Friday, September 27, 2013

Links + Love + Libations

* Sunday we had a boozy brunch date with friends sans kids and afterwards I tried on a killer coat. I kind of want to go back for it. It was BANANAS and being that it was by Rachel Zoe it makes total sense.

* Monday I got stuck in traffic and suffered a small (albeit, scary) panic attack and I realized my anxiety isn't as in check as I thought.

* Tuesday I made a wicked good dinner that got re-pinned several times. I hope y'all enjoy it as much as we did!

* Tonight we're going to try out Pieology as they just opened up in our 'hood so I'm intrigued to see what all the hype is about. I'm a die hard RoundTable Pizza girl so this should be interesting.

Around the web:

* I think we all got a good chuckle from JT & Jimmy. However, Questlove stole the show #thisisbrilliant

* My style icon launched her fall collection with HSN. I'm kind of swooning over these boots.

* With the kids having well checkups this week and due for shots, this article about vaccinations kind of hit home.

* Hair issues, I got 'em and clearly I'm not the only one. This woman does as well and I feel her on all levels.

* Oh and just for fun Target is doing a buy one get one 50% off on all shoes and handbags on You're welcome.

* Funniest insta of the week via ToBNatural : I cried laughing when I saw it.


In honor of Fall finally arriving (sort of - it's still mid 80's here) I thought I'd do a nod to the upcoming crisper weather, football on TV and cozy weekends spent by the fireplace. I'm not normally a dark liquor kinda lady but I do like the idea of a tangy + spicy beverage and this seems perfect for the season.

Ginger & Apple Bourbon

Fall cocktail - 2 parts ginger ale, 2 parts fresh cider, 1 part bourbon

Tampopo Ginger + Apple Bourbon
2 Parts Gingerale or a Ginger Beer 
2 parts fresh cider (non-alcoholic)
1 part Kentucky Bourbon
Garnish with apple slice
* Add a little sparkle by ringing the rim in a cinnamon + sugar combo or the apple slices!

Happy Weekending!!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good Eats: Not Your Typical Tuesday

It was a Tuesday like any other. I was standing in front of my fridge/freezer teeing to figure out what the hell we were going to have for dinner. I've been in a bit of a cooking rut as of late. I was doing really well throughout the summer trying one or two new recipes a week but somewhere in between taking a small vacay and the 100+ weather I lost my mojo.
Back to the freezer; after several minutes I figured I'd just take our sine chicken thighs and breakfast then in a white wine reduction with some onions and herbs and call it a day. Nothing exciting but hey, at least it wasn't anything we'd had recently.
So I set about pulling the ingredients together and sent about my day. Then in a rare moment of down time I was scrolling FB and remembered my friend had posted a yummy sounding recipe the day before. Healthy Skillet Lasagna. 

I quickly pulled it up and checked to see if I had all the ingredients. All but one. Sweet. 
I took out the meat to defrost and gathered the cast of characters as per the original recipe and set off to the store for the one missing item and some kind of bread to accompany.
With Carson taking an afternoon nap I say down to read and didn't even begin to start our meal until Damon got home.When I told him what we were having he looked at me incredulously and inquired as to how I was going to make lasagna this late in the day. That's the beauty of skillet lasagna...

Roughly thirty minutes later we had a delicious and healthy meal. Topped off with warm crusty French bread + a salad of mixed greens and a glass of wine, it all made for a refreshing change to our regular Tuesday night dinner. 
Damon even went back for seconds so I know this recipe is a keeper.
I made a few modifications based on personal preference so here is my version of what I call "Skinny" Skillet Lasagna.

Skinny Skillet Lasgana

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb ground turkey / lean ground beef or ground turkey sausage *
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 6 oz part skim mozzarella cheese*
  • 1 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste *
  • optional: Parmesean cheese
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the chopped onion and cook until translucent (4-5 minutes). Stir in the garlic and ½ tsp salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  2. Add in the ground beef, breaking the meat into pieces and cooking until no longer pink.
  3. Layer the lasagna noodles over the meat and pour the tomato sauces and water over the pasta. Cover and bring the dish to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until the pasta is done. Season the lasagna well with more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Take the lasagna off the heat and roughly stir in the cottage cheese. Top with big chunks of mozzarella and let sit covered for 5 minutes or until cheese it melted.
  5. If desired (I recommend it!), top with Parmesan and basil.

*I used both ground turkey + turkey Italian sausage + omitted the Parmesean. 
** I also added the tomato paste and a tbsp of pre-made pasta sauce I had on hand to thicken it up
*** I used shredded mozarella because that's what I had on hand and I just eyeballed it.

Have you tried any new recipes lately? What do you do to help get out of a dinner rut?

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Must Buy All The Things

I have been on a home decor pinning and day dreaming spree as of late. I blame Edie. She has excellent taste and it's got me inspired to do some sprucing up. Add to that the fact that I put a temporary spending freeze on myself for the month (kind of just to see if I could do it) and have duly transferred all my fashion energy into home design and projects, and you have a dangerous lady on your hands.
For me home decor is all about the visual and the tangible so I like to go and peruse things up close and personal. It's not uncommon to find me and the boy cruising through a home decor store on a weekday 'just because'.
One of my usual haunts is HomeGoods  which I love because they always have amazing knick knacks that add character to a home + fabulous pillows. And because we're still developing our home style as a couple and also redefining it as a family of four, I know I'm not going to break the bank on my purchases as we test the waters. I also like the flea market for it's unique pieces, as well as thrift stores for the same reason. Oh and the prices can't be beat.
However, I tend to be somewhat of a commitment phobe when it comes to the larger pieces. For instance I've been wanting a new rug for about 2 years but can't really commit to one. I find a few I like but then I'm not sure how it will look, what if we get new couches, etc? And what happens when we move? It's a bit hard for me to fall in love with a layout as I know we have plans to vacate this space sooner rather than later. So there's that.

But I decided to take a cruise through my local HomeGoods the other morning and I was delighted by all the fun things I found. I had a blast strolling down the aisles scouring them for that one unique piece that would catch my eye and scream "Pick MEEEEEE!!!"and oh my, did I hear some screaming!! I wanted to scoop them all up and  run to the checkout. Where would I put it all? Who cares? It was fabulous!

Adorable and fun bookends. A kitschy pineapple or owl, a  horse head, a hand with all the palm reading lines laid out, a bright globe for our bookshelf , stools and stands in fun colors, a faux deer /oryx head. I mean. Seriously.

I was so drawn to it. I have no idea why. That's not even really my style but as I looked at it my imagination went wild. The fact that it's white and virtually a blank canvas definitely helped. My new found love of spray painting all the things probably also helped. I could fully see it in a bright yellow, a metallic silver or gold. Definitely gold. Which of course prompted me to look online to see if the price was reasonable and if the idea of me spray painting was totally nuts....and of course I found several options to justify my crazy.
White Faux Taxidermy fake animal heads with glitter antlers - the perfect touch for a rustic and quirky wedding!

Alas, when I went back o purchase it was gone. My heart dropped a bit but I knew that l was running that risk when I didn't walk out with it the moment I saw it. Sigh. So now, I'm on a mission to find something similar while using my ninja shopping skills to stalk the store and see if they get another or someone returns it.

Come back next week to find out what I did to quench my decorating thirst!

Do you find you have a specific home style or are you still figuring it out like me? 

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Hour : Links + Love + Libations

Happy Friday y'all!
I'm doing my best at getting back into the 'swing of blogging things' but with the weather still pretending its summer and my calendar and schedule saying "Fall's a-coming!" I'm kind of a hot mess.

Last week was super fun as I got to do some styling for a few friends (Katie / Michelle) who needed some fresh ideas. If you ever get stuck feel free to contact me and I will be happy to create something for you or if you're local I can even come over to "play dress up", edit your closet or go shopping!

I guest posted over at Chic Busy Mom on a Fall Makeup Trend I tried and replicated in 15 minutes!

And I shared my love for graphic tee's and showcased how I style them.

Around the web:

* I met Ashleigh at Blissdom and fell in love with her spirit in like 2.5 minutes. Not even kidding. I just wanted to hug and have a long coffee chat with her. She is a mama to three boys and wife to a Marine.
And she has a son who does ballet . All kinds of awesome

* This. All about GYPSY and this Facebook Image Crafting, apparently it's a thing.

* The Hollywood Housewife brought up some things that I have been experiencing but had yet to really address.

* Also my friend JJ wrote an excellent piece about feeling left out and "ugly" in life. That could've been me writing in my twenties.


The weather is finally turning a bit cooler even if only in the evenings and I can't help but give one last nod to summer with this week's tasty delight. I found this while pinning my heart out the other night and the fresh fruit  looked so tasty I knew it had to be this week's drink! Cheers friends!

This would be perfect for a sunny day with friends!   The Berry Booster   1 ½ oz Berry acai vodka  1 oz fresh blueberry puree  1 oz seltzer  Mix vodka and blueberry puree in a shake with ice. Top with seltzer

1 ½ oz Berry acai vodka 
1 oz fresh blueberry puree 
1 oz seltzer 
Mix vodka and blueberry puree in a shaker with ice. 
Top with seltzer

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What To Wear: West Coast Style Meets East Coast Life

One of my favorite things about the blog is the many conversations I have with friends both near and far about fashion. And not just in the sense of what's hot now, or who's wearing what. I mean real life fashion. What's working for us as women who still want to be stylish while managing our busy lifestyle's. Not every working mom has a 'traditional' 9-5 type gig. One of my best friends is a licensed massage therapist who works at a spa and has private clients so she's not exactly running around in stiletto's when meeting clients. Still, she wants to look cute and step up her every day outfit game but in a manner that is fitting to her life. This is where I come in.
We were talking the other night and she admitted that she realized that her daughter isn't a fan of certain styles/types of clothing because she herself doesn't wear them. So, she asked me to pick out some things for her taking into mind her lifestyle, the climate and her personal style.
I was more than happy to oblige.
West Coast Translation

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Being that she lives in Connecticut I had to consider the weather but I know she know's how to layer so I just went with the basic pieces. She's not really a 'heels all the time girl' and she's much more boho/ beachy than I am so I also kept that in mind as well, but she's not afraid of a tailored piece either and since I happen to know she's in the market for some ankle boots with a low heel, that's where I started. From there it all came together pretty easily.

1. I've been after her for years to break down and buy some premium denim but she staunchly refused stating that her box store brands were just find. I begged to differ but she wasn't hearing me.
However, she's recently tried on some premium denim and noticed the difference in fit, cut and wash and is now a bit more inclined. Here you go my love, a distressed dark skinny denim is what every woman needs. No matter the season, region or size. It's a wardrobe staple for sure. The ankle boots are key and will go with absolutely everything as will the perfect plaid shirt. Layered under a sweater / cardigan she can adjust as needed for the weather.

2. Now you might be asking " well if she's not a heels girl why on earth did you suggest metallic heels?" Because everyone needs a pair of classic heels in a fun hue/print. These are them. And she is more likely to wear these than say, neon yellow. The pants and the tuxedo jacket scream sophistication and that's exactly who she is. I can see her rock this with a slicked back pony and a fun smokey eye.

3. A graphic tee with the perfect East Vs. West message mixes perfectly with short shorts for a night out with her hubby in the city. I paired these faux leather and lace shorts with ankle boots because I know she's not that much of a 'heels girl' but we can all use a little something and these won't kill her feet! Adding tights as the weather grows colder and knee high or over the knee boots lends sass and subtle sexiness.

4. The striped top is a given and can be swapped out for a short sleeve tee, a tank or sweater depending on the weather. You  really can't go wrong with classic stripes in any color. Again, these are not heels, more of a wedge and since I know my friend Andrea has a pair, and she's a bit taller than Michelle, these are more than sufficient. They take a simple jeans + tee and take it to the next level. No need to cringe when running into one of the 'school moms' wearing this.

What I love about this collection is that it can all be mixed and matched for creative takes on new looks and it will only enhance what she already has in her closet and it's kind of the perfect jumping off point to create more looks. But I'm a shopper so I think about things like that.
Obviously, weather wise I would add several other components to the collection (scarves/hats/gloves oh my) but she's a smart cookie and knows how accessorize according to the occasion.

Stay tuned for more What to Wear series by season and occasion!
If you're interested in personal styling tips for yourself shoot me an email! 
fromcarpools2cocktails (at) gmail (dot) com
I'd love to help you out!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hair Rules + Some Changes

Being a Black woman we are all about our hair. I've said it more than once but in a society who's standards are based on an outdated unrealistic view of European beauty, it's been hard to fall in love with (our/my) hair in it's "natural" state. In the last few years though the natural hair movement has become a huge phenomenon and I love seeing women of color embrace their hair as is and begin to veer away from the creamy crack. I myself was addicted for years and did major damage to my tresses in the process.
At 18 and finally 'allowed' I began to add subtle color to my hair. It started out as a cellophane (you can really only see the color in direct sunlight) and gradually moved to a dark purple rinse (again you couldn't really see the color) and then highlights. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I dyed it full out. And I went from blonde to red in a week. I loved being a blonde but I loved the red hair more. I felt sassy and sultry and I loved it. But the damage I did to my hair was real and there was nothing I could do about it. My only options were to stop coloring so long as I had a relaxer/perm or let the creamy crack go. So I got a good trim and said goodbye. It was hard to see my hair "fluff up" and not be so silky straight all the time but somehow I powered through (thank you weave hair). That was 2008.  I haven't colored my hair (more than just a few highlights) in over 2 years. And after dealing with 'post baby hair' (more shedding/growth etc.) for almost 18 months I was itching for a change.

A few weeks ago I was ready to take out my 'summer hair' (i.e. my weave) and was totally going to stick with the dark hair for fall and then I was catching up on the Style Network one afternoon for a Tia & Tamera marathon and saw Tia's new hair. A bit of a twist on the ombre that was so popular last year but completely my style and totally fresh.

I was hooked. I mean. I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I jumped online to find more pictures to show my stylist and of course post to my Insta peeps and received a resounding YES! to whether or not I should make such a drastic change.
I could hardly wait for Wednesday and to see how it would all come out. After almost 7 hours at the salon ( Sweet Pea had to get her hair whipped up too) my transformation was almost complete.

under the dryer waiting for the magic to happen

Because my hair was super dark to begin with it took forever to process and since we didn't want to completely damage my hair's integrity, I didn't go as blonde as Tia's.  At least, not yet. This was the first time in a long time a woman's hair inspired me and because she looked like me, I wasn't worried too much about if my hair would actually look like my inspiration photos.

the final results

I think, I might still want to go a bit lighter and possibly add a streak of purple because, hey I'm 34 with two kids and that's how I roll, but for the most part I'm loving the way it turned out. The honey blonde color has brought out the more playful side of my fashion and beauty personality and for the last few weeks I've been having quite a bit of fun playing around with different makeup as my usual "go to's" aren't looking quite the same with the new do'.

I can't wait to see how it looks all up in a bun, with a smokey eye or a bright red lip (still holding out on trying that) and as the color grows out and changes. One of my favorite things about changing my hair is the opportunity it provides to switch up my look!

Do you adjust your makeup when/ if you change your hair color / cut / style? Will you be making any drastic hair/makeup changes for fall? 

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Transitional Style : Ankle boots + graphic tee

I have a confession, As the weather had been unbearable I'd kind of lost my styling mojo as all I wanted to really wear was my bathing suit. Being that that wasn't really an option I made do with dresses and loose tanks. I had no motivation to be 'cute' because I knew I would pretty much melt upon leaving the house and all that 'cute' would go to waste.

The weather finally broke Monday night with a delightfully refreshing (albeit brief)  thunderstorm that I think partly helped to get me out of my sartorial haze. Because when I woke up this morning I knew exactly what I wanted to put on. Pairing boots with shorts isn't a foreign concept to me but it's been much too warm to even begin to consider putting my toes inside anybody's shoe. But some chipped toe nail polish and no time to remedy helped change that.

tee: H&M (old) / shorts: DIY / Boots: Nordstrom Rack (similar) / sunnies: Old Navy 

Speaking of graphic tees....I snagged this one several years ago when H&M first opened in California and I was 'Beauty girl' at FIDM. I thought it was so cute being a makeup artist and I lived the double entendre. The shorts are an obvious favorite as I've pretty much been living in them since cutting them in August  and the Kelsi Dagger ankle boots were a lucky find at Nordstrom Rack one day last year. 

Have you jumped on the graphic tee bandwagon? How would you wear one? 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Target Styled for Fall

Everyone knows that Target is one of my favorite locations on earth. I shop there at least once a week and consider it to be a gold mine for fast fashion pieces. I know some people don't think one should only shop at one store all the time and I get that. I like to spread the love and see what's out there but if Target is all you got, then lucky for you they've got a lot to work with!
Personally I've scored several fun pieces that I don't regret purchasing one bit. The fact that I get tons of compliments on them helps a bunch too.
Over on the C2C page I asked what y'all were interested in seeing on the blog here this season and received a variety of requests.
My friend Katie said " If I can only buy one piece for Fall what should I buy?" I then inquired as to a budget and she mentioned something about a "shop at Target budget". know I LOVE that store!! Done and done!!

Fall Wardrobe - Target Style

Katie is a mama to a sweet little girl , certified personal trainer, blogger and internet friend. That's right folks. We've never met face to face. But she speaks to my heart with her words and we have shared quite the journey thus far so I was happy to help.
I happen to know that her 'style' is comfy. So I even though she suggested one I couldn't help but pick 6 pieces that I thought would be the perfect additions to her fall/autumn wardrobe.

1. Striped Shirt - Classic staple and closet must. (I'm actually thinking I'm going to run out and grab this up tomorrow for myself!) The beauty of this top is that it can be paired with literally anything and it automatically adds polish and class. I kind of love it with the printed jeans.

2. Printed Skinny Denim - I totally know this is a long shot for her but I just love these! A subtle print on classic washed skinny denim makes for a fun addition to the closet. It pairs well with the striped shirt or a solid tank + sweater as the weather turns cooler.

3. White Ribbed Tank - Kind of a no brainer. These are some of my favorite tanks for layering since they are super soft and pretty thin. I love that.

4. Plaid Button Down - This just screams fall and the fact that you can layer a tank + tee underneath or put a sweater over it just makes it all the more versatile. This is another great transitional piece as you can pretty much wear it year round.

5. Dark Skinny Jeans - I would've preferred to find a dark slightly distressed denim and I'm sure if I go in store I could find what I was looking for but these are sufficient for what I'm trying to convey. Dark skinny jeans are a mom/woman's saving grace. They can be dressed up or down, they hide stains from toddlers with questionable hand care, and once again, they pair well with almost everything.

6. Black Ankle Boots - I'm obsessed with the ankle boot. I bought no less than four pairs last year in a variety of styles and colors. Their versatility is perfect for the mom on the go. They look stylish enough that you feel put together even if you've thrown on a hoodie and have a bun. They're also allow you to move comfortably with your kids, whether in the park or at the grocery store.

All in all, these 6 pieces totaled $116 before tax. Not too shabby for a few pieces to perk up a fall wardrobe and that will take you through a few seasons of wear and tear before needing to be replaced. I really like all of these pieces and have variations of each in my own closet so clearly I see how they can work for Katie's lifestyle.

What do you think? Would you wear any of these pieces? What's on your list for fall?

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Graphic Tease

I have a strong love for the a printed or graphic tee. And by printed I mean, anything with a kitschy or cheeky saying. I'm all over it. I have several hanging in my closet but I'm always in the market for more . Lately I've seen several that have struck my fancy and I can totally see why I need them, in my life. I mean. "Homie You Don't Know Me" ? Ohh, yes, please.

Cute graphic tees from Forever21

I can can think of at least 3 ways to style them easy and I'm fully looking for a way to justify adding them into the fall budget. I mean - leather leggings + kicks (chucks + Nike Dunks ), boyfriend + skinny  jeans, fancy skirts, cut-offs.....the possibilities are pretty much endless.
Graphic Tee ObsessionI really enjoy the contrasting combo of a cheeky tee and + a fun printed skirt  or leather leggings + wicked kicks. I know that by changing up the bottom half I can create a plethora of ensembles to satisfy my sartorial sensations. I've also come to the conclusion that a great graphic tee is definitely a wardrobe staple, even if it's not in the classic sense. With a timeless or classic saying emblazoned across the front these tops can be worn for a number of occasions and with a myriad of fashions.
Graphic tees are definitely my way of expressing my sarcastic nature and telling others that I don't take myself too seriously while still being stylish and on trend. That's just one facet of my current wardrobe and in my opinion  you can never have too many.

Shop the set:

Have you discovered a love for something you recently realized was a  'wardrobe staple' but isn't included among the usual suspects?

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