Friday Darlings

Every Friday I have a collection of things I find darling.

+ This week Moorea Seal and photographer Marissa Maharaj came to the house to take some photos for Moorea's new book, Make Yourself at Home, coming out in Fall. Here's a sneak peek of how I set it up. My kitchen has never been so clean!

+ It's Feb 3, but you still have time to catch up on Kate Gabrielle's February Photo Challenge.

+ It's almost spring but I'm holding on to whatever cold weather California is offering. I love this floral  dress with brown suede booties. 

+ Why We Should Celebrate Beyonce's Pregnancy in an Era of Trump. 

+ Developing Your Scrapbook Style. 

+ Sleater Kinney cover David Bowie and George Michael

+ I can't stop watching this video. Amazing!

+ Friday night pizza night.  

Enjoy your weekend! 

Editing My Closet

Years ago, I read the book Overdressed and it changed my thinking on shopping. Over time, I was discouraged with shopping indie designers- they didn't have my size, they were expensive, or they didn't have the quality and tailoring skills I was used to with most designers. I don't have time to go to thrift stores and sort through so many racks. Plus, have you read that David Sedaris story where he gets crabs from a thrift store? I grew up on thrifting but it because my family had to, not because I wanted to. The book was intense and I was ready to change! Or so I thought. 

Even after reading such a heart breaking book on the fashion industry, I went back to my old habits. Fast fashion is cheap and shopping is fun! I tried Marie Kondo method, I tried a wardrobe capsule. I tried wardrobe subscriptions. I tried a personal stylist at a department store. I even moved across the country expecting it to force me to minimize my spending. Nothing was working. Then I read The Curated Closet and I suddenly got it. I kept buying clothes because I was searching for a style to label. I went through my punk phase in high school, my preppy Brooks Brothers phase in my 20's, my rockabilly phase, and every personality you can think to come from a woman's closet, I had the clothes for. Once I removed the idea a closet doesn't need a label, getting dressed got easier. 

The book breaks down to figure out what style you love. There are no labels, you can call it whatever you want. I'm a mix of basics mixed bombshell (eg. a low cut wrap dress in every color, yes please). Once I figured that out, I edited my closet. Heavily. I sold on Poshmark and I loved it. It was easier than Instagram, I couldn't keep up with another account. Poshmark is completely separate app, it has millions of users to introduce your closet to, and it takes care of shipping fee's on the sellers side. All I have to do is print, package it and drop it off.

A couple important things to keep in mind when using the app-

Value is different for everyone. Poshmark has an "offer" button, and sometimes I'll get outlandish offers like $10 for a great condition Marc Jacobs wallet. It may be offensive, but value perception is different for everyone. I'm selling some cute Kate Spade silk blouses I paid full price for, but at this point, the value of extra space is more worth to me than having to hold on to them for a better price. So don't look too shocked when you get a crazy offer. You can turn it down or wait for the right buyer. 

Buy secondhand.- Right now I'm toggling in between sizes and instead of buying full price or even searching for a brand new item, I buy secondhand. It saves money, the environment and you support another person who's trying to declutter. Read more details on Katrina's great blog post on the benefits of secondhand. 

Overall I would recommend the book and the app. Together, it can be a powefful combo in your tools to edit your wardrobe. You can shop my closet here. 

 

A Softer Version of a Tougher Moment

Warning to readers with baby loss sensitivityThis post contains sensitive material containing NICU babies, with photography and discussion on infant loss. If you know a family or loved one, or a patient who would benefit from this service, please read on to contact Gavrielle. 

I remember when I ordered our Christmas Cards from 2014. It’s not the ones I had in mind. I was hoping for a fresh baby with a silly Santa suit or beard, or Christmas lights wrapped around him. Or even him coming out of an unwrapped box- he was a gift after all. Instead it’s a photoshopped pair of his feet. Not only were his feet not dipped in Christmas colored paint as the digital alter implies, but we only have his right foot. The nurse who cleaned him and wrote his death certificate gave us only one foot. I wasn’t there to ask for a clip of his hair, an outline of his hand, or even ask to hold him. I was struggling with him for the past 25 hours, I didn’t know what to ask for.

When I think of the day he was born, I wish they would have given me options, that I was more focused, or had at least one minute of clarity, asked for privacy, or that I simply could have held him for a long time. I constantly think about him, he is everywhere I go, everything I listen to , he’s in all the beautiful "instagramable" sights I see, he’s in the fragrance of everywhere I step. He's in Miko, he's in his dad, he's even in me when I catch myself in store front windows. I think of his face, his lashes, his lips and his cheeks. This is all I was given and I will take it all in as much as I can. 

I wish I had met Gavrielle earlier. I wish someone would have offered me the service Gavrielle offers to families.  She's a photographer offering her resources for families that need that moment to remember. I'd like to say she has a soft heart but no, it's the opposite.

To walk in and endure the pain of a family from a sick child, to endure the possibility that a family may come out one family member less doesn't take a soft heart. It's the opposite, but yet her softness comes out in her photos. She's inspired by the loss of her mother, a small doll she was given as a child and the meaning it brought her through her grief. This is her version of that doll- to give something back to families. Questioning and denying what she had to do and experiencing panic attacks from the "what if's" swimming in her head, she fought against herself to do what was right. This is an uncomfortable setting and she does it with grace and servitude to the families. It may be rewarding to her at the end of the day, but it's more than that. When the family looks at a photo of "that one time" and the anguish they experienced, the uncertainty, it's a quiet and powerful thank you at each glance. 

In her own words- "I feel like that was exactly what I needed to do to prepare for the situations I encountered/may encounter in the future. I now know that I have to give myself time to heal also - I felt selfish for that for a long time because it seemed so awful that I would even take my own feelings into consideration after what these families were going through, but it really weighs heavy on your heart. Their situations aren’t fair, and I don’t want to get used to that feeling. However, the good stories far outweigh the bad stories, and I don’t want anyone reading this to give up hope. Hope is so important. These babies, and their parents who love them so fiercely, give me hope. I get such an overwhelming feeling of happiness when I see their updates posted about them reaching hospital milestones, or better yet, them going home. They all have such a special place in my heart."

You can reach Gavrielle on her website, Instagram or Facebook. Photos copyright of Gavrielle Webb. 

The Nursing Station + Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow

I'm so grateful I get the opportunity to work with Ergobaby. Every time I tested out a product, I felt safe with each item and safer knowing Miko was backed up by science and years of research in product.

Today I'm happy to test out the Natural Curve Nursing Pillow. I have a "nursing station", an IKEA Raskog kitchen cart I've been using to hold my essentials during nursing- hand sanitizer, a mini-breast pillow (great when engorged, ouch, and the extra support helps), a clean swaddle, nipple balm, tissue, hand lotion, lactation bars, my Kindle, iPad, headphones, a heating pad, and I had my Spectra pump charging when I took this photo, along with The Pumpin Pal (a MUST if you have a hard time with regular pumps). I take it with me everywhere I'm nursing around the house, along with the pillow that fits right at the bottom. These are my "must-haves" when nursing at home, and the pillow has become one of them. I tried nursing in public for the first time recently and all I could think is how silly I must have looked carrying around a big pillow but I wish I brought it! 

Here's what I loved about the pillow!

  • Holds flanges for pumping like a table! I loved that because I'm hands-free. I couldn't remember the last time I opened up a paperback book and wasn't struggling reading my Kindle. 
  • It really does have a natural curve to fit each body type- Sometimes Scott wears this to help feed Miko. He's tall and lean, and he loves it. 
  • It feels safer. I was gifted some other popular breast feeding pillows and while I could see why they're popular, for me, they were too big. I feel like I have a desk wrapped around my waist and all I need is an old telephone and a stapler with my laptop and I'm set to answer your calls. Miko could easily roll off those if I wasn't careful and the Ergo pillow tucks her away. 
  • It's sleek looking. I hate to admit, I LOVE this feature. It looks good anywhere and it doesn't look out of place, like it belongs only in the nursery.
  • It feels good. It's a little hard at first, but once I started using it, I noticed the pillow got softer. I noticed Miko will just chill on the pillow, and not get as fussy. I can't tell if it's the head placement, the fabric or just the curve part of the pillow, but something about it, she really loves. 
  • It's washable. You can remove the cover and throw in the wash. AMEN. 
  • I have big boobs and with this pillow, I don't have to hold myself to feed Miko. I don't know how to explain it unless you've experienced it, but I can rest easy with it. It's the little things that really help! 
  • You don't need a back pillow. I use one because my nursing chair is so far back, but I don't need it anywhere else I'm sitting. 

What I didn't like!

  • I was still swollen after surgery and I couldn't have this fit. It would either rest on my stomach, but it was awkward and I felt like the pillow was too far from my body. Keep in mind, I was fresh out of surgery with no pain medication and if you barely touched my stomach I would be in pain. I also couldn't fit in my nursing chair, that's how swollen my hips were, too. I only tried it on the chair and couch, but someone told me I should have used it sitting on the bed and I would have better luck. Just a tip if you want to try something else!

That's the only critical feedback I have towards the Ergobaby Pillow! I love this pillow and I've been telling everyone to add it to their baby registry. Buy it here!  

This post was a paid collaboration with Ergobaby. My opinions are mine. Other products mentioned and this blog are not associated, I just really love them. Thanks for your support! 

Friday Darlings

First updated weekend links of 2017! I haven't updated much with Friday Darlings because after 3 years of doing these weekly updates, I'm starting to hate the name, ha. It's not a good enough reason to stop blogging these, I like sharing my favorite things I find online (when I have time to!) 

+ Walt Disney Estate is selling his Palm Springs home. The best part? It's under a million dollars! That seems really low for an iconic home from a well loved celebrity in such a great location. Let the bidding war start! More here. 

+ Pete Souza shares his favorite photos of 2016 from the Obama administration. 

+ Comic Books Written by Women You Should Be Reading

+ Library Extension is a Chrome plug-in that searches if a book you want is available at your local library. Save money and support your community, so easy! 

+ Living in the Beautiful Bubble of the Not-Quiet Internet.  "Too young to be Gen X, too old to millennial's..." Nailed it. 

+ If you haven't watched Pitch on FOX, please do yourself a favor and watch the first season! High under rated, with a POC lead that doesn't sugar coat her troubles, but also celebrates her success. Plus Zach from Saved By The Bell is one of the leads and he has a beard *heart eyes*

+ "In 2016, the world bared it's teeth, and my baby giggled back".  Sometimes it feels like Miko was born in the fall of Rome, but Evans gracefully writes what I've been feeling. 

+ Friday Night Pizza Night (I've started my healthier eating routine, so bare with me) 

Enjoy your weekend! 

Dear You

I hardly think of where I want to see myself at the end of the day, let alone next year. I want to be more ambitious but I need the extra push. I picked up the book This Year I Will... and one of the chapters the author has an exercise to write a letter to your future self one year later. I wanted to gloss it over but I can't deny no matter how much older I get, there is a handful of things I need to do to keep life balanced and stable, regardless of what comes. Sure I want to hit small goals like use my DSLR more, up my skin regimen, but these are the ones that balance everything for me. I’ve written my future self to keep up with a certain discipline for a better quality of life. Life doesn’t go as planned, anything can happen but as long as the goal stays the same, I’m hoping to look back in 2017 and see what was (and wasn’t accomplished). So here is my 2017 accomplishments in all their glory (or failure, maybe!)  

****

Dear Diana,

Wow, Miko was a handful but I can’t believe you stayed positive. Child rearing was never on your list of “goals” but you’re good at it, and you’ve devoted so much time to this girl, her growth and what kind of woman she’ll be. She'll grow up knowing you were a combo of gentle, wise, and strong.

In 2017, you’ve put your phone down more, and turned off the TV sometimes. You actually hit your Goodreads goal! You opened more pages and closed more apps and reading was like meeting an old friend again. 

Pen to paper is a powerful tool. You journaled and stayed on schedule with your planner. Sure there were a few days all you did was write “OPEN PLANNER” but you did it. Your journal kept you focused, creative, stable, and you went to your journal more than Twitter, ha. 

You lost the baby weight plus more. Your body went through some major changes- you carried your second baby, had major surgery and breastfed. You should be so proud of what your body can do and how wonderful it has healed. Remember when you could barely get out bed in the hospital and holding your baby was so painful? Now you get to carry her and go on walks with her.

Getting rid of weight also meant getting rid of stuff at home. You cleaned out your dreaded office that was once a space to have creativity flow has become a storage pile because the garage is too full. A clean space means a clean emotional state, and you (almost) know where everything is. You still have that one drawer that could be over-ambitiously labeled as “junk drawer” but still worthy of using the label maker. 

And you blogged?? Regularly?? They say blogging is dead, but so is ska music but that's never stopped you from listening to it. You were tempted to churn out content for clicks, but you stayed true to your word and stuck with topics, companies and shops you truly loved. 

Through all of this, you’ve done what seems like the impossible at times- you’ve worked on your marriage. Once these things above fall into place, life becomes easier to live, you become an easier person to live with (AMEN), and your marriage is a main focus instead of a distraction. You and Scott buried a son together and now you get to raise a daughter, and while the odds were statistically against you to stay together, you proved them wrong. Don’t forget you’re not just husband and wife, you’re great business partners, and now you get to parent together. Miko will know the gospel through the actions of her parents and their marriage. Thankfully she doesn’t have the glasses gene like you both do. Pat yourselves on the back, then go make out somewhere because you made it through 9 years of marriage. 

Some fun goals to balance it out- keeping a consecutive snapchat with Ashley on the daily. It's a fun way to keep the mundane, well, fun, and keeping up with daily emails with Aline and daily group texts with family. 

And looking back at 2017 and reading this letter, what if I’ve failed? What if everyone sees me fail? Don’t worry about what can't be done, look at what you've did! Happy 2017! 

1 Month with a Rainbow Baby

A lot of what you'd expect from living with a newborn is true- less sleep, lots of feedings, lots of cuddles and lots of diaper changes. As for adjusting, it's a sinking feeling I'm not used to- joy? Relief? I'm not sure yet. We did have a scary moment with her first week coming home, she had to be admitted to the hospital for "Failure to Thrive", she was losing weight, almost to 3 lbs, she didn't want to eat and her diapers were always clean. It was scary seeing her with a ton of needles and IV, especially so little, but she came home with almost a full pound gained. She was born at 37 weeks and needed some time to catch up. Despite that scary incident, she's healthy and yes, thriving. So far at one month she...

  • Loves her DockATot over her bassinet
  • wants to be held instead of swaddled
  • feeds like a champ every two hours
  • sleeps an extra hour at night and that hour of sleep is a gift from heaven
  • hates Daddy's beard (but I love it, so it's not going anywhere. Sorry, Miko)
  • is almost at 7lbs
  • favorite music is Disneyland Park playlist and doesn't mind the new Bastille

We are exhausted and thrilled, all at once!

// swaddle set from madly wish courtesy of Mandy! We love it, thank you, Mandy! Leia blanket from bed hog shop

Babywearing with Ergobaby!

I was given the opportunity to try the Ergobaby Adapt carrier and I jumped at the chance. I have a few carriers collected for Max, including an Ergobaby. There are tons of studies to benefit babywearing from help with breast feeding, bonding and honestly the idea I can get stuff done around the house with Miko is a big plus. 

I have the Bundle of Joy carrier, but I like the upgrades of the Adapt. I have a small torso but wider hips along with the curse/blessing of a larger chest, small shoulders and small waist. How in the world was this going to be comfortable?? There was no problem in comfort, putting it on with a little help from Scott, and the wider straps helped my back, especially after surgery. I love the carrier but I love the experience the carrier gave me. 

Putting Miko in the carrier was terrifying at first. Baby wearing reminds me a lot of pregnancy, marriage, taxes, responsibility, etc. It sounds scary, but once it happens, it’s the anticipation that’s worse. Once I began wearing her, it was so smooth. I was worried about tripping, about my postpartum pregnancy size (I’m still wearing my maternity leggings, comfortably, oops), I was worried about the baby pressing on my incision, I was worried about crushing her, I was just worried

In the end, after walking a few blocks, enjoying some sun therapy, and the golden hour, the worries went away. Our breaths were in unison, her new skin warmed to mine, and there was a moment where it felt like I did with her a couple weeks ago. Not much changed, but I was carrying her outside instead of inside. 

I only tried baby wearing walking outside, but I’m excited to try it with errands around the house. She’s about to go into her clingy-phase according to her developmental chart, and Ergobaby will be a big help to get to hold her from as early as 6 lbs and on. 

This was a partner post with Ergobaby. Thanks for the support, Ergobaby! 

Books in August

For the month of August, I decided I didn’t want to marathon TV. I didn't give up TV completely, I just didn't sit to watch it like I normally do (all day! yikes!) I've given up TV before, but this was a good balance for me. I watched what I wanted, scaled back and picked up reading again to entertain myself. Here's what I've read so far! 

Winter, Fairest and Stars Above by Marissa Meyer Ok, so that’s 3 books but they’re all part of the Lunar Chronicles. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, this is all my life was for a moment. Marisa Meyer created a YA series unlike any other I’ve read before. Yes, I loved Harry Potter and nothing compares but this is a group of women, of diverse races, disabilities, and talents who fight a war in space. It’s also one of the first YA books I’ve read where one of the protagonists mentions she’s sexually attracted to someone with no shame (but I promise you t’s not 50 Shades of Gray). The series is long, each book gets longer and I began reading Cinder earlier this year and it took me some time to get through each one. I loved the characters, the wonderful and magical world where women rule in space and I was sad to see it end. 

Sex Criminals, Vol 1, 2, 3 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zsardsky. This is a comic but not a comic for kids, at all. This is a graphic (and I mean that in both illustrated and genre) novel where sex is the main topic and it’s brilliantly done. Jon and Suzie find themselves stopping time every time they have an orgasm, not your average super hero trick. By chance they happen to find each other, fall in love and become criminals by stopping time together. It’s funny, sweet, and the illustrations are tasteful, but I was still embarrassed to read it in public. Matt Fraction has written for comics before (such as Hawkeye, and brought Kate Bishop to life, one of the best characters in comics) and gives them heart and charm and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein- I wanted to give this book 5 stars by the prologue. I was surprised how well Carrie writes. She’s a great musician and comedian but I never thought her story about being in one of my favorite childhood bands would resonate with me so much. If you grew up loving Sleater Kinney, or music was a part of your growth to adulthood, this book is great. I loved when she writes about music and the connection to nostalgia. I always knew bands worked hard at touring and recording, but when I read the details about the life they gave up to change mine, I can’t help but appreciate them more. 

Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen- There’s a little bit of Josely in me and by the end of the story I was hoping Sarah would write a sequel. She’s shy, loves her mother, is crushing on her mailman, and just all around kind of a nice bland girl, or so you think. The female characters in this book are all relatable at some point, and the men I either wanted slap or hug. I was about to give this book 3 stars, but without giving too much away, the last ten pages made me add the extra star.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami- I loved this book but I’m biased because Murakami could write about grass growing or paint drying and I would still praise it. If this is the first Murakami book, I don’t recommend this as an introduction. It’s a story about Tsukuru, a mid 30 some year old male going through growing pains. He seemed a little immature at first but I think Murakami wrote about issues no one in their 30’s will admit to- like a conversation you had with someone 15 years ago will effect you now, or how anxiety is still the same as a teenager. If you’re familiar with his work and love it, this is a great book to add to your library. 

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn WeingartenThis wasn’t the thriller I expected but I appreciated the banter between the teenagers and the friendship grown throughout the harder issues. It’s a beautiful cover and what could have been a great story but something about it just didn’t capture me like I wanted. The book is under 300 pages and I can see this being a YA staple for others. It was an okay read but overall the “thriller” aspect fell a little flat for me. 

Red Queen by Victoria AveyardI was so excited to read this book- I planned a full day to finish it and even if I wasn’t intrigued by page 100, I felt committed to doing so. Many people recommend this book to me and I’m not sure if it was the high expectations that weren’t met or the YA tropes that came chapter after chapter, it just wasn’t for me. I appreciated the strong female character and the ending that leads to the second part of the series coming out next year. If this book ever became a movie, I would love to watch it. The imagery of the costumes were beautiful and I’ll admit that’s what kept me reading at times. 

The Nesting Place- This was a fun book on decorating and appreciating what you have. Even if you own a home or rent, you'll find something to take away from it. The author's decorating style wasn't anything like mine (I skipped the whole chapter on used furniture after my debacle with finding mold and asbestos on my favorite couch years ago) but I appreciate everything she had to say about making a home. 

Currently Reading- The Psychopath Test Jon Ronson. I’m about 100 pages in and I love it so far. I can’t imagine many authors writing about a horrific topic and making it seem funny and charming. I’ll update this next month.

Any other books I should add to my list? You can keep up on my reading on Goodreads and the occasional bookish Snapchat under “ourcitylights”.