Monday, January 31, 2011

Checking In

Hello, Wonderful Readers!

I hope that you're all doing well!

I've been meaning to thank you all for your comments on the reviews I wrote a couple weeks ago. I just wanted to take this opportunity to check in...I see some of you noticed that I've been fairly quiet for the last month or so and not really posting as regularly as I used to.

At the risk of sounding like a whiner, there really isn't another way for me to put it other than I've just been...tired. I know a few of you have mentioned that, with blogging, we post snippets of our lives but those snippets just barely scratch the surface of our day to day existence. (okay, you all said it a lot better than that, but I'm just paraphrasing - sorry!) So, with that said, I'd like to offer what may sound like a measly excuse for my absence.

Basically, I suck at time management.

I got into reading style blogs about a year ago, when I discovered Anthroholic while trying to find an Anthropologie dress on eBay. I'd always admired Anthro clothes from afar; but, to be honest, I never really knew how to style them. I fell in love with Kim's fashion sense and her peppy writing style, and I found her fitting room reviews to be awesomely helpful.

In my excitement over discovering Kim's blog, I sent Carol an instant message to share all the prettiness with her. We've always loved shopping together (in person when we were younger, and online when she got married and moved to New York and then to San Diego), so I thought she'd enjoy the bloggy world too. Together we gushed over Kim's blog, which lead to finding Roxy's blog, then Rosa's, Maria's, Tien's, etc. You get the picture.

"We can totally do this, Kathryn." Carol said.

"We..? Like...us? With a blog?" I asked.

"Yes!!! It'll be fun!" Carol exclaimed.

And so we were off on our little blogging adventure. And while I was reluctant about blogging at first - I've never considered myself to be stylish or witty enough to blog wittily about style, so I was more content to read blogs rather than write for one - it has been lots of fun. As Carol mentioned in her post the other day, I never would have met all of you if I hadn't started blogging with her. I love reading all the different blogs out there, and I love all of the stylish inspiration I get from all of you. And it's been a great experience to share with one of my best friends. So I'm glad she convinced me to do this blog with her, and I'm just as grateful that she's been so willing to go along with my nutty ideas ("Let's do a photo shoot, wearing the same dress!").

But I've always sucked at time management.

Sara mentioned in her post here about how difficult it can be to balance your time, and I've been feeling the same way for awhile - that for me, personally, there just aren't enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want to do. And so, in my own personal balancing act, I've found that I haven't had the time to blog.

During the holiday season (which was when I largely disappeared from blogging), I spent most of my time going over to my parents' house to visit my mother after work and on the weekends. You see, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2007. It's been a tough road, to say the least. Since I got off of work early every day during the month of December, I wanted to take advantage of the extra time to spend as much time with her as I could. While she doesn't always know my name anymore, she's still been able to say, "I love you" and she still smiles at me much of the time. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen my little chirps about my visits with her.

Mother's Day, 2008

In the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun," Diane Lane's character gives a touching soliloquy about how her divorce changed her life. "Do you know what the most surprising thing about divorce is? It doesn't actually kill you," she said. "Like a bullet to the heart or a hit-on car wreck. It should....you shouldn't have to wake up day after day after something like that trying to understand..." And in the movie, she impulsively proceeds to buy a house in Italy because, despite her heartbreak, she still wants things. There's a part of her that still wants to go on living, even though part of her feels like giving up.

I have a soft spot for that movie because I feel like I can relate to her character. Ever since my mother's diagnosis, I've thrown myself into various things to try and keep a positive outlook on life even though there is an undeniable part of me that feels like curling up into a ball and giving up.

So instead of giving up, I try to keep my mind occupied. I practice yoga and I go for runs. When I can't run (because of my knee), I try to go for long walks (with a knee brace). I took up party planning. I love planning parties - especially for Carol's kids. I plan outings for my employees at work. I go to hockey games and hockey-related events. And about this time last year, I started a blog with Carol.

I try to keep going, the best I can. But sometimes it's just too hard.

And as much as I like blogging, the fact is it's not that easy for me. I often worry that what I have to say is fairly uninteresting, at best. The writing part doesn't come naturally to me, and I'm pretty sure it takes me a lot longer to crank out a post than it takes for most people.

I'm not entirely sure what all this means with regard to my future involvement with this blog. I still chirp my OOTDs from time to time on Twitter, and I do hope to continue to post here on the blog from time to time, when I can...



But if it's not that regular, I hope you'll all understand.

As always, thank you all for reading, and I hope to check in with you all again sooner rather than later.

Much love to you all!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Object(s) of My Obsession (Wishlist & OOTD)

Hi everyone, and happy weekend to you all! I hope you're all doing well. My family spent Saturday in the Orange County/Los Angeles area. Lawrence and Rowan headed out to the Fitness Expo in Los Angeles, where they bought a Gracie JiuJitsu t-shirt for Rowan (more on that in an upcoming post), watched the body-builder spokesmodel competition (think swimsuit pageant, only with guys in speedos, flexing their muscles, followed by a question-and-answer session), and won a football from the Marines recruiters, by doing 16 chin-ups (that was Lawrence, not Rowan, who did the chin-ups. And apparently, doing 16 actually qualified Lawrence to win a t-shirt, but Rowan wanted the football, so Lawrence traded down for that prize instead). 

Kate and I, on the other hand, went to Fashion Island, with my mother, in order to help her choose some shoes and a handbag for herself (she claims that she's become indecisive with age). We had a great time, and I had another pleasant outing at the mall, without buying anything! It helped that I was helping my mom pick out stuff - I got all the fun of shopping without having to do the spending. And, my mom was really happy with what I helped her find, which left me with a pleasant glow - especially since both items were things she didn't think of, until I made her try them. Yay!

Of course, all this helping-others business didn't prevent me from seeing and falling rather impulsively in love with something:


Oh, I really really really really like this handbag! I need a new handbag like I need another anything in my closet, but love knows no boundaries people! Love needs no reasons! The moment my eyes alighted on the delicious chocolate brown color (and it is! It's the same brown as a really wonderful bar of dark chocolate), I was instantly smitten. The bag is textured with a really great cross-hatch pattern, and along with the gold hardware accents, it has a wonderful '70s feel that I just can't resist. Well, at least, for long. I'm already scheming to find a way to buy this bag. Maybe I'll hold a blog sale and use the proceeds towards this? Do shopping bans preclude any and all purchases, even those made with unexpected sources of income (such as the profits from a sale of some of your own possessions)? 

I don't know, but I think maybe it does. After all, a shopping ban is a shopping ban. And buying this bag would definitely be shopping, no matter where the money comes from, right? ...Right. 

*Long pause*

(Did anyone else think of Joey from Friends just now?)

Yes, well, it's on The List. You know, The List of Things-I'm-Dying-to-Buy-Once-This-Exercise-in-Something-Good-For-Me-(because it sucks, and most things that suck are inevitably good for you, somehow - like eating fiber and going to the dentist)-Has-Come-to-Its-Long-Awaited-End.

Other things currently residing on this list?

3. Brushed Spot Print Wrap, Ann Taylor Loft
4. Gull Wing Dress, Anthro
5. Sun Shades Dress, Anthro
8. Natalie One-Piece (in the polka dot print), Anthro


Sweater: Konnichiwa Sweater, Anthropologie (similar here and here)
Dress: Printed Elastic-Waist Dress, Zara (similar here and here)
Tights: Diamond-patterned Fashion Hosiery, Nordstrom (similar here and here)
Shoes: Booties, Pink Studio (similar here and here)
Necklace: Multi-chain necklace, American Eagle (similar here and here)
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs The Weavy T Shifty Satchel (borrowed from the store display, because a girl can dream!)

Oh, and off-hand, my mom ended up buying the Pikolinos "Ginebra" Mary Jane Pumps, which were not only very cute, but really-super-comfortable. I want the gray ones. You know. When all this is over.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Vulnerability: On Being a Style Blogger

Hi everyone, and happy Friday! I hope you're all doing well.


I've received a handful of emails from people thinking about starting their own blogs. They've asked me a range of questions regarding how much time it takes (anywhere from some to a lot), whether it's difficult (it can be for some, I think. For me it's super fun, so even when it is hard, it's not so bad), and whether or not there are any drawbacks to doing it.


There's one I can think of, and that's the exposure. When you blog, especially when it's a style blog, you're putting yourself out there. You're taking photographs of yourself and putting them up for the whole world to see. That can be scary. I'm not always stylish or fashionable. I don't always look good in photos. My hair is generally mediocre at best. By blogging, you're making yourself vulnerable and opening yourself up to people in a pretty public way. To be totally honest, I was and still am a little conflicted about this, when I remember that my coworkers know about and sometimes read the blog. After all, this is a side of myself that has very little - well, practically nothing really - to do with my work life. 


But I'll also say that the very same thing that scares me is also the thing that has allowed blogging to be such an amazingly positive experience for me. Without having exposed myself like this, I'd never have met you. I'd never have known that in the world, such a wonderful, generous, positive, supportive group of women existed. I'd never have confronted and overcome (well, okay, it's a process. I still have bad days) my own personal demons about my body image (too short, too flat-chested, too hippy, bad hair, getting older, etc). Staying on my shopping ban would be so much harder, without the blog to keep me focused, and you to encourage me. 

Top: Chiffon and lace blouse from H&M (similar here and here)
Cami: White cotton camisole, Nordstrom Brass Plum (similar here and here
Pants: Tweed Slacks, Classiques Entier, Nordstrom (similar here and here)
Necklace: Pearl station necklace, Nordstrom (similar here and here)
Belt: Tea Rose Belt, Anthropologie (this would work and this too)
Shoes: Pink Studio bootie (old, 2008? similar here and here)

And in case you're not convinced yet, that being vulnerable has both costs and benefits, here's a wonderful talk by Brene Brown on the topic, presented at the TEDxHouston conference. It runs about 20 minutes, but it's fantastic and insightful, so I hope you find the time to watch and listen:



As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just for Fun (Kate's Very Own OOTD post)

I was out shooting my OOTD photos earlier today, and Kate was with me. Usually, when Kate comes along with me to the trail to take photos, Rowan's there as well, to entertain her, but today, he was out with DH, and so, it was just the two of us, and well...in case you can't tell, the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. She wanted to show you her OOTD.

 "Hat!" (Kate loves hats. Any and all hats. She understands that it's an accessory. And accessories can make an outfit.)



Dress: Butterfly Drop Waist Dress, Tea Collection (on sale here!)
Leggings: Lace Trim Leggings for Baby, Old Navy
Shoes: Taylor Mary Janes, See Kai Run
Hat: Chico sun hat, Target (similar here and here)

All the Colors of the Rainbow (OOTD)

In the midst of this extended shopping ban, I've been taking a lot of inspiration in other style blogs to find new and interesting ways to wear clothes I haven't pulled out of my closet in a while. For instance, the outfit below is totally drawn from Amber's outfit from about a week ago. Let's face it - it can be hard and pretty time-consuming to "shop your closet" every day, on your own. But when you've got so many stylish women and their creativity just a few clicks of the mouse away, well, it helps a lot. Anyway, I'm not sure my version really does Amber's justice, but I certainly had fun wearing it - I love my rainbow plaid button-up, and pattern mixing is always playfully cheerful, don't you think?

So, my whole family accompanied me to the trail when I took these OOTD photos, which was fun, but also a little distracting. Lawrence kept making me laugh, hence the big goofy grins on my face in some of these shots.



Shirt: Theory Window-pane plaid button-up, Nordstrom (similar here and here)
Top: Three Dots Striped long-sleeve tee, Nordstrom Rack (similar here and here and here)
Jeans: AG Angelina Petite Bootcut Jeans, Anthro (you can find them here and here)
Shoes: Diamond Stitched Skimmers, Anthro (similar here and here)
Necklace: Oh Hello Friend

Kate wandered into this shot, right as the camera's timer went off. "Ball" is one of her latest words (she's trying so hard to talk, poor little thing). Every time she curled up against me, while I was working on this post, she'd call out, "ball!" demanding to see this photo again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gap-tastic (OOTD)

Hi everyone! I hope this Wednesday finds you well. Thanks to everyone for their good advice, support, and encouragement. I'm sticking to the shopping ban and closing my eyes to that lovely ruffled-and-spotted confection of a dress from Loft, and shifting my focus to...hm, cookies, anyone?

I'm going to have to run to the grocery store to get more of those Heath Toffee chips, I think.

This is what I wore yesterday:

 Sweater: Cabled Cotton Cardigan, Gap (old - 2007? Similar here and here)
Cami: white cotton camisole, Banana Republic (also older, 2008? Similar here and here)
Skirt: Square Print Pleated Skirt, Gap (much cheaper in stores)
Shoes: Velvet City Flats, Gap (embellished at home, DIY here)
Belt: Tweed skinny belt, Anthropologie (similar here and here)


I titled my post, "Gap-tastic," because I'm quite literally in head to toe Gap, which isn't something that's happened in a couple years. I used to wear Gap a lot more - it, along with its sister stores Old Navy and Banana Republic were my favorite go-tos, back in the day, before I decided to take the plunge with Anthro-centric styling. This skirt is one I bought after Christmas (pre-shopping ban), on super sale. I think it was reduced down to $11.98 and then, on top of that, I had a $10 rewards card, which brought the final cost (after tax) down to $3 and change. I was beyond thrilled to find it, because Kathryn and I had both espied Kendi wearing it here, and became completely infatuated with the entire outfit - of which, the key piece was the skirt. The best part of the story? I was able to find a size 4 for Kathryn too! Whoo! Oh, and for those of you who may be wondering - I'm wearing the size 2, but it's enormous on me, and quite literally, hanging low off my hips. I'd size down one, maybe two sizes to get the correct fit at the waist, I think, and then, it'd probably be a lot shorter than it is in these photos.


Mothers Who Think: Tales Of Real-life Parenthood


In light of some of our recent discussions on parenthood, and motherhood specifically, I thought I'd share one of my absolute-most-favoritest-best-book-ever on the topic, Mothers Who Think: Tales Of Real-life Parenthood. My supervisor at my last job recommended it to me, when I was pregnant with Rowan, and I'm so glad she did. This book is a collection of short essays on the topic, written by mothers from all walks of life, and edited by the two women who used to write the column of the same name on Salon.com. If you are a mom, hope to be a mom someday, or have a mom, I think you'll appreciate the insights, wisdom, and glimpse into the experience of motherhood, that this book has to offer. Highly, highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ruffles and Spots and a Tie - Oh My! (A Quickie Review)

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope you're all doing well. So, Sunday afternoon, after my parking-lot fiasco and lunch at Counters (which I have to confess was a pretty dispirited affair), I asked DH if we could stop in for a quick browse in Loft, because I was hoping to spot the Brushed Spot Print Wrap, which Rosa wore here. And as you can see below, I was successful! The store had it, and I grabbed it and scurried to the fitting room to try it on.


I'm wearing this in a size 0, and it fit me very well. The dress is a semi-faux wrap, and what I mean by that is the surplice actually opens and closes with the tie to the side, but the inside is sewn shut, so you get the dress on and off by means of a side zipper and the pull-on/off method. The shoulders on the this dress are sort of angled in, almost racer-back style (though not nearly that exaggerated) which would leave bra straps on a normal bra at risk of playing peek-a-boo the entire night you wore it. Also, the neckline was a little low for me, but in spite of all that, this dress is machine washable (polyester) and I just loved it. I loved the spots, and the pretty, neutral colors, and the ruffles! 

In case you're wondering, I didn't break my shopping ban. I (rather reluctantly) handed the dress to the fitting room attendant after trying it on, and left the store. Looking back on these photos now, it's about all I can do to not race out to the store and snap it up. (Thankfully, it's past midnight and the store is closed.) But I don't know...I'm wondering if this is going to be one of those dresses I really really regret not getting, later on. What do you think? Is it worth breaking my shopping ban over? Should I try begging DH to "gift" it to me? Or should I just close my eyes really tightly and hope it fades away from memory in the next few days and weeks?

Um, did I mention that I've got all kinds of great shoes to go with this dress? 

*Squeezing eyes shut really tightly....*

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pass The Tag (Team Rubicon & an OOTD)

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a good weekend. Mine was okay, but could have been a lot worse. I had a little fender bender in the parking lot of the Carlsbad Anthro store, when a Mercedes Benz and I backed into each other.

Yep. A Benz. Because you know, if I had to hit a car, it couldn't have been...oh, a 1992 Honda Accord or something like that. It had to be a new C300. *Facepalm*

Well, this might have been enough to ruin anyone's day, but after lunch at the Counter Burger and a couple hours running around Legoland with the family, I felt better, and believe it or not, after a call with Amica Mutual (my insurance provider), I felt a whole lot better. I can't say how friendly and comforting and just kind that service rep was, when she was getting the information about the accident from me. If only we could all be that way for each other all the time. Thanks, Amica, and thanks to your super nice customer service representatives for making a bad situation seem...well, less bad.

Since I knew I was going to be hiking around Legoland today, my OOTD was all about casual & comfortable: 


Top: J. Crew Graphic Tee (from 2009; similar here and I love this one: here and this is so fun: here)
Layered over: Long-sleeve dark purple tee from H&M (similar here and here)
Jeans: AG Angelina Petite Bootleg Jeans (you can find them here and here)
Scarf: Echo Infinity Scarf (similar here and here)
Dogtag: Team Rubicon


If you will, let me take a couple more minutes of your day and tell you about some other people who help make a [really] bad situation feel a little less bad. About a year ago, the tiny island country of Haiti was struck by one of the worst earthquakes in its history, devastating hundreds of square miles of land and property and killing thousands. Jake Wood, a resident of San Diego, CA, and former Marine, watched the footage of the tragedy play out on his television screen, his horror and frustration mounting by the second. He saw need on an awesome and awful scale and knew he had the skills to help meet it. He watched as reports flooded in about bureaucratic back up, and people going without help because areas were too insecure for NGO (nongovernmental organization) staff to venture, and it seemed to him, the nightmare red-tape-and-slow-response scenario of Katrina was happening all over again. He decided to act. He put out a call for funds to friends, family, and acquaintances; put out a call for other former-military members to join him, and went to Haiti to help. He didn't wait. He didn't ask permission. He knew that he and his team members could go and deliver aid, acting as first responders and medics, where everyone else was too afraid or too slow to go, so he went. Team Rubicon was born. 

Today, nearly a year later, Team Rubicon has completed missions to deliver aid to those living through natural and man-made catastrophes in Haiti, Chile, Burma, Pakistan, and soon, Sudan. They help those who need help the most, in circumstances most of us can only barely begin to comprehend. They need our help to keep helping. Not all of us are in a position to help by sending money. But we are able to help, by spreading the word and their stories to those who can. Tara (with the help of Kim) recently blogged about the strength of women's voices, should we choose to use them. Let's do that now, and use our voices to speak for those who have none. I was given three dogtags, imprinted with the following:

TEAM RUBICON
SUPPORT TR
SAVE A LIFE
TELL A STORY
PASS THE TAG

with only the request that I tell the story, and pass the tags on, to others who will tell the story, and hopefully pass the tags on to others who will tell the story, etc. If you want to use your voice to help by telling the story of Team Rubicon and those who need them - need us - email me at carol.prettythings [at] gmail.com, with your mailing address and your commitment to tell the story and pass the tag on. If yours is one of the first three requests I receive, I'll send you a tag. 

Please don't ask for a tag, if you're planning to keep it as an accessory. Please only ask for one, if you can commit to passing it on to others who may be able to help fund these incredible, intentional acts of kindness and humanity (watch this video to get a sense of what I mean - warning: contains some graphic imagery from the Haiti earthquakes). And of course, if you're interested and able to help by being a Team Rubicon donor, follow this link here.

Use your voices. Tell the story. Pass the tag.

As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mother-Daughter OOTDs

Kate and I attended a baby shower today (congrats again, Cindy and Yasser!) and we decided to get decked out in our Anthro finest.

Well, okay, I decided. But Kate seemed very pleased with the outfit when I presented it to her. My outfit will probably look very familiar, as it's pretty much a complete rip-off of Kim's brilliant styling. It was dark outside by the time we got home, so we did our OOTD photos indoors (and as such are reprising the guest-bedroom-closet-door-and-green-chair background):

Carol's OOTD:
Sweater: Blooming Lattice Cardigan, Anthropologie (these cardigans here or here in combination with this or this or this could create a similar look. Or if you happen to be a gazillionaire, here)
Dress: De Chelly Dress (sold out online, possibly still available in stores.)
Tights: Nordstrom Fashion Hosiery (Diamond Pattern) (similar here and here)
Shoes: Rensselaer T-Straps (similar here and here)
Belt: Bow Belt by Oh Hello Friend (similar here, here, and here)

Kate's OOTD:
Dress: Schooner Dress, Anthropologie (similar here and here)
Turtleneck: Old Navy (buy here and here)
Tights: Sweater tights, Old Navy (similar here and here)


We're dancin.'

This is Kate's favorite dance-move (hands on knees, swivel side-to-side) which Rowan taught her. I wish  you could see the two of them doing it together - it's super cute!

Posin.'

With Rowan (and they're blurry, because they both moved. Sigh. Apparently, it's hard for small children to stay still....)

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Shoe Stories & The Winner of the Shoe-La-La & Zappos.com Giveaway!

Happy weekend, everyone! First of all, I want to apologize for not getting this post up sooner. It took me a while to find some time to tally up all the entries and then draw a winner, and it didn't help that so many of you told such great stories about your most memorable shoes - I felt compelled to re-read them, nearly every time I looked at the post. There were sweet stories, funny stories, sad stories, and hahaha, downright painful stories (Caroline C, I'm still wincing, when I think of you wearing size 4 shoes with size 8 feet - ouch!!! And oh, spatulater - a slip on the ice and a chipped tooth!). There were lots of jelly shoe stories (hahaha, I also remember having jelly shoes and loving them - and I seem to remember having a couple different pairs!) So thanks so much to everyone for entering and telling such great shoe stories.

So, without further ado, the winner of a copy of Shoe-La-La and a $50 Zappos.com giftcard is:


Jessie C. (JC)!


Jessie, please contact me via email (carol.prettythings {at} gmail.com) within 48 hours, so we can get you your prize. If we don't hear back from Jessie C., we'll redraw and repost a new winner.

All valid entries were tabulated in the order received in the comments section of the giveaway post. The final list of entries can be viewed here.  And a screen capture of the random number generator is below:


Thanks again to everyone for entering and as always, for reading! And thanks to Scholastic for sponsoring this great giveaway.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Black + White = Gray (OOTD & Nordstrom News)

Happy Thursday, everyone! I'm suffering from four-day work-week syndrome. You know, that thing that happens when you've had a three-day weekend, and for the rest of the week, you're one day behind? I keep thinking, for instance, that this should be Wednesday, because it's the third day of the work-week. Yep...the nice thing about these longer weekends is that we have shorter work weeks. The drawback of longer weekends is...we have shorter work weeks.

I found myself wearing head-to-toe Nordstrom stuff today (entirely by coincidence, by the way):





Shirt: Stem Striped Tee, Nordstrom (similar here, here, and so cute! here)
Pants: Nikki & Robbi paperbag waist pants (similar here and here and here)
Necklace: Cara Crystal & Bow necklace (on sale here)
Shoes: Miu Miu suede covered platform pumps (similar here, here, and here)

The striped tee (which was one of my truncated 30 for 30 Remix Challenge items) and the Nikki & Robbi pants were both Anniversary Sale purchases, this past summer. For some reason, I hadn't worn these pants very much (hmm, might that have something to do with my skirt and dress fixation? Possibly...) The necklace was a Kelly-find, which I picked up at a friend's private shopping party as were the shoes. These are the shoes I wanted to wear to the Tron: Legacy Hollywood Premiere, but so sadly left behind. *SIGH*

Anyway, here's some fun news, for those of you local to San Diego! Nordstrom is holding its Designer  Preview highlighting the Spring Collections of several renowned American and European designers. The event will be benefitting the New Children's Museum, and will include cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, a runway show, and dessert, along with the opportunity to shop the collections featured on the runway. I'll be attending, and hopefully Kathryn will as well, so if you can't make it, we'll try and have some good photos and descriptions to share with you. If you do go, come say hi! Meanwhile, here are the pertinent details:

WHEN:          WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23

TIME:            6:00 p.m.            Cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception
                     7:00 p.m.            Runway fashion show
                     7:30 p.m.            Boutique shopping and dessert

COST:            $150 or $300 for VIP tickets
                      For ticket information, call (619) 233-8792, ext. 129 or visit www.thinkplaycreate.org/nordstrom

WHERE:        Landmark Aviation
                     2904 Pacific Highway
                     San Diego, CA 92101

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Frivolity Ensues (A Shopping Ban Update)

Hi everyone. How's everyone doing? Well, I hope. I find myself a little blue tonight...just "a pale shade of azure," as my overly-romantic adolescent self what have said. Today's Anthro sale included two chemises - the Brume Chemise (which Kathryn reviewed here) and the Chantilly Chemise, which I've been keeping an eye for a few weeks.

I asked my husband, earlier this evening, "So...would buying a $30 sale item at Anthro that I've been wanting for a while be breaking my shopping ban?"

He didn't even look up from his computer,where he was working, to reply, "Would you be shopping?"

Mulish silence from me, then, "Yes...."

"Then yes, that'd be breaking the shopping ban."

Damn that man and his truth-speaking!


*GASP* No, I didn't mean that! (bad, bad Carol! Behave!!!)


It's been a rough day for me. The past week, I felt like I was doing okay - as though I'd hit my stride in this whole abstaining-from-shopping thing. But then, this morning...oh, it was a special kind of horrible to be looking at those chemises, now marked down to a totally reasonable price and so darn cute and easily styled and not be able to pull the trigger on them! And they weren't the only things by which I was tempted. I also received an Outnet.com email, featuring this Twenty8Twelve (and I LOVE Twenty8Twelve!) dress at 70% off retail:


And it doesn't stop there! Look! Look at these shoes (oh, the humanity!...of my feet?) from J. Crew:


I can't even look too long at the picture of them, because my heart climbs up into my throat for wanting them, and I have a hard time breathing. 

So what did I do in the face of such awful temptation, and even worse, grief at the loss of these pretties?



I baked cookies. Cookies with Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips and Heath Toffee Bar chips all in one! That's right, when the going gets tough, the tough eat cookies. (What? You've never heard this before?) On a slightly more serious note, though, I want to thank everyone for your support and encouragement during this time of trial for me (I know, I'm pathetic. This is my trial?) I read every one of your comments and emails, and while I don't always have time to respond to them as I'd like to, I appreciate them all. And believe me, thinking of you has stopped me, more than once in the last couple of weeks, from breaking my shopping ban. I just don't want to let you down, after all the faith you've placed in me.

As for today, at least I was wearing my beloved Rushing Ruffles dress through it all. I was reminded of its existence in my closet when I saw Anjali wearing it here, and pulled it out this morning. This, dear friends, is a hard working dress. It's a Grieving-for-lost-pretty-things/Volunteering-in-Rowan's-classroom/Going-to-work/Coming-home-and-making-dinner-and-hanging-out-with-kids/Baking-then-eating-cookies-day dress. 

Sweater: Halogen Pleat-Shoulder Cardigan, Nordstrom (on sale here)
Dress: Rushing Ruffles Dress, Anthropologie
Shoes: Gap City Flats with home-added embellishments (see details here)

Nanny Returns: A Novel

So, for all of you wonderful moms out there, working or SAHM, or future-moms-to-be, I wanted to remind everyone that really, no matter how bad we think we are, how inadequate a job we may feel we're doing when it comes to parenting, we're nowhere near as bad as the parents described in this sequel to The Nanny Diaries: A Novel. (Um...unless of course, you are. And if that's the case, please stop. Please.) This is as engaging a story as the first, though in it we see Nan's return to NYC, now a married woman, confronting the question of whether or not she'll ever be ready to have children of her own. Again, reinforces the message that bad parents really really suck, and a lot of the misery on this planet can be cast at the feet of bad parenting. (But, uh, no pressure, everyone. Happy smiles! Don't forget to breathe!)



Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Having It All: On Being a Working Mother

Or the post otherwise known as "fun with Photo Booth." ^_^

Last week, Tara wrote about the Huffpost article that talked about how data shows that while women have experienced increasing levels of education, opportunities in the workplace, and overall autonomy, they've also reported that their general levels of happiness have also diminished. I've heard these reports before (you can't go to something like the Women's Conference and not hear this sort of thing) and have spent some time considering what it all means. I don't have the answers (because really, can there be one answer to explain away the experiences and emotions of generations of women?) but I do have some guesses.

I'm a working mom, by choice. I have two children - my son Rowan, who is currently 5 years old, and Kate whom many of you know from various fitting room review cameos, who turned 18 months old today. I love them like I love nothing else and am constantly in awe of the fact that somehow, my husband and I have been able to create such incredible little creatures. I mean, they grow! And learn! And do all kinds of amazing things like talk, and laugh, and wind various adults around their little fingers with their sweet smiles! I say I work "by choice," because I have had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), and found that while I loved being with Rowan, I neither had the temperament or the desire to do the work attached with being a SAHM. It's hard work! And I sucked at it! (Truth be told, my own mother-in-law told me towards the end of that 5 months, that I was more useful outside the home than in it, and actually helped me find my current job. Embarrassing? A little. The right thing for me and my family? Without a doubt.) I have great respect for SAHMs and on a side note, think the weird rivalry that seems to exist between SAHMs and working moms is bizarre and ridiculous (in the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"). I enjoy my work outside my home - it's stimulating, rewarding, and makes good use of my education. That being said, it's not easy to be both a mother and a career woman, and while my husband and I have jerry-rigged a system that seems to work well for us, we still have our dips and valleys from time to time.

I agree with Tara's hypothesis that quite possibly, the decrease in overall happiness for women is closely related to the impossible expectations we have of ourselves. How many of you have heard or read phrases like, "having it all," and "creating a work-life balance?" Yeah, mmhm, me too. And here's the thing - there are no such things. Really. There is  no having it all. At least, not in this world. And what does "work-life balance" mean anyway? The way it sounds, you should be able to take your life - or hey, let's use a more manageable unit of time and say, a day - and split it up evenly. You know, something along the lines of 8 hours for work, 8 hours for home and family, and (since we're fantasizing here anyway) 8 hours for sleep. 8 + 8 + 8 = 24, and we have an even number of hours allotted to the three great time-guzzlers in our lives, and as long as we keep these discrete, we have - wait for it - achieved balance. Hm, what? You say there is no having it all? Oh, right...back to that, are we?

(October 2010)

What you have then, instead, is an opportunity to manage expectations. I totally expect that there will be days when I'm working well beyond 8 hours. Days on which, long after my children and husband are asleep, I will be sitting up with my rapidly cooling cup of coffee, trying to stay productive and meet a deadline. I also expect that there are days when my children are sick or are having a birthday or need me to attend a "Dinosaur Breakfast" (the events at school which you absolutely must not miss, because if you do, your child will be the only one there without a parent in attendance and s/he will remember that particular heartache forever), and I will cut back on my work hours in order to care for them in my role as their mother. I also expect that I will - once every month or so - be able to sleep a whole 8 hours in one night - though, maybe, not without waking at least once. I expect that I'll probably be harboring a sleep deficit on more days than not. And I expect I may be cranky from time to time because of it. However, I also expect that I'll catch myself and snap out of it, sooner than later. After all, I have so much for which to be grateful. And I expect myself to enjoy it - all of it - as much as I possibly can.

For instance, the simple but overwhelming fun that can be had with Photo Booth (taken yesterday, shortly before bedtime):


It helps enormously that I have a true parenting partner in my husband. From getting Rowan up, fed, dressed, and dropped off to school in the mornings, to caring for Kate when I'm at the office, my husband (who works from home) pulls double duty and then some, when compared against what's usually expected of dads.


And this leads to my other guess at why women are not as happy as may be expected. While expectations surrounding the roles and opportunities for women have increased vastly over the past four decades, the expectations of men have more or less stayed the same. 


True, many younger men have stepped up, and like my husband, do much more than log time at the office only to come home, pat the children affectionately on their heads, then put their feet up, open up the newspaper, and ask what's for dinner. I'd venture to guess though, that the great majority of men - young or old - have had little or no preparation for child-rearing, housekeeping, or other traditionally "female"-oriented tasks and duties. This is not at all to say that they can't learn to do these things on the fly or do them well (obviously, my husband did) - but that's a huge leap from having been raised with the expectation that when they reached adulthood, it would be their responsibility to actually do these things on a regular basis, which is usually the circumstance for most women.

So, meanwhile, (surprise-surprise!) women continue to take up the slack on the home front, while simultaneously holding down full or part-time jobs, and are they exhausted? Yes. Do they feel stretched thin? Yes. When standing in front of a poorly-stocked refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for dinner after 8 hours of work with a couple children clamoring for attention, are they going to feel a little stressed and uncomfortably inadequate? God, yes! And when you call them and ask them if they're happy about this, are they going to tell you they are?

Work that one out for yourself, please.

As a working mom; as a woman coming of age in the 21st century in the USA, I - along with all of you - am still making up a lot of this as I go along. The generation before me (the baby-boomers and some of the older Gen-Xers, God bless them) have laid down some of the basic groundwork for us younger women (they say the 30s are the new 20s...^_- ) but there's a whole lot left to be figured out, and maybe Kate and her contemporaries will still be working on these issues when it's their turn. But I do hope, if nothing else, they'll realize from our examples, that being a woman is neither prescriptive or proscriptive. That if nothing else, what they have are choices - the choice to be mothers or not be mothers; to work outside the home, or in it; to be strong, independent, and self-reliant, and still live, love, and work well with a life-partner; to be sensible, smart, and conscientious, while still being silly, fun, and full of whimsy.

To spend their small and precious moments of free time, writing a style blog, if that's what they want.

 Sweater: H&M v-neck cardigan, 2009
Top: Gap boat-neck tee, 2006
Skirt: Circle the Globe skirt, Anthropologie, 2010
Shoes: LAMB flats, 2009
Necklace: J. Crew