Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mark Your Calendars

I read the book when Taylor was 18 months, and I was pregnant with Syd.  I was working at St. John as the Regional Manager of the West Coast and traveling almost weekly.  Needless to say I Don't Know How She Does It struck a big old fat chord with me.  I just watched the trailer 3 times and teared up each time.  I'm such a sap.  I hope it's as good as the book.  And who doesn't love SJP?  Well except maybe GoFugYourself.  Mark your calendars for September 16th ladies!

Also to be marked on your calendars, Missoni for Target hits stores September 13th.  I am allowing myself a pass on the Target budget this month.  Check out the full lookbook here.  What's your favorite item?  
Happy Hump Day everyone!  I've got lots to do in prep for Friday night's craft night where we'll be making these leather pouches and rhinestone friendship bracelets.

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Something Special

{Dress: Anthropologie; Necklace: Juicy Couture; Shoes: Sam Edelman; Watch: Michael Kors}
A piece of clothing usually has to offer something special for me to actually make the purchase.  Whether it's the unexpected color of a short, the detailing on a cardigan, or even the little cuff at the bottom of a pant, there has to be something about it that makes it just 'different'.  Of course I didn't always have this expectation, it's something I've developed just recently in the last 2 years I'd say, but it's allowed me to really and truly love anything I've added to my closet.  I can honestly say that 99% of the things I've purchased in the last couple of years, I have no regrets about.

This dress, "the dress" as some of my friends call it, is no exception.  The print is bold yet somehow still manages to be soft, the ruffled bottom hem that adds extra twirl, and the waist detail is my favorite by far.  Belted, nipped in and with hidden on seam pockets, yes pockets!  I've had this dress for over 2 years now and have worn it to baby showers, wedding showers, mother's day brunch, my daughter's birthday party, book signings to meet famous bloggers, and to concerts at the Hollywood Bowl.  There's just about nothing this dress can't do.
Yes, this dress is bold and makes a statement, which usually means people won't forget it and friends have seen me wear it over and over again.  That used to really bother me and I used to think I had to have something new for anything.  In my twenties I would think a night out to dinner required a new blouse or a fun dress.  Then the reality of a mortgage, 2 kids and 1 income sets in and you let that stuff go...you have to let it go.  But believe me, if you love what you're wearing it makes it a whole heck of a lot easier.  So the next time you're adding something special like a dress to your wardrobe, keep an eye out for the details.  What makes it unique and special?  If you start with that requirement in mind first, you may just end up with something you'll love for years to come. 

*Thank you all for your excitement and suggestions for the new blog name!  I've been twirling it around all night and as much as I want to come up with something totally snazzy and different, I also am starting to think that associating it with the current name to some extent might be the best route.  Ah, blogger problems ;)  I'll make up my mind soon though!  Until then, any new ideas, please let me know!

Linking up with Lindsey for WIWW!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Breaking Off

Thank you all so much for the beautiful and thoughtful comments on Friday's post.  It's so reassuring to know I can be myself here, and that you guys are willing to provide words of encouragement and love.  By the way, I called and apologized to my mamacita and we are all good.  I felt so much better after we spoke.

I've been a bit conflicted about the direction of this blog for a few months now.  I originally started this space as a family blog, then turned it into a life-style blog about a year ago.  I intentionally added the hyphen to the life-style part because I never saw this place as purely a lifestyle blog where I just focus on pretty things, but more of a blog about life + style.  It was a play on words that I'm sure no one ever got but me, and that's okay.  I figured it allowed me to blog about life, the good and bad which is so important to me, plus blog about style.

Since then though I've built a mixed audience, some that read just for the style posts and some that could care less, as well as plenty of you that read for both.  I've felt for a long time though that I've been holding back, not blogging too much about style in fear of turning off some readers, as well as because it just sometimes feels odd sharing so much about my life and kids one day and then the next day showing which outfit I'm wearing.  A little confusing, a little schizophrenic if you will.
(me, tristan and jules)
On Friday night I went to the Decor 8 book signing with Jules and met Tristan from Besotted Brand for the first time.  Afterwards we went to dinner with a few other bloggers including Alexandra, and Holly Becker herself, who is beyond sweet and down to earth.  At dinner I also sat next to stylist/photographer Leslie Shrewing from A Creative Mint.  I have to say considering my post on Friday about letting go of looking good, it was a bit ironic and overwhelming to be sitting at a table with such inspiring, talented and yes, stylish women.  Once I got over my discomfort of feeling like the odd one out who doesn't really read design blogs, I had a lovely time.  We ate French food outdoors, drank wine, laughed and shared a lot.  Nothing in particular was said that night to help me come to my decision, but it just occurred to me almost through inspiration osmosis somewhere between the steamed artichokes and the warm goat cheese salad that it was time to split off and start a style blog.

So as soon as I can finalize a name and design, I'll be blogging about all things style over at a new space.  I love reading so many style blogs and think they all have something worthwhile to contribute, but I've also felt that there is a bit of a void for women like me.  Women in their late 20's, 30's and beyond, whether you're a mom or not, who want real, practical and simple inspiration for creating your own personal style.  So I want to evolve Playgrounds & Lollipops once and for all and feature more personal outfits and give advice, inspiration and tips for what helps me get dressed every day.  I want to focus on women of all shapes, sizes and ages and want to feature friends and readers as well.  I want to find creative ways to shop your own closet and turn something old into something you love again.  And I don't want to create a space where I curate items that just leave you and me feeling like I want, NEED more stuff.  Unless it's to highlight fantastic, other-wordly items like the Missoni for Target line because hello, everyone needs to know about those gems!

So in a way I'm starting all over but I'm excited and you know what?  I'm not scared!  And that is such a relief.  I will continue to blog here at Four Flights of Fancy, but I'll leave this space as a place where I can blog about everything else that I cherish in my life; my family, my home, my food and my heart.  You don't have to read both, but I'd be tickled pink if you did :)

So guys, can you help me come up with a name for my new blog?  Here are some ideas I've been tossing around in my head.  I don't know if I LOVE any of them so I'm open to suggestions and honest opinions :)

Credible Style (not to be confused with incredible)
Seasoned Style (does this make you think of meat seasoning though?)
Inspired By (I'll be writing a lot about inspiration)
Muted Style (I think my style is a bit toned-down & simple, Art loves this one but Miranda said no)
AV Style (my middle name is Victoria)
Newly Minted (does this make you think of coins/money though?)
In Step (does this make you think of dancing?)

Do you guys like any of these?  Please chime in.  In the meantime I'm also on the hunt for a blog designer that specializes in Wordpress because I'm switching over for the new blog.  Any suggestions, pretty please?

Thanks again guys!  I'm excited and I hope (some of) you are excited too!  Here's to fresh beginnings! 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thoughts of the Week - Letting Go of Looking Good

At pick-up on Monday afternoon, Taylor's teacher informed me that she had received a "cloudy day" for not staying on task and completing her assignments, and that if her lack of focus continued, she would have to be placed on a work contract.  Our conversation was brief and to the point, but it sent me reeling into hyper-active over-reaction mode as per usual.  Of course there was a reason to be concerned about our little day-dreamer, but probably not to the extent that I took it.  The next morning I woke up, certain I'd feel better but only felt worse.  My heart and head felt so burdened it was hard to even focus.

I called my sister to wish her a happy birthday and after we hung up I realized that it was the anniversary of the death of my older brother.  Of course my heart was a little heavier that day.  When my brother died our family was still broken, trying to repair itself.  My brother had graduated from UCLA, my sister was married and I was about to go away to UCSB.  We were for all intents and purposes, trying our best to lead healthy, normal lives, rebounding as a family of a recovering alcoholic.  When he died it was the reminder that no matter how far we've come, we still came from some shitty circumstances.  Fifteen years later we are as healthy as a familial unit as we can be.  My brother is a successful MBA graduate, married to probably the sweetest girl you will ever meet and they have 2 amazing kids.  My sister has tapped into a well of compassion I never knew she had, adopting 4 children in addition to their 1 birth son.  And me, well you all get to see about me.  It makes me so sad that my oldest brother never got to see us healed, and it makes me sadder that he couldn't be a part of it.

While for the most part we are healed, we each still have our "stuff".  Last summer when I visited the life-coach for a brief second, she told me on my first visit my problem was that I was too concerned with perfection and that I needed to let go of looking good.  How ironic, considering my career was centered in an industry completely dedicated to making people look good.  Call it pshyco-babble, but she did have a point and it was easy to see that when you come from a mess, it's a natural reaction to try to make everything neat, tidy and pretty.

So why am I spilling all of this?  Isn't this a lifestyle blog Andrea?  Shouldn't you be focusing on fashion, food and other pretty things?  Blogging 101 tells you that if I wanted to make this blog a raging success I probably should just stick to that stuff.  But as much as I love the pretty, the pretty isn't always the truth or reality.  We all have our "stuff" no matter how perfect we try to make our lives appear on a blog.  On Tuesday I wanted to write this out here, but I wasn't ready, so I wrote about preserving your child's artwork because that's just easier and well, prettier.  But I don't want this place to ever become just a showcase for pretty.  So at least for today I'm letting go of looking good and embracing who I am, where I come from and how far I've come.

Have a great weekend everyone.  I for one am definitely ready for it.    

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Old Favorites

{Cardigan: Nordstrom; Tank: Gap; Jeans: Gap; Shoes: Dolce Vita; Necklaces: Forever 21 & Stella & Dot; 
Watch: Michael Kors; Bracelets: Forever 21 & J.Crew}
We celebrated a dear friend's birthday last night and this is what I wore.  We went on their duffy and I could have very easily dressed it much more down than this, but I needed to put on some heels and gold jewelry and lift my mood a bit, because it's been a bit of a tough week.  This outfit did just that.  The old me, pre-Project 2011 would opt for some retail therapy when feeling blue, but I stopped myself and I was proud.  I almost bought a very nautical-esque shirt yesterday but I remembered this cardigan and how much I love it so wore this instead.  Navy stripes definitely counts as nautical right?

Thanks for reading guys.  It's nice having this space where I can just say hi, say I'm feeling good or I'm feeling blue.  I love my family and my friends and they are the best support system in the world, but there's just something very different and therapeutic about releasing feelings in this way.  I really and truly appreciate those of you that read, whether you leave a comment or not :)

Happy Thursday.  It's a busy day ahead for us, but in the middle we're going to the beach so it should be all good. 
Linking up to WIWW @ The Pleated Poppy

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preserving Children's Artwork

I've mentioned before that my kids love arts and crafts and nothing thrills me more than to help feed that creative side of them.  What I don't love though are piles and piles of art strewn all about and so a few years back I started making art journals for the kids.  Starting at about 2.5 when the art actually started to become intentional creations, I began saving their creations in a large box.  Every few months I make myself go through them and hang onto pieces that were sentimental or where I could see progress in a skill being worked on and made, i.e., cutting skills, stick figures versus just scribbling, etc.  Everything else I force myself to flush out.  As we go, I try to write the month and year on the creations and anything specific I remember about that project.  It's fun to look back and see progress and remember where they were at a certain age.   

When I first had the idea to create these journals I didn't really know where to start, so I visited our local Art Supply Warehouse and sort of just walked around and asked a few questions.  What I came up with was a clear artist type of plastic cover that would protect the cover art from fading over time.  The plastic sheets are sold in large poster board sizes.  The back of the journals are a heavy poster board available in a variety of colors.  There is a large artist paper cutter and hole punch on site so I cut the plastic covering and poster board right then and there.  The body of the journal is 12x18, the size of a standard artist's sketch pad.  Artwork that was made on smaller sheets of paper is simply glued onto 12x18 sheets of artists paper.  Larger pieces of artwork are simply left as is or cut down to 12x18.  
I love the clear covers because it leaves the artwork easily visible and it's fun choosing a special piece to feature as the front cover of the book.
The heavy poster board backing gives the journals a nice and weighty feel.  I just use cute ribbon ties to hold the journal together.
The journals are kept under their bed in a box and every now and then they enjoy sitting down and flipping the pages of their old artwork.  This week I'm trying to get caught up on Syd's journals, but unfortunately I seem to have misplaced a whole years worth of artwork from preschool.  Oops, I guess I am not nearly as organized as I might have you think ;)  It's my mission to find the missing artwork this week.  Wish me luck!  And tell me, do you have any special ways to preserve your child's artwork?  I'd love to know!

Linking up to Today's Creative Blog for Get Your Craft On Tuesday &
& Beth at Tutorials & Tips Linky Party

Monday, August 22, 2011

Home Improvement

If ever a single lady were to ask me for any advice in what to look for when choosing a husband, it would be this, "Marry a guy that can fix stuff, but is not too proud to call in reinforcements when he's in over his head."  Not that anyone has ever asked me for advice in this arena, but if they did, that's what I'd say.

For the past two weekends we've been working, working a lot and it feels good to see progress made by our own two hands.  The biggest advancement?  Remember this eye sore of a block wall that ran along our entire property line?  Before it looked like this: 
And with some of this
 And this
We now have this.  And this guy couldn't be prouder of himself.  He can now add stucco artist to one of his many lists of talents.
After the stucco job was complete, we had to get rid of the green wall and so we painted.  Actually this is the "in over your head" part that I talked about before.  We ended up hiring 2 painters that got the job done at a reasonable price in less than 5 hours, which left us plenty of time to work on wiring the whole place up for outdoor lighting and to start planting.  It looks like a different place now though just with the walls painted.  Other shots from around the yard that I shot late last night...
We're working with all new plants that we've never had before in a yard and I love the silver colors brought out by the Silver Sheens and other plants in the pittosporum family.  White roses, lots of jasmine, lavender and rosemary round out the assortment.

And this is the best seat in the house, both indoors and out.  If you ever come visit you may have to fight me for this seat.  
 And while that's going on outside, inside I'm scouring catalogs and magazines looking for wall color inspiration since we're going to start painting as soon as the back is done.  I'm loving gray and thinking our bedroom set might look perfect painted this color seen in the latest Ballards catalog.  What do you think?
And lastly, the kids picked me this hydrangea from the garden over the weekend.  Not sure if it's at the start or end of it's blooming cycle, but either way I've never seen one look this with these dots.  I love it.  Any ideas how they turn like this? 
Whether relaxing or productive, hoping your weekend was whatever you were hoping it to be!
Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's September Before & After Party

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts of the Week - Breakfast

I haven't posted any recipes or food love in over 3 weeks.  Wonder why?  Well it's because I've basically been a bore in the kitchen, eating and cooking for energy not necessarily enjoyment.  Not that good, energetic food can't be enjoyable, because it is.  It's just that it's rather simple food I guess.  I started really watching what I eat 3 weeks ago now because more than anything I was pissed about not being able to fit into my shorts.  It wasn't about bad body image or the scale or blah blah blah, but the simple fact that when Fall rolls around, I don't want to have to buy all new jeans.  Art has joined me too by the way.  We are doing the Zone, and while it's often called the Zone Diet, I hate using the word diet because I really don't feel like it's a diet but rather just a meal plan.

I'm not a nutritionist or a diet expert, nor have I ever struggled with weight gain and loss in excess of 20 lbs, and hell, there's a lot more dire subjects to wrap your head around today, so I'm not going to get into the fine details of the plan (I didn't even read the book).  But I will say this, it all starts with breakfast, and it truly is the most important meal of the day.

I've always eaten breakfast and have never been one of those people that just chugs a cup of coffee and holds out until lunch.  I absolutely need something to get me started, especially after having kids.  But what I have been missing all these years in my breakfasts is protein, plain and simple.  On the Zone a typical breakfast is 1 egg, a piece of ham and cheese on an English muffin with an apple.  Something very similar to that pretty picture taken above.  All that protein fills me up and keeps me full until almost lunch time.  If I need a snack in between, I have one, but on most days it sustains me all the way to a very early lunch.  I don't feel starved on this plan and I'm not miserable.  I feel good and after 3 weeks I have seen results.  It has also helped that I've replaced snacking on a bag of chips with snacking on a piece of string cheese and some turkey.

It does take some extra planning and a bit more time, but we're worth it right?  I don't' seem to have the time to eat this big breakfast before Taylor gets off to school so I just wait until after she leaves and then I sit down around 8:15 and enjoy a nice big breakfast.  I'm telling you, breakfast is where it's at.  If I have learned anything from this meal plan, it is this.

In other news, the honeymoon phase of a new school is now over and Taylor has declared that all the math problems they have to do all day is boring and she "hates it."  We have to pry her out of bed each morning but at least she gets there with no tears and has a smile on her face when I pick her up.  We're off to a better start than last year for sure.

Also, Syd picked up some Star Wars picture books from the library yesterday.  We haven't let him watch any of the movies yet and plan to wait until he's at least 7.  This morning before Art left for work he instructed me to "Make sure if they start talking about Darth Vader being Luke's father you skip over that part."  According to him you see, that moment in the film when he says "Luke I am your father" is the most dynamic, chill inducing and climatic piece of film in the history of all film making.  Especially for a boy.  He was very adamant about this.  Art doesn't really ask for much from me but the usual, so ya, I guess I'll give him this and will be skipping over that part.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Late Night Sewing - Leather Pouches

I made this little pouch last night at 11 pm.  I intended to start around 8 after the kids went to bed but I kept procrastinating because well quite honestly, I was a bit intimidated, having never worked with leather before.  It turns out that with a leather needle, it was fairly simple.  The shape of this clutch, based primarily off of the American Apparel one that I have a love/have relationship with, is so simple it's just a basic square or rectangle.  I made mine 11"x11" using a 9" zipper because I intentionally wanted a little fold over flap look.  Other than that it's just basic straight line sewing with a little zipper foot action.   

The only thing I need to pick up now to make this project even easier are some stronger straight pins & a thimble.  The wimpy pins I was trying to use wouldn't even push through both pieces of leather so I ended up sewing all of this, including the zipper without pinning.  That was not a simple task, and resulted in the zipper  & edges puckering a bit more than I would have liked.  That's okay, I already know what to do for next time now.

My friend Miranda has a great hookup to tons of quality leather in bright colors so we're planning a girls craft night where we'll all make these, which I think is a fabulous way to spend the night.  I just need to perfect the technique a bit more and we'll be ready to roll.  My friend Mary is an excellent seamstress and I'm planning to also have her on hand to help out.  It should be good!

*If you're interested in getting yourself a faux leather clutch, Curly In the City has a great Etsy shop and the prices are amazing.  They go quick though so you've gotta jump on them as soon as they're released.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Playgrounds & Lollipops - Inspire Me

{Vest: Gap; Blouse: James Perse; Shorts: Vera Wang for Kohl's; Sandals: Sam Edelman; Hat: Forever 21; Bracelets: Stella & Dot, J. Crew & DIY; Watch: Michael Kors}
You have to find inspiration wherever you can find it, right?  For me sometimes it's magazines or fashion blogs, but lately it feels like looks keep getting younger and younger and I just keep getting older and older.  Perhaps it's not even an age thing, but just a lifestlye thing, because honestly I feel nice and spry.  It's just the farther and farther away I get from my old life as a working mom, the more and more I crave just everyday stylish comfort.  I swear I look at some of these fashion blogs, and while their style is amazing, I think "are they for real?"  Like, do they really wear that out and about, and how?  I'm just so far removed from such stylish feats that it's almost incomprehensible.

But today I read this cute post from Jessica at WIW, one of the first fashion blogs I started reading.  She's probably at least 10 years younger than me, but even without kids, it proves that we all just need a day to let our hair down and take a break from all this fashion stuff, yet still LOOK GOOD!  I don't mean to be presumptious here, possibly you don't think I look good and that's fine :)  Really it is.  Because I felt good and like I've said a thousand times before, that's all that matters.

That is always the lesson to be learned in style I think; if you feel good, then you will look good.  You will ooze good out of your pores.  That saying "look good, feel good" that I've used here before?  I think we've got it backwards.  Perhaps it should really be "feel good, look good."  What do you think?
Linking up with Lindsey for WIWW!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...