Work Clothes/Play Clothes

Here are some things I wore to work and to play.

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Work Clothes

I love this outfit and especially these shoes. I got them off Zulily last summer for dirt cheap. I think they were around $22 and it never fails that someone will stop to compliment them. The red toe is super bold but so much fun and they are actually pretty comfortable. 

Top: H&M

Skirt: Down East Basics

Shoes: Anne Michelle

Everly wears:

Top: Target

Pants: Carters 

Shoes: JC Penney 

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Play Clothes

Headed out for a family dinner in this shot. The slouchy, printed pants craze is one I fully support. It’s like wearing fancy pajama pants in public. These shoes were another cheap Zulily find - If you feel like you can’t ever find anything good on Zulily, follow my Pinterest board. I try to go in a couple times a week and pin anything I find on the site that is a great deal or really cool. 

Sweater: Kensie

Pants: Marshall’s

Shoes: Mark and Maddox

Everly Wears:

Dress: Zulily

Tights: Target

Shoes: Anna

Arlo Wears:

Hat: Kangol

Shirt: Zulily

Blazer: Zulily

Pants: Target

Shoes: Converse

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Play Clothes & Work Clothes

I wore this outfit to church one Sunday and loved it so much that I wore it work the next day. Both the top and bottom are super, super soft cotton and it felt so flowly and light. Every fall and spring I buy a pair of black and a pair of neutral shoes to be my go-to dress up shoe for the season. These shoes are my new neutral shoes for spring/summer 2014 and I’ve already worn them a ton. You can’t tell in this photo, but they have a chunky heel which makes them really comfortable!

Shirt: Kensie (from a Stitch Fix last year)

Skirt: Sugar Magnolia

Shoes: Charles David 

Everly Wears: 

Top: Baby Lulu (Like many of her tops, this used to be a dress when she was smaller)

Pants: Target

Shoes: Zulily

Arlo Wears: 

Vest: It came as part of his suit from his halloween costume

Shirt: Hand me down

Pants: Ruum Kids. (Ruum has some great sales on a regular basis. I bought these in several colors when they were on super sale for $6 each last month. I think the girl’s jeans fit my skinny boy great and have the elastic tabs at the waist to adjust to fit.)

Shoes: Converse with added shwings

Hat: We picked it up in the Zutano store on our trip to Vermont last year because it matches Brent’s favorite hat. 

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Work Clothes

This is one of my favorite vintage dresses but I don’t wear it often because I find white to be a challenging color to wear. Brent bought it for me for my birthday five years ago. 

Dress: Vintage

Belt: Vintage

Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell

Everly Wears:

Dress: c/o Tea Collection

Shoes: Target

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Play Clothes

Perhaps my favorite outfit of the bunch. I felt so good in this look. We had double date plans with some friends of ours last Friday night in our neighborhood. We had planned to ride our bikes, but a quick thunderstorm just before we were set to leave convinced us to drive instead. This drapey, jersey dress is a closet staple because it is so comfortable and the cut makes it really interesting. I like to belt it because it’s a little big in the waist. 

Vegan leather jacket: Kut from the Kloth (from Stitch Fix this past winter)

Dress: Vivienne Tam

Shoes: Mark and Maddox

Clutch: Gift from my dad

(Note: Zulily links are affiliate)

Love,

M

Everly Says…

Everly (in a dreamy voice): Mommy, did daddy get down on his knees and one knee was up and one knee was down and then he kissed your hand and said, “will you marry me?”

Me: Yep

Everly (completely disgusted): That is so creepy!

I think I laughed for a solid minute. 

(and also, the real way Brent proposed was not quite so story book but I can’t tell her the truth until she is an adult) 

Tags: everly says

Point of View

I gave the kids my little Olympus pen camera the other week and let them take some pictures around the house with one instruction: Take photos of things you think are interesting.  

There were a lot of photos that were so blurry that you couldn’t tell what they were taking a photo of, but there were also some gems among the shots. I’ve studied these photos for a few days and have really enjoyed seeing the world from my children’s point of view. When I pick up the camera, I am always looking for things I find visually appealing and tend to skip over those spaces and things that I find disheveled or ordinary. 

I really love how these photos capture the real space of our home: A banged up floor board, the “time-out” chair outside our bathroom with a pile of crumbs that need to be swept. A pile of laundry and mismatched socks waiting to be put away.

But they also captured some images that could be deemed traditionally appealing: A sunspot among the shadows on the wall of the hallway, a moment of cuddling on the couch, and our dog, Bailey, sitting like a statue on a weathered chair. 

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I plan to do this more often and hope to build an album of photos from their point of view. I think it will be interesting to see how their photo composition and subjects will change as they grow. It is a great reminder that perspective is relative - where I might skip over, they may stop to marvel. 

Even the ordinary is beautiful to someone. 

Love,

M

P.S.  My comments are back up and working! Woo hoo. Special thanks to Bobbi at Ready to Blog to get them back up and running. With her help, I’m looking forward to launching a new blog design soon too!

Arlo Says..

(While pointing at a bee in the yard) “Look at those honey bugs!”

Can we all start calling them honey bugs from now on?

Tags: Arlo Says

Everly Says…

Me: That’s preposterous!

Everly: “That’s pasta sauce!”

Tags: Everly Says

The Easter Bunny brought Arlo an Iron Man costume. He has worn it every day since. Several times a day we roll up the too-long sleeves and pant legs so that he doesnt trip over them. Last night we had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant where two little boys spotted our little Iron Man and kept calling out for him. He smiled shyly and looked away, then put his mask on and waved back to them. I can’t help but love the fact that of all the superheroes out there, Iron Man is his very favorite. I’m getting my Marvel education alongside my son, but I did learn that Iron Man has an implant in his heart and my Arlo does too. This kid is my own personal superhero. A small but mighty force of humility, joy and faith in my life. He doesn’t know it but he saves me over and over all the time.

The Easter Bunny brought Arlo an Iron Man costume. He has worn it every day since. Several times a day we roll up the too-long sleeves and pant legs so that he doesnt trip over them. Last night we had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant where two little boys spotted our little Iron Man and kept calling out for him. He smiled shyly and looked away, then put his mask on and waved back to them. I can’t help but love the fact that of all the superheroes out there, Iron Man is his very favorite. I’m getting my Marvel education alongside my son, but I did learn that Iron Man has an implant in his heart and my Arlo does too. This kid is my own personal superhero. A small but mighty force of humility, joy and faith in my life. He doesn’t know it but he saves me over and over all the time.

My Honest Thoughts of American Blogger

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So today, American Blogger was released. 

I want to be completely candid about my thoughts on participating in this project and viewing the final result. When Chris Wiegand first emailed me about it, I had to mull it over for a little while but decided it would be a fun thing to be a part of. 

I have always loved Chris’ wife, Casey. I think it really doesn’t take all that long to determine if someone in the blog world is genuine or not. Casey is one of the good ones. A kind and gentle voice in my weekly reader. I didn’t know Chris but I watched some of his previous work and saw his talent. When he pulled up in my driveway, I was nervous and excited. 

I didn’t have a lot of details other than that it would be a film about bloggers across America and even after participating, I still didn’t have a clear picture on exactly how he would tell the story.

Chris was an exceptionally nice guy. Just as kind and genuine as Casey and it was fun to talk about my blogging experience and have him tag along for the day as we spent time together as a family. 

Months passed and I didn’t think about the film all that much. I was excited to watch the trailer but I’ll admit that my reaction to it was tepid. The voice over made me cringe and the promises of the film “changing the world” made me more than a little nervous. Certainly nothing I had shared with Chris on film was world changing. 

I only know about a third of the bloggers in the film, but the lack of diversity is undeniable. We are all women, most of us are white and appear to be middle class. There are two non-white bloggers and a handful of blogger children in the film of different ethnicities.

The title “American Blogger” got a lot of flack from the broader internet audience. It was blatantly obvious that, despite its name, this film is not an all encompassing look at American Bloggers. It was definitely a more focused feature on a set of niche lifestyle, fashion, and family bloggers in the US. I think had the title been more specific and the voice over been a little less presumptuous, they would have received far less negative feedback on the trailer. I do think that the lack of diversity was going to be an issue no matter what. I think there was a real missed opportunity there.   Chris did add “American Blogger - The First Journey” to the final film after the trailer was released to clarify that this was only the first of many AB films he hoped to make. 

I believe that Chris’ intentions were always good. He set out to make a film on a subject dear to his family and utilized the bloggers that Casey had established relationships with to do so. There was never any intent to exclude and I think it just comes down to the fact that Chris is young film maker and a bit naive. I’m not making excuses for him but I hope he learned a hard and valuable lesson on this project. I haven’t spoken with Chris or Casey, but I imagine both of their world views have been broadened significantly with this experience. 

Chris sent out an early viewing to all of the bloggers involved last night. I was so nervous to watch it that I felt slightly nauseous. I couldn’t remember a damn word I had said to him in my interviews but was convinced I’d probably made a complete fool of myself. 

The beginning of the film focused far more on Chris’ experience than I had anticipated. The story of American Blogger is much more about the intersection of Chris’ familial experience with capturing life through words and video & the experiences of other bloggers than just a film on the bloggers themselves. I think it would have been benificial to promote the two intersecting stories of the film as it helps to tie in the official documentary image and the trailer much better. 

I was also really curious to see how Chris was going to tie in so many different bloggers from the same blog genre. There was definitely a lot of visible similarities between us all (lots of vintage couches and red lipstick and spinning around with children in our arms) but there were also some really personal, beautiful stories intermingled in the interviews. I definitely teared up at one point in the middle of the film. 

There were a few parts that I thought were a poor reflection on bloggers- The “here is my room full of free shoes and handbags” segment  made me want to fast forward and the excessively long section of the film dedicated to bloggers opinions on “people who leave mean comments on blogs” seemed unnecessary. Addressing trolls and haters is certainly a necessary part of discussing the blog writing experience - but the commentary was all one sided. I have definitely had my fair share of nasty comments on my blog but I also think it’s important to be challenged by my readers. To take constructive criticism when it is valid. I have had some of my own narrow views and opinions expanded through dialogue in the comments of my blog and I’m wary of the way the film made it seem as if many of the bloggers wished only to participate in a community where people agreed with them.

The cinematography is beautiful. Chris has a real talent for telling a story through images. The footage of some of my favorite bloggers just made my heart want to burst with love for them. I’ve known some of these women for years solely through their photos and blog words and to see them on film laughing and sharing a little of themselves was really fun for me. I was unfamiliar with many of the women in the film and I’m looking forward to exploring several of their blogs and finding some new inspiration for my blog reader.

I believe wholeheartedly everything I shared about my experience in the film. I could have toned down the red lips and done without that dang brown hat, but otherwise, I stand behind my contribution to American Blogger. 

When the credits rolled, I felt relieved.The silly voice over man from the trailer had not shown up for the entire length of the film. It left me feeling like I could be real life friends with most of the women. I think within the small scope of the genre that was covered, Chris did us justice. A lot of the bloggers in the film do have a lot in common. We are but one small set of a much larger blogging community but each of us has a unique story to tell. I hope that Chris will take the lessons he learned on this project and apply them to his next American Blogger project. So much was shared in this film, but it’s really only the beginning of a much bigger story within the American blogging community. 

Love,

M

P.S. It’s kind of KILLING me that I can’t get the comments to work on my blog right now but if you watch the film, I’d love to hear your perspective. Tweet me at @withoutmelissa or email me at dearbabyblog@gmail.com. 

Happy Earth Day everyone!

I thought today would be an appropriate time to share a little earth friendly recipe that we have been using at our house this spring. The wasps and carpenter bees are out in full effect since the weather has warmed up and we discovered a nasty little wasp nest right near our front porch. 

I wanted an earth and kid friendly solution to keeping the bugs at bay and found a slew of online recipes for a natural wasp spray. 

Mix 1/4 cup of dish soap (We use Seventh Generation!)

1/2 cup of water

20-25 drops of peppermint essential oil (available at any healthfood store or on amazon)

Shake it up in a spray bottle and you are ready to go. I sprayed a fine mist around the perimeter of our porch where the wasps had been swarming and we enjoyed a couple hours of bug free time on the porch.  

If you spray it in the general direction of a wasp, they will fly away and leave you alone, but I also discovered that if you are able to saturate them with the solution (a couple of sprays) that within about 20 seconds, they will curl up and die. 

I’ve also had carpenter bees trying to eat underneath a wooden bench on my porch. I spray the solution around the bottom base of my bench once a day and on the places they were chewing and they have left it alone since. 

I haven’t attempted to spray the solution directly on to the wasps nest, but I’ve been really pleased with the way this easy, non toxic spray has done to keep the wasps away from our favorite play areas this spring. 

While I’m on the subject of non-toxic, if you haven’t already, go sign the petition and read about Seventh Generation's Toxin Free campaign to ask congress and the EPA to enforce safer chemical standards in our household products. They've already met their 100,000+ signature goal but the more names they can take to congress the better! 

Love,

M

Seventh Generation’s Stand Against Toxins

I have been purchasing Seventh Generation products for years now. It started when we lived in San Francisco and I found a little book that listed the most eco friendly companies in the United States. Seeing Seventh Generation at the top of the list made me determined to spend my money on a brand who is thoughtful about their impact on the environment. 

Over the years, I’ve become very loyal to their products. It is their products that cleaned the floors my children learned to crawl on. It is their diapers and wipes that my children wore when we need disposables. It is their detergents and soaps that washed our clothes and our dishes. 

I trust them because I know their products are safe and I choose them because I want to support companies that care about more than just making money. 

When Seventh Generation reached out to me and asked if I’d like to partner with them, I expected that like most sponsors, they wanted me to help promote their products, but they actually wanted something even better.

They wanted my help in spreading the word about a bigger message- One that goes far beyond their company and their products. Seventh Generation recently launched a petition to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen the Toxic Substance Control Act. The TSCA was last updated by the EPA 38 years ago. The act essentially grandfathers in the approval of thousands and thousands of chemicals used to make products that we all use in our homes everyday. Very few of these approved chemicals have been tested and proven safe for human exposure and yet we are cleaning our counters and wiping our door handles and washing our dishes with products containing these chemicals. 

Seventh Generation wants Congress to strengthen the rules around what chemicals can be used in household products. As it stands now, more than 50% of the chemicals in many of the household cleaning products we all use every day have never been tested for potential human toxicity. 

Seventh Generations’ goal is to take 100,00 signatures to congress next month and they need our help. They are very close to their goal and I’d love to help them reach it! 

You can stand up for safer chemicals just by signing their petition

One of Everly’s responsibilities in our family is cleaning all of the windows within her reach every Saturday. It brings me a lot of peace of mind to know that the Seventh Generation products in our home are safe for her and anyone else under our roof. 

Let’s help Seventh Generation ensure the same can be said for the chemicals used in all household products in the US!

Love,

M

It Bloomed.

Last year, I shared a little about my Grandma Doris, in the weeks that she took ill and her passing.  I spoke at her funeral and shared a story with everyone who knew and loved her:

"As many of you know, Grandma Doris had a gift for growing the most gorgeous African Violets. She had them in varying colors - some with dark green, fuzz covered leaves. Others with white and green trimmed leaves. Some with deep purple blooms, others the softest shade of lavender. Some she had even grown until they were as large as a dinner plate. 
Nearly 10 years ago, when I was 23, Grandma Doris sent me home from a visit with one of her prized violets. I tried to convince her that I was not responsible enough to care for it but she promised me that I would do just fine. Violets are such delicate plants and I had killed every green thing I’d ever cared for including a cactus. But not one to tell my grandmother no, I took it from with her instructions to keep it watered and give it plenty of sun and treat it to a little plant food every now and then.

When Brent and I moved to San Francisco, that small violet caused me a great deal of worry. How was I supposed to transport it across the country when everything we owned would be on a hot moving truck for 7 days? I decided to wrap it carefully in layer upon layer of bubble wrap, mark it all over with FRAGILE and overnight it to our new address the day before our plane left. 

When it arrived, I opened the box to find the planter had broken and almost all of the the stems had been crushed. I was distraught. It was at this same time that Grandma was going through a difficult time health wise.  I re-potted that little violet and did my best, with Grandma’s words ringing in my ears, to nurse it back to health. 

It bloomed a year later and I shared the news with grandma over the phone. In that same conversation, she told me that she was well and happy.  It sounds silly, I know - but I became convinced that there was a greater connection between my grandmother and that violet. It felt as if I was responsible for the care of a tiny piece of her. 

That violet now lives next to the sink in my kitchen. It has not bloomed in several years but the day I learned she had passed, I found myself standing in the local garden center with tears in my eyes, asking one of the workers there to help me find the right pot and food for it. I smile,  knowing that grandma is in full bloom in heaven, and here on earth, I guess I cant help but wish to see that small piece she left to me burst open again with the bright purple flowers she loved so much. 

It’s always the little things that we find peace in. And I have great peace in knowing that my grandmother, a woman of integrity, gentleness and a great love for her Heavenly father, is there with Him now. She is rejoicing in a healed body and sound mind and I know she wishes for us to do the same in her honor.

This morning, I made her famous homemade biscuit recipe for my family. I took great pleasure in making my children “funny biscuits” - little odd shaped biscuits out of the leftover dough cutouts that she always made for me and my cousins growing up. We ate them on the beautiful china adored with pink roses that she passed down to me when I got married.  It was the first time I have ever used them, as I have felt they were too precious and fancy to bring out. 

But this morning, I could think of no occasion more fitting for their use than the day we were to celebrate her life. 
As I washed my plate at the sink after breakfast, I looked over at that violet, sitting tall and green in its new pot. All those years ago, she had faith in me to love and care for that little flower, even when I was so sure I couldn’t do it. And now it lives on, a reminder of her love, her patience, and the beauty that is her eternal life in heaven.

Rest well grandma, I love you.”
Next week marks the one year anniversary of her passing. 
I have diligently fed and watered her violet for ten years now. It last bloomed five years ago. A few months back, I brought grandma’s violet to my office so that I could have some little living thing there to enjoy during my work days. The violet thrived under the flourescent lamp on my desk. 
I walked into my office last Wednesday to discover that the wish I shared at her funeral had come true. A single purple bloom had burst open between the velvety leaves. In the days since, ten more buds have started to grow and three more flowers have opened. 
When I was little, Grandma Doris would send me a card for every holiday: Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, even St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care if it sounds crazy to anyone else, but in my heart, I know it’s her way of sending her love to me as we come upon the anniversary of an entire year without her in the world. 
It bloomed.
And in the quiet, slow opening of its petals, I experienced one more gesture of her love. 
M
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