Skip to content

Five Things I Learned About Business Travel

2014 July 22


I am back at my desk after four (hot!) days in Miami and here are a few things I learned from my time on the other coast:

1. The older I get, the harder it is to leave my kids. I love having a career and I love to travel, but it’s getting harder and harder to say goodbye to them and to miss out on their lives, even just for a few days, so clearly I need to find a career (and a paycheck!) where they can come with me all the time. On my to-do list.

2. The more you miss your kids, the less you should check in with them. Every call made it that much tougher to be thousands of miles away so I think, for me, it’s easier to rely on updates from my husband and mom rather than speaking with them directly all the time.

3. Even though you miss your kids, sleeping in with a black-out shade on the windows and no one to wake you up at the crack of dawn asking for their cereal is really nice. It’s also really nice to enjoy nice hotels, restaurants and conversation with interesting, inspiring adults. And it’s really nice to read an entire book on a plane with no interruptions. So you need to enjoy those moments, guilt-free.

4. My kids are better behaved at home when there is only one of us parents to contend with. They were angels for my husband the entire time and he dealt with them beautifully. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

5. When you’re a mom, you’re a mom. Even when you’re off-duty. We were having a meeting in the hotel restaurant the other morning and a darling little girl walked by holding her younger sister’s hand and crying. No one was around and I could clearly tell they had lost their mom somewhere, given the look of pure fear in her eyes. I immediately put my meeting on pause and found someone from the hotel to help them because I couldn’t bear the thought of that little girl (nevermind her mom) being scared for one more second. Once they were happily reunited, our business meeting resumed as normal. And it was a nice reminder that even a working, traveling, busy mother…is a mother first and foremost.

*image above of The National Hotel pool in Miami, via me

A Weekend in Miami

2014 July 18


I am headed to Miami for the weekend for a work obligation. I haven’t been since I was a young kid and my most vivid memory of that trip is the “Miami Mice” t-shirt my parents bought me that I loved so very much and left at the pool one day…never to see it again.

I cried over that t-shirt.

Hopefully this trip will be better and I will be less forgetful.

Work trips are always a little bittersweet: bitter because you have to leave your family behind and sweet for the very same reason. A solo plane-ride cross-country, sleeping in just a little, no one to impose an 8pm curfew on your hotel room…doesn’t sound too terrible. But without fail, I am always missing them by day two and counting down the minutes on the plane ride home.

Here’s what I am packing for four days in the hot Florida sun, sans floaties:

Janessa Leone straw hat. I love the sun on both coasts but my face does not, so this straw topper will be a permanent fixture poolside. Assuming there is some time to be poolside.

essie Coral Reef. A Coral pedi is the perfect accompaniment to tanned skin and a little sand between your toes.

Madewell leopard shiftdress. This has become my go-to of the summer (and it’s on sale, go get it!). You can throw it on and run out the door looking effortless in an instant.

Splendid jumper for night. I love this light, easy one-piece because you can dress it up or down and feel super chic even when the sun is blazing hot.

Super sunglasses. My favorite sunglasses because they are heavy and secure and the gold arms add some super flash. I hear Miami appreciates that.

Have a great weekend!


Five Tried and True Parenting Tips

2014 July 16

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 4.13.51 PM

My husband and I have it fairly easy on the parenting front.

Last night after a day filled with very few parenting struggles, the dishes were empty and cleared, the baths were done and painless, the kids were jumping on my bed (I sent them there) to burn out some last-minute energy and we simply had to look at each other and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

Don’t get me wrong…we battle meltdowns and tantrums. We have to repeat ourselves and occasionally raise our voices and dish out time outs and revoke allowance.

But not that often.

For the most part, we know we have it good. Our children are really well-behaved, both in the home and outside of the home. They are respectful and well-mannered and as logical as they can be for their ages (7 and 3). And while I certainly chalk some of that up to genetics, I do believe that nurture plays a heavy hand alongside nature as well and I am proud that we’ve developed a style of parenting that works for us and our kids. I believe every child, every home and every rule is different but there are a few tried and true tips that we’ve incorporated through the years that consistently make a difference in our home. So naturally I thought I would share them with you here:

Lead through real life. If I want my kids to learn to share, I give them things to share. Instead of offering two separate snack plates or two bowls of popcorn or two iPhones to play with when a dinner out has gone too long, I give them one and tell them to share it. If one of them needs help with something, I offer up their sibling as a solution first, before me or their dad. Need help tying your shoe? Ask your big sister. Need someone to get you another apple? Ask your brother. By showing them good behavior through actions (theirs, not mine) rather than just words, I am leading them down the right path one footstep – their own! – at a time.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. This should be in every new mother’s handbook. Seriously. Don’t cry over the spilled milk. Don’t lose it when a vase is broken. Don’t argue with your toddler (again) over him wanting the blue cup when you’ve set out the red one. Give him the blue one. Pick your battles and save your energy for the moments where it really counts. Does that mean give in to everything? No, no, no. Rules are fast and firm in our house, but we save them for the important stuff (clearly jumping on my bed is not one of those things…who really cares if they jump on the bed?).

Don’t label. I see this all the time. If you call your kid “shy” or “difficult” or “girly” then that’s how they will act. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to say hi to a little kid and the parent jumps in to label them as “a little shy” before they’ve even had a chance to respond. Maybe he/she is shy and that’s fine, I will realize that in a few moments on my own…but let me realize because of your child’s behavior, not the label you are so quick to stick on them. I have been guilty of this with both of my kids. I labeled Little D a “tomboy” for a long time and Kai thought his middle name was “troublemaker” for a while there…but I’ve made a conscious effort to let their personalities (tomboyish and somewhat troublemakerish) shine through instead.

Give them more responsibility than they could ever expect. Let them walk down to the mailbox by themselves (or if you’re like me, let them think they are walking by themselves and watch like a hawk from the balcony). Let them create their own screen-time schedule (with your sign off, of course). Let them pour the milk when they’re still at the age where they are likely to spill it. And then don’t get upset when they do. By giving your kids little doses of self-confidence and independence in the every day, you will set them up for big doses of it down the road.

Say yes when they least expect it. This is probably my favorite because it’s simply the most fun. If you want your kids to listen when you say no, practice saying yes. Especially when they least expect it. A Friday night movie night that happens on a Tuesday. Using your little brother as a paint canvas just because (we did this, turned out great; they both had a blast). An impromptu trip to the ice cream shop…for the second day in a row. By giving my kids the gift of “yes” when they are expecting another “no” (again, within reason…), I’ve developed a new level of understanding and communication with them that works really well for us. Now when they get a “no”, they know it’s one that matters and that odds are another “yes” is around the corner so they accept it without hesitation…as soon as they’re done jumping on my bed, of course.

*image above via here

A Local’s Guide to Manhattan

2014 July 15


I first “met” Jenny on Instagram and was instantly taken by her cool, casual city girl style. Based in New York, where she works as a stylist and lifestyle blogger at Your Soul Style, she has an aesthetic that I appreciate: clean and contemporary but full of spirit and soul. So it’s with great pleasure that I show you her beloved city through her very stylish eyes in this latest Local’s Guide To…Manhattan (see other cities here).

Where to get a facial: Soho Sanctuary, specifically with Susana – the best part about Soho Sanctuary is that 1) it’s small and intimate and 2) it’s women only so enables a sense of comfort you won’t get from other spas around the city. The other win is that they carry skincare lines by brands like Dr. Hauschka and Arcona which are made from organic and all-natural ingredients, giving you a chemical free, holistic treatment. Susana helps alleviate any pre-existing issues and sets you up for success with products that are best for your skin type. If you’re closer to midtown, Mario Badescu has his one and only skincare salon on 52nd street between 1st and 2nd avenue, which offers a plethora of facials customized for your needs. (editor’s note: I’ve been. She’s right. It’s amazing.

Where to get a massage: Soho Sanctuary, specifically with Regine. I have searched high and low in this city to find the best massage therapist around and Regine is definitely my go-to gal. Her massages are rhythmic and equally efficient. Great Jones Spa however would be my recommendation if you’re looking to get a rub down with your man since Soho Sanctuary is women only. The experience at Great Jones includes a water lounge, which is hard to come by in NYC – hot tub, plunge pool, sauna and steam room are all on site. Once inside, you immediately leave the hustle and are transported somewhere zen. Visit the Great Jones Spa Juice Bar & Cafe next-door after your treatment for a healthy and delicious lunch! For a trendier spa day, visit the new Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca – more for the overall experience than the massage itself.

Where to shop for your man: Steven Alan – my favorite location is the most recent one in Chelsea. There is a J.Crew Men’s Shop uptown, in Tribeca and one in Soho and Saturday’s Surf is a perfect destination for your hipster, surf’y beach guy complete with apparel, accessories and boards.

Where to shop for your home: ABC Carpet & Home, hands down – reminiscent of a Moroccan bazaar, the first floor will devour your senses with items like decorative pillows, chandeliers, candles and tablescapes that will entice you to buy entire collections. Give yourself ample time to navigate through the carefully curated six floor mecca. Be sure to check out the second floor landing that carries an assortment of emerging designers. Fishs Eddy is a must for fun and quirky giftable dishes and glassware.

Where to shop for your kids: Zara Kids, Crewcuts and H&M Kids can be found all over the city, but my favorite “mom and pop” boutique is Lucky Wang. Also, Trico Field in SOHO has super cute kids clothes. The best learning and creative toys can be found at Kidding Around.

Where to shop for yourself: I could go on and on and on (and on and on) about the shopping in NYC, but I’ll keep it broken down by area: the Lower East Side is chock full of emerging designers and boutiques like The Reformation and beautifully curated jewelry and lifestyle shop Love Adorned. Soho encompasses a range of options from mainstream stores like Zara, Topshop and J.Crew to contemporary stores like Rag & Bone, A.P.C. and Helmut Lang to high end fashion such as Prada, Stella McCartney and Mulberry. Opening Ceremony and American Two Shot are a must see for their cutting-edge assortments. Bleeker Street in the West Village is a nice stretch with stores like Maje, Sandro, Diptyque, and Zadig and Voltaire and the ever-evolving Meat-Packing neighborhood includes stores like Warby Parker, Scoop, All Saints and high end store Jeffrey’s. I don’t usually shop uptown, but will go if I need a department store like Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s or Bloomingdales. And upper 5th has mainstream shopping similar to Soho, but with a bigger assortment of high end stores. One of my current favorite boutiques is right in my Greenwich Village neighborhood (which doesn’t have too much shopping) called Personnel.

Where to get a sweet treat: If you’re in Chelsea or Greenwich Village, Amorino has the best gelato. Big Gay Ice Cream in the West Village has the kind of soft-serve that will take you back to childhood with decadent options like the “Salty Pimp” and “American Globs”. My new favorite sweet treat is yogurt from Culture, which is “made from specially selected live probiotic cultures and the freshest local milk.” If you have kids, Max Brenner on Broadway is a must.

Where to get a fresh juice: Juice Press is the best juice around, but they are pre-made and grab and go. For made-to-order juice, try Liquiteria, The Butchers Daughter (great brunch too) or Melvin’s Juice Box at Miss Lily’s.

Where to get a cheap eat: Los Tacos in Chelsea Market brings you authentic, down-home Mexican fare, and Mamoun’s, open since 1971 and featured in “1000 places to see before you die”, has the best grab n’ go falafel around.

Where to wine and dine: Marc Forgione’s Forge is my favorite restaurant in NYC and we recently tried his new one American Cut which did not disappoint. ABC Kitchen is not only beautiful by design, but “the menu is free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, antibiotics, hormones, is GMO-free, and naturally and humanely sourced from regional farmers and fair trade cooperatives”. Narcissa in the Standard Hotel East puts a creative spin on the classics and I recommend sitting at the chef’s table (if you’re a party of 2) for the experience of watching chefs gracefully master their craft. And if you’re looking for a most perfectly composed, farm to table style plate south of 14th street, Blue Hill cannot be beat.

Where to wine: I love the speakeasy, underground vibe of Little Branch where the mixologists shake up creative concoctions that you’ve never heard of before. On the corner of Leroy and Varick, the entrance is unassuming so you need to look very closely in order to find the sign on the door. Death & Co, Employees Only and PDT are also intimate and swanky cocktail dens worth checking out while in town. Harder to navigate, be sure to visit their websites for instructions on how to find them and get in. For an easier, more laid back vibe, I like Wilfie and Nell for happy hour or The Other Room and City Winery (live music here) for wine.

Where to have breakfast: Cafe Mogador in the East Village has the best breakfast around. The Middle Eastern flare adds a dynamic spin on typical American fare. Get there early in the warmer months for a seat outside and to avoid a wait. For an all American, typical breakfast, try Westville or Grey Dog Cafe.

Where to take the kids: The American Museum of Natural History has rotating kid-friendly exhibits all year. In the summer, try “The Beast” high speed boat ride which travels along the Hudson and stops for views and photos at the Statue of Liberty. a win for both adult and child. The Central Park Zoo is more manageable for little ones since it’s smaller then the Bronx and a Broadway show like the Lion King is a hit for anyone, at any age. FAO Schwarz is sure to win over your kids in a heartbeat, and for a cheap, save your pennies day, try a visit to Washington Square Park, where kids can be entertained (for free) by the street performers till the sun goes down, and a newly renovated playground will keep them busy for hours.

Wow, this amazing list can surely keep me entertained for hours, too. And to top if off, Jenny has a great eye for photography (the picture above is one of her own) so if you like fashion and New York (who doesn’t?), you can follow her on Instagram here for more. Thanks, Jenny!

Saturday Reads

2014 July 12


Saturdays have been hectic this summer so apologies in advance for being so sporadic with these little round ups. You’re probably too busy living life to be reading this anyways, right?? Nonetheless, here are my favorite finds of the week:

This read was especially poignant because it was shared by a friend/acquaintance of mine on Facebook. My friend is a woman very similar to you and I who recently went through a separation and just a few weeks ago found herself out of a job and a home, with two young kids to care for. She wasn’t “homeless” or penniless in the traditional sense – she has a fantastic family and support system that was there to help her out – but for a few stressful weeks, life took a quick turn for the not-so-good. The good news? It turned right back around rather quickly and the right job and the right new home appeared in the nick of time. But she shared this story to remind us all how quickly things can take that turn. And that we can’t judge those around us for any reason, because we don’t know what kind of unexpected turns they are navigating.

Up-close with the founder of Net A Porter. Because clearly she is amazing. She founded Net A Porter.

A tale of motherhood and commitment and career…that ended back where it started: with motherhood.

20 Signs You’re Succeeding in Life Even if You Don’t Feel You Are. Amen to all 20. Disregard the creepy photo they posted with the piece.

I loved their show when it was on – an interview with designer Cortney Novogratz.

Bake something extra sweet with your littles this weekend. And let them lick the spoon. Do it for Ryan.

Have a good one! xx

A Clean(ish) Eating Update

2014 July 11


So I said that my last update on clean eating would be my last…but the journey has continued.

Sort of.

And I thought it would make sense to share.

It has been six or so weeks since I wrapped up my experience with The 30 Clean and I am proud (and somewhat concerned) to say that it has stuck with me.

Yes, I am now technically “free” to eat whatever the heck I want, whenever I want…but somehow, I can’t.

I do sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but the “clean” mantra never seems to leave me.

If I eat clean, I am secretly patting myself on the back and if I don’t, I am not so secretly scolding myself.

Once you learn how to restrict yourself from so many things, it becomes very hard to bring them back in without feelings of remorse, guilt and unparalleled liberation.

It’s good and it’s not.

I have joked with my husband on many an occasion that the experiment left me with nine fewer pounds and a slight eating disorder (joking, please take with a grain of salt…pun intended). I am smarter about my choices on most days which is tremendous progress for the girl who considered a Snapple and a Kit Kat a balanced meal in college, but I am also overly hard on myself when I indulge too much.

Part of that is certainly the impact it has on both the scale and my physical reactions (it’s amazing to me now how a “dirty” meal can affect my digestion and cough immediately…), but a big part of it is also a psychological feeling of failure and lack of willpower.

And really, who wants to feel like a failure over a piece of pizza?

Last night, I wanted to order in takeout. I was tired and burnt out and alone with my kids and after I fed them and finally got them to bed, the only logical dinner solution I could come up with was junk.

Instead, I found it in me (and in my refrigerator) to pull together a salad with fresh heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market, a chunk of good feta and a few slices of salami. Oh, and a glass of wine. Obviously.

It felt good to make the right choice.

I think I just need to figure out how to feel just as good on the nights when I make a not-so-right choice.

Because I don’t really believe anyone can change over night, or even in a mere 30 days, but if you can find a way to change – in a logical, positive way – one night at a time, then you (and I) will be doing just fine.

*follow me here for some of the clean – and not so clean – recipes I am dying to try…

Must-Have: Best Collaborations of the Moment

2014 July 10


Sometimes two is simply better than one.

I love a good collaboration and there are some great ones on the horizon this summer.

Everlane has partnered with long-time collaborator and friend Langley Fox (an LA-based artist who has worked with the likes of Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and Alice + Olivia) on a new line of tanks that is debuting next week (pictured above). I am a tank fanatic lately so I can’t wait to try these on for size. They look perfectly simple and cool.

On a more personal note, Maya Brenner is bringing her signature jewelry to J. Crew fans (know any??) around the world via the mega brand’s new fine jewelry section online. You can shop Maya’s uber-popular luxe letter collection in 14k gold necklaces and earrings starting on July 23.

Finally, one of my favorite cool girl powerhouses, Into The Gloss (the brainchild of Emily Weiss, who you may recognize from her brief stint years ago on MTV’s The City), has partnered up with one of my favorite accessories brands, Warby Parker, to launch what they call the perfect new aviator: not too big, not too small, not too wide, not too narrow. These two styles are made from premium Japanese titanium and come in an optical option as well…perfect for those of us who can’t see two feet in front of us without a little help. You can shop them online as of today here.

*image above via Everlane

Running Away With The Circus

2014 July 9


Yesterday was quite the day.

I felt like my brain didn’t pause for a minute. It jumped from obstacle to obstacle: client emails and work deadlines one minute, coordinating picks ups and drop offs the next. Booking family vacation details, conference calls, a little writing, bill paying, grocery runs, glasses of milk to pour, laundry to fold, and of course, more work emails.

Sometimes it feels like the “juggling act” many of us call life is more of a full-blown circus. My mind rarely has the opportunity to focus on any one thing without something else nagging at it in the background. Life is full and busy and hectic and in an odd way, perfect.

Those days that never seem to stop can often be the most fulfilling for me. I look back at the end of it all, when my eyes are fighting to stay open and my brain is trying desperately to shut down, and I am proud.

I am proud that I managed to keep a business, a family and a personal life afloat for one more day. I am proud that I found the energy and confidence to take on everything that the world threw at me. I am proud that while my day was seemingly non-stop, I conquered it all.

Later in the evening I was invited to a neighbor’s home for a community potluck. I had a whole Pinterest board full of recipe ideas at the ready but in the end, I baked brownies from a box (Ghirardelli, in my defense) and topped a powdered onion dip mix with some fresh chives and bacon bits to make it look homemade.

I spent a lovely few hours with a variety of different women: some young, some old; some mothers, some not; some working, some stay-at-home moms. We swapped stories of our busy days over these delicious cocktails that you must make (all the rage in Germany, apparently) – all of them busy in different ways.

Each of them their own little circus.

And when it came to dessert, mine was served on the plate above.

A friendly reminder about modern-day motherhood and everything it entails to make it work for you and your family.

Sometimes it means only making it through half of your to-do list for the day or letting the kids watch a cartoon while you wrap up a work project or bringing brownies from a box. Sometimes it means answering emails at nine at night or booking a babysitter or stepping away from it all for an hour to yourself. Sometimes it means looking back on the day with pride and sometimes it means looking back on it with frustration or exhaustion.

Whatever it means for me, it’s my life and I am proud of it.

Of everything I have accomplished and continue to accomplish each and every day.

Of my little circus.

Because we are not just a “juggling act” in this thing called life, ladies.

We are the ring leaders.

Catch Me If You Can

2014 July 8


The universe has a funny way of speaking to you some times.

I have been feeling a little lost in regards to this blog lately — as some of you know. Not sure where to take it, not sure how to approach it, not sure if it was serving its purpose anymore.

Then this morning I got a lovely note from the team at Cricket’s Circle (you remember their founder Rachel, right? you met her here) that they had included me on their “Best Mom Blogs” list alongside some of my very favorite women.

I am so honored and excited to be on the list – filled with moms from around the country, approaching modern-day motherhood with so many unique stories and styles.

There are great writers on there. There are women with impeccable personal style. There are women with amazing creativity. There are women I know and some I don’t.

And to sit alongside them is inspiring and cool and just what I needed to remember why I am here in the first place.

To share a little slice of our life, to write about motherhood and career and style and marriage and most importantly, to have some fun on this journey and hopefully inspire you to do the same.

So thank you to the team at Cricket’s Circle and to you, my supportive readers, for the reminder.

Raluca xx

The Start of Summer

2014 July 6


Summer is in full swing here and so far, it has been pretty glorious.

The days have been hot, the evenings have been warm.

Bed times have been pushed back (sometimes to their limit), mornings have been lazy.

There are sticky ice cream-covered faces and sand in our sheets.

The smell of BBQ and the sweetness of cherries.

Warm skin and sun-kissed hair.

Friends from near and far, all coming together to enjoy a piece of our sweet little beach life.

I often struggle with life in Southern California. It can feel very monotonous to have the same sunny, 73 degree days year-round. I miss the seasons and the foliage and snow falling.

But in the summer, all of that goes away.

It captures the essence of the season like nowhere else.

And we are excited to soak it all up.

Hope you are doing the same.

*image via Pinterest, no viable source found