September 2015 | Olive and Tate

5 Things I Hope My Son Does Not Inherit From Me

Ah, genetics. What a crap shoot.

When I was knocked up, I spent many nights wondering which of my charming characteristics my babe might score from my half of the DNA chain. Would he be tall? Have gigantic teeth that need years of orthodontic intervention? Have the ability to tan a deep brown and be skimpy with the sunscreen (which, he clearly won't do because he has a responsible mom, so no one get upset)?


Or maybe he'll actually just snag all of my less than desirable characteristics in the Punnett Square gamble. Ugh.

So far, it's looking like he's managed to sprout my teeth (and a sizable gap that says "Dad, start saving those HSA funds now, I'm going to need headgear like next year"), my long legs and popped out of the womb a gorgeous shade of peach that demands many layers of sunscreen at the mere thought of sun. But the rest is yet to be determined.

With that in mind, here are the 5 Things I Hope My Son Does Not Inherit From Me

1. Bills, Bills, Bills
Seriously, I think Justin and I were on our second date when I said something along the lines of "just so you know, I'm terrible with money and you'll need to handle anything that has to do with a budget starting now". He thought I was kidding. I don't know what it is (probably my terrible math skills) but I'm just bad at it. There's no changing me and seeing as it's clearly a fundamental flaw, I'm hoping my kid avoids it.

2. 1+1
I would really be leaving out a major part of the story if I touched on my ridiculously terrible money management skills and not my atrocious math skills. I mean, I literally still count on my fingers sometimes. My brain just doesn't work that way. I can analyze poetry or write a fifty page research paper but I cannot calculate a sale price for the life of me. It just isn't there. And, in case you're wondering, I took one math class in college and just had to pass it to graduate. I'm pretty sure I got a D and was so stoked that I passed. No shame in that game.

3. Coordination Nation
Justin has a nick name for me. It's Chuck A Puck. Why? Oh you see, we once went on a date to a minor league hockey game in Charlotte (side note: I love hockey, my brother played it growing up and it's my fave) and we paid a few dollars to earn the right to toss foam hockey pucks from our spot in the stands onto the ice and hopefully into the open sun roof of a moving Mercedes. I stood up, grabbed my foam puck and threw it straight down and into the head of a woman approximately 5 rows in front of us. Hard. Keep in mind, I was trying to throw it over the boards and onto an ice rink. And I threw it straight down. Any time Gray does something remotely uncoordinated, Justin gets this look on his face and says "oh no, Chuck A Puck!" and stares at me like I cursed our son (who is 15 months old and, by default, uncoordinated).

4. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me
(if you haven't read that book by Mindy, go ahead and get on that. It's funny) 
I have a major issue with the thought of missing out. As I've gotten older, I am more concerned with missing out on sleep than being out at the best restaurant or hot spot but there was a time when I would pass up rest, a night off, a meal, whatever to be out and about at all of the right places. Or worse, I would say no thanks and then spend the entire evening wondering if everyone was having just the best time ever without me. Inside jokes? Nope, can't have that. Pics without me in them? Oh hell no. I hope my son can be cool with who he is in the moment and rock it out, even if that means telling someone that he's going to save his pennies, recharge his batteries and make the reasonable choice to stay in and watch Big Bang re-runs. And then not give AF that he did so.

5.  Haters Gonna Hate
I think that there are people in this world who honestly do not care what other people think about them. I don't know if such a person really exists, but I can assure that I am not one of them. It may be a side effect of putting myself out there all of the time (I'm like this in real life, too) but I sorta feel like "here I am!" and then worry that people are like "uh, who you are is whack." Yep, I said whack. You should have seen the meltdown that occurred after I took a peek at the comments section of my Scary Mommy post. Ugh. All I can say is that it is my genuine wish that my son is confident in who he is, knows what he stands for, is kind and isn't concerned with the petty things in life. Much unlike his mother, who cannot seem to shake that crazy crap.

While I bring a hot mess of personality and genetic, um, components to the table, I do hope that Gray learns and inherits some things from me - I hope he isn't afraid to speak in public (did you know more Americans are afraid of public speaking than death? Say what, now.), that he has the confidence to be a leader and that he has the ability to always make others feel welcome in his home. I know for certain that laughing at himself will get him far in life and knowing how to give genuine compliments will get him even farther. Hang with me kid, I've got you covered.

And, also, while I'm being optimistic, I hope to high Heaven that he inherits his daddy's metabolism.

No Bean Smokey Chili: From the Archives

So, my brain is totally fried and all I can think about is why in the name of all things holy did TBS start running old episodes of Two Broke Girls instead of the steady stream of Big Bang Theory episodes that I love (and have memorized).  Because I'm worthless and serving up a drought of entertaining content, I thought I'd dig through the archives and find my famous no bean chili recipe for your viewing pleasure. You're welcome! 

originally posted in a not nearly as witty version on 9.10.13

The funny thing about chili is that it's usually loaded down with beans and sadly, I'm not much of a bean girl. Like, I hate them. All kinds: kidney, black, re-fried, Lima, you name it, I cringe at the thought.

With that being said, it took some major Pinterest research to find a bean free Chili recipe that didn't require two thousand ingredients and 14 trips to the grocery store.
Finally (and thankfully), I stumbled upon this recipe from This Gal Cooks.

After a few tweaks, I whipped up this little number:

After a quick once over, the recipe seemed reasonably doable and while it took me forever to find those damn chipotle peppers in adobo sauce at my local Hannaford's, the rest of the grocery list was pretty simple and store brand/budget friendly.

Here's what you'll need:

2 lbs of ground beef
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced and seeded
A couple of spoonfuls of the adobo sauce
1 small onion, chopped
 1 jalapeƱo, chopped and seeded
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup beer
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp white sugar
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T unsweetened cocoa powered

In all honesty, this recipe was super easy to basically brown the hamburger with the chopped onion and jalepeno and then dump the rest of the ingredients into the pot.

I was surprised that the recipe called for cocoa powder!

Here's a tip for choosing the beer that you use in the chili: make sure that it's one that you like because you'll only need half a cup and you're obviously going to need to finish the rest.

You don't even have to bother with any particular order of the dumping and to be honest, I didn't even bother to measure the spices before I tossed the into the pot. Pro Tip: if you have anyone in your family who does not like spicy foods, go ahead and measure. The last time I didn't bother to measure, I heard about. And ate the entire batch by myself. Sorry not sorry.

The recipe also recommends that you simmer the Chili for at least an hour - I'll cop to both letting mine simmer for 20 seconds and a full 2 hours before diving in, Frito first.

We topped ours with sour cream, green onions, sharp cheddar and saltines

But if I'm being honest, I prefer my chili served with Frito scoops, too much sour cream and all of the cheese. Green onions are only good for making me feel healthy while smashing an entire bag of Fritos.

Yields: a big pan full. 

Edits to the recipe after making it close to 400 times since originally posting: 
I often forget the jalapeno - I actually now prefer the chili without it
Any color onion can be used to cook with the beef - sometimes I use whatever I had laying around and end up with both red and white tossed in the pan. 
If you give it a sample while it's simmering and you think it's too spicy for your family, add a little bit of sugar, stir and taste again. I just made a batch that had quite a bit of extra sugar and I liked the sweet taste with a slightly spicy kick. 

So easy, so good.

The Great Denim Hunt

So, it's denim season. 

 While I'm as basic as they come about all things Fall, the thought of squeezing back into a pair of last year's jeans - or worse, actually braving the mall to go jean shopping - makes me feel a bit queasy. 
 As we all know, I pretended to be a fashion blogger a few weeks ago and I knew I wanted a pair of distressed black skinny jeans for one of my looks. Sigh. 
Time to pull on my Spanx and hit the fitting room.

And because I love you all so much, I thought it would be super fun to snap terrible fitting room selfies and share the process with you, if only so that you can avoid the terrible lighting and potentially soul crushing adventure that is jean shopping.

With that pep talk under our belts, let's begin.
Here's how I approach the nightmare that is the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans:
I invest my time, effort and cash in one or two pairs of staple, high end denim.
Mid-rise, dark wash, no whiskering or fading, straight leg, slim ankle. 
Season-less, timeless and worth a bit more cash so you score a quality that will last.

My absolute favorite pair is the Hudson Nico Midrise Super Skinny jean. I've owned the same pair for three years plus and love them. They will always be flattering and will never go out of style, making the cost worth it for me.

 photo originally published 4.3.15

Once I have my base pair stashed safely away in my closet, I choose to buy trendy styles in a (much) friendlier price point. Old Navy, Target and American Eagle are my go to's for anything boyfriend, ripped, faded, tapered, flared, jeggings or in a unique color. And let's be real - I don't want to spend a ton of time tripping over myself in a poorly lit fitting room or being bothered by a pre-teen sales girl, so my strategy is to blow into the store, grab anything in a wash and rise that I think might be remotely flattering on me (so nothing low rise, no one at Mother's Morning Out needs to see my lower back tat) and hit the fitting rooms.

My latest run was to Old Navy in the hopes of scoring a new pair of slimmer fit boyfriend jeans and the aforementioned pair of distressed black denim.

I spent approximately 45 minutes in the store (including the longest line ever at check out), tried on 7 different pairs and walked out with one (and should have purchased another).

And, in the name of keeping things real, I'm showing my true sizes so you can get an idea of how one of these looks may work on you, if you are as blessed in the butt department as I am.


on the model:

On me:

I really wanted to like these but I thought they were just too loose in the back, making them look dumpy and not even remotely put together with my tee and flats (which is how I would wear/style them in real life). Also, something was happening in the crotch area that was bordering on not flattering.

Hoping I could keep the look of the boyfriend cut and lose some of the bulk, I sized down to a 10. Sadly, I lost enough length that I thought the jeans looked cropped and not just cuffed.

the butt is better though.

Ultimately, I wanted the length of the 12 but the tighter fit in the rear of the 10 so I had to pass. 

I did give the same fit another try in the distressed wash and the crotch issue only got worse! 
(on crazy sale for $18.50)

On the Model:

 On me:

I can't take my eyes away from the issue.

Buzz, your girlfriend. Woof.

Sadly, I really do think this is a great pair of denim and at $18, I honestly wish they fit me better. I would rock these way too much. Obviously, I didn't purchase. 

 Basically, I'll try on any pair of boyfriend because I think they can be a bit tricky to find the perfect blend of comfy/loose but not baggy/frumpy and you never know when you'll get lucky. I hit up the Boyfriend Straight in a super light wash with a distressed knee and thought they were comfy but really similar to my Target pair. 

On the model:

On me:

Yet again, I have some sort of crotch issue happening, which I'm choosing to blame on extra material and not some sort of physical deformity that I'm just now noticing. 

The wash was probably just a bit light for my liking (bordering on '90's) but if I didn't already own a similar pair, I would have sought out a slightly darker wash and given them a try, but alas, it just wasn't worth it for a pair that looked so similar (and less flattering) than I pair I already own. 

In case you haven't heard (from every style blogger on Instagram, over and over again) Boot Cut is back! If you find the right fit, the boot cut can elongate the leg and slim the thigh and nobody can be mad about that. I think I still have a great pair of flares laying around from a few years back but to avoid the humiliation of trying to get into them, I tried on a dark wash pair of the Curvy Bootcut Mid Rise .
on the model:

on me:

I was really torn over this pair. I thought the wash was great and the length was perfect for heels but something about this cut just wasn't right in my hip area. In fact, I think my hips look completely different in the top left and bottom left photos, which made my decision process even more confusing. I will say that I found these incredibly flattering in the butt. In all honesty, this may have been worth trying on with heels but I rarely wear heels in my real life so I decided to pass. If you have a big butt (like yours truly), these will fit you so well. My tummy felt pulled in and my butt was rounded and smooth - if only that hip area had worked out, I would have pulled the trigger on these.

The pair I was really hoping would be a win were the Rockstar Mid-Rise Super Skinny Distressed 
in black/stow away.

on model:

On me:

These came home with me but I made one crucial error. And I know better. I decided to round up and purchase the size 12. Huge mistake. Old Navy denim is a great price point but you get what you pay for and, in my experience, ON jeans stretch out like crazy while you're wearing them. The 10 felt just a teeny bit snug but I should have grabbed those, knowing that I wanted the black skinnies to have more of a streamlined look.Overall, I love the length (I cuff them with booties) and the price makes me happy. If this look is out next year, then I know I will have worn them enough to justify their price point by the end of this season.

So, it turns out that the last pair that I grabbed, The Diva Skinny, are no longer available online, which is sad because they look great on and I should have bought them.

If you took a peek at the tag, you'll notice these are actually short in length. Yes, I'm 5'9" but sometimes I'll try on a short so that I can wear them with flats. They hit me right at or just the teeniest bit above the ankle and I'm a fan. This pair turned out to be super slimming and comfy - I didn't buy because they actually look a lot like my investment pair but if you see these in your store, size up and try them on. 

Ok, there it is. My rapid fire, totally un-styled, terribly photographed attempt to find a pair or two of trendy jeans for fall.  If I can do it, you can too. Now go forth and order online, since I did all of the dirty work for you!

and p.s. while this is in no way a sponsored post, affiliate links are used. 

Mom Needs A Break

Let's be honest, some days are better than others.

Some days, I crush this whole being a mom things. I also manage to hold up my end of the marriage bargain and can say that I was a responsive and supportive friend (via text to, like, my two total friends, so don't be too impressed)

And then there are days where I feel like this:

Full on Mom Collapse.

For some reason, Tuesday night was one of those nights. 
Too many diaper changes with a banshee baby who just cannot with the diaper changes and made a head first dive off of the changing table to escape a cool wipe (I caught him with my cat like reflexes and then immediately wished for a cocktail),  a dinner that just couldn't be anything other than burned, no matter how hard I tried and a husband who only wanted to discuss his fantasy football team.

I just couldn't.
We put the baby to bed and I told Justin the living room TV was all his. 
I needed a night to be left alone.  

And do this:

Fun Fact: I was in the Theater Club in high school and participated in (yes, participated, no starring here to say the least) six musicals. And I can still sing all of the words to every one (except Pirates of Penzance, because it's terrible) and have been known to pass the time on a long (solo, obv) car trip by listening to entire show soundtracks from start to finish. And by listening, I clearly mean singing them at the top of lungs, sometimes more than once so that I can sing all of the best parts.

So obviously, I'm a huge Pitch Perfect fan. 
Let it be known that I actually went to see it in theaters by myself because we had just moved, didn't have a sitter and I wasn't missing it. Off to the theater I went for a Sunday Matinee leaving the boys at home with promises of a pizza reward if they were on their best behavior and didn't burn down our temporary apartment complex while I was gone. 

Ok, back to my no good, terrible mom day that required a happy moment of solitude.

I made this for dinner:

Put on my ode to Fat Amy pajamas and my best I'm not playing with either of you tonight face 

and got into bed. 

Look at that! A happy Stephanie, sans make up, about to stuff her face with fist fulls of extra butter popcorn and lay right in the middle of the bed, starfish style. Ah, living the dream. 

In case you're wondering, no husbands or babies were neglected in the making of this post.
Quite frankly, I'm pretty sure they were each content to get a night of solitude under their belts as well. Now, off you go to Wal-Mart to grab the Deluxe Box set of Pitch Perfect 2 because it comes with a CD of greatest hits from both movies. And what better way to drown out a baby crying in the back seat than cranking some A cappella? 

Aca'scuse me? 
You heard me, go get it. 

Here are the deets:

 Head to Walmart to grab the exclusive Pitch Perfect 2 Blu-Ray/Soundtrack combo pack. Soundtrack includes some of your favorite songs from Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 (while supplies last)

Disclosure: This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ThePitchesatWMT

The 5 Stages of Dropping the Morning Nap, For Mom

One of my absolute favorite parts of the day is our Morning Nap Time. 
I'm not an early riser by nature and love a slow moving morning so baby wake up calls before the sun really seems to take it out of me. That glorious morning nap was my time to get it together - and clearly by get it together, I mean watch yesterday's Dr. Phil on the DVR, scroll through social media, drink coffee and then run around like a crazed woman attempting to brush my teeth and throw dishes into the dishwasher at the first sounds of stirring from the nursery.

When it became clear that my babe was going to drop his morning nap at 13 months old, I took it hard. Real Hard. Like, full blown, this can't be happening yet, deep breathing through the tears, hard. 

Sadly, despite my attempts to convince him otherwise, the baby did indeed say sayonara to the morning nap and I approached the change with the grace and dignity of a mature, experienced mother.

Behold, The 5 Stages of Dropping the Morning Nap (for mom)

1. The Inquisition
At the first hint that our morning nap may not be on our daily agenda any more, I did what I do best and sent a mass text to every baby mama I know, begging them to tell me that I had months (if not years) left on the whole two naps a day game plan. I was met with something less than encouragement as mama after tired mama came back with "well, we dropped ours somewhere around 13 months....maybe might have a month or so left." A month!? No. No, this can't be true. 

Next stop for reassurance: the internet.
Bad move.

And finally, as a last resort, I pulled out some long, tedious nightmare of a baby book that I stashed away in the back of a closet. Ok, fine, every baby is different, I get that, but don't they take two naps a day until, like, Kindergarten? Apparently not.

2. Fight or Flight
I didn't care what the books (and my friends, and the internet) said, I wasn't taking this no nap thing laying down (ha, bad pun), so off we went on the world's longest drive around town. Surely an hour or two up and down the highway will convince him that a morning snooze is the way to go.

Yeah, not so much.

When that was a flop, I went back to basics and nearly rocked the rockers off of our chair, dug out all of the "good" pacis and cranked the white noise to jet engine levels.


3. Denial.
Let it be known that I don't give up easily. 
I continued on with our morning nap attempts for a week.
Down he went at his normal time, all tucked in and wide awake.
I was sure it was all just a fluke. I was so confident we would work all this out that I planned meetings and deadlines around our normal nap time. Yep, this thing would just work itself out and he would doze off any minute.....

4. Question It All
If we really were dropping the nap, how would I cope with this?
When would I shower? When would I get dressed? Send emails? Write witty blog posts? Search Pinterest for the best ever recipe for something I will never make? Watch Say Yes to the Dress re-runs? I just couldn't imagine making it all work. Life as we knew it was over. I clearly excel at handling change.

5. Let It Go
I had to let it go.
 Give up the ghost. 
He wasn't budging and the morning nap was over. I would love to say that he takes a crazy long afternoon nap, but he sleeps for essentially the same amount of time as he did while double napping so I really am mourning a serious loss here. We fill our days but it will never be the same. 
If you see me around town and I'm not showered and have black circles under my eyes, pour a little of your Starbucks out for the morning naps that are no longer ours.

RIP Pinterest recipes that could have been.

Viewing Party and the easiest recipe of all time.

Ready to be impressed by my domestic prowess? 
Hold on to your hats, ladies, this one will knock your socks off.

So, on Thursday, my husband's beloved Clemson Tigers played a road game against Louisville. Obviously, none of us could bop up to Kentucky on a school night so we invited our tailgate crew for a little viewing party at our casa.

 Truth be told, last week was one hell of a week so I had approximately 4 minutes to spend on prepping for our guests. I ran to Trader Joe's and made the entire get together happen from pre-made goodness and booze from our stash. 

I snagged gorgeous bright orange and purple blooms from the floral section and then grabbed 23 dips (I was hungry, I bought them all) and the ingredients to make the world's easiest BBQ Chicken Pizza.

Here's what you'll need to impress your friends:

BBQ sauce of any kind, pre-cooked chicken breast, bacon, red onion, pizza dough and cilantro.
Dice the chicken, toss in BBQ sauce, generously slather the spread out crust with olive oil, then layer on all toppings (except the cilantro). Bake that baby. Top with a drizle of BBQ sauce and cilantro. 
Pro Tip: leave the dough (in it's bag) on the counter for an hour or so before you attempt to work with it. The more room temp it is, the easier it is to stretch out)

Ta Da, you win at hostessing. 

 I made half with BBQ and half without (and plain chicken) because my husband prefers to skip sauces of all kinds (I don't get it either).

The rest of the snacks were all pre-made and took absolutely zero effort. 

I also used all of my best china.
We're fancy.

 Does anyone else stash snacks all over the living room so that they don't have to get up in order to continue eating? Just me? You should get on that. You're welcome. 

My other half and our tailgating crew are all Clemson alums and have a bit of nervous energy prior to games. I'll regret saying this but, thank god for that pool table. 

(get ready for an artsy pool table photo in 3, 2, 1...)

 Don't let me fool you though, game time around here requires complete attention. And silence. Unless you are yelling at some terrible decision by a coach, referee or player. Then you best be as loud as possible.

Each family also records the game on their own TV's at home in case something needs to be reviewed at a later date. I wish I was making that up.

 And in case anyone was wondering, my brand spankin' new Jonathan Louis Brennan chairs did indeed pass the man test. They tolerated lots of jumping up and down, smacking and dramatic body movements without so much as a creak. I've seen stadium seats struggle harder.

 I'm still stoked that I went with the Protege Natural fabric and honestly, have no reservations about staining or spills. I hit the fabric with a bit of protector and we're living life. If we spill, we spill - the fabric is tough enough to take a bit of a clean up and still maintain it's soft texture. 

 While my beautiful serving china did not make it out of the cabs for this get together, the bourbon was obviously consumed in my crystal tumblers. 

And because we are all old and the pizza was already long gone, everyone hit the road at the half. 
Total honesty: I hit my bed. My baby doesn't care that a game was on late - he'll be up with the sun demanding attention and such. 

Macie was the last one standing.

Except my husband.
Who actually did this:


Now go forth and make that pizza.

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by Jonathan Louis Furniture and I was provided product of my choice for my review. All opinions and experiences expressed in this post are my own.