5.04.2016

Outdoor Toys Round Up

It is almost that time of year when it is time to kick the kids outside for a good chunk of the day. Which of course is exciting, but there is some prep involved. We live out in the country and the kids get a kick out of exploring, digging in the dirt, and playing on the swing set. But, other distraction is always needed at some point. I dug through Amazon to come up with  options for us all so maybe we can kick back a bit while they entertain themselves. 

I wish that I loved bubbles as much as my kids. Never gets old. 
1. This bubble robot roams around and blows bubbles for you. 
1. I love these little sticks and again, someone is doing the blowing for you. Am I the laziest or what? 
3. I always get a huge jug of bubbles to have in stock. 
4. This is a little intense, but I feel like this machine won'e blow away and will go the distance. 

 Anything that moves usually gets a lot of play...
1. They have these swings at Maggie Daley Park (GO if you have not been) and they are so fun. The new tire swing I think. 
2. We have this roller coaster and even bring it inside in the winter. 
3. These little swivel cars look so fun (lots of colors). 
4. A classic car that gets years of play. 
5. The kids have been begging for a scooter. This one is good for the little ones (other colors) and this one for the bigger kids. 

 The kids love a little hang out...
1. This little play house is so charming. And apparently easy to put together. 
2. We have this classic little table. Great for eating, painting, play doh, everything. 
3. I am kind of into a tent this year. We tried putting our teepee outside, but was I would get annoyed having to bring it in. A tent could handle a rain storm or four. 

For the curious little one...
1. A little science experiment kit to keep them curious all Summer. 
2. Nice to switch up the usual sidewalk chalk with chalk paint
3. When you are expecting a crowd of kids, having a box of flying saucers around would be a good distraction. 
4. A sweet little gardening kit so they can help you. 

Sports fun and beyond...
1. Functional and cute, love this catch and throw set.
2. Because every kids loves a catapult of some variety.  
4. A great way to get your little baseball player started.  
5. A fun set to get little ones to learn to play catch. 

A bigger investment, but hours can be spent on these tramps and bounce houses...
1. This tramp is on the smaller side, but big enough for a few kids. 
2. Great tramp for the little ones.
3. A classic sized tramp with a great net and good price.  
4. We have a similar bounce house in our basement. The kids still play in it every day even two years later. 
5. A total kids fantasy. Bounce house and Tramp in one. 
6. This combines water, a slide, and a bounce house. Killer. 

 And finally, all things water for those hot days...
1. I love a splash pad instead of a pool. They are so cold and a pain. This one would get a lot of play from toddlers. 
2. Whoever invented the water table is a straight up genius. All the water fun with no danger of drowning. 
3. This sprinkler looks fun and shoots balls out of the top. 
4. If you are going to have a pool, then go with one with a roof
5. This little sprinkler is great for the little ones. 
6. And this slip and slide is down right perfect for hot summer days. 

Would love to know your favorite outdoor toys! I hope this helps you out. My prime is filled up with a lot of these. Cannot wait until it is actually warm! 
xo
Erin 

5.03.2016

Met Ball 2016: Best & Worst Dressed

The Met Ball can be seriously scary and beautiful all at the same time. People want to take a risk, but they want to still be chic. And then there are those that take a risk just for the shock factor and it is a hot mess. There was a little bit of both last night, and I want to start with my favorites. 

From Left: Kate always verges on severe, but this dress is a true work of art and I love the headpiece with it. Cindy slays. She looks beautiful, works in the theme (ManusXMachina) but looks effortless doing so. Poppy looks both from the future and Victorian past with make up from the 90s. Which I would never put all together, but somehow it all works flawlessly. Kate's Versace is truly a work of art. We knew we would be seeing cut outs, because it is the trend that won't quit, but this dress is unreal and fits to perfection. 

This will be Beyonce's first time at the top of my list I think. Maybe because she is showing less skin?? The dress is incredible and her hair and make up look so fresh. Brie needs to lose the severe hair AND make up, but I love this Proenza Scholer. I am forgetting this gorgeous girl's name, but I LOVE this dress. Sienna nails the dress and the beauty this time. Again, I am not sure I can handle the super dark lip on Rachel, but I do love this Valentino. I would have lined it instead of the nude undies, but other than that I love it. 

Claire Danes had a full Cinderella moment in Zac Posen, which looks stunning and then this happened when she went inside to the low lit room. Unreal and SO amazing. 

There were a lot of great looks too...
There were quite a few vets of the Ball that I liked. 
Haven't seen Katie in awhile, the hair is intense, but I like the dress. Naomi looks stunning per usual, but this is really similar to her Oscar dress. Anna gets a little playful in fringe. Kind of over the cape, but this futuristic look on Nicole is nice. Rose just had a baby and looks pretty in this Ralph Lauren. 

The pretty young things came too...
Kate is not dressed up at all. Short and See through with basic shoes, not enough for this event. But don't hate it either. Hailee in a dark lip and emerald green. Nothing show stopping, but pretty. Lily looks chic in Chanel. Mackenzie pulls off the cape way better than Nicole and this dress is gorgeous. Chloe is standing so awkwardly, but this dress is young and cool. 

Lorde also has the most awkward pose ever, but this Valentino is pretty. Anna needs to smile, big time, but love the color of this blue. Alexa Chung goes sparkly tuxedo and I love it. I love this geometric on Zoe (?). Not sure I love all the fathers and random butterfly on Saorise, but like that she did something different. 

There were a few grand entrances that worked I thought...
Allison's cut out is a little strange, but the dress is a work of art. Bee Shafer pretty much slays every year, this is great but also reminds me of her dress last year. Emma's dress has a strange kilt attached to it, but somehow she pulls it off. Zoe brought the drama in Dolce and it is pretty. 

And of course the super models were out in full force...
Joan, Doetzen, and Alexandra all in Balmain, Love Doetzen's best. Feel like we have seen those other dresses before. I think the work gets lost on Bella's black gown, but she looks pretty. 

Normally I loathe the naked dress, but this is a tailoring masterpiece on Karlie. I kind of wish that Amber's dress did not have a slit, but I love her entire look. Kendal's dress is kind of cool, just wish those cut outs were smaller, too bathing suit-y. Karolina's Marchesa is beautiful. 

Gigi looks gorg, but so over this sheer over leotard/underwear look. Miranda's LV is not my fave. Naomi looks 22, so I guess the cheese factor of her dress is kind of ok. RHW is a goddess, seriously is she a real person? Simple, but lovely. Lara is a kind of unreal in tom Ford. like a living Bridgette Bardot. 

Two bumps done so right on the red carpet...
Emily looks amazing and Olivia (never without a choker or course) looks radiant. 

Some other looks I loved...
LSD can wear anything. Not sure I love the silhouette, but the dress is rad. Blake's matching earrings, dress, and lipstick are a little saccharine, but it is really pretty. This dress looks a little awkward in Emma, but certainly a strong look for the theme. I do not know this girls name, but this is a floral I can get behind. Love it with the hair. 

I would not call this boring, but certainly safer looks of the night...
A Lauren in Lauren, I think it is a little old for her, but I love it. Margot got seriously sprayed up for tonight, but it is pretty. Elle looks gown up and gorgeous. Amber goes full vamp in nude. Maybe too nude, but great. 

There were a couple squads there...
Haim the Band is cool enough to pull off mismatched Rodarte. Those headbands are pretty and I love the black dress. And Lena Dunham with her co creator of Girls escorted by Jenna Lyons is SO genius. I loved this so much. And I want those shoes Lena has on stat. 

And then there were some risk takers. Not on the worst dressed, but controversial...
These first three ladies are all wearing Louis Vuitton and trying to bring back Doc Martins. Which I can appreciate, but not on this carpet. I actually love all of the dresses on their own. And Selena's make up and hair looks so fresh. Taylor is really intense with this new look. Like did you really need to throw on the black lip too? The boots are killer and I am sure she was dressed by Anna, but cut outs again??? Not terrible though. 

Now on to the my worst dressed of the night...
Kylie has worn this dress before and the ice skating/pageant look is lame. Wows Kerry Washington. Let's begin with those gloves, then move to the hair, then the ill fitting dress and slit. Not great. If Gaga had worn bottoms to this jacket we would probably all be surprised, but bare legs and the boots is too much. Kim is actually not bad, but nothing revolutionary. Kanye's jeans, boots, sparkly jacket, and contacts throw them down at the bottom. 

Rita is wearing Beyonce's naked dress form last year. Katie is over gothed. Zoe is actually not bad, but those shoes are so weird to me. Lupita was trying to make a statement and the dress comes off kind of cheesy. The hair is interesting, but not sure it makes the right statement. 

Jared is just missing his monocle and looks creepy as s*it. Nicki is like a S&M Jessica Rabbit and she got the idea for those mesh gloves from Kerry. Oh Amy, I love her so much. But I cannot get behind this look. All very matchy and her dress comes off little cheap. Ugh that feels mean, but she could be in something SO much better. Chloe, come on now. Those boots and curls are not okay. 

Madonna literally just got custody back of her teenage son and THIS is what she choses to wear. Again, that feels mean, but you are over 50! This look does not do Madge any justice. Alicia is kind of my favorite and this dress makes me want to curl into a ball. It kind of cannot be described. Ice skating costume/go go dancer/hiking boots. I am so sad. Speaking of sad, SJP. Come on lady, you always delight us with something fun and crazy and this is a big wha-wa. Demi, no. This is just a no. 

So what do you think? Any I missed or you thought I got wrong? Would love to hear! 
xo
Erin 








4.29.2016

New Favorite Salad

I have a new obsession in the form of dates. Yep, it is strange but I swear you will to once you start adding them to salads. I love the combination of a tart dressing, sweet dates, crunchy nuts or seeds, and leafy greens. You get all those flavors in one mouthful and I swear you will want to eat salad way more than you ever thought. Here is the current combo: 

                        

Place leafy greens in a big bowl. 
Cut up a creamy avocado and add that in. 
Slice some hearts of palm and thrown them in because you're so fancy.
Add a palm full of nuts or seeds (pepitas, almonds, pine nuts). 
Chop up some sweet dates (remove pit if there) and sprinkle in.
 Dice or shred some chicken if you have it leftover from the other night. 
Drizzle on your favorite vinaigrette
Toss and enjoy. This is restaurant quality non-cooking here. 
Love you. 
xo
Erin 


4.28.2016

Jumpsuit & Romper Round Up

The one piece wonder. 
How great does it feel to put on just one article of clothing that instantly makes you feel chic regardless if you are going to the grocery store or the fanciest restaurant? After sporting a fab DVF version (similar options here) that I shared on Instagram last weekend, I wanted to round up all the best jumpsuits and rompers for every occasion. 

 First, here are some daytime jumpsuits that are comfy, but keep it pulled together...
1.  This Mara Hoffman  is made in a crepe that could go to day to night.
2. I want to live in this Coolchange printed one. 
3. Everything Wildfox does is comfy and this looks perfect. 
4. This BB Dakota one has an open back for warm summer days. 

Breezy daytime rompers that kind of feel like pajamas, but look so much more dressed up...
1. LOVE this oxford Caroline Constas that could easy be worn into the evening. 
2. A pretty print from Soft Joie
3. DVF really knows her one pieces and I love the tassel. 
4. This Splendid looks like two pieces, but just kidding it is one. ha

A nighttime jumpsuit will always bring on the compliments and is so flattering...
1. This Ali & Joe is not too fitted with a silky feel. (also comes in taupe)
2. This J. Crew jumpsuit could be worn with a blazer for work, then jeweled up for nighttime. 
3. This long sleeve one from Asos has such a great 70s vibe. 
4. This is very similar to the DVF I wore, but in a halter style. 

A flirty romper makes wearing something short a little less involved...
1. I love a white peplum and this Asos has a sweet tie in the back too. 
2. Combining three of of the biggest trends: Romper, Off the Shoulder, and Black Floral. Parker
3. Love this playful print from Parker
4. Even the over thirty can get away with a little open back action. Club Monaco 

And another huge trend right now is culottes. Have you tried them? These versions are convincing me that it is doable and not a big investment at low prices...
1. This Asos pink number is giving me Alicia Viklander vibes. 
2. I love this sweet bird print from Warehouse
3. This silhouette is universally flattering and in a classic black it is great. Asks

xo
Erin 

4.25.2016

Weeknight Dinner: Sausage & Sweet Potato Fries

This dinner is one we have A LOT. The reason being that everyone eats all the components and it takes very little time and brain power. So everyone wins. The oven fries feel like a cheat, even though they are not. And the crazy good variety of sausages available these days can bring some variety to this meal.  I serve a salad on the side most nights. Really throw together whatever salad ingredients you like (current fave: arugula, avocado, pepita) and either make your own dressing or grab a bottle. I cut up avocado for the kids, too. 


                     

Ingredients
Enough sausage for all the mouths in your house (love a spicy Italian and a sweet chicken sausage right now. Use whatever you like)
Sweet potatoes (about 1 per person)
olive oil
salt and pepper
cornstarch
brown sugar

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Place some foil on three big baking sheets.

Step 2: 
Cut the sweet potatoes into fries. About 1/3 inch thick, but don't torture yourself about it. And place on 2 of the baking sheets. You want some space between each of them, hence the two pans. If you run out of space use an additional pan. Drizzle with some olive oil, again don't torture yourself on measuring. Just enough to coat all of the fries. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, a little brown sugar, and enough cornstarch that each fry gets some. Then toss with your hands so everything gets coated evenly. You cannot screw this up, just make sure to give the fries some space. Put in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, tossing a couple times in between. They are done when they are browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Then let cool a bit to crisp/firm up. 

Step 3: 
Place the sausage on one of the other baking sheets. For regular sized sausage, roast in the oven for about 30 minutes. Smaller sausages, less time. When they are firm, they are done. You can also grill if you want! Grill over medium high heat until firm, about 20 minutes. 

Serve with salad and enjoy the very limited amount of dishes, hence the foil! 
xo
Erin 

4.20.2016

Skin Savers

You know what might be one of my biggest regret in life? Laying in the sun and getting tan way beyond my Irish heritage should allow, until I was just brown enough to head on over to the tanning salon. At the time it felt so good and I thought looked so good (it didn't). Now I want to cry for my aging self and the battle of reversing it all. You could say this is what sparks my insane product interest and the motivation to try it all. 


Not that I do not enjoy being a bit sun kissed, because I find nothing wrong with that (in moderation of course). But only if I have slathered sunscreen on all day and somehow the sun gods have found a way. Is that wrong? (insert cringing emoji) 

After being in the sun a few weeks, I wanted to share my current arsenal. Both for me and the kids. 

1. This Coola sunscreen is made with almost all organic products and smells divine. Also comes in a SPF 50 Sport lotion. They all smell like vacation heaven. 
2. I WORSHIP this Sunscience Mineral Sunscreen Powder. First of all it is SPF 50, second it is water proof and lasts forever, and it gives you a little coverage to even out your skin. 
3. These little Neutrogena sticks for the kids face were perfect pool side. I could reapply without having to make sure they were dry. I used it fairly often as well. 
4. I starting seeing a dark line on my top lip (melasma) and thought it very uncool. This is a lip screen that can even go over lipstick from Supergoop
5. I have been looking for a lightweight sunscreen that doesn't leave a white mask. This one does that and it is formulated for sensitive skin and should help with redness. Elta MD
6. I went through two of these Supergoop cans in Florida. Easy to spray on the kids and not one red spot in sight. 

What do you swear by in the sun? Would love to hear! 
xo
Erin 

4.19.2016

Weeknight Dinner

                      How many nights do you cook dinner? Kind of depends on the week, right? I am at about three to four nights right now. That does not count the nights that I am alone with the kids and we have "snack" dinner (hummus, crackers, fruit, hard eggs, salami, etc.) or I just make some spaghetti and cut up fruit (kind of my fave night). The other nights we are out or get take out. Three to four feels good to me, and that usually gets upped as it gets warmer and its easy throwing burgers on the grill and roasting some sweet potato fries. 

But making dinner can be hard, even for the most seasoned cooks, even when you have planned it way in advance, even if your kids will eat everything (bless you if they do). So no judgment here if you have eaten leftovers all week or have to throw out food in your fridge you were certain you would cook one night. We are all doing it and it is totally fine. 

I am going to try and share more of our simple weeknight meals to hopefully give you some ideas and share timing. You will see these are simply prepared, mostly healthy, and not that adventurous. Because when 5pm rolls around the last thing you want to do is dive into a complicated recipe. That is what Sundays are for. Or your favorite restaurant.  

First up is this meal from last night. 

         
Grilled Flank Steak with Cauliflower Rice and Grilled Asparagus

Ingredients you need: 
Enough Flank Steak to feed all the mouths in your house 
white wine (that old bottle in your fridge is totally fine)
Dijon mustard
garlic
shallot (optional)
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 head of cauliflower
Asparagus (1 bunch for every 2-3 people)

Step 1. 
Marinate the steak: Whisk together 1/3 cup each wine, mustard, and olive oil. Smash a couple garlic cloves and chop up a shallot if using. Add it to the marinade . Using a small knife, score the very top of steak in a pattern like this ###.  Place the steak in a plastic bag, pour the marinade in and seal up attempting to get all the air out. Massage in the marinade and refrigerate. This is enough marinade for up to 2 lbs of steak. If making more, just add more of each ingredient, you cannot really mess it up. You can do this the day before all the way to 20 min before grilling. 

Step 2. 
Make the "Rice" (if you are over fake rice, just grab a couple of those brown rice packs that cook in 90 seconds and season yourself. Do it all the time): Working in batches, add raw cauliflower to a food processor or Vitamix, or whatever you have that blends things. Pulse until the cauliflower magically turns into the size of rice. Place in a bowl and repeat with the rest of the cauliflower. Can be done in advance, just refrigerate. 

Step 3. 
Prep the asparagus: Cut the ends off the asparagus and place in a plastic bag. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat them and season with salt and pepper. Close bag and shake it to make sure everything gets seasoned. Toss in the fridge. 

Step 4. 
Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Take meat out of the fridge.

Step 5. 
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a few slugs of olive oil. Smash two garlic cloves and add to the hot oil, cook for a minute or so, then add the rice. Sauté for fifteens minutes and season with salt and pepper. Remove the garlic before serving. Set aside and keep warm while you make the other food. 

Step 6. 
While the rice cooks, put the steak (throw some salt and pepper on it) and asparagus on the grill. The steak should cook about 5-8 minutes on each side depending on thickness and how you like it cooked. The firmer it gets, the more cooked it gets. The asparagus cooks for about 10-15 minutes and just flip once or twice. It is done the it is tender. Let meat rest on your cutting board for ten minutes. Keep asparagus warm in oven or put some foil on it. 

Step 7. 
Slice the meat in the opposite direction of the grain (those are the lines running across it). Serve up with the rice and asparagus and pour yourself some wine. 

Does that feel doable? Do you like the format I am writing this in? Suggestions more than welcome. And share your results with me! 
xo
Erin 

Note: Flank Steak recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa 








4.15.2016

Spring Dresses: Derby, Weddings, & Everything In Between

Spring always brings a flurry of invitations and save the dates. All those weddings, parties, or even just a night out with your main squeeze is the perfect excuse to shop for a dress that makes the occasion feel special. 

Derby Day has had a special meaning to me over the last ten (10!) years as Matt and I met at a charity Derby party (this one) and have been together ever since. Now that we are in the suburbs we will be attending the Barrington Children's Charity Derby Party, and it will feel extra sweet this year with that ten years to celebrate. Deciding between this and this to wear this year. 

And there is always the flurry of wedding showers, receptions, and (hopefully) warm date nights out to snag a new dress for. So here are twenty-four colorful options for all of the above. 

Pink pretties...
1. Love a ballet nod. Black Halo $190
2. The perfect palette to add your fave jewelry. Banana Republic $78
3.  Off shoulder and hot pink. love. Black Halo $298
4. When you want a little length. Black Halo $390
5. Obsessed with the laser cut. Elizabeth & James $365

Fun brights...
1. Love the scallop trim.  J. Crew $128
2. Pretty and looks comfy. Milly $350 (many other colors)
3. LOVE this. Delicate and interesting. Tracy Reese $348
4. Sporty and would look great with gold jewelry. Elizabeth & James $385

Love the off shoulder trend...
1. A pretty print, love this. Rebecca Taylor $371
2. Sweet yellow. Cupcakes & Cashmere $105
3. A sexy boho action. Asos $187
4. Breezy navy Alice + Olivia $368

 Some sweet prints...
1. Banana has upped their game. This is so pretty. Banana Republic $98
2. This is crazy flattering. Parker $265
3. A sweet brocade. Alice + Olivia $440
4. I want to live in this all Spring. Asos $55

Stripes and geometrics...
1. Classic and uber flattering. Milly $375
2. LOVE the pastel stripes. Ted Baker $225
3. A modern cut in soft colors. Elizabeth & James $395

Not right for a wedding, but certainly for anything else...
1. Seriously, Banana. this is beyond cute. Banana Republic $168
2. Love a ruffled drop waist. ST Olcay Gulsen $150
3. This breezy dress has great volume. Asos $51
4. This looks like you could live in it. BB Dakota $90

Happy celebrating and hopefully Spring. 
xo
Erin 

4.14.2016

Edamame Hummus

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day (yes, I realize this was over a month ago), I made some green food to bring to a friend's. Besides rolling up some spinach tortillas and adding a little green food coloring to chocolate chip cookies, I made this easy dip. It took 5 minutes and comes together with ingredients you might already have. Or at least most of them. The edamame gives this hummus a new spin since we have all had the same boring one a billion times. Plus, I am sure there are some health benefits of the edamame, so there's that. 

                  

Edamame Hummus
Imperfect Polish 2016

1 bag of frozen edamame, defrosted 
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
juice of two lemons
1/2 cup tahini 
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
water and/or olive oil
salt and pepper

Place the first five ingredients in a blender/food processor/bullet/vitamix and process until smooth. Add in some water and/or olive oil to desired consistency (start with a little, process, add more if you need it, repeat until you get to what you like). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be store in the fridge for 5 or so days. 

Enjoy! 
xo
Erin 


4.13.2016

Bathroom Renovation: Wet Room

Hi there. So I was away for awhile, got some sun, avoided reality, and am now back and settling back into it. Posting has been spotty, but this warmer weather and sunny days always motivates me to write more. So here is to hoping. 

A huge project on my mind right now is one that will hopefully be happening this Summer (let the permit gods bless us with a fast turnaround). We are doing a few small additions to the house, one of which will expand our master bath. I have been pouring over images for inspiration and ideas and working through sketches with the architect. One idea that came up was a wet room. Or really a huge shower with a small tub in it. I maybe use our current tub 3 times a year, maybe. So a tub is not a huge priority, but we still need one. The idea of a wet room seems like a good space saver for our particular floor plan. Here are some ideas: 

source unknown 









via: Glass Doctor

What do you think??? 
Our layout would be a steam shower with glass with the tub towards the back, two shower heads on each side. And don't even get started on tile and finishes, plenty of narrowing down to do before I start sharing. One step at a time. 

xo
Erin 

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