Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cheap Chic-not really my style after all

I've always enjoyed the "idea" of fashion and am drawn to vintage styles, so when I was given the chance to check out the 40th Anniversary Edition reprint of Cheap Chic: hundreds of money saving hints to create your own great look, I thought it would be a fun source of inspiration. While this fashion guide does have some neat tips, I don't find it to be a super relevant style primer for me, personally. 

 Apparently Cheap Chic was the premier fashion guide in the 70s and many fashion icons (including Tim Gunn, who wrote the foreword for this reprint) still consider it to be so. This book was a hard to find, eBay treasure as the first print editions became rarer and rarer. There is a lot of excitement about it coming back into print and being available to the new generation of fashionistas. Fashionista, I am not, but after having a baby 6 months ago, I am trying to reconfigure my personal sense of style. 
  I appreciate the helpful primer on assembling a basic wardrobe of interchangeable solid color t-shirts, good fitting jeans, a wide skirt and adding to high quality jackets, accessories and boots to elevate the style. These are principles I can apply as I continue towards a simplified "capsule wardrobe." I also found the info on calculating cost per wear when contemplating a real investment piece to be useful as well. The section on second hand shopping- where to shop and what to look for, also had so timeless tips.
 Overall, I just felt like Cheap Chic just wasn't relevant for the stay at home mom trying to cultivate an affordable yet classy wardrobe. The themed styling-such as Western and Ivy League-and what to buy when traveling abroad lists are just not applicable to my life and style. Also, I don't follow high fashion to really appreciate the designer profiles. There are a couple nude photos I was not expecting to find nor really added much to the book's appeal to me.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Little Garden that could

love the rustic, four winged raised garden beds my talented husband built me a couple years back. I have come to really appreciate the merits of the raised bed growing methods and on top of that, have integrated square foot gardening into the mix. I still have lots to learn when it comes to gardening, but I enjoy adding new little bits of wisdom and and techniques each year. I love the blank canvas and fresh start that is a newly tilled garden bed each year.

My little boys and I had fun flipping thru seed catalogs this spring and circling all our picks of vegetable varieties we wanted to plant. It was hard to whittle down our list to a reasonable amount! Then we had math class in the garden beds- first marking out the square foot sections and next evenly planting the seeds. We got science class in too, observing our little seeds sprout and change, daily even. 

It was a rough start for the garden this year. Things took a long time to germinate and some never came up at all. My emotions were interwoven tightly with the changing state of my garden beds. It's sort of amazing how you can come off the high hopes of freshly planted seeds to the disappointment of stunted growth and bare spots in a garden plot. With some trial and error, mainly some fertilizing and the addition of soaker hoses, the plants finally really took off!

I just love the beds literally overflowing with foliage and starting to really produce an abundance of fruit to show for it as well!

3 different varieties of eggplants we grew this year.

Hot peppers, stuffing peppers, sweet peppers- so many peppers!

Chinese long beans-a new variety for us this year.

And harvest time begins!

A little boy and his basket of garden treasures. 

The garden seems to be a game of chance with varied success from year to year. This year has been a good one and my family and I have really been enjoying eating from farm to table.

Friday, August 14, 2015

I finally joined the Cold Brewed Club

I think it's safe to say I am behind the times when I just tried my first cold brew coffee at Starbucks as of a couple weeks ago. I'm not usually an iced coffee fan so it was easy for me to pass this trend by. But on a whirlwind family road trip across state borders to buy a vehicle, a Starbucks stop was a must and it was so hot out- a cold caffeine fix was a very appealing option.

I'm glad I took the chance on the cold brewed trend because it does have it's merits. The coffee is strong and bold with a much smoother taste. It seems the cold brew process is able to extract the coffee flavor while being able to bypass the acidity and bitterness that is usually just a byproduct of a good cup of brew. After my cup of epiphany at Starbucks I knew I was going to want to find a reliable method to be able to make my own at home!

 Thanks to Bzz Agent I had a new bag of coffee to try out and a cold brew experiment seemed like the perfect opportunity! If you guys haven't heard of Bzz Agent before, I strongly encourage you to go get signed up with them! I have been able to try out so many new, fun products thru them, all the while sharing about my favorite discoveries with friends. This time, I received a bag of Seattle's Best Coffee Dark Intense no. 5 blend. I have to admit this was my first time trying Seattle's Best Coffee and I wasn't disappointed!

 Now that I had the coffee, I needed to find the best cold brewing method. After some web browsing research, I found this method from the The Kitchn, using a French press in the fridge over night. I loved that this was a "prep the night before and forget about it" method. I have been really enjoying my French press as my coffee making device of choice lately but it is a little more time and prep work in the morning then, say, my keurig. But it was easy enough to measure out my coffee, mix it with some cold water in my French press and place it in my fridge for the night. My coffee was pre-ground so I was a little concerned it wouldn't be coarse enough for my French press, but I didn't seem to notice any issues with that.

 The next day I finished off the press process and ended up with a smooth, dark coffee concentrate. I  poured it over iced cubes in a mason jar and mixed half and half, chocolate syrup and a sprinkle of sea salt-delicious! I definitely recommend giving cold brewed coffee a go. I am usually a very dark roast kinda girl, but  I actually think a lighter roast would offer a nice option here. I'll have to experiment with that next!