Thursday, September 30, 2010

White Chili

This has so far been a most un-fall-y fall.  Maybe since I've been in Vermont the last six years, I am accustomed to the end of September meaning brilliant foliage colors and chilly nights, often with the first hard frost.  So on this past blustery Sunday, with the boys watching football and the temps hovering in the low 60s, I went and bought the ingredients for what sounded like a quintessential fall dish: white chili.  White chili has no tomatoes or chili powder like traditional chili; it features subtler flavors of green chiles, white beans, and cumin.  I envisioned eating a bowl of this on a crisp night this week, perhaps with rain drops beating on the window outside. However, by the time I got around to making it yesterday, I was wearing shorts and a tank top and, if I am not mistaken, got a bit of a sunburn on my walk to get more cumin from the store!  Where are you fall?  And global warming, what are you doing to chili season???

Okay, trust me, I'm not complaining.  After six years of six month winters, I'll wear my shorts as long as possible, thank you.  I'm just saying, depending where you live in the country (I hear it is something like 120 degrees in SoCal), this dish may or may not appeal this week.  If you are still sweating it out, never fear, this dinner was just as tasty on a warm evening; you just have embrace the southwesterness of it all. And if you are a chili lover, I definitely recommend giving this recipe a whirl, no matter what your thermometer reads today.  We loved it.  Subtly spicy and with a jalapeno kick, it was really quite delicious, and a nice departure from the classic ground beef chilis everyone is in the mood to whip up this time of year.  Well, not everyone. Vegetarian friends, I think this recipe could be just as good without the chicken...try it and let me know!
White Chili
1 lb. large white beans, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalepeno pepper, minced
8 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
2 4 oz. cans chopped green chiles
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
Chopped cilantro, grated sharp cheddar and sour cream for garnish
1) Soak your beans overnight.  When ready to use, rinse them thoroughly.
2) Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven.  Add the onions, garlic and jalapeno and saute until the onion softens and begins to turn brown, about 10 minutes.
3) Add the beans and broth, bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer and allow to cook, covered, for about 2 hours or until the beans are very soft.
4) Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the chicken breasts and allow to them to poach in the boiling water until they are cooked through: about 15 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool on a plate in the fridge while the beans cook.  When the chicken is cool to the touch, shred it by hand.
5) When the beans are cooked through, stir in the chicken, chiles, spices and sugar and allow the flavors to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
6) Lower the heat and stir in the half-and-half.
7) Serve with cilantro, cheddar and sour cream.
Serves 8
Some notes about this recipe:
- This chili, as prepared above, has quite a kick to it.  If you are serving a crowd whose palettes can't take heat, omit the jalapeno.
- "Brown sugar, SMJ? Really? In chili?", you say.  Yes, I say.  I tasted my chili after adding the spices and it was just missing something... it was tasty but had kind of a one-note chile flavor.  Adding the sugar balances the spiciness of the peppers and gives the whole dish a lovely, rich complexity.  Just trust me on this one.
- You could totally leave out the half-and-half; it adds a delicious creaminess, but the chili was pretty damn good without it as well.  I just couldn't leave well enough alone.  And I like creaminess.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love This

Look who brought his "laptop" to the table so he could sit and "work" with me this morning...
I mean....
The best part?  He actually did sit and tap away at his computer while I did the same, and I got some good work done this morning!  I'll admit it: there are some days that working from home feels impossible at best, insane at worst. But then there are the days that everything just clicks... the boy is chill and entertains himself, I am well-rested and caffeinated and firing on all cylinders, and together we move through the day kicking ass and taking names.  Some days I feel like I am doing both of us the gravest disservice by trying to juggle everything, and some days it feels brilliant and right.  When little J brings his computer to come and work with me, I'd like to think that some little element in his brain is storing all of this away as having pride in a work ethic, but even if he is just mimicking me and it doesn't go deeper than that, I can't help but feel that there is some redeeming value to this situation.

I am blogging this so that on a less poetic morning, I'll remember that there are, in fact, days where it all comes together.  Every working mom out there is striving for balance.  I am starting to think that comes less in the form of some zen mindset that one can attain and hold day after day, and more in decidedly placing as much value on the good days as the bad, and knowing that most days fall somewhere in between.

And while we're discussing the quest for balance, I had to share this fun poster I saw last week in Paper Source (one of my favorite stores ever):
I adore my Keep Calm and Carry On poster... it anchors my kitchen and reminds me to breathe.  However, I love this send up of it as well.  A great reminder that NOTHING is ever to be taken too seriously.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taking Care

Last week was a blur of unseasonably hot weather, dirty martinis, and fun with family, made a little hazy in retrospect by a cocktail of meds I was taking to keep my back from going out.  A weekend of long walks, Lidocaine patches, Advil, and arnica backrubs courtesy of the husband (my hero), with some lattes and barbecue thrown in for good measure have me feeling somewhat back to normal today.  And the rainy skies in Boston are making me feel like hunkering down for a week of detox and renewal.
On my list for the week?
1) Join the gym!  Imagine my glee when I found out this morning that our local, independently-owned gym is having a super-special today: $99 for three months!  YES!  I'm so in.  I love that this place has on-site childcare and classes called "Butts & Guts" and "Hot Latin Buns".  I am so taking HLB and reporting back, don't you worry.
2) Cook up healthy meals for the fam after several Annie's Mac & Cheese fueled weeks around here.  On this week's menu are White Chicken Chili, a Quickie Indian Night I hope to make more intriguing with the addition of homemade garlic naan, and steel-cut oats for my mornings, which I pre-made for the week last night.
Chicken Chili photo courtesy of Kohler Created.  I plan to use my own recipe, however, and will share it once I perfect it!

I wrote last fall about cooking big pots of SCOs on Sundays and I am so about to get back in the habit.  There is nothing better than a quick, healthy, filling hot breakfast in the fall and there are endless possibilities for dressing up your oats: this morning I added a half a smashed banana, a drizzle of Vermont maple syrup (is there any other kind?) and a sprinkle of cinnamon, but I also love to add fresh berries, honey, and a dollop of Greek yogurt or peanut butter on the top.  Yum.
3)  Yoga night.  It must happen.
4) Start a new book.  I am thinking in the time of a restful, restorative, self-improving-type week, it is going to be If the Buddha Got Stuck which I got as part of the best care package ever a couple months ago:
LOVED this package: the spicy Vosges chocolate bar and awesome energy bar are obviously long gone, but the Ginger Tea lives on and will also play a major role in my week.  I am excited to delve into the Buddha book, as I could use a little self-help right about now, and always love looking to that guy for advice.  I'll review the book when I'm finished!  In the meantime, if you also plan to curl up and do some reading this week, you must do so with some Teatulia Ginger Tea, which is hands down the tastiest ginger-brew I have ever experienced.  Thanks JM!
5) More arnica.  I'm telling you, this stuff is the miracle cure.
Arnica in the wild... pretty, no?
What will you do this week to take care of you?

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Full Week

What a week:
  • We welcomed our dog back into the family.  With that comes adjustments to barking, a walking schedule, toddler-dog relations and more.  So happy to have him home, and so grateful to my in-laws for providing him a loving home when we couldn't.  Yay Louie!
  • Saw a horrific bike accident happen on a major Boston thoroughfare.  I still can't shake the image from my mind, and it really rattled me.  Not only is it stunning to see something so traumatic happen before your own eyes, but it really drove home the notion that life can change in a split second... an idea that becomes all the more fraught as a young mom, I believe.  I implore my cyclist friends to always, always wear your helmets (this fellow wasn't wearing one and it might have saved his life), and my fellow drivers to stay aware on road, especially during rush hour when people are tired from their day and not always as vigilant as they could be.
  • Had a lovely visit with Nana, Grandpa and Aunt Vickie, and got to be a tourist in my own town for a couple of days, which is always an eye-opening treat.
  • Became the owner of the Fresh Sugar Plum Lip Color I've coveted for a dog's age.  Hooray! 

    • Spotted what might be my first grown-up winter coat at Madewell:
    Love how the velvet trim evokes a little girl on the way to the Nutcracker for the first time.  Does this cancel out the grown-up-ness of the gray wool?  Am I just refusing to grow up here?  Please share your thoughts.
    • Took a bit of a blogging break as I ran all over town and caught up on work and life.  I primarily did this because my back is about to go out and I've been whiling my evenings away with painkillers and muscle relaxers, staving off spasms and hoping for the best.  While I am certain I could have cranked out some interesting posts for you in this state, I thought the better of it.
    • I had my First Blog-o-versary!  That's right, I've been at this for a whole year now.  This blog has become my creative space, my outlet for silliness and reflection, and my living journal, and it is made all the more meaningful by engaged and engaging readers. So, I just want to say thank you to all of you for your support for Sweet Mama Jane!  All of your comments, Facebook love, and in-person enthusiasm have kept me going when I am certain I am just talking to myself over here, and not always in the most coherent fashion.  Thank you and I love you!
    Have a wonderful weekend, and with a bit of arnica and a good chiropractor, I should be back in biz next week and cooking up a storm per usual.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Heels, Jackhammers, etc.

    It is a rainy Friday.  Here are some slices of life this week...

    On Wednesday morning, before 9am I might add, I saw a mom at the playground wearing strappy, patent leather, three-inch heels.  And a tailored army jacket, and these crazy funky pants that were tight at the ankles and loose everywhere else, like a very elegant MC Hammer.  But it was the heels that got me... heels!  I just had to share.  I don't know why this struck me so much, but perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was wearing yoga pants, flip flops, and a hoodie, and suddenly felt like I was about 12 years old, and not necessarily in a good way.  To paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw, "I couldn't help but wonder... in the big city, must a mama dress for the playground?  Discuss...

    Today, I am fighting off a migraine that has slowly festered since late yesterday afternoon and is so far resisting the powers of: three extra-strength Tylenol, three Advil, a gallon of water, a double latte, and a ginger tea.  Ironically, today is also the day that jackhammers are ripping up not only our street but the street behind us.  Next on my list of things to try: green tea, aspirin, and throwing things at the jackhammer men.  I mean, honestly.

    I wanted to cook something awesome to share with you this week, but it has been a go-to staple week around here if ever there was one.  Annie's Mac and Cheese, Quorn Patties, Beans and Rice, and Chicken and Broccoli fried rice were on the menu.  Okay, so that last one was kind of a winner, I'll admit, but it is still in the recipe-testing phases... I'll share it soon.  I actually think I've been fighting off something all week and hence the general malaise and snarky feelings towards fashionable women at the playground.

    Things are about to turn around though, because guess what?
    This guy is coming home!  After an extended stay at Chez Nana and Granpa, Louie is returning to us!  Not only does this mean this weekend will be a furry lovefest, it also means it will be a grandparental lovefest with little J as well.  I can't wait.  Reunion photos to come, along with a photo essay on whatever the husband cooks for the Patriots-Jets game on Sunday.  It is sure to be an epic weekend at Casa SMJ.

    Jackhammers be damned.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Getting some ZZZZs

    I've had a lot of inquiries about how I'm sleeping lately, after all my insomnia posts in July and August.  Firstly, thanks for asking :).  The answer is that I am sleeping much better these days.  After hitting my sleepless rock-bottom after our move, I went on something of a quest to beat my insomnia and have learned some really interesting things about "sleep hygiene" along the way.  I picked up a few tricks for getting rest on sleepless nights and wanted to share them, as I also know from your e-mails that I am not the only one battling this affliction.   So today I bring you...
    SMJ's Top 10 Tips for Sleeping Like a Baby
    1) Don't eat anything two hours prior to going to sleep.  This sounds like a minor thing, but I learned from my doctor that when your metabolism is busy digesting food, you don't get as sound a sleep as you would on a more empty stomach.  Not only that, but if what you eat before bed contains sugar or caffeine, you'll have more difficulty falling asleep.  Have an earlier dinner, and resist the urge to munch late night.
    2) Nix the vino.  Wine (or beer or a dirty martini) might take the edge off early in the evening, but have more than two drinks, and your chances of getting deep REM sleep are slim and none.  Alcohol can also cause the kind of indigestion that makes it hard to fall asleep.  You know me. I certainly haven't nixed my wine consumption entirely, I've just adjusted my thinking around having a glass (or two) as follows:  if I am having a super-stressful week which is likely to result in insomnia, I think twice before reaching for a post-work drink and consider which will really be more helpful to me in the end... that glass of red or a deep sleep.   Sometimes the answer is still the red, but the thought process is a good one.
    3) Create a transition time.  My days are so packed, it is often impossible to do anything but work right up until I go to sleep; especially since I use the evenings to close out my work day.  However, it is invaluable to unwind before bed.  Making some time to chat with the husband, laugh at the Daily Show, or stretch a little helps quiet my head before sleep. Even just reading in bed for ten minutes has made a huge difference for me.  Note: the book must be funny or otherwise entertaining; no tomes about climate change and the certainty of our doom before bed.  Anthony Bourdain is my current favorite pre-bedtime author.
    4) Lavender oil rocks.  A smidge on the wrists and the neck, plus a diluted drop or two spritzed on the pillow help lull you off to dreamland.  I don't know why.  Who am I to argue with aromatherapy?
    5) No caffeine after 12pm.  Period.  Duh.
    6) Morning exercise helps deepen sleep, late afternoon exercise, not so much.  There is no doubt that a hard workout helps promote the natural exhaustion one needs to sleep, but evening exercise can rev up your metabolism, making it harder to fall and stay asleep.  Try to fit in your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime.
    7) Change it up.  If you've been in bed for more than thirty minutes and can't sleep, don't just lie there waiting for sleep to come.  Get up, do something relaxing for a bit (think stretching, reading, knitting, a facial mask -- NOT bills, work, or anything in front of a light, bright screen), and try again.  This stops the cycle of lying there thinking "I'm not sleeping, I can't sleep, I'll never sleep."
    8) Try meditation. A friend recommended Yoga Nidra: Extreme Relaxation of Conscious Deep Sleep as a guided meditation before bed to help with my insomnia.  Downloaded to your iPod and listened to in a dimly lit room, this is a surefire way to unwind head to toe and prepare your mind and body to rest.
    9)  Darken the clock.  We have an alarm clock whose face can be darkened so you can't see the time.  If you don't, try throwing a towel over your clock, or turning it to face the wall.  Whatever you do, don't stare those numbers in the face as you try and fall asleep.  If you are having trouble falling asleep or having a wakeful night, knowing the time can sometimes only worsen the stress and anxiety.  This is another seemingly small thing that has made a huge difference to me.
    10) Put your irrational thoughts on trial.  This has been by far the most significant tool I've learned in my battle against insomnia.  Whatever worry is running through your brain and keeping you awake is likely not as significant as you make it out to be in the middle of the night, all alone in the dark.  Here's how to shrink that worry down to size: 
        1) Stop.  Just stop.  You have to stop the snowball of worry from rolling farther down the mountain and gathering momentum and power.  Take a breath and really stop the thought.
        2) Question your true belief in that thought.  As in: "do I really believe that I'll never keep my career on track while being the kind of mom I want to be?  Really?"  Rate your belief in that thought on a scale of one to ten.  Chances are that you do not believe in this thought as much as your mind might be tricking you into thinking you do.
        3) Ask yourself: even if I truly believe this thought to be true, what is the worst thing that will happen if, in fact, it is? In nine cases out of ten, you aren't looking at a life or death situation.  More often than not, whatever you are worrying about is just to do with life's minutia and is fixable, manageable and literally not worth losing sleep over.  If you can step back and realize this, you are golden.

    These little tricks have helped me go from pacing our halls at night to getting a solid seven hours of restful sleep most nights of the week.  I'm by no means a deep sleeper yet; a dog barking three houses down can still wake me, and it still takes me a good half-hour to fall asleep every night, if not more.  However, learning all these things about sleep have been really helpful to me, and I'm eager to learn more.
    What do you do to lull yourself off to dreamland?

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Working Girl

    I'm back!  Last week I was MIA doing a bit of business travel, and packing for my trip, I realized that my professional wardrobe is in desperate need of a serious overhaul.  Most of my work staples are from the pre-baby era, as I skated through last fall and winter on a shameless combination of maternity pants (I said, I have no shame) and long cardigans, and have been telecommuting blissfully in my Red Sox shorts and J.Crew Favorite Tanks and/or yoga pants and old race t-shirts ever since (it is a hot look, I tell you, HOT).

    I've eked back into my pre-baby stuff this season, but most pieces seem a bit old and tired and not the right style for, oh, somebody's mom.  As discussed previously, I know what my fantasy casual wardrobe looks like (trouser jeans, fun cardi, soft tanks, bohemian/simple jewelry), but I am utterly lost when it comes to a professional look, especially since, for the last five years, I've been working in a pretty casual environment.  I need HELP and I am officially coming to you, readers, since I happen to know that ya'll are a pretty stylin' bunch.

    Here are my parameters:
    1) Pieces must be (very) budget-friendly, but still of decent quality (I hear my grandma's voice in my head saying it is better to buy one great, durable piece than five less expensive ones of poorer quality).
    2) A stable of interchangeable basics is a must, but hopefully with a little flair here and there so I don't end up looking like I fell right out of a cookie-cutter catalog.
    3) I am 5'2", have no discernable waist (seriously, my bod goes boobs-->hips, with nary an inch or two between) and tend to like to wear stuff that is forgiving in that area.  I wish I could wear monster high-heels, but it just isn't me, most of my shoes have a very low, 1.5 inch or less heel.  I am too accident-prone to go higher.
    4) Most days, I interact quite a bit with a certain fellow who is prone to getting drool, jam, peanut butter and assorted other substances on anything that crosses his path.  Even if I am out the door for a day of professionalism sans him, I need to run his gauntlet of kisses and hugs first, and I wouldn't have it any other way... this means light colors and pricey dry-clean-only fabrics are largely a no go during this era (right?).

    Tell me, all you business ladies (and gents) and savvy shoppers out there, what are your go-to pieces for looking good and feeling good on the job?    
    Here are some professional looks I love...
    This is my friend and life-and-style icon Bronwyn.  She runs her own business, has two gorgeous girls and generally keeps a multitude of balls in the air, obvs looking and feeling fantastic doing it.  I love the sass and versatility of her work look, her flawless hair and the great necklace. Love you, Brown!
    Also really loving this fall look from Banana, with the wide-leg trousers, cute blouse and classic trench.  I still don't own a "grown-up" coat and am wondering if a trench is the way to go.  Part of me still feels like I'd just be playing dress up, although I love the look.  Also love the hat and bag, although I feel that I look like a cat burglar in almost any hat I wear.

    And frankly, dear readers, I went looking for other looks I love to share and couldn't find a one, and therein lies my problem; building a professional wardrobe is really a bit of a foreign concept to me.  I'm not sure where to look beyond J.Crew, and what to look for beyond my go-to chinos and cardis.  
    I'd love to know what you wear when you dress to impress.  Show me the light...

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Slow-Roasted Summer Tomatoes

    Tomatoes seem to be falling from the skies these days and gardeners, as well as farmers' market junkies, are enjoying luscious piles of red, orange, yellow and green juicy goodness.  I can't help myself when I see ripe, just-picked tomatoes at the market, and I always tend to over buy.  This recipe is a great way to ensure that not-a-one precious little globe will go to waste.

    Okay, so this is less a recipe and more a philosophy, the philosophy being: when you have produce at the height of its season, the best thing you can do to it is simply not much... add a little fat, a little salt and pepper, and let it just revel in all of its harvest glory.  In fact, when I went to write the recipe, it was going to call for 3 pints of cherry tomatoes, but then I used half of one of my pints in my lunch salad and you know what?  The recipe will still be delicious.  So I am going to not even write this like a recipe and instead just tell you this:
    • Pre-heat your oven to 300F 
    • Rinse your tomatoes
    • Toss them in good olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • Put them on a baking sheet and in the oven for an hour, tossing periodically and adding more oil if they look dry
    When they come out, they'll be falling apart, slightly caramelized and ridiculously delicious.  Cook your favorite shape of pasta (mine is cappellini, the husband's is rigatoni... both work well with this sauce), drain it saving a bit of the cooking liquid, and scrape the entirety of your baking sheet of tomato gold into the pot, adding the pasta-water bit by bit for extra moisture, if needed at all.  Garnish the whole thing with freshly chopped basil and shredded parmesan and enjoy on the spot.  You could also add some sauteed sweet Italian sausage to the mix if you have a hungry Italian guy to feed, or save some out to spoon onto crostini for a quick bruschetta.  Honestly, it is hard to go wrong with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes.  If you must, you can even just sit and eat them with a spoon.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Cookbook Fetish

    Some women like shoes, others like jewels, still others are obsessed with their gardens.  Me?  I love my cookbooks.  My collection is wide, growing and inclusive.  How to Cook Meat sits alongside Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone on my shelves, up and over from Cooking with the Dead (as in Grateful, not passed to the other side) and Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (a tome on the various cooking styles of Southeast Asia).  My cookbook collection is probably more reflective of my life experience and personality than any other single entity in my life.  And like any good collector, I'm still hungry for more. Recently, I've come across some gems I'm scouting for my collection...
    I've always loved Jamie Oliver: his accessible recipes, timely message about school lunches and the state of nutrition for our children, affable working-class Brit sensibility and adorable surfer-boy grin.  I own and love Happy Days with the Naked Chef, and now have my eyes on his latest cookbook  Jamie's Food Revolution, which I was able to thumb through on a recent visit to my sister's house. I am all about "simple, delicious, affordable meals" these days, and this was one of those books where I wanted to dog-ear almost every page.  Each recipe seemed to speak to me, a busy mom on a budget, but could easily speak to any recent college grad or simple home cook.  Jamie draws inspiration from all cultures to give recipes for everything from curries to roasts, and I want to try just about every one from this book.
    I've mentioned my new favorite cooking blog, Dinner: A Love Story, here before, but I am so smitten with the blog and the book forthcoming from its author and her fellow former Cookie Magazine editors, that I must mention it again.  If Time for Dinner is even half as good as the blog, it will be your go to cookbook every night of the week.  Family dinner is what life is all about, and these ladies aim to make it happen every night, without a nervous breakdown on the way... picky eaters, packed schedules and impatient toddlers will not deter them. If you have a young family or are looking for a fun gift for a friend who does, I am not afraid to recommend this book without having seen it firsthand.  Anything touched by Cookie gets an automatic endorsement from me! 
    Finally, over the weekend I was having a conversation with one of our great foodie friends about all the things we plan to cook this winter, and he reminded me about a book called All About Braising. Although it is not on my shelves, I've known about this book for awhile, as in a past life I waited tables at a restaurant where we did a book party with the author, and the whole to-die-for menu was right out of the book.  With our current lifestyle, braising suits us perfectly... I love the idea of sticking something in the oven on a Sunday morning, going out and playing in the snow and doing our thing all day, and returning to something tender, succulent, and incredibly low-maintenance for dinner, straight out of a long, slow braise in the oven.  It is so on.  
    What's your favorite cookbook?

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Fantasy Fall Part 1

    Fall is on the horizon, and along with the apples, pumpkins, cooler nights and switch from white wine back to red, come fall fashion and beauty products, all being heavily and cleverly marketed to the likes of me.  Okay, I'll bite.  Certain gentlemen I know like to have a fantasy football draft this time of year, so this is my version: Fantasy Fall Catalog... wherein I will "draft" my "picks" for fall greatness.  Hut, hut hike!  Or whatever.

    Pick #1
    Check out the 7 For All Mankind Featherweight Trouser in Deep Blue Black.  Oh quarterback, to be sure.  I love the color, love the drape, love the lightweight denim (because ever since having the baby, something in my metabolism has changed and I am ALWAYS roasting hot...can't bear the thought of normal-weight denim most days).  Love that I could wear these to chase little J at the playground and be the hip city mom I strive to be these days, but also dress them up for an evening out.  Top draft pick right here.
    Pick #2
    In the words of Rachel Zoe, "I love me a sequin" and the J.Crew Ciel étoilé cardigan delivers.  I love how delicate the sequins are... a little special, but not over the top.  I could wear it to take little J to music class in a "oh yes, I am wearing sequins before 10am on a Monday...bring it" kind of way, or I could pair it with my favorite costume-jewelry earrings and those QB trousers above for a night out with the chicas.  Very wide receiver and oh so pretty.
    Pick #3
    Remember when I told you about the Eat, Pray, Love branded collection at Fresh?  I was captivated by the description of the products (and, like the marketing sucker I am, my love for the book made me assume I would love the scents... makes absolutely no sense at all, but that is what they are banking on), but had not actually smelled them with my own shnoz.  Well, my fave playground for little J just happens to be a few blocks from Boston's Fresh store.  So recently, I "had to run to the restroom at Starbucks" and happened to cruise on by for a sniff.  OH MY.  I just swooned over "Love", the fragrance inspired by Bali.  Peeps, I think I have found my scent.  I think Fresh's genius marketers say it best, "This fragrance bottles the bright, colorful, anything-is-possible feelings of falling in love. Scents of passion, like percolating pheromones, sun-caressed skin, and salty kisses, are combined with the lush aromas of Bali’s exotic landscape".  Hells yes.  I couldn't stop smelling my wrists for an hour after my spritz.  I LOVE the floral, fruity, unabashedly flirtatious scent.  And at $32/bottle, this is more attainable than some of the other delicious but super-pricey scents on the Fresh roster.  Call it my cornerback of sexiness.
    Pick #4
    Last time I was a serious yogini, I had not yet had a baby.  As such, my small but formerly adequate collection of yoga tops no longer work for me.  As I recommit myself to my practice, I require something more forgiving and much more supportive than my spaghetti-strapped yoga tops of yore.  My favorite yoga teacher happens to be one of my nearest and dearest and also happens to be quite well-endowed in the boobage, and she swears by Athleta yoga tops to do the job and do it well.  I fancy this blue one with the cute, cute back.  Since it will help me get my buns back in shape, I will call it my tight end.
    Pick #5
    MoroccanOil Intense Curl Cream is the offensive tackle on my wish list this Fall.  Like all MoroccanOil products, it smells like the love child of sandalwood and the beach, and works like a dream; tough enough to tackle even the roughest frizz!  After my last haircut, this was scrunched into my wet hair, and as it air-dried, the curls held beautifully. When a product is recommended by your hairstylist, InStyle Magazine and the best man from your wedding, you know it is a winner. 
    Pick #6
    This shirt would be my runningback; the workhorse, dependable, daily wardrobe pick.  J. Crew's Twist Knot T looks soft and comfy enough to wear all over town, yet there is an added cuteness with the twist that says, "see, I am making an effort."  It is affordable enough that you needn't be crushed if someone gets jelly on it and it comes in many cute colors, some of which would hide jelly spectacularly well (see "wild plum").

    Apparently there are 11 people on the field per football team during a game, so my list is merely half-done.  Stay tuned for Part 2, which will feature my kicker (hint: ballet flats) as well as my linebacker.  Aw yeah.
    In the meantime, tell me, what's in your fall line-up?

    P.S. - I would like to dedicate this post to the husband, who endures my (often-wrong and ill-conceived) football analogies with good humor and minimal eye-rolling, and to my girl Sara Sully Goody who, though quite pregnant, is no doubt hosting the best fantasy football draft you've ever seen again and with style and flair as per usual (Jason, you're a lucky man).