your Fall Purchases...


πŸπŸ‚ As we have seen in the past couple of weeks, retailers are now unveiling their Pre-Fall lines, which means lots and lots of new lovelies to get excited about and possibly even purchase. πŸ‘—πŸ‘ 
So how does one decide what to add to their wardrobe without going over budget or purchasing pieces that end up as "closet orphans"? It all starts with a plan. I have one that I follow each season, and shared way back in 2012. Because it has helped me so much over the years, I wanted to share it with you again, in hopes that it might help you as well. 😊



In a nutshell, this is the way I approach each new season: I evaluate my wardrobe to see just what I have, what is worn out and needs to be replaced, what is needed to complete certain outfits, and also what I might simply just 'want' because it is fun. Then as the fall rollouts arrive in the stores, I can see if any of the items fit with the ones on my list.
If they do, then I purchase, but if they don't...I leave them at the store. This has saved me a lot of returns, unwanted purchases, and unworn items. Plus it is excellent for my budget. I also then don't mind spending a bit more on one quality item. I would rather have one item that is well-made and loved, than multiple items that are disposable, and get tossed away or sent to my closet archives.

Now let's go through the process together step by step...

Step 1: Go through your closet to see what you already own. As daunting a task as this may seem, it is a critical step (even as hot as it in most places right now), and must be your starting point. It will help you see where the gaps in your wardrobe are, help you avoid purchasing 'repeats' of items you already own, and also help you steer clear of items that don't have a place in your wardrobe. (These are the pieces that either require you to purchase several additional items in order to make a complete outfit, otherwise they become your "closet orphans" because they have nothing to go with them, and will often remain unworn in your closet (many times with the tags still on).

Step 2: Try it all on. I know, I know...UGH, right? Hear me out, as I really feel this is another incredibly important step. Over the course of two seasons, your size and/or shape can change (this seems to happen more easily the older you get), and the clothing that fit you so well last fall, may not fit you as well this fall. This could be due to either weight loss, weight gain, or even a change in your figure due to an exercise routine, or recently having a baby.
Whatever the reason, it is important to figure out what clothing is going to work on the body you have now, what items will work with a bit of an alteration, and what items you just need to let go of.

Step 3: Now that you have removed all of the clothing from your wardrobe that no longer fits, it is time to start putting together outfits! Sounds fun, right? Right! Now, you can either do this on your own, or even hire your own personal stylist to do it for you. (This is one of the services I offer to my clients, and I know that many other stylists do, as well.) Either way, this step will not only help you to see just what outfits you have that are already complete (no additional items needed), but it will also help you figure out just what additional clothing items or accessories are needed for the outfits that are not yet complete. (This is also a great way to get more use out of your current wardrobe with minimal expense.)
  • I also suggest taking photos of the outfits you put together, so that you can refer back to them later on when it is actually time to wear the outfits. Not only does this help when planning for each new season, but it also helps to take a lot of the stress out of getting dressed each day. You simply look at your photos of outfits, decide which look you want to wear, and then pull the items from your closet that are needed to put the outfit together.















*Outfit items purchased from Madewell, J.Crew, Sundance, Boden, L.L. Bean, Eileen Fisher, Talbots, T.J.Maxx, or TargΓ©t.

Step 4: Make a 'Fall Shopping List'. This is going to be the list that has all the items you need to complete your outfits from Step 3, as well as any other items you may need, or even simply just want. For example, I like to write down everything I need/want to add to my wardrobe, and then pare it down as the season moves on and more merchandise is introduced by retailers. (As you will see in Step 5, I do put the most needed/wanted at the top of the list to get them crossed off first, then move on down the line as my budget permits.)



Step 5: Prioritize. Now that your 'Fall Shopping List' has been made, the next step is to PRIORITIZE it! As lovely as it would be to purchase everything on the list, for most of us this just isn't realistic, and that is why it is so important to prioritize. Not only does this help to keep you focused on the items you really need/want, but it will also help to keep your budget in check (more to come on that later) as the season actually arrives.

  • The prioritization of the items will of course be different for everyone as they make out their list. Some may put the items they need at the top of the list and the items they want further down the list. Others may put something they really just want at the top of the list, and go on down the line from there. It just depends on which items you feel are the most important for you to get, and also on how much or little of a budget you have to spend on your fall purchases.

Step 6: Decide when to buy. The warm weather is still here, so it is important to remember that you will not be able to wear many of the items on your list right away, and it is possible that you may be able to catch them on sale in a month or two. If the item is something high on your list that you think will sell out in your size, or that you will not be able to find later down the road on sale, then by all means purchase now. However, you should be sure that you are happy with the item at the price you are paying for it, and realize that not only is it taking away from the budget you have set aside for fall, but there is also the possibility that others may be able to purchase it for much less money down the road.

Step 7: Realize that there are more lovelies yet to come, so try not to spend all of your fall budget right out of the starting gate. Fortunately, most retailers have Fall/Winter Lookbooks that allow you to preview the items still to come. (Such as the Madewell Fall LookBook that I shared in this post.) In most cases, you can call or email for more information about the piece you are interested in. This way you can see if the item will fit into your budget, or if it is not doable at all.


  • Another thing to consider when looking at the preview items, is whether or not they fill a gap in your current wardrobe and work with other pieces you already own. After all, the goal is to add items to your closet that enhance it, not items that require you to purchase even more in order to make the item work. So, if the item you are considering does fill a gap in your current wardrobe or works with other pieces you already own, and it does fit within your budget, then you add it to your 'Fall Shopping List' in the order of its priority.



Step 8: Stick to your budget, and purchase only when you have the money on hand. This can be a really tough one, especially when there is an item you feel you really, really want, or the 'buzz' is that it is going to sell out quickly. Trust me, I have been there more times than you can imagine! (After all, shopping is part of my job, and something I love to do, as well!) I have made purchases on credit that I shouldn't have, and then felt guilty, or regretted them on down the line. I have justified purchases by planning to sell other items in my closet or 'not spend at all' for a month or two, but that rarely worked out. I also found myself caught up in the buy, return, repurchase at a lower price cycle, too. This was mainly due to the dreaded Final Sale at J.Crew. I felt I needed to buy everything I was interested in at full-price so I could try it on for size, before it hit final sale. I can honestly say that the entire cycle was extremely exhausting, time consuming, and not one that I wish to ever get into again. Instead, here is what I do now:


  • Each month I put my allotted spending amount into my Paypal account.
    This is the only money I have available for making purchases, since using the credit card is not allowed. If I have spent the money and find something else that I want, I have to wait until the next month when I have funds available again to purchase it. Now this has meant that I have missed out on one or two items that I really wanted, but I am ok with that and feel better in the long run that I did not put them on credit.
    There are also many times that I choose to spend as little as possible, so that I can build up my savings for the larger ticket items on my list. (I don't mind spending a bit more on one quality item, as I would rather have one item that is well-made and loved, than multiple items that are disposable, and get tossed away or sent to my closet archives.) All in all, this method of shopping and budgeting has been working well for me, and I no longer feel the weight and exhaustion of the shopping cycle I was on before. I am also now much more critical about the purchases I do make.
    I am very much aware of the 'lattΓ© factor', and avoid picking up items here and there that are not on my list, even if they are at a fabulous sale price. (Each little purchase eats into my budget, and is money spent that could have gone towards an item on my list.)
    After all, an item bought on sale that hangs in your closet unworn, really wasn't such a great deal after all.



Step 9: Do not get overwhelmed! Easier said than done when retailers constantly offer so many new beautiful items, isn't it? I know firsthand how difficult it can be to not want almost every new item out there! This is where having your 'Shopping List' is going to be extremely beneficial. It will help you keep on track and focused on what items you should be adding to your wardrobe, instead of adding a miscellaneous item here and there.

Now even with your shopping list in place, it can still be very tempting at times to make a spur of the moment purchase when you see something that makes your heart pound and your pulse race. When faced with the temptation...try this:
  • Stop for a moment, and take a deep breath.
  • Turn off the computer and step away if you have to.
  • Try to think about your list. Is the item on it? Do you need it enough to spend part of your fall budget on it? Will it work with other items in your current wardrobe?
  • If you are at the store, then ask them to hold the item for you until the next day, so that you can go home and think about it.
Most importantly, remember that you have a set goal in mind...
you are in the process of building a fully functioning wardrobe!
One that will consist of pieces that work cohesively with each other. One that is filled with only the items that fit well, and that you love. One that will bring you peace of mind knowing that whatever the occasion or event, you will have something to wear!
Don't let one 'I need that and have to have it now' moment deter you from the end goal!
You are stronger than that!

So what about you? Do you have a plan you follow when deciding on purchases each new season? Are you also a list maker? If so, do you already have a list made out for your fall purchases? Do tell!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Cooking Simplified: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls


Our entire family absolutely loves cabbage rolls. πŸ’•
However, up until a few years ago I rarely made them, and this was mainly due to the fact that I really do not like to have to deal with boiling the cabbage and actually stuffing the leaves! 😁



Then one day on Facebook I stumbled across a recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls...
I discovered that we could have all the yummy goodness of cabbage rolls, but without the hassle of actually stuffing them! Hallelujah! Of course I had to try the recipe out right away, and the family loved the unstuffed version just as much as the originals. Now let's be honest, by the time you cut in to the stuffed cabbage rolls to eat them, they basically become just like the unstuffed version anyways, so why not save the time and trouble by just cutting out the 'stuffing' step?
Here's how to go about it, in case any of you want to give them a try. 😊

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Ingredients:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds lean ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small cabbage, chopped
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onion then cook, stirring, until ground beef is no longer pink and onion is tender.
Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute.

Add the chopped cabbage, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil.
Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

I usually triple the recipe so that we have leftovers, and I also like to cook up a batch of rice to pour it over, and also top it with a generous helping of shredded cheddar cheese.
Of course, these steps are both entirely optional, so just serve it to your family's specific liking.

That's it...super easy to make, and oh so delicious!
Let me know what you think if you decide to give them a try!


Friday, August 23, 2019

From the Archives... J.Crew August 2007 Catalog


School is back in session in many places across the country, so let's ring in the new school year with some beautiful images from the J.Crew August 2007 catalog. πŸ’•πŸ“šπŸ«






Remember the much beloved Wool Herringbone Bella Jacket? Such a beautiful piece!
Wish the image would still show up on the J.Crew website.
For that matter, I wish it was still for sale on the website! Haha.
Thankfully I still own one from back then. πŸ’•









I still own a couple of the short-sleeve cashmere tees, and a wool tweed newsboy cap.



I wish the image of the Velvet Bella Jacket was still showing up on the J.Crew website, too.
Another classic J.Crew piece that I wish they had never stopped offering.






I do still have my Lady Day Coat in black.


















Do you remember this particular J.Crew catalog?
What do you think of the images in it? Did you purchase any of the clothing items offered back then? If so, do you still own them? Do tell! 😊