Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gift Guide: What to Get for...Friends with Kids

What to get the couple who has a child?

(Besides an IOU for babysitting?)

Well, most of my friends with children are scattered around the country so I head towards mail order gifts.  Also because I am the WORST when it comes to procrastinating and will probably not get around to doing this until December 24th at 9:00 p.m.  Even for my friends who celebrate Hanukah.

I'm usually reluctant to try new products when it comes to my home, especially if I can't hold the bottle and smell it in person.  I have an immense fear of cleaning product commitment. (I asked to have this included in the prospective DSM-V, but am still waiting for field trials.)  But I did try the Honest Co. products and really liked them.  All the products are eco-friendly and perfect for households with babies and kids and parents who are trying to eliminate harsher cleaning products from their homes.  Plus, they smell good!  

This would also be a great housewarming gift or for a someone newly out of college.

2.  Blue Apron Grocery Delivery

Going to the grocery store with a kid can often be like an expedition up K2.  Especially at the beginning, I would get home exhausted with a cranky hungry baby, realize that I forgot at least three key ingredients for any kind of edible meal, and melted ice cream.  I read about Blue Apron in a recent Daily Candy email and thought it was genius.  They deliver all the groceries you'll need for three healthy complete meals, plus the recipes.  For someone who loves to cook, but is often short on meal ideas (hand raised and waving around) this sounds amazing.  Blue Apron currently only delivers in the Northeast, but another great idea would be a gift card to Peapod, FreshDirect or any other grocery delivery service.  

3.  Julibox

I'll often read about all these awesome cocktail bars where people do crazy things like wear heels (!) and earrings (!!) and maybe even lipstick (!!!).  And then I think about how I'd have to get a babysitter, pay said babysitter, get dressed up, go to these bars, fight a crowd of cooler people, read a cocktail menu and pay $15 for said cocktail.  And honestly, I'd probably just end up with a scotch on the rocks and leave before the cool crowd even got to the bar. The idea of staying in my jammies and making cocktails with my husband (and maybe some friends) sounds really nice.  Enter Julibox.  Each month they send you all the components (booze and mixers), plus a recipe for a "mixologist" approved drink.  I heard about this from Belle at Capitol Hill Style and basically just want to get it because she tweeted a picture of an adorable tiny bitters bottle.

You could pair it with this giant ice cube tray for a cute gift or, if your friends are more wine people, check out the gift subscriptions to The Tasting Room.  Also a cool idea, these Pairings Boxes from Turntable Kitchen pair food and music delivered right to your door.

Look, no parent is going to get tired of pictures of his or her own child.  Seriously.  It's like an addiction.  So, instead of being forced to look at their iPhone for four hours at every meet-up, give them a gift to allow them to print out pictures in a stylish way.  I've seriously loved everything I've gotten from Pinhole Press, from calendars to note pads to framed pictures.  They have great customer service and the site is easy to use.  Highly recommend for all your indulgent baby photo needs.  Another option for those who love Instagram (and, who didn't? and still won't because we'll forget all about the terms of service kerfluffle) try Printstagram or StickyGram.

4.  Dinner Out...or actually...In

Alright.  This is kind of a cop out.  But truly?  The best gift you can give your friends with kids?  Time with you!  One of the things I miss from my pre-baby lifestyle is just being able to hang out with friends, have a few drinks, and not worry about getting back to a babysitter.  Make dinner or pick up takeout, bring it to your friends' house.  Bring prosecco and paper plates.  Ignore the pile of laundry and that stupid sound puzzle making woofing noises in the corner.  Enjoy.  Happy Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Duck, Duck, Duck Boots

When I was in high school, L.L. Bean was *just* about the coolest retailer ever.

And, yes, I am aware of how that sounds.

College visiting trips required a stopover in Freeport to pick up a puffer vest.  A new school year meant a brand new backpack.  Flannel plaid shirts were de rigeur over black pants and Doc Martens.  Sometime after the grunge movement faded, I went to college in California and forgot all about the New England preppy-practical retailer.

But now that I'm back in New York and ostensibly grown up, I'm rediscovering the appeal of some L.L. Bean classics.  For example: Duck boots.

As the fall weather has turned to winter, I find myself searching for something weather-worthy and good-looking for strolling around and playground runs with Reese.  Not to mention that my parents' country house has a newfound allure for my husband every Sunday (Two words: Redskins and DirecTV) and flats are a little too City Mouse.

Enter duck boots, formally known as Bean Boots.  I picked up a pair in the navy and tan combination and I'm so amped to break them in.  I'm thinking of pairing them with skinny jeans and thick socks, tights and thick socks, leggings and thick socks (you get the idea...).

Plus, as I get older, I'm seduced by the ancillary benefits of L.L. Bean.  Shipping is always free, products have a lifetime guarantee, and everything is made in the U.S.A.  But you know...even Angela Chase grew up and apparently joined the CIA.

This time, I'm steering clear of the oversized flannel shirts though.  With age comes wisdom.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gift Guide: What to get for...A Babysitter

While I'm probably the only person in New York (or at least the Upper East Side) who doesn't employ a steady babysitter, nanny, au pair, or the like, I still know that tipping and presents can be a tricky business.  Emily Post says (and I fully agree) that cash is still the best present you can give at the holidays, about a week's salary.  However, I think it's nice to also give a smaller gift to show your appreciation for all the hard work and love your caregiver puts in over the weeks.

I think the biggest pitfall to avoid for a babysitter is giving something that he or she will use in the care of your child (museum membership, stroller accessories).  It's not that it won't be appreciated, but I feel like gifts should be solely about the person receiving the gift.  Something fun, maybe a little frivolous, a little luxurious.

What to Get for...A Babysitter

1.  Falconwright Clutch.  Envelope clutches are eternally useful, in addition to being super chic.  You can carry it alone, or put it in a bigger bag for easy access to important stuff.  (Important stuff, people!) Everyone on the interwebs is bonkers about the Clare Vivier purses, which...don't get me wrong, they are beautiful, but also a little played out.  I think these Falconwright clutches carry the same style, but punch it up with fun patterns and come in a more budget friendly price range.  They are available at Madewell and also in lots of colors at Dalaga NYC, one of my favorite boutiques which finally has online shopping.

2.  J. Crew Continental Zip Wallet.  Do you know anyone on this earth who doesn't need a new wallet?  I mean, my husband's is practically held together with duct tape.  Mine looks like a dog dragged it across the lawn and through a sprinkler (maybe that happened, maybe it didn't, what of it?).  My point is that, even if the giftee doesn't need it now, she'll need it eventually.  It's a nice neutral gift that is practical, but not boring if you get a fun color like the pink at J. Crew.  I also like these Rebecca Minkoff wallets with cute sayings. (If I were British or pretentious, I would have said "cheeky" instead of cute, I spared you.)

3.  C. Wonder Monogrammed Mug.  Universal truth of gift-giving: Monogramming makes everything better.  Well, it certainly makes it unreturnable.  I prefer the single initial to a full monogram and I think in this case you could pair the gift with something else.  For example, this initial mug with a Blue Bottle Coffee subscription.  Or you could give a beautiful set of initial note cards.  Or an iPhone case.

4.  Butter London Heavy Metal Trio.  Beauty products are a nice gift, but not without some pitfalls.  Some beauty gifts could be a little too personal and picking out shades of makeup could be like walking a tightrope without a net.  After 6 beers.  I think nail polish is a nice happy medium, since it's fun and not that intimate.  This Butter London trio is neutral, but not boring.  This set of classic reds from Sephora is also a nice option.  Not a nail polish fan?  Try the Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow palette.  Or, you could give the greatest gift...a HUGE bottle of Kiehl's Creme de Corps.

5. J. Crew Cashmere Scarf and Hat.  Alright, it's totally unoriginal, but, much like a wallet, a hat and scarf and gloves set is always a good gift.  My thoughts here are: go cashmere or go home.  I mean, life it too short and winter is too long to wear and itchy scarf.  Get a beautiful color, like this eggplant from J. Crew or a bold red or a pale blue.  Another boring but awesome option?  Gloves.  The ones that have the touch fingertips are a lifesaver like this pair from Echo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Out of Words

Like everyone else, I am beyond horrified, shocked, saddened and sick over the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday.  I heard the news on twitter and followed throughout the afternoon.  As many people posted their own expressions and emotions, I could not.  I literally had no words.  As a parent, as a person, there is nothing I felt I could say that had not said been said or felt by everyone.

I did see that someone in my feed retweeted Anderson Cooper, saying that there really wasn't anything to say.  Words are too small for a tragedy of this magnitude.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Guide: What to get for...a Toddler

Before I had a baby, when gift giving time would roll around, I would pop into a toy store and reel off the genders and ages (which often had me saying, "I think he's like 3 and a half?  Or maybe seven?  Wears a diaper, but doesn't speak sentences?  Can't tie shoes, but eats with fork?") and wait for a recommendation from the sales clerk.

Honestly, I'm not much better now.  

But, I do know the things that other people have given my kid that she seems to really like, so I think it's safe to give them to other toddlers.

Toddler Gifts

1.  Tegu Magnetic Blocks.  I swear these must be awesome if only because you cannot find them in New York.  They sell out faster than Shake Shack burgers the day after Yom Kippor.  I like the pocket set because it's affordable and perfect for traveling.  Stash it in your bag and whip it out on the plane for an easy distraction that doesn't require food or batteries.  If you want to go all balls-to-the-wall awesome aunt/uncle, you could spring for the big set or you could add in some other travel friendly toys like these Green Sprouts disposable coloring placemats and Zoli snack stack.

2.  Hunter Toddler Boots and Wellie Socks.  Bad weather is here to stay and kids love puddles.  That's what I have to contribute now that I have my own child.  Hunter boots are amazingly sturdy and, frankly, amazingly cute.  The wellie socks add an additional layer of warmth (or are a great gift on their own if you know the child in question already has wellington-style boots).  If you don't know the right show size, go big.  He or she can always wear them next year.

3.  Mini Kick Scooter and Bell Toddler Helmet.  Scooters are everywhere in New York.  Apparently, no one has recovered from the dot-com era and just passed them down to the next generation.  (Not everyone has, but I swear, if I see one more legitimate adult on a scooter, I am going to stick my umbrella in that wheel.)  Toddlers love's a nice alternative to walking or staying in the stroller, they feel like a big kid, and it's fast and dangerous!  What's not to love?!?  Get the helmet.

4.  Green Toys Tea Set.  I know this one comes in a variety of pink and purple colors, but really, this is a unisex gift.  At this age, kids really like to play "food" and "tea" and it's definitely not a girly thing.  Reese can sit for hours (1 hour toddler time equals roughly 20 minutes of actual time, less if you need to make an important phone call) having a tea party, cooking, toasting, making sandwiches, etc.  You could also go for one of the many food themed sets out there like this grocery bag and vegetables, the Melissa and Doug sandwich making kit, sliceable wooden fruits and veggies, or a set of pint sized pots and pans.  If you did want to go for a tea set but wanted something a little more traditional, this Beatrix Potter set is adorable.

5.  Roberta Roller Rabbit Pajamas.  You know how ladies love cool James?  Well, all children love soft pajamas.  I mean, who doesn't?  Reese received a set of these whale print pjs from Robert Roller Rabbit and I just love them.  The cotton is super soft, the print is gag-worthingly cute, and they wash really well.  They are definitely pricey, but worth it.  At a lower price point, I love love love the Serena & Lily/Hanna Andersson pajama sets and these Boden ones come in multi-packs with cute prints.

Also, if you are really rushed on time or the parents of the child in question are low on space (apartment  living means no basement full of huge riding toys!), consider getting a museum or zoo membership or a pass to a children's playspace.  In New York, we could probably spend every day at the Museum of Natural History or the Children's Museum of Manhattan and never get bored.  This is particularly good coming up on winter months when playgrounds are off limits and space to roam is hard to come by.  Plus, you might even get a little tax write-off.  Happy holidays to everyone!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Parent Life: The Five People You Might Meet on a Preschool Tour. And How to Dress for One.

Preschools in New York have almost mythical status among parents.  For those who haven't had the pleasure of the introduction here goes...getting into preschool in New York is pretty much like getting into college minus number 2 pencils, plus graham crackers.  There are tours, essays, application fees, interviews, listing of extracurricular activities, five digit tuition fees, etc.

You might be saying to yourself, that is absurd!  Well, it is.

It's also a fact.  I've been on a boatload of these tours lately, and, just like when I was applying to colleges, I've noticed that there are always the usual cast of characters following the director around the pint sized chairs and sensory play area.

The Nodders: I'll just tell you upfront that these are my least favorites. The nodders always sit or place themselves as close to the tour leader as possible and make ferocious eye contact at all times.  They enthusiastically nod at everything that is said, often grinning and laughing at jokes.  You know that they are just trying to look engaged, but they end up reminding everyone of the bobblehead sports dolls my grandfather collected.  Bonus points when they interject with awkward quips like, "That's so darling!"

The "Just a Formality" Couple:  These are the people who are just on the tour because everyone has to take the tour.  Even if they shower with the board members of the school at the Harvard Club or whatnot.  The mother is usually carrying a current season Celine or Chanel bag roughly the size of my bathroom and sporting a fresh blowout and a bored look on her face.  The husband is wearing a Brioni suit and checking his phone every 5 minutes.  Sometimes they even refuse to put on the name tags and they jet for the Town Car idling outside as soon as possible.

The 20 Question-er:  Any questions?  The 20's can never let that just hang out there.  They need to ask another question.  Often they take the form of things that are awkward, like "How many spots are there for 2 year olds born in August?"  Or silly, like "Do you serve only organic snacks?"  These people guarantee that you will never get out of the tour without forcing the preschool director to repeat things that are just common sense (children will be allowed to pee at school, yes) or early-slash-on time.

The Expecting:  The general age of parents in New York is a little older and people seem to have kids back-to-back, so there is always at least one pregnant woman, but I went on one tour with as many as four.  One director remarked that on a past tour, one woman actually went into labor on the tour.  They generally look exhausted and fairly casual, depending on the trimester.  They always ask about the school's sibling policy and ask to take the elevators.

The Student:  The Student often overlaps with the Nodders.  In addition to nodding vehemently, this person also whips out a small notebook and pen and begins intently jotting things down as the tour leader speaks.  I mean, I get it.  We see a lot of schools, but really?  We're not discussing the finer points of tax policy, it's preschool.  Make some notes after you walk out the door.  They often ask facts and figures questions, which the 20 Question-ers love because they can follow up with another 3 queries.  May even ask about when the school gives homework.

What to Wear

Alright, so, you're sitting on these tours, listening to how many highly educated people will teach your darling child the ins and outs of finger painting for the price of a luxury car.  But what are you wearing?

What to Wear to a Preschool Tour

My thought was to keep it pretty basic.  You want to look like a responsible parent, one who can get out the door in pants without an elastic waistband, but not so put together that the staff thinks that you spend more quality time with your hair stylist than with your child.  Most tours are mid-morning (so you can see the kids in action) and most people will be heading to work afterwards, so men might be in suits, but women tend to be a little more casual.  I like the idea of incorporating basics in your closet (like knee high Frye boots) or basic dark grey pants (the ever reliable Theory Max C pants), with a new cardigan.

For sweaters, I really like a burgundy/oxblood open cardigan like this one from Topshop or splurge on a cashmere V-neck like this J. Crew sweater.  I also like the idea of adding a pussy bow blouse (like this long sleeve or this sleeveless) to any outfit to amp up the warmth potential and the formality without looking fussy.

Since most tours are a solid walk away and take place in late fall, I think flat shoes or comfortable heels are a must.  I'm also just looking for any reason to add these Rag & Bone boots to my closet.  ANY REASON AT ALL.  If you opt for real heels, stash a pair of flats in your tote, along with a small pad and paper (take notes afterwards, not during, the tour) along with some names for the thank you note.  For this reason, I prefer a satchel style bag, like Rebecca Minkoff MAB or the Coach Legacy Hobo.

Any we haven't even gotten to the playgroup-interviews...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Well, hello there!

Hi.  How are you?  How have you been?

Oh, wait, you want to know what I've been up to and where I've been?

Nope, not swallowed by Hurricane Sandy, my family all escaped nature's wrath with an embarrassment of safety and luck.

Nope, not fallen down in a ditch somewhere bleeding and unable to reach my computer.

Nope, not pregnant and hiding it.

Honestly?  I've just being a little lazy and unsure of what I would contribute to the blogosphere.  I think I disappeared right around when fall started and every blogger in my reader went full on OMGOMGOMG FALLFALLFALL PUMPKINPUMPKINPUMPKIN.

Pumpkin has officially jumped the shark.

So, what have I been up to?

unrelated photo

Well, there were three birthdays...Reese, my husband and I are all within 6 weeks of each other.

There are preschool applications...which are just as over the top and cliche as everything you've heard about New York City preschools.

There was the marathon I was training for...and never ran, due to Hurricane Sandy.

There was the fact that the marathon fell on my birthday...leading to one incredibly odd and empty feeling day.

And since then, I've just been in a little funk.  But, I think I'm ready to start blogging again a little.  I appreciate all the comments and tweets that were all, "Hey? Still alive? Just checking!"  I'd like to do some gift guides and some possible preschool related posts, but I'd also like a little I'd like to open the floor to post ideas or questions!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Playground Style: Essential Shoes for Fall

I have a lot of shoes in my closet.  The only problem is that most of them have not gotten a lot of wear in the past two years.  And as much as I miss my patent leather slingbacks, I'd say about six or seven pairs are really essential for every day and will carry me through the fall. These are the shoes that I'm wearing out constantly, go with everything, and hopefully add a little something to the every day outfit.

Essential Fall Shoes

1. The Casual shoe: Start at the very beginning.  This is going to be the go-to comfortable shoe for walking around, attending classes, etc.  You'll want a slip on shoe that can take every day wear and tear.  My choice is the Sperry Top Sider, but, as I described last year...some people fall into the TOMS camp.  That's cool, you can make your own decision.

2. The Loafer:  I actually debated calling this category "The Slipper" but decided that sounded a little too cutesy.  But basically, that's what these are, a take off of the Stubbs and Wooten classic slipper.  They were absolutely everywhere last year in New York and are making a go of it nationwide.  Good for them!  I have an animal print pair from Topshop that are very similar to these, but really like the embroidered Gap ones in the set above.

3. The Knee High Flat Boot:  Knee high flat boots are a staple of any wardrobe, but as a mother, they really prove their worth.  You can walk for miles, pushing a stroller, run around the playground, run errands, etc and still look good doing it.  It's a cliche for sure, but the fall mommy uniform is "sweater plus skinny jeans tucked into boots."  Don't mess with what's good for you.  Go for brown (don't be afraid to pair it with black) and don't skimp.  These Frye boots are killer cool and I have it on good authority that they last forever.

4. The Sneaker:  Here's something they don't tell you in "What to Expect...," you have to take your shoes off a lot when you have a child.  Many people require it for entrance into their home (there was a whole Sex and the City ep dedicated to it) and most music classes will ask you to go barefoot too.  So, ballet flats are not always an option, because trust me, your toes are not "music class ready."  Sneakers give you that perfect excuse to wear socks and look cool doing it.

5. The Red Flat:  Last fall, I looked into my closet and realized that 75% of everything I owned was black, navy, grey or brown.  Except my red flats.  For some reason, all my casual clothes end up in the neutral department. To avoid walking out the door looking like I'm joining some kind of throwback Soviet army where people don't brush their hair, I choose my red flats and voila! Outfit.

6. The Rain Shoe: Look, I love knee high rain boots as much as the next girl.  But those suckers get warm.  Like super hot.  And again, as a mother, there is the whole pulling off your wet rainboots outside your friends' door while your child gets antsier and antsier just knowing that there is a graham cracker on the other side of the door.  Unpleasant.  These little rainshoes are a cute alternative for the fall and spring rainy days when there's still a chance you could overheat on the walk to the grocery store.

Let's not get all silly and assume that it's all essentials and practicality over here.  To be sure, I did add something fun to the mix...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Body Post Baby: The Truth, Nothing But the Truth

I'd like to take a moment to talk about something unpleasant.

Truth in post-partum blogging.

Nothing infuriates me more than reading about how some blogger *just* spit out a baby and is telling the world that she is buttoning up her skinny jeans and has a "flat" tummy.  Why?  Because it's NOT TRUE.

Look, I know that tabloids are more than happy to perpetuate the myth that we are all fat slobs because celebrities are super special creatures of the wind who give birth in the morning and are posing for bikini pictures by tea time.  They have access to photoshopping wizards and binding garments that would make the ancient Chinese blanch.  That's fine.

But blogging is supposed to be different.  We are regular people.  People without a publicist.  I feel that it is unfair to the internet reading world to say those things when they are simply not true.

Everyone who is being kind-of honest will tell you will still look six months pregnant after you give birth.  Also wrong.  Before you kick that baby out in to the cold cruel world, you have that nice round basketball of a belly, right?  Alright, so, you deflate the basketball and what do you get?  Well, if we are just talking about your abdomen, it's a squishy flabby mess.  Your muscles and skin and everything stretched to god only knows where to keep the baby on the inside.  Your uterus gained more weight than the men of Friends over 10 seasons.  That simply does not vanish and snap back to attention right away.  Plus, to give birth, your pelvis basically spreads apart to accommodate the baby so you may actually be wider in the hips than while you were just pregnant.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to put on your pre-pregnancy jeans after 8 days just for funsies while the baby naps and you are super hella hormonal.  Even your baggy-ish boyfriend pair.  Holy downward spiral, Batman.

And yes, I absolutely did that.

Things will return to normal.  I mean, I did not believe it was humanely possible after seeing what I looked like post-partum, but it did.  But it takes time.  Maybe less time for some people than for others, but I would put realistic expectations in the weeks, not days.  In the meantime, ignore the bloggers spending their post-birth time photoshopping pictures of themselves and lying to the world.  Relax, take care of your baby, and let nature take care of itself.

For some other honest blogger experiences with a post-baby body check out these posts by Jaclyn Day and Terra of Stylish White Female.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Maternity Style: The Coat

You know how some women get all weepy eyed and hormonal at the sight of a newborn and turn to their partner and say, "I want a(nother) baby!"?

Well, I get that way when I look at the Hatch Collection maternity line.

Especially the coats.  Oh, god.  The coats.  

My ovaries just exploded.

I had a summer pregnancy, so there was no need for a coat, but if you are pregnant right now...INVEST.

Don't give me the business about you can just wear your regular coat, it's sized up a little so you can wear a sweater, blah blah blah.  Buy a maternity coat.  For a more authoritative voice, read this post by the Pregnant Fashionista as to why it's necessary.  

And while we're at it, let me add another reason: babywearing.

In the winter, babywearing is often the warmest and easiest way to get around with an infant.  You will want a coat that will fit comfortably over the carrier on your shoulders and be able to wrap around the baby in the front.  A maternity coat will give you the wiggle room to bundle that baby up and get out for a walk.

Now, please excuse me, I need to convince my husband to have another baby in time to buy that coat.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Sid the Science Kid Reunion

I'll just go ahead and apologize for this upfront.  The whole preschool application process started this week and my brain is kind of fried.  This started brewing this morning while Reese was watching Sid the Science Kid, one of my least favorite kids shows and of course, one of her favorites.

Scene opens on happy hour bar scene in Southern California.  It is the 5 year high school reunion of the kids from Sid the Science Kid.  Sid (the kid who wants to know everything about everything), Gerald, Gabriela and May have all gathered post college to catch up.

May, Gerald, Gabriela, and Sid.

Sid walks in a little early and orders a Heineken from the bar, even though only domestic beers are on happy hour special.  He's sipping it slowly after leaving a shitty tip when Gerald shows up.

Gerald: Hey bro!  What's up?!?  I can't believe it's been FIVE years since we graduated from high school!  How's it hangin'?

Sid:  Oh, hey man!  Um, pretty good.  You know, graduated from college, working for the man.

Gerald (ignores Sid's painfully awkward attempt at slang): Right on, dude!  Yeah, I just got out of school too.  Took me a few extra semesters, but I managed to fit in some extra "freshman orientation" if you know what I mean!

Sid: Um, yeah, totally!  So you were at Wisconsi...

Gerald (swigging gulps of a Bud Lite can): No, no, man.  Notre Dame.  Joined a frat, had a blast with my bros.  Just didn't want to leave, y'know?  Hey..where is everyone?  I thought we were meeting at 7?

Sid: Uh, no.  Eight. It's eight p.m. right now.

May enters the bar, punctual as always.  She's wearing high waisted khakis and a prim buttoned up shirt with thick rimmed hipster glasses.  She waves brightly at the guys and comes over to say hello.

May (in rapid fire): Hi, hi!  How are you? How are you doing? What's happening? Can I have a Midori sour?

Sid: Hey May, um, not much, Gerald and I were just saying that...

Sid is interrupted by the arrival of Gabriela, ever fashionable in her layered skirt over pants combo and flowing orange hair.  Sid stares at her wistfully, thinking about how his crush on her went unrequited.  

Gerald (as an aside to Sid): Damn, son.  Gabriela has been keeping it tight.  Glad to know that not everyone has been letting it go like you-know-who over here.

Sid pauses, remembering the night that he hooked up with May after way to many homemade seabreezes and cough syrup.  It was the same night that Gerald and Gabriela disappeared from the party early.  They hadn't talked about it since.

Gabriela (swanning around, giving double kisses to the boys, and hugging May like a long lost sister): How is everyone? It's so good to be back! San Francisco is so busy! I feel like I never come home!

Gabriela orders a glass of Chardonnay and the gang settles in to rehash the past five years.  Gerald reveals that his post-graduate plans include an upcoming court date for a DUI and checking out a job in his dad's real estate brokerage.  May has started medical school after graduating from UCLA without attending an good parties and says that while the human body icks her out, her parents are really pleased with her.

Gabriela talks about her live-in boyfriend (but things are pretty casual) and her job at the art gallery. Even though she left Smith with some girl-on-girl smooches and a degree in psychology with a minor in feminist art, she hasn't had a paying job yet.  Sid reveals that he started at Cal in science, but freshman chemistry kicked his ass and he, sadly, did not get to learn everything about everything.  He's working on getting his CPA license.

Gabriela (while indicating that she'll have another white wine): So,'s your family?

Mort, Alice, Zeke, Sid and Grandma in happier times.

Sid: Well, grandma died a couple of years ago. (murmurs of condolences from everyone except Gerald who is busy getting his third beer)  Then Mom and Dad started have a bunch of fights, and my dad eventually moved out.  Turns out, my mom is gay and she's now living with another woman.  Zeke lives with them while he goes to junior college.  The whole thing was really hard on him.

May: Wow.  That's a lot to handle.  How's your dad?

Sid: Um, he's ok.  He got an apartment and we stay there sometimes. He's on JDate, but nothing's panned out just yet.  (Trying to change the subject.) Hey, does anyone know where teacher Susie is these days? I heard she left the preschool.

Gabriela: Oh yeah! My mom ran into her recently at the farmers market.  She went back to grad school and got a master's.  She's now running an inner city charter school with a focus on healthy eating.  I heard they just got a grant from Alice Waters!

Whole group chit chats about the old days.  Gerald orders everyone a round of tequila shots, but ends up doing most of them himself.  Gabriela spends a lot of time putting her hand on Sid's arm and giving him meaningful looks, until her her boyfriend shows up at the bar to take her to someplace with a really good "mixologist who makes his own bitters."  May claims she needs to go home and study for her immunology exam next week.  Sid ends up giving Gerald a ride home, narrowly avoiding him puking in his car.  He ends up in his room at his mom's house thinking about Gabriela's polka dot sweater, science and what could have been.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Planning for Fall: Short Flat Boots

I posted recently about my yen for a short bootie for fall.  But until a commenter asked for any recommendations for a short flat boot that isn't very motorcycle-esque for fall, I hadn't noticed that most of my choices included a heel.

And here's the thing.  I almost never wear heels these days.

I mean, I love heels.  LOVE.  And I have comfortable ones.  But I typically walk anywhere from 3-5 miles a day.  With a stroller.  And even when I'm not walking, I'm standing at the playground or walking on the grass in Central Park.  Not heel friendly.

So, dear reader, thank you for the reality check.  Flat boots are where it's at.

I've rounded up three styles of boot that do not seem at home on Dylan McKay, but are suited perfectly for fall weekend excursions or long strolls.

Planning for Fall: Short Flat Boots

Beatle Boots:  These are probably the dressiest of the three versions here.  The Beatle boot is sleek with a pointier toe and a low rise.  I think they look great with rolled up jeans or a maxi-skirt, but I think you might be able to get away with them and cropped skinny pants at a more casual office.  I actually just bought the Topshop pair in a grey (that doesn't seem to be online) that I am test driving for fall.

Work Boots:  I sort of lumped a bunch in this category of more "functional boots."  The Loeffler Randall rain bootie is a classic these days, especially since everyone and their sister has a pair of Hunters.  I love the army green and the lace up, but they make a sleeker version too.  Also, I like that you don't have to tuck in your pants in the rain with these, because OMG, that can get so hot.

The LL Bean boots bring back all kinds of high school nostalgia for me.  I think they have that urban-woodsman-cool vibe, even though the closest I get to the woods is the wood chips on the median on Park Avenue.  They are useful, well made, cool looking, and under $100.  It's like playing with house money.

The Clark's boot here is an American classic, like apple pie and manifest destiny.  It's definitely a look, what my sister would call "nerdbomber chic," that not everyone can pull off.  But if you can, rock out with your pocket protector out.

Loeffler Randall Rain Bootie / LL Bean Boots / Clark's Desert Boot

Chelsea Boots:  So, these are very similar to the Beatle boots.  Probably the same.  I'm sure someone will point out that the Chelsea boot name was derived from the London neighborhood and the Beatles wore them and then stole the name, blah blah.  Whatever.  I wanted to make three categories.  I think of the Chelsea boot as a little more "weekend" and horse-y, as opposed to "mod" and Austin Powers-ish.  The Anthro boots have a thin sliver heel, which is a nice compromise, and the zippers add a  The other two are a more classic look, perfect with jodhpurs.  Or you know, regular pants.

Anthropologie Zip Wedge Boots / ASOS Abacus Chelsea Boots / J Crew Emmett Ankle Boots

There you go, some alternatives to the motorcycle boot.  Does anyone actually know the etiology of the Beatle boot/Chelsea boot distinction?  I'm mostly just too lazy to google it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Body Post Baby: Finding Time to Work Out

For the first 3 or 4 months after Reese was born, I did little to no exercise.  I was just too overwhelmed with her needs, the fatigue, the difficulties I was having with nursing, the fact that my husband had tough work schedule.  After that, I would sporadically start to work out and then stop again.  It really took almost 15 months for me to get back on a serious workout schedule, plus some serious motivation.

In a few months, I'm running the ING New York City Marathon.

(Oh, god, just typing that made my stomach do flip flops)

While, obviously, you don't have to be training for a marathon to get in a regular workout schedule, it is really important to have a plan and make an effort to work out once you have a baby.  I'm not saying it's not difficult for people who have jobs, multiple babies, jobs and multiple babies, etc.  These are just ways I've found to make the time to exercise.

1.  Start off slowly.  I started going to a Mommy and Me yoga class in Pittsburgh as soon as I could, when Reese was about 8 weeks old.  It wasn't even really exercise at that point, just a reason to get us both out of the house, but eventually I got some stretching and strength in.  Also, don't expect too much when you start doing the regular cardio again.  My first time back on the treadmill - the first five minutes were awesome, the next six were torture and that was about it.

2.  Let some things go.  If you are going to work out at night, don't expect to also make a home cooked dinner.  Let the laundry sit for the evening.  There are going to be tradeoffs here and exercising is important, make it a priority and let some of the other stuff slide.

3.  Just GO.  I used to want conditions to be perfect for a run.  Not too much to eat beforehand, mental preparation etc. That simply does not happen these days.  For example, recently, my husband had a big case scheduled for early in the morning.  I was going to skip my planned run and spend the morning sipping coffee and playing crayons with Reese.  Well, the patient didn't show up to have her cancer removed and my husband could stay home.  Even though I was not in the mood, I got up and ran.

4.  Find a buddy.  An unsympathetic one.  Preferably one without a baby.  You need someone who will stare at you blankly when you moan about teething pain and colic and the fact that the store was out of the favored Bunny Grahams flavor and tell you to get your ass to the gym and meet her.  You want someone who will push you, not indulge you.

5.  Or fly solo.  I prefer to run alone.  I don't own a jogging stroller and I don't want one.  Exercising is my time to be alone, to listen to music, read a magazine and watch the Kardashians and rot my brain if I want to.  It's selfish, but true.

6.  Early bird...  I'm going to try not to be one of those cliches where I whine about how hard it is to be a doctor's wife, but bottom line is that my husband has an unpredictable and demanding job.  Sometimes he leaves at 5 and gets home at 9.  Thankfully, that's rare these days and the most variability is in when he gets home.  If someone comes in at 4 pm with an airway emergency, no one is going to care that he promised to give Reese a bath so I can run.   So, most of my runs are happening in the morning.  EARLY in the morning. This was totally unthinkable when I was still nursing, but now that I can have my workout out of the way and just focus on Reese during the day, we are both a lot less stressed out.

7. Invest where it counts.  I belong to a gym, even though I prefer to run outside.  Why?  They have a great babysitting service that is dirt cheap by Manhattan standards.  To be able to leave Reese for two hours in a place where she has fun and I can get my workout in is absolutely worth it.  If you can run with your baby, I would buy the best jogging stroller you can afford.  Or hire a regular babysitter so you can get to the gym.  It's important.

8.  Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.  (Is that totally stuck in your head now?  It's in mine.)  I used to think that it was not worth going to the gym if I wasn't going to work out for less than an hour.  Nowadays, I just tell myself that all I have to do is work out for 30 minutes.  That's it.  Once I'm there, I'll usually guilt myself into doing more, but if that's all I have time for, that's ok too.

9.  Focus on the after, not the during.  Every time I would engage in one of my sporadic workouts I would marvel at how much better I felt afterwards.  Calmer, in control, more alert, happy.  Whenever I feel lazy, I try to focus on that feeling.  Or my husband will gently remind me that I'm much more pleasant to be around after I've worked out.

10.  Plan.  It's important to be flexible when you have a baby, but planning is essential.  At the beginning of every week since I started training, my husband and I talk about which mornings he can go in on the late side, when my mom might be here to watch Reese, or which evening might be a good take out night, so I can run.  Obviously, things cannot be set in stone, but if there is no plan, it's not going to happen.

So, there it is.  Not revolutionary stuff, but things it took me almost two years and a HUGE goal to figure out.  Any other tips?  Especially for early on after having a baby, since I was so terrible at it?

And now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go yak because I just admitted to the internet that I am going to run a marathon and that means I actually have to do it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How I Lost the Genetic Lottery: A Mascara Review

I somehow missed the eyelash gene in my family.

In a cruel freak of nature mutation, I wound up with the short end of the lash stick.  Both my sister and my daughter have beautiful long lashes and I end up looking like the albino in The DaVinci Code if I don't slather on mascara every day.

But recently, my genetically superior sister shared a product recommendation with me.

Benefit's They're Real! mascara.

I rushed right out to get it, but couldn't pull the trigger on another disappointing $20-plus mascara...until I saw the $10 mini version.  Since I never use up an entire tube of mascara before the expiration (three months, people!) this was a perfect compromise.  Plus, it takes up less room in my overstuffed makeup case.  I may not have won the lash lottery, but I got the shrewd genes.


And the comedy ones.

Anyhoo, it's a great mascara.  It really lengthens and defines the lashes (those that I actually have...) and stays put through most of the day.  Then washes off with water and is easily removed with a swipe of remover.  I would maybe complain that it doesn't make the lashes look that much thicker, but it's kind of splitting hairs.

Get it?!?

See...I'm funny so it makes up for my puny eyelashes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Preparing for Fall: Draped Sweaters

Wednesdays have become my de facto "day off."  My mom takes Reese to her music class and I do my longest weekday run (more about that to come...), shower and spend a little time running errands, browsing around New York or catching up with a friend for lunch.

This past Wednesday, I was down in SoHo and decided to check out Dalaga NYC, this super cute boutique that started in Brooklyn but made the leap to Manhattan recently.  Which is nice for me, because getting to Brooklyn it's just...hard.

I mean, it's not.  But it is.  I'm lazy when it comes to the outer boroughs.

While in Dalaga I spied the cutest sweater.  CUTEST.  It was a soft thin knit, long enough to wear with leggings but not tunic length and draped perfectly.  Also, it's was under $100.  Obviously everyone else in New York liked it too because they only had ONE left and it was HUGE.  Crap on a cracker.

So, I did what anyone would do.  I googled.  And googled.  And emailed the brand (still waiting....)  And I cannot even find a picture to show you.  So, I pulled together a few other draped sweater options since I loved the look so much.  

Preparing for Fall: Draped Sweaters

I think they are perfect for fall since they can be easily worn with skinny pants and boots, over dresses and skirts, or with jeans and leggings.  (I might even consider wearing that last ASOS one backwards in a little Kriss Kross homage to get the look I want.)  The lightweight quality is key for the transitional weather, and you can layer under or over the sweater as it gets colder.

The owners of Dalaga graciously added me to the waitlist for a similar sweater coming in in a few weeks, but my heart still belongs to the one that got away.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Preparing for Fall: Metallic Nails

When you think about it, nail polish is the most baby friendly beauty product.  You apply when the baby is asleep, it dries, and then poof!  No need to reapply or worry about smudges.  It won't wipe off on the baby and make everyone think your child has some weirdo birth mark.  And it lasts for a week (or, if you are a total laze-bum like me, three, because I work the "chipped nails look.")  Perfect!

For fall, neons and brights are making way for the traditional vampy wine colors, but I think a more fun route is metallics.

It actually reminds me that my first nail polish love was a little Hard Candy polish in Trailer Trash, a perfect silver that I wore in high school like it was my job.  Sigh.  Now I have to go self sharpen some No. 2 pencils and watch William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet again to exorcise that memory.

This season, I'm really loving Topshop's Gilted, a beautiful bronze that would look killer with sweaters or a blazer come September (fall starts a lot earlier in New York as compared to, a LOT)

A little more sophisticated than my high school favorite, even though I might not be.  If you'll excuse me, I have some early Leonardo DiCaprio queued up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stand Out in a Crowd of Birthdays

Baby birthday parties are quite a scene in New York.

I've been lucky enough to avoid the circuit thanks to some low-key friends and the fact that most of Reese's buddies are late fall-early winter babies.  But I've been to enough that I'm kind of sick of cupcakes.

So, when I heard about The Soft Serve Fruit Co., I was pretty jazzed about it.  So much so that I'm posting this in hopes that someone will serve it at a party I attend before the end of the warm weather.

Here's the scoop (pun intended! and horrible!): The Soft Serve Fruit Co. makes soft serve frozen fruit.  It's basically like a FrozFruit (children of the 80's, you know what I'm talking about), but blended.  They have banana, blueberry, raspberry, tangerine, mango and more...all of which can be served with toppings, just like frozen yogurt, but healthier.  It's gluten and dairy free, perfect for parties when you never know what people are avoiding eating!

I think it would be a really cute party idea to have a make-you-own sundae bar with lots of fun toppings. I like the idea of serving at a kids party because it's healthier than cake, but sweet enough that you're not that Grinch mom handing out raisins and apples on Halloween.'s a secret.  I don't like cake.  I know, go ahead, crucify me in the comments.

I heard about Soft Serve Fruit Co. because they opened a store near my apartment, but I recently found out that they ship nationwide!

Any other good party ideas?  Reese's second is fast approaching...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Body Post Baby: A Whole New World

A while back, I stood in my closet and stared at my wardrobe, feeling utterly helpless and dismayed because everything just looked and felt wrong.

While I was doing this, Reese was very busy unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper and draping it around our bed.

I posted on Twitter about my frustration, and got some instant responses empathizing with my plight.  One, in particular, struck a chord with me.  She said that she was feeling the same way, mostly because she was unhappy with her post-baby body and wondered if it would ever go back to normal.

My short answer?

No.  But also yes.

I was reminded about this day when I read an article by Janice Min in the New York Times this weekend about the pressure that celebrity mothers face to lose weight after having a baby and the trickle down effect it's having on non-celebrity moms.  The article is particularly interesting given that Janice Min, a former editor of US Weekly, admits that she contributed to this atmosphere by putting countless "bounced back after baby!" headlines in her publication.

I read the article with a lot of mixed feelings.  I'll say without a doubt, I certainly see where that pressure comes from living on the Upper East Side, surrounded by mothers who look amazing pushing babies with umbilical stumps still attached.  I can't even imagine what it must be like in Los Angeles, but at least they are all in their cars instead of walking around on the streets.  But at the same time, I don't think it's a pipe dream or unrealistic to want to feel good about your body and look good after having a baby.

I'm not going to pretend that I had some crazy amazing body before getting pregnant, but it was what I was used to.  I had been training for a half-marathon and was in solid shape.  In what might be a total overshare, I hit my pre-baby weight 5 months after having Reese. The number on the scale does not tell the whole story though, because I was packing at least an extra 2-3 lbs in my bra at any given point during the day and I hadn't done basically any exercising.  So, while I weighed the same as I did pre-baby, things did not look the same.

Actually, I'm pretty much astonished that I look even close to normal after that first week post-partum.

Things arms are generally pretty toned from holding Reese AT ALL TIMES, but my core is...well...softer.  And I don't know that there is enough pilates in the world to make that better.  But, that doesn't mean I'm going to give up on working out, eating well and trying to have the best body that I can have.  I don't think that society should condone that as much as they shouldn't pressure any one to look like a celebrity.  And, several months after this exchange (and a few new and better fitting pants later) I can say that I don't hate getting dressed any more.

So, while I didn't look like Gisele before having a baby and I'm certainly not going to look like her afterwards, my revised answer to the woman wondering if things go back to normal...Yes.  They do.  But it's a slightly different normal.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Planning for Fall: Short Booties for Shorter Days

I think my least favorite part of fall is the shortening of the days.  There is something about dusk creeping in earlier and earlier each night that totally depresses me.

So this autumn, I'm making the most of every day.  First order of business?  Short boots.

They are everywhere this fall and they are very playground friendly (sturdy heel, plays well with others, etc).

I'm particularly fond of the short boots with a flippy skirt and tights look.

Or with a lightweight dress until the fall chill rolls in.

But I'm cool with cropped pants and an oversized knit sweater too.

Actually, just thinking about walking home in that outfit makes me feel a little better about the fact that it will be pitch black before Reese's dinner when I'm wearing it.

As for styles, I'm liking this pair from DV by Dolce Vita or this pair from Topshop.

Any fall looks you're loving while the weather is still warm?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maternity Style: Starting Out

I recently received a question from a reader!  This is very exciting, since I usually have to make up questions and pretend they are from readers in order to facilitate a blog post.

Jessica wrote:

I'm a newly pregnant (10 weeks-ish) gal who works in a very professional setting (suits most days) and I'm panicking about what to wear in these early months of pregnancy.  I don't know if you have any good ideas for outfits or somewhat inexpensive pieces that could help me in these first few months... or even later.  I figure I can wear a lot of my jackets open, but my current style is to wear fitted/belted tops, so I'm worried nothing will work.  Any ideas would be so much appreciated... goes nothing.


First, of all, congratulations!  Second of all, I feel your pain, early pregnancy is an awkward and confusing time for fashion, much like the early 90's (not really 80's neon, but not yet grunge).  When you are newly pregnant, you feel more pregnant than you look.  You don't want to spend a ton of money on new clothes for a baby bump that's not really there, but your regular clothes are starting to get tight in all the wrong places.  For work, this was doubly tricky since button downs were the first item of clothing that I outgrew, owing in part to the extra pound or two parked in my bra from the moment of conception.  Here's a trick though: it's worth investing in a few items to extend your pre-pregnancy wardrobe and carry you through the rest of the baby making process in style.  So, here are my recommendations:

The first order of business is to get a Bellaband.  This stretchy tube was an absolute godsend to me for the first half of my pregnancy.  It allows you to continue to wear your pre-pregnancy pants while your belly grows.  I wore mine nonstop until week 24 or so, when it finally became necessary to switch to full time maternity pants.  It will also increase your top wardrobe because it adds an extra couple of inches underneath your shirts.  It will look like you layered a long tank top under your regular shirt.

Here are two outfit ideas for pants you may already own with the Bellaband.  

Maternity Style: Starting Out

I would comb through your closet and pull out any thin and stretchy knits that you think you can comfortably wear at work.  I love the look of a knit under a suit jacket as opposed to a button down and the stretch will carry you through the next few weeks.  Also, I would recommend investing in a thin belt.  I like metallic, but get down with your gestating self and go for a color too.  The key here is to create a waist as your natural waist disappears as you get more and more pregnant, so belt it a little higher than normal, just under your ribs.

The second outfit involves a looser fitting blouse that swings away at the bottom.  If you have something like this already, awesome.  If not, it's worth the investment because you wear it after you have the baby (the dreaded fourth trimester) or tucked into a skirt.  I think it looks really cute with a cigarette pant and a fun printed shoe, plus a colored statement necklace.  Necklaces become your best friends during pregnancy since they draw the eye up to your kick ass cleavage.

Maternity Style: Starting Out 2

After the Bellaband, I recommend that you to invest in a black pencil skirt.  I had two, one higher waisted and one that stayed low under the bump, and I loved both.  They were perfect for early pregnancy in particular because they were just kind of stretchy, which allowed me to wear them high waisted and tuck in shirts, then pretend I had just eaten a lot at lunch (the Chipotle burrito-baby effect).  Or, I would wear an untucked blouse layered over the skirt and belt over the blouse.  I was able to continue to wear them throughout the pregnancy with longer maternity tops and after Reese was born.  Since you are going to be whittling down your wardrobe to basic colors, fun shoes are a must.  

The other item of clothing you should make your bestie is a sheath dress.  I was surprised to find that many of my dresses had a little stretch in them already and made the transition to full on maternity pretty easily, as would this LOFT dress.  After the sixth or seventh month, I found that regular dresses would pull up in the front, which is kind of weird looking...which is also why I don't like the asymmetric look that is dying a slow death this summer.  

If you are willing to invest, I cannot recommend More of Me enough.  This sheath looks fabulous and would last you your whole pregnancy. I think that a cute bump under a dress is a nice look when carefully balanced with a fun scarf or, again, the statement necklace.  What's also nice about this look is that you have a lot going on on top, so you can balance it by wearing flats...which you will want to do sooner than you think.

The last note I'll give you is on jackets.  In the beginning, you will probably be able to wear your regular suit jackets and blazers unbuttoned.  However, as you progress, your back and rib cage will likely expand to accommodate the baby (joy!) and the jackets will get tight.  I firmly believe that pregnant women are allowed to be a little more casual than the average professional and I think that a cardigan can stand in nicely for a jacket.  If you feel that a jacket is absolutely necessary, I recommend buying a real maternity jacket like the one above from Olian.  Again, you might not need it for a while, but the number of times you'll wear it will make it worth the cost.

For shopping, I recommend ASOS and Topshop for fun and interesting maternity clothes you might not find elsewhere.  ASOS is inexpensive and offers free shipping/returns and Topshop has lots of maternity versions of their regular clothes.  After that, I would stake out some of the better maternity boutiques online, like Rosie Pope, Figure 8 Maternity and Belly Dance for sales and investment pieces.

Again, investing in a few key items  and some new accessories early on can extend your current wardrobe as you ease into pregnancy.  I think it makes you less likely to go crazy later when absolutely nothing fits and end buying a whole new wardrobe.  Hope that helps!

Anyone else with any tips?  Favorite maternity pieces? Questions for me?  I'm on a roll!
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