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Now Reading

2015 January 26
by WWGD

Now Reading - What Would Gwyneth Do

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 

Saturday Reads

2015 January 24
by WWGD

Saturday Reads

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.

The recipe I am dying to try this week.

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

The Style Trick You Need to Try

2015 January 22
by WWGD

Style Trick - What Would Gwyneth Do

Try a half tuck with your favorite button-down shirt for an instant injection of cool.

Style Trick - What Would Gwyneth Do

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.

Style Trick - What Would Gwyneth Do

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.

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Letting Go to Let Them Grow

2015 January 19
by WWGD

Kids-WhatWouldGwynethDo

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. 

My Menu Plan

2015 January 18
by WWGD

Donut - What Would Gwyneth Do

This is one of those weeks that I find tough: a single parenting week.

My husband is traveling for business and no, I don’t think the actual parenting part is particularly difficult on my own (for short stints at a time), but cooking for one plus two littles is a much more complicated task. Preparing meals for my husband and I is far easier than preparing them for myself alone and I typically end up resorting to a lot of take-out and meals on the go when he isn’t around. But this week, I am determined to break that habit and only have one take-out night on the schedule, as always. Wish us luck!

Sunday – making the SkinnyTaste chicken parmesan tonight, because we didn’t get to it last week. Key rule of menu planning: always be willing to break the plan, if needed.

Monday – my kids love drumsticks so rather than roasting a whole chicken for just the three of us, I just grabbed some organic drumsticks instead. Am going to try this recipe for “oven friend” goodness.

Tuesday – our take-out night for the week. Tuesdays are tough with after-school activities and this mama knows when to give in.

Wednesday – my kids are going to have spinach tortellini and I am going to treat myself to this spicy lemon garlic shrimp deliciousness. I say treat because my husband doesn’t eat shrimp so I only ever get to enjoy it when we’re eating out – or he’s thousands of miles away. I’d prefer the former, but will happily embrace the latter this time.

Thursday – homemade pizza. This recipe for crust, always.

Friday – some of our favorite family friends have invited us for dinner. I love new friends that have become just like old friends who know how to have a great time, kids and all. I am bringing dessert and Little D has requested these. Who am I to argue??

Have a great week! xx

*the image above may or may not be the donuts we had this morning. We’ve realized that our neighborhood is quite the haven for mom and pop style donut shops…not a chain to be found. And we couldn’t be happier to support them all ;)

 

One Little Key to Happiness

2015 January 16
by WWGD

minimalismchallenge4

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

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Must-Have: 3 New Kids Lines You Need to Know

2015 January 12
by WWGD

Kids Must Haves - WhatWouldGwynethDo

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.

Kids Must Haves - WhatWouldGwynethDo

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.

Kids Must Haves - WhatWouldGwynethDo

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.

My Menu Plan

2015 January 11
by WWGD

Orange Julius Smoothies- WhatWouldGwynethDo

I spent a good part of the latter half of last week battling a head cold that came on like a storm: fast, intense and seemingly endless. But the good news is that it passed just in time for Sunday…glorious Sunday. So here is my menu plan for the week, the first one of the year, the first one I have shared in a while. I hope it inspires you to get into the kitchen this week:

Sunday – Golden Globes night. We are going to my mom’s for appetizers and champagne and red carpet watching. My dad’s famous homemade guacamole is on the menu. I will see if he will part with the recipe and share it here some day.

Monday – Giada’s pork tenderloin with honey mustard sauce, paired with roasted red potatoes and arugula. This pork has become one of our favorite, fast go-tos – it is SO easy and SO amazingly tasteful and relatively light. You need to try it, if you haven’t already.

Tuesday – I just got the first cookbook from blogger Gina Homolka, The Skinnytaste Cookbook, and it is packed with dishes I am dying to try. So many great, easy, lightened up versions of your favorite comfort classics. First one up is her skinny chicken parmesan, which I am planning to serve with roasted spaghetti squash, which has become our favorite pasta substitute for those nights when we are craving something a little less carb-y (yes, those nights actually exist…ha ha).

Wednesday – I am in Los Angeles for meetings so my family will be eating tacos in my absence.

Thursday – homemade chicken burgers with rosemary garlic mayo served with store-bought multi-grain onion rings. We like the ones from Alexia. These burgers don’t look very pretty in the picture but I watched her make them on her show the other day and I have been dreaming of them ever since…

Friday homemade pizza.

Lunch – I always struggle with lunches for some reason so I am trying to focus on incorporating more lunch-y recipes in my plans this year, to avoid relying on takeout as much as we do. This week I am going to make Gina’s crock pot chicken enchilada soup and hopefully it will give us a few days worth of lunch we can count on – and enjoy.

*image above is the homemade Orange Julius smoothie I made for a quick and yummy vitamin C fix last week. You can Google various recipes – I eyeballed mine and used approximately 1 cup of OJ, 1/3 cup of milk, 1 tsp vanilla, a big squeeze of agave (or honey) and like four or five ice cubes. It could have been a little more orange-y, but it was pretty darn good considering I could barely get out of bed to make it…and with that, I wish you a happy, healthy, head cold-less week ahead. 

What I Am Loving…Right Now

2015 January 6
by WWGD

LovingRightNow-WhatWouldGwynethDo

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.

Five Things I Am Not Going to Change in 2015

2015 January 5
by WWGD

NewYear-WhatWouldGwynethDo

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.