Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Online, Jetlagged "Window" Shopping

I got back from my trip to Germany last night, where I was visiting my parents. While it was sad to have to leave my parents, I was very happy to be reunited with my boys!



I was greeted at home with beautiful flowers and a gift. I'll share the gift in a future post!


After a few hours of sleep, I was up thanks to jet lag. After catching up on work emails, I found myself surfing the Nordstrom Sale. Here are some of my favorites:

Questions: Did you do any after-Christmas shopping? If so, what did you get? 

Be well,
Andrea

[Disclosure: Links are affiliate links.]

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Little Shopping With my Mom

Linking up with: IWillWearWhatILike

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Trying to Stay Warm...

As I have mentioned before, I’m about to travel to Germany to spend some time with my parents. They usually visit us in December and we have been spending a week in Avila Beach with them for the past four years. 

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We were all supposed to travel to Avila Beach again this year, but my dad suffered a severe stroke in March. Thankfully, he is doing better, but my parents won’t be able to make the trip to see us this year. I’m very grateful that I get to spend some time with them in Germany instead.

I’m looking forward to my trip, but I am also worried about how I’ll stay warm. After living in California for almost 25 years, I don’t have much in terms of “real winter clothes.” This is especially the case since I don’t go skiing anymore, and we always spend time at the beach in December. Sure, I have boots, but they aren't very thick and more for fashion purposes than to keep me warm. And my regular coat may look like a winter coat, but it is very thin and doesn’t do much to keep me warm. As you may know, I actually had to buy a “real” winter coat a few weeks ago.

Plaid Coat 2

I got a chenille shaker scarf, a chenille shaker beret, and chenille shaker gloves at Macy’s to hopefully keep me warm. I was looking for a red scarf, gloves, & hat, and it was not easy to find what I was looking for. The chenille set wasn’t what I was originally thinking of, but I really like it now. The price has been reduced on all three items, and I think they are a good deal now.

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CharterClubChenilleScarBeretGloves2

Since my boots are not warm at all, I bought warm, cozy socks at Old Navy a few weeks ago. Luckily, I had bought my boots 1/2 size bigger, so the thick socks work with the boots. Plus, even though it doesn’t get very cold here, I will get plenty of use out of the socks because I get cold easily, and I like to wear warm socks in place of slippers at home. I love the fun leopard print.

CozySocks

I also got two long sleeve tees from Old Navy to layer underneath shirts & sweaters. I ordered them online and got them in long, and I love the extra length. I figure I will be able to wear them a lot year-round underneath shirts & sweaters as well as on their own at home. I had first thought about buying thermal underwear but then decided against it as I don’t think I will wear it other than on this trip. We will see how the tees will work out, or if it was in fact a mistake to forgo the thermal underwear…  

OldNavyLongSleeveTees 
I’ll also layer a white blouse underneath my sweaters, most of which are quite thin. I got the blouse a few weeks ago at Old Navy for 50% off. It works well as a layering piece, but does get quite wrinkly after you wash it (and since I don’t love to iron that’s not ideal…). I like that it’s roomy enough to layer a long sleeve tee underneath. While the blouse works well for layering, it’s not the “perfect white blouse” as it’s a bit thin and not the material I’m looking for to wear on its own (although it would work with a white camisole underneath). A “perfect white blouse” is one of the items on my wardrobe basics list I’ll be working on next year. It would have been ideal if I had found a “perfect white blouse” in the first place, but with all that was going on that just didn’t happen, and I really needed a blouse to wear underneath my sweaters. The Old Navy blouse works well for layering though...
WhiteShirt

Finally, I got another plaid flannel boyfriend shirt in long at Old Navy (I got a black/white one previously). I like the color of the shirt, and I think it’ll keep me warm with a long sleeve tee underneath and will be great for just hanging out at my parents’ house. Right before I put it in the suitcase, I randomly thought of trying it on under some of the sweaters I’m bringing, and it looks nice underneath two of them (and peeks out on the bottom, which I love)

OldNavyFlannelShirt

Questions: Do you live in a cold or mild climate? Do you like cold temps? How do you stay warm in cold weather? What items should I have gotten to keep me warm? 

Be well,
Andrea

Linking up with: Style Stories

[Disclosure: Affiliate links in this post may generate commissions for andreaswellnessnotes.com.]

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tunics & Leggings

My clothing purchase plan for 2016 is to only buy clothing items I truly need and love. I want to focus on quality over quantity and buy the best quality that I can afford. I decided to focus on “wardrobe basics” I’m missing or that are getting a bit too old and worn out. There are many wardrobe basics lists, and I think many of them are a good start, but I’ll customize my list to fit my lifestyle. I look forward to working on the list over the next few weeks.

Two Items that are very “me" and I wear every week are tunics and leggings, and I intend to add a few fun pieces to my wardrobe. I have two good, black leggings as well as black faux leather leggings, so the leggings I’ll add in 2016 will definitely not be black. I’ll pull out all my tunics and see what color will go with most of them and then plan on picking a fun, bold (for me) color (or maybe even a pattern?). My goal is to add a fun and interesting pair that goes with a lot that is in my closet so that I get a lot of wear out of them. We’ll see how it goes.

I also would love to add a few fun tunics. I love tunics but often play it pretty safe. I think I’m ready for some bolder prints.

I’ve had the tunic in this outfit for about six years. I really like the print. I bought the tunic in a small boutique on sale, but it was still quite expensive. However, I consider it a good investment since I have worn it often, and it has held up well. I’ll be looking for a few more fun, unique pieces.  

Tunic Leggings4
Tunic Leggings2
Tunic Leggings3

Questions: What is your shopping strategy for 2016? What are your go-to outfits? What wardrobe basics do you need to add or replace? 


Be well,
Andrea

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Slowing Down and Enjoying Life

Life has been very busy lately, but I have made sure to slow down every day and enjoy the small things, which really are the big things. 

I am very thankful for the time with my boys. 


I've been getting up thirty minutes earlier every day, which makes mornings a lot calmer. I also go to bed as early as possible every day and haven't watched TV. Getting more sleep definitely helps me to feel better and less overwhelmed. 

Finally, I make time for some yoga, a cup of tea while lighting a scented candle as well as a little reading every day - simple pleasures that make a difference in my day.

Question: What are you doing to slow down and enjoy life more?

Be well,
Andrea

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Triple Plaid

A few weeks ago I realized that I didn’t own any plaid, other than some plaid scarves.

Then I came across a plaid coat at Banana Republic when I was looking for a heavy coat that would keep me warm in Germany in a few weeks. I had originally eyed a different cocoon coat at Banana Republic and was thinking of getting it during a 50% off event. I loved the coat on the website, but Andy didn’t really like it in the pictures. Andy and I went to the store to check it out in person, but they didn’t have the coat I was looking for. When I spotted the plaid coat, I really liked it. And the price was great (it was reduced from $359 to $89). It looks like Banana has currently another plaid coat, but it’s not on sale yet.

Plaid Coat 2 
I decided to wear my colorful plaid scarf with the coat.

Plaid Coat 5
I also decided I wanted a plaid flannel shirt - it sounded so nice and cozy (plus it also sounded perfect for my Germany trip). I didn’t want to go for bold colors but decided to keep it white & black. I found this plaid flannel shirt online at Old Navy for 50% off. It’s the tall size, and I like that it is long enough to wear with leggings. I went to Old Navy on Black Friday early in the morning with the older kid (it’s been our tradition for 8 years), and I saw many other plaid shirts that I liked, but I didn’t buy any as I decided to order another tall one so that I can wear it with leggings. The shirt is boyfriend sized, and you may want to size down if you like it not too oversized.

Plaid Shirt 1
Plaid Shirt 3 
Questions: Do you like plaid? If so, what’s your favorite way to wear plaid? I just found a pretty plaid pencil skirt at Loft but restrained myself from buying it… :-)



Be well,
Andrea

[Disclosure: Affiliate links in this post may generate commissions for andreaswellnessnotes.com.]

Monday, November 30, 2015

Easy Appetizers, Weekly Meals & Weekend Fun (November 30)

We had a nice, relaxing long weekend despite the kid fighting a cold. Luckily, he got better quickly.

We were invited to our friends’ house for Thanksgiving and had a great time. We contributed a seven layer dip, cheese crackers, deviled eggs, salad, bread, Prosecco, wine, beer, & cider. Easy things to make & bring - it was perfect!  

My “cheesy crackers” are a super easy, assembly-only appetizer. They are so easy to make but always well received.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product - all I have is a picture with the crackers in the background...

IMG 1630 1

Double Cheese Crackers

Ingredients
  • Goat cheese
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Chives - I use 3/4 of a big bunch, but you can adjust the amount depending on much you like chives.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Crackers
Instructions
  1. Mix the goat cheese with chopped chives, salt & pepper. 
  2. Spread the cheese mixture on crackers. 
  3. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.
I also made a 7-layer dip. I hadn’t made a layered dip for years and just played around with the ingredients. It was well liked but probably a bit heavy for Thanksgiving…. I love layered dips because you can easily change it up by changing the layers. Plus, you could make this dip a whole lot healthier by cutting out the cream cheese, sour cream, & cheese (or at least some or most of it).

IMG 1621 1

7-Layer Dip

Ingredients

Layer the following in a class container:
  1. Cream cheese
  2. Bean dip (either store bought or make yourself; it’s really easy: process in the food processor: 1 can of black beans (or cook your own), 1 - 2 T vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, & 1 T tomato paste)
  3. Guacamole (avocados, lemon juice, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce)
  4. Salsa (I used store bought, but you could easily make your own)
  5. Sour cream
  6. Shredded cheese 
  7. Chopped green onions
On Friday, we were lucky to escape to Half Moon Bay for the day. It was a gorgeous day at the beach. We had a good time walking on the beach.  

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Half Moon Bay 1 
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And then we decided to grab a late lunch at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. Sam’s Chowder House, including its food truck, is well known and liked in the Bay Area. It was our first time there, and we were not disappointed. The food was delicious and we were able to sit outside at the end of November - life was good (except for the fact that the kid had a sore throat at that point).  

Sam sChowderHouse 
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We started the meal with the ahi tuna poke appetizer. It was absolutely delicious.

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Then we shared the fish & chips and the clam chowder. Both were really good.
Unfortunately, the kid really didn’t feel well in the late afternoon, but we were very thankful for a wonderful day we got to spend at the beach.

Here are the meals for next week:

Meal 1: Spaghetti & meatballs & roasted veggies.
Meal 2: Salmon burgers & a salad.
Meal 3: Lentil soup.
Meal 4: Cabbage soup - I’m going to play with this one. I randomly remembered the cabbage soup from the cabbage soup diet that was popular about 15 years ago. It’s tomato/broth based and contains lots of veggies. I will also add beans. We’ll see how it turns out.

Questions: What was the highlight of your weekend? What’s on your menu this coming week? 

Be well,
Andrea

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holiday Outfit

I have several holiday events coming up for which I need to dress up. After looking in my closet, I realized that I needed to get some new pieces.

I had been thinking about getting some faux leather pants/leggings for a while and thought they would work well with a holiday/celebration outfit. Yet, they can also be worn on other occasions. After doing some research, I decided to give Loft’s faux leather leggings in tall a try. I ordered them online during a special “$20 off pants” event. Plus, I had gotten a $25 off coupon code via email because I hadn’t shopped at Loft for a while. Somehow these promotions tend to work on me… ;) I liked that the leggings are fabric in the back and only faux leather in the front - it sounded more comfortable. And I am not disappointed.

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I also ordered the tunic at Loft (it’s an online only item). I like that it is longer in the back than in the front - it really covers the behind - perfect for pairing with leggings. Plus, the color is beautiful and very much on trend right now. The tunic also comes in a very pretty, festive green as well as in black. I’m sort of keeping my eye on the green (and maybe black) one, in case Loft has a major sale, which they tend to have quite often, including “flash sales” where everything on the site is 50% off for 12 hours or so. 

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I chose a delicate, layered fringe necklace to complete the outfit. It was on major sale at Banana Republic but arrived as a tangled mess. I honestly suspect it left the warehouse a mess as the price tag was attached in a really weird way, around the tangled mess (maybe it had been returned that way???…From the price stickers, it looks like it its price was reduced five times). I almost returned it but then decided to invest 30 minutes to try to detangle it since it was such a good deal. And I think it was worth it. We’ll see how it survives my holiday travels…

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Questions: Do you have any “dressier” holiday events to attend this year? If so, what are you going to wear? 

Linking up with: TurningHeads, iwillwearwhatilike, VisibleMonday, Throwback Thursday, Style Me Wednesday, A Labour of Life

Be well,
Andrea

[Disclosure: Affiliate links in this post may generate commissions for andreaswellnessnotes.com.]

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mini Turkey Pot Pies, Weekly Meal & Weekend Fun (November 23)

We had a low-key weekend with some time to catch up on work, housework, and life. My highlights were several neighborhood walks each day and throwing the football around at the park.

Plus, after years of wanting but not buying a DSLR, Andy finally broke down and bought one. He spent the better parts of Saturday and Sunday playing around with it. At one point, during our walk, he laid down on the sidewalk and said, “Stand on top of me,” which the kid took literally and stepped on him. Andy was so into taking photos from that perspective that he continued to take photos with the kid standing on him…

Here are some of his experiments and us goofing around: 

The kid wasn’t very much into “regular” photos.

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He soon refused to be in the pictures...

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But he thought standing on dad’s stomach was fun! 

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 He also agreed to a sunset shot...

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Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I don’t have many meals planned. I’ll make a big pot of butternut squash kale bean soup as well as a spicy white bean chili in the slow cooker (but I’ll play with the recipe a bit and also probably double it to make it last most of the week…). It’s another fun Tasty recipe video.

BTW, last week’s whole chicken in the slow cooker turned out well, but the meat was very, very soft after eight hours in the slow cooker. I think it was probably done after 6 or 7 hours… (My chicken was pretty small…). Also, I had recruited (or so I thought) Andy to handle the raw chicken but when it was time to get to work on Monday morning, he said he wasn’t ready and said “let’s do it tomorrow.” That was after I had already cut up all the veggies and put them in the slow cooker. So I ended up handling the chicken myself, which went actually better than I had thought.

After we ate the chicken, I put the chicken bones back in the slow cooker, added water, another onion, garlic, and celery and cooked the bones for another 20 hours or so on low to make chicken bone broth. I have been enjoying the broth all week.

We are invited to our friends’ house for Thanksgiving this year, so I won’t have leftover turkey and trimmings. I am not a huge turkey fan, but I do always enjoy turkey soup. I also like the mini turkey pot pies I usually make with the leftover turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, mushrooms and peas. 

Mini turkey pot pies 01 
Mini Turkey Pot Pies with a Mashed Potato Crust

Ingredients
  • Leftover turkey, cut into small pieces
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Peas (frozen and thawed peas work very well)
  • A little half and half (or stock to make it lower calorie)
  • Leftover mashed potatoes (it’s also really tasty with smashed sweet potatoes)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
What To Do
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sauté mushrooms in a little oil for a few minutes.
  3. Add frozen peas and turkey meat.
  4. Add a few tablespoons half and half (or stock).
  5. Season mixture with a little salt and pepper
  6. Fill small ramekins 3/4 with the turkey/mushroom/pea mixture.
  7. Top with mashed potatoes.
  8. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes have a nice golden color. 

Questions:  Do you like turkey? Are you a “chicken” when it comes to handling raw chicken? What’s on your menu this week? What was the highlight of your weekend?

Be well,
Andrea

Friday, November 20, 2015

That's It. Bars

Several weeks ago, I was contacted to see if we were interested in trying That’s it. bars. That’s it. bars are dried fruit bars.

That s It Bars

That’s it. bars contain only fruit and nothing else, and they are non GMO project verified. They are gluten free, kosher, vegan, and raw. Each bar contains 100 calories. Combinations are as follows:

  • Apple/strawberries (1 apple + 12 strawberries)
  • Apple/mango (1 apple + 1 mango)
  • Apple/blueberries (1 apple + 20 blueberries)
  • Apple/apricots (1 apple + 3 apricots)
  • Apple/banana (1 apple + 1 banana)
  • Apple/coconut (1 apple + 1/4 coconut)
  • Apple/pineapple (1 apple + 1/4 pineapple)
  • Apple/pear ( 1 apple + 1 pear)
  • Apple/cherries (1 apple + 10 cherries)

Since they are made from dried fruit, each bar contains around 20 grams of sugar per bar (some a bit more, some a bit less). I have been keeping some in my work bag and like to eat 1/3 to 1/2 bar at a time/per day as a little pick me up (I keep the bars in a little resealable plastic bag to keep them fresh.) We have also shared some bars on our weekend hikes.

We have been enjoying the different flavors and each have found our own favorites.

Questions: What’s your favorite fruit? Do you like dried fruit? Have you tried dried fruit bars? Have you tried That’s it. bars? If so, what did you think? 

Be well,
Andrea

[Disclosure: I have been provided nine That's it. bars for free. As always, all opinions in this post are my own.]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Necklace Love

If you read my What I Wore Wednesday posts and/or follow me on Instagram, you’ll have probably noticed that I love necklaces and scarves. I have collected necklaces and scarves for many years and some of my favorites are 15+ years old (and quite a few are hand-me downs from friends and my sister). I enjoy adding new necklaces and scarves to my collection as changing the necklace or scarf you pair with an outfit can change the whole look.

The other day, World Vision contacted me to see if I was interested in reviewing some of their products. World Vision is a charity organization that has a gift catalog with a wide range of products and price points, and the proceeds earned from the sale of the products helps improve the quality of life of children and families around the world.

When looking through the catalog, I noticed several necklaces and knew that I was going to pick two necklaces.

The first necklace is a Balinese multi-strand necklace. Since it is finally cold around here, I paired the necklace with a winter white cowl neck sweater. In warmer months, I can see it paired with a peasant blouse, flares, and funky shoes.

Balinese Necklace 1

Balinese Necklace 2
 
Balinese Necklace 3
Balinese Necklace 4

The second necklace is a multi-colored necklace, and it is unique in that it is open on the bottom. I really like the stones and that they are bound together with a thin leather band. I decided to wrap it around my neck and let the ends hang loose. I like the unique look. 

Mulitcolored Necklace 1


Mulitcolored Necklace 2

Mulitcolored Necklace 3

Both necklaces are very nice pieces that I know I will enjoy pairing with different outfits in years to come. You can find out more about World Vision’s mission on their website, their Facebook page, and by following them on Twitter.

Question: Which necklace do you like better? Do you like changing up the look of an outfit with necklaces or scarves? 

Be well,
Andrea

[Disclosure: I was provided both necklaces free of charge. As always, all opinions are my own.]

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weekly Meals & Weekend Fun (November 16)

Our weekend was filled with lots of activity, but the highlight was Saturday evening. We went to the San Jose Bacon & Beer Classic, where Andy was a judge. He judged the IPAs as well as all the bacon dishes at the evening session.

It was cool to get to check out the San Jose Municipal Stadium when there wasn’t a game going on.

SanJoseMunicipalStadium

I didn’t have any beer but had a few sips of cider and mead as well as a few bacon samples. Here are some examples of the many bacon dishes.

Bacon

Andy worked really hard taking copious notes and ranking the bacon dishes and the beers.

JudgeAndy1
JudgeAndy2

It was fun that we got to roam around on the field. We made sure to hunt down the San Jose Giants’ mascot, Gigante, and I made him take a photo with me.

SJGigante

Then the judges deliberated.

BaconandBeerClassicJudges

It was a fun - but quite cold - evening. We left a little before 10 p.m. and spent the next few hours trying to get warm.

Here are our meals for this week:

Meal 1: Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker - I’m really curious to see how this turns out! This is a cool BuzzFeed recipe video - so fun to watch! On a side note, I am a wimp when it comes to whole raw chicken and already told Andy that he is in charge of cleaning and prepping the chicken and putting it into the slow cooker!
Meal 2: Vegetable bean soup.
Meal 3: Scallops with roasted vegetables.
Meal 4: Pizza with mushrooms & brie cheese and a salad.

Be well,
Andrea