Things I’m Loving Thursday



Believe it or not, treadmill workouts. I’ve got a bunch of great interval workouts that I’ve accumulated over the years, and I’ve found that it really helps with my speedwork and builds a nice foundation when it becomes nice enough to get back outside.


Yeah…I run because I really, really like dessert. Justin’s organic peanut butter cups are the bomb dot com. Milk chocolate and dark chocolate are equally delicious.  I will never go back to Reese’s peanut butter cups ever again after these. Party in my mouth!


This vanity organizer from Target is not only functional, but it’s so darn cute.  The photo doesn’t even do it justice. I can see all my makeup in one spot and access it easily. Win!  I also grabbed these stacking glass jars for cotton balls/Q tips, hair ties & bobby pins, etc.  Our bathroom counter is looking much more organized these days.


Comfy loungewear (oh, and all the coffee). Grabbed this key hole back top from Old Navy- it’s a keeper!  And these reversible leggings from the folks at Hottottie are lovely. Soft and breathable and perfect for lazy mornings snuggling with the little guy, and then squeezing in this workout during his morning nap :-)

I’ve been using Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid for about a month now at night, and I’m a huge believer. It’s done wonders for my skin. Better yet- read Fran’s review. That definitely sums it up. If you want to give it a try, order from their website directly with this link and get $10 off! (They also offer trial sizes that are a bit cheaper if you want to try it out before you buy a full sized version.)

What things are you loving?  Tell me in the comments!

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Affiliate links used where appropriate.

Mom Style, Volume 3 #MomStyleRemix




Top: Old Navy {exactoption}
Jeans: Madewell via eBay {exact}
Necklace: Charming Charlie, old {similar, similar}
Boots: Aldo, old {option for under $20, another option}

Today I’ve got a look with the most obvious of staples: jeans.  And particularly fitting today because it’s the theme of the monthly #MomStyleRemix.

And these jeans?  Amazeballs. They are from Madewell and although pricey, they are well worth it. They hold their shape, fit like a dream and have a higher rise that doesn’t show everything when I am bending down to pick up Bryce yet they certainly don’t look like, well you know…Mom jeans.  I was lucky enough to find this pair on eBay back in November, and they are one of my top purchases from 2015, hands down.

And the rest of the outfit? I went with my trusty cognac boots from forever ago (because flats are king these days).  I also picked up this marled blue swing tee from Old Navy last week and it was on crazy clearance. I thought it would look like a tent on, but it lays nicely, and I appreciate it not being so form fitting- right Mamas?!

And guys, I got real fancy. I normally don’t wear a ton of jewelry because Bryce will either tug at it, gnaw on it or cover it in drool, but I opted to add a pop of color with a pink stone pendant necklace. AND I blow dried my hair. Lemme just say- it’s been a while since I’ve done that.  Usually I let it air dry but it was nice to style it up just a little bit!

Of course, I wear these jeans a ton, so they definitely get remixed. Want proof?  Here you go.

Top: BB Dakota Jack Rufio Top (part of my Wantable box…but I found it on clearance here!)

Check out my previous looks: Volume 1 | Volume 2

Linking up with  Fizz and Frosting | Fashionably EmployedI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels | The Pleated Poppy | Tucker Up | Mix & Match Fashion | Doused in Pink | Curly Crafty Mom | Anne in Residence | What You Make It

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Mom Style, Volume 2





Gingham Button Up: J. Crew Factory {exact}
Cocoon Cardigan: Target {exact}
Necklace: Kate Spade c/o Shopbop {exact}
Pants: Old Navy {old but option, option, option}
Booties: Splendid c/o Shopbop {options}

A fun outfit (nursing friendly for you Mamas out there!) and some random thoughts in my head today…

My hair isn’t this color anymore. I’m starting the process of getting it back to my “regular” look- light brown with highlights. So last week, I got a full head of highlights and it really lightened up my hair- I’m loving it!

I’m participating in a daily ab challenge with a running group on Facebook. Last month was squats/flutter kicks/push ups and I really enjoyed it.  Nice way to challenge yourself and build up in a month…

Speaking of fitness, I signed up for my 2nd race of the year in April.  Can’t beat $16 for a 10k!  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll beat my 10k PR of 48:17?!

Amazon’s Subscribe & Save service is pretty awesome. I’ve got diapers, deodorant, dog food and a few things arriving right to my doorstep, and I get 15% off since I did 5+ items. Saves me time!

Have you heard of the new monthly link up featuring mom style basics?  I’m totally in

Looking for some more navy gingham remix inspiration? I’ve plan to remix mine a few ways:

with a pencil skirt
with a cargo vest (and a puffer vest!)
-with a mustard cardigan or sweater…or deep fuchsia!
-with my cargo field jacket (in navy or army green)
-one of several other ways via Audrey’s remix

Linking up with  Fizz and Frosting | Fashionably EmployedI do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels | The Pleated Poppy | Tucker Up | Mix & Match Fashion | Doused in Pink | Curly Crafty Mom

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Wantable Style Edit {Review}


Wantable Style Edit Review It’s always fun to get something unexpected in the mail, amiright?! Especially a nice treat for yourself…which is where Wantable comes in. Wantable offers monthly edits of clothing, intimates, accessories and makeup, and I’ve tried them all.  I’m definitely a clothes lover, since I had some credit, I scheduled myself a Wantable Style Edit.

I asked for neutral, classic items and definitely any items I requested on Wantable’s new Stream service. You can browse to see product and customer photos and request items with a click.  You can also upload photos of your items and tag to help others discover what they might like.  Pretty neat!  (AND…did you know Wantable price matches if you find it on a retailer’s site?! I’ve done that a couple times- so great!) In any case, wanted to share what I got. Feel free to pin for your stylist in case you want these specific items!

Wantable- Alfred Jacket
Alfred Jacket: lightweight heather gray with a crossback style.  Very remixable and has button closures in case you don’t want to wear it open. True to size (I’m in a Medium.)

Wantable- Arianna Jacket Toffee
Arianna Jacket in Toffee from BB Dakota: gorgeous drape front jacket with pockets.  Super comfortable and runs true to size (I’m in a Medium.) The under side of the sleeves are also made of a knit material, giving it some extra give.

Wantable- Jack Nivea Jacket
Jack Nivea Jacket: wool blend tie waist jacket with oversize shawl collar. Love the neutral print and pockets. It looks good open or closed too! Size note: it runs tight in the shoulders. I am wearing a medium and would have preferred a large. And better yet? This jacket was on sale!

Wantable- Tencel High Low Button Down White
Tencel High Low White Button Down: casual button down with adjustable sleeves. Runs loose (I’m in a Medium).

Wantable- Vermont Washed Down Henley

Vermont Washed Down Henley: this is an army green thermal knit top. Good for layering and runs fitted.  I’m in a Medium.

What would you have kept?

Interested in trying Wantable out?  Get started here!  

Check out my other Style Edits here:
Sept 2015 | Aug 2015 | #1- July 2015  | #2- July 2015 | May 2015

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 Disclosure: I received a credit in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own…I just want to share products/services that I love and think you will too!  Affiliate links used where appropriate.


January 2016 Clothing Budget

january 2016 clothing budget

january 2016 clothing budget
January 2016 Clothing Budget

J. Crew Factory gingham navy button up: $31.50, plus 3% cash back with Splender
JC Penney cream quilted vest: $20, plus 12% cash back with Splender
Target black and white striped tunic: originally $28, on clearance plus extra 20% off–>$15

January total: $66.50

Annual clothing allotment: $600 ($50 a month) = $533.50 remaining for the year

Not bad for my first month with my new clothing goals! You know what helps? A job where you don’t have to dress up because you work in your basement. It’s definitely helped me cut down, but at the same time- I love to “collect” clothes and curate a nice wardrobe if that makes sense.  Making outfits is really fun to me, and although I am not doing it as often as I used to, I still have fun making outfits when I go out on weekends or other random occasions :-)

Also really starting to work on that whole notion of “quality over quantity” and buying with intention. Case in point- in December, I bought a whopping 15 items.  Fifteen!  I bought three things this month, and feel really good about it. I’m starting to settle on my closet color pallette- which consists of lots of neutrals like black, white/cream…and add in navy.  Still working on the “pop of color” since my closet has about one of each color and not a real theme popping out yet.  And the three items I did purchase? Neutral and in my color pallete and as a result- super remixable and fit my current casual-dress lifestyle. Win! (And by the way- how cute is that vest?!  It’s a much cheaper dupe to the J. Crew..and even JCF vest out now.  I’m still waiting for mine to arrive, but hoping it’s a keeper.)

In the coming months, I’m on the hunt for the following things (although it will be interesting to see how this list might change over time):

-Classic cream knit sweater: willing to spend on quality…any suggestions?
Hunter Tour Packable Boots: not a need, but would love the version that packs easily over my current ones!
-D’orsay flats: have always been curious about these. Ordered this pair this month actually but after trying the 9 and 10, I need a 9.5 and they don’t have it.  Oh well- meant to be! Thought they’d be nice support and flattering look for some work travel coming up and a baptism that T and I will be godparents for (so exciting!)
Cashmere black sweater: timeless, classic, long lasting (I hope!) and a current void in my closet.
-Long sleeve white tee: I have some Old Navy SuperCash for February, so hoping I can find something then.
Neutral cocoon wrap sweater: very remixable and cozy, and loved seeing it on Fran, along with this forest cardigan, which would go with all my navy…and Green hunters. Why is Medium out of stock in both?!?
Black maxi dress:already planning ahead for warmer temps :-)
Ivory or cream blazer: would be a nice addition for said upcoming work travel/baptism, and would complete many of the dresses/skirts I still own
Fossil Ivy Tote: it’s an old style, but I love the look/design of it…and because I have a thing for bags. #treatyoself

Lastly, and in full disclosure, I received the following items from my generous sponsors:

Jan 2016 sponsored items

How did you do this month? What’s on your wishlist? Any suggestions on where to find some of the stuff I’m looking for?

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Linking up with Franish

Three Things Thursday


Three Things Thursday coming at ya (ok, maybe four…)

Had some credit from Wantable so got another Fitness Edit.  They totally nailed it!  (I got the sports bra before, but wanted a smaller size…this was before I partnered with Lukka Lux.) The herringbone print jacket, racerback tank and strappy tank are adorbs.  And those leggings.  LOVE!  Try out Wantable for yourself!

Did my first race of the season: the S-No-W Fun Run in Lake Geneva.  (It was cold, but doable and snowed most of the way.)  It was particularly awesome for two reasons:

1- A 5 mile PR and 2nd in my age at 38:59.  I literally couldn’t believe it.  Thanks to Erin‘s husband for capturing this shot…and the coolest running shot ever below.

Race start
VP run

2- Afterwards, hundreds of runners gather in the ballroom at the resort for food, alcohol and lots of dancing including the annual dance-off called The Sausage Dance. (There is also a dance off for the men, too.)  Believe it or not, I made it through the rounds and impressed the judges enough with my white girl moves and WON!  For those that are curious, there is video of it…but not sure if I’m ready for that incriminating evidence to hit the Internets.  Regardless, it was awesome…and there was some stiff competition (like Erin!) #mommasgotmoves #humblebrag #saltnpeppaismyjam


And of course, a couple shots of my little love.  He figured out how to forge a lasting friendship with Izzy the other day…

And took his Cadillac of a sled out for a test drive!

Lastly, I submitted my application to be a member of the Cabot Fit Team.  I mean, I feel like I fit the bill- love fitness, food and social media…so fingers crossed! How incredibly cool would it be do participate in one of New England’s must-do races in May?! If you are interested in applying, the deadline is tomorrow, Jan 29th so get it in!


What’s going on with you lately?

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Mom Style, Volume 1




Vest: Old Navy (sold out except plus-size is available, option, solid red option) | Shirt: H&M (option, option) | Jeans: Madewell | Booties: Sole Society on clearance (option)



Vest: Old Navy (sold out except plus-size is available, option, solid red option) | Shirt: H&M (option, option) | Jeans: Madewell | Booties: Sole Society on clearance (option)

If you’ve read my blog over the past few years, I used to share a TON more outfits than I’ve have been lately. These days?  Not so much. I attribute it to a few things: I no longer work in a traditional office environment (I work from home full-time now, different gig) and most importantly: I’m a momma! This means my style has transformed in a major way. I’ve swapped pencil skirts, blazers and heels for jeans (or yoga pants), cotton tees and flats.  Casual and practical all the way.

So while I don’t have any fancy or what some consider to be “blogworthy” outfits, I still personally find inspiration from other Mommas and their casual looks.  (Don’t we all need help getting dressed as moms?!  You want something cute and put together, but realize that there’s a high likelihood that it’ll be covered in drool and spit up by the day’s end. #thestruggleisreal) So that’s why I plan to share my mom style or “momiform” as some people call it.  I hope to post an outfit once a week– it may be casual, it may be a dressier outfit given the occasion, or if it’s just one of those week where I never wore anything but workout gear, that’s what you’ll see.

Life is busy, children’s schedules and needs are demanding, and it’s easy for your style to get thrown on the back burner.  So I hope to share my looks and closet essentials- and hopefully we can draw some inspiration from one another!

And it won’t just apply to moms — it’s anyone looking to pump up their casual style.

So today’s look features a fun plaid vest I got as part of my December budget for crazy cheap- like $12!  I’ve really become a vest person.  It’s perfect for just enough extra warmth without overheating, and it’s a nice completer piece too.

I added a black long sleeve cotton tee underneath, although looking at it- next time I’d go with a white long sleeve…which I realized I need to add to my closet.  (By the way–anyone have suggestions for a classic white long sleeve that isn’t see through and holds its shape?)

As always, I reached for my favorite jeans from Madewell (and a top purchase from 2015).  Then I added some black booties for a little height and I was good to go!

And I’ve already got a few ways to remix this vest on my Pinterest board: pattern mixing with stripes, with a crisp white or cream sweater and fun necklace, and chambray and white denim. Just when you thought a plaid vest was somewhat limited…

Are you a vest person? Are you interested in seeing casual looks?

Linking up with  Fizz and Frosting | Fashionably Employed |  I do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels | The Pleated Poppy | Tucker Up | Mix & Match Fashion | Doused in PinkCurly Crafty Mom

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My barre obsession…


Ever since I took my first barre class almost two years ago, I was hooked. I loved the challenge, the group exercise component and let’s be honest- the cute clothes, among many other things.  I did it to complement my half marathon training, through pregnancy and beyond.  I had been taking it at a studio near where I worked before Bryce came along, but now that I work from home, I actually get my barre fix at a local studio in Indiana whenever I visit my parents.  I’ve been hunting for barre studios near my like a hawk and found a place that offers them, so will give it a try this week- we will see!  But despite the serious lack in barre in my area, maybe it’s a sign that I should open my own barre studio?  Hmm…or maybe just start small and be an instructor somewhere?  But seriously, that is totally on my my bucket list. What a dream! I’ve even went so far as to do some research, look at rental property, attend barre chain ownership webinars, etc. It’s in my blood to own my own business someday. But so many questions…independent studio versus franchise? Northern Illinois vs. SE Wisconsin?  So, so many thoughts always running in the back of my head. A girl can dream right?!

But anyways, back to reality.

Like I said, barre class is an awesome time to bust out the cute activewear.  I wear it all the time anyways since I work from home too, so it definitely gets some serious wear.  And then I stumbled across EDJE Activ. The owners, Elizabeth & Jackie, met at the barre in Texas and had an ideal to make shirts for themselves, and EDJE Activ was born…talk about #girlboss!

Motivated by their love of fashion, the ladies of EDJE create feminine fitness apparel that inspires you to feel pretty while working out. Their dream is to bring barre fitness fashion to every barre studio and enthusiast around the country. And all made in the good ol USA!

They provided me with a couple adorable tanks (and I am seriously tempted to get one of each from their shop…including their newest one!)  They are great quality, and run true to size. Here’s how I styled them:

Tank c/o Edje Active | Socks | Fair Isle Leggings c/o Shopbop

Tank c/o Edje Active | Capri Leggings c/o Shopbop | Shoes (similar)

Aren’t they so fun!?  I wore this ensemble to barre class in Indiana (where my cousin just became an instructor…how cool is that?!)  I figured I could still get some where out of the outfit since it is January and seems seasonable appropriate, right?

Rocking our seasonably appropriate leggings…that’s how we roll.

So, have you done barre before? Any fun clothes/accessories that you recommend?  I love finding new shops…especially small business owners!  Share them in the comments below.



Build a Solid Smoothie with Green Blender {Review + Discount}

green blender

green blender

I don’t know about you, but over the holidays I definitely indulged.  Overindulged actually. All the delicious home cooking and baked goods…I couldn’t get enough!  While it was worth it in the moment, it left me feeling sluggish and totally negated the workouts I was doing.

So now that the holiday parties and get togethers have simmered down, I realized I was in need of a bit of a detox.  I needed to incorporate more fruits & veggies (AKA clean food) into my diet.  And when the folks at Green Blender reached out to me for a review, I excitedly said yes.

Green Blender is a smoothie delivery service. Each week, they send members original smoothie recipes and pre-portioned ingredients to make smoothies at home. They focus on sourcing the highest quality ingredients, and work with organic farms, urban and local farms, green markets, and vendors who value sustainable practices whenever possible.  Right now, they offer their delivery service in the eastern half of the US, as well as SoCal.

Jenna, the creator of Green Blender, started her company because she wanted to help people create healthy habits in their life. She often discovered that when we decide to make a health change two things happen: 1. We get immediately overwhelmed with choices (i.e., should I go paleo, do I cut out all grain/dairy, what about quinoa, etc.) and 2. We start moving towards extremes (i.e., I have to go raw vegan tomorrow, I can’t have ice cream ever). This diet path can get overwhelming, lead to deprivation and may not see long lasting results. And Green Blender is not about extreme dieting.  It’s about setting members up for long term success by helping them start their day with a healthy decision.  Pretty great, right?

They have various plans (weekly, monthly or quarterly) and offer free delivery.  You also pause/cancel at any time. I got a standard week subscription, which  included 5 recipes, and 2 servings of each recipe.

As you can see here, you literally get ALL the pre-portioned ingredients– just add water/ice, blend and that’s it!


 That includes all the fruits…

The leafy greens, all clearly labeled (because they do look similar, amiright?!)


And then the special superfoods…and of course, straws.

The shipment I received for the week was themed around “Tropical Vacation.”  It included a partnership with Drink Bai and included smoothies with ingredients like pineapple, mango, avocado and kiwi.

The recipe card tells you all about the smoothie, as well as the recipe itself.



I ended up making one smoothie a day for five days.  The ingredients were refrigerated upon arrival, packaged incredibly well and were very fresh and clearly labeled.  And the instructions were nice and clear, even pointing out when you needed to save the other half of an avocado for another smoothie, for example.

I really enjoyed the infusion of fresh fruits and veggies to kick start my morning.  I’d throw everything in the blender and give it a whirl, and I was set!  The photo at the top of this post shows each of the smoothies, but I’d have to say I really loved the Honey Pomegranate Twist the most.  The Spicy Apple Mango was a close second (I didn’t add the cayenne because I can’t handle any heat.) And even Bryce loved the Apple Mango one too!  Since it makes two servings, I froze the other portion in baby food containers and he gobbled them up!  I definitely recommend giving this a try, even for a week.  Your body will thank you for all those nutrients!  It’s super convenient and sure beats trying to hunt around in the grocery store for everything you need, and having excess that goes bad before you can get to it! Also makes a unique gift, too- especially for the health conscious.

Want to give Green Blender a try AND get 20% off?  Sign up one of two ways:
1- Use code “valerie” during checkout OR
2-Use my referral link.

Questions about Green Blender?  Check out their FAQ, or post a question in the comments.  Would you try a service like this?

Disclosure: Green Blender sent me a box to try.  As always, all opinions are my own. Referral links used where appropriate.


Finding Time for Fitness


Finding Time for Fitness
Luna Pullover Hood |  Solstice Sports Bra |  Satellite Pieced Legging

Whether you’re a working gal, student or a new mom like me, I think we can all agree that finding time to work out isn’t the easiest thing. Without a doubt, we always feel good afterwards, but life often gets in the way and fitness gets pushed lower and lower on the priority list. So today I’m sharing a bit about how I’m learning to find time for fitness while balancing motherhood and work and a social life.

Luna Pullover Hood |  Solstice Sports Bra |  Satellite Pieced Legging | Stellar Tank

Sounds easy, but when I’m wearing fitness clothes, I find I’m more likely to actually get moving and work up a sweat. This is harder if you’re at work during the day, of course, but still applies to non-work hours. Since I’m now wearing athletic clothing more than my regular clothes working from home full-time, I’ve decided to amp up my fitness wardrobe a bit so I feel put together at the same time. And let’s face it- having cute, new workout clothes is downright motivating! In the photos above, I’m wearing some stylish leggings, and a cozy hoodie and adorable sports bra that Lukka Lux sent me to try out. (The tank is also from Lukka Lux, and I opted to keep it in my latest Wantable edit!) Their items are fashionable AND functional, which I can appreciate. Really nice quality, too.  And I’m oogling over their spring/summer line that will be coming out soon! Swoon.

I find that if I don’t make a plan to work out, I never really end up doing it. In my day, I try to squeeze in small amounts of movement where I can i.e.- squats/lunges I power up my computer, pacing around during conference calls, etc. I also plan my workouts for the week and schedule them in just like I do other appointments.  And it helps that I can literally pop in a DVD or jump on the treadmill, both of which are 5 feet away from me in the basement so no commute to the gym. And someday, I’d love for T to build me a desk for the treadmill so I can put my laptop on it :-)  However, once it get’s nicer outside, I look forward to getting outside for a quick run with Bryce in the jogging stroller! But for me, working out during the day during my break is the best time because Bryce is an early riser, and there is no way I’m waking up at 5am (or earlier) to workout + shower.  And I’m usually too exhausted by the end of the day once he is asleep to workout (although that may change as there is more daylight later into the day.) Regardless, your schedule obviously will be different than mine, so take a look at your calendar and see when the most natural times to exercise are…then make a plan to sweat!

If you’re trying to force yourself to do a 5am barre workout 3 days a week when what you really love is running the trails after work, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Fitness should be both challenging and enjoyable, so be sure to pick activities you like doing! I love barre, running and DVDs, so that’s what I do. It’s nice variety to avoid boredom/burnout, and barre class is great for the group camaraderie that I lack in my other workouts. Also signing up for a few races throughout the year (including a larger one) keeps me motivated and dedicated to my workout regime. And I’ve been participating in some group challenges on Facebook with daily workouts similar to this (January right now is a squat/flutter kick/pushup challenge). Also love online video workouts, bodyweight workouts and when all else fails- I take to my Pinterest board for ways to mix it up (especially when I want some treadmill intervals/hills!) Bottom line- when I make time for doing something I love (and it doesn’t have to be much time), I always feel refreshed, de-stressed and energized.

Sometimes, breaking a sweat just isn’t going to happen. I feel you! When this happens for me, I just make time to walk more during the day, using my Fitbit as a tool to show me how much (or how little) I’ve moved around. I do a lot of house walking, and move a lot when I play with Bryce (and even use him for weighted crunches, which he loves!) Walking might not always feel like a workout, but it definitely counts in the long run as part of healthy, active living.

Lukka Lux detail shots


(This post was created in collaboration with Lukka Lux. Thank you for supporting the brands that support me!)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Muffins


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #StartWithJifPowder #CollectiveBias

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Muffins
When it comes to breakfast, I am a sucker for baked goods.  Donuts, waffles, cinnamon rolls, pastries- you name it.  They are undoubtedly tasty, but don’t really provide any nutritional value.  Total bummer.  That said, I went on a quest to find a better alternative where I can still indulge without giving up my beloved baked goodness, and I found a winner of a recipe with Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Muffins.   These things are insanely delicious and crammed with protein. That’s because they contain protein powder and Jif Peanut Powder, an ingredient I can’t get enough of lately.  I’ve been using it in smoothies, baking, you name it!

The star of the recipe is definitely Jif Peanut Powder.  When I first heard of peanut powder, I was unsure of how to use it but it really is just as easy to use as making a good ol PB&J. Even better, it has the same amount of protein as traditional peanut butter, but with 85% less fat.  And this stuff is made from just one ingredient: fresh roasted peanuts. And unlike its competitors, it has no added sugar or salt.  (And for the chocoholics out there- they even make a chocolate version…albeit with a dash of sugar.)

Here is the recipe, along with some step-by-step instructions.  Whether you are making these to kick start your New Year’s resolution or looking for a make-ahead grab and go breakfast, you’ll love these little gems.  And BONUS- you can freeze ‘em!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Hungry Girl)
Makes 12 servings

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup Jif Peanut Powder
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup egg whites or egg substitute
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
1/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups, or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, Jif Peanut Powder, protein powder, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.

In another bowl, combine yogurt, egg whites/substitute, and vanilla extract. Add 1 cup water, and whisk until uniform.

Add mixture to the large bowl, and stir until uniform. (Batter will be thick.)

Stir mashed banana and half of the chocolate chips into the batter.

Evenly distribute batter among the cups of the muffin pan, and smooth out the surfaces. (Cups will be full!) Evenly sprinkle cups with remaining chocolate chips.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 – 22 minutes.

Let ‘em cool a bit, then dig in!

You can store these in the fridge so they last longer, or freeze them! To freeze, make sure muffins are cooled, then tightly wrap each one in plastic wrap. Place individually wrapped muffins in a sealable container, seal, and place in the freezer. To thaw, unwrap and microwave on a plate until muffin reaches your desired temperature.

How do you use Jif Peanut Powder in your recipes? Share below in the comments- I’m always looking for more ideas!  And be sure to stock up and grab some Jif Peanut Powder at Walmart, right in the peanut butter aisle!

Jif at Walmart

Bryce: 9 Month Update

bryce 9 months

bryce 9 monthsBryce: 9 Month Update

birth weight: 7 lb 2 oz
6 months: 17 lbs 15 oz
9 months: 21 lbs 6.5 oz

at birth: 19 inches
6 months: 26 1/4 inches
9 months: 27 1/2 inches

Diaper: finishing up using our size 3 diapers, then we are ready for size 4!

-9 months fit great for now, some 12 months too (tops mostly), 12 months pants are a little long
-also in 6-12 month in Old Navy sizing…loving their styles (plus since I shop there and have credit card through them, I can stack sales, SuperCash and credit card rewards- woo hoo!)

Bottle- still 4x a day, 7-8 ounces a piece. But at his 9 month check up, the total ounces in his bottles will start to decrease over the next few months as we give him more food. By 1 year, he will start on whole milk- only a few short months away! Also went down to pumping from 3 times a day to 2 times a day right before Christmas since my supply has drastically decreased.  After  Christmas, went down to once a day and was only getting an ounce, maybe two, so kept up for about a week then I was done officially right before the new year…I am proud of myself for going 8ish months pumping and feel kind of liberated!  No extra pumping pieces to wash/sterilize, no lugging that pump around, yay!

-loves holding his spoon and putting it in his mouth
-can hold his bottle pretty well…sometimes I tip it up to help him ensure he isn’t sucking air, and loves holding his sippy cup to drink water…he guzzles it!  We started with one with handles and then tried one without and continue to practice!
-favoring store bought baby food over my cookin :-)  Or at least the sweet fruit over vegetables.  It’s like he sees the color and makes his judgment on eating or not…
-table food- tried bananas and avocados and sweet potatoes…didn’t care for them and just wanted to touch it, I ended up putting some of it in his mouth…after his checkup, we were cleared to try lots more things like Cheerios, Puffs, and other finger foods, along with toast, pasta, mild cheese and yogurt, ground up meats, you name it!  Aiming to give him three bigger meals like ours (covering the food groups) with some water and then bottles in between. SO fun to have him participate in our meals more and eat more things- it’s going to be fun :-)

-Naps- short ones in AM, longer (up to 2 hrs) in the afternoons right after a bottle
-LOVES being on his belly…hands tucked under him and butt in the air.  The cutest.
-lots of teething going on (two bottom teeth have been out for a while now, and first one on the top just broke through), so he will wake up in the middle of the night.  I rock him to sleep and console him, and when he goes back in the crib he wakes back up.  It’s been some rough nights, but the doctor said that unless he is sick, etc. just to try to avoid giving him Tylenol all the time and get him to self-soothe.  Tough, but last night he slept through the night again. Let’s hope we get a streak going here!

The Highlights:
-1st Christmas–> tried some table food, played in the snow, set up his swing from a log rafter so he could bounce away, and enjoyed the paper portion of opening presents, also fell in love with his newest toy: a silicone spatula.  He won’t put that thing down! Also visited Santa a couple weeks prior.  By the time we got to see Santa, he fell asleep.  The photos were great though- Santa pretended to sleep too, and T and I even got in on the napping in a photo.  So precious!
-Also loves playing with our coasters.  It’s the simple things evidently!
-12/29- standing in crib when I went to get him in the morning…and hasn’t stopped!
-Earlier in the month: on hands and knees in crawling position- very deliberate and scooches everywhere, mostly backwards, no forward action yet! LOVES standing and pulling himself to stand- uses toys, people, furniture to help himself up.
-12/30-  he legitimately crawled from point A to point B.  Whoa!  And he’s been going nonstop ever since!
-1/14- started cruising (walking while holding onto furniture/his toy).  Note: time for the baby gates/child proofing to officially begin!
-Went to his first VU basketball game with friends/classmates of ours and their little boy.  Also made three new friends- neighbors that are 1-2 years old, but love seeing him start to socialize more and more.  A new Little Learners session started up at the library too, so glad we can get him some interaction- which is hard with the winter and him being cared for at home.
-Figured out the light switch at my parents’ house and likes switching it on and off (when he is held so he can reach it of course!)
-We may have a little separation anxiety starting…he definitely likes being held by me (makes me feel so loved, but want to be sure he doesn’t get used to it all the time!)
-Loves rolling over from his back to crawl, especially when changing his diaper.  Makes things quite difficult as you can imagine!  Also, standing in the tub.  Go figure!  It makes bathtime a 2 person job for sure.
-I had my first night away from Bryce since he was born (Dad and I went to Lake Geneva for a race/getaway with friends- so fun and he did great with his grandparents!)

To see all the latest photos of Bryce growing by the minute, follow along on Facebook or Instagram!

Check out the other updates: 1 month | 2 months | 3 months | 4 Months | 5 Months | 6 Months | 7 Months | 8 Months

Best (and Worst) Purchases from 2015

best purchases of 2015

I don’t know about you, but I love reading recap posts from bloggers summing up their year in terms of fitness pursuits, books read, DIY projects tackled or the best yet: clothing purchases.  And since I’ve been tracking my spending on clothing for a while now, I feel like I’ve got a grasp on what actually got the best bang for my buck this past year.

So my analytical self went through my monthly clothing budgets and I came up with what I consider to be my best (and worst) purchases from 2015.

Here are my top 10 purchases from 2015:

best purchases of 2015

Old Navy short sleeve v-neck tee from December: I have a number of colors of this tee in my closet.  They are cheap, and surprisingly, have lasted quite a while.  I wear them to sleep and workout, and find them to be less see-through and more durable than tees from J.Crew Factory or Everlane.
Madewell Skinny Jeans from November: Turns out denim is worth the price tag. Although I found my two pairs on eBay, they are fantastic and if I ever need another pair, I’m investing the money in these.
Zella Live in Leggings from October: Similar story as above. Pricey for leggings, but I wear these for workouts and in “regular” outfits.  Not see through, fit well, and they get great user reviews.  Workhorse in my current wardrobe, for sure.
Old Navy Fit & Flare Dress  from September: I realized I owned a ton of dresses in prints/patterns, but lacked in solids. This one is perfect- can be dressed up or down and is very remixable for those times when I want to look a bit more put together.
Old Navy Compression Crops from September: Old Navy’s capris are built to last. I wear them for daily workouts, races and working from home- you name it. Super cute prints, and very affordable- glad I got this pair since they go with all the solid v-neck tees and tanks I already own.
J.Crew Factory Quilted Puffer Vest from August: Glad I snatched this up before temps got cooler this year. I’ve been reaching for vests a TON and this one is classic and won’t go out of style for a long while.
Athleta Fast Track Long Sleeve from May: Yes, more workout gear.  I wear it when I work from home so I can squeeze in a quick workout without having to change, and these tops keep me warm in the basement without overheating me, and are super flattering and don’t ride up since they have a sticky hem.
J.Crew Factory Boardwalk Shorts from May: I grabbed a few pairs of these in the summer after Bryce was born, and they were my saving grace as I was between sizes, trying to lose the baby weight.  Yay for shorts with elastic waistbands!
Embellished sandals from April: A neutral, flat sandal with a hint of glitter that went with nearly every summer outfit I put together.
Sorel Tofino Cate boots from February: So glad I decided to invest in these. Functional and fashionable, perfect for playing in the snow with Bryce!

And the worst purchases?

worst purchases of 2015

Mossimo Pullover Sweater via Target from November: I bought this as part of a sale. Still love the mustard color, but the quality is bad and it sags and doesn’t hold it’s shape.
Merona Tunic Sweater via Target from October: Same situation as above– poor quality.  I thought it was a great deal when it was on sale…and did that thing where I bought it in a couple colors (sucker!), and unfortunately it pills like crazy.  I love the longer length and fun detail on the back, but evidently I need to think twice about buying sweaters from Target.
J. Crew Factory linen cotton drawstring pant from July: Got these on clearance, and now I know why they were marked that way.  They are practically see through, wrinkle like crazy (it’s linen- I should have known), and just aren’t flattering.  I’ll stick to the white jeans I already own, thankyouverymuch.
Old Navy linen-blend boyfriend teeOld Navy striped ponte knit dress, and Sperry Top-Sider cherubfish mariner stripe shoes from June: The Old Navy purchases were the case of “I have SuperCash and these items are on clearance so why the heck not.” Not worth it and taught me to shop with intention instead of just browsing, because, clearly it gets me into trouble!  I already own a pink top, and already I have several dresses (several with stripes).  That said, I ended up returning the dress and selling the tee at a consignment store. Similarly, the Sperry shoes were a super deal, but the print and navy color just didn’t gel with my wardrobe. Sold them on eBay and lesson learned: just because it’s a stellar price doesn’t mean it should go in my shopping cart!

All in all, my best purchases were a lot of neutrals, mostly a mix of activewear and casual pieces that I could remix, with a couple pairs of sensible shoes.  Beyond these, I’d say my Sparkly Soul headbands from June and my running shoes from August would make this list, too, but these seem kind of obvious.

Kind of neat to have this visual to come to that conclusion!

Now I think it’s important to note that even though I bought quite a bit of maternity clothes this past year (and some clothing in my “in between” size), I wouldn’t say they were my best or worst purchases.  Just practical necessities.  And over the course of the year, my work arrangement has changed from a corporate office where I had to dress up, to working from home full-time + my role as Momma.  As a result, my purchases are reflecting that more and more, especially as I move into this year with a reduced clothing budget.

So after three years of blogging about my style and my clothing budgets, I’m hoping 2016 will be the year when:
-I really buy with purpose and focus on quality, not quantity.  It might mean paying a bit more, but will be worth it in the long run.  Of course, I’m a bargain hunter and will always try to find it on eBay, consignment sites/stores, etc. :-)
-curate a closet where I can remix items I already own and use tools like Pinterest to work my closet
-refrain from buying a ton of new items by resisting temptations with sales/deals and avoiding blogger outfit envy

Stay tuned to see how it goes :-)

Linking up with  Fizz and Frosting | Fashionably Employed |  I do DeClaire | Style Elixir | Walking in Memphis in High Heels | The Pleated Poppy | Tucker Up | Mix & Match Fashion  |Doused in PinkCurly Crafty Mom | Work Clothes, I Suppose

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Links, Loves and Life Lately

christmas 2015

Christmas in Indiana | Bryce’s 1st Christmas | Christmas in Wisconsin

start of 2016
Trading stilettos and skirts for sweatshirts and slippers this NYE…but still kept the sequins. Duh.

Love the act of filling out a new planner for the year. Love the new weekly spread Life Planners from I also grabbed a re-usable dashboard that goes inside to track long-term tasks/grocery list, etc. Use this code for $10 off your order.

Love working from home. One benefit? Lunch time runs!  Looking forward to the first race of the year (a 5 miler) tomorrow!

Happy 2016!  Just wanted to share a few images of life lately, and a few good links and loves:

Speaking of the new year, love these tips on staying organized at life.

It’s been a full week in January, and I have resisted the urge to buy anything to add to my closet!  Instead, I’m busy cleaning up my Pinterest boards for outfit inspiration so I can shop my own closet.  If you have an iPhone, I’m jealous you can use this app to help you work your wardrobe.  (When is the Android version coming?!)  And while you’re at it, check out Laura’s post on creating an all seasons capsule wardrobe…and I find her updates fascinating!

I used these printables (printed at Costco) to give as gifts with a fun frame. Tie it up in a bow and voila!  A gift that keeps on giving all year long.

Are you like everyone else, resolving to eat better and workout?  Try these workout videos (one for each day) and get some inspiration! And be inspired to eat healthy with an organized pantry like this.  I really want to stock up on those OXO containers come to think of it…

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Top 15 of 2015


top15I had grand plans in my head to write a fun recap posts of things that happened this past year (similar to 2014), but work (yes, I am working NYE, thankyouverymuch), family time and a few other things took precedence. So as an alternative, check out the top 15 posts on The Style Files blog that had the most views this year.  (Is it just me or do fellow bloggers find this stuff super interesting?!) #lovethosemetrics

How to Score Deals and Save Money at Target
Stitch Fix Review: Maternity Edition
DIY Ottoman (Featured on Tiny House Nation!)
Aerie Bra Fitting Guide
August 2015 Stitch Fix Review
May 2015 W antable Style Edit Review
October 2015 Stitch Fix Review
August 2014 Stitch Fix Review
September 2014 Stitch Fix Review
Save or Splurge: The Herringbone Vest
December 2015 Stitch Fix
How to Save on Kate Spade
Le Tote Review
Pure Barre During Pregnancy
DIY Dresser Makeover

PS- maybe next year I can get my act together and write a great recap post like Franish or Thoughts by Natalie.  So enjoy reading these!  Happy New Year to each and every one of ya…cheers!