Stylish, Stealthy & Healthy.


Orange & Ginger Apple Cider Shandy #howsweetbabyshower

Today I am taking part of a virtual celebration of sorts for one of my dearest friends, as arranged by the hilarious Bev (that Instagram, tho.) and the lovely Ashley! As I’m sure most of you know, Jessica (of How Sweet It Is) is having a baby! A baby who I think might actually come out covered in sprinkles. But like in a cute way, not a weird “wtf is my baby covered in sprinkles?” way. She also just wrote a book. You should order it. Trust me.

apple cider shandy |

Mine and Jess’ friendship was pretty much instantaneous. I think we first bonded over a girl crush on Miranda Lambert and obsession with Felicity, but through this magical world of blogging have since become a real-life friends and I’m so grateful for that. Few people appreciate/share my over-usage of exclamation points, “OMG”s and love of television quite like she does, and also she’s just a pretty great friend all around. When I first started dealing with my fertility issues, Jess was one of the only people I talked to about it, and she will forever have a place in my heart for that.

SO… In honor of the lovely Jessica…

How Sweet Final Graphic (Amazing job with the graphic, Ashley.)

I made something boozy. And perfect for fall!

apple cider shandy |
Ok, so maybe you’re thinking I’m a crappy friend for choosing to make a cocktail for a baby shower. But that’s where you’re wrong. A- I’m an awesome friend so your theory is already bunk. And 2, I know that Jess loves her a seasonal cocktail and so I’m taking one for the team and drinking this in her honor. See? Best friend ever.

This cocktail is one that I have been thinking about since I first saw fresh apple cider make its way into my grocery store. I wanted to make something adult-beverage-y with it, but since I’m not a big liquor person, I went the beer route. The great thing about this drink is that it’s light enough you can have a few, it is only half a beer after all, and it’s not too sweet like some of the hard ciders out there. The ginger and orange add another level of spice that really hit this one home for me and basically made this taste like fall in a glass.

Oh and also, I bought these glasses for Brandon for Christmas, as in this upcoming Christmas which has not happened yet, which I then had to tell him… so now we just have new pilsner glasses and I have to buy him more things. #bestwifeever

apple cider shandy |

Orange Ginger Apple Cider Shandy
Makes 2
Prep time 5 min
You’ll Need:
1 12oz beer (I used Dogfish Head Namaste, but any lager or wheat beer would work great)
1 cup ginger beer
3/4 cup apple cider
1 orange for orange peel garnish

Directions: In a separate glass or pitcher, combine ginger beer and cider. Pour equal halves of the beer into each glass, add cider mixture and garnish with orange peel. Enjoy.

apple cider shandy |
So cheers to you, my sweet friend, and to your little one who is (OMG!!) almost here! xoxo

Now everyone get to a fireplace, pour yourself one of these and take a gander at some of the other amazingly delicious looking recipes made in Jess’ honor!

  Trashed Up Salads

  1. Gimme Some Oven – Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce
  2. The Lemon Bowl – Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za’atar Crostini
  3. With Style & Grace – Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

Trashed Up Cocktails

  1. Dine & Dish – Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
  2. Food For My Family – Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail
  3. Minimalist Baker – Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes
  4. Me – Apple Cider Shandy
  5. A Spicy Perspective – Preggy Punch Mocktail
  6. Girl vs. Dough – Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
  7. Honestly Yum – Maple Bacon Pisco Sour
  8. Cookin Canuck – Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
  9. A Thought For Food – Mezcal Citrico Cocktail
  10. A House in the Hills – Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer
  11. The Novice Chef – Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider
  12. Bran Appetit – Citrus Cider Punch Floats

Trashed Up Burgers

  1. Edible Perspective – Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy
  2. The Little Kitchen – Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie
  3. Daisy At Home – Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese
  4. Cookies & Cups – Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger
  5. Climbing Grier Mountain – Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy
  6. Dessert For Two – Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
  7. Country Clever – Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini
  8. Foodie Crush – The Best Cheeseburger Soup
  9. Lady and Pups – Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs
  10. Two Peas & Their Pod – Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese
  11. Bake Your Day – Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

Trashed Up Tacos

  1. Spoon Fork Bacon – Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos
  2. The Fauxmartha – Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos
  3. With Food + Love – Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos
  4. Mountain Mama Cooks – Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon
  5. Heather Christo – Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce
  6. A Couple Cooks – Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
  7. Fitnessista – San Diego Lobster Street Tacos

Trashed Up Desserts

  1. Table for Two – Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles
  2. My Name is Yeh – Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up
  3. Picky Palate – Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes
  4. Sprinkle Bakes – Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes
  5. Averie Cooks – Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
  6. Sweet Phi – Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
  7. Love & Olive Oil – Loaded Junk Food Brownies
  8. Lauren’s Latest – Bakery Sugar Cookies
  9. Cookie + Kate – Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
  10. Flourishing Foodie – Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
  11. The Sugar Hit – Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake
  12. Hummingbird High – Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts
  13. Top With Cinnamon – Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake
  14. Bake at 350 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
  15. Simple Bites – Lemon Layer Cake
  16. Bakerella – Baby Block Cake Pops
  17. She Wears Many Hats –  Chocolate Covered Grapefruit

Trashed Up Pizza

  1. Bev Cooks – Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
  2. Rachel Cooks – Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust
  3. Foodie With Family – Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza
  4. Shutterbean – Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza
  5. i am a food blog – Grilled Cheese Pizza
  6. My Life as a Mrs – Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
  7. Simply Scratch – Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle
  8. The Beeroness – Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza
  9. Yes I Want Cake – Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
  10. Two Red Bowls – Bacon mashed potato pizza
  11. Dula Notes – Pork Bahn Mi Pizza
  12. Weelicious – Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets
  13. Take a Megabite – Beet Peetza
  14. Hungry Girl Por Vida – Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta
  15. Bakers Royale – Trash’d Street Tacos


Thoughts on Lady Friends and Being Inspired

It’s true that I loved – and I mean LOVED – the Spice Girls when I was 11 (ok 12). Alright, fine, maybe I was 13. In fact there is a picture floating around somewhere of me and a few friends dressed as them and lip syncing a choreographed live performance at a friend’s summer family picnic. I was Sporty Spice, obvi. And yes, my signature Sporty high kick was on point, and yes, it was completely mortifying.

Why am I talking about this iconic 90’s girl group and classic awkward tween Jess moment? Because “girl power”, that’s why. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the amazing group of women that have become influencers in the world today and in my daily life, and that it actually surprises me that I value them so much.

For a long time I felt like I would never be a girl’s girl. I was always “one of the guys”, partly because I though out made me sound cool, but also because I found girls to be kind of… well, mean for most of my young adult life. I wasn’t ever lucky enough to be one of those naturally pretty/thin/sweet girls that people gravitated towards. I was tall, loud, and pretty much always felt like a square peg in a world of round holes. Even when I was part of a group, I always felt like the odd man out. Sure, I would find a few people here and there whom I felt really understood me and didn’t mind my my quirks. And not the adorable kind of quirks, the kind that make you want to be homeschooled after people find out you watch Anne of Green Gables with your mom instead of MTV, which you don’t even have because your parents blocked it. (Just to be clear, I loved watching those movies with my mom and totally understand now why they thought Singled Out was inappropriate for a 10 year old. But you see what I mean.) And honestly I think those friendships formed solely over a bond of feeling “different”.

SO. I’m writing all this to say that as I continue to move into my 30’s (AHHH)… I find myself  actually seeking out women in my life to motivate and support me. And through doing so I’ve realized that I’m not the only one who felt the way I did – kind of a loner, desperately wanting to fit in, despite a false confidence that screamed otherwise. I think I was always a bit of a “floater” because I was afraid of getting too close to any one friend for fear they’d turn on me and tell all my secrets. (Now I realize how much of a mistake that was and the value that female friendships have to offer.)

I’ve found so much comfort through reading books that divulge the trials of some of my favorite similarly off-beat women (Tina Fey, Mindy Kahling and can’t wait to read Amy Poehler’s!) that have made me actually feel validated having gone through similar experiences. Every day I read the blogs of women that have built incredible careers and built their own successes for themselves, and I want to have Sex & the City style drinks with them all and have them spill all their secrets. (Like her, her and her.) And not to mention the amazingly wonderful friends, family and mentors I’m blessed to have. (I hope you know who you are.)

What I find to be crazy is that every time i have this conversation with another woman, they pretty much know exactly what I’m talking about. So this tells me two things: A. I’m not a special snowflake and growing up is hard for everyone, and B. there needs to be more. More conversations with girls about how to be nicer to each other. More opportunities for young women to find mentors that can help them navigate through their sometimes fun but more often tumultuous early 20’s. More discussions on how to work together professionally and not root against each other, or get caught up in jealously or competition. More celebrations of each other’s successes and support during challenges.

I know… This is a bit of a kumbaya/Mean Girls moment, but I feel like it’s an issue that needs discussed. I think there’s been a lot of amazing progress and I really hope to see it continue. Especially since we’ve decided to try and have children, I think about if I had a girl of my own and what I’d want the world to be like for her. And even though that might not happen anytime soon, or at all, in the meantime I think we can all probably agree we can do a little more. And at the very least we can be sure and thank those who do.


The Big When Question (Part 2)

(Reminder: This post is both personal and wordy, maybe even more so than Part 1. You’ve been warned. Also, you can read Part 1 here)

As scary and relieving as it was to find out that something was actually keeping us from being blessed with a little baby, it was all just speculatory. I found out that endometriosis can’t actually be diagnosed without having laparoscopic surgery, and then if they do find it, they remove it during the surgery. So, terrified out of my mind, and having only gone through wisdom tooth removal surgery before, I scheduled my procedure and tried not to pass out at the very thought of going under for 3-4 hours.

The weeks leading up to my surgery were honestly a blur. I’m sure I was a shitty wife, friend, daughter, employee, etc, because all I could really do was worry.

What if they don’t find endo and there’s something major wrong with me that they can’t fix?

What if I react to the anesthesia?

What if I don’t wake up from the anesthesia?

What if I have it on some major organ and they damage it and I have to live my life without a bladder?!??

And on..and on.. and on.

But whether I liked it or not, the surgery was coming and I was having it. And despite the worries that I had about the procedure itself, I actually found myself feeling extremely at peace. It had been almost two long years of wondering what was wrong with me and feeling like a broken person that couldn’t be fixed. Now we were finally moving towards some answers and some clarity, which gave me more comfort than I’d had this entire time. I had spent months crying every 26-28 days when old flo came around. Feeling paralyzed with envy when I’d hear someone had gotten pregnant, even worse when they weren’t even trying. (Try congratulating someone through clenched teeth while fighting back tears, it’s super convincing.) People actually started to feel bad telling me they were expecting, how awful is that? I was so tired of feeling disappointed in myself and jealous of other people’s blessings, and all but screaming, “WHY, GOD, WHY?” every night. Now I had some hope and there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel.


4:30AM the day of surgery came extremely early and I woke up with butterflies the size of Khaleesi’s dragons fluttering around my stomach. We headed over to the hospital as I hid behind huge sunglasses (no makeup on surgery day, like it wasn’t already bad enough) and checked in. After we checked into the pre-op area, a few very lovely nurses came and did pleasant things like take blood and give me an IV. As I headed over to the OR, I realized it was on. I was given some info about my anesthesia, asked some questions, and wheeled into the OR. (PS – they totally used a robot to do my surgery, how Back to the Future is that?) A few minutes later I was given something to calm my nerves (YES PLEASE) and shortly after that I was in Snoozeville.

I woke up (3 1/2 hours later) and promptly asked “did I do good?” I was told, “you did great”, which is all I needed to hear. My pain level was about a 7 out of 10 so they gave me some pain meds, but it was all very manageable. As they wheeled me to recovery I saw my mom in the hallway who had some very good news to share: “They got it all and your tubes are both open!” I think I might have cried, but things were still pretty foggy. About two hours later they sent me and Brandon on our merry way, still feeling pretty good with very minimal pain.

post op

Snoop Groggy Grog.

The next week was spent on my couch, working in little bits of walking and moving around when I could. Between Brandon, my mom and my sister-in-law, I had an awesome support system to keep me company and feed me delicious soups and other post-surgery meals while I was recouping. The most pain I experienced during this time was from the gas they use to fill your abdomen during surgery that gets trapped up in your back, but honestly it wasn’t nearly as bad as what I read on the internet (go figure) and I feel like I was extremely lucky. My incisions are so teeny tiny (I have 4 total), and as long as I wore loose clothing, I’d forget they were even there.

Where I’m At Now/What I’ve Learned

I am so happy I had this procedure done, and I am really anxious to see how my quality of life improves from it. Hopefully I won’t experience the awful cramps and pain I was dealing with before, and I’m hoping my hormones even out as well. I’m about two weeks post procedure, and I am praying that the baby-making odds are in our favor. I have definitely come to realize more than ever what an amazing gift life really is, and that no one should take it for granted. I’ve also learned a lot about endometriosis, and that there is a really supportive community out there.  There’s even a diet to reduce the symptoms, which sounds insane, but let me tell you, I tried it and actually had really great results! I wish I’d opened up about it sooner, having heard from so many people in the last few weeks that have given me so much comfort and advice. There is no cure for endo, and it’s not uncommon to have this surgery done more than once. There isn’t a ton of awareness about this disease yet, either, which is why most women aren’t even diagnosed until they’re in their 30’s, many years after they’ve suffered from unnecessary pain. 1 in 10 women have endo (which I find to be crazy given that it’s not spoken about very often) and one of my favorite ladies, Padma Lakshmi, is an endo sufferer, and even co-founded the Endometriosis Foundation. I mean, at this point it’s like we’re almost the same person…

Love You, Mean It

So anyways, I really want to say thanks for all the amazing comments, emails and tweets I’ve gotten already, I really can’t tell you how much they’ve meant to me. I wish this was the part where I tell you “OMG IT WORKED!”, but alas, our outcome is still yet to be determined. So for now, I am going to try my very best to be optimistic, keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have some good news to share sometime in the future.

And until then we shall enjoy these two little handfuls.


If you have any questions or want to know more about my experience so far with endo or this surgery, please please please do not hesitate to email me. I’m not an expert, but I am a pretty open book.

xoxo J


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