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Stitch Fix #3 in full effect!

Guess what?!

Uh-huh. I kept it all! They've all been good but this was definitely my favorite Fix to date. If you're curious, you can check out what I got in my first and second Fixes here. Anyway, I feel like my stylist, Patrice, really took into account my body type, style, and lifestyle with these selections. I was super psyched before I even started trying anything on. The blue! The stripes!

Okay, okay. I'm so excited to show you what I got but first things first. If you haven't jumped on the Stitch Fix bandwagon just yet and you're wondering what all the fuss is about, here's how it works. Visit Stitch Fix and fill out a quick style profile. You can even link to a Pinterest style board if you happen to have one. Based on the info you provide, a stylist then hand selects five items especially for you and mails them out in a cute little box, along with a full color card of styling suggestions on how to wear each piece.

You have 3 days from the time you receive your Style Fix to try everything on and decide what you want to keep, if anything. Keep whatever you like, visit Stitch Fix again to pay for any kept items, and send back the rest in the prepaid return shipping envelope. You can drop it in any regular USPS mailbox - no postage or waiting in line required.

The styling service costs $20, which is completely reasonable, especially given that it also covers all shipping costs. On top of that, if you choose to keep anything from your Style Fix, that $20 is applied to the cost of the item(s). Got that? Okay, now get this. If you choose to keep all 5 items from any given Stitch Fix, you get a 25% discount on the total! Not too shabby, eh?

Here we go!

First up was this Corinna Striped Dolman Top from Pomelo for $48.

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I love the feel of this top. It's like a cozy lightweight sweatshirt but totally PTO appropriate. It's not out of place with a pair of yoga pants but then I can turn around and pair it with a skirt and a little bling and it's date night material. The heather gray and black stripes are right up my alley too. I've been wearing this in heavy rotation since it arrived and can report it's holding up really well to frequent washing  - though I haven't thrown it in the dryer. No pilling or stretching to report. Score!

Next up was the Alan Cowl Neck Asymmetrical Cardigan from Sweet Rain for $58.

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I had mentioned in my style profile that I wear workout clothes a lot - at least in the mornings until I get everyone off to school and get on with the business of actually working out. As a result, Patrice selected this zip-up cardigan for me and I'm so glad she did! I'm a bit of a Lululemon and Athleta junkie, so at $58 this cool asymmetrical sweatshirt seemed like such a steal! The rich blue is one of my favorite colors too.

It looks good zipped up or hanging loose, and has quickly become my go-to morning jacket as I'm dropping kids off at school pre-workout. It's cute enough that I can wear it with street clothes too. One note is that the label on this sweatshirt says dry clean only, which is not super convenient for workout wear. I've been tossing it in the washer, however, and so far so good. Total keeper.

Then the biggest surprise of the box. You guys? They sent me pants. Pants, that fit. I didn't think it could be done. For starters I'm 5' 2". To add insult to injury, about 70% of my height is torso. And then there are the thighs. Yeah, these thighs run marathons and muscle through power jumps. They carried me through two pregnancies including 60 pounds of twins (okay 12 of that was actually babies, but still). These thighs can bike, kick, wall sit and squat with the best of them and for that I'm eternally grateful. They are decidedly not, however, the type of thighs you want to see peeking out of mini skirts or tucked into lightweight cotton leggings. These thighs have mass. American thighs, you know? Let's just say pants are a challenge. Pants that don't have to be tailored are a miracle.

Here they are, the Emer Brocade Print High Waisted Cropped Pant from Margaret M for $98.

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So, obviously, they're not exactly cropped pants on me but I so don't care. These fit my waist, hug my legs in a fitted but not sausage-casing kind of way, and are nearly as comfy as yoga pants. I'm trying to show the pants off to you here with a shorter top which is putting some unwanted emphasis on those thighs I told you about, but they actually look really flattering with tunic. So sold!

Fourth was the Cathleen Split-Neck Tulip-Sleeve Blouse from Collective Concepts for $68.

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This was the only item I was a little unsure about. I like this style of blouse - in fact I've received similar blouses that I kept in both of my previous fixes, but this isn't a color I normally wear. Maybe with a tan it would be better on me? But, since Stitch Fix is all about expanding my horizons a bit, I decided to keep it and see how I can mix it in with other stuff in my closet. Right now I'm liking it with a denim jacket.

Last but not least was the Monza Dot Print Mixed Material Blouse from Kensie for $64.

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This piece was the sleeper of the bunch. I really love this top! In fact I'm wearing it right now. It fits the bill for super amazingly comfortable and stretchy enough to do cartwheels with the kids, appropriate for meetings, teaching class, cocktails, or whatever the day throws at me. I like to think it's pretty flattering too! It can go from torn up jeans and flip flops to tucked into a gray pencil skirt and heels with ease...and it has.

The back is slightly sheer, but since it's black, you can't see anything scandalous through it, and the patterned detail on the tab-sleeves is really cute. This is kind of my perfect shirt, actually.

Since I kept all 5 pieces this time around, I received the 25% discount on the total cost of the items. Happy dance time! I might have to reign myself in for a month or two before I order my next fix, but rest assured, there will be a next fix!

As always, the thoughts, feelings, and opinions expressed here are my own, but by clicking through any of the Stitch Fix links in this post and subsequently placing an order, I will receive a $25 Stitch Fix credit (for which I thank you profusely!). For the record it has nothing to do with my own personal awesomeness. They do that for all the girls. A free $25 referral credit can be yours too if you sign up for a fix and refer your friends.

Special thanks to my junior photogs, Looly, Bean, and Roo for helping me snap the photos used in this post. Also, if you can see up my nose in any of them, now you know why. None of the photographers was much over 4 feet tall. Thanks, kiddos!

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Huddled by the fire, tea (or bourbon) in hand in the middle of January, this is what I imagine spring is going to taste like.

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A big beautiful bowl of bright, crisp, lemony deliciousness. Where have you been all winter, my friend?

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Spring cooking shouldn't be fussy. There's sunshine out there and I for one don't want to miss a minute of it because I'm stuck inside basting meat or stirring risotto. What I do want is a quick and painless, chop-chop, throw it in a bowl and you're done, veggie packed salad that's bursting with fresh herby citrus flavor. Start with a lemony sweet-sour vinaigrette to match that sunshine.

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Stir in sliced red cabbage, herbs, and sweet snap peas and you're halfway to dinner. Pick up a grocery store rotisserie chicken to serve alongside and you're all the way to dinner, which I strongly suggest you eat in a direct ray of sunshine beaming through the winter-filth covered windows. Or is that just my windows? Maybe we'll just eat outside.

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Pretty Purple Snap Pea Slaw
adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 of a medium purple cabbage, sliced into thin strips
8 ounces snap peas, sliced on the bias
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine the first 6 ingredients (oil through pepper) in a large bowl and whisk it all up to make the lemon vinaigrette.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the dressing and toss it all together until the veggies and herbs are lightly coated with dressing. Serve right away or let it sit for a bit for the flavors to marry.

And rejoice. Spring has arrived.

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FamDown
Grateful? For this annoying, often terrifying condition that disrupts our family and threatens our kid's life every day?

Well, yeah.

Food allergies are decidedly not all hugs and rainbows. There's the constant label scouring, digging tossed packages out of the garbage to double (okay quadruple) check ingredient lists, and many declined play dates and birthday parties. There are expensive EpiPen prescriptions to fill, Benadryl to buy, more health forms to fill out than we ever knew existed, and yeah, fairly constant worry. The food allergy road is a long and winding one with twists and turns we never saw coming. But you know what? Here's the secret. It's not an all together bad journey.

See, we've walked down the other road too, the one full of wide-eyed resentment and eye rolls. The one with menacing threats uttered by anonymous trolls. We've met fellow travelers who can't bear to admit that food allergies exist, let alone modify their behavior to accommodate one. But enough about that road. The path of misunderstandings, mistakes, and mean-spiritedness exists everywhere, whether we're talking about food allergies or grooming hamsters. Let's not take that road.

For a minute anyway, let's focus instead on the good. There are things that give our family and the ever-growing numbers of other families directly affected by food allergies cause to celebrate. Because I'm telling you right now, it's not all bad.

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20 Reasons We're Thankful for Food Allergies

1. We know who our friends are. Unsolicited safe play date snacks appear without a word. Birthday party fruit kebabs appear in place of cupcakes at school celebrations. UPS delivers exquisite vegan nut-free cookies to our doorstep at holiday time. Ladies' night wine drinking is at times accompanied by practice EpiPen injections in fruit. Babysitters volunteer to man the non-allergic troops so we can focus at specialist appointments. That's Friendship with a capital F.

2. Better vacations. Fancy hotel rooms are great. Spacious rental houses with full kitchens and swimming pools are so much better. Often cheaper too.

3. Less crappy junk food. We bypass entire aisles of the grocery store saving countless empty calories, cavities and hours.

4. Rock star organizational skills. Okay, maybe it's slightly more roadie than rock star, but we can pack a week's worth of allergy-safe road trip meals into a single suitcase...with one hand tied behind our backs.

5. Compassionate, confident kids. Kids who deal with food allergies recognize that differences don't make us "different". They care about other kids. They'll speak up to keep themselves, their siblings, friends, and classmates safe. And that. Is. Awesome.

6. Smart, label-savvy kids. Casein means milk. Albumin means egg. Just ask a kid with food allergies. They know.

7. Creativity in the kitchen. Light fluffy pancakes don't require eggs. Who needs nuts to make a tasty pesto? Recipes were made to be tweaked.

8. We're tight with teachers and school staff. We are often the ones chaperoning field trips, organizing school parties, manning the lunchroom, and attending the PTO meetings. Our kids' well-being depends on it. You're welcome.

9. More home cooked meals. And much, much less last minute drive-through or take-out.

10. The ability to help in an emergency. We carry EpiPens and Benadryl everywhere. Some anaphylactic reactions occur in people who didn't even know they had an allergy. If you or your child starts hiving up and gasping for air at the park, you're going to be very happy to see us.

11. Amazing supportive, online communities and blogs. Check out the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network,  freedible, Food Allergy Mama, Gluten Is My Bitch, Don't Feed My Monkeys, Keeley McGuire, or AllergyEats to name a few.

12. Close relationships with doctors. Our pediatricians know our kids. I mean, they really, really know our kids. So do our allergists, GI teams, ENTs, pharmacists, and school nurses.

13. Openness to new foods. Millet, quinoa, chia, flaxseed, carob, nutritional yeast...and some kids won't eat broccoli?!

14. Amazing companies like Hilary's Eat Well and Koochikoo that are dedicated to making food safer and better for everyone, not just the GF and allergy community.

15. Flexibility and tolerance. Life skills, baby. Kids with allergies are used to being told that what they want and what's good for them is not always the same thing. They are able to move on with their lives even while their classmates eat cupcakes. Besides, they know we probably have better ones in the freezer at home.

16. Perspective. Some kids love peanut butter. Some of us love peanut butter too! You know what, though? It's not going to kill us not to have it right this minute. We're really just happy to be here, alive and healthy and everything. You won't often find us sweating the small stuff.

17. Ever-present knowledge that food does not equal fun. Playing sports, learning an instrument, telling jokes, art projects, road trips, friends, dancing, water balloons, flower gardens, reading books, gathering worms, science experiments, balancing contests, blowing bubbles, spelling bees, bouncy houses, sidewalk chalk, volunteering at animal shelters, writing letters and so much more - all fun. No food required.

18. We know the meaning of treat. A once a month slice of egg-free lemon blueberry cake or an egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free Choco-lot Brownie Cookie gets savored way more than a once a day Oreo.

19. Scientific contribution. One of these days, thanks to the participation of the many food allergy sufferers who are enrolled currently in clinical trials, we're going to figure out precisely why food allergies are skyrocketing and what can be done. In the end, our condition and cooperation might just lead to a safer food supply for all of us.

20. Empathy. Families with food allergies are painstakingly aware that we don't truly know anyone else's unique story but our own. In spite of, or perhaps because of it, we feel deeply for each and every other health and parenting struggle we witness. We won't jump to conclusions or cast judgment because we know all too well that life doesn't always turn out like we expected. And we're all in this together.

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I'm hopping on the chia bandwagon. Care to join me? How about if I promise that with 5 minutes of hands-on time you can have chocolate pudding for breakfast tomorrow?  I can already see the glint in my 6-year-olds' eyes.

I've been seeing chia all over the place for months in the grocery store, on cooking shows, in magazines, and of course on blogs. If you're not up on the trend quite yet, just swing on by foodgawker and search "chia". Yeah. Bordering on a thousand entries at my last looksee.

I'm not going to lie. Chia is a little weird at first, particularly if you're age hasn't reached double digits and you're not yet well-versed in the world of tapioca, fish roe, and pomegranate arils. In that case chia might feel a little squishy and "poppy" on your tongue. Don't worry, you'll get used to it.

If on the other hand, you hail from a slightly older more sophisticated generation, say, one that was first introduced to the chia concept in the form of a clay pet sitting on your window sill, well then, put the chia pet down. It's time to eat this stuff.

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Chia seeds boast all sorts of health benefits including blood sugar stabilization, upping droopy energy levels, lowering cholesterol, and aiding in digestion. These puppies are also high in fiber, protein, and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids so you can feel totally fine about eating them for breakfast in the form of chocolate pudding. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

2 cups milk (I used 2%. Take your pick)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chia seeds

Whisk together the first 5 ingredients (milk through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir in the chia seeds. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. The longer you let it sit the firmer your pudding will be.

Seriously, that's it. Top it with a handful of berries and a dollop of whipped cream and serve it for breakfast. Then watch your kids freak out at their good fortune.

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Warm gooey cheese. Bread. We could stop right there, but why would we want to do that when we can keep going?

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Prosciutto...tomatoes...a little garlic. Maybe more than a little garlic.

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This is party food at its best. It's super simple yet completely irresistible to kids and adults alike. I mean, there's cheese. And bread. Make it ahead and pop it in the oven when the doorbell starts ringing. The fillings are totally customizable. If prosciutto is not your thing, scroll down to check out the totally kid-approved vegetarian broccoli-cheddar version below.

Here's how it all plays out. Buy a loaf of bread, or make one if you're ambitious. Melt some butter and tailor the rest to the crowd your feeding or really, whatever happens to be in the fridge. Best of all, save on dishes. There are no utensils required here.

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Use a serrated knife to slice a grid pattern into the bread, but don't cut all the way through. Don't even worry about it if some of the pieces start to splay outward. It's all good.

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Chop and mix your stuffing of choice with a little melted butter.

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Nestle the cheesy, buttery stuffing into every nook and cranny of your bread and wrap the whole beast in foil. Pop it in the oven and 25 minutes later it's a party on a plate or a gingham napkin, whatever the case may be.

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Prosciutto Provolone Pull-Apart Bread

1 loaf good quality firm, crusty bread
1/2 pound provolone cheese, shredded or chopped
1/4 pound prosciutto, chopped
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp. chopped garlic
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a serrated knife to cut a 1/2-inch grid pattern into the bread, but be careful not to cut all the way through the bottom crust.

Combine the cheese, prosciutto, tomatoes, and garlic in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Melt the butter and pour over the cheese mixture. Stir again. Use your clean hands to tuck and stuff the filling mixture in between each and every grid cut in the bread. Use all the filling. Every last drop.

Wrap the bread in foil and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melting. Unwrap the foil and bake 10 minutes more until the bread is crisping up a bit on the exterior. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and serve with a heap of napkins.

But wait, there's more. If you're more of a broccoli cheddar type, read on for the same idea, but a totally different flavor.

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This one was a big hit with the KC kids, and I am not above calling it dinner some nights. I might just plop it in the middle of the table after soccer practice and let them have at it. I'm pretty sure sliced cantaloupe on the side makes this a totally acceptable meal, right?

Broccoli Cheddar Pull Apart Bread

1 loaf good quality firm,crusty bread
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or chopped
1 cup chopped, steamed broccoli
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a serrated knife to cut a 1/2-inch grid pattern into the bread, but be careful not to cut all the way through the bottom crust.

Combine the broccoli, cheese, salt, and pepper (remember to steam the broccoli until slightly tender first) and mix to combine. Pour the melted butter over the cheese mixture and stir again. Use your clean hands to tuck and stuff the filling mixture in between each and every grid cut in the bread. Use all the filling. Every last drop.

Wrap the bread in foil and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melting. Unwrap the foil and bake 10 minutes more until the bread is crisping up a bit on the exterior. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and serve with a heap of napkins.

Next up I'm thinking mozzarella, tomato, basil. Or maybe feta, olives, spinach, and thyme? Looly would like that one. Ooh - or rotisserie chicken, barbecue sauce, fontina and red onion. The kids might not be so into that one but that just means more for me. I'm kind of fixated on this whole pull-apart bread concept. What ideas do you guys have? Send them my way!

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You guys. I'm such a bum. Last night I was rejoicing poking through my third Stitch Fix box when I suddenly realized that I hadn't posted the details of the second fix I received back in March yet. The world has clearly been waiting with bated breath to witness my latest clothes modeling session. I know. I'm a natural.

Seriously, I've been stalking other blogs every few days to check out their fixes (I'm looking at you, Project Neon and Ginger's Guide). It's only fair to share, so I made myself promise not to try on any of the pieces from my newest fix until I have this post done. So let's get going. I can hardly take it. Stitch Fix #2 March 2014.

If you're new to Stich Fix, you can read about how it all works here, as well as take a look at the goods from my first fix, but the gist is you pay a $20 styling fee, answer a few questions, and some fashion savvy individual who is not you will hand pick 5 items of clothing or accessories just for you. And they'll be shipped to your door. Keep what you like. Send back what you don't.

Anyway, here goes! Fix #2 was a little hit or miss. Let's start with a hit.

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This is the Kerman Tribal Print Tab-Sleeve Blouse from Under Skies for $58. You can't tell from the photo, but the material is light, soft, and a little stretchy. Super comfy. And it doesn't wrinkle. I liked it on it's own, but even better layered with some other pieces from my closet.

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It's pretty cute under this shrunken blazer I've had forever but never wear. And now, I wear it. Double bonus, Stitch Fix! Two "new" pieces for the price of one.

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I also like it with this cozy cardigan. Keep in mind these photos are from early March when it was blustery and snowing outside, so warmth was key. Oh wait, it's the middle of April and it's still snowing? Grrr. At least I have cheery new clothes.  Verdict: Keep!

Next was this Aislinn Grid Print Faux Wrap Dress from Greylin for $108.

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Does that face scream I look hot or what? Good, because that's totally not what that face was saying, though it might have been screaming a little bit. In theory there is nothing wrong with this dress. The grid pattern is fine. I like blue. Halters tend to flatter my shoulders, but when I put it on um...I don't know who this dress might flatter but I know it's not me. The top was all loosey goosey and frumpy and the waist didn't tie right and added bulk to my waist. Be thankful I spared you the shots including my pasty bare legs. The glow from my arms is more than enough for one day. Verdict: Sent back.

Next was the Kye Box Print Swing Skirt from Lily for $78.

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Honestly, I hated this skirt before I ever tried it on. I realize the flats are doing my legs no favors but beyond that I was not feeling the print. The material was stretchy but not in a good way, and kind of heavy too. The waist was a little big and it was a little too long for me, which might have been okay if the waist fit and if it wasn't so heavy, and I could hike it up a little but...verdict: Sent Back. Promptly. I think this skirt would work better for someone with a thicker middle, darker skin, and longer legs.

Piece Number 4 was the Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan from 41 Hawthorn for $48.

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What can I say? I'm a sucker for drapey cardigans. And pink. It's soft and light enough to wear all spring. I tried it on and ended up never taking it off. Verdict: Kept

Last was this Adora Tortoise Link Necklace from Bay to Baubles for $38.

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I think I get where my stylist was coming from sending a piece that would go with the cardigan and/or the skirt, but I did not like this. At all. It looked to me like a necklace my daughters might have picked out, a little young, a little cheap (I love you, girls). And that tortoise shell color on my winter white skin was unappealing. Verdict: Sent back.

All in all, I made out pretty well. I kept two pieces. Three went back. That was the same as my first fix. The difference this time was that I actually did not like a few of the pieces. I was more on the fence with the pieces I sent back the first time around. Still, count me in as a huge Stitch Fix fan. And, as I'm sitting here eyeing my third fix across the room, this one just might be the mother load. I see stripes.

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As always, the thoughts, feelings, and opinions expressed here are my own, but I must let you know that by clicking through any of the Stitch Fix links in this post and subsequently placing an order, I will receive a $25 Stitch Fix credit (for which I thank you profusely!). For the record it has nothing to do with my own personal awesomeness. They do that for all the girls. A free $25 referral credit can be yours too if you sign up for a fix and refer your friends.

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Despite that inch of snow on the ground, spring has in fact arrived. At least, the spring activity schedule has commenced, and it's a doozy. Monday gymnastics, Tuesday piano lessons, soccer practice and kindergarten cooking class taught by yours truly, Wednesday flag football, Thursday regular babysitter for date night (woo hoo!), Friday taekwondo, Saturday guitar lessons, swimming lessons, soccer games for kids, and Sunday soccer for moms and dads, immediately followed by collapsing on the couch.

That's the regular schedule. Don't forget the house guests, half marathon training, doctors appointments, business trips, birthday parties, weddings, graduations, dinner parties, egg hunts, music recitals, belt testing, gymnastics show, a mouse invasion, bake sales, volunteering, or the end of year school barbecue we've agreed to host. At our house. Over Looly's birthday weekend. In a month.

At this stage my meal planning brain is pretty much fried. I have tons of lovely photos and fresh recipes for colorful springy dishes on tap. They're just sitting there in Lightroom patiently waiting for me to get my rear in gear to share them with you. But the pathetic truth is that we're not eating Minty Snap Pea and Cabbage Slaw this week. We're not eating Lemon Blueberry Cake and Lemon Cream.  I know, it's April. The asparagus! The artichokes! The leeks! But you know what? There's snow on the ground. We're cold and cranky and hungry and this is what we're eating.

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Chili Mac. White people food, Mufasa says. Sustenance for the meal planning burnout, I say.

Can opener + pasta + beans + meat + cheese = dinner + leftovers + extra to stuff in lunchboxes.

We are not here to impress this week. This week, we're getting by. And this is how we're getting by.

Elbow macaroni exemplifies the 1980's white people comfort food vibe but any short squat pasta will do. Just save the froo froo hand formed artisan pasta for another day.

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Simple Chili Mac
adapted from Cooking Light

12 ounces elbow macaroni (or other short pasta)
2 cups kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
20 ounces ground turkey
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tsp ground cumin*
2 tsp dried oregano*
2 tsp dried thyme*
2 tsp chili powder*
2 tsp onion powder*
1 tsp kosher salt*
1 tsp ground black pepper*
4 cups marinara sauce (I like Rao's)
7 slices cheddar or American cheese

*If you're feeling particularly brain dead, omit the spices all together and toss in one package of your preferred taco seasoning instead. See? Even easier than easy!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain and rinse the beans. Cook the pasta al dente, drain, and combine the beans and pasta in a large, oven-safe pot.

Heat the oil in a sauce pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes until the onion is soft, stirring frequently. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink, another 5 minutes or so. Throw in the carrots and spices. Stir everything together over the heat for another minute or two, then pour in the marinara sauce. Bring the whole concoction to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer to combine flavors for a few minutes.

Pour the marinara mixture over the pasta and beans. Stir gently to coat the pasta with the sauce. Top the whole shebang with as many slices of cheese as you need to cover the top. Pop it in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and gooey.

Spoon onto individual plates and douse with hot sauce if you so desire.

LateFeb2014-28

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Here it is. The money shot (though slightly blurry).

LargeAE

Was it worth it? Three beaming little faces above shriek a resounding yes, but I'll let you be the judge.

In case you haven't been in regular contact with anyone between the ages of 2 and 9 over the past couple of months, let me fill you in. Disney's movie, Frozen, is HUGE. Sister stars, Elsa and Anna, are currently holding court in the Norway Pavillion at Epcot. It's safe to say the ladies are the current hot theme park ticket. When I say hot, I mean scalding. Unbearably hot. Like up to 8 hours waiting in line hot.

E-I-G-H-T-H-O-U-R-S.

And guys? There is no Fastpass for Anna and Elsa.

I am not a Frozen fanatic, but it just so happens that I live with several of them. We spent last week in Orlando for spring break and after LEGOLAND, Magic Kingdom, and countless hours retrieving rubber rings off the bottom of the swimming pool, there was exactly one thing the KC kids really cared about. Elsa and Anna.

I admit, Mufasa and I hemmed and hawed a lot about this one. I mean seriously, 8 freaking hours! We're not willing to devote that kind of time to well, pretty much anything, but definitely not adults in costume. But then those three little faces looked up at us with big blinking lashy, glassy eyes, and we melted like Olaf in summer.

We all agreed that waiting in line for hours was not an option. In fact, we capped our wait time at 90 minutes. The kids agreed that if our place in line meant waiting more than 90 minutes, we were out. No negotiations and no tears. Oddly those "no tears" plans aren't always entirely effective, so to maximize our chances and minimize our wait, we hatched a plan. If your munchkins have any interest in getting in to see the coveted ladies without rotating an adult through a snaking line for the better part of a day, you better have a plan too.

CKM

Here's what you'll need: A reliable alarm clock, a map of Epcot, a picnic breakfast, card games, patience, and most importantly, one well-conditioned runner. For our purposes we employed the services of my sister, Courtney, who sprinted us into a sub-45 minute wait. She's kind of a rock star. See that totally buff guy behind her? The one with the chiseled jawline who looks like secret service? Yeah, she totally beat him. Of course she also solidified her title as aunt of the year.

Set that alarm clock early. You want to be first in line at the gate, not second. It makes a difference, trust me. Arrive by 7:45 am. Bring breakfast, snacks, and plenty of things to do to keep the kiddos occupied. FYI, there are accessible bathrooms outside the Epcot gates (thank goodness). Just make sure one adult from your party remains in line at all times.

TailgatingEpcot

The park officially opens at 9 am, but they start letting guests in as early as 8:45 am. Position your runner first. Be prepared. Once the flood gates open, people will take off like it's a 5K race. I'm not kidding. Leave the strollers behind. Only one adult needs to be in line, so send your fastest on ahead, then catch up with the shorties and strollers when you can - preferably with a hot cup of coffee and plenty of hugs of gratitude for the runner.

Keep in mind, the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall restaurant is located within the park and serves breakfast starting at 8 am. If you're lucky enough to have made an 8 am reservation 180 days ago, good for you. If not, know that many of the breakfast guests will be in line before you're even allowed into the park, hence the 45 minute wait we encountered.

Signing

So what do you think? Was it worth it? For the autographs, photos, and one epic group hug?

Hugs

Based on the ear to ear grins the kids have been sporting all week, I think even Mufasa would agree that it was totally worth it.

As of this morning, I just read that Elsa and Anna will now also be greeting visitors in Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. I can't say what that might do for wait times at Epcot, but here's hoping it eases things for everyone. Until then, you might want to add some speed work into your running routine if you're planning a Disney trip any time soon.