Valentine’s Day Inspired Outfit

The spouse and I learned years ago that going out to dinner at a restaurant on Valentines Day is not the best idea.  Restaurants are always full (even if you make a reservation), service is slow and the food is often marginal.  So what do we do to celebrate Valentines Day?  We usually have a casual dinner at home and perhaps a sweet treat like a chocolate fondue with fruit and pound cake squares.

Even though the spouse and I skip a dinner out, we’ll still go out the following week.  In anticipation for that dinner, I wanted something Valentine-ish so I purchased a red top with black details from JC Penny. This contemporary top is something that I can wear well past Valentines Day.

Bisou Bisou_Long-Sleeve Mesh Insert High-Low Top | JC Penny

Bisou Bisou Long-Sleeve Mesh Insert High-Low Top (plus size available only online) | JC Penny

The top was priced at $38, but I got it on sale for $11.39.  The material is a fitted rayon/spandex with a slight rounded hem that hits the hips.  The sleeves and back of the shirt have a nice gathered material detail.

Shirred Sleeves Detail

Shirred Sleeve Detail

The best part of all is the sheer mesh “V” insert at the neckline.  I thought this shirt was kinda sexy, kinda edgy.  A little daring for a gal who prefers to dress in the comfort and safe zone.

Sheer Mesh "V" Detail

Sheer Mesh “V” Detail

Other pretty red tops by Bisou Bisou | JC Penny

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, remember that you’re loved by someone in your life no matter what day of the year it happens to be.

Cheers,
Monica

Link up with: Nicole (High Latitude Style), Dawn (Fashion Should be Fun)



Healing Inflammation with It Starts With Food

It Starts with Food by Dallas Hartwig & Melissa Hartwig

It Starts with Food by Dallas Hartwig & Melissa Hartwig

Over the years, I’ve tried every diet plan ever written, and these various plans helped to shape my overall nutrition philosophy which is quite simple – eat whole foods.  I feel that all food groups (fruit/veg, grains, animal protein or alternative, fats and dairy) should be included in your diet if you can tolerate them.

I have been eating fairly well since January, but a few injuries had me thinking that perhaps a change in my diet could help alleviate the pain and stiffness in my neck and shoulders and an inflammation issue in my right hip.

My neck and shoulder pain was relieved by making an appointment for a massage and my hip issue is probably from trochanteric bursitis that I diagnosed myself (Thanks Google!). Hip bursitis is “most common in moderately active, middle-aged females or those who have recently increased their activity level.” Sounds like me: A mid-life woman who decided to do Cross Fit after 8+ years of sitting at a desk job with minimal fitness activity.

I can deal with having an injury, but what I cannot deal with is why the painful inflammation in my right hip will not go away.  I was popping far to many Advil’s to get me through the day and night.  Suddenly, I thought that perhaps the food that I’m eating isn’t allowing my body to heal.

Enter Whole 30

I’ve read about the Whole30 nutrition plan for a while and I never tried it because to me it was just another ‘elimination’ diet.  Sure, you lose weight on ANY diet that eliminates a food group. However, this time I wasn’t interested in dropping pounds, I was interested in correcting the inflammation in my body.  The Whole30 plan was developed after the author (Dallas) healed his shoulder pain by eliminating all legumes and grains.  So I thought I’d give this eating plan a try and purchased, It Starts with Food, which is an updated version of Whole30.

To make a long story short: I’ve been on this plan for one week and noticed improvement in my hip pain within 2 – 3 days.  I stopped taking Advil during the day and only at night so I could sleep.  After a few days on this eating plan, I’m not taking any Advil – at all.

Here’s my first day meals:

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast:  Two eggs with chopped spinach and topped with salsa, two breakfast sausages and three pieces of pineapple.

Lunch

Lunch

Lunch:  I cheated a bit here and got a salad from Whole Foods salad bar.  This salad only has vegetables and chicken.  Dressing was olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Seasoned with sea salt and pepper.

Snack

Snack

Snack: Pineapple, blueberries, two dates, sliced chicken and pistachio nuts.  The plan doesn’t allow for snacks, but I was hungry.  I truly should have packed my salad with more veggies.

Dinner

Dinner

Dinner: Asian Beef & Broccoli from the book:  ground beef with sauteed red pepper, carrots and broccoli on a bed on spinach with cara cara orange slices.  The meal was seasoned with a sprinkle of coconut aminos.  Soy sauce is not recommenced as it has wheat and soy.

So far I feel great on this eating plan, although I certainly miss my fruit smoothies as the plan doesn’t recommend drinking your calories.  I haven’t had any refined sugar and while I miss my usual daily nibble of chocolate, I’m not craving it.

While I’m not experience any hip pain, I can tell that I’m not 100% healed.  I did see a sports chiropractor before the diet and he did a theraputic massage and gave me stretches and exercises for recovery.  I’m also taking a break from Cross Fit for the month of February.

As I’ve heard many times, “Let Food be thy Medicine and Medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates.

Cheers,
Monica



Navy Plaid Shirt by Knox Rose for Target

I saw this navy plaid shirt when the Knox Rose line first made its appearance at Target.  The size medium was sold out at every Target I visited, but no big deal, I’ll just order it online.  Well, it turned out the Knox Rose line wasn’t even – online!  So every time I went to Target, I’d look for this shirt and finally found a medium.  It’s not a super special shirt, but I thought it was unique and maybe hunting it down was half the fun.

Xavier Navy Plaid Shirt, Size Medium, By Knox Rose | Target

Navy Plaid Shirt, Size Medium, By Knox Rose | Target

This shirt is a classic button down with button tabs at the sleeves for a quick rolled up look.  The back of the shirt is a flowy, navy fabric. I think this is what sold me on the shirt.  It was just a little different than the typical plaid shirt.

Plaid Shirt with flowy thermal back panel

Plaid Shirt with flowy thermal back panel

The jeans that I’m wearing are the curvy Levi’s in white.  My preference for bottoms would be skinny distressed jeans, but I haven’t found a pair for a pear shaped gal.  If I find a skinny pair of white jeans that fit, I may distress them myself.

Other than that, I’m at our desert house enjoying the clear blue skies and warm weather.  I’ve actually been working on the house and managed to change the burned out landscapes lights, handy gal that I am.

Also, purchased the book, “It Starts with Food” which is the updated book to the “Whole 30” diet plan.  So far I’m liking the plan, but more on that next post.

Cheers,
Monica

Link up with: Alice (Happiness at Mid Life), Nicole (High Latitude Style), Dawn (Fashion Should be Fun)


 


A dressier jacket with casual jeans

Sometimes I think I’ve accumulated more clothing than I could wear in a lifetime.  I’m still working on thinning out my closet and so I’ve been taking a piece of clothing which I don’t think I’ll keep and giving it another go like this quilted jacket from White House Black Market.

This jacket is fairly new (purchased within 2 yrs) and I recall that it sold out quite quickly.  I thought that this jacket was too corporate to keep, but it seems to work well with casual jeans, so I think this is a keeper.

White House Black Market Quilted Jacket

White House Black Market Quilted Jacket

The cream and black polka dot top that I’m wearing was a steal from Anthropology a few years ago.  The blouse is by a brand called Maeve and it’s the most perfect fit.  I love blouses that have actual sizing (this blouse is a size 8) as opposed to the general small, medium, large – which never truly fits me very well.

Curvy Jeans by INC

Boot Leg, Curvy Jeans by INC | Macy’s

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the curvy boot cut jeans from INC (Macy’s).  They really took the curvy jeans market by storm and I always look in the INC section when in Macy’s to see if they have any new styles for me to try.

While I did managed to add an poorly fitted blouse from Target to my donation pile, I do think that I’ll hang on to this jacket from WHBM a little while longer.

How do you decide on what to keep or donate when cleaning out your closet?

Cheers,
Monica

Link up with: Alice (Happiness at Mid Life), Nicole (High Latitude Style), Dawn (Fashion Should be Fun)

Blissmo Box No. 5 – Beauty

 

Blissmo Box No. 6

Blissmo Box No. 5

I was getting a bit tired of snacks (imagine that!) so I ordered a beauty box for my fifth box from Blissmo.  I was a little disappointed to receive three items and even more disappointed when only one of the items was actually good.

The Not So Great:

Daily Concepts Facial Scrub Sponge

Daily Concepts Facial Scrub Sponge

Daily Concepts Facial Micro Scrubber:

This scrub sponge is a cute idea, but it’s super abrasive and shouldn’t be used on the face.  The sponge is better for a body scrub and especially good for elbows and heels, but never (ever) for your face.  This is an item that I just wouldn’t purchase.  I’m not one for re-using items that sit wet and have the potential to grow bacteria.  I’m a wash cloth gal.  I get a freshly laundered wash cloth with each shower and I know it’s clean and won’t cause any break outs.

Peppermint Body Bar

Peppermint Chocolate Lotion Bar by Skin Scholars

Peppermint Chocolate Lotion Bar by Skin Scholars:

While I love the scent of this product, it’s something that I’d never use.  I’ve never been a fan of the Lush Massage Bars so I knew right away that this lotion bar wasn’t for me.  I simply prefer lotions in a liquid or a cream.

While researching the product, I found the Skin Scholars company philosophy quite pure.  They feel that “if your skin doesn’t need it, we don’t use it”.  Their products contain all natural ingredients like lavender, turbinado sugar, cocoa fruit, epsom salt, honey comb, and grapefruit to name a few.  So while I’m not all that keen on a lotion bar, I may try one of their sugar scrubs.

The Very Good:

Diana Ralys Specialty Blend Oil

Diana Ralys Specialty Blend Oil

Specialty Blend Oil by Diana Ralys

This oil is heavenly.  It smells so beautiful; it reminds me of lilac although there is no lilac in the product.  This special blend contains: Argan Oil, prickly pear seed oil, cranberry seed oil, neroli essential oil (all ingredients are organic).  If you’re curious neroli oil is from citrus fruits.

According to the Diana Ralys website, this oil is excellent for all skin types (even acne prone skin) as well as the hair.  The oil is also an “anti-depressant, invokes a feeling of joy and happiness and uplifts mood”.  I totally agree.  I place one to two drops on my hands and just breath in this beautiful, natural scent and yes, it puts a smile on my face.  A one ounce bottle is $53.00, so while expensive, I’d say it’s well worth the cost.

So that was box #5.  I have one more box to go, which is a snack box and then my subscription with Blissmo will be complete.

Cheers,
Monica

Linking up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style



How a Wellness Coach helped me with my 2016 Goals

2016_Words_Fotor

What are all these fun words you may ask?  These are my resolutions or goals that were floating around my head before I narrowed it down to five goals which I listed here and are listed below as a quick re-cap:

  1. Build strength
  2. Incorporate Active Rest Days
  3. Earn a certificate in personal training
  4. Limit spending / buy items on sale
  5. Limit sweets, especially chocolate.

I thought my list was fairly complete and ready to go until I attended a Wellness Collective session at my Cross Fit gym.  The group was lead by two Wellness Coaches and in attendance was myself and another gym member – so just the four of us.

The coaches goal was to help us work on our resolutions and/or goals for 2016. We were asked to write down our goals on a large piece of paper.  I thought I was so smart because I already had this “all figured out”.  While writing our goals, we were asked to find one word that would describe our goals for 2016.  Ok, now I was stumped.  I didn’t think my goals had a theme until I was asked to number them in order of importance.  So that’s what I did.

Goals_ReDefine

To me my number one goal is to “Build Strength”.  I’ve spent too many years sitting and not moving and it’s starting to show.  To help me through those muscle recovery days, my second goal is to have more “active rest days”.  While I may be too sore for a Cross Fit work out, I can go out for a walk, a hike, or bike ride to stay active.

Next it’s important to me to earn a Personal Training Certificate and then I also need to manage my sugar and curb my retails therapy spending.

After chatting with the coach and telling her that I left my job in March of 2015, she looked at my list and said that it looks like I’m in the process of re-defining myself and my career.  We shortened my one word goal to: Re-Define.  I really thought this was brilliant because it is so true – and I simply didn’t see it.

Next we flipped over the page (you can see the marker bleed through) and we were asked to write down how we planned to accomplish our goals.  I wrote down the following.

Re-Define_Goals_2016

Since I am in the process of changing my career from a corporate administrative assistant to a potential personal trainer, I wrote that I’ll be taking classes at UCSD Extension.  It also came to light that since my husband travels quite a bit, I have long stretches of boredom and I need to fill those days with activities instead of chocolate and shopping.  I’m also working to build strength by attending Cross Fit classes.

It was really amazing to find a deeper focus and prioritize my goals. It also helped to see how my behaviors are affecting my health and well being. If you have the opportunity to work with a wellness coach or life coach, I highly recommend taking advantage of their services. While my gym offers this service, sometimes large corporations offer this type of coaching as well.

Have you ever thought of talking with a wellness, health, or career coach?

Cheers,
Monica

Linking up with Dawn Lucy over at Fashion Should Be Fun



Stitch Fix No. 8 – The Last Box

After I made my 2016 goals, I had a long conversation in my head as to whether I’d keep my Stitch Fix subscription.  While I totally enjoy receiving a bi-monthly box of five fashionable items that are personally selected for me, I had to admit that this type of subscription box no longer fit with my personal goal of buying clothing on sale.

While Stitch Fix offers a 25% discount if you buy all five pieces, I was never able to get a box where I liked everything or all items fit.  So I would buy the pieces I liked – at full price.  I was planning to keep the subscription as “an exception to the rule”, but then why bother making resolutions, objectives, promise etc. at all if I’m not going to stick with the goals I made for 2016.

By the time I made up my mind to cancel, my Stitch Fix was already scheduled and on its way, so I just went with it as a “last hurrah”.  So here’s what I received:

Note:  I didn’t keep the price list so cannot recall the cost of each item.

RETURNED: Beacon Pintuck Detail Silk Blouse $

RETURN: Beacon Pintuck Detail Silk Blouse

While I love the cobalt blue color, I’m not in the market for a short sleeve silk blouse in the winter so decided to return.

RETURN: Rade 3/4 Sleeve Knit Top

RETURN: Rade 3/4 Sleeve Knit Top

I am so not a fan of 3/4 sleeves.  If this top was long sleeve, I would have purchased, for sure! Black & white –  totally my style!

RETURNED: Rizzo Skinny Pant

RETURN: Rizzo Skinny Pant by LIverpool

Liverpool pants (front)

Rizzo pants (front)

Liverpool pants (back)

Rizzo pants (back)

These pants are cute.  I really like the front & back pocket details, but you know .. pear shape – skinny pants = no bueno.  These pants were simply too tight and not flattering.

RETURNED: Jesse Crossbody Bag

RETURN: Jesse Crossbody Bag

I almost kept this vegan leather crossbody bag.  I love the tan look of the material and the gold details such as the zipper and hook clasps.  However, when I placed my wallet and other items from my current hand bag into the crossbody bag; it just wasn’t going to work.  Even if I left a few items out, this bag doesn’t look good when “full”.  It only looks cute hanging empty.

KEEP: Tayler Open Drape Cardigan $64.00

KEEP: Tayler Open Drape Cardigan $64.00 (Total: minus styling fee + tax $48.80)

I loved this sweater right out of the box and I knew that I was going to buy it.  The material is a bit thin, so I won’t be wearing this sweater until spring, but it will go nicely with a cobalt sleeveless top that I purchased in my sixth Stitch Fix box.

So that concludes my subscription service with Stitch Fix.  Will I sign up with Stitch Fix again? Maybe next year or sometime in the future.  Right now I’m focused on my 2016 goals and if I’m out shopping, whatever I purchase, must be on sale.

Cheers,
Monica

Linking up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style



Inspired by KUT

I have a ton of clothes, but not a lot of style ideas.  It happens to the best of us.  I’m quite good at knowing what fits my shape, but creating fun, fashion forward outfits is not my forte.  That is why I am inspired by online photo’s, especially clothing company ads.  I collect images and store them in a file called “Styles to Try”.  It is similar to having a style board on Pinterest, only I’ve found it easier to just have a folder on my hard drive.

The outfit that I have on below is similar to an outfit that was styled for a KUT from the Kloth ad. Now, I’m probably 20+ yrs older and 20 lbs heavier than the cute KUT model, but hey .. gotta work with whatcha got.

NYDJ (Nordstrom) | Denim top (Democracy) | Scarf & Belt (Target) | Sam Edelman booties (Nordstrom)

NYDJ (Nordstrom) | Denim top (Democracy) | Scarf & Belt (Target) | Sam Edelman booties (Nordstrom)

I’m still a print mixing novice so I was happy to combine the floral scarf and leopard belt in this outfit. I also like how the scarf in the ad is layered inside the shirt.  I left my scarf slightly outside the shirt as I wanted to see more of the floral design.  My pant legs didn’t look all that great tucked inside my ankle boots so I rolled them instead.

INSPIRATION ~ KUT Bohemian Style Outfit

INSPIRATION ~ KUT Bohemian Style Outfit

While that ad may prompt our desire to be “youthful” and “on-trend”, my goal is to simply find inspiration in what I already own.  What inspires your fashionable outfits?

Cheers,
Monica

Link up with: Alice (Happiness at Mid Life), Nicole (High Latitude Style), Dawn (Fashion Should be Fun)



Over-Sized Cozy Sweater

Since southern California has gone all winter and turned fairly cold, I’ve been looking for long, over-sized sweaters to keep me warm.  Now if I’m being honest about my 2016 Goals, I am still focused on buying items on sale, so I headed to Forever 21 in search of a sale and a cozy sweater.

Although shopping in Forever 21 can be over-whelming, I managed to find a simple loose knit longline sweater in the color cream.  I was specifically looking for a crew neckline vs a cowl neck as the weather here can go from a cold morning, to a fairly warm afternoon, back to a cold evening.  With a crew neckline, I can add or remove a scarf based on the climate.

Underneath the sweater I have on a Mossimo layering white tank as I usually like to have a cami or tank layer under a knit sweater.

Loose Knit Longline Sweater | Forever 21

Loose Knit Longline Sweater (Size Large) | Forever 21

To dress up the plain sweater, I added a pretty purple & gray scarf and a bold statement butterfly ring that has similar colors as my scarf.

Butter Fly Ring

Butter Fly Ring

For bottoms, I have on the Democracy Jeggings (I really LOVE these stretchy jeans!) I noticed that Nordstrom Rack is carrying the Raw Edge Jeggings by Democracy ($39.97) and I may have to check these out.  I also found these old boots in the back of my closet, but still think they are stylish even though they are years old.

Buckle Boots | Famous Footwear

Buckle Boots (old)| Famous Footwear

I should also mention that the sweater retails for $22.90, but it was on sale for $11.45.  So far I’m doing well with my goals for 2016, but then again – we are only two weeks into the New Year .. lol.  Maybe I’ll be reporting differently at the end of the month – we shall see !!

Cheers,
Monica

Linking up with Patti over at Not Dead Yet Style

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Blissmo Box No. 4 – More Snacks!

Blissmo Box No. 4

Blissmo Box No. 4

Although I mentioned in my last post that I would get a cosmetic inspired box, I couldn’t resist getting another snack box.

The GOOD Stuff:

Frontier Bites, Blueberry Lemon Flavor

Frontier Bites, Blueberry Lemon Flavor

I received the Frontier Bites in my second Blissmo box so I was thrilled to try out another flavor. The almond, blueberry, lemon bites are delicious!  This is a really nice afternoon snack with a cup of green tea. The Frontier Bites are a little hard to find.  I’ve only found these at the Fresh & Easy grocery store here in California.

Beanitos Chipotle BBQ

Beanitos Chipotle BBQ Black Bean Chips

I think Blissmo is sending me all the Beanitos flavors as these seem to find their way into every snack box.  I really enjoyed the Chipotle BBQ flavor and dipped the chips into sour cream ~ yum! If you like Lay’s Oven Baked BBQ Potato Crisps then you may like these as well.

Morso Mocha

Morso Mocha

At first I thought this was a package on instant coffee, but nope – it’s a wonderful little chocolate square full of mocha coffee flavor.  This little square made from 100% organic and fair trade ingredients has only 1 gram of sugar , 2.5 grams of fat and 15 calories.  It’s suppose to give you a jolt of energy like consuming a shot of espresso.  I didn’t notice any spike in energy, but it did make me want a cup of coffee.  These delightful chocolates are available for purchase online and limited locations – for example, the chocolates are available in northern California, but not southern California.

Morso Green Tea & Coffee/Cream

Morso Green Tea & Coffee/Cream

The Pretty Darn Awful Stuff:

Beanitos Lime

Beanitos Hint of Lime

The Beanitos with a Hint of Lime were over flavored and were so sour that I tossed the bag.

PureFit PB Chocolate Chip

PureFit PB Chocolate Chip

I was very excited about the PureFit protein bar because of how the product is presented on the packaging – as a wonderful chocolate chip cookie.  I thought it would come in bite size pieces, similar to the Frontier Bites, but uh, no.  It came as a dry tasteless bar.  Life is too short to eat non-food like this.

Qancha

Qancha

The Qancha Air Toasted Heirloom Corn snacks were like dust.  It was like eating, dry corn dust.  A terrible product.

I also received the H2wOw water enhancer in lemon/mint flavor and I’m not fond of this type of product.  The flavor was ok, but my preference is to flavor my water with a real lemon and real mint.

My next Blissmo box will definitely be a cosmetic box so stay tuned !!

Cheers,
Monica