To Market To Market

There are so many reasons to switch to reusable grocery bags. Yes, they are better for the environment. But did you know…these grocery bags can carry twice as much as a standard plastic grocery bag? They also feature nice long handles, which can make it easier to carry on your arm or shoulder, leaving your hands free to hold your car keys, or even better, your child’s hand. And most reusable bags are washable, which means if they do double duty and not only hold your groceries but also sports gear and beach paraphernalia, you can toss them in the washer for a quick clean before your next trip to the supermarket.

Lilly-Pulitzer-Market-BagAnd much to my delight, I was presented with a sweet selection of Lilly market totes as a hostess gift yesterday evening.  Preppy and adorable – feeling very confident no one will notice I’m shopping in my jammies with these little numbers on my arm!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Email

Oh man.  Like woe is me.  As in this is VERY, VERY, BAD.  I sat down at my desk today fully prepared to write about the football game tonight (I am a house divided, wish me luck), and instead…what’s that in my inbox?  Up to 70% off the new weekend me?  Well gosh, that’s perfectly innocent, right?  I mean, 70% off – that’s a sale, and sales save us money.  They are a great, great thing.  So here I go a clickin’…

ambulance1BOOM!!!!!  That was the sound of my head exploding.  I have no idea whether workers’ comp is gonna’ cover this, but I am rendered unable to work, maybe even to breathe.  Valentino handbags, Phillip Lim dresses and OMG…Lanvin shoes????!!!!  At 70% off!!!!????  Someone please call 9-1-1, like stat!

Moms, I know that you, like me, live in the real world, and that our hard-earned dollars are better spent on hockey skates and dance recital costumes and college tuition funds, not on gorgeous Yves Saint Laurent jumpsuits, despite The Outnet’s lovely little sale.  But the eye candy on this gem of a site is something to behold, and I think it serves as great inspiration to embrace your inner glam.  You CAN rock a great outfit in the dropoff line – you CAN, you CAN!  (By the way, I’m thinking skinny jeans and a cool Elizabeth & James jacket for the dropoff line, not the satin jumpsuit).

I have to sign off now.  The EMT says it is not a good idea to continue typing with this oxygen mask on…

These Boots Were Made for Everything!


I MUCH prefer the snow to the rain.  I live in a neighborhood that used to be a forest preserve, and yards are resplendent with some of the tallest, oldest trees around.  One good snowfall, and I feel like I’m living in a private winter wonderland.

What makes the snow tough however, is footwear.  Too wet for suede, too icy for heels…time for some hardy boots!  I really love the Hunter boots that are so popular right now.  The array of colors and “welly socks” give you the opportunity to make your own mark on the trend, and they function well in both rain and snow.

And if you’re looking for something with a little more of a “rugged” appearance, I can’t say enough good things about Sorel’s winterwear.  I’ve had the same pair of Sorel boots since college (yes, for those of you paying attention, I did wear them with the windbreaker), and not only do they still keep my feet warm and dry, but I dig how they look so many years later – broken in and well loved.  Hope the same can be said of me in 20!

I’ve seen many a mom in the check-out line at the grocery store with feet brightly adorned in Bogs, and each of my girls actually received a pair for St. Nicholas Day (filled with candy, which I shamelessly ate after they went to bed!).  For the record, something about pastel flowers all over their little feet in the dead of winter feels hopeful to me, and I smile when they jump out of the car each morning.

So for those of you who have been dragging your heels (pun!) on donning winter footwear, take heart!  Boots are more stylish than ever!  And it turns out they’re cheaper than ever too!  Check out the selection at Nordstrom right now – 50% off and free shipping!  And hey – Ugg is running a 30% off sale with free shipping too! (I’m gonna’ give a personal plug for the slippers – they are the perfect antidote to cold hardwood floors!).

And while you’re checking out the sales, throw a pair of fashion boots into your cart,  too.  In the words of Nina Garcia, “Putting on fierce boots is an instant pick-me-up.”

Gucci BootYa’ think? 🙂

Mood Cardio

Hey there.  Do you ever just have one of those days?  A day where you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re feeling a little down?  A little unmotivated?  A little…something?  For me, today is that day.  I knew it the minute I woke up.  Ugh.  And I’ve done everything to fight my way through it.  I’m wearing a great pair of Prada flats (pretty pretty!).  I put on a blouse in the cheeriest color I could find (bright pink!). I’ve treated myself to an afternoon cup of coffee (in theory: zing!).  But I’m still sitting here feeling very…very…listless.

So before I leave for the day, I’m swinging one last punch at my case of the drearies, in the form of eye candy.  None of these items are cheap, or on sale, or even probably available to someone who drives a minivan and counts sea monkeys among the family pets, but they have perk up potential for sure, so join me in my mood cardio, if you please.

Parent teacher conferences with Lela:

Channeling my inner prep with Manolo:

Cooking Mac ‘n Cheese with Oscar:

(Just kidding!)

Channeling Grace:

After the kids go to bed:

Huh…maybe that worked.  Maybe I do feel a little pep in my step.  Maybe enough pep in my step to face the rest of the day…or go buy myself a lottery ticket, because clearly I need one!

Hangin’ in there…

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Somewhere amongst the ghosts of blogs past, I have told you fine folks that I like Liberty fabrics.  I’m retracting that statement.  I adore them.  All of those little flowers in their pretty pastel hues? They’re girly and even a little bit retro.  I go weak in the knees.  Sometimes I’ll just peruse the Liberty site and browse through the fabrics.  It’s such a guilty pleasure.  Of course every once in a while it’s also akin to torture.  Case in point?  Right now, as I type, J.Crew is featuring their “classic shirt” in a handful of Liberty prints, and I am all but sitting on my hands to prevent myself from clicking “buy” on a $150 shirt I really don’t need.  Oh where art thou Fairy Godmother?

But if I can’t, in good faith, treat myself to a full priced shirt for which I have not an inch to spare in my closet, can I treat myself to Liberty print pajamas?  There’s plenty of room in the jammie drawer…and a few are on sale…and most come with free shipping…hmmm….the struggle begins.  I love the Purple Ditzy (which is not self-referential!),  I think the Central Park Watercolor is pretty, and yep…how can anyone pass on the great shade of red in the Prospect Park (despite the hefty price tag)?  And yes ladies, I know, there is no “come hither” in these pajamas.  But let’s be honest, there isn’t any “come hither” in their college t-shirts either.  So I say find a print you love, throw ’em  on when he’s out-of-town and pick up a copy of Wuthering Heights (where there’s kind of a lot of “come hither,” if you ask me).

And in case you’re even more “liberated” than me, check out these Liberty print Doc Martens!

Ode to Mary Jane

My girls wear uniforms to school.  All four of us agree this is a good thing.  Well…one of us (guess who?) worships anything that eliminates potential pitfalls in the “out the door and into the dropoff line” routine, and oh by the way – how cute are the little jumpers and the bright red cardigans?  And the remaining three are still too young to feel compelled to lead a rebel yell against all things plaid.

But in addition to how much easier my mornings are and how adorable I think the little jumpers are, I’m also a sucker for the Mary Jane shoes.  And yes, this is true of grown ups too.  Case in point: Mary Janes ala Manolo Blahnik.  Sigh…

Okay, I digress.  Back to little girl shoes.  Something about my little ones’ little piggies encased in a Mary Jane shoe channels visions of Madeline (red hair!) and the VonTrapp children (matching curtain playsuits!) and Shirley Temple (dimples!).  It’s heartwarming, even if we don’t march in line, burst into spontaneous song and tap dance while wearing them (well, actually….we kinda’ do)!   So I was more than pleased today to discover the nice selection of kids’ shoes available at Zappos.   I don’t know why I’ve only used it as a go-to site for myself up until now.  They have enough Mary Jane-esque and school uniform-approved shoes to fill The Good Ship Lollipop!  Nice!

And though I have no coupons to spare for either the Mary Janes or the penny loafer eye candy, (another weakness) I can’t help but encourage us all to go ahead and indulge our inner prep anyway.  Come on, you know you want to!

“That’s all there is; there isn’t anymore.” (Madeline)

Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda

My 6th grader is going to 6th grade camp.  Does that bring back grade school memories or what?  When I went, I was also in sixth grade, and we went for a whole week (god bless those teachers).  I still remember some of the songs I learned, and I love to geek out and sing them for my girls: “Here’s a story, doo doo, doo do, about Jaws, doo doo, doo do…”  They always respond the same way: “Oh mommmmm….”

At any rate, my daughter is only going for a quick overnight, but the packing list is a little daunting.  We tackled it last night, and this is pretty much how it unfolded.

Sleeping bag?  Check.

Pillow? Check.

Socks?  Check.

Jeans?  Check.

Sunscreen?  Hmmm….don’t you have to replace sunscreen every season?  Does Fall count as a new season?  Okay.  That goes on the grocery list.

Bugspray? From my daughter: “What kind of bugs?  Big bugs?  Like spiders?”  Yeah…good luck with this one, Mrs. Johnson.

Pajamas?  Check.

Raingear?  Check.  Oh wait a minute.  We should try that on.  Your arms are like a foot longer than they were last Spring.  Yep.  As I suspected.  You could use a new raincoat.  From my middle child: “I’m not wearing any hand-me-downs that are pink!”  From me: “Grrrrrrrrrr…..”

So mission number one this morning was to quickly locate a raincoat sturdy enough to withstand three go-rounds in our closets, in a shade other than pink (now watch, next year my middle child will be obsessed with all hues in the rose, blush and coral families).  And lo and behold, I think search success is mine! (Now if I could just do the same for my own raingear!)

Anyone else out there love Uncle Dan’s?  They always come through in a camping emergency for me (because I have so many…).  Here are my options this morning:


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(also comes in pink for those of you who do not have children who have declared a ban on the shade!)


Girls Printed Resolve Jacket


(mad for plaid!)


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(also comes in blue, pink and black…but I think the yellow is super cute!)

Now that makes for a happy camper!

I Heart Giraffe Puppies

I know in the past I have encouraged everyone to go out and buy relatively expensive jammies and cookware and candles, and so today I feel the need to redeem myself and do something on the super cheap.  I started by NOT going to my fave cafe for a latte this a.m. (that noise you hear is me opening the Tylenol to ward off my caffeine withdrawal headache), and I am following with a post to alert any and all to the fact that Crewcuts has a great sale section.

We all say the same thing, “They grow so fast,” especially when that DNA of ours is in baby form.  But if you have a Tween, you know what I know: that DNA of ours is growing at warp speed!  My 11-year-old looks like (and I say this with nothing but the greatest affection) a giraffe with puppy feet.  Her legs are LONG.  And her feet are way too BIG for that lithe little body of hers.  And both are growing at a pace my budget cannot sustain.  I think the two most common exchanges between us go something like this:

Exchange #1

Tween: “Mom, my shoes are too small.”

Me: “Tween, we just bought new shoes.  That’s impossible!  Take off your socks and loosen the laces.”  (yeah, I know…that doesn’t really work)

Exchange #2

Me: “Young lady, that skirt is way too short.  Off it goes!  And quickly, ’cause we’re running late.”

Tween: “But we just bought this and I’ve only worn it once!”

Middle child: “Does that mean I can have it?”

So where do I go to keep my 11-year-old in appropriate length skirts (for the record – I don’t make her kneel to check the length…yet) and shoes? I check out the sale section of Crewcuts!  I love how well priced the merchandise is, especially the things she outgrows rapidly like jeans, skirts and leggings.  Also, I feel their selection is age appropriate.  Nothing is overly mature or makes me think “put a sweater on!”  And right now, the deals are unbeatable.  I can pick up some cute solid color tees to mix and match for $15, her favorite leggings for under $20, and even some cute dresses for her to run around in next summer in the $15 to $30 price range.  Great savings on Tween-approved clothing.  Love it!

Happy outfitting!

There’s More than Laughter on these Lips!

I’m gonna’ jump right in today: yippee skippee, it’s chapstick weather!  Shocker I’m so excited about this, huh?

Moms and more, that box in front of my family headquarters next week from C.O. Bigelow?  It’s mine.  And it’s filled with $100 worth of Rose Salve (that’s more or less 18 tins, for those of you wondering).  Yep, I can’t live without this stuff.  You’ll find it in my desk, in my gym bag, in any and all of my purses, in coat pockets, in my daughters’ backpacks, the junk drawer in the kitchen, the car…did I mention that I can’t live without this stuff?  With apologies to all of the Chapstick, Carmex and Blistex devotees out there, I’m convinced C.O. Bigelow’s Rose Salve is the only thing that truly heals my chapped lips, and an added bonus – it functions beautifully as a lip gloss.

Mind you, I’m not knocking the the other C.O. Bieglow products.  As previously disclosed, I do relish a good scented candle, and the assortment of candles is promising for all those with similar olfactory inclinations.  C.O. Bigelow features many of the Diptyque scents, which are favorites of mine.  My sensory advice?  Treat yourself to the Pomander during the cold winter months and pick up Tuberose for the Spring.

I also think the packaging on their soaps is pretty, or in some cases quirky, and I think these might make great hostess gifts – tied up with a grosgrain ribbon of course, and complete with a handwritten note on matching stationery.

With laughter (and Rose Salve) on the lips – smack!

Gear Up

According to various weather reports, Chicago is due for a bad winter.  I’m not saying I put any stock in these reports, last year they said the same thing and we were the beneficiaries of the balmiest winter ever despite dire predictions of an arctic armegeddon.  However, these reports have made me think a little bit…about running.  Not from Chicago to Cali (I wish!) but from my house to the lake and a few suburbs up “the Drive.”

Because the weather was so unusually warm last winter, I was extremely lucky to log some runs that were neither uncomfortably cold nor windy.  This meant I simply threw on a pair of leggings under my skort (love it!), donned a long-sleeved tech shirt and hit the pavement.  If the weather gurus are right about this winter, I need to actually dig up a hat, gloves, and yes…some kind of a jacket.  The jacket part of this equation gives me pause.  I HATE (yes girls, mommy used the “H” word) and I mean HATE (yes girls, mommy used the “H” word again) any kind of bulk while running.  I also HATE (uh-huh girls, I went for the trifecta on bad words today) feeling cold.  The product designers at North Face, Patagonia and Helly Hansen couldn’t possibly make a jacket thin enough…yet warm enough to meet my needs. (In their defense, they do try.)

In fact, I am so picky that what I have worn for my longer runs for the last 20+ years is a very well loved North Face windbreaker that I owned in college.  For whatever reason, it is the perfect combination of weight, flexibility and warmth, and I have never been able to part with it.  Unfortunately, it is also from the late ’80s, and the last time I wore it, my friend actually said to me, “Did you wear that to a screening of the Breakfast Club?”  Yeah…by 2012 standards, it’s ugly.  But aside from my skorts, I don’t really think running is meant to be a beauty pageant.

However, his teasing comment has prompted me to do a little online research, and now what I’m really appalled by are the prices of performance jackets!  Holy 50-yard dash, Batman!  $189 for a jacket in which I am going to sweat?  You have got to be kidding me!  Fortunately, I managed to find a few on sale at Athleta which look promising.  I’m also going to see if The North Face has an updated version of my beloved windbreaker.(Added bonus, my girls love those fleece-y beanies from North Face, and I feel like I can’t have enough of them on hand once it’s time for sledding and snowmen.)

Wish me luck in my jacket quest! And hey, if you’re northbound on Sheridan Road this winter and you happen to see someone on the running path in a skort and a day-glo jacket, it’s okay to roll down the window and shout, “Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?”  (quote courtesy of John Bender, The Breakfast Club)