Thursday Tip: Rent the Runway

If you’re like me, then a vital part of enjoying an event, whether it be a wedding, work event, or girls night out, is looking and feeling your best, and part of looking and feeling my best usually involves a new outfit.  The problem is, if I buy something for a specific event, I don’t generally want to wear that same outfit for the next big event- I want something fresh and new. So intentionally or not, I’m buying things that I only wear once. On top of that comes the hassle of running from store to store trying to find something I love. I usually have an image in my head of how I want to look, and once I get shopping, can’t find anything that looks and feels quite right.

Allow me to introduce you to an amazing fashion concept called Rent the Runway.

We were invited to an outdoor wedding this past weekend in the mountains (L was the flower girl!) This was part of my motivation for trying out a rental- I really only have summer dresses and needed something more fall weather appropriate. I heard about Rent the Runway quite a while ago, but put off trying them out because it seemed really impractical to spend money on a dress I was only renting, but when I really stopped and looked at the things I’ve bought and only worn once or twice, or wore because I was settling and couldn’t find anything better, I decided it was probably time to try it out.  They have a good number of rentals that start in the $30-$50 range, and to me, that’s totally worth it for the chance to wear a good quality, designer dress.

Additionally, I like that they have a TON of dresses in their inventory, and I was able to do all of my shopping online (in other words, I really enjoyed shopping from the comfort of my own bed while L slept and I ate chocolate eclairs, instead of the alternative where I’m sweaty from going store to store and chasing around a toddler and praying she doesn’t crawl under the dressing room door while I’m half naked from trying on dresses that I like on the hanger, but hate on me and getting progressively more frustrated).

So, your next concern might be- if I have to try on a zillion dresses in the store and hate the way almost all of them fit me, how would relying on ONE dress I found online be any more reliable?  One word. Reviews.  Rent the Runway’s customers are really good about leaving helpful reviews, but the MOST helpful part of the reviews is that you can narrow down the reviewers to read reviews from women with your body type, and a lot of them will post a picture of them wearing the dress. That is FAR more helpful than looking at something on a hanger and deciding if it will look right on you. (Newsflash: I don’t know anyone with “hanger” for body type.)  Also, they allow you to pick a 2nd size for free, just in case.

After careful research, I finally decided on this dress, because the color, cut and style seemed appropriate for out outdoor fall wedding, and I thought it would fit me well based on the reviews.  All I had to do was pick my delivery date (they recommend one day before your event), and I was good to go.  My dress arrived at my doorstep the day before we left for the weekend, and I was SO THRILLED once I tried it on.  It was exactly what I wanted.  The fit was great, it was comfortable, it flattered me, and I knew the rental was so, so worth it.  I got several compliments on the dress and even got the stamp of approval from JD, who liked it so much, he asked how much it would cost to keep the dress!

Rent the Runway even makes the return super easy.  You don’t have to clean the dress yourself, all you have to do is put it in the pre-labeled, pre-paid envelope, and drop it off at a UPS drop-off by noon on your return date.

Honestly, I wish I had another event coming up so I had an excuse to rent another dress.

I don’t really ever go to black tie events, but if I did… this one please.

How much fun would this one be for a girls’ night?

If you sign up using this link, you’ll get a $20 credit towards your first rental!

Sadly, there isn’t a great picture of me in the dress.  I should have demanded that someone take one, but I’m a mom, so most pictures of me generally involve me awkwardly holding/hiding behind a toddler.

I guess what you really need to know is that I felt great, and that makes it worth every penny.

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Friday Favorites: Work, Play, Blog Love

Related to Work

Working from home: There’s nothing quite like rolling out of bed and logging into your work computer while sipping coffee in your PJ’s.  (I get to do it every Friday!)  No rush hour traffic, no scramble to get yourself, a baby, and 3 dogs ready for the day, and when I’m done for the day, I’m already home!

Standing desk: I don’t know about any other mamas out there, but I definitely jacked something in my tailbone up when I was giving birth.  Since then, sitting for extended periods of time has really bothered my hips and tailbone.  In December, it reached a point that was pretty excruciating, to the point that I couldn’t handle sitting for a full day.  When I heard we had some sit/stand workstation setups floating around the office, I jumped at the chance to get one. I now stand for a couple of hours every day, and being able to switch it up has made all the difference.

 

Related to Play

Having a 16 month old:  She’s pretty awesome. She is curious, bright, social, fun, and loving.  She’ll sit at the table and color, dance to music, and mimic almost anything we do.  She is past the helpless baby stage but pre cranky toddler stage. Yeah, Mom Life is pretty good right now.

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Summer: Even as a working adult who doesn’t get summers off, there’s still something special about it.  Summer seems to bring more time with friends, sunshine, laughter, sand and water, tasty drinks, and so much joy.

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JD on light duty: We leave at the same time every morning.  We arrive home at the same time every night.  He has every weekend off.  There is something almost uncomfortable about the normalcy of it all, but it’s been such a blessing in disguise.  It gives us time to enjoy all those wonderful summer things I just mentioned, as a family, 100% of the time.

 

Favorite Bloggers and Blog Posts

I love, love reading blogs, and I’m always looking for new ones.  For any of you looking for new blogs to follow, here are my favorites.

One thing I will mention is that I follow several police wife blogs, but none of the ones I follow have posted recently.  Maybe someday I can do a post completely dedicated to police wife blogs.  In the meantime, suggestions welcome!  Post your favorite blogs in the comments 🙂

 

Ain’t No Mom Jeans– She is my blog crush. (Is that a thing?  If not, I’m making it a thing.  In a non-creepy way, of course.)  I love her blog so much because she takes such an honest look at motherhood, and a practical approach to being a fashionable mom, whether pregnant, postpartum, nursing, or just chasing young kiddos around. (Also, she recently battled breast cancer and still manages to look fabulous all the time.)

She recently posted about a trip to a conference without her kids, and the comments she made about returning home really resonated with me. I could have written it myself, really.

“Mamas home, where she belongs. And I do belong here, right here, with them. But part of me wants the expansive me, the one with vision, and personal goals that are very different from the goals of a mother. I guess that’s the trick, right? This balance of what you can give vs what you need; I want it all.”

 

Working Mom Magic– I feel like most mom blogs out there are by stay-at-home moms.  I’m not trying to demean what they do in any way, but it is very different than being a working mom.  It’s nice to read a blog from another mama who’s out there, like me, doing the work thing.

I really, really enjoyed this post where she talks about the dangers of the “everybody wins” attitude.

I also really enjoyed her post about following your mom instincts, which sometimes means ignoring what the books and “experts” tell you.  So.  True.

 

Airing My Dirty Laundry– Her husband is in the Air Force, and while I feel a sense of camaraderie towards her for being a military spouse, it also reminds me to be thankful that JD is ONLY a LEO and not a LEO in the military.  Her husband deploys.  A lot.  And she has 2 kids.  Yuck.

She posted recently about people who tell her that the military lifestyle is “easy.”  A big WTF to that.

 

Hands Free Mama– In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up in the constant hustle and bustle of work, school, activities, and the distractions of cell phones, iPads, and TVs.  She is an absolutely beautiful writer who reminds us to focus on the things that really matter in life, like our kiddos.

 

A Game of Diapers– Two full-time working parents and 3 kiddos, 2 of which are twins?!  Oh my, I have no idea how she does it, folks.

 

Healthy Slice of Life– A good blog, especially if you like cooking and focusing on feeding your family with nutritious, healthy foods.  I hate cooking, but for some reason still really enjoy this blog.  That must mean something 🙂

 

 

 

Thursday Tip- Unique Holiday Gifts From Etsy

So, there are 2 things you need to know about me

1: I LOVE shopping

2: I HATE holiday crowds

Dealing with Christmas crowds especially has always been a nightmare to me.  The last few years, I’ve relied heavily on online shopping at Amazon (free shipping, what what!) and Etsy.

Etsy, for those of you who’ve never shopped here (careful, it’s addictive) is an online store where people from all over the world can have their own “shops” to sell hand made or vintage items.  On Etsy, you can find totally unique, hand made, WELL made items and support small business owners, NOT big box stores.

In need of a little holiday inspiration?  Here are some of my favorite Etsy shops:

For friends with little ones, cute hats and headbands are always a hit.  This shop sells the most adorable hats and headbands.  Oh, and they even have an Ohio State one, which I recommend for everyone you know 😉

Want something a little more practical that they won’t grow out of in 2 seconds?  We got our friends’ son a step stool on his 2nd birthday.  I don’t mean to brag, but they still have it in their downstairs bathroom.  Oh, and we got it personalized with his name.  This shop sells super cute ones.

Would you rather buy the kids on your list a toy, or do you have an itty bitty one to shop for?  I  love, love, love the wooden toys, rattles, teethers, and games at this shop.  I bought L her very first rattle and teether at this shop, and they are 2 of her faves.

I could literally spend hours perusing Etsy’s array of jewelry shops.  I love shopping here for my mom, mother-in-law, and friends.  Love the simple, but personalized jewelry in this shop and this necklace would be really cute for a mom or grandma.

Men are always hard to shop for, but wouldn’t a wallet like this be fun?

Like vintage?  Etsy has that too!  Wouldn’t something like this make a fun, unique gift for a family member (or a wedding gift for a friend)!  (Full disclosure? This is actually my mom’s shop… this post is NOT intended to be a plug for her shop, I just truly love Etsy).

So those are a few of my faves, but I honestly haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s out there.  Personally, I’d much rather sit in the comfort of my own home with a warm cup of coffee and browse online for fun gifts than fight crowds of cranky people at the mall.  Happy shopping!

Wardrobe Refresh

The seasons are changing, and I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to get out and go shopping for some new clothes.  Posts from  (Ain’t No Mom Jeans, MODG, and Stylin Mommies) gave me the extra push I needed.  It’s time for some serious shopping, people.  A lot of my clothes just don’t fit the same now that I’ve had a baby.  It’s not that I’m too big for them, it’s just that things seem to be in different places now, so it’s probably time for those shirts I’ve had (I’m embarrassed to admit) since 2007 to go.  Anything I bought last season is maternity, so it’s probably time for me to do a wardrobe refresh.

This is great for anyone, but is especially great for moms, as we’re probably the most guilty of keeping things we shouldn’t, and hesitating to splurge a little on ourselves.  My first step is going to be to go through my closet and put aside anything that doesn’t fit me, flatter me, or that I haven’t worn in at least a year.  No matter how much I love something, it’s time to be brutally honest with myself about whether I really should keep it or not.

Even my shoes will be under scrutiny.  These days, I’m busy hauling around a baby, so I’m no longer willing to sacrifice comfort for style.  My collection of heels seems a little excessive considering I don’t really wear them anymore.  Does this mean I’m going all frumpy and only wearing Crocs?  No.  All it means is that a lot of my stilettos will probably be moving out in favor of more practical flats, but I’ll still keep a couple of basics for dressing up, summer wedges and some booties for fall/winter.

The next step is to figure out what kind of look you’re going for.  I recommend doing what Ain’t No Mom Jeans recommends and start your style board.  They recommend pulling pictures from magazines, but I found it was easiest to do my board on Pinterest.  Figure out the types of things you’re drawn to and the types of pieces you’d have in your ideal wardrobe.  Then, SHOP.

My plan is to pick an afternoon and leave L with JD so I can shop by myself, uninterrupted.  I like shopping with friends, but if I’m going to be doing Serious Shopping (not just leisurely shopping for a few pieces), I’d actually rather just go it alone.  If you find yourself without much time/energy to shop in stores, I’ve been loving Nordstrom for their free shipping and hassle free returns.  I’m able to order a bunch of stuff, try stuff on, and return what I don’t like or what doesn’t fit using the pre-paid, pre-printed return label.

Happy shopping! (And don’t be afraid to spend a little time and money on yourself)

Thursday Tip- Tips for Glowy, Healthy Skin

So, the other day my friend, Rachel, and I were discussing our daily skin and makeup routines.  I was super flattered when she complimented my skin, because I’ve made some changes in the past few years and was glad someone else noticed!

I’m going to share my healthy, glowy skin tips with a disclaimer:  Everyone’s skin is different, so these tips won’t work for everyone.  I have combination, sensitive skin.  I can get super oily in the summer, super dry in the winter, and harsh products can really irritate my skin.   Your skin may not be exactly like mine, but hopefully you’ll find something that helps you in at least one of these tips!

1. Keep your skin care routine simple

I’ve tried various skin care products that promise to make my skin flawless.  What I’ve learned is that all the nasty, chemically stuff you put on your face is only going to make things worse.  If it fixes one problem, it’s probably going to cause another.  After testing about a zillion different products, I decided to go back to basics.  I use a gentle, natural soap that I bought at our local Farm Market (I call it my hippie soap).  I wash my face once a day (in the evening) and I use oil free lotion in the morning and at night.  That’s it.

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2. Tinted moisturizer is the best thing ever

I have to give Rachel credit for this one.  She taught me this trick a few years ago.  When you’re applying your usual moisturizer in the morning, blend in a dab or 2 of tinted moisturizer.  I absolutely ADORE this trick.  It evens out my skin tone and works as my substitute for foundation, which saves me a step and leaves my skin looking fresh and natural instead of matte and overworked.  I like Aveeno Positively Radiant because it’s oil free and has SPF in it.

IMG_14613. Mineral powder is the second best thing ever

Similar to the tinted moisturizer, I turn to mineral powder to give me a natural, glowy look, rather than made-up.   I like Physicians Formula, which made me look fresh, even at an outdoor wedding in July.

942710_10151580872831630_181589613_n4. Eat right for health inside and out

I honestly believe the first step to healthy skin is to take care of it from the inside out.  Hydrate!  Drink plenty of water, which is a highly underrated health and beauty tool.  Also, eat plenty of fruits and veggies.  Thanks to my mom, I now have a juicer which allows me to cram a ton of fruits and veggies into my diet in a way that’s both tasty and allows my body to process everything efficiently.  Anything green is great for your skin (think spinach or kale), cucumber is great for inflammation, and I turn to carrots and apples for a good base that will sweeten it up.  It may look questionable, but it’s actually delicious.

IMG_14535. Switch from dairy milk

I kid you not, this is by far the greatest thing I’ve done for my skin.  About 2 years ago, I started getting really bad breakouts.  Like, worse than I’d ever had in my teen years.  It was embarrassing and frustrating having such awful skin in my late 20’s and not know how to get it under control.  In a moment of desperation, I tried Proactiv, but all that did was dry out my skin and make the breakouts worse (see #1).  After a bit of research, I learned that studies that had shown that hormones in dairy milk (even organic milk) were shown to cause breakouts.  I realized that I’d drastically increased my milk intake around the time that my breakouts had started, so although I was skeptical, I decided to give up dairy milk.  My skin almost instantly cleared up and has been nearly flawless since.  The great thing is that there are a ton of tasty (and healthy!) alternatives. Soy, almond, and rice milk- just try them and see what works for you.

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Here I am, proudly rocking the no makeup look.

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Thursday Tip- Maternity Tanks from Target

This time last year, my belly was really starting to pop out, and I was investing in maternity clothes to fit my ever-changing body.  Here I am at 20 weeks, right after we found out we were having a girl.

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These tank tops from Target were by far the greatest investment of my pregnancy. They lasted from the beginning of my pregnancy through my third trimester and beyond. Confession: I actually still wear these tanks. The material is durable and stretchy, so I can wear them to yoga even today because they haven’t lost their shape. Since they’re maternity tanks, they’re nice and long (plus the ruching is flattering), so they’ll keep my belly covered during a yoga session, which has always been a problem for me because of my long torso and larger chest (now even larger, post-pregnancy).

Here I am early in my third trimester and the tank is still going strong.

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Pregnant or not, I recommend these tanks for workouts or to wear under sweaters and stuff. They’re the best!

Thursday Tip- Timi and Leslie Diaper Bag

Of all the baby products we registered for, bought, and were given, the diaper bag is what turned out to be the greatest dilemma.  We originally registered for this Eddie Bauer bag.  I thought we were being smart by getting this bag because it wasn’t too feminine so JD would be okay carrying it on days he had L.  It didn’t take long for me to be frustrated with this bag on multiple levels. First, I was disappointed in the quality because we’d only had it a few months before a few tears appearing in the lining.  It’s not like we toss it around or mistreat it; with a brand name like Eddie Bauer, you expect better quality.  Also, I didn’t like that the bottle pockets were on the outside, but that’s personal preference, and not really my main point.

My main issue was I found it really annoying that I had to take the diaper bag AND my purse whenever I went somewhere with the baby.  The diaper bag was stuffed full, so there was no way I could fit my stuff in there with the baby’s stuff.  Plus, there weren’t a lot of pockets on the inside, so stuff would just be in there haphazardly, making it difficult to find.

I turned to my friend (and experienced mama), Jen, for advice, and she really came through.  She recommended something from Timi and Leslie, who make gorgeous diaper bags that don’t really look like diaper bags.  I was immediately in lust; the bags were so pretty, I forgot I was shopping for a diaper bag.  I settled on the Annette in pewter and we had our solution.  The Eddie Bauer bag would be on-hand for JD days on baby duty and drop offs at the babysitter’s house, but I would keep the Timi and Leslie bag more lightly packed for evenings and weekends, so I could throw L’s stuff and my stuff in one bag.  And if you’re wondering if it’s annoying to have 2 separate bags?  No, because I keep each bag packed and ready to go, but again, that’s personal preference.

Not only does the bag work for all our stuff (plenty of pockets inside and out!) but it comes with a TON of accessories.  The changing pad is nice because it folds neatly shut and is secured with Velcro, plus it has a mesh pocket to keep a small pack of wipes and a diaper or two handy.  The bag comes with a long strap to carry it as a shoulder bag, or you can use the smaller straps as a hand bag, OR you can use stroller straps to strap it to the back of your stroller.  There’s also an insulated bottle carrier (with it’s own strap to keep handy on a stroller handle), a key clip at the top of the bag so your keys don’t sink to the bottom and get lost AND my favorite part- a mini purse for mom.  When we went on vacation, I just brought this bag to carry our stuff throughout the week, and then when JD and I had a date night, I just pulled the mini-purse out for me.

 

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Disclaimer: I originally had the thought that I might have JD take cute pictures of me with the mimi mom bag, but then I decided the mom purse doesn’t go with yoga pants.
And since I’ve generally changed into yoga pants 60 seconds after walking in the door from work, I resorted to lame picture of diaper bag accessories on bed.  You’re welcome.