Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Hanukkah to those who Celebrate!


Happy Thanksgiving to my Fellow Americans!

Our Holiday cards have gone out in the mail! The first batch went out on Saturday and the second batch will go out today.

I have deviated from my usual Tuesday and Thursday post schedule. There's so much to do to get ready for Thanksgiving and many friends and family members that I'd like to spend time with (and my computer is acting up and the internet is being slow) so I will write again next Tuesday.

I hope your Holiday seasons starts off on a joyous and happy note! See you in December.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Outfits

It's the holiday season! Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are next week!

Mr. H and I alternate holidays with our respective families so one year it's TGive with my family and Christmas with his and the next year it's this other way around. Our families are so different!

Holidays with my family mean time with my mom's whole family and it's kind of dressy. When we were little our parents would put us in nice clothes but, now that my cousins are all old enough to dress themselves, it runs the gamut from jeans to nice slacks and nice shirts or sweaters. I usually dress nicely and make my poor husband dress nicely too. My in-laws just do holidays with their nuclear family + me and they are so casual. They don't dress up at all so I wear jeans to fit in.

I like dressing up and I like being festive thought I don't like it when others over do it (they've been playing Christmas music at the mall since November 1st, that's too soon). For holidays, though I want to look nice, I also want to wear something that will let me eat as much as possible in comfort. I love my Lilly Pulitzer Biaocchi pants for this purpose. They are super comfortable, dressy leggings so they are prefect for eating as much corn pudding, dressing, pie, and apple crisp as is possible. (Note: the biaocchi pants are now called the Travel Pant and are available here or if you're on a budget or need tall or petite sizes give these Old Navy Ponte Leggings a try.) I also recommend a flowy top as a fitted one will show just how much stuffing you've had.

Below are my dressy and casual outfit suggestions for the Holidays. I've also got a board on Pinterest where I've been pinning ideas for holiday outfits.

Thanksgiving Outfits

Shell: Talbots, Similar Here
Cardigan: Tory Burch Simone Cardigan
Pants: Lilly Pulitzer Biaocchi/Travel

Top: Talbots
Pants:Lilly Pulitzer Biaocchi/Travel

I may have to repeat this OOTD for TGive.

Blouse: Elizabeth McKay, similar here

I love my Elizabeth McKay Blouses.
The ruffle makes them just a little extra special.
If you can stand cashmere next to your skin then you
might want to try the Cashmere version.

Christmas Outfits

Dress; Talbots (last year)

I love this dress from Talbots. The plaid is so festive. I also love that I got it on
sale. It is a size too big but that is perfect for days when you want to
see how much corn pudding, stuffing, and apple crisp you can eat in one go.

Shirt: L.L. Bean, they no longer have the Princess Mary Tartan
Jeans: Joes' Jeans Cigarette Cut

Shell: Talbots
Cardigan: Tory Burch Simone Cardigan
Pants: Lilly Pulitzer Biaocchi/Travel

I'll likely need the cardigan since it will be
freezing in both Maine and Chicago.
Shell: Talbots
Pants: Lilly Pulitzer Biaocchi/Travel

But! This top is so cute on its own!

Shirt: Lilly Pulitzer
Sweater: J.Crew, old
Jeans: Joe's Jeans Cigarette Cut

You can't go wrong with Pink and Green
for Christmas (or any time).

What do you do for the holidays? Do you have Friendsgiving? Do you get together with your extended family or is it just your nuclear family? Do you dress up? Do you eat a lot?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seven Year Itch

Mr. Handome and I have been together for seven years as of this November. To celebrate our date-iversary we celebrated two weekends in a row! Our date-iversary is November 11, 2006. (I think it should probably be the 12th since we didn't really decide to start dating until the 12th.)

Mr. H got us tickets to go see John Oliver in Boston the week following our date-iversary using a ticket master gift card that was a wedding present. So our actual date-iversary was relatively low key. I made us a nice breakfast, we went to see Thor: The Dark World, and ate dinner at Arby's.

I made pancakes with all white flour, butter, and sugar.
So delicious and so special.

Thor 2 was the absolute best! It has everything you could want in a movie--space vikings and a lead actor that looks like my husband if he were taller, blonder, and on steroids. (Every husband would be better if he were taller, blonder, and stronger.) The pacing was perfect and it wasn't too mushy. It was funny at all the right points too. We also got to see the trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I am so excited for that! (My two favorite Avengers are Thor and Captain America.)

Also, just a thought, since Disney now owns the rights to Star Wars and the Marvel Universe, I am looking forward to a Star Wars/Avengers mashup! How cool would that be to have Han Solo and Thor hanging out and fighting crime and Sith?!?

We had a gift card from our Health Insurance Company because
we've been using Pedometers. We can only use it at certain places,
like this movie theater, so we went a bit wild at the concession stand.

In college we used to go to Arby's for Valentine's Day every year so we went to Arby's for dinner and they had bottles of Arby's Sauce for sale! I tried to play it cool so I could go back the next day and get Mr. H some for Christmas but we talked about it too much so the element of surprise was ruined and we bought a bottle. (I forgot my phone so I didn't get a picture of my sad looking but delicious roast beef sandwich.)

After dinner, we wandered around Target and Mr. H took advantage of their video game sale to get Christmas presents for his siblings. We had a really great day spending time with each other. We'd been very busy and it was so nice to just relax and hang out together by ourselves.

The next weekend we headed into Boston. We ate lunch at home and Mr. H drove all the into the city with me providing directions. (Pro Tip: Your navigation system will fail in the Big Dig because there's no signal underground so make sure you know your exit number before you go in. Super Pro Tip: Don't drive in Boston.)

In the Public Gardens

We parked near the theater in Chinatown and walked through the Commons and the Public Garden. We got into the city around two but it felt much later--I blame daylight savings time.
on Twitter @ProfWorldBand

We saw a wonderful one man band in the Public Garden.

Then we walked down Newberry Street. My husband humored me as I browsed through the Kate Spade store, In the Pink (Lilly Pulitzer), Anthropology, and Britt Ryan. We also stopped in the wonderful needlepoint store. As soon as I finish a project I will have to call and order the Red Sox snowman canvas to make into a new Christmas tree ornament. If I felt like taking on a challenge, I would order a Fenway Park canvas to make a pillow but I am easily distracted.

We stopped into Robin's Candy and bought some delicious chocolates. Mr. H got some chocolate truffles and I got a milk chocolate pecan tortoise the size of my palm. It was delicious.

I had to Instagram my beverage
even thought it wasn't in a red cup.

As we got to the end of Newberry Street we started looking for a place to sit down and have a warm drink. All the Starbucks were packed! We passed three that were far to busy for us to go into. We passed several busy Dunkin Dounut and we finally found one that wasn't packed.

We took selfies while waiting for a table.

I had a salted caramel hot chocolate and it was the best. It was only 4 o'clock but we were almost at the place where we had planned on having dinner--Boston Burger Company. When we walked by they were packed with people so we decided to put our name in. Mr. H found this place while we were in Boston last summer for the most horrible thing that ever happened to me so that I could sit for the Massachusetts Bar Exam. He was so excited to go back I could barley remember the place.

The Fried Pickles

We were seated. We ordered fried pickles as an appetizer. They were very fried and far too crunchy and dried out. I could not taste any pickle. I was not a fan though I did like that they were served with thousand island dressing.

Staring Down the Killer Bee

I loved my burger--the All American hold the blue cheese dressing (cheese, bacon, and BBQ sauce). My husband had the Killer Bee (american cheese, bacon, onion rings, and honey BBQ sauce) and he loved it. We both had baked beans as a side (delicious) and I ordered classic french fries for us. I was not a fan of the fries and I need to remember not to order them if we go again. I order french fries everywhere and I keep a mental list of which places have good french fries and I think Boston Burger Company ranks last place in this category.

The All American

We were done with dinner by five but it was already pitch black out and it felt so late I was worried we wouldn't get to the show on time. So we started walking back along Boylston Street and stopped by the Shops at Prudential Center. I stopped into Vineyard Vines, Club Monoco, and the Lacoste Boutique. On our way out, we bought pistachio nougat at Truffles Fine Confections. I love nougat and it's so hard to find so when I'm in Boston I always stop there and get some or sometimes I need to have my parking validated so I need to buy $10 worth of nougat.

We stopped by our car to drop off our purchases and left over french fries and headed to the theater. We got there so early but were able to go in and sit.

I loved the venue. It was a lovely old theater and we were in the front row of the highest balcony so we had a great view. The local comedian who opened for John Oliver was very funny and John Oliver was hilarious. I was so happy that he did he Carlos Danger dance (briefly). He also broke the microphone which was funny because he hadn't realized that he could break it by dropping in.

Inside the Theater

I drove us home so I stopped by the Sonic on Route 1 and got a milkshake. We were in bed by midnight. We had been planning on staying in a hotel in Boston but it would have been expensive and Mr. H is very frugal (sometimes cheap) and much happier when we aren't spending too much money. I was also overwhelmed by the options and trying to choose the best place.

Have you ever drove in Boston? Did you survive the experience?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

October OOTDs and Fun Photos from Instagram

I love this dress and these shoes from Talbots.

I love my green suit from Talbots.
Elizabeth McKay Blouse at Work

Elizabeth McKay Blouse for Dinner and Gelato with Friends

A Pink Flower

Maine in the Fall
(View from the Doughnut Farm)

The First Time I Wore my Alma Mater's Bicentennial Scarf

I Liked this Combo
Wearing the Scarf my Co-Workers Gave Me for my Birthday

My First Halloween Costume
Sen. Moseley-Braun (D-IL)

My Husband Pretending to be a Zombie
to Scare Trick or Treaters

My Evening Halloween Costume

Post Work Outfit Change

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I Cleaned my Bean Boots for Winter

One of My Favorite Outfits
An Elizabeth McKay Lindsay Dress
Lilly Pulitzer Travel Pants
Jack Rogers Flats

I Love Twin Sets!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Muffins

I borrowed this recipe from the Southern Fried Bride and it's too delicious not to share. I changed the recipe up a bit  because I don't like marshmallows and because Mr. Handsome doesn't like pecans in his food (he's nuts). I also made muffins instead of a loaf because they're easier to grab and eat.

Breakfast is Served

Sweet Potato Muffins

(Makes 12 to 16 muffins)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour *
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup skim milk
1 cup sweet potato (about 1/2 of an average sized sweet potato), mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan. Combine dry ingredients, the first group of ingredients, and mix. Add wet ingredients, the second group, and mix.** Spoon into muffin pans. Bake for 25 minutes.

Top with the Southern Fried Bride's Marshmallow Glaze
Add up to 3/4 cup Pecan Pieces

* The original recipe calls for a mix of whole wheat and all purpose flour. I used all whole wheat flour and increased the amount of baking soda used.

I cooked a sweet potato in the microwave, let it cool, and then mashed it with a fork in a bowl. I used about half of the mashed sweet potato this time. I put the rest in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for next time.

** Ideally you would mix the dry and wet ingredients separately in two bowls and then combine the two mixtures. I do not like to do dishes so I try to do everything in one bowl. It works out okay.

Lowering Calories in Baked Goods with Applesauce

This recipe uses unsweetened applesauce in place of oil. (So if you don't have any unsweetened applesauce, you can use melted butter or vegetable oil instead in this recipe.) You can make this substitution in most recipes that call for a liquid fat like vegetable oil or melted butter.

Supposedly, the reason using applesauce instead of fat works is because the pectin in the applesauce works like fat in that it helps to prevent the formation of gluten in quick breads and cakes. While you want gluten in regular bread you don't want it to form in quick breads because that makes the quick bread or cake too chewy.

If you're experimenting on your own you'll want to take it slow and not necessarily replace all the fat in the recipe with applesauce. For example, this recipe still has fat in it from the egg yolk. You'll also want to be careful not to over cook your delicious baked good! Start checking for doneness with a toothpick or knife five to ten minutes earlier than suggested in the original recipe.

This guide from Musselman's Apple Sauce looks like it would be useful if you want to substitute applesauce for fat in boxed mixes.

P.S. Would you like to see more step by step photos? I don't particularly care for them when other bloggers post step by step photos for all the steps in a recipe. But I can see how it would be useful to demonstrate a complicated technique.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Apple Cider Bread

I found a recipe for apple cider bread and muffins on Yankee Magazine's website. As usual, I modified the recipe. The original can be found hereYankee Magazine Apple Cider Bread or Muffins. For some reason, I think of molasses as being a traditional New England type of thing so I substituted brown sugar (sugar with a bit of molasses added in) for white sugar in things. I also wanted it to have more of a fall spice flavor to it (like the pumpkin spice) so I changed the amount and type of spices the recipe called for.

The very large loaf of apple cider bread.

Apple Cider Bread or Muffins
Yields: 12 mini muffins, 2 dozen muffins, 1 large loaf of bread

  • 1 c. butter (2 sticks)*
  • 3/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 3 eggs 
  • 2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ginger
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. cloves
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 2 cups apple cider (generously measured)
  • 2 cups apples (about 4 apples), peeled, cored, and chopped (it is all right if there is extra apple) I used mackintosh apples because I like the way they get mushy when cooked.

(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (2) Grease pans. (3) Cream butter* and the sugar in a large bowl. (4) Add the eggs and cream thoroughly. (5) Add 1/2 c. flour and seasoning and add a bit of cider then mix. Continue adding flour and a bit of cider a little at a time until these ingredients are used up. Add the baking powder last. (6) Stir in chopped apples. (7) Add the batter to the greased pans. (8) Bake mini muffins for about 15 minutes, muffins for about 25 minutes, and the loaf for about 50 minutes.

I do not like chunks of fruit in my food
so I put the apple chunks in my chopper
to make them extra tiny.

The end result, after I took a sample.

*When you cream butter and sugar something magical happens, the sugar cuts up the fat in the butter and helps it hold air bubbles. If you replace the butter with vegetable oil, there's no magic and the quick bread ends up flat, life less, and dry. It's still edible but not pleasurable to eat. For me this is a special treat for when I con't care about my LDL or a good treat for my husband and in-laws when apples are on sale.

I haven't tried reducing the amount of sugar yet (since the replacing the butter with vegetable oil turned out badly) so I can't say how it would work out but I would try reducing the sugar down to 1 cup.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Cleanse?

I think I first heard about Advocare from Hopsy at Kappa Prep in the spring. She lost a lot of weight after doing the Advocate 24 Day Challenge and eating clean. Like your average American woman, I have complicated feelings about my body and my weight. But I try to focus on staying healthy. _If I can run for 30 minutes without stopping and do so regularly my weight itself probably doesn't matter too much.) I really don't want to accidentally starve myself and I don't want to poison myself with diet soda and diet pills. This cleanse seemed like something I would feel comfortable doing.

What really motivated me to try this was a health scare I had in September. I have on going issues with my skin (yeah for the atopic tirad of allergies, asthma, and eczema) and I finally got to a dermatologist the week before my 27th birthday. She looked at my skin and confirmed the eczema and she said that I had another skin condition that suggested insulin resistance. E2 has juvenile diabetes though no one else in my family has diabetes. I also have high cholesterol. So, I was was pretty worried that I would have to remove both sugar AND butter from my life--I can do one but not both.

I decided that I would do the 10 Day Cleanse after spending a month worried that I might have insulin resistance. I thought about the 24 Day Challenge but as soon as I realized that that meant having meal replacement shakes for breakfast I knew that would be impossible for me. I am a whole foods type person and meal replacement shakes make me gag.

The Contents of my Package from Advocare

As soon as I got the cleanse in the mail (it shipped really fast), I looked at the amount of vitamins in the cleanse supplements and in Spark. I wanted to be sure that I wasn't getting toxic levels of any vitamin if I continued to take my multivitamin while on the cleanse.

Pre Cleanse Prep

The materials that came with the cleanse recommended eating eight to ten servings of vegetables and fruits each day, drinking eight glasses of water, eating only whole grains, reducing dietary fat, avoiding fried foods, and avoiding added sugar. The cleanse came with a fiber drink that I drank on the first three and last three days of the cleanse, herbal cleanse packets, and a probiotic supplement. The Advocare distributor I talked to recommended the cleanse instructions at and I ended up using their 10 Day Cleanse Checklist. I also really liked the advice I found at's Detailed 10-Day Herbal Cleanse Instructions. What I liked most about these detailed instructions was that the food portion and meal recommendations on pages 5 and 6.

Advocare says that beans are carbs in their food suggestions but I decided that I would treat beans as proteins since I am frugal and I don't like eating expensive meat every day. Apart from a few cheats, I did not have dairy, gluten, or added sugar. I tried to drink a gallon of fluids every day and always had at least ten cups of water. While they recommend reducing dietary fat, I still used olive oil in cooking and I used it to make my own homemade greek salad dressing.

The Monday before starting the cleanse. I started playing Wii Fit again. Its a video game where you move and it can weigh you everyday. The week before starting my weight averaged 155.2 pounds according to the Balance Board (the device you play Wii Fit with). My weight on the balance board is always more than my weight on my bathroom scale. I also always weight myself on the bathroom scale at the same time of day so I think its numbers are more consistent.

Before the cleanse started, I stocked up on unsalted nuts, made my own carrot sticks, bought hummus, and made sure I had plenty of fruits and vegetables. I also bought fish oil supplements to use instead of the OmegaPlex and I didn't buy the recommended but optional Catalyst.

How it Went

The first day, I learned that natural peanut butter is gross if you are used to Skippy. Very gross. I only felt hungry after playing Wii Fit before going to bed. At first I was trying to eat between eight and ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day. On the second day I woke up with a horrible headache. I assumed it was caused by either sugar or caffeine withdrawal. I felt stuffed all day.

On the third day, I continued to feel very full. This was unexpected because I had drank three glasses of the fiber drink and the herbal cleanse tablet had a natural laxative in it. I was stuffed every day for the first part of the cleanse then I stopped trying for eight to ten servings of fruit and vegetables each day. On the upside, I had forgotten what regular peanut butter tasted like so the natural peanut butter started to taste okay by the end of the cleanse.

I tried to exercise every day for at least half an hour but I only ended up exercising for six days during the cleanse. Two of those days were hour and a half long yoga classes, though.

The hardest part of the cleanse was not having a cup of coffee with milk every morning. While I came to like Spark I much prefer coffee on a cold morning. The biggest problem I have with the Spark is that it has an artificial sweetener, artificial flavors, and it was hard to mix. I wish I had a blender bottle instead of a tervis tumbler and I found that it tasted better mixed into twelve ounces of water instead of the recommended eight. That said, I still found Spark to be pretty enjoyable.

What I Used During the Cleanse


On the first several days of the cleanse I cheated a bit by having a glass of unpasteurized apple cider. I think it may have started to ferment and it had a lot of sugar in it (thirty grams per cup). On the fourth day, I went to a JL event at Alex + Ani and had a glass of the energy punch. I don't know what was in it so I assumed that it was mostly fruit juice.

On Friday, day six, I cheated big time. Mr. Handsome wanted to go to Ruby Tuesdays for dinner so we did and I had the salad bar, ranch dressing, a steak, sweet potato fries and lots of ketchup. I thought this meal seemed to be mostly in line with the recommendations. On the ninth day of the cleanse, I had crasins sweetened with sugar and on the last day of the cleanse I had a little square of dark chocolate.

Also, since I did not want to go out and buy a jar of special mayonnaise, when we had just bought a fresh one,  I just used the jar we had. I had tuna salad three on three days during the cleanse and I made it with a five ounce can of tuna with one tablespoon of mayonnaise. This made for an easy lunch on days when I didn't have left overs from the previous nights dinner but I had to be careful not to eat too much so I could avoid mercury poisoning.


I avereaged about 1580 net claroies (the number consumed less the number burned through exercise) a day. My Fitness Pal esitmates my calories burned from daily activity at 1,830. Based on calories in, calories out, I should have lost about a pound over the course of the cleanse. I ended up losing slightly more.

I have before and after photos but I won't be sharing them since both the before and after photos are pretty unflattering. As you can see by the changes in my weight and measurements there was some effect.

According to Wii Fit I lost 4.8 pounds during the course of the cleanse. I do not know why my weight spiked to 157.6 pounds from 155.2 pounds on October 20th. If I look at how much I lost from my average the week before I only lost 2.4 pounds. But, I experienced weight loss after the cleanse was over (despite eating a lot of leftover Halloween candy). And, I am over all happy because I broke through 150 pounds.

I get anxious weighting more than 150 pounds. I am worried about slowly gaining weight overtime and ending up with weight based health complications. So I see 150 as sort of a benchmark and I worry if I get too much over it. I am happy to be back under 150 pounds.

My Results in a Table

Day 1
Day 10
152 lbs
149 lbs
157.6 lbs
152.8 lbs
39 in
38 1/2 in
38 in
31 1/2 in
31 in
30 3/4 in
30 1/8 in
29 1/2 in
29 3/4 in
40 3/4 in
40 5/8 in
40 3/4 in
20 3/8 in
20 in

In Sum

I was honestly underwhelmed with the results. While I was happy that I broke through 150 pounds, I had hoped to end up a lot closer to 145 pounds. I think this would be a lot better for people who aren't already eating healthy. It's a great way to jump start clean eating. Since Mr. H and I already eat pretty clean because I cook most of our meals, I don't think this cleanse was as effective for me as it would be for others. I plan on giving this cleanse a try again in 90 days after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a trip to the Keys.

Please note this is all my own opinion. I purchased this product myself because of my own interest and received no compensation for this review.