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.


Reblog: 20 Ways to “Reset” When the Kids Are Having a Hard Day

15 Mar

I found this article from the web site of our awesome pediatrician. Check it out if  a day at home with the kids is starting to seem looooong.

20 Ways to “Reset” When the Kids Are Having a Hard Day.

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!



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


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!

2012 – I resolve…

3 Jan

There are a lot of worthwhile aspirations to write about in 2012. I don’t believe in resolutions that sounds like penance – stop being such a slob, finally get my act together, etc etc. Instead, I believe in something inspiring. For me, that means taking my digital photography skills to the next level. There’s always more to learn as a parent. I would also love to make a bigger contribution to a clean and healthy environment. Check out this blogger’s suggestions for things you can do (and are probably already doing) to help the planet. It’s the world around us, the air we breathe, the world that our children will inherit, and their children after them. I am going to try #8 (eating meatless once a week) and #3 (stop buying toxic household cleaners). Bye Bye, Tilex and Clorox Cleanup. My housekeeper may not like it at first, but maybe she’ll thank me later?

Check out the full list:

Ringing in the New Year With One Easy Eco-Resolution.

Whatever you resolve, Happy New Year!

Feeling Stuffed?

30 Nov

Thanksgiving may be over, but in our house, leftover pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes are still on the menu – all day long. Anyone who has never eaten pumpkin pie for breakfast should go out of their way to do so before they die – whether naked, or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. (I’m talking about the pie, not you, of course.) It’s one of my favorite things about the holiday.

Pumpkin Pie

During the holiday season, anytime is a good time to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie.

All this eating does leave me feeling over-fed, which is to be expected this time of year. And I don’t expect it to let up in December; between holiday cookies and parties, it’s the time of year to reach for the jeans with the loose waist. Better yet, I wear stretchy pants with a tunic or dress over it – there is no reason to force that zipper closed when there is still a whole month of holiday treats to be eaten. There will be plenty of time for slimming down after the new year.

I’m not saying it’s time to binge, but I plan to enjoy the treats of the season without calculating how many extra laps I am going to swim just to work off that chocolate covered gingerbread I just ate.

Instead of counting calories, I make a point to get outside despite the unappealing weather – even though it’s been cold and gray in the Bay Area, Northern California’s not Minnesota, and the Fall colors are spectacular in the neighborhood. Also, my son is suddenly a soccer enthusiast; a quick 15 minutes minutes of kicking the ball after school keeps me moving, and it’s often enough to boost my energy for the rest of the day. For an indoor energy boost, I reach for caffeine in the form of green tea, another stimulant that’s a little milder than Red Bull, and easier on my stomach than coffee. My favorite green tea at the moment is The Organic Himalayan Green Tea by Allegro, a company based in Colorado and available in certain grocery stores.  It’s mellow and tasty – I remove the tea bag after 5 minutes to avoid bitterness. (Get one for yourself and one as a gift for the tea lover on your list!)

Allegro Himalayan Green Tea

Allegro Himalayan Green Tea is an instand indoor pick-me-up

In the meantime, here are my new favorite comfortable jeans with plenty of stretch: Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (NYDJ). I know, I dissed these in a previous post about “mommy jeans”, but after giving them a second chance, I have fallen in love with the fit and comfort. The fabric is stretchy and just the right weight. The rise is a bit higher than other designer jeans which helps with coverage of the front and back, but not so high that you are aware of a bulky midsection (my problem with the Miraclebody Jeans reviewed previously). They have a great fit throught the seat, too, without gapping at the waist, which is always my problem area.

My biggest revelation about buying jeans is that although I used to be self-conscious about tight jeans, it turns out that slim-cut, well-fitting jeans actually make you look and feel slimmer, not fatter. The NYDJ fit slim in a tasteful way – I don’ t feel like like my jeans are painted on, but they fit snugly everywhere they should. Also, most jeans stretch out after wearing – if the zipper goes up easily, I know the tightness in the seat will relax after a few wears. As long as I can sit down comfortably, I trust the fit. (To prevent shrinkage, I never put my jeans in the dryer, unless I actually want to shrink them down a size! Instead, they hang dry overnight in my shower stall.) Knowing how I want my jeans to fit makes shopping much for fun and efficient – it’s easy to recognize the right jeans when I try them on.

I bought my NYDJ’s at Bloomingdale’s but many department stores carry them (Nordstroms, Macys, etc.). They run about $100, which is more than a pair of Levi’s but still less than other designer jeans like Joe’s Jeans which run $150 and up. (You can sometimes find them on sale for about $70-$80.) They come in many cuts, including bootleg, straight leg, and slim. They also offer Petite sizing and Ankle lengths. They even have corduroy fabrics for the Fall and Winter seasons. Though you can find them online, it’s worth visiting the store to try several pairs and find the look that suits you best.

Here are a few to consider:

The Straight Leg – an everyday workhorse of a jean, slim enough to tuck into boots or wear with tennis shoes. Comes in many other colors too.

NYDJ Straight Leg Jeans

Straight Leg Jeans work great for everyday - with flats, boots, or tennis shoes for the playground.

The Bootcut – Wear with boots, black dresses up for evening. Many other colors too.

NYDJ Bootcut Jeans

Leggings – I usually shy away from these because I feel like I am stuffing myself into too-skinny pants, but NYDJ leggings zip up easily while still giving the super-slim look that goes well under tunics or long sweaters, worn with boots.

NYDJ Leggings

NYDJ Leggings have a comfortable super-slim fit.

Happy jean shopping, and enjoy the season of giving and holiday (de)lights!

If Breast Cancer survivors embrace their body…can we?

3 Nov

This post is not about clothes, but our attitude about the body dwelling inside them.

Below is a video segment about a photographer and digital artist who is helping breast cancer survivors embrace their new body by painting and photographing them. He is trying to create a photo that the woman herself will love more than any other.

How great is that?  Everyone should have a “favorite photo” of themselves. Not from high school, but from the past few years. I don’t have one. Do you? If a breast cancer survivor has the courage to reclaim her body and reveal herself to the camera after all the medical interventions of breast cancer, shouldn’t we? What would your favorite photo of yourself look like if you took one today? How would the woman in the picture feel? That image is worth pondering, whether or not it includes body paint.

If you have 5 minutes, check out this video about the project:

As a footnote, it seems Facebook is stirring controversy by banning the images on their site because some display nude female torsos. I don’t find them sexually inappropriate, and I would not have a problem my kids seeing them. You?

More on that topic:



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