Thinking Out Loud: Summer Edition

I have so many random things on my mind that I think it’s the PERFECT time for a Thinking Out Loud post. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but here are a few things I’ve been thinking about:

Home Renovations …

B and I (or should I say B) are knee deep in some serious updates/renovations. I hope to have more to show soon, but he just tore down a ceiling (and wallpaper) in the dining room and then put one back up. I’ve never looked at ceilings so much as I have the past week or so. And now they’re all I notice!

Shopping …

I’m feeling in a serious fashion funk and I need want some new clothes. Ever since I went to the Saks blogger brunch/fashion show, I’ve been really wanting to get some new clothing items. BUT with the aforementioned home reno, I know I should be saving money. Le sigh. Still, it’s Nordstrom’s anniversary sale and here are some items I’m admiring (from afar):

This Bootie

This sweater

And while we’re at it, these non-Nordstrom items have been calling my name:

From J Crew

From Loft

Running (or NOT Running) …

I hurt my piriformis a few weeks ago and haven’t run since. That’s right, I’m going on 2+ weeks with NO runs. This is the longest I haven’t run since giving birth a year ago and I do NOT like it. I’m going a little stir crazy! Sorry in advance to anyone I snap at …

How I feel…

Cooking …

Now that FW is one, I’m trying really hard to find some foods he will eat. He is a picky eater has a refined pallet, and it’s getting hard to find foods that he, me and B will all eat. Oh, and FW has low iron and doesn’t like meat so I’m trying to find things with iron and/or protein. Some of the newest things I’ve tried:

Spicy Chickpea Burgers (without the spice for FW) >> I liked them as did B, but FW wasn’t a fan

Spinach Banana Muffins >> We all like these!

Crockpot Spicy Peanut Chicken  (without the spice for FW) >> I liked it, B sorta liked it and FW just spit it and threw it out

Cauliflower tots >> I liked them, B didn’t try and FW may have liked them (he didn’t eat them at home but school said he did …)

So, we’re 1ish for 4 …. any tips? Food or recipe suggestions?

And that’s about all the brain randomness from me this morning. Cheers to it almost being Friday!

Some questions for you:

  • Any recipes for picky eaters? Ideally something that an adult and a one-year-old would eat? Please?
  • What’s a fashion item you want right now?
  • What’s the last home renovation/DIY thing you did?

PS – Happy birthday MOM!!! You are a great mom and wonderful grandma … ❤

 

 

 

Looking Forward to Summer Fashion – Fashion Show at Saks!

As a semi-new mom, I’ll admit I’ve somewhat lost what I believe is my fashion sense. I can’t completely blame it on being a mom – I know many fashionable moms – I just haven’t spent much time recently keeping up-to-date on fashion trends or shopping. And I can honestly say that I’ve spent more on clothes for FW over the past few months than myself.

Who can blame me if I prefer to buy them matching outfits instead of something for me 🙂

So, when I was invited to attend a blogger event at Saks Fifth Avenue at Beachwood to preview some of their new clothes for the summer, I was pretty excited to put on some makeup, put on a dress (and a mom bun) and get up-to-speed on what’s new in the fashion world. I was treated to brunch and mimosas and a mini fashion show!

Here are some of the trends that we saw that I’m excited about:

Embellishments 

Small purses

Sneakers

Gingham

Graphic Tees

Lace

Bare shoulders, lace and florals were some other trends that they shared. You can see a mix of most of those in all of the above!

I looooved seeing all these styles – maybe this will be just what I need to get out of my fashion funk. That gingham one shoulder top with the white capris is my FAVORITE – I can totally see myself wearing that to a summer bbq (4th of July anyone) and even work with a jacket (we’re pretty casual). Some of the brands featured included Gucci, Scripted, YSL, Cinq A Sept and Milly.

I learned some cool things about Saks while I was there – for example, they are really working to meet the needs of a contemporary audience. Yes, they feature well known designers (hello – did you see those Gucci sneakers?! and that YSL bag?), but they also are all about finding new, less known designers to feature and share exclusive lines with their customers. They also have a feature on their website, the It List, where you can shop by trend!  Oh – and you know that “Cleveland or Nowhere” shirt? That’s something you can get at Saks!

Needless to say, I think I now have a shopping bug. And if you are following me on Instagram, you saw in my story some of the other things I was eyeing at the store (including their entire shoe collection!).

So, I guess it’s time to go shopping!! Some questions for you:

  • Which of the looks is your favorite?
  • What trend are you loving right now?

Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the Saks Fifth Avenue blogger brunch. In addition to the fun fashion show, I received a Saks t-shirt, some free beauty samples and a gift card. All views are my own. 

Friday 5: 5 Gift Ideas for Runners

The holiday season is officially upon us! Meaning I can finally listen to holiday music (who am I kidding – I’ve already started) and start decorating and baking!

That means it’s also time for holiday shopping. As someone who likes to run, I consider myself easy to shop for this holiday season. When in doubt- just get me something running related! (or baking or cooking related … but that’s another list for another time:) ) Here are some thoughts on some gifts for every runner in your life.

Their Favorite Pair of Shoes

Runners go through a lot of shoes – and we often aren’t that great about replacing them. So why not get him (or her) a pair of her favorite shoes before she needs them? I personality swap out Nike shoes with Saucony Rides. I’m currently wearing Saucony Ride 6s but the 7s are super cute as well aren’t they?

The newest Saucony Rides

b and i at packet pickup rnr savannah half marathon

Current Saucony Rides (yes, that’s a pic from our Savannah race and there’s a beer between my shoes)


PRO Compression Socks

I was lucky enough to be given a pair of PRO Compression socks to try out and I’m hooked. Seriously hooked. I wear these socks anytime my shin is bothering me even if I’m not working out (yes, even to work! I hide them underneath boots).

PRO Compression socks sticking out of my boots - see, I wear them to work too :)

PRO Compression socks sticking out of my boots – see, I wear them to work too 🙂

 

I’ve been known to wear my marathon socks on long carrides, on long runs, over my spandex in the winter to keep warm (sometimes my leggings reveal my ankles and if I wear these knee high socks I don’t get cold ankles!), and more.

Winter-ready with PRO Compression socks (and Yaktraks!)

Winter-ready with PRO Compression socks (and Yaktraks! See # 5 on this list)

Not familiar with compression socks? They’re a runners’ best friend (well one of her bffs). According to PRO Compression, “True graduated compression promotes circulation by pushing fluid up from your feet and ankles to toward your knees. This design also helps reduce swelling and inflamation while providing critical support to muscles and tendons.” All I know is that when I’m feeling sore or tired, I really believe these socks help.

Wearing my new black PRO Compression socks during my recent Turkey Trot

Wearing my new black PRO Compression socks during my recent Turkey Trot

Buying some PRO Compression socks? Enter the code PINK2 at checkout for a 40% discount through December 15! If you’re running any holiday races be sure to check out the fun holiday-themed socks they have too!

Rocking my neon PRO Compression socks with shorts at a race this summer

Rocking my neon PRO Compression socks with shorts at a race this summer

 

Some Reading Material (like a subscription to a running magazine or a few running books)

It took me years to finally “splurge” and buy a subscription to Runners World magazine – and only after my niece was selling magazines for a school fundraiser. But I love the magazine and would’ve gladly taken it as a gift! Same with running books – I love What I Talk About When I Talk About Running but have heard great things about Born to RunRunning Like A Girl, Marathon Man and so many more books.

     

 

 

Arm Candy – an Activity Monitor and/or GPS watch

Runners like stats. We like to know how many miles we’ve run, how many minutes we’ve been active, average pace, steps taken, and so on – during and outside our workouts. I personally have been wanting a Fitbit and a Garmin for more than a year now but saw that the new Fitbit Surge is coming out next year which looks like a great solution for a runner who wants a Fitbit plus a GPS watch in one. Now the hard part – do I wait for the Surge to come out to wait for reviews and see what it looks like? OR just get the traditional Fitbit I’ve been wanting that’s stylish but doesn’t provide my mileage/GPS needs?

Which fitbit should I get?

Winter Running Gear

If you’re in my part of the country (midwest and northeast, depending on when you read this post), it’s starting to get cold, snowy and well, sometimes it’s tough to get out for a run. Do you want to know a secret? Cute and comfortable winter running gear! When I know I have warm (and fun) clothing to put on it’s so much better! Some of my favorites?

A running vest. B got me a running vest a few years ago for Christmas and it’s been one of my favorite pieces of my running wardrobe ever since. It has zip away sleeves (so it’s also a jacket!), three zipper pockets and is waterproof. I will wear this thing until it wears itself thin.

A bright running jacket/pullover. If you’re running outside in the winter and you have a day job, chances are you’re running in the dark. It’s dark in the morning and dark at night. One way to combat this? A bright colored running jacket. See the above photo for my obnoxiously bright yellow warm running pullover. Bonus points if it has thumb hole sleeves and a zipper pocket for keys!

Running gloves. I’ve actually found that those $5 gloves found at every single drug store/dollar store/convenience store does the trick unless it’s reallly cold. Plus, I don’t feel bad if I lose one or need to throw them away during a race.

For $4/pair, you can wear these only a few times and still feel good about the purchase! Plus you can text – or check your nike+ app on your phone – with them on!

YakTraks or other winter running shoe gear. Snow can’t keep you indoors all winter; that’s why I’m so glad I purchased YakTraks last year. I just pull them over my shoes and poof – they’re good to go in the snow and ice! I found the Yaktrax Pro work really well and I don’t feel nervous that I’m going to slip and fall during a run. Plus they look kinda cool – don’t they? Oh hey, this photo shows you my Yaktraks, PRO Compression socks AND a bright colored pullover:

Wearing my PRO Compression socks over my spandex

Wearing my PRO Compression socks over my spandex

Okay, I know I added more than 5 because of all the sub-gift ideas in the last category. But come on – there are just so many ways to make the runner in your life have a happy holiday season!

Some questions for you (answer in the comments):

  • Runners, what did I miss? What would you add?
  • Have you done any holiday shopping yet? Not yet … yikes, but I guess it’s time to get started!
  • Tell me the truth – when did you start listening to holiday music? Do you wait until after Thanksgiving?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links AND I received a complimentary pair of PRO Compression socks to review. Still, all thoughts are my own in the post. I loved PRO Compression even before they sent me a pair of socks 🙂 I don’t have relationships with any of the other brands in this post, I just love them all!

Summer = Farmer’s Markets


Source: Positively Cleveland

This weekend was the unofficial start of summer! Which not only means we can wear white (does anyone actually follow that rule?), but also enjoy fresh, locally grown produce in Northeast Ohio. One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available everywhere, especially at Farmer’s Markets. If you work/live downtown like me, besides going to the West Side Market, there’s no better way to get fresh fruits, veggies, and other food (including my favorite, Ohio City Pasta!). Some downtown Farmer’s Markets I’m looking forward to frequenting during lunch breaks include:

  • Public Square: Fridays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. through October, opens June 10th
  • Cleveland State University (in front of the law school on Euclid between E 18th and E 21st): Thursdays 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. through November 17th, opens June 9th
  • East 9th Street Pier: Thursdays 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. through Labor Day, opens tomorrow (June 2)

Not lucky enough to hit one of the downtown spots? A full listing of NEO markets can be found here.

Where’s your favorite place to find fresh produce? Do you have another favorite Farmer’s Market?

Old-School Is Still Cool In Customer Service

Normally, I write posts to share about cool social media things that companies are doing. I share online marketing stories, social media trends and other nerd news. This post is different. I’m writing to tell you about a cool old-school customer service initiative — so if you don’t want to hear about traditional communication (or hate online shopping), please stop reading now.

If you know me well, you know that I am addicted to online shopping. I love JCrew/AT/Anthropologie fashion blogs and have been known to make quite a few bucks money on eBates (if you’re an online shopper and not using eBates you MUST! and say I recommended you – we both get $ that way). Lately the crew blogs have been talking about Lands’ End Canvas as a friendly alternative to JCrew and specifically, the Canvas Heritage Cardigan as an affordable/colorful alternative to the Jackie. Anyway, I went online and bought myself two of the heritage cardigans. They came  a week later and were everything I had hoped for and more!

If this were any other online shopping experience, the story would stop there. But it wasn’t – and it didn’t. This week, I received a THANK YOU card in the mail from Lands’ End. That’s right- a card. Not a form email or a note online when I logged into their site. A real, live, handwritten thank you note that looked like this:  

I was so surprised. When was the last time you received a thank you note for shopping online? Come to think of it – when was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note from anyone? Now I know that I’m probably not special and that this small gesture is most likely part of their customer service process (and designed to get me to buy from them again — nice plug about their shift dress), but it definitely made me feel special and important to the company.

So what’s the takeaway from this blog post, besides the fact that it’s evident I spend way too much time shopping online? Hey businesses — while online marketing, cool social media initiatives and iPhone (and Droid!) apps are cool ways to build relationships with your customers, sometimes all you need is a little handwritten note to make a difference.

Kudos to LOFT – Another Brand That’s Listening

For those of you who know me, you may know that one of my guilty pleasures is reading fashion blogs. Fashion? Social media? Count me in!

A few months ago, you may remember that Ann Taylor LOFT was caught red-handed in participating in a blogger payola program, to which the FTC promptly said “nuh uh!” LOFT was offering bloggers a chance to win a $500 gift card if they blogged about a LOFT-sponsored event within 24-hours of its occurrence.

Well, it seemed that LOFT had done it once again — tried something fun with social media — and failed. Wednesday, LOFT’s Facebook page included photos of their new “drapey silk cargo pants.” No, the fail wasn’t the fact that they had created silk cargo pants — or in the fact that they shared them on social media. It was the WAY they showed the pants being worn. Some fans commented that the pants looked good on the model, but wrote that the pants weren’t
“universally flattering” and wouldn’t look great if you’re “petite,” “curvy,” “a mom,” etc.

The Infamous Silk Pants

So what did LOFT do? Did they ignore the comments? Did they tell facebook users to get off their lazy butts and work out if they wanted to look good in the pants? No — they responded. They created two new albums: How I Wear Our New Silk Cargo Pant, where Julie, LOFT’s Digital Media person shows how she’d wear the pants and How LOFT Is Wearing Our Favorite New Pant, where other LOFT employees of all shapes and sizes share how they’d wear the bottoms.

The response, through nearly 50 comments on each album (as of Friday) has been great. Most readers have even suggested that after seeing it on a LOFT employee with their shape, they’d be likely to buy the pants.

Looks like LOFT did a good job this time!