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10.23.2015

Easy, Last-Minute, DIY Halloween Costume Ideas


Disclosure: I received samples of L'eggs Tights for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.  I was not financially compensated for this post.

Black tights are a girl's best friend on Halloween.  Seriously, think about how many costumes include black tights? 

You know me, I love to DIY.  I am still working on our Halloween costumes for this year, but given that Halloween is a week away (wha?!), I was inspired to do a blog post to help inspire those who may not be as far along in their Halloween costume planning.  Today I am sharing four ideas for easy, last-minute DIY Halloween costumes, using mostly items you have in your closet already, and featuring L'eggs Energy Tights.  These tights offer a comfortable compression (for a nice, slimming effect), a great opaque look, and best of all - they are an affordable addition to your DIY costumes at around $7-$8 at your local drugstore. 

1. Sandy from Grease

A black leather (or faux leather) jacket, red lipstick, L'eggs Energy Opaque Footless Tights, and JustFab Robienne booties.  If you're not a member of JustFab yet, click here to join (disclosure: this is an affiliate link, which means I receive commission from JustFab if you sign-up using the link)!

2. 60's Mod Gogo Girl

Black and white color block dress,  L'eggs Energy Opaque Tights, and JustFab Zakra booties.  If you're not a member of JustFab yet, click here to sign-up and get pieces like this at the VIP discount rate (disclosure: this is an affiliate link, which means I receive commission from JustFab if you sign-up using the link)!

3. Black Cat (or Bat, or Vampire, or Witch)

Little black dress,  L'eggs Energy Opaque Tights, black point-toe, high-heeled booties.  Just add cat ears and whiskers, vampire fangs and dark eyeshadow, or a witch's hat, and you have multiple costume options!

4. 90's Grunge Girl

Plaid flannel shirt, destroyed cut-off jeans, L'eggs Energy Opaque Footless Tights, and flat booties or combat boots.

What other last-minute costume ideas have you pulled together?  Share the inspiration in the comments below!

10.20.2015

Travel Tuesday: Two Days in Nashville


I took my first trip to Nashville recently for a business trip.  It was a quick trip, but I got some great eating in while I was there.  Here are my reviews and recommendations for what to try and do in a quick, two-day trip to Music City. 

Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Nashville Downtown (315 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219).  I love to stay at Hilton family hotels when not staying at a boutique hotel.  The DoubleTree Nashville Downtown was a great hotel, ideally located to the downtown attractions.  I could walk almost anywhere I needed to go (Honky Tonk Row, the Ryman, great restaurants), or take a $4-$6 Uber ride if my shoes required.  The rooms were nice, and there was even a Starbucks in the lobby (always a bonus). 

Food
Since I had limited time, I am sure I only scratched the surface of Nashville cuisine.  That being said, I was really impressed with what I did have.
  • Dunn Brothers Coffee (401 Church St #100, Nashville, TN 37219).  A great cup of coffee and great breakfast pastries. 
  • Jack's Bar-B-Que (416 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203).  A delicious BBQ selection in a great location on Broadway in Honky Tonk Row.
  • Etch (303 Demonbreun St, Nashville, TN 37201).  If you plan to visit here, get a reservation in advance.  The place is very popular, and for a reason: the menu is very creative, and everything is delicious (especially if you are an adventurous eater, like me).  I loved the Venison Carpaccio, the Shrimp and Octopus Bruschetta, and the Pork Tenderloin.
Some great BBQ with lots of history in downtown Nashville
Image Source: Jack's Bar-B-Que


Octopus and Shrimp Bruschetta at Etch.  Delicious!

Seasonal fish selection at Etch (red snapper), beautifully presented

To Do
Again, I was on limited time, so couldn't venture far.  If you have only two days like I did, I would try and focus on the following attractions:
  • Honky Tonk Row (Lower Broadway), AKA Honky Tonk Highway.  A lot like Austin's 6th Street, you can walk down Broadway and hear live music from every bar and club (or, honky tonk).  We had a great time just hopping from place to place when the music called to us.  The music was great, and the experience was a lot of fun.  I especially recommend stopping at Acme Feed and Seed (101 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37201) for a great vibe and fantastic view.
  • Ryman Auditorium (116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219).  A Nashville (and music) legend, home to the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (222 5th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203).  Considered to be a "must visit" for music fans visiting Nashville.
One of the many options for live music, dancing, and drinks on Honky Tonk Row
Image Source: Visit Music City

The legendary Ryman Auditorium
Image Source: Ryman.com

I am sure I missed some key places to see or eat.  What would you recommend I try and do or see next time I make it to Music City?  Comment below!

10.16.2015

Fall Fashion Mix-and-Match: Turn a Few Fall 2015 Statement Pieces into Several Looks

 
It finally feels like fall is here in Central Texas!  The best thing about that?  No, not football.  Not even pumpkin spice lattes (though, it's close).  It's fall fashion! 
 
I picked up some statement pieces for my fall wardrobe early at Austin's semi-annual Le Garage Sale boutique sample sale, and am excited to finally get to wear them, along with some of my fabulous new JustFab booties.  If you're not a member of JustFab yet, click here to join (disclosure: this is an affiliate link, which means I receive commission from JustFab if you sign-up using the link).  In today's post I am sharing some inspiration for how to style a few key fall pieces several different ways in order to stretch your fall 2015 wardrobe.   
 
Tweed skirt (Strut), black turtleneck and tights (Express), and Robienne booties (JustFab) make for a polished punk look

The same skirt and tights with an oversized London tunic sweater (Express) and Zakra booties (JustFab) now have a cozier, more feminine look

I love how the Zakra booties can transition from casual to nicer due to the suede look.

Charcoal gray sleeveless cardigan (Strut) with a One Eleven tank and Editor slacks (Express), patent pumps (BCBGirls), and patent-detail belt for a pulled-together casual look

The same sleeveless cardigan ("vestigan") with a black t-shirt and scuba leggings (Express) take this look to the concert/festival-level.  Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses (Ditto) and Robienne booties (JustFab) are the icing on the cake.

The vestigan again with a One Eleven London t-shirt and white jean leggings (Express) and coordinating gray booties (Target)
 
These white jean leggings (Express) can go long after Labor Day when paired with a perfect fall burgundy poncho (Forever 21) and Mercenne fringe booties (JustFab)

 White jean leggings (Express) and Mercenne fringe booties (JustFab) again, but this time with an oversized green shirt dress (The Embellished Cottage) cinched with a thin belt. The sleeveless dress make this a great transition piece for early fall.
 
Oversized green shirt dress (The Embellished Cottage) with scuba leggings (Express) and Robienne booties (JustFab)


This silver metallic pleated midi skirt (Strut) is surprisingly versatile.  Here I pair it with a One Eleven London t-shirt (Express) for a casual work look

The same silver metallic pleated midi skirt with a black cami (Express) provides a dressier look for a holiday evening (Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps)

Silver pleated skirt (Strut) with a black t-shirt (Express) and simple pumps (Forever 21) can pass for work or a nice restaurant outing

 The same silver pleated midi skirt with a black turtleneck (Express) and strappy sandals (Forever 21) are great for a holiday party
 
One more look that incorporates fleece tights (Express) and the Robienne booties (JustFab) layers a blue trapeze dress (Express) with a crocheted fringe tunic (The Embellished Cottage)
 
I feel like I have fall fashion for days with just a few pieces and accessories that can mix and match in various ways.  Don't forget to pin these looks to inspire your fall wardrobe choices!

10.13.2015

Travel Tuesday: My Favorite Spots to Dine and Drink in Downtown Boston


Since the company for which I work is headquartered in Boston, I find myself in Beantown quite a bit.  Since I tend to work and play rather close to the office (which is located in the Financial District downtown), I have come to get to know that area pretty well.  Here are some of my frequent spots for dining and drinking when I am there. 
 
Hotel
I always, always stay at the Hilton Downtown Boston/Faneuil Hall (89 Broad St, Boston, MA 02110) when I go to Boston.  The rooms and service are great.  I recommend paying a few extra dollars for a Deluxe room (it has more space than a standard room, which is helpful to me since I like to do my yoga and workouts in the hotel room while traveling).  If you pay the full price up front (non-refundable) the rate is discounted, which will usually make up the difference in price for the Deluxe room.  The hotel also has a great on-site restaurant and bar (Nix’s Mate).  Good food and drink, plus a fun atmosphere in the evenings.
 
Food and Drink in Downtown
  • Omni Parker House (60 School St, Boston, MA 02108) for Boston Cream Pie.  This place claims to have invented the Boston Cream Pie, so naturally it is a must-try. 
  • Legal Seafood (255 State St, Boston, MA 02109) for, well, seafood.
  • Umbria Prime (295 Franklin St, Boston, MA 02110) for house-made pasta and quality steaks.  The tab will not be cheap, but it will be worth it.  Try their Carpaccio for an appetizer, and a homemade gnocchi for your entrée. 
  • Sakurabana (57 Broad St, Boston, MA 02109) for sushi.  This is some really decent sushi.  I get the Chirashi Zusi, which comes with a variety of sashimi, plus rice and miso soup.
  • The Black Rose (160 State St, Boston, MA 02109) for drinks and apps.  This is a charming Irish pub with delicious food.  Trust me and try the corned beef and cabbage spring rolls.  I know, it sounds odd, but it is delicious. 
  • Mr. Dooley’s (77 Broad St, Boston, MA 02109) for drinks.  Irish pub with a great vibe. 
  • Warehouse (40 Broad St, Boston, MA 02109) for strong drinks and great appetizers.  The potato chip nachos with dill ranch dipping sauce are OMG-good.
  • Market (21 Broad St, Boston, MA 02109) for drinks and hanging out.  A great spot to socialize.

Boston cream pie from Omni Parker House.  I forgot to take a photo before I started digging in!

Lobster Bake at Legal Seafood Boston - Long Wharf

Corned Beef and Cabbage Spring Rolls at The Black Rose

North End
The North End (famous for Italian eateries) is a short walk from downtown.  I haven’t done a ton of exploring here yet, but can recommend these two spots:
  • Mike’s Pastry (300 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113) for cannoli.  This place was recommended to me by more than one person on my first visit to Boston, and the cannoli did not disappoint!  Note that it is cash only.
  • Regina Pizzeria (11 1/2 Thacher St, Boston, MA 02113) for pizza.  I know there’s a debate to this, but some would say Regina’s is the best pizza in Boston.  I haven’t tried any others, but I can attest that Regina’s makes a pretty dang good pie. 

Some of the cannoli selection at Mike's Pastry in the North End

Out of the Area Recommendations
As I said, I don’t get outside of downtown much, but there are a few places that I have tried that are definitely worth recommending.
  • The Friendly Toast (1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139) near MIT for a funky brunch.  Holy cow, the Smoked Salmon Benny (eggs benedict) here was so good that it still haunts my dreams.  They also have a great selection of hot teas.  It gets busy on the weekends, so be prepared to wait.
  • Almost as iconic as Boston itself is Fenway Park and the famed Green Monster.  If you have an opportunity to catch a Red Sox game at Fenway, you will never forget the experience.  I have been to many baseball games in my day, and I have never seen fans more into it, and packing the house as much, on a random Tuesday.  The park is so full of history, and the game experience is so full of tradition.


Iconic and historic Fenway Park

Cod and Clams at the EMC Club restaurant in Fenway Park.  Yes, that is bacon.  And yes, it was glorious.

I am sure I will be sharing more about Boston in the future as I find more great spots, and when I finally get to venture outside of the downtown area a bit more.  Do you have any recommendations for places I need to try next time I am there?  If so, comment below or hit @fabeverydayblog up on social media!

Lobster (lobstah) Roll at Phillips Seafood Express at Boston Logan airport

10.09.2015

Cookbook Review: The DASH Diet 30-Minute Cookbook

 
Disclosure: I received a sample of The DASH Diet 30-Minute Cookbook for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience using the book.  I was not financially compensated for this post.
 
I am always looking for easy, delicious, and healthy recipes.  When you lead a busy life (who doesn't?) and have a family to feed, these three factors are very important for your daily cooking.  When I can find recipes that are all three of those things in one, it is a major score.  So naturally I was eager to try some recipes from The DASH Diet 30-Minute Cookbook by Christy Ellingsworth, since the book was all about healthy recipes that were quick and easy. 
 
Overall, I recommend this cookbook.  All the recipes I tried were easy, and several of them were stand-up-and-shout good.  Given that you can get it at a great price on Amazon, I wouldn't hesitate to buy it if you are looking to add some easy, healthy recipes to your meal plan.  I can also attest to the health aspect, as the meals are all very clean, and I have felt better and leaner this week after eating from the DASH diet recipes.  Read on to see photos and reviews of some of the specific recipes that I tried.
 
If you are not familiar with the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet, it is meant to help you lower your blood pressure and lose weight, as the meals are low in sodium and fat, yet full of whole foods.  If you'd like to learn more about the diet in general, check out this article by the Mayo Clinic, or see DashDiet.org.
 
Christy Ellingsworth has come up with a collection of 175 DASH Diet-approved recipes.  I only tried 10, but that was enough for me find some recipe keepers, and intrigue me to keep trying more from the book in the future.  Here are my individual recipe reviews from the DASH Diet 30-Minute Cookbook.
 
 
Maple Turkey Sausage and Diner-Style Home Fries
This was a delicious breakfast combination of two recipes from the cookbook.  This was the first meal I made from the cookbook, and I loved how quick and easy they were (especially given the homemade sausages).  They were both very well-seasoned, but definitely low in salt.  I am a salt addict, admittedly, so it was a little hard for me at first.  Unless you are at the salt-loving level that I am starting with, you probably wouldn't even notice anything was missing given how much flavor most of these recipes have.  Unlike other low-sodium recipes, these were far from bland.  Very rich in flavor! 
 
 
Easy Wonton Soup
This is one of my favorite recipes made during my week trial of DASH Diet cooking.  So easy, but so savory!  I added a little bit of sesame oil and low-sodium soy sauce, and it was amazing!  My kids even gobbled it up then asked for seconds.
 
 
Cheesy Potato Chowder
By tasting this, you wouldn't believe it was as low in calories and fat as it is.  Savory and creamy -- surprisingly creamy considering how little dairy it contains.  Definitely a keeper.  My husband remarked that it would be great with a bit of bacon or ham, and I agree that would have been a great addition.  However, the soup was perfect on its own. 
 
 
The Best 3-Bean Salad Ever!
This was the quickest recipe I tried... it took all of five minutes to make.  This is great for a protein-packed lunch.  Very simple, but a delicious contrast of savory and sweet.  I added a bit of garlic powder (I add garlic to everything).  My husband can't wait for me to make it again.
 
 
 
Lemon Thyme Turkey Meatballs
This was my favorite entrée recipe of the ones I tried.  The meatballs had a moist center but a lightly crisp outside, and the sauce was lick-the-plate good.  A testament to how good it was is the fact that I didn't even get a photo of my plate before I started ravenously tearing into the meatballs.  The one drawback to this one is that it took longer than 30 minutes to make.  Though I would definitely give those extra few minutes for the result.  YUM.
 
 
Cajun-Style Dirty Rice
This is another really good dinner that is surprisingly low in both calories and fat.  Not an authentic Cajun dirty rice, but a savory, hearty meal with just the right amount of kick.  The flavor was so good that my boys didn't even mind the spice. 
 
 
Mushroom and Eggplant Curry
This meatless meal felt meaty and hearty thanks to the eggplant and mushrooms.  The curry powder and other seasonings resulted in yet another full-flavored (though low-sodium) meal.  I served it over rice.
 
Fat-Free Oven Baked Fries
No photo, but I also tried this side dish.  Mrs. Dash and black pepper replaced the traditional salt, and olive oil cooking spray replaced the deep-frying oil.  Very savory and satisfying for being a fat free meal!
 
 
Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
OK -- this recipe alone would make buying this book worth it.  I made it even lower in calories by substituting Splenda for the sugar.  That made me feel less guilty about the fact that I couldn't stop with these.  Honestly, they were addictive.  The whole family went nuts over them.  I am thinking about whipping up another batch as I type this now.   
 
Let me know if you have any questions, and click here to get your own copy of the DASH Diet 30-Minute Cookbook.

10.06.2015

Travel Tuesday: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) Travel Tips

Truffle Fries from Annie's at AUS Airport

Whether you follow the blog or follow @fabeverydayblog on social media, you know that I travel a fair amount.  Living in Austin, AUS (aka ABIA, or Austin-Bergstrom International Airport) is becoming like a home away from home.  Certainly my home airport at least.  Here are some of my tips for travel at or through AUS.

Timing
ABIA is a small airport.  Don’t let the word “international” fool you into thinking otherwise.  Compared to my previous home airport LAX, AUS feels tiny.  This is not a bad thing.  It actually means you don’t have to get to the airport as early as you would at say, LAX (where you are sometimes pushing your luck to make your flight even when arriving two hours early).  Check-in and security lines at AUS are rarely long, and since the airport is not that large in general, it’s not a long walk to your gate.  Traffic is also not that bad within the airport.  I have never had a problem catching my flight by arriving one and a half hours in advance.

Food
There are several yummy spots to grab a bite to eat at AUS, including local favorites like The Salt Lick, Amy’s Ice Cream, Hoover's Cooking, ThunderCloud Subs, and Earl Campbell’s Sports Bar.  Many of these even include live music!  However, there are a few that are my favorites:

  • Ruta Maya – The best cup of coffee at ABIA.  If you are on the American, US Airways, United side of the airport, you must get a cup of Joe at Ruta Maya.
  • Annie’s Cafe This is my favorite restaurant at AUS.  It’s a farm-to-table restaurant (with bar, just saying) on the American, US Airways, United side of the airport.  Though even if you are not near those gates, it’s worth the (relatively short) walk to eat there.  The breakfasts are tasty, and include options like steel-cut oatmeal, granola, free-range breakfast tacos, and breakfast sandwiches on artisan bread.  For lunch or dinner, though everything on the menu looks good, I always get the same thing: a turkey and cranberry panini with a side of truffle fries.  If you are feeling decadent, get a side of their garlic aioli to dip the fries into.
  • Saxon Pub – On the Delta side of the airport there’s this fun little pub that has a great burger and offers live music for entertainment.  This is one of at least three live music offerings at AUS.  I suppose it wouldn’t be in Austin without it.


Ruta Maya has the best cup of coffee at AUS

Annie's - my favorite place to eat at AUS

You can't go wrong with fresh, local fare

Paninis prepped and ready to grill at Annie's

Shopping
I don’t do much shopping at AUS, but if you needed to pick up some souvenirs there is a Austin City Limits/Waterloo Records store at the airport.  Here, you can get an iconic “Keep Austin Weird” shirt, a shirt that pays homage to Austin’s favorite brother, Willie Nelson, or some burnt orange Longhorn gear.