Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jeans You Need Now

I guess we can consider this a PSA because I have to share with you my newest obsession. I owe the credit here to my oldest sister who found these through Stitch Fix, who shared with my Mom, who shared with me! I have never done Stitch Fix before but if you find new brands like this, then I say bravo to Stitch Fix!





These jeans are like the Zella legging {holy grail item} for denim. Comfort is off the charts, I really feel like I am wearing a pair of workout leggings. They suck you in!! Like, really well. I forget that I have on denim that truly looks like a good looking pair of jeans! It is still 100 degrees here in NC and the thought of putting on a real pair of jeans is just not appealing. However, I have worn these several times a week for the last 3 weeks since getting them! I am definitely getting another pair in a dark wash which is now on sale at Nordstrom. Moms- you know how it is. When you are home playing with kids all day, it is silly not to be comfortable. Most of the time if I wear jeans out for errands, I inevitably switch to my black leggings when I get home. You won't need to do that with these! I really can't say enough good things about them. Now, we know I'm not a fashion blogger, hence this picture in my bedroom...but I wanted to snap a photo just so you have an idea.


jeans / shirt {different color} / shoes

Size wise- I went down a size. There is a good deal of stretch and the size down is a perfect fit. I also usually line dry mine {as I do all jeans}, then toss them in the dryer for a few minutes to add back some stretch. They are a great price too, under $80! Let me know if you all try them- promise, you will love!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fall Wardrobe: The Classics

I've been thinking a lot about my wardrobe lately {ok, overthinking} and as usual I feel like something needs to change. I need more options. In my defense, my life has really changed in the past year. I went from one child to two. I went from a 2 year-post-baby body - to pregnant -to the post-baby body again. I started work back last week and I already am scrambling for options. To give you some background, I work in a retail store owned by family {i.e very casual workwear} and when I am working I am working with a baby in tow {i.e. still nursing}. Things need to stay as uncomplicated as possible in my office while I am trying to feed a baby, even if I do have a nice pink curtain to close off my space! After wearing a dress last week {The horror. Just really think it through before you are feeding a baby in your office in a dress, even with that nice pretty pink curtain to give you privacy. It felt very strange to me. I am modest.} I decided I must give in to the button downs. But I am not all that upset about it, because when I browse one of my favorite go-to's- J.Crew- I am really drawn to their classic looks. So, why do I always skip over these pieces? Great question. After coming upon this realization I wanted to pull together a small selection of clothes to really maximize my fall and winter wardrobe. Hoping it can serve a purpose for y'all as well...my main goals here are polished, on trend yet classic. Something I strive for but am finally putting my finger on it! I didn't include my favorite selection of pants, but I think these blouses will work fabulously in the workplace with a pair of straight leg pants or skinnies, or even jeans {if you can go that route} for an effortless look with the right accessories. If they don't work for the workplace, they definitely work for a cute outfit for lunch on the weekend! I'm happy to do a round up of bottoms to go with these pieces if y'all are interested. Did I ever tell you I used to want to be a personal shopper?

I chose pieces that can mix and match with an outer layer, or be worn alone with a fun pop of jewelry.


classics

Not on the list above, but I am smitten over this black and white jacket. I would love to incorporate it into my fall wardrobe. Did you see Olivia Palermo is now working with Banana? Love her style.

Also to come, working on a fun accessories roundup to keep these pieces FUN at the same time!
xo.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Favorite Homemade Laundry Detergent

I posted a picture a few weeks ago on instagram and had several inquiries about the laundry detergent that I use. Good thing I was planning a post on it :) I'm pretty sure everyone wanted to know because it's about as pretty as laundry detergent comes, if that is such a thing! My Mom has made this for us for several years now and it is the BEST smelling detergent you will ever find. It is incredibly fresh and makes the whole room smell good. I want to sprinkle it all over my house. The bad news is it does require a little bit of time {or your husband's} to get the soap grated, which is the worst part. The wonderful news is that this will last you, like...a really, really long time and again, the scent- amazing. I use about 3 tablespoons per normal sized load. It is also extremely wallet friendly too.

And just to be transparent here, I am not being paid by any of the companies mentioned here to write this post...haha! Believe me. It does sort of sound like a laundry ad so I wanted to make sure you all knew that. ;)


We store ours in these cute glass canisters {newest version}. Like I said, my Mom usually makes it but I was feeling really inspired and decided to do it myself this time. The "recipe" is below...I used half of the ingredients for our regular detergent and then made a baby version by adding Dreft Blissfuls to the other half. If you just want regular detergent, disregard the Dreft and pick up an extra Downy Unstopable {by the way, they are so amazing!}

Homemade Laundry Detergent- Adapted from StoneGable
1 ~ 4lb 12 oz box of Borax
1~ 3lb container Oxi Clean
4 bars Fels Naptha Soap, grated
1 container Downy Unstopables 
1 container Dreft Blissfuls


Mix first five ingredients in a large heavy duty trash bag. Close the bag and mix it up {I used the Oxi Clean container to mix it inside the bag}. Divide the ingredients equally into two containers and add 1 container of Downy Unstoppables to one jar, and the Dreft to the other.  This will make a huge amount of laundry detergent! Mine fit perfectly into two large glass containers, but if you have any extra just store it in large ziplocs or the Oxi Clean container. My jars were full to the brim so you might have to take a little out once its divided in half to get the Downy/Dreft mixed in.

Side note, I do have two small children who like to give me lots of messy clothes to clean. I spot treat with Zout or Oxi Clean spray before washing to make sure I get stains out.


Grating the soap- again, it is not fun. Ask your husband or boyfriend, whoever, to do it...men are much faster at this task I have found!


It really does make the whole room smell wonderful and will last you such a long time! Worth it!


Please let me know if you try it! Enjoy! xo.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fall Favorites on Sale + Weekend Plans + Pinterest



Happy Friday Y'all! We are currently on our way home from Raleigh and headed into a rainy few days to start Labor Day Weekend. If you follow me, you know we live on the coast of North Carolina and Hurricane/Tropical Storm Hermine is headed our way. I don't anticipate it being too bad but we will hope for the best and keep power! {Power out with two kids = no fun}. I browsed Nordstrom earlier and saw they were having a summer sale but I was pleasantly surprised that I found tons of items for fall included. Some may look familiar because they were a part of the Anniversary sale, and some are now marked down even further {not sure how I feel about that just yet!}. BTW, Stephen bought wifi for our car so I can do fun things like this while we are on the road. Best little purchase ever.

Everything is linked above but I just wanted to mention a few things: this dress is absolutely adorable on and will be perfect for a variety of occasions. Church, brunch, dinner dates, showers, work...I love a dress that can pull it's weight. I picked it up late during the Anniversary sale. I also got this gorgeous leather bag. I am going to order this dress for an October wedding, it is so pretty and classicly chic. I can't resist these pjs...I really look forward to my pj pants at the end of the day :) Adore these heels. And don't miss everyone's favorite workout pant with a cute mesh cutout on the back to make you feel a little more stylish {while you are running errands of course}.

Random, but I've been having lots of luck with inspiring things on pinterest lately...like below. Follow me here. Wishing y'all a fun and safe weekend!




Thursday, September 1, 2016

Let's Talk Strollers

I was thinking recently how much we have enjoyed each of our strollers and how important it is to find one (or four!) that work for you. They are definitely key in our lives and I'm sure even more so for people that live in the city and do a lot of walking places. Here is our experience on strollers. Feel free to contact me with any questions too!
strollerschicco keyfit // uppa baby vista and here on amazon cheaper //

{For reference we also use the Chicco Keyfit 30 Carseat for infants and Britax Boulevard Convertible Seat}

Chicco Keyfit Caddy

I used this all the time when Weeks was a baby while he was still in his infant carseat. It was literally one of the most convenient and useful things we owned. It is just the caddy, so you click your car seat in and are ready to go. Nothing is nicer than being able to take the baby from the car to out and about running errands seamlessly. I used it ALL the time. I used it on small shopping trips and out to the mall, stuffing bags underneath as needed!

In summary:
-A new Mom's best friend for getting out and about easily
-Chicco carseat clicks in easily
-Easy to unfold/fold up
-Good size underneath basket
-Lightweight

City Mini Jogger

This is a wonderful jogging stroller! We received this as a wonderful gift from a dear friend and it is the gift that keeps on giving! I have thoroughly enjoyed so many walks and runs with this {on pavement} and I can't say enough good things about it. It is easy to steer, smooth, and incredibly easy to open and close. Now that Weeks is bigger, he can still fit very comfortably in it which is so nice. If we are going somewhere alone with him, we still use this stroller even though its a jogger. Weeks is a tall drink of water too, for reference! It doesn't come with a drink holder, so I should have added one of those but always forgot to.

In summary:
-Large canopy for good sun protection
-Easy to unfold/fold up
-Fairly heavy {not super lightweight but not enormous either}
-Smooth ride
-Easy to steer and push



Uppababy G Luxe

When Weeks got to be about 9/10 months old, we bought this stroller as we were going to be transitioning out of the infant car seat soon. It was another great purchase. The seat reclines far back which is great for stroller naps. It is such a breeze to get it open and closed as well- something not to take for granted! It folds up nice and tidy taking a small footprint in our mudroom for storage. We thoroughly enjoyed this stroller as well. The basket underneath isn't as large as my others- but I always made do with it. For example, when I was using the Chicco Caddy I always was hauling a diaper bag- but as Weeks got older I would just throw a few things into the stroller that we needed instead of the whole bag.

In summary:
-Great for everyday use
-Very easy to fold/unfold
-Small footprint for storage
-Comfy, reclinable seat



Uppa Baby Vista

Our newest to our stroller clan! This stroller is like the cadillac of strollers, I kid you not. I was never aware of such a handy thing until I saw a Mom with a toddler and a baby in a Target parking lot and took a mental note of how handy the thing looked. Full disclosure- this is pricey and I only recommend it if you plan on needing a stroller for more than one child {now or later}. When we were pregnant the first time I was not browsing strollers for two children, I was strictly looking for one, so this didn't even show up on my radar. So far, we are really only using it for Frances Ann to click her car seat in with the adapter. I put Weeks in it yesterday for the first time {in the smaller toddler seat} and his legs could basically touch the floor. As soon as Frances Ann is big enough, she will go in the smaller toddler seat {front} and Weeks will ride in the larger toddler seat {in the rear}. Not sure why it is arranged that way but that is what I have been able to find so far. Other than Weeks being really, really tall...it is an amazing stroller for us! I absolutely love how big the bottom basket is. I can literally go grocery shopping with it. Last week, we were on vacation in Charleston and Kiawah and we threw beach bags, diapers bags, shopping bags, purses...all of it in there. I love not having to carry heavy bags, especially after lifting a car seat in and out throughout the day. The ride is incredibly smooth. The wheels still get me some times because I am used to the width of a regular stroller...sorry for the bumps Frances Ann! It is also a bit more tedious to fold up and put in and out of the car. It's not much heavier than my jogger, just a little larger and wider. But y'all- it's a double stroller...it's basically a mini bus! So, it is going to be bigger and heavier than your everyday umbrella stroller. I couldn't ask for more from a double. In summary, I would recommend using a single stroller until you need a double- the daily folding and unfolding, weight, and ease would definitely wear on me if I didn't need them!

In summary:
-Amazing double stroller
-Extra large basket underneath
-Adapter for car seats {we use Chicco}
-Ease of use- seats click in and out easily
-So smooth
-People will stop you on the street to ask you about it! ;)


So that is our stroller experience and I really can say I wouldn't do anything differently. Each stroller has served their purpose at some point in time that inevitably made my life easier and the kids comfy. I would love to know what y'all have used or if {heaven forbid} I need to add another to my clan. Seriously, I was thinking about a double jogger! Now we just need a stroller garage ;)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lately + Lilly Loving

Hey friends! So sorry for the radio silence over here. Last week we knocked a ton of miscellaneous things off of our to-do list around the house and it was all consuming in between taking care of the kids. We worked on touching up trim paint and wall touch ups, put the finishing touches on our bathroom, put away clutter, hauling out clothes to the consignment shop, finishing out changing all of our doorknobs and hinges, and cleaning up the kids' rooms...to name a few! It feels so good to have all those little things finished up and have the house looking good. Then, we spent the last half of the week and weekend over at the beach which was a nice change of pace. We are headed out tomorrow for a vacay and I really just cannot wait! {Follow me on insta for the trip updates! @katiehchalk} We have been looking forward to this trip most of the year and I can't believe it's already here and that our sweet girl is turning three months old this week! Time flies even faster with the second one that is for sure. 

Real quick- I snagged a few things this morning at the Lilly sale. For some reason, I was kind of over Lilly last year and barely bought anything. I think it was mainly because I wasn't into the prints, but this year I am loving it. Now that I am back to wearing all my normal clothes again {yay!} I treated myself to a couple things and bought FA an outfit for next summer!

Elsa tops used to be on heavy rotation in my closet and I am excited for an updated print! Adore this cha cha print and I think it works with fall colors! 


I love, love, love a popover and mine are really worn out. I bought this print and can't wait to wear it soon. These tops are so comfy and cheery.



On Saturday, we took the kids for a walk and stopped by our local surf shop that carries Lilly. Stephen bought me this top on sale. It is adorable on! For the price, you can't beat this easy, cute style.


I really had a hard time deciding which print for FA but ended up with this Shellabrate print below. I might sneak back on and get her another! {Also, Daddy bought her a fall print in the dress this weekend and she will be wearing it on our vacay this week! Cannot wait to stick her in her first Lilly!}
Shop the sale here! So many good things.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

a favorite dinner - chicken/turkey parmesan meatballs

We had this dinner during the first few weeks after Frances Ann was born and have been rotating them into our meal plan ever since! I love a good pasta dish, but now when we have the craving we are reaching for this one. This is one of our very favorite meals and feels so much fancier than your average bowl of pasta! The first time we made it, we used turkey in place of the chicken and couldn't stop talking about how much flavor there was. We have used chicken as well and it is equally as good, so I would encourage you to try both ways {or buy whatever is one sale!} It's safe to say I much prefer the turkey and chicken meatball over ground beef now, plus it's much healthier!




INGREDIENTS
Meatballs

1½ pounds ground chicken {I usually use just 1 lb since most packages come this way}
1 egg
1 garlic clove, minced
⅓ cup onion, minced
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup panko crumbs
2 teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper


Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
pinch of chili flakes
⅓ cup cream
salt and pepper and pepper to taste
6 oz fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil for garnish {optional}

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400.
Line a large sheet pan with foil for easy clean up.
In mixing bowl, combine all meatball ingredients together. Careful not to over mix as it make the chicken tough. Shape in 1½ inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes - Don't worry if slightly undercooked they will finish off in the sauce.

While meatballs are cooking:
Melt butter in large oven proof skillet/pot (if you don't have one, use a regular skillet and transfer to baking dish when sauce is done).
Cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, cook for one minute until fragrant and slightly soft.
Add crushed tomatoes, chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in cream.
Add cooked meatballs to sauce. Top with mozzarella.
Bake for about 20 minutes until all bubbly and cheese has melted.

Serve with pasta and a green salad and you are done! While this isn't a 15 minute meal, I find it still doable on a weeknight when I am throwing dinner together and managing the 5:00 hustle. I also set aside around 6-8 meatballs each batch after they have cooked in the oven, and freeze them for an easy dinner another night. Bonus- meatballs make for great toddler meals too! My Mom made us a batch a few weeks ago and had them all set in a foil pan for us to pop in the oven whenever we chose. It made for quick cleanup and a delicious dinner! I use my dutch oven, as seen below- one of my favorite pieces in my kitchen.