Sunday, March 1, 2015

Looking ahead: the Search for the Perfect Summer Bag

     Just when I had made friends and felt settled and comfortable in Idaho, had accepted and even grown to enjoy the idea of being there for the next few years of life the Army decided that we needed to up and move yet again. We've traded the quiet mountain life of Pocatello for a more urban life in the Columbus, Ohio area. Getting used to crowds and traffic and it taking longer than five to ten minutes to get anywhere I need to be is certainly an adjustment. I'm also still very much in the "I miss my friends! I miss my routine!" phase of relocation. It's been below freezing and snowy almost every day that we've been here so far which is such a downer, but I'm already looking ahead towards June when school is out and I will suddenly need to turn into a camp director.
     An issue that I've run into summer after summer after summer is bags. What kind of bag do I need? Even though I only have one kid still in diapers, it seems like there's always a ton of just stuff that needs to be carted around. Water bottles and snacks for the day for sure, and then things that we pick up along the way like library books, red box movies, crafts we've made somewhere, etc. I have a really lovely brown leather purse that can hold quite a lot, but it's heavy to carry around all day long and not exactly something I feel okay about just chucking into the bottom of the stroller. Not to mention that my little ones don't really want to be sitting in the stroller much these days, either. I'm constantly going back and forth between a big tote bag, or a backpack. I've attempted to see if there are any blog posts out there about what other moms who don't need a diaper bag, but still need some sort of jill-of-all-trades bag carry around, but I'm not coming up with much which is why I decided to blog about my search.
     Currently if I know I'm going to be out and about all day with the kidlets and want to be able to carry a lot of things in a bag that I can just toss about and not worry about it, I use my Petunia Pickle Bottom bag. (The style is the Touring Tote which is discontinued.) It's light weight, has a crossbody strap so I can be hands free, lots of pockets for organizing, and holds quite a bit. However, It's short and wide so it can feel a bit bulky when it's packed. I'm always finding myself wishing it were a bit taller. I also don't love all the weight being on just one shoulder. Logic says I should look into carrying a backpack for summer, but ugh. They're just not the cutest things ever.
What kind of bag do you use during the summer when you're out and about with kids? Backpack? Tote? Crossbody? Do you just make your kids carry their own bags and sherpa their own things themselves?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wardrobe Building

     Long time, no blog. Blah blah blah. I've got five kids. My blogging will be sporadic at best. Get over it.

     Now that I've gotten that out of the way- This year I turned 30. It's something I am completely relishing. I'm a firm believer in age being a number and you are as old as you believe yourself to be. I spent the course of my twenties having baby after adorable baby, and while my diaper changing days haven't quite come to an end yet (my two youngest kids are still in diapers) I am looking at my 30's as "the decade of me." My free time is increasing slowly but surely with my youngest turning two this year and since I have no more babies happening in my future, I can start building the proper wardrobe that I've always wanted but couldn't do when my size was doing the yo-yo thing with all the pregnancies.

     I love clothes, but I've never thought of myself as a clothes horse and I've never desired to be one. I'm all about the curated wardrobe, minimalist wardrobe, five-piece french wardrobe, whatever other name you want to call it. Looking around online, I've seen a LOT of lists that claim to be the essentials that every woman needs and I think a lot of it is a load of hooey. Women are diverse and unique beings with diverse lifestyles and personal preferences. What may be an essential to one woman's closet could be completely useless in the closet of another, even in very similar ladies.
     Take my best friend, Kyndal and I. We are the same age, we're both married, and we're both stay at home mothers with young children. However, she lives in a city and is married to a doctor and therefore attends dinner parties and charity galas and needs to keep a cocktail dress or two in her closet. I am married to a staff sergeant in the army who is attached to a reserve unit (so no military balls) and live in a small town where there is nothing even remotely fancy, so a cocktail dress wouldn't be getting the proper amount of love it deserves. Alternately, I live in a northern town in the mountains where we can easily have 9 month long winters and the only part of an outfit that most people will see is your jacket and boots, so I live for outwear. Kyndal lives in a warmer climate, so having a vast array of boots, jackets, and coats isn't necessary for her.

     For me, I like to have a uniform of sorts. Not that I'm wearing the exact same thing every day, it's more like a formula. It typically goes a little something like cardigan + t-shirt + jeans + flats. Sometimes I go for a blazer or jacket instead of a cardigan, or boots or sandals instead of flats as the season or weather allows. Sometimes it's a tank-top or blouse, sometimes it's fitted, sometimes it's flowy, sometimes I swap the jeans for a skirt, but the basic formula is how I like to build my outfits.

     Today makes one month away from the first day of school for us, so fall is right around the corner and I'm looking for my handful of items to spruce up my wardrobe of basics. Here's my working list at this point:

quilted puffer vest from J. Crew Factory
     I'm a little bit obsessed with this vest right now which, if you follow me on Pinterest, should be pretty obvious. I'm still undecided on what color I want and go back and forth between navy, black, and the black herringbone. I wear TONS of navy so part of me thinks, "Obvs I need the navy!" and the other part of me thinks, "I already have SO MUCH navy, maybe I need the black or the print to mix it up?" Let's be real, I'll probably get the navy. It's my go-to neutral. It's softer and easier (in my opinion) to wear than black and goes with both browns and greys. 

classic button-down shirt in plaid
     I've had many a plaid shirt show up in my closet, but they've always been given to me by other people as hand me downs and thus have been colors I haven't loved or sizes that don't fit me. This is the year I'm going to buy my own dang shirt! I'm not sure if I want it to be flannel or not, but I definitely want it to be something that buttons from top to bottom (and not just at the top) so I can wear it open over a t-shirt, and I want it to be slim enough that I can layer it underneath the above vest or a sweater.

a felted wool hat
     I incorporated a straw trilby into my spring/summer wardrobe this year. It was an impulse buy, but I have worn the heck out of it and am really wanting to get a felted wool version for my fall/winter wardrobe. I'm not sure on color. My go-to jacket for when it's too chilly for just a cardigan, but not chill enough for a heavy coat is my grey plaid fleece peacoat, and my heavy coat is a lovely vintage number in sage green. I'm kind of leaning towards a burgundy/mulberry color, but maybe I should just go with basic black.

quilted jacket
     Southeast Idaho can get some cold winters...and falls...and springs...When we first moved up here I was sure I'd be wearing my heavy coat a LOT. What has actually transpired however, is that I don't wear my heavy coat as often as I thought I would and I usually grab my polar fleece peacoat. It offers more warmth than a cardigan or a blazer and is more comfortable for driving and running errands. (Who wants to walk around the grocery store with a big heavy coat?) I can wear it over a simple long sleeve cotton tee in the fall, or over a chambray shirt and sweater and add a scarf for when the temperatures start to dip further. I wear it ALL the time, but it isn't perfect. It's not super water resistant and wind cuts right through, so I'd love to get a light-weight quilted puffer like what my kids wear during the winter. It blocks wind and snow without being heavy and bulky. This one happens to be from Land's End, but J. Crew Factory and Boden have some lovely ones as well. (I'm trying to focus on investing in quality items for things that I want to wear over and over for years and years, that's why there's no Target or Old Navy items on my list. Plus, it's July and most websites don't quite have the fall stuff out yet.)

     What about your wardrobe? Do you have a "uniform"? Are you already thinking ahead to cool temperatures? Anything you are wanting to add to your wardrobe for the fall or winter?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fast Forward Five Months....

     So it's been awhile, dear reader. I probably don't have to tell you, but I will anyway, that the end of the school year and summer vacation with a house full of young children is absolute insanity. Isn't life always insanity with kids no matter how many you have? The highlights of the interim time are as follows:

     Hickory celebrated his second birthday and got this sweet little turtle sandbox for a present which he loving shared with his sissy. I love this picture of him giving her a cuddle. It melts my momma heart.

No bakery cakes here.

All this sugar for me?
     Our sweet baby girl celebrated her first birthday. Birthdays are pretty simple affairs around here, but since it was the first birthday of our one and only daughter and our very last baby (Am I setting her up to be over-indulged with that line of thinking? Probably. But it is all a true description.) I made her cake a bit fancier than I normally would thanks to Pinterest. It looked beautiful but I should have added some vanilla or something because white cake mix tastes like nothing.

Picnic in the trees with my hubby. I'm smiling, but inside I'm terrified the smell of our food is attracting bears. lol. We never saw a bear all day, by the way.

Nicola and I (and the back of Ephraim's head) in front of the waterfall. This was taken at Artist's Point, but we also hiked down the 300+ stairs of Uncle Tom's trail so see the bottom of the falls, and to the scenic overlook that's right next to the top of the falls. Pictures don't do it justice.

All the boys, somewhat patiently waiting to see the Old Faithful Geyser erupt.
     We also took a day trip up to Yellowstone National Park. It's only a few hours drive from where we live. I have to admit I wasn't super stoked to go initially because I am quite far from being considered an "outdoorsy" person. However, once we got there I was SO glad we went and I can't wait to go back again!!! It is absolutely beautiful and the geothermal activity is interesting and mysterious and breathtaking. It's also a pretty versatile place as far as sightseeing goes. If you are an outdoorsy person and you want to go back country hiking, you can do that. If you want to hike along paved paths (which is more my speed) you can do that, and if you just want to drive from view to view, you can do that too! It was also cool to see GOBS of people from all over the world, speaking all different languages there at the park as well. I heard at least half a dozen languages not including American English during the course of the day.

Canon, first day of 3rd grade and Ephraim, first day of 2nd grade.

Doyle, first day of Kindergarten. I told him to look excited in the picture on the right. Apparently it's the same look as when you are bracing yourself to have a bucket of cold water tossed on you.
     The kiddos started back to school, and this year Doyle is going as well. The Kindergarten schedule here is pretty odd. You are assigned to go either every Wednesday and Friday, or every Tuesday and Thursday, and then both groups swap and go every other Monday. Confusing? I thought so, too. But I suppose this works for them. The army will probably move us before Hickory starts school, so I've decided not to dwell on it.

Ephraim suited up for practice.
     Last but not least we have entered into another year of fencing! Ephraim wants to try to compete with foil this year (foil being the type of weapon he uses, there's also épée and saber), and Canon wants to give it another shot. It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of living in Pocatello, ID, but one of the few things I really love here is the Pocatello Fencing Club. The coaches are so positive, energetic, and encouraging. I like to hang out at practice I love it there so much, but that makes Ephraim feel like a little kid (and he's already one of the youngest kids there), so I try not to stalk him too much.

     So yes, life is crazy and always will be. It's a beautiful life though, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Renter Re-Vamp: Circus Nursery

     My husband's military career has caused us to move...a lot. A whole lot. As in, I've moved no less than ten times in the nine years we've been married. Eek! I thought that we would be staying in the house we're in now for the next few years until we PCS to somewhere else. (PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station. It means the military is moving you to a different duty station.) It doesn't look like that's going to be the case due to some issues we're having with our neighbors, but moving is nothing new to us.
     One of the challenges of moving, is decorating. Often times in rentals there's a lot of rules about what you can and cannot do to the house, and even if you are allowed to do something like paint, you typically have to paint it back before you move out. However, since we don't tend to stay in any place for more than a year, painting is something that just isn't worth it to us. Everything that we do in terms of decorating needs to be something that we can easily take down and move with us to the next space. So working within those parameters, we've been trying to spruce up the kids' rooms. I, in particular, have become a bit obsessed with Nicola's room.
     Way back when I was pregnant I decided I wanted a vintage circus type of theme. Originally I thought that Nicola and Hickory would be sharing a room, so I wanted something gender neutral. As it turned out, we ended up moving out of that house in Oklahoma and up to Idaho so Nic is in a small room of her own, but I loved the theme and colors so much I decided to keep it going anyway. It's still a work in progress, but so far it looks like this:
Ignore that bag of clothes in the corner. It has since been taken to the local Goodwill.
    The crib and dresser are both from Ikea and the bentwood rocking chair is the chair that my mom rocked my older brother and I in when we were babies. The caning on the seat has started to give way, but I keep going back and forth on whether I want to re-cane it, or if I want to put in upholstered pieces of wood for the seat and back instead. Do I want to keep the natural wood tones, or do I want to paint it a fun color? Draped across the ceiling you can see just a peak of a garland made of yarn pom poms. It's hard to tell in this picture, but the poms are in a gold, deep red, black, deep red, gold pattern. I made that at the end of my pregnancy after I just couldn't find a pennant bunting I liked and I didn't feel like going to through the trouble of finding the fabrics and cutting and sewing one myself. Who has the energy for that in the third trimester?
     On the wall above the crib, featured in the middle photo is sort of my inspiration for the room. It's a piece of vintage reproduction circus fabric and I love everything about it. It's blue with deep red and golden tones and I loved it so much I just couldn't bear the idea of cutting it into smaller pieces to make something, so I bought the biggest embroidery hoop my local craft store had and framed the fabric in the hoop. Originally I bought the fabric with the intention of making it into window valances, but when you move the windows are always different sizes, so I think this works out much better. The two picture frames in her room, the blue one on the wall and the black one on the dresser were both gifts from my lovely friend, Cortny, who threw me the most spectacular aqua and red baby shower ever. The blue frame is actually handcrafted by her dad. Inside the black frame is red polka dot scrapbook paper, and for inside the blue frame I printed off Proverbs 3:24 which says, "When you lie down you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." in a circus font that I downloaded for free. The yellow N and the strongman were both Etsy finds, the sock monkey toy was a Christmas gift from her uncle, and the wooden horse used to sit on my dresser when I was little. I love that she has little things from my childhood in her room.

     Like I said, it's still a work in progress. She desperately needs some curtains for her windows. The poor things just look so naked. I'd also like to put her strongman in a shadow box and hang it on the wall by the rocking chair where the blue frame and her initial are. I think some more fabric is smaller embroidery hoops would be nice to compliment her big hoop, and I have ALWAYS wanted to paint the crib. Ideally, I'd like the paint the top, bottom, and corner pieces a light blue and the rungs gold, then add circular pieces to the legs so that it looks like a circus wagon. Maybe once it's consistently warm outside I can get cracking on that project. If/When she ever moves into a bigger room, I'd like to frame some vintage circus posters for her wall as well.

     Overall, I love it. It's whimsical without being babyish. Are you a renter, too?? How do you handle decorating a temporary space?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dream Clothes: Marilyn's Robe

     Last week, The Glamorous Housewife asked on her Facebook page, "If you could get one piece of clothing reproduced, what would it be?" I thought about that for a minute. There are so many beautiful vintage dresses that would be amazing to have, but where would I wear them? I've always loved the old school playsuits that are a one-piece romper with a matching skirt that goes over them, but that's a bit limiting to the summer time. What is something that I could wear all the time or any time, but I just can't seem to find? I knew exactly what I would have reproduced.
     One of my favorite movies is How to Marry a Millionaire starring Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe. There are tons of amazing clothes in the film, including a fashion show, but every time I watch the movie or even think about the movie I can't help but covet the white terry cloth dressing gown the Marilyn wears in one scene. I know what you're thinking. It's a white terry cloth bathrobe. They sell them everywhere. No. Not like this one.

     It's floor length, fitted in the middle, and I believe it zips up the front. As a stay at home mom, I spend a lot of time, well, at home. I live a casual life and I like to be comfortable. This does not mean, however, that I want to look dowdy or frumpy and live in sweats or yoga pants. This right here folks, is some practical yet glamorous loungewear and I can absolutely imagine myself sitting on the couch with my morning cup of coffee in just such a robe.
     Another reason why it would be a dream of mine to have it reproduced is because I have looked for years for a robe like this and haven't ever found anything close. Even looking through vintage sewing patterns I haven't found anything with that same shape. I wonder if it was sewn custom for Ms. Monroe for the movie because it seems to be so unique.

     How about you? What article of clothing, vintage or not, would you want reproduced? Would you wear Marilyn's robe?

Friday, February 15, 2013

People of Yesteryear

     For as far back as I can remember, I have loved the style of the 1940's and 1950's. I'm sure it has something to do with watching so many old movies as a child, but I've always found that time period to be very glamorous, even if it was a hard time like WWII. It's pretty easy to look to films of the day and photographs of movie stars from that period to get inspired style wise, but what I find even more interesting and inspiring is looking at photos of regular people in their every day lives. Sure Lauren Bacall looks amazing in How to Marry a Millionaire, but what did the average woman of the day look like? As a wife and mother who doesn't have designers and make up artists and hair dressers, I wonder what my counter part back in the day would look like. What does she wear around the house or on vacation with her family? What does her hair look like? Does she really wear high heeled shoes all day every day?

     I love the simple, classic style these moms have going on. It's something that would be fairly easy to replicate and still be totally wearable in the modern world. I also love that it looks like the woman on the far left has on ballet flats. My kind of lady!

     How great is this group of ladies? Doesn't it make you want to curl your hair, put on a tiki dress, and join them in a cocktail?

     Here is the most beautiful photograph of four generations of women with baby, mom, great-grandmother, and grandmother together. It's so touching and sweet how the baby is reaching for her great-granny's glasses.

     Do you like looking through old photos, even if you don't know the people in them?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Keeping Busy

     Aside from the kids passing around the flu and colds for the past several weeks, here are some other things that have been happening around here lately....

     My second oldest, Ephraim, started taking fencing classes! I actually had fencing in mind for my oldest son, Canon, and he did go to the first class but just didn't have enough interest in it to continue going. Ephraim went just to see what it was like and ended up loving it. I should have known since he's pretty much down for any sort of sport or activity. It's so cool to watch him at practice and I must say I was pretty surprised to discover a fencing club here.

     I've also been doing some knitting. When it was really really cold in January I wasn't worried about Nicola having a hat really because it was so cold that we weren't going out at all, but now that it's warmed up to the 30's and the sun is out we're getting out more. It's still pretty cold for her little bald head though so I wanted her to have a warm hat. I've always loved the look of vintage styled pixie hats on children so I whipped up this one based on this pattern. I ended up putting on i-cords on each side to tie under the chin instead on a chin strap with a button. I'm currently working on another one in lavender for a friend's baby.

     I'm pretty interested in the idea of knitting an actual vintage pattern. It'd be great to have some cardigans and pull overs for myself, but I must confess that even though I've been knitting since 2005, I have never made a cardigan or sweater before. I've done scarves, hats, booties, blankets, and then shorts, pants, and soakers for the babies, but never a sweater- not even baby sized!! I'd like to give it a go, though. I never wear true vintage clothing because I'd be devastated if something had survived for 50+ years only to be ruined by my kids wiping their hand on me or something, but if I knit from a vintage pattern it's kind of like the best of both worlds, isn't it? It'd probably be the more sensible thing to do to try a baby sweater first, but that's just not my style. I'm just not a dip my toe in the water first type of gal. If I decided to do something, typically I just want to jump right in. I'm really loving this petal yoke cardigan, but I'll probably search around a bit more before I make a final decision.