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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Isis' Style

The right blazer can tie everything together!

Pants: Forever 21
Blouse, jacket and belt: Express
Shoes: BCBG
Watch: Fossil

She topped off the look with a sophisticated donut bun. Click here to learn how.

P.S. - For us shorter-haired ladies, check out TONS of tutorials from Kate at The Small Things Blog!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The New Project: Bella's Kindness!

Sometimes it takes a special person to remind us of everything we already know we should do but aren't practicing - or just aren't focusing on.

Enter my amazing cousin Bella, who sees the world through kind eyes that most 13 year-olds will shut during those tough years when conformity and peer acceptance often mean more than what you learned at church or from your parents.

Bella doesn't flinch when someone says something mean to her; she brushes it off. And she doesn't hesitate to go out of her way if it means someone else won't be bullied.

Here is her 13th birthday wish:

In a nutshell, she asked everyone who came to her 13th birthday party to pay it forward by doing three kind things each day. She even, at 13, understands the motivation that comes with setting a goal: If she and her mom do 50 kind things combined, they will have a girls' day together.

There is so much to be grateful for - it's all a matter of how we interpret it (Example: Oh, great, the dog is licking my son's milk cup. OR... Wow. My one and a half year-old is so generous, he loves to share with his dog!)

It's just very easy to forget! Climb on board and try to do three kind things each day for someone else. I know Bella would really appreciate it if you sent her an email about it at

Thanks for your support, and let's be kind together!

xoxo Petrea

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My #100HappyDays Finale!

I couldn't close out the 100 Happy Days Project without an update, so here it is. After 100 crazy, wonderful, happy days, I am finally finished. My social media obligation is over! ...And I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about it. There were nights I had to scramble to find a picture - Shoot! My Hundred Happy Days! My cute kid is already asleep! What will I take a picture of? And a few times I had to find something small to be happy about when I didn't feel particularly happy.

Now that it's over I have the constant urge to snap a picture of a special moment, big or small. I'm sure my friends, family and colleagues appreciate not having a camera shoved in their faces every time I recognize a "moment." But even my husband - who inspired me to put down the smart phone in exchange for family time - suggested that I can always take on the challenge again, whenever I want.

I don't have to take pictures anymore - I'm just more attuned to capturing those moments, because human memory (especially Working Mommy Memory) is fleeting.


I bought these Sesame Street slippers because I thought my son would like them (and he does: he points to them and tries to say "Toes!"). Who knew they would be the most comfortable thing to wear around the house and even to bed? I love comfort!


It isn't every day I get to come home to this! (In our current, "We don't hit people/ourselves/random animals" phase, hugs are very appreciated.)


Grammy and Pops doting on Johnny even while he's asleep!

Busy day! Registered Johnny for child care, worked until 8pm, and Matt's parents flew into town for his graduation ceremony. They live in Indiana and haven't seen their newest grandson since he was two weeks old. It was quite a moment.


Did anyone else know that one year-olds don't pose well for pictures? Here is one attempt to capture the three of us in our matching shirts from Grammy and Pops.


Graduation day! After lots of hard work and what felt like a decade (!) the whole family watched Matt's graduation ceremony.


Our families got together to celebrate the milestone. We could never have done it without their support!


Pops bought Johnny a new kite after ours got stuck in a tree.

Last day. After a whirlwind visit filled with activities and fun, the 100 happy days ended like this. A kite in the sky on a windy day. I feel calm, grateful, and yes - happy. #100happydays

It's never too late to join the challenge! Sign up here. Just remember...


P.S. - Learn how I overcame my smart phone addiction.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Roundup: This Week's Happy Days

Here's my latest 100 Happy Days in review!

We finally bought our little guy his OWN toothbrush - so he can stop pretending to use mine (and, occasionally, carefully placing my husband's on the dirtiest section of the bathroom floor).

Johnny clearly doesn't think I'm using enough toothpaste.
This is what happens when my husband is in charge of filling out childcare paperwork.

Other gems include:
Q: What would you most like your child to get out of this experience?
A: Care.
Q: What would you like us to know about your child?
A: He's a cool little dude.

Said husband had his last official day of school, ending with a 4.0 GPA and a job he already started!

What does no more night school for him mean for me? Among other things, delicious grilled dinners together again after a long nine months!

What does it mean for our family? All three of us TOGETHER after work! No more evenings spent missing Dad!

I've only ever received performance awards at my job, but this one meant more to me than all of them combined.

Whenever our dog comes around, Johnny imitates his panting ("huh, huh, huh"). Now, when he turns to the animals page in his flap-book, he pants at the dog picture. It's amazing to watch him put things together in his growing little mind!

Bonus: He spent the day with his dad at the pool - hence the chlorine-enhanced hairstyle and shirtless attire.

Finally got some cleaning and organizing done around the house. It's amazing how difficult this becomes when your 1 year-old would love to help by taking everything out and leaving it scattered around the floor for you to trip over.

Want to feel happier? It's never too late to join the challenge! If you don't believe it, check out my #100happydays and prove that if this busy working mom with a dog, a cat, a husband and a 1 year-old can do it, you can too!*

*Seriously, though, why did we get a puppy when I was 8 months pregnant? Feel free to question my logic there...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Better Than a Flat-Iron

Got cowlicks? Live in a humid environment? I've been there. Don't waste your time (or the health of your hair) straightening with heat! Give your straightener a break and try Osis Slick Flattening Liquid for flat locks that behave the way you style them.

No kidding ladies: It was recommended to me by a hairstylist years ago and it works. Smooth it over problem areas or rake it all the way through. I use a round brush to achieve the desired effect.

Happy styling!


Buy it here or check out more hair care tips.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Isis' Style

Here she is - as always - dressed to impress for the work day!

Belt, scarf and earrings from Express.
Blouse from Forever 21.
Watch from Coach.
Shoes from Guess.

PS - See more of Isis' style or learn about her fashion sense and where it comes from!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Could You Work With Your Significant Other?

Could you work with your significant other? Annie and Chris do, so they shared some tips and insight into what it's really like to go to work with your significant other - in the same building - and how they make it work.


Meet Annie and Chris. They are bartenders at The Hut on Fourth Avenue in Tucson. No, they don't work in a corporate office - typically, he works the inside bar and she works the outside bar. But they schedule their shifts together and they live together. So how do they make it work?

What Is the Most Interesting Part of Working With Your Significant Other?
Annie: "Watching each other get hit on. For most people, this would be a relationship problem. But we're very driven by money, so when Chris sees a customer hitting on me he walks by and says, 'Flirt it up, baby! Make that money.'"
Chris: "It's funny to me. People come in and hit on Annie, and I know she'll get a bigger tip. It doesn't bother me, because I know she's coming home with me."

What Is the Best Part About Working Together?
Annie: "I have a sense of security knowing that Chris is here. He has more experience than I do, and if I feel like I have a stupid question I can ask him without risking judgment. He's also on top of stuff - I trust him the most out of all my coworkers."
Chris: "Communication. Because we're so close, it's a lot easier to communicate with Annie than with other people at work. We're together, so we're more in tune with each other. We can read one another's needs and moods."
Annie: "We're able to ask more of each other than we could anyone else. And we help each other more readily because we have the common interest of getting everything done at the end of a shift so we can go home!"

What's the Biggest Challenge?
Annie: "I talk to him differently than any other coworker. I'm more demanding and don't feel like I have to be polite with him. I don't worry about the usual workplace etiquette, and I worry sometimes that it might affect our relationship."
Chris: "We don't really get to see each other as much as you would think. When we're at work we're doing our own thing, and when we're not at work we're exhausted."
Annie: "I know this will sound annoying to some people, but one of the hardest parts is that we love our dog. Because we work together all the time, we're never really home enough to be with him."

Could you work with your significant other? Most people say no! (My husband said he couldn't listen to me talk all day and all night.) Take the poll or share your thoughts below!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is Powder Sunscreen Effective?

There are many options when it comes to sunscreen, so here's my review of Colorescience Sunforgettable, one of the many powder sunscreens on the market. (There are more options at Ulta.)

Yes, you should be putting sunscreen on your face several times a day. It's hard to remember and kind of a pain, but more than 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun.*

I've always kept some good old Neutrogena Visibly Even sunscreen in my purse to reapply throughout the day, but a good friend and my dermatologist recommended the powder stuff, so I decided to try it. I got mine at Specialists in Dermatology, but you can buy yours here even cheaper.

Powder vs. Liquid:
The biggest difference here is preference. I don't wear a lot of foundation or concealer, so I don't mind rubbing a moisturizing sunscreen on my face throughout the day. Some people don't want to dislodge carefully applied makeup, and Sunforgettable won't.

  1. Sunforgettable is water-resistant, which isn't true for all sunscreens.
  2. It is extremely easy to apply. You don't have to worry about streaks you didn't rub in, or wash your greasy hands off afterward.
  3. It's powder - not oily - so if you have oily skin it actually works like a blotting strip and doubles as a sunscreen.**
  4. Sunforgettable is refillable, so the price point goes down after your initial purchase.
  5. It claims to be safe for children to use. I probably won't, because even though none of this information alarmed me, I won't use anything on my child unless the FDA is 100% convinced of its effectiveness.
  6. It provides light foundation coverage, so you can wear it in lieu of makeup. One of my friends puts it on before she goes to the gym.

The only real con here is that I actually have dry skin, so I kind of miss the moisturizing effect that regular sunscreen provides.

I've saved a little bit of time using powder sunscreen, and in our busy lives that can make a big difference!

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions? Leave a comment! A lot of people email/text/message me about my posts, but the bigger the discussion, the more of us benefit from knowledge and experience. I love you, reader, but others want to hear your insights too!

PS - Learn everything I learned from the dermatologist here.

*Sources: The Skin Cancer Foundation and Colorescience.

**Bonus: You don't get greasy residue on your screen when you use your phone!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekend Roundup: This Week's Happy Days

If you haven't already joined the 100 Happy Days Challenge, come get in on the fun! Here's my happy week in review.

Johnny can't stop hugging and we are LOVING it!*

Hugging Daddy

I got an unexpected gift from my two favorite boys! My husband painted the mug and Johnny put his handprints on it.

It sits on my desk, and this makes me smile every day.

One of my coworkers showed me this cartoon and it now hangs in my cube. It's nice when people know and accept your extroversion - even to a fault.

My son was in the car almost all day, so seeing him run around and giggle afterward made me happy.

Had a great, productive day at work. It motivated me and I felt inspired to change futures and lives!

With 7 school days of school left, my husband already has his first commercial electrical job starting Monday. (Hooray! and phew!)

St. Patty's Day Celebration! Our family is very big and very Irish. My Aunt Petrea does corned beef and cabbage like nobody's business. Here is Johnny soaking up the love (and attention) with his cousin Kathleen!

Seriously, the 100 Happy Days Challenge makes you FEEL better. Get on board, and track my progress here!

*He wraps his arms around your neck and says "Ahwudgu," which (roughly translated) means I love you. How much happier can you get?!

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Is Oil Pulling, and Will It Make Your Teeth Whiter?

I am a big fan of teeth whitening, so when I first heard of oil pulling I wanted to know: What kind of oil? How does it work? Why is it called oil pulling?

Lucky for us, my friend Jennie took the plunge and I'm here to tell you everything you want to know!

What Is It?
According to Jennie, "You swish with raw, organic, cold pressed oil (coconut, sunflower, grapeseed) in your mouth for 20 minutes. It is supposed to have numerous positive effects for your dental health and some say overall health."

Read more with Wellness Mama.

How Does It Work?
Jennie: "...Magic? I've read a bunch of articles and such saying that it can make your teeth whiter. It helps remove plaque and bacteria by mixing with your saliva. It's been 4 days and I have noticeably whiter teeth. I have something called fluorisis, which means I was exposed to too much fluoride and it stained my teeth. Traditional whitening methods never worked for me. The strips, and even professional dental procedures never really got my teeth super white."

More insight into how it works.

What Is It Like?
Jennie: "It is a little weird at first. I use coconut oil and I hate the 15-20 seconds or so before it melts. Once it does I'm good. I do it on my way to work! I don't think time of day really matters, but 20 minutes is a fairly good chunk of time for our culture, so just like exercise you fit it in whenever you can."

Why Should You Try It?
Jennie: "Really, don't be afraid to try it. Since it's all natural stuff, unless you're allergic to the oil, there are no adverse side effects. If you see no results you are really just out the cost of the oil...and maybe your time."

Here are 3 more reasons why you should try it.

What Are the Results?
Jennie: "Thus far, I like it! I've read some people give up teeth brushing altogether ( and just use the oil to clean their mouth. Since it removes bacteria it helps with freshening breath as well. It won't be minty but I think after awhile it keeps it neutral. Like I said, if you don't like it you're really only out the cost of the oil and even then you can still use it to cook with or for other beauty things."

Anything We Should Know?
Jennie: "DO NOT spit it in the sink! The oil can clog the drains just as dumping bacon grease down the drain does. I've read you can spit it in the toilet but a lot of people do it in the trash can."

Why Is It Called Oil Pulling?
Honestly, it could use a better name. My initial mental picture was something extreme, like putting motor oil in your mouth. If you want to learn the origins, here you go.

This is something I plan to try, and a great alternative when something as simple as white strips don't do the trick. What do you think of the oil pulling phenomenon? If you have comments, questions or suggestions, please share!

PS - Check out how I've been whitening my teeth for years.

Source Photo

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2 More Toddler Toys We Love!

My First Crayola Mess-Free Fingerpaint & Paper

Sometimes it's hard to think of activities you can do with a 1 year-old, which is why My First Crayola Mess-Free Fingerpaint & Paper is a fun idea.

It's the type of thing you hope exists when you're a first time parent: finger paint that only shows up on special paper. If your toddler smears it all over himself or anything else, the worst that happens is some mild stickiness. It smells like Play-Dough so Johnny wasn't tempted to put it in his mouth. Buy it here.

At first the paint bottle was the most interesting part for my toddler, but eventually he got the hang of it.

Elmo's World First Flap-Book Library

My son loves interactive books. These flap-books are perfect because he gets to lift the flaps while we're reading.

Toddlers have short attention spans, and these books keep it to a few words a page. The themes are also great (balls, puppies, babies, food) because he can relate them to his every day life. Buy them here.

See more toddler toys!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Best Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo I Ever Had

I have to share this recipe for hands-down the best chicken fettuccine alfredo I've ever tasted!

My husband is one of the best cooks I know. While my recipes rely heavily on butter, garlic and bread crumbs, he is wildly creative and if something can be grilled, he will grill it. This makes all his food more flavorful and healthier.


Half a box of fettuccine noodles
2 chicken breasts
1 red pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons Grill Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning
1 fresh minced garlic clove or 1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Serves 2.

First, marinate the chicken using olive oil, vinegar, oregano, Montreal chicken seasoning, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Put all the dry spices in a bowl, then add the oil and water and whisk together until it becomes a watery paste. Dunk each side of the chicken in the marinade and cover with saran wrap in the fridge for at least an hour.

Your marinade ingredients

Put the chicken on the grill until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. You can use a regular meat thermometer or a digital one like we have (one of the advantages is being able to set a timer so you can focus on other things while your food is heating up outside. Slice the whole red pepper in half lengthwise and grill until heated through. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and the pepper into inch-long strips.

Grilled chicken and red pepper. Very hard not to eat before everything else is ready.

Cook the fettuccine according to package directions.

For the sauce, my husband very loosely follows a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (14th edition). If you don't already have it, buy it here. It has a recipe for just about anything you want to cook, and we use it as a reference guide any time we're cooking something new.*

Melt 2 whopping tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add the cream.

There has been a lot of confusion in my house over the years about the difference between whipping cream, heavy cream, heavy whipping cream, etc. Here's a pretty good explanation of the breakdown. We used the stuff pictured below from Walmart.

Add the salt, pepper and minced garlic and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat. You want to keep a gentle, rolling boil going for the rest of the process, which can be tricky so give it your full attention because scraping burned whipping cream off your stove is a huge pain - take it from me.

Boil gently for 3-5 minutes (the longer it boils the thicker it will be; and remember that it will continue to thicken up after you take it off the stove). Add the parmesan cheese and sliced red pepper and stir.

Pour the sauce over your pasta and then add the chicken to top it off. Here's your finished product:

Sooo good.

Take it from everyone who's tried it this way: it's amazing. Grilling the chicken makes a huge difference in the flavor, and I would rather eat my husband's than Olive Garden's any day.**

*Though I love Pinterest for many things, the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook is much more reliable. I've ended up with some scary-looking foods that don't remotely resemble their gorgeous pictures on Pinterest.

**No disrespect to Olive Garden - their food is delicious.