Monday, February 29, 2016

Kitchen Confessions: Creamy Potato Soup

Last week we were experiencing spring-like weather at the beginning of the week and we celebrated by grilling out on the Big Green Egg.  It was short lived though because by the end of the week the temps were frigid and had me wanting soup again. I don't know what it is about cold weather, but I just want to stay inside and eat soup from my crockpot.  I loved the Broccoli Cheddar Soup I made last month (although it wasn't a crock-pot meal) and the White Chicken Chili a few weeks ago.  My latest soup recipe I tried was for a creamy potato soup.  I searched Pinterest and found this recipe.  When I read that it was a Paula Deen recipe I was sold. I mean, I knew it might not be the healthiest thing I could make, but I knew it would taste good, and it did!


It was delicious and super thick/creamy, which is just how I like my potato soup. I loved that it was made from frozen hash browns and that I could just dump all of the ingredients in my crock-pot and let it cook all day.  

Creamy Potato Soup 
Ingredients
1 (30 oz) bag frozen hash-brown potatoes (I used cubed)
2 (14 oz) cans chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese (softened)

Optional toppings: shredded cheese, bacon, sliced green onions, sour cream

Directions
1. In a slow cooker (crock-pot), combine potatoes, chicken broth, soup, onions, and pepper.
2. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.  If your potatoes are still in big chunks you need to cook a bit longer. They will start falling apart when it's ready.
3. Add the cream cheese and cook 30 more minutes or until cream cheese is melted, stirring occasionally.
4. Top with desired toppings if desired.
5. Enjoy!


While we are on the topic of cold weather we also wanted to share our guest post on the Avenue blog about some of our favorite winter coats and accessories for the whole family.  We know spring weather is here this week and we hope and pray it is here to stay, but that doesn't mean you still can't check out some of these.  What better time to stock up (and probably snag some sales) than right now!
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Friday, February 26, 2016

Fashion Fix: Active Wear

It's February, and we all know that we go into each new year having some idea of how we want to focus on our health. Whether that goal is eating healthier, working out more, trying a new fitness routine, getting your family to be more active, lose a few pounds...it is usually somehow in your mind following up the holidays (those darn holiday cookies!!). 

No matter what your goal is, today's post is going to be all about our favorite active wear. Because let's be honest...


True story, right? :) 

Looking cute might not be an essential part of a healthier lifestyle, but if you can look good while trying to feel good, there's no harm in that right? 

Here are some of our active wear favorites for the whole family...


WOMEN'S 

Shoes
Comfy shoes can make or break a workout! Nothing is worse than trying to mentally get through a run or walk when all you can think about are the blisters forming on your feet. We've run through a variety of shoe options but have fallen in love with these: 


These Nike Flex shoes have been a go-to for almost a year now! 


They have been great to run in and come a ton of fun bright colors! They are a lighter feel and slightly narrower, so if you have a wide foot I might steer clear of these. 

For something a little wider over all, and maybe slightly a little better for all around use, I have loved these New Balance shoes


So much so that I've grabbed them in a few different colors (see below for black pair). New Balance shoes to me always hold up well, and tend to be comfortable walking and certain classwork at the gym. 

Styles We Love
During cold weather months it is hard to stay motivated sometimes. Especially when your workout might be outdoors. Here are some of our favorites for staying warm during those chilly exercise sessions {click photos for details}...


During winter our go to favorites are still the compression leggings. We spoke of our love for these last year, but they really are our favorites! This pair is from last year, but we are loving the new ones available this season. They even come with a larger waist band for better comfort and fit! 
(Side note: For postpartum moms, I have been loving this! Helps smooth out the "loose skin" in the middle section area right after baby.)


Staying warm on top is also important. We love nothing more than a good pull over, hoodie, or zip up jacket. 


Mr. Cute purchased these Under Armour Cold Gear hoodies for me for Christmas and I love them. 


They have been one of my favorite things to grab before heading out for a walk. He purchased me a size small, and even right up until 39 weeks pregnant I was able to wear them. They are pretty loose, so perfect for layering if you want to pull them off as you get into your run or workout. I own the pink and the black but they come in a ton of colors
When we aren't wearing comfortable tees with hoodies, be both tend to opt for sportier tees or dry fit style tees. 

With Spring just around the corner, here are some favorites as well as some things on our wish list:

These cute polkadot shorts are so fun! We love them and love that the polkadots are actually  reflective, which make them not only cute, but functional for waking or running in the evening or early morning like so many moms do. 

They even have a super cute leggings version!


And fashion post would not be worth posting if we didn't share a little Lilly Pulitzer right? We purchased these Luxletic shorts during the New Year's sale, and love them! Now if temps can get a little warmer - and stay warm - so we can wear them more often!


The rest of the Luxletic line is everything you would expect it to be. Bright, colorful, and super cute! 



And while we are on the subject of super cute things on our athleisure wish list...we are loving these super cute leggings from Albion! They even have matching ones for our girls...L.C. included! 


Looking cute in athletic wear is one thing. Looking cute while matching your mini-me is on a whole other level of fun! Everything from their website gives us the smiles. 

MATERNITY & NURSING
Last year I (Jen), wrote about my love for certain active wear that I had found. I had lofty goals at the beginning of the year, and was constantly running about town in my favorite new workout pants in between my soccer mom duties, running, and barre classes. Mid-way through the year I found out I was pregnant and those fitness goals had to drastically change, but I still wanted to stay active (and comfortable!). 


About mid-way through my pregnancy last year, I was able to try out the active wear from Belabumbum. I'm not going to lie. This line is super comfy, and made of high quality material. I absolutely loved how it was able to grow with my body throughout this pregnancy and I am able to use it even post pregnancy when I nurse. 


This cami and these capris were on repeat a bunch following the months I received them. I ordered my normal sized and everything fit perfectly with room to grow. 


I also loved these BeMaternity capris. I grabbed them sometime second trimester when the band on my normal workout clothes ended up becoming a little snug. I loved that these had a band that I could fold up and down as needed. They are super supportive and have been comfy the whole pregnancy. So much so that I grabbed the full length leggings as well. 


One of my favorite maternity active outfits to wear was this pullover and coordinating pants. Once it became cooler it was nice to have a pullover I could put my hands through to get a little more warmth especially when I had a stroller to push. (Sorry for the bathroom selfie - it's a little hard taking a pic of yourself at 38+ weeks pregnant. That darn belly blocked everything. :) ).


I'm pretty petite normally and purchased an x-small, but wish I could go back and get a small just so it would be a little longer for later in pregnancy. On a recent trip back to the store I noticed they had an updated half zip with a few different colors and gathered sides - those who know the magic of a good ruched side will love these!



Now in past births these sports bras have been my absolute favorite! I love that they are inexpensive, a little thicker for better support (not to mention, convenient in case you might have a little leak if you are nursing - sorry male readers), and super comfy. They come in a variety of colors, and in those first few weeks of nursing were what I chose to wear almost exclusively. I highly recommend!

MEN'S
We're always joking that our active wear is generally from places like Target and Old Navy, while the guys like to experience the finer things in life...like Lululemon.  We're not even kidding. Here are some favorites brought to you by some of our favorite guys. ;) 

Cb's Mr.
In case any of you want to treat your guys to something really nice they will totally love, check out these Pace Breaker shorts.  Mr. really loves this style!  

Jen's Mr. Cute
Mr. Cute loves him some workout clothes so I had him narrow it down to his absolute must-haves. His first order of business surprised me. Apparently these are the equivalent to a ladies need for a sport bra. 
Who knew men needed their own hidden support? :) Mr. Cute assures me these style of boxer briefs are great for protecting all things man parts during both workouts and running. 


And while we are on the subject of the lower half, these are his favorite running shorts


And then for cold weather months these are his favorite pants to layer in. They are available in grey as well. 



Another thing he said was a must for him was his backpack. He uses one similar to this army style one. He likes the backpack style that crosses over his body to keep weight distributed evenly over his body. He fills it with protein bars, his Crossfit shoes, a dry shirt and socks, his weight belt and wraps, and anything else he might need for a workout. Even though it looks small it holds a lot. 

Socks also ranked high on the list. He prefers these low profile socks, and says they come in both white and black. See now here is a major place we differ from our husbands. Socks to us are socks. I usually buy a pack of this style sock when I think of it...or grab a pack from Target.  


KIDS

Girls
I (Carrie Beth) don't know about where y'all live, but around these parts everyone wears workout wear all of the time, including the kids.  Little Mama loves dressing up in dresses and cute outfits, but she also loves her active wear and Blondie would wear "workout clothes" every single day if I let her.  One of their favorites are these cute shorts.  They are like the Nike or Lululemon style, but I'm going to let you in on a little secret...every single one of them is from Wal-Mart.  Yes, you read that right.  Wad-Mart has THE cutest shorts for girls.  They have tons of different styles and patterns and they are all under $5 each.  We have more expensive pairs and these Wal-Mart ones hold up just as well.  I often monogram them for the girls to add a little extra personalization to them, but if you have girls go check them out now!  


They also love their active wear from Justice.  These clothes help them to represent their own personal sports and interests, while feeling cool and comfortable in their coordinating outfits. That boosts their confidence and their self-esteem, which is so important for young girls!



Boys
Boys athletic wear is a whole new realm for us. Now ours are still pretty young, but they love to wear their comfy clothes just like the rest of us. And as boys tend to do, they put their athletic wear through the ringer. Here are some of the things they said they loved:


Dry fit tees are a huge hit. Just like they are for men, our little boys love them too. Especially when they come with super hero themes on them!


They love to wear these for just lounging, sports, or when they are playing outside - especially when it is hot. They are starting to notice that older boys wear these all the time and keep pulling them out of the dresser first. Our preppy loving days are numbered we are sure. 

 Good sneakers are always important. Early on we put our little ones in these New Balance shoes. They were neutral enough they could wear them all the time, had a velcro enclosure so that they weren't tripping over laces, and best of all - washable.


Now that they are older we have been letting them pick their own shoes. Cute chose these Nike's at his last outing. Shockingly two of his close friends also have the exact same pair. :) They come in a ton of colors for both boys and girls. 


We've only had them a few weeks, which is why they still look clean, but so far they have held up well - and that is saying a lot when Cute is involved. His quality control testing skills are impeccable. 



And while this style makes us cringe it is a huge hit. Tall athletic socks. 
This totally takes us right back to the 90's before short/hidden socks became the "in" thing. But we've learned the brighter the better. 


ACCESSORIES
As mom's sometimes the accessories matter just as much as the activewear itself when we want to sneak a workout in. And who doesn't love accessories? 


Most of our days we have at least a child or two (furry ones included) with us at all times. Working out at a gym sometimes just isn't as feasible with our schedules, but that's okay. We've learned that being outdoors for a quick walk or run is way more fun that tromping away on a treadmill inside. 


One of the best accessories that we have ever purchased is our BoB Jogging Stroller. By now we each own a single and a double, but we've been a long time fan. It rides great both on the road and off the road, as well as the beach. 
The only downfall is you have to buy additions for it if you would like a cup holder (in our opinion a must have!!), snack tray, or convert for your car seat to sit in it. It's definitely worth the money though if you plan on walking/running with your kids.  

Another favorite accessory is this iPhone armband. We've had it about a year now and it has definitely with stood use and abuse. It comes in ten super cute colors and for under $6 you can't beat that!


Do you love active wear as much as we do?!?  Where do you buy most of your active wear?  Any favorite brands we should check out?  Leave us a comment and let us know!  

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Getting Prepped for Spring Break

We know we just wrapped up our Winter Break, but this week already has us day dreaming about our next big break. Now that we've gotten all the cold weather fun out of our system, we are setting our sights on Spring Break adventures filled with fun in the sun, warm ocean breezes, yummy fruity cocktails and ending with spectacular golf.

With both Spring Break and The Masters falling in the same week, we've decided it will be the preppy mom's dream week (both hands raised and waving!). We've already begun planning our perfectly preppy attire and putting our favorite monogrammers on standby.

Here are some of our favorite preppy (and personalized) essentials that we can't wait to pack in our bags for Spring Break!

Palm Beach Paisley Resort Collection 
If there is one thing we just love, it's dressing our kids in coordinating outfits.  When we head to the beach for Spring Break (and this summer) one thing that is always in our bags are bright colored outfits that are so sweet and so southern.  This paisley resort collection has something for everyone and is so, so sweet for spring and summer.  That bubble is just presh and the halter with the orange ruffle accents is too cute!


An added bonus is being able to match the kids in coordinating resort tunics with us mamas.  My girls would just LOVE to match me.  Might have to order this!  



Ruffle Rash Guard 2-Peice Set
No one likes sunburnt shoulders, but it seems that no matter how much sunscreen we apply to our little ones, those shoulders always ended up burnt.  The perfect solution is to just cover them right up.  These adorable ruffle rash guard swimsuit sets are made with sun protectant fabrics and are just perfect for any little girl.  They come in 7 different colors and our hardest decision has got to be deciding which colors we want.  These will be a must have for our long days in the sun!


Monogrammed Striped Turkish Towels 
One thing we struggle most with when heading to the pool or beach over Spring Break, or really any day for that matter, are the giant bags we have to carry to accommodate all of our things.  From sunscreens to snack and towels to toys, even the biggest of big bags sometimes aren't large enough.  That's why when we first learned about these turkish towels we were instantly intrigued.  They are super thin, yet absorbent towels made from 100% Turkish cotton.  AND, they are super cute and super preppy with the stripes and monograms.  These would be a dream to be able to fold up and fit easily into our bags, making the load we have to carry so much more manageable.


Monogrammed Seersucker Shoulder Bag
Ok, really they had us a seersucker, but throw a monogram on that bad boy and we are head over heels for this shoulder bag.  It's no secret we love our seersucker and we both obviously are still rocking the mom bag.  The bigger the better in our case! Especially when we are traveling for Spring Break, but really for everyday we need a cute and stylish bag to carry everything from iPads to sippy cups, plus all of our own things, too.  This shoulder bag also has a coordinating weekender bag available that would be absolutely perfect to pack for a quick trip!


Last, but certainly not least, let's not forget about a cute koozie to keep your beverages cool.  These would be so simple to throw in your bag for a Spring Break trip and are a must-have in our eyes.  Whether it's sparkling water by the pool or a cold one on the beach, no Spring Break would be complete without a little something we like to call "mama's water" and something to make you look stylish while you sip away in the sun.  Psst...We also think these would be fantastic teacher gifts!  What better way to show a special teacher a little love than to slip her one of these before her Spring Break getaway!  


What are some of your favorite Spring Break essentials? 

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Project Nursery: Almost There

Well, I knew it was a gamble, but 3.0 most definitely arrived before her room was completed. And the funny thing is...I'm okay with that.

I am loving how it has turned out so far, and for the most part we are finished minus a few small details. Once the room is officially complete I will take real photographs (a.k.a. not quick snapshots from my cell phone), and show it to you in all its girly gorgeousness. For now though I will bring you up to speed on what we completed the few weeks leading up to 3.0's arrival.


Choosing a paint color was tough! I didn't realize just how many shades of gray there actually were out there! I mentioned this on Instagram, and tons of you had great suggestions that helped narrow it down. After much debate we ended up going with Gray Screen by Sherwin Williams. 


While I was making my eyeballs crossed looking at the ultimate 50 shades of gray, Mr. Cute was finishing up the wall trim and bookshelves. 


In one day he was able to knock out the shelving, paint, and put together our furniture that finally arrived. By that evening it actually looked like a nursery. 


And since that evening happened to be only two days before 3.0 arrived it was a good thing that the moment Mr. Cute gave me the all clear, I came right in and was able to put away her clothes and get everything ready. Gotta love pregnant nesting!


I absolutely love the ruffle bumper and the crib skirt that I found once I actually paired it with the furniture, but I noticed the room had a ton of grey. I was going to do some grey elephant sheets I had found, but then decided to throw in some more pink.


I found these pink striped sheets and they are perfect! They seriously are the softest thing I have ever felt and I loved how the stripes play into the seersucker look I am trying to mix in. 


At the shower Carrie Beth threw me last month, my girlfriends had given me a ton of super cute coordinated accessories for her room, and CB had wrapped my gift in this cute grey striped organizer bin. I love dual purpose wrapping, and the bins ended up being the perfect size for the shelves. 



I went and picked up a few more of the grey as well as some of the pink ones, including this fun taller one for larger toys, just to add a little more pink to the room. It will be so nice to have organized storage ready to go once one the shelves are finished and installed for good. 


Don't you love when your kids take super flattering pics of you? 

Cute is taking on my photographers gene, and loves grabbing my phone and taking snapshots whenever he can. I brought The Cutes with me to pick up our glider and he grabbed this little gem of me. I title this photo "Pondering & Stressed". I was trying to discuss with the sales guy our options since the chair I originally wanted was still 8-10 weeks from arrival and at this point I wasn't sure if I had 8 to 10 more hours left to go, and any nursing mom knows a good glider can make or break night time feedings. 


He also snapped this photo of these unsuspecting shoppers making life altering baby furniture purchases. Clearly he was quite inspired by Buy Buy Baby. 

And his pizza dinner afterward. Because nothing says inspirational like cheesy NY style pizza. 
I am so proud.  


The chair I ended up picking, I was able to actually bring home that day. They randomly had one in stock and because I drive a large SUV, I was able to get the salesman to load it up in my trunk without even a worry. 


I love it, and it has most definitely already been put to good use. 


I think I love that it is a little more petite than the chair we purchased for The Cutes. 3.0's room is the smallest guest room we have in our home, so a larger chair would have been a problem as she grew older, but now even when her crib is converted it will fit nicely in the corner for her still. 


Of our original list there is not much left to knock out. Over the next weekend or so we should be finished completely and then 3.0's little space in our home will be complete. 

PROGRESS

3.0 NURSERY CHECKLIST
- Somewhat neutral in color, but not afraid of color pops. 

- A fun girly chandelier!!!

- A large monogram.

- Some sort of built-ins and wall trim to break up the boxy feel. 

- A comfy glider.

- A closet shelving makeover.

- A theme? 

- Furniture that is functional not only as a newborn, but grows with her. 

- Curtains (The windows look so naked!)


Stay tuned!

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