Stocking Stuffer Musts–If Santa Is Not A Sure Thing

I am incapable of shutting my mouth and smiling kindly when backed into a corner. It is a glaring flaw in my personality. Just today I was telling my mom about a conversation where my inner common sense was screaming at me to just listen to someone I completely disagreed with and let it go. Just listen and let it go. Nope. I firmly ignored that poised inner beauty and let the sweaty, striped capri pant, crazy haired girl with red armpits from laser treatment carry on like a Halloween lunatic. I’ve been this way since childhood. This unfortunate characteristic was the reason for the entire Santa Claus unmasking. The well mannered, quiet girl would have gotten a couple more years of childhood, but the loud mouth had to be protected by her mother. Here is what happened.

Third grade started off with getting an out-of-the-blue giant nosebleed on my new dress, on the first day of school and my teacher would not let me walk the one block home to change my dress. This was a sign, in hindsight. Near Christmas vacation, we were in class doing a Christmas craft. The girl next to me said Santa Claus was not real. I told her if she believed that then he would not come and bring her presents. She said that she knew he was not real. This started a full blown discussion/argument including everyone around our desks and I was the ONLY one on my side. (Ok, Kristen Amy, WHERE WERE YOU, best friend??) I went home and indignantly replayed it all for my mother. A couple of hours later, she took me across the street to our church, early before choir practice. We sat in the sanctuary and she told me that Santa was really named Leanne and Dennis–but really just Leanne because I know my dad wasn’t picking out the presents. I sobbed. I was devastated. I asked if this meant that the tooth fairy also was not real. So many dreams were shattered that night.

IF Santa is not a sure thing for your stocking, may I suggest some must haves to make the holiday stocking commercial, merry and feminine.

BEAUTY Category:

I found the brand Beautycounter and am a convert. They stand on the premise that we must do a better job promoting safer products. Our skin is our largest organ and we slather it with unregulated chemicals. Rest assured that everything this mom owned company sells is safer for you and your littles. I sell it on the side, but these are two of my favorites. I could go crazy telling you about all my favs, but here are a couple. Want more info, http://www.beautycounter.com/katieszurpicki

Cleansing Balm, or aka miracle balm. $80 and lasts about 6 months. The price is steep, but lasts forever and is worth every cent. Cleanse your face with it, remove make up, slather it all over after a day in the sun or a day in a blizzard, rub it over bitten cuticles or tiny cuts. It is the most incredible soothing product I have ever used. The incredible scent comes from essential citrus oils.

cleansing-balm

Beautycounter Body Butter, $39. Winter dries out your skin. You need that extra layer of thickness to protect yourself. My fingers crack, even in 65 degree weather. This is amazing. Again, the scent is from essential citrus oil. You are paying for the extra time in sourcing the ingredients and time spent ensuring its quality and safety. Support safer products. My lion cub has very sensitive skin and this soothes his baby eczema.

beautycounter-body-butter_citrus-mimosa-view1-1534x1168

Lush bath bombs. Perhaps the phrase “it’s the bomb” came from referring to this fabulousness? My entire family loves these. I convinced my child at 10 months that baths were tolerable with the magic dragon egg bath bomb that turned colors as it fizzed. Buy them. Don’t worry if your tub turns a color. A good clorox spritz will get rid of it and you can bathe again with more of these magic balls. http://www.lush.com

Everyone Soap and Lotion, $11ish. I found these at Whole Foods, although available on Amazon.com as well. This is a non GMO and essential oil scented line. This is a HUGE bang for your buck and it’s fantastic. I bubble up the boys’ bath to the tippy top and then turn around and use it neck to toe on myself. This is my new fav for the bathing process.

everyone-soap

Living Proof Dry Volume Blast, $29 sephora.com. I just received an unfortunate haircut that I am referring to as the reverse mullet. I have more styling options with this as my #1 favorite hair product. Spray it after drying your hair, all over, mess it up and finish styling. It is equally as awesome as their dry shampoo. Don’t judge the product by my hair, just trust me.

living-proof

 

Wearables:

Ditch the conventional stocking and fill up some pretty cowboy boots with goodies instead. This is the most versatile shoe ever. I’ve been wearing boots for 20 plus years. I’ve given up my highest heels after having 2 teenies, but boots make me feel pretty and I can chase my cubs at the park in them. If you’re new, don’t go conservative. Jump in. Wear color. Cute dress with boots? Why not. Skinny jeans tucked in? Absolutely. Feeling fat? Boyfriend jeans, cuffed with a hint of boot peeking out. Perfection. No one looks at thighs when you have a detailed boot. http://www.countryoutfitter.com has my favs. Check out the Corral brand. Yes. Please.

pink-boot

Athleta Chauranga capri, $64. It may be the first stripe to make thighs appear thinner and your booty perkier. I swear on all that is sacred that this is the BEST capri ever made. Put an IOU in the stocking with this picture because they’re back ordered until January, but get them. GET THEM!! Amazing. Plus, you can size down. Vanity sizing works for me. They come in a full length tight as well, but the fabrication is not the same. The magic is in the capri.

athleta

Lou and Grey Steeeetch top, $59.50. Lou and Grey has wearable pajama fabrics. It’s the equivalent of a security blanket that has been washed 1000 times. Their fabrics are to die for. The fit is beautiful and skirts the timeless and trendy category in just the right way. I like this top because you can go full on athleisure with it. Pretend you are going to the gym when you pair this with your chaturanga capri. Check out the thumb tab on the sleeve. You look like you are pulled together with fitness goals. Win.

lou and grey.jpg

Thingies:

Thegrommet.com. This site is my current obsession. They launch new products regularly and it is all based upon individual creativity. I. LOVE. IT. MADLY. You also get a video of the product. Check out the chicken launcher game. I was crying with laughter. BUT, to continue with the feminine stocking stuffer, I really eye balled the Impwear laminated cotton bags starting at $24.95. Laminated cotton. This not only appeals to the mother in me, but the clean freak. It is a giant pain to clean makeup bags, but I gag when bags get too dirty. This is a wipe down bag WITH a loop to hook upon things. You have several options in color combos too. Perfection.

JBL Flip 3 Wireless speaker, $79.99 (currently at Target.com). I’m not tech savvy. I know Beats and Bose have these too, but the JBL had the best price and I love it. I hook up my Pandora app from my phone and have been rocking out to Christmas carols (Hello Trans Siberian and Manheim Steamroller) since November 1. I love that there are color options too. Perfect for a techie wannabe.

JBL-Charge-2-Portable-Wireless-Bluetooth-Speaker-5.jpg

Oil Diffuser. I’m not into candles. I don’t like the dust that accumulates on top and I’m over plug ins now that I have discovered the beauty of essential oils. I am a sucker. Plus, I feel fancy blending the scents. I am a scent junkie and this hits the spot. Plus, if you blend Eastern and Western medicine, there is science to essential oils and healing properties. In full disclosure, I rubbed fennel oil all over myself in an attempt to nurse the tiniest tiny longer and it didn’t work. However, I diffuse the left over fennel oil and it works instantly to make me smile with its scent. Amazon has a million oil diffusers to choose from.Youngliving.com has the best oils, but man are they expensive! Their Thieves oil is both therapeutic (hello cold and flu season) and it’s the best smell ever. It comes in cleaning products as well as the oil. It is the icing on the essential oil cake. It is, however, about $41.

thieves

Here are a couple from Amazon that I have loved blending and are in the $7-$12 range. Clove and sweet orange are lovely together and perfect for a cozy winter afternoon. They are not just for the ladies either. My husband asked for a diffuser and starter set for his office. Boom.

now-orangeclove-oil

LaMarca Prosecco sparkling wine. My dad decided he had enough ties and shirts and decided to switch to buying fancy wine. He built a wine rack and started buying wine from The Wall Street Journal recommendations. He has a dot system for coding how fancy the fancy wine is. His children are not allowed to choose bottles with dots on them, certainly not a 3 dot bottle. In fact, after I stayed in my parents’ home for 5 weeks and they were concerned we would never leave, he implemented a top shelf only rule for me. I am only allowed to help myself to top shelf wine. He brought this one home for me one night. It’s very moderately priced and has a great sparkling taste that is not too sweet. Thank you Dad.

Cards Against Humanity Game. This is not a new game, but so funny and wrong. It’s wrong that one might put it in a stocking, which makes it so right. You learn about people and how to play to your judge. For example, I learned my mother generally played the dirtiest card but would never vote for a dirty card when she judged. I love you Mom.

Merry Christmas! 

 

 

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Personal Comfort Counts

I moved to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I was determined to make the most of my education and my first order of business was to get an internship for fashion week. I chose my favorite brands and went to the showrooms representing the brands to inquire about employment. I was very fortunate to land an internship with my favorite denim brand. As an added bonus, a hot new pant designer was also showing there for fashion week. My job was to bring coffee, water, snacks, etc to the buyers while modeling the jeans. I worked with another intern who was a very tiny, hip skater girl from Long Beach. The day that the Nordstrom buyers were coming through was the day it all went to sh*t for me. The new pant designer felt too much attention was being given to the denim line and instructed me to put on his pants. He threw his trendiest pair in a sample size at me. I was a FULL size bigger. I really did not have a choice. I squeezed myself into pinstripe, flesh colored cargo pants with back pockets that are best described as pig nose pockets. It was a travesty. I had to walk around pretending to be peppy and hip while saying things like, “Aren’t these just amazing?” “Yes, I am so comfortable. I HAVE to have these.” All the while, skater girl looks unbelievably cute in my favorite jeans. I was certain my career was over. Nordstrom and every other buyer coming through would remember me as the girl who clearly has ZERO fashion sense. Why would anyone hire me? I might as well quit school before it starts and move home.

I did not quit school and I learned something from the experience. I swore I would never make anyone feel as ugly as I felt that day, and to my knowledge I have not. I have legitimately fit hundreds of regular women for fashion shows and I altered whatever made them feel ugly so that they would shine in front of other people. It was possibly the best lesson I learned while in school. This lesson applies to my personal life too. My tiny one hates clothes. Hates ‘em. I have drawers of darling, expensive outfits and all he’s interested in is how soft are his underpants. Oh, and shoes. He really likes shoes. We have a deal that I let him run naked whenever he wants at home and he does not fight me getting dressed when we leave home. It works for us. He has the rest of his life to wear clothes. We live in Southern California. You really do not need clothes. His current shoe obsession is with glow in the dark Native shoes. Being a stellar parent, I forgot to pack shoes for him and my mom bought him his beloved shoes in lime green. (no boring colors for this beautiful boy) We discovered by accident that they also glow! Native shoes come in a million colors, are very water friendly and slip on and off. No laces or Velcro to slow a wild child down. My favorite style is the Jefferson. At $32-42, they aren’t the cheapest shoes, but they are rugged and stylish. They are hands down the perfect summer shoe for boys or girls. My naked boy now chases fireflies at night with his glowing shoes. I should probably just get him a loincloth to go with it—if he was comfortable with it.

 

My preferred brick and mortar or online Native resources: Nordstrom, Nordstrom.com, Amazon.com, Zappos.com

 

I Am A Bag Lady

Right out of college, I nannied for a fabulous little boy who had an equally fabulous mama.  She was, and still is, who I think of when I think of stylish women.  One day she told me about a Fendi sample/end of season sale and told me I needed to go.  This is the type of employer I enjoy having.  Priorities are priorities.  Walking into the sale for me was the grown up version of being invited to the North Pole.  I didn’t know where to look or walk to first.  There was an entire room full of Fendis that I could afford.  I have had few dreams that rivaled the excitement of that day.  I bought a $1000 bag for $150.  I0 years later, it is still my go to bag for every formal occasion.  It is the best deal I have ever found.

fendi

I am a bag girl.  I like bags for all occasions and purposes.  I like having a pile of things that I need for the day and thinking about how to best contain them.  Buying a diaper bag took months as I mentally played different scenarios in my mind.  Pockets, zippers, pouches….it is so exciting to mentally fill these.  Having a baby now, I carry big bags, but one of my most favorite bags I own is a tiny bag that holds my necessities, but keeps my arms and hands free to tell stories as I am incapable of talking without my hands.

purple bag

My Marc by Marc Jacobs cross body bag is perfect for carrying just the necessities, but it still has the bells and whistles that make it interesting to me.  It has 2 outer pockets with brass hardware, and an inner slip pocket for a little extra safe keeping.  It comfortably holds a small wallet, cell phone, pen, gum, and lip gloss.  I can wear it cross body or cinch it up to make it more of a clutch for the evening.  I adore it.  Sadly, they have discontinued it, but while the purple color and hardware drew me to it, the size of it was what made it so wonderful.  The tiny cross body bag is a staple bag to have in your bag arsenal.  I consider it a piece of jewelry that completes your outfit.  Basic black is obviously the safe choice, but since they are so little, a pop of color is much more interesting.  Here are current favorites.  All can be found at Bloomingdales.  Enjoy.

yellow marcMarc by Marc Jacobs

botkier

Botkier

tory

Tory Burch

camuto

Vince Camuto

minkoff blue

Rebecca Minkoff

minkoff

Rebecca Minkoff

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

When I was little, I had an idea of what sophistication and glamorous looked like. Here are a couple of things that fulfilled my vision:

• The ladies at the country club pool who laid out on loungers all day, slathered in oil, smoking cigarettes. (I knew the cigarettes were bad because I read Ramona Quinby books, but like a good ciggie ad campaign, they just looked cool.) I was certain they walked around with clinking glasses at 5:00 in their modern Miami Vice inspired homes.
• Big, blonde hair on women with visible make-up.

road_house_dalton_at_the_double_deuce
• Animal print outfits.

One would not think I would pursue a career in fashion with these visions of beauty, but time and many fashion faux pas of my own have smoothed out the rough edges. I see the cigarettes and tanning oil as serious carcinogens and I strongly feel that you should only choose one feature to highlight with visible make up. I still passionately love animal print, however. Whether it is in or out for the season, I covet a pretty kitty or slithering snake print. It is a classic, not a trend. The key to animal print is to limit your audience’s exposure to it. Head to toe is a no-no, but a well placed and designed print is always a yes!

Dresses: Worn on their own, you can easily go into an evening affair with ease. Layer a jacket or vest over them to dress them down.  A denim or moto vest is an instant way to look right on trend for this season.

Asos, about $48

Asos, about $48

H&M Spring 2013

H&M Spring 2013

Bags: Even if you do not love wearing animal prints, how can you not love to carry one? In a casual canvas, this is an ideal beach or overnight tote. Much better than an everyone-has-one stripe, no?

H&M, $24.95

H&M, $24.95

Try a clutch with all black for a very quick and simple formal outfit.

clutch

Belts: A skinny belt is the best, and you can wear it with everything.  Add it to a simple shift dress for work appropriate drama, belt over a sweater come fall, or add interest to slouchy boyfriend jeans and your favorite tee.  Thin is elegant and timeless.

Cusp, $90

Cusp, $90

Scarves: I am a huge, giant, massive fan of scarves. Take your most basic outfit of jeans and a tee. It’s classic, but nothing special. In one quick step, you have a sassy little outfit just by adding a scarf. You get double sass points if it’s an animal print scarf! If you are scarf challenged, buy an infinity scarf. All you have to do is loop it around your neck.

Tarnish, $38

Tarnish, $38

Jewelry: This can be a challenge, but I like a challenge! Here is the key: if you are going for animal print jewelry, it MUST be bling-free. Go for tougher looking details, spikes, metal, chains; not rhinestones or you are venturing into Las Vegas territory.

Vince Camuto, $48

Vince Camuto, $48

Shoes: Animal print flats are about the cutest options ever. I have a pair of Manolo Blahniks and they make me giddy. I really like neon green paired with animal print this season, but if you are gutsy, mix them with a floral jacket. Here are a couple of similar options for inspiration.

flathoo-Wheel-leopard-print-calf-hair-flats_2186_02cheetah-print-flats1.jpg1

I Stole Out of an Easter Basket

I am on videotape stealing out of my brother’s Easter basket. I was not 2 or 3 stealing out of my teenage brother’s basket; that would have been cute. I was in the 7-9 range, stealing out of my 2-3 year old brother’s Easter basket. I am honestly not sure which bothers me more; the fact that I did it, or that I did not notice a giant 1980’s video camera recording my every move. There isn’t any verbiage on the tape either. It’s like one of my parents was recording an animal in the wild doing what came naturally. I am fervently against stealing, as a side note. Whether it is physically stealing goods or stealing ideas, it is not ok. I do not know what came over me. I am an honest person; I know my flat spots and thievery isn’t among them. I blame the excitement of the goodies in the Easter basket after a mean, competitive hunt for the most eggs. Maybe I was actually just counting his eggs?

Next year the tiny one will get to participate in Easter and I cannot wait. I already talk to him about the true meaning of Easter, but for all children, the egg hunt and basket really are what make it an exciting holiday. The reverence comes later. In honor of the commercial side of Easter, here is what I would stash in my own Easter basket.

MAC lip liner in Whirl.  They are recognized for their Spice color, but I swear it is secretly an eye liner. Whirl is incredible. It is like the color of your lips after a high school make-out session. It enhances red lipstick and is the perfect base to a nude gloss.
MAC+Whirl+Lip+Pencil+Review

Nails Inc Feathers Effect Nail Polish.  It looks like an Easter egg.  This should only be worn on grown up toes or little girl fingers. The only thing creepier than an adult woman accessorized like a child is a child accessorized like an adult.
nails inc

Kai Body Butter. This smells exactly like California in Spring, and it is fantastic. January through April is by far the best part of a Southern California year and this embodies it. I like the idea of smothering my body in the scent.
kai

A Fantastic Statement Necklace, like this one from Anthropologie ($68).  These have always been my signature style. I cannot wear them with the tiny one’s curious fingers, but in a year or so, I will again. When you have a basic, flat outfit, all you need is a wow piece of jewelry to off-set the boring. Costume is usually even more baroque and fabulous than real.
necklace $68

Target Champion Sports Bras.  I need the motivation and I love the colors and fabric. They last forever.
champion-neon-sports-bras

Coffee from Koffi in Palm Springs.  I had a malted mocha latte from there recently and I DREAM about it. So, so fabulous. http://www.kofficoffee.com

Pearls of Wisdom, Sort of?

I like to think that I carry myself well, but at times it is a fail.  I have left many an evening where Patrick informed me that my stories were highly inappropriate.  In those moments, I like to think that I have the panache to pull them off, but I usually cringe, pray, and send a vague text the next day to feel out the situation.  Over the years I have observed many women, usually Southern, who remain aloofly cool and wish that I was that way.  I just am not.  Before I attend a ladylike event, I give myself mental pointers.  Some of them include:

  • Remember that being a listener is as important as being a talker.  Everyone gets a turn.
  • Do not tell a story that would embarrass your husband.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Do not drop an F bomb.

I generally at least achieve the not dropping the F bomb point.  Yay!  I bring this up because some of my favorite ladylike accessories are pearls.   I do not endorse them at all with a cardigan twin set, but worn extra casually, they can be fun.  Opposites in dressing are so interesting.  If worn with a twin set, they are expected, but if you wear them with distressed boyfriend jeans, they are absolutely fascinating to me.  I might wonder, “What was she doing to pair these with this outfit?  Was she at the opera and couldn’t be bothered to remove them?”  or “I want to be friends with her.”  Opposites that are so blaringly obvious are fresh.  Why not wear a strand of pearls to run errands?  Things of beauty should not be used only for special occasions.  Pearls are a gemstone that have a very wide price range and timeless.  They are a wonderful gift for a new love or for a relative.  My favorite necklace is made of fresh water, pale pink pearls.   They are not perfectly round, which of course is more interesting to me.  I braid it with another strand of perfect pearls that were my great aunt’s, and gold, raisin-like freshwater pearls, and it keeps me entertained for hours.  The imperfections are the best part.