I have no idea how I ever shopped before Amazon. Amazon Prime basically saved Christmas day for this family!
Here are my five most recent Amazon purchases:
1. INSTANT POT // When I first started hearing rumblings of how awesome Instant Pots were I thought, "That's silly. I have a crock pot and a rice cooker, no need for a combined appliance." But then I read I could do wings in less than 30 minutes and a rack of ribs in 20 minutes, I had to have it. I use my slow cooker about twice a week, and I often forget to plug it in or turn it on. By the time I realize it, I have to cave and order a pizza. I thought an Instant Pot would be a better solution. An Instant Pot is an electronic pressure cooker that can also saute, be a slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and a few other things. It's freaking frightening to use at first, but after your first couple of recipes, you'll get the hang of it.
2. PALEO COOKING WITH YOUR INSTANT POT // Are you a cookbook person or an "I get recipes off the Internet person"? Although I love AllRecipes and we subscribe to eMeals, I do appreciate an informative cookbook when I'm getting into something new. I don't do a Paleo diet, but I eat a lot of protein and limit my sugar and carb intake (I do a modified Ketogenic diet), so Paleo resources are usually a good fit for me. I am loving this book so far, and plan to try their Texas chili recipe tonight. (Praying I don't cause an explosion).
3. SPOTBOT // We got an Amazon gift card from Chris' dad for Christmas, and I really wanted to buy ourselves something exciting, but twice since Christmas, Noodles has had an accident in our formal dining room (otherwise known as my laundry folding room). We used to have a Green Machine for cleaning up these kind of messes, but ours broke right before we left Texas. I was going to replace it until I discovered The Spotbot. You can use the hose or just sit it on top of the mess, and I think it's the best thing for cleaning up yucky dog stuff from white rugs. (I have no idea what possessed me to buy a white rug... for a dining room... while we have three messy kids... and a dog... I really need to have better people in my life advising me on rug choices). I love this thing. Let the record show that in the last 12 months I have purchased a Roomba, Shark steam mop, Shark wand, and now this Spotbot. I have a thing for floor cleaners, apparently. I can't stop, won't stop until I get my grubby hands on an iRobot Braava and a Dyson Eye. I may scrap this blog and just become a vacuum / mop review blog. Is that okay with y'all?
4. B.BANG 5 PACK OF SPORTS BRAS // Five sports bras for $36? Um, yes, please. Zip front sports bras are my jam because it's 1000x nicer to take a sweaty sports bra off via a front zip versus an overhead wrestling thing (I always feel like a bird stuck in a plastic six pack ring when I'm trying to wiggle off a sports bra overhead). These are a little low cut and you really have to pull them out front to zip it up easily, but they are very thick, very supportive, and hold up really well in the wash. I workout four days a week (dance class and HIIT) and haven't had any issues with the zippers at all. They come in bright, fun colors as well as white, black, and grey, which you can purchase individually or different multipacks.
5. OSMO NUMBERS // Osmo gifted Jude with Osmo Coding and Caroline with Osmo Creative Set, and we've been such fans ever since. We purchased Osmo Numbers as a fun game that Jude can do during his "break" in our homeschool day. Sneaky mommy. Little does he know it's reinforcing his math facts and helping him get better and faster at addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Osmo Numbers is by far his favorite Osmo set.
I've been skimming some "blogger strategy guides" just to see what you with-it youngins who keep weblogs are doing these days and apparently I'm big time dropping the ball content-wise here. Apparently I need to do more lists with catchy titles like "62 crafts you can do with your preschooler today!" Apparently, if I turn my blog content into a bunch of lists, my readers will Pin the stuffing out of it and I'll become a millionaire and companies like Blue Apron will buy me private islands and cars and stuff.
Guys. I cannot. And I am a list lover! I just tried to write "50 reasons why blogging is still cool" and I felt this weird gurgling in my stomach, similar to whenever I see an Issue of Real Simple smugly shaming me from its high shelf at the grocery store checkout.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who feels gurgly and anxious while reading the cover of Real Simple. Let me explain:
NINETY NINE affordable ideas for home organization?! First, I don't even think KonMari has 99 methods for home organization (She's got 99 problems, but clutter ain't one). An article pointing out almost 100 ways that I've probably failed at Adulting makes me NOT want to buy the magazine. Plus, I can't trust this cover. Who only has two spools of thread and those two spools are yellow and orange and not say, black and white?
Also! Don't give me a list of 35 books to read in a summer. I'm lucky if I can get through two given the fact that the kids aren't in school and my leisure reading time is narrowed down to the scant alone time I get when I'm on the toilet. I don't think I could read 35 books in a summer even if I were Mark Watney stuck on Mars all alone, bored out of my mind, with a Martian summer twice as long as an Earth summer. Even then I still feel like I would not have enough time for 35 books.
Stress-free summer, it says... while suggesting I could throw three outdoor parties when it's 100º outside and everyone is sweaty and cranky and my metal outdoor furniture could brand a person's behind if they even think about plopping down on it. Stress-free summer, it says... while asking me if my HOUSE is making me FAT. Is it?! Is my house making me fat???! I never wondered this before until NOW. And now I'm stressed about THAT. Thanks. Stress-free summer, it says... as I try to implement 67 ideas to make EVERY day more fun. I don't know about you, but this sounds like the opposite of stress-free. If they really wanted to promote a stress-free summer, the headlines would be thus:
- "Three totally believable lies you can use to get out of work to enjoy a beach day"
- "What kind of wine goes best with take out?" and
- "67 things to add to your Netflix and Amazon Prime queue"
And woof. Did you check that lower right corner? "17 expert tricks to look great in pictures". I think two would suffice: "NO DUCK FACE" and "STOP DOING THE SORORITY SQUAT". Thank you, editors. I expect to see that in the newest issue.
Peep that title. This is THE ULTIMATE LIFE HANDBOOK (no offense, Holy Bible). 1001 ways to live better EVERY DAY. Do I need to do all 1001 of these daily or just try one a day for 2.75 years? Does the article come with a multipage supplemental checklist for these 1001 ways so I can mark them off once I've done it? 1001 seems so daunting! That's four figures, man! I would have been down with something basic like 10 or maybe even something in the low three digits, but 1001? No way, no how. It's like that time my freshman year of college that I walked into second semester pre-med biology, looked at the syllabus and immediately nope nope noped my way straight to the registrar to drop that class and change my major. I'm not that girl. I can't carry that workload.
So anyway... Indiana/Elsewhere is likely going to be weird diatribes like this one and outfit photos if I can teach my six year old how to snap a photo of me without cutting off my shoes and the top of my head. I'll do little lists occasionally, but please call me out on my ish if I start posting "101 essentials you need for your wardrobe immediately" for the repins.
For you Pinterest addicts, I made you this:
I've begun the book The Curated Closet at the recommendation of my Instagram buddy Cait. Elsie from A Beautiful Mess reviewed the book and this part of Elsie's review is what made me pull the trigger:
I LOVE that the book doesn't recommend a bunch of basics for everyone, like a trench coat or black heels. I always hate when magazines and blogs do that because there are no basics that work for everyone. I seriously never wear white button up shirts, but every list will always say you need one. -Elsie Larson on The Curated Closet
HEAR HEAR! (Although I just got my first plain white button down this year for my birthday. While I don't reach for it EVER on its own, it's been a great layering peice under overalls and dresses).
As you know, I've been so eager to rediscover and refine my personal style, so I just want to tear through this book. However, there's homework. Lots of detailed homework. Ugh. I was a terrible college student because homework is for squares! Jokes! Homework is for the disciplined, go-getters, serious about achieving success. Typically, this is not me. I've always had a problem with finishing things I start, but in the name of wardrobe (and self?) improvement, I am giving this an earnest, enthusiastic shot. I've even made a section in my bullet journal dedicated to The Curated Closet exercises and thought processes.
The first thing I have to do is record my outfits and where I wore them for two weeks. I also need to start a "Style File", a collection of outfit images that I'm drawn to. I've been looking at my Pinterest boards, and I'm starting to see a theme:
I'm hesitant to name my style ("modern bohemian" "fancy Goodwill" "Audrey on meth") as that's not recommended in the book because it can box you in, but if I had to name some of my style icons, I'm a big fan of Atlantic-Pacific for her use of color and the impeccable fit of her clothing and Man Repeller for her off the wall -WINK!- at fashion. Jentine of My Edit doesn't blog much these days, but her Instagram is always inspiring to me because she wears vintage in a way that looks fresh and modern instead of costumey or old, plus she sells her vintage finds on Etsy.
Anyway, it's one thing to say what I like, but it's another to live in reality. My days are spent at home or running mundane errands or sitting on the sidelines at swim and basketball practice. A tulle skirt and a beaded blazer just doesn't work on a day-to-day basis. I need to figure out how I can bring some of this girly, weirdo, -WINK!- into what I can actually wear as the suburban, stay-at-home mother of three little kids that I am. I'm hopeful The Curated Closet can show me how I can do that.
For this weekend's installment of Weekend Links, I wanted to introduce you to some of my favorite personal style bloggers. These are bloggers I've been reading for years, and I have met all but one of them in person. Also, I stole these photos from their websites without permission. Please don't sue me. I love you. And I've linked accordingly!
JEN LOVES KEV // Jen is honestly one of the sweetest, most down to earth women I have come to know. We approach life from the same faith view point, so I find myself texting her for advice or using her as a sounding board. I love her attainable style and her home. I remember when she and I both used to wear high, high heels and short, short skirts, so it's been great following along as she navigates the same life stage I'm in (three kids, lower heels, longer hemlines).
ORCHID GREY // Julie is just flat out cool (and so is her husband Chris). She has a wicked sense of humor, an amazing head of hair, and is so wise. I love her witchy, girly, bohemian style. She pulls off original looks, but it's super inspiring. She always makes me think, "I should try that!"
THE BRAVE LIFE (formerly Delightfully Tacky) // Tiny buy mighty, this one! I have loved watching Liz's style and hair colors evolve over the years. She can pull anything off: sporty looks, rocker girl, Modclothy stuff. She's so frank and smart and creative. I'm excited to watch the Mom Life chapter of her life unfold.
BLONDE BEDHEAD // Andrea is that really, really rad girl in school that you wanted to get to know but you were crazy intimidated by her radness. But then one day, you got stuck doing a project together, and you realized how friendly she actually is. Andrea has a way of making you feel instantly relaxed when you're around her. I love her tough but feminine style, and her shoes are always on point.
WHAT I WORE // I have been following Jessica's style since before she had a blog (there used to be a Flickr community where people would share their outfits of the day). I will forever be a What I Wore fangirl because when I first fell into this weird world of blogging, Jessica was hugely helpful to me and oh so encouraging. She was the community manager of a (now defunct) personal style website where a lot of us met. This was pre-Pinterest and pre-c/o items, mind you, so we were all about this site, seeing how others were getting dressed. I feel like I share some of Jessica's midwest sensibilities (Hoosiers!), and I've always appreciated her candor and colorful style. I've loved watching her fall in love, get married, write a book, and have two beautiful babies!
I'd love to know some of the style bloggers you've been reading for 5+ years! Share below or on Facebook.
My friend Chelsea did a 10 year comparison on Instagram, and I thought it was pretty cool, so I spent tonight digging through the most unorganized ziplock bag of photos trying to unearth pictures of myself from 1987, 1997, and 2007.
AGE 7 // Okay, first of all, this is a dance costume. I didn't walk around town in fishnet pantyhose and a ruffled bodysuit, okay? I wasn't some second grade harlot. The song was "Uptown Girl" and it was full of box steps and pivot turns, I'm sure. Second of all: that black tuft of "hair" on the back of my head is actually black netting attached to the little cap I'm wearing. For the record, I wore this hat to school more than once after the dance recital. Age seven was magic. At the time, I knew who the cool kids were, and I knew I wasn't one of them. I knew I had a choice to make: try desperately to dress like them and suck up to them or just dance to the beat of my own drummer. I chose me. And dancing. And this hat.
AGE 17 // Check it! That's pantyhose and open toed shoes, y'all. If you look closely, you may notice that I'm wearing blue contact lenses and acrylic nails. The summer after my junior year of high school was rough. I had a really awful boyfriend, I burned a lot of bridges and felt I needed to transfer high schools, and I woke up early every morning to hot roller my hair like this. Senior year was 1000 times better, mainly because I got a fresh start at a new school, became a Christian and started putting my identity in Christ, and got my cousin (who I moved in with) to wake up before me and heat up my rollers so I could sleep in a bit.
AGE 27 // WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE THOSE SHOES?! And why in the world would I want to be photographed in them with that dress?! At age 27, I was new to Texas and married. I was hustling hard to get paid acting work and miserable trying to model. I just remember this age being crazy. My marriage was a mess, I partied with my FNL friends more than a married 27 year old woman should have, and I made some terrible life choices... shoes included.
AGE 37 // I'm still trying to figure out my personal style, both sartorially and at home, but I have a firm grasp on who I am and where my identity lies. I am in the thick of the little years with my kids, but I don't feel like I'm in the trenches alone. I really enjoy motherhood and being a wife, and I'm confident in both of those roles. Thirty seven may not be as skinny and as cute as the previous decade, but I'll take it over 27 or 17 any day.
It's been over a year since Mom Jeans & Dad Jokes has had a new episode. It was never our intention to stop podcasting completely, but as indicated by the posts I've done so far this year on I/E, our 2016 was something akin to survival mode.
Chris and I both really miss MJ&DJ. We loved making the show together, as it forced us to spend time together at a teeny desk, sharing a microphone, talking and laughing. Our show was raw, our conversations were spontaneous, but it was fun and we had an incredibly receptive and loyal audience.
We don't yet have a plan for MJ&DJ other than just bringing it back from the dead! I think initially we wanted it to be both an active blog and a weekly podcast, but for our relaunch, we're really only going to focus on the once per week podcast where Chris and I banter around a topic + parenting and becoming local date night / family outing experts.
One thing I really enjoyed about Adored Austin is that I covered Austin fashion events, so I was always out and about in my city, forging new connections and making new friends in the blog and fashion communities. I'd like to do something similar with MJ&DJ and suburban married couples and parents. The online space that I've always been interested in is the intersection where Internet connections become meaningful in-person relationships. I have a vision that we can reach a wide (national) audience with our lighthearted podcast and then host local events and do family meet-ups and playdates when we travel (note: we hope to do a San Antonio / Austin trip this year as well as a central California trip, an Indiana trip, and a Washington DC trip).
These are big dreams, and we're only three weeks in to the new year, so who knows how it will all actually shake down. Once a week, though, I'll be sending out an Indiana/Elsewhere newsletter with the latest blog posts, things I'm mulling over, and weird stuff I find online. When MJ&DJ comes back, I'll email y'all. In the meantime, if you'd like me to invade your inbox once / week, feel free to sign up.
Last week I wrote a bit about how my wardrobe, since moving from east Austin to suburban Atlanta went from bright and colorful to more subdued and neutral. In a way, I felt that over the course of the last two years, my personality went from bright and colorful to more subdued, too. I felt that I lost some of my personal style and the joy of getting dressed.
Looking around my home, I see the same thing: lots of black, white, grey, and brown with a sprinkle of gold. My Texas house, in contrast, boasted a cherry red entryway, a sunshine yellow living room, giant red sofas, and an electric teal kitchen.
Things are different here:
My giant red sofas have been banished to the basement and the walls in my house are a very 2014 on trend palette of white, gray, and darker gray. I think homes and wardrobes have became more cozy and less colorful these last few years, and that's okay. I'm just trying to figure out how I can make my home feel more like me.
I was getting ready to type that I feel like I've lost some of my personal style at home, but that's not really true at all. I've never felt like I've had a good grasp on what my personal style is when it comes to my living space. I literally don't have one picture or piece of art hanging up. I don't know what I like, and my lack of decor reflects that.
I am pretty good at figuring out what I don't like (Shiplap. And most things on Fixer Upper. RIP, me, after the Chip and Joanna fans throttle me for this Gaines family blasphemy!), but I'm terrible at pinning down what I really like. I think I like funny taxidermy, but that's not really a design choice insomuch as it's my desire to one day become Gena Rowlands' character from Hope Floats. LIFE GOALS.
One of my 2017 goals is to make my house feel more like a home. I have great furniture (I mean, have you seen my COCOCO Home chesterfield?) but I'm seriously stumped when it comes to furniture arrangement and art placement and "styling". I'm stumped at the step before that: what do I even buy? To help me in my endeavor, I got two design books in the mail today:
DOMINO: YOUR GUIDE TO A STYLISH HOME // I loved the first Domino book, and this book came up as an Amazon recommendation when I purchased The Curated Closet. And because I'm so susceptible to Amazon's power of suggestion, I 1-clicked that right into my mailbox. Two day Prime, baby!
LIVING WITH PATTERN // Then this sneaky book was an Amazon suggestion after I bought the above book. *sigh* Someone really should take away my online shopping privileges past 11 pm. I liked the cover a lot so I bought it. Hopefully I AM judging this book by its cover, because I think it's cover looks cool.
I also own:
STYLED by Emily Henderson // I love her blog and her style, so I bought this book. I think it will come in handy when I get the big stuff taken care of. I really liked her ideas for coffee tables, book shelves, and mantles, but I'm just not there yet. I'm not even close.
DOMINO: THE BOOK OF DECORATING // This made decor really accessible to me and I still refer to it when I am looking at ideas (that I, so far, have not acted upon).
DESIGN MOM // Okay, I don't actually own this one. I aspire to own it, though. I got it from the library and I loved it because it was so darn practical. It helped me to keep decor in perspective; this is a space where my family dwells versus a showcase or catalog. Plus I met Gabrielle at Alt Summit the year I spoke, and I adore her. I should probably buy it so I can refer back to it.
In terms of decor blogs, I regularly read:
EMILY HENDERSON // I love her use of color, her big, practical ideas, and how California cool her style is.
that's it. That's the only decor blog I read.
As I dive into this new adventure, I'd love to hear your suggestions for decor resources. Good design books? Good blogs? Good online stores to peruse? Just someone first make a browser extension that will block shopping when my insomnia hits. Who knows what kind of book or weird thing may show up on my doorstep 48 hours later.
Comment below or find me on Facebook to share your design tips. I'd love to hear them!