Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

It’s a funny thing, this “living your life online.” This blogging about lifestyle (also know as life). This building an “Instagram brand.” This being a brand.

My mother never had to worry about this. I think about that whenever I have a chance to look through my baby book. These 50-odd photos of baby me. Sadly and blissfully all I have to know about what I looked like, what we did. It makes me both grateful for and disgusted by the literal thousands of photos and videos I have of the first year of Vivi’s life. At least 300 are perpetually available with a swipe of my phone.

I don’t talk a lot about how much what I do tires me. How much the internet and technology and the gratuitous, frivolity of it. One because I’m exhausted by over-earnest blogging. Funny, right? Because I also love it.

I love the catharsis of pouring out your heart, the lift in sadness and despair that comes from finding a tribe of people who do so much more than just “like” your honesty; they hold up mirror images of your pain and say, “I thought I was the only one.”

I also have a hard time whining because I recognize the privilege of complaining about the superficiality of what I do. Poor me, working from home on a flexible schedule so I am also able spend hours cuddling my sweet baby girl and dedicating so much time a week to my volunteer work. The internet, in all its obnoxious glory, lets me do that.

I struggle with the self-promotion. I think it’s a difficult thing for Christian, Midwestern, female people to do. It goes against the traits those types are usually bred to project.

So I try to soften the blow with self-deprecation, humor, and, often, bluster. But I’m still uncomfortable sometimes. Because I’m still acutely aware of every person in my life who hates me for being a blogger. Who hates me for every smiling Instagram photo, every snapshot of something pretty or Pinterest-worthy (which means…what, exactly? Didn’t we just call it “pretty” a handful of years ago?). Of every person who openly refuses to follow me or, even worse, follows but never likes, or, even worse, does none of the above but still looks at my public posts or watches every single Instagram story I post. Those people make me really sad, honestly. And my awareness of the people I do know about continually pokes a finger in another gaping insecurity: How many more are there out there that I don’t even know?

The internet is a big place, and hate is usually only a keystroke away.

This post has been buzzing around in my brain for a while, but it took me a while to find words that sounded right without sounding like I was complaining. I don’t know why I feel like I need to tell you that I’m in on it — I know the promoted posts, the self-promotion is annoying sometimes. I need you to know that I try to make them not that way.

And then I roll my eyes at myself because why do I care so much? I truly believe that, in life, you either attract or repel people. And I would rather repel someone by being who I really am than attract them by pretending to be something I’m not.

Often, I fantasize about stopping it all. You know that. I can’t really, though, because it is my job. It is my golden ticket to stay-at-home/work-at-home mom life, to full-time volunteer service. But I do sometimes imagine a life where I could do those things without doing these things. Because as much as I actually love blogging and DIY and style and cooking, the hate wears me down.

You, person who looks at my stuff and never likes, who mocks and says nasty things and seethes even though I’m not hurting you (or even thinking about you, often times). You wear me down.

But if I pretend to be the person you would be happy to see me be — self-loathing, bitter, failure — I would be attracting the wrong person with the wrong things.

Because there’s so. Much. Pressure. Guys. Pressure to be perfect. Pressure to be imperfect. Pressure to be perfectly imperfect. To be raw, to be polished. To be funny, to be sincere. And to be all those things all the time. It helps to remind myself that probably all business owners feel this way. And, in so many ways, this is my business. Entrepreneurism is not for the thin-skinned, the faint of heart.

I started this blog because I wanted to be a writer, and I still cringe a bit at the word blogger. (I mean, could we have picked a word that didn’t sound like loose mix of swampland and mucous?) Today, I am a professional writer, so maybe I’m not doing everything wrong.

But I’m also a blogger, for better or worse.

And bloggers will always bother someone. Honestly, I spend a lot of my life trying not to bother anyone. I speak quieter to Vivi when we’re being silly in public, trying not to be THAT mom that needs everyone to see how great she’s doing. I’m hyper-aware of people on the sidewalk, dodging and hugging the wall to keep from jostling anyone, trying not to be THAT person who is so self-centered. My emails read like a textbook of “woman in meeting” speak, trying not to be THAT in-your-face jerk. Maybe it’s more honest to say that I spend a lot of my life trying not to be a cliché.

The thing is, I really don’t want to bother anyone. So, if this blog bothers you, if my internet presence bothers you, I implore you: Ignore me. Stop following, stop looking.

But if you like looking at my stuff, I welcome you with open arms, fist bumps, and a round of celebratory drinks.

Do other people feel like hate is this visceral, tactile thing? Sometimes I look at a person and feel it radiating off of them like steam. It oozes from nasty comments, sparks out of sharp-tongues. I’m immediately put off when I feel it; I retreat like a spooked animal, a knot in my gut and a rush of adrenaline coursing through my veins. Danger, these people seem to whisper.

Do you know what I think about every time I post anything? Those three people who I know don’t like me. I’m not exaggerating when I say “every time.” They are my last thought before hitting “publish” or “share.” The anxiety those three people give me is embarrassing for me to admit. It would be so nice to not have to deal with that anxiety.

I know what you’re thinking (especially if you’re one of those three people): So, why don’t you just quit then?

I totally get why you think that. Because I want to quit.  Often. But I can’t because of Vivi. I can’t teach her that we go as far in life as the people who hate us the most want us to go.

IMG_8858

Instead, I want her to be brave. I want her to be kind. I want her to be the antidote to all that nastiness. And the only way I’m going to get her there is by trying to be those things myself.

So I’m going to try to focus on the people I actually like anyway. The people who love and support and get it and get me. Who like what I do, who like reading about the things I like talking about. And, you know what? I think that can be enough.

Whew! That was a lot of feelings. And, honestly, I don’t know if I’m making anything better by calling them out. I don’t even know if this all makes total sense — I wrote it over a series of emails to myself in the car. But I think I feel a little better. The aforementioned catharsis and all of that. The point is, if you feel this way too, you are not alone. And I think we can both be a little bit more of that kindness we want to see. To those of you who do and always have supported me and shown me so much love, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are the greatest.

IMG_9297

Vivi learned a dirty word recently. Of course, I’m talking about the word “no.”

Honestly, I’m not really certain she knows what it means when she says it. What she does know? That I don’t want her to say it.

Which, naturally, means she has taken to saying it All. The. Time.

The other day, we were out for a run with the jogging stroller and I heard her practicing it over and over again. To herself. Like a sociopath.

The problem is, it’s also kind of hilarious when she does it. Because she doesn’t just say “no.” She pauses for drama…and then she slowly leans into the word.

“Nnnnnnnnnnnn-ah!”

It’s really, really hard not to laugh. Like, really.

In an effort to, you know, parent, I’ve started responding to her no’s by saying, “You say, ‘okay, Momma‘!”

At which point, she’ll pause, look off to the other side of the room, and go, “…nnnnnnnnn-ah!

And on and on and on. Such is parenting.

I have found one antidote, and that is getting her to repeat a different word that is equally as fun to say. Lately, I’ve been replying, “You say, ‘yeahyeahyeah!'” And she’s usually only too happy to repeat that one.

For now.

I know the day will come when she is deliberately obstinate and intentionally asserts her own opinions. Heck, that could be exactly what she’s doing right now. I just really thought the Terrible Twos would come, you know, when she was two.

IMG_9369

For now, though, I think we can chalk this one up to a bit of baby silliness. Right? Okay, Momma. Okay.

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches.

vest-group

I think one of the easiest ways to make any outfit look a little more pulled together is to add another layer.

Y’all know how much I love my basic white T and jeans, but I could just as easily wear that outfit to a job interview or a nice dinner out if I threw on a blazer or even a killer scarf and hat. The point is: layers mean business. And they’re just the ticket to make an outfit look a little more intentional.

The problem is, it’s still hot out there, you guys. Like, blazing. So even though my favorite style season is upon us, I can’t just throw on a sweater and boots and pretend that I won’t sweat to death.

Enter the vest.

I know, I know; you just hear that word and think of this. I know I do. But irregardless (if you don’t get that joke, we can’t be friends), I actually like vests in real life. And when you’re staring a steamy autumn in the face, they are the perfect solution to layers that won’t give you heat exhaustion.

Here are the three vests I’ll be rocking this fall (no matter what Regina George thinks).

The Puffer Vest

puffervest-1

IMG_1247

IMG_1245

Does the puffer vest ever really go out of style? I hope not. The best thing about these fluffy little suckers is that you can wear them through winter, and they look just as good with a sweater and pencil skirt as they do with a button down, statement necklace, and jeans.

The Denim Vest

IMG_1238

IMG_1240

IMG_1237

I’ll be real: No one was more surprised than me when the denim vest made a comeback. The last time I wore one, I’m pretty sure my biggest concern was where I had left my social studies homework and what time is Even Stevens on? But the only secret to pulling off a denim vest is to wear it in the same context you would a jean jacket. The only difference? Easy-breezy arms. It’s also a great way to transition spaghetti-strapped maxi dresses into cooler temps during those last few weeks of summer.

The Drape-y Olive Vest

IMG_1222
IMG_1221

Olives are actually one of the only two foods I hate, but when it comes to the color, I dig it. I would literally wear this color every day if I didn’t want to confuse people into thinking I think I’m an actual member of the armed forces. Olive is essentially fall’s answer to the khaki of summer, and I for one am totally into it — especially considering how perfectly it pairs with my 90-percent-black-and-white wardrobe. This drape-y cotton vest adds a bit of coziness to everything from summer dresses leggings and long-sleeved T’s.

So come on now…you don’t think ALL vests are disgusting, right?

Plus, did you catch my other favorite fall accessory?

watch-closeup

Lately, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with this wood watch from JORD. Mine is the Fieldcrest Series watch in zebrawood and maple, and it fits into my life the way a hand-hewn farm table fits into every gorgeous dining room you see on Pinterest right now. The color is neutral enough to match everything, but I love the actual woodgrain in the band and face — and how it makes my watch subtly unique from every other one in the series.

Here are a few more close-ups of that little beauty:

IMG_1264-blog

IMG_1266-blog

Interested in getting your own? Shop their entire women’s line here.*

Plus, for a limited time JORD is giving away a $75 credit for their products! Enter here — you get a $20 credit just for entering. Giveaway ends September 25th.

*Affiliate links used


Luxury Wood Watch

IMG_1253

I don’t know what it is, but I have been on some kind of sugar kick over the last week. I’m going to blame it on the fact that my period finally came back after a year-and-a-half of pregnancy/breastfeeding hiatus. (Too much info? Then you’re reading the wrong blog.)

The point is, for the last five days, I’ve been craving a Double Stuf Oreo (yes, that’s really how it’s spelled) something fierce. So last Thursday, I finally bought a pack.

Which was a mistake. They should sell the Double Stuf in smaller portions. Because now I come home to a FULL PACK of Double Stuf Oreos every day. Send help.

But while the cookies were good for sating that particular craving, they also sparked a new issue: Now I wanted something else sweet. I wanted a dessert martini.

You guys? This is SO out of character for me. I do not like sweet drinks. The only sweet things I like are desserts, and even then, I prefer when there’s something salty or slightly bitter mixed in.

But here I was, craving the saccharine syrupy-ness of a dessert martini.

I didn’t even know where to begin, but I figured the least I could do was whip something up at home.

And thus, the Mounds Bar Martini was born.
IMG_1254

Here’s what you do:

Mounds Bar Martini Recipe

Ingredients:
1 oz whipped cream flavored rum
1 oz coconut vodka
1 oz half and half
drizzle of chocolate syrup
Oreo cookie dust for garnish (optional)

Combine the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker with 3-4 ice cubes and shake vigorously until frothy. Draw a line of chocolate syrup around the inside of a martini glass, then pour in the cocktail mixture. Top with a pinch or two of Oreo cookie dust. (BECAUSE YOU HAVE A WHOLE PACK, AFTER ALL.)

IMG_1255

The result is decadent, rich, and exactly what I was craving. I think I’ll probably be good on dessert martinis for another five years, so it was definitely worth going all out on this one. Because sometimes you feel like a nut…and sometimes you just want to drink your dessert.

IMG_1256

white-shirt-group

I’m having a clothing swap with a few girlfriends this weekend, so I started this week by cleaning out my closet and drawers. When I looked at my newly pared down wardrobe, one thing was hard to deny: I have a LOT of white shirts.

When Vivi was first born, while I wouldn’t say I completely let my sense of style go, I definitely had to make quicker choices. I needed to be comfortable, and I needed to be able to whip out a boob at a moment’s notice. (Ah, the joys of breastfeeding.)

White T’s became my go-to, and the love affair has only grown — even though I now I like to think I put more effort into my look than in those early days.

The problem is, when you’re staring down a drawer full of white shirts, things start to look a little…bland.

But while I’ll never let my white shirts go, I’m not quite ready to resign myself to boring style. So I decided to challenge myself to create three completely different looks that each featured my favorite wardrobe staple.

Look #1: White V-neck with a skirt and heels

IMG_1192

IMG_1193

One of my favorite things about white T-shirts is how easy they are to dress up despite their otherwise casual nature. A slightly flared skirt with a pair of heeled sandals is the perfect look for lunch with a friend, or I could throw on a statement necklace for an evening out.

Look #2: Boyfriend T-shirt with high-waisted skinny jeans, heels, and a pendant necklace

IMG_1198

IMG_1199

IMG_1200

Honestly, this is what you can likely find me in almost any given day. (Minus the heels — my day-to-day is more of a sneakers or wedges look.) I used to shy away from baggy tops because I felt like I needed to highlight the narrowest part of my body, but I love how versatile boyfriend T’s are, especially when you tuck them into high-waists. And that pendant? Perfect for Vivi to play with as I carry her to and fro.

Look #3: White button-down with belted shorts and sneakers

whiteblouse

IMG_1214

Rompers were all the rage this year, but I found it hard to find one that was truly flattering on my body but still modest enough to wear in real life. My solution? Pairing a matching top and shorts. I love how summery this outfit feels without feeling like a costume (the belt helps break up all the white), and contrasting sneakers add just enough visual interest to still feel a little dressed up (even though they’re so comfortable).

What are your “mom uniform” staples?

IMG_9209

Actual footage.

Remember when I used to take the Long Island Rail Road a lot? And I whined about it. A lot.

It has been almost four years since I officially bid adieu to the rails, and, I’ll admit, even I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t been the eence bit of a drama queen.

I mean, it’s just a train through Long Island. How bad could it actually be?

And then, last week, I had to take it again after over a year of abstaining.

And, you guys? I think it actually got worse.

Granted, my train home took off at 11:30, so, really, what was I expecting? But, here’s the thing: I expect the drunk train. I expect a little rowdiness.

What I don’t expect? To find myself in a full-on frat rager before it’s even midnight.

For the entire 30-minute ride I shared with this crowd, it was non-stop screaming, seat-hopping, and literal chanting. Not like, monks-finding-inner-peace chanting. Like, THIS. IS. CHAN. TING. (*clap clap clap clap clap*) And the lyrics were, shall we say, not fit to print.

It was, in a word, unpleasant.

At one point, the conductor passed through to clip tickets and whispered to the guy across the aisle and me that “they might not notice you if you stay quiet.” It was that bad.

The good news is that they got off a few stops before me, so at least part of my ride was relatively peaceful. Even so, I think I can officially scratch “am I a drama queen?” off my list of concerns.