Lately

Lately, things have been pretty rough around here. I haven’t mentioned it, but my mom recently had quadruple bypass surgery and a whole host of other things worked on over the last few weeks. She is home now and doing much better, and it feels like I am tentatively letting out the longest breath. The last four weeks have been tough, but we seem to be heading towards better things.

So, in this month’s round-up, you’ll see little details from our life. It won’t look much different, but it has felt completely different.

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This is the beautiful, white stray cat, who Ellie refers to as “White Kitty.” It is becoming clear the cat thinks she belongs to us….Ellie has offered to teach her to go down the slide. Trying to get in our house without our new pet following is becoming increasingly difficult.

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Fast Food: Perfect Baked Chicken and Maple, Orange Butternut Squash

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Today, I’m sharing the second set of recipes in my new Fast Food series. This one features flavorful baked chicken and the most delicious butternut squash. I served ours with applesauce, but a green salad or peas would be great too.

Both recipes go in a 375 oven and take around 30 minutes to cook. I’d start with the butternut squash and then, once that is in the oven, move on to the chicken. The squash gets a little special treatment after it comes out of the oven, as orange and maple syrup are added. Make this tonight for your favorite people.

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Missalaney

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1. 9 to 5 Chic always has the best working wardrobe, but this off-duty ensemble has me inspired.
2. Gal Meets Glam is traveling all over Europe with her honey. I’ve always had a limited interest in London, but photos like these have me ready to book a flight.
3.Baked goat cheese with roasted garlic – I think that’s all I need to say here. (Also, I picked up her new cookbook, and it is pretty spectacular.)
4. I love how chic these lacquered walls look. Unfortunately, I don’t think the husband will go for this one, so we should try it at your house. What time works for you?
5. Obsessed with this dress from Frankly Basic. The color, print and shape will have you pulled together in one easy step.
6. Luisa shared a few articles about cooking for other people. I agree with her assessment of each post, but would love to know what you think. Also, have you seen this article from Mark Bittman? It’s pretty thought-provoking as well.

Special Mention: My friend Kim K. shared this article about introductions and friendship. It is lovely and has me rethinking how I’ll handle my next meet and greet.

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Mad for Plaid

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Plaid has been a long time favorite of mine. It could be my lingering obsession with Cher-inspired pleated skirts or too much time was spent layering at The Buckle during my youth. Either way, I really can’t get enough of it. This year, it’s back in vogue, but if I’m being completely honest, it is always in for fall. Period. Because, it doesn’t get much more “fall” than plaid.

While it is one of the most cheerful prints, it is not always the most forgiving. Pay attention to the scale of your plaid when picking a piece to wear. A large version can make you appear bigger, which is not on everyone’s wishlist. It is certainly not on mine. Think about which area of your body you’d like to emphasize and go from there. If you’re throwing on a shirt, look for a fitted jacket to put over it.

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This month, I wanted to feature an outfit that is completely kid friendly. My plaid shirt is machine washable and doesn’t have to be ironed. My riding boots are comfortable and low heeled. The coat I pulled on is warm for chilly mornings, but can be folded and shoved into a bag when the sun comes out. I still feel pulled together, but can run after an ornery two-year old if needed, which is pretty critical.

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15 Minute Applesauce

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When I say things like, “I made applesauce last night,” I can literally hear my friends roll their eyes. And, they should, because it sounds crazy. Making your own applesauce seems like something that is incredibly hard, like churning your own butter or making a 16-layer cake.

Well, I’m hear to set the record straight. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Yes, that’s really it.

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Feel free to share that tidbit with anyone you’d like. Or, keep it to yourself and let every one think you are the kind of person who makes your own pop tarts. I won’t tell if you won’t.

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All you need to do to make applesauce is peel and chop a few apples. (This the hardest part.) Then, add them to a pan with a little water over medium heat. Next, mix in hints of both cinnamon and honey. As the apples start to soften, mash them with a potato masher, which speeds things up (or you can use a wooden spoon, but that will take a bit longer). And, that’s it. Now, prepare to eat the most delicious applesauce you’ve ever tasted. You’re welcome.

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Top 4 Fall Nail Polish Picks

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These four nail polishes are the only ones you need to update your look for fall. Period. And, I found them all at Target, which makes getting them really easy.

No really, just pick up these four colors, and you’ll be set. I’ve tried each one, and with about two to three coats, your nails will be so much chicer. I promise.

Polish details are listed as shown from left to right:

1. First Date at the Golden Gate, OPI: A soft red with brown undertones

2. Haven’t the Foggiest, OPI: The perfect shade of chrome

3. Partner in Crime, Essie: A dark brown

4. Incognito in Sausalito: The only navy nail polish you need

Now, this nail polish addict just has to keep from buying more.

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Baked Apples for Two (or More)

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There’s little better than baked apples. They are the perfect fall dessert. But for some reason, in my head, they always sound like a lot of work. Is it just me?

I thought they would take forever to cook, but when I started figuring out my perfect version, I discovered you can have something really delicious in around 30 minutes, using ingredients that might already be in your kitchen.

This recipe is also incredibly easy to make. So simple in fact, you could make one for yourself to eat while catching up on The Real Housewives. That is, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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