December 10, 2016

Local Love: Santa’s Back At Frankford Hall

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Hey, Philly!  Know what’s back?  Santa at Frankford Hall.  Over the years, this has become one of our family’s most beloved traditions.  Frankford Hall does a Santa experience like no other:  there’s Santa (of course), the requisite Christmas Story-style slide, fake snow, lights, trees, holiday music (that frankly I wish was a little less kid-friendly)….and beer.  With pretzels.  And ping-pong and Jenga and brats and kraut and adult shakes that are totally worth my weekend dairy splurge.  (Think ‘Toasted Marshmallow’ that comes with an actual toasted marshmallow and a shot of Jack.)

There’s free hot chocolate for the kiddos, but if they prefer the impressive shakes (mine do), the staff is well practiced at differentiating between kid shakes and adult shakes, so…..yeah.  There’s that.

This holiday extravaganza happens over the next two weekends in December, Dec 10 – 11th from 10:30 – 3PM, and Dec 17-18th from 10:30 – 4PM.

We’ll be heading over at some point (either this weekend or next), but keep reading to see a few fun pics from last year…..

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By December 10, 2016 10 No tags Permalink
November 21, 2016

Jess’ Go-to Holiday Outfit: Velvet + Leather

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My favorite place to visit during the Holiday season here in Grand Rapids is the Downtown Market. If you live in West Michigan chances are you’ve already been (and love it) and if you’re just passing through, it’s definitely worth a visit. Home to an expansive 24 vendor market hall that’s packed with inspiring local vendors: artisan foods, wines, gift boutiques, bakeries, clothing and decorated to the tills during the Holiday Season, the Downtown Market never fails to get me into the Holiday spirit. It’s a great place to connect with friends over coffee or a glass of wine,  shop for Holiday gifts AND the perfect opportunity for me to break out my new favorite Holiday outfit.

In past years, my holiday outfits have centered around skirts or dresses (which I love), but since they were such dressy looks, and not very warm to boot, I usually only wore them once over the holiday season. This year’s outfit: a Blank NYC Vegan Pant, velvet cami and slouchy cardigan, is so much more versatile and functional, that I could almost wear them everyday!

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November 2, 2016

My Go-To Travel Uniform (What To Wear To The Airport…And Everyday)

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Happy November!!  I’m interrupting Cropped Flares week to talk travel.  Specifically, my very favorite Fall/Winter travel uniform.  This outfit is super comfortable, can be warm or cool depending on airport conditions (or the weather wherever you land), and is cute enough to be worn well past travel days.

In fact, when my mom was packing for her recent visit to Philly, I basically told her to pack this exact travel uniform:  jeans, fashion sneakers, cute tops, a leather jacket.  (Add a scarf, hat and mittens if it’s cold.)

Done.

Add a gorg travel bag and you’re set for a weekend getaway, or a quick trip home to visit family for Thanksgiving.

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By November 2, 2016 6 No tags Permalink
November 1, 2016

Cropped Flares: Laura’s Take (& Re-take)

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Cropped flares week, y’all! I can’t believe I’m saying that. Ok, we all know this is a tough trend to try, especially for us shorties. And, you can see here, I had trouble with it, too. Come along as I wade through the cropped flares debacle and come out somewhat unscathed on the other side of it…

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October 18, 2016

Interesting Cardigans, Fresh Air, and Brave Steps

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cardigan (c/o Modcloth) | top (c/o) | gloves (c/o)

Coziness. That’s pretty much all I can focus on clothing-wise right now, especially with a trip to the coast. (Think: cold, windy, rainy). And I love how even a quick trip to the shore is so renewing and refreshing…there’s just something about fresh air and being near a body of water. I forget how much my soul needs these little day trips to the beach.

I recently had a dear friend visit for a week (you may have seen our adventures over on Instagram @elletrain).  She lives in Toronto and our time together is far too little. She left a few days ago and I’m feeling pretty bummed. It’s tough when good friends live far away, even with technology. And I think it gets harder as moms, wives, and business women to find time to foster friendships. The kind of friendships that reflect our best selves back to us. It’s too easy to lose ourselves in our families. And while it’s a very noble cause, I sometimes wake up and think “Wait, what happened to me? Where did I go?”

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October 17, 2016

What To Pack for London: 12 Style Essentials

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The British have a saying about their weather, “Four seasons in one day,” and it proved to be more than true on my recent trip to London.  We arrived in the middle of a heat wave – hot and sweaty the first few days – but by the time we left, the weather had turned chilly and rainy. And of course, I had packed mostly for colder, Autumn weather, so a lot of my organized, careful packing went out the window.

The packing list below is a combination of what I wore while I was there, plus a few items I didn’t pack but wish I had.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?  Also, in honor of the high street clothing brands, I’m featuring lots of Topshop, River Island, Warehouse, and Oasis, because sometimes it’s fun to see what affordable fashion looks like on the other side of the pond.

So here’s a packing capsule wardrobe for London – versatile, functional, comfortable and stylish.  (Of course, I packed extra items, but I stripped the list down to the items that I truly relied on.  Next time I’ll pack light.)

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By October 17, 2016 12 No tags Permalink
October 6, 2016

Cropped Pants and Socks….And A Philly Ghost Tour (With Kids)

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The kids had a couple of days off of school for Rosh Hashanah, so we took advantage of the later-than-normal bedtimes to do a walking tour in Philly’s Old City.  We needed a later-than-normal bedtime because the walking tour was actually a Ghost tour.  Oooooo…..

Of course nothing ever goes as planned, so Pax fell asleep on the Uber ride over to the restaurant (5:30PM #PartyLikeParents), but thankfully dinner was at a seriously accommodating tapas restaurant within easy walking distance to the ghost tour.  Amada, whose staff didn’t blink at our request to sit at hightop tables near the bar (with a sleeping Pax in arms), has two kinds of Cava by the glass (yessss), a killer happy hour menu, and tapas reminiscent of our trip to Barcelona.   Once Pax woke up, he promptly asked for a plate of chorizo while Raines pounded octopus tapas and Mike and I smiled nonchalantly, all We Are Successful Parents Because Our Kids Are Worldly Eaters….Suck It, Everyone Else.

You’ll forgive us the obnoxiously smug behavior.  Typically our kids are NEVER the Worldly Eaters, rather the I’ll Just Have More Bread, Please or, my personal favorite, Black Burgers Wuf JUST A BUN kids. (This was based on the ONE TIME I tried to sneak a veggie burger onto their plates.  It was a slightly different color and they never quite recovered from the shock.)  So please allow us our one moment of parenting glory.  AND OH, THE GLORY.  The waiters were all very impressed.  (Ok fine one waiter.  The one waiter was impressed.)

In any case, many of you have been asking about cropped jeans + socks for the upcoming winter months, and it just so happens that I was rocking a rather warm and cozy cropped jeans + smartwool sock combo that night.  Slightly unusual, but I think it worked!  Keep reading for a few more pics from our seriously fun night….

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By October 6, 2016 16 No tags Permalink
September 28, 2016

Updated Skinny Jeans, Soccer Walks and Beer

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First things first:  Nordstrom asked me to take a look at Fall denim trends, and, well…if you’re up on your blog reading this week, you know how I feel about The Chaos That is Fall Denim.  But there is something wonderful happening in the world of denim, something I hesitate to call a trend, per se, it’s more like a movement [cue swelling music], and that is….

Skinny Jeans.  They’ve gone all interesting.

Patches, rips, paint splatters, frayed hems, fringe hems, step hems, released hems, twisted hems (no I am seriously not making this up), [BIG BREATH], distressing, cool zippers, sailor-pant spoofs, moto spoofs, colorblocking and embroidery.

What these things do to a boring sweater.  SHIVERS, I tell you.  I get shivers.

My not-so-boring skinnies almost made up for the fact that our Sunday was terribly boring.  It was one of those days where Mike and I were trying our hand at Adulting: paperwork, bills, emptying the dishwasher, updating iPhone OSs, folding 276 loads of laundry.   You needn’t feel sorry for us – as evidenced by the sheer amount of laundry, Adulting is a rare occurrence that we save for when things are truly dire.

But Sunday was a perfect storm of  Too Much Adulting + Tired Kids and our usual remedy (GET TO A PLAYGROUND) wasn’t happening because, on top of it all….hangry.

So we grabbed a handful of nuts (WOMP WOMP), two soccer balls (cause sharing sucks), and set out on a Soccer Walk.  Destination?  The PHL Pop-Up Beer Garden*.

Man, we love Philly.

*Also, the game was on and they have TVs. You are welcome, Mike.

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By September 28, 2016 40 No tags Permalink
August 29, 2016

Dresses And High-Top Sneakers

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dress (similar) | hi tops | sunglasses | backpack

Hey hey. Can you believe summer is winding down? No, me neither. Most of the country has even started school already. Gasp. Up here in the PNW, we get until Labor Day (this year, a bit before and apparently everyone went insane about that).

Regardless of school starting, it’ still HOT in many places. I don’t typically wear dresses, but this recent stint of living without AC has made me realize that dresses are the coolest outfit to beat the heat. No thank you to shorts sticking to your nether regions (insert covered-eyes monkey emoji here) or heaven forbid pants above 90 degrees. Nah gurl. Put on a dress and feel pretty even though you’re sweating buckets.

My edit?  Balance out girlie pieces (like a dress) with something tougher.  I rely on my trusty black hi tops to add an unexpected element to the ensemble. What I adore about this combo is that it’s great for all-day this time of year…cool enough to get you through the heat of the day yet not overly casual for picnics, BBQ’s or dinner on a patio.

Keep reading to see a few no-fail dress styles that have worked really well with hi tops…..

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August 28, 2016

Sunset Cruising On The Miss Avalon

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We have fun friends.  Namely, they know how to find fun that is both kid and adult friendly.  Balance, people.  It’s all about balance.  And really, any fun that is to be had after 6PM – especially in the summer – should start with WIN and end with an E.  #winwithanE #thatswhatI’msaying

So this past Thursday, we took the kids on a sunset cruise aboard the Miss Avalon.  It departs from Avalon (bay side) and either cruises around the bay, or heads oceanside to look for dolphins and such.  Depending on the weather.  But it almost doesn’t matter, because A. you are on a boat, and B. you can bring whatever food/snacks/drinks you’d like.

Our buddy brought this canned rose (no seriously – it was gooood) and a full cheese platter.  Like I said, fun friends.

The Miss Avalon does such a nice job with the kids, too.  Not only is there something naturally calming about a boat, but this baby is two stories (so fun to explore), and the Captain lets each kid take a turn driving the boat (and they print a certificate after).  The Captain takes back the helm to cruise under a drawbridge, and watching the bridge lift – just for us!! – is a thrill no matter the age.

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By August 28, 2016 9 No tags Permalink