Search Results for: label/Emerson

Emerson

I haven’t written about Emerson lately, but don’t think she isn’t top priority or always on my mind! 
She is getting so big, she is half my height already.  She isn’t crawling yet, but she is darn near close.  She can stand almost on her own – uses the coffee table or your legs for support.  She has two teeth and is doing a TON of “talking”.  When she sees Ruckus she says “ha-ra” which of course I think is her saying “Hi Ruckus!”  She says mamamamamama when she is hungry or I walk away and dadadadadada when she sees my husband.  She is also starting to recognize sign language and does a backwards wave when she is hungry (sort of looks like the sign for milk).
Tomorrow is my husband’s 35th birthday and he asked for a gift to have a day with his two ladies – me and E.  I took the day off work so we could have a family day.  We’ll go out for breakfast, take a walk around the lake with Emerson in our new Ergo carrier, take a midday nap and then probbaly go out to dinner with friends and family.  Can’t think of a better gift… for any of us! :)

Emerson Funnies

Me: I didn’t go to work today.
Em: Why?
Me: I had a bad headache and need a nap (damn migraines)
Em: I’m going back to work, work, work. I’m going back to work… nah I don’t think so! (themesong)

K: Emerson, go back up in your room, put your pajamas in your hamper and turn off your light.
Em: Daddy, why you gotta be so fricken?
K: What does fricken mean?
Em: Something not nice because Mommy says it when she hurts her toe.

Em: Mommy can you play Cinderella with me? I’ll be Cinderella, you be Drizella
Me: The evil stepsister?
Em: I don’t think she’s evil, her mommy just doesn’t understand her.

Em: Are you going to take a picture for your blog?
Me: Yep, do you want to be in any of the pictures?
Em: No thank you, we’ll clash.

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Emerson’s Birthday

Sunday Emerson turned three, and we had a party for her. We invited family, like-family, and then because it is her third birthday we had three of her closest friends also attend. She’s at an age where she has favorite friends, and even a best friend so she was excited to have them come play at her house.

My sister always makes Emerson’s birthday cake but this year she was getting over the same cold my household (and my mom) have dealt with this holiday, so she bought Emerson a Cinderella cake. I don’t know where she got it, but Emerson is on a huge princess and fairy kick right now and LOVED the cake!

There were 10 kids there under the age of 6, so the energy level (and audio) was quite high. When Emerson opened her presents, I sat on the floor with her and the kids all circled around me so close I felt as though I was being taken over. Don’t get between a bunch of toddlers and a Dora talking backpack!

Emerson wore a printed ponte dress from Gap (she has the raincoat in the same print), another present from her Aunt Debbie.  I knew I would be on the floor with kids, so I decided to wear my long Hawaiian muumuu with my turquoise beaded J. Crew necklace.   The day was relatively warm, warm enough that the kids spent a lot of time in their coats running around like crazy in the back yard.  It was a fun time, and always wonderful to be able to celebrate my favorite little person with the people we love so much!

Not party related, but check this out to see how much a year (or two!) can make with Weight Watchers.  That’s me for her second and first birthdays.  Wow!

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Emerson, Suri Cruise, and Shoes

I remember before I got pregnant, I saw a picture of Suri Cruise wearing heels. A friend shared it on Twitter or Facebook, appalled that her parents would let her wear such shoes. I agreed.

And now, I am the mother of a three-year-old who wears heels.

This past week, my mom bought Emerson a “princess kit” from Toys R Us which had a ball skirt, tiara, earrings, necklace, bracelet, scepter.. and a pair of heels. Yeah, they’re clear plastic mules with pink heels and Emerson LOVES them. She wears them EVERYWHERE and is so skilled, she can run in them, and walk up and down steep hills without issue.

So what do you do when you’re Suri Cruz’s mom and she wants to wear heels? Do you fight against it? Do you feel like a hypocrite when you tell your child no but slip on your own stilettos? What excuse do you give as to why the heels are bad? Is it a health issue? Societal issue? Feminist issue? Do you really worry about a pair of plastic heels when you’re dealing with things like hitting, potty training, eating a balanced meal, reading, being a decent human being in this world?

Do you fight it… or do you choose to just pick better battles?

I didn’t like the shoes, but she walks well in them, and knows she can’t wear them in the rain or to the playground or to bed. She doesn’t wear them every day so there’s no issue of shortening tendons or anything health-related. The only problem I can see is the issue with everyone else. The people like me three years ago who didn’t really factor in all the reasons as to why a child may be dressed the way in which she or he is.

Saturday we had no decent food in the house. My husband went to help out a friend – the husband just got out of the hospital and K went to mow their lawn and do some yard work. I decided to take Emerson to the grocery store. So we get to my car and I realize the carseat isn’t installed because E had an accident in it earlier that week and we had to wash the cover. So I put the cover back on and try desperately to get the carseat back in. Emerson is crawling all over the front seat of the car, pressing every button imaginable telling me she’s hungry, she’s thirsty, can we go to the store NOW? Can we go NOW? How about NOW? Then she gets out of the car and is tugging on my shorts while I’m bent over into the backseat and she says, uh oh Mommy I went pee pee and I turn around and there she is soaking wet. So I lock the doors and carry Emerson back to the house where I wash her down and replace her shorts and underwear. And she’s all upset, apologizing, asking me if I am happy and if I still love her. And of COURSE I still love her so I slow down and let her talk and I let her know it’s okay, we all have accidents and I was sorry for ignoring her while dealing with the car seat. And she asks if she can wear her “princess shoes” to the store. Girlfriend just busied herself for 15 minutes while I wrestled with a carseat and peed all over herself on the sidewalk… who am I to deny her princess shoes?

Emerson gets all gussied up and feels so much better. I give up on the carseat and we decide to walk to the local market. We get to the store, and Emerson wants to be a big girl and pull the basket, so I let her. I am proud of her, getting past the accident, putting the groceries carefully in the basket, navigating it through the aisles. I look at the other patrons and realize they don’t think she’s cute and smart and strong. They are looking at her with disdain and giving me THAT LOOK. That same look that Katie Holmes must have received when Suri was sauntering around town in heels. The look that the parent is projecting her superficial materialistic man-getting ways on her poor innocent child. I catch myself apologizing to the woman next to me at the deli, blaming my mother for the princess kit that Emerson won’t take off. She smiles, but she judges.

We head home. Emerson gets in the stroller for about a block, but then wants to walk. We walk down a steep hill and up another. My husband calls my cell. I am pushing the empty stroller, telling him my ETA at the house, and we walk past a yard where a woman looks at us, gives me THE LOOK, looks at Emerson and clucks. I tell K I need to get off the phone and right at that moment Emerson is so busy saying hello to the woman that she walks right into a wheel of the stroller and falls down. I put the phone in my pocket and pick her up. “She wouldn’t have fallen if she was wearing proper shoes,” the woman says.

“Fuck you, you judgmental bitch!” I say.

Yeah, I didn’t say that. I wanted to, but instead I picked up my kid who didn’t even have a scratch but was in need of a nap and crying, dropped her shoes in the stroller and pushed it home with one hand, the other holding her on my hip. I didn’t say a word, and I didn’t look at that woman again.

The crazy thing is I was embarrassed. I was angry, but I felt as though I was at fault because I did let my child wear heels. That she was sauntering around town in a flower headband, two necklaces, clip-on earrings, a satin purse and a pair of Lucite slides. That I was a bad parent.

It’s funny, if we saw a little boy decked out a Rambo headband, a gun holster for his water gun, a pair of cowboy boots and a camo tee shirt we would think, “Boys will be boys.” But a girl dressed up like Emerson, and people think she’s a little superficial princess or a slut in the making. Boys can dress up like adult men, but girls have to dress up like an animal or cartoon character.

I don’t tell Emerson what to wear. As long as she’s wearing shoes and pants, I really don’t care. If she wants to wear rainboots on a dry day, fine with me. If she wants to wear two tee shirts and a dress and leggings and a tutu and two different shoes, fine with me. And if she wants to wear princess shoes, fine with me. Others can judge and make assumptions, but now I know just as Katie Homes knows… there’s some battles that aren’t worth picking, especially if it’s to appease complete strangers.

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The Story of Emerson’s Birth

As most of you know, my plan was to have a completely natural birth. I switched early in my pregnancy from a highly-respected OB/GYN group to a birthing center with midwives after much research. Call me a hippie or a masochist, but I really wanted to experience the birth of my child sans medication, surgery and in as natural yet safe of a setting as possible.

My sister’s boss once told her that every woman he knew who wanted a natural birth ended up getting the opposite; those who scheduled c-sections and desired epidurals upon admittance often came early… too early for meds. Murphy’s Law. Well Murphy’s Law surely hit me with this birth!

Emerson’s due date was switched to January 2nd from December 28th after her 20-week sonogram. I was happy because I really wanted her to “cook” as long as she desired and not be forced to induce. January 2nd came and went, and the Monday after, due to high blood pressure the last couple of weeks, I was asked to take a NST and get a biophysical/sonogram to see how the baby was doing. The NST was great, but the sonogram showed less than 5 centimeters of amniotic fluid – a number that concerned the doctor enough to call the midwives and tell them he strongly suggested induction… that very day.

I went home to get my bag (was in my husband’s car but he didn’t take me to the appointment) and to do last-minute things around the house. Due to needing an induction, I was admitted not to the birthing center, but to the hospital that was associated with it. I have never been in the hospital before – never a broken bone, stitches or surgery. By 1pm I had a saline lock on my arm, a wristband with my stats and a very uncomfortable hospital bed.

They started me off with a dose of gel that was supposed to open and ripen my cervix. When the midwife (the midwives from the birthing center attended to me even though I was in the hospital) checked me upon admittance, she said I was “only a nub” and they obviously needed more dilation before they tried to progress the birth.

By 8pm I was maybe 2 centimeters dilated at most. They said they could do another dose of gel, but it probably wouldn’t do enough. They recommended a low dose of pitocin overnight to begin mild contractions, hoping it would open up things. I really didn’t want pitocin, but there wasn’t much else of an option. The low dose wasn’t bad – they monitored it very carefully so I always felt in control and relatively comfortable.

Tuesday, they checked my cervix and it was not even 3 centimeters. Argh! They took me off the pit so I could eat and shower, but stuck me on it again and at higher doses. Due to being on the pitocin, I had to be on a constant fetal and contraction monitor, which tied me to the bed (another thing I was very against). One nice nurse found a telemetry unit which would let me walk laps around L&D; we tried it out and the baby’s stats rose and couldn’t always be checked (she moved a LOT when I walked) so I had to get back in bed. They got me a birthing ball and rocking chair for some variety and relief. My contractions were one on top of another, sometimes not even with five seconds between them. I was handling them well and using Hypnobirthing and yoga methods to breathe through them and focus, but they were worried that the speed of them and lack of dilation would cause too much stress to me and the baby.

Tuesday night, they decided to try a different route – a pill that is actually for ulcers but has been shown to cause contractions. I agreed to try it out – 24 hours of contractions and no dilation was utter torture. I got off the IV (hooray!) and swallowed the pill.

I knew the pill didn’t work when I realized I slept for six hours straight. They checked me Wednesday morning and I was still three centimeters, though supposedly “paper thin.” They decided to go with pitocin again, but really carefully monitor and adjust the dosage. I started at 8am; by 8:30 I was feeling pretty strong contractions. They were like the day prior, but with more build-up and time between… the nurses, the midwife and I all felt confident these were more “productive” contractions that would get the job done. Two midwives said “your baby will be born today!” I was so excited…

Until around 1pm… when the contractions got stronger. Stronger as in horrific, painful, unable to think, to breathe, to control. They were in my lower abdomen and my lower back. I couldn’t stand because the darn monitors would fall off my belly; bending over helped the back but hurt the stomach, I was in too much pain to be able to handle the birthing ball any longer, and the rocking chair decided to get some horrible loud squeaking noise every time I glided it back and forth. I tried to breathe, to moan, to flow but it wasn’t helping. I never clenched or strained, but it went to the point where I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t control my body and I just knew something wasn’t going well. I started crying, I felt like such a failure. I became that woman who screams for Jesus and makes everyone in the lobby roll their eyes. My birth plan said to not offer me an epidural – if I needed one my husband or I would state it. Speaking of which, my husband was the most phenomenal birthing partner – I didn’t have to say a word and he seemed to KNOW when to press on my back, when to play with my hair, when to offer light massage, when to back off. He got the iPod going with my labor playlist, and even seemed to know when I needed it turned up to drown out machines and myself.

So anyway, he looked at me, without me saying it, and said, “I am so impressed and proud of you, and think you would still be very brave if you had an epidural.” It was what I was thinking, in my head I was begging and pleading for one but I didn’t say it out loud because I felt like a wimp and failure. But with his support… I asked for one. By now it was around 4pm.

An epidural is so terrifying, even when it’s taking place. It hurts, your body is shaking, the room is overflowing with medical professionals and it’s a horrible experience. My husband held my hands and supported my body as I leaned over the side of the bed to get it inserted in my spine. I was grateful, yet also hated how things had turned out. Pitocin, bed ridden, hospital, and now an epidural. Way things were going, next thing I knew I was going to end up with a caesarean.

The epidural kicked in and it was a very weird experience – my right hip to toe was so numb it was as though it disappeared; my left leg felt more the way one does when a limb falls asleep. I still felt contractions, but more a slight wave in my crotch and hardening of the top of my belly. They decided to check to see how far my cervix had progressed…. Now I was almost four centimeters… almost. After all those hours of extreme pain I didn’t even get a full centimeter of dilation. They tried breaking my water but couldn’t do it – either not enough water or weird positioning of the baby’s head. I was so exhausted and frustrated with my body. Luckily, through all this the baby was completely strong, happy and healthy.

They gave me some time to rest while I had almost unknown contractions. My husband started looking a bit worse for wear – sweaty, red eyes, pale. He had been with me since admittance, only leaving once to shower and change clothes. He said he was feeling a bit weird and went to the bathroom, and didn’t emerge for over an hour. He asked if it was okay to use the shower, thinking it would make him feel better. It didn’t. By 8pm he had chills, aches and couldn’t keep anything in his system. He internal reflexes were in overdrive, and he was dry heaving and puking bile after his stomach had emptied.

The midwives come in around 10pm and say they think the baby won’t come until the next day. My husband goes home to medicate himself, rest up so he can see the birth. My sister and mom come to sit with me. They check me and decide after my husband has left that a few pushes may help the cervix get going.

We push for about three hours and things are going far better. They can see the baby’s head and say she has hair. My water broke. I started dilating and next thing was around eight centimeters. They try different pushing positions, but keep me on my back because the baby’s head was behind my pelvic bone and they needed her to move toward my back. So I was in the typical position I never wanted to be in – legs in stirrups, back on the bed, pushing for all life’s worth. Between pushes I visualized her head descending but they said after each push which would descend the head, a relaxation would cause her to slip back up behind the bone.

They brought in an obstetrician, who said they could try forceps or vacuum, but she didn’t think it would work and most likely would need a cesarean. My husband wasn’t there, my sister called him and he was in such bad shape he was on the bathroom floor unable to move. This is a man who does 100K hikes for fun, gets sick maybe once a year, dealt with cancer and chemo without a tear. For him to be crying in the fetal position at home while I was in labor… we ALL knew it was really really bad.

So I keep pushing and I start getting the feeling back in my right leg. They say this is normal due to gravity and body positioning. I push and can feel when contractions come and how my pushing affects things. They say this is good and I feel productive, yet so sad and frustrated my husband isn’t there. I start to cry, they tell me the baby could possibly come with any push if it is a good enough one. My sister is holding one leg. My mom is helping me curl up into pushes, the nurse and midwife are both so supportive but my husband isn’t there.

Now I am feeling contractions, and ask my mom to press the while button on the epidural drip. She does, the nurse says it will take 15 minutes for it to kick in. The contractions are so strong now, and with each contraction I can feel the catheter ballooning inside me which is utter torture. I cling to the side of the hospital bed and watch the clock tick down. The time is up and I have no relief… in fact it feels even stronger. My mom looks at the machine, and sees a cord on the ground. Somehow the epidural drip disconnected from my back. No wonder! They call in the anesthesiologist to reattach it. Takes ten minutes for him to arrive, and then another fifteen minutes after reattachment for it to kick in. Two minutes after he finishes reattaching, the obstetrician arrives saying we’re going to try forceps, and try right then and there.

The catheter feels like some archaic torture device, the contractions feel like the last scene of Braveheart, and now they are putting what looks like metal car fenders in me and asking me to push like I never pushed before. My husband is not there.

In the middle of the first push, I feel the warmth of the epidural kick in and I feel as though it is a sign that it’s now, it’s this way, and I need to block out all the pain and frustration and do it. Three rounds of pushes, and I feel enough to feel her head, and then her shoulders come out. Omigod, that seemed so… quick! 5:35 AM, Thursday January 8th. She isn’t crying, she is coated in meconium so they whisk her to the other side of the room to clean and suction her. I am up in stirrups, slid down to the bottom of the bed, unable to move in any way. They tell me I have a fourth degree tear and have to sew it up. The obstetrician and my midwife get to work, I am at such an angle that I can’t really see the warming table where Emerson is located. There seems to be a dozen medical professionals in the room scurrying about, my mom is holding my hand, my sister is checking on Emerson. Finally we hear a cry… and it seems as though it’s from another room, another person’s baby. I ask my sister to cut the umbilical cord. I feel sad… my husband missed it, and really I missed it too. I feel so detached and deflated and wrong.

Finally I am stitched up and Emerson is clean and healthy. They bundle her up and place her on my chest; I still am numb almost in my entire body and have my legs propped up, but I am able to hold her up to my face and look in her eyes. And I think she looked in mine and she looked like me, and like my sister and like my husband in the brows and my mom’s side of the family and so… beautiful. Not alien, not like a wrinkled old man, but even with all the red stripes of forcep marks, just so delicate and feminine and beautiful and I started to feel connected.

She got a 3 on her first APGAR, but a 9 on the second one. She got healthy very quickly and we were finally left to hang out with one another. I asked to have her exclusively breastfed, so we got the chance to bond over her first meal. I needed a nurse’s assistance but it was nice that it was the nurse who was with me through the whole evening.

Around 11am on Thursday they move me to a different room on a different floor. This room has a far more comfortable bed (not one that morphs into a birthing chair) and a whole different staff and a good energy. It doesn’t even smell like a hospital as the L&D room did.

This is where Emerson and I resided until Saturday afternoon. The hospital was amazing – the techs were so helpful and sweet, the nurses were total saints. I was visited by five different lactation consultants who showed me all sorts of techniques and holds. One day I was so exhausted, a nurse came and swaddled Emerson tight, and took her to hang with the nurses for a bit and at that time, I could sleep for two hours and even a massage therapist came by for a complimentary back rub. The OB and my midwives came by to say hi, meet Emerson, congratulate me on being such a trooper. The only thing that sucked was that my husband still hadn’t healed. He had a high fever so he couldn’t come see Emerson. He didn’t want to see pictures because he wanted his first view to be her in person. But he called several times a day so I could let him hear her and tell him what she did and how we were doing.

I have never been a baby person – as a teen I preferred sitting toddlers and when friends have had children I may coo and play with a little foot but I never like to hold or cuddle with infants. I don’t know what to do with them, and I always find them a bit weird and slightly scary. I feared parenthood – gosh I didn’t even know how to hold a baby and had never changed and diaper. No need to worry, it seemed like instinct. The nurses taught me basics, but really it was as though I delivered the baby, the placenta, and then Service Pack B for my brain to know what to do with a baby. Also, once her skin touched mine, it was instant passionate love between us two – totally surreal and awesome experience.

Saturday, my husband arrived around 9am and instantly fell in love with Emerson. Nothing more wonderful than to see our baby with him, them getting to know one another.

Since then, I have been very tired… my body has gone through quite a lot with the healing from the tear as well as other things (TMI, but I think trying to poop after pregnancy and stitches is scarier than having to push a baby out). But it has been awesome – my husband doesn’t have to work right now so we’re working together to take care of Emerson. My mom and sister have been AMAZING – last night was my mom’s birthday so they made dinner and brought it over and we had cake and watched the Golden Globes together. While at the hospital they came to the house to prepare the place for Emerson – setting up the Pack & Play in our bedroom, washing laundry and dishes, etc. Right now I am in bed with my husband and a very gassy Emerson, chilling after a marathon feeding. Ruckus is on the floor and we’re a tired, overwhelmed but happy family. It wasn’t the birth I had envisioned, but it doesn’t really matter because of the final product.

As for fashion… well due to the stitches I am far more comfortable in dresses. The summer dresses from New York & Company, the gray jersey Old Navy dress and even my black matte jersey Old Navy dress that I wore to my friend’s wedding are awesome. All have surplice necklines that work with breastfeeding, are soft fabrics and are a length where I am covered but not twisted up. I have a navy jersey robe from Lands End that I can throw over it for comfort. Due to not being a perfect size anything before the baby and still not one, I have yet to find a nursing tank that is comfortable, fits and flatters. I do own one from Bravissimo, it gets the job done but due to the weight and size of my breasts it cannot be worn outside the house without getting arrested for indecent exposure. As for nursing bras, I got an underwire one from Nordstrom that is awesome… but I haven’t tried it now that my milk is coming in. I have tried several others and they weren’t working pre-milk so I fear they won’t now. So anyone who had large breasts and some curves pre-pregnancy and then found a bra or tank that actually worked and didn’t leave everything hanging out, hanging down, or smooshed do let me know. Preferably online… don’t think I’ll be getting to a mall any time soon!

For those who want to know additional pregnancy and motherhood related details – where I went, what birthing center I used, reviews of products, natural remedies I am trying for PPD, healing, and what I tried to naturally ready myself for labor (and they said actually did help in the long run) feel free to email me. I do not want this blog to become a baby blog, and my views are naturally not going to be the same as all those who read here.

I respect everyone’s decisions on how they want their pregnancy, labor, birth, and motherhood to go. No one knows what is best for you and your baby more than you. Don’t think my views here are saying I am anti any other birth plan – in fact this experience helped me respect more plans and methods alternate to my views before giving birth. To all those who have sent well wishes, we thank you so much! The blogging community is amazing and I am glad to know all of you through it! For those who are expecting, I wish you much health, luck and happiness with this journey!!!

And for those who want some baby pics… we have baby during and after her first bath at home (with proud Daddy who did the honor), what I like to call “Dr. Evil Emerson,” and “Emerson in Pink.” Due to her size, no chi chi outfits of yet… pretty much rocking the tee and diaper look with a blanket or gown. But do know when she gets some weight on her and some regularity, I will be showing her decked out in her baby duds. :)

UPDATES:
My sister (and best friend and fabulous birthing partner!) read this and saw I missed a few details or got them wrong. Love her! Here’s her view (more accurate since she wasn’t drugged or crying out for mercy ;P )

* your water broke at some point before 8pm, possibly while [husband] and I were out for dinner or a little before that
* [Husband] left around 10:30pm – or at least that’s when you called me
* you pushed for 4 hours before Mommy realized the epidural was unattached. I first called [husband] at 11:10 to tell him you were about to push and it was only 5 minutes later that you did. The nurse and midwife told the OB at one point and said you had only been pushing for 30 minutes when really it was about an hour, hour and a half. I don’t know if they were confused or if they did it on purpose to prevent the OB from talking c-section too soon.
* you fell asleep once the epidural was working again and were asleep for about an hour. Then around 5am, they came back in and it was only at that point that they decided to use forceps. Before it was only vacuum and threat of c-section.
* it was Mommy who got them to use forceps by telling her birth story with you to the OB.

Thanks sister! :D

Welcome Emerson Elaine

Just a quick note as that I just got back home – our daughter, Emerson Elaine was born on January 8th, 2009 at 5:35 AM. She was 7 lbs., 9 oz., 19 inches long with brown hair. Think she looks a lot like me, but a bit of her daddy (especially with her long legs!).

When I had my appointment on Monday, they said the amniotic fluid was low and had to induce. I was admitted to the hospital that very afternoon. After three days of labor (yep you read that correctly!) she was delivered with forceps and is perfectly healthy and utterly adorable.

Currently resting as that the delivery was not kind to my body… I will return when things become a bit calmer. Here’s a picture of her that my sister captured… I will have better ones when I get around to uploading my pics and all that good stuff. :)

My Wardrobe Today – Emerson’s Birthday

I went to visit my sister’s blog and saw this picture.  As that I didn’t get an outfit picture yesterday, I figured I would share this.

Orchid chiffon layer top – Ann Taylor LOFT (last seen here)
JeansNot Your Daughter’s Jeans
Necklace and bracelets – Ann Taylor (no longer available)

Husband and daughter are being spokesmodels for The Gap – I think both of them are wearing complete outfits from Gap (except E’s shoes, which are Stride Rite via eBay – parents, don’t buy shoes full price.  There’s TONS of kiddie shoes on eBay in new or like-new condition for much much less!).

At Emerson’s first birthday, I made a big mistake by wearing a sweater and tank.  Running around after a little person, being the Hostess with the Mostess, refilling the food table… well after 30 minutes I was a sweaty, overheated mess and had to run upstairs to change.  This year I started off smart with a short-sleeved top.  I knew Emerson was wearing pink and gray, so I decided to wear something that wouldn’t contrast with it, and thought a solid color would be best so she would be the focus of any photographs that I ended up in.  I love this top and haven’t found it an easy piece to make winter-appropriate.  The ruffles are cool, but look strange with a jacket or cardigan.  This gave me a chance to rock it again before it gets too big (wishful thinking!!!).

Emerson’s party was pretty fun.  We tried to keep it small – mainly family and only a couple friends who are like family.  That being said since we have so much family in the area, we had over 20 folks and six little ones under the age of five!  FYI, if you have an open floor plan and hardwood floors and five children between two and five years of age… it ends up being a very noisy party!  However it made me happy we did the remodel because there was so much room for adults to chit-chat, and kids to run and play.  My sister has a great post about the food and decor from the party – we did a book theme.  I didn’t decorate a ton, just used some of Emerson’s library and some wooden alphabet blocks for color. 

We had a very simple menu since the party started at 2:00 – cake (made by my sister – it was fabulous!), Rice Krispee treats made with M&Ms, chips & dip, veggies & dip, various fruit, Crock Pot mac & cheese (a Paula Deen recipe adjusted with lower-fat ingredients and no eggs), and little PB&J and ham and cheese sandwiches cut into the shape of hearts.  We also took a big bowl and filled it with ice and then juice boxes – thought it was a fun little spin on a bucked of beers. ;-)  We also had a pitcher of lemonade with lemon slices floating in it.  Of course to make a kid’s party doable for the adults, plenty of beer, wine and leftover spirits from New Years!

My Wardrobe Today – Tuesday

Black Knit Moto Jacket – Gap (no longer available online but you may find in their stores in black or gray)
Black Ponte Dress with Exposed Back Zipper – LOFT (no longer available online which is a shame because I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dress!)
Belt – Ann Taylor (bought a couple years ago)
Black Patent Mary Janes – Nine West (see below)


Shop your closet, folks. Shop your closet!

I have been spending this week doing a hardcore closet clean-out.  I dumped everything out of my bureau and only put back that which I like.  I made one bag of things to donate, and one bag of things to put on eBay.  Now I am working on my closet.  I took everything out that is too small, too big, too ugly, too worn.  There’s a pile of items to repair, and then I added to my two bags.

I am putting all my shoes in boxes on the shelf, because the floor of the closet it a bit of a No Mans Land. My dogs sometimes like to take a nap in there, my husband uses it as a place to throw things and close the door when people come over, I often find Emerson’s books and toys hidden in corners… anyway it’s a bad place to keep shoes. I opened each box to ensure the shoes inside match the label on the outside… and found these shoes!

Long-time readers may remember them. I saw them at Nordstrom a couple years ago and HAD TO HAVE THEM. They only had them in 7. I ordered them, and they were far too small. I started searching online for these shoes from another retailer and found then for half the price of Nordstrom, but only in an 8. I ordered them anyway… and they were too big. I think I wore them twice, both times bad experiences with rubbing, blisters, and carefully shuffling from Metro to office. After that, I shoved them in the box, stuck them in the back of the closet and figured I would eventually put them on eBay.

Well last night I found them and tried them on… and now they fit! Not only do they fit, they are pretty comfy! I am so excited because on my shopping list I had a pair of patent Mary Janes. Granted, I wanted all black with a pointy toe and a slimmer heel, but these are pretty stellar. I had a stranger stop me on the street and ask me who made my shoes and two coworkers said they are “Fierce.” Hooray!

Tonight I hope to finish the closet and this weekend hope to tackle the attic. After that I will be posting even more stuff on eBay – check it out!

Ask Allie: Wardrobe Maintenance

I have a silly question to ask you, how do you deal with ironing your clothes? my closet is full of garments that need ironing but as I have little space in it, every time I iron and put the clothes back in the closet, by the time I want to wear it, they’re all wrinkle again. I hate to iron piece by piece (because I hate to iron in general), I prefer to take one day and iron a few pieces and get over with it. Can you please give me some ideas?

I have a bin at the bottom of my closet (the Junque Trunke from Scout by Bungalow), in there goes anything that needs to be ironed, dry cleaned, repaired. Once a month on a Sunday after I put Emerson down for a nap I try to get these things cared for – I’ll replace the buttons, iron the shirts, bag up the clothes for the cleaners. Sometimes I get lazy with the complicated wrinkled pieces and toss them in the cleaners’ bag as well and let them deal with it (items with pleats and lots of detail). More often than not, I don’t buy things that wrinkle. Seriously, the only things in my wardrobe that get super wrinkled are two oxfords and a shirtdress, and both of them have been at the bottom of that bin for so long they are probably covered in dust. I don’t have time to iron, so I try to steer clear from wrinkly purchases.

I wonder if you might consider doing a post on out-of-season clothes storage. In a couple of your closet posts, you’ve mentioned that you store some clothes in your attic. I’d love to know how you store them and if you have any strategies or products you’d recommend for storing out-of-season clothes.

I have written about it here, here, and here. But really, up in my attic I have a bunch of clear plastic bins that are stacked in columns. I use a Sharpie on the front to label them size 10 clothes, size 8 and smaller clothes, winter tops, winter bottoms… that sort of thing. I also have a bin that holds out of season accessories (gloves, hats, velvet scarves, bathing suits, etc.). When Hurricane Irene decimated my closet I purchased a garment rack and plan to use that to store coats and dresses in the off season. I have a few hanging garment bags that I will use so those garments won’t get dusty, and I’ll use some cedar rings to keep the critters away.

You’ve mentioned before about how you baby your shoes, but can you go into more specifics? How often do you shine, clean, etc. What products do you use for this? What’s your shoe maintenance routine exactly?

Before Emerson, at least once a month I would sit down in front of the TV with a can of black shoe shine and my dad’s old brush and rag and polish all my black shoes (if you don’t have shoe shine products, Kiwi makes some great basic kits). I specifically chose black shoes over brown so it was easy to mindlessly polish them while watching Bravo or a rerun of Sex and the City. I also had a polish that was used to re-black heels and non-leather parts of shoes. Before each season, I would take shoe staples like boots and black pumps to the cobbler in the nearby mall to have them reheeled and if needed, resoled. They would also stretch the leather to cover up any nicks on heels and give them a really good polishing.

Now that my life is frantic, my shoes get polished… almost never. Before a wedding or big event, or if they got something on them. Now I work in the city and my shoes get quite a beating – they can easily go to the cobbler five times a season to be reheeled, and each time they polish them up and fix any nicks on the heels.

I do care about my shoes when they aren’t on my feet. As soon as I get home, I take off my “nice” shoes and put them on the stairs. When I go up, I take them and immediately put them in their proper box on the shelf in my closet. All my “nice” shoes are in boxes, labeled with a clear description. I have a bin on my closet floor that holds Chucks, flip flops, and that sort of thing. My boots are in the corner of my closet, I have old magazines rolled up in them to keep them from falling over and creasing. When it’s summer I store my boots in old pillowcases so they won’t get dusty.

What sort of hangers do you use? I have such a crazy assortment and I know that the metal ones from the dry cleaner are bad for your clothes. Why are they bad and what should I use?

I worked retail for 50 kazillion years (okay, more like a decade) and amassed quite the collection of those standard-issue black plastic hangers. They have removable grippers on the shoulders, divots for straps and dress loops, a hole to “monkey-hang” clothes, and swiveling hooks. Pretty darn near perfect. Thing is, I have been out of retail for a decade and these hangers are starting to fall apart.

I have started switching to velvet “huggable” hangers. The velvet fabric will grip slippery fabrics and wide necklines, and the slimline gives me more space in my closet. You can find them at discount stores like Marshall’s for a good price.

For heavy items, coats, and blazers I don’t wear regularly I choose molded hangers. These will prevent the “wings” that can happen from slimmer hangers, and will maintain the proper shape of the garment.

I prefer hangers with clips for my pants and skirts. I know many fold such garments over a hanger, but I end up losing the garment in my closet because I can’t see it easily. Also, if left there too long you end up with a crease. Also the eternal retail gal in me gets a kick out of seeing all my skirts and pants hanging in line with the edge of the hangers.


Metal hangers get a bad rap thanks to Mommie Dearest, but also because they aren’t meant for long-term storage. They are cost-effective for cleaners, but they can rust, stretch out lightweight fabrics, cause those “wings” and shoulder creases. However, don’t toss them out – many organizations need hangers for their charities, people on Freecycle are always looking for them, many dry cleaners will take them back and reuse them, and they can even be recycled!

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Blogging Love – Interview!

I was honored to be interviewed by Elle of the new blog Label Ho. Elle’s discusses fashion and her personal style on this site. I love supporting fellow fashion and style bloggers so I jumped at this chance to have us get to know one another better!

You can check out the interview here.

I loved the questions she asked (and if you go back in her archives, you can see her answers to the very same questions!). The name of her blog cracks me up. It reminds me of when I was Editor of my high school yearbook. I had such the fight with the sponsor over the proper spelling of this word. “If you add an ‘e’ it’s suddenly a garden tool!” (Let’s not even get into why this word was in my yearbook – let me just state that my high school was a fabulous one where I learned Japanese and was in International Baccalaureate courses, but it wasn’t in the most chi chi of neighborhoods.)

Since she interviewed me, I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Get to know Elle!

Name: “Elle,” author of Label Ho, a fashion and personal style blog

Why did you start blogging? What could be better than writing and posting about something you love? I thought it would be a fun hobby and a great way to connect with other fashion-minded people.

Favorite item in your closet: An authentic vintage Gucci handbag circa the 70s. I love that its suede and doesn’t have the GG logo plastered all over it. I found the bag at a thrift shop and its in immaculate condition. Best of all, I got it for an excellent price!

Favorite Web site to visit: FabSugar.com. They have pretty comprehensive coverage of what’s going on in the fashion world, delivered in quick, short posts. I also like that they post great outfits that members of their community put together. I’m fascinated with seeing what people put together.

Top five items on your style wish list for this season: I can only think of three since I think I pretty much have most of my key pieces already:

1. Another pair of dark bootleg jeans. I’ve pretty much worn my favorite pair so much (Joe’s Jeans in the Honey fit) that the color’s faded significantly.

2. More dresses. I’ve purchased a few already, but I just can’t get enough. They’re so easy to pull on in summer.

3. A pair of wide-leg jeans. I’ve tried on a ton of different ones, but still haven’t found a flattering fit.

Outlet Mall Shopping

Yesterday I visited a major outlet mall in my area. Over a mile of stores – some with great bargains, some with great piles of crap. There have been many stories about discount stores – how some of the product is not on sale, the clothes are made specifically for the outlet and are not the same quality that the brand name usually delivers, etc. After all that, you find designer duds for less, when is it worthwhile to spend, when should a bargain be passed by?


Fit
If it doesn’t fit well for $300, still doesn’t fit well for $150 and even for $65, don’t buy it. Just because it’s a great bargain does not make the fit any better. Shoes that are too tight or too big, jackets that pull at the back, pants that would be lovely if you just lost 15 lbs., no matter the bargain these items should just stay on the rack.

If the jacket’s sleeves are too long, the skirt’s hem at an awkward length, the shoulders a bit too big, these things can be altered easily by a tailor. You must be in love with the piece and find multiple places and ways to wear it to justify the tailor expense. I found a cream silk linen suit at a discount store – the suit fit perfectly except for a broken zipper and too long of sleeves and legs. I bought the suit for $65, regularly $350, and for $40 had the zipper and hems all modified. I have worn the suit to work, to religious events and as separates for three years. That purchase was worth the added tailoring expense.


Style
Often times the items at the discount store are there because they are leftover from last season. When it comes to classic pieces like suits, dresses and knits, this is not a problem. A blue merino v-neck is lovely almost every year, and more lovely when 50% off. The problem comes with the trendy p[pieces.


If Lindsay, Mischa, Nicole or Chloe was wearing it last spring, it’s a good chance that piece is passé now. Pass on the embellished jeans, the metallic leather bags, the rainbow-hued sunglasses and most other accessories. Just because it’s on sale does not mean it is a good buy. When it comes to scouring outlets, your best deals are the ones that will last through more than one season. Sweaters, suits, outerwear, cocktail dresses, leather goods and most shoes are great bargains if you find quality and value in the same item.


Name Brands
Just because you found a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $100 at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet does not mean they need to be purchased. Do they fit your current style? Are they comfortable? Are they current or classic?

We have all seen the label whores – those women with a Coach purse, Jimmy Choo shoes that JLo wore last year, Baby Phat jeans, a Bebe tee with the rhinestone logo, Chanel sunglasses and a Pucci scarf in her hair. These items weren’t bought for the quality or the style. They were bought because a stranger could spot the brand a mile away. She looks trashy, obvious and victimized by fashion. None of these are appealing. Labels do not suddenly make you well dressed or well liked.


If you can find a Furla bag for 40% off and it suits your style as well as lifestyle – then go for it. If you are buying a bag purely because it’s Prada and you don’t like the style, size or fabric… well you have become a label whore.

Don’t buy that jacket just because it’s designer. Pretend that it is an unknown label – do you still like it? Do you still find it attractive and necessary? If not, put it back on the rack. That goes for ill-fitting designer duds, last season’s “It Bag,” obvious logo advertising (if it’s that obvious, it will be that obvious from last season – not worth your time or money) and damaged designer goods.


Damaged Goods
Many discount retailers sell the irregulars from a label. Some irregulars can barely be seen by the naked eye – may be an incorrect dye lot or the wrong buttons sewn on a jacket. Some may work in your favor – pants cut too short or sleeves that are too long or too narrow. Often times these stores received the garments that were damaged in production, transit or through many jaunts to the fitting room. Broken zippers, missing buttons, fabric snags are all defects that can easily be repaired or covered up if the price and style is right. However there are other defects that are not worth the purchase, no matter how low the price. Runs in nylon, stains, button holes at the wrong height, linings that do not align with the trouser, two pieces stitched together from two different dye lots. Even if it is Versace, it will look like Gallo Clothing on you if it is this defective.


Buying in Bulk
I used to be a huge fan of buying in bulk – find a tee shirt you love, buy it in eight colors and three of white and black. Flattering trousers? Buy one in every color. I then found that my wardrobe was like one big uniform… one big boring uniform. Mixing basics with fun pieces offers versatility, ease but individual style.


At outlet malls, buying in bulk is a good idea. Yesterday I was at the Banana Republic outlet and found high quality stretchy tees in tons of colors – $9.99 each. I bought one in black, one in white, one in gray and one in red. These shirts can be worn with jeans on weekends, with a little skirt for happy hour with the girls or under a suit for work. I found a great pair of wool trousers at Off Fifth, bought them in brown, gray and black. They were so standard and fit so amazingly well (and were only $39.99 each) that it was worthwhile to buy every color I liked. I knew with my work and lifestyle I would find regular use for such trousers. Another time I found a pair of really cute studded pointy heels from NYLA. They were 75% off and tres cute. I decided to buy them in hot pink, ivory and black, thinking that if they fit well, they would get much use. I was imagining sparkly tops and designer jeans with the ivory, a sexy power suit with the black, and envisioned an outfit a la Carrie Bradshaw for the pink. I took them all home, have worn the pink ones multiple times, and have barely touched the other two. I don’t wear designer jeans with sparkly tops on a regular basis, and don’t own a single chic black power suit. Those two shoes have barely seen the light of day. Consider your current lifestyle when considering to buy in bulk – items that look too familiar may not be worn and too many of the same thing may make them all too boring to regularly wear. Also, if you don’t wear red patent stilettos now, you probably won’t after purchasing a pair.


In conclusion, don’t buy just because of a label, or just because of an amazing price. Less money for an item is still money, and money should be spent carefully. Be willing to take the time to find quality purchases, not pick up every shiny bauble that sort of resembles what Gwen or Jessica wore last Spring. Fashion is not about the specific item, but the allover look. A Louis Vuitton bag or a pair of Chanel sunglasses will not make you a fashionista, the pairing with appropriate and complimentary pieces is what takes you from being a label whore or a fashion victim to fashionista status.

A Proper Bra Fitting – My Experience

I believe a woman should be fitted for a bra every year. Our bodies are constantly changing with age, weight loss and gain, changes to our exercise routine, childbirth and nursing and so much more. Getting properly fitted for a bra does not mean heading to your local Victoria’s Secret to have a teenager who works 4 hours a week try to figure out your size and get you to buy a bra at that store, even if your size isn’t in stock. Getting properly fitted doesn’t mean trying to measure yourself at home and cross your fingers that your online purchase fits.

What it means is going to an expert who can measure you, and then offer you a few styles and brands to try so you can find not only your band and cup size, but the specific type of bra that gives you the best shape, support, and style.

I have been putting off being fitted for far too long; the last time I was fitted was a little over a year before I got pregnant. Since then, I lost weight, carried a child, nursed it for over two years, gained weight, and lost it again. My breasts were sitting like deflated water balloons in my molded-cup bras, they were obviously the wrong size and on top of that, stretched out and in need of replacement.

My community parenting group scheduled a bra-fitting party at A La Mode in Annapolis, Maryland and I jumped at the chance to go. I had been meaning to be fitted but kept putting it off… too busy, not enough money, too lazy. The event was yesterday and it was amazing.

A La Mode Intimates in Annapolis 
Click for a larger version (and to see my mom being rung up at the counter!)

I had heard of A La Mode before, but never visited. They have a new location at the Annapolis Towne Center and it is gorgeous. Bright and airy, yet romantic. The sales area is broken into little rooms which made shopping more fun, and you felt less on display when fingering a lovely charmeuse camisole or reading about nursing bras. Through curtains is their lounge. They set up a lovely little spread for us of brie with crackers and grapes, wine and ice water. They had a couple chairs, a couch and coffee table that were surrounded by gigantic fitting rooms with large mirrors and flattering lighting.

Rebecca assisted me; she whipped out her tape measure and in about three seconds flat had measured me over my shirt. From that she brought me a bra to try. I didn’t look at the brand, I didn’t look at the size, I just tried it on. And I was amazed. My breasts looked smaller, firmer, younger. I had a waistline! Then I looked at the tag…

When I was last fitted, they said I was a 38D. When I got pregnant, my breasts grew and I made the decision to go to 38DD. After Emerson was born, I seemed to be at 38DD and stuck with the same bras. As I have lost weight and stopped nursing, my breasts shrunk. I bought a 38D but kept falling out of the top, and it irritated me under my arms. I went back to my 38DD bras which looked crazy, but at least were reliable.

This bra was a 36F
F as in Frank
F?!?! 

How could that be? I have these deflated, smaller breasts! An F?? But this bra was a perfect fit, it almost felt as though I wasn’t wearing a bra, it was so comfortable. Rebecca informed me that different countries have different bra sizing methods. The US goes from D to DD and then skips E for F, but Europe skips DD and goes straight to E. In the UK they use both single and double letters. This means that a bra from Wacoal, a bra from Elomi, and a bra from Chantelle may fit the same but have different cup letters on the label.

Rebecca checked the bra on me, informed me that the straps shouldn’t really be doing the support (which I do, tightening my straps in an attempt to lift), the bra itself will do the work. She showed me how the band should sit low on my back, not up near my shoulder blades – this prevents your skin from pouring over the bra, and also helps with support. She asked me my bra needs (something that is invisible under thin knits, something that won’t show when I wear a scoop neck, and something that gives me a great shape) and came back with a couple more bras to try. I am a fan of the molded cup and she brought me some of those, as well as a couple other types I may not have considered. I got plenty of time to try on by myself, I didn’t feel as though a salesperson was breathing down my neck, yet if I just said, “Rebecca?” she was right there to bring a different size or color.

 Me in my original bra

 
Me in the bra I purchased

I had two bras that I loved, but unfortunately they didn’t have either in a skin color.

The Winners:
Fantasie Moulded Smoothing T-shirt Bra. Very basic, but gives amazing shape. No lace, no frills, no nothing so it’s invisible under knits. Incredibly comfortable, with incredible lift. I fit a 36DD.

Fantasie Ava. Another simple t-shirt bra, but with a bit of lace detail and pretty straps. Again, I fit best in a 36DD.

I don’t need two black bras right now, so I chose the one with the thinner, less-decorative straps (makes more sense for summer with sleeveless tops). A La Mode will let me know when the bras are back in stock in skin colors.

I went to be rung up… and remembered I needed a strapless bra. Since Rebecca had helped me try on a good dozen different bras, it was easy for her to guess which styles and brands would work best for me. She handed me a skin-colored strapless and I tried it on. Did you know that there are strapless bras out there that are comfortable? I put on my shirt and came out into the lounge to show the other women in my group. “THIS IS A STRAPLESS BRA!” I exclaimed, and they all ooohed and aaahed because really my bust looked almost as good in this strapless as the Fantasie bras above. On top of that, this strapless has straps that can be attached, so you can make it a one-shoulder, criss-cross back, halter or standard bra.

I tried on another strapless, but it didn’t compare to this one in regard to fit and comfort.

THIS is a strapless bra!

The Winner:
Simone Perele Velia Strapless Plunge in Praline. I wanted a strapless that wouldn’t peek out of a sweetheart or surplice neckline and this one did the trick. I tried it last night with my new Gap maxi dress I was going to return because it can’t be worn with any bras I own. Now the dress looks adorable and I am still uber comfortable!

Now this strapless is more than I have EVER paid for a bra… but to have a strapless that is invisible under thin knits, hides under plunging necklines and is so comfortable that I am wearing it all day today as a standard bra… sounds like a worthy investment to me! Also with researching online, I found that A La Mode’s prices are competitive with what I found at department stores and online boutiques (I paid the same price for this bra as it is listed on the Simone Perele site Bare Necessities, Neiman Marcus, and HerRoom).

The benefit of going to a bra boutique or lingerie department of a higher-end department store is you will find an educated bra specialist, and a large variety of brands and sizes. When you visit your nearby Victoria’s Secret, all you have to choose from is Vickie’s bras. Your breasts are just like every other part of your body – unique. What may be Holy Grail jeans to one woman may be terribly unflattering on you; the same holds true with bras.

Bras aren’t cheap. As Rebecca said yesterday at the bra fitting, “You get what you pay for.” Before Bonnaroo, I was desperate for a bra and went to Target and got one from their Gillian and O’Malley line. It itches, it makes my breasts look a bit square in shape, and come the end of the day I can’t WAIT to get it off. I have purchased bras at Frederick’s of Hollywood that lifted my breasts practically to my neck, but I found them horribly uncomfortable after a couple hours, and they would fall apart after a few months (even with proper laundry care). A bra that properly fits, supports, and is comfortable will completely change your figure, your posture, the way your clothes fit. This morning, I wanted to wear a light-colored top and put on my old nude bra. It was… fine. I then tried the new strapless and I looked as though I had lost ten pounds and was five years younger. Seriously, this is the difference between and okay bra and a great bra.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself fitted, and get yourself some quality bras. You won’t regret it!

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post; A La Mode did not contact me or know I was going to write this post.

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Happy Halloween!

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With the craziness of 2014, the Gary Parents didn’t get their act together enough to create Halloween costumes for ourselves, but we made sure Emerson was what she wanted to be. Ever since she saw a commercial for Monster High this summer, Emerson wanted to be “purple Monster High” for Halloween. Using the tutu my sister and I made Emerson for her witch costume last year and some Monster High goodies from Party City, Emerson transformed into a gothy purple diva.  And nope, I didn’t tell her to pose like that, that fierceness is pure Emerson!

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Thursday evening, our town had a Halloween costume Parade. The kids are organized by age, parade around the town center, Trick or Treating the stores, and then past a table of judges (including the Mayor) who chose the best costumes. After the parade, they offered cookies, lemonade, and a magic show. Friday, Emerson’s school doesn’t specifically celebrate Halloween but the kids are encouraged to dress as their favorite storybook character and they have a two-hour early release to have time to get ready for Trick or Treating.

I hope all of you have a safe but very fun Halloween weekend!

Ask Allie – My Beauty Products

I am not a beauty blog, and I don’t claim to be an expert. However, after mentioning my beauty routine in a previous post, I have received many emails and comments wanting to know more about what beauty products I use. Today’s post will be about my medicine cabinet.

Though we had our house remodeled over two years ago, we still don’t take showers in the new master bathroom. There seems to be some place where it’s leaking, and we need to seal it properly… and just haven’t gotten around to it. So while I use this bathroom for getting ready in the morning and before bed, I actually take showers in the hallway bathroom. So my medicine cabinet only holds the items I use at bed, in the morning, and when doing my hair post-shower:

A. Get My Hair Did

  • L’Oreal EverPure Smooth Frizz-free Serum. I bought this… wow maybe two years ago? I bought it when I ran out of my BioSilk serum, and that I milked a travel-sized bottle for a couple of years. I don’t wear this often because I think it usually makes my hair look greasy, not shiny. However, it’s great when I’m past due for a hair trim – I’ll add it to the ends before letting it dry.
  • Pureology Texture Twist. Sometimes I love this stuff, sometimes I hate it. Lately I have been adding a veeeery tiny bit to damp hair, scrunching and letting it air dry. It’s very sticky, so it keeps curls curly when it’s humid out. I don’t like it for much else because it’s so thick and sticky and makes my hair feel strange.
  • Frederick Fekkai Luscious Curls. This stuff rocks, this is probably my fifth tube of this product. A pea-sized amount, scrunch, let hair dry and you have lovely soft, shiny waves and curls without any stickiness.
  • Jonathan Create Motion. It’s a cream gel, so it has the best of both products. Not too heavy, not too light, not too sticky. I got this as part of a Birchbox-like program that is now defunct, and since I don’t use it every day this tube has lasted me almost two years. It’s worthy of a re-purchase, I like that it gives more hold than Luscious Curls, but does a similar thing. I also like using it before blowing out straight, and it helps hold any heating tool styles.
  • TRESseme Heat Tamer Spray. I don’t use this as often as I should. It gets rave reviews online, and I got it when I was trying to make waves with a flat iron. Many YouTube beauty vloggers swear by this product, I find it sometimes makes my hair too soft.
  • Salon Grafix Spray Powder Shampoo. I have reviewed this before. This is my third bottle, I like it so much.
  • Jonathan Product Silky Dirt. I bought this for me, my husband took it over. He adores this for a soft hair look and he loves the regular Dirt when he wants a mussed look.

In the far right corner is Jonathan Dirt, a replacement brush head for my Clarisonic Mia, and a bottle of bath and Body Works body lotion from a hotel (sometimes use it as a hair styling product). Far left next to the serum is some Sally Hansen hair remover – every 2-3 weeks, does a great job of getting rid of the ‘stache without irritation or redness.

B. Hydrate!

  • Some random tube of a hydrating mask. I don’t know the brand offhand, I don’t know where it came from. I don’t think it accomplishes much but my husband loves masks and uses it.
  • CVS Night Cream. It’s a cheaper version of RoC.
  • Olay Beauty Fluid, SPF 15. I ran out of moisturizer while in Vermont and picked this up when I went into town. It’s light, it has some SPF, it’s fine.
  • Olay Definity Eye Cream. I like this eye cream because it doesn’t leave the skin greasy; it really absorbs quickly so I don’t have to wait before applying makeup.

C. Washing Up

  • Clarisonic Nourishing Face Cleanser. It’s gentle, it’s creamy, it doesn’t strip the skin but I am not in love. Doesn’t take off makeup and is very pricey for not wowing me.
  • Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser. My husband picked this up because he too doesn’t like the Clarisonic cleanser. It tastes terrible, it’s hard to rinse off, but boy does it do a great job at removing makeup. This stuff can even take off waterproof mascara and liquid liner.
  • Clarisonic Mia. I bought it as a birthday present to myself but was never immediately wowed. After a recent article on Un Femme d’un Certain Age I started using it again, either with face wash when I haven’t taken off my makeup, or alone on clean skin. It does make products like the Clarisonic face wash work better, and hopefully it will help my skin texture and clarity.

D. My Eyes! My Eyes!
I wear contacts. Here’s my case, here’s my solution (I ran out so am using my travel size for now).

E. Get My Nails Did
I am not a big nail person, I never wear polish on my hands and often go sans color on my feet. These are the basics – polish remover, clear topcoat to maintain a pedicure, and a lovely sheer pink that will make nails just look healthy and complete without color. I usually keep any colorful polishes in my dressing table.

F. So Random
This tumbler from my kitchen holds all the little random things in one place:

G. Brusha Brusha Brusha

  • My husband uses a Sonicare, I kick it old school with a cheapy toothbrush. I should switch to a Sonicare, but I just ENJOY a regular toothbrush. I have one here, one at work, one in the bathroom downstairs. I brush my teeth 4-5 times a day and replace my brushes regularly.
  • Dental Floss. Yep, I floss. My dentist is very proud of me.
  • NTIs. Nothing sexier than a couple with matching mouthguards to prevent tooth grinding. His and Hers.

H. Holy Grail

  • Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel. This stuff is awesome. I sometimes use this after cleansing to calm my face, I use it in the morning to remove dead skin and leftover moisturizer. If I accidently put on eye cream before my contacts, I use this to remove it so I won’t goop up. I also use it as a body refresher, wipe my décolleté and back of neck to feel fresh when dashing out of the house. My husband also uses it as a toner. It’s gentle, it’s a pleasant scent, and it’s natural. Score.

Next to the witch hazel is one of our three toothpastes. This was from Bonnaroo (travels well, won’t explode in heat – think it’s Colgate but when I went to peel off the safety packaging the whole label peeled off). We also have some tube of Tom’s of Maine that is almost gone, and a new tube of Crest 3D White because my husband believed the hype. It’s new, so I don’t know yet whether it will take our coffee- and wine-loving chompers to pearly white-ness… will keep you posted.

J. Got Sweat?
Does one household really need four different deodorants? Guess so. I switch between Dove formulas for day (find if I stick with one too long it stops working). For night I was using CertainDri but it seemed to stop working so I switched to Dove Clinical. The Dove is almost out, so I’ll go back to CertainDri until the bottle is empty and go back to Dove. The yellow is Arm & Hammer, my husband switches between that and the blue Dove.

And when you turn around from the sink you see the bathroom’s second door. I didn’t want this door. The bathroom is half in the master bedroom, half in our office. The contractor and my husband thought a second door would be useful if we used the office as a guest room, if we tried to sell the house. We never use the door – there’s furniture in front of it in the office and it’s a waste of space in the bathroom that could be used for a proper cabinet. So this is how I use it:

 

This over-the-door rack was originally purchased for the powder room on the main floor. I envisioned umbrellas in the basket, lightweight jackets and such on the hooks. We don’t have a closet on the main floor, so figured this would be a great alternative (we have a coat rack near the front door that is always overflowing). When I realized this bathroom has no wall space for a proper cabinet, I put this here for a “temporary fix.” Two and a half years later it’s still here. Usually there’s towels hanging there, but I took these pictures on laundry day.

In the top are all the things that don’t fit in the medicine cabinet:

  • Listerine
  • Hairspray (Elnett and Jonathan spray)
  • More contact lenses (the big box of more is in the linen closet in the hallway but I keep one box of each at the ready)
  • Diffuser (came with the dryer)
  • Brushes (two are missing from this photo – one is in the other bathroom, and one has disappeared because Emerson finds brushes to be playthings)

While the hooks hold damp towels, they also hold all my appliances:

  • Remington S9950 Shine Therapy Moisturizing and Conditioning Digital Ceramic Hair Straightener. This one was favored by many beauty vloggers back when I was trying to make waves with a flat iron. I don’t think it gives my hair shine, but it has a thermostat so I can control the heat level and I like how narrow it is – does a good job with making waves as well as straightening bangs without a weird bump at the hairline.
  • Hair Dryer. This one sucks and burns my hand if I use it too long, but I won’t buy a new one because this one gets the job done. When it dies, I will buy a new one.
  • Vidal Sassoon 1 inch Curling Iron for Fine Hair. It has a tight clamp so it holds fine hair in place. Can control the heat level and a cord that never gets all twisted up. Not bad, though if it dies I want to replace it with my sister’s – whenever we travel I use hers (think it’s a Conair) and it’s awesome.
  • Charging cord for my Clarisonic Mia.

Oh and yes, photobomb by Emerson who was using her potty as a cave for her bath toys.

Whew, are you still here? Still reading? I am impressed! So that’s my bathroom in a nutshell. Not a lot of fancy, fun, and glamorous things but things that get the job done. Still need to get a proper day moisturizer and face cleanser, but I’m frugal and wait until the current bottle or tube is completely empty. So keep sending me your recommendations, I am noting all of them and they will help me when I do finally purchase!

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Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

With age comes wisdom. It’s taken a while, but I have learned to truly buy quality instead of quantity. I unsubscribed from most retail emails so I am not wooed by 50% off (if I didn’t need it at full price, I don’t need it now), I rarely enter a mall because I know myself and I will leave at least $100 poorer with bags full of things I don’t need and will likely collect dust. When I visit a store like Target or TJ Maxx I have a written shopping list that will be a visible reminder to stay on track. And in the past year, when I have added to my closet I have looked for what I can remove – to store for the future, to donate, to sell, to admit defeat and cut up into rags.

And the things I purchase are better quality too. Now I am no Martha Stewart, so for me quality is likely Nine West, Etsy, L’Oreal. But I have learned it’s not about the name on the label, but how the piece works with my life and performs in the long run. Be it bras, BB cream, baking dishes, or boots I research, save, and buy the best within my budget. This also goes for luxury items (and items that are luxurious just to me). I have never admitted being a minimalist, and with age I have learned that some luxury items just make life better (and are far kinder to the body than cupcakes and nachos). I’ve also learned that luxury can come at all pricepoints, and some of the best indulgences are quite kind to my wallet.

I’ve found that series on this blog are some of my most popular posts on Wardrobe Oxygen. And so my newest series will feature little luxuries I indulge in, and how I budget for them, and why they are worth it. I hope you enjoy!





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What I Wore: Real Red

Dress: Belle c/o Dobbin Clothing | Bag: “Erin” Satchel c/o Fossil | Tights: Nordstrom | Boots: Ros Hommerson  | Bracelets: had forever, Nordstrom (similar) | Watch: Citizen c/o WatchCo | Coat: Via Spiga

Fossil was kind enough to send me this bag and I immediately fell in love with the color. It’s not cherry, it’s not tomato, it’s not ruby or oxblood or any other fancy terms. It’s as clear and true of a red as a crayon. I checked the bag’s label and it’s called Real Red. I like that, no crazy made-up name, just what is exactly is. This bag is pretty phenomenal, and perfect for a commuter like me. Two side zipper pockets to hold things like farecards and lip balm, and inside there is a zipper pocket on one side, and the other side five different pockets to hold anything from a Smartphone or your keys to business cards and a pack of gum. And in this bag I have my wallet, Kindle (did you enter my Kindle giveaway?), makeup bag, myAgenda, sunglasses, gloves, journal, and two reusable containers to hold my lunch. Impressive! The crossbody strap is adjustable to become a shoulderbag, or it can be removed. I know this bag is going to be used quite a lot this season!

I never understand why street style models and bloggers wear their coats on their shoulders like a cape.  How can they move their arms?  Why not just put on the coat?  Then I realized on cold days I do this very thing – I wear the coat like a cape from the house and over my shoulders until Karl gets ready to take pictures.  This way my outfit doesn’t get as rumpled and I’m less likely to mess up my hair.  Karl got this picture of me in the coat at the beginning of the shoot and it showcases the coat I bought last winter on a whim and still adore a year later (and it’s still available at Nordstrom and now on sale!).

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What I Wore: Issa for Banana Republic

I’m not a fan of designer collaborations. I don’t understand clamoring for a cheaper version of a designer piece. I don’t want a glued-together pleather bag or ill-fitting polyester blouse no matter what name is on the label. However, once the Issa Collection came out for Banana Republic I was intrigued. Banana Republic already has good quality and fits me relatively well, and the pieces in the collection were things I would buy no matter the designer. I liked the kimono dresses, and felt this print was one I would wear now and five years from now, in spring and in winter. For those considering this dress, I chose a 14, and yes, they do run short (it’s veering on not work appropriate and I am 5’3″). However it’s made extremely well, a heavy matte jersey that feels good and is a style that I think would work if I gained or lost weight. And you know me, I waited until it was on sale, Banana Republic was having a big sale, and I had reward dollars!

And how great is this bracelet? Wearing gold jewelery? No problem! Silver? No problem! Everything goes with this piece from Ruth Barzel, and I love that it’s rock and roll while still being elegant. I’ve been wearing this bracelet a ton lately (check my Instagram for proof), I like it mixed with other bracelets, but with such a bold dress, I felt it looked best all by itself.

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My Wardrobe Today – Monday

Tee - LOFT
Skirt – Ann Taylor (bought on eBay 5 years ago for $14.99, no clue how old, label style unfamiliar to me)
TightsNordstrom
BootiesCole Haan
Scarf – c/o Nordstrom Rack
BagSabina
Silver cuff

I forgot to set my alarm last night. My body woke me up at 7:15 (glad it wasn’t 8:15) and I had 45 minutes to get myself together and out the door. I had pulled this skirt out of my stash of potential winter things and a month ago it was just too tight, too short, and I thought I would re-eBay it. I pulled it on this morning since it was sitting on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed… and it fit! Only thing wrong is I guess the hem dry rotted and has fallen out while wearing (easy to fix). Very excited to have another leather skirt in my arsenal!

New bag – I had $40 in Nordstrom rewards, saw this bag for $129 and decided to try it.  I have wanted a bigger bag to carry my netbook and such, and wanted a soft black purse (currently have my Banana Republic one which is that textured hard leather like a football). Love the bag, so soft, holds so much, necessary front pocket (with magnet closure) and hey… gotta love such a quality bag for only $89!

Sorry for the delay in posting, work has gotten really hectic. Glad I stocked the office fridge with Lean Cuisines because that’s the only way I get to eat anything. The only time I have left my desk is to hit the printer or the bathroom (and refill my water bottle!). Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks!

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Scrimp or Splurge – What’s Your Number?

scrimp or splurge

Tuesday’s post about white tee shirts got me thinking. I believe we all have a number, that price we won’t cross for certain items for our closet. I often read interviews with style icons and they’ll say how they scrimp for X but splurge for Y, and often I feel the complete opposite about those items. That our numbers are personal based upon our age, our figure, our lifestyle, our budget. They are as unique as our personal styles.

While I wouldn’t have spent over $30 for a tee shirt two years ago (maybe $45 if striped or embellished), I now obviously will drop $80 for a plain white v-neck to stop the hunt and finally be satisfied. I couldn’t imagine spending more than $75 on a pair of jeans (but owned over a dozen pairs), but now don’t even blink at a $100 pricetag; though I now only own a handful of pairs.

On the other hand, some things I won’t pay as much for now that I used to. I can recall putting designer wool and leather coats on layaway because I considered them a worthy investment; now I buy my coats on clearance in the spring and don’t care the label inside as long as I like how it looks on me. Most of my makeup bag contents are from CVS, and I’ve learned some natural budget-friendly products like witch hazel, coconut oil, and jojoba oil do just as well as the high-end skincare lines.

The part missing from the tee shirt conversation was lifestyle and budget. What are the white tee shirts worn for, and how much can you spend on clothing in general? For some people $150 is a drop in the bucket, for others it’s the food budget for a month. For some, a white tee shirt is a piece of fashion as important as an It Bag or designer jeans while others just see it as what they slip on under their sweaters or wear on weekends with shorts.

So I ask you, what are your numbers? What’s the max you’d pay for a pair of jeans? A winter coat? A pair of tall boots? A handbag?  A dress to wear to a wedding or gala event? Where do you scrimp and where do you splurge? I know there’s such a variety of people who read this blog, this conversation would be interesting to highlight your unique lives and personal styles, but also help me know what to share on Wardrobe Oxygen in the future!

Contest: Tolani Scarf from chickdowntown.com

jessica alba tolani scarfTo celebrate me coming back to work and to blogging, I have a great contest for you readers!

One of you can win a Tolani scarf that has been seen on the likes of Jessica Alba (pictured), Sienna Miller, Vanessa Minnillo (pictured), Halle Berry and Mary-Kate Olsen.

The Tolani scarf is courtesy of chickdowntown.com, an awesome site that sells hip women’s designer clothing from the likes of Black Halo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Fürstenberg and Vera Wang Lavender Label.

I am so excited, because you KNOW I love scarves, and these beauts from Tolani are fabulous!

vanessa minnillo tolani scarfHow to enter:
Send an email to mywardrobetoday@gmail.com with the word “TOLANI” in the subject.
In the body of the email, please provide your name and mailing address (I promise these addresses will only go to me – except for the winner, and will be deleted once the contest is over). Winner will be chosen by random.

Contest ends Friday, March 20th, 2009 at midnight ET. Winner will be contacted by email. Scarf will be mailed out from chickdowntown.com. Sorry international readers, but the contest is only open to those in the United States.

Get to know chickdowntown.com:
Facebook (friend “shop chickdowntown” and/or become a fan of the chickdowntown page)
Twitter (twitter.com/chickdowntown)
YouTube (chickdowntownTV.com or youtube.com/chickdowntowntv)

Good luck!