retail therapy, reward, procrastination

I bought a few things this week. I declare none of my purchases entirely superfluous; with one exception, I spent on a need-to-have-basis. Let’s start with my greatest online weakness: Everlane.

I feel like Everlane was a big secret I wasn’t in on until about six months ago, so let me enlighten you. You can read about this internet retailer’s philosophy for yourself or I can summarize: they believe in transparency in production and pricing. On the webpage of each item they sell, if you scroll to the bottom, you will see delineated the true cost of the materials, production, and transportation. They add up those figures for the math challenged to attain the true cost of the item versus the Everlane price versus what the average retailer would charge. (I typically use J. Crew as a comparison.) Everlane is where I now buy all my t-shirts. $15 for a short sleeve t-shirt is $5.00 less than full price for the same at the Gap. And these shirts wear well, wash well (no pilling, my biggest pet peeve) and they are not see through. I repeat, they are not see through. (Okay, maybe see through t-shirts = biggest pet peeve.) After a closet purge this week, I ordered a black long sleeve t-shirt (my first from them) and because my favorite season is almost upon us, the Fall Seed Stitch Raglan in navy. (Justified because I essentially shrank my J. Crew version of this sweater last winter.)

Before you click over to Everlane and go crazy stocking your closet, think of the starving artist who referred you. I get a reward if you found them through me, so help a writer out and email me for an invitation if you plan to make an Everlane purchase.

While I was doing the closet purge, I put to one side all my wool pencil skirts for a couple of reasons. One, it’s still too damn hot. Two, I’m not entirely convinced they fit, but I’ve had enough rejection this week and thus wasn’t in the mood to find out. I’ve been wanting a midi-length pleated skirt, but usually find them too voluminous to be flattering on me. Try, try again, I say, and this colorblock skirt was on sale at Nordstrom so if it works and I love it, I won’t be racked with fiscal guilt. I can wear it now and later. Dress it up or down, but let’s be honest, I’m mostly going to dress it down.

Rounding out my flurry of retail activity, after a particularly grueling day of researching, writing, and sending agent query letters, I splurged on a new lipstick, this Bobbi Brown beauty in Lady Ruba. I know, I need another lipstick like I need another agent rejection, but I’m a sucker for a bright lip color, and they had me at limited edition.

Whereas the internet often encourages impulse shopping, I was thoughtful in making my purchases and now I just can’t wait for the UPS guy to come. And not just because he’s easy on the eyes. Though there is that.

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the whole 30 yards

my first morning's breakfast
my first morning’s breakfast

I’m not a dieter. Denying myself the delectable leads to intense cravings for said taboo items. I have done a few juice cleanses with varying degrees of success (and by success, I don’t mean weight loss but improved complexion, better sleep patterns and more energy). Mainly, I try to eat healthily, though I do have my weaknesses, namely cheese, wine, and half and half in my coffee.

But on the morning of my dear friend Lauren’s wedding, I woke up resembling the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. My face was so puffy my sunglasses left a deep imprint after I had them on for only a few minutes. My abdomen was so distended I could barely bend over to put on my shoes. And the worst part? The bridesmaid dress that fit fine a week before? Yeah, well I was so swollen that it took the might of the three other bridesmaids to get the zipper up. Then, I exhaled. And the zipper broke. Five minutes before the ceremony.

If I’d woken up like this any other day, I’d have visited the ER. I warn you now, never WebMD “water retention” because the causes range from too much salt, alcohol, sun exposure (all which I had in spades) to kidney failure, liver disease and congestive heart failure. I was pretty convinced I was dying, but I had a wedding to stand up in. I drank my weight in water, abstained from alcohol, and MacGyver’d the dress until I could change into something else. After the reception, I returned to my room, cried a bunch, and devised a plan for a reset.

I’d just read Wardrobe Oxygen‘s post on the Whole 30, and while I’ve been dismissive of Paleo-style food plans, I was inspired by Allie’s positive experience eating only whole, one-ingredient foods. I decided to give it a shot.

As it turns out, my Whole 30 shopping cart didn’t look that different from how it usually would, with a few notable exclusions. I’m on Day 5 and so far, I don’t miss anything. It hasn’t been torturous to watch my kids devour chips and salsa. I’ve been around wine without longing. After a bit of experimenting, I discovered coconut milk in my coffee does the trick. I did almost lick the Nutella off a knife the other night after I made Jack toast, but that was more reflex than desire. The bottom line is after a few days, I’m sleeping better, and I have energy after only one cup of coffee.

I suspect there will be challenging days ahead (please don’t flaunt your pimento grilled cheese sandwich from Cheesetique) but nothing could be worse than how I felt on that morning when I could have lumbered through the town of Sonoma and caused more damage than the recent Napa earthquake.

 

boys of summer

boys will be boys
boys will be boys
photo 3 (2)
cousin love
photo 2 (2)
hiking the woods of Maine
photo 1 (2)
all my favorite boys

School starts today, and I find myself wondering where the summer has gone. Unlike years past, when we limp through August, waiting for that magical day when the kids get back to routine, this summer flew by fast. Jack and Colin have dubbed it “best summer ever” in no small part due to an exciting camp schedule. They kicked off with wilderness survivor camp (not zombie survival camp, as the kids have been billing it) which segued into their first experience with sleep away camp. Art camp was followed by a woefully mis-advertised culinary camp supplemented with at-home cooking lessons, and a visit from Aunt Meghann fed into ten days (without me) in Maine with their cousins. A few days at the Jersey Shore capped off vacation. Throughout, pool visits abounded; sleepovers were plentiful. The kids end the summer with golden tans (despite my best SPF efforts) and blonde hair, more independent and confident in their growing bodies.

I’m not usually a fan of summer. I hate the heat and humidity, especially when I’m expected to wear professional attire and still look presentable (read: not melted). But this year was different. My work load was light, meaning I could get away with wearing denim cut offs and a t-shirt as I sat in front of the computer and worked on novel number two. The weather was tolerable; I didn’t even fix my AC, broken since the end of last summer, until after the Fourth of July. And while I long for the beauty of fall (and tall boots, scarves, cashmere) for once I’m not cursing DC in August.

Of course, that could all change with an extended heat wave.

travels with chelsea

There is great benefit in being friends with fashion bloggers and stylists such as Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen, Alison of DC Celine fame, Rosana at DC Style Factory and Christen, the brains and beauty behind the Alexandria Stylebook. Aside from being lovely women inside and out, they humor my angst. When I have a fashion conundrum, I can fire off a quick text or initiate a twitter conversation and get immediate advice, affirmation, sympathy.

However, there is one topic they have all opined about extensively on which I am utterly unteachable: how to efficiently pack.

I get the mechanics. Coordinate colors and pack mix and match separates. Dress in layers. Bring fabrics that easily forgive their undistinguished position in the suitcase. Assemble outfits that can survive more than one wear. Put it all in a carryon. Channel sense of ease. Voila.

But let’s get one thing straight: I like to check my bag. It’s worth $20 to not have to drag a bag through security. It’s worth $20 to not have to worry about only bringing 3-ounce toiletries or what constitutes a liquid (eyeliner? lip gloss?). It’s worth $20 to bring more pairs of shoes than I’ll probably need.

Thus, as I make my list of what to pack for my upcoming 10-day trip to California, and as I look at my standard suitcase, I realize I need to upgrade to the bigger bag. Before you roll your eyes, check out where I’m going: San Francisco, Paso Robles, Menlo Park, San Francisco, Sonoma, San Francisco. And now check out what I’m doing in those spots: wine tasting, bachelorette party activities, pool lounging, yoga, eating out with my dad and grandmother, going out in San Francisco, attending rehearsal dinner, and fulfilling bridesmaid duties. Look at the temperatures of my destinations: 50s-60s in San Francisco and 90s in Paso Robles and Sonoma (but cool at night). And have I mentioned the wedding?

Let’s just say, there’s no packing light for me on this trip, regardless of what advice my friends offer. My goal will be to not get assessed the heavy bag fee.

on writing sex scenes

When I mention I wrote a novel, it’s amazing how many people ask if it has sex scenes. It’s a fair question. Sex intrigues. Sex sells. But honestly, while there’s implied sex and the hint of sexual activity, a go for broke sex scene just didn’t fit. (Yes, I am aware of how many copies the Fifty Shades series sold.) In my pages, you won’t find ripping bodices, pulsing anything or turgidity, except a little bit in one self-love scene that may or may not make the cut as the story moves through the process.

Frankly, it’s a little intimidating to write a sex scene (unless your name is Pavarti K. Tyler, my erotica writing friend). For starters, you have to use the right vocabulary, and that’s hard to do without blushing or giggling. I recently read an article written by a poet who was trying her hand at prose. The one aspect in the conversion she found most difficult was sex. In poetry, fruit can serve as a metaphor for sex acts and body parts. But “he cupped her ripe mangos” isn’t exactly going to fly, even in chick lit.

Seriously, the synonyms for the real words are worse than the words they are meant to replace.

But it wasn’t the difficulty of writing sex scenes that kept book number one on the dirty side of chaste. I just wanted to emphasize the other ways my main characters bond.

But gird your loins for my second book. It’s going to be steamy.