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Sunday
Nov302014

The Quality List :: COS

 

We are diving back into my top picks for The Quality List. I guess they really aren’t ‘top’ as it’s an ongoing list, but we are back in the groove of it. So, let’s get our groove on with COS, or Collection of Style, which is a sister company to H&M and finally launched recently online in the US. Word on the street is that a New York store is in the works to open next week on Spring. Next week! Things never happen that fast. For those of us who love luxe-looking basics without the strain on the wallet, this is going to be a game changer for us!

They have a very classic design, but with a modern edge to the pieces. Lots of textures and minimal color. They pretty much make the 'New York uniform'. They consider themselves to be the the one stop shop for ‘high end design and good quality at an affordable price'. When I see their collection, I think Zara meets Vince. Everything is very very clean, but so chic and anything but boring.

I’ve selected a few of my personal note-worthy pieces, (shocking, they are all mostly black) but there’s just so much available. That’s another part of the line that I like, you sometimes find with quality labels that their selections are so minimal. One t-shirt here, two pairs of pants there. But this line has a crazy amount of options that range from casual to cocktail. It’s just all so incredibly sleek! 

 

Cotton t-shirts start at just $25 and structured statement piece dresses are $129. Bonus is they have some uber fancy kids stuff and it is a bit above what I usually pay for P’s frolic around in clothes, but on those special holiday occasions, they have some unique and beautiful options. And everyone loves options!


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Friday
Nov072014

This Holiday, Let's Try To Be Prepared!

 

Do you smell that? The crisp air, the hint of fireplace smells and warm home cooking in the air? Yep, it’s officially the start of the holiday season! Everyone is in the best mood, your social calendar is on fire with parties, your outfits are always the best because you get to layer up with light jackets and scarves and sip warm drinks. Best of all, you wish for snow….. yes, wish. Because after January 1st….. snow is no longer a novelty or a thing of beauty. It is a nuisance. A yellow nuisance.

I’m a pretty good procrastinator. So when the holidays start to roll around, it feels a bit like a race to the finish line. We have weeks until Thanksgiving and months until Christmas…… so I have all the time in the world, right? Wrong. This year, I have vowed to not get caught at the last minute unprepared for holiday visitors, parties and gatherings. Last year, I could still blame the quasi newborn. This year, she’s practically a teenager, so that won’t fly. I’ve decided to share a few tips I’m implementing to be sure I’m equipped for any holiday occasion that may happen…. planned or unplanned.

 

Fresh Florals ::

Nothing says, I’ve got my crap together to guests like a house that has fresh flowers abounding. Since that can also get pricey, I suggest getting flowers that tend to appear fresh longer or that dry out gracefully. My favorites are eucalyptus, hydrangeas and and sort of winter-ey wildflowers that can also be used as a filler. Think babys breath style flowers. For November, I keep a variety of dried leaves collected from the park and pinecones on the table. As we get closer to Christmas, I love to have evergreen sprigs and branches mixed in or laid out as part of a tablescape.

 


Go-To Party Outfit ::

 That perfect LBD you have but never wear until it’s the last minute? Yep, that one. Take it to the dry cleaners now, so it will be ready and in tip top shape so you aren’t left wearing your runner-up dress because your first choice still had spilled cocktail sauce on it from last years escapades. I prefer to stick with simpler dresses for holiday gatherings and go heavy on the jewelry (obviously) or add in a bold lip color for effect.

 

Fistfuls of Snacks ::

Hunger levels are at an all time high during the holidays and nothing is worse than a hangry host or guest. Be sure to have a variety of quick and easy snacks on hand to help curb any hypoglycemic rants before they start. The trick here is to make them easy to eat, budget friendly to replenish and conveniently accessible to stock up on at a moments notice. May I suggest fresh nuts, like these rosemary roasted almonds, or crisp seasonal veggies and hummus, fancy cheese and crackers or even tomato, mozzarella and basil skewers.

Easy Cocktails ::

Tis the season for cocktails galore. Aside from our normal stock the bar options of champagne, wine and whiskey, I also prefer to offer my guests a healthier alternative if they feel they’ve already been overserved this holiday season. I’ll keep a pitcher on hand and will mix up some sparkling water with a few drops of Crystal Light and it’s a simple substitute to a glass of bubbly and it’s calorie free. If you have littles or are expecting friends with little ones to stop by, this is also the perfect fun holiday drink for them to enjoy with guests.

 

 

Thank You Gifts ::

No one wants to be that guest who arrives for the holidays empty handed. Yes, the host said to ‘just bring yourself’, so call it the half southerner in me, but you should always have a token of your appreciation to give to the host. It by no means needs to break the bank, but be considerate during this season of giving! The etiquette on this stuff ranges, but think of it in small, medium and large. Small is a holiday party and you are among a larger number of guests, something like flowers or a card are thoughtful. Medium is a dinner party with a more intimate group, so something like a bottle of decent wine (no two buck chuck folks) or one of my favorites is this cocktail swatchbook. Large is if you’re an overnight guest in someones home, consider a gift card to their favorite local restaurant or this cute little tree trunk planter. On the other hand, I sometimes have small gifts on hand for when I host little dinner parties with friends. For those, I will have something light and simple for each guest to take home with them at the end of the night. This could be a candle or my favorite are little brass bottle openers, which are always a hit.

 

Now that I’ve shared my tiny wins for keeping up to speed and equipped for this holiday season, it’s time to tell me yours!  Leave a comment, tweet or Instagram about your tips to making this holiday season the best ever with the #tinywin hashtag. Also, keep a look out in the Nov + Dec issues of People, People Style Watch and Instyle Magazine for more of my #tinywin holiday tips!

 

 

*This post was sponsored by the lovely people at Crystal Light™ via People StyleWatch. Thanks you for supporting the brands that help support this blog!*

 

Monday
Oct132014

Ten Ways To Use Coconut Oil

 

I feel I can confidently say that you’ve already heard about the coconut oil craze. Honestly, this little oil is really have its fifteen minutes of fame, right up there with kale and the hashtag. It’s practically the superfood of the beauty world right now. Yet, I still get super inquisitive looks and questions from people when I explain all the ways I use it…. and this is in Brooklyn, y’all. Figured that may mean it’s still worth sharing.

My personal love affair started about a year ago and it was merely for the benefits of a moisturizer and something to cook with. New Yorkers live in limited space, so anytime something serves multiple purposes, I’m into it. These days, this oil has replaced a number of harsh, expensive and chemical filled beauty products in my daily arsenal. Bottom line, it has saved me a ton of money, cut out unnecessary products from my beauty routine and leaves me smelling like a walking piña colada. Mmmm. How does my skin feel about it? Awesome. It’s never looked so calm and refreshed, thanks for asking!

There are a number of ways to incorporate coconut oil into your beauty routine. If it’s a little scary for you to literally spread oil on your face, I get it, maybe start with just applying it to your under eyes or using it on dry spots only. Then work up the nerve to lather your entire face with it! A word of advice when purchasing coconut oil, I only get unrefined, organic and cold pressed. My skin went haywire when I used one that wasn’t. (Note: This one is my favorite.)

 

 

TEN WAYS I USE COCONUT OIL

Make Up Remover :: This is my favorite use of coconut oil, as it is a gentle and easy makeup remover for both my face and eyes. I don’t have to worry about harsh scrubs or spending a ton on fancy make up removing products. A little coconut oil and then a cleansing wipe and my skin is squeaky clean. Plus, the safest way to remove eye makeup is with an oil based cleanser. That will save you from ripping out precious eyelashes or damaging them.

Moisturizer :: Fragrances in moisturizers can be some of the most harmful ingredients, especially if you’re applying it to your face. After washing my face, I swipe a bit of coco oil on to help keep my skin hydrated through the night. Honestly, when I wake up, my skin looks super refreshed. I will say, I don’t use it in the morning as I’ve found my make up settles weird on top of it. Just something to note.

Oil Pulling :: Remember when you got your braces off and all you wanted to do was swipe your tongue back and forth across the front of your teeth? Whelp, that’s what they feel like after you do some oil pulling. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which help kill germs and freshens your breath. I take a spoonful of oil (in its liquid state) and swish that around in my mouth for 15-ish minutes and then spit it in the trash. This should not replace brushing and flossing, for the record. I still brush my teeth post oiling pulling, but definitely don’t brush them before. There are some that make actual toothpaste by mixing coconut oil and baking soda, if you want to take it one step further. You’ll also read accounts of people who think oil pulling has cured arthritis, skin conditions, etc. For me, it has just helped with cleaner and whiter teeth. Think Orbit gum commercial clean. *Ting*

Under Eye :: It’s super light and perfect for delicate under eye skin. Wrinkle creams and under eye moisturizers can be expensive, and what for? All you need to combat wrinkles and spots is moisture. Just don’t get it in your eye or else your vision will be a bit foggy. Think, one too many glasses of wine, foggy.

Hair :: A small amount, and I mean small, on your fingertips and apply it to the ends of your hair after a shower or you can also apply it to dry hair to wrangle in gnarly split ends. Just seriously go easy on it, you can always add more, but you will be a big grease ball if you use too much. I know from experience.

Cuticles :: I don’t get manicures much, I just don’t have the time. So this is a simple way to keep my nails looking pretty and polished. Using a Q-tip has proved to be the cleanest application process. I tried just using my fingers once and everything kept slipping out of my hands for the rest of the afternoon. Learn from my mistakes, people.

Lip Balm :: Swipe some on for smooth and hydrated lips. Miracle worker in those harsh winter months.

Clean Brushes :: Put some coconut oil on a cotton swab and use it to clean your makeup brushes, mascara brushes and foundation brushes. Just like it works as a makeup remover from your face, it will do the same thing here. After you’ve cleaned them, rinse them with a little soap to clean off any excess oil.

Body Scrub :: I used to spend a lot on fancy body scrubs, but now this recipe has been an easy and cheap substitute and I can mix up essential oils to add in to as the seasons change. Lavender for the spring and cinnamon for the fall.

Diaper Rash :: Little P has had her fair share of coconut oil exposure. Diaper rashes can be an ongoing fiasco for little bums. We’ve tried all those fancy and organic creams and honestly, the thing that clears it up the fastest….. coconut oil.

I know there are lists of like a million and one ways to use coconut oil, these are just the ones that have been tried and true and have worked for me. If you have others, by all means, please share! I'm always on the hunt for new coconut oil miracles. 

 

 

Tuesday
Aug192014

Seven Years A New Yorker

 

 

Would you believe I moved to this city by covering eleven states in two days while driving a Uhaul from Texas? There is something to be said for being young, naive and convinced you know what’s right all the time. I had some real nerve.

So here I am, seven years into my relationship with New York City. And how is it going, you ask? Well, I’ve definitely gained some important people in my life along the way. The city was quite the romantic backdrop to our little love story. Never a lack of exciting new things to try or places to explore. Now, it has been the most vibrant and entertaining place to raise Parker. It was pretty comical to spend my first pregnancy in this crazy place. Waddle walking through the streets and hearing innocent cat calls only to turn around, with full belly then in sight, and be like really? But hey, where would our self esteem be without those construction workers? I, for one, sure do appreciate their devotion to the whistle. I mean, yea, I know I looked good that other morning (I actually washed my hair) and thank you for acknowledging it. It’s equally comical to attempt to raise a child here. The daily schlepping, the closet turned nurseries, the decade wait list for a daycare, the fear she’ll never take to the feeling of grass…. all things that cause me to ironically love this city and also shake my fist at it at the same time. Things I never even imagined I'd be experiencing in this city while unloading my Uhaul. 

Equally, there’s a lot that is lost when you take up residence in the concrete jungle. For starters, long gone is my ability to responsibly operate a motor vehicle. We are going on six years and it more closely resembles an elderly person who never took drivers ed. Personal space is something I don’t expect to have, ever. And my petite calves now appear like small baseballs from all the subway stairs and walking I’ve done to transport myself around this city. Trust me, there’s a lot of places on my body I’d kill to have toned muscle, but my calves have never been the most desired area for that. You don’t get cat calls for calf muscles. So, thanks for that New York.

I know it is said a lot and it can become pretty trite, but there really is nothing like living here. I’m glad my seriously daring and adventurous younger self didn’t think twice. The city and I are constantly in a series of textbook fights (hour long subway delays underground in a car that smells like cat pee) and make up sessions (perfect fall weather, a surprise street market and the potential talk of a Trader Joe’s moving in close by). And every year, we city kids throw ourselves 'New York-aversary' parties to celebrate that great day we first stepped off the praire and onto the city streets. I always wonder if there is ever such a love affair as a New Yorker has with their city.

In one of my favorite love letters to the city, Here Is New York, E.B. White writes:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something....Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

 

photo credit

  

Sunday
Aug102014

Let's Talk Milk


If you were to ask my husband what my hardest daily decisions are, he would easily answer you with ‘what she wants to eat’. It’s hard enough weaving through the options I have on a given day to decipher what is the least processed, has the smallest amount of sugar, has good carbs over bad carbs and won’t eventually come back to kill me of some rare cancer in twenty years.

We take Parker’s health seriously and are thankful for this time to dive in and learn more about the best nutritional options for our family. But I think we can all agree there’s just too much information - we are an overly informed society and I think that’s both good and bad at times! It helps us make better decisions, but also creates a fear in us over every. little. thing. I mean, how blissful were the days of warming up hot dogs in the microwave for lunch as a kid. Or to be more with the times…. you would ‘nuke it’ in the microwave. Which should’ve been the first clue it could cause chemical warfare. Now, both the microwave and the hot dog “ingredients” strike more fear than being struck by lightening. I simply can’t wait to be a grandma and eat cookies with my grandchildren and wear stretchy pants and not give a crap.


I think we are all aware that cow’s milk is pretty iffy, but then again, most of us were raised on it and we are still alive and thriving. I’ve read that it can cause a number of health issues due to the pasteurization process and it’s one of the highest mucus forming foods available today. There’s that whole lactose intolerance thing, which I don’t know if that becomes worse if children aren’t exposed to it or if they are. It seems a lot of people believe it is the underlining cause to a significant amount of illnesses children and adults experience. Overall, it’s awfully fake. Almond milk is the next most commonly discussed option. But then again, if you don’t make your own, then it’s just processed almond water you buy in a box at the store. It’s known to lack some significant nutrients that whole cow’s milk can supply, plus it has caused spurts of digestive issues (if you know what I mean). Goat’s milk is what I see most people suggest as a well-rounded cow’s milk alternative. Only problem is, they all stress that it must be raw. Raw makes me a little nervous, plus, I live in Brooklyn. Either that should make it easier, based on our current Portlandia farm-to-table standards or makes it harder since there isn’t a green pasture for hundreds of miles that would be producing fresh goat’s milk. She doesn’t have to be the poster child for organic health, I just want a normal balance between needing to personally knowing the goat the milk came from and being able to grab it from the shelf at the grocery store. I just try to make educated choices and then sometimes….. I just need some queso. 

I know there are mom’s out there who have done the research, who have scoured the nutritional books and blogs and asked their doctor’s a million and one questions. I know there are intelligent people out there who have studied nutrition and know more than I can sit here and cram from articles and fact sheets. I would love to have a discussion on what you have decided to do for your children, what you’ve read and believe. Or did you also worry like I have over this? I know this ultimately comes down to what we find best to do for our family, I just really love learning from other people and gathering information. Like I said, this is such a “first world mom problem” and I realize it’s part of a much larger conversation around our culture, consumption, nutrition and our roles in all of it. But that’s for another day… right now I just want to talk milk. I’m starting to ease off of nursing, which I think I’ve delayed because I have no clue what the next milk option should be. Milk has not been part of my diet for years, though I used to live off nursing home style cottage cheese until I learned how manufactured it was. I am generally a picky eater for the sake of being healthy and know the ins and outs of basic nutrition and eating clean. There are internet opinions and facts galore and, frankly, I’m not a nutritional scientist and I find it all quite overwhelming. So, alas, when it comes to milk, I’m stumped.