Room Refresh: Kids Edition 

I have never liked traditional kids rooms. Pickle’s nursery was brown and orange. And yes, I knew she was a girl. I don’t like precious. I don’t like expected. But I have always tried to play it a bit safe with her since I wanted her to feel like she had her own room and not  just an extension of my style into her space.

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Well, I think my style has scored a major victory. When we moved into our new apartment in Chicago, Harper took one look at her room and stated that it was “too conservative”. I didn’t even know that she knew what this word meant! But it was certainly a magic word to me.

Now given that we move so frequently, I wasn’t about to design the custom room of her dreams. Or even get her many new items. Her artwork would stay (it was the least conservative of all of her belongings), as would the furniture (it was already a nice base) and her bedspread (too expensive to replace).

So where would I start? With my FAVORITE thing in the world. Pillows!!!

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{pillow collection: Thomas Paul}

Once I had found pillows with a perfect pop of color, I then added books and a few throw rugs (in coordinating colors) that would add even more energy to the room.

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{book collection: Puffin Classics, zebra rugs: Wildon Home}

After a few inexpensive additions (and a large stuffed Land of Nod Crocodile), Pickle proclaimed her room much “more fun”!

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Simple success.

Now I just await the day she decides to completely rebel against me and decorate her room like Rooms to Go. The horror.

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Things I Learned from Mad Men 

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As I am sure you have heard, Mad Men returns for the second half of its seventh (and final) season on April 5th. I would love to say that I am biting my nails in anticipation of this event, but I feel like it is somewhat limping into the last episodes. That being said, I will certainly remember the uniqueness and vibrancy of earlier seasons and have learned some important lessons from the show over the years.

FLAUNT YOUR FIGURE

Joan Holloway (NEVER Harris) would never fit in as a runway model and would probably be categorized by Sports Illustrated as Plus Plus-sized. But in Mad Men she has constantly one-upped stick-thin Betty Draper in the looks department. To me, Joan looked her best in the earlier seasons when fashion (60s) and her fearlessness lent itself to cinched waists and form-fitting frocks.

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In recent seasons, when the billowing looks of the 70s crept in, Joan lost a bit of her appeal. If anything, this illustrates that even when you are feeling a bit bloated, wearing a sack is never the answer.

BE AUTHENTIC

draper bar cartWhen Mad Men started, it was completely new and fresh and everyone wanted to recreate its appeal. Most abundant have been the bar cart and glassware impersonators, inspired by Don Draper’s notorious in-office bar (left).

Sometimes, you have to know when not to mess with the magic. The real bar cart is a walnut Italian drink cart by Cesare Lacca and the glassware is Silver Band (roly poly glasses and ice bucket) by Dorothy Thorpe. Perfection.

Most recently, Waterford tried to recreate Don’s bar with their own line of Mad Men-inspired glassware. Spoiler alert: It is hideous. Waterford knows how to cut some pretty tacky stemware. Slapping silver (and gold) bands around the rim does nothing to modernize the look. It just looks awkward and totally fake.

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Lessons here? Don’t try to copy someone else’s look; you’ll end up looking tragic. Buy vintage. And embrace your Dick Whitman (wink).

SEQUINS AND GO-GO BOOTS. FOREVER!

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No words necessary. You can NEVER go wrong with some sparkle or some serious bootage. But you may have to be Sally Draper in order to pull them off together. Or Liberace.

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That’s so Clutch 

I am so over the “mom purse”. I have a six year-old, so it is not like I need to carry around diapers or whatever else babies need (I promptly forgot what babies needed the second I decided not have another one – i.e. 30 seconds after pushing my first one out).

If I am carrying a purse larger than a small citrus fruit, everyone takes it as fair game to give me as much shit as humanly possible to tote around all day. Husband included. And in the winter it is worse! I get to carry gloves, scarves, snacks, small animals, lip gloss that was once mine but has now been stolen by a small child who doesn’t know saliva/beauty product etiquette… you know how it goes.

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I am over it! Spring is oh-so-very close so I am not only ditching all of my layers, I am ditching the gigantic handbags. I never really got the appeal of a clutch until I bought one and now I cannot stop! Twenty-seven clutches later and I am still finding new versions that I just have to have.

My latest obsession is Poppy Lissiman. To be fair, I initially started off being obsessed with Anya Hindmarch. But at $650 and up (waaaaaay up), I needed to find a budget-friendly version too quench my desire.

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Poppy bags are 1/10th the price but 11/10ths the fun. (I mean, come on, there is a PIZZA ILLUMINATI clutch. Done and done.) They are even roomy enough to carry a few more things than just your phone and keys. But if you tell anyone in my family that, I will cut you.

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Feeling Blue 

I sat down three hours ago in a failed attempt to write something plucky. However, since I have been without husband and child this entire weekend, I have nothing really to whine about and therefore am feeling totally alien. I kind of miss those fools!

Normally when I am feeling blue, I will scarf down an entire bag of Fritos topped off with a can of cream cheese frosting (all class, all the time!) but I don’t even want to do that. So I have taken things quite literally and will report solely on the color.

I feel like blue has been happening for a while now. But apparently it is going to happen for a little bit longer because the Spring 2015 runways were cluttered with cobalt and teal. I’d like my roadway to include a Morgan Aero 8 as well, so I’m throwing that in for good measure.

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From dresses to nails to bags to eyes, you couldn’t throw a 70-pound supermodel without hitting something blue this season. So rejoice! You can continue to whip out your old blue and know that it is current or stock up on some new blue knowing that it is becoming quite timeless. Find some of my favorite blue bits after the jump.

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And so you know that I am still semi-myself, here is an excellent blue joke.

What’s blue and smells like red paint?

Blue paint.

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An American Boy 

I am not one you would ever call a “feminist”, given I am perfectly content with spending my nights internet shopping and my days farting around at the gym. I just don’t have the energy.

That being said, I don’t really think it is fair that so much pressure is put on women to be everything to everyone. Anything but perfection as a wife, mother, career woman, chef, homemaker, sex beast and bikini model will not be tolerated! I attempt to hit my marks in whatever categories I can, but I fall short so often it is almost funny. Whatever, at least I try.

But what about the guys? Men these days have it so easy! You’re pretty much screwed if you don’t have a good job, but for everything else, guys get a total pass. No more! I’d like to go back to the days when men were men (I guess this means I should probably act more like a lady too, but first things first.).

Meet this sweet little Butter Bean. He is 9 months old so still has hope. He is also not my child (he is my nephew!) so that gives him even more hope.

Bean happens to look exactly like my father. One of my father’s best qualities is his ability to do just about anything on his own. He is handy, he is inventive… He is a do-it-yourselfer. This is an element missing from many men in our generation, but one that can still be introduced. The American Boy’s Handy Book, originally published in 1882 and written by a Boy Scouts founder, is still as useful today as it was back then. Technically, it may just give instruction and advice on subjects like kites, fishing, knots, soap bubbles, snowball warfare, puppets and fireworks. But what it can really do is inspire young men to be more self-reliant and, as stated in the title, handy.

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The other (just as important) element in creating a true gentleman is actually dressing the part. The most exciting thing about having a baby girl was most certainly the wardrobe involved (what? it wasn’t the enema you gave yourself before going to the hospital?!). I couldn’t even imagine being resigned to dress my child in board shorts and graphic tees every day.

So when Bean came along, I was laser-focused on finding him apparel that would suit his clearly sophisticated nature. And Andy & Evan definitely did that. (Bean is pictured above in a herringbone bow tie, vest and pants from the line.)

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Andy & Evan can be found (with most pieces on sale!) at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Amazon, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom Rack.

Interestingly enough, Andy & Evan can also be found through a Google image search. But apparently that Andy & Evan is a gay porn duo (not kidding, not one little bit). That was a fun one to explain to my husband when he walked in on me “researching” this post.

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Hitting the Bars: Quest Nutrition 

I have come a long way on the journey of eating (and feeling!) better. I have no desire to eat fast food or sit in front of the TV with a bag of chips. Yesterday I had cravings for a salad. This is crazy talk! I currently sit in my home waiting for the white, unmarked van to pull up and take me away in a straightjacket. (That may happen anyway, it is just not likely due to my change in eating habits.)

After several months of reluctant healthy eating, I discovered that when I did “cheat”, I felt like total crap. And we won’t even go into the gaseous byproduct after eating a lot of carbs… Because I like hopping on bandwagons as much as the rest of the world, I want to blame this on gluten intolerance. But I won’t go to the doctor to get tested, since I am 110% sure my family would excommunicate me for such nonsense.  Even I myself realize that celiac disease is something serious while my smelly farts really aren’t. (“Try telling that to people who actually have to sleep in the same room with you.” – my husband)

Still, I have tried to stay away from a lot of gluten and a lot of sugar. I also like to stay away from fruit flies, which is pretty hard to do when you leave an apple in your purse for five weeks (oops). So what to do when you need to eat on the run or have a quick snack to tame the hangry?

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I am totally obsessed with Quest Bars. They are high in protein (up to 21 grams), extremely low in sugar (1-4 grams per bar) and gluten-free. So they must clearly taste awful, right? Wrong. They are so good, I have to hide them from view so I don’t eat too many. (They are also high in dietary fiber, so if you eat more than two a day… well, let’s just say that you won’t want to do that again.)

My favorite flavors are: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (the best, it tastes almost exactly like the real thing), Chocolate Brownie, Coconut Cashew, Cookies and Cream and Strawberry Cheesecake (all close seconds). I have tried all of them and have not had one I did not like, but these ones I LOVE.

While raw fruits, vegetables and lean protein are certainly the best choice, I am still totally human. I want convenience. I want yumminess. I want to look skinny. I have found the bars to be tremendously helpful in all of those areas.

And if you want a complete colon cleanse, eating four of these in one sitting could be helpful in that area too! (Seriously. Don’t do that.)

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Mommy and Mini Swimwear 

My child has just hit the stage where she loves and wants to be around me, but doesn’t WANT to love or want to be around me. So I figure I probably have exactly two years before she goes full-on Carrie.

Until then, I am going to push this relationship to its limits. This little girl is holding my hand, giving me lips kisses and dressing like me until she can’t even. Either one day she will thank me or have me to blame for all of her deep-seated emotional issues. And that’s kind of nice to have too. You are welcome, Pickle. You are welcome.

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Right now, it is 40 degrees out in Chicago. 40!!!!  It is basically a heat wave.

So that means I am not only on the prowl for my swimwear this season, I am on the prowl for Pickle’s. And we are going to coordinate if it kills me. (PS Can you tell I am in to rash guards for kids this season?)

Of course, I have chosen not to go the sweet and subtle route (above). Too easy. I have chosen the route that screams “Hey! Look at my vividly colored swimsuit and not my dimpled ass!! Look at my kid looking like me! Look look look!!!!” I should really have a better body for this approach, but whatever. If my child only has two years before she turns into a complete monster, I probably only have two years before I turn into Shelley Winters (circa Pete’s Dragon).

 

Pickle knows well enough not to complain about this. I have shown her enough pictures of North West for her to know that things could be so, so much worse.

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Being Wrinkly is Not A-Cute 

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I think it would be a bit of an understatement to say that I am psychotically vigilant about my face. I put my skin in the same category as my weight and my parenting skills; I was not blessed by being naturally perfect in these areas. Not even close. I have to be mindful of my weaknesses every day… And if I don’t, I wind up with a face full of craters, an incredibly fat ass and a child in inpatient therapy.

But hard work and focus really does pay off in every category. Unfortunately, the amount of work necessary to keep the wheels on this bus seem to be ever-increasing as time wears on. A few dermatologist appointments ago, my doctor mentioned that the skin underneath my eyes was really starting to get crepey. Nobody wants to be called the “c” word and crepey is my “c” word.

I was offered two options by my self-described “conservative” dermatologist – I could get a lower blepharoplasty (eye SURGERY) for about $3k or start Pellevé treatment, which would run me about $750 but not show nearly as dramatic results. WAHHHHH! I will say that she wasn’t recommending surgery for me whatsoever (phew). But by recommending a treatment that might only marginally improve things, I think she was subtly telling me that I needed to give up the dream of staying youthful.

You know what I said? HELL. NO. (Actually, I said “fill me up with Botox”, then paid my bill and politely thanked her. But let’s not argue the finer points.)

I left that day feeling sad and kind of hopeless. This is an exact reenactment of me going home that day:

Thankfully the story doesn’t end there. Because that would be depressing. And having that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day (you’re welcome) is going to be depressing enough.

So what’s a girl to do?! I recently threw out ALL of my old skincare stuff in order to start a new regimen from scratch (I’ll tell you all about that later). Because of this I had a refrigerator-size (not kidding) box of new products that I was testing. One of those products – Acute Care – had been getting a huge amount of hype for being a way to aggressively treat wrinkles at home.

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Well I aggressively treat wrinkles at a doctor’s office, so how useful could this be? To me this would be like playing with Matchbox cars when you have a Ferrari in the garage. But my Ferrari (other than being totally fictitious) was busted, so Matchbox cars it was!

My Acute Care was at the absolute BOTTOM of my testing box. I had given half of the sample to my mother and promptly ignored the rest. (Important to note, my mother also called to tell me how they actually worked but I ignored that as well. Just like her advice about men and getting drunk in public.)

To make a long story short, I begrudgingly put these little patches on the area under my eyes and went to sleep, dreaming of my now-needed plastic surgery and my future as a Jocelyn Wildenstein (don’t click it… you did, didn’t you?) look-alike. I woke up and… THE WRINKLES WERE GONE. Every one of them. I couldn’t believe it. And they stayed gone, by using the patches just two times a week for a month. (Apparently after the first month you only have to use them every two to three months as needed.)

So you’d better believe that I grabbed my new super secret product and trotted it right down to my doctor to see what she had to say. “Oh yeah! They are fantastic aren’t they?!” She went on to say that she didn’t recommend them because they weren’t on sale to the general public. She did not go on to say that they cost nearly 70% LESS than the CHEAPEST approach she had offered. Um, W.T.F.

But guess what is going on public sale as I type this now??? You guessed it.

I am still a huge fan of fillers and Botox and that will not change. They work REALLY well and have served me reliably since 2006. However, if you are ever faced with a problem area that can’t be injected (like my lower eyes) or if you don’t want to be bothered (or pay the $$$) to go to the doctor every few months, I highly recommend checking Acute Care out. (Buy it directly HERE.)

What I don’t recommend? Giving up the dream of being pretty at any age! And meth. I don’t recommend meth.

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Llamas! (Not Lorenzo) 

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Last week was a pretty thrilling one if you care at all about things going viral. I really CAN’T when it comes to #TheDress. I saw #whiteandgold. Then a day later I magically saw #blackandblue. You know what I always saw? A REALLY ugly dress. Over it.

But I still can’t get over those llamas.

I could literally spend DAYS watching these out of shape men chasing two camelids about town (and you bet I did!), especially when these animals make a FOOL out of them. I have always been #TeamLlama, as evidenced by the artwork in my home. I currently have these hanging together in my dining area.

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I simply love everything and anything Gray Malin. But Gray Malin + llamas? That’s like PB + J, Milk + Cookies… Hall + Oates. Basically, PERFECTION.

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Cooking Without Killing 

I seriously hate to cook. My mother is a fantastic cook. My father is a whiz on the grill. My brothers both have serious skills in the kitchen. My sister can eat for a week on $2.79 (I think that is a talent?). I’ve got nothing but a “Best in Show” ribbon from the 1989 Manatee County Fair for baking (I really wish I had a picture to document that one)… and then it ends.

Thankfully I have a kind husband that was totally willing to let me slide in that department and allowed me to order out constantly. Only problem? We were not only totally unhealthy, we were all getting totally fat.

In an attempt to get us on the healthy eating train, I subscribed to eMeals, a meal plan based on family size (they say) and eating preferences. Since we are a family of three, I signed up for the two person plan, opting for the “Low Calorie” option. I was fully committed to eMeals… for exactly one week. Not only did nobody eat anything, the recipes made enough food for us to survive for a month on. And I found myself crying in the kitchen more than once because they were so difficult (mind you, before this point I was only making grilled cheese and things heated in the microwave, but still).

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Seeing my despair, my mother sent me a link to Supper Club by Skinny Mom. Like eMeals, Skinny Mom offers meal plans and corresponding shopping lists for healthy family dinners. But unlike eMeals, it is FREE, incredibly easy to put together (even for me!) and really, really tasty. (My husband’s favorite meal so far is the Stuffed Pepper Casserole. Mine is the Skinny Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken.)

I have been doing these for three months now and I am actually starting to look forward to making dinner every night. Not only am I more confident in the kitchen, I am more confident in my appearance. And although I may have lost 20 pounds since starting (this change in diet paired with a considerable increase in exercise), my husband has easily lost the same (with relatively no increase in exercise)! It’s a win/win!!

Now that my addiction to junk food is kicked maybe I will have to time to dedicate to my all-encompassing addiction to boy bands.

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