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The past couple of weeks have been very busy, stressful, and overall exhausting. But thinking of spending my weekend here with my family immediately lowers my blood pressure. We moved into this house Spring 2001, married three years later, January 2009 marked the birth of Emerson and the completion of a major renovation confirming that this is not a starter house, this is our life home.

Last night Karl grilled steaks; I sat on a bench at the foot of the deck stairs outside those double doors and looked up into this living room all lit up and thought, THIS is my dream home.  The old couches that sag and creak, the mismatched wood furniture decorated with nicks and some crayon lines, the bookcases jammed full with no rhyme, reason, or color coordination.  Every square foot represents the three of us (actually four, can’t forget our dog Cindy!), and every square foot represents love.

Saturday mornings, I wake up before everyone, go for a walk and then and enjoy a cup of coffee and a chapter of my latest book in that crazy chair I bought from the Annapolis Mall Structure when it was closing.  The rest of the house wakes, Karl heads off to work and Emerson and I sit on the couch together and watch TV with our twin bowls of oatmeal, or lie in the hammock (that’s what that rope is to the right, the other part of the hammock is hiding behind a curtain) and watch the woods, pointing out birds and squirrels.  Later in the day day you can find us working on a craft at the coffee table or lying on the floor playing.  In the evening after Emerson is in bed, Karl and I snuggle on the couch and watch an episode of Vikings or Once Upon a Time (we’re catching up on Once, currently on Season 2 via Netflix so no spoilers please!). This room is called a Living Room for a reason.

I sometimes get caught up in the land of decor blogs and Pinterest, but a home is one of the most personal things in one’s life.  I like how it’s becoming more and more odd and mismatched and worn in, how there’s no real theme or concept except us.  When I start feeling off, I look at our living room and get grounded.  Home IS where the heart is!

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How I Stay Organized

A couple years ago I attended a blog event; I had to meet fellow bloggers at a boutique and take a party bus to the venue. Typical Alison, I am either early or late so I was early. Super early. Early enough to leisurely window shop all the boutiques up and down the street. I went into a stationery store and flipped through wedding invites and thank you cards and then saw a display of agenda books. These weren’t trying to be Moleskine, they weren’t trying to be a Franklin Covey from 1997, they were well made and of the coolest fabrics. Leopard, glitter, snakeskin… the momAgenda.

Sometimes products have the worst names (I’m looking at you NYDJ), but make the best product. Even though I am a mom, I don’t want anything advertised just for moms. I’m not trying to schedule soccer practice and Girl Scouts, I just want something that will fit in my purse, let me see a month at a glance, and some room for addresses and birthdays to keep me organized.  Good thing momAgenda that your products are better than your name!  My momAgenda of choice is the myAgenda Mini (which only says myAgenda on it, nothing mom-related on the cover!).

The myAgenda Mini isn’t small, it’s a little less thick and a little bigger than a paperback novel, but I find I can even slip it into my Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C along with a small cosmetics pouch and overloaded wallet. But the features make it so much better than one of those cheapy engagement calendars you can pick up at Hallmark or the grocery store.

  • Month at a Glance. This is why I prefer paper to electronic. I like to see my entire month, so I don’t overbook every weekend or realize that I’m scheduling something the Sunday before a crazy week at work. I carried an engagement calendar for this very reason, but the day boxes were so small I couldn’t clearly write work, blog, and personal events as well as birthdays and anniversaries. The myAgenda Mini is big enough that I can easily write all the events, appointments, birthdays, and BUY GRANDMA A BIRTHDAY CARD messages I need.
  • Week at a Glance. I’ll be honest, when I first bought this planner, I found this section pointless. And now it’s my favorite portion because I use it FOR BLOGGING! The month at a glance is for work and personal and if there’s any blog events I am attending in person, but the week at a glance is for the blogging business. I write down which posts are scheduled to go live, which brands I am promoting so I can keep track, when I have phone calls, when I received product, when giveaways and sponsored posts are to go live, when to send out invoices or reminder emails, when I should get paid from different projects, when ads are set to expire. It’s utterly brilliant and works far better than any electronic method I previously had.
  • Years at a Glance. Yes, I would like to see what day of the week May 12, 2013 was, and what day of the week it will be in 2015 and it’s nice to have the calendar right there for quick reference.
  • Sturdy.  While it’s flexible, it’s a hard cover with a quality binding.  They still look nice at the end of the year!
  • Two Bookmarks. One ribbon for the month, one for the week. Brilliant!
  • Addresses. I know, in this day and age such things are EVERYWHERE but I’m old school and I like having my Christmas card list on me at all times. I also like that if I go to a hair salon and the stylist says she’s from Vermont I can whip out my myAgenda Mini and let her know where Karl’s cousin lives in that state; I can quickly look up the names of my second cousin’s kids or quickly GPS a friend’s addy. Oh, and this portion is removable so you can transfer it to next year’s book.
  • Holidays. I know you can find this online, but it always seems I need to know what day is Father’s Day when I am in a car or at a relative’s house or at a restaurant and it’s far easier to whip this baby out. It also is great for planning my blog editorial calendar.
  • Accessories. Self-sticking pockets? I love pockets in my skirts and I adore them in my planners. They fill up with business cards and menus, receipts and photos. I keep them in there, as a bit of a scrapbook from the year.  They have other accessories available, but the one I “need” is the pockets!
  • Listmania. Built-in areas for lists of wines, books, movies, parties, fashion, and more. It makes this paper planner more like a journal, and something interesting to look back at 10 years from now. 
  • August One Year to December the Next. I know this is a “mom” feature to keep track of a normal year and school year, but it’s really helpful for those who are in school themselves, those who have jobs that have a calendar that doesn’t start in January, and it’s nice to have a 17 months there for you to review instead of the standard 12.  I start filling up next year’s planner before this one is through, which makes the leap into January less painful.
  • Pretty. After many years of fake leather and ugly plastic, it’s nice to have something trendy, elegant, fashionable, or fun in my purse. Last year I had a gray snakeskin cover which wasn’t too crazy to pull out at a work meeting, but felt stylish. This year I really wanted their leopard cover but bought too late; instead I have a soft shimmery gold fabric that is probably a better choice as it’s subtle, tasteful, yet still fun and fashionable.  They have solids, prints, textures, and pretty much a cover that fits any personal style.

The momAgenda products can be bought at stationery stores, at their site, and other retailers like Organize.com and The Container Store.  Most recently I bought mine from momAgenda directly because I put it off until the end of December and couldn’t find any I liked in local stores.  Check online for discount codes for momAgenda if you shop there directly, I found one on RetailMeNot, and once I ordered I now get regular emails from them about sales and discount codes. And of course if you do buy from somewhere like Organize.com or The Container Store, first go to Ebates for discount codes and cash back!

I may be old fashioned, but I still love paper. I love to journal in actual notebooks, I love writing lists and thank you notes and leave post-it reminders in place of texts. And yes, I love paper calendars. I have a shelf in my office where old planners and agenda books are stacked against one another and it makes me happy to look at them, snapshots of that year and who I was at that time. And the MyAgenda Mini fulfills this need and fits my current life. Yeah, this totally ended up sounding like an infomercial; wasn’t planning on it, but it’s just that perfect of a product for me!


What do you use to keep yourself organized? If you are a blogger or have a similar business, what do you use to keep it tidy and properly scheduled?

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Stay Warm and Stylish This Winter

I regularly see dreadful fashion on the street, and I have been SO tempted to take pictures, but I don’t know what purpose that would have. How many times have you watched What Not to Wear, see Clinton and Stacy surprise a woman who has bad fashion, just to hear her say, “And I watch your show all the time!”

It’s hard to know when you are the one wearing bad fashion. Seeing a fellow woman with camel toe, muffin top or VPL won’t usually let you know that you are a fellow fashion tragedy. That being said, last week I took a picture of a stranger on the street:

This woman is just one of many women I see dressed in this manner in DC

I didn’t take this picture to show how horrible her fashion was, to embarrass a fellow female, or to add some comic relief to your RSS feed. I took it to make a point about winter fashion.

You don’t have to sacrifice style to be warm.

Individually, each piece this woman is wearing is fine. Half the women in Washington DC have that tote, and the other half own a similar coat. Those boots look quite warm, and could be cute with the right outfit. Warm tights are a must-have for any woman this time of year. the problem is the skirt.

Looking at that unique print, I wouldn’t be surprised if this woman is a vintage fan. Maybe she scours the racks of thrift stores and small boutiques looking for one-of-a-kind fashion that fits her fabulous quirky personality. The problem is that her funky silk skirt is NOT playing nice with her winter wardrobe.

Sometimes you just have to put your favorite pieces in the back of the closet until the next season.

I am all for mixing textiles – denim and lace, leather and silk, wool and charmeuse. Sometimes a heavyweight fabric is the perfect compliment to a delicate one – it shows off the texture and femininity of the piece without being too girly. However it is a special talent to own, and one misstep and you could look just as awkward as this woman.

It’s hard to wear such a lightweight skirt in winter and not get frostbite. The heavy woolen tights are catching on the silk lining of her skirt, and the lightweight fabric surprisingly makes her look more bulky when paired with heavy winter accessories. If she had switched out the skirt for one in wool, denim, corduroy, she would have looked more cohesive, and more stylish.

When purchasing cold-weather accessories, keep in mind your current wardrobe. If you are one who loves quirky vintage fashion, you may be better off with a longer wool coat with a nipped waist, than a waist-length puffer coat. Boots are so in style this season, it is possible to find a style that works with most any personal style. The boots this woman is wearing look warm and comfortable, but don’t compliment her dress, her coat, or her figure.

I wouldn’t be surprised that once this woman got to work, she pulled off the tights and boots and replaced them with bare legs and T-strap pumps; that she pulls a cute little bag (as well as her lunch and her pumps and maybe her laptop) out of that large black tote. The thing is, this woman spent several blocks outside to get to work, several more to get home, and possibly more time going out at lunch for a bite to eat. She invested in these pieces, and probably wears this jacket every time she goes out, be it to the grocery store or a bar to hang out with friends. Her boots could look cute with skinny jeans and a chunky sweater, but so could a sleeker leather pair that would also work with her office attire.

A wardrobe is a collection – you would never see Karl Lagerfeld send a collection of feminine frocks down the runway and pair them with dirty puffer vests and duck boots.

Elizabeth at So Much to Smile About recently wrote about this very same topic, and she has tons of pictures showing women who look terribly stylish while staying quite warm. Be they wearing a utilitarian parka or a faux fur vest, they show that their looks are cohesive – their winter accessories work with, not fight against the rest of their wardrobe.

If you have a feminine sense of style, there’s no reason why you can’t have a Thinsulate-lined lady coat from J. Crew and ruffle-edged suede gloves.  More of a rocker chick?  Biker jackets are back in a big way – find a style with thick lining and pair with some leather studded gloves and a black wool beanie.  Like the casual look?  Well you are in luck – parkas and duffle coats are available at places like Lands End, as are an amazing assortment of tall boots with great traction and warm linings.

Be good to yourself, and to your wardrobe. When you go shopping, think of your current wardrobe as a collection. Choose pieces that complement the collection and maintain a cohesive statement of your personal style.




Soccer Mom!

I walked downt he stairs and my husband said “you look like your office mate.”

He has never met my office mate. It is purely from my descriptions. My husband is a tee shirts and jeans kind of guy, but my fashion consultant. I keep my shoes in a rack in the kitchen pantry (the bedroom closet is just too full of out of season shoes! I keep the in-season shoes near the door!) and before I go out I do a shoe fashion show for him. He always picks the best option.

So when he said I looked like my office mate, I knew I probably looked like a soccer mom. my office mate is younger than I, single and childless. Cute girl, curte figure, but has a very specific style. Wears a lot of knit tops or lightweight easy-care sweaters, a tank or camisole underneath and chino bootcut pants. Shades of cream, blush pink, sage green, white and khaki.

Today I am wearing my orange tissue weight cotton sweater from J. Crew that I wore in Monterey. I have a nude bra that is invisible under this sweater, but it was worn to a concert on Saturday and still smells of cigarettes and stale beer. Every other bra shows. So I slipped a white wifebeater (also from J. Crew) underneath.

I know, I know. I despise the look of camisoles under v-neck tops. It makes me think that adults are ashamed of their cleavage. It’s what pre-teen girls do to wear the hip fashions while letting their mothers feel secure about having their babies leave the house. When I worked for Express I used to sell a tank with every v-neck tee to any girl under 16. When I see adult women following suit, I find it ridiculous. Pre-teens are deciding the fashion trends for their mothers, who dictated this fashion trend in the first place…. I think it’s weird how my office mate has pictures of herself in tube tops with her boyfriend. She has two tattoos that I know of, yet she wears often two separate tanks or camisoles under each shirt.

Anyway, back to that’s important – my outfit! With this I wore my olive sateen chinos from Ann Taylor that I got for a steal. Silver hoops, silver cuff. Dark brown/bronze shadow brushed on very lightly, black liner, black mascara and some bronzer. On the lips is a balm I got from Origins that has a bronze tint to it.

So the outfit is far more casual than what I usually wear to work, but today they were giving us a free CPR lesson. I decided to stay int he comfort zone and slipped on a pair of New Balances I got at the the REI sale – they’re a light blue with orange accents. Picks up the sweater.

So I was a soccer mom, a replica of my office mate though in brights. Aw screw it, I was fine crawling on the floor around Resussa Annie. Don’t figure I will be wearing this outfit again any time soon… not until i have a station wagon!

An Ode to Revlon ColorStay Foundation

All the magazines say summer is the time to lighten your makeup. Switch from concealer and foundation to a tinted moisturizer or BB Cream. I say… who are these people who come June have shrunken pores, their zits disappear, and have invisible redness and dark circles? it’s 2014 and any smart woman knows that tanning is terrible; come summer my skin is the same, only sweatier. I still want to cover and even my skintone, I just want it to stay put through summer’s heat and humidity.

Best Summer Foundation Revlon ColorStay

And so today is an ode to Revlon’s ColorStay Foundation. I know, I know I’ve already raved about this product here and here, but it’s worthy of a THIRD post. I used the whipped version almost all winter, but as soon as Memorial Day arrived I switched from the jar for dry skin to the bottle for oily/combo skin. And I haven’t looked back.

Most days, I put on my SPF moisturizer, let it soak in, then put on the foundation, set it with E.L.F. spray and go. Some cream blush (this one is still my jam), some waterproof mascara, and lipcolor. The foundation doesn’t cover my freckles, but it’s heavy enough to cover the scar from the zit I had most of May, the redness under my nostrils, and the giant dark bags under my eyes thanks to allergies and my cast being the size of a third person in our bed (but not snuggly enough to spoon).  Don’t slather it on; a fine layer (I use my fingers to apply though it also goes on great with a brush) gives plenty of coverage and doesn’t feel heavy.

When I want to look more polished, I’ll apply Dr. Brandt’s Pores no More, the foundation, pat some Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage under the nose and eyes, and finish with the E.L.F. spray or a dusting of NARS powder if I’ll be inside most of the time. No need for concealer anywhere else, Revlon blurs enough for me to look pretty darn fabulous. The other day, I got to work at 7 and had an event after work; I was able to be evening ready with a light mist of Avene, remove under eye smudges with a Neutrogena wipe, do a couple pats of Laura Mercier, and another dusting of NARS. Last summer I had to wash and reapply my face to look human after 5pm.

One thing to note: this is a long-wearing foundation and doesn’t come off completely with wipes or a quick face washing. In the summer I wash my face twice (with CeraVe); once with my fingers, and a second time with my Clarisonic. This really removes all the makeup, the sweat, the grodiness of the city but doesn’t dry me out.

The older I get, the harder it is to look healthy and refreshed with a bare face. I care for my skin, but life still makes its mark. It’s nice to have a budget-friendly product not make me look caked on and too made up, but look the way I feel. To have it last all day even in Washington DC humidity? Mega bonus!

My Home Away From Home

Four years ago, I changed jobs.  It was a scary change, but a really great one. While my last company was a good one filled with great people, it just was not a good fit for me. This current company really feels like a home away from home. As the company has grown, my office has moved around a bit – I am currently in my third location, but have been happily residing at this desk in this office for about two years. I share my office with this awesome woman who is a transcriptionist – she’s only here once a week so usually I have this room to myself.

The only thing bad about my office is that my back is to the window, and I have a pretty awesome view of a main street in the city. Unfortunately the way this room is configured, there’s no way to adjust that.

This is what I look at every day.  I usually have two computers up at all times – I need redundant Internet for work projects.  Always have headphones plugged in – either I am listening to Spotify, or I am editing audio recordings.  Have a headset for my phone for crisp audio when I need to speak on projects.

The lamp is from my college days – a cheapy $19.99 torchiere from Kmart or Target.   It still works great, uses a standard bulb and has three settings.  Proof you can get quality at any pricepoint!  The chart on the wall is a list of to-dos I have created for my team – we’re getting into some pretty quiet weeks before the new year and I keep adding randomness we can do now to be prepared for 2012.

Do you think I have enough beverages?  The reusable Starbucks cup was my morning coffee that I drank on the commute.  The mug (a super cute gift from my mom two years ago) is for when I don’t have coffee from home.  I usually spend the rest of the day consuming 2-3 refills of my Camelbak bottle, but because it’s been a crazy week, today I treated myself to a Diet Dr. Pepper.  And now you know the truth – most of my bracelets and earrings end up on my desk within an hour of arriving at the office.  It’s hard to wear headphones and type with them; I do put them back on when heading to lunch or a meeting!

It’s almost 2012 and I still rely on a Rolodex.  I have had this same Rolodex since 2001 and carry it with me from job to job.  While I do have an Excel spreadsheet with the same information, I find a Rolodex to be faster and easier.

The picture is of my husband and I in 1994 when I went up to Great Lakes for his Navy boot camp graduation.  We were at the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago, both exhausted but happy.  The print on the wall is from Ork Posters – they have these in a variety of colors for different cities all over the world.

Above my desk is this board.  Tons of randomness – birthday cards from coworkers, pictures of my family, badges from conferences, etc.  The flowers are those decals you can put on windows – I had them up when my old office’s desk faced a window – it helped me recognize which office was mine from the street below.  The shoes are from my sister – in college she managed a shop near campus that sold them and I acquired quite the collection.  My coworker saw my collection and gave me the shoe keychains to the right to keep them company.  The blank space on the ledge is because two shoes have fallen behind my desk and I keep forgetting to go back there and retrieve them.

To the right of my desk is a tall bookcase and short file cabinet.  I have a second phone in my office for when I need to stream audio for a live web event.  A bit more Georgia O’Keeffe, a Picasso print that represents how I sometimes feel on busy days at the office, and a bit more plant life.  At my old job, a coworker gave me a small Christmas cactus; I brought it to this job and it’s still living.  I have broken off some of the long tendrils and put them in a vase to sprout roots – I need to bring in a larger pot and some soil to transplant them!

The frames are Liberty of London for Target – one picture is of me and my husband at Bonnaroo in 2008, one is of the three of us a year ago.  Two glass insulators (I have quite a collection of them at home).  The second shelf is a dust-covered pile of randomness – training manuals, HR binders, a vase from flowers my husband sent me almost a year ago… should be cleaned up.  Maybe I’ll do that next week when it’s going to be super quite in the office.  Maybe I would be able to find a smaller bookcase hiding at the office as only two shelves are really being used!

***

So now you know where I hang out from at least 9-5 every week day.  Where I gulp down Lean Cuisines while completing blog posts on my lunch hour, where I chat with you on Twitter and Facebook.  It’s a good place to be, surrounded by good people doing good things.  My home away from home!

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Weekend Attire

Saturday Barbecue
Creased denim trousers from Ann Taylor. White ribbed Favorite Tank from J. Crew with a light aquamarine cashmere tank from The Gap layered over it. Turquoise chunky necklace from Target on my neck, silver cuff bracelet on my wrist. On feet are tan think heels from Target’s last summer collection.

Hair is beachy/curly. Hair is slightly damp, Marc Anthony Strictly Curls gel applied to it, dried with diffuser. Hair covered with layer of Marc Anthony Strictly Curls Humidity Spray, and occasional pieces are curled around a medium-barreled iron. Then a fine coating of Bio Silk is put on the hair for shine and ant-frizz.

Makeup is i.d. Bare Escentuals foundation and concealer, a touch of Nars Orgasm blush. Eyes have a touch of Clinique Snow in the inner corners, a touch of Body Shop’s Fawn Pearl in the crease, lashes curled and mucho MAC X mascara applied, and then a fine line of black Ultra Liner by Maybelline on the lop lash line. On the lips is a teeny coral lipgloss from Target that my mom put in my Christmas Stocking.

Sunday Jaunt to the Mall
Brown merino ¾ sleeve v-neck sweater from The Gap, same creased denim trousers. Same turquoise necklace and same tan leather sandals. Same hair too – second day curls restored with a bit of misted water and a few hits with the curling iron. Wow, déjà vu – the makeup is exactly the same too!

Oh, and of course, have to share what I purchased:
Navy twill blazer from Talbots – on sale for $44 and darn cute and hip looking! I was roaming looking for a dress and pants for my mom and came updon this cutie in the sale rack. Can’t wait to pair it with some cropped pants, a little tank and some wedge espadrilles!

White tonally striped suit from Tahari – it was on sale for $180 and it is magnificent. The pants fit like a dream (I heart Tahari suits) and would look great for work with a little sweater and heels. The jacket fits perfectly and would be so stylin’ with a pair of black trousers and a brightly colored shell. I also liked it with my denim trousers. Together with some rocking black heels and a shell, well I look like a celebrity. No fricking clue where I plan on wearing this white suit, but I adored it and so I bought it.

Dark coral crinkly gauze baby-doll tunic from Nordstrom. Crocheted lace on edges, and a great oclor with my skin tone.

Pale blue/aqua ribbed tank from Nordstrom.

Black stretch v-neck sweater from Banana Republic – I already have it in emerald green, and I am without a lightweight black sweater for Spring!

Putty colored cropped trousers from Banana Republic – sort of a chino fabric with a sateen finish. Flat front, and on sale! Amazing to find cropped trousers that are flattering on my petite/big calved frame. These are not even a petite cut!

Of course with all this, I didn’t find what I am needing/desiring for spring:
- Flat front wide leg stone colored chinos
- The olive rip-stop cotton drawstring skirt from J. Crew
- The bronze and straw wedge espadrilles from J. Crew
- A pair of dark cuffed cropped jeans (found almost perfect ones at The Gap but too low-slung)
- A dress that is not as low cut as my LBD but just as versatile
- A colorful jacket (olive, white, dark red, maybe coral) that would look cute with jeans
- A leather hip-sling belt that doesn’t look too trendy or too dorky (found an almost perfect one in Eddie Bauer of all places, but couldn’t stomach $50 right now for just a belt)

I have two dresses arriving in the mail from Nordstrom, hopefully one will be the spring/less low-cut version of my beloved LBD!

How to be a Stylish Mom

Before I became a parent, I wrote about ways to make it easier to be stylish and be a mom. I usually got attacked by current moms saying I was unrealistic and didn’t know how it was.

Well now I do. My daughter is eight months old, I work full time out of the home, I have a lengthy work commute, assist my husband with his photography business, manage three blogs, spend free time with friends and family. It isn’t easy, but it can all be done while looking stylish and not breaking the bank. Here are some tricks I have learned over the past few months that have helped me look pulled together without tearing out my hair or blowing my budget:

1. Get a Wash and Wear Hairstyle… or at least a style that you can manage half-asleep and in the dark. This doesn’t mean you need to chop off all your hair or live in a ponytail, it just means you need to reassess your mane. For me, this meant I needed to stop trying to straighten my hair or get the tousled waves all the celebs wear and I covet. I have naturally wavy/curly hair that likes to part in the middle. I researched online during lunch hours to find products well-reviewed for hair like mine that work when the tresses are air-dried. With my next cut, I let my stylist know I was going the more natural route and she trimmed accordingly. I now have a style that I can wash, condition, add a bit of product, scrunch and go. If I wish to have it be more polished, I whip out a curling iron and a second product.

For you, it may be a style that can be achieved with five minutes of a wet-to-dry flat iron, or one that uses some molding mud, your fingers and a hot blast of the dryer. Whatever it is, stop trying to reinvent the wheel every morning, trying to make your hair something it isn’t. Work with what nature gave you and you can spend less time with the styling tools, less time in a messy ponytail and more time with your child.

2. Buy the polish. All the magazines say in this time of recession, do your own pedicure. What mom has the time to whip out the orange stick, the cuticle cream, the top coat… and who can do it without little fingers wanting to help or investigate? A pedicure at the local nail spa is a cheap and quick way to decompress and have some Me Time. However, moms don’t usually have the time or the funds for Me Time as often as they did pre-family. I have found I can extend a pedicure far longer than I used to with a couple supplies. A daily swipe of clear topcoat will keep chips at bay. Owning the polish color will help when you do get a chip, and will also hide growth. Wearing slippers or socks around the house instead of bare feet will prevent your carpets or hardwood floors from absorbing the natural oils in your feet, and putting a bit of Vaseline on your feet at night will keep your feet looking soft (and if you have your slippers near your bed you can slip into them without slipping across the floor as you bolt up to the sound of a crying child).

As for the hands… I find it’s best to keep them bare and buffed. I love Sally Hansen Hand Repair Hand Nail & Cuticle Cream – I keep a tube in my purse and apply it to my hands (and the excess to my elbows) while I am waiting for the train, stuck in traffic, after washing my hands. It absorbs quickly so I am not too greasy to wield a steering wheel, has a mild orange scent and does a great job at keeping my hands looking soft. That plus a buffing cube can keep your hands looking lovely without trying to maintain a full manicure.

3. Create a uniform. So what if you wear jewelneck cardigans, lace-trimmed camisoles and flat-front trousers almost every day? If the outfit flatters and is appropriate for your lifestyle, then do it. The most stylish women have uniforms. No one criticizes Carolina Herrera for her collection of crisp white shirts – in fact women dream of being as chic as she.

Stop trying for variety, and look for quality. Buy fabrics that you love and love you in return. Choose colors that make your skin look amazing and make you smile when you see them time and again. Find silhouettes that flatter and buy in bulk.

My mom uniform consists of dresses. I find them easy, flattering and fun. A wrap style makes it easy to nurse or pump. I can slip on a dress in the dark and know I will look polished for most any occasion. Fabrics like matte jersey and ponte glide over my curves and are easy to launder.

For some women, their uniform is a pencil skirt and cashmere turtleneck. For others, it’s a button-down shirt and dark jeans. Accept your body and your lifestyle. Stop and think about the pieces you already own that you constantly go to in your closet and drawers. Ask a trusted friend what looks best on your body and stock up on that style.

Stick to a certain color palette so that it is easier to mix and match. This way, you won’t need as many pairs of shoes, as many belts, as many bags, as many accessories. I am one to pair black or white with jewel tones, but many women love a warm palette of browns, creams and greens or a collection of grays and navys with rich colors of merlot, amethyst and teal. Find the palette that pleases and compliments you and feel free to purchase multiples when you find the perfect color as well as silhouette.
4. Keep that uniform for the rest of your look. What’s the point of a wardrobe of pencil skirts and cashmere turtlenecks if you don’t have go-to uniform shoes? Last year I loved in peeptoe pumps – I had them in leather, snakeskin, leopard print, patent and silk. I knew this style of shoe and the height of the heel worked with most of my dresses, skirts and trousers. Now that I have a baby to carry around, I am desire a shoe that is a bit more stable and wearable for long hours. I found a great T-strap from Sofft that came in a dark red patent and looked like a vintage shoe. I could wear it for hours and not feel any pain, and it looked great with trousers and dresses. Instead of looking for other silhouettes to add to my closet, I bought this same shoe in black and found a very similar silhouette from the same brand in a brown croco-embossed leather and had a shoe wardrobe to get me through all of summer and most of the fall.

Make a uniform with your accessories – it’s okay to wear the same earrings or necklace every day – stop thinking of it as boring and consider it your signature piece! Purchase a bag that looks great every day with your wardrobe (tip: a color will be more versatile than black or brown), and make sure that it has enough room for a few kid essentials.

5. Simplify your makeup bag. It’s totally okay to wear the same exact shadow, liner, mascara, blush and lipstick every single day. Buy a second powder and lipstick and keep it in your purse for touchups. I actually have a small mascara that was part of a Gift With Purchase and a second compact of my favorite concealer in my purse in case I don’t have time to complete a full face in the morning.
6. Get rid of Dry Clean Only. I don’t know about you, but I have a bag of clothes that need to go to the dry cleaners that is in the trunk of my car and it has been in there since June. At the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is head to the cleaners. I don’t want to waste the time, and I don’t want to spend the money.

Many fabrics state that they are dry clean only, but can be washed on the gentle cycle and hung up to dry. Matte jersey, poly crepe, merino wool, and most synthetics can survive a gentle tumble in the washing machine. Once or twice a month I wash these pieces and hang them in the hallway bathroom from the curtain rod. They get put back in the closet before the next time guests come to visit (yes, I often get dressed in that bathroom, picking right from the curtain rod).

Stick with fabrics that can take a bit of a beating through the day – I like items with stretch because they don’t crease, usually launder easily, and allow me to crawl on the floor with my daughter and not be all stretched out and weird-looking after little hands grab at my neckline or I sit at my desk for ten hours straight.

7. Be prepared. Keep a bag in your bag with essentials – a couple safety pins, a Tide-to-Go pen or Shout wipes, your makeup uniform, mints, an elastic to hold back hair when needed (like when holding your little one), feminine products, a band aid, pain reliever, etc. This bag then can move from purse to diaper bag and back with ease. Nothing ruins a look more than a boo-boo, so be ready for that dropped hem, spilled salad dressing or blister.

8. Accept your new life. I may still have an active social calendar, but I am not hitting night clubs or cocktail parties like I used to. I don’t have the need for a dozen LBDs or a single garment with sequins. That being said, I have also realized that since I work outside the home and spend most evenings in my living room with my family, I have little need for more than one pair of jeans. Don’t purchase that which you don’t need and don’t hold onto that which is from a previous life. CraigsList, eBay, donate or gift away the items which you know you don’t need any more and make room for more pieces that are sensible yet stylish.

Even if you are a stay at home mom or a telecommuter, you shouldn’t be sporting flannel pajama pants and nursing tanks 24/7. It is possible to be comfortable and look great. Refined knits, matte jersey, ponte, merino wool… these are all fabrics that wash well, wear well and look polished.

9. Don’t write off fashion. You can carry off current trends while being true to your life. You may not have a need for over-the-knee boots, but you can totally rock knee-high boots with jeans or leggings and a slouchy sweater. The skinny jean may look fantastic with high-heeled booties or pumps, but they can also work with flats. Short dresses can work at the office or the café with opaque tights and boots or sturdy platform pumps.

And classic fashion is always chic – crisp white shirts like Carolina Herrera, solid-colored v-neck and turtleneck sweaters with flat-front trousers or pencil skirts, dark jeans with refined knits, sheath and wrap dresses in basic black or flattering hues, classically cut leather pumps, tall boots and traditional ballet flats.

10. Quality, not quantity! You can own one pair of jeans if they are made well and fit you like a dream. The same black v-neck sweater can be worn more than once a week if it is made of good quality and has an elegant drape. A higher-quality garment can handle being washed and worn time and time again.

Purchase bras that lift and separate, panties that are invisible under your clothes, shoes that look more expensive than their price tag. Spend money on your hair and skin so you can save time (and the cost of multiple beauty products that never work). The smaller your collection, the easier it is to dress every morning.

Wardrobe Staples for the Mom-to-Be

Many of you over the years have asked me about a maternity wardrobe. As that I have yet to be pregnant or a mother, I really didn’t feel qualified to properly answer this question. Luckily fellow reader Leta Boylan has taken on the task. Thank you so much Leta!

“Dear Allie:
Using your original list, and a few other “just maternity” lists that I found, I have synthesized a list of what pregnant women need to buy, clothes wise. I know that you have no kids, but trust me, as someone who has one and is planning on another, maternity clothes are important and difficult.”

For maternity clothes, you will need a smock, a caftan, a muumuu, a half-apron, and some white Keds… okay, bad joke. Just kidding.

Maternity clothes are only worn for a narrow window of time, so it helps to need to decide if you plan on having multiple pregnancies or not. Clearly, if you intend on having eight or nine kids, it makes sense to buy pricier, better made clothes.

Accept the fact that unless you have unlimited shopping time, money, and storage space, you will be making due with a much smaller wardrobe than what you normally have.

If you are buying new maternity clothes, Old Navy and Target’s Liz Lange line are inexpensive, and widely available both online and in brick and mortar stores. Ann Taylor Loft, though much pricier, has a wonderful line of maternity business wear.

Used maternity clothes are easier to find and usually of better, newer quality than normal (non-pregnant) thrift/consignment store stuff, and eBay abounds with wonderful maternity stuff. If you can find a garage sale with maternity stuff in your size, that can be great, but keep in mind that you should not buy maternity clothes just because they fit you. You will be wearing and re-wearing the same small number of pieces for at least a few months, so it’s important that they are clothes you like, that are flattering, and are in colors you normally wear.

I am generally in favor of buying maternity clothes, rather than regular clothes that are just too big, because they are cut for a pregnant belly, they will fit you better, you will look better in them, and you will be more comfortable, both physically and emotionally. There are a few exceptions to this, notably underwear and sweats, but be aware that the stretchiness in non-maternity clothes will be shot after enduring a pregnancy, so these items should be replaced once the baby is born.

Supposedly, you need to buy maternity clothes in your normal size. There are two problems with this thinking. One is that your butt, boobs, hips and thighs all grow during pregnancy- not just your belly. (Not to mention your ankles, nose, fingers and feet.) The second is the fact that, more so than regular clothes, maternity clothes tend to be sized XS, S, M, L, XL, and so on, rather than 8, 10, 12, and so on. Coupled with the recent, widespread spate of vanity sizing, making sizing even less consistent and more obtuse, it makes things rough on the expectant mom. If you can’t try on clothes prior to purchase, try to take detailed measurements of yourself and get detailed measurements of the clothes. And always, always, always, err on the side of too large rather than too small.

A big consideration in maternity clothes is your due date. Clearly, if you are due in February (in the Northern Hemisphere), you won’t need a bunch of maternity shorts, as most people don’t move into maternity clothes until the beginning of the second trimester. (If you are pregnant with multiples, however, all bets are off, and you may well wear maternity garb throughout your entire pregnancy.)

The First Three Are Essentials
I know a few lucky women who didn’t grow too huge during pregnancy and were able to get by with only these items.

1. A Belly Band
All this is is a wide, smooth piece of strong elastic. It can be worn folded in half, like a sandwich where your waistband is the cheese, or unfolded, covering your entire belly for support.

This little item will keep your normal pants on longer, allow you to look non-awkward in maternity clothes while your bump is still small, and help to keep your midriff covered. While the Bella Band is the most widely known brand, you can find far less expensive but nearly identical items on eBay. You may even be able to find a tan-colored version at a medical supply store.

2. Comfy, stretchy bust support.
In early pregnancy, your boobs hurt. Later, they grow. As a busty woman, I love underwire, but even I couldn’t hang during pregnancy, when I renamed them “torturewires”. If you have a certain neckline or event that requires a lot of support, then by all means wear a real bra, but for the most part, accept that being pregnant means less boobie-hoisting. You will need a minimum of three comfy, stretchy bust supporting garments.

Conventional wisdom dictates that you should go ahead and buy nursing bras, as these will be comfy during pregnancy and useful afterward. I have a hard time with this, because nursing bras are horribly overpriced, and I have not yet found one of even decent quality, much less one that lived up to it’s inflated price. I’m sure this has to do with being a 34F, but nursing bras were nearly useless for me. Also (and this complaint is not size related), nursing bras tend to require either special nursing tops, or limit your selection of normal shirts, which is why I would rather use tank tops and layer, as I discuss below.

A more frugal and practical alternative to nursing bras is to buy slightly bigger than normal sports bras. This won’t break the bank, so if you need to size up a couple more times during pregnancy, that’s okay. Also, a low cut, kinda loose sports bra works fine as a nursing bra. However, sports bras often have weird backs and very wide straps, making them harder to wear discreetly.

Therefore, my favored choice is nursing tank tops from Mamalama Wear. I started out with three and ended up with one in every color.

These have a built-in bra, and the straps unhook on either side for easy nursing. Besides the fact that these are obviously very useful once your newborn is out in the world, the bra is stretchy to accommodate growing/shrinking breasts, and they are soft and comfortable, with nary a wire to be found. Like all tank tops, these are seasonless, as they are wonderful for layering or wearing alone in hot weather. While a similar, Gillian O’Malley nursing tank top can be found at Target, Mamalama tanks come in a wider variety of colors, as well as coming a long version for those of us with long-torsos. If you carry very high, as you get bigger and bigger, you may find the tanks bunch up between your bust and your belly, making them harder to wear. Therefore, you may have to resort to the bigger sports bra or too-expensive nursing bra. However, many of us pregnant ladies will be able to sport nursing tanks the entire nine months and beyond with the help of the next garment.

3. Topless Undershirts
The only brand name that I know of for these is Blush, though I don’t doubt that knock-offs will soon appear on eBay. These are stretchy, though not made of heavy-duty elastic the way a belly band is. These allow you to stay in your normal shirts a lot longer, essentially by adding a lengthening layer. This is especially nice during in the second trimester, which tends to be the sticky wicket of maternity dressing, as most maternity shirts are still way too big. These are great with a cropped cardigan (or blazer, or jacket) and one of those nursing tanks. Isn’t this a cool look?

These are nice for post-partum modesty, too, because even if you’re thin enough to fit into your low riders again, it make take a while to get your tummy taught enough to want it to peek out. These are also nice if you are using a nursing bra and need to lift your shirt- the topless undershirt keeps your tummy covered, and the shirt covers your breast.

Again, get a least three, but buy one in every color if you want.

Everything Else

4. & 5. Two pairs of maternity jeans, the same sorts as Allie’s recommended jeans:
Get a casual flattering pair, and a dressier, darker pair. As a fan of low waists, I had a really hard time with belly panels, especially on denim. I much prefer the low rise, elastic band version, as it is more versatile during early pregnancy and post-partum.

6. Cardigans
These are the pregnant ladies’ friends. Get at least two in a regular length, one in black or gray and one in your signature color. Go ahead and buy some more if you want to try the sassy cropped look from above. Cardigans are great for layering and if you have your essential items from the list above, you need not worry about leaving those buttons undone and letting your belly poke out. You can get cardigans in virtually any weight, so no matter what seasons you’re pregnant in, you can find some that will work. This is one of the rare non-maternity items that will work well for a pregnant woman. These are also nice post-partum, as the front panel of a cardigan works well as drape for modest breastfeeding.

7. Seasonal Items
Thinking of the due date….
If you are due in winter, you will probably need a coat that fits and comfortable, solid footwear in a half to full size larger than what you normally wear.

If you are due in summer, you will need a bathing suit, 2-4 pairs of shorts and/or capris, and at least one flowy sundress or skirt. (As hard to believe as it is, when you are huge and it’s hot, you really are more comfortable in a skirt.)

8. Black Maternity Pants
Okay, this is a no-brainer. Even if you do not work outside the home, or work in a very casual environment, these are a pretty key item, for all the same reasons that Allie discusses on her list. Yes, these are dressy, not sweats or yoga pants.

9. A Black Jersey Dress, A Black Knit Dress, Or Both
This is the preggo-version of Allie’s Not-So-Little Black Dress. The hem on these should be just above the knee. I know it’s hard to believe, but the bigger you get, the more you will like dresses. They tend to be less constricting the most vital, burgeoning areas, and, unlike pants and skirts, have no waistband to do battle with.

I know some people will groan at more black (and there’s even more to come!), but we are shooting for versatility here, and like it or not, black is the most versatile clothing color there is. If you detest black, by all means, buy gray or another neutral, but be aware that you will get neither as much wear, nor as much use out of a dress of another color.

It should be easy to find both black knit and black jersey maternity dresses. These fabrics have a lot of give, but are still body skimming, making them perfect for expectant mamas. Clearly, if you are cold-weather pregnant, you will want knit, and if you are hot weather pregnant, you will want jersey, but both are seasonless enough to justify purchasing one of each, especially if you are in need of a professional maternity wardrobe.

10. Suiting
I am generally not fond of what some catalogs refer to as “wardrobers”- a blazer, skirt, and pants, all in the some color and material- because I feel that some of the pieces get more wear than others, and end up looking weird together.

However, if ever there was a time when such a thing was needed, that time would be during the pregnancy of a professional woman. Because you will be wearing them for such a short period of time, wear is not really an issue.

I would get two 3-piece wardrobers, one in black, and one in another neutral, navy or perhaps some shade of khaki. This will give you four suits, as well as four business appropriate bottoms. If you buy four shell tops to wear under your blazers, and eight other tops to go with your four bottom pieces, you will have three full workweeks worth of clothes. If you also pair the blazers with jeans on casual Fridays, you may never have to wear the same outfit to work twice.

11. Maternity Tops
This is the one you’ve all been waiting for, I’m sure. This is both where maternity fashion gets fun, and where the room for error grows enormous. If you are lucky enough to make it through pregnancy in your normal shirts with the aid of some topless undershirts, great. If not, here are a few rules of thumb:

-Don’t go through pregnancy swimming in your husband’s tees and oxfords. No matter what the magazines say, this is not cute. It looks goofy, or sloppy, or both.

-As in all clothing, avoid any sort of graphics or silly slogans.

-It will probably be worth it to buy one fancy evening top to go with your black pants.

-Maternity tops tend to be the least expensive maternity item, as well as being the maternity item with the most variety, so buy as many as you want/can afford/have room for.

-These are the wardrobe pieces that will reflect your personality more than any other, so have fun. This is where you get into color, and buy stuff with interesting details, or flattering necklines, or unusual sleeves. However, try to avoid button-downs. Most maternity versions end up looking like your husband’s oxford.

-As with all maternity clothes, keep the season of your due date in mind.

12. Shoes
Shoes are tough. Your feet and ankles will probably swell, and it’s a drag. If you must buy new shoes, buy cheap microfiber ones, not just because they won’t be worn long, but also because they will stretch. This is important, because pregnant feet are pretty normal in the morning, but swell to balloon-like proportions by mid-afternoon. Buy insoles and try to stay comfortable. And yes, after your baby’s birth, your feet will, in all likelihood, go back to normal.

Clearly, few people will need everything on this list. In trying to be comprehensive, I hit some things twice- I know that a professional woman who buys suiting will have no need for an extra pair of black maternity pants, and a woman who dresses casually almost all the time and is pregnant in warm weather will have no need for new shoes when she can live in flip flops. But I found so difficult to find even the most rudimentary maternity wardrobe lists that in compiling this, I wanted to be thorough yet flexible.

As a final note, don’t be conned into thinking you need a breastfeeding drape- these tend to be in the most awful patterns imaginable. If you can’t use your shirt, use a pashmina and remain chic.

I would love to hear any other suggestions; place them in the Comments so we can all reap the rewards!

What I Wore: Mom Style

wardrobe oxygen what I wore weekend style gap ann taylor wardrobe oxygen what i wore duo boots

wardrobe oxygen what i wore ann taylor cashmere poncho

Poncho: Ann Taylor | Tee: J. Crew Factory (similar) | Jeans: Gap | Boots: c/o DUO Boots | Bag: c/o Fossil (similar) | Bracelet: CC Skye (similar)

It’s starting to feel like fall, so I HAD to whip out this poncho from Ann Taylor and my tall boots! While I’ll miss summer, I do enjoy fall fashion and it’s been great to sleep with the windows open and add an extra quilt to the bed!

This poncho was a splurge, but as I said in this post, it’s a classic that will look great for many years. I knew I’d wear it in a casual manner like this for errands and weekend “Mom Style,” but also think it would look elegant in the office over blouses and trousers. I was excited to see these boots match this bag from Fossil; I haven’t featured it on the blog since this post but am really feeling brown leather this season.  The bag is big enough to carry everything I need for a weekend on the go!

Shop the post:

What I Wore: Mom Mode

Packable Down Vest: Bernardo (sold out – similar) | Tee: J. Crew Factory | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Converse | Bandana: grocery store (similar) | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Bag: Rough & Tumble Design

Weekends are family time.  I power off the laptop and focus on Karl and Emerson.  This weekend we had Easter egg hunts, errands to run, dinner with friends, brunch at my mom’s, and lots of time outdoors enjoying the gorgeous spring weather.  This is a variation of my weekend look, what I wear when I am in Mom Mode.   I bought this vest when I had the cast to stay warm, but it has become a favorite.  Karl jokes that I’m embracing normcore, I love not being bundled up but still warm enough during this transitional time (and having a crapton of pockets which is ALWAYS a necessity when in Mom Mode!).

And this bag, now that I have the strength to carry a big bag, is again my favorite.   It is truly perfection; the short strap fits over the shoulder, the long strap is comfortable on the shoulder or as a crossbody.  Inside is a pocket or gadget for everything; I can quickly find my SmarTrip card or parking garage ticket, the keyfob to get into the building, tissues for Emerson or a stashed away mini LalaLoopsy if a meal goes on longer than expected, my lipgloss and my ever-present Tide to Go stain stick.  Though my hand and wrist are MUCH better, I am still having trouble feeding myself with my right hand; the wrist just isn’t as flexible as it was and I do a modified shoveling food into my face (oh gosh you should see me with chopsticks!), and must say I end every meal no matter how careful I am with a dribble on my shirt!  Just a reminder to keep up with the PT!

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She Takes After Her Mom…

She understands that a woman can be a feminist…

And still love beauty and fashion!
Feminist tee shirt available at CafePress

Go Big or Go Home

Shirt: Gap | Skirt: Etsy | Shoes: Miss Sixty via eBay (similar) | Bag: Banana Republic via eBay (similar)

I was on the hunt for a maxi wrap dress, and decided to check out Etsy. I didn’t find one I liked, but I found this skirt and I just couldn’t resist. At first, I thought my life didn’t NEED a big skirt like this, but I indulged and this is the third time I have worn it. I like it on weekends with an Old Navy vintage tee (white and charcoal) knotted at the waist, and think this summer will be cute with a tank, and maybe a different print scarf tied at the waist like a cummerbund. It has one pocket, the only think I don’t adore about this skirt is that there aren’t two. But reasonable price, looks just as it did online, didn’t have to wait too long for shipping. I definitely favorited this seller and may look to have her make that elusive wrap maxi dress for me this summer!

There is an historic Art Deco theater in my community that holds a lot of good memories for people in our community. I remember seeing movies there when I was younger, and we love being able to walk down to see an indie hit or an Oscar contender.  The Greenbelt Theatre is up to receive a $100,000 grant from Partners in Preservation and we’re in our last week of voting. We keep teetering between 4th and 5th place; I doubt we’ll be win (we’re up against the National Cathedral), but there’s funding for runner ups. I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a moment to vote for the Greenbelt Theatre. The login process is pretty simple, anyone across the globe can vote, and you can vote every day. I thank you in advance!

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Friday: Work from Home

Sweater: Rafaella c/o Gwynnie Bee
Tank: Caslon (similar)
Brooch: Ann Taylor (similar)
Jeans: Gap
Shoes: Ivanka Trump
Lipstick: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Crush Begun

Friday I worked from home. While it’s tempting to stay in pajamas, I like to wear something appropriate so I can answer the door, say yes to a friend who asks me last-minute to lunch, or step out to run errands. On this day, I knew after work I would be heading out with my husband (and Emerson!) to photograph a friend for an upcoming True Fashionista post.

I decided to wear comfortable clothes that look put together; this ruffle-trim cardigan arrived in my most recent Gwynnie Bee box. This is NOT a color I usually wear but I always love. Good use for Gwynnie Bee – try out a new color! I ended up loving this color so much I bought another sweater in the same shade. This sweater is pretty awesome – it’s free of closures, so you can wear hanging open, belt it, or do as I did and cinch it with a brooch. I bought this pin at Ann Taylor a few years ago and love that brooches have come back en vogue so it can get more play!

This weekend was pretty crazy – we found out our hot water heater was slowly leaking so we had some major cleanup to do (and still do), and Sunday we helped my mom take down her 30-year old steel toolshed. But to make up for the weekend, tonight I am going with my friend to see Gossip at The 9:30 Club! Woot!

As a reminder, if you are interested in trying Gwynnie Bee (read more about it here), they are offering your first two months half-price!  Just mention Wardrobe Oxygen when signing up to get the promotion.  Deal valid until September 30, 2012.

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There’s No Place Like Home

One of the best parts of going on vacation is coming home.

A little over a decade ago, my then-boyfriend asked me to live with him in a town very close to where we both grew up. This was a town lovingly called “The Two-story Trailer Park” by locals because of the very small row houses. Our town is a co-op that was created as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal and most of the housing (my home included) was created only to be temporary housing for new families after the war. That was the ‘40s. The thing is, cheap manufacturing in the ‘40s seems to be more sturdy and higher quality than cheap housing manufacturing of today. We have hardwood floors, solid walls and foundation. The co-op maintains the roof, the gutters, and any repairs necessary to maintain the structure.

I wasn’t looking forward to living in the “Two-story Trailer Park” but it was all we could afford. We found that living there was actually cheaper than an apartment. We purchased a two-bedroom home that was around 750 square feet, smaller than my bachelorette apartment. No central air or heat (window A/C and baseboard heaters), tiny galley kitchen, dated bathroom, and closets that were probably small even by 1940’s standards. However it was an end unit that backed to woods so it felt pretty remote.

Over the years I have come to love our home. When we found out we were pregnant, we realized we would need to either move or put on an addition to accommodate an additional human being in the pad. We decided an addition would not only be cheaper, but it would be smarter as that the co-op will maintain the house, even the new part of it. We ended up doubling the size of the house, adding a master suite, a large living room, extended the kitchen five feet, and added a half bath/laundry room to the main floor. Though our home is still smaller than most (around 1,400 SF), it is now the perfect size.

We came home from Bonnaroo around 10pm on Monday night. Two of our neighbors shared the duty of dogsitting so we had a nice stack of mail on our dining table and three very happy and excited dogs there to greet us. The house surely smelled like dog (we washed them just before they left so it was a strong scent of clean yet wet pooch) but otherwise… coming home was amazing.

After almost a week away, I saw my home with fresh eyes. The Oriental rug I got cheap on Overstock didn’t look out of place but homey in the living room. The kitchen looked like something off a shelter blog. Our bedroom was a wonderful respite, and a great merging of our two personalities and décor tastes.

The next morning, we took our coffee out to the deck to enjoy the best part of our home. We really are blessed to live right on top of our Nation’s Capital yet live in a small town in the woods. My husband also felt inspired and decided to build a hay bale garden in our back yard. We had all our veggies in planters so he transplanted them so they could be happy and have plenty of space and nutrients.

I looked around at our yard, our trees, our plants and felt so at peace. I grabbed my camera and took a couple pictures. I know I usually write about fashion, but the longer I live here the more my home and my town are a part of me.

Our tomato and basil plants.  We made DIY Topsy Turvy pots last year from paint buckets, but the tomatoes didn’t do well.  This year we decided to do them rightside up and they are performing far better.  We kept them up high because with all the trees there are few places with lots of sunlight.  This way they get sun 80% of the day.  
(The cord hanging from the plant is my husband’s jump rope.)
Our new hay bale garden.  It’s hay bales as a frame, the center is filled with compost, and soil on top.  Again this is the only place in the back yard that gets a decent amount of sun.  We have a couple types of peppers and I believe squash growing.
These pics were taken from my deck chair so you could see exactly what I see from my back deck.  As you can see, I am a fan of old glass insulators and collect them at yard sales.  They decorate my deck, my office at work, and our living room.  The brown jars are from B&M baked beans; we put tealight candles in them for festive (and eco-friendly! Always great to recycle!) evening lighting.

Amazing that we live in such cramped quarters in this community, yet I can sit on my back deck and not see another soul and they cannot see me.  I will hear the occasional Metro bus or lawn mower, but the main sounds in my yard are woodpeckers, birds chirping, and squirrels twittering as they scamper up trees.  Ahhh, nature!

I really think one’s home is a reflection of its inhabitants; I will occasionally be sharing parts of my home on this blog. Don’t worry, this won’t become a shelter blog or even a general lifestyle blog. However, when I am inspired or do feel as though my home is affecting my sartorial choices, I will be sharing little bits of it.

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The Home of the Future… With a Wardrobe Consultant?

My friend Adam sent me this story and I wanted to share it with all of you. Pretty interesting! What will they think of next… a home that shops for you as well?

Disneyland Revives ‘House of Future’

GILLIAN FLACCUSAssociated Press Writer

Source: General Financial/ Business News
Date: February 13, 2008

ANAHEIM, Calif. Millions of Disneyland visitors lined up a half-century ago to catch a glimpse of the future: a home teeming with mind-blowing gadgets such as handsfree phones, wall-sized televisions, plastic chairs, and electric razors and toothbrushes.

The “House of the Future,” a pod-shaped, all-plastic dwelling that quickly seemed quaint closed its doors a decade later. Now Disney is set to open a new abode in Tomorrowland – this time in partnership with 21st century technology giants.

The 5,000-square-foot home scheduled to open in May will look like a normal suburban home outside, but inside it will feature hardware, software and touch-screen systems that could simplify everyday living. Lights and thermostats will automatically adjust when people walk into a room. Closets will help pick out the right dress for a party. Countertops will be able to identify groceries set on them and make menu suggestions.

The $15 million home is a collaboration of The Walt Disney Co., Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., software maker LifeWare and homebuilder Taylor Morrison. Visitors will experience the look of tomorrow by watching Disney actors playing a family of four preparing for a trip to China.

“It’s much different than a spiel that you would get at a trade show,” said Dave Miller, director of alliance development for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. “We won’t get into the bits and the bytes. It will be about the digital lifestyle and how that lifestyle can help you.”

The actors will be in a flurry of cooking, packing and picture-taking designed to emphasize cutting-edge features in the home’s two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, study and back yard. Much of the project will showcase a network that makes the house “smart” and follows family members from room to room, even adjusting artwork, to preset personal preferences. When a resident clicks a TV remote, for example, lights will dim, music will shut off and the shades will draw as the network realizes a movie is about to start.

The system will allow residents to transfer digital photos, videos and music among televisions and computers in different rooms at the click of a button. Other applications still in development could include touch-screen technology built into appliances, furniture and countertops, said Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s vice president for entertainment services. In the kitchen, for example, touchpad software on the countertop would be able to identify groceries and produce recipes and meal suggestions. Similar programs could turn a desktop into a computer screen, allowing residents to load photos, music or e-mail onto a cell phone by placing it on the desk. Mirrors and closets could identify clothes and suggest matching outfits, complimentary colors or track what apparel is at the cleaners or in the wash.

The home will also feature new uses for devices that many visitors may already own, as well as technologies that are still five or 10 years down the road, said Mike Seamons, vice president of marketing at LifeWare, which makes home automation software. “If people walk through there and say, ‘I don’t have anything in this house at all,’ then we’ve totally failed,” Seamons said. “We’re not waiting for robots to happen in order for it to be a reality.”

When it comes to aesthetics, designers decided to stray from the Jetsons-style House of the Future; an all-plastic cross design with four wing-shaped bays that appeared to float. The house was so tough that wrecking balls bounced off it when Disney ripped it down in 1967. The new home will be made of wood and steel and finished in muted browns and beiges, said Sheryl Palmer, president and chief executive of Taylor Morrison in North America. “The 1950s home didn’t look like anything, anywhere. It was space-age and kind of cold,” she said. “We didn’t want the (new) home to intimidate the visitors. We want the house to be real accessible to our guests.”

APviaNewsEdge

Office Attire Essentials

Whether you work in finance or fashion, physics or a philanthropy, there are some basic needs for a corporate wardrobe. Maybe you will speak at a conference, possibly you will be interviewing for a new position, possibly you are traveling on business. Below are the top six things I have learned over the years in different fields, to be the items necessary for a completely polished, professional wardrobe. These items are the pieces I see women most often NOT own and by not owning it usually diminishes their professional appearance.

1. A Suit. Seriously, you should own a suit. While a crisp shirt and trousers or a simple dress will work for most work events, there is always that situation where you wished you had a suit. Possibly you’re being interviewed on TV, or maybe you’re speaking at a conference. Maybe you’re chosen to give clients a tour of the facility, or you’re having your headshot taken for the company website. Murphy’s Law, if you don’t own a suit a situation will arise where one is necessary.

Skirt suits are no longer a necessity, and they leave you wondering about appropriate footwear, if hosiery is necessary, and the proper length or need for a slip. I deal with conservative government clients and find none of them blink at a woman in a pantsuit. If you choose black, it’s extremely versatile, slimming, seasonless, and less likely to look dated in a couple of years. Buy quality – a cheap suit looks cheap from a mile away. No need for designer, you can find sale suiting quite easily at chain retailers like Ann Taylor, Lord & Taylor, and J. Crew.

2. A Simple Leather Tote Bag. This item is the inspiration for this post. The other morning I was walking past the Mayflower Hotel and I saw a woman leading a group of individuals, most likely from the hotel to a place for breakfast. It was all men in gray and navy suits looking confused, and this woman, on a cell phone, looking extremely competent and in control. Sleek bob, a black skirt suit with cobalt blouse, expensive black pumps… and a canvas and lemon yellow patent leather tote bag with a stain on it.

In 2001 when I changed jobs, I treated myself to a black leather tote from J. Crew. It was on sale for $99 and I questioned the idea behind spending so much for something I didn’t necessarily need. In the past decade, I have used this tote on numerous occasions – for interviews, to carry my laptop to business meetings and conferences, as my carry-on for day flights to client sites. It’s sleek, structured, free of logos and embellishments, and some of the best money I have spent.

It’s better to buy a lesser-known brand free of a logo than a big fancy It Bag with logoed fabric or a big brass plaque on the front. Visible logos are never professional, and interest in certain designers change from year to year. Have it structured so it can hold your laptop in a sleeve, keep your resume from getting creased, and sit on its own on a table or the floor. Have at least once zippered compartment for small essentials and keep it clean and conditioned so it looks great now and five years from now.

3. Black Pumps. No more than a 3” heel, slightly pointed or almond toe, no visible decorations, no platforms or peeptoes or wedge heels. Smooth leather, no fancy finishes. Have them comfortable, classic, sleek. Polish them regularly and take them to the cobbler each season to be reheeled, resoled, and to have nicks on the heels covered. Wear with everything from cocktail dresses to trousers with twinsets. Buy wisely, and be willing to spend more than $50. If you care for them, these shoes will last you for many years of stylish professional wear.

4. Black Commuter Flats. there’s nothing worse than seeing a professional woman in a fabulously-tailored power suit, dashing across K Street in a pair of dirty TOMS or puffy sneakers. Not only that, there will be times when you will need to leave your office and walk to another location, give a tour of the campus, hoof it from one end of an airport to the other to catch your connecting flight. Be prepared with comfortable, broken-in but not beaten-down commuter shoes that have a closed toe and can be tucked in your tote and slipped on in a second. As with the pumps, polish them often and keep them looking clean and fresh.

5. A Simple Phone Cover/iPad Case/Laptop Skin. So you’ve been given a big break at work, the woman upstairs has asked you to lead the presentation. You head to the boardroom in your sleek black suit and power pumps, set your black structured tote on the table and whip out your hot pink laptop with band stickers all over it. Or maybe you attend a conference and end up at a table with some power players in your field, you go to tweet the event on your iPhone with a Swarvoski crystal-encrusted cover. The point is, having a fun or fancy cover for your technology destroys any credibility.

I love my iPhone and I take it everywhere. I love me some leopard print and was tempted to get a cover of that print. But then I realized that while I use my iPhone to Instagram my outfits and friends at events, I also use it to handle business for my day job. So I use a matte black cover from Incipio that protects, doesn’t slide off tables, and is subtle and professional.

Go ahead and have the Hello Kitty iPad case, but have a simple one on standby for those times when it’s important to look polished and professional.

6. A Nice Pen. It doesn’t have to be a Montblanc, but it looks impressive to whip out a nice-quality pen when you have to jot something down or loan one to a colleague. Luckily my company has really nice hematite ones with the logo etched into the side; at my old job I had a Cross which I carried in my work tote. You wouldn’t believe how many times people commented on the pen in a positive way.

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The rest? It can vary from profession to profession. Some offices are more conservative, some more laid-back. Needs depend on your industry, your location on this planet, and your position with the company. However these six simple things can take your good work look and make it great. Having such pieces in your wardrobe already means less stress and scrambling when you get that opportunity to lead, impress, or represent your company.

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Casual Holiday Attire…

Since I have been a few places over holiday where there were cameras, so I figured I would share what pictures I have…

Christmas Eve we had a lovely dinner at my sister’s house (blue cowlneck merino and black pencil skirt both from Ann Taylor sale rack, tall black boots).  I don’t have a picture of me, but I do of Emerson in her lovely red holiday dress:

As you can see she was QUITE the life of the party! :)

Here I am with Emerson on Christmas Day.  Christmas Day is pretty casual for my family.  We go to my mom’s house for breakfast and to open presents, and then have a late lunch/dinner with friends.  I am wearing a pair of Seven jeans I picked up at Filene’s Basement for $39, a black pima cotton tank from Banana Republic, and a chunky beige cardigan from Ann Taylor (pricey but got an email for 40% off one item and I decided to use it on the cardigan).  I believe I was wearing my black city boots.  As you can see Emerson is more casul – this is the Santa’s Elf outfit – green and white striped long-sleeved tee, red pants (both from Old Navy) and a “Baby’s First Christmas” bib that was from a friend.

The Sunday after Christmas we celebrated the holiday with my husband’s family.  We were to get together the Sunday prior, but there was quite the snowstorm in the DC area and no one wanted to go out in that mess.  No picture of me (wore my Seven jeans, my burgundy dolman-sleeved sweater tunic from Ann Taylor Loft and some hammered brass jewelry) but here is Emerson playing with her new presents:

The dress and tights were a gift from her Aunt Debbie.  Baltic amber teething necklace (totally swear by it – kiddo has acquired four teeth in the past month and not a bit of fussing!) from PBi.

Yesterday we went to my cousin’s house to see her recent renovation and to celebrate the holidays.  This isn’t a great picture, but it shows me and my outfit:

This is a new sweater from Banana Republic – teal merino shawl-neck and only $27.99 (they had a kazillion of them at Columbia Mall on New Year’s Day – red, green, black, two-tone…)!  With it I wore my New York & Company trousers, a black pima tank from Banana Republic and my black city boots.  Silver and blue and green stone cuff and matching earrings from Anne Koplik Jewlery
Emerson is again rocking the red pants from Old Navy (their sales on kids’ clothes are SO good and then they have 30% off promotions and free shipping… 99% of her wardrobe is Gap and Old Navy) and a sweater also from Old Navy that she received as a Christmas gift. 
Emerson is not yet walking but is darn close – lots of cruising, pulling herself up, standing.  It is really hard to find soft-soled shoes for her at this size – they all seem too small or too large (too bad because she got some cute Robeez for Christmas!).  These are the same Mary Janes she wore the Sunday after Christmas (Gap) because they are the only ones that properly fit her.  When she’s home we let her pad around in grippy-bottom socks or footie sleepers but since we were going out we wanted additional warmth and protection.  She’s just like Dorothy rocking her ruby slippers…
So what did I get for Christmas?  I got some gorgeous purple cashmere-lined leather gloves from Nordstrom, a pair of fleece slippers from Lands End, some yummy body wash and my husband, sister and I bought ourselves gifts – we are returning to Bonnaroo this summer together!
My husband I decided to spend New Years at home as a family.  They often say you should spend New Years Eve doing what you would like to do the rest of the year – well we would like nothing better than have a quiet, lovely time together in our house with our baby.
Emerson will be a year old this Friday and we are having a party for her Sunday – nothing huge, just family and our very closest friends.  We have asked for no gifts.  Family and friends were so generous this Christmas, and we jsut bought new “Big Girl” car seats for my husband’s and my mom’s car.  So really… nothing is needed and wanted except love and fun for her big day!
I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season.  I am back to work tomorrow after having off since before Christmas so it will be hard to be away from Emerson and my husband all day (hope she remembers how to drink from a bottle!).  However I am looking forward to a new year at work – we have a larger team, some great contracts we are working on and a lot of opportunity for growth and development!

Inside Our Home: Our Kitchen

Next in the series of posts about our home is my favorite room in the house – the kitchen! To fully understand my love for this room, you have to see the “before” pictures of it:

When we did our home remodel at the end of 2008, not only did we add to the back of the house to create a living room and master suite upstairs, but we added five feet off the front to have a main-floor half-bath and extend the kitchen. As a reminder, the original house was just over 700 square feet so the kitchen was teensy. So teensy that the stove only had one large burner and I could never find a cookie sheet to fit in the oven. So teensy that when the refrigerator died a month after moving in, we had to custom order one small enough to fit in its place. When the old dishwasher died, we would have had to custom order it so we just used it as a dish drainer.  Not only was it teensy, it was cheap. Peeling laminate counters, pressed-wood cabinets that were sagging and pulling from the walls… I could go on and on. It all just made me love the remodel even more.

The new kitchen makes our house a home. I saw this in a boutique in Rehoboth Beach in 2009 and had to get it for our “new” home.  Little did I know that this “unique” sign was mass-produced and now every single townhouse in America has one like it, but at the time I saw this sign as a proper and unique representation of how our house had developed with our family.

The bulkhead shows where the house used to end. Emerson’s Rody keeps watch at the front window while looking tres festive.

Just five additional feet meant a full-size range, a full-size refrigerator, and a reasonable amount of counter space. We put the most thought into the kitchen – we researched appliances, cabinetry, and drafted up layouts multiple times.  The cabinets were an overstock – not our original choice but such a great deal (and now we ADORE them).  The floor was a must for me – my husband wanted to do something cheaper, we compromised, but then our contractor scored the very same tile I lusted after at a great price (it sometimes pays to have a small kitchen).  By purchasing our appliances through the company that provided the cabinetry (and the bamboo flooring we have in the bedroom and throughout the downstairs – also an overstock), we saved a lot of money.

Oh to no longer deal with drip pans on electric burners, to have a dishwasher that works, and a built-in microwave so the entire counter isn’t lost?  Heaven!

The paint was a sticking point for me.  I picked this color out before I was on full maternity bedrest.  We went to Home Depot and I decided I wanted a deep shade of berry, I could just imagine it with wood, brushed stainless, and the floor tile.  My husband thought it too crazy and wanted a cadet blue.  The contractor also found me crazy, and the painter found me annoying because I made them paint the room almost a dozen times to get the really deep hue I desired.  But it’s totally worth it – I have yet to tire of the color, and as soon as you walk in the house you see this amazing color.  I think it really fits our personality, and yes now my husband too loves the color!

I love our extra-deep sink.  And this kitchen comes with a garbage disposal!  So very 21st century!  You can see when we finished the kitchen, we still used paper towels – the paper towel holder is now a nice towel bar for our reusable dish towels (we keep a basket in the nearby half bath/laundry room for cleaning rags).  We also use reusable sponges (can find great ones on Etsy), and make our own foaming hand wash from a combination of Dr. Bronner’s and water.

When we moved into our house in 1999, I bought these canisters from Williams-Sonoma as a housewarming present for myself.  You can see my tastes in kitchen decor haven’t changed much in the past decade.  They hold regular flour, steel cut oats, and brown rice.

It’s amazing to have this much counter space! The French press is a recent addition to the home – a Christmas gift to my husband from my mom to replace our old press which was getting wonky. The Le Creuset artichoke holds sugar. Have to have music – we have iPod speakers in many rooms of the house so we can carry our music everywhere. The knife block is Henkels for Target, but there’s a real random variety of knives now residing in it. Most of our cutting boards were in the dishwasher at the time of this photo – the ones we use most often are bright colors like lime, orange, and turquoise.

The other housewarming gift I bought myself back in ’99 was this same Le Creuset teakettle in yellow.  Back then, I wanted a sunny yellow, blue and white kitchen and slowly collected a lot of yellow accessories.  That teakettle had an untimely death – I forgot about it, it boiled all the water out and melted the bottom.  By then, I was on a green kick (pretty clear from the kitchen I am still on that kick) and got a lime replacement.

Two years ago, our toaster kicked the bucket and I got this toaster oven for only $25 on Overstock.  We love it – we use it a lot so we don’t have to use a ton of energy to heat up the full-sized oven.  The coffee and tea pots belonged to my husband’s paternal grandparents – we use the teapot regularly.  And you can see Emerson’s bottle drying rack hasn’t gone to waste once she stopped drinking milk – we use it to dry her sippy cups and our travel mugs and Camelbaks.

Okay, finished with the pretty pictures – now to the nitty gritty and not so pretty.  We love our kitchen, and we use it a lot.  Here’s how we organize it (or attempt to organize it).  Starting with the cabinets closet to the window (the ones above and below the toaster oven):

The top cabinet.  You’ll soon see a pattern – things I use are on the bottom shelf, things my husband uses or I rarely use are higher up.  Bottom shelf are sippy cups and travel mugs, higher up are baking tools.

The drawer below the counter keeps a hodgepodge of spices, powder mixes, and leftover sauces from Chinese take-out. Probably not the best place (right next to and below a heating element) but we’re working with limited space.

The bottom cabinet holds our appliances and most of our cookware (we store cookie sheets in the oven, and the really large cookware in the drawer below the oven).

This cabinet is directly to the right of the microwave.  Bottom shelf holds our cooking essentials, while the top shelves hold baking supplies, coffee and tea.

First drawer below the counter holds our silverware and most-used utensils.

The next drawer holds bulkier utensils, tools we don’t use as often, measuring cups, and most of our dish towel collection.

The bottom drawer holds our reusable food storage containers.  We’d like to switch to glass, but it’s pretty pricey and not in our budget.  I found the idea of containers in a drawer so strange, but my husband was raised with a drawer for them and we have never had enough cabinet space to stack them on shelves.

Under the sink is typical under the sink stuff.  Above the sink are these five little drawers and a glass door that opens up.  My husband chose these details for the kitchen and I thought they were both really goofy; now I love them.  Obviously we use the glass cabinet as our liquor cabinet (also stores our olive oil which is too tall for the other cabinet); the little drawers hold things like beer cozies, toothpicks, drinking straws, and wine stoppers.

And here is where we keep all our plates and glasses.  Again, a few are in the dishwasher.  Our glasses are these from Williams-Sonoma – my cousin got them for us for our wedding.  The small square bowls are Crate and Barrel, the round ones are Anthropologie.  The plates are a mix – the dark ones are these from Crate and Barrel – they were on our wedding registry and while they are beautiful we hate them.  We recently inherited a gray stoneware set from my husband’s paternal grandparents that are far more our style – they have a navy brushwork pattern on them.  I think I’ll sell the C&B plates on Craigslist – I know many people love them and may need a few cheaply-priced plates or bowls to finish their collections.

The drawer below the counter is our junk drawer – pens, scissors, business cards, rubber bands, that sort of thing.  Below that is our trash can – this was a biggie for us with the remodel.  Ruckus used to be able to knock over and open any sort of trash can we ever got and this “trash drawer” is completely Ruckus-proof.  We use regular grocery bags for our trash – we compost so we really don’t have a ton of trash – maybe two or three bags max per week.  The grocery bags fit perfectly in the plastic can in the drawer.

And then we have the refrigerator.  The cabinet above it holds things like serving bowls and vases and lunch bags.  I was so happy to be able to get a brushed stainless fridge that was able to hold magnets – we have a pretty big collection of them and it makes our kitchen look more like us and less like a model home.  Your typical collection of baby announcements, family photographs, and receipts.  The white door is our pantry.  The pantry opening is very shallow and just has shallow shelves holding canned goods and pasta; below the shelves we store dog food and unopened bottles of wine.  The pantry then leads to a deep short space below the stairs – in there we store cans of paint, gardening tools, camping equipment, and a bin to collect cardboard and paper for recycling.  We use the slatted door to display birthday and holiday cards – usually I display Christmas cards in the living room but this year I was lazy so they ended up here!

That mishmosh to the right of the pantry has been part of our kitchen from the get-go.  It’s a dinner bell that my husband inherited.  After his first marathon, he slung his medal around it and the rest is history.  The “bar” is pretty much a catchall for keys, wallets, baby monitors and the day’s mail.

And that, my friends, is my kitchen!  All the nooks and crannies, the less-than-exciting parts (which I personally love to see myself which is why I shared), and the fun parts.  My happy purple and green favorite room in our home!

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Inside Our Home: Our Hallway

Our house was built in the 1940s; three years ago we decided to stay put and build an addition instead of moving to a larger home. The original home was a bit over 700 square feet – the size of a basic two-bedroom apartment but on two floors. After the remodel we are now around 1,400 square feet. One of the best parts of the remodel was the opening of the hallway. Originally where the banister is, we had a solid wall. That wall housed our entertainment center for the living room – now it opens to our dining room.

 

While this remodel was taking place, I was on bedrest for my pregnancy. Paint colors were chosen by my husband collecting a few paint swatches from Home Depot and asking me to pick which one I liked best. One color that I liked better in the swatch than in real life was the color for the hallway. I thought this color would be darker, but over time it has grown on me. If the bathroom and Emerson’s room doors are closed, the hallway can be quite dark; the light color opens it up.

Before the remodel we were so frustrated with the stair risers. When we moved in, they were dingy white and covered with globs of glue from having stained carpet removed. We tried painting them white but they still looked dreadful. I then tried to be creative and painted them French blue, which was just as horrible. I then painted them over with red, which was fun, but still not right. One of the best parts of the remodel was that they sanded them down, properly painted the risers, and refinished the oak stairs. I would like a runner, but don’t want basic beige Berber or an Oriental look and most runners I see are either out of my price range or not our style. Until I find the right thing, they stay bare.

 

As soon as we had the hallway redone, I knew I wanted to do a collage of frames along the wall. My husband’s dad died during the remodel and I wanted to display some great pictures of him, along with other great pictures of our family.

 

 

My cousin Arielle took this picture one summer and I just loved it so much I had it blown up and framed.  She totally captured the chubby cheeks and arms of that age, and how curious and newly mobile she was (she was examining a Slip N Slide at the time of the photo).

 

 

Me and my sister as kids, my husband as a baby, me and my husband with the groomsmen from our wedding making silly faces, a member of Kings of Leon (no not really, it’s my father-in-law but I think he would fit in the band perfectly!).

 

 

My husband and his dad, me throwing a temper tantrum as a toddler, my husband’s maternal grandfather (picture taken by my father-in-law).

 

 

We don’t have many wedding photos up, just the two in this hallway.  This is right after we were declared husband and wife, one of the only pics of the event where we were together.  Funny how a wedding is about the union of two people, but you get so busy greeting family and friends you often don’t see one another except at the ceremony, first dance, toast, and cake cutting!  I guess that’s what the honeymoon is for…

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As you can see, I never finished this hallway project. In our home office I have a stack of black frames – ones I buy on clearance at Marshalls and Target or pick up when I stop by IKEA. I just haven’t had the time to pick the photos and put them up in the right place. Maybe this post will inspire me to finish!

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