Style Crush: Gwen Stefani

StyleCrush_GwenStefani

When I was 9 months pregnant all I could think about was my postpartum wardrobe and how much I was going to rock it. Seven months and some change later I’m not really rocking it. I’m lucky to get out of my workout clothes most days. But the thing is … for the first time in my life I’m at a loss at where to begin. So I thought I’d start looking to my style icons for clues on what to wear. Starting with Gwen Stefani. I love her because she’s not only stylish but she’s a mama too – a nursing mom at that!

I know I love Gwen Stefani’s style but when I Googled “Gwen Stefani” what showed up was Stefani rocking impeccable makeup and 6-pack abs on stage wearing a belly shirt. I’m working on it, but I’m not quite there yet. So I Googled “Gwen Stefani Candid” and here’s what I came up with.

GwenStyle

Style Notes:
• Drop-crotch / harem denim or plaid pants
• Boyfriend jeans (got ‘em) but always paired with heels or boots
• Plaid tops (fitted)
• Overalls
• Cute bras
• Leopard print skinny belt
• Minimal jewelry
• Camo skinny jeans or jacket
• Colorful accessories (like cyan sunglasses)
• A big functional (but stylish) bag
• Red lips (I’m lazy about this … so maybe at the very least polished nails)

I think I’m going to start with the drop-crotch denim and a new pair of shoes. I just invested in these halter peep-toe Sven Clogs – they’re not quite as fabulous as something Gwen would wear but I think they’re a good start to at least getting some height back in my game. If anyone has a good source for great harem pants holler at me!

Date Night

DateNight

Up until last Friday night I had been so snarky and resistant to the idea of date night.

Pre-baby “date night” felt contrived. I much preferred to snuggle up on the couch with a good movie and bottle of wine. Who needs all that fuss of getting dressed, smelling nice, and going out? (In hindsight, I regret not having gone out more now that it’s not so much of a daily option.)

Post-baby I felt like everyone who urged us to have a date night just didn’t get it. They clearly didn’t understand. We actually like hanging out with our baby. And yeah, it might be nice to get away but coordinating care, pumping, the idea of disrupting the routine, and the general anxiety that comes with trusting someone else with your baby … nothing about it felt sexy or desirable. It was just more trouble than it was worth.

It took seven months into this parenting gig to finally find myself ready, no desperate, for a night out with my man. I wanted to wear a real bra, put on some makeup, and go bowling. I asked one of Fox’s favorite teachers at daycare, Miss Taylor, if she’d be up for some Friday night moonlighting – she said yes! I almost canceled last minute because Fox had a snotty nose and none of us had gotten much sleep the night before. Date night was starting to feel like a lot of effort. But I put on my best smoky eye and my tightest raw denim. Miss Taylor showed up just before 7PM and I gave her as much information as I possibly could. “Here are his bottles – I don’t know how to heat them up (Miss Taylor assured me she could heat a bottle on the stove). Here are his diapers and here is his crib. He’s asleep right now but he’ll probably wake up soon. He can jump in his bouncer or chill and watch TV with you. I’m leaving his car seat in case there is an emergency or you’d like to kidnap him to Mexico.”  Miss Taylor, sporting a backpack full of textbooks to study, assured us that she would take care of our baby and urged us out the door.

As we pulled out of the driveway I was tempted to roll down the windows and whoop “DATE NIGHT!!!” Pre-baby me was rolling my eyes big time. Then post-baby me gave pre-baby me the finger.

First we hit up some Indian buffet – which I’m always so enthusiastic going into and always a bit regretful about halfway through my second plate of saag paneer, raita, naan, and fried spinach. We split a beer and talked about things other than our baby. Then bowling. We got to the bowling alley while it was still a bit too bright out and there were very few cars in the parking lot. Just another reminder that … things now are not like they were before. Whatever. DATE NIGHT!

When I was a kid my parents had a weekly date at the bowling alley. They were on a league and even had their own bowling balls with their names engraved on the sides. Jeremy and I are parents now, so bowling seemed like the most appropriate option for our first date night out. Two games in my left boob was reminding me that I’m still very much a new mom. Meanwhile, Miss Taylor texted me to say that Fox was SO happy when he woke up that she was there to give him cuddles (and a bottle or two). I was ready to head back home when Jeremy reminded me that we were having fun. Plus, we paid for unlimited bowling which was a whole 3¢ more than the cost of two games. So we might as well get our money’s worth. We high-fived through spares and gave each other tips in technique. In my last frame I got two strikes in a row. It was awesome. But my left boob really was about to explode. And at 9:30PM it was getting past my bedtime.

It really does feel like just yesterday that I was the one being babysat while my parents went bowling. And it was literally just yesterday that I didn’t see what all the “date night” fuss was about. But as we drove home I felt a little older – a little more grown up. I felt like I was really starting to get it. The whole date night thing. The whole mom thing. The whole wife thing. The whole life thing. It’s not always super sexy. But sometimes it is. Sometimes it takes coordination and a little extra effort. And sometimes it’s glimpses of spontaneous bliss. It’s all a little messy but it’s all oh so worth it.

P.S. I bowled a 77, 111, and 99. They all felt like lucky numbers. Jeremy managed to beat me by a few points every time even though I always felt as if I was kicking his ass.

P.P.S. I need more date night ideas! Comment below with suggestions.

More Than I Bargained For

KathleenFox

JeremyFox

When I was around 6 years old I decided that if my family was being held hostage by terrorists and the only thing that would save them was drinking a gallon of expired milk (this was the worst thing my 6 year old self could imagine having to do … and these fantasy terrorists had pretty intense demands) I would do it. I would boldly chug that gallon of rotten milk and forever be the family favorite.

I still find myself irrationally trying to balance out my karma by making imaginary negotiations – not with fake terrorists who like making kids chug rotten milk – but with the universe. The negotiations seem to happen a lot in the middle of the night when Fox has woken for the 6th time in 5 hours. “Dear God, would you trade dark chocolate for sleep? I’ll never eat it again if I can just get four hours of uninterrupted sleep. Okay I’ll even take three hours.” Or my (lack of) sleep logic will tell me that it was because my sister puked through her entire pregnancy that she was blessed with sleeping babies. “This is what I get for never throwing up while I was pregnant.” It’s like there is one big universal scorecard at play and I’m making up the weird-ass rules as I go.

Good and bad, becoming a mom is more than I could have ever bargained for. Every day comes with new compromises, sacrifices, and negotiations. But most days I come out feeling like I’ve made it out on top … and I didn’t even have to chug a gallon of milk for it.

My Third Whole30

KitchenWhole30

After months of declaring that I’m going to do another Whole30 I’m finally doing another Whole30. If you’re not familiar with the Whole30 it’s basically a paleo way of eating with very clear boundaries for thirty days. I eat seafood but no other meat so for thirty days I’m eating lots of vegetables, eggs, fish, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats like coconut and olive oil. What I’m not eating is sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, and legumes.

Why do a Whole30? My first Whole30 happened after a month of indulging on lots of bread, wine, and cheese in Eastern Europe. My second Whole30 happened after a winter of celebrating all the holidays with lots of caramel corn, brownies, cookies, and wine. My Whole30 results were amazing – my skin was glowing, I never felt bloated, and I had some hormonal stuff that seemed to sort itself out. But even so, after my second Whole30 I kind of decided I never needed to do another Whole30 again. That I was capable of practicing balance and moderation by eating paleo 90% of the time but still enjoy treats with moderation and mindfulness. Oh and then I got pregnant – and while I didn’t throw paleo eating out the window I listened when my body made loud, almost childlike demands for “YOGURT! OATS! IN MY FACE! NOW!”

So why another Whole30? This postpartum Whole30 is an attempt to get some inflammation in my body down and my stress hormones under control. In the mornings when I step out of bed my whole body hurts – I hobble to the kitchen for my heaping bowl of morning oats like a grandma. In the evenings I feel bloated and very-not-sexy. Also, I’m doing another Whole30 because it turns out I’m not so great at moderation. I spend a lot of mental energy discerning whether a day was good enough to celebrate with an entire bar of dark chocolate (or maybe just 2 pieces? Or 3. No, 4… see!) or hard enough to wind down with a well-deserved pint of dark oatmeal stout.

Furthermore, I’ve spent the last year letting cravings dictate what I eat – and that was completely valid given my context. My previous Whole30s actually allowed me to understand my pregnancy cravings and actually listen to my body. So when my body told me to eat oats in my last trimester of pregnancy I almost felt ashamed! Like I was betraying my paleo way of life. Little did I know oats help boost milk production so it’s my paleo way of eating no grains that allowed me to listen when my body started craving them. That said, with the extra stress my body is under (lack of sleep, hitting the gym hard, breastfeeding, and general stress) I’m craving lots of sugar and entire loafs of bread. And I’m feeling it.

What’s different about this Whole30? The biggest difference is that because I was already eating mostly paleo (aside from the morning oats, evening chocolate, and occasional glass of beer) going that extra 10% isn’t so hard. Attitude-wise I  have a lot more ownership over my choice to do this. I’m not a dramatic victim of the Whole30 (which is what it can feel like at times). And at just little over a week into it I’m learning that my relationship with food will always be a journey and ongoing learning experience that will need to be tweaked according to whatever factors are playing into my overall health. That said, this Whole30 is allowing me to take an objective look at where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I want to go with the things I consume and whether they make me more or less healthy.

Okay but what am I actually eating? Every morning I have sweet potato hash browns seasoned with cumin, cinnamon, and salt topped with two eggs sunny side up. I have two cups of tea with homemade hemp milk. For lunch I usually have leftovers from last night’s dinner which is typically some sort of fish and veggie dish like cauliflower rice. For snacks I eat bananas smeared with almond butter, a handful of grapes, and cucumber sticks with smoked salmon and boiled eggs. If I’m craving something sweet I’ll bake some diced apples topped with dates, nuts, and cinnamon. Or I’ll snack on some dried goji berries. That’s pretty much it!

I’ve also found it much easier to eat out on this Whole30 – I know how to modify my order to make it Paleo and without annoying the waiter too much. (Local OKC friends – The Wedge’s antipasto platter without cheese and fish and veggies at Kitchen No. 324 are safe bets.)

Should you do a Whole30? Anytime I share that I’m doing a Whole30 I get a slew of texts and direct messages saying things like “I want to do a Whole30. But I don’t know how I’m going to live without _______.” If you want to try a Whole30 just go for it. Maybe just try living without black beans or cream in your coffee or whatever for 30 days – one day at a time – and see how you do. Or don’t  – just because everyone and their dog is doing a #whole30 doesn’t mean you have to.

 

Full disclosure: Whole30 and Whole9 Life are a client of mine but I was in no way compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. I was working with Melissa and Dallas Hartwig for over a year before I tried a Whole30 and it really did change my outlook on food.

Wicker Chair

WickerChair My sister and I have become obsessed with scouring Craigslist for home furnishings. Well, Craigslist scouring is kind of her obsession and she then narrows down the listings and presents them to me – I simply respond with a “yay” or “nay”. Tara is always pushing for me to email or text the seller and I get exhausted just thinking about coordinating the maybe-shady and decidedly uncertain transaction. Some people are cut out for this sort of thing – but I think I’ve become spoiled by the convenience and certainty of Amazon Prime. My sister seems to have amazing luck with Craigslist. For example, recently she bought a coffee table. She texted the seller and within 5 minutes had a response. They arranged a meeting within the hour and I decided to go with Tara to the seller’s house just to make sure it wasn’t some sort of scam that ended with my sister being sex-trafficked in Russia. We arrive to the sellers house which is an amazing house converted from an old Catholic church – and the seller is a nice doctor lady wearing a fitted polo top, a knee-length khaki skirt, and refined minimal jewelry and makeup that gracefully says “I come from old-money.” It was a super pleasant exchange and the seller even gave us a sneak peek of her Chouse (church + house = Chouse).

So you see, I have a screened-in sun porch that needs furniture and it calls for furniture of the rattan, wicker, or bamboo nature. This one set of bamboo furniture kept coming up with a description that looked something like this: wicker furniture set wicker couch and chair. $190. excellent condition. The listing was accompanied with multiple photos of a dark bamboo (not actually wicker) chair and couch completely unstyled in the middle of a lawn. The chair had cushions covered in pink and green tropical fabric (very Miami). The couch however was not pictured with cushions. The furniture had good bones and the price was pretty competitive based on some of the other listings I had considered. My sister urged me to send an email – so I did. Here’s how it went:  

ME: Hi! I’m interested in your wicker furniture set. Do you happen to know the dimensions? Are the couch cushions in good condition / clean? Also, would it be possible to deliver? I live in NW OKC. Will pay asking price.

[I hate negotiating. I'm always willing to pay asking price which my sister says is ridiculous. Apparently half the fun of buying stuff off Craigslist or at garage sales is haggling. I'm just not into it.]

SELLER: We will be back in town Tuesday. I will email you measurements when we get home.
[Note that only one of three questions were answered. I've learned in life and work you can only ask one question at a time via email.]

SELLER (5 days after the previously mentioned Tuesday): are you still interested in the wicker set?

ME: Yes, definitely! I just need to know the dimensions and if you would be able to deliver. Also, does the couch have cushions or no?

SELLER:
75 X 33 X 28 COUCH 33 X 33 X 28 CHAIR We don’t have a way to deliver.
It does have the seating cusions [sic].
You are more than welcome to come by and take a look at it.

After 6 more emails back and forth we finally coordinate a time for me to swing by and look at this wicker furniture set that is actually bamboo.

So it was a Friday morning and instead of working I made Tara come with me to check out this wicker furniture. Because if anyone is really going to be kidnapped and sex trafficked in Russia it’s probably the girl who gets on boats with strangers (that would be me). So we hop in my MINI Cooper and make our way not too far from our own neighborhood. We end up at a modest but cute ranch-style home – the front porch has some promising bohemian style including rattan furniture, ceramic turtle planters holding succulents, and wind chimes made of shells. After knocking, ringing the doorbell, and knocking again a lady – who is clearly stoned – answers the door. “Hi, I’m here to take a look at the wicker furniture.” She looks confused, tells me to hold on, and shuts the door. About five minutes later a shirtless man comes to the door and tells us to meet him around the side of the house. We’re definitely about to be sex trafficked. So we go around to the side of the house when a few minutes later we hear the garage door (which is on the FRONT of the house) open. So we head back over to the garage located at the FRONT of the house. Granted, it was only five steps from where we were but still, lousy instructions would have never happened at the Chouse.

Okay so, finally my eyeballs are on the wicker furniture in a garage that smells heavily of cigarette smoke. Tara and I sit on the couch which happens to have shredded-to-shit cushions on it. Tara looks at the shirtless seller and says “These cushions are in terrible shape.” Dude (who is also clearly stoned but probably not going to sex traffic us) says “Yeah, that’s why we didn’t include them on the photo.” Tara fires back (in the nicest way possible – like she was truly giving this guy some Craigslist education) “Yeah, most people include that kind of stuff on the listing. So you know… potential buyers are aware of it before they come out to your house.” Dude just kind of shrugs and says he’ll ask the confused girl, who apparently IS the owner of this wicker furniture, if she’ll take $100 for the set instead of the asking price of $190.

So THIS. This is why I don’t do Craigslist.We headed back to my MINI empty handed and with no deal in place. We drove down the street to a  bustling garage sale and found this wicker chair for $10. I loaded it up in my car and as I drove off feeling like the Universe had delivered my sister said “You should have offered $5.”