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All a woman needs to look great: some perspective.

15 Sep

Hedy Lamar was a celebrated Austrian-American actress whose career spanned 60 years and peaked during Hollywood’s “Golden Age” of the 1930’s and 1940’s. She appeared in more than 30 films during her lifetime, many of which were starring roles. She had some refreshingly outspoken views on feminine beauty:

“All a woman needs is a good bath, clean clothes, and for her to be combed. These things she can do herself. I very seldom go to the hairdresser, but when I do, I just marvel.”

– Hedy Lamarr, Hollywood screen siren of the 1930’s and 1940’s

Hedy-Lamarr-in hat

Another quote attributed to Ms Lamar: “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”

Bravo. Makes me want to go see her in a movie .

(Incidentally, more quotations by Hedy can be found on her official web site.)

Here’s another beautiful photo of her:

Hedy Lamarr arms crossed

Hedy Lamarr was born “Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler” in Vienna, Austria, in 1914. Between 1933 and 1965, she appeared in 29 films, and also married (and divorced) 6 times. She had three children, one of which was adopted. She died in Orlando, Florida, in 2000. Her ashes were returned to Austria, Vienna upon her death.

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Making the Most of Online Sales

24 Jul

Ever have the feeling you have 17,000 email messages in your inbox? I actually did – I signed up to receive “marketing communications” from all my favorite online stores, and then fell behind on reading all the messages. After more than a year of neglect, I finally sat down to clear out the backlog, and was amazed at the volume of email urging me to buy, buy, buy… message after message saying “hurry” or “last day” (only to announce another sale a few weeks later).

They just keep coming...

They just keep coming… over 20 marketing messages received by 10am.

Truth is,  you don’t need to be on a store’s email list to take advantage of the best sales of the year.  They always happen twice a year: after Christmas, and right now – in late July and August, when Fall and Winter clothes begin to arrive in stores. But email marketing offers you the advantage of early access and sometimes an additional discount.

I recently needed a dress to wear to a summer wedding in Sonoma, and I was hoping to land a deal.  So when Boden (one of my favorite online stores) announced their end-of-summer sale, I jumped on the site the same day. I loaded up my cart with 10 “maybe” items, then quickly narrowed down to the best five. I gulped at the total dollar amount and then ordered all five items, knowing I’d be sending half of it back – because in a real store, you take more stuff into the dressing room than you intend to buy. I even paid $15 for express shipping to find out quickly if I had “the right dress” for the occasion. The next day, a large box was on my doorstep!   (It’s my first time using overnight shipping, and I have to say, I could get used to this.)

As it turns out, of the two dresses I ordered, one was a winner. Even with the extra shipping charges, it ended up costing less than $160 – not bad considering I never even had to leave my house. No raking through cluttered clothing racks. I could try it on at home with my own shoes and accessories. As a footnote, less than a week after ordering it, my size is already sold out – so I’m glad I acted quickly.

boden silk petal dress

A recent score from Boden’s online sale – just the dress to wear to a summer wedding.

The unexpected winner from the order was a funky 60’s print tunic – I had my doubts about the crazy retro print, but when I put it on, it felt so good that I decided to keep it. I live in tunic length tops, and the print offers a welcome pop of color.  The fit is great too – flattering neckline, not too tight around the hips, long enough to wear with leggings (or as a super-mini dress if you are feeling daring). $58 is more than I usually spend on tops, but I know it will get plenty of wear.

Boden Fab Jersey Tunic on Sale

The stretchy cotton jersey material was so soft and comfy that I ended up keeping this one.

In a nutshell, here is how I make the most of online sales:

1) Use a separate email account for online shopping. Then, ignore the account unless you’re looking to buy something.

2) Be stingy with your time. Delete all marketing emails older than a week without reading them.

3) If you do intend to buy, respond to online sales early, because popular items can go out of stock in a few days.

4) Order more items than you intend to keep. (You may need to pay for return shipping, but perhaps ordering more means you get free shipping with your order.) Order two sizes of the same item if you have trouble finding your size in a real store.  Yes, you’ll have to float the cost of the additional items until your return is processed, but you’re more likely to end up with something that you’re excited about.

5) Look for coupon codes before you check out  – it only takes a minute and may save you shipping or 20% off with very little effort. My favorite site is Retailmenot.com

6)  Be picky when trying on your clothes at home. Using the best mirror in the house, force yourself to make quick decisions based on gut-level reaction. When in doubt, send it back.

7) Bang out the logistics. To make returns easy, keep your computer connected to a printer for creating return labels, and keep a roll of packing tape in your desk for sealing your package. Fill out the paperwork for the return as soon as you can (to avoid losing it). Find the most convenient place near home or work to drop off UPS packages (using UPS.com). If your package has prepaid postage, don’t stand in line at the post office – walk up to the front of the line, make eye contact with a clerk, and he/she will tell you where to leave it.

8) Log off and get back to real life.  It’s easy to get sucked into hunting for deals online – so I give myself a time limit. If nothing clicks in the first 1 or 2 minutes on a specific site, I ditch out, knowing there will always be a next time.

Do you have another tip to share? Leave it in the comments section below!

Go, Go, Pants

1 May

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an easy method for finding the items of “deadwood” in your closet. In the process, I uncovered a black pair of black skinny capris from Target, which hung in my closet unworn all of last summer, despite the fact that black pants should pretty much “go with everything.”  I found them quite by chance at Target for about $30 while picking up some plastic bins and Kleenex for the household. Score! I thought. At that price,  it wasn’t hard to spend another $30 on taking in the waist (something I have come to accept as a necessity with my body shape).

But, after coming home from the tailor, the pants sat in my closet. And sat, and sat. During my recent closet clean-out, I told myself it was because the fabric was too light for winter (Target pants are notoriously thin, in my experience). Then warmer weather started to appear, and I still passed them over. Using the hanger trick described in my recent post, I was confronted with the reality that I was resisting wearing these pants – they were the last pair to remain unworn. With an open mind, I chose a warm-ish day to put them on. After going through the day in them, I realized why I had been resisting wearing them. I just didn’t feel good wearing them.

It wasn’t the fit – I had them tailored to my exact body type. The fabric was cotton with a bit of stretch for ease of movement, and nothing was obviously itchy or uncomfortable. They were reasonably flattering. Still, I felt like I was trapped in them, and couldn’t wait to take them off. What went wrong between now and the fitting room at Target?

I had a careful look in the mirror and realized what it was. The closure loop at the waist was straining, making it look like my middle was bursting open. Because I had these pants tailored to my exact body type, and they didn’t feel gut-binding, I realized that they suffered from poor construction; the fabric was too lightweight to carry the strain of the closure, and the tab wanted to separate from the pants. Cheap pants! I cursed. Even though I could explain away the problem without blaming the size of my midsection, every time I looked down at my bursting closure, I got the feeling that my body was the source of the problem. Before Kids, I thought, these pants would not have given me a problem. 

{Now imagine me with a dark cloud hanging over my head.}

The Black Capri Pants Disaster

Disaster?

Well, there was just one thing to do about that. I only hesitated a moment before chucking them into the give-away pile. Yes, $60 is a lot to pay for a pair of pants you only wear once. But the money is spent, and now I have a choice to make. Berate myself every time I put them on for my thick middle, or make the problem go away.  Isn’t the choice pretty clear?  What would you tell your girlfriend to do? Battered women must choose whether to stay in an abusive relationship or cut bait.  Well, sister, we wouldn’t live with a man who insults your body type, so why should we put up with a pair of pants that does?

I am sure there’s another pair of black capri pants waiting for me that will love me more than those cheap old pants. Even if I was hoping the relationship would last longer, it’s always better to look ahead than try to put energy into a direction that has no future. The hardest thing, of course, is feeling the sting of my mistake, and admit that this love affair was over before it started. But that’s ok, nobody walks a straight path in life, we all make mistakes. Buying a bad pair of pants certainly doesn’t rate up there with running a ponzi scheme, or sailing an Italian pleasure boat too close to the shoreline.

Disaster!

Keeping my pants-buying failure in perspective, I put  the old (new) pants on the curb with the other Goodwill stuff, happily imagining someone out there getting a brand new pair of pants for cheap.

As for buying pants from Target – part of me says, Never again – My booty deserves better! Part of me can’t resist the temptation that I’ll find another good deal. I’ll definitely proceed more cautiously now, and perhaps opt for the casual pants with the elastic waist. (I have a $25 pair of baggy linen Merona pants from Target that have already lasted me for several years.)

So, there are two lessons here:

1) When shopping cheaply, it’s hard to go wrong buying pants that are styled like pajamas. For pants with a more tailored fit, it probably makes sense to shell out a bit more for a better quality product.

2) Never, ever, keep anything in your closet that causes a black cloud to appear over your head and follow you around wherever you go. Put that thing away at once. (In other words –  it’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s always the pants.)

My Closet, Reimagined

19 Apr

In my last post, I discovered that sometimes the stuff in my closet is not so old and boring after all, when combined in new ways. Here are a few more strategies I have been using to breathe new life into my wardrobe. I am using these pics to illustrate the point, but of course I only wish these were my clothes! They are street style shots photographed by Elle in Paris at Fashion Week and elsewhere. (If you click on the image, skip the Elle.com ad and go to the full slide show of photos for more inspiration.) The point is not to copy the look wholesale, but if you squint your eyes, maybe you can imagine your own version of these trends, using stuff that’s already hanging in your own closet.

Layering

layered-knits

Ordinary items can look very new again if combined artfully. Biker gloves and sequin pants don't have a place in my closet at the moment, but a little patent leather and a little sparkle never hurt an outfit that I know of.

Electric Color: I haven’t sprung for this much electric color at once, but I do have a few electric tank tops from the Gap that I am layering under other tops and showing just an edge of bright color.

Somehow this lady pulls off wearing electric blue pants with ease. If kids love bright colors, shouldn't we? What bright color are you going to try this season?

Another take on electric blue. The grey coat with soft texture really tones it down pleasantly.

White on Neutral: I’m pretty scared to white around my kids, but it makes sense to me if you’re going to wear it, wear it on top, out of reach of dirty hands. A clean white shirt feels so luxurious to me, I might just opt for that on me next date night.

all-white-ensemble photographed by Elle

Here's one way to wear white - multiple white layers, grey pants and a black accessory. (I love to imagine what shoes you could wear with this outfit- anything from Converse high tops to wedge boots would work.)

Color on Color: Our kids aren’t afraid of bright colors, whether painting with them, wearing them, or eating them. An outfit with a great combination of colors has instant appeal. When asking yourself if two colors look good together, I always go with my gut, even if the answer isn’t immediately obvious to others. After all, there’s no reason getting dressed shouldn’t be fun.

Is there such a thing as being too old to wear green nail polish?

Neon: There’s nothing like a pop-of-80’s-neon to liven up a neutral top and pant. I’ve seen neon on everything from T-shirts to shoelaces, but I use it sparingly because don’t like the color to be overpowering.  

A-pop-of-neon photographed by Elle at Fashion Week

One way to tone down a slightly garish pattern is to show just a peep of it. Also, a-pop-of-neon bag livens up a neutral top and pants.

Sweater with Bold Print: I don’t have a chunky sweater with stars on it, but this photo makes me wish I did.

Even the brown paper bag in the other hand can't take away from the freshness of this outfit. I love how the orange bag brings out the warm tones of the stars in her sweater. I also love the pairing of a**-kicking boots with a preppy tweed vest.

Easygoing Leather: It’s not cheap, but a good leather jacket can last for decades, and can take on a range of personalities. It’s warm too! I got one last year with simple styling, and I am not afraid of getting it dirty, because I can wipe it clean with a damp cloth. (And dark colors hide dirt well.)

Wait! Here's an outfit that I could actually imagine wearing as-is.

Boots with Skirts: Just a reminder that boots don’t just go with pants – I love boots so much they probably deserve their own blog post. I keep mine waterproof by taking it to the shoe place for waterproofing at the beginning and end of every rainy season. I don’t mind if my boots take a beating – unlike with more delicate shoes, it only adds to their character. (I do avoid suede boots for kid-related activities because they age less gracefully than standard leather.)

Boots with Skirt

Sometimes pairing opposites like clunky boots and delicate skirts can make for a fun contrast.

Just for Fun

Let's play dress up

I can't imagine what you could take away from this photo, other than, "Ouch, those shoes look like they hurt." On the other hand, my 3 year old daughter would love to play dress up with that skirt (which appears to come straight out of the remnant bin at Joanne Fabrics.)

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Not every outfit has staying power. This one should probably have stayed in the closet – though without taking risks, you might miss out on creating the outfits you end up loving the most!

Sarah-Rutson puffy vest

I was really glad to see the sporty puffer vest featured as a haute couture item on Elle.com - I pretty much live in mine, though I don't wear it with platform ankle boots and a trippy Native American long john pant.

Last Look: Are moms cool enough to pull this off?

Sandals with socks

The caption to this photo on Elle's site is "Keep your spring sandals in rotation year-round by pairing them with thin cashmere socks." My caption for moms (or anyone over 30) would be, "Don't try this look at home, because on anyone but hipsters in their 20s, this look is reminiscent of wearing socks with your Birkenstocks." (Then again, what do I know, I wasn't the one photographed for Elle.com, was I?)

Overall, I am impressed by how wearable these looks are by us regular folks on the street – putting aside the pricey handbags, on the whole they seem quite achievable with ordinary wardrobe items. There is very little fuss visible in putting these outfits together, especially considering these ladies are among the who’s-who of the fashion world. Rather than conforming to the latest trends, they look like they are having fun expressing themselves through clothes – which is really the point of all this, isn’t it?

A Warm Wind is Blowing (At Least in the Malls)

18 Mar

Just last week, I ate at a restaurant with Christmas decorations still up, and there was frozen grass on the morning walk to school not too long ago. But you’d never know it’s still winter by looking at the shop windows of clothing stores at the local mall.

Spring has sprung according to the retail merchandising calendar, and there are a few mom-compatible trends I want to try out for myself this season:

Nautical stripes

Splendid Navy Stripe crop

Nautical stripe looks fresh with lighter pants and layers well on colder days.

You can see them everywhere, on tops, tunics, and shift dresses. Remember the saying that horizontal stripes make you look fat? Not true. With a top that’s cut close to the body either at the waist or in the lower arm, and paired with slim pants, stripes can look light and fresh. You see them just about everywhere, from sweaters to t-shirts to tunics. I like the version with navy blue stripes on an off white (not bright white) background. Also, dense stripes can look busy, I tend to like a wider spacing to avoid giving myself a headache when looking in the mirror.

Above is a top I recently picked up at Anthropologie by Splendid tees. It costs more than I would have liked (over $50), but the cotton is silky soft,  and the cut is flattering and easy to wear; form fitting without binding, and falls below the hip. The stripe is a warm grey that is fun to coordinate with other neutrals. I have a feeling I am going to be living in this shirt well through the summer.

After feeling how comfy that Splendid top was, I got more interested in that brand. Turns out it’s a company dedicated to stylish, casual, nubby t-shirts! If only their prices were a bit lower. (Don’t you just want to dive your face into the closet below?)

Splendid Fabrics

"Yummy Fabric & Color" according to Splendid.

Wedge heel shoes

I get a boost in height and and add a fun accent to a plain outfit with wedge heels. I wouldn’t run after my toddler in them, but if I am going to wear heels, these are probably the most comfortable way to do it. I also like that they convey a laid-back bohemian chic, a reminder of old, carefree days of kicking around town in style before kids. Here are my favorite wedge heel looks – waiting for the sale on these though:

Awesome suede bootie by JCrew:

Wedge heel bootie by J Crew

My favorite shoe trend this spring: the wedge heel (it's everywhere)

I also love the espadrille version by Toms:

The wedge heel espadrille by Toms

In case you’ve never heard of Toms, it’s a shoe company that promises to give one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes they sell. The shoes are simply made, but comfy, and their social mission means you see their flats on 20-something feet everywhere. (Did I mention they also have toddler and kids sizes?) If you want to try them on, stop by Nordstroms, which carries them in several colors. I can’t see myself wearing a heel this high every day, but definitely appealing for dinner out or date night.

The Shirt Dress

This trend takes the crisp tailoring of a collared mens shirt and extends the length to become a dress. Hey, the chance to wear a collared shirt, with no office in sight – there’s something very appealing about that. Plus, the length is very flattering for all body types. I would opt to wear the shirt dress with cropped leggings or skinny jeans rather than bare legged, for the sake of modesty. (Short skirts and childcare don’t mix well, in my opinion.)  For going out to dinner on a breezy summer evening, I would go with sandals and bare legs. Either way, a belt adds definition at the waist and keeps it from looking like you raided your husband’s pajama drawer.

I first noticed this look on Rachel Mc Adams who appeared in the recent Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris” as an American tourist abroad. (Fun movie, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet.) I couldn’t find a good image of the outfit online, but as it turns out, a web site has created the knockoff look:

Midnight In Paris Outfit

The shirt dress looks great with a belt, and, look - there's that wedge heel again!

I do have a few reservations about the dress shirt. For one, where do you get a reasonably priced version that’s easy to maintain? J. Crew had one in the store the other day for $100+, which I can’t even consider it until it goes on sale. (Other than jeans, I don’t pay more than $100 for anything I wear around my children for fear of their greasy fingers. I have several pairs of pants with greasy stains in the lap; since they otherwise work well and fit great, I just go around with permanent grease stains on my pants.)

Then there’s the question of how to keep that collar looking crisp and fresh. It goes without saying that I am unwilling to wear anything that needs ironing or a run to the dry cleaners. (I don’t even know where my ironing board is! Do we still own one?)  If only J. Crew married the Land’s End wrinkle-free technology and came out with a no-iron shirtdress. Their current selection is made of conventional cotton poplin, dress-shirt material, which is going to need ironing. Here’s a real opportunity for moms to look polished without much extra effort – Land’s End, are you listening?

Lands End carries a few shirt dresses at reasonable prices - but until they come in wrinkle-resistant fabric, this look is really not mom-friendly.

After a bout of cold weather, the weather turned warm last weekend, and we went to the beach in Capitola. It was really nice to lay face down on a beach blanket and feel sun on the underside of my bare feet.  I’ll take a real spring day on the beach over a fake spring day in the mall any day.  After all, the clothes and sales will wait for me, but my kids seem to wake up a little bit taller every day.  A day spent digging the world’s deepest sand tunnel under a warm, cloudless sky is far more precious than trying on one more pair of shoes in the mall.

I Am Sparkle Princess

3 Mar

I am sure anyone reading this post has noticed that metallic shoes are “in” right now, in shades of silver, gold, copper, etc. When this trend first appeared a few seasons ago, I rolled my eyes and avoided it, as it reminded me too much of Vegas, or else of country club ladies who lunch with little fluffy dogs in their lap.

Metallic Pump

I can't decide who is likelier to wear a shoe like this: Cinderella, or a Vegas Showgirl?

Recently, though, I have started to come around to the playful side of metallic, thanks to my 3-year old daughter. She fell in love with a silver pair of Mary Janes and wore them into the ground (no thanks to Old Navy quality, which didn’t even last long enough for her to outgrow them). The point is that she enjoys feeling fancy and is not shy to show them off to visitors or to checkout clerks in the grocery store. She loves her princess shoes, and fully expects others to love them as she does. She simply loves the way she looks in them, without any self-consciousness.

Watching her shamelessly pointing out her beautiful shoes to strangers, it became clear to me that even though I don’t plan to wear a tutu skirt in public anytime soon, her attitude is a path to freedom for me and moms everywhere.  I realized that dressing up for her and for adults is not that different. She is channeling her inner fairy princess, and I am channeling my inner carefree bohemian urbanite, even though my real life bears very little resemblance to the person I dress up as on some days. (Case in point: sometimes my day includes chasing a runaway turd escaping from a diaper.)

Sorry for that reference. I hope you’re not reading this while eating lunch. Anyway, at a recent Macy’s sale I came across a pair of greyish-copper flats by Clarks (below). Shelving my own prejudices for the moment, I tried them on, and discovered they had a very comfortable sole. Sold! With a skirt, they look dainty and feminine, and with jeans, they add some casual chic. And for about $45, they were a no-brainer even if I get tired of them by the end of summer. Suddenly I belong to an unspoken sisterhood with other wearers of metallic shoes. Although I don’t call attention to my shoes in the checkout line of the grocery store. I wait for the sisterhood to notice my shoes and pay a compliment. 😉

Clarks Metallic Flats

Ok, I confess: Sometimes, I enjoy wearing sparkly shoes like my 3-year old daughter.

I think the key to wearing metallic is to have fun with it, and only wear it if the look tickles your fancy. To avoid looking like you came from a princess dress-up party, avoid wearing too much sparkle at once (I would avoid a matching handbag or a belt, or too much bling elsewhere, for example). Though of course, don’t expect your daughter to respect this rule. As you probably know, there there is no such thing as “too much sparkle” for any girl under 10 years old.

Just as I am finishing this post, the weather is turning sunny and warm in Northern California, with daffodils busting out of the ground everywhere. I guess it’s pretty clear that I should finally put away the Christmas decor this weekend. On the other hand, if the weather is good, forget tidying up the house – we’re taking the family to the beach. If no one in my house has noticed that the Christmas decorations are still up past Valentines Day, they probably won’t say anything if they make it to St Patrick’s Day either.

___

Worth mentioning: The products and companies I am featuring in this post are of my own choosing – I have no relationships with the companies or products that I spotlight.  If that ever changes, I’ll be sure to post a disclaimer to that effect.  It’s not that I have anything against receiving products to review – it would enable me to give more firsthand performance reviews. After all, there are only so many pairs of metallic shoes a woman can justify to her skeptical husband. 🙂

Grocery Shopping with Kids (Funny Reblog)

29 Feb

I am working on a post for the end of this week, but meanwhile, I ran across this post from another mom-blogger which is short and sure to bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

Sally

http://play101.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/grocery-shopping-with-kids/

Finding Time to Get Things Done

31 Jan

Trying to get things done can feel like a race against time.

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”  Remember that line?  For those not familiar, it’s the opening line from the ever popular “Days of our Lives” soap opera.  And it has been in my head all morning.  On repeat.  Most likely it is related to the fact that I feel like there is just not enough time to get things done.  I’ve been sort of obsessing about the idea of being more balanced and making better use of my time without getting too stressed out.

Today is one of those days where I feel like I am sand in a very small hourglass.  As I was preparing breakfast  this morning, I began to run through the list of errands for the day.  Just as I figured out the timing of things, I suddenly realized that today is a shower day.  A shower, ugh.  It’s not that I’m not into hygiene by any means, it’s just that showers have become inconvenient and unenjoyable since I had my daughter.  The horror, right?!  That’s supposed to be a safe place!  A haven!  When I was pregnant, a friend of mine who had just had her first child said “make sure you make time for showers in the morning.  It’s like your coffee and it will help you get through your day.  It will help you feel more like a person.  Trust me.”  When someone says “trust me” I now take it seriously.  But, at the time I was cool and was always going to have time for a shower.  Why wouldn’t I?  But, I digress.

Fast forward to after having a child and I now have “shower days.” But, I was up late last night and extra groggy this morning so I forgot that today is a shower day.  So, when my inner hygienic clock suddenly rang I started to panic because I had to redo my entire formula for the day.  But, this is pretty much how I operate on a regular basis.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle or a never ending math class and I hate math.

So, today’s basic formula goes like this:

Getting dressed: 5 minutes
Exercise: 1.5 hours
Driving to grocery store: 10 minutes
Groceries: 1 hour
Driving home: 10 minutes
Unpacking groceries: 10 minutes
Shower + hair: 20 minutes
————————————–
3 hours 45 minutes
+ oh no I need gas!: 20 minutes
————————————-
4 hours 5 minutes

Time available while daughter is in school = 3 hours

So, I begin the process of subtraction and jigsawing (a fun term I substitute for multi-tasking sometimes).  It basically means figuring out what I can either remove and/or fit in while I’m doing something else.

Just writing this out makes my head spin.  Maybe I should be taking a shower or doing some laundry instead?

And even though that formula is based on being childless for a few hours, there are times where I play the same game with myself while I’m with my daughter except I feel like I am working on “borrowed time.”  Which means I am borrowing time out of my very active toddler’s day to make her do things that don’t always include a giant plastic car to ride around in while mommy does her thing (like at the grocery store).  I do try to work with her schedule and incorporate some fun time beforehand but fun time is never fun when it has to be interrupted for a ridiculous reason like mommy needs to pick up a few things.  And tantrums somehow seem longer and way more dramatic when you are trying to achieve even the tiniest goal for the day.

I could probably be more relaxed in terms of how I think about my day or my week but it still feels like a science.  I would love to hear thoughts and feedback on how other moms balance time.  Do you break up little tasks throughout your week or play catch up on the weekend?  Do you use any organizational tools/planners to help keep you on top of things?

Disclaimer: I’m not completely anti-shower and do occasionally take one on an off shower day.  It’s especially nice when I am surrendering to a burning hot shower with the lights off after a long day of tantrums.  It’s happened and believe me, it’s bliss.  I’m talking pitch black, no candles, no aromatherapy, just me and a gloriously steam filled room.

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Happy One

29 Jan

I ran across this post randomly, and thought I would repost it for others who might need a good chuckle on a Monday. 🙂

Ordinary Life Translated

The holiday season was especially sparkly for several of my family members and friends this year. At this moment, I know TEN couples who are engaged. This significantly exceeds the highest proposal rate during a 3 month period that I have ever witnessed…even at the height of  the wedding frenzy in my 20’s.

My 20’s were a decade represented by 1 bad marriage (my own), 2 beautiful children and about 57 weddings. I have nothing against weddings, but even when the phrase “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” doesn’t apply, you can only be the member of a bridal party about 12 times before you develop aversions (bordering on phobias) to isle runners, taffeta, buttercream frosting and rhinestones.  It becomes increasingly difficult to muster the excitement and exhilaration that each bride deserves from the members of her bridal party. (YES! Definitely go with THIS bakery! Their tiny white rosettes are WAY more delicate than the other 37 pictures of frosted roses you have shown me! They will be…

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Cooking blogs focused on enjoyment of food, Northern California style

23 Jan

Ok, this isn’t exactly about what to wear, but the recent news about Paula Deen (the southern-cooking host who recently fessed up to having diabetes) probably has many of us asking ourselves how our food choices impact our health, if not our appearance.  After the new year, I am feeling my pants fitting a bit tighter after all those holiday sweets. So I went on the search for some inspiration in the kitchen, with health and enjoyment at the top of  my mind. The last thing I want to do is follow a fad diet, count calories or cut out entire categories of food that I love (I can do without deep-fried cheesecake, but not my crusty bread!). Here is a blog by a Bay Area mom focusing on the preparation of wholesome, delicious of food. I love her philosophy:

My food philosophy

Eat really good food. And enjoy every bite. Eat fresh food. Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, fresh meats and fresh baked breads. Eat local foods, in as many places as you can. Eat shortbread in Scotland, eat croissants and drink coffee in Paris, …. eat artichokes in California, eat steak in Texas. You get the idea :)

Throw out all that low-fat, and “light” stuff you have at home. It tastes awful! Eat less of the real stuff and I promise you’ll be glad you did. Don’t even walk down the canned food aisle in the grocery store. Again, it tastes awful. And please…don’t eat any more fast food. Blech! Nothing good comes from there, no matter what their current advertising tells you.

Think about what you eat in a day…how much fruit did you eat today? How many veggies? Focus on real, fresh food and the calories and fat won’t need to be counted as much.”

Visit her blog at

http://whatskpcooking.com/about/

Here are a few more gems from my sister-in-law, who is a professional chef and has her finger on the pulse of food culture in the Bay Area and beyond. I raided her favorite bookmarks to share with you. Even if I never cook a single thing off these pages, I will visit for inspiration from the photos alone – they make me never want to settle for anything other than eat fresh, wonderful and nourishing food.  Sure, there will still be Kraft Mac and Cheese on our table occasionally, but it’s fun to imagine other possibilities, especially when we in the Bay Area live within so many great sources of local food. Here are her online favorites and comments:

http://101cookbooks.com :My friend Heidi, author of “Super Natural Cooking” and “Super Natural Everyday;” great photography and a focus on great, seasonal ingredients.
http://honest-food.net/ :Hunter Angler Gardener Cook: Hank Shaw is amazing.
http://orangette.blogspot.com/ Molly Wizenberg is a pastry chef, but also posts some savory things and travel photography.
http://smittenkitchen.com/:A NYC home cook’s very nice, inspiring blog. I love her blood orange olive oIl cake.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ :Clotilde Dusoulier, from Paris
http://thedinnerfiles.com :Molly Watson, here in San Francisco. “

Thanks, Jennifer! I’ll continue to update this post as I run across more inspiring food blogs, from the practical to the sublime. Please feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section!

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