Dotted Blouse

I can’t tell you how pleased I’ve been with Stitch Fix over the past few months. The last 3 to 4 fixes that I’ve received have been so much better than I could have expected, and I’m really glad I stuck with the service and looked past the couple of fixes that were less than impressive.

I think one of the biggest changes has been the fact that I requested a new stylist and have really loved my new stylist. She seems to get my style and understand what I’m looking for. After my first fix from her, I requested to continue to get fixes from her, and it’s been great.

{PS: If you’re looking to sign up for Stitch Fix, you can do so here!}

Let’s get to this month’s fix, shall we?

Item #1: Amour Vert: Alessandro Abstract Dot Print Silk Blouse (above)
I was in love with this blouse at first glance. The neutral black and hunter green dots and abstract pattern were right up my alley. I really loved that this blouse was almost a little too big since I’m hoping it will last for a while through pregnancy. If you can tell, it’s quite long, which was another plus.
Verdict: Keep!

Kimono Top
Item #2: Pixley: Monty Scarf Print Kimono Cardigan
The kimono top was cute but it wasn’t something I would normally consider buying on my own. Surprisingly I liked the top when I put it on, but I couldn’t really see myself getting much use out of it aside from a very casual setting, and it was a little pricey for something that I felt I could buy at Target for much less.
Verdict? Return!

Sleeveless Blouse

Item #3: Skies are Blue: Witherford Colorblock Pleat Detail Blouse
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not a huge fan of sleeveless blouses and tops. I rarely wear them at work and when I do, I usually cover my arms with a jacket of some sort. Thus, sleeveless blouses just aren’t versatile enough for me. The blouse was pretty and I liked the neutral colors but when thinking about staple pieces that I would wear time and time again, this just didn’t make the cut.
Verdict: Return!

White Blouse

Item #4: Daniel Rainn: Bilson Embroidered Tab-Sleeve Blouse 
Oooh, this blouse was exactly what I’ve been looking to buy for quite a while. I don’t have a good basic white blouse, and I’ve pinned a lot of photos with white tops on Pinterest. I loved the sheer top layer and the built-in camisole underneath. Additionally, the top was long and loose around the middle.
Verdict: Keep!

Zebra Dress

Item #5: Tart: Teina Abstract Chevron Racerback Belted Maxi Dress
I’ve already Instagrammed this dress and worn it a bunch of times since I’ve received my fix. I just love it! It’s the perfect length, just barely touching the floor when I wear sandals, and the dress is made from a thicker, super-comfortable material that provides nice coverage and doesn’t show every little bump and bulge (a big complaint I have with cheaply made maxis). It was a little pricier, around $98, but I was willing to make the investment knowing I would get a lot of use out of this dress in the summer and the fall months to come when paired with a jean jacket.
Verdict: Keep!

I was tempted to keep the entire box to get the 25% discount you get when you keep all 5 items, but thinking about my capsule wardrobe challenge really kept me committed to keeping items that I truly love, not items I’ll only wear once or twice and give away later.

Find more of my Stitch Fix reviews here.

*Affiliate links used. Opinions are, of course, my honest opinions and strictly my own.

Boston and Maine Travel Guide | Espresso and Cream
BOSTON

Stay:
Hotel Veritas, Harvard Square
Since we had a car on this trip, we decided to stay in Cambridge at The Hotel Veritas. It was a beautiful hotel, the staff was personable and the rooms were pristine. It was slightly pricier than hotels we normally stayed at, but I think it was worth the splurge for a great location and luxury accommodations.

photo (29)

Do:
Sam Adams Brewery Tour
This was at the top of Joe’s list, and although I couldn’t enjoy the beer with him, we had a great time. I loved that this tour focused more on the beer tasting and learning about the beers they make rather than focusing on the process of beer making, which I find to be rather boring. Go early if you’re there on a Saturday so you get a ticket!

The Freedom Trail 
We had a great time going on one of the free Freedom Trail tours in Boston. The tours are around 1 1/2 hours long and cover a handful of historic sights. I learned a lot about Boston during the colonial times, and I’m a little embarrassed how much I didn’t know!

Faneuil Hall
Before our Freedom Trail tour took off, we grabbed lunch at the marketplace at Faneuil Hall. There was pretty much every type of food you could imagine. Since the weather was beautiful and we were craving seafood, we both grabbed fish and chips and ate our meals outside in the sunshine.

photo (26)Eat:
Island Creek Oyster Bar
We wanted to eat at Neptune Oyster Bar but the wait at 4:30 was already 2 1/2 hours and we weren’t in the mood to wait that long. Since I had read great things about Island Creek, so we headed over there and got seated at the bar right away. We both had the lobster rolls, which were amazing!

Three Little Figs (breakfast)
We had an amazing breakfast at Three Little Figs our first morning in Boston. The homemade Greek yogurt was out of this world delicious, as was the spinach pie and Joe’s egg sandwich. I don’t think there was a thing on the menu that I wasn’t tempted to order.

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photo (28)

KENNEBUNKPORT

Stay:
Captain Fairfield Inn in Kennebunkport
Oh, the Captain Fairfield Inn was such a quaint and dreamy place to stay. We had never stayed at a bed and breakfast before, but were sold after seeing the inn’s updated guest rooms that looked like boutique hotel accommodations and heard such wonderful things about their daily 3-course breakfasts. The inn didn’t disappoint! The breakfasts were just as wonderful as advertised and the rooms were beautiful. We stayed in the Captain Fairfield room (number 4) and were pleased with just about everything!

photo (32)

Do:
Popham Beach State Park
Our friends, who were living in Maine, recommended we take the hour and a half drive up to Popham Beach State Park and I’m so glad that we did! The beach was beautiful and it wasn’t overly crowded. Make sure you take cash since it’s fairly remote and the state park charges to get to the beach (I believe it was $6 per adult).

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Cape Neddick Lighthouse
We ate dinner in Portland on our way home from the beach with our friends Sarah and Brad. After dinner they suggested we stop by the Cape Neddick Lighthouse and it was worth the small detour. The lighthouse is evidently pretty well known in the area and was the model for the Red Lobster logo.

photo (31)Eat:
Owen’s Farmhouse (Kennebunk)
Casual, cute restaurant with great woodfired pizza.

50 Local 
We enjoyed a great nice seafood meal at 50 Local in Kennebunk. The atmosphere was quiet and intimate and the food was outstanding. The restaurant sources as much of their food as possible from local vendors and the menu was concise and creative. We shared a salad, enjoyed homemade bread and for our main course Joe had the lobster roll while I had the halibut. It was cooked perfectly and worth the splurge.

Pedro’s Kennebunk
Maybe it seems strange to have Mexican food when in Maine, but Joe and I heard great things about Pedro’s and we couldn’t resist giving it a try. I’m glad we did because the food was fresh, flavorful and the salsa was good enough to drink. If you’re feeling sick of seafood, Pedro’s is worth the visit.

Rococo Ice Cream
Gah! Rococo lived up to the hype. The ice cream was out of this world delicious and I loved the unique and creative flavors like goat cheese & blackberry chambord swirl and lemon basil sorbet. I had the salty sweet cream and it was the perfect combination of sweet and salty.

HB Provisions
A great little deli/general store hybrid that’s perfect for grabbing a quick sandwich. We ate there right after arriving in Kennebunk and had a great time talking with another group who was vacationing in Maine.

I think that’s it! Our trip was short and sweet, a little less than a week, but we had a great time and packed in as many activities as possible. The entire time we were there we kept talking about wanting to return someday with the rest of our extended family. I can’t recommend Maine enough!

Madison

 

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream | Espresso and Cream

I mentioned last week, but my post-vacation self was in serious need of a little detox after our trip. For me, detox is never about juice cleanses or major restrictions, just focusing on putting as many nutrients into my body as possible in the form of veggies, whole grains and lots and lots of water.

Of course, being pregnant has made the whole “eating nutritious foods” fairly difficult, but I’m trying my best. This pregnancy has been rather strange; some days I feel almost normal and the next day I feel completely horrible. Most of the time I can count on feeling pretty good in the morning but I’ve been hit with morning sickness in reverse, feeling miserable as the day drags on. The benefit of having a rocky pregnancy past is that even when I’m feeling my worst, I still feel incredibly thankful for each day I have with this baby.

Baby Photo 10 Weeks

 

This past Friday we had another appointment and ultrasound. I was incredibly nervous; it had been 2 1/2 weeks since our last appointment, and this appointment, just shy of 10 weeks, felt like a huge milestone to me. We’ve never made it anywhere near this far with either of our two previous pregnancies, so it was hard to imagine going to the doctor and getting good news. Right before our vacation I got extremely worked up and questioned whether I should have taken our doctor up on her offer to do a scan before our trip, but Joe and I talked it over and felt strongly that God was asking us to trust Him, to go out into the unknown and wait until our trip was over to get our ultrasound.

When we saw our little one, who looks so much more like a baby now, on that ultrasound I was blown away. At 9 weeks 5 days we could see him/her moving around and got a video of the heartbeat, a strong 178! For most of this pregnancy I have held back on letting myself feel truly excited about this pregnancy for fear of getting my hopes up, but I finally feel as if I’m allowing myself to think about the future and what life will look like come March 2nd. For now, we are done with ultrasounds for a while. Our doctor offered to do another one in two weeks, when we will be at the 12 week mark, but I told her I was comfortable hearing the heartbeat on a doppler at that appointment instead.

I’ve said it a thousand times already, but thank you for your prayers. Every single e-mail I’ve received has been such a blessing. Some days I feel confident and secure, other days I have to pray through the fear hour by hour, and the e-mails that have been sent my way have meant so much on those tough days. Sometimes I wonder why we are being gifted this miracle. I don’t have a clue, because it’s certainly more than we deserve. My prayer is that this baby would be a constant reminder to many of God’s grace, compassion and ability to do miraculous things despite what science or statistics might say.

And because this post suddenly became extremely long-winded, I am rewarding those of you still reading with this amazing recipe. It’s one of my new favorite spreads/dips/sauces in part because of its versatility. I made a batch (it makes quite a bit!) and drizzled it over a bowl of whole wheat couscous and roasted summer squash for dinner the other night. My mom and Joe both had the same meal and raved about how delicious it was, mainly because of the sauce. Since that meal, I’ve also used this as a dip for chips and a spread for sandwiches. The possibilities are endless!

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream 1 | Espresso and Cream

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Sauce, Dip, Spread
 
This sauce is great on pretty much anything, but my favorite way to eat it is on top of roasted veggies and whole wheat couscous or rice. It's absolutely delicious!
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups cashews roasted and unsalted (soaked in water for at least 4 hours)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Drain cashews from the water they have been soaking in. Place cashews, water, red pepper, garlic and salt in a high-powdered blender or food processor. Blend 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides as necessary, until mixture is completely smooth and creamy. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies | Espresso and Cream
Hello, strangers! It feels like forever when in reality it’s only been about a week since I last checked in with you. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen more than enough photos of our vacation, but I’ll be sharing a full update of our time in Boston and Maine very soon. It was such a wonderful trip and even the rainy weather couldn’t get us down. A huge highlight? We happened to be in Kennebunkport at the same time as Natalie and Dan, so we grabbed ice cream together and chatted. So fun!

Now that we’re back home, I’m really looking forward to eating a little more normally. Don’t get me wrong, we ate really well on our trip, but probably a little too well! Today it’s been really nice to have a plain bowl of oatmeal with almond butter for breakfast and a sandwich with fruit for lunch. I think there’s a good reason vacation doesn’t last forever.

Surprisingly, we didn’t eat many sweets on our trip at all. We loaded up on savory items like lobster rolls, fried fish, and the most indulgent egg dishes for breakfast. When I got home the craving for a little something sweet hit right away, so I raided the bulk bins at Whole Foods on my grocery trip this morning and got to work.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

 

These cookies really do have it all. They’re packed with coconut, cashews, dried tart cherries and dark chocolate. And somehow, these cookies manage to feel a little bit healthy, which I’m sure is just an illusion since they also have plenty of brown sugar and butter, too. I made them on the smaller size, which means I can totally justify eating more than one.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (such as a Silpat). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until sugars are combined and mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined Add in the cashews, cherries, chocolate and coconut and beat until combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour. Use a small metal cookie scoop to scoop dough onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

 

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles | Espresso and Cream
Sometimes you just need to eat a little raw cookie dough, am I right? Which always sounds like a really good idea at the time, until you have a spoonful (or 8) and then feel sick to your stomach with all the sugar and chocolate and find yourself too sick to actually enjoy a cookie when they come out of the oven. Tell me I’m not the only person who does that… Not that I’m really in the position to be eating raw cookie dough anyway, but I’ve been down that road many a time.

In the afternoon when a snack craving strikes, I usually reach for something healthy-sweet, meaning a Larabar, a Quest bar, a smoothie of some sort, or yogurt with fruit. But the other day I had the craving for cookie dough, so I spent some time in the kitchen determined to find a way to make a suitable, healthy alternative.

These cookie dough bites are made with ingredients you can feel good about: cashew butter, honey, protein powder, cinnamon and oats. Seriously, that’s it! But since they’re a little on the soft and sticky side, like real cookie dough, I decided to roll the balls in sprinkles before putting them in the fridge. And to be honest, I was a little surprised at how closely they resembled the real thing! If you’re feeling really crazy, feel free to stir a couple spoonfuls of mini chocolate chips into the dough before making the balls.

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles 2 | Espresso and Cream

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack, Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup JIFF cashew butter (you could substitute peanut butter or almond butter, but NOT the natural type)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup Vega French Vanilla protein powder (or other protein powder of choice)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • Sprinkles, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the cashew butter, honey, cinnamon and protein powder. Blend until well combined. Add in the oats and blend about 30 seconds more, or until oats are broken up and combined into the dough.
  2. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough into balls. Roll dough in sprinkles. Place in a plastic storage container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm. Keep in the refrigerator for a healthy and indulgent snack any time a craving strikes!

 

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