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My Menu Plan

2017 September 24
by WWGD

If I have to be honest, I have been out of sorts for a better part of this year. It might be the fatigue from the political climate, or being 39 with 40 looming just a few months ahead, or a general sense of unrest that comes from wanting to change careers, hair styles, homes, vacation plans…and that’s on any given day. And one place I have been avoiding like the plague has been the kitchen. A space that is usually synonymous with comfort, routine and ease in my life has been sitting there largely gathering dust while I give into one more takeout meal, over-priced dinner out or frozen Trader Joe’s staple. With the new season (sort of…given the heat) upon us, it felt like a good time to take inventory and kick start my own ass a little towards a clearer path for the rest of the year. A more focused mind. A more driven vision. And starting with the kitchen seemed like the easiest next step. So it’s back. My menu plan. As always, it’s not perfect. It includes at least one night per week of someone else’s cooking. It is healthy and not at the same time. It’s not always set in stone. But it’s here. And it got me back on track on this sunny Sunday afternoon. Almost 40. Still tired of the political discourse. A little out of sorts. But ready for the week ahead.

Sunday – homemade chicken enchiladas, loosely inspired by the ones in the Dude Diet by Serena Wolf of Domesticate Me. This is a really good cookbook for people who want lightened up versions of their favorite comfort food. It’s a fun, easy read and while her recipes aren’t harboring any surprisingly uncommon tips and tricks, it’s nice to have them there for inspiration nonetheless. So our homemade enchiladas (my first time making them!) will feature whole wheat tortillas, organic chicken that I have had in the crock pot all day so I can shred it myself, black beans, avocado and lots of cheese. Oh and store-bought enchilada sauce because…laziness.

Monday – turkey & ricotta meatballs from Julia Turshen’s amazing Small Victories. Julia collaborated on Gwyneth Paltrow’s first cookbook (and my favorite of hers), My Father’s Daughter, and this recipe became an internet sensation from her own solo cookbook when it launched last year, with very good reason. These meatballs are hearty and healthy(ish) and incredibly flavorful and I have made them so many times now, I’ve mastered the recipe so that it’s fairly quick and easy, too. We serve them over pasta or spaghetti squash when we feel like eating clean. This isn’t one of those weeks.

Tuesday – pesto pizza with chicken sausage. I am going to use the leftover basil from the meatballs recipe to whip up a homemade pesto. It’s another incredibly easy – and worthwhile – kitchen endeavor and I just follow whatever recipe comes up first on Google. This one is nice. I like to make my own pizza crust (currently obsessing over Pizza Camp for inspiration – if you are a pizza fanatic like me, it’s a must add to your collection) but the Trader Joe’s fresh ones are a favorite as well, and we have been topping all our homemade pizzas with fresh cheeses lately – ricotta, mozzarella, buratta – and cannot believe we’ve been using the shredded stuff for so long. I will cook up some crumbled chicken sausage to throw on top, too. I believe in one pizza night per week. Sometimes two. If I am lucky, even more. Life is short and pizza is very important to me.

Wednesday – Tony’s Steak from Dinner: A Love Story and a simple salad. This cookbook is easily one of my favorites and I love to give it as a gift to girlfriends, too. Jenny Rosenstrach is a champion for family dinner (as am I) and turns a memoir of her years cooking for herself alone and then she and her husband and finally, the two of them plus their kids, into an entertaining, informative, inspiring cookbook that you will reference over and over and over. I haven’t yet tried this steak recipe but it has all the flavors I love and will go perfectly with a side salad of butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, fresh chives and this dreamy buttermilk ranch dressing I have been obsessed with all summer.

Thursday – night off. This mama is going for a late afternoon massage that day and if I play my cards right, ice-cold oysters and a Moscow Mule will be waiting for me when I get out.

Friday – Fridays are so tricky now that we’re in soccer mode. More on that later, I am sure. It’s our first season doing it and I am…less than enthusiastic. Anyhow, it’s a tiring day for everyone after a long week and we have soccer practice at 5pm which must have been a schedule devised by the parenting devil and we usually lay low with takeout to keep appetites – and emotions – in check. But this week I am going to try to go out on the same positive note I am on going into it. Mexican. I say ground turkey tacos with all the fix-ins. A margarita or two. And maybe these for dessert. But only maybe.

Have a great week, friends. x

*image above via Chronicle Books.

How to Raise Readers

2017 September 5
by WWGD

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” – J.K. Rowling

I grew up as a bookworm. One of my fondest memories of elementary school is being captain of the “Battle of the Books” team where we could go to the local high school and compete against other kids on fictional trivia and knowledge. I read everything from Archie to Anne of Green Gables to the back of the cereal box every morning. My second favorite memory was the Kids for Peace club so you can garner what kind of kid I was…ha. But regardless of which phase of life and socialization and growing I was in (i.e. I was not the captain of anything in high school…besides maybe hanging out), books stuck with me all the way. And at almost 40, I still see the benefits. When I am feeling digital overload and need to quiet my mind and my eyes? I turn to a book. More often than not, I choose reading over mind-numbing television most nights of the week. And I always carry a book with me in my bag so that when I come across a lull in my day, I can dive back in instead of scrolling Instagram incessantly. Reading is a gift. A free one, at that. And one I believe we need to instill in our kids, however and wherever we can, so they can carry it with them forever, too. Let’s start with a little caveat: I do believe some kids are just born passionate about reading and some aren’t. BUT I also believe that those who are less enthusiastic can still be shown the way with the right guidance and insight from us. Here are some of the ways I am raising readers in our home, in case they might help in yours:

Start young. Yes, it’s a given but one that is so often overlooked. I know it’s easier to entertain a toddler with an iPad. I have had two of my own. But introducing them to an early love of books is one of the first steps to setting up the right foundation so do your very best to read with them as much as possible in the early years. And read real books! Swapping the app on your device is simply teaching them another way to be dependent on a screen. Old school paper books. Buy them, borrow them, swap them with friends.

Or start now. If the “young” years have passed you by, stop telling yourself your kids “just aren’t readers.” And better yet, stop telling them that when you say it in front of them to teachers, friends, care-givers, etc! If you keep saying your kid is “not a reader,” your kid will think the same. Encourage them to love reading every single day, even if they don’t yet. And celebrate it when they do. Oh, and read this if your kids are independent readers…your work is not quite done yet.

Lead the way. I happen to love to read. It’s easy for me to spend a whole Saturday afternoon on the couch with a new book. And I encourage my kids to do the same alongside me. It’s easy with my daughter. She is happiest in a book and she is ten so it’s not hard to twist her arm to sit and chill. My son is a different story, though. He is only six and while he definitely likes to read, we’re still working on the passion part of it. But I lead by example and encourage him to join us in “reading” time for as long as he can, each and every time. He sees me reading at night on the couch. He watches me read at the park while they play. It can be a magazine or a cookbook or the newspaper. Just let them see you read. It definitely feels better than letting them see you staring at your phone all the time instead and I promise it will catch on. Even if it’s bit by bit.

Battle of the books. Take the time to find books your kids are going to be interested in. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s more important than you think. For us, it was the Magic Tree House series in pre-kindergarten that turned into Puppy Place for her and anything Galaxy Zack for him, and then it became Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If your kids are bored reading, they aren’t reading the right thing. Maybe it’s too hard for them and you need to dial back a few levels. Maybe it’s the wrong subject matter. Maybe you need more Lego Batman books in your life. Help them find the books and topics and authors or illustrators that keep them engaged. And keep searching until they do.

Make books a treat. A trip to the library is one of my kids’ favorite outings. They each got their own card this year with their own account (and their own late fees, ha!) and they take great pride in the ritual of visiting the library, making their selections and checking them out on their own. A trip to the bookstore is even better so we often swap out celebratory trips to Target or frozen yogurt with a trip to the bookstore instead. We often gift books to our own kids and for friends’ birthday parties and have found that magazine subscriptions are even more fun to give and receive. We make books and book-related things just as much of a treat as ice cream and Legos. And with time, they grew to see them that way, too.

Set them up for success. We are screen free during the week (old – and possibly slightly outdated – post on how and why is here). We are screen free in restaurants until after the kids finish eating…and now that they are six and ten, we’re phasing that out to be completely screen free there, too. We give our kids ample opportunity to read, to discover reading, to use reading as a last resort, if need be. And it works. Is it always easy? Absolutely not. Do we always succeed at it? Absolutely not. But we sure as hell try our best. Because at almost 40, I still see that something magical in every book I pick up. In every hour spent on the couch. In every trip to the library. And I want them to see it, too.

*A friend of mine shared the image above on Instagram with me a while back because of its striking resemblance to my little ones. And it’s quite uncanny, actually. The low, loose ponytail on her, the shaggy cut and bare feet on him. All that’s missing are the books. The artist is here

Three Quick Reads

2017 August 15
by WWGD

For business: an interesting read on Everlane and how it’s growing in an ever-evolving consumer landscape. Via Business Insider. I am a longtime Everlane devotee and this is a sharp, interesting look at their model and how its simplicity and direct approach proves that less can be so much more in business.

For pleasure: a great read from a busy executive on maintaining work-life balance after getting a big promotion at work. What struck me the most about this one wasn’t just the focus on work/life balance but moreso on how his family made that a group priority and decision and stuck to it. I think a lot of modern-day households could benefit from getting on the same page – really on the same page – about balance and what it looks like to everyone and where and how to prioritize it. This is a great start to that conversation. Via Fast Company.

For fun: Twelve Questions via Atelier Doré. This is a dummies guide to basic skincare and beauty questions and I can almost guarantee you there are at least 2-3 in there that you’re wondering about, too.

PS – now reading this. Really liking it. And just finished reading this. Loved it. And I just finished writing this. If you want to take a peek.

Happy Tuesday! xx

A Travel Guide to Palm Springs

2017 August 9
by WWGD

 

After living in Southern California for close to 15 years, we have become certifiable experts on Palm Springs weekends. Heading to the desert is one of my very favorite getaways. In less than two hours, we are in a different mindset, climate and relaxation mode and we often sneak away whenever we can and head east, sometimes on a day’s notice. Here are some of our favorite places to go.

For a getaway with the girls. Holiday House (above) is a brand new boutique property located in an idyllic spot at the base of the San Jacinto Mountain range and steps from downtown Palm Springs. Disclaimer: I do some work with the owners but when I went for a night away recently with a friend, I knew I would be back regardless of that. First, note that this is a 21+ property which means you need to book a babysitter and never look back. The design is SO fresh and airy with a signature blue and white palette that feels new and crisp for Palm Springs (which a lot of the city’s famed haunts do not). You are greeted with a glass of rosé and a pair of love beads at check-in and the lobster roll is the perfect accompaniment for your second glass of rosé at lunch. Many of the rooms boast cute outdoor showers, there is shuffleboard to play and blue Linus bikes to borrow and at night, the property lights up with fire pits and torches for a cool, cozy backdrop for your last glass of…you guessed it, rosé.

For a getaway with your significant other. My husband and I managed to sneak away for 36 hours last week and Sparrows Lodge was the perfect destination. Another adults-only property, this one has a rustic, organic allure that I simply loved. Every detail is so thoughtfully designed from the welcome glass of sangria to the horse trough bathtubs in the guest rooms to the tiny private patios spilling over with bougainvillea. No TVs or phones to be found on-property and I promise, you will appreciate it. This is a quiet place for real relaxation, where you can finish a book and start another all in one trip. Have the burger in The Barn Kitchen for lunch and sign up for the Saturday night family-style dinner if you can. Easily one of my very favorite places in the desert for a simple, peaceful getaway.

For a getaway with your littlesBecause the truth is, I am always happiest when I am with my kids, we often head to the desert with them in tow, too. We have stayed in several different places with them but always end up returning to Rancho Las Palmas, an Omni Resort. A few miles further east in the neighboring town of Rancho Mirage, this hotel is a favorite because it keeps everyone in the family happy. The kids have an incredible family pool area complete with water slides, lazy river and all the Dippin’ Dots they can consume and we get gorgeous property views like the one pictured above, a spacious and comfortable guest room, a good spa and live music by the fire pits at night. I love a hotel that can appeal to everyone in the family and this one does, consistently. The restaurant is decent but you also have easy, convenient access to Rancho Mirage if you want to venture off-property for dinner (which I suggest). There is also a tranquil little adult-only pool you can escape to if you find the chance.

What to do. When you are not hanging out poolside in Palm Springs, you’re likely eating, drinking or spa’ing (if you’re anything like me…). My favorites on that front are:

Rooster and the Pig. This Vietnamese hotspot in a strip mall in downtown Palm Springs is a new find for me and instantly became a favorite. The decor is simple and minimal, the food is absolutely amazing and the wait is long. Don’t take the kids. Do drink the gin and basil cocktail.

Counter Reformation. Another recent find for me, this relatively new wine bar tucked away in a former storage space at the Parker is cool (literally) and really fun. The bartenders know their stuff, the wine list is strong and the tapas menu is creative and yum. I wouldn’t necessarily make an entire night of it but it’s a great place to start before dinner or drinks somewhere else. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays so plan ahead.

Melvyn’s. If you haven’t done it, the bar at Melvyn’s is a must for that old-school, authentic Palm Springs vibe. You can picture the Rat Pack sitting back in the dimly lit room where the piano plays loud, the drinks are aplenty and the sing-alongs are inevitable. A guaranteed good time. No need to stay for the Steak Diane.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar. This is a special occasion spot where you assume the impeccable design is going to outshine the food, but it doesn’t. I have been on a few occasions now and the menu is creative, delicious and fresh. Expensive, yes. But worth it. Contrary to what the vibe may lead you to believe, you can bring kids here (if they are good restaurant kids) and the kitchen will happily make them a margarita pizza. The mezcal cocktail is worth having twice. In one night.

Palm Springs Yacht Club. Venture back to the Parker for a trip to the spa. It is one of the coolest ones I have been to with a design that feels relaxing in a not-at-all typical spa way, fantastic services and a his and hers relaxation space that lets you chill with your man, which is always fun. We got a welcome shot of ice-cold vodka at reception last time we came but I am not sure if that’s customary or we just looked like we needed it. A favorite for a reason.

Have any other Palm Springs favorites to add to the list? Let me know! 

Trying On…Glossier

2017 August 3
by WWGD

At this point, I am fairly certain you don’t need an introduction to Glossier, the less-is-more skincare and beauty brand developed by girl boss extraordinaire, Emily Weiss. It’s no doubt all over your Instagram feed, perhaps a few items are already in your medicine cabinet, or maybe you’ve been staring at it in wonder, wishing you were 25 again. Because most of it looks like it’s made for 25-year-olds with seemingly perfect skin, no pores, and cool, tiny New York city apartments made for hoarding Glossier products. Well I am here as a far-from-25-year-old to share my favorite – and not so favorite – products from the collection to hopefully help you edit your Glossier wish list down to the perfect size. These are the products I have personally purchased and tried and my honest opinions about each.

What I love from Glossier:

The masks. I have used both the Moisturizing Moon Mask and the Mega Greens Detoxifying Mask over and over and over again. They used to sell them in these amazing individual pods and I miss those dearly but the regular size is just fine. I just really like these masks (and I try a LOT of masks, friends). They are thick and rich and just feel really good on your skin with no harsh after effects. I tend to favor the greens in the summer when my skin feels oily and kind of gross and the moon mask in the winter when it’s a little drier and extra thirsty.

Boy Brow. This cult favorite has its following for a reason. Boy Brow is the epitome of the Glossier mantra. Easy, natural-looking, but deceptively effective. Let me start by saying what it’s not: a brow pencil. It doesn’t fill in spots or give you that penciled-in look where you need it. Keep your pencil in rotation if you want that. But layer this on top. I use a pencil first to fill in holes and then Boy Brow to fluff and shape the brows into a more natural finished look, which I love. It does a good (not great) job of keeping everything in place without a sticky finish or residue which I also really appreciate. I have repurchased this immediately every time I run out and use it every single day.

Priming Moisturizer. I didn’t realize how much I like this product until I ran out. I do not use this as my daily moisturizer because it doesn’t feel packed with nutrients and actual skincare benefits, but I LOVE using it as a primer under my makeup for a dewy finish. It gives your skin a quick burst of hydration and helps foundation and tinted moisturizer look smoother and lighter. It has a neutral smell and a really light texture so skin feels healthy and not heavy.

Cloud Paint. I love, love, love Cloud Paint. It’s a cream blush but it is so thin and airy, you can truly control how it looks by layering it on one tiny dot at a time. The finish looks like a natural flush, not something that is painted on (despite the name) and I find myself reaching for it every time I do my makeup. It’s an instant pick me up. I bought Puff and Dusk for layering but definitely use Puff the most.

What I don’t love from Glossier:

Balm dot com. I wanted to love this because the coconut smell is amazing but the texture is not for me. It feels like a watered down Vaseline lip treatment and I prefer something more natural for my lips. Started using it on my cuticles instead and still didn’t finish my first tube.

Super Pure serum. According to their web site, 79% of users saw improvement in their blemishes after using this. I am apparently the other 21%. I SO wanted to love this because it’s marketed to my exact issues: hormonal breakouts, excess sebum, issues around the mouth and chin. But I used it religiously for two months with little to no effects. The serum is much more water-y than most serums so that in itself took some getting used to, but when the results just weren’t happening, it made it even harder to justify. I still throw it on during my breakout week in case a miracle is hiding behind month three, but for now, I can’t recommend and it has turned me off of trying the other two, Super Glow (my favorite Vitamin C serum is this one) and Super Bounce.

What I want to try from Glossier:

Wowder. This is the brand’s newest release and it promises to be a modern take on a standard powder with a lighter finish, shine-cutting power and makeup setting capabilities. I’ll be the judge of that. I need a powder to keep the above mentioned excess sebum in check but totally agree with them that most products on the market leave me feeling chalk-y white and cake-y. Hopefully this does what it promises to do. Ordered it today and will report back.

Invisible Shield sunscreen. I have become religious about sunscreen this year and am currently loving this one as my daily go-to but have heard good things about Invisible Shield. It is not water resistant, so that is worth noting, but apparently it’s effective and feels good on your skin so I am curious to try it firsthand.

Have any Glossier favorites to add to the list? Let me know!

*use this link to get 10% off your Glossier purchase

**this post (obviously) contains some affiliate links 

***image above via Glossier 

Where to Shop for Home Accessories

2017 August 1
by WWGD

I am just as guilty as the rest of us when it comes to filling up my cart at Target, West Elm and the usual home decor suspects. But when I want to add something really special to a space in my home, I like to invest in a piece or two that feels more special, handmade and unique. Here are some of my favorite places to shop for them.

Farmhouse Pottery (above). I fell for this Vermont-based brand ages ago based on their dreamy Instagram feed alone. And when I ordered my first piece, it lived up to the dream. Their pottery pieces are handmade in their Woodstock studio by a team of skilled craftsmen overseen by Zoe and James, the brand’s co-founders and husband/wife duo. Some of my favorite Farmhouse Pottery finds are their signature match strikers, wooden bowls and boards and gorgeous gift boxes. If you follow me on Instagram, you know one of my major life goals is to own a farmhouse in Vermont, on a mountaintop with views for days and wi-fi that doesn’t work. In the meantime, I have Farmhouse Pottery to serve as inspiration.

Rose & Fitzgerald. I met Courtney a little while back at a luncheon here in San Diego and instantly loved her effortless, laidback sensibility and warm nature. She and her husband, Laren, have injected that authentic, inspired aesthetic into a beautiful collection of heirloom-crafted and artisan goods, all sourced from their “adopted homeland” of Africa. Each piece Rose & Fitzgerald produces is handmade by individual artisans using luxurious materials that have been sourced locally, such as Ankole horn, palm leaf, pure brass, Mugavu and Teak wood, leather and organic cotton. And the beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces are more affordable than you might think. Some of my favorites are these pure brass bowls, this gorgeous gold shield ring and this Mugavu wood bowl.

Food52. This may not be a “mom and pop” operation like the others, but their shop is thoughtfully curated like one. The food site goes above and beyond to highlight small artisan makers and brands that make some of the most beautiful kitchen and home accessories on the market, often with very affordable prices. Some recent favorites include this marble & metal sugar pot set from an independent brand in Hudson, New York called Hawkins New York, these vintage French amber apothecary jars and this cool metal flower bucket. Because who doesn’t need one of those?? Not me, friends. Not me.

Have any other favorites to add to the list? Share them in the comments!

*all images courtesy of the respective businesses featured

Five Tips for Freelancing

2017 July 12
by WWGD

 

Finding a way to balance my career with motherhood has been one of my proudest accomplishments and drives a lot of the inspiration behind this blog. I truly believe that the key to a lot of my sanity and sense of self as a working mom is in large part to the flexibility, creativity and yes, imbalance, that my freelance career provides. First, a little background. I am a full-time freelance consultant who specializes in public relations and copy writing. I previously worked for various PR agencies in Los Angeles before striking out on my own (at the urging of a fellow working mom) almost nine years ago. I work from a home office five days per week and am on the road typically once per week for a client meeting, work-related event or business trip (I was in Palm Springs just this past Monday – yes, it was hot!). I am freelance which means I am technically my own boss, but in reality…my clients are my boss. I have my own clients that work directly (and only) with me and then I also support other PR agencies on occasion and work with a network of fellow freelancers (all moms) on projects from time to time as well.

completely recognize this type of professional set up isn’t feasible or of interest to everyone. I know a lot of very successful working moms who work full-time in an office or corporate setting and they are happy and fulfilled and kicking ass. But if you want more flexibility, independence and time to live your life on your own terms, freelance is a great way to do it. So for those of you who are freelance and/or may be thinking of doing it some day, I thought I would share the top five things that have helped me along the way:

How to get started. First, get a pushy friend (hi Karsha!) to talk you into it. If you don’t have one, call me. Second, prepare yourself to take the leap. Depending on your industry, this might mean saving up six months of emergency fund. It might mean honing in on your new craft so you are extra good at it. It might mean moonlighting for a little while before you make an official switch. It will (and should) definitely include a good long chat with your husband or partner to figure out how the uncertainty of a freelance income might impact your day-to-day life and long-term goals. Prepare yourself mentally and financially for the transition because it is one. Third, and most importantly, tell everyone you know. Pull out every single professional contact you have ever had and let them know you are going (or have gone) freelance and what your services entail. I did that in one mass BCC email nine years ago and (knock on wood) have never looked back. Do not send it if you’re still employed by someone else. Wait until you are on your own, day one. And research any non-compete contracts and non-disclosure agreements that may be in place at your current gig before you do it.

The basics. Again, this depends on your industry and/or what type of work you do but here are some basics in mine: a professional email (ideally not your personal one and definitely NOT a Hotmail, Yahoo or AOL if you still have one) and an updated LinkedIn profile that includes a detailed list of services and the word “freelancer” somewhere in your new title. Develop a web site, if you need one. Start your new Instagram feed (because you are not weaving your work into your personal one unless the two are very related). Just have some sort of polished place online where you can send possible business leads and referrals for more information on your background and services. And then keep it up to date every step of the way.

Mind your money. I highly recommend finding a good accountant who can steer you in the right direction for freelance financials. I keep mine fairly basic. I am a sole proprietor which means that all my billing goes through my social security number. You might need to incorporate or become an LLC. It all depends on your set up and industry and a trusted professional is worth the investment to get it right. Once the money starts coming in, be smart with it. As a freelancer, you are responsible for deducting your own taxes, savings, retirement contributions, etc. and it’s the number one area I see freelancers stumble over once they start seeing pay checks that are larger than what they are used to. I deduct tax and savings money off EVERY single check or payment I receive right away and siphon them away to their respective accounts. I have done it this way for nine years – even when I may be tempted to book another trip to Costa Rica instead – and it has served me very well. Also, invest in your own success.  You should hire a babysitter to let you work in peace when your kids are home (more on that below). You should splurge on the nicer business cards if you are going to be handing them out. You should get a photographer friend to shoot a good headshot for you if it’s at all relevant to your networking. Treat your business like a business (even if it starts out as a hobby) and it will pay off.

Prepare yourself for instability. This is a tough one and admittedly, comes with time. Freelance life has loads of peaks and valleys. One month, you are working 16 hours per day with more on your plate that you ever imagined and the next you are fitting in mid-day manicures and wondering if your email is down because nothing new is coming in. Enjoy those days when you can. The one thing I have learned with freelance work is that when one door closes, another one usually opens. While you’re waiting on it, send out another mass email. Dust off your LinkedIn. Think about ways you can expand, evolve and/or grow your business. But do not panic. If you are smart with your finances and your time management, you can ride these peaks and valleys with the best of us…ahem, them.

Set up your parameters. This is very important for those of you balancing work and kids, in particular. You need to set up boundaries on the work and personal front and treat the flexibility of freelance work with respect in order for the two to succeed harmoniously. Find a space to work in. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t even need to be outside of your home. But it does need to allow you peace, quiet and a barrier from the kids, dog, neighbor friend who always has a bottle of wine in hand and no one to drink it with. Make a schedule of work and non-work hours. One that is conducive to results. When you are just starting out, focus it on work and growing your business. You will reap the benefits later. Now that I am a few years in and established, I don’t typically book any calls or meetings after school lets out because I want to be able to do pick up and check in with my kids in the afternoon without the distraction. On the flip side, sometimes I work evenings and weekends and have to ship my kids off with my mom or husband so I can focus. The give and take is part of the fun. Do not apologize to your kids for working. Explain it to them, but do not apologize for it. And do not fatigue your clients with your tales of pick up duty, room mom responsibilities and personal to-dos. It’s only my advice and you don’t have to take it, but I never use my kids or family as an excuse for work related things and I never feel bad about working if I have to when my kids are around. Emotional parameters are just as important as physical ones.

Hope this was helpful for those of you out on your own or dreaming of it. I truly believe that if it’s something you want to pursue, you should, can and need to. And I am more than happy to help inspire you along the way.

*If you have any other questions about my freelance journey or yours, I’d love to hear them! Leave it in the comments below!

**The photo above is five years old in my last home office…and no, I don’t look that young and fresh-faced anymore 😉

Trying On…The Goodwell Company

2017 July 11
by WWGD

 

If you’re anything like me, you are increasingly concerned about what you are putting not only on your body but into your environment, each and every day. So when I read about The Goodwell Company and their stance on plastic toothbrushes, it felt like such a duh moment. Of course we shouldn’t be using plastic toothbrushes that cannot be recycled and end up in landfill piles every day.

Obviously.

In my house alone, we probably go through a cycle of 6-8 new plastic toothbrushes every few months. For whatever reason, each of my kids always have at least 2-3 going at once, ideally one for every bathroom in the house, it seems (please tell me I am not the only one). So we decided to test drive The Goodwell Company’s bamboo & binchotan, biodegradable (and admittedly very aesthetically pleasing) basic toothbrushes to see if going eco in this department would feel as good as it looks.

Binchotan is a type of Japanese charcoal with cleaning and deodorizing properties that also balances the pH in your mouth to naturally eliminate odors and fight germs. The sustainable bamboo handle is completely recyclable, lightweight and undeniably the coolest looking toothbrush I’ve ever had on my vanity. We got one in the dipped black (pictured above) and one in the dipped white as a his and hers pair and they look great together.

But how do they perform?

Well. It definitely takes a minute or two to get used to not brushing with plastic. The bristles are a little tougher than most, which made me nervous because I have sensitive teeth and typically use a soft brush. But after a few weeks, I’m used to the more rigid feeling and can happily say my teeth don’t feel any increase in sensitivity or abrasion. My husband loved his from the get-go. I wouldn’t necessarily say the cleaning feels any better than a standard toothbrush but the eco-benefits and aesthetic definitely outclass your standard Oral B. The brand has a few more premium brushes that might be even better (as well as toothpaste and floss), but we’re happy with the binchotan version for now and will get a new set every two months when they presumably wear out (at $5.99 per brush).

Overall, definitely a wise choice for you and your environment…and your bathroom counter will appreciate it, too.

*Use the code WWGD here to get 20% off your first order with Goodwell. Note: this is not a sponsored post; I just really liked the product and reached out to them to see about getting a promo code to share so that hopefully you can love it, too. Enjoy! 

Download This App

2017 July 1
by WWGD

If you’ve had a chance to check out my new essay site, What Would Raluca Do (and thank you in advance if you have!), you may have read my recent post about my not-quite-mid-life crisis. It’s physical, it’s emotional and it’s most definitely hormonal (which offers me some sort of odd relief in remembering that bits and pieces of any particular phase in life is quite simply out of my control, so I should just have a margarita and laugh about it). I stopped taking birth control a few years ago to “clean out my system” after being on and off of it for so many years and the reality is that it’s left me a hormonal nightmare. Bad skin, intense menstrual cycles and so many mood swings, my husband has probably started marking HIS calendar just to keep up.

So when I came across this app that is designed to tune you into your hormones, their swings and the exact impact it can have on your mind, body and general mood on any given day of the month, it felt like a much-needed beacon of light. It’s called Hormone Horoscope and while it won’t be winning any awards for app design or tech ingenuity any time soon, it’s quickly become one of the most used little icons on my phone.

You simply sign up (I have the free one, so I can’t speak to the added benefits of the paid offering), enter the first day of your latest cycle along with some basic info, and every day you can log on to get your “hormonal horoscope” for the day. It will tell you what your hormone levels are doing that day (in general) and how that might impact your mood, your body, your stress levels and more – in detail. And then it will give you tips and tricks to navigate the day in the right direction (i.e. avoid salty foods today, don’t make plans that involve a crowd of people, go and work out because you have a ton of energy today). It’s easy to understand and not filled with medical terms or jargon and sheds a little light on my day that helps me understand why I am suddenly barking at my children every time they look at me or crying over a cookbook.

The reality is, we’re in a phase of life and motherhood and womanhood that isn’t always easy and I believe that our changing hormones play a huge role in that. So being able to understand them a little better, even if you can’t necessarily do anything about it, is really nice. It gives you a sense of sanity, it reminds you to be gentle with yourself and it helps you remember that all of us women are on this crazy journey together. And sometimes we’re just along for the ride, simply a passenger on our own little hormonal road trip. But at least this lets us light the way a little bit to set our minds at ease.

And that’s definitely worth a download.

Five Great Grown Up Exfoliants

2017 June 21
by WWGD

I watched a skincare video with Hollywood facialist Kate Somerville a while back and she made a statement that stuck with me:

“If your pores are enlarged, you are simply not exfoliating enough.” 

I took one glance back at the mirror and vowed then and there to make a regular skin scrubbing part of my regimen (sans actually scrubbing…read for more). And just a few months later, I am happy to say Ms. Somerville was right. I have seen a very noticeable difference in the appearance of my combo skin pores since I started using some sort of exfoliant several times a week. Now that microbeads are officially banned (thank god), your old school St. Ives apricot scrub from high school is finally declared off limits (as it should be) so I thought I would share some more “grown up” exfoliating favorites I have loved of late on my (successful!) quest for smaller pores. No beads within.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (pictured above). This Vermont-made all natural skincare brand has taken luxury cosmetics counters across the country by storm and with good reason. Harper’s potent yet pure mix of ingredients gives serious results with no icky chemicals or preservatives. The Resurfacing Mask is known for the instant glow it gives you after 20 minutes of sloughing away your dead skin cells with a beta hydroxy focused formula. The mask feels cool and hydrating when applied so it’s perfect for warm summer nights. Only complaint is that it’s a small container and if you love it as much as I do, it will go fast.

goop Instant Facial. This is officially a desert island must-have for me and by far my favorite product in the goop skincare line. This (almost) all organic instant facial smells faintly like your favorite green juice and goes on in a very thin layer of grainy goodness. After only three minutes of activation from the natural blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, you gently massage and rinse your way to a glowing, baby soft complexion. It may be a little red afterwards so I tend to do it at night and follow with a serum to feed my skin while it’s fresh. If you do it during the day, sunscreen and shade are a must for an hour or so.

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant. This is my favorite grab-and-get-it-done exfoliant. All it takes is a cotton pad and a splash or two of this liquid exfoliant and you can quickly (and efficiently) wipe away dead surface cells in a second. It’s the least intense (and least expensive) of the five and the one I probably reach for the most because it feels like my skin can handle it daily with no issues.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate. Where it began. When a client of mine who has skin like porcelain told me she swears by this stuff, I knew I had to try it. Dubbed “Hollywood’s 2-minute facial,” it’s a Somerville signature product packed with lactic acid, silica, papaya and pineapple enzymes, salicylic acid and more. Similar to the goop product, you apply a thin layer and do a quick “scrub” and then let it sit for two minutes and work its magic. And magical, it is. Your skin feels polished, soft and instantly brighter. This one tends to leave me a little less red than the goop, but if I had to choose, the goop leaves my skin a touch smoother. If it’s still too strong for you, there is a Gentle version available as well.

Eminence Yam & Pumpkin Peel. Finally, the best smelling of the bunch. This all natural exfoliating peel from Eminence smells so good you will want to eat it. And you probably can because the brand is known for its clean yet super effective concoctions. This purée-like mix of yam and pumpkin sloughs away dead skin cells, improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and leaves your skin feeling firm and extra glow-y. And that’s a very good thing. PS – I linked this one to DermStore.com because I find they always have 20% sales happening AND you can usually get a free magazine subscription at check-out. How fun is that??

*this post contains affiliate links but is not sponsored by any brand mentioned above; I buy and try them all and only share my favorites. 

**image above via TataHarperSkincare.com