Friday, April 27, 2012

Random Friday: Expectant Mama Style

I swear I'm not turning this into a pregnancy blog, but since we're already on a roll this week, I figured why not close out the week with one last maternity-related blog post.  Please bear with me!

I've never been pregnant in the summer before, and because my last pregnancy was more or less completely on the flip side of the calendar year, my current stash of maternity clothes is not going to do me much good this time around.  Last time I was still working full-time as well, so I got myself squared away with a good bunch of practical business lady pants and sweaters to get through the Vermont winter, and spent the evenings and weekends in yoga pants and one well-loved hoodie.  So, I'm kind of starting from scratch here.

Our move and the summer are both going to hit me over the head with a sneak attack, I can tell already.  So, even though it is still chilly here (that Marathon Monday ninety degree thing was a total fluke) and I am still rocking my fat pants with a certain level of effectiveness, I am preparing for the inevitability of an upcoming panicked online purchase when the next hot spell comes or the fat pants finally don't button, whichever comes first (it's anyone's guess).  I've been casually trolling online maternity stores in my down moments, thinking about what I might need and want to get through the summer months properly clothed, and I thought I would share some of my random finds here this random Friday.  As with my preggo running post, if you are with child I hope you find this helpful in some way, and if you are not, you can laugh at the oxymoron of maternity fashion OR find some tips on a perfect care package to send to your favorite pregtastic sister-friend.

Before we get started, let me say that there is a GORGEOUS new maternity line called HATCH that every blogger from Gwyneth to Jo is currently crowing about.  Every piece in the collection is more gorgeous than the last...

but DUDE is it overpriced!  Take, for example, their gorgeous, flow-y, cotton jersey "Errands Dress." I love it, but it is $178 ever-loving dollars.  Not really what I want to drop for a shmatte to wear to the farmer's market.  Especially when said "errands" dress is bound to be covered in peanut butter and other toddler-related substances before noon.  If you're looking for a special event dress and want to get a little spendy, their stuff looks luscious, but for the every day, my current reality (and that of the standard mom, I believe) demands affordable, washable, comfortable items that I won't feel badly about spilling coffee on.  Last time around, Gap Maternity was my go-to for well-constructed, comfortable clothes that didn't break the bank.  Looks like it might be the same way this time.  This is what I've found thus  far:
Gap Maternity Long Foldover Waist Skirt, $39.95
Gap Maternity Tank Maxi Dress, $49.95
H&M MAMA Tunic, $24.95
ASOS Maternity Grecian Wrap Dress, $63
ASOS, H&M and Gap also have great lines of inexpensive maternity tanks and tees, although all of these lines have the common problem of average sizes selling out quickly, leaving only very large and very small sizes left for the picking.  Frustrating!

And though I shudder to consider it, I also will need a maternity swimsuit for the summer.  We are moving near the beach, and have a family beach vacation planned as well, and I have every intention of swimming and lying out by the pool as much as possible.  I hope to find an affordable, supportive and dignified (because, really? With the ruffles and the flowers and the polka-dots?  As if you don't feel ridiculous enough already? Really?) suit, and here are my front runners at the moment.
Gap Maternity Halter Tankini, $44.95
Topshop Maternity Stripe Swimsuit,  $56
So, really, this post is as much of a question as anything else.  I am finding a pretty limited selection of available, attractive, affordable, practical but cute summer maternity wear. If you know of other online (or local to Boston) resources to find great options, especially in the swimwear category, I'd love to hear about it.  Please share in the comments or shoot me an e-mail or Facebook message!  I'd be very grateful, and would wager my fellow preggos would be as well.  Thank you and happy weekend!  xoxo

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Preggo Running Rundown

I love to run.  
Running is my therapy, my meditation, my happy place.  Running is the thing that allows me to bake every week with the little man and still fit into at least some of my pants.  Running melts my stress and shifts my perspective.  It is hard to imagine life without it.

Yet, when I was pregnant with little J, my running routine completely fell to pieces.  That pregnancy was roughly an August through April one.  I felt pretty horrid in the first trimester, and it was all I could do to make it through my work day and come home for a nap.  I've never been a treadmill runner (I actually passionately despise the treadmill), so if I couldn't rally for a run on our rural road during daylight hours, I was doomed not to run.  I never could rally during that first trimester, and so by the time the second trimester rolled around, not only was I already out of running shape, but daylight savings time was over, and the northern darkness and Vermont chill put the kibosh on the rest of my preggo running aspirations.  I turned to lap swimming (which was awesome) and the elliptical (my old stand-by), but really missed the clarity that only a hard run outside seems to bring for me.  And then, damn, returning to running after the baby was born nearly killed me, I tell you.  Taking a year off of the roads does NOT make for an easy return.  I've fought hard to get back in my running groove since then, and do not intend to get off it again.

I've got a lot of things going for me this time around in terms of running through my pregnancy.  For one thing, I have a core determination to keep on running through every trimester based on having tried it the other way and hating the results.  And while there are things about being pregnant in summer that terrify me (see: August heat and the dreaded maternity swimwear), I am excited to have light and weather on my side as I continue my outdoor workouts.  Also, among the changes we've had going in the last couple months is that the husband started a new job and now works from home.  This has bought us much more time in our days, including an hour in the morning and the evening that used to be spent commuting.  It used to be that if I wanted to run solo before he left for work, I'd have to wake up at the crack and really haul, which is just not at all realistic during the first trimester, given the queasies which are at their worst in the AM.  That hour gained in morning makes our schedule so much more forgiving!  Yesterday morning, for example, I was able to do all my morning puttering, but then squeeze in a run before 8:45am, still allowing him to "commute" easily five steps down the hall and start his workday at 9.  Soooo luxurious, and I am loving every minute of it.  Finally, I found that even when my nausea was at its worst in the first trimester, if I could just get my arse out the door for a run (often the very hardest part of working out, no?) I felt so much better by the end of the first mile.

My first trimester officially ends today, and I'm thrilled to still be logging about 15 miles a week.  Marathon training this is not, but it is respectable and exciting to me, especially compared to how easily my running routine evaporated last time I was knocked up.  I am not saying this is easy, and there are days that I'd rather do anything but exercise, so I thought I'd share some of my pregnant running inspiration with you.  If you're an athlete and pregnant or think you will be at some point, I hope you'll find this useful.  And even if babes are the farthest things from your current plans or reality, I hope you can apply this motivation to whatever your own particular athletic challenge might be at the moment!

SMJ's Preggo Running Inspiration:
1) Professional Running Badasses
via Runner's World
Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher are professional distance runners and Olympians.  They are also moms!  Runner's World interviewed them in 2010 when they were both pregnant and training throughout.  The article is pure inspiration and full of great tips and humor; I've returned to it many times just for the little kick in the butt.  I love the photo of them above, preggo and racing, with Paula's daughter in tow.

2) Hungry Runner Girl
I just found this blog recently, and love it as a go-to for all things running.  The author, Janae, is a tad bit chirpy and has the nutritional proclivities of a twelve-year-old boy, but she is the first to cop to both, and her tone is incredibly tasteful and refreshing.  She is also one incredible runner, and just happens to be 22 weeks pregnant at the moment.  Homegirl is still logging some crazy mileage each week well into her second trimester (I'm talking like 50-60 miles, people), including long runs of 10-12 miles with her non-pregnant sister on the weekends.  She won a 5K early in her second trimester, and just completed a half-marathon this weekend and then proceeded to get ready for a wedding (where she was a bridesmaid!) in a public bathroom, and make it there on time shortly after crossing the finish line.  If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is!

3) Run Like a Mother
My beloved friend Ang sent me this fantastic book before I was even pregnant again, but I am more excited about it now than ever.  The book is written in a wonderfully chatty and accessible tone, and is full of tips and advice not only for healthy running throughout pregnancy, but also for how to make running (and prioritizing your healthy generally) dovetail gracefully with family life.  The information within feels especially prescient now, and I'd recommend it to any busy woman trying to work exercising into a packed existence.  I love the book and can tell my copy is about to become even more dog-eared.

4) Channeling My Crazy Competitive Side
While I'm not as cutthroat-competitive as certain sisters and friends in my life, I do have a genetic-predisposition towards healthy competition.  One of the benefits of urban running, especially on a route like our's which is around a beautiful local pond, is that there are always other runners out on the path.  On days when I am really dragging, I'll pick a person a bit out ahead of me to try and "beat", challenging myself to pass them and stay past them all the way around the pond. I realize that this makes me a total fruit loop, but I don't care!  It works.  And they are none the wiser (I hope).  A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to keep this bump in motion.
On days when I run, my nausea is better, my mindset is better, and I sleep a million times better.  So, I hope to keep this up for as long as I possibly can, and in an ideal world, right up until I deliver (it has been done!).  I'm looking forward to running on the beach with the hubs and our cousins on vacation in South Carolina this summer (or at least trailing behind them in the distance and thinking my thoughts, waiting for them to scoop me up on their return).  I'm looking forward to running a great loop near our new house with the husband (if he takes both the stroller and the dog and I'm totally unencumbered, it creates enough drag to slow him down to just faster than my current pace - perfect).  And I'm looking forward to not starting totally from scratch when it is time to get back in shape after this pregnancy. Part of being a mom is setting an example for your kids about healthy living, and I hope that a dedication to exercise is something that both the husband and I can continue to model for our kids as our family grows.  In the meantime, it is awesome to know that I'm never running alone these days... #2 is always along for the ride, and I hope he or she is getting just as much out of it as I am!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A New Adventure

There has been a lot going on around here.
If you're a regular reader, you might have noticed a few things...
1) I haven't posted a new recipe since February.
2) I have, however, frequently posted regarding being exhausted and/or generally scramble-brained.
and 3) I haven't been chatting about wine nearly as much as usual :).

Why this sudden change of tone?
My friends, we're adding a new baby to the bunch!

If the double pink lines weren't enough to assure me that this is real, the last couple months of intense, all-day "morning" sickness have certainly driven home the point!  I've definitely been just kind of scraping by, but the excitement and exhilaration of growing our family has made it bearable. I'm slowly starting to feel back to normal as I hit the fourteen week mark this week.

Now that we're entering the second trimester, I'm hopeful that my energy and appetite will be restored, and that my recipe section will come back to life!  In the meantime, thank you for all of your support, and your patience around the sporadic posts and extra kvetching in the last couple of months.

This has been such a wild ride already and a much different experience than the first go 'round.  I'm excited to blog about pregnancy a bit, something I didn't do before because SMJ was born just after Little J, and looking forward to sharing a little about the goings on of the last few months as well.  I'm thinking about posting a full review of the frozen pizza section at Whole Foods, as for awhile that and cereal were about all that sounded good to me :).

In the meantime, I'm just wrapping my head around the fact that this is going to happen again:
@38.5 weeks pregnant with Baby J.  Sweet Lord, help me (and remind me to buy larger shirts this time).
And that we're going to be blessed with another one of these:
Baby J, the day he was born.
Life is good.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Random Friday: Scramble-brained

Do you ever find yourself feeling scramble-brained?  Here's how I would describe the case I'm experiencing now: in my brain there exist several dozen lucid thoughts.  They include: current events items, to do lists, opinions, things I would like to discuss with my husband at some point, things I'm mildly troubled about, goals and aspirations, food cravings.  I feel like someone then went into my brain with one of those old-fashioned egg beaters, and just spun everything around.  I get snippets of my thoughts, but feel easily distracted and pulled away from them.  I start to think about one thing... say, things I'd like to get from Trader Joe's, and then I head to the office for a pen and paper to jot those things down, but encounter an errant dirty sock en route to the office so start some laundry instead, totally derailing my list making and original train of thought.  I also feel profoundly exhausted.  I would like to pull it back together this weekend.  Here are my random thoughts, from my scramble brain, regarding things I would like to do this weekend to de-scramble and re-focus:

1) Clean my house.  We are currently in a dog hair, 1, Jane, 0 situation that needs to be rectified urgently.  There are also stickers where there shouldn't be stickers, and toothpaste where there shouldn't be toothpaste.  I want to grab my Mrs. Meyer's and

2) Sit quietly and read.  I just picked up this book from the library for book club this month:

And am dying to get my hands on this book, which sounds brilliant:

3) I want to cook and grub some good, nutritious food.  I'm having a Mexican hankering, which was only exacerbated by seeing this black bean breakfast dealie on Bleubird Vintage:
via Bleubird Vintage
I need to recreate this, complete with that massive chunk of avocado.  I wouldn't say no to the pancake, either.

4) I would like a run.
5) I would like a nap.
6) I would like to make satisfying to do lists regarding the move and sell many a thing on good ole Craigslist.
7) I would, quite frankly, give my eye teeth for a pedicure.  I am rocking some wicked old man feet right now and am probably frightening the small children at the playground with my talons.  I would instead love for my feet to look like this:

8) I would like JP Licks to bring back their Oreo frozen yogurt flavor (I truly cannot understand why they are trying to kill me by removing it from the menu), and I would like to eat a large bowl of it while watching Mad Men.

9)  I would like a certain someone to stop hating on a certain project that rhymes with spotty spaining (I will not be blogging about this project, as the internet is forever, and little man deserves not to have these exploits recorded for all to view when he is in high school, but I will just state once, and only once, that it is a massive challenge and that I would like a large margarita and I will leave it at that.  I will also say THANK YOU to Nana for her help in moving the process forward during her precious visit time this week.  That is all.).  Margarita.  Now.

10)  I want some quality time with mah man.  Business travel has him traversing the country a bit these days, and I miss the guy.  Need me some hubs time this weekend...

I'm fairly certain that if I make even half of this list happen, my brain will de-scramble enough that I can rejoin society as a functioning human being.  Wish me luck, and I'll report back Monday.
What will you do to de-scramble this weekend?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mason Jars of Tea

I've mentioned my love for Tazo teas many times before. 
My faves:
Passion: A blend of hibiscus, lemongrass, rose hips, mango and passion fruit
Refresh: Mint with tarragon
Green Ginger: Sweet ginger and pear
Thrive: Green tea, yerba mate, spearmint, green rooibos, rose hips, and black pepper.

As anyone who followed Monday's Boston Marathon coverage would know, the temperature here spiked this week, rising from weeks of 50-ish temps with overcast skies quickly into the high 80s and low 90s with blazing, bright sun.  I thrive on such weather, so you won't hear me complaining (although I did feel sorry for those poor runners gutting it out through Monday's extreme heat), but sudden summer weather also calls for sudden summer beverages.

I love to brew sun tea, but life is busy these days, and sun tea jars are oft forgotten on the back porch and of little use when they are really needed, right around lunchtime and in the lull of the early afternoon.  So my new ritual has become brewing multiple quart jars of tea as I do my morning puttering in the kitchen.  As I unload the dishwasher, I boil a pot of water and brew a jar of Thrive.  As I put breakfast together for everyone, I brew a jar of Passion.  As I do the breakfast dishes and finish my coffee, I brew a jar of Green Ginger.  
By the time I'm ready to hit the shower and get ready for my day, my teas have all steeped.  I take out the bags, screw on the tops of the jars, and throw them all in the fridge.  If I am feeling saucy, I add some honey before I put them down to chill. When I'm back from my morning excursions, they're delightfully cold, and ready for a handful of ice, a wedge of lime or lemon, and a straw.  I've been sipping these lovely concoctions all through the afternoon and into the evenings (particularly the caffeine-free versions), and finding them so much more appealing and thirst-quenching than water.  There is also something beautifully satisfying about drinking out of a jar.  I can tell already that I'll be swilling down these icy jugs of tea all summer long. 
Cheers to summer!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Birthday Love

Our little guy's third year is off to an awesome start!

We had a fun and low-key day yesterday, featuring dazzling weather, waffles for breakfast, an all-morning hang out at his favorite playground, and the appearance of special guest star Nana after he woke up from his nap.  He got a haircut with his dad, and then we stopped messing around and got down to the serious business of cake.  

The Bulldozer Cake won by a wide margin in my cake poll, which was only appropriate given how dear these vehicles are to our hearts in this household.  So, with some help and encouragement from the husband and Nana, we made this cake happen during nap time yesterday. We had a blast!  And Little J's completely awed and overjoyed reaction to the cake say it all.  We managed to hide it from him until the husband brought it out with candles blazing after dinner, and his mile-wide grin melted all of our hearts.  So much birthday love!

If any little people in your life are construction vehicle aficionados, I totally recommend giving this cake a try for their next big day.  Putting the cake together was much simpler than I anticipated. Here are my tips for success:
1) Just buy the pre-made pound cake.  Do it.  I actually found a fresh organic vanilla one in the bakery at Whole Foods for $4.99, sparing me the heat, time, and cost of making one from scratch.  A Sara Lee one would really do in a pinch, but finding this freshly made and inexpensive one was perfect.
2) I did not, however, buy pre-made frosting.  Frosting in a can gives me the willies.  Instead I made this quick vanilla buttercream frosting.  It came together in about ten minutes, and was also much easier to work with than the waxy pre-made stuff.  Highly recommended. 
3) My friend had the great suggestion of using pirouette cookies in place of the "Fruit Loops Cereal Straws" that I was dubious about tracking down.  Such a good call, and the extras are much more delicious to have around the house.  They were about an inch too short however, so the husband rigged up a little support beam for the digger out of extra pound cake, and we made it work.
4) If you can't find perfectly sized donut tires, don't hesitate to just use a big donut and a Munchkin :).
5) Don't take this too seriously... it is a child's birthday cake, after all.  Kids aren't perfectionists and give a lot of appreciation for effort.  Clearly my bulldozer cake bears little resemblance to the professionally crafted one in Parenting Magazine, and who cares!  Just have fun with it and be creative.  In the words of my son, "this is the most delicious bulldozer cake I ever had."  And that's all that matters!
Happy Birthday little J, and thank you for filling our lives with joy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Random Friday: Scenes from my Run

It has been an all around lovely week.  There has been good news, forward progress, homemade kiwi sorbet, intellectual stimulation, girl time, perfect pizza, and sunshine.  And thanks to my beloved husband absconding with the little guy for some dude time in the late afternoon/early evening hours today, I got to cap off the whole week with a beautiful long run, all by myself.  This is livin'.  My run was filled with daydreaming, spring flowers, and excellent people watching, so I thought I would share some snippets here to close the week this Random Friday.  Without further ado, random scenes and thoughts from an evening run...

1) This is what my run looks like right now:
I love it.

2) Man walking down the street with a large pint of half-and-half at 6pm on a Friday, what are you up to?  Are you just being well-prepared for your Saturday morning coffee?  Are you about to go on a White Russian bender?  Are you making penne alla vodka?  Can I have some?  These are the thoughts I think as I people watch.

3) Elderly woman wearing a blue sequined baseball cap and sitting on a park bench reading a book called Dirty Sexy Kittens and grinning to yourself, I love you.

4) Three guys in a full-on, rockin', three-instrument Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard jam on the street corner, you are what I will miss about living in this neighborhood.

5) On a less positive people watching note, why do people think it is okay to throw cigarettes into the street and on the sidewalk?  This has to be one of my top biggest pet peeves in life, period.  The world is not your ashtray.  Please don't do that.

6) This song is awesome to run to:
But maybe I only think that because I am a big old hippie.  I understand that running to bluegrass is not for everyone.  But try it.  For me.  You just might like it!

7) On the running to music tip, a huge thank you and shout out goes out the husband, who solved for me the mystery of why my iPhone music would annoyingly switch songs right as I was really getting into a groove while running.  There appears to be a feature called Shake to Shuffle, which lets you shake your iPhone/Pod to change songs.  Not so cool when you are shakin' because you are getting your super running groove on.  Now I know what's up, and that you can simply turning this feature off in your settings.  And now I get to enjoy a whole song that I am rocking out to while I run.  But you probably already knew this.  Dur.  

8)  I like to listen to Joy the Baker Podcasts when I run solo.  They make me laugh out loud.  I can only imagine what this looks like to other passersby.  Yes, I have unbearably pale legs, and am laughing maniacally to myself as I make my way around this pond.  I'm sorry, fellow townspeople.

9) This is unrelated to running, but is just a snapshot I took of the little man climbing a tree earlier today, and I love it.
I think it is the perfect way to end the week!

Thanks to all who voted in my Cake Poll!  Fun!  The bulldozer cake seems to be winning by a landslide.  A donut run may be in our future!  It's not too late to cast a vote, so click back to yesterday's post and let your voice be heard!  This is the least fraught election you'll participate in this year.

I wish you a wonderful weekend filled with music, tree climbing, and cake.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cake Creations

Next week marks our little man's third birthday!  I can hardly believe that three years ago at this time I was well into my first week past my due date, wearing the same yoga pants day in and day out, eating an egg sandwich at The Tuckerbox each and every morning, while drumming my fingers on the table, waiting for this boy to grace the world with his presence. In the blink of an eye, three years have passed, and I now spend my days with a running, hockey playing, guitar strumming, cookie baking, exuberant, expressive and all around incredible little boy with a penchant for waffles and Jimmy Buffett, who has made our lives infinitely better each day that he has been here.

We're opting out of a big birthday party this year for a variety of reasons, but plan to have a fun day with some exciting outings, a special guest star (yay Nana!) and, of course, cake.  Since the rest of his birthday is going to be so low maintenance, and since the little guy shares his father's and my intense sweet tooth, I figure I'm going to go all out on the cake, and really try to blow his mind with a unique creation.  Like most guys his age, little J is pretty obsessed with trucks, and thanks to the internets, there is no end to the instructional videos and blogs one can find in regards to creating truck cakes.  You heard me, truck cakes.  I'm either brilliant or have completely lost my mind with what I am about to attempt (more than likely, a little of both).

Behold, my top frontrunners for The Third Birthday Cake Extravaganza:

1) The Bulldozer Cake
Pros: I will "have to" buy a bag of M&Ms, using only four in the decorative process, leaving the rest of the bag to be used at my discretion, and the boys will "have to" go to Dunkin' Donuts for the tires, which is one of their favorite Saturday morning outings anyway.  Also, bulldozers are his top favorite truck, if you must know.
Cons: No real desire to buy "Fruit Loops Cereal Straws".  Slightly intimidating instruction list.

2) The Excavator Cake
Pros: I'm sorry, but that cake is pretty badass. The candy ingredient list is intriguing, and the donut shop run is still necessary.
Cons: Twinkies frighten me very much.

3) The Fire Truck Cake
Pros: This is far and away the simplest recipe, with an idiot-proof step-by-step courtesy of Betty Crocker.  Oreos are necessary, and this can only be a good thing.  Love the black licorice fire hose.
Cons: Snore? Relatively speaking, of course.

They all pose a challenge of their own, and any one of these cakes will surely make the little guy's day, so just for fun, I decided to include my first ever SMJ poll, and ask you to vote for which cake I should make with this handy little widget:

Which truck cake should I make

Mostly, I'm just super proud of myself for figuring out the HTML on the widget without so much as knocking on the husband's office door, and wanted to share my joy.  Also, if you are having a slow, rainy Thursday afternoon like we are, what could be more exciting than voting for a random three year old's birthday cake?  Get into it people.  You have until Sunday to vote, at which time the donut run must commence.  
Thanks in advance for your help!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good Things in Small Packages

We have found our next home!  We're moving out of our current apartment at the end of May, and the search for something new is no easy feat.  Ever.  No matter your circumstances.  I'm convinced of it.

Choosing a home is such a loaded thing!  After all, this is the space where you live, eat, breathe and create memories day and day out.  We're renting, and even the level of a year's lease commitment freaks me out sometimes, so I have to imagine that when the time comes one day for me to sign papers to actually buy something, all of my hair will most likely fall out on the spot.  In the meantime, finding a new place for us to call home for at least the next year was a bit arduous.  As any dog-owning renter knows, not everyone is welcoming to our furry friends, and many who are only do so because their space is in such bad disrepair that they just don't care what else happens to it.  Herein lies the recipe for a stressful house hunt.
We're a package deal, folks.
Imagine our relief and joy then, when we connected with the owners of a gorgeous, lovingly renovated condo with a drop-dead beautiful kitchen and perfect garden in the safe, quiet, family neighborhood of our dreams.  And the best part?  They were eager to have us, dog, toddler and all. Hallelujah. The space has only one drawback, which is that while we are gaining a small amount of square footage (and a half-bath!!!!  Triple Hallelujah!), we are actually downsizing by a room and half in this move.  We pondered this decision carefully, realizing that we had chosen space over neighborhood in our last move and lived to regret it (hard partying upstairs and next door and backyard neighbors, if I never see ya'll again, it will be too soon).  We eventually decided that the peaceful neighborhood and beautiful interior trumped all, and gratefully signed the lease.
Oh hi, new five-burner gas range with hood.  Come to mama and let me cook on you.
I am excited, but will also admit that I've had a few middle of the night mind-racing sessions regarding how we'll make due in less space.  Our current apartment is only around 1000 square feet, mind you, so it isn't like we're used to living in a palace, but living with fewer doors to close for privacy will take some getting used to.  However, I'm finding that I don't really have to look too far to find inspiration, and that when I find it, I'm actually thrilled by the challenge of living more simply.

When I was in seventh grade and my family lived in Holland, we rented a small cottage for the year.  I shared a room with my youngest sister, and the memories we created during that time, in that tiny, closet-less room, bond us to this day.  Our refrigerator was the size of a hotel mini-bar, and we made due by shopping more frequently and eating incredibly fresh food as a result.  And after college, I shared a one-bedroom apartment with my two best friends in San Francisco for a year and a half, and we still all love each other dearly, so somewhere in my being is the knowledge of how to make living in small spaces work.
Overnight bus ride in Vietnam, 2001.
Some of the best times of my life have been had in the most cramped of spaces.
Beyond my own life experience, the internet is teeming with inspiration on how to maximize small space.  After all, some of the most sought after locales in the world (NYC, Paris) are ones where square footage is at an absolute premium.  Stylish people all over the world are making small homes elegant, functional, and even enviable places to raise a family, while laughing all the way to the bank with lower utility bills.

Apartment Therapy has always been a great source of inspiration to me for small-scale living, and I love their mantra that "simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive".  I'm especially enamored of their current "Small Cool Contest", where readers with homes under 1000 square feet submit photos in the hopes of being dubbed smallest, coolest home.  It is incredible what some people can do in such limited space!
I love this dining space in a 350 square foot NYC home! 350 square feet!
Beautiful, multi-tasking living room in a 560 square foot apartment in Australia.
I could pour over the Small Cool Contest entries all day.  And I also love looking at the San Francisco apartment of Oh Happy Day's Jordan Ferney, a classic example of choosing neighborhood over space.  She and her husband were determined to stay put in their one-bedroom Nob Hill digs even after having two children, and came up with this creative solution for a bedroom for their boys by building bunk beds into a closet!
Crazy cute closet.
Now, in this new apartment of ours, all the closets will be used for actual clothes, not people, making it practically palatial by comparison.  I just love the above photo as a reminder that with a bit of creativity, ingenuity, and commitment to forward motion, it is possible to live stylishly and with fun and flair in any amount of space.  This is the mantra I will repeat as we prepare for our move.  I'm so excited to purge everything we no longer need (and then some), and tuck ourselves neatly and efficiently into this beautiful new home.  And I'm feeling grateful for the opportunity.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Talking to Myself

We all have an internal monologue.  I myself can never seem to turn mine off, whether it be in the middle of the night, in savasana, or simply in the line at the grocery store.  My internal voice is part jokester, part snark-ster, part philosopher and, let's be frank, part a-hole.  That less positive part of my mind can manifest in moments of frustration (see: Boston road rage), but lately I've been reflecting on how often that mean, demanding, and impatient voice is the one that I turn on myself.

Last week, as I know I mentioned a few times, was a pretty grueling one for me, so as it drew to a close, I made some time to attend a ninety-minute yoga class to unwind, thanks to a friend who offered to share her babysitter for the morning.  This class was a rare treat, and not the sweaty power yoga that I usually prefer, but more of a slow, meditative, stretching class, where you're encouraged to turn off your mind and relax.  Of course, my internal monologue took the opportunity to chat up a storm, literally for the whole ninety minutes.

But, here's the thing, I wasn't thinking about my to do list, or my grocery list, or any list at all.  No, my "monkey mind", perhaps inspired by the introspection of the yoga teacher, took a more analytical approach to our conversation.  I found myself immersed in thoughts of how I could be better:  a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better runner, a more in-shape, well-rounded, less exhausted and more patient person; and not in a "I'm so inspired to be better!" kind of way, but more in a "why am I not doing better already, dammit" tone. I was marinating in my own shortcomings, and giving myself hell for it, all during the very ninety-minute time period I had painstakingly carved out to rejuvenate myself.  At the end of the class, my hamstrings felt looser, but a lot of me felt more tense, just for having engaged in all of that negative self-talk.

A certain amount of critical self-relfection is important and even necessary.  Setting goals for oneself and measuring our progress against our expectations can lead to great things.  This is how we run marathons, earn degrees, and make it through childbirth.  I value my inner voice for this, and use it to keep me honest, on target, and in touch with the larger path that I'm trying to follow.  But somewhere, she always crosses the line, and becomes a little abusive.  I'm striving to find a balance where I can use this challenging inner voice to my benefit more than to my detriment, but I'm not quite there yet.

My sister always encourages me to talk to myself the same way I would talk to my son, or someone who I really love, cherish and want to protect.  When she (or my son, or my husband) messes something up, I'm always the first to say, "hey, you'll do better next time, it's no big deal, you're awesome anyway, and I love you."  So, why, when I make a similar misstep, is my own voice the first to annihilate myself about it ("Why did you do that?  How could you be so stupid?  Typical!").  I wouldn't dream of speaking to my loved ones that way, so why do the words roll so easily off my tongue when they are directed towards me?  I know I'm not alone in this habit, and I think it is one for which many women have a propensity.  No good can come from negative self-talk, yet it is so tricky to kill at the root while preserving the valuable elements of an internal monologue.

How can we challenge ourselves to great things, and be painfully honest with ourselves in our periods of self-reflection, while still being as kind and loving to ourselves as we deserve?  Is this something you have mastered?  I'd be so interested to know how.
We all deserve to treat ourselves with the same protection and affection we pour on our children.
Getting there is hard work.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In Good Company

Have you ever heard of Rikshaw Design?  The company imports hand-block printed fabrics from Jaipur, India, "for your bohemian life."  Needless to say, I love every piece I've ever seen from them, as it all dovetails perfectly with my own eclectic, hippie-tinted aesthetic.  They primarily specialize in nursery bedding, but also have a small line of both children's and women's clothing.  I'd take one of everything.
Goa Collection Bedding
Woman's Kurta
Now it looks like Rikshaw is partnering with J.Crew's Crewcuts children's line as part of J.Crew's "In Good Company" program.  The Rikshaw for Crewcuts line is just too much.
Baby Kurta
Baby Bloomers
Checking out this new line lead me to peruse the whole "In Good Company" category, where I continued to find the best little stuff. The little boys' footwear kind of kills me...
Classic Vans, anyone?
He already acts like a tiny Spiccoli... why not dress him like one?
These Gazelles take me right back to high school.
I love seeing what comes from the minds of creative designers.  And of course there is nothing better than fantastic style shrunken down to tiny sizes.  I can't wait to watch my little guy's personal style develop (he already seems to have a penchant for henley shirts for some unknown reason), but until it does fully, dressing him up in our own classic favorites is the best.