Fall Threads

Fall Threads - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Fall Threads - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Fall Threads - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Plaid jacket :: Superdry from thredUP
Lace blouse :: Zara last season
Straight leg jeans :: AG {on sale!}
Black ankle boot :: Kork-Ease
Location :: Brown School Playground, Newburyport’s South End

I’m almost always wearing something second hand. It’s a great way to save money and be green. I spend way too much on food to pay full price for clothes — except shoes! If you missed my Shopping to Save post last Spring, head over for my top 10 tips for shopping thredUP, my favorite online consignment store. This plaid jacket was a total score for $20! Plaid plus fur? Yes, please! What Fall threads are your favorites?

thredUP Finds

If you missed my Shopping to Save post from last week, head over for my top 10 tips for shopping thredUP, an online consignment store with a twist. And now, for some of my thredUP finds. Full disclosure: I’m 5’3” and never dreamed of being a model so this is completely out of my comfort zone! It’s all in the name of fashion, people. So here goes…

OdilleTop
Silk blouse :: Odille $10

Summer tops that cover my shoulders have been on my shopping list since last summer. I realized I have mostly tanks and worry about getting too much sun on my shoulders when I’m walking around Newburyport. This classic navy silk blouse fits the bill with a flutter cap sleeve. I love the print detail too. If you haven’t heard of Odille, it’s an Anthropologie brand. thredUP is one of my favorite places to shop Anthropologie, of course besides Anthropologie itself!

 HingeTankStriped tank :: Hinge $7
Relaxed jeans :: Citizens of Humanity $20

Navy and white stripes scream summer here in Newburyport. The best part about this tank is that the straps cover bra straps perfectly (one of my things…I can’t have straps hanging out!). Hinge is a Nordstrom brand that I love so I knew it would be good quality. These jeans are vintage Citizens based on the label, and they are now one of my favorite casual pairs. The jeans came hemmed to the perfect length for flip flops: score!

 FPblazerSeersucker blazer :: Free People $10

I pulled a few things from my closet and created a fresh look for ten bucks — seriously! This seersucker blazer is perfect for spring with a pair of white jeans (purchased at a consignment shop last summer), a green beaded necklace I picked up in Burlington, Vermont a few years ago, and my most favorite wedge sandals from Spain. Brunch anyone?

 BostonProperTLace ruffle tee :: Boston Proper $13
Straight leg jeans :: Citizens of Humanity $20

I have been living in these jeans since they arrived on my doorstep this winter. Soft, dark wash with some nice fading and great detail on the pockets. I haven’t worn the tee yet (since it’s been freezing until a few days ago). It’s a great neutral that can be dressy or casual for spring and summer. Add a pair of gold flats and some jewelry, and it’s a new outfit for $33!

 RobinTopWhite sleeveless top :: Robin $6

More stripes! More ruffles! I took a chance with this silver and black striped top because it was marked final sale, and it paid off big time. It’s a little dressier and perfect for any season if you add a cropped leather jacket or a blazer. I paired this top with black Paige pants from my closet and some Nine West flats. I picked up the earrings the other day at Beautique in Newburyport when I got my hair blown out (obviously hadn’t washed it yet when we took these pictures, but fear not…I’m clean now). When’s date night? I’ve got my outfit picked out already. 

 JeansDenim from left to right…
Paige Premium Denim capris :: $12
Citizens of Humanity relaxed every day jeans :: $20
Citizens of Humanity boot cut, new with tags :: $35

I always keep my eye out for jeans when I’m ordering on thredUP. Had to show you the pockets because I’m definitely not ready to model my back side! I can’t link to the items online as each item is unique, but use this link to receive $10 off your first purchase on thredUP!  Happy shopping friends, and thanks for monkeying around today.

 

Note: This post was not sponsored by thredUP. I’ve been shopping with them for years with great style, success, and savings. I will receive a referral credit if you sign up through the links on this page.

Shopping to Save

ThredUP

I can’t resist retail therapy. It’s practically programmed into my DNA.  My Mom taught me to bargain shop when I was a little girl. I’ve always had my eyes peeled for a good deal. You can find me poking around in shops like T.J. Maxx or Marshalls, as well as consignment shops — especially when I’m not looking for anything in particular. That’s when you find the best stuff!

thredUP is one of my favorite sites to shop online. It’s like a consignment store with a twist. We have some great consignment shops here in Newburyport, but when I shop thredUP I can click around from the comfort of my couch. I love quality brands like Lululemon, Free People, Paige Denim, J.Crew, and Ella Moss at 90% off retail and in great condition. I’ve never seen my favorite thredUP purchases at the mall because the clothes come from all over the country.

The selection of kids’ clothes on thredUP is awesome. It’s a perfect opportunity to teach kids about sustainability and re-using things (yes, there are teachable moments in shopping!). Bean and Sweet Pea scroll through their size in the thredUP iPad app and choose what catches their eye. One time Bean found a favorite sweatshirt that she had outgrown in the next size; total score! I love saving money on clothes because you know stains and tears happen easily, no matter how much you pay for them.

Here are some tips to help you be successful on your first thredUP shopping adventure:

  1. Download the app to receive pop up discount codes for 10-20% off.
  2. Select “exclude tiny flaw” in your searches. Since you can’t inspect items yourself, I only recommend buying items thredUP deems “practically new.”
  3. Know what styles fit you best and start there.
  4. Search the site multiple ways. I look under my size in women, X collection, new with tags, stylish mama, etc. You can also save personal shops with your preferences.
  5. Jeans are already broken in…and sometimes shortened, which is great for me but definitely not for everyone so check the length!
  6. Accessories always fit. I’ve found the best scarves on thredUP!
  7. Shop brands you love first; then start to seek out new brands. You can always return.
  8. When you select an item that you like, click to see other items from that family. If you like one thing they sent in, maybe you’ll like other items.
  9. Clothes stay in your cart for 24 hours. Fill up your cart; then go back later for a second look before deciding what to purchase. 
  10. I don’t have a #10. Just wanted to even it out here…

Be green and reduce your family’s carbon footprint by sending clothes you no longer need to thredUP. It’s a super easy way to clean out your closet and make some extra money. Fill their fun polka dot bag and ship it back for free. I’ve sent in a few bags of our stuff and got paid between $50-85. You can cash out via PayPal, use the money as credit for future shopping, or fundraise for a cause (think PTA or disaster relief – very cool). Actually, it’s about time for me to order a polka dot bag. Watch out closets!

Check back soon to see some of my recent thredUP purchases. In the meantime, use this link to receive $10 off your first purchase!

Note: This post was not sponsored by thredUP. I’ve been shopping with them for years with great style, success, and savings. I will receive a referral credit if you sign up through the links on this page.

Homemade Hummus

 Hummus

My monkeys have been gobbling up hummus since they were babies. Hummus is made of chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, and is super good for you. It’s so easy to make hummus and it’s a great way to save money. I make a batch every other week, sometimes once a week. That’s how easy it is!

When you make something yourself, you know exactly what you’re eating. Most store-bought hummus is made with canola oil (read why I won’t eat it here). My humus recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil, which is way healthier. Whole food, unprocessed, plant-based ingredients make hummus a great addition to every diet. Hummus is naturally gluten free and vegan. It’s so good for you that you could eat it every day!

Why is hummus good for you? Wait until you see this list! It’s anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol, high in fiber, full of protein, loaded with vitamins and minerals, improves digestion, and aids heart health. Plus chickpeas may help reduce your risk of cancer. If nothing else, I’ll eat lots of hummus for that.

Sweet Pea had an allergic reaction to a store-bought hummus (that we had been eating for years) shortly after she developed her peanut allergy. That’s when I started making homemade hummus. I don’t use tahini because it’s made of ground sesame seeds, which are closely linked to peanuts and could have caused the reaction. I’d rather keep Sweet Pea safe than risk ending up in the ER so we avoid sesame.  If you have food allergies in your house, you know that homemade is always best. 

I’ve tried several hummus recipes and this one is our favorite. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit, and my biggest tip is this: do not waste time removing the skin on the chickpeas. Sweet Pea and I did that once — never again! It really doesn’t affect the texture enough to waste 20 minutes de-skinning chickpeas.

Bean and Sweet Pea don’t like hummus with fresh garlic. We use organic garlic powder instead of fresh cloves to make hummus. Same flavor, less bite. I buy these chickpeas. The cans are BPA free and the chickpeas are organic: win-win. If you haven’t ordered my favorite lemon squeezer, now is the time! I squeeze a whole lemon right into the blender, easy peasy.  

This recipe is for a basic, homemade hummus.  You can get creative once you try it out.  We love to add one whole roasted red pepper sometimes to mix it up, like in the hummus plate below (my lunch today). It may not look filling, but raw veggies smothered in hummus really fills you up! 

HummusPlate

Homemade Hummus
Serves 10
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  2. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  3. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2/3 cup filtered water
  5. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend or puree until very smooth, adding extra water or olive oil one tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too sticky.
  3. When serving crack some himalayan pink salt on top, or add a dash of cayenne for a kick.
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Note: You can make homemade hummus in a food processor or a high speed blender. The hummus will be smoother in a high speed blender, but still taste fantastic in a good ol’ food processor, which I was making hummus with until Don and the monkeys gave me a Vitamix for Christmas. BEST GIFT EVER. Just sayin.

And if you’re not already convinced that you should be eating more hummus…check this out, ladies!  Chickpeas contain magnesium, manganese, and vitamin B6 which help to reduce PMS symptoms. Thanks to  Dr Axe for that health tip. You learn something new every day, right?

Cómelo todo, amigos!

Simple Roasted Chicken + Bone Broth

Broth2

Do you roast whole chickens? It’s an easy meal that my family loves, and one of our favorite weeknight meals. I roast a chicken every other week, sometimes weekly. I always use the bones to make homemade broth in my crock-pot.

I can’t tell you how easy it is to roast a whole chicken. I had to get over my irrational fear of touching it. These helped. It takes less than 10 minutes to get the chicken in the oven. After it’s in, I start chopping veggies and just pop them in the oven as they are ready. Easy peasy, lemon squeezie (from Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure – frequently quoted at our house in a British accent, of course)!

What kind of chicken should you buy? Choose a pasture-raised chicken and organic ingredients whenever possible. I purchase chickens from local farms, like The Pasture at Pettingill Farm (order now for June if you are in the Newburyport area). Pasture-raised chickens always taste better and it’s important to me to buy local and support local farms. Additionally, pasture-raised meat is higher in omega-3s. Because the chickens are fed grass-based diets, the meat is lower in total fat and calories with higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins (E, C, and beta-carotene). Pasture animal products are also better for the environment.

We have a chest freezer in the basement that I keep stocked with whole chickens and other local organic meats. I make an exception to my rule with organic chickens from Whole Foods, which is the only grocery store where I will buy meat because of their strict standards.

WholeChicken

How to Roast a Whole Chicken with Veggies
What you need: whole chicken, a lemon, an onion, olive oil, salt, pepper.

Directions (keep reading – it’s easy, I promise):
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2 Lightly spray a baking dish with olive oil. I use Misto because most packaged sprays have lots of hidden ingredients. Check your spray.
3. Take the chicken out of its packaging and remove the bag of parts inside, reserving for later when you make broth.
4. Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
5. Place the whole chicken in the prepared baking dish.
6. Cut a lemon in half and stuff it inside the chicken.
7. Cut an onion in quarters and place the pieces around the chicken.
8. Spray or drizzle the chicken and onions with olive oil.
9. Generously salt and pepper the chicken.  
10. Put it in the oven and cook for an hour and 1/2 or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
11. Now chop up some veggies: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips — whatever you have. Toss in olive oil and add some salt and pepper if you want. Put everything on a baking sheet, and flip after 30 minutes. Cook an additional 15-30 minutes.
12. Let the chicken cool enough for you to handle it.
13. Remove all of the chicken off the bones.
14. Put the chicken caracas (plus everything you are not eating that comes off that chicken: skin, etc.) directly in the crock-pot. Keep reading to find out how to make bone broth!
15. Optional: Remove the wishbone and dry it out for a few days. Bean and Sweet Pea love to see who will get the wish! 

What to do with leftovers?
– Add left over chicken to a salad for lunch.
– Cut chicken into cubes for lunch boxes.
– Make chicken salad or leftover chicken soup.

 Crockpotbroth

Bone Broth

Are you thinking, why would I want to make homemade broth when I can buy it in a box at the grocery store? Homemade bone broth is detoxifying and it contains excellent minerals and nutrients that help your body function. And let’s face it, it’s a great way to save money. It costs almost nothing to make, and would cost about $18 to purchase organic at the grocery store. But wait, there’s more…

Benefits of bone broth
– Aid digestion
– Heal the gut
– Boost collagen
– Good for your teeth
– Anti-aging
– Combat the side effects of cold and flu

The fact that bone broth is good for your teeth really caught my attention. My Mom made bone broth when I was growing up and I don’t have any cavities. I’ve been making bone broth for three years. The monkeys don’t have any cavities. Kind of makes you go, “Hmmmm.”

As with everything, there’s the easy way and the hard way. I like the easy way, so I use my faithful crock-pot. Keep the broth simple because it will be the base for whatever you’re making: soup, sauces, rice, quinoa, vegetables, and for sipping. You can add spices when you’re ready to cook.

How to Make Homemade Bone Broth in Your Crock-pot
What you’ll need:
– Chicken caracas plus all of the parts that come inside (neck, liver, etc.)
– Drippings in your baking dish from roasting the chicken
– A stalk of celery and a carrot if you have them
– 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar
– Filtered water to fill the crock-pot

Directions:
1. Put all of the ingredients in your crock-pot in the order listed above.
2. Turn your crock-pot to high until it is hot and bubbling, which is about two hours in my crock-pot.
3. Cook on low for about 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be exact. 
4. Pour entire contents of the crock-pot through a mesh strainer into a large bowl.  Note: Wear an apron; it can be splashy!
5. Discard the bones.
6. Cool and store in freezer safe glass containers or in cubes. Make sure to leave room at the top of the container for the liquid to expand when frozen.

Yields approximately 16-18 cups of broth, depending on the size of your crock-pot.

I keep a few boxes of chicken broth in my pantry for emergencies. I rarely run out of my homemade bone broth but when I do, this one is my favorite. Check what’s in your pantry and read the ingredients on the label. Most packaged broths have REALLY long ingredient lists with preservatives and tons of sodium. Besides, chicken in a box? Kind of grosses me out.

Buy a chicken. Make some broth. Unless you are vegan; I’m sorry this post just isn’t for you!

Here are some recent articles about bone broth:
NPR: The Elixir Du Jour: Bone Broth
New York Times: Bone Broth Evolves From Prehistoric Food to Paleo Drink
Yahoo! Health: Bone Broth: 4 Reasons Wellness Experts Are Obsessed

Cómelo todo!