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Archive for the ‘Style & Stage’ Category

Before our daughter Audrey was born, I was a bit of a clothing hound. I love finding good deals and cool vintage pieces that no one else has. I’ve never been comfortable spending big $$$ on one item, so I’ve built my current wardrobe with a lot of sale pieces, mixed and matched from Target, Old Navy, JCrew, the Loft, my former go-to, the Talbots outlet and of course, Etsy’s vintage clothing sellers. Just how much did I love my clothes pre-kid? During Hurricane Irene, I evacuated my closet to an interior room of the house for safe keeping.

Something happened after I had Audrey. I found that I was much more interested in getting her all dressed up and less so in making myself look presentable. Whatever I wore to work had to be “nursing and pumping friendly”, which was limiting. It took me a while to move past bulky sweaters and whatever pants didn’t have baby spit up on them. Wrinkled, too? Oh well. I would feel great until I dropped the fabulously dressed Audrey off at daycare and looked down at myself. How was I okay leaving the house looking like this?

It was time to get back into my closet and put in some effort towards how I looked.

Now, for any other nursing/pumping moms out there, we all know that there are “nursing friendly” clothes available. They have odd flaps to be able to pull out what you need. They are made of a mystery stretchy fabric that is supposed to be kind to your postpartum body, but ironically seems to do a better job of highlighting muffin tops. You can buy an arsenal of shelf tank tops that reduce you to an unsupported uniboob. Not a good look.

The most important bit of advice that I would give to any new mom who is going to be nursing and pumping: buy some real, quality bras at a boutique where they fit you for them.

What I have found to work really well is layering. My biggest daily fear from pumping at work is getting walked in on by a coworker (HAHA, just kidding, modesty went out the window after the 3rd hour of pushing). Layering works to keep you warm and most importantly, provides ease of access. Seriously, if your day job is anything like mine, you want to get in, get out and back to your desk before anyone notices you were gone.

Now, onto the outfits:

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This is a pretty basic, go-to outfit for me. I’m wearing a JCrew denim pencil skirt, a Loft top with a Loft short sleeve sweater and of course, my hippie shoes because high heels and carrying a car seat – not happening. What you don’t see in this picture is the Old Navy stretch tank underneath. They are KEY. I buy them in bulk in every color available. They don’t lose their shape during the day and I’ve worn them as maternity tanks to now. I can easily get myself set up for pumping while not exposing my entire post baby stomach.

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I don’t know that I could get my husband on board with this but I believe that you really can’t have enough chambray shirts in different shades of blue. They are so versatile and cute. Here I am wearing a Tommy Hilfiger chambray shirt (a TJ Maxx find), a gold skirt with pockets from the Talbots outlet, a Chewbeads necklace and bracelet, some assorted mixed metal bangles and of course, an Old Navy stretch tank underneath (not pictured). Also not pictured, my other leg. I’m still trying to figure this whole selfie in a mirror thing out.

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This is a vintage orange paisley dress I picked up at the English Building Market in New Haven, CT with a gold belt from the Talbots outlet, a Navy Chewbeads bracelet with my standard assorted metal bangles and not pictured, you guessed it, an Old Navy tank. You might not think a dress could work for pumping unless you are into hiking that sucker up and over your head. However, this dress zippers in the back!

And my last outfit to show you:

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Old Navy stripped pencil skirt (stretchy!) with an Old Navy short sleeve sweater, H&M brown belt with an H&M coral scarf tied to be infinity looking, plus my usual bracelets and a tank.

There you go, ladies! You too can still look stylish while you are doing pumping/nursing!

-Kate

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The span of time in between when the kitchen was finished enough for us to start putting our belongings back and when we were expecting about 35+ of our local friends and family for our annual Festivus Party was four evenings (after work) long.  We had about a month to demo and box up everything and now…BAM, everything had to go back in and be organized and functional enough that I could cook for a houseful of people in hours.  I’d be a lying liar if I didn’t tell you that I still have about a box and a half of mystery stuff without a home or that two of the cabinets just have random stuff wedged in them.

Obviously the long-term plan is to find a home for everything we need and pare down stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably doesn’t have to be in the kitchen all the time.  In which case, we have storage shelves in the garage to hold the special occasion stuff.  Not a big deal.

The prettiest cabinet in the kitchen kind of proved the most difficult.  Think about it, what would you want everyone who comes into your kitchen to look at?  If we didn’t have our china, I’d probably pick out some items in our accent colors and pair that with our regular white dishes.

My only regret is that we didn’t get our electrician friend over before the cabinets went up to put lights in there.  That would have been very pretty.

Next up, our everyday cabinet.  What used to take up two, we’ve consolidated into one.  Our glassware, mugs, plates and bowls!

We picked up a space divider from a certain big box store to create a second shelf.  Tremendously helpful.  That pink mug on top is a “grab in case of fire” owl mug from one of my dearest friends.

This was also a great time for us to put together a cabinet of our entertaining pieces.  Instead of having to pull from a bunch of different places when we have guests over, one place, closest to the living room so that you can easily access it from either side of the counter tops.  Wine and martini glasses, our ice bucket and our vegetable shaped dip dishes, just about everything you could need to throw a pretty darn good get together.  Justin and I both come from a long line of party throwers.

Do you know what drives me nuts?  A spice cabinet that is up so high that I can’t see into it.  For now, this hot mess is going to have to do.  I tried my best to layer the smaller spice jars in the front and as potential solution for the future, we picked up some magnetic spice jars to put on the side of the fridge.

I know that you all wanted to see what my drawers look like.  Ha.

I like that the idea of a junk drawer is universal and that we all probably have one or even a couple.  However, with this new kitchen I wanted to start organized.  Justin and I picked up metal containers in a couple different sizes and picked out the few things that actually should live in a utility or junk drawer.   I think after a few cocktails at the Festivus party, I actually made guests look at it.  Yup.  I was that proud.

Are you a newly wed and you aren’t using all of your new stuff yet?  Don’t sweat it.  The silverware you see above were wedding gifts, but up until the kitchen remodel was finished, we hadn’t been using it for everyday.  In fact, we were only using it for parties.  I kept it all in a cutlery basket in the scary pre-makeover pantry (over share).

We also decided to split our most used kitchen/baking utensils between the big center drawer and the single drawer on either side of the sink.  We’re still grabbing for forks and knives in that smaller drawer, where they used to live, but boy is it helpful to have everything so easily accessible.

And I think that this post wraps up kitchen posts for a good long time.

-Kate

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I’ve talked about Pinterest before, but I didn’t fully start to take advantage of it until this fall.   If I were pressed to name the most helpful internet app in existence for folks like myself, who love crafting, clothes, design, food, etc. etc, it would definitely be Pinterest.   It is a total game changer. 

Pinterest works by allowing you to grab screenshots of images that you like and when you click on them later, it takes you directly to the website where the image came from.  This is huge for DIY folks who want to save a project idea for later or for shopaholic who want to remember that cute outfit.   As you can see from above, it is also a OCD paradise for folks who like to keep their visual lists organized.

I find that I am pretty consistently shocked at how useful Pinterest is.   You would never think, or at least I wouldn’t have, that looking at fitness inspiration pictures would be enough of a push to get you back to your regular work outs, but it is!  Or alternatively, how quickly you could spiral back down the path of glutton with all the great recipe ideas.  In fact, my entire Festivus food menu this year was based on stuff I had seen on Pinterest (with the exception of the buffalo chicken dip from Ryan’s Megan). 

Your boards become insightful about what really moves you aesthetically, too.  I probably could have told you that I like soft neutrals, classic touches like picture frame and crown molding, but when I look at my board as a whole, it is pretty obvious from what I was drawn to when I was poking/pinning around the internet.   As my friend, Erin, pointed out, it seems like I’m never completely satisfied with how our home looks, but when I look at my For The Home pinterest board, I see the future potential for fun tweaks and not drastic changes from what we now enjoy.

As I’ve mentioned before, I do have a love of clothes and have a pretty distinct personal style that has evolved from my days of 15 layers of oversized boy clothes.  (Trust me when I say my  teenage years were NOT cute.)   I love that I have at my finger tips, access to great images of outfits on which I can put together my look.  You don’t have to own everything in the pictures, but if you can take the concept and run with it, then that is fantastic. 

I’m probably heading a bit too far down Navel Gazing Lane at this point, but I’ve leaned pretty heavily on Pinterest this year for quotes and images that soothe my overactive brain.   In a tribute to the great Miles, I named my favorite board “GreeninBlue” (backwards from his track, Blue in Green on the album, Kind of Blue, of course).  Even now, while I’m typing up this post, I find myself getting sucked into the quotes and thinking about what was going on in my life when I pinned them.  There is so much wrapped up in the words and images.  Memories, good and bad. 

Anyway, if there are any of you out there who have not jumped happily on to the Pinterest bandwagon and wanted to give it a try, email me.  I’d be more than happy to shoot you in invite and do a quick tutorial to get you started!

-Kate

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The month of December can be a tricky time in our two religion home.  As it is, Christmas now starts right after Halloween.   I purposely like to use decorative elements that could be considered “seasonal” versus all about the Lord and Savior JC.   That’s what works for us and we enjoy getting our fill of the Great Guy in the Sky when we visit your home.

I bought these birch log candle holders on Etsy.com.

My favorite decorating elements stay pretty consistent year to year.  I have used the same bag of tea lights that I bought at Ikea about 4 years ago.  I secretly think that they are bunny candles and that they breed and reproduce when I put them back into the closet.   I have also picked up an epic amount of plastic silver ornaments in various shapes and sizes over the course of a couple of years .   Last year I hung them from the balcony with fishing wire.  Very pretty and a ton of work, both during and after for clean up.

As you can see from the picture above,  I dump a good chunk of the ornaments into the fireplace.  This year I left the decorative birch logs, but it also looks pretty spectacular with pillar candles of various heights.  If we hadn’t just made it to the finish line on the kitchen, I would have liked to have done that again this year, but alas, I just ran out of time.

The new element this year was cranberries.   I bought a couple of bags and went to town with them.  Above, I grabbed my blue Mason jar collection and threw in a handful of cranberries with one of the Ikea tea lights on top.  I put these guys in the bathrooms.  You could also do a beachy version, by layering sand, then cranberries and a candle.  That would be very cute.  (Remember for next year, Kate!)

Our kitchen serving pieces do a lot of double duty in our house.  These guys are actually dessert dishes that we received as wedding gifts (from the Press Family).  Here, I’ve used a slightly larger tea light, still from Ikea and layered the cranberries around it.   The richness of the different shades of red really pops once you light the candle.

We used our living room console table as a serving station for coffee and hot chocolate at our Festivus party last weekend.   In this instance, I just used some pre-lit garland, added a few of the aforementioned silver plastic ornaments and left out the crystal candle sticks that are always there.  I found one large glitter ball and popped that into the Waterford vase.  Bam!  Another perk of using cheapy stuff, no worries about people breaking them.   I don’t know about you folks, but I love minimizing stress during the holidays.

I happened to be watching the tail end of Glee when I snapped the picture.  Oh that Rachel and Finn!  Anyway, here you can get a sense of what it looks like all lit up.  I’m not doing a tree this year, so this is just the right amount of sparkle and in an easy enough location that I don’t mind plugging it in when I get home.

We don’t have a traditional fireplace mantle, although we could (some day…), so for now, I swap out our wedding pictures and regular year decorative elements for my homage to nature.   Or something like that.  I snagged the pine cones from the tree in our backyard after a particularly windy storm, the cranberry theme repeats from above and in the center of the bottom shelf are a three-er of birch log candle holders that I purchased earlier this year.  I love them.

If you look closely in the lantern, I’ve thrown in some of the silver ornaments as well.  In the past, I’ve used a smaller candle, greens and the silver ornaments.  That also works!

During a quick and dirty stop at Christmas Tree shop over the summer, I purchased their entire stock of river stone mats with the intention of using them on the fireplace surround.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to do that, so I’ve used them in different parts of the house, as seen above.  Here I took our all-purpose white platter (and as I’m looking at this picture, I’m hoping that the cranberries aren’t staining it, YIKES), two of the coffee/tea cups from our china collection (told you everyone does double duty) and two of the birch log candle holders.   Basically, this was where I joined all the elements together in one.  TADA, Kate makes a centerpiece.

And that pretty much sums it up, folks.  The secret to decorating without making your non-Christian spouse feel like Christmas threw up all over the place.

-Kate

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It’s done, folks.  All done.   I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm.  I can’t help it.  The room calls to me and I’m helpless against the cool, gray counter tops, or sitting on the pergo floor feeding the puppies treats.

When we were putting our stuff back, we kept the basic set up pretty similar to how we had it in the past.  Our beachy blue bowls are the same color as the pantry closet!  Synergy!  We also picked up red in two of our countertop appliances.

And we totally love the glass cabinet.  It breaks up the room and makes it feel airy.  Plus we get to keep our china out, which means we’ll be reminded to use it more often!

So now I need to figure out what my next project will be.  Too bad it has been so cold here in the Northeast, I’ve been thinking about refinishing our fiberglass tubs, but you need to have some serious ventilation and you all remember how silly I got with the granite seam glue.

-Kate

 

 

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One decorating trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon:  Owls.  I’m not immune, but have kept my desire to hoard.all.the.owls to a minimum.  Even I realize that they might be creepy in large numbers.

I typically have them in a few different spots in the house and for a while, I had them up on this corner shelf in our living room, looking down on everyone.   I pulled them all together for my Halloween/Fall set up.

I like these two little guys because they look confused or horribly guilty.  “WHO ATE ALL THE COOKIES?” “uhh  uhh”  .  They are actually salt and pepper shakers from Shona (remember Shona?  She’s doing great.  Maybe we can guilt her into coming back for a holiday post).

I picked this guy up at Marshal’s for $4.99.  He has a candle holder in the back for an extra creepy glow.

And my favorite…

I got this at the White Elephant Flea Market in Connecticut.  I had originally planned on painting him, but he’s got so much natural charm, I just couldn’t.

-Kate

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I’m giving myself permission to enjoy the summer and not beat myself up about posting schedules.

I took a class at Pottery Barn class over the weekend about ‘entertaining for special occasions’ and got some great floral design ideas. For example, you can float a few branches of snapdragons in the oversized vases. It creates this cool terrarium look. Combining river stones and some moss also looks fabulous for a centerpiece too.

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I am in the midst of a painting project, our master bathroom to be exact. Pictures to come soon. And, I have hit the inspiration express. A quick stop into the always awesome, Anthropologie, in Westport, Connecticut and picked up this:

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I have only have two things to say: grass cloth and jute. Wink, wink, nod, nod!

Happy Monday!
-Kate

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