Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy holidays!

As you can tell, I've taken a mini-break from blogging. Between the gatherings we've been hosting, the dinners with friends and family, and trying to squeeze in quality time alone with DH and Maya, I haven't been left with much time for blogging.

Entries to resume once life calms down again in 2010. (In just two days, oh my!) Until then... wishing you all a very happy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The days are short, and time is even shorter

OOTD Sun Dec 20 2009

Outfit Details:

top - H&M, cardi - Gap, jeans - Banana Republic, shoes - Steve Madden, necklace - Jones New York

Things have been a little chaotic lately, and I've been having a hard time squeezing in even a few minutes to take outfit photos. I'll try and be better about it going forward. In the meantime, here's the last outfit I snapped a few days ago.

I've had these jeans forever (since 2005) and they had always been my absolute favourite pair. Since I finally lost the last few pounds of pregnancy weight, I've been wearing them constantly. I find that Banana Republic jeans fit me better in the waist, and hips than any other pair I've tried (including high end pairs), and the pockets are flattering to my booty (aka junk in the trunk). Also, as much as I love the skinny jean trend, it's not the most flattering for my body type, so I rarely reach for the one pair of skinny jeans that I own. Bootcut, flares, trouser or even straight legs work so much better at minimizing my hips and thighs.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eleven dozen cookies

OOTD Sun Dec 13 2009

Outfit Details:

shirt - H&M, cardigan - J.Crew, jeans - Banana Republic, shoes - Steve Madden

Since moving back to the suburbs, I've joined a Mom's group. On Sunday, one of the meet-ups was a cookie exchange. It sounded like a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and it was just for the Mom's (no kids) so it seemed like it would be a much appreciated break for me.

Then a couple days before the meet-up, I reread the invitation. I had thought I was supposed to bring two dozen cookies - a dozen to share at the event with everyone and a dozen to exchange with one other mother. Umm, obviously I cannot read. The invitation actually said to bring a dozen to share at the event and a dozen for EACH mother. Given that 10 other Mom's were attending, that brings the grand total to eleven dozen cookies... or 132 cookies!

So guess who spent Saturday afternoon baking?

Shortbread cookies!

It actually wasn't too bad. I had been smart enough (or lucky enough to be honest) to choose shortbread cookies for the exchange. Besides the chocolate I topped the cookies with, it only required four little ingredients. Score!! Plus, I actually love to bake and the 2 1/2 batches I made turned out wonderfully.

The only problem now is that I came home with a ton of yummy cookies, and I also still have 1/2 batch of shortbread that I baked myself. I spent Sunday and Monday munching on the cookies (soooo good and I didn't want them to go to waste) and feeling incredibly guilty over the amount of sugar, fat and calories that I was consuming. Then it hit me. I could just freeze the cookies, and enjoy them slowly over the next month or two. So I am now down to just 1-2 cookies a day instead of the gratuitous cookiefest I was partaking in.

In other holiday related news, What Would A Nerd Wear requested pictures of the tree I trimmed with Maya. Here you go, with a bonus picture of our fireplace!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Another great find


Outfit Details:

dress - J.Crew, cami - H&M, tights - Joe Fresh, shoes - Steve Madden, necklace - Banana Republic

I first spotted this J.Crew dress in their fall sneak preview that they posted on their website way back in the summer of 2006. Since I was pregnant at the time, I decided that this was one dress I would likely have to pass on. Then, about 20 weeks into my pregnancy, the dress went on sale. Could I resist buying, even though I should have been spending my money on maternity clothes? Nope.

It's too bad the bump kept me from trying the dress on because I probably would have never bought the dress. It turned out to be way too long and frumpy on me. I wore it briefly after I had Maya. You know, the time when all your maternity clothes are way too big on you, but everything else you own won't button or zip up or pull on without ripping a seam. This dress was one of the only things that I could wear, and I was so tired and felt so yucky all the time, that I barely gave myself a glance at the mirror. I pretty much said... yay, it fits! All dressed.

Once that foggy point in my life had passed, I relegated the dress to the back of my closet. That it until this fall. I tried it on, and decided that it was the length that was ruining the dress. So, I took my trusty rotary cutter and hacked off about 6 inches of material. Then I spent about ten minutes pinning and ironing the hem (the secret to a professional hemming job) and another five minutes with my sewing machine. TADA! A pretty non-frumpy dress.

Even after the hemming, I thought it was still just a touch big around the torso, so I added one of my favourite wide belts to cinch the whole thing in.

And so we have yet another successful find from my closet, and yet another reason why it's not such a terrible thing to be a clothes hoarder.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Something old, something new, nothing borrowed, something blue

OOTD Tue Dec 8 2009

Outfit Details:

dress - H&M, cardigan - Zellers (Alfred Sung PURE), belt - ?, boots - Steve Madden

Are you tired of hearing about my finds digging in my closet yet?

This is one of the last items I bought just before I became pregnant with Maya. Technically, I think I already was pregnant, but unaware of it yet. My friend Pearly bought this dress while she was shopping with me over our lunch break. (Sigh, I do miss those quick retail therapy trips). I loved it as well, but was on a psuedo-ban and decided to be good. For two days, I thought about how cute the dress was, and I finally went back only to discover that my size was sold out. The size down was a little tight, but I resolved to lose the few pounds I had gained recently in order to wear it. (Did I mention I was pregnant at the time and didn't know it? LOL)

Fast forward to post-pregnancy. The dress was now much too tight and the material showed every bump and roll. I packed it up, and almost gave it away so many times. But for some reason, I always pulled it back out of the donate bag and couldn't bear to part with it. Maybe someday I reasoned...

Finally, in the last few months, I've managed to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. To my dismay, not everything had gone back to the way it was before. While I'd never had a flat and toned stomach, my pooch has become a bit more prominent. This dress STILL showed all my bumps and rolls, and I felt self-concious wearing it. So I went over to my beloved sewing machine and took it up at the waist changing the shape from a fairly straight cut slight a-line, into a true a-line. So much better!

Because I felt like the dress was a little too formal on it's own, I dressed it down with some wedge boots, and paired it with my new cardigan from Zellers. Yes, you heard me right, Zellers. I was lured into their store by the sale on their Alfred Sung PURE line sweaters. In the ads, they looked so promising, so cute and J.Crew-ish and so unlike Zellers that I had to check it out for myself. I was pleasantly surprised, and ended up picking up three cardigans. While some of the line is a little frumpy, there was enough cute stuff that I will definitely be back.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's beginning to look...

OOTD Wed Dec 9 2009

Outfit Details:

top - J.Crew, cardigan - Forever 21, jeans - Gap, shoes - Steve Madden

If you take a gander at the edge of my fireplace mantle, you can see that's it's been undergoing a holiday transition over the past week or so. I tend to write about this every year, but the holiday season is a really special time for me and makes me remember my mother. Christmas was her favourite time of year, and she loved to share that joy with me and my brother. Now that I have Maya, I find myself missing her more than ever. My mom would have had so much fun doing all the holiday activities with Maya, and I so wish they could have known each other. Last week, while I was telling Maya about how I used to bake gingerbread cookies with my mother, Maya said to me "I wish I could meet your mommy". My heart just ached. I suppose one of the reasons why I have looked forward to doing all the holiday stuff with Maya, is it's a way that Maya could know my Mom.

This weekend, we spent trimming the tree. Since I had to pack away all our breakable glass ornaments, we needed to re-buy some toddler safe decorations. We didn't go overboard - just a trip to Superstore, Walmart and Michaels - but it was great fun because I had Maya pick out everything (with a little gentle guiding from me). The result is the prettiest tree that I've ever had in my home, and a beautifully decorated fireplace mantle. Not to mention, wonderful memories that I'll relive every year when we unpack the decorations in preparation for the holidays.

Wednesday greeted us with a quiet and cold snow day, so I decided it was the prefect day to build a gingerbread house. Maya consumed just a little bit more sugar than she probably should have. The little bunny was dipping her fingers in the icing as I tried to glue the roof to the house walls, and snuck quite a few smarties when I wasn't looking. This girl seriously doesn't need much sugar to get her going, so she was quite literally bouncing around, dancing and singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as loud as she possibly could. I wish I had recorded it!

Although our house didn't quite turn out as I had hoped (lopsided roof, icing windows that dripped into a sloppy puddle, a broken icing wreath), Maya still loved it. She declared it the most beautiful gingerbread house ever, and (after her sugar crash) climbed onto her chair, rested her chin on her hands and just sat there admiring it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My first re-fashion

OOTD Sat Dec 5 2009

Outfit Details:

cardigan - J.Crew, top - Old Navy, skirt - DIY (re-fashioned from a tee), shoes - Steve Madden

A few months ago, I came across the Wardrobe Re-fashion community. And while I lack the drive to give up new clothes completely for 2/4/6 months in order to join their pledge, I'm still very much intrigued with the idea of re-fashioning outdated or ill-fitting items to give them a new life.

My Dad has been cleaning out his basement and dropped off a bag of my old clothes last week. Much of the stuff are clothes I used to wear in high school (circa late 80s/early 90s) and had been sitting forgotten in plastic bins in his basement. On Friday night, I decided to sort through them. While some of them were just horrible (oversize sweaters and grunge floral dresses that are indecently short), I did find a few simple tops classic enough to wear even now. I also found this burgundy oversize tee which caught my eye. I held it up, and it instantly whispered "skirt" to me.

An hour later, three feet of elastic, a few snips of the scissors and a jaunt through my sewing machine created this skirt. Considering that I was just winging it (no pattern), I am really happy with how it turned out.

Of course, I had to wear it the next day to dinner at the in-laws. My sister-in-law liked it so much that she asked if I could make her one. While I don't have any more oversize tees in my closet to re-fashion, I will be scouring the clearance racks at Old Navy and Walmart to create a few more for me and her. And come to think of it, my Dad's got a few more bins of my old clothing sitting in his basement.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Here comes Santa Claus

OOTD Fri Dec 4 2009

OOTD Fri Dec 4 2009

Outfit Details:

dress - H&M, cardigan - J.Crew, tights - H&M, shoes - Aldo, necklace - H&M

As you can tell from the snowman on my fireplace mantle, the holidays have arrived at my house. I've been telling Maya about Santa Claus, and this is the first year that she actually gets him. (Jolly old man in a red suit with a round belly, who magically comes through our gas fireplace to bring her, and all the good little children, presents on Christmas!) She spotted him at the mall last week and watched a little girl take her picture with him. "I want to see Santa", Maya exclaimed.

I told her we'd come back when she had her party dress on, so she'd look very nice for her photo. So all the next week, she has been telling me "I want to wear my pretty party dress and see Santa!" I asked her what she was going to ask him for Christmas. "A dollhouse! A Calico Critters dollhouse!"

Sounded like she was ready to me.

So on Friday, my Dad and I took Maya to the mall to see Santa. Unlike the week before when there was absolutely no line, we were greeted with a whole gaggle of tots and their parents. The wait was one hour. The woman in front of us told us that some of the schools were having a PD day... hence the crowds. I asked Maya if she wanted to leave, and she frowned and shook her head. "I want to see him".

So we waited. Surprisingly, Maya was awesome in line and in a fantastic mood the whole time. She chattered on about the babies going by in their strollers, the other kids in line, what she wanted to ask Santa for. She sang, she danced and she took pictures with Grandpa. When we finally got to the front of the line, she held my hand and jumped up and down.

Then it was our turn. Without warning, Maya suddenly started yelling "Mommy up! Mommy up!" and becoming upset. I picked her up, and she held me as we approached Santa together. Then the tears started.

Santa handed her a candy cane, and said "What would you like for Christmas?"

"I want apple juice!" Maya replied and started bawling. Oh dear...

We let another family go ahead of us as I tried to calm Maya down. In the end, Santa hid behind his chair while Maya sat in his seat, surrounded by teddy bears as I held her hand. Before they took the picture, Santa popped up stealthily and smiled for the camera. Not the most ideal Santa photo, but I must admit it will make for a memorable tale when Maya gets older.

Plus, we now have the ubiquitous Santa photo with the crying toddler, and Mom's hand holding said toddler's hand with Mom's body mysteriously cropped out. While the photo won't make the holiday cards this year, it will be in the scrapbook of memories.

Afterwards, as we all stopped for coffee and a snack, Maya realized that she didn't tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas!

"Can we go back and see him with Daddy?" she asked.

"Do you want to see Santa again?" I questioned.

She started to tear up, and I hugged her and whispered, "Don't worry. When I spoke to Santa, I told him that you wanted a Calico Critters dollhouse for Christmas. And you know what he said? He said that you were a very good little girl all year and he would make sure you received the dollhouse."

Maya smiled.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

Outfit Details:

cardigan - Gap (outlet), dress - Old Navy, tights - Joe Fresh, necklace - The Bay, shoes - Banana Republic (outlet)

Today, the weather turned unexpectedly cold. Given that I live in Southern Ontario, where we experience the joy of the four seasons, I shouldn't have been surprised at all. But we were blessed with a fairly warm autumn so far, and Maya and I have been taking full advantage of it with trips to the park and lots of walks around the neighbourhood.

I am not ready for freezing temperatures, ice and snow! Not yet anyway.

I realize that I've been wearing a lot of black and grey lately. So to mix it up, I threw on one of my favourite cardigans and purple studded flats. You may have noticed that I own these in black as well. I am a huge fan of buying in multiples if it fits into at least one category: (1) it's a steal (2) it's a basic. If it's a memorable or unique item, I'm more hesitant to buy it twice. But if I love it, I'll go ahead anyway. For instance, I own this dress in two colourways!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Digging deep in my closet - Part 2

OOTD Fri Nov 27 2009

OOTD Fri Nov 27 2009

Outfit Details:

top - Banana Republic, skirt - Joe Fresh, necklace - self-made, tights - H&M, boots - Steve Madden

Last week ended with a particularly dreary day. My pictures in turn, came out quite dark, but thanks to the magic of Photoshop, it isn't too bad now.

I haven't worn this keyhole tee in years, but incorporated it into my outfit in yet another attempt to re-use my wardrobe. I'm not so sure I like it. I probably should've left out the necklace, but I feel really naked when I don't pile on at least one piece of jewelry.

This skirt was a clearance steal from the Joe Fresh line, and is getting a lot of wear. There's something so easy, and casual yet pulled-together about a simple jersey skirt and tee.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Digging deep in my closet

OOTD Wed Nov 25 2009

Outfit Details:

sweater - Banana Republic, jeans - Joe Fresh, necklace - Forever 21, shoes - Aldo

In an attempt to re-use my wardrobe and limit over-consumption, I spent a few hours sorting through the sweater pile in my closet. When I say pile, I mean it literally. When pulling together my outfits for the day, I have this tendency to pull out and discard maybe three or four sweaters before making my selection. Given that Maya only gives me a few minutes to get dressed in peace, I forgo folding them back neatly and just give them a good chuck to the back of my closet shelf. After about a week, my carefully folded collection of crewnecks and cardigans become a big ole mess!

So last week, in front of a Gossip Girl re-run with a glass of malbec beside me, I spent about an hour blissfully re-folding and organizing my sweaters. Now, crewnecks sweater, v-neck sweaters, cardigans, etc. are grouped with their respective peers. And even within those groups, they are further organzied - grandpa cardis, argyle crews, etc. Looking at the tidy little piles gives me such a thrill, and I'm pleased to say that I've managed to keep them (mostly) in order.

This sweater used to be an old-favourite of mine. So much in fact, that I initially bought it in black, and couldn't resist buying this light blue sibling when it went on sale. I hadn't worn it in years, but decided that it was long overdue to put it back into rotation. I paired it with one of my newer acquisitions for the fall... a lovely statement necklace which was a steal from Forever 21!

My teeny tiny Cyber Monday haul

If you can believe it, I have never ordered anything online since I've returned to Canada. No shoes, no accessories, not even a book! I'm not sure where my hesitation stems from considering that I used to have a package arrive every other day when I lived in Brooklyn. We used to order everything online: diapers, food (I miss you Freshdirect), toys... and of course, clothes.

Actually, I do know why I haven't been pulling the trigger with the online merchants. First of all, the deals are not as great for us poor unforunate Canucks. I cannot tell you the number of times I have winched over the price of a pair of shoes here. Not to mention, my staple merchant of choice for kids clothes (Gap Inc.) does not ship to Canada. And of course, the ownership of a car makes shopping much easier with a toddler, rather than the inconvenience of lugging a stroller up and down the subway steps just to get to the nearest department store. Guess what? Not everyone will help a woman struggling up the steps with a baby, stroller, and baby bag. (And people wonder why the transition to suburban life wasn't as shockingly painful to me as they had expected).

Getting back on topic, I just placed an order for Forever 21, taking advantage of their Cyber Monday free shipping deal. I initially placed my order because I thought that Forever 21 was one of those stores that was really hard for me to reach. But... checking the store locator, there's one only 20 minutes away from me! Hooray! I suppose if anything in this order doesn't work out... it's an easy trip for the return.

I feel in absolute love with this top as soon as I saw it. I adore the crochet and it speaks to the vintage girl inside of me. Hopefully, it won't look too Grandma in real life, but then again, I am inexplicably drawn to old-ladyish styles. (DH will probably have a great time making fun of me the first time I wear it).

I have been craving a studded belt lately, and thought this one was perfect. It's not too literal and still has a refined preppy feel. In fact, I thought it looked awfully close to this J.Crew one.

Ah J.Crew. Yet another retailer that needs to come to Canada (and they apparently are), or at least ship to us without having to pay duties. Something I absolutely refuse to do!

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