Thursday, December 6, 2018

2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Food Lovers

Looking for gift ideas for your favorite foodie? Check out the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for Food Lovers on Taste As You Go!

It's been a while since I've shared my Holiday Gift Guide for Food Lovers. Three years ago, in fact. I was living the life of a mom of one and still felt that I had that life relatively under control. I was still freelancing and hadn't gone back to work yet... so it seemed only natural to spend some of my free time organizing a gift guide for the blog.

But times have definitely changed.

We have two kids now -- one is a whirlwind chatterbox and the other is a curious toddler. I'm working full-time and commuting an hour each way. We're this close to buying a new house so I don't have to do that commute anymore. And that "free time"? I'll let you know how I spend all my free time once I stop laughing my head off.

(These are tears of laughter flowing down my cheeks, right?)

I just have to remember that this situation is temporary. Things will calm down once we're settled in the new house... Maybe then I'll find some of that "free time" I've been missing so much.

Until then, I'm making more of a conscious effort to make time for blogging... So I'd love it if you'd keep reading and see my present picks!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Elevate Your Style with Ana Luisa

Ana Luisa Jewelry -- exceptional jewelry for every woman.

All my life, I've wondered what it'd be like to be part of the stylish crowd. I wanted to learn how to put together an outfit without effort. Then, once I figured that out, I wanted to learn how to add accessories without breaking the bank.

When I was in my early thirties, I started to feel comfortable in the style department. I rooted myself in the classic style and filled my wardrobe with simple pieces in neutral colors. But no matter what my Pinterest boards tell you... I never felt comfortable enough to elevate my style with accessories.

Things have not improved as I crossed over to my late thirties. I actually think things have gotten worse since having kids. I skipped stylish maternity wear during my first pregnancy. (My stint as a freelance writer meant limited in-person contact with the outside world.) I vowed to change course the second time around but then wound up in the hospital on bed rest. No need to think about maternity clothes or accessorizing when your pajamas will do. (Because your own clothes > hospital gowns.)

Fast forward a bit to life with two young kids. Carving out time to shop for me hasn't been a priority. Especially since clothes don't fit the way they used to. My body is still unfamiliar to me and buying clothes in my previous sizes doesn't quite work. After some hesitation on my part, I decided to take a different approach when elevating my style.

If I can entrust someone else to grocery shop for me, then why not let someone else clothing shop for me? I kept an open mind and invested in a subscription clothing service. The subscription service would let me expand my wardrobe with pieces I'd likely pass over in stores... then I could rely on my favorite brands for the basics.

Taking that chance paid off and I have a new sweater (similar) and a new scarf (similar) that I'm in love with... But what about other accessories? What about jewelry? Would I ever find anything to replace my favorite statement necklace? (Caroline broke it when she was in her grabby baby phase...)

Enter Ana Luisa.

This Brooklyn-based company offers exception jewelry online at affordable prices. They "cut through the elitism and exclusivity" by selling high-end jewelry without the high-end mark-up.

Ana Luisa is exactly what I'm looking for. Since there isn't much room in my budget for jewelry, I'm looking for polished pieces that don't cost an arm and a leg. I want versatile pieces that I can wear with a handful of outfits, on several different occasions. Thanks to my newly established partnership with Ana Luisa... I'll receive complimentary jewelry each month in exchange for honest feedback. Feedback about design and color choices... Feedback about my experience with their online store... feedback about the unboxing experience.

To get started, I answered a simple survey so the company could learn a little bit about me and my preferences in terms of jewelry. They took my answers and asked me to choose from a select number of items. A few weeks later, here's what arrived...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Holiday-Worthy Mashed Potatoes

Well, it happened.

November is here. Some of you may already be planning your menu for your Thanksgiving dinner. Hell... Who am I kidding? Some of you may have even started Christmas shopping! To those of you who fall into one or both of those camps... I salute you.

Me? I have started neither.

Although I don't know where we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, I do know that I won't be cooking the meal. And Christmas shopping? I've been hesitant to start because we've been looking for a new house closer to my job. We'll likely be moving before Christmas... so it makes more sense to wait a little longer to start shopping for gifts.

But I digress.

If I needed to plan a Thanksgiving menu, then I'd plan something like this one. But I'd make one significant change -- I'd add my famous mashed potatoes. Since I was planning on making sweet potatoes, I decided to skip the mashed potatoes. An instant regret because their absence was all I could think about as we ate.

My mother would always have both kinds of potatoes on her Thanksgiving table... with plenty of gravy available. And not having the regular mashed potatoes made me miss her even more. Especially since I owe my famous "recipe" to her. I say "recipe" because she hardly ever cooked with measurements. She was one of the first people to tell me to trust my instincts in the kitchen and to "taste as you go".

I've wanted to share my recipe for mashed potatoes for a long time, and it's taken a while for me to get it to a shareable state. Lots of testing went into this to make sure my proportions of ingredients were accurate. After all, I didn't want to do my mother a disservice by screwing up the recipe.

Are you willing to try a new recipe for mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving? Then do me the honor of giving this one a shot.

PS. Keep reading for additional Thanksgiving meal ideas!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

25 Books for a New Big Brother or Sister

Let me be very clear.

This is NOT a pregnancy announcement. I repeat... This is NOT a pregnancy announcement.

Like most blog posts I write, though, I wanted to share this list of books to read when a new baby is on the way a long time ago. You know... when I was still pregnant with Jonathan... and well before my unexpected hospital stay ahead of his early arrival.

Caroline developed a love for books and reading at a very early age. So it made sense for us to turn to books to help her understand that our family was growing. But she wasn't yet two when we started talking to her about the new baby. Because of that, we had to make sure we weren't relying on books that were over her head.

Target to the rescue!

While out on one of our many Target runs, Stephen and I found an endearing interactive book about a little girl who was waiting... and waiting... and waiting... for their new sibling to arrive. We read the book to Caroline as often as she wanted, guaranteeing her lots of one-on-one cuddle time. But the lift-the-flap format also allowed her to explore the book on her own.

That book helped Caroline get excited by the idea of having a baby brother to love. When Jonathan came home from the hospital, she wanted to read the book to him. And now, she loves telling him how she was just like the little girl in the book and that she couldn't wait to meet him.

Caroline's transition from only child to big sister wasn't without incident, though. As one would expect, there were some definite moments of sibling rivalry that we had to contend with. (There still are.) But the books we read to her about becoming a big sister certainly helped make things easier.

Are you looking for ways to help your little one get used to the idea of having a new baby in the house? Then check out this list of books for a new big brother or sister!