Sunday, April 28, 2013

The past couple weeks, in Watertown.

I live in Watertown.  Have I ever told you that?

Probably not, because its not a particularly interesting place usually--an average suburb outside of a great city, where people commute home to or whiz on by on the Pike.  And probably not, because I sometimes think its hard to talk specifics in the blog world, just in case.  And probably not, because who would know or are where Watertown is, before April 19?

I read something great that the Watertown Police Chief said last week...until now, if you were out in the world as a Watertown resident, when people asked where you were from, you would definitely say "Boston."  Now when people ask...I'll be saying I am from Watertown.  For better or worse, people will know where that is now.  But more importantly, I have a great sense of pride in what Watertown and its people are all about. 

I have only been back in the Boston area for four years, but I have loved it fiercely before and since, and Marathon Monday is one of those city holidays that people who have never been don't get, but people who have been a part of it love unconditionally.  In the past few years, I've spent that Monday on the race course, meeting Steve for a quick lunch as a "treat" on one of those first perfect spring days, watching the Red Sox at Fenway in an early 11AM game that spills out onto the city streets to watch the runners in their last miles.  Its such a great heralding in of the warm weather, a whole city thawing out and turning faces to the sunny skies. 

It was just a crazy week from start to finish, starting early morning Marathon Monday and lasting straight through to the final hours of Friday night. We didn't have a solid plan for the marathon, and since J's naptime really always falls right in the middle of a day I had thought we might miss the race this year.  We planned to meet Steve for an early lunch in Harvard Square, a fun little outing on a day that's a half-holiday even though he has to work.  But mid-morning I got inspired with some can-do spirit and pitched the idea to ride the T to Kenmore Square to see a little bit of the day--hear the crowds at Fenway and see some runners.  Its funny because life with a toddler is a constant mix of scaling back your expectations for what is possible in a day OR pushing yourselves to make things happen despite schedule challenges.  On marathon Monday I got the itch to push to make some memories and take J, Steve, the hiking backpack and a lot of snacks onto the race course.  We did it!  Made it to Kenmore Square, saw some of the early runners, grabbed a Italian Sausage outside the ballpark, and soaked up some good Boston magic, all while pushing the naptime barrier.

We headed home when we couldn't ignore the eye-rubbing anymore.  We laughed that even though we had spent less than 45 minutes downtown, we could say we "went downtown to Kenmore and watched the marathon and walked around Fenway" like it was no big deal.  We headed back on the T (subway) around 1 or so, and I got home a little after 2, put J down for a nap and turned on the Red Sox on the radio app (I'm retro like that) while I cruised blogs and patted myself on the back for making a fun day.  Just before 3, my friend texted me frantically asking if we were home, telling me about the explosions.  I couldn't believe it--less than a mile from where we had just left, right over the subway we were riding in the pic above...that whole afternoon I just felt such sadness.  Sadness for our city, sadness for the fact that only hours before I had felt so good about taking our little guy to see something so special.  Sadness for the victims and their families, and for runners not getting to finish their race. 

The rest of the week felt equal parts melancholy and fiercely filled with Boston's spirit.  Seeing flags at half mast and buses cruising by with "Boston Strong" rotating with the routes, I felt sure that we had come together.  Thursday night I was up late working when I saw news of an MIT shooting, and I just thought that this week had better end soon...I went to bed without turning on the TV, just wanting to unplug. 

At 5:15AM, Steve jolted me awake--we had received a few texts from friends waking up to the news, and our phones were filled with notes like "guys, don't leave the says there is a shooter on the loose in Watertown."  I don't think I have ever woken up to stranger news.  I loaded up twitter, bleary eyed, to see what had unfolded over night--gunfire exchanged right behind the Target I frequent all too often, and a stay inside order for our town and towns surrounding. 

We peered out the windows to quiet streets, already people shut in tight as I watched the news, incredulous at how close the action was.  We turned off the TV when J woke up, after he gleefully counted the police cars on the screen--we were worried that the threat of an explosive vest was just too much if anything happened live.  And then we began a long day shut inside with a toddler, with no explanation of why we can't go to the park, can't go outside, can't drive in Mommy's car.  J was remarkably good all day, as we followed news on twitter and caught glimpses of news coverage during naptime.  So strange to spend a 70 degree day never hearing a dog bark, a cell phone conversation as someone strolled outside, cars driving by.  Just the chop of helicopters and the wind.  I was so impressed by how much people LISTENED--staying inside as directed, giving law enforcement the room to work, waiting for the all clear.  I received emails, texts, calls from people all over to check with us--so nice to feel community on a lonesome day. 

When the 6pm news conference told us that they hadn't found him but we could go out and be vigilant...I wasn't excited knowing that it wasn't over, that we had to make the decision on our own what to do.  We finished up our day, and I took J up to bed just before 7, silently thankful he never knew what was going on and the day had passed without any meltdowns.  As I worked through our third storybook, I felt the phone in my back pocket buzzing with text after text.  I waited to check it until I had closed the door for bedtime behind me, once again seeing things I couldn't believe..."shots fired! are you seeing this?? turn on the tv!"  I raced to turn on the news again, telling Steve to come back inside from grilling after the all clear.  As we did this, I heard the helicopters, much more overhead now, and saw on TV that the police and media had moved much closer--just down the hill from where we live, on another familiar corner.  We watched the final scenes play out like a movie, glued to our TV and watching the spotlight of the helicopter rove over our neighbor's roof every few minutes.  When the words came on the screen--"SUSPECT IN CUSTODY"--I felt tears coming, tears of relief, gratefulness, and exhaustion. 

I feel so proud of Boston, of Watertown, our law enforcement, and the residents of the area--coming together to mourn, to protect, and to move on.  Steve went down the hill that night to applaud the parade of police cars that night, and I have loved seeing the way the pride has come out around the city in the past week.  I hope all continue to heal.  I feel so happy to live here, in our hometown...of Watertown.

**So sorry this is so LONG...I wanted to get this all down to remember it! Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recent Target Finds

I find myself at Target at least twice a week these days.  And by "find myself", I mean I eagerly plan and steer my mom-mobile towards that shiny red light whenever I can.  Target is like the 2013 Town Square, with buying and selling and greeting and meeting to be done.  Is that sad, or a good thing? Don't answer that.  I get a lot of our essentials there, but also love to check out things all over the store.  I WISH our Target was one where I could buy raspberries and salad and wine and chicken breasts, but we are still waiting to be upgraded.  In the meantime, I have more time there to browse the things we don't need, but I might..."want"...

I have been having better and better luck over the years at finding great things at Target to work into my wardrobe.  There are certain things that I know I can rely on finding there : basic t shirts, sandals, some workout wear, sleepwear.  There are other things that I stay away from or have had bad luck with: jeans, boots or heels, dresses or skirts.  I see Target items popping up in outfits on blogs and Instagram, and I also think its a great way to try a trend at a low investment.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

First, the Merona Lace Popover, retails for $19.99 here seen in size Large White.  My sister actually found this piece and then I had to go out and find it!   I like that the neckline is a bit scooped, there is a full white lining, and the top has a little stretch to give and move more easily than traditional eyelet.  Even with a slightly puffed sleeve, this will work under jackets or cardigan.  The large is a little roomy, but I think the medium would lose the easy shape and length this one has.  Also, you can see my fave new "wardrobe list" purchase--the Paige Jimmy Jimmy distressed jeans.  Plus James jamming with a hanger. 

 Next, the Merona Rugby Shirt Dress, retails for $22.99 here seen in Blue Diamond Size Large.  I brought this one home but I am still deciding on it--my stripe addiction made me buy this one, although I might consider the solid navy version to be less....horizontal.  Its an easy-on dress, very comfy, not sheer--I plan on wearing this as a shorts alternative or even a coverup for our upcoming vacation (more on that soon!).  I think it would look great with a coral bubble necklace or with gold.  Obviously I wouldn't wear this with jeans--I just try to avoid taking off shoes and having bare feet on the Target floor, yuck.  Not sure J loves this item--he has strong opinions and no poker face. 

A recent shoe find--the Merona Genuine Leather Emma scrunch flat, retail for $39.99 here seen in Tan size 8.5, my regular shoe size.   One of the things I had on my wardrobe list was a nude/tan pair of workhorse flats.  I had a nice Michael Kors pair from a couple years back, but they have a big logo and a driving moc sole, so I can't wear them every day.  These Target flats aren't in stores (that I have seen) but I decided to order them on a whim since I have free shipping with my RedCard (dangerous).  These are really comfy right out of the box and even more so after only an hour of wear.  They are more comfortable than JCrew Ceces, with a full rubber sole and the same feel of a small wedge inside.  I thought for sure I would return these, instead I have been wearing them for the past 3 days!  Really recommend, there are great other colors too.

Some other recent favorites are:

Xhilaration Bright Striped Scarf, $14.99.  Great way to add a dash of neon color to an outfit.  I find that the scarfs are overall pretty well made, but sometimes need a touch test. 

Finally, the Gilligan & O'Malley Knit Sleepset, $24.99 online but I have seen them marked down to $19.99 in stores.  LOVE THESE.  So comfy, wash well, stretchy but keep their shape, look cute and less masculine than traditional sleepsets.  I have the black and a gray that sold out, but I am hoping they make these in a shorts/short-sleeve version for summer--favorite pajamas right now!

Last but not least, these Mossimo Junior VNeck Ts are a perfect boyfriend t shirt, for $8.  Great deep v that isn't too low, little pocket, nice flattering fit with a little slouch.  I have these in Large and XL since they are juniors and I like to have a couple shirts that are more slouchy than fitted.  Great great basic t for layering and summertime.

Those are some of my recent great Target finds.  Do you shop at Target too...for more than just milk and frozen waffles?  What are your recent favorites?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The New Momiform.

Since J was born, I have really struggled with what on earth I am supposed to wear for this new at-home-mom gig. Over the past two and a half years I have worked part time in retail, and now I do part time consulting at home. But the majority of my days are spent at the playground, running errands, around the train table, and using my fingernail to scrape applesauce off my kitchen beadboard paneling. There's really no perfect outfit for that.

I started facing my closet each morning and constantly feeling like I had nothing to wear. The problem was that the racks were full of clothes that didn't work for my current lifestyle--I had pencil skirts from my corporate days, sequined tops from my days at a certain retailer, and Tshirts that were clingy and not appealing. I was wearing the same things over and over, and often falling into the yoga pant rut--reaching for clothes that were comfortable but not making me feel good.

I stumbled on the Seventeenth & Irving blog through a friend and read about her Closet Makeover project (as well as her amazing packing posts) and a lightbulb went off--I had to clean out my closet and approach shopping from a new smarter outlook. After some cleaning out and some shopping, I feel like my closet is in a much better place because I am thinking about what I really wear. Here are a few principles for my new mom uniform:

Understand Your Different Kinds of Outfit Needs

Once I thought about my new lifestyle, I realized I had three main categories of clothes that I need in my life: Everyday Mom uniform, Fun Dinner/Girls' Night Outfits, and Special Events like weddings. I am not including Working Out as a category because 1. I was hardly ever actually working out, 2. I had enough Lululemon to be embarrassed about and 3. I felt schlubby when wearing it amongst the general public.

Armfuls of stuff if you have to! I got rid of any clothes I hadn't been wearing, and anything I didn't feel like I could see myself wearing in my new categories of wardrobe. This meant many trips to the consignment shop, Goodwill, and in some cases, the trash. Clean it out! Get rid of it! As soon as I got rid of things that were not working in my closet, the prospect of peeking in those doors was so much brighter. My closet was turning into a place where all the clothes are ones I like and are wearable.

Understand What Works for You

From my three wardrobe categories, I thought about what kinds of pieces I like best for each. For my everyday Mom Uniform, I know that yoga pants make me feel sloppy, but I need pants that still let me get on the floor to play or pick up cheerios. Jeans it is! Almost everyday you can find me in jeans--black, white, denim whatever. I also don't feel as comfortable with my post-baby belly (yeah, its been 2 years, can't blame the baby much anymore) so I stick to tops with structure (button downs, tunics, sweaters) and really stay away from Tshirts unless its a layering piece or crazy hot summer. My Dinner Out look tends to be a skinny pant or jean, blazer or cardigan, and accessorize with a scarf. I looked at my closet and realized I like to wear a lot of neutrals (especially in winter) and then top off with a colorful scarf or vest, rather than wearing a lot of color in my clothes. By looking for patterns like these, I created my own parameters for shopping and dressing that narrow down choices and also make me feel polished in what I choose.

Look Around for Inspiration

I started following certain blogs and Instagrammers with OOTD (outfits of the day) for inspiration. It helped me to see the way others put things together and I recognized that my style is really pretty simple. Jeans and a cute top, flats, a vest. I started seeing great patterns that made me check my own closet and style.

Shop with Your Rules and a List Once I had my uniform down, I made a little list of things that would add to my closet. On the top of my list this spring were distressed jeans, and a great going-out jacket. Now I had a shopping target rather than aimless browsing. I still love shopping and looking, but I loved having "the hunt" for the perfect items--it made me excited to find them and also made me more confident in my purchases, knowing they were things that were well planned. One other rule I use for myself is to try and find cheaper alternatives for certain things--Tshirts, trends I want to try out, knock-around clothes--and invest in other pieces that will last. That means you will see my buying Mossimo Boyfriend Tshirts for $8 and trying ankle boots from Target, and splurging on a ivory motorcycle blazer from Zara.

All that said, here are some (really bad quality) pics of recent fave looks for my Momiform and Going Out categories:

Gingham Popover, Madewell
Distressed Jeans, Paige Jimmy Jimmy
Excusrion Vest, JCrew (pop of color over totally neutral outfit)

Going Out for Girls Dinner:
Combination Jacket with Zips, Zara
Black Flowy Vneck Tshirt, Gap Pure
Scarf, JCrew 2011
Black Skinny Skinny Ankle Jeans, Madewell

More on this later, but I thought I would use this to kick things off.  Have you recently done a wardrobe overhaul? Do you have a Momiform?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Don't Call it a Comeback.

So, I'm coming back. Better than ever! You heard it here first! The last two-ish years have flown by. There are a million reasons why I stopped blogging, but lately I've realized that there wasn't one good reason. I miss the community and outlet of blogging, and I love reading blogs MORE THAN EVER. I plan on investing more time and design into this blog-o-mine over the next year. There will be many things that will be the same as the old blog (babbling about TV shows, grainy selfies of new shopping interests) and some new topics covered (toddler logic, instagram hall of fame). I plan to keep the idea of My Favorite Things--clothes, products, tips, memories, etc. I have a few post ideas lined up and I'm planning on reworking the blog layout and features in the coming weeks. For those of you who still have my blog in your Reader (or now Feedly or Bloglovin...) thank you! I really look forward to talking to you again!
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