Another Year Older (Almost)

It’s exactly one month before my birthday, which always has me thinking about all of the to-dos, things I wanted to accomplish, and things I need to change before that next milestone. A few years ago, my biggest priorities were getting to a certain place in my career and seriously thinking about starting family.

The year, it’s the wrinkles, the workout, and the wardrobe…
I found out that I was pregnant shortly after my 30th birthday so I gave myself a pass on worrying about that whole post-30 wardrobe cleanse thing since I knew I’d be buying maternity clothes soon enough and had no idea what my post baby body would be like. In addition to asking myself, should I still be wearing this, I also need to consider how much my wardrobe needs have changed. I’ve always had a penchant for fancier clothes than my life really needed, but now going to the club means tee boxes and brunch rather than sequins and stilettos, and I need to be honest about what I really wear.
Further complicating matters, my office recently went from a minimum of business casual to a jeans everyday dress code. (Whether or not I actually want to wear jeans to the office everyday is a different matter…more on that later). For years, I invested in business professional or business casual pieces thinking they’d be wardrobe workhorses forever. While I’m pretty sure I’ll hang on to my favorite black pencil skirt and a few silk blouses, I just don’t need all of the filler pieces that basically stretched my wardrobe to avoid constant trips to the dry cleaner.
Getting my closet in check is sounding like a workout, and it’s a good thing since I haven’t been getting to the gym as regularly since going back to work. By the time we get Tad to bed, eat a bite of dinner, and I take care of any open items I may have left at the office, I feel like it’s too late to go to the gym (or so I tell myself). I’m hoping to start packing a gym bag and working out at the office before I come home on days that Ted has daycare pick-up, and challenging myself to go after dinner at least one day per week, even if for only 30 minutes.
Finally, I really don’t worry much about breakouts, but can no longer ignore those fine lines and wrinkles. I started using eye cream and night cream a few years ago, but have primarily relied on samples I received or whatever brand I happened to like the packaging on rather than really doing my research. I think I’m old enough now to invest in some solid products since an ounce of prevent is probably literally worth a pound of cure in this case. A fresh makeup routine probably wouldn’t hurt either!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll (hopefully) be tackling each of these areas and maybe feeling good enough about being another year older to celebrate gracefully.
In the meantime, I’d love suggestions on the best anti-aging products, especially for forehead lines and tired under eyes! What are your tried and true favorites?

Valentine’s Gift Ideas for the Mr.

It seems that whenever I write about post about gift ideas, Ted always asks what I’m going to get him. I like to think that me being his Valentine is enough, but nevertheless, he has a point. These are a few of my current favorite ideas, though I would like to add a disclaimer that these are ideas that are likely best suited once you’ve walked down the aisle. Trying to take over a man’s wardrobe before you’re married is risky business, let alone asking him to use a face mask. Ted and I passed that point a long time ago, and he agrees that his wardrobe and grooming is better for it. Before we were married, I stuck to things like electronics or tickets to something fun (whether a concert or sporting event).

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1. This commuter briefcase is a perfect blend of rugged man bag and enough polish to look professional showing up to an important meeting.

 2. Monogrammed cufflinks add a timeless personal touch to any professional wardrobe. I also love these as a gift idea for groomsmen.

 3. After a hard week at work, he can impress his friends when he offers them a drink sporting a giant ice ball just like the most popular craft cocktail bars.

4. The Tile makes missing keys, wallets, or even phones a thing of the past. It links to your phone so that you can “ring” your keys. A lifesaver for mornings in our house where the keys always seem to go missing.

 5. Born in Richmond, Ledbury shirts are some of the best fitting shirts around. The guys that founded the company are pretty great too. The start-up is still small enough that the founders often stop by pop-up shop events and customer appreciation parties.

6. I’ve been using Biore charcoal products for awhile, but splurged on this Beautycounter set for Ted for Christmas. The first time he used it, he left the mask on a little too long and his face turned red, but hasn’t had a problem since.

7. This slim wallet is perfect for today’s tailored suit and fitted jeans trend since it slips nicely in pockets without adding bulk.

8. It took me forever to convince Ted that throwing on gym shoes with jeans, even if just to run to the grocery store, isn’t the best look. Now I’m hoping he’ll abandon flip flops in the dead of winter to take out the dog, if there is a comfy casual alternative.

What are you planning to get your S.O. for Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Our first few years of marriage, Valentine’s Day always caused tension between Ted and I because he felt pressured to get me a gift. Inevitably, he’d ask what I wanted and I would say nothing since we just had Christmas and my birthday is around the corner. I would say to just pick up some flowers from the grocery store if he felt he really needed to do something. Rather than believing me, he would assume that I was “setting a trap” when I said not to get me anything, but really expected him to go find something on his own. That really wasn’t the case, but he’d get so worried about it that we’d usually get in a fight about something silly.

One year, I just so happened to spot a pair of sparkly pink earrings at J. Crew. I ended up getting them myself, but told Ted about them first we agreed that they could be for Valentine’s Day. Problem solved…Until the next year when he told me that he knows I like to shop for myself, but that he wanted to get something for me. That’s about the year that I started putting together a “gift guide” that he’s been able to use for Valentine’s Day and birthday ideas since. Last year the theme tended towards a cozy night in, but it seems that this year I’m in the mood for travel!

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Do you usually exchange gifts for Valentine’s Day? If so, what’s topping your wish list?

xoxo,

Kristen

Valentine’s Inspired

Despite the cold weather we typically have in Alexandria in February, I always think of feminine fabrics like lace and tulle when planning an outfit for Valentine’s Day. I also thinks it’s fun to incorporate pink and red hues, but favor blush and burgundy to typical bright reds and pinks. A flirty dress in a bold color would have been an outfit of choice in my younger days, but now that I’m in my thirties I look for more refined pieces that can be part of my everyday wardrobe and not just for special occasions. A well made neutral lace top can be a great investment and is easily styled with skirts or jeans.

What are some of your favorite finds for a Valentine’s Day date night?

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Christmas Card 2016

 

This time last year we were celebrating Christmas as new parents. Tad was barely two weeks old, and we weren’t able to manage getting Christmas cards out. I always enjoy receiving them from friends and family and like to display them on our mantle, so I wanted to make sure to send them out this year. Ted kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas so I told him I wanted pictures – a nice family photo, a one year old photo of Tad, and a picture with Santa. We were pretty ambitious in trying to knock them all out in one day, but we made it through and managed to get a few good shots, thanks to Amanda Donohue and her husband who is professional at getting little ones to laugh.

To our friends and family who were sweet enough to include us in their Christmas card list this year – thank you! We’ve enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures and reading about your year for those that included letters and milestone events. Even though I planned ahead for photos, I didn’t actually get them in the mail until we left town for the holidays, but they are on their way so please don’t cross us off the list for next year!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xoxo,

Kristen

Photography by Amanda Donohue

My outfit: J. Crew sweater, Rocksbox necklace, Ann Taylor skirt (old; similar style here), MAC Rebel lipstick

Ted’s outfit: Ledbury shirt, Nordstrom Rack sweater and scarf

Tad’s outfit: Ralph Lauren Baby, Freshly Picked

 

Brunch with Santa

Rather than taking Tad to the mall to see Santa, we attended a brunch with Santa. It was the perfect opportunity for him to see the jolly old fellow and watch other kids he knows sit on his lap first. He devoured all sorts of treats like Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream while we waited our turn. There were also plenty of Christmas trees with bright, shiny ornaments for him to explore. He’s not really talking yet so I’m pretty sure he asked for a dadada and a nuh-nuh (what he calls our dog, Nutmeg), but hopefully Santa speaks baby babble because Tad’s been an awfully good boy this year. He loves going to school, reading books, and crawling all over the place. He’s learned to wave bye-bye, give kisses and high fives, and is a little speedster with his walker.

Oh, and he even gave us the classic picture you were really hoping for…

rosé all day

Okay, so, maybe not all day, but it was the varietal of the day for my sister’s bachelorette winery tour. I’m so glad that rosé is becoming somewhat en vogue, as I’ve been a fan ever since traveling in the south of France for my honeymoon. We had three stops lined up for the day, and agreed to try the rosé at each. While the wine at the first, King Family Vineyards, was my favorite (a dry rosé, named after the small town of Crozet in which the winery is located), the atmosphere at our third and final stop was unparalleled. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is nestled just outside of Charlottesville and offers pristine views coupled with rustic elegance. A joint effort of husband and wife team, Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews, Pippin Hill combines their wealth of professional experience in luxury properties and bespoke events. It’s no wonder that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux were rumored to have been married here! As I imagine is the case most Saturdays, they were busy setting up for a wedding later that evening. Though I don’t have any weddings to plan anytime soon, I would love to come back here for a special occasion, like an anniversary dinner, to try their “vineyard to table” cuisine. While it was the perfect way to celebrate my sister’s final days as a single lady, I was surprised to see many young families with toddlers in tow at King Family and and Veritas Vineyards. It actually makes perfect sense as there are big grassy knolls to upon which to spread out a blanket where adults can catch up with friends over their vintage of choice, and the little ones can run and play. I can’t wait to pack a picnic, round up a few friends, and head back to Virginia wine country. I’d love to hear any recommendations of other Virginia vineyards or wineries that are worth trying. I know Virginia isn’t especially known for great wine, but it still makes for a nice day-trip and the scenery can be simply stunning. Salut!

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Back to Work

After five glorious months of maternity leave, I’ll be heading back to work next week. While excited about getting my professional life going again and seeing all the great people I work with, I’m a little anxious about my new role as a working mom. My nearest and dearest, myself included, weren’t sure how I would handle maternity leave. Would I be bored? Would I go crazy spending so much time alone with just my little one? No and no! I have absolutely adored being home with my little man, and have kept myself plenty busy with projects big and small from cleaning out and reorganizing to gutting our master bathroom.

I have truly cherished this time I’ve had to focus on learning to be a new mommy and am amazed by how quickly my tiny baby is becoming a little boy. It seems like he learns something new every day! I got to be there the first time he smiled, laughed, rolled over, and tried to give me a kiss. He currently loves grabbing my face and planting a slobbery wet one on my cheek, and I love it! I know that preschool offers great stimulation, socialization, and other development opportunities, but it’s still going to be hard leaving him.

To my mom friends that have gone back to work…I would love to hear any advice you have to share on how it went for you, and any tips to make it easier!

Bowties & Belles

Horse racing, fancy hats, and mint juleps in silver cups…what’s not to love? Every year, I look forward to Derby weekend and Bowties & Belles because it’s a chance to dress up and have a little fun with fancy millinery while benefitting a good cause. I have to admit that it snuck up on me a little this year since the past few months of staying home with Tad have absolutely flown by. I have an aqua and gold Lilly dress that I bought last year, just before I found out I was expecting, that I really didn’t get to wear. Given that gold is so popular right now, I figured I would have no trouble finding a gilded, shimmering hat to match. After striking out, and realizing things were getting down to the wire, I was happy to find a fascinator style headpiece on Nordstrom’s website in a pale aqua shade with a shape that I liked that I thought would pair perfectly. Unfortunately, the shade  was a bit more of a seafoam green in person than it looked online. With mere days before the event, I grabbed a can of spray paint in desperation and hoped for the best. I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it covered the sinamay, and even the feathers! Though I was pretty happy with the result, the resulting hue was a more muted gold than I had hoped for so I went back to digging in my closet and pulled out this old favorite pink and gold dress that seemed new again after not having been able to wear it last year.

My sister was sweet enough to come visit and to watch Tad while we headed off to Bowties & Belles, a Kentucky Derby party to benefit the Campagna Center. It’s always great to spend an afternoon catching up with old friend and making new ones, but even better when it benefits the community as well. The Campagna Center offers educational and social development programs for children, teens, and adults in the community. Soon after moving to Alexandria, I was introduced to the Junior Friends, an organization that partners with and supports the center. It has been an amazing way to get to know some phenomenal women, and get involved in the community. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time doing everything from arranging flowers for the Anniversary Gala to planning and decorating “Santa’s Workshop” for Deck the Halls, one of the signature events during Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend. If you live in the Alexandria area, I highly recommend checking out the great things the Campagna Center is doing for the community, and coming to a Junior Friends meeting if you want to get involved!

Easter Sunday

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!

Since having Tad, traveling home for holidays has been tough given that the drive home to North Carolina is no easy task with an infant and dog in tow. He did great on our trip back in February, but I was worried we wouldn’t be able to fit everyone in the car with all the stuff! Staying home in Alexandria has given us the chance to create some of our own family traditions. For me, those traditions mainly focus on activities that I grew up with associating with major holidays (trimming the tree, a special Easter outfit, etc.). For Ted, it means a meal.

The Easter Bunny stopped by our house and left a basket for Tad with new playsuits (here and here), an Easter bottle, and books including an old classic, Peter Cottontail, and a new favorite, I Love You Night and Day. Since I can’t sing, I found a recording of Peter Cottontail to help me read it to him last night, and Ted and I took turns reading I Love You Night and Day. It’s the sweetest!

After changing out of our church clothes, Ted started whipping up a classic Easter feast complete with glazed ham, green bean casserole, and sweet potato soufflé. We like to add a bit of bourbon to the glaze kit that comes with the ham, and I insist on sweet potato soufflé at Thanksgiving and Easter. Below is the recipe that my Mom’s family has been making for years from an old church cookbook.

Sweet Potato Soufflé

Mix together 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, 1 cup white sugar (I reduce to half), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 1/3 tablespoons melted margarine (we use Kerrygold Irish butter instead), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour mixture into a baking dish.

Chop together 1 cup light brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 1/3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, and 2 cup of shredded coconut. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

I always love hearing about other family traditions. Do you do anything special to celebrate Easter?

xo,

Kristen

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