Great spring looks from Land's End

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Earlier this week, Allie posted her picks for spring from Land's End. Coincidentally, I was also perusing my LE catalog the other day and had started a similar post! Both Allie and I are big Land's End fans, so I suppose that's not surprising. And I liked nearly everything she picked, too! But I have a few additions:

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Women's Regular Sleeveless Knit Seersucker Dress, $85

I'm not sure I am preppy enough for seersucker, but if I were, I'd wear this dress. I like the classic cut of this dress, and the fact that the seersucker is modernized a touch with the darker stripe. It looks super versatile and super comfortable.

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Women's Regular Short Sleeve Pattern Drop Shoulder Dress, $64.99

Were I not going to be spending my summer in a postpartum haze, I'd buy this wonderful plaid dress. The wide neckline, the simple shape, the pockets...it's so retro, and so wonderful. And apparently, I find madras, unlike seersucker, to be within the bounds of my preppiness. Who knew?

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Women's Regular Cotton Modal Drape Front Shell, $19.99

Some people don't think sleeveless tops are work appropriate. I think those people are wrong. I love this draped-front option, as it would look as great under a cardigan or jacket as it does by itself. The draping is simple enough not to be fussy and frilly, but adds real visual interest. I also like the slightly longer hemline of this top and the quality I can expect from a cotton-modal blend from LE.

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Women's Regular Pattern Knit Convertible Skirt, $35

Since this convertible skirt has a wide elasticized waist, I could probably wear it pregnant, and that is making it very hard not to order. I love the knee length and the chevron stripes SO much--comfortable, classic, extremely versatile...maybe I should order it...

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Women's Regular Fit 2 Ponté Ankle Pants, $55

Years ago, I had the perfect black cropped pants. I don't have them anymore, as my sizes have changed pretty drastically, but man did they ever look just like these! These pants look to me to be just about the perfect summer work staple--comfortable, incredibly flattering, and can be worn with almost anything in your closet. LOVE.

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Women's Regular Fine Gauge Supima Wrap Cardigan Sweater, $29.99

Wrap sweaters are one of those things that I'd love to have, but have never found to fit me. The waist is just never really in the correct place. I love this fine gauge cotton version, however, especially in the "claret red" color (which reads more coral-pink to me). I think it could go very casual (reminds me a bit of something a dancer would throw over her leotard) or dressy (with a pencil skirt and heels, maybe?) and would be a great wardrobe addition.

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Women's Regular Beach Living Paisley Halter Tunic Top, $45

You can't talk about Land's End without mentioning their fantastic, bullet-proof swimwear, and this season is no exception to the cute styles and fabrics. It's extremely hard for me to choose the best among them, but the adjustable, long-length paisley tankini top above was my favorite. Having a very long torso, I love the idea of being able to have that much room for adjustment, and the fabric choices are amazing.

I really wish Land's End made maternity clothes...

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Vision board/treasure map

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For the past several years, I've made annual vision boards, or treasure maps. This idea comes from a number of places--it has an astrological aspect, is connected with LOA/The Secret (blech), and is a suggestion of The Happiness Project. People I admire, like Christine Kane and Karen Walrond, make them. The idea, basically, is to create a visual representation, in the form of a collage, of what you would like to accomplish in the coming year. Some folks do it at the turn of the new year, the astrologically inclined do it at the Aries new moon in the spring. I've done both and don't see that it much matters how you define your year.

These have been my past three years' offerings:

2011 (done at the beginning of the year):

2010 (done in the spring):

2009 (done in the spring):

It's interesting, looking back at these three boards, how my goals seem to remain relatively consistent. All three boards include references to pregnancy and motherhood, writing, dogs, and exercise, particularly strength-training. I'm really familiar with my boards, because I've hung them in places I'll see them every day for the past three years (generally in/around my closet). And I can't give you a definite answer as to whether or not they have helped me work towards my goals, but I am pretty sure they have, at the very least, helped me to keep my goals in mind.

This year, the Aries New Moon fell on March 22, and I dragged out piles of old magazines and got to chopping away to create a vision board for 2012. I considered not bothering--what goals can I possibly have for this year beyond finishing out my pregnancy in as healthy and comfortable way as possible and surviving new motherhood? But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that I should be a lot more specific than that. Sure, my primary focus this year is going to be on this baby, but that's not my only focus, and I want to do more than survive. So I needed to come up with a vision.

This is what I came up with (click for a larger photograph):
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A lot of the images on this year's board are similar to ones I've used in the past. There are several dogs here, including a woman hugging a beautiful Pyrenees in a photograph that just about jumped off the page at me. There are also a bunch of babies, and several photographs of moms and/or dads with babies, playing or resting happily. That's pretty self-explanatory and expected. My writers are here, one writing by hand, another propped up on a laptop, and a third looking slightly lonely at an old-fashioned typewriter. My exercising ladies are here, too--a cartoon of a woman lifting weights and a photograph of a woman on an elliptical machine represent my hope to get back to focusing on my physical strength and well-being after the baby is born. More specific is the small picture of the playing cat on the board's right side, which looks a lot like Atticus--I'm hoping hard for his continued health and well-being. A glass of champagne signifies my hope for celebration and fun during what I'm sure will be a stressful transitional time. I also added carefully chosen words this year, including the "confidence" at the board's top left corner, reminding me that it is OK to fake-it-until-I-make-it with this whole parenting gig, and reminders to travel, to seek balance, and to stop worrying. My favorite words are the ones near the top center of the board, "home is where you make it." That's something I definitely need to keep in mind as we face another year living here.

My very favorite item on this year's board, though, is the most aspirational. Towards the bottom, just right of the center, is a woman in a director's chair. The back of the chair reads "Madelyn Pugh, Girl Writer." Madelyn Pugh was one of the first established female television writers, working most famously on "I Love Lucy" in the 1950s. I don't realistically expect to get a shot at writing for TV this year, but I think adding Madelyn to my board, as a reminder that I have dreams, and that even if they get put on hold while I move into my new role as a mom, or while we live out here, or even longer term than that, they're still important, and still part of who I am.

As it has been every year, making my vision board was a really good experience this year. Seeing which pictures drew me in was a good way to viscerally understand my goals and desires, and putting them all together, overlapping, in a colorful format that I can look at every day helps me focus on them. Like my board, I suspect my year will be largely dominated by our new baby, but there are other things here as well, and I think it's good to keep those in mind, and to see them right there next to the inspirational happy baby pictures. I'm glad I took the time to do this exercise, and I'd definitely recommend it to any of you who feel like you could use some help visualizing or even just elucidating your goals.

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Discount store love and giveaway!

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4/4/12: Congratulations to my winner, JENNIFER! I will be in touch about your prize!

If you've been around WINOW for very long, you know that much as I love thrift stores, they have a close second place in my heart in the form of discount stores. I've waxed poetic about TJ Maxx and Marshall's (more than once) and showed you my Big Lots bounty (again, more than once...). Though I may not have mentioned them often here, I'm also a big fan of Ross, Burlington Coat Factory, Tuesday Morning, and, when I can find one, Gabriel Brothers.

And so it was that I found myself, given a rare day with nothing on the agenda and no pressing thrift shopping to take care of, browsing a variety of these stores. I wasn't completely without aim--I was, as I always seem to be these days, shopping for bras--but I didn't let that mundane task stop me from looking around. And I have to tell you, the discount stores in my neck of the woods are looking good.

TJ Maxx/Marshall's

Apparently, TJ Maxx is intended to be the slightly more upscale of these two stores, but I can't tell the local outposts apart. They seem to have more or less the same items at more or less the same prices. A few things that caught my eye at one or both of these stores were:

theBalm
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theBalm "Hey Mama" Set

See that set above, of three full-sized products from theBalm (bronzer, blush, and translucent powder)? It's $49.99 on Amazon. It was $9.99 at TJ Maxx or Marshall's this weekend. I think maybe it's being discontinued, as I can't find it many places online, but the individual products are still for sale on theBalm's website. Same with the individual products in the other sets I saw at my stores, including color-specific eye kits for $9.99 ($35.95 on Amazon) and the Timebalm Skincare Age Fighting Heroes kits for $12.99 ($57.99 on Amazon).

Le Creuset
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Le Creuset Stoneware Oval Dish

The 3 3/4 quart oval stoneware baking dish from Le Creuset shown above originally retailed at $70. Amazon has it right now for $35.95. I picked one just like it up off the clearance rack at TJ Maxx for Mark this weekend, for $13. A while back, after realizing that none of our rubber spatulas were in anything approaching decent shape, I spotted a whole passel of these Le Creuset versions at Marshall's. Amazon has them for $9 each--I believe I paid $2.99.

Caldrea
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Caldrea Cloverleaf Sink Set

My Marshall's and TJ Maxx almost always have Caldrea products, which I think is awesome, because I love their hand soap. One new product I noticed this weekend was these hand sink sets--a little stainless steel organizer equipped with dish soap, hand soap, and countertop cleanser. I believe they were $12.99 at my stores. At Balducci's, they're $46. There were a variety of other products available as well, including smaller sized lotions and hand soaps for $2.99 each, and sink side hand soap and lotion sets in a similar stainless steel holder for $9.99.

Calvin Klein
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Calvin Klein Women's Seductive Comfort Customized Lift Lave Bra

You had to know I was going to come back to bras, right? My favorite bras are Calvin Klein--they've just always fit me really well and been very comfortable. They're also often available at Marshall's and TJ Maxx. This one was, I believe, $14.99. It's $46 to get it in my size on Amazon.

Big Lots

For a while, I was kinda off Big Lots. They built a new store close to my house and it seemed like I never found anything there. I kept trying, though, and this weekend's trips were fruitful--I saw all sorts of cool stuff, and found a number of things that made their way home with me. Some of the highlights were:

Crocs
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Crocs Classic

I really don't get Crocs, though if my feet swell much more I may have to reconsider...I know, however, that lots of folks are crazy for them. These classic variety ones retail for $34.99 on the Crocs site, and I don't see them in adult sizes for less than around $25 anywhere. Big Lots had a bin of them for $15 each. They even had some in my size, but so far I have resisted.

Tom's of Maine
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Tom's of Maine Soothing Mint Maximum Strength Sensitive Fluoride Toothpaste

I am a dedicated Tom's of Maine toothpaste girl, and I nearly always buy it at Big Lots (typically 4-6 tubes at a time). This visit, I was stoked to see the store carrying the sensitive teeth variety, which I could use right now, as pregnancy has made my whole mouth sensitive. On Tom's of Maine's website, this toothpaste is $5.99/tube. The lowest I see it for elsewhere is $4.99. At Big Lots, it was $2.50.

Anchor Hocking
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Anchor Hocking Round Glass 6 Piece Storage Container Set

I have kind of a thing about glass storage containers, and Anchor Hocking is my favorite brand (they're still made in the USA!). This six-piece storage set, featuring lidded containers in 4-cup, 2-cup, and 1-cup sizes, retails for $14.99 on Amazon. At Big Lots, it's $6. I actually have a whole cupboard full of this set and similar ones, all from Big Lots.

Tuesday Morning

Wacoal
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Wacoal Luxe Extra Touches Push Up Underwire Bra

I know, back to bras! I have to tell you about this one because it excited me so much, though. Before my boobs decided to get huge, I wore a lot of Wacoal bras--always purchased at Nordstrom Rack for less than $30 each. The other day, I saw that they had a small selection of them at Tuesday Morning as well! This particular variety, which sells for $46-$70 depending on color on Wacoal's site, was, I believe, $26.

Spanx
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ASSETS® Marvelous Mama Modern Fishnet Tights

I tend to be of the opinion that the last thing my pregnant butt needs is shaping garments. Or fishnets. But if I felt differently, these Assets tights would be really cute. They're a nice moderate fishnet, come in bigger sizes, and are, of course, intended for the pregnant crowd. They're $20 on the Spanx website and I believe they were $12.99 at Tuesday Morning.

Burlington Coat Factory

Burlington Coat Factory is the newest addition to my discount stores list. I've found them to be a great source of bras and, oddly specifically, Calvin Klein dresses (usually around $10 for the former and $40 for the latter). Recently, though, I took a look around to see what else they had to offer, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Amy Butler
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Amy Butler Dancing Garden Comforter and Sham Set

How perfect are Amy Butler fabrics for bedding?? I didn't even know Amy Butler bedding existed until I saw the Dancing Garden set, pictured above, at Burlington Coat Factory. The organic set was originally priced at $130, and Amazon has it for $68.88, but at Burlington it was on clearance for $39.99.

Built
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Built Market Tote

Though I've never used one, I've always liked the look of the neoprene totes and carriers made by Built. They seem like they'd work really well for farmer's market shopping or carrying food to work. This variety, the large market tote, retails for $39.99 at Amazon and Zappos. The ones I saw at Burlington were $14.99.

Ross

Around here, Ross is the bottom of the discount store pyramid. The stores are often understaffed and very disorganized. Still, if you have the time and patience to sift, gems can be found. The ones I noticed recently were:

Core Bamboo
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Core Bamboo Dishwasher Safe Bamboo Cutting Board

I like bamboo cutting boards--they look nice and they clean up easy, and bamboo is a great sustainable material. This small, 10.5x7 inch version, $14.27 at Amazon, is $4.99 at Ross.

Vista Alegre
I can't find a picture of it anywhere online, so I suspect the casual white porcelain Cook & Serve line by Portuguese company Vista Alegre has been discontinued. However, they still have quite a bit of it at my Ross store, and we've purchased a number of things ourselves, including a large platter (think Thanksgiving turkey size) and several sizes of baking dishes. The dishes are no-nonsense, heavy white porcelain, made in Portugal, and both look and hold up great. Prices vary, but some are as low as $4.99 for a smallish baking dish.

Michael Kors
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Michael Kors Mens Long Sleeve Dress Shirt

There are few articles of clothing I care about less than men's button down shirts, but I still took a look at the selection at Ross recently and was surprised to find a passel of Michael Kors shirts, like the one above, for $17.99. The pattern seemed to be the same was what you'd find at Macy's or similar, where the shirts retail for $59.99.

Good stuff, right?

Much like thrift stores, I think discount stores can be overwhelming for people who aren't used to them. It's true that a lot of what you might find in a given store is crap, and things don't work quite the same way as they do in regular department stores. On the assumption that at least a few WINOW readers are skeptical of these bargain warehouses, I thought I'd provide a few tips for newbie discount store shoppers:

1. Keep an open mind (and open eyes).

Just like you would in a thrift store, you have to approach a discount store with both an open mind and a sharp eye. You may find things you'd never considered, or even heard of, before. Things are quite often going to be in sections that make no sense. Shop with an awareness to what is around you, and with the mindset that you're looking for buried treasure.

2. If you like it, buy it. Don't hesitate.

Unlike department stores, discount stores usually have a very limited number of any given item, and when they're gone, they're gone. These stores are not the place to exercise "if I still want it next week, I'll come back for it" restraint. However, the majority of them DO have decent return policies (be sure to check your particular store), so if you buy something and change your mind about it, you can bring it back. That's much better than not buying it, coming back for it later, and finding it gone.

3. If you try it and you REALLY like it, buy multiples.

Much of the merchandise you find in discount stores is discontinued, so if you buy something and absolutely love it, you may want to scurry back while whatever it is is still available and buy as many more as you can get your hands on. It is quite possible you won't have the chance again, at any price. Once upon a time, I didn't do this, with a particular variety of EO room spray. They don't make it anymore, and I have been hoarding the last quarter of the bottle I have for years. Another time, I found these great Giovanni Hand Wipes for something like $4.99/bag at Marshall's. After I took one bag home and discovered that they are the perfect wipes to keep in my car for post-thrifting clean-up, I went back and bought about a dozen more. I still have a couple of bags left, which is good, because they're hard to find other places, and when I do see them, they're at least twice and often three times as expensive.

4. Stay critical.

As much as you can find hidden treasure in discount stores, things are there, rather than at department stores, for a reason. When you're considering buying something, especially something big, try to figure out what that reason is, and if it matters to you. For example, I could care less if most things are "last year's model," but I don't want to buy anything that is or is about to be expired. You also need to keep an eye out for damage--things that are in discount stores are often "second quality," and though a lot of the time the defect that keeps an item from being sold at full price doesn't matter in the least to you, sometimes it does. Be sure to look items over carefully and check tags for clues.

5. Be aware of the non-discount price.

Not everything in a discount store is actually discounted. For example, I was recently excited to see Bob's Red Mill products at my local Big Lots, but when I compared the prices on them to the ones elsewhere, I found that they weren't significantly discounted--and some of them were actually marked with higher prices at Big Lots than they are at regular supermarkets. Stores with tags that claim an "original price" or "compare at" price are not immune from this phenomenon--sometimes the comparison prices they list are just wrong--so you have to be aware of what a given item goes for elsewhere and not assume that it's going to be cheaper just because most things in a discount store are.

6. Shop often.

Another way discount stores are like thrift stores is that their merchandise turns over fairly quickly, so the same store could have a mostly-different inventory from one month to the next. Because of this, and because of the small number of highly discounted items they sometimes get in stock, you have to hit your local discount stores fairly regularly in order to get the best deals.

7. Don't buy things you have no use for.

This is definitely do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do advice, as I have a hard, hard time with this one. But just because something is a cool/high quality/beautiful/whatever product, and is available at a highly discounted price, doesn't make that item something you actually need, or even want. Don't buy things you don't need or want. It's a financial drain, it creates a boatload of clutter, and it makes no sense. Really. I promise. I know.

8. Remain aware of the strengths and weaknesses of a given store.

All discount stores are not created equal, and there are certain items for which only a specific store will work. I rarely buy food items at any discount store besides Big Lots. Cosmetics and bath and beauty stuff is almost always best at Marshall's or TJ Maxx. For higher-end bedding, towels, and other similar housewares, Tuesday Morning is usually the best spot, and they also have fantastic plant pots. Burlington Coat Factory has the biggest selection of baby items. I don't know that these strengths are necessarily universal, however, as when we lived in Austin, Ross was wonderful for clothes and Tuesday Morning had a great stationary section and really good pet supplies, neither of which is the case here. So, it pays to be familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your specific local stores, so that if you are looking for a specific item, you know where to go.

9. Remain aware of seasonality.

Discount stores have different stock at different times of the year, and some of the things they focus on might appeal to you more than others. For example, I love going to Marshall's and TJ Maxx in the month or two before Christmas, because they carry a ton of bath and body type stuff suitable for gift giving, and I eat that stuff up. I like Tuesday Morning and Big Lots more in the spring, when they carry plant pots and gardening supplies that make good gifts for Mark or that we may need around the house. Clothes, obviously, are seasonal at all of the stores, and they tend to have the best selections in the late summer (school shopping time).

10. Only do it if you enjoy it.

Again like thrift shopping, I think discount store shopping is really only worth it for those of us for whom shopping is fun. If there is no thrill of the treasure hunt for you, then whatever cost savings you achieve may well be overshadowed by the hassle of having to make lots of stops, sift through lots of crap, and deal with stores that may be dirty and are almost certainly disorganized. I get such a kick out of it, I wish I could do it for everybody--it would save me a lot of cash and those who don't enjoy shopping a lot of headaches--but until we figure out how to make that happen, those who really hate shopping are probably better off buying fewer things and paying more for the convenience of ordering them from Amazon.

And, finally, the giveaway!

In the spirit of celebrating discounts stores, I thought it would be fun to do a discount store themed contest. And, since I've been so into curated boxes lately, I thought it would be fun to curate my own. So, this giveaway is for a special, one-of-a-kind, Grace-curated discount store box! The box may contain any type of item, the only caveats being that it was something I thought was cool enough to buy, and that it was purchased from one of the discount stores listed above. The original retail value of this box is over $200 (but don't worry, I didn't pay anywhere near that for it)! Since I didn't give you any idea what was in the boxes the last time I did a giveaway, I decided it was only fair to give a clue this time. So here's a picture of what you could win:

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Here's how to enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which, if any, discount stores you frequent and what you tend to buy there.
2. Share this post with your friends on Facebook or Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did.
3. Go and read another post on this blog--any post you fancy--and leave me a comment there. It has to be relevant to that post, it can't just be "hi" or "this is for a contest entry!" Then come back and leave a comment on this post telling me you did it.

So, that's THREE ways to enter. Go do it! This contest is open to international entries, so long as you're willing to wait for your prize to arrive via whatever the most economical shipping option is.

I will close the contest in one week, next Wednesday, April 4, at 9:00 AM EST.

Good luck!

I am in no way affiliated with any of the stores or products mentioned in this post, and this review is not compensated in any way.

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Curated subscription review: Beautyfix

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I have this new idea where I'm going to review a new curated subscription box every week until I run out of them. Won't that be fun?

Today's offering is Beautyfix. Beautyfix works slightly differently than most curated subscription services in that you pick your own products! From a curated field of choices (about 50 or 60 in all), you pick 8 products to have sent your way. This is done quarterly, rather than monthly like most curated subscriptions, and the cost is higher--$49.99, including S&H. BUT a good number of the products are full-sized or extra-generous samples, so it still represents a cost savings. Plus, you get some sort of bag with every shipment.

This was my spring assortment, received last week:

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From the bottom left, the products I chose:
*Nick Chavez Ultra Shine Honey Peppermint Conditioner, full-size, 8 oz (value $20)
*Becca Cosmetics Resurfacing Primer, large sample size, .5 flz oz (value $40 for 1.35 fl oz full-size, or about $14.81 for the sample )
*Belli Skin Care All Day Moisture Body Lotion, sample size, about 1 oz (value $19 for 12 oz full-size, or approx. $0.86 for the sample)
*Kelly Teegarden Organics Vitality Rose & Cucumber Eye Cream, small sample size, .1 ml (value $30 for 1.18 oz full-size, or approx $1.58 for the sample)
*La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming Gel, full-size, 6.76 fl oz (value $22)
*Kinerase Photofacials Daily Exfoliating Cleanser, sample size, 2 oz (value $40 for 5 oz full-size, or approx $16 for the sample)
*Nick Chavez Beverly Hills Angel Drops with Argan Oil, full-size, 2 fl oz (value $19)
*Perricone MD Nutritive Cleanser, sample size, 2 oz (value $39 for 6 oz full size, or approx $13 for the sample)

Total value of products: $107.25

There are a number of things I really like about Beautyfix. Getting to pick your own products is great--I am focused on my skin right now, so I chose a lot of skincare products for this box. Getting largely full-sized or large sample-sized products is great. And I like how Beautyfix introduces me to brands that are high end, but not necessarily sold at Sephora/familiar to me. I've gotten to try several things that I'd never heard of before (my favorites thus far have been Kerstin Florian Rehydrating Neroli Water and Pur~lisse Pur~lip Comfort Daily Lip Nourisher). I also like the inclusion of a different kind of bag in each box, though I was not particularly impressed with this season's small cylinder offering.

That said, there are some things I really don't like about Beautyfix, as well. They rely heavily on products from the same brands (lots of Becca, Nick Chavez, and Jonathan, for example). The selection doesn't change as much from season to season as I'd like. You don't get prompted to log on to the site and select your products for the season, and if you forget to do it, they send you a box they selected--which is not, in my experience, great (the one time that happened to me my box contained Degree Fine Fragrance Body Mist and one of the worst smelling bath bombs I have ever encountered). I'd like there to be an option to skip a season's box if none of the offerings appeal to you, but as far as I can tell, there isn't one. And, of course, it's expensive. The trouble with sampling full-sized products, rather than sample-sized ones, is that it costs more. So there are trade-offs.

I go back and forth about whether or not to keep my Beautyfix subscription active. I've actually cancelled and re-upped it a couple of times since my first box in May 2010. Since Beautyfix is run by Dermstore, the options tend to be skincare-heavy, and that's fine for me right now, but eventually my skin should settle down or I should arrive at some sort of routine for it, and at that point I might let my subscription lapse again. All in all, though, I am really happy with the spring box, so I will definitely get a summer one and let you all know how it goes.

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The home stretch: third trimester time!

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Today is a big day for me and my passenger--we're turning the corner into the third trimester. Today marks 27 pregnant weeks!

Thought I'd show you how we're faring:

27 weeks

27 weeks

(Pardon the goofy pictures--I haven't worked out the self-timer on my new camera yet, and Mark is not the world's best photographer.)

I'm feeling pretty good, with one notable exception. My feet. The swelling. Oh my Lord. I knew pregnant feet swelled, but I didn't expect this much puffy action so early on. Wanna see? Of course you do:

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Nobody worry--my blood pressure is fine and all that, it's just fluid retention. Nasty though, right?

That said, I'd much rather deal with foot swelling (and, OK, back pain and awkwardness) than the incredible first eighteen weeks of nausea and exhaustion. If the third trimester can keep in the same spirit as the second half of the second one, I'll be just fine.

For the fashion-curious, I'm wearing:

Merona® Womens Draped Neck Value Dress in Xavier Navy (Target)
Merona® Womens Pointelle Cardigan Sweater in Elephant (Target)
Aerosoles Women's Laser Printz Ballet Flats in Dark Orange Suede (Amazon)
Pendant from Broken Plate Pendant Company
Wrapped bangles from Exotic Bangles

Also, I have to show you this outtake picture from this morning, because I think it's just too funny. This is apparently what my face looks like when I'm not posing:

27 weeks

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Drugstore product love

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It has been mentioned to me before that the majority of the products I mention on my blog--makeup, bath stuff, etc--are higher end things that can't be found in your average drugstore. That's a fair critique, as I have developed an expensive preference for the hoity toity when it comes to those things. However, there are still a whole mess of regular drugstore products that I love, so I thought it might be fun to feature some of those today.

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Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Dandruff Shampoo with Eucalyptus, typically about $6

My hair can be kind of a pain. It's long, thick, and tends towards frizzy. To complicate matters, I have a very dry scalp and get dandruff and horrible itchies. I've tried a lot of shampoos, all the way up through expensive brands, and Head & Shoulders works best. This particular formulation, meant for itchy scalps, with tingly eucalyptus, is my current favorite.

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Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera Formula Toner, typically about $8

I first tried Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel after seeing it on Allie's blog, and I was an instant convert. All the great, gentle toning of witch hazel with a much better smell! I recently learned that Thayers has cucumber, lavender, and lemon versions as well.

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Degree Women Ultra Clear Body Responsive Antiperspirant & Deodorant with TriClear, typically about $5

I don't know if there are fancy options for deodorant, but my guess is yes. I've never explored them, because I have been a dedicated Degree girl for years. For me to love it, a deodorant must: a) work; b) not smell gross; c) not leave white marks all over my clothes. This one hits all three, so I stopped looking. I buy it in bulk when it's on sale or when they have it at Big Lots.

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Bio-Oil Scar Treatment, typically about $12

Bio-Oil is a new addition to my list, but I think it will always be in my bathroom from here on out. I've been using it on my breasts and belly to help prevent stretchmarks (yeah, I know the science on that is sketchy), but I'd use it as a regular moisturizer, too. It smells divine, goes on easily and sinks in nicely. Plus, a little bit goes a very long way.

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Alba Botanica Moisturizing Cream Shave in Mango Vanilla, typically around $7

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a shaving cream available at Trader Joe's. Then I moved to Austin and didn't have a Trader Joe's, and I was very sad. Then I found this Alba cream shave and was happy again, as it was a very close duplicate. Now I'm back in the land of Trader Joe's and still tend to use this Alba stuff. The end.


Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, typically about $5

I am not loyal to Cetaphil--I go through all kinds of facial skin cleansers, some upscale, some not--but when my skin has a certified freak out, Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser is the product I always come back to. It's just about liking washing your face with plain water, I think, and sometimes that's what's needed.

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Eco Tools 5 Piece Bamboo Brush Set, typically about $11

I have some expensive makeup brushes, and I just plain like my Eco Tools brushes better. In fact, every brush I use on a regular basis is from Eco Tools, and none of them cost more than a few bucks apiece.

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eos Smooth Lip Balm Sphere in Sweet Mint, typically about $3.50

Like many dry-skinned people, I live and die by lip balm. I probably have 25 varieties. But the one I reach for by my beside is this eos sphere. I don't know if it's the formula or the shape, but it just seems like the easiest option for putting on at night, with no mirror and no glasses.

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Blum Naturals Daily Cleansing & Makeup Remover Towelettes for Normal Skin, typically about $7

I love, love, love these Blum Naturals towelettes. Even when I plan to get into the shower and wash my face, I like to remove makeup before I do, and these are perfect for that. They are both super gentle and super effective, and they smell really nice. I've tried a few of the other varieties, as well (the exfoliating ones and the dry skin ones, I think), and they're just as good.

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Herbal Essences None of Your Frizzness Smoothing Conditioner, typically about $4

I find admitting to this one a bit embarrassing--maybe because of those horrible commercials? Anyway, I recently tried Herbal Essenses None of Your Frizziness conditioner, and I've been really pleased. The smell is a bit strong while you're putting it on, but it doesn't linger too badly, and the product does seem to help with my frizz issues. I use a boatload of conditioner, too, so I like using something cheaper.

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Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith's Rosebud Salve, typically around $6

This last one is a bit of cult product, and it can be kind of hard to find, but I think it's worth scooping up if you do happen to see it. Technically, it's a more-than-a-century-old USA-made and packaged lip balm, and it is great for that, but you can also put it on chapped skin, minor burns, use it as cuticle cream, etc. It's classically rose scented (which means that someone is going to say it smells like an old lady--I'm OK with that) and has the greatest tin ever.

OK, now tell me what great drugstore product you use! I am thinking of some sort of best-of-the-drugstore contest or giveaway in the future, so I want to start a list!

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A treatise on naming...

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I've always liked to name things. Even as a kid, I remember having lists of potential baby names. I don't think I was ever sure I really wanted offspring, but I was positive I wanted to name them! (Note here that it is very lucky that I grew up a bit before actually procreating, as the name I remember best from one list was Patience Paisley...) I've named the majority of our pets (Chance, Atticus, Atakan, Illy--all the ones who didn't come pre-named or came with names we just couldn't stand keeping). I don't name inanimate objects, but I did give one of my middle school teachers' daughter her middle name. I just like names. It's not surprising, then, that baby naming was one of the parts of this whole process that I was both excited and trepidatious about.

For some folks I know, naming is a really arduous process, involving books, lists, cross-referencing, and long battles with one's partner. I was a bit afraid that's the route we'd go, but, as it turned out, Mark and I choose potential names for this kid with almost no fuss. No books were ever consulted, and we didn't argue.

Yep, that's right, chose. This baby is named. We have one name selected for a boy, one for a girl, and we plan to use those. I didn't realize it before, but a lot of people find that really weird. I've had multiple friends and family members wonder how we can possibly be sure about names without having met the baby. Which is a good question. For me, the answer is two-fold. First, I don't expect that "meeting" the baby, that is, my first few hours or days of interactions with him/her, are going to give me a great idea of his/her personality. I may take this back in a few months, but it has been my experience up until now that newborns are more alike than different. In order to really wait to name the baby until I "get to know" him/her, I'd have to take weeks or even months. Which is the second thing--for whatever reason, and it's not one I can articulate, it's very important to me that this baby is named right away. I don't want there to be a big time lapse between birth and naming wherein s/he is alive and in the world as a separate being but does not yet have a name. I have no idea why, but that really bothers me. So being fairly set on names is necessary. Which isn't to say that we might not make a last minute substitution--if this kid is born and s/he just does not seem to fit the names we've chosen, we'll come up with something else. While there is not a formal list of back-up choices, our rules have left us with fairly few names to choose from.

Wait, what rules?

That's actually the point of this post. In our process of deciding on names, most of what Mark and I actually decided on were naming rules, or parameters for names we'd consider. We didn't necessarily set out to do it that way, but that's the way it ended up. And I'm kind of glad it did, as it cut down our possible contenders considerably. I have a Burmese friend who explained to me, upon the birth of her first child, how her cultural naming tradition is for the first part of someone's name to be predicated on the day of the week on which s/he was born. For some days, there are separate sounds for AM/PM and male/female, for some there are not. For example, she and her son are both born on the same day of the week (Wednesday, I think) and both have names beginning with Z. I really, really like this idea. First, I like the idea of having a cultural naming tradition, but beyond that, I love the idea of narrowing the field. So that's what the guidelines Mark and I developed did--they narrowed the field.

Before I even got pregnant, we agreed that we'd like to use family names. So that was our first rule:

1. All name choices need to be from family members.

This rule was later amended to also include close friends' names.

After some discussion about how being named after people plays out in real life, we added a second rule:

2. The family member/friend for whom the child is named must already be dead.

This was mainly because we didn't want any "Little Bob/Big Bob" type situations. Though we want our child to be named for someone we loved, we also want him/her to feel as i his/her name is his/her own.

Next, we added the equity rule:

3. There will be one name from each side of the family.

This just means that if the first name is from Mark's family tree, the middle name while be from mine, and visa versa.

The next rule was all about preference:

4. If the name(s) are identifiably tied to a culture or ethnicity, it must be one to which we actually belong.

Given the family tree context, you'd think this would be a no-brainer, but it's really not.

The next rule we came up with was more about logistics than aesthetics:

5. Names will be relatively short and simple.

We're going to hyphenate our seven- and eight-letter last names, giving the kid a total of sixteen last name characters (including the hyphen). S/he doesn't need a boatload of first name characters to go along with that.

We realized, then, as we were discussing names, that neither of us much wanted to go back lots of generations, either. We were most interested in naming our child after people we'd actually known. This, of course, narrowed the choices quite a lot further.

And from there, it was pretty obvious. We had our names chosen from about the eight-week mark. I went through a period a month or so ago where I was questioning them (Is this one too common? Is this one too hard to pronounce?), but I'm over that now and back to loving them.

And I'm not going to tell you what they are! They aren't a secret--we've been sharing them with friends and family--but I think I'm going to wait until this kid actually has a birth certificate to share them here.

However, I will give you a taste--here is the list of names that fit our rules:

For boys: Benjamin, Calvin, Clark, Daniel, Davie, Edward, Emil, Eugene, Frances, Gary, Hugh, Jack, Kenneth, Robert, Thomas

For girls: Agnes, Clara, Dora, Edna, Hazel, Iris, Jane, Katherine, Lorane/Lorraine (spelled the first way in my family, the second in Mark's), Loretta, Marian, Rose, Viola

So tell me about naming your baby/ies? Or your pets? Do our rules seem totally over the top? Am I going to change my mind when I see this kid?

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Curated subscription review: Citrus Lane

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Now that I'm back in the blogging saddle, I am looking forward to doing some more reviews of various curated subscription programs. As you may remember from last fall, I am fascinated with this business model, and wrote a big comprehensive list of the ones I've found (and I have been updating that list periodically when new ones pop up on my radar). What better time, then, to give a try to some of the parenting-and-kid-focused boxes?

The first one I decided to try is Citrus Lane. I went with this company first based on good reviews I'd read elsewhere, and because they specifically tailor their boxes to the age of your child, including infants. I was also impressed with the quality of the sample items they listed on their website (companies including Tea Collection, Aden & Anais, Plan Toys, etc.) Finally, I liked that Citrus Lane organizes each month's box around a theme, like "Bath Time" or "Play and Learn," and sends products related to that theme.

Logistically, Citrus Lane works in much the same way as most other curated subscription services. For $25/month, they send you 4-5 products. You can do a month-by-month subscription, or get a 3, 6, or 12 month package. I decided to go with month-to-month, since I want to sample as many of these programs as I can and not make any big commitments. That said, I will tell you right off that it's highly unlikely, based on my first box, that I'll be giving up this subscription!

Customer service and shipping from Citrus Lane was great--they told me my box would be sent out on/around the 15th of the month, and it arrived at my house on the 19th. When I opened it, this is what I saw:

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Nothing special as far as packaging goes, but completely adequate, given that none of the items included in my box were spillable/breakable.

When I extracted the included pamphlet, I learned that the theme for this month's box is "Dining Out" (note that if you don't want to be surprised, you can look on the website to see box themes a month or so in advance). The pamphlet gave a little overview of each product included in the box, as well as some age-specific dining out with kids tips (mine were about teething and drooling).

Now, the products included in my box!

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1. Natursutten Butterfly Ortho S pacifier, $7.95
2. Itzy Ritzy Bitzy Bib, Burp, & Bath Cloth in Licorice Swirl & Baby Bamboo, $12.95
3. Mommy's Bliss Gripe Water, 4 oz, $11.99
4. ZoLi Munch Teether, $5
6. Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion & Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion, deluxe sample sizes

The box also included coupon codes--10% or 20% off most of the included items, and $10 off a $30 purchase at Abe's Market.

All in all, I was very happy with the products I received and with how they tied into the theme. Though I'm puzzled by the inclusion of the Weleda stuff, I love that line, so I'm not complaining! Each product was a high quality example of its kind (pacifier, bib/burp cloth, teether), which was nice, and they're all things I expect we'll use, with the possible exception of the gripe water. I can definitely see how getting this box monthly would be not only a really fun surprise, but also a useful way to get to know new products and receive things that will be handy for day-to-day baby-rearing. Big thumbs up to this one!

Also, I noticed on the website that Citrus Lane has recently introduced the Pampered Pregnancy Box, intended as a gift for expectant moms. It's $65 and includes a pregnancy style guide, Foot Petals, Josie Maran lip gloss, Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter, Psi Bands, a Vosges chocolate bar, Zoe Organics Face & Body Wash, and a bunch of coupons. I think this would make a stellar gift if there is anybody newly pregnant in your life, and I'll be keeping it in mind for future pregnant friends myself.

This is not a sponsored review. I have not been provided with free product or asked to review by Citrus Lane.

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Diaper Bag Round-Up

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There was a definite silver lining to the black cloud that was the first half of my pregnancy. Had I not been feeling so awful, I'd probably have been shopping. As loyal readers know, I'm a shopper by nature, and pregnancy and babies? Whole new world of things to shop for, my friends. Shiny, expensive things.

Now that I am feeling like my old self again, the shopping bug has come back. I'm trying to moderate it, but it's not like I can go cold turkey--there are actually things we need for this kid, you know? So, to at least make some of the financial damage worthwhile, I thought I'd share some of my shopping with y'all.

One thing I was really excited to buy is a diaper bag. I love bags. Bags fill my need for accessories AND my need for things in which to put other things. They're one of my favorites. And I am typically uncharacteristically practical when it comes to bags--I don't buy a lot of them and I don't change them out very often. A diaper bag, though, that's a whole new world. And once I started looking around, I saw that people take these things VERY seriously.

Some of the best ones I found:

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Timi & Leslie Marilyn II in Raspberry, $169.99

I love the color of this bag. I also like the shape, the way it looks like a regular big bag and not necessarily a diaper bag, and the roomy exterior pockets. I'm also a fan of the long straps. It's got a matching detachable clutch, a detachable bottle holder, and a mesh bag with changing pad. The Amazon reviewers love it. The only downside I see is that it's PVC, not leather, and for that price, I want a leather bag.

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Skip Hop Duo in Wave Dot, $58

I believe a friend of mine has this bag, and it looks like a great choice. It's sturdy, made of wipeable poly-canvas, and is built for comfort and utility with a lot of pockets and a padded strap. It comes in several great fabrics (though some do add to the cost) and looks to be easily convertible to a stroller bag. It was also the 2010 Parents' magazine pick for "Best Diaper Bag."

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Petunia Picklebottom Sashay Satchel in Indelible Iris, $129

I've been contemplating getting a Petunia Picklebottom bag just to use as my everyday work bag for years. I love the patterns that are available--just as cheerful as Vera Bradley, but not so loud--and the style of the Sashay Satchel in particular appeals to me a lot. It's on the small side, I think, for a diaper bag, but still roomy. It comes with a wipes case and changing pad and has four bottle pockets. The downside, based on reviews I've read, is that some of the patterns (including the one I've shown here) are not PVC glazed and thus not stain-resistant.

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Sally Spicer Baby Messenger Bag in Rattan Cote D'Azur, $130

I love this Sally Spicer messenger-style diaper bag for lots of reasons. It's so neutral and versatile, and doesn't look the least bit like a diaper bag. It comes in tons of fabrics. It has changing pad, bottle holder, and internal pockets, but no extra muss and fuss--it's very utilitarian. And? It's made in the U.S.A. How much do I love that?

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StorkSac Helena in Rose, $410

Would I pay $400 for a diaper bag? No, I would not. However, if I were going to, this might be the bag I'd choose. The StorkSak Helena is just a gorgeous, gorgeous leather bag. The organizer and bottle pockets and changing pad all pop out, too, so it could easily transition to a regular bag after the diapering days are through. It's Italian leather, brushed gold hardware, jacquard lined...very classic, but updated with the rose color. I really love this bag. This bag is far too sophisticated for me.

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Babymel Slouchy in Twisted Olive, $75

This is another bag that I just love the shape of--that slouchiness makes it look not so huge, while still retaining a lot of interior space. It's made of laminated canvas, so it's wipeable, and it comes with an insulated bottle holder and a changing mat. One thing that differentiates this bag slightly from a lot of other ones is that the changing mat is made of the same fabric as the bag, rather than a corresponding neutral. I like that.

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Nest Hudson in Black, $280

I tend to be a fan of colored and patterned bags, but if you're a black leather purist, I'm not sure diaper bags get better than the Nest Hudson. It has a great classic shape, really nice subtle hardware detailing, and all the necessary baby-bits, like handy interior pockets and a removable changing pad.

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Ergo Organic Backpack in River Rock, $64

Several of my mom friends expressed a strong preference for backpacks as diaper bags, siting convenience and ease of use, as well as gender-neutrality. I'm not a backpack lover myself, but I did want to include at least one option in this list, and I like the rugged look and smallish size of this Ergo version. It has lots of zipper pockets, padded straps, and can be attached to an Ergo carrier.

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Lug Life Tuk Tuk Carry-all in Plum, $84.99

Another slightly more utilitarian option, I think this Lug Life bag looks really useful. It looks to have really well designed pockets, comes with a removable changing pad and wet bag, and is easily wipeable. It also comes in various bright colors, which endears it to me, and is supposed to be great for use as an overnight bag/carry-on after the baby is through with it.

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JJ Cole Mode Tote in Mulberry Patch, $49.99

Totes are another bag style I tend not to prefer--I like to be able to put things over my shoulder. That said, if you are a tote-lover, this JJ Cole bag is both affordable and super cute. It's made of laminated canvas for easy wipe-downs, has a nice slim profile but still offers a good deal of space, and comes with a coordinated changing pad and a removable padded shoulder strap.

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JuJuBe Be All in Jungle Maze, $140

It took me a minute to figure out why I liked the JuJuBe Be-All bag so much, but I think it's the boxiness. Something about the shape is just really appealing. I also like that it is available in non-floral patterns and in this green and orange color scheme. Another really smart thing about it is that it has a separate, zipped outside pocket intended for all your diapering supplies--way to keep a potential mess contained! Finally? It's machine washable. Good deal.

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Amy Butler Wildflower in Fuschia Tree Navy, $201.99

I have kind of a love-hate feeling about Amy Butler fabric designs in general, but I love this particular pattern, and I am really intrigued by the unusual shape of the Wildflower bag. It really looks like a purse, and I like that the handles and closure are leather. It has contrast printed fabric lining and comes with a contrast printed fabric wet bag and changing mat, too. Mmm...

Clearly, all of these bags could be considered overkill. A diaper bag is not a necessity, at least not a fancy one. But it's still fun to look at them, and if you, like me, are thinking you're going to be carrying something every day for the next 2+ years, it might be worth considering getting something you really like, right?

Anybody have a diaper bag you just loved? Leave me a comment!

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Peering in: my makeup collection

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I don't know if this is true for you, but I'm the type of blog reader who loves nothing more than getting to peer in on the details of other people's lives. Show me the contents of your handbag, your fridge, or your closet, and I am gonna be there. Recently, I've loved looking at Allie's closet and Hillary's makeup desk. So, I decided to take a page from their books and show you my makeup. My collection isn't quite so vast as Hillary's, but it's pretty substantial. It's also not nearly so well organized.

Most of my makeup lives on my bathroom counter, in a plastic divided container:
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The overflow, which is stuff I'm not sure works for me, or duplicates, lives in a plastic drawer:
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A bit more lives in a train case under my sink, but I forgot to photograph that. It's stuff I know doesn't work for me that I need to either give away or throw out.

It doesn't really look like all that much, does it?

Well...it kinda is...I took an inventory, and my collection includes the following:

Cream Blushes
Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon (sample, unopened)
Makeup Forever High Definition Blush in No. 06 (sample, unopened)
NARS Cream Blush in Penny Lane
NARS Illuminator in Orgasm
Smashbox Creamy Cheek Color & Brush in Masquerade
Smashbox Highlights in Golden Blossom
Smashbox O-Glow (sample, unopened)

Powder Blushes
Benefit Dandelion (unopened)
NARS Blush in Deep Throat
NARS Blush in Madly (unopened)
NARS Blush in Orgasm
Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights in Baked Starburst (sample, unopened)
Smashbox Fusion Soft Lights in Baked Starlight
Stila Custom Color Blush

Bronzers
Laura Gellar Blush N Brighten in Honey Dipped
Laura Mercier Shimmer Bloc in Peach Mosaic
NARS The Multiple in South Beach (sample)
Tarte Matte Waterproof Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess

Eyeliners/Shadow Pencils
Bare Escentuals Buxom Insider Eyeliner in Onyx (unopened)
MAC Eye Kohl in Prunella
MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Bourdeauxline
MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Gray Utility
MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Prussian
Mally Evercolor Starlight in Midnight (unopened)
NARS Eyeliner in Black Moon (unopened)
Sephora Jumbo 12 Hour Liner in Kaki
Sephora Jumbo 12 Hour Liner in Marine
Sephora Jumbo 12 Hour Liner in Purple
Sephora Jumbo 12 Hour Liner in Violet
Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner Pen in Jet Black (unopened)
Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner Peacock unopened
Sue DeVitt Eye Intensifier Pencil in Bangalore
Tarte SmolderEyes in Moss
Tarte SmolderEyes in Silver Black
Tarte SmolderEyes in Smoke
Tarte SmolderEyes in Violet
Ulta Eye Crayon in Cinderella
Ulta Eye Crayon in White Wedding
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Shadow Pencil in Midnight Cowboy

Powder Eyeshadows
Bare Minerals Ready Eyeshadow 4.0 Palette in The Dream Sequence (unopened)
Kat Von D Rock N Roll Eyeshadow Duo in Confessional
MAC Eyeshadow in Shale
NARS Eyeshadow in Abyssinia
NARS Shadow Duo in Pandora (unopened)
Sephora Colorful Duo in No. 08
Sephora Eye Shadow Palette in Almost Nude No. 09
Sephora Eyeshadow in Universal Beige No. 08
Smashbox Eye Shadow Palette in Kiss 'N Tell
Smashbox Shadow & Liner Quad in Risque
Stila Eyeshadow in Kitten
Urban Decay Loose Pigment in Protest (unopened)

Cream Eyeshadows.Eyeliners
Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Birthday Suit
Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Get Figgy
Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Purple Snap
Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in R.S.V.P. (sample)
Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Skinny Jeans
Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner in Violet Ink
Makeup Forever Aqua Cream Eyeliner in No. 13
Sephora Smoky Cream Eyeliner in Bewitch Me

Mascaras
Benefit BadGal in Black (sample)
Benefit BadGal in Plum (sample, unopened)
Benefit They're Real in Black (unopened)
blinc in Black (unopened)
Smashbox Bionic Mascara in Jet Black (unopened)

Mixed Palettes
Mary Kay Compact Mini
Stila Collectable Beach Palette in Living the Life in Laguna (unopened)

Primers
Benefit Lemon Aid
Benefit That Gal (sample)
Fresh Twilight Freshface Glow (sample)
Laura Gellar Spackle in Bronze (sample, unopened)

Foundations
Almay Pure Blends foundation in Buff (unopened)
Clinique Almost Makeup in 02 Light (unopened)

Tinted Moisturizers
Philosophy The Supernatural (times two, one unopened)

Concealers
Benefit Boiing in No. 01
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC-2
Maybelline Dream Mousse in Light (unopened)

Pressed Powders
NARS Powder Foundation in Deauville

Lip Glosses
Bare Escentuals Lip Gloss in Wearable Coral (unopened)
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip Polish in Brandi
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip Polish in Eva
Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip Polish in Jessica
Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss in Currant (sample, unopened)
J.R. Watkins Lip Tint in Tickled Pink (unopened)
Joeur Tinted Lip Enhancer in Shiraz (sample)
Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Opal (sample)
Lauren Brooks Cosmetics Botanical Lip Gloss in Winterberry (unopened)
Lipstick Queen 15 Minutes of Fame in 13 Minutes
Mary Kay Tinted Lip Balm in Rose
Smashbox Double-Ended Lip Enhancing Gloss in Peepshow
Smashbox Limitless Long-Wear Lip Gloss in Candy (sample)
Smashbox Limitless Long-Wear Lip Gloss in Forever
Smashbox Limitless Long-Wear Lip Gloss in Radiant (sample)
Smashbox Limitless Long-Wear Lip Gloss in Tease (sample)
Stila Lip Glaze in Apricot
Stila Lip Glaze in Banana
Stila Lip Glaze in Believe
Stila Lip Glaze in Fantasy
Stila Lip Glaze in Grapefruit
Stila Lip Glaze in Kitten
Stila Lip Glaze in Starfruit

Lip Sticks
Bare Escentuals Buxom Big & Healthy Lipstick in Brooklyn
Bare Escentuals Buxom Big & Healthy Lipstick in Shanghai
Bare Escentuals Lipstick in Even More Wearable Pink (unopened)
Bare Escentuals Lipstick in Wearable Coral
Benefit Full-Finish Lipstick in Dessert First
Benefit Full-Finish Lipstick in Frenched
Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick in Bamboo Pink (times two, both unopened)
Clinique Long Last Soft Shine Lipstick in Beauty
Lancome Color Fever Shine in Tempt Me
MAC Lipstick in Russian Red
Maybelline Volume XL Seduction Plumping Lip Color in Berry Desirable

Lip Stains
Topshop Lip Marker

Lip Pencils
Makeup Forever Aqua Lip in 15C
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Damned
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex Machine
Sephora Crayon Gloss
Sephora Ultra Vinyl Lip Pencil in Gorgeous Peach
Sephora Ultra Vinyl Lip Pencil in Miami Pink
Tarte LipSurgence in Dazzled
Tarte LipSurgence in Enchanted
Tarte LipSurgence in Fiery
Tarte LipSurgence in Flashy
Tarte LipSurgence in Hope
Tarte LipSurgence in Perky
Tarte LipSurgence in Swank

So, am I embarrassed? Kinda. I mean, the financial outlay this list represents is fairly gross. Which would be OK, if I were really into makeup as an art and expression form and all that, but in truth, I'm not. I haven't worn makeup in months, and even before I got pregnant, when I was wearing it daily, I didn't alter what I wore all that much. There are a dozen or so products on this list that were my stand-bys, and the rest got little, if any, use.

I'm not sure where that lands me. Probably, I should ditch all but my basics and make a pact with myself never to buy this much again. But I probably won't.



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Target: maternity clothes goldmine?

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When I started my (endless) search for maternity clothes, several people told me that I absolutely had to check out Target, as it is a mecca of affordable maternity wear. So I did. And I didn't find a thing at my (smallish) local store. I then promptly forgot about Target for a couple of months. More recently, though, I've given it another go, and found that if I can see their full selection (which means shopping online at their far-less-than-stellar website), Target really does have good maternity wear. The most surprising part? A lot of it is NOT in the maternity section!

At this stage of pregnancy, and in this season, what I really need/want is clothes that move with and around me and are layer-able. Specifically, cotton/jersey dresses and cardigans are awesome. Unfortunately, my pre-pregnancy cardigans have gone from just not buttoning to looking ridiculous, so my first stop at Target online was cardigans. I am luck that the style right now is for the open-front variety, which are a lot more pregnancy-friendly than the traditional button-up kind. The actual maternity options left me cold, but in the non-maternity section, I found two winners:

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Merona Womens Pointelle Cardigan, $27.99, in Elephant

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Mossimo Womens Ultrasoft Cocoon Sweater, $22.99, in Red

I love both of these sweaters. They're open in the front, so they work for my increasing belly, and they're (bless the Lord!) LONG enough! They're also both short/half-sleeved and lightweight, so they will be great for spring layering. My only real complaint is that I don't love the colors they come in. The pointelle cardigan comes only in neutrals (black, white, gray) and an orange-coral color called "Guava Berry." The cocoon cardigan comes in more colors, but they're still mostly neutral (black, gray, navy, oatmeal) or a bit strange (a very bright blue or something called "mineral yellow"). The sweater I ordered was labeled "red," but it's really more orange (very similar to the Guava Berry color on the pointelle cardigan). I didn't think I'd like it, but I actually do. If it came in another bright spring-y color, I'd buy another one.

I ordered my sweaters both in the size I'd typically grab at Target for something like this--extra large--and I think they'll fit until it's too warm to wear them (i.e the last month or so of this pregnancy). They're not huge, but the style gives plenty of space.

While I was browsing Target's site for sweaters, I noticed they have a whole section of cotton jersey dresses under $20. Perfect for maternity wear! I tried out the following ones:

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Merona Womens V-Neck Cap Sleeve Value Dress, $19.99, in Viking Purple

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Merona Womens Faux Wrap Dress, $20, in Zonk Blue

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Merona Womens Draped Neck Value Dress, $19.99, in Xavier Navy

On most people, I think all three of these dresses would work great for pregnancy--lots of stretch and belly room. Unfortunately, the first two were just too short for me, especially when further shortened by the belly bump. The last one, though, is a winner--it's knee-length, totally comfortable, and I think it looks really cute. Unlike the sweaters, all three of these dresses come in great colors, too! I tempted to buy another one of the draped neck ones in another color.

Like the sweaters, I went ahead and ordered these dresses in an XL, which is what I'd typically try them in, and they seem to work fine.

My next stop on Target's site was maxi dresses and skirts. I knew pre-pregnancy (from peeping at lots of mama style blogs, mostly) that I wanted maxis to be a staple for me, and they're fast becoming one. Some of last summer's dresses, though, aren't working--mostly due to too-small busts. So I was hoping to find a couple more to slip into the rotation. Target has lots, both in the maternity section and in the regular one, and I eventually settled on these two:

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Mossimo Womens Challis Maxi Dress, $29.99, in Purple Print

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Mossimo Womens Cowl Neck Maxi Dress with Shirred Side Seam, $29.99, in Erie Canal

The purple maxi works like a dream--plenty of room for both belly and boobs, very comfortable, and the print is cuter in person. The green one, however, was a nightmare. It was just plain lewd, showing every bump and curve and pulling tightly over my belly already, at six months. Definitely not going to work. Too bad, because it's really cute, and I like the color a lot.

Again, I ordered both dresses in my pre-pregnancy size of XL and I think that was the right choice. I don't think a bigger size would fix the issues with the second dress--they're just problems with the fitted style of the dress.

Finally, I checked Target for jersey maxi skirts. I have a navy one from Old Navy I've been wearing a lot, and it works, but the narrow waistband is getting uncomfortable, so I was hoping to find something with a wider or roll-down/roll-up waist that would give me a bit more belly support. And Target didn't disappoint!

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Mossimo Womens Convertible Maxi Skirt, $20, in Black

This may be my perfect maternity maxi skirt. It's the right length, it's the right weight, and it has that great wide rolled waistband that makes it a ton more comfortable to wear. I bought a black one and I'm seriously considering getting another one in gray.

Yeah, OK, I'll call that a goldmine. Interestingly, though, NONE of the things that I found so awesome are maternity clothing!

I'm trying to convince myself now that I don't really need any more maternity stuff, but if I did, a few more things I might try from Target, some from the actual maternity section:

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Liz Lange for Target Maternity Sleeveless Maxi Dress, $34.99, in Gray/Red/Purple

How cute is this dress? This one they do have in my store, and I have to keep myself from buying it every time I am in there buying cat litter.

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Merona Maternity Sleeveless Halter Maxi Dress, $29.99, in Blue/White

If this one were available in-store, I think I would have bought it already. I love everything about it--the interesting back, the narrow stripes, the asymmetrical skirt...

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Merona Maternity 3/4-Sleeve Boatneck Tunic Top, $24.99, in Deep Teal

Tunics are the tall pregnant lady's friend, y'all. Even regular maternity t-shirts are rapidly getting too short, and something with a longer length makes me feel so much less like my belly is going to announce it's round self to the world without my consent. I really like the sort of hippy/yoga teacher feel of this one, too.

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Merona Womens Gathered Crossover Tee, $7-$10, in Xavier Navy

I'm not sure if this tee would be long enough, and they don't seem to carry it at my store, but if it were a big on the long-side, I think it would be great for this next stage of pregnancy. It still looks like real clothes, and not sloppy, but it's flexible and soft and has room for both expanding boobs and expanding belly.

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Mossimo Womens Layering Top, $19.99, in Hollyhock Purple

This is another good top-layer option for sleeveless things--nice and lightweight, with plenty of belly room. I'm a bit trepidatious about the length, though.

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Mossimo Supply Co. Juniors Foldover Maxi Skirt, $15, in Fighter Pilot Blue/Shell Stripe

This skirt has the same basic shape as my perfect maxi, including the great foldover waist, but because it's a juniors version it is a bit shorter, almost midi-skirt length on me, probably. Plus it comes in this awesome blue-and-white stripe, which is something I can't get enough of.

As I get bigger, dressing in a way that is, if not fashionable, at least presentable, becomes more important to me. I'm feeling pretty good, and reasonably at ease with this body, and I want to present that to the outside world. So (clearly), I've been thinking quite a lot about my clothes, and I'm thinking I may need a blog-challenge to keep me motivated to dress decently as I start the third trimester. Plus it would help get me back into blogging. Maybe a Maternity 30-for-30? Something different? What do you all think?

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Blog-back-to-life contest winners!

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So, who's getting my extra-special sample goody boxes?

Random.org tells me:

#37

Wendy | March 13, 2012 1:36 PM | Reply
Oh hopefully make-up and some cleaning wipes I can stow in my glovebox for the car!

and

#11

NanB | March 13, 2012 11:03 AM | Reply
I love to get free mascaras!

I will be in touch to get mailing information! Thanks for playing!

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(Pregnant) celebrity style icons

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I haven't done a celebrity style icon post in a long time! For obvious reasons, I am lately paying attention to the styling of pregnant celebs, and I thought I'd share some of those with you!

Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson takes a lot of flak, both pre-pregnancy and now. She's not someone I'd ever giving a lot of thought to as a style icon before, either, but honestly? I think she looks fabulous right now, and I love how she's been dressing:

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(Image via Celebuzz!)

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(Image via PopSugar.)

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(Image via Jessica Simpson's Twitter.)

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(Image via Celebuzz!)

The thing I love the most about how Jessica has been dressing is that there is NO shame in her fashion. She's BIG. Really big. And she's not trying to downplay it. She was just as willing to wear a body-conscious dress in January (the second photo) as she was in November (the first photo). I like that. I also really dig the maxi dress/cardigan/sunglasses ensemble she's been sporting recently--the hippy/boho feeling of it is so great for the season and for her late stage of pregnancy. She looks relaxed and comfortable and beautiful and happy. Also? Her hair is amazing.

Emily Deschanel/Temperance Brennan

I've carried on before about how much I love the way Dr. Temperance Brennan from Bones dresses, and her pregnancy changed very little. Both the actress and the character are still all about the classics.

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(Image via lilSugar.)

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(Image via FOX Broadcasting Company.)

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(Image via FOX Broadcasting Company.)

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(Image via People.)

The thing I love the most about Emily's pregnant style (and that of her TV alter ego) is how similar it is to her non-pregnant style. Both Emily and Bones are still in trench coats, fitted jackets, basic black, cropped pants with flats, and great accessories. I love it when women are able to adapt their existing style to fit their pregnant bodies, rather than having to take on a totally new look, and Emily and Bones both did a great job with that. This is especially impressive considering the major changes pregnancy makes to a body that started out as trim as her's.

Alyson Hannigan

Currently gestating Kid 2.0, Alyson Hannigan has pregnancy style down. She's another celeb whose style never pinged my radar pre-pregnancy, but I think she looked fantastic during her first pregnancy and looks just as great this time around.

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(Image via People.)

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(Image via Zimbio.)

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(Image via omg Yahoo!)

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(Image via Babble.)

The thing I love about Alyson Hannigan's pregnant style, both the first time around (first pictures) and this one (last two pictures) is that she doesn't steer clear of color. So many maternity clothes are available in the drabbest colors possible, as if pregnant women should be trying to blend into walls, and Alyson is having none of that, spending her pregnancies in super-rich, vibrant hues. She's being touted as being the happiest pregnant woman ever, and the color certainly helps her to keep up that appearance.

Laila Ali
I think Laila Ali might be my pregnancy role model. She always looks so happy and healthy and comfortable in her skin!

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(Image via Electronic Urban Report.)

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(Image via Pregnancy Magazine.)

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(Image via Best for Babes.)

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(Image via Belly Itch.)

I love the casual and well-fitting clothes Laila chooses when she's pregnant (the first picture is from her last pregnancy, in 2011, the last three are from her first pregnancy, in 2008), and I like that, like Alyson, she doesn't shy away from color, but what really impresses me is how comfortable she looks. I'm not sure if it's the clothing choices she makes or how she feels about her pregnant body or what, but there is no awkwardness to her, and I think that's amazing. I wonder if any of it has to do with Laili being a big person to begin with, or having been a professional athlete?

Angelina Jolie

A lot of people seem to have a love-or-hate relationship with Angelina Jolie. I'm team love. I think she's gorgeous all the time, but man, she shines when she's pregnant.

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(Image via Babble.)

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(Image via SheKnows.)

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(Image via Maternity & Style.)

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(Image via Daily Mail.)

The thing that really blows my mind about Angelina when she's pregnant is that she still always looks like a straight-up goddess movie star. Even in her third trimester with twins (first picture), she looked not just gorgeous, but glamorous. That stuns me. Let me tell you, glamorous is pretty much the last thing I am feeling these days.

OK, I'm inspired! Definitely going to try to learn at least a little something from these famous women and put just a wee bit more effort into my pregnant wardrobe as I start the last trimester! Any other really stylish pregnant celebs I should check out?

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Top 10 Weird Things About Being Pregnant

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1. Suddenly liking bananas. Then suddenly LOVING bananas.
2. People wanting to carry things for me.
3. Stupid movies, television shows, and even commercials becoming much more touching. Even when I know they really aren't.
4. The belly. I expected the size, but am continually amazed by the watermelon-rind like hardness.
5. Spending nearly six months being grossed out by both coffee and beer.
6. Having a reason to buy a whole new wardrobe and being really, really unexcited about it.
7. Fielding people's completely inappropriate questions and advice about my body and my future child.
8. The continual knowledge that someone is growing in there, and there's not whole lot I can do about it. She's gonna take up as much space as she wants, and she's already bigger than most of my vital organs.
9. Observing the Flowers for Algernon-esque decline of my mental faculties.
10. Losing the ability to pick either my navel or my nipples out of a line-up.

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Welcome back giveaway: deluxe sample boxes

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So when you take a handful of months off from blogging, your traffic goes way, way down. Shocking, I know! But I like traffic, and I'd like to see mine go back up. What better way to do that than with a welcome back giveaway?

This past weekend, I went through the extremely excessive amount of stuff in my bathroom. After several months of sample box subscriptions of several years of less-than-frugal makeup and body product buying habits, I have a rather incredible (and my incredible I mean really embarrassing) stockpile of never-opened, never-tried items. Pregnancy, for whatever reason, has made me a whole lot less interested in ever trying them, much less storing them. So it seemed a perfect opportunity for a giveaway.

I am giving away two "deluxe" sample boxes, made up of (unopened, unused) products from my own stash. These are not little 4-5 item boxes--they're large, each with $100+ worth of items, some full-size, mostly sample sized. Each box contains a mix of hair products, skin products, bath products, and makeup, as well as a few pieces of costume jewelry from Anika Burke. A few drugstore brands are included, but most of the stuff is either small batch/indie or higher end. A few of the brands I know are represented in the boxes are: Flutterby Beauty, Too Faced, The Body Shop, Zoya, L'Occitane, Jonathan, Sephora, blinc, Arcana, and Orlane.

So how do you enter? Easy! Two ways:

1. Leave me a comment on this post telling me something you hope will be in your box, if you win.
2. Post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter, and leave me a second comment telling me you did it.

I want this stuff out the door this weekend, so let's make this a short-running contest. You have until 9am EST on Friday, March 16, to enter. GO!

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I'm down with UMC?

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Over the course of the past few months, I've been called something I never expected to be called. A name that just hadn't occurred to me to worry about having attached to my freewheeling bohemian self. A phrase that I just could not imagine would apply to me.

I've been called upper middle class.

And now that the shock has worn off, I'm considering the appropriateness of this term. My instinct, of course, is to snort derisively. I can't be UMC--no fancy car, no fancy house, no fancy clothes. I know what the UMC look like--I live among them!--but that's not me! My baby will NOT be riding in a Bugaboo, thank you very much!

However.

A bit back, I saw this (dated, but still somewhat relevant) New York Times class calculator online. So I filled in my statistics...and it gave me an average of the 71st percentile. The top 5th. Not just upper middle class, but actually ABOVE it. Huh.

So I poked around a bit more. I hit all the markers of Wikipedia's definition of UMC. I couldn't argue with most of what Urban Dictionary had to say.

Time for a reality check.

The interesting thing, I realized as I came to grips with this term actually applying to me, is not being upper middle class. It's that it is so bizarre to me to identify as such. I went to school for a million years and got a professional degree. I am partnered with someone who holds a Ph.D. I've worked for nearly the last decade towards a very comfortable income. How did I not think of these things as the upper middle class markers they are?

There are, I think, two major reasons. The first is an error of perception. I thought of upper middle class not as a measure of career/income/education, but as a measure of consumption. McMansions, low-end designer (but designer! and purchased new!) clothes every year, cars with bells and whistles, etc. What I failed to take into account is that those are consumption choices, and (particularly in the credit-fueled here and now) they don't necessarily reflect purchasing power as much as purchasing willingness. I also conveniently forgot to take into account the UMC purchasing decisions I do make--organic groceries, frequent travel, etc. The shift towards those things has happened so slowly that they've become normal, not something I think about as a marker of anything. That's pretty embarrassing. I've been paying attention to class long enough to know that assuming that my life is "normal" and anything "above" or "below" it is deviant is a big part of the problem.

The other reason I never thought of myself as UMC is a bit more complicated. I grew up working class, and though I've been aware for some time of having moved out of that class and into another one, it hadn't occurred to me that I'd shift not just by one "level" but perhaps by more than one. Like, apparently, a large number of Americans, it feels weird to me to define myself as anything other than middle class, particularly when even calling myself "comfortably middle class" seems like a departure from my roots. It's not like it happened while I wasn't paying attention--increased income and professional responsibility have been goals of mine for many years now--but I didn't necessarily realize, or didn't allow myself to notice, that the combination of achieving my education, career, and income goals was going to land me in the UMC.

These issues are all the more interesting and salient to me as I consider impending motherhood. Unless our situation changes drastically, my child will grow up in a much different class than the one I did. I have mixed feelings about that. On one hand, I am happy that (again, God willing, as long as things stay on the trajectory they are on right now) I'll be able to provide her with things like lessons and trips and maybe help pay for college. As aghast as I am about how much we're going to be paying for day care next year, I am thrilled that we'll be able to do it, and that our economic situation won't force us to be creative about our childcare. I fully realize that it has to be easier to raise a kid with money than without. As fantastic as my upbringing was, I don't have a whole lot of poverty romanticism--being poor is tough.

On the other hand, though, I worry about my kid being a snob. I worry about her turning up her nose at where I came from, or not realizing just how lucky she is, how lucky we are, to have been afforded the opportunities we have been and to have had things go our way. I worry about all the things I see happening to myself, and don't like, being things she starts out with.

It probably seems as if I am overstating my case, and I likely am--it's not like we're rolling in dough. But I think it's important to have a realistic assessment of where you stand in terms of your country and your community, if only to better empathize. As uncomfortable as it is for me, I think it is important that, if I am actually upper middle class, I realize and own that privilege, while simultaneously realizing that it may not be permanent. So that's what I am, quite imperfectly, trying to do.

Talk to me about class--is it something you think about? It's a ridiculously difficult subject to discuss, as we all bring so much baggage to the table, but I think it's worth trying.

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Maternity stuff I love

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Now that I'm six months in and an old hand at this pregnancy thing (ha), I thought I'd give you a run down of a few of the maternity products I've found so far that I love. Frankly, most of what I have tried has been crap, but there are a few standouts, so I'll share those.

Gap 1969 Demi Panel Heathered Long & Lean Jeans (currently on sale for $34.99)

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I bought these because they were cheap, and they've become my go-to pants. They don't look like jeans--I've been wearing them to work with abandon--and they aren't made out of cheap, creepy feeling polyester like most maternity pants seem to be. They're a nice dark gray color, they come in long lengths, and they've been very comfortable for the last several months. I suspect I am soon to outgrow the demi panel, and when I do, I'll be sad to see these leave the rotation.

Leachco Back 'N Belly Contoured Body Pillow ($59.99)

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I bought this body pillow on the recommendation of an e-friend way back when I first started having back and hip pain, and it has been an absolute wonder. I'm still having some pain, but I can sleep SO much better with this thing than without it (as evidenced by a recent weekend trip when I tried to sleep without it). It's also great just for lounging around and reading, and I'm told it will be useful for nursing, as well.

Mama Mio Congratulations Kit ($55)

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I received this Mama Mio skin care kit as a gift late in my first trimester, and I have been religiously using it since then (I'm just about to run out of the body cream). It's not something I would have purchased for myself--spendy!--but it's so wonderful. The shower cream is nice, but the real stars are the moisturizers. Both the body cream and the tummy rub oil smell wonderful and not-too-strong (good when you're nauseated), and both are richly moisturizing but still sink in quickly. I'm trying to be frugal, but still seriously considering replacing the moisturizers when they run out, or trying something else from the line. And yes, I realize that tummy oil isn't going to keep me from getting stretch marks--however, it does wonders for the dry/stretched skin itchies!

Old Navy Maternity Jersey-Stretch Tanks (currently on sale for $10)

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I am a tank top girl from way back, and I haven't been surprised to find myself even more enamored with my favorite basic tanks while pregnant. However, in the last few weeks, my typical tanks, even the Target Long&Lean ones I've relied on to cover my long torso for years, have been failing me. They just aren't long enough to cover the new belly, not ride up, and provide a bottom layer for ever-shortening tops. These tanks from Old Navy, however, are perfect. The run really big, so be careful if when ordering, but if you can find the right size, they're stellar. So long, such great colors, and so inexpensive!

Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt

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I realize Fage is not exactly a "maternity" thing, but it has become a pregnancy essential for me all the same. I am not, when left to my own devices, a breakfast eater. However, as I've gotten more pregnant, my need to for constant calories has increased, and eating breakfast is no longer optional. Enter Fage. I mix the plain 2% with whatever fruit I have on hand (I've been huge into fruit since I stopped being so sick--mostly bananas and berries) and my homemade granola, and I have a really decent breakfast that I can almost always stomach. Since I'm not a milk drinker in general and my tolerance for meat has been pretty low since I've been pregnant, the calcium and protein boosts are also a really good thing.

Victoria's Secret Yoga Leggings (currently 2/$50)

Another kind of strange one, maybe, but I've been living in my VS yoga leggings. I've always been a fan of these--they fit me well and come in a 32" inseam, which is long for leggings. Still, I've been surprised at how versatile they've been during the first half of this pregnancy. I'm too big for them to go over the bump, but they tuck underneath without riding down. The actual maternity leggings I've tried have been atrocious, so I'm sticking with these and hoping they'll see me through the rest of the way.

There have been a lot of less useful things. Belly bands? Still can't figure those out. Pretty much every pregnancy book I've opened? More fear-mongering and judgement than helpful advice. Sea bands for nausea? Can't believe I ever thought those would work. It's all individual though, I think--some of the stuff I've listed here would likely be worthless to you, and some of what you lived by wouldn't work for me. That said, if you have any must-try additions to my list, please leave a comment! I've still got four months to go!

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My thoughts on clothes these days

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Why not start with something simple?

This is what I'm looking like these days (last night, actually):

24 weeks

24 weeks

As you can see, I've "popped." My belly feels enormous, though it's actually not all that big yet. Watching the near-daily changes in my body has been a really interesting process, and one I wasn't quite prepared for. I knew things would change, of course, but I wasn't clear on how much, or how fast, or how all-encompassing the changes would be. It's not just the belly; every part of me has changed--hair, skin, etc. It really does feel more like puberty than anything else I've ever experienced. And I know some of the changes will be permanent, or will be precursors to other, permanent changes, which makes it all the more frightening and exciting.

Clothes, as you can imagine, have become a bit of an issue. I haven't purchased a ton of maternity clothes--a few, and I got some hand-me-downs from a friend, but not as many as I'd have expected. For one thing, I've been unable to find a single thing at the thrift store. For another, things that are not meant for maternity have, so far, worked in a lot of cases. For example, in the photos above, I'm wearing a non-maternity maxi skirt I bought at Nordstrom Rack last summer with an Old Navy maternity tunic. Non-maternity pants have been out of the question for a while, but elastic waist skirts are still working fine, as are maxi dresses and longer-length tops. I'm also stretching tops by layering them over long-length tank tops, which looks better than I would have expected (or perhaps my standards have dropped...).

The maternity clothes I have purchased have been almost exclusively from Gap and Old Navy. I tried Motherhood, but was very disappointed with the quality of almost everything I ordered. Gap has been the best, but I'm too cheap to buy too much there. The most recent thing I'm focusing on is shoes and bras. I've gone up two bra sizes already, and too-small bras are a world more uncomfortable when you're pregnant. Shoes are harder--anything with a heel is out at this point, because my balance is severely compromised by this growing belly thing, and my feet are swelling every day, so my regular arsenal of flats are beginning to be too small. With size 12 feet to begin with, I hate to think what size I'll end up in. Boxes without topsies, indeed.

Though I know getting dressed is only going to get harder as I get bigger over the next few months, I am looking forward to the increased clothing options of warmer weather. Right now, I don't have any cardigans that still button, but it feels like a waste to buy bigger/maternity ones with warm weather right around the corner. I envision a spring/summer of maxi dresses and skirts and tank tops, which will hopefully be a bit more fun than wearing the same pair of black maternity pants twice a week.

Ooh, this blogging thing is coming back to me, now...

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Six months in...

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And I am so ready to be back to blogging. Pregnancy has gotten leagues easier recently, and I'd go so far as to say that I feel pretty stellar. I miss blogging. A lot. I really want to get back to doing it regularly. But now that I'm out of the habit, every time I try to write a post I feel like it is stupid and trite and nobody will want to read it! I need to regain my previous arrogance self-confidence!

So...help me out, those of you who are still hanging out there. What would you like to see posts about? I have lots of thoughts on lots of aspects of pregnancy and future-parenthood, but that area is so well-trod in the blogosphere I'm afraid to get into it. I've been reading lately, so I could post book reviews. I could post outfits, if only for your amusement (turns out I don't dress well when pregnant). I've been having lots of kinda interesting class-related thoughts and doing some writing elsewhere around that lately. None of it quite seems right here, though, in this very transitional feeling space. So give me a push?

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