Fall 2014 Capsule Wardrobe Roundup: September

I've been doing this capsule wardrobe thing for a whole month now. Somewhat surprisingly, there have been no tears shed over items I purged, nor have I looked at my closet and silently willed more things to appear. What's more, this smaller, more edited closet of mine has made it easier and even more fun to get dressed. Month one, success. 

For the capsule wardrobe linkup at In Residence and Just Jacq, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of my most-worn pieces, and my favorite ways that I styled them. 

Graphic Tee from J.Crew Factory

tee + bright pencil skirt (in pink!) + similar shoes

Striped blouse from J.Crew Factory

blouse + jeans + shoes

Boyfriend jeans from Loft

Red flats from Gap Outlet

What have you gotten a lot of wear out of this month? 

White Tee Shirt: 2 Ways

Oh good, Monday. (And if you read that in a voice dripping with sarcasm, I really like you.)

Since I don't have anything nice to say about Monday, I won't say anything at all I'll talk about clothes. I'm remixing a plain old white tee shirt today. It's almost silly to do a remix post on it, because a white tee shirt goes with everything. Nevertheless, here it is, two ways.

What's your favorite way to style a white tee? 

The first look is comfy and casual, not to mention easy. But again, I'm proving to myself the difference of having a closet full of clothes I love. There may not be a lot to this look, but I felt great in it all day. 

White tee: J.Crew Factory / jeans: Gap / scarf: c/o Ross / shoes: Toms / Outfit inspiration: the Inspiration Monday photo at Two Birds

For the second look, I kept it classic with a denim jacket, but added a little fun with a bright red skirt and polka dot flats. 

Denim jacket: Gap / white t-shirt: J.Crew Factory / red skirt: J.Crew / polka dot flats: Madewell

Linking up to Inspiration Monday at Two Birds and Mix it Mondays at Fizz and Frosting. 

Weekly Eats: MexItalian

When it comes to our cravings, Aaron is always in the mood for Mexican food, while I could eat Italian any night of the week. Since either one is always a good option, we went for a little of each this week. 

1. Burrito bowls made with leftover shredded beef (see #3). I used the rice and beans recipes from Iowa Girl Eats burrito bowls, layered on the beef, and topped with corn, cheese, salsa, and avocado. Look familiar? Yep, we ate this last week too, except with chicken. 

2. Lasagna Stuffed Spaghetti Squash from Closet Cooking. Never in a million (or ten) years did I think that I would get Aaron to eat squash. For dinner. As a meal. But this is try number two with spaghetti squash, and again, it was a success! The squash "bowls" are filled with ricotta cheese, hearty meat sauce, and topped with shredded mozzarella. Even my pasta-loving self didn't miss the spaghetti. 

3. Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos from Budget Bytes. My favorite slow cooker recipes are the ones tailor-made for the super-lazy cook. You know, the ones that don't even require any chopping before you just throw everything in there and go. This is one of those. Sure, it says cut up the beef. Easy enough, but I just put the whole sucker in there, and it turned out great. Sometimes, it pays to be lazy.  Now we have beef for days. Still. 

4. Not pictured, but worth mentioning: Skillet Eggplant Parmesan from Annie's Eats. We had family over for dinner on Sunday, and decided to go with classic Italian. Meatballs with pasta are always a hit, but I wanted to make something different to accompany them. Like a nice healthy vegetable. Or, a nice healthy vegetable layered with lots of melty cheese and red sauce. Door number two, please. 

What was on your menu this week? 

Motivational Dressing: Stripes, Dots, Pink

It wasn't easy to get up and go to work after being home with Jona for the past day and a half. In order to make myself feel more motivated and pumped (ha!) about going to the office, I put a little extra snazz in my outfit, in the form of mixed patterns and bright shoes. While I can't say that I'm as enthused as the kangaroo in the Dish commercial ("Hey boss! I love working!"), I do feel put-together and professional in this outfit. 

I'm a total believer in the "fake it 'til you make it" method of motivating myself, so I figure if I look like I'm ready to work, maybe I'll start to feel that way too! What are your "tricks" for motivating yourself?

Polka dot chambray: J.Crew Factory (other dotted option) / stripe pencil skirt: Loft (similar) / pink pumps: Nine West

Linking up for What I Wore to Work at Mix and Match Fashion and Thursday Favorites at Sincerely Jenna Marie. 

Jona Update: Life with a One Year Old

I haven't done a Jona update in a while, so I thought I'd share some ups and downs of life with a one year (thirteen month) old.

Health: Jona got his first ear infection this week, and in fact he had a burst ear drum. The crazy part is he didn't even seem that sick. He had a cold for a couple of weeks, and I noticed him tugging at his ear. I took him to the doctor on Monday, and when she told me about his ear drum I couldn't believe it. She said he must be pretty tough--most babies scream and cry nonstop when that happens. He sure wailed when she examined his ear, but otherwise he had been his usual, happy self. I was certain that I was being paranoid for bringing him in; I'm glad I did. Mother's intuition...it ain't no joke people. 

Eating: Hands down one of Jona's favorite activities. Unless he's tired or not feeling well, he usually enthusiastically attacks what's on his tray. He eats whatever we're eating, and seems to like/dislike things just depending on his mood. Some of his favorite things: cooked carrots, Grandma Gail's homemade applesauce, meatballs, macaroni and cheese, beans, pulled pork. His favorite meal of the day is breakfast, and he can devour some scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast, and yogurt, all or any of these. He's also drinking whole milk (in a sippy cup) with every meal, we ditched the bottles after his first birthday. That process went much better than I thought it would. 

Mobility: Jona crawls or scoots around, pretty quickly too. He usually crawls for long distances, then scoots once he's closer to whatever it is he wants. He's not walking, nor does he seem very close to walking. I'm not going to let myself worry about that just yet. 

Talking: Second to eating, this is Jona's favorite thing. He babbles constantly; he'll say things that I have no idea what he's trying to say, but he looks and sounds quite certain that he's trying to make a point. He'll increase the volume and repeat it to drive his point home. Actual words he says, or almost says, are: Dada, Papa, doggie, uh-oh, thank you, "E-I-E-I-O" (from Old McDonald), yeah, and hi. 

Playtime: Jona loves any toy that involves music, and he also loves being sung to.  He will stop what he's doing to listen to music if it comes on. He has a toy xylophone and a drum/percussion instrument set and these are some of his favorite toys. His favorite songs are: Obladi Oblada by the Beatles, Zaccheus (the Bible story song), The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Old McDonald. He's also a big fan of throwing blocks and other toys onto the hard-wood floor and then chasing after them. I also randomly discovered that he thinks it's hilarious when I throw paper in the air, or jump up and down. 

That's my (much overdue) Jona update for now! I'll try to post some highlights on a more regular basis from now on. 

Fall Blues

First sweater of the season, happy fall! Granted, it's a very lightweight three-quarter sleeve sweater, but it's a sweater nonetheless. It's been absolutely beautiful here lately (other than a random hot day or two), so we've been trying to soak it up and take lots of walks. Let's hope it lasts, and light sweaters are all I need for a while!

Navy sweater: J.Crew Factory / blue cropped pants: Gap (similar) / necklace: Bauble Bar (similar) / leopard flats: Dr. Scholl's via DSW

Since I'm doing some color blocking in shades of blue today, I'm linking up to the Creative Closet at Life Could Be a Dream

Graphic Tee Then and Now: Neutrals and Brights

Last week's busy work week was followed by an equally busy, but much more fun, weekend. Now it's back to the grind again...

My wardrobe for fall is filled with neutrals; in fact, one of my fears about having a "capsule wardrobe" for fall was that I would get bored with the lack of color. However, I don't think that will happen, because I have so many bright, colorful accessories to balance out all the neutral hues. 

Thanks to Ross, I have one more to add to my collection: this red crossbody bag. Like a clutch, it's perfect for occasions that don't require all of my stuff (e.g. date night), but unlike a clutch, it's hands-free. I love hands-free bags. 

Classic, neutral pieces with bright accessories are what I'm loving for fall right now. On the Ross Facebook page, they're sharing some of their favorite fall blogger looks; be sure to check it out and vote (and enter to win a $150 gift card)! 

Cardigan: Gap Outlet (similar) / graphic tee: J.Crew Factory / jeans: Gap / red bag: c/o Ross (similar) / snakeskin flats (seen here): Sam & Libby for Target (similar) / outfit inspiration: Inspiration Monday photo of Victoria Justice at Two Birds

When the weather was warmer earlier this month, I also paired this graphic tee with a bright color: my turquoise blue pencil skirt. 

I received a gift card from Ross for this post. 

Linking up to Inspiration Monday and Mix it Mondays

Weekly Eats: Frozen

No, not that frozen. Sorry. Aaron wanted to get a deep freeze for the longest time, and I never really thought it sounded all that necessary. But he wouldn't let it go (again, sorry) and we got one this year. Let me tell you, I love having it! We always buy meat and other freezable food items when they go on sale, and now we actually have space to store them. So this week's meals were brought to you by beef and chicken from the freezer. 

1. Easy Homemade Burrito Bowls from Iowa Girl Eats (can you tell I love that blog?). Home freaking run. Chipotle is pretty much its own food group in our house--even Jona can tackle a bean and cheese quesadilla--so finding an easy make-at-home version is a wonderful thing. My burrito bowl was filled with rice, black beans, chicken, grilled red peppers, corn, Monterey Jack cheese, and guacamole. Mmmm. 

2. Sour Cream Noodle Bake from the Pioneer Woman. This was an easy, hearty, comforting dish, perfect for fighting the Monday blues. Instead of layering the pasta and meat sauce like the PW did, I took the ultra lazy route and just mixed the pasta with the meat sauce and sour cream (I left out the cottage cheese), poured it in a baking dish, and topped it with shredded cheddar. I kind of want to eat that again right now! 

3. Healthier General Tso's Chicken from Hello Natural. Have you ever made a recipe and loved it, and then for some reason when you make it again it's not the same? I'm not sure what it was, because I really loved this when I made this a while ago. Aaron thinks I'm crazy because he liked it both times. It's a good recipe, I think it was the cook's error this time. It's possible I went a little overboard with the apricot jam. Or maybe my Panko bread crumbs were stale. I keep them in the freezer, but I think they'd been in there for a little too long. Who knows. Anyway, I'm willing to give it another chance. It is awfully pretty. 

What was on your menu this week? 

Effortless Classics

Dresses are the best. Mornings haven't been my friend lately, and though typically I never hit the snooze button, for some reason the past few days it's been calling my name. Since throwing on a dress and jacket requires very little time and effort, I can focus on more important things in the morning, like coffee. And just five more minutes of sleep. Okay, maybe ten.

Denim jacket: Gap (similar); dress: c/o eShakti (similar with scalloped neckline); belt: Target (similar); polka dot flats: Madewell (love this pair)

Linking up to What I Wore to Work at Mix and Match Fashion.

Midweek Pick-Me-Ups, September Edition

It's only Wednesday, but I'm already worn out. I need this pick-me-up post before I become the queen of crabby. So here are a few things that I'm happy about right now. 

Last month we got Jona's one year photos taken, and our photographer (Jessica of Just J Photography, we love her!) just shared some "sneak peek" shots. Jona thought the whole thing was a terrible idea, so he pretty much cried the whole time. She worked some magic though, because he looks pretty angelic in these pictures! 

Over the weekend I made Ultimate Brownies from Handle the Heat. Sometimes "the best" brownie claims to fame are all talk, but this one really brought it. Can you see how dense, rich, and chocolaty these look? Well break up with the box, baby, because these are the real deal. 

I know I just talked about the new stuff I scored at Gap, but these things (cords, sweater, jeans) are still making me pretty darn happy. 

Sweet, stylish mama Beth of Life with Bethie the Boo nominated me for a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. While I'm terrible at following the rules of these, I wanted to answer her fun questions. Thanks Beth! 

1. What does your perfect pizza look like? My favorite pizza here in KC is Spin Pizza, and I get the Patate, which has potatoes, bacon, and goat cheese on it. Mmmm. 

2. What is your favorite beauty product? Natural Ice chapstick. (It's about $1 at the grocery store.) I've been using it for years and I seriously can't live without it. I know, borrring. 

3. What is the best vacation you've ever been on? Too hard! I loved our first family vacation to St. Louis with Jona. I also loved when Aaron and I traveled to Hawaii to surprise my mom for her birthday. And while it wasn't really a vacation (it was study abroad) it pretty much felt like one when I went to Paris when I was in college. So I can't pick, sorry! 

4. What are you reading right now? I won the book The Landgramm Affair in a giveaway on Krysten's blog, Why Girls are Weird, and I'm reading it now. It's very well written and has some good twists and turns! 

5. Coffee, tea or neither? Coffee-coffee-coffee. (I was imagining Lorelai Gilmore in my head as I typed that. Anyone with me?)

6. Be honest, do you floss every day? Ha! I'm just going to laugh at that one. Sorry dentists. 

7. Do you like your name or do you wish you could have a different one?  What would you choose if you were to have a different name? I love my name. When I was little I always wanted something more ordinary (one that I could find on souvenirs or that people wouldn't mispronounce). But now I love my name, and I feel like it really suits me. 

8. What is your favorite season? Spring! It means the end of the hell that is winter, and it also means my birthday (in April). Spring is the best. 

9. I'm stealing Kristi's here - describe yourself in five words. Perfectionist, compassionate, stubborn, organized, creative.

10. Are you a vanilla or chocolate fan? Chocolate. All the way. Did you SEE those brownies? 

What's making you happy right now? 

Working Mom Formula: Corduroy for the Win

Last week, I talked about my struggle to find the perfect pair of (non-jeans) pants. This week, I'm happy to report that I found a pair! I lucked out at the Gap and found a pair of slim-fitting corduroys, which are comfortable and casual, but I think they are a bit more polished than a pair of jeans. I've been on a neutrals kick lately, so after some debate between this pair and a reddish pair, I went with the navy. I think at the end of the day I couldn't convince myself I needed a second pair of red corduroys, even if both aren't in the current rotation. And also, navy blue is kind of my jam. Especially this ocean-y shade. 

When I was trying to do a mental assessment of all the things these pants would work well with, this paisley shirt came to mind right away. And what do you know, I was right. And I love being right; just ask Aaron. 

Will you be rocking the corduroys this fall? What color? 

Paisley shirt: J.Crew via consignment (pretty tunic); navy cords: Gap; nude flats: Target

Cargo Vest Then & Now

This weekend was gloriously relaxing. We didn't have any plans, we just hung out with Jona, ate good food, and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I also stopped by the Gap to use the Gap cash I earned when I bought a bunch of stuff on sale for Jona. I bought three items to complete my fall capsule wardrobe: the jeans shown here, blue corduroy pants, and a gray sweater. The jeans were a bit spur of the moment; they're replacing the other pair of skinny jeans I had. They were one of those that I liked at the beginning of the day but hated by day's end. Since I'm trying to create a wardrobe I love, the jeans had to go.

The cool weather this weekend called for light layers, so I once again broke out the cargo vest. It's gotten so much wear, both in the heat of the summer and the early fall weather we're having now.

striped top: Ann Taylor Factory (similar) / cargo vest: Old Navy (jacket version) / dark wash skinny jeans: Gap / red shoes: Toms

Linking up to Mix it Mondays at Fizz and Frosting

Weekly Eats: Variety

This week's meals ran the gamut of flavors and ingredients, but they had one thing in common: they were all worthy of repeating. We were saying mmmm all week!

1. Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin from Let's Dish, served with Lemon Garlic Asparagus from Say Yes. After a few recent fails, it was good to have a dish that restored my faith in the slow cooker. This was so good! On Let's Dish it shows the pork served in slices, but for me it was so tender it fell apart. Definitely not a bad thing. 

2. Thai Peanut Chicken Quinoa Bowls from Iowa Girl Eats. Guys, Aaron (Mr. Meat and Potatoes) ate this and loved it. Jona ate this and loved it. If you're still a little iffy about jumping on the quinoa train, make this...it will convert you. It was packed with flavor! I left out the coleslaw mix and added sliced red bell pepper instead. (I snap those babies up when they go on sale...I love red bell peppers!) 

3. Pepperoni Pizza Burgers from The Pioneer Woman. Pizza meets burger, tell me how that can be bad? This may not have been the healthiest, but it sure was good. 

What was on your menu this week? 

Strawberry Angel Food Layers

Something I did a lot more of in my pre-mom days was bake. I have a major sweet tooth, and spending a weekend afternoon in the kitchen baking is a relaxing retreat in my opinion. Life has sure gotten busier, but that doesn't mean I don't crave a (homemade) sweet treat from time to time. I came across this super easy, no-bake dessert on Iowa Girl Eats and I knew it would satisfy my sweet tooth AND be easy and quick to make. (Plus, it's the perfect "farewell to summer" dish. Use those strawberries while they're still good!) 

Although I do hope to do more baking in the future (especially once Jona is old enough to help--I can't wait for that!), desserts like this are the perfect go-tos for busy days.  

I'm joining Anne of  In Residence for her Pin to Present linkup today. Be sure to check it out!

Working Mom Formula: Who Wears the Pants

You know I love a good pencil skirt (there are 4 of them in my Fall Capsule), but I'm truly a jeans girl at heart. For some reason, I have a difficult time finding the happy medium between casual jeans and professional pencil skirts. Most people call that happy medium "pants". As someone who has to go from sitting at a desk to chasing around a crawling/scooting troublemaker, you would think I would have more than one pair of pants that I like! (Hopefully it will be two pairs soon, I plan to use Gap Cash and buy a pair this weekend.) 

These bright blue pants are winners for my working mom formula of "casual professional". They're polished enough to work with a blazer and heels (or pointy toes at the very least) but go just as well with a laid-back gingham button up and flats. And that just happens to be how I styled them today! 

Next on my pants-buying agenda: a neutral, slim fitting pair. Basically, I need the work equivalent of skinny jeans. So what is your go-to pair of pants? (Maybe you'll give me some inspiration!)

Gray check shirt: J.Crew Factory (navy version) / blue pants: Gap (lighter blue) / leopard belt: Gap Outlet (similar) / nude flats: Target

Sundae Style: Striped Dress

I had a good time coming up with ideas for my "Sundae Style" post a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd do another one. This time the base flavor is one of my favorite wardrobe staples, a striped dress. I have one in my Fall capsule, so I'm trying to come up with even more ways to wear this already much-loved piece. The "fall" season can often mean a whole range of weather forecasts, so today's sundae toppings are suited for early fall's warm temperatures, mid-fall's cooler weather, and late fall's downright cold days. 

Early Fall: 


Late Fall: 

What toppings would you add to a striped dress this fall? 

Plaid Shirt Then and Now

It actually started to feel like fall this weekend, which was nice. It's still pretty warm, but now there's a hint of cool in the air. Oh, and the football. College I'm okay with (go K-State!) but NFL I just can't bring myself to get excited about, much to Aaron's dismay. Anyway, to me, wardrobe-wise, nothing says fall like a plaid shirt. Here's how I wore mine to work last week, and also during chillier weather a couple years ago.

Clearly this plaid shirt and I go way back. I keep an eye out regularly for its replacement (because I know it won't last forever), but so far I haven't found one I like quite as well. While it lasts though, I'll keep on styling it. Last week I dressed it up a little for work and paired it with a striped pencil skirt. I added a belt to break up the patterns, and red flats to add a splash of color. 

Plaid shirt: Gap (similar) / striped pencil skirt: Loft (similar) / belt: Target / red flats: Gap Outlet (similar)

What clothing says "fall" to you?

Linking up to Mix it Mondays at Fizz and Frosting.