Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Party Like its's 1999 (and you don't have children)

Back when I was young, well-rested and had perky boobs.
It's hard to believe, my friends, but this is my final post of 2014.  I'm signing off until January 5th in order to spend some quality time with my kids.

Wait, no that's not right.

I'm taking a little break because I'm freaking exhausted and I just need some rest.  Too bad I'll still have to parent my children.  

I'm excited about 2015.  There's no reason for this, seeing that I'm still going to be spending every single day with my children, but a woman can hope that something new and exciting will happen, right?  

I'd like to tell you that I have incredibly exciting plans for ringing in 2015, but let's get real here.  I have two kids and hiring a sitter for New Year's Eve costs more than I made throughout my entire acting career.  I have misty watercolor memories of the days of old when I used to go out on NYE, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be a long, long time before I get to party hearty on the last day of the year again.  

The good news is that I may be a big loser now, but I still have some pretty cool friends from my past life.  Sure, I'm currently a yoga-pant-wearing, unshowered mess, but there was a time when I used to go to the hot clubs and stay up late and was actually cool.  Hard to believe, I know.

My end of the year gift to you is a playlist for your super sexy Stay-at-Home New Year's Eve from DJ Hesta Prynn.  You guys, she's an actual DJ who spins at cool parties for Vogue and Girls and Christian Louboutin(!) and she's my friend.  For reals.  I used my incredible powers of persuasion to get this talented lady to put together a playlist just for fans of the ol' blog.  It's not available anywhere else and it's designed to make your New Year's Eve party-worthy even if it only involves you wearing pjs and eating goldfish crackers on your couch.  

Who cares if you haven't showered in three days?  These tunes are going to get your still-sporting-my-baby-weight ass off of the couch and have you grooving in your living room.  You'll feel like your old, pre-children self.  You'll dance! You'll drink! You'll hook-up (with your spouse)!  

Just remember to take an aspirin before you go to bed, because for some annoying reason even though it's (almost) 2015 no one has managed to figure out a way to get children to sleep past 7am.  

Happy New Year!  See you in 2015.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

We Need a Little (Jewish) Christmas, 2014

One of the greatest mysteries of life is why it is totally impossible to make it through the holiday season without getting sick.  As far as I can tell once you have kids all bets are off and it's pretty much guaranteed that your child will infect you with some sort of antibiotic-resistant playground germ of death that will keep you from being able to enjoy the holiday season.  Last year, we all had bronchitis.  This year, the gift that the Muffin Man keeps on giving is the stomach flu.

On the plus side, it was an excellent way to lose the last of my stubborn baby weight, although in hindsight I think a juice cleanse would've been more enjoyable than twelve hours of vomiting.  That being said, I can now fit into my favorite sequined mini dress!

Too bad getting a babysitter on New Year's Eve is harder than selling a script in this town.

We seem to be on the mend, and thankfully the Little Lady appears to have dodged the stomach virus thus far (knock on wood) so we're now gearing up to enjoy the rest of Hanukkah and get our Christmas celebration on. 

Look, I love Hanukkah; the candles, the food, the story of the oil, and I'm so happy that my kids are being raised in a (mostly) Jewish home.  But I grew up celebrating Christmas, and so did the Hubby, and we really, really like Christmas.  We like the fresh tree.  We like the lights and the presents and Santa Claus and all that crap.  In our defense, we've got menorah lights on our tree, dreidel ornaments, and that Shark Tank favorite the Star of David tree topper, so we're still doing our best to represent for the Chosen People.

Side note: did you know that many of the most popular Christmas Carols were actually written by Jews?

Experiencing the magic of the holidays through our kids is proving to be the best part.  Hearing the Muffin Man say "wow" every morning when he comes downstairs and sees the tree and watching him get excited about opening his Hanukkah presents is wonderful.  It's enough to soften the heart of even the Grinchiest amongst us.

Well that and some delicious mulled wine.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Misadventures in Cooking: Eat Something Fried, It's Hanukkah!

His Hanukkah cookie house decorating skillz are off the hook.
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, so naturally I spent this morning barreling down the aisles of my local Target store in an attempt to both start and finish my holiday shopping all at once.  It's been so long since I've actually left my couch to go shopping that I'd forgotten how horrible it is out in the real world during "the most wonderful time of year".  Honestly, it's like every single crazy person in the city of Los Angeles decided to do their holiday shopping this morning.

I thought it might be fun to get you into the holiday spirit by writing a little Hanukkah ditty about all the sites I saw during my expedition this morning...

On the first day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
a drunk guy in the toy section feeling up Rockstar Barbie.

On the second day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
two women coming to blows over the last set of Star of David dish towels.

On the third day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
a kid with the stomach flu throwing up in aisle 12.

On the fourth day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me:
a homeless man sleeping on the blow-up mattress display. 

On the fifth day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
a toddler pooping in his training potty while riding in a cart. 

On the sixth day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
a near death parking lot experience in which I was almost run down by Kia Spectra.  

On the seventh day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
some truly excellent makeup tips from the Transvestite prostitute shopping in the Cover Girl aisle.

On the eighth (and final) day of Hanukkah my Target gave to me: 
proof that there's a reason I only shop online;
 if I'm going to put up with this sh*t, I better be drinking wine. 

If you're celebrating the Festival of Lights, I hope you have a wonderful Hanukkah.  As a special gift to you this year, I'm sharing my no-fail, gluten free latke recipe.  Remember, the secret to crispy latkes is to make sure the oil is really hot.

Crispy Latkes 

2 lbs. russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 medium onion
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup superfine brown rice flour
salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying (I use Trader Joe's canola oil)

Peel the potatoes and put into cold water.  Using a grater or a food processor coarsely grate the potatoes and onions.  Place the grated veggies in a fine-mesh strainer or tea towel and squeeze out all the water over a bowl.  The potato starch will settle to the bottom; carefully pour off the water and save the starch.

Mix the grated potato and onion with the potato starch.  Add the eggs, flour, and salt and pepper.

Pour about three inches of vegetable oil into a deep frying pan.  Be sure and heat the oil until it's really hot (test it by throwing one string of potato into the oil - when it sizzles fast and furiously, it's ready).  Take 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture in the palm of your hand and flatten as best you can.  Once flat, use a spoon to drop into the oil.  The latkes cook quickly, so keep an eye on them and turn them over after two to three minutes.  When pancakes are finished, remove to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.  Serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream.

Here's a helpful tip for kitchen morons like myself: don't overfill your frying pan with pancakes, because then the oil will overflow and catch fire.  If you do inadvertently start a latke fire, remember to only use salt to put out an oil fire, not water.

Have a happy and safe Hanukkah, my lovelies.  May your latkes be crisp, your brisket tender, and your wine glass never empty!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fix My Wardrobe: December Edition

what you get in a stitch fix box
Stitch Fix: because nobody should walk around looking like this.
Just a reminder, my friends, that Hanukkah is only five days away and Christmas will be coming down your chimney in 14 days.  You still have time to snap up some of the great gifts from my Holiday Gift Guide, but if you're not enthralled with the idea of ombre tights or perfume for the lady love in your life, another option is to get her a gift certificate for Stitch Fix.  Because really, what's better than the gift of good fashion?!

My December fix came last week, which means that I not only have some new clothing in my wardrobe, but that I was forced to take a shower and put on makeup for the sake of reporting back to you, dear readers, on the winners and losers in this month's box.

One of my favorite things about Stitch Fix, other than the fact that it keeps me from having to actually go shopping, is that every box includes a personal note from your stylist as well as a nifty guide on how to style each of the pieces in your box; complete with photos.  I love this feature because I'm a total fashion idiot and it makes it so much easier to figure out what I can wear with the goodies in my box.  I'm actually thinking about adding some corkboard to the back of my closet door so I can refer to my style cards whenever I get dressed - keep your eyes out for that home decor hack in a post coming early 2015.

Here's what I got in my December Box:
FYI: The cute black pants I'm wearing in all of the photos are the ones I got in my first box.  You know, the box that I didn't get around to photographing for you guys.  Yes, you can converse at length with my Mother about how often I disappoint you.  I promise, it will be a lengthy discussion.  

Skies are Blue Embroidered Top $68.00
I actually think this top looks pretty cute on me, but I just can't get past the fact that it reminds me too much of my childhood spent in Berkeley and it makes me feel like I need to stop shaving my legs and start wearing patchouli.  I'm sure that if I'd had a normal upbringing I probably would've kept it, but I'm scarred from spending my formative years drinking aloe nectar and burning sage.  RETURNED.

LA Made Tatum 3/4 Sleeve Striped Tee $48.00
I LOVE this shirt.  It's insanely comfortable, looks pretty cute on, and is loose enough to disguise my post-baby belly.  If my stylist sent me a box full of only different versions of this shirt I would buy every single one.  In fact, I've worn this shirt for the last three days in a row; I'm still trying to decide if that's something of which I should be proud or ashamed. KEPT!

Moon Collection Knit Drape Front Cardigan $68.00
I was really feeling this sweater when I put it on, but then the Hubby said that he hated the print and that I looked like an old lady living at the Shalom Retirement Hotel.  Since I'm going more for "hip, urban Mom" than "geriatric bubbe", I (reluctantly) sent it back.  RETURNED.

Mavi Gold Ruxin Distressed Boyfriend Jean $128.00
First of all, I think we can all agree that based on the look on my face in the second photo it's pretty obvious why my modeling career never took off.  This pair of boyfriend jeans was super cute and quite a bit longer than the ones from last month's box.  Unfortunately, they were ginormous.  This is a size zero and they were totally falling off of me. I'm sure I could've had them taken in by my trusty tailor (every woman should have a great tailor), but that would add to the cost of the pants and by the time I actually got a chance to go to the tailor distressed boyfriend jeans would probably be out of fashion.  I'm beginning to despair of every finding a flattering boyfriend jean that fits.  Sigh. RETURNED.

Splendid Maggie Cut-Out Scoop Neck Tank $68.00
If you follow me on Instagram then you're all too familiar with my love for Splendid.  I'm pretty much obsessed with their incredibly soft clothes both for me and for the kiddos.  This shirt was one of the few pieces of Splendid apparel that did not ring my bell, so to speak.  I love the way it looks in the back, but I just don't think it really did anything for me in the front.  Plus the fabric wrinkled really easily, which is not a selling point when you have two children and most of your clothes spend more time on your floor than in your closet.  RETURNED.  

A trend seems to be emerging of my keeping one item and sending the rest back, but I am holding out hope that one of these months every single item in the box will look amazing on me and I'll have five new items to add to my wardrobe.  Plus I really want to take advantage of that 25% you get when you keep everything that comes in your box.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for a sale.

Look, it's almost a new year, which means it's time for a new you - why not sign up for Stitch Fix and get some clothes that look fantastic with your new outlook on life?  I promise you'll regret it a whole lot less than you regret sleeping with that one sleazy frat guy in college.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Preschool Panic: Talk to Me

The preschool applications are done!  Finished.  Fin. Finito.

Personally I think we look good on paper. Sure, Rose looks like a withered, drooling prune in our family photo, but at least the rest of us look cute. Besides, who would be crazy enough to reject a kid who can rock a pair of suspenders? No one in their right mind, that's who.  

Now the waiting begins. Sometime in January or February we will find out which schools are interested in us and then we have to schedule interviews with the Heads of those schools. That's right, friends, we're only half way through this whole process. We've toured schools. We've applied to schools. We've filled out financial aid forms and yet we still have to pass muster with the big cheeses at these institutes of lower learning. It's never ending, I'm telling you. 

I'm actually really nervous about the interview portion of the preschool show.  I can write any amount of BS about how building popsicle stick castles is going to expand my kid's horizons, but talking to people face to face is not my strong suit.  I suppose I could throw back a cocktail or two to loosen up before we go in for the interview, but I suspect that it might not reflect too well on my family if I show up smelling like the bottom of a liquor bottle.

I guess I'll have to save my stress drinking until after our interviews.  

Look, I'm the text book case of a funny person: completely neurotic, socially inept, and a total train wreck. I can only hope that our first choice preschool hasn't filled their quota of those particular parental traits already.  Thankfully, I'm married to someone who is able to sell sand to a Bedouin, so I'm counting on Chris to make up for my lack of interpersonal communication skills.  If only I could get the questions beforehand I could write some pithy answers and have them memorized prior to our meet and greet, but I guess it wouldn't look too good if I cheated on the admissions interview, would it?

I just try to remind myself that the Muffin Man will be fine no matter where he ends up going to preschool.  Ultimately he's not really going to care whether he's eating paste at Temple Day School or the Neighborhood Coop; I'm just not sure my ego can handle being rejected by the hottest nursery school in town.

Plus I'm already planning on using all the connected Hollywood parents I meet through the PTA to further my career.  I've got to get something more for my $14,000 tuition than a few construction paper collages and a loaf or two of challah.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Breakfast, with Children

Have you seen the new book You Have to F****** Eat?  I was already a fan of Adam Mansbach's based on his first tome, Go the F*** to Sleep, but this new literary canon is running a close second.  Why?  Because it's not until one has children that she truly appreciates the beauty of a hot, freshly prepared meal enjoyed at a leisurely speed.  Once you're saddled with a kid, all mealtime bets are off.  You want a piping hot plate of scrambled eggs and some fresh toast with jam?  I suggest you hire a babysitter, go out to eat, and enjoy the most expensive breakfast of your life.  Because the next time you get to enjoy some sort of hot breakfast will be when your kids are in college.

Breakfast pre-kids:
You pour yourself a cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee and enjoy it from the comfort of your bed while catching up on world events.

After showering and pouring yourself a second cup of delicious java, you make yourself a mouthwatering breakfast of farm fresh eggs, smoked salmon on toast, and an organic fruit salad.  You catch up on email while eating your breakfast at a relaxed pace.

After breakfast you take the time to wash your plate before heading off to work.

Breakfast, with children:
You pour yourself a cup of hot, freshly brewed coffee and enjoy one sip before your child starts demanding to be fed.  

You prepare your child a beautiful plate of scrambled eggs, seasoned with a touch of sea salt.  When you present this meal to your child, he screams "no" at the top of his lungs and either throws the plate on the floor or at you.  You cry actual tears because you would kill for a hot breakfast.  Served on a plate.

You microwave your now cold coffee.

You offer your child yogurt instead.  Initially, he says yes.  When presented with a bowl of yogurt with a touch of honey and some fresh, organic berries, your child screams "no berry!" and then he empties the bowl of yogurt onto the table and proceeds to smear it around with his hands.  You cry actual tears because that was the last of the yogurt and now you'll have to spend some of your precious free time going food shopping.

You spend five minutes looking for your coffee before finally remembering you never took it out of the microwave.

You throw a frozen waffle in the toaster and hope that you can convince your kid it tastes delicious without syrup.  When presented with the waffle your kid immediately demands syrup.  You cave in and allow your child to have some syrup to buy yourself enough time to reheat your coffee.

You microwave your coffee.  Again.

While you are in the kitchen microwaving your coffee, your child decides he doesn't need no stinkin' waffle and starts drinking syrup directly from the bottle.  When you catch him doing this and you take the syrup away from him he throws a fit and refuses to eat any more breakfast.  You take him out of his highchair and attempt to wipe the syrup off of his hands before he uses your couch as a napkin.

You have a headache.  Maybe because you've been unable to ingest more than three sips of coffee.  Your coffee is cold again, but you can't let your child play in the other room unattended while you microwave the same stale cup of java.  You throw a few ice cubes in the cup and decide iced coffee is better than no coffee.

After five minutes of playing your kid tells you he's hungry.  Probably because he didn't eat any f*** breakfast.  You follow your kid to the kitchen.  When he gets there, he opens the refrigerator door, pulls out the meatballs from last night's dinner and says he "wants that".  You can't understand why someone would want meatballs at 7:30am, but you're just glad he picked something with protein.  You microwave a meatball for him.  You also throw a slice of toast in the toaster for yourself.

You spend another two minutes looking for your coffee before remembering it's in the other room.

Your kid sits down at the table and you give him his meatball.  You spread butter and jam on your toast before going to retrieve your coffee.

All the ice in your coffee has melted and it's now coffee water.  You pray there's still enough caffeine in there to get rid of your headache.

You sit down at the table where your child is eating his meatball.  You bite into your toast.  It's no longer very warm, but you're just happy to be sitting down and eating something.  Your child notices that you are eating toast and now that is all he wants.  He says "I want that!" several times before you hand over your toast just to get him to shut up.  You cry actual tears because you are drinking cold, watery coffee and you only got one bite of your breakfast.  You reassure yourself that you will be able to enjoy a quiet meal and a hot cup of coffee when your kid goes down for his nap.

You just have to survive lunch time first.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Misadventures in Gifting: Holiday Gift Guide 2014

The good news is that I survived Thanksgiving and a weekend away at an isolated cabin in the woods with my family and no internet.  No, I did not commit homicide or even attempt to throw myself into the frozen lake, for which I would like to thank Xanax and wine.

The bad news is that it's December 2nd, which means that Hanukkah starts in only 14 days, and that there are only 23 days before Christmas.

Commence panicking.

As I'm sure you've probably already surmised, I'm not one of those super organized, plan ahead type of Moms who have all of their holiday gifts purchased and wrapped before Halloween.  I'm more of what could be described as a "thank goodness for Amazon Prime because I can't tell my kids that Santa Claus forgot to stop by here'" type of Moms.  While I can never seem to manage to get my gifts purchased before the very last minute, I somehow find plenty of time to cruise the interwebs searching for great things to give my loved ones.  This year I've found some pretty groovy items of which, if you follow me on Pinterest, you already got a sneak peek.

In the hopes that I can help you, dear readers, become the organized, planned ahead person I aspire to be, I've put together a gift guide that's sure to have something perfect for almost everyone on your list.

For the Mommy who dreams of wearing something other than yoga pants:

For the Renaissance Man in your life (AKA "Daddy"):
 5) Retro Brand Baseball T (so he can represent his hometown) 6) Hipster iPhone Case 7) Plenty More

For when "naturally beautiful" no longer looks good enough for your social media account:

8) By Terry Blush Glace gives a natural flush to the cheeks 9) John Freida Hot Air Brush 10) Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate is amazing for tired, stressed out skin 10) Keiko Mecheri Peau de Peche Perfume

For whoever is hosting that Hannukkah (or Christmas) dinner you're crashing:
12) Vintage barware is always chic 13) Gold zig zag tray, made to order 14) Geode soap rock

For the Mommy who aspires to have a beautiful home despite having children who like using markers.  On furniture:

For the little man in your life:
18) Thief and Bandit leggings 19) Dino crayons! 20) Bedhead pjs are the cuddliest

For the little woman in your life:

21) Every kid deserves her own teepee 22) A gold print for her bedroom 23) Little Hip Squeaks headbands (so people stop asking if it's a boy or a girl)

For your fashion-forward Sister, and your Mom who loves to garden and who keeps suggesting you move to the suburbs:

Now go out there and get shopping!  
Or you can wait until Christmas Eve and meet me at the mall for a cocktail.  

P.S. - Last year's Holiday Gift Guide was pretty great, too.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Turkey Time

Well my friends, we're just two days away from Thanksgiving, which means that most of us will be gathered around the communal table enjoying copious amounts of fattening food with a side of guilt.  Be sure to double check your bottle of Xanax before you run off to catch your flight, because there's nothing worse than a National holiday spent listening to your Mother question your life choices without the muffling effect of prescription drugs!

I assume that, for many of us, our memories of Thanksgivings of yore include not only weird Uncle Ned and the lonely neighbor man with wandering hands, but also plates of dry turkey that made you question whether perhaps wallpaper paste might, in fact, be more appetizing.  It's time for Americans to stop committing culinary crime and to learn to prepare turkey properly.

I assume that some of you may be cooking (and hosting) Thanksgiving for the first time this year, so I'm here to help.  I've got a few tips for hosting the perfect Turkey Day dinner as well as a foolproof recipe (courtesy of my Chef Hubby) for perfectly cooked, moist and delicious turkey that will ensure everyone will want to come back next year for Thanksgiving dinner.  It's up to you whether to consider this a positive or a negative.

1.  Make your feast a pot luck.  There is no reason that you should spend your entire holiday slaving away in the kitchen cooking multiple dishes for your guests.  This is expensive and unnecessary.  Cook the turkey and force everyone else to bring the sides and desserts.  Yeah, Aunt Rainbow might bring a soy and wheat berry loaf, but pretty much everything tastes good slathered in gravy.

2. Have plenty of wine and cocktails on offer (unless, of course, you or your guests are Friends of Bill's. In that case, stick with sparkling cider).  Most people get kind of tense in social situations.  Booze helps loosen people up and get the conversation flowing.  Just make sure that you cut off Cousin Jeremy before he's six cocktails in and starts feeling up the decorative gourds.

3. Place cards.  Seriously, I can't stress this enough.  Yeah, they seem like something only WASPs from Greenwich use, but people really don't like having to figure out where to sit.  Put some thought into who talks and who doesn't, and seat them next to each other.  We're all children at heart and we just want someone to tell us what to do, so go ahead and print out some cute fall-themed place cards and go nuts.

4.  Clean your bathroom.  I can't believe I even have to write this, but if you're having people over, take the time to clean whatever commode they will use.  Invest in a fresh bar of hand soap and a clean towel and maybe even a nice smelling candle in case someone who is lactose intolerant over-indulges in sour cream mashed potatoes.

How to Cook the Perfect Turkey:

Defrost your turkey.  Please don't try to cook a frozen turkey.

One Day Before:
Brine your turkey (you can do this while your turkey defrosts).

Thanksgiving Day:

Rinse brine.

Stuff turkey with one whole onion, a few cloves of garlic, herbs of your choice (rosemary, thyme, etc.), and one orange cut in half.

Rub with olive oil, a splash of soy sauce, and a touch of agave, maple syrup or honey, whichever you prefer.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place breast side down until skin becomes golden brown, approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on the weight of your turkey.  

Turn turkey over, breast side up.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.  The residual heat of the oven should brown the breast skin fairly quickly, which seals in the moisture and keeps your turkey from tasting like cardboard.

Baste turkey with pan juices and a little red wine every 30 minutes.  (Bonus: this also creates a nice pan gravy, which you can reduce down on the stovetop to make a more traditional gravy; no gravy packet needed!)

Roast bird until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  With this high heat cooking method, the turkey should take about 12-18 minutes per pound.

Let bird rest at least 20 minutes before carving.

Enjoy your well cooked bird.  Here's hoping Uncle Larry doesn't get drunk and barf in one of your houseplants.
Happy Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fix My Wardrobe, November Edition

Despite my horrible photos it looks like you guys really liked my previous Stitch Fix post.  I'm so glad that the images of me with greasy hair and not wearing a speck of makeup didn't make you scream and run from your computer!  I'm also pleased that a number of you actually signed up for the service and are getting some new pieces for your wardrobe.  That makes me happy, and I suspect that you wearing something other than sweatpants will make your partners happy as well. 

You wanna see what I got in my November Stitch Fix

Good.  Because I have pictures, and I'm actually wearing makeup this time!

I didn't take any photos of my October fix, because I ran out of time before I had to send the stuff back.  Don't worry, you didn't miss much; I actually didn't keep a single piece.

This month I got smart.  I requested my original stylist, Stephania, who definitely understands my style and what I'm looking for.

A few tips to help you get pieces you'll like:

1.  Communicate.  Much like in marriage, communication is the key to getting clothing pieces that you want/need.  You can leave notes in your account requesting specific clothing items or stylists, which is how I ended up getting Stephania again.  My request for a pair of boyfriend jeans was met with less success, which you can see below.

2.  Get Pinteresty.  Set up a fashion Pinterest board and keep it updated.  When you fill out your Stitch Fix profile it asks if you have a Pinterest account and it's really helpful for your stylist if you use this.  I had no idea that I like black skinny pants with zippers, but Stefania noticed I had pinned quite a few of that style and sent me a pair.  If only my husband was as observant about my love for the kitchen trash being empty!

3. These are not cheap, disposable clothes.  It's important to understand that you're investing a little bit in your wardrobe.  That being said, you need to be truthful about your budget when you fill out your SF profile.  Don't be embarrassed to say that you can't spend more than a certain amount on clothing, and never hesitate to send something back because it's too expensive.  The point of the service is to make your life easier, not to keep you awake at night worrying about how you're going to pay your Visa bill.  Personally, I think the fact that they managed to find me jeans that cost less than $80 is awesome.  I think it's better to spend a few more sheckles on things you're really going to wear rather than throwing down $10 bucks for a cheetah t-shirt from Forever 21 when you're Actually 36.

And now, without further ado, the goodies in my November box:
My disclaimer: obviously, I am not a contender for America's Next Top (geriatric) Model, but at least this time my hair is clean and I'm wearing some lipgloss.  I promise to do better next month.

Market and Spruce Graphic Print Blouse $48.00
I would have never picked this out for myself, but I LOVE this shirt.  It's incredibly comfortable, but also looks totally put together.  I've already worn it to three preschool tours, so I've totally tricked them into thinking I'm chic and hip instead of frazzled and unshowered.  Win!  KEPT

LA Made Striped Sweater $68.00
I liked this when I saw it in the box, so I was dissappointed when I put it on.  It just wasn't that flattering.  Turns out that just because something is black and white doesn't mean it must be purchased.  Who knew??!  RETURNED

Renee C Asymmetrical Cardigan $58.00
Again, I liked this when I saw it in the box, but it looked horrendous on me, like I'm wearing a giant burlap bag as a sweater.  It was fine when it was unbuttoned, but I need another grey cardigan like I need a third child (read: NEVER).  RETURNED

Kut from the Kloth Distressed Boyfriend Jean $78.00
In my message for my stylist I asked for a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans.  While I was happy that she sent a pair, these were not for me.  First of all they were too big and kind of short in the legs (am I wrong on this? weigh in, please, fashionable readers).  Plus they made my butt look really flat.  I just haven't been able to find a pair of boyfriend jeans that look good on me, so either it's not a style for those of us with toothpick figures, or I have to continue searching.  Sigh.  RETURNED

Gorjana Double Bar Drop Earrings $48.00
Initially I was going to send these back without even trying them on, but thanks to the fact that I wanted to provide you people with photo proof, I discovered how cute these earrings are.  Okay, I normally would not spend more than $10 on earrings that I'm not going to wear every day, but these looked so good, and I figured that since I'm trying to upgrade my wardrobe I should class up my accessories as well, so I splurged.  I kind of love these and think I'll wear them often.  KEPT

Honestly, I think if you sign up for Stitch Fix you won't be disappointed.  I'm just glad that I have some cute new clothes that fit my postpartum figure, and I suspect the Hubby is thrilled that I no longer try to leave the house wearing pajamas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yum, Placenta!

I am the lady who has eaten her own placenta.  Twice.

Just in case you're worried that I'm sitting at my desk chewing on strips of placenta jerky and chugging white wine, I promise that is not the case.  Even I'm not quite that hippie dippy.  While I certainly believe in the placenta's healing properties, I don't really need to know what they taste like.  No, I have a nice little jar full of placenta capsules that's accessorized with a heart-shaped piece of my daughter's dried up umbilical cord.  I know, it's like I've suddenly become too Berkeley even for myself.

But I have to tell you that I've been tossing back the placenta pills like they are candy recently.  I've been feeling kind of "blah" of late.  I suspect it's primarily because I've been sleeping in 45 minute increments for over a month now, but there's nothing like having a new baby and a toddler to make you feel like your life is completely over.  Even though it has been four months since the Little Lady made her entrance downstage vagina, I'm still not really back to my old self.  I'm exhausted, overwhelmed, and have not even the faintest desire to go out drinking with my girlfriends, which is a sign that I am most definitely feeling down.

When I decided to encapsulate my placenta the first time around I was somewhat skeptical.  I wasn't entirely convinced that a few pills full of afterbirth would be helpful, but I figured it was worth giving it a shot.  At the cost of $250, if the pills actually did make me feel better it would be far less expensive than meeting my insurance deductible for inpatient psychiatric care were I to really go off the postpartum deep end.

It was so worth it, my friends.

If you can handle the inherent "ick" factor that exists in bringing your placenta home in a cooler, I highly recommend that you think seriously about encapsulating.  I would also like to highly recommend that you not actually look at your placenta, as you'll probably already feel nauseous after giving birth and the thought of ingesting something that looks so disgusting might just make your last prebaby meal come back up, but that's your call.

Personally, I find that the placenta pills are incredibly effective at keeping me out of the abyss.  I'm not saying that they are ever going to be as effective as an actual prescribed anti-depressant, but in my case whenever I feel that I'm just on the brink of going over the edge, taking a rather significant dose of capsules (8-10) helps me get back on track.  Sure, it's a little bit weird, and it's entirely possible it's all just a placebo effect, but I'm willing to get behind anything that keeps me from embarrassing myself in the greeting card aisle at my local Rite Aide.

Besides, supposedly there's a real demand for placenta on the Chinese black market, so if you find they aren't effective, you can always recoup your money.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Let There Be Cool Lights

I'm a sucker for great home decor.  I can spend hours getting lost in the pages of Domino or House Beautiful, and there's been more than one occasion when a simple Pinterest search has taken me down the internet rabbit hole of various incarnations of "white curtains with grommets".

This is a dangerous habit for two different reasons: one, I'm supposed to be making sure that my children aren't drowning in the toilet or jumping off the back of the couch, not perusing home design blogs for the perfect set of yellow tartan pillows; and two, I can't afford my own taste.  Thanks to all those years I wasted pursuing a dead end career, my design budget is more Walmart than Wayfaire.  I would love nothing more than to be able to throw down an Amex card and purchase every single thing that catches my eye, but that's simply not an option.

The good news is that necessity (aka poverty) is the mother of invention.  You'd be amazed what you can find at your local flea market or thrift store or even on Craigslist.  I've picked up some pretty amazing pieces over the past years, and with just a few coats of paint have transformed stuff from shitty to spectacular.

If you follow my antics over on Instagram, you may have seen this photo a few weeks ago:

Every year I participate in Hollywood Housewife's One Day photo essay project, and this image was part of that series.  Aside from the fact that it's a visual record of my alcohol use that my neighbor has probably sent over to DCFS, I got a lot of questions about the horse lamp.

You guys, I have two of these lamps and they are decidedly fabulous.

However, they were definitely not fabulous when I purchased them at the Santa Monica Flea:

I figured for $35 for the pair I could probably make them work.  

I picked up two cans of my favorite white spray paint and got started.  

If you don't have children, a similar painting project will probably take you about two days.  Since I have children and the only free time I have is when they are napping, this ridiculously easy transformation took almost two months.

First, I taped off the cords, bases, and sockets.  
Then my kids woke up, so I put the lamps back in the garage.

Second, I utilized some of my free grandparent childcare and sprayed on the first coat of white paint.  I let the lamps dry overnight (read: for two weeks) until I got some more time to myself.

Another coat of white paint, another few weeks of drying time...

I think the lamps are made out of some kind of resin or plastic, because these suckers took a lot of paint.  Those horses inhaled paint the way I used to inhale cocaine.  

A third and final coat of white paint:

I had originally planned to leave the bases black, but they just didn't look that good with the white horses, so I ended up spraying those three times as well.

Finally, after everything was dry and I did a bit of touch up, I was satisfied that the lamps looked less like my Husband's ex-wife and more Jonathan Adler-esque.

Another hour of free grandparent childcare gave me time to run over to Lamps Plus for shades.  I don't usually love their selection, but for once I lucked out and found two matching shades in the exact color I wanted for a very reasonable price.

I think they turned out really well, if I do say so myself.  

Now if only I could spray paint all those heinous plastic toys cluttering my living room, we'd be in business.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Will Pay for Sleep

Seriously, kid. Go the F*** to sleep.
Yesterday we hired a night nurse.  That's right, we are paying someone to hang out with the Little Lady while we sleep.  It sounds ridiculous, I know, but when you haven't slept in stretches longer than an hour for almost a month you will do almost anything to get some sleep.  I understand now why sleep deprivation is a torture tactic; deny someone a decent night's rest for a long enough period of time, and she will tell you anything.  

Basically, what I'm saying here is that babies are teeny tiny terrorists and their mission is to break you.

The Little Lady has broken us, my friends.

During the early days of her time here with us, she was a great sleeper.  At just two months of age she was sleeping through the night.  I thought we had dodged the sleepless baby bullet.  I patted myself on the back, sure that her stellar sleep habits were entirely the result of my ace second time parenting.  Smug as a cat who ate a canary, I shared with my Mommy and Me groups about her incredible sleeping habits and enjoyed the jealous looks of the other exhausted Mommies whose kids were still waking up every two hours.

And now look at me.  I have circles under my eyes that are so dark I look like a character from The Walking Dead.  I can't remember the last time I slept long enough to even have a dream, and I drink so much coffee that it's quite possible I bleed caffeine.  I'm starting to think that this long stretch of sleepless nights is Karma for my being an assh*le during those early days of Motherhood.
Are you there, God?  It's me, Anna.  


These days I'm the exhausted one in all the Mommy and Me groups listening with envy as other Mothers describe four month old children who go to sleep at 6:30PM and don't wake up until 8AM.  I'm now the frazzled, hollow-eyed Mombie who forgot her child's birth date last week and had to call her husband to find out what to put down on the preschool application.  I'm so tired that yesterday I stood in the produce section at Whole Foods crying because they were out of Lacinto Kale.

So I think you can see why we hired some help.  It's only for two nights, and even that's a stretch for us financially, but the hope is that the night nurse can give us some guidance on what to do to get Rose to sleep for longer stretches.  We've tried everything we can think of - the dream feed, the teething remedies, letting her cry, the wombie, the sleep sack, the Zippadee Zip - if it's supposed to help a baby sleep we've given it a shot, but nothing has helped.  It's time to bring in the professionals.

And if this doesn't work, I may actually have to take my Mother's advice and give the kid some brandy before bed.  Just don't tell my neighbor

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Put Some Clothes On That (slender) Kid

I know that I don't excel at all that many things in the Motherhood department, but I like to think that my ability to dress the Muffin Man in stylish clothing kind of makes up for the fact that two days ago I let him eat a stick of butter for dinner. 

As with all aspects of raising children, putting together a wardrobe for a hipster toddler is not without challenges.  The main one is that my son is built like a bean pole.  In the grand scheme of things this is wonderful - the kid eats more than most grown adults, yet he never gains a pound - but trying to find clothes to fit his slender figure can be difficult, especially when one prefers buying everything second hand.

Now that I have almost two years (!) of shopping experience under my Motherhood belt, I've figured out which brands work best for toddlers with a slender build, and I'm finally sharing my knowledge.  Based on hours of not-at-all-scientific research gleaned from weekly trips to my local consignment store, this list is intended to provide a helpful guide for other parents, and also ensures that my purchases are now tax deductible "work expenses".

Herewith, my definitive list of tips for dressing your toddler, as well as a few of my favorite clothing brands: 
  • As a general rule of thumb, European brands tend to be cut smaller than American brands, with the French leading the charge towards underfed children.  I'm eternally grateful to our frenemies across the pond, because without their cigarette and alcohol-fueled low birth weight children, Noah would be practically forced to walk around wearing just a diaper for lack of pants that fit.
  • Leggings are your friend.  Sure, you'll have to put up with your spouse saying you dress your kid like a metrosexual, but the cuteness factor of skinny little legs in tight pants will silence detractors.
  • Look for pants that have adjustable waistbands.  Somebody came up with the brilliant idea of putting an elastic band with button holes inside the waistband of pants.  To adjust the size you simply pull the elastic as tight as you need to and fasten it onto the corresponding button.  Almost every pair of pant in Noah's wardrobe that's not a pair of leggings has an adjustable band.
  • Invest in a cute pair of suspenders.  Saggy pants are only a fashion statement in prisons and high schools.
  • Shop the girls department.  Seriously.  Girls clothes are cut smaller than boys clothes, and while this is not really a good thing for my daughter's body image and mental health, it is a positive turn of events for my son.  Just beware metallic purple stitching lurking in the seams of even the most normal-looking pair of jeggings. 
Petit Bateau.  Their skinny jeans are the best.  These are expensive when purchased new (Noah received a pair as a gift) but you can often find Petit Bateau pieces at the consignment store.

OshKosh B'gosh.  Most of the Osh Kosh pants have adjustable waistbands, and their leggings are great.  They are really reasonably priced, which I personally appreciate considering my son likes to use his pants as a napkin.

Zara Mini.  Another European brand, the sizes at Zara tend to run pretty small, which is a plus when we're talking about slender babes.  I'm partial to their pieces because they are chic and not at all babyish.

H&M.  These aren't the best quality clothes on the planet, but they almost always have stuff on sale, which means you can pick up cute hipster duds for $5 and under.  I think their pants run a little bit big, but the shirts and sweaters usually have a slim cut and the designs are hip.  

Kickee Pants.  This brand is so soft and silky that I basically just want to pet my kids whenever they are wearing any Kickee Pants pieces.  I think the clothing is made out of bamboo or something, but it's definitely eco friendly.  The sizing is a little bit inconsistent with this brand - sometimes the pants are a little bit big, sometimes a little bit small - but they do cut their pants longer than most other brands, which is great when you have a tall toddler.

Splendid.  If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably noticed that practically every t-shirt in the Muffin Man's wardrobe is made by Splendid.  I don't find that their pants fit my small-waisted little man all that well, but their shirts are the bomb dot com.  Super cute and stylish and incredibly soft they also wash incredibly well which is a must when you have a child who likes to paint.  On himself. 

What are your go-to brands for dressing your little ones?  Let me know if I'm missing any killer brands that cater to my kiddo's skinny legs and white boy butt!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Preschool Panic: Apply Here

And this was one of the better photos. 
We're in the final stretch of the preschool search, which means that now the hard part begins: filling out the applications.  We're not talking about a simple one page form that just asks for your kid's name, address and whether or not he's allergic to peanuts.  Oh, no.  I'm currently sitting at my desk surrounded by several reams of paper that make up the applications for two schools.

I realize I may be showing my age here, but back in the Paleolithic Age when I attended preschool, I'm pretty sure that the "application" process mainly consisted of showing up at whatever school was closest to your house and hoping that the teacher wasn't a child molester or a chain smoker.  These days the process to gain entrance into one of the finer institutes of lower learning more closely resembles what I went through when I was choosing a college.  Other than the lack of requirement for some sort of standardized testing, the applications are almost the same: multiple pages of personal information, essay questions, even a family photo.

If you follow the Misadventures over on Twitter, you've probably noticed that I've been making fun of preschool applications for the last few weeks.  There's a reason for this: it's because the whole thing is patently ridiculous.  Here are the questions I'm supposed to answer:

Please describe your child.

The honest answer: He's not even two years old!  He's barely a person.  Let's see... he thinks it's hilarious when his sister farts, he doesn't eat avocado, and he's currently laying on the kitchen floor kicking and screaming because I won't let him play with the vacuum.

The spin: My son is a happy little boy who finds joy in the smallest moments.  He is decisive and unafraid to state his opinion.  His attention span is remarkable when he finds something he's interested in exploring.  

Why do you think our school is a good fit for your son?

The honest answer: I don't know how great a "fit" it is for my son, but you're one of the few places in town that offers a full day preschool program (9am-3pm) and Mommy needs some alone time. 

The spin: My son is a thoughtful, creative, very sensitive boy who I believe will thrive in a school that offers both structure and the freedom to explore new ideas.  After touring the school and talking with other parents and students, I'm impressed with how confident and well-spoken the students are, and I can only imagine the extent to which my son would bloom under the tutelage of such an institution.

I'm an ace bullshit artist, but I feel kind of bad for the kids who don't have a parent who is a writer; it takes some major talent to figure out a good spin for "he's a biter".

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go make an appointment for our professional family photo shoot.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Worms

You've figured out by now that I'm a big dork, right?  Sure I wear cute clothes and I'm no longer sporting braces and a suburban mall version of "the Rachel" cut, but my inner nerd still lurks behind my renovated exterior.  I'm sure it won't surprise you to hear that we're big into books around our house, and while I'm hoping to spare my children the pain of an awkward adolescence, I still want to share with them my love for the written word. 

Here are five of our current literary favorites for the two-and-under set:

Foodie Babies Wear Bibs
When you have a Dad who works in the restaurant business, you're expected to become a foodie.  I'm pretty sure that Chris' ultimate nightmare is having a child who only eats Mac 'n Cheese and Wonder Bread, so this book was a must purchase.  I figured this was more of a gift for Daddy than the kiddos, but it's turned into one of the Muffin Man's favorite bedtime reads.  The illustrations are sort of Midcentury Modern-esque, and the story is quick and charming.  If your kid is a hipster who likes to eat kale and shop at the local farmer's market, this book is for you.

We received a board book version of this classic tale as a gift when the Little Lady arrived, and it's since become a favorite on our reading rotation.  Rose seems particularly taken with the tale of plucky little Madeline, so I've started reading it to her each night before she goes to sleep in the hopes that she will sleep for longer than three hours at a time.  Sometimes I gaze at the illustrations and fantasize that instead of putting two screaming children to sleep I'm enjoying a enjoying a dry martini at Bemelmans Bar.  Hey, a woman can dream.

Little Owl Lost
Last year I got Noah a Zoobean subscription for his birthday, and this was one of the books he received.  The story, about a little owl who falls out of his nest and is searching for his Mommy, is absolutely charming, and the illustrations are quirky and weird.  This book is so popular in our house that it's starting to fall apart, and there have been nights when Noah has requested I read it six times in a row.  I'm pretty sure I have the story memorized word for word, so if you're looking for a free audio book I'll be happy to record my dramatic rendition on your voicemail. 

But Not the Hippopotamus
One of my dearest friends from high school sent us a big batch of Sandra Boynton books as a gift when Noah was born, and I didn't really understand what a great gift this was until recently.  I never had any of her books when I was growing up, but the illustrations are really funny and the rhymes are some of the best around.  Noah always wants to skip to the last page of this story, so at this point I'm just hoping it's because he's enamored with the armadillo and not because he's worried he'll die before finishing the book like Harry in When Harry Met Sally.  He's a little young to have a morbid fascination with death...RIGHT?! 

Mitzi's Mitzvah
If you happen to be one of the Chosen People (or just married to one) you can sign your kids up to receive a free Jewish-themed book every month courtesy of PJ Library.  Honestly, they send some of the best books around.  Mitzi's Mitzvah was the pick for Rosh Hashanah this year and it's quickly become one of the books that I'm asked to read most often.  Noah gets really excited every month when he gets to open the big white envelope containing his new book, and once he gets it open (which takes about 30 minutes) we have to stop whatever we are doing and read the newest arrival.  I haven't yet figured out if he's most excited by the fact that he gets mail with his name on it or if it's because he likes the books so much.  Come to think of it, if he's anything like his Mother, the real reason he gets so excited is probably just because they're free. 

What are your favorite bedtime stories these days?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Real Deal on Breastfeeding

So, you're planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're not planning to breastfeed your baby?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

You're thinking of breastfeeding and supplementing with formula once and awhile?  I think that's wonderful, and I completely support your decision.

I completely support your decision to feed your baby however you choose to do so.

You know why?  Because breastfeeding is no joke.  It's not always easy, and contrary to the popular belief perpetrated by all the celebrities who like to post #breastfeedingselfies, it is not always a beautiful thing.  It can be beautiful and amazing and wonderful but it can also be incredibly frustrating, terribly painful and just an all around pain in the ass.

I'm glad that Mommas who happen to be famous are sharing photos of themselves breastfeeding, but what I really wish is that someone with a household name would share some breastfeeding photos that show the less attractive side of nursing.  Because while it's nice to look at modern day Madonna and Child images, I think it would be more helpful if a celebrity shared a few snapshots of the other very real parts of breastfeeding.  No, they aren't pretty and they won't make for a beautiful photo op, but they are part of the reality, and it would be nice for women to see that they aren't alone when they feel more Medusa than Madonna.

At first, breastfeeding hurts.  It doesn't matter if it's your first kid or your twelfth kid, the first two weeks are absolute Hell.  Your nipples will crack and bleed.  Every single time your baby latches it will hurt so badly that you will actually cry.  Eventually, your nipples will scab over and toughen up, but you will be horrified when the scabs come off and you realize that your nipples are scarred.  The scars never go away; for the rest of your life your nipples will look as though they did three tours in 'Nam, and you may have the PTSD to go along with that.

You will sweat enough each night to fill a child's inflatable pool.  Night sweats are not exclusive to breastfeeding Mommies, but they tend to go on for a longer period of time if you're nursing.  After you have a baby, your body needs to get rid of all the extra fluid its been carrying around for nine months, and apparently the most efficient way to do this is to cause you to sweat buckets while you sleep.  Make sure you have at least three extra sets of pjs within arms reach of your bed, because you will end up changing at least that many times each night, if not more.  You will be soaked, your bedding will be soaked, even your Husband or Baby Daddy might be drenched.  Your side of the bed will have its own little climate zone which will be similar to August in Miami: hot, humid and not somewhere you want to visit. 

Nobody ever has the right amount of milk (if there is someone who does, I have yet to meet her). You'll either have too much milk or not enough.  Both of these situations suck.  If you make too much milk, your night sweats will be horrible, your baby will gag and choke because your milk sprays into her mouth too fast, and you won't be able to leave the house for three months because you soak through a nursing pad every five minutes.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he associates your boob with being gagged, which will make you cry.  If you don't make enough milk you'll end up having to pump every second that you're not nursing, and you'll have to take millions of supplements and drink gallons of milkmaid tea.  Eventually your kid won't want to nurse anymore because he doesn't get enough milk from you boob, which will make you cry.  You will personally fulfill the old adage "crying over spilled milk", and it's not pretty. 

Your baby will probably be sensitive to something in your diet.  The only way to figure out what's making your kid fussy/farty/projectile vomit-y is to cut out everything except water.  Nursing happens to make you really, really, REALLY hungry and being unable to eat everything you see in your line of vision totally sucks.  It's entirely possible that your kid can't handle dairy or eggs or leafy greens or legumes or, God forbid, chocolate or coffee.  Heck, your kid might not be able to handle all of the above and you will want to throw yourself in front of a moving car rather than live another second without coffee and chocolate.

You, and only you, are on night feeding duty.  Until some enterprising scientist figures out how to make men lactate, you're stuck doing every single one of those night feedings.  At first you'll think this is a wonderful thing and that it will cause you to bond even more deeply with your newborn babe.  After a week or two you will realize that getting up every two hours to have a small human mash on your sore nipples for 45 minutes totally sucks and you will cry.  You will also develop such an irrational hatred for your non-lactating spouse that you will seriously consider smothering him with a pillow during one of the many, many late night feedings.  It's at the point that you find yourself debating whether or not to commit manslaughter that I suggest you put down the pillow, take a deep breath, and make peace with giving your offspring a bottle.  Sure breast may be best, but I suspect that having a few ounces of formula is far less detrimental to your kid's psyche than having a Mother serving time for smothering Daddy-o.

In the end all that matters is that your baby gets fed when he's hungry.  Do whatever works best for you and makes you the least homicidal.  And if anybody gives you sh*t about however you decide to feed your kid, I give you permission to punch them in the throat.

This site was made with love by Angie Makes