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Monday, September 16, 2019

CT Gem: Lake Compounce

This year was the third year I got a family pass to Lake Compounce. To say it's worth every penny is an understatement. My son is 3 1/2 years old this year and I've brought him while 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and now 3 1/2. Each year, it gets better and better for him. 

Here's my tips for taking toddlers to Lake Compounce.

First and foremost, if you're going to go at least twice in one season, buy a season pass. It's worth every penny. I buy the pass over Thanksgiving weekend while it's on crazy sale (and also get the parking pass!) and then it's all set for the upcoming season. Plus, the season pass includes their Halloween special and their Holiday Lights display. Totally worth it.

Bring your stroller. It's a haul to get to the park from the parking lot and there's plenty of space to park your stroller for rides. Plus, you can store your bag on it and not have to physically carry anything around.  


Pack snacks (or lunch) for your toddler. You can't bring food for yourself, adults, or even big kids. But you can for toddlers. 

Bring a water bottle for yourself and your kids. When you are a season pass holder, you get beverages for free so you can just refill your own bottle. 


Ride the train. It's about a 30 minute ride all the way around the lake but it's a nice little break to take. Bring a drink and snack and enjoy the breeze as well as the view. 


The toddler ride area has so many options for little kids. There's not usually a wait and the people who work these rides are usually great with little kids. Plus, they can usually ride them repeatedly since it's not overly crowded. With that being said, I don't go on weekends so I cannot give crowd control advice for weekends... 

You have to be 36 inches tall to ride most of the toddler rides. If your child is CLOSE to that height (like exactly 36" or even a teensy bit over 36") I suggest getting a formal measurement from guest services or the bungee ride. They'll give you a card to use for the season that lists your child's exact height and then you can show it at each ride so they don't have to take time every single time they ride getting measured. My son tends to duck under the measuring stick so I'm glad we got the card this year. 








Probably the biggest perk of visiting Lake Compounce for toddlers is the Daniel Tiger Live stage show. It's every day at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00. The kids can even come sit and watch for every show if they want (it never changes, FYI) After the show, they do a meet and greet and the kids can take their pictures with the characters too. 

We have had days where we go at 3:30, see the live show at 4:00, ride a few rides, and head home at 5:00 for dinner.  




There are a few rides that you can bring your toddler on with you as well. There's the test track car driving ride and an airplane ride. Our two favorites are the large carousel and the ferris wheel






There's also a good size water park that is very family friendly. Bring your own floatie that is coast guard approved too. They have some you can use but the ones you have are likely better and more comfortable. 


As you can tell from his face, Lake Compounce is always a hit! Have you been yet? 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Fashion Friday: Chambray Shorts

In New England, the weather is what I'd call irritable. It can be 50 degrees when I wake up in the morning and at 2:00 in the afternoon be pushing 90. No joke. It's like a menopausal woman sometimes. I'm hot, I'm cold, I'm sweating, I'm shivering, it's a constant inconsistency. How's THAT for an oxymoron?! 

So, because of the weather changes from summer to fall and that questionable in between period we're presently in, this week and a few weeks to come will highlight those summer pieces to keep on hand before you jump full force into your fall wardrobe. This week, say hello to the chambray shorts

Now, my chambray shorts are shorter for my liking and I wish I had a pair that was a few inches longer in the inseam but these will do until the washing machine eats them or until I allow my dog to rip a hole in them which would allow me to replace them.  

OUTFIT #1: Getting dressed without GETTING DRESSED




A classic button down is the way to go to take a casual pair of shorts and dress them up. My closet has several go to shirts from J.Crew and once I can get my hands on a Thom Kelly shirt you'll see me in that on repeat for sure! 

OUTFIT #2: Everrrrry Day




If you follow me on Instagram, you saw my complete freak out over this top when it came in the mail. It's a Joules sweatshirt from ShopNavyBleu and it is simply phenomenal. And it is the PERFECT transition piece for New England because it's got enough weight to keep you warm yet not so heavy you are sweating bullets. Know what I'm sayin?! 

OUTFIT #3: Lunch Date




Why is it when I put on a simple, thin, cotton sweater I feel like I've got my sh*t together?! Well, hopefully I'm not alone and you feel me on this. Sure, I could toss on a long sleeve wrinkly tee OR this beauty (which I have in 4 classic colors- grey, black, navy, and pink) and look polished. 

OUTFIT #4: Running Errands




Layers on layers in the key this time of year. And a comfy cozy thin cardigan can be the basic piece to up your outfit game. 

OUTFIT #5: Stripes Never Fail




 I'm just gonna say it so we're on the same page. A striped tee is a closet necessity. And it makes every pair of shorts and pants feel preppy and polished. 

OUTFIT #6: Real Life Moments



Hat / Tee / Shorts / Sneakers

And here we have it. Real life momming. THIS is how I wore my chambray shorts today. Pouring rain, chasing after a toddler who HAD TO play outside, sweating while doing it, and a splash of a pouch perhaps on my shirt.... #momlife

I hope you've enjoyed this week's edition of #fashionfriday 

As always, feel free to find me over on Instagram and share your thoughts, drop a comment below, or send me an email. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

CT Hidden Gem: Josh's Jungle

Josh's Jungle in Hamden is an amazing little playground right next to the public library in Hamden and next door to the middle school and entertaining pavilion. 

Every time we go, my son gets extra excited to say hi to the animals, especially the giraffes when we enter. Check out why we love it: 



One way in, same way out. Totally fenced in and enclosed. Mom WIN! 



It actually looks much bigger than it is, but is always keeps the kids entertained for at least an hour if not more! 



The ground is this manufactured soft cushiony material which is great because it doesn't get too hot plus it's sturdy and soft for when they fall. 


There is a water fountain, a huge perk for toddlers!, but there are not bathrooms. It is next to the library though so you can go in there (which we have). 



There's tunnels and tubes and pathways and ramps and stairs and plenty of areas to climb. It's great for all ages! 



And the nice part is it's big enough for parents to go on too and not bang their head or get stuck. 



The playground itself is made of a trex-type material so your kids won't get splinters but it does get warm. It is in direct sun for most of the day but most of the playground has tunnels or rooftops shading parts of it. 


There's also a giant field for the town's outdoor entertainment pavilion so you can bring a blanket for a picnic after you play! 



He loves it, if you can't tell by the smile! 



There's also a large section of it that is ramps and no stairs so it has handicap-accessible areas for those needing that. 



Have you ever been to Josh's Jungle before?! It truly is a hidden gem and it's easy to find!

And when you're done playing, drive around the corner and have lunch or dinner at Roost, the best chicken joint around!  

Sunday, September 8, 2019

#noshop19 Update

It has been 8 months of the hardest challenge I've ever given myself. NOT SHOPPING. Effective January 1st of this year, I vowed to not shop for myself. Period. (see this post for the rundown) 

I've been asked for tips and advice for others who are debating the challenge so here's a quick rundown of how it's gone, what I've realized so far, and some advice I wish I had prior to starting. Hang onto your seats, it's about to get real honest... 


IT IS HARD. 

Like REALLY hard. Know this going into challenging yourself to not shop for a year. Accept it, truly accept it, and know there will be days where all you want to do is go to Home Goods and buy a throw pillow. But you can't. In all honesty, try it for a month and see how it goes. Most people can't even make it a month, let alone a year. I'm stubborn as all hell so I'm gonna make it. But so many of my friends have attempted one month of not shopping and didn't make it. Why? Because it's hard. 


SHOPPING IS THERAPEUTIC.

It's true. It is. I swear. Shopping calms you down and distracts you from reality and your problems and emotions. It makes you ignore everything else going on and allows you to focus on something completely different. The hunt for a deal. A great new pair of shoes. Fun jeans that you didn't think you needed but one more pair who cares.  


YOU OWN ENOUGH ALREADY.

This is a huge struggle for me. Because, well, I do. I own plenty. If I didn't shop for another 5 years, I'd be fine. I'd have enough clothes to wear. Enough accessories to tweak my outfits to be different. Plenty of shoes to rotate through. You do. You own enough. But doesn't everyone want something new, something fresh, something they saw in an ad or while scrolling Instagram?! 
In all seriousness, do I really need another striped tee or pair of jeans? No. I have enough. And so do you. Thank me later.  


SOCIAL MEDIA WILL BE YOUR WORST ENEMY. 

Do. Not. Swipe. Up. 
There. I said it. 
All of these bloggers and influencers just want you to swipe up because you "have to have it" and it's "the best I've ever seen" are full of it. They want to make $1.47 off of you buying a pair of leggings or a new razor. 
Don't fall for the social media pressure and confuse that inner feeling of wanting to be part of the cool club with the knowledge of what you really need. Take a step back and just say no. 


YOU HAVE CLOTHES YOU FORGOT YOU OWNED. 

Part of this resolution on top of not shopping was to also purge. I had a teacher wardrobe, an admin wardrobe, a pregnant wardrobe, a mom wardrobe, and a whole bunch of nonsense mixed in (including numerous gowns from black tie events over the past 25ish years). My biggest piece of advice: purge baby PURGE. I swear, you won't miss it. You won't even know it's gone. You can go all Marie Kondo on your closet if you want, but I'm all for baby steps so you don't have a nervous breakdown. Because I totally would've lost my s-h-i-t if I used her method. 
Take everything out of your closet. Look at each item of clothing (no need to thank them or hug them) and immediately decide keep, sell, or donate. I guarantee you'll find pieces you forget you even bought that still have pricetags on them (happened to me), you'll find pieces that haven't fit you since you were 17 (happened to me), you'll find pieces that spark memories (happened to me), and you'll find pieces that make you question your sanity (happened to me, that damn crop top from 2002) 
Part ways with the things. They're just things. And you have to get over how much you spent on it or what a great deal it was or where you were the last time you wore it. It doesn't matter. It's just clothes.  
Put back everything you decided to keep and sort it. If you find a plethora of a certain style (for me it was button downs and striped tees) really look at each of them and see what you L-O-V-E and what flatters you. I bet big bank some don't even fit or flatter. Then say buh-bye to them and stick with the best of the best because when you wear them, you'll feel and look like the best of the best. 


SHOP FOR OTHERS. 

This helped me soooo much. It gave me my fix. My best friend hates to shop. Hates, hates, HAAATES. So I do it for her. And it gives me my shopping fix when I need it most. 

Also, one of my other besties is obsessed with shopping like I am so she sends me links almost daily. So I shop vicariously through her, and her wallet! Win Win. 


UNDERSTAND NEED VS WANT. 

This is a struggle. Do you really NEED it or do you just WANT it? 99% of the time you want it. Take a step back and really decide one way or the other. 


PERSONAL STYLE BECOMES APPARENT. 

I have always been clean cut and preppy. Always. Wearing a uniform for a chunk of my childhood might have had something to do with it but regardless, that's been my style. Over the years, I felt I needed to be trendy and cool and hipster. Why? Who knows really. But I felt that way. So I shopped accordingly. A hippie dress here, overly distressed denim there, a floppy hat over here, cutout booties over there. For no other reason than I thought it would help me fit in. But why fit in when you were born to stand out? Seriously though. Figure out your personal style and shop accordingly. Look at your closet and see what works with YOUR style and what doesn't. Don't try to be someone you're not. You do you boo. 


IT'S QUALITY NOT QUANTITY. 

THIS. This has been game changing for me. I was raised to believe it's all about the bargain. I'm a deal hunter. I love a good sale and I LOOOOVE a bargain. But when I wash it once and it fades and wash it again and it falls apart, I flushed my money down the toilet. Take a step back and look at what you're buying. For a few dollars more you could get a similar item in a better quality then go for it. Think about your bang for your buck. People often are shocked when they hear I spend $100 on a pair of shoes when I could get a knock off at Target. While yes, that is true, my $100 pair will last me 5 if not 10 years while my Target pair might only get me one maybe 2. Buying that Target pair every other year for 10 years and I'll actually end up spending more than just the one pair for $100. The quality items are most often worth the investment. 


THINK ABOUT YOUR PURCHASE BEFORE YOU PURCHASE. 

Online shopping is the worst. Scroll your phone while on the couch at night, think "that's cute, I like that" and click add to cart then bam, four days later it appears. And there's the regret. The thoughts of I didn't need it, I don't love it, and so on. 
Open the Notes app on your phone and start a list of things you want to buy. Revisit it each week. If what you want stays on that list for a few weeks, then you really want it. Otherwise, delete it and don't look back. 
My list from this year is quite long but most of them are wishlist investment pieces. I have added and deleted more times than I can count and I actually don't even remember most of the ones I've deleted. So I didn't REALLY need them now did I...


INVESTMENT PIECES ARE WORTH IT. 

If there's one thing this resolution has taught me is that I have been much more reflective on what I buy. I have realized that cheaper brands fall apart and don't last while sustainable, classic brands stand the test of time. 


GET A HOBBY.

Find something else to do instead of shopping. Especially boredom shopping. And online shopping. I can't even tell you how many books I've read this year because it's been my little escape. I think I've actually spent a pretty penny on books (that's a whole other issue of mine, but I resell them!) Adult coloring books have been a good hobby too. And also therapeutic. 


A CAPSULE WARDROBE WORKS

After purging so much and keeping classic, well-made pieces in my closet with some fun pops of print and trendy pieces here and there, I've realized why the capsule wardrobe is such a good idea. Now, I'm not saying cut down to 30 pieces. Nope, no way, no how. But I am saying a capsule wardrobe with intentional pieces makes sense. Plus, it's a heck of a lot easier to get dressed in the mornign with fewer options in front of you. 


And in case you're wondering about what I've added to my closet, here's what I've added along with WHY and HOW MUCH in 2019.

- a black sequin blazer from ThredUp for 53 cents. I had expiring credits and a black sequin blazer has been on my wardrobe wishlist for a few years. I didn't break my resolution. I found over $4 in change under the seats in my car to cover the 53 cents I spent. Ha! 

- a pair of Birdies slippers from Poshmark that I traded someone a necklace and bracelet for. No money left my pocket and I was able to get rid of two things I'd been trying to sell for a while. 

- a yellow raincoat from JCrew that cost me nothing- I had 2 coupon codes that I stacked plus JCrew rewards. They ended up owing me 6 cents. I kid you not. 
Plus, I needed a raincoat, the one I wear doesn't keep me dry. So it was a necessity even though it was free. 

- a new pair of work out sneakers because my old ones ripped. I was all set to just get a pair that was on the clearance rack at DSW but did some research for a few weeks instead and tried on multiple pairs and ended up with a pair of Brooks and couldn't be happier. Definitely worth the price and after discussing it with several people, they are one of the best brands around! These were a necessity. Therefore, it didn't break my resolution.