Great Outdoors

From top left: Morning view of Fence Lake; Rex and I getting ready for a boat ride; 
the three amigos; Wisconsin tap handles before a wonderful meal

For Labor Day weekend, we went to my in-law's cabin to celebrate the last hurrah of summer. And even though I prefer every possible amenity to roughing it... there truly is something you get from experiencing the great outdoors in its rightful place in nature that can never be replicated in the city, suburbs or in front of any screen. Like disconnecting from technology and playing board games (although we did have to Google the rules)... Waking up, throwing on sweats and not even thinking about hair and makeup... Looking up at night and seeing thousands of stars in the sky (nothing beats the beauty and wonder of a diamond filled sky).  And the best part is the way time slows down, just enough to help you enjoy every sip of coffee, every wave in the lake, and every crackle of the campfire. There is a reason for the saying "life is better at the lake".

And my personal favorite is trying to get Rex out in the water... Click here for the video :)


Date Night

Dress (Calvin Klein, Macy's); Shoes & Bag (Target)

For our latest night out we opted for the classic dinner and a movie date night.  So I decided on a classic date night wear; LBD (this one is of the more casual hooded variety) and shoes that scream something fabulous is happening below the ankle. I don't wear these gold loafers nearly enough, although my husband may have banned them after noticing the amount of glitter left in his car. But like I told him, he now has a sparkly reminder of our latest date night that should instantly make him happy :)  

And PS. Straight Outta Compton is an awesome movie - if you haven't seen it, you have an excellent reason to get a dinner/movie night of your own on the calendar!

Friday Find

Carmex Varieties - Vanilla, Lime Twist & Pomegranate

I have had a love/love relationship with Carmex for as long as I can remember. I have tried Vaseline, Neutrogena, Nivea.. you name it. And I always come back home to Carmex.  My only beef with Carmex is that I was limited to the original, and sometimes a girl needs a fun flavor now and then... so when I stumbled on these three versions I was literally doing the happy dance.  My favorite is the vanilla - but each one is a great spin on the original. So if you are also a Carmex lover - you have to check these out. Oh, and they all have 15 SPF - BONUS!

Okoboji, Iowa

Front top left: Beautiful lake view; Free little library; Swinging on the bar chair; Sunset view

When I found out a work trip had me going to Okoboji Iowa, my first reaction was "Oko-huh?"... I had never heard of the place, and I had no idea Iowa had a chain of Great Lakes.  Well let me tell you about this charming little lake town in northwestern Iowa. It's known as Iowa's #1 vacation destination, and it's not hard to see why.  Between the breathtaking natural lakes, amusement park, and fun bars in between (like the outdoor bar with swings for chairs) - it's the kind of place that makes you want to grab onto summer with both hands and never let go.  Truly a hidden gem in the midwest that I will have to put on repeat... 

And check out these amazing lake homes I spotted during my morning walks - each one prettier than the next.  Another find from my walks is the "free little library" (pic in upper right)... I have never seen anything like this! The sign reads "take a book, borrow a book, share a book, enjoy a book".  Could this town be any cuter!?


100 Years of Fashion

100 Years of Fashion (Mode.com)

Have you seen Mode's 100 years of fashion in under 3 minutes?  It's an awesome recap of the biggest trends that created each decade's most iconic fashion. It's amazing how some decades drove the trend for the next (like 1955 to 1965), while some move in an entirely different direction completely (like 1975 to 1985).  I love looking to past trends for current inspiration... why reinvent the wheel when there are so many gorgeous looks waiting to be modernized?  My personal faves are 1955 & 1965... I love the nod to Hollywood glamour and the idea of dressing up for every occasion. 

Not to mention it was in the 1960's when the women's liberation movement started, and there was a strong cultural change with more of women entering the paid workplace. Can you even believe in the 1960's a bank could refuse to give an unmarried woman a credit card?  Women also couldn't get an Ivy League education (Harvard didn't admit women until 1977), and we earned $0.59 to the dollar that men made. So while we have made progress (women now earn $0.77 to the dollar) - we have a long ways to go... and I feel a personal duty to maximize the opportunities that women of the past made possible. We need to continue to fight to be seen as equals so we can all celebrate the day when women earn $1.01 to a man's dollar :)


Friday Find

Shoe-Pourri (Amazon)

The real and stinky reality is that your shoes are going to get funky. And not a good funky.  In the past I had tried putting baking soda and dyer sheets in said funky shoes, and even had tried some of the deodorizing sprays. Truly nothing worked and there were some beloved heels I avoided wearing for one very smelly reason.  And then I heard about Shoe-Pourri... it's a shoe odor eliminator that really works! It's less than $15 on Amazon, and has a nice cedar smell that truly zaps the funk out of your favorite shoes (and the shoes of any other stinky feet in your life)... So you can leave the funky to your style and music ;)


Glazed Salmon & Asparagus

My husband did all of the work on this one... but his accomplishments are my accomplishments, right?  Typically when we grill it's safe to assume it's either chicken, burgers, or chicken.  Fish gets a little scary - it can quickly go from cooked to overcooked, and eating undercooked fish just doesn't work unless you're eating sushi... but we're adults right?  We can handle grilling salmon! That's exactly what we told ourselves.  Tom found a recipe that included a salmon glaze made with maple syrup (and it was amazing).  We grilled up some asparagus on the side and it was one of the easiest and delicious meals we've had in a while.  And we felt like bonafide adults mastering a chef worthy meal :)

For the salmon and glaze recipe click here


Banana Bread w/Crumble

This recipe makes a cinnamon infused banana bread that is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser (or a self pleaser... you don't have to share if you don't want to!). The star in this show is the crumb topping, which is an impressive and professional finishing touch that will have people asking which bakery you bought your amazing bread from... cue the modest response "well my kitchen of course!" :)

1 egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 overripe bananas, mashed
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

In a large bowl beat together the sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Add the butter and beat until smooth and the butter is fully incorporated. Beat in the buttermilk and bananas. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray and pour in the batter (pour in enough so there is about an inch or two of space before the top of the pan)

For the crumb topping combine the powdered sugar, flour, cinnamon salt and melted butter. Using your hands, crumble the mixture over the batter in the pan. Bake at 350 degree oven for 45 - 50 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).


Emerald & Navy

Top & Shoes (Marshalls); Skirt (The Limited)

When it comes to a beautiful color combo that always looks fresh and elegant - look no further than emerald green and navy blue. In fact this was a combination I almost forgot about until Pinterest reminded me how great these two colors look together. Not to mention any time I can shop my own closet to recreate a look I love, I feel extra accomplished!


Friday Find

The only thing better than a crisp, light and sparkly wine for summer sipping, is a crisp, light and sparkly wine that costs less than $5.  Yes you read right - less than $5!!!!  For less than a cup of fancy coffee you can score an entire bottle of delicious vino that comes in the prettiest of bottles. So really this one's a no brainer.  It's called Vinho Verde and my faves are Gazela and Nobilis.  Cheers to the weekend!

Fool Proof

Blouse (Ann Taylor); Jeans (Macy's); Heels (Nine West)

There are few things in life that are fool proof... among them include any episode of Sex in the City, breakfast for dinner, three day weekends, and an outfit that includes black & white with leopard. This is a business casual look guaranteed to be polished, professional and stylish. Which is the best way to be when all you have to do is throw on some jeans, a shirt, and a fabulous pair of heels. So when life hands you an easy button... you push it, sit back, and ask for a refill on your glass of wine :)


Weekend Recap

My parents made the trip from Wisconsin to visit for the weekend... primarily to see their precious grandpuppy of course! We visited a few breweries for some craft brew goodness, enjoyed grilled dinners on the deck, and wondered where all of the time had gone on Sunday morning. I don't know exactly when parents make the transition from people you have to hang out with, to people you want to hang out with... but it sure is nice when it happens.   And the best part is we got to try out my dad's latest creation on the 3D printer (he is a 3D printer enthusiast to say the least) - he made Coronita holders for our Coronita Margaritas (which are awesome!).  Can't ask for much more out of a beautiful summer weekend!


Life According to Rex

This. Face. Ever since it came into my life about 9 years ago, this little face has made my heart grow bigger and my days end happier.  Who knew joy could be directly proportional to the amount of tail wags, puppy kisses, and snuggles you get in a day?  Every day he makes me smile, shake my head, and fall in love more. And every day he teaches me about fast forgiveness, living in the moment, and that when life gives you reasons to get excited - you need to GET EXCITED! Preferably by wiggling your butt, and jumping up and down (sometimes with a spin in between).  So please understand if I greet you with a butt wiggle and a spin the next time I see you :)

Life is one big game according to Rex... so you may as well have a ball (or in his case, as many tennis balls as you can possibly find)!


Twirly Bird

Shirt (Anthropologie); Skirt (eShakti); Shoes (DSW); Necklace (The Limited)

If you don't have a top that broadcasts your favorite animal, spirit animal, or both... you need to fix this problem immediately! The same goes for a skirt that properly twirls... Truly what's the point of a skirt if it doesn't twirl (unless it's a pencil skirt in which case the point is total world domination). This is one of those outfits that immediately makes me happy... not to mention I envision meeting future friend soulmates by sipping chai tea at a coffee shop and looking up to catch the eye of a girl wearing an equally awesome bird shirt...


Friday Find

I recently discovered an amazing summer cocktail that is light, refreshing, and delicious. My only complaint is that it doesn't come in a box, with a straw...  The star of this little mixer is the honey flavored whiskey - every sip (...or gulp...or swig...no judgement!) is finished off with a lovely sweet aftertaste. Meet the Honey Bee.

Honey Bee

  • 1 part honey flavored whiskey
  • 2 parts sweet & sour mix
  • Quick dose of water to cut down on the sour


New Rules

Not that these rules are necessarily new... but in the middle of paying bills, getting to work early so I could finish that overdue presentation, scheduling my next dentist's visit (bravo to anyone that can maintain that 6 month schedule), going grocery shopping and doing all of the other "adult things" life demands... I became numb.  And I was in severe violation of most of these rules.  The fun in my daily life was replaced by duty... the passion in my work felt like a chore... and I found myself being silent in situations I would otherwise take a stand. Yeah I was in a rut for sure. 

So here are my new rules, and must have's for any situation... personal, work or otherwise. 

Have Passion: 
Nothing important is worth doing unless you are genuinely emotionally connected to it.
Get fired up and give a damn.

Have Fun: 
Life is short... too short to not find ways of enjoying yourself. Period end of sentence. 

Have an Opinion:
There are days I'm still learning that not everyone will like me, and some days I'm better with that than others.  The truth is there is no sense in trying to please everyone... it will never happen, no matter how hard you bend, compromise or try. So have an opinion... and then rally around the other smart people who share it ;)


Work Week Ease

Real life translation: Dress (The Limited);
Vest (Macy's); Necklace (H&M)

Dresses are my favorite because they are the easiest outfits ever. And denim vests have a special place in my heart because it was part of the outfit I wore on my first day of high school (yes I remember my first day of high school outfit, and yes it was a jean vest with jeans...).  Adding a denim vest to this dress makes the whole look more casual (not to mention a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll) while still being work appropriate.  It's a perfect look for a Monday...  easing the way into the work week, while still hanging on to the fun from the weekend:)


Labor of Love

My daily orchid view 

New leaves and a new root

    This orchid is my labor of love... and the most work I've put into any plant.

After letting it sit on my windowsill at work with no progress for months, I was just about to throw it away when a co-worker looked at it and said there's no way it was dead since it had green leaves.  I then started googling orchid terms like a crazy person: what do white roots mean? What color are the roots supposed to be?  What is the difference between a spike and a root?  When can I expect my orchid to bloom?

So I brought my little gal home and repotted her... I got rid of the roots that were over watered and mushy... and once a week she gets watered and sprayed with orchid plant food. She seems happy, even growing new leaves and new roots.  But if anyone knows orchids, you know it's the coveted flower spike that will eventually bloom that I am waiting so impatiently for.

I don't have kids but I imagine the feeling is similar... I wake up every day to see if there are any changes, make sure she's had enough to eat and drink, and I hope I've given her everything she needs to grow and reach her full potential. And like kids - these toddler years truly are the worst (but I hear we'll be best friends when she goes to college).


Easy & Impressive Appetizers

Hummus Cucumber Bites

Caprese Salad Skewers

Chicken Skewers (to be grilled)

Summer is supposed to be effortless right?  The thought of making dinner just seems too complicated when hosting a laid back summer evening. That is the beauty of appetizers... they immediately bring down the formal factor (especially when you put it on a stick) and up the ease factor - which in my world means more wine for everyone! And the only thing better than something being quick and easy, is when it's equally as impressive.  Here are three no fail appetizers perfect for summer - we made them on Friday night, and the evidence disappeared quickly :)

Hummus Cucumber Bites
  • Ingredients: Cucumbers, spicy hummus and parsley to garnish
  • Peel the cucumbers in stripes
  • Cut the cucumbers in 1 inch sections and scoop a little bit off the top
  • Spoon the hummus (we used spicy red pepper) into the little bowl you created
  • Add a sprig of parsley

Caprese Salad Skewers
  • Ingredients: Grape tomatoes, basil leaves, mozzarella balls, balsamic vinegar
  • Cut the grapes in half for the base of your skewer
  • Put a tomato, basil leave, and mozzerella ball on a toothpick
  • Put half a cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • After the balsamic vinegar cools a bit (and thickens) - spoon it over your skewers

Grilled Chicken Skewers
  • Ingredients: Chicken breasts and marinade
  • Marinade chicken for 24 hours (we used Caribbean Jerk)
  • Cut the chicken into 2 inch squares and skewer
  • Grill & enjoy!


Long Time, No Talk

Tom surprised me with a weekend in Sonoma, California and proposed in February 2014.  The nicest people took pictures when they saw the deal was going down!

Our wedding Save the Date featuring the most important guest of all :)

One of my favorite pictures from our day... 

 "princess for a day"

Long time, no talk - right? Maybe I'm feeling less hogtied... maybe I feel a bit guilty that my last words were "I promise I'll be back"... or maybe I've had a couple of margaritas with a good blogger friend (ahem, Rachel this post is for you!), and I can't deny that a part of me really misses this special place of the Internet that is 100% me, myself, and mine. So here I am again, and here's my five second recap of the past two years:  I got engaged, married, and am happily making our house a home in suburbia. The pictures tell the story much better. 

There is so much to catch up on, and I have so many questions... Does anyone else have a hole in their heart where the Braverman family used to be?  Is it just me, or does the world need more girl power? Do you also feel guilty if your fitbit doesn't alert that you've hit 10,000 steps a day?  And have you tuned into Hot 102.5 on iHeartRadio? Literally... they are all my jam :)  

Now that we are all caught up - let the fun begin.  Houston, do you copy?