Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday Finds

Happy Friday!! Right now we are on our FIRST FLIGHT WITH MIA so wish us luck and maybe be waiting for us at arrivals with a stiff cocktail haha. I have always heard that it's easiest to fly with kids before they can walk, but Mia started standing up and has been doing lots of cruising over the past two weeks so this could get interesting.

We are headed down to Florida for a wedding over the long weekend, and I am crossing my fingers and toes we get some nice weather! Then as soon as we get home on Monday I'm repacking to head off on my first business trip since the doctor told me to stop flying when I was super pregnant at the end of 2018. Wish me lots and lots of luck.

Here are the finds this week - a few ways to make your cold weather dressing more fun!

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Some Winter Basics


Coat - J.Crew / Sweater - J.Crew Factory / Jeans - Madewell / Mules (also available here and here) - Sam Edelman / Bag - Tory Burch / Sunglasses - Amazon


An outfit post, oh my! I know, I know, I haven't been living up to the whole style blogger thing as of late. It's a whole lot harder to run outside to snap a few photos when we have to get Mia down and out too, and honestly since I mostly work from home now I'm not getting dressed a ton anyway. 

BUT. 

I had to share a few of my new favorite things with you. Because what kind of friend would I be if I didn't share? 

I've been wanting another wool winter coat, because as much as I love this one I feel a little silly with the faux fur collar in all situations, like when we dress up or when it happens to be 30 degrees in May in Chicago. I ordered and returned 5 or 6 coats this fall until I came upon this one. It's cute and simple, but the details like the gold zipper and ribbed cuffs really elevate it. I also am loving the warm camel color - I've always wanted a camel coat! As far as sizing, I'm in my normal J.Crew size in a tall. It's slightly more fitted than the Chateaux parka but still an a-line. 

Then we have the jeans. It's amazing, I get compliments on these every time I wear them. The button fly is surprisingly flattering even though I carry my weight in my mid-section. They are a 9" high rise, which for me goes right above my belly button (I have long legs and a short waist). I went down one size, and honestly could have gone down two because they stretch out easily. I am wearing a tall, and every time I wash them the ankles get a little more frayed making them a tiny bit shorter. The frayed ankles do look a little weird with booties and winter boots, but are really cute with mules, loafers and sneakers. 

And of course, that leads us to the mules. How much can one talk about loving a pair of shoes before she starts to sound a bit crazy? But really, these are one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes in my closet, and I wear them just about every chance that Chicago lets me. They go with surprisingly just about everything in my closet, and have the ability to take a basic outfit to the next level. I love them so much I'm thinking about ordering them in black too. 

Is that enough incoherent rambling about one outfit? Okay cool thanks, let's call it a day :) 



  






Coat - J.Crew / Sweater - J.Crew Factory / Jeans - Madewell / Mules (also available here and here) - Sam Edelman / Bag - Tory Burch / Sunglasses - Amazon






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Monday, January 13, 2020

Motherhood Monday: Our Favorite Baby Gear at Nine Months


Okay, so Mia is not nine months anymore, but when I wrote this she was so I'm counting it!

I also shared my favorites for the newborn stage and at six months (look how little that squish was!) and still love and use everything that works for her at this stage (you know, so no more swaddles or Dock-a-Tot). I do have to note that I got a full refund on that Skip Hop Activity Center (from Skip Hop even though I bought on Amazon!) because some of the attachment toys won't stay attached. We still use it every day though, so I can't really complain.

At nine months, Mia started get into a sitting position by herself, and then crawling and then pulling up all within a few days, and is now wreaking havoc on our living room. She's also now eating mostly finger foods, but still will go for pouches and purees if we give them to her. Here are a few of our favorite things right now:

Oxo Tot Travel Spoon - This thing is so clutch for feeding Mia when we're out and about. Sure, it's just a spoon in a case, but it means you always have a clean spoon with you when you're feeding on the go, and don't have to waste plastic bags to put your spoons in. We bring this to grandparents' houses too, who don't have tiny spoons on hand.

Baby Buddy Secure-a-Toy - Mia is in the "accidentally on purpose" dropping things phase, and while I try to be chill about her toys landing on the floor, I'm decidedly not chill. These little straps can connect just about any toy to just about any surface, like her stroller, car seat, high chairs, shopping carts, etc.

Taggies Crinkle Toy - Mia has loved anything that makes noise since she was large enough to express an opinion, and she also likes the tag best on basically any toy we give her. I mentioned these loves to a coworker, and she suggested Taggies, which are toys covered in tags. We keep this in the car to keep her occupied, and she'll just go back and forth sticking all of the tags in her mouth.

Wegreeco Long Sleeve Bib - Talk about a Type A mom's dream! This bib is waterproof and basically completely covers her clothes so there's no mess at meal time (well, until she discovers rubbing food in her hair). I've tried a few of this type of bib, and this is the only one that fully covers her neck (some of the others are too big there), has velcro that always stays closed, and is actually waterproof.

Playpen - If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen this playpen all over my stories. I was worried about babyproofing our condo because everything is decidedly not babyproof (why did we decide to buy all furniture with sharp corners and wrought iron legs?!) and decided a playpen was the solution. But not just any playpen, I wanted a really big one, something that could give Mia space to play and hopefully enough space that she would actually stay in the playpen. Well this little baby does the trick - it's roughly the dimensions of a queen mattress! It is from China and I was a little iffy about the materials, so I put this playmat in it (almost a perfect fit!). I also added a Queen mattress pad underneath to cushion it when Mia tips over. Long story short, while Mia is actually in there alone right now happily playing with her blocks set, she usually requires a mommy or a daddy to join her in the playpen. We are much happier to do so now that it's comfy - you can usually find me laying down in there with a pillow and blanket on a weekend morning!

If I Were A Bunny Book - I love everything that JellyCat makes (their stuffed animals so soft!) and we have a few of these "If I Were A" books, and the bunny one is definitely the best! It's full of textures, and Mia especially loves scratching the little bunny paws. She will turn through the pages of this book over and over.

Lovevery Block Set - Mia got this as a Christmas gift, and I had to include it here because it's already a love!! The set includes a bunch of blocks that fit into a little box of course, but the blocks can also turn the box into a car or a wagon, there is a shape sorter, and there are little people for building and playing house. Like other Lovevery products there are instructions on different ways to use the blocks at each stage, and we keep joking that we are currently at Stage Zero because Mia mostly just wants to eat them. I love how well designed these are though and can tell we will be playing with them for years to come.

Retractable Baby Gate - Our house is all stairs. Like really, if you stand in our foyer you can see four different staircases. I was initially freaked about this, until I realized I just needed to block Mia's access to the foyer and we'd be safe. That entryway is a little wonky though, really wide and not straight, so I wasn't sure how to block it effectively. With a retractable gate, we can easily pull it across the space, and then it retracts to take up basically no space if we need it to. Mia hasn't tested the strength of it yet, but I've rammed into it a few times and am impressed so far - we just bought another to put downstairs.






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Friday, January 10, 2020

Friday Finds

Whew, well this was a week. I had the Sunday Scaries almost a full week early for coming back to work from Christmas break, and I was right in those worries.

But it's Friday now, so let's not dwell on that! Instead, here are my pretty pretty picks for this week. All of the sudden I aspire to be a person who can look cool in a belt bag, because honestly, even my cross-bodies can get annoying when I'm out and about with Mia. Being truly hands free? Now that's the dream. Belt bags (err, fanny packs) always remind me of my mom, because obviously she always wore one in the '90s, and it was always full of snacks. But those snacks were for her, not her kiddos, because she would get hangry trying to wrangle us at the pool or Six Flags or where-ever. Sorry Mom, just outed you ;) And now, I dream of having an easy access snack holder just for me.

(EDIT: I ordered the belt bag. It is surprisingly cool looking, aside from a buckle that is smack dab front and center. I got the butterscotch color, which is more of a brown/tan in person. Definitely keeping it. Watch out, other park moms!)

one / two / three / four / five






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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

December Budget

Every month I post about my clothing budget. My budget per month is $350, which may seem like a lot to some and a little to others, but feels just right for me. You can read my thoughts on my 2018 budget here.

And another year of budgeting in the books! I usually publish a follow-up post for the year in total sharing my favorites and misses, but honestly I don't think those posts are that fun to read. Instead, here's December for you, and I'll share a little recap of my overall spending at the bottom of the post.

I'm still so drawn to sparkly big earrings, even though I very rarely wear them these days (since there's currently a member of my household who wants to rip them out of my earlobes at every chance). But I just couldn't resist with these two! I was in the store to make a return, and these were so pretty they just called to me while I was waiting in line. But besides those, I feel like I made some good, practical purchases this month. I've been wearing everything else on repeat!

Here's the damage for December:


J.Crew Funnel Neck Sweatshirt - originally $59.50, on sale $29.75. I saw this in stores and had to try it on. It looks really luxe in person, but is lined in fleece so it's so soft and cozy inside. I've been pairing it with faux leather leggings to look dressed up when really I'm basically in pajamas. It also looks super cute with another layer peeking out underneath, like a striped tee or some plaid (like I wore it here)!
LOFT Embellished Fabric Drop Earrings - originally $34.50, on sale $13.80. These are so pretty and sparkly, and not too heavy for my ears!
LOFT Fair Aisle Pom Pom Hat - $39.50, on sale $17.77. Sadly this is sold out, because it's so freaking cute and it's really nice and thick and warm (so important for those Chicago winters!). Still linking it for you in case it comes back in stock. Otherwise here is a similar one, or here's a cute pink one.
J.Crew Lodge Coat - originally $365.00, on sale $182.50. I. Love. This. Coat. In case you couldn't tell. I kept not buying it (and trying other coats instead) because I was sure it wouldn't work on my body type. But somehow the swingy, a-line shape is surprisingly flattering! It's so gorgeous in person too with the gold hardware and the beautiful camel color. I wore it here and here.
LOFT Star Drop Earrings - originally $34.50, on sale $18. I really wanted these last year but missed out, so I was excited to snag them. Super cute in person, and once again not too heavy.
Daily Ritual Scoop Neck Tee - $18.93. I've had a couple other Daily Ritual jersey tees, and decided to add this one to my closet since the sleeves on my other long sleeve black tee shrunk. It's a great basic for layering under cardigans and scarves, and for wearing over leggings.

Total Spent: $280.75
Total Saved: $271.18

A look back at my budget for 2019

At the beginning of the year, I set up a budget of $350 per month, but with the leeway to overspend some months as long as I reigned it in the next. It turned out though that I rarely got close to that $350 mark. Here's a monthly breakdown (with links to each post): 

January: $166.95
February: $231.04
March: $149.49
April: $348.61
May: $334.20
June: $269.85
July: $294.90
August: $17.70
September: $404.54
October: $360.44
November: $252.30
December: $280.75

Total Spent: $3,110.77
Average Per Month: $259.23

It's kind of crazy, but this was actually my second-lowest spending total for the year since I started tracking my clothing budget in 2014, even though I "gave myself a raise" from $300 to $350 in 2018. I didn't have that "new new new" feeling, partially because I was so excited to rediscover a good chunk of my wardrobe post-baby.

For 2020, I'm going to keep that $350 number as my monthly budget, and see how it goes. For January I always shop for some warmer pieces to keep things interesting as we enter the season of never-ending sweaters, but I did also order this pretty dress to mix things up for date night (and for our trip to Florida over MLK weekend!).

Want to see more? Check out my budget recaps from 2018201720162015, and 2014.




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Monday, January 6, 2020

How We Take Family Photos Ourselves


Whenever I post stuff like this to Instagram, our friends ask who we had over taking pictures. No one guys, it's just us! This is incredibly simple, but in case you hadn't thought of it I thought I'd share.

Use a tripod

Basically, we go old school and use a tripod! This one is what I used to use waaaaay back in the day with my remote shutter release to capture all of those fun roof outfit photos in our townhouse in the South Loop.

(LOL, sidebar story, I never told you this because I didn't want #stalkers, but Mayor Daley lived in the same complex as us (sidebar sidebar, no I never actually saw him) and whenever he was home there was a cop car stationed out behind the house. So yes, there was basically always a police officer watching me take photos of myself 😂😂. And no, we could not afford a condo in that complex, we were renting on the cheap.)

Now I know a lot of you just use your phones for cameras these days, but I still like to have a separate digital camera. There are a lot of benefits as to the control I have and quality of photos and yada yada yada, but another nice one is that it connects to the tripod. Plus, with all these newfangled digital cameras, they connect by wifi to your phone, turning your phone into a remote for the camera! So I can now line up the shot the way I want it, go get in the picture myself, and snap away on my phone until I see we got a photo I'm happy with.



More tips for taking great family photos with a tripod

  1. Don't try to get everyone to look at the camera at the same time. With little kiddos it's just about impossible! Instead, it can be just as cute to look at each other and laugh, or to have some people looking at the camera and some people looking at each other. Laughing while looking at each other can be weird, so just tell a joke to get those smiles to be real.
  2. Pay attention to the lighting. You want to try to get as much natural light as possible without harsh shadows. I like to have us facing or next to an open window whenever possible, but a window where direct sunlight isn't streaming in. Overhead lights can cast harsh shadows and cause yellow tones, so turn them off if possible.
  3. A little editing goes a long way. Open up your photos in an editing app afterwards and adjust the brightness and contrast for really professional photos. You could do this in iPhoto if you're on a Mac. If you have Photoshop or Lightroom access, use those. In Photoshop, I go to Image/Adjustments/Levels, and then pull the far left slider to the right a little (makes the blacks blacker) and pull the middle and far right sliders to the left a little (brightens the mid-levels and the brights). 





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Monday, December 23, 2019

Motherhood Monday: On Creating Holiday Traditions


When Jeff and I moved in together, we started talking about what our holiday traditions would look like. We'd put up the tree and decorate it together, while drinking hot cocoa and watching Christmas movies. We'd (eventually) spend Christmas morning as a family at our house, with a combination of our breakfast favorites from our childhood Christmases (Which from Jeff's means oyster stew and fried tomatoes!! All I can say here is, his stepdad is English?) and listen to Christmas music and open presents in our pajamas, before heading out to spend the rest of the day with our extended families.

But really, that's all we came up with. It's not much, huh?

Now that Mia is here, I've started to think about what traditions I want to put into place to make the holidays magical for her. Some of the things I want to do are:

  • Go for a walk or drive to look at Christmas lights.
  • Give out Christmas boxes after Thanksgiving, with a new pair of Christmas pajamas, some treats like hot cocoa mix or Christmas-y candy, and maybe a new holiday movie. 
  • Visit Zoo Lights and other holiday festivals around the city. 
  • Picking out a toy to donate, or adopting a family for Christmas every year. 
  • Give Mia an ornament every year so that when she moves out, she'll have a collection for her tree (Both my parents and Jeff's grandma did this for us! Pro tip: don't give your kid a bunch of random sports ornaments, because then when he grows up he will feel obligated to put all of those guys on the back of the tree 😂)
  • Write a letter to Santa (and have Santa write a little note back!), and save it in our Christmas book with pictures and descriptions of what we did each year (this is the book we have). 
  • Bake a few of the same cookies every year, including my favorite sugar cookies but also cookies we can decorate.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? Let me know in the comments so we can add them to our list! 




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