It has been a long while since I read a book that I couldn’t put down.
One that made me excited to get into bed at night. One that I carried with me everywhere so I could jump back in at a moment’s notice.
Big Little Lies is one of those books.
This is not an epic, friends. This is not a thought-provoking, life-changing, mind-altering read.
It’s just fun. And fast-paced. And witty. And full of little twists and turns and “never saw that coming” little moments that I love. It’s set in an Australian suburb and follows the lives of several women as they navigate schoolyard politics, mommy wars and behind-closed-doors secrets that unravel throughout the story, sucking you right in.
If that’s your thing, pick it up today. Finish it tomorrow. And let me know what you thought.
On a detour to Big Little Lies, I started Bossypants because I kind of felt like I was the last woman on the planet who hadn’t read it and I couldn’t remember why. A few chapters in, I remembered why. I want to love the whole Tina Fey/Amy Poehler funny cool girl clique as much as most do, but they leave me underwhelmed and dare I say it, kind of annoyed? I started Fey’s book and found myself bored and rolling my eyes here and there and I decided to put it down because life is short and I don’t want to waste it reading books I am not into. I may revisit one day (tell me if it gets better?!) or I may not.
In the meantime, the next one on my list is The Woman I Wanted to Be by DVF. This was a Christmas gift and I am excited to get into it for a little girl power inspiration for the new year. I have things I want to do this year. Ideas I want to take flight. Places I want to see. And I am hoping this book will be a good start down that road. Will let you know.
As always, would love to hear which titles you can’t put down right now and you can see the others on my “Books to Read” board here.
Happy Monday! xx
*this post contains affiliate links
It has been a minute on these round ups, hasn’t it? Without further ado…a few links I loved this week:
An interview and house tour with Nicole Cari, who handles PR and marketing for Band of Outsiders. Swoon-worthy style all around.
The cast of Mortdecai playing Never Have I Ever with Ellen. Made me laugh out loud more than once.
Jamie and Jeff’s birth plan. With one particularly witty line in there
Calming apps for kids, via GOOP. Bookmark alert.
7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose. My sister has taken to bombarding me with inspirational articles about life and existentialism and career lately. I think it’s for her own benefit just as much as mine. That’s how sisters do things, isn’t it? So you have her to thank for this find.
PS – buy yourself some flowers today. xx
Try a half tuck with your favorite button-down shirt for an instant injection of cool.
Just let one side hang loose and tuck the other into your waistband.
Stack jewelry on the wrist on the tucked side to balance out the style.
Throw in a belt if you want to.
Or don’t. That’s ok, too.
And then own that look like you paid a million dollars for it.
For my entire motherhood journey – almost eight years, to be exact – I have had a really strong aversion to the kids playroom at Ikea.
You want me to leave my children in the hands of complete strangers so they can get germ infested, potentially picked up and taken home by a stranger and/or suffer a concussion in a multi-colored plastic ball pit?
I think not.
Every time we would walk into Ikea, my kids would glance longingly at the playroom and I would tell them it was full or we couldn’t go because one of them had a cough or mama just wasn’t into it. And they would begrudgingly drag their little bodies through the entire store, whining through each section louder than the last (except maybe the kids’ rooms where I would take over the whining to get them to move on…).
We would all be miserable, but my mama instincts stood firm.
My kids would never go into the playroom.
Then this past Saturday, we ventured to Ikea. We didn’t have a long list, just needed to pick up some essentials and, as always, my kids watched in wonder at the playroom windows while we tried to figure out which route of the showroom we would hit up first.
But for some reason, after almost eight years, in that moment, instead of wandering to a place of paranoia and protection and worry, my mind chose to wander back to my own childhood instead.
To launching my little body into that multi-colored plastic ball pit with sheer glee. To taking in television shows under the watchful eye of a complete stranger. To sniffing out other little kids I had never seen before, in awe of their clothes, their mannerisms, how they played with the same toys I played with every day, but in a different way. To running back into the safety of my mom’s arms when she picked me up, overjoyed to see her and overjoyed for having gone without her for an hour just the same.
I turned to my husband. “Should we let them do the playroom today?”
He practically dropped his jaw on the floor.
The kids held their breath.
I walked over and signed them up.
Part of the process is that they check the kids’ height to make sure it matches their age/size restrictions. Little D was a good inch or two over the “too tall” limit.
The kind care person pretended to look away as she saw her excitement.
“This may be her first and last time in here,” she said sweetly to me under her breath, signing off on her admission form.
Her first and last time to jump in the ball pit.
Her only time.
My kids ran into that playroom and straight for that ball pit. We stood by the window for a moment, watching quietly, a smile on our faces. Then we realized we only had an hour to shop in peace and were wasting it at that window. So we slowly walked away, shopping list in hand.
An hour later, we returned. Kids were still there, as we had left them. No concussions. No germs from the ball pit. Nothing but kind, thoughtful complete strangers who signed them out, checked our IDs, snipped off the matching security bracelets we were all sporting and handed them back over to us, just as we had left them.
Or maybe not quite as we had left them.
They now had a brand new memory stored firmly in their little minds.
Of that brightly colored ball pit. The watchful eye of strangers. The mannerisms of kids they will never see again.
One that I hope they will pull back up in twenty years when they are standing in that exact same spot.
*image above of my littles exploring a ball pit-less beach, taken by my husband.
I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately.
As I’ve written before (here, here and here), true happiness was something that evaded me for a big portion of my life. A few years ago, I realized I had found it. And I think realizing that almost made me nervous. The Romanian gypsy blood that courses through my veins was convinced I would jinx it or lose it or realize I was wrong after all…
But I didn’t. I haven’t. And I wasn’t.
The happy is still here, you guys.
No, not in every waking moment. Sometimes not even for days at a time (hello PMS, I am talking to you). But it’s here and I feel it and one thing that I think has had a particularly strong impact on it…is that I am mindful of it all.
I went into the holidays wishing for only one thing: to be mindful throughout the season. To stop and appreciate and revel and enjoy. To take it all in – the good and the not so good. To look around at every little detail and the big impact it may have.
And that approach has carried me into the new year.
I am so overwhelmingly mindful of the things I say, the things I do, the people I spend time with. I am so mindful of the sun in the sky and the warm food on our plates and the world of opportunities we are lucky to have. I am mindful of the songs that make me happy (and play them on repeat), the views that bring tears to my eyes, the moments with my kids that fill me up like nothing else. I am equally mindful of the negative (because don’t get me wrong, it’s there too…). I am mindful of what I see in the news, of what people around me are feeling or saying or thinking, of the things that worry me and why.
I take it all in. I am always mindful. And I am telling you, it has had a tremendous impact not only on my state of mind, but on my happiness.
I came across this 30-Day Minimalism Challenge on Pinterest (here is the full 30 days from its original source) and I wanted to share it here because I think it’s a great place to start. A place to clear your mind. A place to focus your thoughts and your days. A place that may help you to look at the world through a more mindful lens.
Perhaps a place where you may find your happy, too.
Let me know what you think. Happy weekend. xx
If you’re anything like me, your littles’ wardrobes are filled with day-to-day basics from mega giants like H&M, Zara, GAP, J. Crew and the like. And that’s completely understandable; these kids grow approximately two feet per minute and it’s hard to keep up…both from a fashion point of view and a financial one. But once in a while, you need to perk up your basics with a few special pieces that let your little stand out from the Crewcuts crowd and show that mama knows her way outside the mall. It’s good for all of us, trust me. Here are three new kids lines you should know to help you do just that:
Natty. Natty is a collection of exquisite dresses for young ladies, with the quality, fabrics and attention to detail we appreciate as – ahem – older ladies. The cuts are modern and cool but also evoke an old-school sense of prim and proper style that will never go out of fashion. The designer, Natalie Lo (aka Natty from a young age), took her fond childhood memories of trips to Hong Kong where tailor-made clothing was seen on children as much as adults and turned them into a line of perfect special occasion picks for girls of any age. My favorites are the Pinafore Dress and the Cross Diagonals.
Rylee & Cru. This super sweet collection of infant and toddler basics is the brainchild of Kelli Murray, an incredibly talented and lovely mama who lives here in SoCal with her two little ones, Rylee and, you guessed it, Cru. Kelli has long dreamed of turning her whimsical and cool illustrations into a kids’ clothing line and her dream is our happy reality. Each piece is lovingly hand garment dyed right here in California so they are super soft and cozy and the designs are so cute, you will wish they came in your size…especially this one.
Finger in the Nose. As if the brand name wasn’t genius enough, this French collection of petite denim and sportswear pieces has a cool, je ne sais quoi kind of attitude that all kids can pull off fearlessly. These are rock ‘n’ roll meets preppy schoolyard essentials; think tailored jeans, graphic tees, parkas and hoodies…all the basics you typically find at the good old American mall, but with a French twist that you – and your kids – will love.
Between the gifts I so gratefully received from others during the holidays and those I gifted to myself (hee hee), I have lots of new goodies in the beauty drawer lately so thought it would be nice to share some of my recent favorites with you here:
First, L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil. This was a stocking stuffer from Santa this year but it had been on my wish list long before then. I love L’Occitane for many reasons: they are French, use essential oils and plant-based ingredients and have a simple, chic look that I appreciate. This Almond Shower Oil has the sweet, warm smell of almond oil that I love and turns into this rich, creamy wash in the shower that makes your daily ritual feel a little more luxe.
Caudalie Lip Conditioner. This was a gift to myself when I made my pitstop at the pharmacy in Montreal. French pharmacies are my favorite. High-end brands like Caudalie, Nuxe and La Roche Posay are drugstore staples across the Atlantic and they treat skincare as luxury, not laborious. This lip treatment is creamy and packed with antioxidants sans any parabens, phthalates or sulfates.
Bliss Fatgirl Soap. I am not a huge fan of the “Fatgirl” moniker but I am a fan of this bar soap from Bliss. It was developed to act as an exfoliating massage bar and its circulation-stimulating nubs and caffeine base are simply amazing. I don’t know that it actually made a visible difference to my problem areas, but the fresh peppermint scent and invigorating grapefruit extracts and jojoba beads make it a must-have nonetheless.
Finally, Tarte Amazonian Clay Mascara. I read this post from my friend Sarah and promptly went nuts on the Tarte Cosmetics web site, guilt-free. Beauty products that you can feel good about are a rare find, even in this day and age, and this mascara is definitely a new favorite on my must-have list. It’s just a really good mascara that makes you feel pretty, but it’s also powered by all-natural ingredients like rice wax and Amazonian clay, preventing lash loss and promoting lash health. If that doesn’t scream “must-have” I don’t know what does.
As I officially embark on the New Year (meaning I woke up today without a champagne-soaked headache and nowhere to be), I am looking around at all the posts and pictures and images about new goals, new resolutions, new steps toward this or that…
And I am embracing the old instead.
I get it. You have a blank slate in a way now. You have a whole new year ahead of you to chase your dreams and find your happy and embrace life with optimism and hope. I talked about that already, right? But today I am more focused on all the things I don’t want to change in the new year. All the things that worked just great in 2014. The things that brought me to where I am today and that I will stick with for the new year in hopes of becoming a better me…not a new me.
Here they are:
1) Diet. Ok, the holiday diet of chocolate, cocktails and rich cheese platters is definitely not sustainable (nor should it be), but this won’t be the year I swear off carbs, sugar or anything delicious for that matter. After my experience with the 30 Clean last year, I learned that this old body of mine really does better with moderation and the occasional indulgence, rather than hardcore restrictions. So I am easing into the new year with the same mindset. And waistline.
2) Exercise. I have found a really nice relationship with my workout. I do it when I can, I don’t beat myself my up when I can’t. I ease into it, aware that my body is changing and aging and what feels great on some days may not work on others. And I approach it from a mental point of view as much as a physical one. That means no promises to be in the gym five days per week or to burn XX calories per day but sticking to the good old 2014 schedule in the new year – and beyond.
3) See more, save less. 2014 was one of the best years we have had in a while and I am convinced it’s because we threw caution (and budgets) to the wind and took the trips we wanted to take, visited the places we wanted to visit, and opened up our little kids’ eyes to a world beyond the one they know so well. Not changing one thing about that approach in ’15. Seeing a little more and saving a little less is far too valuable.
4) Work/life balance. I didn’t nail it. I just didn’t. Some days I worked until midnight and answered emails while my kids ate dinner. Some days I had to leave for a meeting when my daughter wasn’t feeling well. Some days I stayed in bed all day just to give my brain and stress level a much-needed break. I didn’t balance it all seamlessly. But I kept it all going – successfully, for the most part – by juggling and trying my best and being flexible when life didn’t give me any other choice. Will I balance it all this year? Probably not. But I will just keep juggling it around – no expectation of perfect balance in mind – and I am confident it will all keep landing right where it’s meant to.
5) From the heart or not at all. I have grown to be very good at embracing this one and I want to keep it around. It kind of applies to everything in life – writing, work, parenting, friendships, relationships. If I am not thinking with my heart and my soul, my mind won’t follow. It might mean posting fewer but better things. Or committing to less. Or hoping for more. But if it’s not coming from a place that feels really good to me on the inside, it’s not happening on the outside. Just like embracing the old and watching the new walk right on by.
Happy 2015. xx
*image above of a darling new year greeting from my friend Alexandra at Type A.