Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Holiday Casual

As we got our first snow here in Chicago and the temperatures are downright COLD, that is also a sign that the holidays are upon us.  Holiday parties are going to turn up left and right, and the question is always - what am I going to wear?

What's that you say?  Velvet?  Sequins?  Maybe.  Sometimes if the party calls for cocktail attire it's a bit easier to figure out what you're going to wear (i mean, a cocktail dress, cute heels and great accessories, right?).  But when the party calls for 'holiday casual' attire - you might REALLY  be saying - 'What am I going to wear - for real?'     ;-)

I have decided I'm going to do a few posts on this very topic, because this is a question I get from many of my Style Spies clients when the holidays roll around.  Today's post is all about Kate Spade.  Classy and classic, trendy in a 'wink wink' sort of way, and always ladylike, KS is a great option for either an entire outfit or just a piece here or there.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

the Conscious Cleanse......interrupted.

As I type this post this morning, I have already served up yogurt smoothies to my kids  and packed my husband's lunch (a terrific sandwich, btw).  Normally, I would have been munching on Quaker Oat Squares while doing all of this, but today it's just lemon water before I have my smoothie.  

I love the Conscious Cleanse - in fact, this is round 2 for me.  I did it back in September with my business partner (we co-own Style Spies, a fashion consulting/styling business) and blogged about it HERE.  But doing the cleanse with kids and a husband who are not cleansing is pretty tough.  I know with a cleanse there are so many challenges.  Life gets in the way, right? 

Just this weekend, we celebrated my husband's birthday.  I managed to do purification for one day (Saturday) but yesterday, his actual birthday, was a bust.  I didn't eat horribly but it wasn't cleanse friendly food necessarily.  Here are my confessions:  I ate an egg white omelet for brunch, black beans on the side with goat cheese.  For dinner I had a delicious salad (cleanse friendly), but then a couple pieces of goat cheese and red pepper flat bread, and tilapia tacos.  I did not eat the shells but instead ate just the fish and slaw.  Yummy!  Oh yeah - I had a few bites of his chocolate gelato that they served him.  ;-)

Saturday afternoon, I had to make a cake.  Argh.....who doesn't like cake batter and frosting?  It was a zebra cake that the kids picked out at the store......here it is before going in the oven....

and here it is being served yesterday afternoon!

Did I have a lick of batter?  Yes.  Did I have some frosting?  Yes again.  And here we are today, ready to get back on track.  Heading to the gym for a Fit Bar class at 9:30, drinking my lemon water, and making a smoothie here in about a half hour.  Go ME!  

I do want to share with my fellow cleansers my go-to's from the recipe book and elsewhere - since I've done this before I already have my favorites:

Better than Yogurt Chia Pudding
Hearty Love Smoothie

Curried Carrot Soup
Cold cooked Salmon with brown rice or quinoa

Kalamata Olive Tapenade w/ gluten free crackers
Kale Chips
Joy Balls
Almond Butter Balls

One thing I REALLY want to do but just haven't yet is get a Spiralizer.  

What is that you might ask?  It turns your vegetables into slivers, making them pasta-like.  So much more fun to eat and create recipes around them this way, right?  In fact, there is a blogger I found who blogs only about recipes based around the Spiralizer.  Her blog is called 'Inspiralized,' and it's cute, clever, and informative.  Lots of great recipes.  I knew I liked Ali of Inspiralized when I read her 'welcome' info.  Here's what she says:  

"I'm Ali, your typical girl in her twenty-somethings looking to fit into her skinny jeans without having to give up the good stuff. "

Don't we all want this for ourselves?  I think so.  Thanks Ali for inspiring me.....I think i'll be purchasing a Spiralizer and getting into this pronto!  

So yeah - cleansing is hard, life does get in the way, but you can always get back on track.  I feel so healthy and clear when I cleanse, I sleep well, I am inspired to be a better me, a better Mom, a better business-woman, all of it!  

Cheers to week two of the Conscious Cleanse all - stay strong and make sure to forgive yourself for a little swipe of icing.  ;-)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Can't get a decent photo of your kids? Hire Leathem Photography. You're welcome.

Chicagoland friends - if you are looking for a children's photographer, look no further.  I have found her for you.  Her name is Tammy Leathem, and she has taken pictures of my children since each of them were born.  After each and every photo session I count the days until I get my pictures back because I can't wait to see what special faces and moments Tammy has caught on camera.

Photography is a passion for Tammy, not just a job.  You can clearly see that in her pictures. I only wish she had pursued her passion just one year earlier than she did and she could have photographed my wedding!  Eeek - that was 9 years ago.

Anyway - wanted to share a few pictures from our session with Tammy in May.  The photos are stunning - and it's not just because I have cute kids (don't we all have THE CUTEST kids?).  

phone: 312-952-6974

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of Kindergarten (a belated post)

Yesterday was my little Griffin's first day of Kindergarten.  Earlier in the week, we had a 'popsicle party' that included all four K classes along with their parents and siblings.  When we got there, he hid behind my legs (well, as well as that big kid could), and told me there were too many people there.  Agreed.  It was kind of insanity.  He seemed a little worried about Kindergarten after we got home that evening, so I decided to take it easy on the Kindergarten hype the rest of the week.

We had a pretty normal morning yesterday - I took the kids with me while I worked out at the Dailey Method (loving this new workout btw), then we hit up Whole Foods for some kiddie favorites (Gemma lives for the Probugs yogurt, Griffin for the Stonyfield farms smoothies).  One hilarious moment was when we were driving and out of the blue, Griffin asks "Mommy, how do storks carry things?"  I said, "Like babies, you mean?"  Yes, he wanted to know how storks could carry such heavy things, and also wondered how you got the baby in your stomach once the stork delivered it.  Hmmpf.  Good question, I said.  ;-)  Here was my answer (and he bought it, oh yeah!):  "Well, once Mommies and Daddies decided that they are ready to have a baby, they let God know, and then when it's time, God gives the stork a baby, who delivers it down to us in the middle of the night and magically puts it into my belly."  Ha!!!  I mean, probably the worst story ever, but it worked for the time being.  And how sweet is it that he was sitting there in my back seat wondering about this.  Then, we came home, had some quiet time......and then got our new backpack out.

In case you were wondering, we had a Star Wars theme this year.  I got his backpack and lunch bag from Pottery Barn, click HERE to find it!

We didn't have anything to put in it since we pre-ordered school supplies with the PTO (such a great timesaver for mommy!), but we attached numerous lego-guy keychains to make it 'his.'

Then we had lunch, and I printed out a 'Kindergarten' sign for him to hold so when I'm too old to remember how old he was in certain pictures he's holding a sign for us all to know.  I think it's a clever new trend - these printables seem to be all over Pinterest and Etsy, or you can just make them yourself.

5 year olds.  Pretty darn cute.  

Of course, we can't have a picture taking session with just ONE kid, and Miss Gemma HAD to get in on the action.  'I want to hold the sign, I wanna!!!'  So I said - you're right missie.  We can make a sign for you too.  A little sharpie action on Griffin's sign and it was now hers (and she couldn't have been happier):

This pose says it all.
 On the way over to Kindergarten, no one had too many questions for Mommy, so we just chanted 'Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Kindergarten!'  Gemma got into it too.  She really wanted to go to school today too, poor baby!  As we got there, she asked, am I going to school today too Mama?  Unfortunately for her (and Mommy), her school doesn't start until the 11th.  Hard to understand when you're 3.  Also when you're 36.  

Griff has already made some new friends.  

It was raining when we got there, so we did the Kindergarten line up inside.  The kids all looked like deer in headlights - none of them were quite sure what was going on.  But they all rather quietly lined up and waited to go in......and let all of us crazy mommies take pictures.  It was sort of like they were on the red carpet and we were the paparazzi.  If that was the case, man, we need to work on their posing!  ;-))  hahahaha....
Kindergarten line up - aka red carpet.
Not quite sure about this.

And that was it!  The teacher whisked the kids into the classroom and all of us mommies stood around saying - 'was that it?'  But it was for the best.  Getting into the normal routine on the first day was just what we needed.  I picked him up 3 hours later and he told me that yes, gym class was his favorite.  I wish I could say I was surprised, but I'm not!  :-)  So glad he likes it, and cannot wait to see what he learns this year in school.  So many firsts to continue looking forward to, for both parents and kids, but so many already over.  I got tears in my eyes as I was saying goodbye to my first baby on his first day of Kindergarten, but they were tears of happiness for him.  I'm so excited for what his future holds, and boy am I blessed to be his mother.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to School Fall Fashion - early edition!

At our house, catalogs have been arriving daily trying to convince me where to shop for my kids 'back to school' fall wardrobes.  And if I wasn't so fashion-obsessed, these companies do make it super simple to purchase an entire wardrobe for said child in one foul swoop.

But no, not me.  A little mixing and matching, price-comparing, and of course trend watching has me finding favorites in each catalog that my littles should wear.  And, I'm not one to go crazy each season.  I focus on what we've outgrown and how new pieces can make older pieces that still fit look fresh again.

So here we go - my 'top picks' from each catalog.  And this is not to say there aren't a bunch of other stuff I love from each place - but these pieces are my ultimate favs that I think will be super cute for Fall!

Land's End Kids - Girls

This chambray shirt with heart pockets is a little bit of a throwback to when I was a little girl - I love it!  
Girls' Long Sleeve Chambray Ellie Shirt, $29
Dying over this knit blazer - I want it for me, too!!  
Girls' Pattern Knit Blazer, $34

Land's End - Boys

These track pants might seem a little booooorrring....but they ARE what the boys like to wear, trust me!  And I like that they are colorful, pull on, and lined for comfort.
Boys' Mesh Lined Track Pants, $24
These hoodies remind me of Splendid, and are at least half the price.
Boys' Stripe Super Hoodie, $22

Tea Collection - Girls

How smart is this:  tea collection has packaged custom 'sets' you can buy.  Basically a couple tops and bottoms that all mix and match - Garanimals style!  

I love this set for the gals because of the moto pants and flutter sleeve dress:
Great Wall 5 Piece Set, $128

And for boys I am all about this set that includes pants with reinforced knees and a Dragon hoodie!
Daring Dragon Set, $118

Mini Boden - Girls

This dress is sweet yet with a little bit of a hipster vibe thrown in - paired with some stripey tights or leggings and a fun colored cardigan, it's perfect for school pictures.

Printed Tea Dress in Rose Quartz Vintage Birds, $56

Ok you will FOR SURE see Gemma in this set come Fall & Winter.  Obsessed.  

Novelty Knitted Set, $36

Mini Boden - Boys

Anyone who knows me knows that I have dressed Griffin in Mini Boden since he was tiny. It's one of my favorite brands for boys because it's colorful and fun yet still 'cool.'  Griff actually likes to pick out new pants and shirts himself when the catalogs arrive....#teachinghimwell

These pants hold up extremely well - we have bought them almost every season. And trust me - the pockets are key for boys who collect 'stuff.'
Rib Waist Cargos,  $46

I also love Mini Boden's mid-weight outerwear (i.e. fleeces, sweatshirts, etc).  They hold up beautifully and set my kid apart from the sea of North Face fleeces we see around here......this one with the stars is my favorite for this Fall.

Shaggy Lined Hoody, $54

Old Navy - Girls

While I sometimes have issues with quality, you simply cannot beat Old Navy for hitting the trends at the right price point.  Gemma and I will be twinsies in this cargo vest (I have an oldie but goodie from J Crew that I probably overwear I love it so much).

Twill Cargo Zip Vest, $19.94

Peplum for toddlers?  Of course, right?

Peplum Tee, $12.94

Old Navy - Boys

Old school Underoos, baby.  Come in Batman, Marvel Heroes, Angry Birds, and Superman.  We're an Angry Birds/Batman family here.....so cute.

Underoos 3 Pack Boxer Briefs, $14.94

What boy doesn't love a good character tee?  Old Navy is THE PLACE to get them.  Some I cannot stand (Angry Birds) but some aren't so bad.  This is my favorite:

Star Wars I Rule the School Tee, $12.94

Did you enjoy my list?  I hope so!  There are many more catalogs to arrive I'm sure......stay tuned for more kids fall fashion from this Mama.  In the meantime, I'm headed to the grand opening of the Neiman Marcus Last Call store tomorrow in Rosemont - SO EXCITED!  

Sunday, April 21, 2013

We shipped the bed.

I'm sure you all have seen the 'I shipped my bed' commercial by now either on TV or online.  If you haven't, you are missing out.  It's freaking hilarious.  As the Huff Post says - it really is for the 12 yr old in all of us.  Or the 17 yr old.  Or the 30 yr old.  

Before you watch my rendition of this commercial, you must watch the Kmart one (again, if you haven't already).  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/12/ship-my-pants-kmart-ad_n_3069515.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=3559911,b=facebook

Totally unplanned, my husband and I were laughing to ourselves about the commercial the other night at dinnertime, so we asked our 2 and 5 year olds to say the phrase 'I shipped my bed.'  Oh.....let me just tell you.  Super funny.


DIY Headbands & Hairties

How many times have I been shopping somewhere and said 'I could make this!' {for a fraction of the price}?  Too many times to count!

Such is the case with these super cute elastic hair ties and headbands.  I see them everywhere, and after paying way too much for some for my niece a couple of months ago it was decided. 

I found the elastic a few different places online, but I ended up buying mine from elasticbytheyard.com.     They have great color choices, and I liked that you can choose how much you want of each color.  To start, I bought 5 yards of each.  I figured I can make some for myself and my daughter, and then either sell a few to those who are interested and give them as gifts.

They're super easy to make, so if you're interested, read on.

Step 1.  Order your elastic from http://www.elasticbytheyard.com/

Step 2.  Gather your tools.  You'll need a ruler or tape measure, scissors and a lighter. 

Step 3.  For headbands, measure 22" and cut on the diagonal.*
For hair ties, measure 9-10" and cut on the diagonal.*

*these are sizes for an adult headband or hair tie.  adjust accordingly if you're making some for little girls or babies.  

Step 4.  Fold in half, and tie the ends together.  Looping them around your finger works well for this type of knot.  

Step 5.  Run the edges of the elastic lightly across a flame to seal and prevent fraying.

Step 6.  Show off your handiwork!

The best part about these is that if they're too big or too small, you can always re-tie the knot to adjust.  

Hope you've been inspired to DIY!

And if you don't want to DIY - let me know.  I can make some for ya (for a lot cheaper than you'll pay elsewhere.  ;-))

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Need a CUTE baby gift?

I have got one for you.  A former co-worker of mine recently started her own Etsy shop (Hallie Birdie) making the sweetest baby blankets, and you have to see them.

She stopped by my Matilda Jane party a few weeks ago and gave me one of them, and I am obsessed!  Miss Gemma loves it too - it's super soft and snuggly, a perfect size for her crib.  They are sold as 'stroller blankets,' but they of course can work any way you'd like to use them.  

Here's an Instagram shot of the one she gave me:

The sweet birdie print is a cotton flannel fabric, and the underside is a hot pink anti pill fleece fabric.  It's hand crocheted on the sides in turquoise.   I should have taken a picture of it when it arrived - all wrapped up with a tulle bow and this cute birdie attached.

I have several pregnant friends; I can't wait to see what options Hallie Birdie has when these babies come out.  Here are a few of my current favorites in her shop right now:

Kitschy Camping Print, $45

Rainbow Animal Print, $45

Bird and Branch Sketch, $45

Bicycle Print, $45

So sweet!  Hope you can add Hallie Birdie to your Etsy circles and favorite a few of these gems!