Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

Now comfortably in my 30s, I have to admit when I go in to an actual Forever 21 store, I feel like a grandma.  The vast majority of the store's content is too short/tight clothing in tiny sizes.  But online (and in some stores) they have this great section called Love21, which clothing is more modest and sized a half size larger than the standard Forever 21 line (why ALL the clothing can't be of the same sizing, I don't know. But that's another rant.)  F21 (and L21) is a great place to get seasonal trendy pieces without breaking the bank, and actually even some classics that could last you a few years.  And since everything looks better/more expensive when it fits you perfectly, the pieces here are so cheap that even after the cost of the tailor it was a steal.  Here are some pieces I'm eyeing. 

Clockwise, from top left: Great Double-Sleeve Cocoon Coat, trendy fringe sweater, boucle coat in a great color, fall season maxi in a great tribal print, backside detailed sweater, great for work blazer with faux leather trim, dress up or down chevron shirt, and too pretty retro midi skirt.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Thankfulness

It takes just a minute....

Links I Love

  1.  26 unique and creative ways to save memories for your child. I will have to implement some of these. (BuzzFeed)
  2. Stunning and inspiring images and stories of the beauty that is motherhood. (4th Trimester Bodies Project)
  3. These amazing photographs -- like candy for your eyes --  beautiful and imaginative (and not created by photoshop!)  (BoredPanda)
  4. 20 minute treadmill workout that burns calories - because that's about all the time I have to spend on that thing! (FitSugar)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Scandalous Attire

Do you watch the Shonda Rhimes' show "Scandal" starring Kerry Washington?  If not, you're missing out on some fun characters, but even more enjoyably some great professional style.  Washington's character Olivia Pope is a great, strong female role, and wardrobe for the show does a great job making her look strong and confident and professional while retaining femininity and, well, just looking pretty.  Olivia Pope proves suits can be sexy.  And thanks to The Limited, we can all feel confidently dressed à la OP.

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Baby Must-Haves

Does it ever feel like once you do something, it seems like you notice everyone else is doing the same thing?  Ever bought a new car, then it seems like everyone else on the road is driving the same car?  Once I had a baby, it seemed like everyone else was too. When I was pregnant, I searched/viewed a lot of lists (primarily found on Pinterest) of the "must-have" items to prepare you for your new baby.  But the following is a (short) list of the things I never saw on a list that I now tell everyone who is expecting to get, because I can speak from experience they will really make this new adventure so much easier.

1. The Book to Read
If you can only read one book, read this one.  Or don't even read it: there's even a video version you can watch (which I haven't seen, but I liked the book. Its an easy read, and then you have it for reference.) Happiest Baby on the Block is about as close to a newborn how-to manual as you will ever get.  I can't encourage this read enough.  If you follow the 5 S's explained in the book, you will know what to do when your newborn cries and be able to quickly soothe them.  There was maybe only one time in the first 6 months of my son's life that I couldn't stop his crying in less than 5 minutes.  And within the first 2 months of his life, he was sleeping an average of 6-7 hours straight per night.  Both my own mother and my mother-in-law said they wish they'd had this book when they had kids.  It makes so much sense and gives you the knowledge and confidence that you know what to do when your newborn cries.

2.  The Multi-Purpose Yoga Ball
This is an item I already had before becoming pregnant, but if I hadn't had it, I would definitely have gotten.  This serves great purposes before and after the baby is born.
As you near the end of your 9+ months of pregnancy, being comfortable in your own body can be challenging.  With the yoga ball, you can stretch your hips and back in baby-safe positions.  It distributes your weight differently across your hips when you are sitting, and can ease some pressure discomfort. I would sit on it in the living room while watching TV in the evenings.
But the best advice I got:  near the end of your pregnancy, sit on the ball and bounce slightly for a few minutes a day.  This will introduce the motion to your baby in the womb.  Then, once they are born, you can hold them and sit on the ball and bounce in the same way, and it will have a calming effect on them, as it will simulate the womb experience which will comfort them (see above book).  And this will be something anyone holding the baby can do, so dad or grandma can provide the same comfort to baby.  And trust me, your knees will thank you.

3.  The Swaddle Transitioner
If you read the book above, or pay any attention to how the nurses wrap your newborn in the hospital, you will know that swaddling is very comforting to a newborn.  But they don't need the confines of a tightly wrapped blanket forever.  My son could not sleep without being tightly swaddled for the first 4+ months of his life.  But then he started to want more freedom to move, but hadn't completely grown out of the moro reflex (again, read the book above) that caused him to start in his sleep and wake himself up.  A friend of mine who had already gone through this with her sons, told me about these sacks called the Zipadee-zip.  It looks pretty funny-- like a starfish. The ladies at my son's daycare had never seen anything like them, and laughed--but the length of my son's naps increased when he slept in these, which he did for a couple months until he didn't need them any longer.  They come in cute patters, in warm fleece fabric and cooler cotton fabric. I got one of each fabric: cotton for day naps, fleece at night.

Hope one or all of these items help you in this new adventure.  Remember to enjoy it, because time goes SO fast!

What are some unusual items that have helped you with your newborns?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites

TGIF, right?  And if you’ve been anywhere near Southern California for the past week+, TG for the cooler weather!  THIS is what I’m talking about.   
Even though weekends aren’t as relaxing as they used to be pre-baby, I look forward to them now for the new reason that I get to spend all day with my favorite new little man.  And speaking of favorites, here are a few of my favorite finds from around the web this week:

1.      Just loving this gown.  Not toddler friendly, and couldn’t wear to work, but I don’t think you could feel anything but pretty in it.
2.      A great idea (and looks to be an easy DIY) to hiding/babyproofing the router and modem (which unfortunately are in the nursery, and can’t be anywhere else). (There actually are a lot of neat looking DIY’s on this page. Too bad it’s not in English.)

3.      I want these shoes in every color. They are a classic style with a great heel height, and subtly fun with the studding all over.

4.      I love pasta, creamy sauce, chicken asparagus and bacon.  This recipe was made for me.

5.      Very excited to get set up on this site/app, which claims they will unsubscribe you to emails you don’t want, and consolidate the reoccurring commercial ones you do in to one email a day.  Anything that helps clean up my inbox is worth a shot.
What are some of your favorite web finds?
Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Walk in her shoes

Were you a fan of either reality show "Laguna Beach" or "The Hills"? If so, you may have kept better tabs on what this gal has been up to than I have. I admit that I caught a few episodes of each (more of the latter than the former). Reality shows are my secret (from my husband) little guilty pleasure, because he thinks (and I think mostly rightly so) that there's no real redeeming social value to them. Which there isn't, but that's not why we watch them, is it? :)

Apparently Kristin Cavallari has teamed up with Chinese Laundry and has a shoe line. They're actually pretty cute (and I don't mean to sound surprised by that), and I'm a big fan of the d'Orsay style heel, and she has several. The collection looks like it would work in anyone's closet: classic styles that fit in an office, given extra character by the pattern and color, as well as several dressier "going out" styles, an some booties. Mules are a reviving style, and she has several here as well. And they're totally affordable. Cute AND affordable? What more could you ask for? ('Cept maybe the cute outfits she is wearing with them in this video?)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fashion Irony

The average American woman is just over 5 feet 4 inches tall.  The average fashion model is 5 feet 9 inches, and many are even taller than that (think the lovely Karlie Kloss, at 6"1", and Elle MacPherson, at 6'.)  However, there are two initial problems with that 5+ inch discrepancy:
  1. The obvious one: the models do not reflect what most women will look like in the clothes. This is the problem most women find frustrating, and understandably.  If these models are the standard for ideal physical beauty, and height is nothing we have control over, then women are judging themselves in a comparison that was never even comparable to begin with.
  2. But the less obvious one--at least less obvious to anyone of average height--is that for those of us who are 'model' height, ironically the clothes actually for sale are not made for us.  We cannot assume because an item of clothing is photographed on someone we know is our height, that if we try on the same item it would fit us. 
Bet you didn't know being average height was actually a shopping blessing, did you?  I am 5'11". A good height for sports, yes, and a good height for modeling (if I were 10 years and 20 lbs lighter - and I'm only 140. I'm not saying I need to lose weight, its just the industry....).  But it's not a good height for buying clothes off the rack.  Pants are never long enough. And even if you decide 'hey, that's ok, I'll rock these regular length skinny jeans as crop pants', the proportions are off, so you can't pull them up past your knees. Try on a cute, fitted sheath dress, and the narrow of the waist is at your rib cage, and the width of the hips is at your waist. That look may have worked in the days of the bustle, but not so much today. A full length sleeve usually ends up being 3/4 length.

One of the wonderful things about this world is all the diversity of life; all the beautiful shapes and sizes and colors we come in.  So I understand, practically speaking, that mass-produced clothing cannot be made in every single size and shape.

Thankfully, many companies are beginning to make more clothes in tall length. Not just longer limbs, but longer proportions, so the waist is where the waist should be, and the knee-length hem is actually at the knee (and not pushing decency boundaries.)  ASOS is increasing their line, and I could not be happier about this. I honestly don't know how I dressed before I discovered ASOS.  They have super cute, affordable maternity clothes (which I shopped when I was pregnant, and will again next time) and their tall size styles are increasing. With free shipping on any order over $25, free expedited shipping over $125, free returns, petite, maternity, average and tall sizes, and a massive inventory, what more could you ask for?  If you're not shopping there yet, set some time aside and check it out (you will find dozens of things you love, I promise). You're going to have to start an ASOS wish list board on Pinterest.

Fitted dresses are always a tall challenge. These are so cute and in tall proportions. (Here, here, here and here.)  They have styles for work and play.

Peplum tops are always a tall girl challenge. Here's a cute one with longer proportions.  And a fun, tribal top that is long enough.

A beautifully colored shift dress that's not a mini; and while many brands carry basics in longer lengths, its often hard to find trendier pieces.  These plaid pants look great for the fall.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Royal Inspiration

I think its safe to say that, generally speaking, office/professional attire are not the most fun, fashionable pieces a girl has in her closet.  But for so many of us, they are the clothes we spend most of our lives in.  Every morning - actually beginning the night before - I try to figure out how to wear/style/assemble my outfit that I'm professional in appearance, yet youthful and feminine and even fun.  One of my new fashion inspirations in this regard is the Dutchess of Cambridge.

Clearly becoming a Dutchess does a wardrobe good.  She didn't have bad style before she got married, but her style now that she's officially a Mrs. has been flawless.  If you google "Kate Middleton Fashion Blooper", all you get are images of the wind blowing her skirt up almost too much.  If those are your only fashion bloopers and you live in the public eye as she does, you are doing very well.

What's so great about Kate's style is that we can all see ourselves wearing the same thing. She may have the ability to spend more than most of us, but her sensibility is classic and tasteful, and what really makes her look good is that everything fits her perfectly. And while she does have an enviable figure, even models can't wear everything right off the rack.  Buy a cheap dress but have it tailored to fit your body, and you will look more expensive than what you spent.

Kate has a way of making frumpy not-so-youthful pieces look youthful and lovely.  Some of the tweed and high-neck suits and dresses she has worn would make me feel like and old lady, but she doesn't look matronly in the slightest.

And of course, who doesn't want to be a princess for the gowns?  Don't we all wish we had lives where it warranted wearing beautiful dresses regularly? Kate has great taste picking the loveliest gowns. She really does look like a princess.

And can I just say I don't know why we don't wear hat/fascinators in the US the way they do in the UK?  It's a shame.

I'm working on filling my closet with my version of Kate style. Classic sheaths in a variety of colors, dresses and skirts of midi length, and well-fitting blazers and jeans.  And I will be making friends with a good tailor...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Madness

This morning was one of THOSE mornings. One of those mornings with a crawling baby who is now getting in to EVERYTHING. Like from a movie: he thinks its the funnest thing for the dog to lick him in the mouth, and while the dog likes to lick him in the mouth, Mom does not like the dog licking him in the mouth, so dog gets in trouble.  Dog goes to her bed to stay away from baby, but baby crawls to dog. Dog growls. Mom hollers. Baby thinks its just so funny. "I don't laugh when you tickle me, mom, but I'll laugh when you hollar at me and my sister-dog."

So mom attempts to remove the temptation and bring baby in bedroom where she is getting ready, forgetting that the day before while cleaning the front room, she moved a large picture frame into the bedroom and its leaning against the wall in baby range (awaiting to be hung). So of course baby immediately crawls over and pulls the frame over on to his head (no injuries), and while mom is moving the frame to the other side of the room, baby crawls over to dad's night stand and pulls a cup of water down (again, no injuries, just mess.)

To add frustrating elements to this circus, its already hot and humid at 7a, and there is no air conditioning in our apartment.  So mom is trying to get put together to go to work, and despite a morning shower is continuing to sweat. Work outside the home is like a vacation from the work that is non-stop with an infant.  I am so thankful baby has a good daycare that he enjoys going to.

The above chaios was only 30 min of my day.  So needless to say, anything that makes some aspect of a working mommy's life easier is something I'm willing to try.  Meal planning is an area that I need help with. I love to eat, and don't mind to cook, but the challenges I encounter with this on a weekly basis are that I have limited time to prepare dinner (so recipes need to be quick), I want the meals to be healthy (but my husband wants a form of substantial protien, read: meat, with just about every meal), and I don't want to waste ingredients, so I want to use what I have on hand, or have a plan for the week that uses similar ingredients without eating the same thing all week. Its hard to shop fresh for essentially just 2 people and use everything before it goes bad.

Thats why I love this site/app: Pepperplate.  You set up a profile on the website, and download the app to your mobile device and log in with the profile you created on line. Then the site and app sync, and continue to do so whenever you make a change in one.

With this program you can save and store all your favorite recipes in one place, give them filters so you can sort them easily (20 minute meals anyone?), make a weekly meal schedule, and there's a shopping list that you can add a recipe to and it will update your list with all the ingredients, and you can check off what you already have at home. 

What especially love is that Pepperplate had coordinated with a couple dozen other food/recipe sites and when you want to import one of the recipes from those sites to Pepperplate, you just copy the link to the webpage and it imports automatically (you can manually enter recipes as well.)

It takes about 10-15 minutes for your initial set up (creating an account and adding some recipes to get started) but once you do, then you'll always have recipe ideas at your finger tips, consolidated into one place.  And the shopping list feature is great, bc you can see what ingredients you need that overlap with the other recipes.

I've had several successful weeks of planned meals, thanks to this app.  And less wasted food.  So at least my evenings are a little calmer, despite how the days start out.

I'm curious to know how it works for you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MIA - but I'm back!

Phew, life has been full of significant changes since I last posted. I can't believe its been over a year since then! I've missed this.

Around this time last year I was preparing to graduate law school, which I did on Mother's Day, 2013. That was also the day that hubby and I shared with our families that we were expecting our first child in November. Pregnancy was fortuantely pretty easy for me, which was good, because before I could begin preparing for the baby, I now needed to study for, take --and hopefully pass--the California Bar Exam (which many argue is the hardest bar exam in the country.) I had to take a leave of absence from work to study full time for 3 months, all the while growing a human in my belly. The exam is held twice a year: July and February. It takes 3 days, 6 hours of testing per day. I took the July exam. Then you wait for months to find out. The results are posted online the Friday before Thanksgiving (so you either have a lot to be thankful for, or have a miserable holiday.)

Unknowing the future of my professional status, my personal status changed to that of "Mom" on November 11, 2013. My beautiful baby boy (nickname "KD") joined us at 1:06pm, with no complications. And life has never been the same. He is such a joy in my life. Someone said to me before KD was born that you've never known love like the love you feel for your child. That makes sense, but you can't really understand what that feels like until it actually happens. Its a surreal experience, which I have more to say on later.

Two weeks later, with my newborn in my arms, I learned that I did indeed pass the bar. SUCH a relief. There is no way I could have studied effectively to pass the next time around now that I had a new baby. On December 2, I was sworn in as lawyer in the State of California.

Then -- back to maternity leave. I was able to stay home with KD for 4.5 months, which was such a blessing. I used to say that while I wanted kids, I didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom (just my personality), but after having KD I cried the two weeks leading up to going back to work because I felt so terrible about leaving him. Although I have found a wonderful daycare, and KD really seems to like going, so it now makes it much easier, I still wish I worked a few hours less per day so I could have my productive adult time, then have more quality time with him. There is still hope that my career can accommodate that, so its a goal. And thankfully, hubby has a flexible job that allows him to take one day off a week and stay home with his son, so they have a quality day together, which is so great for them.

So now I'm back at work, trying to figure out what the next step is for me professionally (your priorities really change when you have kids too), as well as figure out how to be a working mom and be everything and do everything, and still have time for me (that will hopefully get a bit easier once I'm not breastfeeding anymore.) But I'm happy to have this creative outlet for myself and anyone who enjoys it, and will be using it as a way to explore my attempts at adding my personal style to life.