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A Transition for Both of Us

2014 April 19
by WWGD

WhatWouldGwynethDo

We are sitting here on a late Saturday afternoon, waiting anxiously for the doorbell to ring.

All of us.

You see, Kai’s “big boy” bed is arriving today. It’s really just a conversion kit for the beloved crib that has seen us through seven years of long nights, sleep training, tranquil afternoon naps, happy mornings…with two amazing babies.

The crib that seemed so big in the beginning, swallowing our tiny swaddled little ones whole. When Little D first came home from the hospital, that crib was safely positioned right in our room, despite its size, where I could watch her breathe and feel her energy at all times. Years later, it’s on an entirely different floor from us, but we know it is still keeping our son safe and happy. The crib that has seen so many accidents, nursed so many viruses, lulled many a cranky afternoon into a deep sleep.

But now, to him, it’s a whole new bed. His big boy bed. His first step into real independence within our home. His latest step in catching up to his big sister. His everything.

For me, it’s a sad transition. This is likely the last crib these walls will see. The last baby we will rock to sleep every night, the last baby we will sleep train, the last baby who will call us from behind his bars in the early morning, waiting anxiously for us to come and rescue him and set him free on the world he was dreaming of so fondly. The last “safe” place where we can keep our baby protected and coddled and (semi) controlled, under our watchful eye.

The last of the baby anything.

But for him, it’s the first of so much.

And with that, this quiet Saturday afternoon is about to turn into a very exciting Saturday night.

For all of us.

 

Best Swim Suits of the Season

2014 April 17
by WWGD

BestSwim2014-WhatWouldGwynethDo

Here’s the simple secret to painless bathing suit shopping: find a fit that really works for your body.

Don’t worry about the size on the label or the style you thought you wanted or how it looks on the model. Try, try and try again until you find something that works on your body.

I figured out last year that a one-piece bandeau (particularly those from J. Crew) work really well on me. They are flattering and fit well and I love the strapless look and lack of tan lines but also appreciate having the optional straps that I can pull on when I need added support for chasing my littles around the deep-end.

I also found out – shockingly! – that as much as I loved the safety of a solid black suit, I could pull off some pretty patterns and prints just as well and they were way more fun for frolicking in the sun.

I love brands that offer hassle-free swim suit returns online (again, see J. Crew’s free shipping and free returns on all swim) so you can try them out in the privacy of your own home, but department store dressing rooms can be great for their variety and professional counsel as well so don’t be afraid to go in there with a pile of options and wade through them all.

Wherever you choose to shop for swim, take your time, test out the waters in different styles and sizes, and find the one that not only fits and flatters, but makes you feel your best.

Here are my favorite swim suits for the 2o14 season:

(above, from left)

J. Crew geometric tiki bandeau – this is the suit I just bought myself for the new season. It’s my classic fit with a trendy tiki pattern that I love.

Splendid Malibu stripe one-piece – a fun twist on the sailor stripe with a cute pop of yellow and a fun cut-out detail on the back.

J. Crew tropical floral bandeau – bright and sunny but sadly sold out for now, so keep an eye out for a restock!

BestSwim22014-WhatWouldGwynethDo

(from left)

Tory Burch Margherita one-piece – a more subtle play on the pattern trend in a pretty navy paisley.

Vitamin A Natalie striped maillot – bold stripes that are anything but basic.

Mara Hoffman lattice back one-piece – looks simple and straight-forward in the front but with a stylish and sexy back detail (tan lines, beware!) that is anything but.

Must-Have: The Glow Book

2014 April 15
by WWGD

JeanneYang-viaTheGlow

I think I have been a fan of The Glow since its very first post three years ago.

The site was started by two New York-based women – one an editor at InStyle and the other a photographer, both with a great innate sense of style – before they even made the foray into motherhood. It was their way of showing the world (and their nervous selves) that today’s modern woman can embrace motherhood and career and personal style and balance and wellness…and do it beautifully. Kelly Stuart is the talent behind the lens and she captures their subjects with such an ethereal, organic sensibility that makes motherhood look peaceful and empowering and inspiring. Even though it’s often not.

Stuart and her partner, Violet Gaynor, have just released The Glow: An Inspiring Guide to Stylish Motherhood, a new coffee table book version of the much-loved blog, filled with many of the subjects already featured online and an assortment of all-new ones (I wish there were a few more new ones, to be honest). The book is divided into sections devoted to birth, home design, nursery design, beauty, and more, and each accompanies Stuart’s lovely photography with words of wisdom, quotes and tips from their subjects.

The book brings everything you love about the blog to life beautifully with pretty details, including a scrapbook style recipe section, and detail shots that draw you right in. I think my favorite image is one of Tracy Anderson nursing her baby girl in a stunning yellow dress.

I don’t think I will really look to this book for advice or product recommendations or must-haves (that stuff is always fun, but it’s not the forte here) but I definitely appreciate it for its unique, inspired point of view on motherhood today. It shows the act of parenting in a new light that leaves you feeling renewed and appreciative. It introduces you to women – many of them admittedly living rather extraordinary lives – who are balancing career and children and personal interests with style and grace. But what I really love is that at the same time it also makes them seem a little less extraordinary through the intimate details they share of their own experiences that, at the end of the day, are universal to us all.

So while my little life may not have Stuart’s signature style imprint on it at all times, seeing motherhood through her and Gaynor’s eyes certainly gives it a much-needed new…dare I say it, glow.

The Glow: An Inspiring Guide to Stylish Motherhood is available today.

*image above via The Glow

A Local’s Guide to Santa Barbara

2014 April 15
by WWGD

ALocal'sGuidetoSB-WhatWouldGwynethDo

We spent Spring Break at home but all this talk of travel has given me the itch to book a few weekend getaways sooner than later. So here is a new local’s guide (you can see the others here) to beautiful Santa Barbara from one of my favorite blogger friends, Sara from Bonzo, Chooch, Mushy and Me:

I was born and raised in Santa Barbara and consider myself so lucky for it – and I feel even luckier that my babies get to grow up here, too. It’s a pretty special place if you don’t mind me saying so. Some call it the American Riviera – beautiful white plaster buildings with red tiled roofs nestled in the hills with the Santa Ynez Mountains behind them and the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands in front – but I’m happy to call it home. I appreciate Santa Barbara’s beauty every day – that I can say for sure – but the one downside to being from here is that I’ll never know what it would be like to see this special place for the first time. I can only imagine it would be pretty spectacular to arrive here and get to take it all in – it’d be a major feast for the eyes. Then getting to explore, shop, eat and wander would only seal the deal. So, whether you should find yourself visiting Santa Barbara for the first time (lucky duck!) or are returning to this lovely place again, here are some of my favorite spots that I hope you’ll check out when you do:

Where to get a facial – Four Seasons – the Tata Harper facials, in particular. I’ll be honest, this one’s on my wish list but if the Four Seasons’ oceanfront location doesn’t blow you away, I’m pretty sure 50 minutes of being pampered with Tata Harper products will do the trick. If you’re looking for something a little more low key with a local vibe, Skin Dance is the spot. It’s tucked away off the beaten path in downtown Santa Barbara and the owner, Andra, is amazing.

Where to get a massage – Bacara Spa – beautiful hotel, amazing waterfront location, incredible spa treatment menu. Yes please. Or Alchemy Arts Center, a wellness and healing center, spa and cafe. I could move in.

Where to shop for your man – James Perse opened recently in Montecito and it’s the perfect spot for cool basics. Warbler Records and Goods stocks new and used vinyl. Rad spot. Guitar Bar – whether or not he plays guitar, this place is worth checking out. And he’ll want to hang out a while, guaranteed.

Where to shop for your home – Upstairs at Pierre Lafond is my favorite home store of all time. I’ve loved it since I was a kid and it just keeps getting better. Botanik – luxury garden and home shop. It’s to die for. Raoul has textiles that will blow your mind, beautiful furniture, art and decor. Such a cool spot – even if it’s just for daydreaming.

Where to shop for your kids – Toy Crazy is a cute little shop filled to the brim with toys that encourage imaginative play. Our go-to spot for birthday presents. Chicken Little: this family-owned shop is a Santa Barbara landmark. It’s been around for years and is wall-to-wall (literally) anything and everything you need for babies and kids: clothes, gear, toys, you name it. Amelia Jane may quite possibly be the sweetest shop for babies and kids ever.

Where to shop for yourself – Diani clothing and shoes. Isabel Marant, Rag and Bone, Mother – you get the drift. So good. Lola: this little spot is right off State Street (the main downtown drag) and is always a reliable place to find pretty, easy, casual, chic pieces that don’t cost a fortune. It could be easily missed if you didn’t know about it but is totally worth stopping into.

Where to get a sweet treat – Rori’s Artisanal Creamery: there’s a location in Montecito and another (just opened!) in the Santa Barbara Public Market so you’re never far from a scoop of artisan, organic ice cream.

Where to get fresh juice – Juice Ranch: this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot is my favorite favorite. Cold-pressed, organic, local, amazing.

Where to get a cheap eat – Brasil Arts Cafe: this new place is rad. The smoothies with homemade nut milks are our favorites. Los Arroyos is our favorite Mexican restaurant. Their downtown location is small, order at the counter, and their Montecito spot is a sit down restaurant – with a full bar and amazing margaritas! La Super-Rica: this place is an institution in Santa Barbara. Lines-around-the-block famous.

Where to wine and dine – Arigato is the best sushi. No reservations – be prepared to wait or go early! Ca’Dario is the best Italian. Order the brown butter sage raviolis as a starter so everyone can try a bite. Hungry Cat = best seafood and San Ysidro Ranch is quintessential, beautiful Santa Barbara.

Where to wine – Municipal Winemakers for a new school, hipster vibe and Santa Barbara Winery for a more old school, classic atmosphere.

Where to have breakfast – Scarlett Begonia serves seasonal and delicious fare in a cute courtyard setting and French Press has the best coffee. The Anacapa street location is my favorite.

Where to take the kids – The Santa Barbara Zoo. I’m admittedly biased but our zoo just might be the cutest one in the world. The giraffes have a million dollar ocean view. The Santa Barbara Natural History Museum: one of our favorite places to go is the museum’s backyard which is creekside. There’s a clearing under giant live oak trees where the kids can play in the running creek water and just be in nature. It’s a magical spot, trust me.

The whole things sounds pretty magical to me, wouldn’t you agree?? Thanks for sharing all your Santa Barbara secrets, Sara!

*image above via here

Stopping At Yellow Lights

2014 April 14
by WWGD

WhatWouldGwynethDo

Life has slowed down a bit around here lately. Or should I say, I have slowed it down.

Not in terms of workload or responsibilities or to-do lists, necessarily. But the way I look at those things. And the world around them.

I have been consciously trying to take it easy. Slow down my breathing, listen to the birds outside my window, stare at the sky once in a while. I have been reading more, staring at a screen a little less. Taking my time with mundane tasks, lounging a little longer, feeling a little more. Spending time really talking to friends instead of just liking their photos and status updates. Letting my kids stop to examine every thing in the grocery store and not hurrying them through it. Cutting back on places to be and things to-do and letting my family do the same.

Stopping at yellow lights instead of rushing through them.

It occurred to me that it wasn’t always life rushing me through my days, it was me rushing me through my days.

I am embracing the idea of wasting time once in a while doing absolutely nothing of value. Sometimes it means laying in bed a little while longer or going to bed a little earlier. Sometimes it means taking the long way home from pick up to let my kids decompress a bit more after a busy day. Sometimes it means stepping away from my screen in the middle of the work day to eat a cookie in the sun. Sometimes it means skipping a scheduled meeting or workout and opting to just hang out and do nothing instead. Arriving somewhere early just to waste time waiting. Writing page after page of words that seem to say nothing.

Stopping at yellow lights.

My Menu Plan

2014 April 13
by WWGD

 DIYTacoSeasoning

I am struggling a bit on this Sunday morning. The weather is overcast, my brain is a little sleepy, and the couch looks a little bit too comfortable. We were supposed to head up to Los Angeles for a friend’s daughter’s first birthday party today but it turns out…it was YESTERDAY. I have no idea how I received an invitation in the mail, read it, and put it on the wrong date on my calendar. I felt so terrible for missing it (and am secretly scared I have a brain tumor or something because who does that?!?) so we are road-tripping up there today to meet up with them and bring her her belated gift. There may be a pitstop at Ikea along the way because we are re-doing the kids playroom which is a terrible mess of unorganized chaos. So $1 hot dogs and ice cream cones for lunch, it is! Here is a look at our menu for the rest of the week – hopefully I can keep my appointments straight this time:

Sunday – dinner on-the-go somewhere, hopefully with our friends who hopefully don’t hate us for missing their daughter’s one and only first birthday. Sigh.

Monday – chicken kabobs with Bobby Flay’s Greek potatoes with lemon vinaigrette. I made these potatoes a while ago and still dream of them. I keep my chicken kabobs simple – chunks of chicken, bell peppers and red onions, skewered and marinated in Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce, then grilled by my husband. When I am feeling ambitious, they are wonderful paired with Ina Garten’s homemade tzatziki. But I am not feeling that ambitious this week. Clearly.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday, always. Have you read about all the yucky stuff that is in those taco seasoning pouches from the supermarket? Sigh. This is a good recipe for DIY seasoning (pictured above), we have used it a few times. We still fall back on the store-bought stuff when we’re feeling lazy (too often) but I am going to vow to make this version more often.

Wednesday -  I am in LA for meetings so we are keeping it simple that night: grilled steak (getting a pre-marinated one from Trader Joe’s) with grilled peppers and onions and garlic bruschetta (fresh country bread grilled and then rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil).

Thursday – Gwyneth Paltrow’s stir fried chicken and fried brown rice with kale and scallions (see recipe below from My Father’s Daughter, which is still one of my favorite go-to cookbooks; if you haven’t picked it up, you should really consider it – Gwyneth fan or not). This is a really good, homemade meal when you are craving Chinese food but not all the sodium and MSG. It’s relatively quick to prepare and the kids eat it up.

Friday – homemade pizza; we have a dough frozen from last week so it’s as easy as letting it rise, topping it, and baking. Perfect Friday night food. This is the recipe we use.

Sweet Treat of the Week – oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I have had a tin of rolled oats in the pantry FOREVER (i.e. long past the expiration date) and my husband says they will be fine. “Oats don’t go bad.” So this is a test ;)

Recipe for Stir Fried Chicken from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter

Ingredients
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes (make them small – I made them too big last time and it took forever to cook)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger (I skipped this and it was fine)
1/2 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
Pinch red chile flakes (I skipped this because kids were eating it and it was fine)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Toss the chicken with the cornstarch, a large pinch of salt, and quite a bit of pepper. Heat the oil in a large nonstick wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and chile flakes if using them and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and 6 grinds of black pepper. Boil on high for 3 minutes, or until the sugar has really caramelized, the vinegar has mellowed a bit, and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely. Add the soy sauce, cook for another 30 seconds and serve immediately, served with cilantro.

Recipe for Fried Rice with Kale & Scallions from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter

Ingredients
1/2 pound kale, stems discarded
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely minced
3 large scallions, cut into 1/8-inch diagonal slices
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (I used the frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s and prepared it as usual and then went straight to the frying part)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce

Cut the kale leaves in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into very thin ribbons (chiffonade). Steam the kale for 7 minutes (I didn’t steam it and it was fine, went straight into the pan). Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic. Raise the heat to medium and add the steamed kale and scallions. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring. Add the soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds more. Serve hot.

Saturday Reads

2014 April 12
by WWGD

Coachella

At Coachella this weekend?! Nah, me neither. I much prefer to stay home and listen to the Frozen soundtrack over and over…so if you’re in the same boat as me and living the festival life vicariously through your Instagram all weekend, here are some other links to check out while you’re online:

A powerful post about the one thing parents should be worrying about…and often don’t.

How to make Montreal-style bagels via Bleubird. I am a native Montrealer and I can assure you that no one makes a better bagel. No one. Making them at home seems a little wrong to me, but if you want to try it, here’s how. I think I will just save my cravings for my trips back home – Fairmont and St. Viateur are the places to go if you’re ever in the area.

How to save the battery on your iPhone from dying so quickly. This one is a find from my husband who was getting annoyed with my constant complaining about my phone’s battery life.

Some of the most incredible images you will ever see. The one with the small child looking into the police man’s shield got me right in the heart. Amazing photos.

And finally, 10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014. This is a big one, lots to absorb here, lots to agree with and lots to make you think. I quit my job in 2008 and have managed to keep a healthy, thriving consultancy business going ever since. Can I say I never ever look back? No. Do I have moments where I wish I had stayed in the “system” and kept gliding up that corporate ladder alongside my colleagues? Yes. Do I have days where I want to quit on myself and just go back to working for someone else? Yep. But was it all worth it? Absolutely.

Happy Saturday!

*image above via Pinterest, no viable credit found

My Favorite Blogs – Paris in Four Months

2014 April 10
by WWGD

ParisinFourMonths-MyFaveBlogs

Did you hear about how France has made it illegal to answer work-related emails after 6pm?? Well, sort of. Here’s the thing: most cynical Americans probably want to laugh it off and assume it’s just a PR ploy, but the French (and many of their fellow Europeans) really do have a simple love for life that doesn’t translate on this side of the Atlantic.

It’s called joie de vivre and it truly exists. I have seen it firsthand.

They believe in appreciating life and all its various facets, celebrating the every day, less work and more play, and working to live versus living to work. It’s not just a PR ploy. It’s a way of life there. And in many other places around the world. So it’s no wonder that I am enamored with all things French. It helps that I speak the language from growing up in Montreal, but beyond that I love the culture, the food, the architecture, the fashion…and of course, the macarons. I spend a lot of time thinking back on my time there and how and when I can go back to soak it all up all over again.

And when that mood strikes me, I often get lost in Paris in Four Months. The blog was started by Carin Olsson, a photographer from Stockholm who moved to the city in 2012 for what was supposed to be a four month stay…and decided to never leave. She chronicles her daily life through beautiful original photography, showing the city in all its photogenic glory, and making you feel like you are walking its streets and marveling at its every corner from wherever you may be. It captures a side of Paris that is charming and quintessential and endlessly inspiring, without feeling out of touch. It gives you a great look at what life in the city is like for a young woman, a foreigner, with an appetite for beauty and culture and creativity. And it’s written in English, so you don’t even need to translate.

If the email regulations don’t inspire you to move there tout de suite, you should absolutely consider paying a visit via Carin’s lovely work.

Merci for sharing your beautiful corner of the world, Carin.

You can read about some of my other favorite blogs here. And you officially have my permission to stop answering work emails after 6. ;)

*image above via Paris in Four Months

Today You Are Seven

2014 April 9
by WWGD

TodayYouAreSeven-WhatWouldGwynethDo

Today you are seven.

Seven is my lucky number, so I feel like this is going to be a lucky year for you.

Today you are in first grade. A proud first grader. A first grader who loves to walk on the kindergarten yard, knowing she is a first grader.

Today you are still a voracious reader (see last year). I mean incredibly voracious. You read in the car, you read at the table, you read standing up, you read sitting down. You read while you’re trying to walk down the street…and it doesn’t always work out so well.

Today you weigh just over 50 lbs. At 4’3″, you are achingly tall. I say achingly because you suffer from growing pains often in the middle of the night, your limbs stretching and expanding faster than your little body can handle.

Today you are kind. A kind that I have frankly never known in my life. So selfless. So considerate. So patient and sweet. You are the kindest person I have ever known.

Today you are warming up to the life of a girl. Occasionally, you pick pink over blue. And once in a while you like to get your nails painted in sparkly colors. And you have decided you can sit through a princess cartoon or two.

Today you can ride a two-wheeler, swim like a fish and ski. You learned it all in one year. What a year.

Today you are into mysteries and detectives and solving problems. You even made your own little business cards with a friend: “Need a Problem Solved? Call Us.” Then you passed them around the entire school with our home phone number on them.

Today you are into singing and dancing and performing.

Today you love to live life by the rules.

Today you chose to go to Disneyland to celebrate. You said you would wake up in the middle of the night to get ready for an early departure.

Today you are a mama’s girl. You love your daddy and you love your brother, but you need your mama.

Today you are into Converse.

Today you are sensitive when you least expect it, silly when you need to be and thoughtful when the world needs you to be.

Today you love your little brother. You sneak in hugs and kisses with him when no one is looking. He shrugs them off in typical three-year-old fashion, but he appreciates every single one, I can tell.

Today you love chocolate and bagels with cream cheese and pasta. You have also taken a nice liking to salmon.

Today you are seven. And you are not the only one who is lucky…we are beyond lucky to know you and to love you.

Happy birthday, Little D.

What I Am Pinning Right Now

2014 April 8
by WWGD

PinterestFaves-WhatWouldGwynethDo

This photo is supposedly of a beach just a few miles from our house.

Funny how it took seeing it on Pinterest to see it in a new light.

PinterestFaves-WhatWouldGwynethDo

I’ve been searching for a cool address stamp for ages.

The problem is that I don’t think it’s actually cool to have an address stamp.

But it’s kind of necessary right now in a weird way.

PinterestFaves-WhatWouldGwynethDo

I am loving being a mom lately.

The highs, the lows, the in-betweens.

I don’t express it enough, but I do.

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So good, right?

Just so good.

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I really wish someone would come into my life and make this for me.

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A beautiful Spring look.

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