all the news that’s fit to print

Yes, I have been missing in action. Well, not missing in a dropped off the face of the earth sort of way. But I didn’t spend any time during the week of Chelsea doing any writing that is worthy of sharing (I blame the heat) and this week has been a dizzying cascade of work, kids, camp, heat and stress, all without my daily dose of Biker Barre to keep me sane and balanced.

So what did I do with my time off? I shopped. I spa-ed. I worked out. I ate (a lot). I drank some nice wines. I took the kids to Philadelphia. We went to a Fourth of July parade, derby car race and river raft regatta. Then our hostess in Philadelphia – my roommate from college – came down to DC with me. We shopped more. Ate more. Drank more. I introduced her to the barre-spin double. We napped. We saw Magic Mike. We watched movies at my house.

It was a good week.

In terms of my styling projects, Chani did not end up wearing the Kate Spade dress to the wedding in Charleston because while it was 105 here in DC with a heat index of 115, it was 145 degrees with 300% humidity in South Carolina and the fabric was just too heavy and clingy for an outdoor affair. She will wear it a lot this summer though, so no regrets, and bought dangly purple earrings as I recommended. She still doesn’t have the perfect shoes to go with the dress, according to what I heard yesterday, so I’m going to work on getting her into a snakeskin pair as suggested by Rosana from DC Style Factory.

Terra did wear her green dress to the wedding and paired it with a bunch of gold jewelry: stacked bracelets, necklace, earrings. Apparently there is no picture that captures the entire look though so you will just have to envision its greatness.

I got eyelash extensions and I.Love.Them. I asked my technician to give me a length that doesn’t scream hooker, and I’m extremely pleased with the results. Now no matter how hot and sweaty I get or how much I cry, my eyes are never smudgy. I’m not sure it’s a sustainable budget practice, but I plan to at least maintain them through the hot and sticky summer.

Which given the way the climate is changing, could mean until November.

accessorize this dress: take one

yellow or purple?

Yesterday, two different women asked me to help them figure out what accessories to wear with the dresses which they plan to wear to (different) weddings next week.

Request #1 came from my friend Chani, who shocked me in the process by wearing a gorgeous purple dress when we met up.

Me: I only ever see you in black or gray.

Chani: I know! But I was inspired by you to not buy this dress in black.

It turns out Chani went on a little shopping spree, buying the aforementioned dress and a little number to wear to outdoor nuptials in Charleston on July 8th. The dress is from Kate Spade, and it’s a swirl of purple, brown and yellow paisley. She plans to wear nude pumps, and while she doesn’t know this yet, I have the perfect little handbag for her to borrow.

Chani is moving into bold colors slowly, so I created two fairly conservative options for her. (And by conservative, I mean pulling from shades in the dress and not going totally crazy with something offbeat like turquoise.)

Option #1 – Yellow: I like the idea of making this sunshine shade pop. I’d recommend choosing between bold earrings or a bold necklace, but not both. If Chani opts for the earrings, I think she can go sans necklace. If she goes with the necklace, I’d wear a simple stud earring of some variety (and am happy to look up some options).

Option #2 – Purple: Perhaps considered the safer option for someone just breaking into color, these purple earrings both make a statement in their size but are not too dramatic in their shade. I couldn’t find a necklace for under the price of the dress that I thought would work, but if you have suggestions, Chani has the weekend to shop.

Lately, I’ve been into stacking bracelets or wearing one statement-y cuff. I’ve pictured examples of each, but there are a gazillion on the market to choose from in this category.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second styling request, and of course, check in next Friday when I hope to have a picture to post of Chani in her complete ensemble. I’m confident there won’t be a hint of black or gray to be seen.

a quadratic equation

I have a confession to make.

As announced to everyone within earshot of me as I made my way to the Cheverly Prom a few weeks ago, I bought Prada shoes.

(No, not to wear to the Cheverly Prom.)

This should not come as much of a surprise to those who know me, or maybe it will come as a shock. It might be the most indulgent purchase I have ever made, which is why I feel a slight chagrin in this admission. But I fell in love with these shoes when shopping for a dress to wear to Kaitlan’s wedding, and as those on the receiving end of my affection know, my love is not fleeting.

I have a mathematical formula in my head that justifies such a purchase. It goes something like this:

Credit for returned Kate Spade shoes + consignment check from Secondi + price differential between black DVF dress and dress I actually wore = Prada shoes

Shoes are the constant.

I knew I wanted these shoes the moment I slipped my feet into them at Neiman Marcus when trying on dresses. (Note: it’s a clever sales trick to bring into the dressing room a nice pair of shoes to ease your trying on experience.) I made a valiant effort to distract myself with non-Prada alternatives. The Kate Spade pumps referenced in the above equation were too pointy. The Stuart Weitzman Platswoons in adobe had a significant gap at the heel. Time was ticking. I had a dress. I needed a shoe.

So now I’m the happy owner of a gorgeous pair of buff patent leather Prada pumps with the perfect heel height and a tasteful platform. They are not my every day shoes. I dread the day a heel gets caught in between the uneven cobblestones of an under-maintenanced DC sidewalk. They will never see the rain or be the guest at a reception held on a carpet of grass. They aren’t quite special occasion shoes, but most certainly are great date night shoes or “I’m having a big day” shoes.

Regardless of whether I wear my Prada splurge walking down the halls of Congress or behind closed doors, these shoes make me feel powerful. And that feeling is worth every penny.

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

I usually hate pink. Well, hate is too strong of a word, so let me amend and extend my remarks to say I don’t love pink on me. Pink looks lovely on my friend Emily, on Nancy’s daughter Tess, and on the azalea bushes in my yard each spring. But it is not a color I find myself drawn to usually.

When Jack was a toddler, he went through a phase where he was obsessed with the color pink. I indulged his whim by buying him a pink oxford shirt, pink pajamas and even pink socks. I balked at the pink L.L. Bean jacket he wanted because (honestly) I caved to the social pressure that says boys can’t wear a pink jacket. I had a hard enough time explaining to adults why I let him wear pink; I did not want my kid to get teased at day care. I thus convinced him that orange (my true favorite color) was really sort of a dark version of pink. Jack wore orange jackets for the next several winters.

It is with this history of my tepid relationship with pink in mind that I share with you some of my latest obsessions for spring. I am shocked at myself that my eye continues to be drawn to a color that can only be described as resembling chewed bubble gum. When I am perusing J. Crew’s new arrivals, I usually fill my virtual fantasy basket with colors of black, purple and gray. But right now, I am slightly fixated on this pink cardigan and the candy-striped sweater in azalea and orange. The bright dahlia dress would also be a huge departure from my safe usual choice of navy, and may make its way into my closet the next time there is a 25% off everything sale.

Coral has also caught my fancy, thus this Simply Soles exclusive color pairing on my favorite Bettye Muller pump has my feet begging for spring (and a sugar daddy). Likewise the Function in Fuchsia by French Sole (a marriage of pink and orange) has me overlooking my usual hesitation about flats. One thing is clear, I am smitten with the cap toe craze because both these shoes will be on my wish list, along with the similarly hued earrings.

You’d have to be a caveman to not know Valentine’s Day is coming up (I have been methodically unsubscribing from every email that reminds me) but sexy underpinnings are not only for special occasions. I love this raspberry Chantelle set available at Coup de Foudre (the one vendor I will forgive for sending aforementioned V-Day reminders) and I understand from store-owner Valerie that my favorite Marie Jo bra will be coming in a shade of pink this spring too.

Rounding out my color fetish, Kate Spade’s Cobble Hill Leslie in cinnibar (the perfect alternative to the dove gray purse I am using now), a baby pink Love Quotes scarf, and Chanel lipgloss in a color named, I kid not, Chelsea.

Rest assured pink skeptics, in whatever manner I end up incorporating these happy shades into my wardrobe, I promise not to blind you by wearing them all at once. But on any given day, you will never know if I’m getting in my pink fix with the outfit under the outfit, so to speak.

all I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas...Now that Jack has been reassured that Santa exists, he has been busy working on his letter to Santa.

Too busy.

While letters from years past have been Facebook-worthy in their sure little boy-ness (“gas mask [with hood]” last year or “one puppy [small]” the year before) this year my little consumer monsters would have made the Material Girl blush.

23 items on Jack’s list, including such treasures as an iPod touch (no), a video camera (no) and a DSI (no). So then we had to have a little talk about gluttony.

Me: There’s no way I am sending either of these letters to Santa.

Both boys returned with more appropriate lists that were limited to five items of varying sizes and price ranges, though neither list included the item they’re actually getting for Christmas.

All their list-making and prioritizing and editing and rewriting got me to wondering: if I had a Santa, what would be on my list?

Of course, aside from a binding global agreement on climate change from major emitters, some very classic items came to mind. New riding boots (I’ve had my eye on these convertible ones from Lillybee for awhile) and an orange wool coat with leopard print gloves. You have read of my desire for a new handbag (pictured is Emily’s coveted bag but in a gorgeous purple). I’m in the market for some funky jewelry that can be dressed up or down. And of course, while one is dreaming big and making lists, a Cartier tank watch.

I probably have a better shot at getting a Cartier watch someday than I do on an international deal on climate change.

I didn’t self reprimand my gluttony as I do not have expectations that a single one of these items will end up under my tree. After all, there’s really no one to share this list with beyond the blogosphere, and I’m sure Santa doesn’t follow me. As a half-time single woman/half-time single mom, I will look forward on Christmas morning to opening the gifts my boys make for me. This year I am hoping for one of Jack’s self-designed comic books, perhaps a box of Colin’s paper airplanes, and a jointly assembled pack of their “Magic Cards” which include a cross-pollination of the characters of all the mystical books they read, each assigned a point value and strength based on their activities in their respective books.

At least, those are the items I intend to ask for on my real list, the list I plan to give to the boys.

After the holidays, I can always buy myself the boots.

a very newsy update

the scraped, primed and painted ceiling and walls of the guest room, the source of all my sweat equity efforts

I can’t fault writer’s block for my recent absence from the blogosphere. I’ve had several ideas that fell the wayside or were condensed into 140-character tweets. But fear not, I’m still here, thinking the same snarky thoughts.

I do feel like I should wrap up some loose ends, given how many questions and comments I get on previous posts. So for those who haven’t been sleeping at night wondering how my turkey came out or if I found a new purse, here are some updates to whet your appetite for more posts to come. Trust me, I have a lot on my mind that I want to share.

In no particular order, fall foliage. It’s gone. I’m no longer lounging under the brilliant canopy of autumn-hued trees. It was a spectacular fall, the best in my memory, and I hope fall 2011 is the new norm for the years to come.

My turkey. If you read my post, then you know I was poised to host Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and I was seeking turkey recipes. Thanks to all who submitted their favorites. I used the version submitted by my friend Stephanie, who has used it ten years running, although every year, her mother-in-law still declares, “why Stephanie, I didn’t know you could cook!” Now, my bird did not come out as juicy as Stephanie promised, but that’s my fault for screwing up the weight-time conversion and leaving it in the oven a little too long. Regardless, Colin ate both drumsticks and there weren’t as many leftovers as one would think given we were five adults, five kids and two turkeys (yes, someone didn’t trust me and brought their own).

A new fall/winter purse: There’s still no new handbag dangling off my arm, though I have test-run many models. The favorite thus far is my friend Emily’s purse, but even though she lives in Chicago and we have owned the same bag before, I am hesitant to click purchase. A big Kate Spade sale after Christmas and continued ennui with my current bag might cure me of that though.

The Sweat Equity Challenge: No, I did not end up tackling a household project every week between September 18th and Thanksgiving, but I did do eight weeks worth of projects in about a 5-day period, which explains why I still have repetitive stress disorder in both arms (I’m an ambidextrous scraper/painter). The lesson learned: next time hire someone to do the work or find a boyfriend who is handy around the house.

My fall wardrobe refresh: In October, I took advantage of a 25% off J. Crew sale to purchase some new staples for my fall wardrobe. What a bust. First of all, I kid you not when I say each of the five items I ordered was shipped separately. Secondly, I ended up returning everything except the pencil skirt in harvest tweed. The camel sweater was not the right shade (nor was the blouse) and the plum capri pants looked like pajamas. The red pants, which I had high high hopes for, weren’t lined and it took 15 seconds of standing in front of my mirror before the itching began.

So that is pretty much my life to date. Stay tuned for my musings on Santa Claus, Christmas lists, and of course, my upcoming birthday.

December 17th for those who don’t have their calendars marked.

desperately seeking…

https://i1.wp.com/media20.onsugar.com/files/2010/12/49/0/1254/12546250/a757cea79ba11d62_chanel_255.larger/i/Most-Iconic-Handbags.jpgI always know what I want, and usually I get it. Occasionally I’m paralyzed by indecisiveness, but rarely. If you have lunch plans with me, and I ask where you want to dine and you say, “I don’t care” then I’m going to choose my favorite place. Only when I’m very tired or my creatively levels are low (or I’m trying to decide between two pairs of shoes) do I demure.

So it’s with a great sense of shock that I’m having a hard time choosing a new purse. I’m not a switch-your-bag-everyday kind of person. I like to buy one handbag and stick with it. Usually the way this happens is: I buy a new bag in the fall that I use through winter, then a new bag in spring that takes me through summer. Not exactly shopping rocket science, but it works. That’s how I justify splurging on some of my favorite designers and why I embrace today’s anti-matchy-match world where almost any color and texture combo is fair game. (Honestly, I hope color coordinated shoes and purses remain a relic of the past.)

But back to my inability to commit, the most perplexing part of my problem isn’t even that there are two bags I’m deciding between; I can’t find what I want at all. (Well, within reason.)

This summer, I had my eye on a purse called the Pippa (isn’t everything of “it girl” quality called the Pippa these days) by the British company Modalu. But back in August, when the color I wanted wasn’t going to be available until mid-October, I took a pass. (Now that it’s mid-October, of course I’m ruing the decision.) Then I had a crush on the Isabella Fiore Demi-Satchel but when I gave it a test run around the store, it felt a little too boxy (a-la-diaper-bag) to me. (This was one of those instances when Kassie, who was present for said purse try-outs, told me that she didn’t think the item I was considering was the right look for me.)

I’ve scoured my usual haunt, Kate Spade, but the problem there is I keep gravitating toward styles I’ve already owned. I want something different. I want a bag that screams Chelsea. On that note, I did contemplate a purse from the Chelsea line at Coach, but I just can’t help but feel like the Coach brand and my personality are not super compatible. A weekend shopping trip with girlfriends a few weeks ago to assist in the finding of the perfect purse only yielded frustration, not retail glee.

In case you have some suggestions to pass along, here are my specs: It has to have a zip or clasped top that can be easily accessed when I have a cup of coffee in one hand and a kid’s backpack in the other. I’m not afraid of color (after all, I just ordered two pairs of red-hued pants from J. Crew) though I prefer my purse fall in the “bold but neutral” category. (Too many brights in one ensemble and I fear I resemble a bowl of Skittles.) I learned my lesson with the Kate Spade Essex Scout this summer that I’m really not a small purse woman (though I did grow to love the hands free nature of a crossbody style). My purse must be large enough for my working mommy lifestyle (though I got mocked yesterday by my former boss for the moderately large bag in my current rotation). Seriously, a purse has to be able to hold my eyeglass/sunglass case, iPhone, wallet, small make-up bag, notebook, keys and whatever “treasure” the kids hand me to hold onto for them (sometimes rocks).

So if you see something along those lines, let me know. But if instead you come across my sugar daddy, let him know that the one purse I have seen and love is the Valentino Demetra. Yes, the price is equivalent to my first year’s salary when I first came to Capitol Hill. Yes, it’s the price of a small car.

But maybe it comes with a cute guy who would carry it for me when it’s full of rocks.

seeing red

The Valentine's Day Trench Coat

As anyone who has read my posts since I left Beatrix in the dust knows by now, lately I have been embracing color. This is very unlike my typical Northeastern default to wearing black most of the time. Black is usually my go-to color and certainly was the color of choice to camouflage Beatrix those two dark months of back brace confinement. But after ten days of being able to integrate more color into my wardrobe, I can honestly say that I have been pleasantly surprised.

My spirit is definitely a bit brighter when wearing color; I don’t miss that sickly glow that black can often cast on your skin. Don’t worry, I’m sure this is not the end of my relationship with black clothes. I have too many black dresses, sweaters and blazers in my closet to eschew my beloved black forever. But for now, I am obsessed with red.

Recently, the DC metro area has been plagued with a tug-of-war, not between political parties (well,  yes, between political parties) but between winter and spring. And the end result has more often than not been rain. Some days, the rain is accompanied by sticky humid weather. Other days, the rain is cold, steady and miserable. Both types of weather events call for my perfect red trench coat that I bought for myself (from Janna) for Valentine’s Day.

However, Thursday in DC was in the mid-60s and sunny, so the red trench stayed home. But feeling of festive spirit — and knowing I had three sets of drink plans — I pulled out of the closet archives a dress (same cut as linked here but different fabric and slightly different shade of red) I bought from Betsy Fisher a few years ago to wear to the happy hour that celebrated my 40-minus-one birthday (or 35-plus-4, depending on how you like to do your math).

Observation number one: nothing attracts compliments more than wearing red. It never ceases to amaze me how wearing a red dress (or a red trench) captures so much attention. Especially when said dress or trench is paired with the perfect shade of red lipstick (Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Rebelle). More strangers make eye contact. More random people offer you wishes for a good day.

Observation number two: red is empowering. There is certainly no fading into the woodwork when one is wearing red, so you really do have to own it. As one of my guy friends put it yesterday, “you look like a little red sports car in that dress.” People make way for you in a crowd. You get what you want.

Observation number three: I need more red in my wardrobe.

While I still have 9 days left until Lent is overt (I gave up shopping for Lent) I am already contemplating how I can incorporate more red in my life in a way that accommodates the fact that I have a list of home improvement projects to fund. And did I mention that I had to pay taxes? A lot of taxes? As my friend and accountant Kara put it, I need to invest in something other than my pretty clothes and good wine.

I’m guessing she didn’t mean a little red corvette.

bag lady

https://i2.wp.com/stylefrizz.com/img/bryce-dallas-howard-kate-spade-ad-campaign-2011.jpg
My Scout is the size of the pink one but in the orange color.

I am by no means a small purse woman. I usually blame the fact that I have to carry a larger-sized handbag on my being a mom, but when was the last time I actually toted around crayons, pacifiers, or matchbox cars in my bag? Frankly, the real issue is that I can never narrow down exactly what lipstick I want to wear (and often I combine two or three colors to make my own custom-perfect shade) and honestly, lipstick takes up a lot of space.

Okay, maybe not.

But I also have this huge wallet. When I bought it four years ago, I remember the sales woman at Nordstrom saying, “this is lovely, and it can double as a clutch.” Seriously? Where would I put my lipsticks? In the change pouch? I don’t think so. And while I do have a few clutches in my repertoire, I have to admit that I rarely use them. I need my keys. I need my iPhone. I need my iPhone charger since my iPhone only carries a charge for about 45 minutes these days. I sometimes carry my iPod too (especially if I’m metro-ing) because if my iPhone dies and if I am stuck with an 18-minute wait for the orange line in the direction of New Carrollton, I want something to listen to.

Then there are my eyeglass cases. I can sometimes get away with only carrying one, and the regular glasses and the sunglasses take turns being housed it in, but it has to be the bigger of the two cases because my sunglasses don’t fit in the case for the eyeglasses and if I am going to PT or the gym or some place where I might need to take both pairs off, then I need to bring both cases.

I didn’t really keep any of this in mind when I asked my friend Janna from The Finicky Filly to order me the Kate Spade Essex Scout in orange. In my spatial-judgmentally-challenged mind, it looked like it wasn’t that much smaller than the purse I had been using since August. After all, I wasn’t buying the Kate Spade Small Essex Scout. But in practice, my new orange purse is small. It can barely fit my mammoth wallet. I have to narrow my daily lipstick selection down to two options (today’s choices were the Trish McEvoy “Instant Pick Me Up” Lip Shimmer and the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Bonheur). My keys seem too bulky and of course I need my iPhone charger. (The iPhone was conveniently being carried in my coat pocket.) No iPod. No crayons, pacifiers or matchbox cars.

The other night, my seven-year old saw my new purse laying on my bed and started petting it.

Colin (adoringly): Mommy, is this your new purse?

Me: Yes, do you like it?

Colin: I love it. (Pause.) When you don’t want it anymore, can I have it?

I don’t think that Colin realizes that while the cross body style of my bag is very Indiana Jones, he can’t fit his entire retinue of treasures in the Essex Scout. Maybe a couple of his smaller twig wands, a Lego gun and one of the knives he cut out of cardboard. But certainly not all his rocks, his corks (he has a lot of these) or his bottle cap collection. Not to mention his lip balm (he is my son, after all). But that is beside the point since I am far from giving Colin his own Kate Spade purse, even one that has been used.

This week I was lucky. It was rainy, so I didn’t need the sunglasses, and since I was carrying around my computer bag, I could use it to stash the surplus items that I didn’t fit in the purse. And I was only carrying around one cork.

Yes, I have a cork collection, too.