Thursday, January 31, 2013

Five Friday Favorites

Just a few of my current favorite things...



This gadget makes it easy to always keep home made salad dressing on hand. I leave a full jar of my homemade balsamic vinaigrette with my condiments at all times. It makes tossing together a salad that much more special. Dressing from the jar is just so blah.



This lip balm is heavenly. It has a slightly sweet taste and isn't oily. My lips feel super soft after I put it on. Keep one in my purse and one by my bed. Kissable lips are a good thing - day or night.


Sugar craving? This 60 calorie drink hydrates and satisfies! Love...



This shampoo and conditioner brand gives you a big bang for your buck. Super rich so it works wonders on my curly thick hair.



Love that this cup is 100% BPA free and I feel good about using less plastic bottles that can end up in landfills. Dishwasher safe too so you can keep it grime and residue free if you use it for juices. 






On Character...

If you ever doubt you have enough stamina to make it to the gym take a peak at this video and I challenge you not to be inspired. Bandit is small but fierce. I am not sure I have ever so doggedly (pun intended) committed to something. My favorite moment is when he has just one little paw on the treadmill, and that teeny tiny paw keeps coming back for more.

VIDEO: BANDIT

Think of Bandit and get up and out today and do what you said you would. It is easier to push it off until tomorrow. It feels safe to postpone challenges. I think we all know that is not how growth and change are achieved. 

(This little nugget came from Sing for Hope's Facebook post. I like the quote and I like them.)

My 4 year old is learning to ice skate. The first day she spent more time on her bottom than she did on her skates. That did not deter her. Each time she fell she got back up, often refusing the teacher's hand, and continuing to try. Tomorrow I will channel her fortitude when attempting to master a new skill. I quit too easily. I am an adult. I have been told too often that I can't do things. Tomorrow I will skate. I will fall. I will get back up.

video
(No children were hurt in the filming of this video. Bruised maybe, but not REALLY hurt.)

Yes, that is my 2 year old who chimes in with "You are doing great!" at the very beginning. Soon after - wait for it - her sister falls. And yes, my social butterfly falls again 1 minute and 47 seconds in for the 4th time because she is waving to a friend and that small gesture throws off her burgeoning balance. My favorite moment is when she smirks at me at 1:54. That defiant little look says I will not give up today or ever. 

Character cannot be developed in peace and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision be cleared, ambition insured and success achieved. 
- Helen Keller

I admire my kid for her character. The world is out there waiting so we should all step forward, be optimistic, and not forget to laugh along the way as we stumble and learn.


Take the stairs today.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

WTF?

Found this little critter crawling on my floor recently. 


video
(So very creepy and crawly)


I recognized him as the living kin of the dead critters I found amongst my cashmere sweaters last fall when I took them out to wear. 15 of said sweaters (both mine and John's) had massive holes in them. WTF people? I thought A. Verbasci (that's the latin name for moth larvae in case you are wondering) did not stick around during cold months. AGH!!!! My skin crawls just thinking of these little hazards crawling amongst our clothes making holes. 



(Larval form of Anthrenus verbasci - similar to the one found on my bed)

Last year they got 15 sweaters, 2 cashmere scarves, and 1 absolutely adorable very european looking mini-scarf that I had bought for Emma. What to do?!? Let's be clear on one thing - I am not afraid of critters. I caught a mouse in the attic last week that had been keeping me up at night scurrying around up there. I set traps, but ultimately ended up killing that sucker with d-Con. I then grabbed him by the tail, chucked him in the trash, and felt huge relief. 



(d-Con, aka rat poison)

Truthfully, it was the highlight of our week here at Chez Pless and every night since the "mousehunt" Emma and Sophie have been begging me to go upstairs in the cold spooky attic and see if we've caught more mice. No more scurrying up above, therefore no more trips to the attic. For now...



(Emma and the mousetrap that didn't work)

I seem to have a thing for critters... Again, I am not a sissy. Earlier this winter I sat on the sofa in Vermont and smelled a stench. First blamed my husband for stench, and then realized stench came from under the blanket beside me. Low and behold, two dead mice had curled up under the blanket that was on the couch and died. I barely flinched. Again, thank you d-Con.


Small field mice I can handle. Bugs that eat retail goods are a whole different story. I. Want. Them. Gone.


I had dreams. Big dreams. Dreams of a home that had it's very own cedar closet that would mean no more moth holes. Ever. A few days back I was discussing the hole-in-sweater situation with a friend and she killed my dreams. She said they have infiltrated her cedar closet. Stop the insanity people! Stop it. 


Please please please someone tell me a way to get rid of them?!?!?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Amortizing Costs...

I have a fabulous neighbor. She is that woman who seems like she puts no effort into getting ready and always looks fresh-faced, put-together, and glowing. She's the kind of mother who puts her family first and doesn't splurge on goodies for herself. How she does it? I do not know...

We recently crossed paths between drop offs and pick ups, kids were running under foot, and we found 2 minutes and 26 seconds to talk about shoes. Not kid shoes, but NICE shoes. She was considering getting involved. I told her I regretted many things in my life, but buying the occasional expensive well-made pair of shoes was not one of them. I love shoes. Especially designer shoes. That being said I don't own an extravagant number of pairs. Imelda Marcos I am not. But I will say to you all, as I said to the fabulous neighbor, good shoes feel better, wear longer, and make you happier than their designer impostors. AND if you amortize the cost of the shoes over the times worn - they actually become quite affordable.

If I were a shoe I would be this one.

{Converse Chuck TaylorCheap, comfortable, a little bit downtown, but easily turned preppy with the right attire.}

In my dreams I am this lovely lady.



{Christian Louboutin Pigalle - Sleek, sexy, long-legged, and always pulled together.}

In my next life I will be this gal.

{Sophia Webster -Wild, edgy, and not afraid to break rules.}

And this woman would be my best friend.
{Modern Vice - Great sense of humor, doesn't take herself too seriously, and likes to have fun. Lots of fun.} 

This little doll below is one of very few impostors I would buy. Zara has figured it out. Period. They retain a very reasonable price point while upping the quality year over year. I love their stuff. 

{Zara -Suede is a dangerous buy because one unexpected rain storm and they are ruined. That's why you go with the Zara suede pump. When she gets wet, you get over it. She only cost $89.90.} 

Oh, and I couldn't not include a sensible flat. 

{Valentino - If I owned you Valentino Rockstud Patent Leather Flat I just know I would wear you twice a week and once on Saturday. My husband would find you to be "too edgy", "too tough", and "too complicated". I would call you none of those things...}

So, my dear neighbor, in conclusion I think you can tell that I say "buy them!" You won't regret it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pain in my neck!


I know where you thought this was going. I was being literal people. This post truly is about the constant low-grade pain in my neck. 

(The area that hurts!)

For months now I have been complaining, wincing, massaging, and popping my neck - all in an effort to relieve the pain that often wakes me at night and makes me cranky throughout the day. I think seeing a chiropractor, Dr. Danielle Luzzo, has helped, as has some deep tissue massage. Yoga has DEFINITELY also made my whole body (back and neck included) feel better. But alas, the pain still persists and I don't like it. 

As I have said before, I am nothing if not committed to finding answers and living pain free. Emotionally and physically. Therefore, after months of deliberation about what to do, I finally booked myself an appointment with a neuro-specialist and that is where this quest for answers really began. The neuro-specialist was a nice enough guy and after examining me he had the following conclusions to make about my neck:

1) The Carotid Body Tumor I had removed from my neck 15 years ago played a part in my current neck pain. It was there for many years pushing the muscles and bones out of alignment. After the surgery (and subsequent formation of a blood clot - serious stuff, for real) I had protected the area of incision on the right side, and in doing so had caused all sorts of neck issues and muscle tension.

2) Because I have very good range of motion and no numbness in my arms and legs - it is highly unlikely that I have any bone or disc issues. Phew!

3) Being pregnant, breast feeding, carrying children around, and sitting on the floor (hunched over) for hours on end has all added to the demise of my neck and back.

4) I was now 36 years old, getting close to 40, and in his opinion most people my age just deal with constant pain and that is life. SCREECH! The record stopped. 

"WHAT?!?" I said. "I am not old and even if I was old - WHAT?!?!"
"Why do you think most professional athletes retire right at your age?" he said. "My wife and I both feel aches and pains all the time. It's kind of part of being an adult."
"Now hold on a second." I said. "We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I am 36. I eat well, exercise often, and have no serious health afflictions. I don't think it is appropriate or a foregone conclusion that I should feel pain every day. I am confident that with some physical therapy, true dedication, and acupuncture I will be pain free 12 months from now."
"All right, well just don't come back here and say I told you so." he said with a smile. 
"Oh I will doctor. I will." I said with an equally charming smile. 

With that I was on my way to the physical therapist. And just so you know I had always planned to do physical therapy from the start, but I needed the neuro-specialist to see me to get the referral. I love our medical system.

So where does all that leave me now? I have started seeing the physical therapist (the very talented Alicia Hirscht who works for my very talented cousin Laura Liebesman at ONS) and she 100% agrees with me that constant pain is not my future. My muscles are tense, imbalanced, and weak. After 2 sessions they feel better. Not fixed, but better. I am using a lumbar support pillow in the car and on sofas and I am doing EVERY exercise they tell me to at home once a day. 

(Superroll OPTP $26.10)

I think we can all admit that we know it is very bad for your neck to constantly be bending it forward so you can type on your laptop or read emails from your phone. But it is 2013 and we are addicted so we must find ways to reverse the damage done. Posture is the priority here. "Chin up, neck back, and shoulders down!" is now my motto. I have also tucked this little round tube of awkwardness inside my pillowcase and I attempt to sleep on my back for as much of the night as I can tolerate. This morning I told my cousin it was uncomfortable to sleep with the "roll" and she said to "stick with it." No excuses. She is the professional. 

(Cervical Roll OPTP $18.22)

The lesson learned thus far? I am truly blessed to have acquired so many wise, helpful, nurturing people in my life. The neck will get better because I have friends who pray, an acupuncturist who heals, a physical therapist who brings about change, yogis who gently nudge me in the right direction, and countless others who love me and give me advice about what has worked for them. 

“On a hard jungle journey nothing is so important as having a team you can trust.” 


And you better believe I am looking forward to the day when I can go back to the aforementioned doctor and say "I told you so!"


***Keep in mind, I am a mom, I am sleep deprived, and therefore please do not assume that my conversation with the doctor was recorded verbatim. This is a memoir, not a biography. The whole James Frey thing still has me a little freaked out... 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Time for a quickie!

There is nothing I like more than quickly throwing together a meal. And when I say "throwing" I literally mean taking all sorts of random things that are in the kitchen and just throwing them together! What do shrimp, peppers, onions, tomato sauce, kale, pine nuts, goat cheese, and raisins have in common? They were dinner last Friday night. While in the kitchen I channeled my inner Julia Child and said, "What the hell!"


“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 
― Julia Child

Back to our task at hand - dinner. We arrived in VT at 7:15pm. Kids had food cooked and brought from home. Can't tell you what, but I can say that it was mushy. Poor Sophie is still recovering from stitches just below her lip. That is another story better shared when there is a little distance between us and the "incident". Kids were tucked in by 8:15pm, fire was blazing by 8:30pm, and it was time to make food for us. I started with an onion because whatever else does one start with when looking for layers of flavor?






(zee onion, pre slice and dice)

Onions went into a frying pan with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a diced fresh red pepper. Pepper and onion sweat it out for 10-12 minutes. The pepper made the trip from CT to VT. I have a great set of reusable grocery bags, and one of them is insulated with a closable zipper top. Ideal for 3 hour trips in the heated car. The pepper and a handful of other goodies were thrown in the bag on Friday lest they rot away at home over the long weekend. I abhor wasting food. 



I always keep deveined and shelled shrimp in the freezer. Thaws quickly and cooks even faster. Once the peppers and onions had been peppered and salted I added the shrimp. 

(Take note of the pine nuts roasting to the right of the shrimp. We'll get to them later.) 

We are big fans of kicking things up a notch - so "BAM!" - we always add crushed red pepper.


Last but not least - the tomato sauce. I'm digging the Rao's brand - tomato basil is my favorite. Let that combo simmer for 5 more minutes. While simmering I threw together the salad.


I had a half a bag of leftover, chopped, pre-washed kale - still lingering from all those juices I planned to press this week but never got around to. In the bowl goes the kale, 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts, what was left of a container of crumbled goat cheese (also thrown in the bag that came with us from CT), and two handfuls of raisins.


 The raisins may or may not have been more than a year old. Secret trick - put raisins in a bowl with a tablespoon of water, cover with "press and seal" plastic wrap, and microwave for 30 seconds. Raisins are once again soft, moist, and a nice warm addition to the cold salad.


I always have a bottle of homemade dressing on hand and it usually consists of equal parts balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil - a tablespoon of dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Pour a decent amount on the salad - toss!


(Check out the steam rising off the shrimp - me gusta la comida caliente!)

Oh if only we had had a nice loaf of crusty french bread. A big glass of vino counts as a carb too right? Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

White Out!

It's cold outside. Bone chilling, teeth chattering, finger freezing cold. It's hard to look chic when covered in layers. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Why not let the weather inspire you? Think white, dress white, and we might even get more snow...



(Classic Tretorn with leather laces from Tomboy Style)

(Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss)

(Italian fashion editor and stylist Viviana Volpicella, last seen on LeCatch)




(Tommy Ton)

(Tommy Ton)

(Tommy Ton)

(Style.com)



Photos: If unspecified, Pinterest


Monday, January 21, 2013

Go on and ask. You know I'll answer...

I love any and every opportunity to give people my opinion. Just ask those who know me well. I am a know-it-all. That being said, send me questions! I am DYING to give you answers. No need to give your name, I appreciate anonymity. I do! Not for myself, but for others. If I don't have a great answer I will either a) make one up or b) call on someone who does know the answer to help me out. I'm here to meet your needs. Isn't that what blogging is all about????? Mmmmm, not so much. Here goes!

Dear Sentimentalist,


My first child is 6 and I just had a second baby 6 months ago. Gear has changed so much. What are the "must have" items for a 7 months old?


Thanks from us both, 

"Second-Time-Around-Mom"

Dear "Second-Time-Around-Mom", 


First off, bring that baby by soon. You know Sentimentalmama has a thing for snuggling other peoples babies. Well, you have officially made it through (most of) those fun-filled sleepless nights of newbornland! We over here at the Sentimentalist are impressed that you have yourself together and are even thinking about gear. When my second was 6 months old it was tough enough to just keep both kids fed, changed, and on two different napping schedules, let alone wonder about what gear I would be needing for the babe in the coming months. 
Hopefully this list of goodies will keep your new baby busy. Buy. Them. All.  

With love, 

The SentimentaLIST

The snack cup:




How much time do you spend picking stale cheerios out from under car seats and sofas? Your life has just been changed because it is almost impossible for little ones to spill cheerios out of this thing. The washable fabric is genius. They tuck their little hands through the layered fabric and out come puffs, goldfish, blueberries, you name it! It's also much bigger than other cups so the snacks can easily last during long drives OR an afternoon of chasing your older sibling around as he or she runs from school, to ballet, to play dates, to dinner! Snacks = happy babies.

The toy they'll swoon over:


Get this wagon full of fun rolling around the room and your kid will be crawling in no time. Yes, the animal noises may make you want to stick play-doh in your ears, but kids just LOVE hearing the pig "oink!", the cow "moo", and the chicken "cluck". Think of it this way, they are learning their animal noises, being encouraged to crawl, and gaining a good work ethic by watching the farmer - all at the same time! Man does that farmer work hard.

The sippy cup that worked for me:


I like this one so much that I've almost filled it up with a latté and sipped from it myself. Never drips and something about the shape of the nipple made it easy for my second baby to ween off the bottle and transition into this cup. Handles mean you can grab it as you are running out the door to get your first child to school. Is anyone else but me always late for drop off?!?!?

Bathtub fix:

Oh tubby time. Why do I detest you so? 1) Leaning over the tub = backache. 2) Water everywhere. 3) Mommy is so tired by 6:00pm... This little guy just makes it safer for everyone involved.

Hands free fun:
Some call it the "circle of neglect", others "the office". I just call it brilliant. Both of my girls adored this piece so much that when Emma was almost 3 she was still trying to crawl back into it with Sophie. Not a bad option for kids who are smaller in size. Admit it, many of us often wish we could still contain our 4 year olds. 

The gift to yourself:



Go on. You deserve it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wrap Star!

Useful? Check! Adorable? Check! Really cool production effects? Check, check!


(Wendy of the blog wendyslookbook)

My décolletage hasn't been the same ever since seeing this...
I came across this video a year ago when reading dear friend Nicole Hanley Mellon's blog where she featured this YouTube clip. Nicole is trés chic! Check her out. 

If you find your neck is in need of a scarf so you can wear it 25 ways - see below.

(Great for cold winter days - Calypso $175.00)


(Right price, great color - Club Monaco $89.50)

(Fun for spring - Forever 21 $8.80)

(Color color color! - Tory Burch $155.00)

(My personal favorite - Theodora and Callum $175.00)