Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Perfect DC Summer Weekend

The Perfect DC Summer Weekend

Last weekend, my husband and I decided, spur-of-the-moment around Thursday morning, to do a "staycation" in downtown DC. We live about nearby in Northern Virginia and are down there often for work and play, but we rarely spend the night and have never spent more than a single night downtown since moving to NOVA.

This weekend was the best! Here are some highlights in case you want to come to DC to visit or do your own getaway if you're local. Heads up-I took a lot of pictures for you!We did a mix of touristy, cheesy, and local things. I highly recommend the following.

Stay at the Hotel George. It's a Kimpton Hotel, and if you don't know that chain of hotels, thank me now.  We stayed at the Hotel Palomar, also a Kimpton, in Philadelphia a couple years ago, and we love them. Some highlights from the Hotel George include their complimentary wine hour from 5-6pm every night in the lobby, plush animal print robes, first-come-first-serve free bikes (with locks) to use around town, and really fun decor. Oh-and it's right by Union Station, which makes getting there and getting around town by Metro and on foot very easy.





I love a hotel with plenty of towels and a nice big bathtub!


The decor extended to every detail. Very tongue-in-cheek!


Eat at Graffiato. Yes, it's a restaurant owned by a Top Chef contestant and, therefore, a bit of a touristy destination. However, it was not pretentious and delicious. Insider tip: they were completely booked online but had reservations available when I called.  

We took a cab there from the hotel, feeling like the city people we used to be when we lived in Chicago before moving to a small town near DC.  On the right, I was happy I packed a scarf to wear as a shawl inside the freezing cold restaurant!




Eat breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien, especially if you are gluten free.  For those of you who've never been to one before, this is a chain. For those of you who have been in the past but felt deflated by the over-emphasis on bread and other gluteny things, re-consider it. They have an expanded menu, and along with eggs and rice pudding, they have glorious, glorious tartines. If you eat bread, you can get one like my husband did (top) on regular toast. Good for you.

If, like me, you are gluten-less, yours will come on a cracker. It's not the most tasty cracker you've ever had, but it doesn't matter. It's just a vehicle for the deliciousness on top. We actually went here twice, first near Eastern Market (a Metro or cab trip, a long walk, or a great bike ride from the hotel if you want to brave DC traffic) and a second time inside Union Station, because my husband loves to humor me when I'm really excited about something gluten free.

First I ordered the curried chicken salad tartine, and the second day I got the smoked salmon tartine, which I have loved in the past, too.

  
Visit the Capitol. I've been to, and even worked in, DC, but I had never been to the Capitol nor it's museum, isn't that crazy? It's one of those things that you walk by but don't go into. This time, we stayed steps from it and finally spent some time there. Be sure to go up to the Capitol building, and go into any part that's open. You'll learn so much about our country-our victories and blunders.


Keep your eyes peeled! That's a phrase that my father used to say, and it always grossed me out because I was a literal kid. While in DC, keep your eyes open because it is some of the best people watching you will ever see. We saw multiple weddings by the Capitol building and this incredible
quincea├▒era with her matching attendees.  

Oh, and side note: this is right around where an aggressive squirrel charged us. I really thought he had rabies, but I think he was just very tame from all of the people feeding him!


Stop by the Postal Museum. You may not know that the large majority of the museums in DC are public-and free. Having lived in NYC for a few years and then in Chicago, this came as a complete shock to me. You can find the occasional museum (like the Spy Museum) that charges admission, but most will let you in for nothing. Don't skip the Postal Museum-it's a lot more interesting than it sounds!






Snack at Shake Shack. You may never think you'll eat again, but en route to the hotel you might happen to need a snack. After years of eating fertility-friendly and avoiding my dairy sensitivity, I typically don't use Lactaid anymore. But, on vacation I bring it and indulge in dairy treats. If you eat dairy or have your trusty pills, you'll want to stop by Shake Shack in Union Station for a frozen custard.


Head out for the night. As long as you're aware of your surroundings, as with any bigger city, DC is a great place to go out for the night. I say that like we're big late night birds, which is not at all the case. My husband loves a late night movie, but we hadn't been out to listen to live music since we lived in Chicago. However, we ate a decent dinner at Georgia Brown's (they were very allergen-aware) and headed down the street, at my good friend's recommendation, to hear music at The Hamilton. 


This was a great venue! Insider tip: look up a band you're considering seeing on You Tube. We had never heard of the band we saw (Phox, pronounced Fox, although we joked that we were so out of it we should call them P-hocks), but we loved their sound and decided to get tickets to their show.


Since it was a slightly hipster band, we were some of the older ones there, but the venue was amazing, and we'd absolutely go back. Their food looked delicious, too. Insider tip: buy tickets early, especially if you want a table. If you don't get a table, snag a stool at one of the two bars as soon as you arrive.
 
Do the cheesy bus tour. On Sunday, we spent a few hours as the ultimate tourists on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. My husband liked this company best because they offer live narration and a variety of loops around the city.



We took the extra shuttle option to visit Arlington Cemetery and witnessed the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was very somber. Insider tip: we lucked out on a day in the 70s, but there is a lot of walking on this part of the tour. If it's a typical hot, summer DC day or if you have older folks with you, you might want to think twice about this part-or be sure to bring water with you and take breaks.

That's it, guys! Thanks for coming with us on our mini vacation here in DC! I can't wait for our next trip. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Pack the Perfect Bag for Vacation: By Theme

How to Pack the Perfect Bag for Vacation: By Theme

Yesterday, we talked about one way to pack: by color. Today, I'm excited to share with you a second way to pack the best vacation bag of your life! This is an idea I put into practice this summer when we went to the Outer Banks, and it's packing by theme. In this case, think of things like boho chic, nautical, sporty, preppy, or edgy. I find that the theme can be dictated by the type of trip you're having. If you'll be rafting or biking, a sporty style is a natural fit. For many trips, a boho look helps you to feel relaxed and at ease. I chose this style for our trip because I didn't want to wear anything constricting or anything I'd normally wear to work.

You might look through your clothes if you're not sure what theme you'd like to pick. Get a sense of what types of clothing you have that you'd like to wear. Then, follow the same practice as yesterday. First, pull out everything that you own that's right for the season that fits your theme.  


Here, a nautical/preppy theme worked well for me because I have so many stripes! This would be a great bag to pack for a weekend trip to

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Pack the Perfect Bag for Vacation: By Color

How to Pack the Perfect Bag for Vacation: By Color

My favorite way to pack for a trip, whether it's of a few days or a couple weeks, is by color. Bringing all one color grouping (think black&white, shades of orange, whites&brights, greens&blues, red, white, and blue, etc) means that everything is interchangeable. Your shoes will go with everything; your makeup will work no matter what you wear; and all accessories will work no matter which outfit feels right during the day or night. Not only is it a fun, creative way to pack, it results in a low stress way to dress during your vacation.

I know myself and know that I have a lot of black&white clothing. But, if you're not sure that you have enough clothing of one type, take a look through your drawers and closet and pull out everything that's the same color family. Then, organize it on your bed or floor by category (remember short sleeves, tank tops, a long sleeved top for nighttime, dresses, bottoms for summer).

Here, I went with black&white. I started to think about bright red or coral lipstick, about painting my toenails a color that would pop, and about the brightly colored sandals I could bring. This would be a fun trip to take pictures all in black&white, wouldn't it?


A few tips:

Monday Roundup

Monday Roundup

Good morning my sleepy bears! Don't you just feel that way on Monday morning sometimes-like the weekend was this great hibernation period, and now you're stretching and coming out into the bright sun? I can't wait to tell you more about the "staycation" that my husband and I had in DC this weekend! We stayed in a Kimpton Hotel (our favorites!) called Hotel George. I'll share pictures later this week.

Let's get down to my favorite things that happened in the style, body image, and even fashion, realm last week online. All week long when things catch my eye that I'd love to sit down over an iced (flax milk for me) chai and talk with you about on my back deck, I tag them. Then I pick my favorites and share them with you here.

I have to start with one of my very favorite people in the entire world! One of my best friends, Hannah of Love Always Hannah, is the inspiration for my business. It was through her eyes that I saw that I could take something I'd done for friends and family for years and introduce it as a personal styling business to the public. Last week I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of some of the outfits that she planned to wear for her recent photo shoot. She's re-branding and re-launching her event styling & coordination business, Picadilly, and I can't wait to see what she's got up her sleeve.

I loved every single outfit she chose, and I can't stop looking at how gorgeous she is! You HAVE to go look at the rest of the images she shared in her sneak peek!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Pack the Perfect Bag for Vacation: the Basics

 How to Pack the Perfect Bag for Vacation: the Basics


Last week, a dear friend of mine asked me if I had any tips for her. She's heading to Hawaii in a couple weeks, and she knows that she wants to feel and look amazing without bringing every single piece of clothing that she owns.

For the next two days, I'm going to share my ideas about how you can pack for a trip in a way that will be fun while you're packing and result in stylish, stress-free dressing while you're on your trip.

The first thing I'd like to start with is the most important: what kind of traveler are you?

I know a few things about myself that help me to pack: I get cold easily if it's chilly inside a restaurant, boat, casino, airplane, whatever. If the sun goes down and it's chilly, I'm chilly. So I always pack something with long sleeves like a light sweater, a jean jacket, or even a fun blazer.

I like to wear dresses while I'm on vacation because they're so easy and they roll up so small in a suitcase. I tend to pack a variety of dresses so that I can choose to show off my legs-or not-depending on the mood.

If I'm going to the beach, I like to have t-shirts to wear when I feel like my shoulders have gotten too much sun so I pack those in addition to tank tops.

So first, I'd ask you to think about what your preferences are as far as dressing while you're away from home. What temperature do you like to be? How dressed up or relaxed do you want to feel? How many opportunities will you have to dress up or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, how many times will you need to get dirty?

Tomorrow and Tuesday I'll talk about how to pack the perfect bag by color group and then by theme. I can't wait! This can really simplify your traveling!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wearing Floral Prints (without feeling like you're going to a wedding)

Wearing Floral Prints (without feeling like you're going to a wedding)

Thanks for bearing with me on the fertility stuff. I feel honored to have such amazing people around me, and I love the chance to share some of their acts of kindness with you all. Another amazing act of kindness? One of my favorite blogs, Between Naps on the Porch, posted about me today in her Friday Fun series! I feel so famous and honored! I fell in love with her decor knock offs long ago, and it's inspired me to knock off as much as possible when I DIY for our house!

I didn't want to leave you without talking about style today, though! And I have a confession to make: I wore stripes every day last week...and most days this week. There! I said it! I feel so much better now. I do love stripes, but this was an accident. Here's a shot from the day that I realized what I was going without meaning to.


However, you shouldn't be like me. You should be one of those women who wears florals often and effortlessly. I've got a few ideas for how you can wear flower prints without feeling like it's Easter or you're headed to a wedding. Because I just don't go for the pastel, floral, girly look very often, but that doesn't mean that I can't fall in love with flowers now and then. I've got two ways for you to wear flowers that I just adore.

Bold Stripes + Bright Florals
 
One of my personal styling clients, Sharen, had the best striped top to wear with everything and the best floral skirts.  I'm sorry to cut her face off in this picture, but I tend to take lots of body shots when I'm doing a personal styling session so that my clients have these images later on for their own reference. I've gotten better at keeping you all in mind when I'm working since taking this picture!


Edgy Floral Prints+ Floral Accessories

If you've got something with flowers on a dark background, try something along the lines of the outfit I put together for my friend Hannah the other day.


This combines an edgier floral kimono with a graphic print tee and a floral necklace. It's a double floral, but it doesn't read as too sweet. I love it! I'd pair ripped denim shorts with this outfit, but boyfriend jeans, camo, or even a skirt would work, too. 

For shoes, try something neutral so you don't fight with all of the pattern and color you have going on. I'd especially like something a bit gritty like cowboy boots or slightly beat up sandals. 

Have a great weekend! We're doing a staycation in DC full of great food (dinners here and here and hopefully a tasting and factory tour at Dolcezza gelato-I'll bring my Lactaid!), flea markets, some live music at The Hamilton (thanks for the tip, Ashley!), and lots of hand holding and sleeping in (we're not taking the dogs!). I hope you have a wonderful, romantic weekend, too!







Thursday, July 17, 2014

What to Say/Do/Not Say to Loved Ones With Fertility Issues

What to Say/Do/Not Say to Loved Ones With Fertility Issues

Image via
// My friend/aunt/mom/co-worker was just diagnosed with breast cancer. What should I say/not say/buy/don’t buy?
This is worthy of a whole article, but in general I found cliched reassurances like, “It’ll all work out” or “you’re so strong, it’ll be OK” very discouraging.  Cancer is scary, and the truth is that it may not “all work out”.  I found frequent phone calls and notes from friends (a few sent letters before every treatment) to be the best possible gift.  A good opener from a friend who called every week was, “Do you want to talk cancer, or just bullshit?”   Gift cards for takeout restaurants were gold.  And anything to make hospital/ doctors visits more comfortable were really helpful.  (Hello, pretty scarves, slippers, cute hats.)
Reading this over at The Mom Edit, formerly Ain't No Mom Jeans, spurred me to want to talk about fertility-again. You'll remember, perhaps, that I don't use the word "infertility" or "infertile" for the following reasons: we, like many couples, don't (yet?) have human children. As far as we know, we've never conceived a child. However, so many women do get pregnant and miscarry early so can you call them infertile? What if one member of a couple could conceive but the other can't? Is the entire couple infertile? Of course, I know all too well the stats about what constitutes "infertility" in the medical world (trying for 1 year+ if the woman is under 35, 6 months+ if over 35 plus some other stats if you have medical issues), but I refuse to see us-or any other person-as infertile. Come tell that to my overflowing garden or my thriving, rambunctious dogs, or my blooming business.


Now that we're on the same page, let's talk about what I want everyone to know. I have the most incredible friends and family members, and they've said beautiful, supportive things to me and to us. I've also had many uncomfortable-and even painful-moments with people who, I can only assume, meant well. I'd love to help spread the word about some of the selfless, supportive things that friends have done and said so that the positive moments increase around the world for women (and men) working to become parents.

As background, we are not some of the members of the fertility-challenged who have been trying to have a baby for 10 years with 15 IVF rounds under our belts. Phew! Im' so grateful for that! But, we've been married for nearly 3 years and would have happily gotten pregnant even before that. We have some firsthand knowledge of everything from fertility diets to ovulation strips to meditation to medical interventions to at-home options. We haven't done it all medically, but we could...we might...TBD.

Here's what I'd like you, who knows women and men who struggle to become parents even if you don't know that you do, to know because you often ask me, and I'm here to help.



Think Beyond the Clich├ę

Like Shauna says above, avoid Hallmark-esque assurances like "It will all work out" or even "I know you'll become a mom." I have some close friends who say the later, and I can take it from them because I know what they mean is "I so hope your dream of becoming a mom is realized SOON!" My advice? Just say that. It's hard to be vulnerable, I know, but I think it's worth it.

If you say "It will all work out," your friend will likely think "well, it might not" She's the one who knows the medical ins and outs, and you likely don't. And, as far as the dream she had of getting pregnant easily and early with that "Guess what, honey! I'm pregnant" moment, it hasn't worked out. Not like that. This comment feels dismissive, and she will say something like "Yeah..." instead of opening up like she might if you express your support for her dream.

Offer the Chance to Talk About It-or Not

Echoing Shauna again, the best thing you can say is "Do you want to talk about __________ (insert fertility-themed topic-of-the-moment here, like IVF, the failed adoption, the miscarriage, the test results, your next steps, how your partner is coping, etc.) or just chat?"

This shows that you're keeping her process in mind and that you respect her desire to talk about it sometimes and not other times. I love how open-ended this is, too, since it doesn't frame it in a small way like "How are you feeling?" This sometimes feels limited to physical symptoms, while a "do you want to talk about it" allows for a broader conversation if it's the right moment.



Keep an Ear Toward How She Might Be Feeling

As far as sharing news (good or bad) about your own children or pregnancy, a similar mindset may be wise. You could start by saying something like "I have fun news about my pregnancy! Is this a good time for me to share it with you?" or "I have some pregnancy lady complaints. Would you be open to listening to me vent for a few minutes?" or even "I got bad news. Can I talk with you about it now or would email be better?" This recognizes that it might be difficult for us to hear. Not because we aren't thrilled about your news (or worried about any hardships) and not because we're jealous of your ability to conceive (we might both have babies-it's not a limited supply!) but because hearing about how hard it is to be pregnant can be difficult for us when that's something we've dreamed of for so long. We long for the difficulties of pregnancy even while we know that they can be quite difficult, even debilitating. There comes a point when it's hard to hear about those things without some lead up or warning.

Don't Isolate, Invite!

On the other hand, please do invite us to baby showers and to come see your baby. We love babies, and we often love parties! There's nothing better than a handwritten invitation since it doesn't require a face-to-face reaction if it happens to arrive on an off day (think the day you find out the IVF didn't work and you aren't pregnant or the day the baby you were going to adopt or give birth to before a miscarriage would have been born). We can compose ourselves and decide whether we can attend in person or in spirit. You might even go beyond and write a personal note, something like "I'd love to have you here if it feels like the right timing for you."

Use the Magic Words Liberally

Here are two magic phrases that you can use liberally: How can I help? and Can I take you out for ___________ (dinner, mani/pedi, shopping for a friend's baby gift, a run, a yoga class)? If you're not local, send a gift card or make a plan to visit with the promise "we can talk as much or as little about it all as you want."

Send Sweet Things

A lot of my closest friends don't live close enough to take me out for a gluten free cupcake, and some of the most meaningful things they've done for me in the past few years have included: sending flowers (before a treatment began or in anticipation of a doctor's appointment or just because) to me with a card that said simply that they were thinking of me; going to buy secondhand baby clothes with me after we had been matched to adopt even if it might not (and ultimately did not) work out; sent me a sweet email on Mother's Day; and gave me a job in the kitchen during a baby shower in case I got choked up. You may never know how much these small things mean, but they are very much appreciated.

So many of us women have struggled with fertility-whether becoming mothers earlier than we had planned, losing little ones before ever holding them, or faced with months and months of nausea while pregnant. I'd love to hear in the comments other does and don'ts that you'd like to share.



My Gap Faux Shopping Trip

My Gap Faux Shopping Trip


The other night, I thought I'd take what I call a "faux shopping" trip for you all in the name of research. The things I do for you! Hehe. I intended to try some things on at the Banana Republic sale and let you know what I loved, but they were closed! I hit up the Gap instead, and here's what I found!

I arrived in a dress I recently purchased from Gap, in fact, on sale. It was intended to be a maxi dress, and it started out that way. Unfortunately, it shrunk to this awkward length after a single drying. I'm debating cutting it off to knee length. I'm keeping it because I love the back a lot.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gluten Free Guide to Annapolis

Gluten Free Guide to Annapolis


This weekend my husband and I went to Annapolis, Maryland for a day trip. It was one of the prettiest-and the yummiest-trips we've taken in a long time. I highly recommend that you go there! And, when you do, here's how to enjoy it whether you are gluten free or not. Don't fret-this isn't going to turn into a food blog. I just love to show you the places that we gluten free folks can eat!

Eat breakfast at Miss Shirley's Cafe. There's a second location of this restaurant in Baltimore, but don't let that dissuade you. It's got a huge menu-almost overwhelming!


I'm always a fan of getting a few small plates, and you can do that here. I ordered

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Blazers and Shorts for Summer

Blazers and Shorts for Summer

You know what look I really like lately? And I think it works for so many body types? Blazers and shorts! Yeah, I know, kind of an odd combination, but I think it really works for adult women who want to wear shorts but still feel a little bit covered up.

It's super easy to match up a neutral blazer (consider a suit coat!) and the same color shirt below. Here, she might even be wearing a tube or crop top you could find in a younger sister's (or daughter's) closet! 

Via

I love this look! The bright jacket, the tucked in shirt, and the simple jewelry are perfect.